CD Reviews

Wednesday 20th July

July 21, 2011

I’ve not been so well this evening. Without troubling you with the details I’ve had a stomach upset that has made listening uncomfortable, but having spent much of today lazing about reading and listening to music I think I’ve listened more than enough to be able to write. I also rather stupidly opted to upgrade OSX on my MacBook Pro tonight to the new Lion release without stopping to think that it would render the machine unusable for the best part of an hour and a half as time enters that new dimension when “20 minutes of install remaining” somehow manages to follow “2 minutes of install remaining”.

Anyway, music. I actually spent some time today with the pile of old classical vinyl I picked up at the weekend, and two different versions of Wagner’s Prelude and Liebstod to Tristan und Isolde in particular. I have struggled for quite some time to get to grips with Wagner, primarily because I just can’t stomach opera, but these purely instrumental pieces are stunning. I’m no going to write about those pieces this evening though, I’m simply not qualified to do so yet. I also listened to a couple of other CDs, a duo by Abdul Moimeme and Ricardo Guerreiro on Creative Sources, and also the new Keith Rowe solo on Bottrop Boy. The run through the Rowe disc was a first listen, so it will be  a few days before I write anything on that one. The other duo disc though is one I’ve been playing and enjoying for a few days now. I mention the Rowe release though because ironically the first time I came across a CD involving Abdul Moimeme, a collaboration with the Diatribes duo. When I wrote about that CD I found comparisons in Moimeme’s playing to that of Rowe (both work with tabletop guitars) and for an admittedly very short while, given the obvious pseudonym nature of Moimeme’s name I even wondered if it may even have been Rowe playing on the release. For this new duo disc though, I can happily report that Moimeme has achieved the considerable feat of making his instrument sound nothing like a normal guitar, but also nothing like Keith Rowe, so that’s put that one to bed.

So on this new disc with Guerreiro, which is named Khettahu Moimeme actually plays two guitars simultaneously, prepared with “small and large objects” while Guerreiro works with an “interactive computing platform” that appears to be something along the lines of a Max/MSP set up that allows him to sample Moimeme’s sound, process it and feed it back in to the music in real time. So we sort of actually hear a third guitar again if you count Guerreiro”s contributions as guitar-like. There are seven tracks here that, given their titles seem to had been taken from a large collection of improvisations recorded on one day in June 2010. Three of the pieces though, named #29.1 through to #29.3 seem to exist together as one long work, the divisions within which seem unnecessary.

So the music is actually really nice in many places. the opening track, confusingly named #26 is a kaleidoscope of chiming tones, slithering metallic scrapes and computerised, slightly altered, slightly recoloured version of the same, all tumbling together in a piece that sounds like a heavy wind gusting through a wind chime factory. Its actually a quite beautiful piece, a dense mass of details all sliding past together, but at the same time a very delicate, finely arranged work that belies its improvisational construction. The rest of the album works through similar ideas, with Moimeme working through a wide range of sounds ranging from crunchy, gritty abstraction to colourful tones and chimes and Guerreiro working in a very subtle, restrained manner as he returns the altered sounds back into the music’s mix, never really allowing his computer’s potential power to dominate and seemingly happy to act as if a fairground mirror, reflecting Moimeme’s sounds back only after warping them, significantly at times, only slightly at others. His contributions are clear, it is often obvious that what we are hearing is a synthetic reworking alongside the ‘real’ guitars, and yet its subtly done, with the digital and analogue sound worlds combining very well, complementing each other rather than competing.

Khettahu is a very nice, thoroughly captivating listen. The way it continually shifts and changes, reinventing itself (quite literally) keeps you fully engaged. The fact that the musicians aren’t so well known, combined with the manner in which so often Creative Sources releases are ignored will probably mean that this CD won’t get mentioned that much, and will escape the attentions of many that would probably enjoy it. That’s a shame as this is a release that deserves to be heard, performed by two musicians I suspect we will hear much more of in the future.



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