Cassette Reviews, CD Reviews

Wednesday 3rd August

August 3, 2011

Another cassette tape tonight then, though I still have yet to purchase a machine to play them on! This new release is another sent to me that kindly had a CDr of the music attached. So, as usual with these things, please bear in mind that I may be missing elements of the experience only available via the more lo-fi medium. The tape then, is a handsomely packaged rattly piece of plastic named Honey, and credited to Sister Overdrive, which appears to the the nom de plume of a Greek electronics composer named Giannis Kotsonis, an artist I was previously unaware of, my attention coming to him here thanks to this cassette being released on the Organized Music from Thessaloniki label.

Each side of the tape contains a single track, each lasting about eighteen minutes. While the sound is continuous, the two pieces are somewhat episodic, moving from one set of sounds to another quite regularly and often quite suddenly. Reading the notes on the tape available at the OMfT site, the tracks have been created by stitching together a number of smaller works. This is interesting stuff. Kotsonis covers quite an array of sounds, and utilises a variety of means to produce them before he pulled everything together on a computer. In places the music touches on noise territory. There are some quite severe passages of textured white noise, never really of the featureless kind, and never lasting long, but there is a sharp edge to this music. Elsewhere we hear musique concrete influences as field recordings can be heard, dogs, industrial and traffic sounds etc, but there are also a fair amount of unidentifiable source material here, clattering metal, dull thuds and sharper crashes alongside the fizz and warble of digital synths and buzzing electronic circuitry of some kind. Everything but the kitchen sink seems to have gone into the music, and at one point I think I even hear a plughole draining away…

The actual contents of the music probably don’t matter on this one anyway. What makes these two sides of music interesting to me is the overall sense of structure here that uses repeated use of sudden shifts and quite a dramatic range of volume and intensity. Although the tracks were put together from an assortment of smaller parts there has been a lot of thought gone into what goes where, which sounds follow which others and how they are joined together, either through gradual fades or the abrupt juxtaposition of sudden shifts. It all works well together, but its the choice of sounds that are mostly responsible for holding my interest. Though it is difficult to sum them up in a few words as there is much diversity here, they all have a quality of rough edged, serious sounding abstraction. There are no throwaway samples or cultural references. Besides a dog barking at one point on side 1 most of the field recordings sound bleak, unimportant. While the techniques of concrete may or may not influence Kotsonis the sense of the cinematic has not. This is rough, raw and alive music that wouldn’t stand a chance of being used to soundtrack anything.

So i’ve enjoyed Honey quite a bit, though its hard to pin down precisely why. Perhaps if any of the various segment where were extend doug into a longer work I would lose interest quite quickly, but all pulled together, with a constantly shifting landscape of sounds, even when the particular sounds may be quite raw and hard to find beauty within the way they have all been corralled together here works very well. This isn’t just some guy sat joining together aimless musical experiments, there has been quite a lot of though given over to the collection and subsequent arrangement of the various sections, and its that feeling of compositional integrity that makes this a release I had no problem listening to over and over.

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