CD Reviews

Monday 22nd August

August 23, 2011

Before writing about the music tonight- it seems there is an issue with the RSS feed from this blog. If you view it using an RSS reader like Pulse or Google Reader it seems that at least some readers get a load of spam, so suggesting that the feed, if not the website itself, has been hacked in some way. I personally haven’t a clue how to fix the issue, so I have placed it into the capable hands of my web server’s support team and hopefully it will be resolved soon.  Thanks to the readers who spotted the problem and let me know. Much appreciated.

Tonight then I have been listening to another new release that has been made available, very generously, as a free download. Available as a lossless file or as a high quality Mp3, the release consists of two half-hour long live recordings made in Australia early this year by the Stasis Duo musicians Matt Earle and Adam Sussmann, alongside Jason Kahn, who was visiting the country. If the release has a title it seems to be Concerts, Melbourne+Sydney. Now, this grouping together of musicians is a very natural fit. Stasis Duo had been responsible for some of the most consistently strong electronically orientated improvisation over the last decade or so. Though active musically in all kinds of ways outside of this group, as Stasis Duo Earle and Sussmann work primarily with quite brutally severe electronics, often very quiet, and full of wispy thin sinews of brittle tone. Jason Kahn, using here his analogue synth, works in a similar manner with a slightly more expressively rich range of sounds, , but all three musicians work with a similar palette of raw electronic tones and buzzes that merge together well. I had always struggled to be able to split apart the sounds of Earle and Sussmann across their many records together, but here Kahn adds another layer again that is almost as difficult to peel away from the other two. The musicians here then sound like a perfect fit together.

The addition of Kahn to Earle and Sussmann’s music brings a degree of volatility. He is the one that seems to suddenly push blocks of harsh dissonance into the otherwise subdued mix, and the slightly more warm, deeper sensation that his synth adds seems to add a layer of more emotive abstraction, so pushing the music outwards from just layers of thin buzzes and fizzes to a more broken up to and ‘fro of jabbing, jarring sounds. There is little where than could due considered a beautiful, or comforting sound. All three musicians use an abrasive set of sounds. If in places the music feels like a faltering, malfunctioning drone then it is one created with the sounds of misfiring, broken electric circuits rather than one of any soft, gentler disposition.

Stylistically, there is little difference between the two live recordings, though each has its own characteristics, with the Sydney recording perhaps a little thicker and fuller, with one of the trio adding short bursts of foreign language radio to the mix for a while. These little additions stand out a mile amongst the otherwise less referential sounds used. Their placement here and there throughout the second piece inevitably reminds me of AMM, but while that group worked with a wide range of sounds and dynamics, the radio here stands out further as it is pitched into an otherwise quit barren flow of buzzing and crackling. Near the end of the piece Kahn pushes the envelope a little further, adding swathes of burning synth that pick up the other two and pull them into something of a crescendo.

Its all a very good listen, a nice tussle between three experienced and consistently challenging musicians, and an interesting balance between Stasis Duo’s ascetic, perhaps minimalistic use of a set of sounds and Kahn’s fuller, richer use of a similar palette. Maybe you need to prefer the sound of broken electronics more than the average person to get the most out of these two live sets, but assuming you do, this is a tense, slightly unforgiving but rewarding in return for careful attention set of concert recordings. Oh and they are free. The Avant Whatever website makes you leave your details (not any payment details) to be able to download the music, the reason for which is never made clear, but this is a small price to pay for an hour of solid electronic improvisation. Get it here.


Comment (1)

  • jon abbey

    August 23, 2011 at 1:06 am

    agreed, this is very strong, one of the better things I’ve heard this year.

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