Another free download tonight then, that is also available as a limited edition CDr from the Insubordintions netlabel should you wish for one. This recording in question is a four track album by a Swiss/German quartet made up of three laptop improvisers; D’Incise, Ludger Hennig and Sciss, the performance name of Hans Holger Rutz and the accordion of Jonas Kocher. I have listened to quite a lot of improvised music in my time, but I am quite sure that this is the first three laptops plus accordion quartet I have heard. The interesting arrangements of sound then, between the three digital sources and the acoustic accordion gives the music its first point of interest. Given that any of the computers could instantly swamp Kocher, and considering that three of them fighting for space could easily see the music dissolve into a noisy featureless mass, the musicians manage to keep things suitably well balanced throughout these four pieces.
The sounds we hear across the untitled album very between the wheezing tones of the accordion and a variety of digital sounds, ranging from field recordings, some more processed than others but none really obviously identifiable, to digitally synthesised sounds, and probably other stuff in between.It is impossible to tell any of the computers apart, and almost as difficult to work out how many are producing sounds at any one time, leaving just Kocher as something familiar to focus our ears upon. None of this matters of course though, and it is in fact quite liberating as a listener to take in this music without having to concern yourself with who is doing what. The music all becomes one, or at least three quarters of it does, and you are able to just listen into it without concerns about ego or personality getting in the way.
The music is good, occasionally very good indeed- often quite darkly tinted, full of brooding, shadowy sounds but involving a wide array of textures and dynamics from pure tones to digital sounding scribbles to industrial roars and clatter. Nothing stays static for very long at all, and there is no hint of a drone. The overall finish is nearer a slightly slowed down John Wall than anything else I can think of, with sudden rushes to cliff top chasms, deep wells of churning moans and small collections of little chattering, fidgety abstraction strewn about on top. There is a strong sense of story telling and progression in the music though, it doesn’t feel as if these sounds were all just thrown together to see what develops. When the music settles into quiet lulls it takes carefully listening and considered responses to keep the music together, with all four combining nicely to keep any particular moment full of detail and yet also to keep a sense of structure rather than chaos in place.
This is a very nice listen then, an unusual palette of sounds utilised very well indeed, and given that it is available for free anyway why not just go and listen for yourselves? the Insubordinations project is one of many excellent examples we have these days of online labels set up purely with the aim of distributing music for free but that do so with a great amount of care and attention, underlining that the love of the music shown by the musicians as they create it flows on into how it is distributed. Grabbing the FLAC folder from the website delivers several image files as well, so if you wanted to print and fold up your own physical sleeve for the music you can. The attention to detail and amount of care is admirable for a free product. They aren’t alone in how they do things, but certainly Insubordinations, which is run by D’Incise is as good a model for how the CD label could potentially continue to operate in the digitally driven future.