CD Reviews

Monday 2nd March

March 3, 2009

Posting here very late tonight. 1:30AM in fact as I start to write. Today was a long and tedious day, but I had some good news today that I won’t be working as many very late shifts soon, which should see these posts appear earlier in the evening some of the time, and should also mean I get to attend more concerts.

I listened to four different CDs today, two that I have been listening to repeatedly for review purposes, one from the “pile of patient purchases” and one I burnt myself from a download. As if merely to replace them, four more discs fell through the letterbox this morning. Hey ho….

So the download I listened to was the Murayama / Northam piece pulled from the Univers International site that I mentioned yesterday. They stood around and watched is actually pretty good, maybe even better than the tracks on their album I wrote about yesterday. Of course you can go and download your own copy, listen and make up your own mind about it, but I liked the simplicity of this piece, soft tones of unidentified origin overlaid by snippets of field recordings and careful percussion work, but compiled in such a way as to not overcomplicate the music. I love the image on the left there too that accompanies the recording at the website. Apparently this and the other Micro Editions range of 3″ CDrs by Univers International are available to order as physical objects as well. I have sent them an email as it would be nice to hear this music as an uncompressed recording.

The other disc I played, this time from the pile of new releases was the and/OAR release by Isobel Clouter and Rob Meullender titled Myths of Origin, Somic ephemera from East Asia. I picked up this disc because of its inclusion of several recordings of shifting sands, the incredible aural phenomena whereby large banks of sand that have been set moving by gravity create a deep humming noise. These sounds have been very rarely captured over the years, and the recordings here are no doubt not even close to a good replacement for hearing them live as here they are divorced from the magnificent natural power that creates them. Still the recordings are good and are just one part of this album which works as an audio diary for several trips to China, Japan and Mongolia. So we don’t just hear the singing sands, but the wash of nearby tides, the buzzing of passing flies and the sound of the two recordists as they make their way to assorted vantage points. At the end of one track, after the booming sounds of the sands have passed the pair are left discussing the event in somewhat awestruck terminology, a charming moment.

Like other and/OAR releases have done in the past the disc also contains pdf files of photos taken to go with the music which is a thoughtful additional touch. I found this release to be an interesting and pleasant listen, answering my curiosity about how these sands might sound (They really sound nothing like you might expect by the way) but its probably a CD that I’ll put on the overcrowded shelf of field recording releases and unlikely play again until I spot it in a year or two. That is not to criticise it as such, but I personally find it unusual that I would listen to this kind of release repeatedly, unlike a disc of improvised musicians for instance. I’m not certain why this is, but it may have something to do with the documentary aspect of a CD like this, making it something I listen to, enjoy and then feel unlikely to get much from on repeated listens. probably my problem and my loss.

Mind you, if I was still presenting audition then I would certainly have found a nice long excerpt to play on the show, simply to annoy Alastair.

One disc constructed in a large part from field recordings is Dan Warburton’s Profession Reporter, which is one of the discs I have been playing today with the intention of reviewing. Dan’s disc goes some way beyond simple field recording however, blending acoustic instrumentation into proceedings, which makes that release a very different object and something I am likely to play far more often.

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