So to the next four tracks at the Another Timbre Anonymous Zone. Before talking about them though, some thoughts about my writing yesterday. i set ou tho try and discuss the music, and not slip into the game of trying to identify which musicians are responsible for the recordings. I found this really difficult to do though, and ended up trying to identify musicians I thought I knew well. I asked myself today why I felt the need to do this? I think the reason has less to do with worrying about my reputation as a writer or so called expert on this area of music. I don’t consider myself an expert, just an avid listener who sets his thoughts on music down in an informal manner here. No, what concerns me I think, isn’t looking silly in public, as after all this blog goes some way to achieving that particular goal in itself, but rather that I might not recognise the music of a friend. This music being based on such a small scale most of those of us involved in it know each other to one degree or another, and while I never have a problem criticising the work of a friend constructively here, not identifying it at all would seem a little disrespectful, even though such an outcome is inevitable when one approaches reviewing a project such as this anyway. So I will try and refrain from the identifications, but when they really seem clear and obvious to me I think I should mention this, for my own sanity at least. I will of course then, be completely wrong with every identification anyway.
So 02/01/13E, the fifth of the initial dozen tracks contains a piano (or a derivative of a piano) alongside some kind of electronics. The recording sounds like it comes from a concert setting, and is a quite exciting, dramatic fifteen minutes of music. I genuinely struggle to hear any particular familiar voices in this one, though the playing certainly does sound very familiar. there are Tilburyisms all over the early part of the piece, alongside scratchy, rattling percussive elements. Electronics, or at least something amplified of some kind then appears, offering thick sinetones in places, brittle vibrations elsewhere. When the track builds to a combined crescendo it is AMM through and through to me, or at least musicians closely inspired by them, but here lies another problem with trying to guess precise musicians, you start applying sounds to templates in your head and shut off other possibilities. The music however, is really good, a mix of the grittily percussive, screechingly electronic and, though the piano, really quite stunning, both through the beauty of the quieter moments to the abstractions elsewhere. Great stuff.
As much as I bemoan pinning down pieces of music to single musicians, so 02/01/13F sounds precisely like the work of Mark Wastell to me, playing tam tam alongside analogue electronics of some kind, performed i would guess by one of his recent regular playing partners. If I am wrong here then I’m going to look very stupid, but surely I know this particular sound well enough? If it is Wastell then this is as good an example of his tam tam work I have heard in a while, muted and restrained throughout and with plenty of space allowed into the work, which makes a nice change from other recent outings I have heard from him. There is a softness and subtlety here that shows a strong understanding of the instrument, and if it isn’t Wastell then I don’t have an idea who it might be,
02/01/13G is (thankfully) something I don’t think I can identify. It is a blend of composed sections of field recordings and simple electronics that gradually shift, cut up and bring in what sounds like real time editing of the work. So church bells dominate the opening section of the disc but these gradually give way to cut up bits of CD, field recordings and samples into a collage of musique concrete parts, complete even with French voices at the key points. The track uses traffic sound as percussive elements and little bits of improvised instrumental music recordings that leap out at you here and then when listening back later. There are some sections in here that drag on a bit as the music thickens and various elements are thrown into the big pot, but all of the material gets used up eventually. The standard of the AZ pieces so far has been consistently very high, so I hope this can continue in the future. This piece is a fun number really. As it envelops onwards things seem to get more hectic and fragmented, but the piece keeps to its original form.
02/01/13H kicks in with damned hydrophone recordings, and not that enthralling recordings either until slow, moody piano notes appear to cast a solemn shadow across proceedings. I have no idea who made this recording either, though I would guess that I am hearing a duo. The hydrophone track cuts away at one point, only to return with a semi-clumsy reentry a few minutes later. The aquatic recordings obviously were’t “played” here today, but they do sound composed rather then handed out for nothing. The pieces in general , with the composed instrumental and piano parts not particularly well enough defined and the watery sounds all getting thoroughly uninteresting, seemingly more of a musical device than any real source of discussion. The track does have certain Fedmanesque elements to the fore, and radio grabs sit all over the place, however with the pianist yet to really come out of it all in a good light. The piece just generally lacks drama or true invention, leaning more towards a simple prettiness that while impressive loses its taste on the bedstead over night.
So that’s the next four brief reviews/thoughts then. I have written these while very tired indeed, with words straying all over the place, so please excuse any typos and apologies due to every good friend I failed to identify. More tomorrow.