CD Reviews

Seijiro Murayama, Kazushige Kinoshita – 59:01.68

May 14, 2013

CD Ftarri Will we ever run out interesting conceptual ideas for making CDs? The music on Kazushige Kinshita and Seiji Murayama’s duo disc on the Ftarri label appeared a good few months ago now, but I have only recently found the time to spend with it. The release is credited as a duo, with the […]

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CD Reviews

Klaus Filip, Toshimaru Nakamura, Andrea Neumann, Ivan Palacký – Messier Objects

February 11, 2013

Meenna CD A Messier object is a name given by a once prominent astronomer for objects often seen in the sky that were mistaken for comets. Frustrated  by them, he made a list of them so that they could be ignored in future. The four musicians here each use instruments that perhaps many would think […]

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CD Reviews

Monday 19th April

April 19, 2010

There are of course a number of issues with writing reviews as well as running a label. The most obvious ones are to do with conflicts of interest, perceived or otherwise that might occur when I write about a musician that has a CD released on Cathnor. The informality of this blog allows me to get away with writing about music by Cathnor musicians easier than elsewhere, though I will usually add a caveat to the text, or at least whenever I remember to do so. There are other problems though, often related to the fact that quite often when a new CD arrives I have already heard the music some months before in demo form. So can I write nice things about a CD I possibly rejected as a Cathnor release at an earlier date? Yes of course I can, but it makes things a little awkward.

In the case of Carliol, the new album by John Butcher and Rhodri Davies on the Ftarri label, I’m faced with a new scenario again. I heard this music about a year ago, as a demo, at a time when I really was not looking for new potential releases as i had already comitted to enough to keep me going for quite a while. I really liked the music though, and listened to the demo a lot, finally deciding that I should offer to release it, even though the timing wasn’t good. It needed to be heard. Anyway when I finally did offer to do so it turned out I was a few days too late and the music had found a home at Ftarri. In truth this worked out fine as I should not really have been offering to do anything at that time, and I knew the music would be well looked after by Ftarri. Now though, a year later with the very beautifully presented CD playing on the stereo I wonder just how objective I can be about the music now I have my reviewer hat on? In theory if I felt the music was good enough to release on Cathnor then I can’t have anything bad to say about it…

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CD Reviews

Saturday 6th March

March 7, 2010

This third disc then begins with a piece of thoroughly uninteresting ambient drone music made with a laptop and electric guitar by Chihei Hatakeyama. The piece of music, named Last Night is seven minutes long and resembles a slightly faster, busier, digital version of Eno’s Apollo recordings. It is also mixed very loud, so loud I reached for the volume dial quite soon after the beginning. I must be honest this piece of music just aggravated me really. It is thoroughly generic, featureless and devoid of anything but the very worst kind of new age drifty dreaminess. The ending is really badly done as well. There follows another droney track, this time by Satoshi Kanda, though the nature of this piece is quite different. The track is named Milk bottle on bass guitar, a title that perhaps gives away much of what the music sounds like. The sounds seem to come more from the bottle than the guitar, a kind of buzzing vibrating sound that alters in pitch and intensity as the bottle is presumably moved about. Its a simple piece, one idea stretched out to six and a half minutes but it is nicely done with a fair degree of subtlety.

The third track is very different, and very beautiful. Simple Drawing by Shinichi Isohata is a three minute miniature for acoustic guitar that mixes gently picked, widely spaced notes and gentle little scraping sounds to produce something that sounds like a cross between Taku Sugimoto and Tetuzi Akiyama both circa the turn of the millennium. The playing is very delicate, carefully placed amidst pools of silence and oozes a delightful charm. Simple Drawing is a great title for the piece as it does lovely things with a minimal amount of resource in a small amount of space. There then follows a solo piece by Shinjiro Yamaguchi, who along with Takahiro Kawaguchi produced the rather good Hello album for Ftarri last year. His piece, named Hanarete seems to have been made using a mixer, but possibly with guitar sounds at some point forming the original source material for the piece, which is reduced here to a low oscillating tone that occasionally warps and decays into a less fluid form, with grittier, more abrasive sounds quietly rising from within it, cutting off dead before they peak. This is a curious little piece that doesn’t sound like much else I have heard before, which makes it even more difficult to evaluate. It works well though, particularly coming after the Isohata piece.

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CD Reviews

Saturday 20th February

February 21, 2010

So tonight I have been listening to the second disc of the three that come free with the 2009 edition of the Improvised Music from Japan magazine. Ten tracks here again, and this time I have only heard of one of the artists here before, but all are involved in one way or another with organising live concerts around Japan. The disc begins with a six minute piece called Black Chino by BOBO, who might be someone called Ken Ando, but I am not certain. The piece is a perfectly functional but not really that interesting slice of electronic ambient music, a series of layered shimmering drones and bassy rumbles that hang inoffensively in the air, shifting slowly. The second track is by Kanto Horio and is called 090814, presumably a reference to the recording date. Horio works with self built objects, listed here as solenoids, piezoelectric elements and ATmega168P whatever one of those is. The piece sounds vaguely like Taku Unami’s early rattling and clattering objects, but the sounds they produce here, while of the same texture and nature just seem to lack any vitality. From the very start there is a disjointed rattling to be heard, that continues to the end of the four minute track but changes little in dynamic, keeps going at the same pace and even though I have no idea what the objects making the sound actually look like there is no sense of mystery, just the clattering noise.

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CD Reviews

Wednesday 17th February

February 18, 2010

Tonight I have been listening to the first of the three discs that come attached to the new Improvised Music from Japan magazine, a sort-of annual magazine that hasn’t actually been published for three years but is here in its sixth thick issue. This issue is themed around interviews and articles with or about people organising concert series or festivals in Japan. I must be honest, I have as yet read much more than the opening editorial, but have begun listening to the music tonight, which is directly linked to the magazine’s theme, but certainly consisting of Japanese resident musicians, most of which seem to be involved with the task of regularly organising one kind of musical happening or another.

There are ten tracks on this first disc, and as is often the case with this kin dof thing they are all somewhat different. The CD opens with a solo piece by Katsura Mouri, a member of the Busratch group who seems to work here entirely with turntables, though the fast moving and rapidly changing nature of the piece, which is named Chess Music does cause me to wonder just how she managed to make the music in real time. Its a jerky, brash three minute fly through rhythmic spirals of bits of records, bleeps and dissonant noise. If the track went on much longer than it does then it would become tedious pretty quickly, but as a short blast of an opener it works well. Mouri’s track is followed by an untitled seven minute piece by the duo of Jyurin, who although based in Fukuoka consist of Matt Richelson and Shane Bowden, to non-Japanese (and at a guess maybe Australian?) names that are new to me. Richelson plays guitar and Bowden electronics, and together the sound they make is a kind of loose, sprawling and semi-droning workout that reminds me of Loren Connors more feedback heavy moments with a piercing electronic undertow. The piece is recorded live and is clearly improvised, and while not really being my cup of tea sounds quite competently performed. The guitar takes front of stage in the mix, mostly wailing its way through pitch-bent notes and wild rips of feedback, while Bowden’s electronics resemble someone working with power tools at the end of a long corridor.

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CD Reviews

Saturday 1st August

August 1, 2009

Just recently I’ve drunk some terrible wine. The bottle of awful Chilean chardonnay I bought really cheap yesterday went down the sink this evening after the first mouthful of the second glass. A steaming cup of camomile tea sits beside me now as Takahiro Kawaguchi and Shinjiro Yamaguchi’s new release named Hello plays for the […]

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CD Reviews

Thursday 30th July

July 30, 2009

It hasn’t stopped raining here for days. Well, actually it did for a bit today, but only long enough to summon the strength for a huge hailstorm. Ah well, good old English summers…. I was home by eight tonight after an early start this morning, and since arriving back here I have played one of […]

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