Review: Vanessa Rossetto – Fashion Tape (No Rent Records, Feb 6)

Despite the apparent transparency and directness of spoken word samples, music that makes use of them is usually anything but. It is often true that the combination of a multitude of snippets – that on their own would hardly be significant – results in creations that are cryptic, mysterious, and even disorienting. I hope I’m getting my point across, but if not, you need not look farther than Vanessa Rossetto’s Fashion Tape for an example. In contrast to last year’s Rocinante, an hour long piece completely absent of field recordings, the new tape largely consists of a wide variety of collected vocal samples; anywhere from whispered numerical calculations to the description of a certain color. The resulting diversity makes Fashion Tape‘s collages as colorful and fascinating as its bold cover art. When coupled with Rossetto’s well-tuned sense of dynamics, as well as an almost playful atmosphere, it makes the album something really unique. I feel like I will have to listen many more times to make sense of it all, so it’s a good thing that the package No Rent has put together is one of the best-looking tapes I’ve ever bought.

Review: Manja Ristić – Fairy & The River Teeth (Sonospace, Jan 31)

Fairy & The River Teeth is Madrid label Sonospace‘s sixth release this year. It joins a multitude of other projects in various areas of electroacoustics, field recording, phonography, and soundscaping. Probably the most notable example of these is the nearly four-hour, multi-artist collection Soundmaps for the Dreamer II, which I will reviewing as well (once I finish listening to it, of course). But despite the wide variety of sounds and even instruments Ristić uses, Fairy & The River Teeth is an incredibly intimate album. It quickly sucks you into an unfamiliar world, one that I’m still not really sure is comforting or frightening. Many of the recordings, i.e. a teakettle squealing, a pencil scratching on paper, or the twittering of birds, seem to magnify everyday noises to the point where you become completely immersed. In this way, the record exerts a lot of control over the listener, but not in a malignant way. For example, on the title track, I found myself so lost in the collages of sound that I was almost moved to tears when hints of conventional melody began to break through; not because of the beauty of the melodies themselves, but because it actually felt like these notes were coming from within me – a very profound experience to be sure. What I’m getting at is that Fairy & The River Teeth is amazingly unique, and ultimately you’ll have to listen for yourself to determine its true nature (which is a course of action I highly recommend).

Review: Make a Change… Kill Yourself – IV (Cursed Records, Jan 15)

It’s not exactly a revolutionary idea that longer songs are better suited to certain contexts. An 8-minute long grindcore track would, in most cases, be exhausting and overextended, while a 30-second drone piece would probably feel stunted and unfulfilling. While long songs are not out of place in atmospheric black metal, when a band releases an album consisting only of two side-long tracks it’s usually pretty hit or miss whether or not their duration will be justified. And Make a Change… Kill Yourself’s new tape, IV, is definitely a “hit.” The movement and progression of both songs feel natural and organic, yet just composed enough to not come across as aimless. As the (in my opinion, overly melodramatic) band name would suggest, the atmosphere created on IV is depressive and dark. The guitar tones are simultaneously airy and claustrophobic, and the tortured vocals, despite being mostly unintelligible, communicate anger, hatred, and sadness. Surprisingly, these long form tracks are mostly carried by the drums, whose subtle changes retain interest without drawing too much attention to themselves. As you can probably tell, I went into my first listen of IV not really expecting to like it. But the band overcomes any pigeonholing as a meandering, whiny depressive suicidal black metal act, and reaches impressive heights.

Review: Junko Hiroshige & Pandu – A Collaboration (Gerpfast Kolektif, Feb 8)

In an effort to boost the relevance of my blog and give me more writing material (only one of those reasons is true, I’ll let you guess which), I’ve decided to start reviewing recently released albums. If you have any suggestions for records I should review, please comment on posts or send me an email!


The aptly titled A Collaboration is a dual effort by vocalist Junko Hiroshige of legendary noise band Hijokaidan and Pandu of the more recent project Bergegas Mati. Having loved 2004’s Pinknoise, a collaboration between Junko and noisician/improviser Mattin, I was excited to find this album had a similar format: Junko’s shrill, yipping vocals set against waves of piercing noise. Despite consisting only of a 21-minute track, it’s easily the best harsh noise release I’ve encountered this year, and possibly one of the best I’ve ever heard. Pandu’s contributions are dense and infernal, with chunks of distortion and ear-splitting frequencies roiling and shifting like a demented sonic river. Surprisingly, the piece is anything but static; the dynamics are actually very pronounced, making the track seem even shorter than it actually is – a good thing in this case, because once I’m finished I just want to listen again. It’s always refreshing to hear really great stuff in this genre, especially when it offers the pairing of a personal favorite and a new face.

Episode 12: Well Well Well, How the Turntables

Setlist:

1. Martin Tétreault – “Abandon” (from La Nuit Où J’Ai Dit Non)

2. Dieb13 – “Gaston” (from Chaos Club)

3. eRikm – “Ressac” (from Stème)

4. Voice Crack – “Poem” (from Infra_Red)

5. Marina Rosenfeld – “In F” (from Plastic Materials)

6. Janek Schaefer – Le Petit Theatre De Mercelis

7. Christian Marclay – “Groove” (from Records)

8. Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris – “Untitled 1” (from Conduction #70: Tit for Tat)

9. Les Sculpteurs de Vinyl – “House Music” (from Memory & Magic)

Listen to a recording of the show here:

Episode 11: Harsh Noise Walls

Setlist:

1. Ad Marginem – “Untitled” (from Insectum)

2. Spacial Absence – “Forest Fire Fishing Trip” (from Primal Machinery)

3. Vomir – “Untitled” (from Portrait Series #6)

4. Dosis Letalis – “Titled” (from Vomir // Dosis Letalis)

5. A View From Nihil – Each fire is all fires, the first fire and the last ever to be.

6. The New Blockaders – Side A of Live in Hinoeuma

7. Geert Kohler – “A” (from Your Blonde Wife)

8. Maussade – Trouver la Paix

9. Werewolf Jerusalem – “She Was Buried Alive” (from The Reincarnation of Isabel)

Listen to a recording of the show here: