Review: Moon RA – Promenade Magnétique (Czaszka, May 29)

Promenade Magnétique is true computer music, every bit a “magnetic walk” through the annals of the software plugins and hardware used by Marie e le Rose to create these six short sound pieces. A faithful yet original homage to classic concrète music, Rose’s “field recordings of artificial landscapes” take on abstract physical forms in their impossible movements and synthetic contortions, almost completely isolated from any pure source material used. Each track is chock-full of detailed progression, never really following any sort of predictable linearity but instead exploring the possibilities of this unfettered magnetic landscape in increasingly complex ways. Rose’s manipulations are restless and kinetic, the tension barely contained even in the most reserved moments like the unstable drone that threatens to burst at any moment at the start of “D,” digital clicks and taps and oscillations expanding into shifting weaves of plasticky sonorities. As is common—yet never any less surprising—in even the most removed of electroacoustic compositions, the artificial soundscapes begin to evoke real-life phenomena in the mind of the listener: “A” adopts the tubular configuration of air flowing through a pipe, “C” mimics the bubbling motion of boiling liquid, “2” vibrates like an agitated metal surface. Despite the modest rules Rose gave herself to create this work, Promenade Magnétique is a formidable and far-ranging work of abstract electronic music.

Review: Matthew Atkins & Adam Kinsey – Lowercase (Minimal Resource Manipulation, May 22)

First, I want to thank anyone who sends me physical items for review. It’s already amazing to receive digital copies for consideration, but the fact that my writing warrants people wanting to pay to ship stuff to me is extremely humbling. I greatly appreciate it.

Lowercase documents a collaboration between British sound artists Matthew Atkins and Adam Kinsey, both of whom are quite active in London’s experimental music and improvisational community. The name of the CD evokes common traits of the titular genre, which often features an emphasis on silence and purposefully sparse composing, but the vivid constructions conjured by Atkins and Kinsey don’t feel restricted by any such constraints. The colorful two thirds of an hour of Lowercase bubble and boil through evolving mixtures of tactile object interplay, fragile granular textures, and field recordings coated in varying amounts of manipulation. The release situates itself in a sound-world that is consistently calming and always a bit familiar, but the two artists never neglect to push this envelope of comfort closer and closer to the breaking point, bending and twisting and stretching the elements they introduce into increasingly elusive configurations. The ever-present balance of the tangible and the detachedly synthetic, the distorted tape groans that conclude part one, the immersive but almost uncomfortably intimate stereo space… it all materializes into an abstract musical language that never quite lays all its cards on the table.