Every so often our writers submit reviews for albums that have previously been covered on Foxy Digitalis. Â For a while weâ€™ve tried to figure out the best thing to do with said reviews and often, sadly, the final resting place for them was in the trash. Â But now those days are done. Â On a semi-regular basis we will publish this column, On Second Thought, presenting alternate opinions to various albums weâ€™ve reviewed in the past. Â Generally they will be releases from the past six months or so, but weâ€™ll feature older albums on occasion as well. This installment features Emmanuelle Gibello, (D)(B)(H)/Seeded Plain & Hal Rammel, Secret Secrets, Dome, & Ă€ Qui avec Gabriel/Kawabata Makoto. Enjoy.
Emmanuelle Gibello, “Labyrinthe/ c104 goto N901″
by Ken Fogjin
The record is about surveillance. Feeding in sounds of the city and the more traditional field recording of the beautiful “untouched” nature sounds, then manipulating them to blasts of fury. Throughout this record French “sound artist” Emanuelle Gibello gives peaks into her sound sources; people talking, police radio, tours etcâ€¦Â They always grow rather quickly to pounding blasts, most often the affect of manipulating the sounds and layering them on top of on another. This CD is a distinctly European feel, as the sounds of super fast shifting harmonics on top of static on top of peaking distortions on top of swift manipulated woodland sounds have a serious refined edge to them, not the dirtiness affiliated with the American Noise homemade electronics and guitar pedals. The sounds are noisy as hell, but not the noise one finds in snippets throughout everyday life, rather they are sculpted blasts that have layers of natural sourcing, melody, and precision in them. These blasts and screams all being contexualized by the everyday sounds is no doubt a nod at the idea of surveillance being a noisy, scary, and aggressive practice, although in America we have less cameras than Europe, and different ways to deal with them.
This is a simple release, a split 12-inch with a recycled, but attractively screen-printed, jacket.The Seeded Plain & Hal Rammel side is mostly made up of percussed and stringed exploration, with the homemade instruments credited sounding like theyâ€™re mostly made up of tongs and tines. (Check outÂ Rammelâ€™s website for photos of some of his impressive homemade instruments.) Resting somewhere on the Eli Keszler/Ashley Paul axis, the piece is non-narrative and seems meant as purely exploratory improvisation.
The (D)(B)(H) flipper starts out very minimal, with sustained sax notes and drumkit rumbling, and mostly stays that way. But there is also plenty of object play and outrĂ© staccato lines. Eventually, with nice subtlety, some tape loops make their way into the mix â€“ at least some of them sound live-sampled, which is always an interesting proposition. But the exploratory, sometimes inchoate feel is still present up until the last few minutes, when some interesting new sounds form a squeaky crescendo.
Secret Secrets, â€śChiromagicaâ€ť
by Mike Wood
Droning, haunting, and abrasive, the slightly Middle-Eastern industrial soundscapes of Secret Secrets pack a punch even when the sound is pensive and almost ritualistic. Prayerful but defiant, this is challenging minimalism with a darkly sacred bite. â€śChiromagicaâ€ť is special, sometimes effortlessly, sometimes with deliberate grace and menace.
Repetitionâ€”in music and in Shana Palmerâ€™s vocalsâ€”wrestles with silence on most of the these songs, with Palmerâ€™s electronics and Melissa Mooreâ€™s guitar and drums working in unison and in counterbalance to one another. The title of the opener â€śLunar Stormâ€ť is also a good description of the music throughout.
â€śDown in the Hollowâ€ť and â€śSongs About Love Luck, Animals and Magickâ€ť are the signature tracks, both in their intensity and in the soulful expression of so few musical cues and tones. â€śTake to Taste the Riverâ€ť and â€śThreshold Consciousnessâ€ť are also memorable, sounding like invocations to secret but ambiguous rituals.
â€śChiromagicaâ€ť is a debut that will probably lie under the radar, but pick up some steam once other artists check it out and see what this duo is up to. Secret Secrets offer ambient both harsh and ennobling, with a spiritual edge that oozes the risk of true spiritual quests.
Bumping guts of guttural gut busters. There’s a lot of that, the heartbeat. It seems the one constant through these five discs –only one is new, the rest reissues– is the use of heavy pounding beats that rear their head up, the way squeals and digital blips rise from drones on the other part of the album. The album is euro-tech to the max. Non-academic electronics, I will categorize away, because this is a tiny musical ghetto that is few artists venture into. Well, it’s not really a ghetto it’s wide open and between the boys of Dome, Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke, John Wiese, Mika Vaino and WAY more you got all kinds of improvisers, rockers, metalheads, techno freaks, producers, and DJs. Before we get into who is in the non-ghetto, more like a busy commercial downtown area –heads coming through all the time, but few residents– let me explain what it is all about.
Electronic music was often the pursuit of the academic institutions with their big budgets to buy equipment and pay people to work on electronic music it was a natural fit. However, a lot of that music started being a sort of equivalent of insane guitar shred for experimental music: very difficult and time consuming to create, but totally uninteresting except to a few loyal dorks. Then there are the break aways who had little to do with the academy and made music that had a little more of a fun time leaning, drum machines and beats, loudness and harshness etcâ€¦ Dome jumped on this early working with tape loops and synthesizers in the 80s through now-a-days, but never making heavy “Electronica” for the club, nor blip-blops for the classroom, rather Dome hinted heavily at techno and simple rock but buried all those ideas in squeals, hiss-y drones, blips and beeps and crushing shots of skuzz. This box set shows that stuff and how it evolved and the different things that can be done when electronic music isn’t for dancing or for learning, just for being.
Ă€ Qui avec Gabriel/ Kawabata Makoto, â€śGolden Treeâ€ť
by Mike Wood
Fearless guitar legend Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple, among an endless permutations and collaborations) here joins forces with Japanese female accordionist Ă€ Qui avec Gabriel for a three song exploration of the possibilities inherent in the interplay between their instruments. â€śGolden Treeâ€ť is a swirling, meditative droning set that occasionally reaches some abrasive heights but mostly keeps to a slow, smooth psych buzz.
â€śA Sacred Tree At Nemiâ€ť is a dark soundscape, a minimal drone with its tension heightened by Ă qui avec Gabriel’s harrowing chant.
With â€śSolid Torus,â€ť the duo borrow from Krautrock, Eno/Bowie and Klezmer; this thirty plus minute workout is an endurance test of dream, nightmare and cinematic reverie, its hypnotic pulse resting in the sublime. The finale, â€śA Priest of Nothingness Under The Moon,â€ť is barely there, a quivering minimalist piece in which individual instruments are given recognizable spotlights, and often play over and through each other, to ultimately create an unsettling groan.
There is calm at the heart of â€śGolden Tree,â€ť though both Ă€ Qui avec Gabriel and Makoto Kawabata, aware that emotional outbursts the need for their recognition when they arise, are not afraid to explore some darker regions of their instrumental interplay. This is rich and challenging, and oddly comforting.