Alvaro Herran – Electric Counterpoint

With props to Jay Springett for this one.

When I was doing my Music Tech course those oh so many moons ago, one of our tutors did a quick demo of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music and got me to be the second person. It took hella concentration but it was really cool to do. I have, subsequently to the course, always retained a soft spot for Reich’s works (along with Terry Riley), so when I saw this I had to have a listen.

Despite the brevity of the EP, it is a fully immersive listen. I’ve moved my little studio around just a bit which has changed my speaker orientation to what I think is probably absolute perfection and as a result I can sink in to the music much deeper. Trancey works like this are, therefore, absolute heaven.

Karamika (self titled)

There’s about 10 shows I listen to regularly that make my wishlist increase every time, and so much enjoyment am I having going through their old shows that I haven’t actually listened to the full albums in question yet…

So I did this one, and despite it being at the more expensive end of the digital albums available, I’m still seriously considering bumping this to the head of the queue. It ticks all those buttons that make music conducive to catatonia, I mean, it’s trancey as all fuck.

This is one of those albums where you actually can just refer to each track by its number. I mean, the whole thing works as a cohesive whole, but say you wanted to highlight, say, track 5, you don’t have to worry about remembering the title.

There may be a whole academic treatise available to someone in this observation – back when I bought vinyl, I used to know the name of every song on every album I bought, same with tapes. Once I moved into CDs, that became slightly less perfect. Now I’m digital only, I struggle to remember song names at all until I’ve heard them about 20 times unless the name jumps out, and that’s just the albums in English. Quantity may have something to do with it, but there’s something else at play as well. I remember reading some while back the suggestion that human memory started to atrophy with the advent of writing because before we could write things down somewhere we needed to have epic memories in order to remember things. As the amount of storage for memory has increased over the years, with books and then TV/Film, and then digital with all dem server farms, so we don’t need to remember anything any more, we can all just look it up. And then forget what we just looked up. Did someone say progress?

Anyway, ignore my ramblings and listen to the music.

Elsewhere VXIII

Many years ago – about 15, I think – I was chatting with someone who was guesting at a library I was working at and the subject of the fact I make music came up. When describing his own approach to music, he said that unlike me, he only consumes music…

It is impossible to consume music. You can engage with it or you can ignore it, or somewhere in between, but you cannot consume it. The music will remain unchanged, although your perception of it won’t.

Imagine thinking like that? I was too nice to debate with him about it, plus I think my thoughts on it took a while to become coherent even though it jarred me immediately. But it speaks to a mindset that believes it is only in existence to consume things because of much larger sociological factors that are not even wrong, that would be giving them waaay too much credit.

I was reminded of this exchange by all the giddy hype about what AI (sidebar: it’s all A, no I) can do for us to save us from the drudgery of, like, leisure and stuff, and reading, and writing, and creating, and making, and, and, and… all we have to do is give some prompts and it do all that for us! And then what do we do? More free time to merely consume things, I suppose.

A compilation like what I bring to your attention today simply could not be made with that kind of approach to music and discernment. There is a thread running through this that can only be done with human judgement. And indeed, DJ soFa, for it is he who has compiled this, has made several compilations and all of them have a particular feel to them though it would be an insult to insinuate they are in any way the same as each other; they are not.

This is why an algorithmic approach to music discovery will never throw the surprises at you that other humans can. You simply could not build in the coherent unpredictability required. In fact, all the best compilations, DJ sets, mixes – what they have in common is a coherent unpredictability. And probably all great art, for that matter.

If you want merely functional, then go ahead and knock yourself out with your AI approach to creativity and novelty, which will be neither creative or novel unless you assign a depressingly low value to what you consider creative or novel. But if you want the great, the sublime… you need the human touch.

Ivan the Tolerable – The Aleph

This one came from the bandcamp feed, someone I follow had bought it and I salute them. They have impeccable taste.

Looking at the blurb, there is a connection to the wonderful Haress, but there is very little similarity between their sound and this. This comes under umbrella term of ‘jazz that I like,’ which is a small but growing field. I think ‘jazz that I like’ is where jazz meets psych, drone, groove and repetition. In fact, any genre that has a party in that area will probably do it for me.

This fella’s catalogue needs exploring, I feel. Just as well I haven’t got much else to listen to at the mo… oh, wait…

And also, this is the first time I have used ‘Middlesborough’ as a geographical tag.

One Unique Signal – Aether

So a while ago I bought ‘The Drift‘ by these (did I post about it? I don’t remember doing so) which is wonderfully hypnotic and is kind of my go-to album for when my playlist only takes until about 20 minutes before I hit the hay; it’s a perfect EP for that sort of gap, especially the closing track.

But this is an entirely different beast. I suspect the line-up was different. Maybe they were jamming with peak-Oneida, as that’s who I kept thinking of when I was listening to it. And because of that, I love it. I think it might be one for more in the midst of a hectic playlist, though, rather than the wind-down before bedtime.

And I love the cover.

Marlene Ribeiro ~ Negra Branca – N.B. + Touched

This was in my Bandcamp wishlist for years, literally. I finally bought it a couple of months back after playing it again, and it has done seriously hard labour on my speakers since then.

I want to type the phrase ‘Marlene used to be in Gnod’ because I haven’t seen her listed on their more recent stuff. BUT – you listen to Faca do Inberno on this here album, and then you listen to Faca de Fogo from Gnod’s recent collaboration with João Pais Filipe and you tell me that the one isn’t a proto-type for the other. Go on. Can’t do it, can you? So maybe she’s still in Gnod.

Water Damage – But the Rat was Very Smart

Ok, serious mong time.

Two tracks, extremely repetitive, with an insane guitarist making noise over it, and I mean noise. I assume it’s a guitarist. Could be anything, really, with all the tech these days. I’m only assuming it’s guitar as I can make similarly insane noises when I want to, and it’s fun. They could also be labelled a super-group if you wanted to do that (ok, you’ve made your point – ed). Also, two bass players and three drummers? I just looked at the line up. There’s synth involved too. I have also made insane noises via synth. They too are fun. Anywho, it works.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I may be mildly catatonic. This sort of music certainly makes me glassy eyed, but I happen to really like that sensation. Or maybe it’s just the music that does it. And spreadsheets. They never fail.

Saint Abdullah – Ta Tash

So since we’re outside of Europe, I may as well mention this thing I bought several months back but keep forgetting to post.

So as I was saying, Wael Alkak put me strongly in mind of this but I think that’s more to do with the hypnotic pulse of both releases as they are actually very distinct musically. I think Saint Abdullah favour field recording and samples all mashed up with their electronics though still mixed with traditional instrumentation and singing.

Wael Alkak – Live

I don’t know if this is ever going to be available digitally* – sometimes labels make the download impractical until they’ve sold their physical things. I do have a tape player, but it’s got a permanent sound as if the tape is being chewed up, even though said tape actually isn’t being chewed up.

So this is basically a mixture of traditional Levantine rhythms/songs with electronics and beats, albeit quite mellow ones, improvised some or all of the way. It is nice and hypnotic, and that’s why it properly grabs me.

Even though the approach and source material is very different, it reminds me somewhat of Saint Abdullah. Saint Abdullah? Ah yes, since we’re on that subject…

*yes. yes it is.

Sula Bassana – Loop Station Drones

Sula Bassana is part of Electric Moon and therefore needs no introduction, and yet what you have just read is an introduction, albeit quite a lazy one.

Sula, or possibly also known as Dave, put the first track of this out a bit back with commentary on the page that this would just keep getting added to until finished, and now it is finished. Well, it was that one track that did it for me, but the fact that it’s now an album, and a nice long one, well, what’s not to love?

So when he do solo he do motorik, electronic, kosmische-y stuff with loops and drones an’ ting, and when he do solo, I do like to listen. It’s very possible that I’ve missed posting some of his stuff from the last few years; not purposely but because I just keep forgetting I have this blog thing. The point is, though, that all the things are worth listening to.