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Seth Cooke – Christ of the Abyss / Seth Cooke and Dominic Lash – Canary

Hairdryer Excommunication

Seth Cooke - Christ of the Abyss

Following up from the no-input field recordings reviewed here, Seth‘s either in a spirit of intrepidly obtuse field recording, or taking the piss (either’s good, frankly). The no-input field recording method, foolhardy though it is to compress it to something so asinine as a method, involves getting a recording, making it record itself, and putting that recorder somewhere. Possibly a field.

Christ of the Abyss, my extensive research shows, is a crucifixion portrait by Archibald MacKinnon, a teacher on Eilean Dà Bhàrr, who painted it and didn’t tell anyone. And this record comes with on a business card CD with a wee negative of the painting. Something Hairdryer Communication do very well, in my experience, is packaging.

And the music is a neat little three minutes of no-input field recordings. And I’m wondering if the reason for its title, with the allusions to obscurity bordering on abject pointlessness, is due to this recording having that quality of poorly-copied EVP recordings — mostly, there’s static hiss but there’s the odd impression of a tone, a whisper of the wind whipping a flag. I’ve noticed more and more lately that the longer I listen to white noise, the more I think external noises are part of it, or think that parts of it are external noises. One of our cats was attentively staring down a music stand for its duration.

Worth a punt if you like: good packaging, short wraps of static, or putting cats in a fighting mood.

Seth Cooke and Dominic LashCanary
Hideous Replica

Dominic Lash and Seth Cooke - CanaryLonger here, and he’s bought a pal along in the shape and name of Dominic Lash, one of the busier double bass players of the moment. I’m assuming it’s improvised, in part at least, and it’s a really peculiar mix of things.

Seth’s playing microphones and prototype cymbal, which basically involves setting a cymbal on top of a microphone and using the microphone to control the speaker feedback, which in turn sets the cymbal going in various states of wash sounds, ringing, shaking, etc. Seth’s giving not much more than a continuous cymbal sound which never quite resolves to a drone; on the improv politeness scale, it’s not rating highly, but where it works is with Lash’s delicate accentuations, pulling out some quiet partials amongst sine-like sounds or just a fifth or so below the cymbals lowest constant.

You have to listen carefully for what Lash is doing — perhaps self-consciously, you’ve basically got two blokes being pugnaciously awkward to each other (or their audience). The voices of each instrument aren’t clearly delineated, and there’s moments of quite careful listening on both parts; tense, terse and never quite resolving itself. It’s arguably the case that Lash dashes out of the shadows slightly more on the second track, but rarely into the realms of full melodies, more like a drunk lawnmower engine. If you’re a fan of bow technique, Lash is pretty hardy in that realm and there’s some deft work here.

Something that occurred to me here is that it’s quite odd that from a belligerent or myopic perspective, Seth seems to have found places of stereoscopic brilliance; delicate sound worlds built on determination. And it’s lovely to hear Lash in a setting that’s forcing him to play… well, I’ve only seen him a few times, this may be his preferred way to play, but this is a bit less twenty-first century free improv than other times I’ve seen/heard him.

Both worth a few listens, so Paypal primed to line some e-coffers, pop pickers.

-Kev Nickells-

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