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Faust vs Dälek – Derbe Respect, Alder

Label: Staubgold/Klangbad format: CD

Derbe Respect, Alder - sleeveIt would be difficult to predict the outcome of a collaboration between two such disparate musical outfits as these. I mean Hip-Hop and Krautrock, or whatever category Faust‘s music falls into these days, don’t suggest themselves immediately as likely partners. Or perhaps that’s just my perception. Whatever preconceptions I may have had the resultant recording has blown them away, this really is a natural sounding and productive union. In any case collaborations have been a predominant feature of Faust releases for a while. We’ve had the soundtrack to Murnau‘s silent Nosferatu, the Ravvivando remixes and live work with Ingo Vauk. Whilst I never really thought the live venture with film worked well at least the music it spawned sounded astonishing. So some collaborations are more successful than others. Now this meeting of our ‘elder’ German noisemeisters

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Squarepusher/The London Sinfonietta/Jamie Lidell (live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall)

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 27 March 2004

Described as a ‘brilliantly conceived concert’ by The New York Times this promised an evening of aural and visual assaults from across a century. It almost seemed too much to squeeze into one performance but, with the exception of the interval, all video/visual material ran concurrent with the music.

Any revisiting of music which has been considered outside the mainstream by audiences for nearly 100 years raises some questions. What was it in the music of that earlier era that caused it to be reviled or ignored and is it the same thing now ? Have audiences adjusted to the sound and fury ? And how will it sit along with the ‘new’ electronic music which has its own detractors ?

There is clearly no difficulty presented by the eggshell delicacy of Aphex Twin‘s piano music. Its fragile waves rippled over the packed house

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Max Richter – The Blue Notebooks

Label: 130701 Format: CD

The Blue Notebooks - sleeve Richter’s work follows the releases by Set Fire To Flames and Sylvian Chauveau on FatCat’s 130701 imprint. In addition to the carefully wrought instrumental arrangements, he has chosen to use words sparsely. The work of Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz is integrated, along with parts of Kafka’s text The Blue Octavo Notebooks, into the dreamlike landscapes he constructs. These words are read quietly and fairly unobtrusively by Tilda Swinton, against the sound of a typewriter, and her delivery is perfect, clearly enunciated and with just the right amount of detachment. Since the texts are short and out of context they may be read like jottings from a journal or diary and conjure their own images independent of the sources.

Kafka’s “Notebooks” provide the opening text, “Everyone carries a room about inside them” leaving the listener with

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Diamanda Galás – Defixiones, Will & Testament / La Serpenta Canta

Label: Mute Format: 2CD

Defixiones - sleeve detailDiamanda Galás has never been timid about exploring the darkness and horror of her chosen territories. She’s been doing it for some years and these latest recordings are no exception. Defixiones, Will and Testament is rooted in Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides carried out by Turkey between 1914 and 1923. To construct this exploration she has borrowed texts from a variety of sources as well as using her own and, as if to accentuate the importance and power of the writings, there is little accompaniment apart from her piano, tape and minimal electronic treatments. As ever, it is the voice that is central to the delivery of the work.

Much has been said about that voice’s range, all three and a half octaves of it, but it is what she does with this range that makes it

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Faust and Dälek – Nummer 3

Label: Bomb Mitte Format: 7″

Faust and Dälek - Nummer 3The first Faust record I owned was on vinyl and now they have another release on the shiny black stuff. This time its a limited edition 7-inch collaboration with Dälek and is a taster of an album which will appear later this year. Collaborations appear to be part of the current Faust direction and it would seem to be a productive area to explore.

Given the relative brevity of the two sides its difficult to see what the larger picture of this merger of two fairly disparate units will look like. But from listening to this small sample it looks as though it will be a creative coalition. On Part 1 there are some characteristic Industrial grindings going on around the distorted anger of Will Brooks‘ rapping. There is a strong sense

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Midnight Sun : Sounds Of Norway – Supersilent/Sidsel Endresen, Christian Wallumrod, Jan Bang/Arve Henriksen/DJ Strangefruit (live)

Midnight Sun : Sounds Of Norway Unity Theatre, Liverpool 27 May 2003

It was with some trepidation that I went to Liverpool to see the 21st century’s version of the “package tour”. I’d been told, by someone whose opinion I trust, that most of the evening had been crap when he saw it. In fact he was a bit more splenetic than that. Still you have to find out for yourself, don’t you ?

A ton of print has been spent enthusing over the exciting newness of music coming out of Norway. I agree with some of it. I haven’t heard it all. But I have heard Supersilent, who effectively headline this bill. Their last CD in particular is a favourite. I was hoping that they would prove to be a better live experience than on the first night of the tour. More of that later.

The evening

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Set Fire To Flames – Telegraphs In Negative/Mouths Trapped In Static

Label: 130701(Europe)/Alien8(North America) Format: 2CD

Telegraphs In Negative/Mouths Trapped In Static - sleeve detailSome bands and their sound are inextricably linked to their chosen recording environments. Can and Faust immediately come to mind with place and process being inextricably linked. So it is with this thirteen-piece Canadian collective. Their last CD Sings Reign Rebuilder derived much of its atmosphere from the location in Montreal where they recorded it . They called the place “an old falling down monstrosity” and “something that couldn’t be erased from the tape” and undeniably, “the recordings were as much about the house as they were about the sounds made inside it”. Now they have produced something similar.

This time the band shifted their collective selves to a place which would become an essential part of what they played. Isolation and singular focus are key words. Holed up on an

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The Controlled Bleeding – Can You Smell The Rain Between?

Label: Tone Casualties Format: CD

Can You Smell The Rain Between - sleeve Can You Smell The Rain Between? was accompanied by “Enjoy ?” written on the press leaflet. Was I not meant to enjoy it ? Should I have endured an unpleasant hour or so ? The press release sets out to create an impression of something baleful and malign, which somehow made me think of the first Black Sabbath album. Anyway.

The Controlled Bleeding certainly explore some of the darker corners of sonic nightmares. They create a forbidding territory of dark rumbling bass lines and barely audible whispers on “Red Hands Waiting”. Other sound ingredients add to the impressions of a bleak terrain ; strangled electric guitar, creeping cymbals and a few unidentified objects. But it is never overdone, all elements are balanced to produce a fine weave of shifting atmospheres. There

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Bobby Conn – Winners

Label: Thrill Jockey Format: CDS

Bobby Conn - WinnersA five remix CD of a track from his album The Golden Age presents the man in full Seventies flow with lashings of Disco, Pop and Soul all decked out in fake chest wig, flares that defy measurement and cripplingly fashionable platform soles. The almost falsetto voice is all petulance with the ghosts of Marc Bolan and Michael Jackson jockeying for prominence. There are even shades of Zappa‘s cheesier Seventies horns. How could anyone resist lines like “So come on over in your Range Rover”?

There isn’t a lot to choose between the first two mixes but the “Sleeping Baby Mix” keeps the best features of the original one and shreds them, stretches them and turns the vocal into a few whispers over the guitar and horns. Similarly the final

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Ozric Tentacles – Live At The Pongmaster’s Ball

Label: Snapper Format: 2CD

Summoned by that shadowy entity, The Pongmaster, the Ozrics come to you live from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a gathering place of eldritch forces. This troupe of space minstrels are celebrating 20 years of tantric trucking. Their vehicle, laden with synthesisers, flutes and guitars, has been unloading at carefully selected sites of festival throughout those years and now a portion of their celebrated utterances has been captured for devotees and novices alike on two CDs.

This offering may be likened to a series of trips accompanied by chiming keyboards, thrashing drums and crisp guitar licks. These are the required ingredients, along with throbbing propulsive bass, to power their probing excursions into the nether reaches of “Erpland”, for instance. The being known only as Ed will unleash showers of sparks and dazzle onlookers with glittering cascades of electrically re-shaped molecules from a guitar that surely has magical

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Faust – Patchwork 1971-2002

Label: Staubgold Format: CD,LP

Patchwork- sleeve detailI have to admit that now Faust are probably no longer a touring band I must rely solely on their studio recordings to feed a habit formed in the early 1970s. Their sound may have mutated from the early days to the vast, churning soundscapes of their live work such as Live In Edinburgh 1997 and Faust Wakes Nosferatu, but what it retains is its uniqueness. There is no other sound like the one they make. So the releases keep coming. This year has seen the Ravvivando remixes aka Freispiel and now something that, at first, looks like a long overdue successor to The Faust Tapes, but is very different to the remixes.

Here are ghostly fragments from the Wümme school house where this bunch of anonymous, driven musicians gathered. It is then mixed with shreds of their

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Faust – Freispiel

Label: Klangbad Format: CD,LP

Freispiel - sleeve detailIf any band is ripe for some re-mixing, it is Faust. The elements that combine to form their music have already been through a process involving a stripping down, transformation and reformation both in the studio and in ‘live’ performance. To offer these elements to those who are influenced by and in sympathy with Faust’s working methods seems an ideal situation for both translation and homage.

These remixes of some of the 1999 CD Ravvivando do revitalise an already powerful album and each remixer offers an idiosyncratic take which, in most cases, enhances the original. For example, there are three versions of “T-Electronique” and all show an affinity with the original whilst delivering something fresh. Mathias Schaffhauser‘s remix opens the album with a sinuous bass groove stretching the rhythm and shifting the textures of the percussion. It

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Asmus Tietchens And vidnaObmana – The Shifts Recyclings

Label: Soleilmoon Format: 2CD

Asmus Tietchens And Vidna Obmana – The Shifts RecyclingsShifts is a solo project by Frans de Waard, ostensibly to produce ambient music using interwoven guitar patterns with various added effects and special recording techniques. In this collaboration the Shifts recordings have been taken and reprocessed by Asmus Tietchens and vidnaObmana . Each artist was given the same sound material and then left to their own devices to come up with a `recycling’. The result is two CDs, one by each artist, and both are very different. Disc 1 is a very minimal set of reworkings, combining the understated and skeletal drippings of small metals, whispering and muffled beats. It is the more abstract of the two discs in some ways and the least recognisable

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Wild Silk : An Evening With Keith Tippett & Peter Fairclough

Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool 11 October 2001

Whatever combinations of players you find Keith Tippett in there is always an element of the spiritual, in a broad sense, in his playing. He says he plays to ‘move people’ and ‘remove them from chronological time’ and often that’s just what he does.

On this occasion, as part of Liverpool’s Frakture Festival, he was in the company of drummer Peter Fairclough, the kind of pairing he’s used with Louis Moholo in the past. Piano and drums are perfect partners in many ways, especially if you regard the piano as a collection of finely tuned drums. And Tippett has unerring good taste when choosing drummers. His playing moved between dark explorations at the lower end of the scale into rapid forays across the keyboard and often made use of powerful layers of sustained chords. His usual array of woodblocks and other objects were

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Set Fire To Flames – Sings Reign Rebuilder

Label: 130701(UK, Europe)/Alien8(North America)/P-Vine(Japan) Format: CD,2LP

Sings Reign Rebuilder - sleeve detailThis recording contains the result of collaborative jamming from musicians including members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Fly Pan Am and Exhaust. They set up in a house in Montreal, ‘an old falling down monstrosity’, and recorded solidly for five days more concerned with the actual experience of collective playing/recording than the end results. But it’s the end results that we have here.

It is like being taken on a tour of the creaky old apartment where the recording took place and hearing different musics from the 13 players at different times. Drums echo, sparse guitars picks at fragile melody, a violin weaves in and fades away. There is some remarkably delicate music here and not just flat-out improvisation. Cello and electronic scratchings rise and fall over hypnotic drumbeats, drones are set up

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