Top Five listening habits for this week including:
5. Excepter – Presidence
4. Matthew Herbert – One One
3. The Sight Below – It All Falls Apart
2. The Black Dog – Music For Real Airports
1. Alva Noto – For 2
Alva Noto was an easy choice for No.1, largely because the album (as with almost everything else Carsten Nicolai’s done) is so amazingly well produced; the sounds are crisp, clean and uncluttered, the songs themselves, be they fragments or fully realised pieces are, above all else, deeply involving. For 2 runs to five minutes shy of an hour, and I was surprised so little time had passed by the end of it. Even the 50 second tracks feel like you’re held motionless for a lot longer as the sounds evolve, coalesce, disperse in to the air. When it concludes, I wonder why there isn’t more of it. If you’re in to just downloading individual tracks, which I wouldn’t recommend for this release, then Stalker for Andrei Tarkovsky and Early Winter for Phill Niblock are recommendations.
The new Black Dog album is also highly accomplished, riffing on the vacuous and unchallenged opinions of Brian Eno’s ‘Ambient’ music, and the Music for Airports that brought it (uncharacteristically) to the fore. Here the music reflects, for me at least, the true nature of the airport. Rather than a place of possibilities and endless destination, the airport is rendered with alienating disquiet, a place of never-realised night, filled with brightly lit and endless corridors, shop fronts open like hideous metal mouths. Impersonal, distancing, horrific in their blandness. The music is anything but.
It All Falls Apart is pretty phenomenal as well (it’s been a good week), pulling together (largely) beatless soundscapes of epic proportions that remind me of Brock Van Wey. Numerous highlights, including the gradual emergence of a simple but devastating bass line in Burn Me Out From The Inside, the far off clatter of dub-like beats toward the end of Stagger and the appearance of the wonderful vocals of Tiny Vipers on a cover of ‘New Dawn Fades’.
Matthew Herbert’s One One is pleasingly personable, as with much of his work. This one focuses on his ability to perform everything himself, instead of using other people eating apples, scrunching newspapers etc. This extends also to include singing. His voice is fragile, which I think lends an honesty to the album, particularly the penultimate track, Berlin. All the trademark Herbert sounds are here, including a wide palette of rounded synths, perambulating bass lines and understated home made beats. It’s not as spectacular as some of his earlier work, but something new is definitely added to the sound by his honest approach and personal touch.
Excepter’s Presidence is long, dense, occasionally impenetrable. It attacks, deconstructs, reconstructs numerous forms via long apparently free improvised jams, though I presume a fair amount of editing happens afterwards. If you have the spare time to concentrate on it, I feel it could be very rewarding, but I only managed to have it on in the background whilst trying to take notes on urban heritage, so probably worth ignoring the last paragraph as I’ll have missed what ever point I/it was trying to make.