Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lasse Marhaug – Ear Era CD (Review)

Earlier this year Lasse Marhaug got an interesting opportunity. The Henie Onstad Art Centre invited him to go through its massive audio archive. An archive of recordings from concerts and also recordings made in the Norwegian Studio for Electronic Music, located at the centre for some years in the 70s. Recordings (about 800 tapes) filled with artists as different as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Jan Garbarek, Arne Nordheim, Mauricio Kagel, Webster Lewis, Steve Reich, Laurie Anderson, Soft Machine, and various Norwegian jazz and rock artists. Marhaug was asked to make use of these recordings to make his own piece. The result was presented at three concerts at The Henie Onstad Art Centre, and also as this CD version released by Prisma Records. It is in only 500 numbered copies, and there will also be a deluxe box-set of 50 copies available.

Being only about 30 minutes divided into 11 unnamed tracks, it promised some excitement and variety. The first track starts with wind, voices and some naïve synth playing, making you wonder who initially recorded it. For most of the CD it is difficult to identify the original artist, unless you have a very specific knowledge of some of the pieces being used. Instruments and voices are easy to spot though. Marhaug process them slightly, inlcudes various bits and pieces, and makes the track sound a bit melancholic or sad. This first track sets the direction for the majority of Ear Era. It is almost to the end a CD filled with melancholy and sadness, only with a few exceptions, and it makes me wonder if it was made on a rainy day.

One of the techniques Marhaug uses is to cut out bits of music, and loop it, but also twist the pitch, speed it up, slow it down to make it change its mood or pace. A good example of this is in track three where a couple of loops are mixed together during the first half of the track and the loops themselves are slowed down from beginning to end, and thus making them sound sad. Other cut out bits are added to the track and many of them treated the same way.

To draw attention to the point an opposite effect is added in track four, which starts off with a rather noisy, less sad loop, making a happy rhythm. But after a minute the rhythm dissapears and what’s left is some strange sounds being quite mellow also, and the track ends just after two minutes.

So the album continues, a mix of strange, weird sounds and noises, mixed carefully with some more noisier, harsher bits. Melancholy being the most prominent mood to me, but also occasional happiness and energy. What is really striking about this release, is the gentle way Marhaug mixes it all together. No part, strange or noisy is overfocused, and everything comes together as a nice whole. When seeing Marhaug live, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer energy of his noise and performance, and it can be easy to presume that he would translate that to all his recordings, but here he proves just the opposite. Nice, gentle, short tracks, but still challenging to listen to, and after 3 – 4 listens, I still find myself being surprised.

The CD ends in a way that makes me think it needed a happy or more promising finale. Track 10 is a short track of just over two minutes, and has almost the same sadness as the rest of the album. It starts with some rumbles and a rythmic sad loop, but when left with 30 seconds a female voice enters the track, and at the very end it is clearly that she is saying: “it will be best for you if anything is good for you”. And so the track ends, leaving the door open for track 11, which starts with a simple, almost generic loop. After a while some more driven parts come to life, and the track gets more and more noisy, but in a much more happy mood than the previous tracks.

This CD made me sad and made me smile. It even made me want to dance occasionally, but also made me wanting more. Ear Era is a piece of music with lots of diversity and it triggers various moods. What more can you ask? Some more, maybe?

Available from the artist.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Faust announces new release!

Legendary krautrockers Faust announces that they are about to master their brand new studio album. The album was recorded in the Fortress Studios London in August this year, and will be released some time late November by Fred Label Limited. It will be first released as a CD and shortly after there will be a vinyl release available. Featuring on the album are Zappi, Jean-Hervé Peron, James Johnston, Geraldine Swayne and James Hodson with special guest Terry Edwards. While waiting for the new album, there is a chance to see Faust at these venues and dates:

October 3rd @ the INTERZONA in Verona, Italy

October 4th @ the INIT in Rome, Italy

October 10th @ the Raindance Film Festival in London, UK - Zappi and JHP will attend a session of Q&A after the screening of "IST FAUST SCHOEN", a critical documentary film by Julien Perrin

October 11th @ The Secret Market for One of One London, UK

October 16th @ the GARAJ in Istanbul, Turkey

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spectrum XXI Festival 2008

The third international festival of spectral music will take place this year in London, Paris, Brussels, Mons and East Grinstead from 16th through to the 26th of November. This is a festival curated by Iancu Dimutresu and Ana-Maria Avram from Romania and performers will be The Hyperion Ensemble with soloist Tim Hodgkinson, Gustavo Aguilar, Robert Reigle and the iO quartet of New York. They will present works by Dumitrescu, Avram, Hodgkinson, Petrescu, Cazaban, Vlad, Geers and others including myself. Dumitrescu and Avram with the Hyperion ensemble is probably the most vital conductors and performers (and composers!) I have seen and heard in the classical avantgarde, so if you are anywhere near one of these location at the time they are, you would not want to miss an opportunity to see a great event.

Other links: 1#, 2#, 3#, 4#, 5#

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Puma & Lasse Marhaug - on vinyl!

One of my favourite combos, the hard-hitting improv trio Puma, and the Norwegian king of noise, Lasse Marhaug have announced that they will release an album of some of the recordings they have done. Puma has made a snip available at their myspace. They will also perform together live in 2009, which they have had trouble finding time to in 2008. They will visit Japan in January and February of 2009, and also Denmark, Germany, France, Benelux and England will be visited. Dates to be announced later. The even better news is that they will make the release available on vinyl only!

I was fortunate enough to see this combo live at Nødutgangfestivalen last year, and that performance made a huge impression on me. This video is from Ekkofest in Bergen (N):

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nødutgangfestival 2009 news!

The avantgarde festival Nødutgangfestival dates for 2009 are set! This time it will be a festival in the dark autumn! This festival held just above the arctic circle in the north of Norway, has a wonderful mix of avantgarde and experimental artists and bands. Previous headlines as Faust, KK Null, Lasse Marhaug, La STPO, S/T, Jazzkammer, and lots of Norwegian and local exciting artists has made this festival an interesting event of the year.

As opposed to the previous years, where the festival has been held in June and July, the next year will see Nødutgangfestival in the late autumn. The dates has been set to 22nd to 25th of October. The main venues will continue to be Sinus, Gimle and Bremnes Fort, but with additional venues as Bodø Kunstforening and who knows, maybe some new exciting ones as well. The goal for the future is still to surprise, create joy and also provoce, and 2009 will also meet those goals. The festival will continue to develope its profile, and Nødutgangfestival will show new sides of itself next year and in the years to come.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Belles Alliances - free download

My collaboration with Brazilian artist Gustavo Jobim has recently been released on a compilation of collaborators, Belles Alliances. Last year I was given two soundclips by Gustavo, on which he played syntheziser. So I did some cut ups, processed and mixed it all in to one track, Abstract Painted Train. The release consists of great tracks all made by remixing or collaborating with Gustavo in some way. In addition to yours truly, the artists are: The Chorlton Radiophonic Workshop (UK),That Hideous Strength (USA), Nathan Siter (USA/Finland), Conrad Schnitzler (Germany), Helder Correia (Portugal), Amyr Cantusio Jr. (Brazil), Robert Jaz (USA), Member (Germany), Daniel Bordini (Brazil), Leandro Theodorico (Brazil), Justynn Tyme (USA). Check out Gustavos main page or go directly to the release for a free download of this wonderful album, booklet and all. Photos by Ian land, and artwork by Helder Correia.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Back with a track!

Finally I am back at my blog after a long brake. It has been a long eventful summer, that I will not bore you with here, but I promise that I will post more frequent after this.
Meanwhile a track has been put out (again) at the Chain Tape Collective. This time it was a project inspired by the signs of the zodiac, so the project Zodiac, consists of twelve tracks. I am not a fan of those signs, but I have learned that there is actually a thirteenth sign called the Ophiucus - the serpent holder, but the only one not included as an astrological sign. So I decided that I could be a part of this project with this bonustrack called Ophiucus. The track itself consists of snake sounds, and some spoken parts of a well known actor. Guess who?

Download the track here

Check out the entire project here