RUDOLF EB.ER/KOUHEI - split CD (Paradisc)
I mean really, isnít that the dumbest packaging job youíve ever seen? Itís an 8 Ĺ by 11 piece of foamboard! Granted, itís done in one of my favorite fonts (Braggadocio, if you care), but unless you set up your collection as a museum, where do you put it? It just calls attention to itself in no really pleasant way. No matterÖthe sounds on this disc more than make up for any ergonomic shortfalls. Rudolf Eb.er (of Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, Schimpfluch Gruppe etc.) has fashioned for himself a style of editing and sound clustering thatís actually different from everything around him. Patterned (so he says) after kung-fu attack patterns, sounds lunge and stab at you from the stereo, confounding your expectation of pace and tempo in favor of pools of silence interrupted by six attacks at once. Chop socky! However, if you know Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock beyond one or two records, youíll know that many of their recordings use a small (and oft-repeated) group of soundsÖa dog barking, some punches/screams, reversed breath noises. The process of endlessly scrambling these sounds results in a universe of minute variations on one theme, but an equal case could be made that some of the records sound too alike to be of interest to any but the most rabid of fans. Eb.erís material on this disc is one that rises well above previous releasesÖthe sounds used are more varied, and the methods of attacks are too. More emphasis is placed on a musique concrete method of creating ambience (as with the loop that makes up tracks 2 through 12 of his 13 tracksÖthe last track is 30 minutes long, while each previous one is about four seconds. Beauty!), allowing the lunging motions to stand out in sharper focus. This record sounds like Eb.er took a step back for a second, rethought his materials, and started fresh. A great place to be introduced to Eb.erís world, and better still if you feel like you own one too many Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock albums and canít bear the thought of another. Kouhei, known lately for being the mentee of Masami Akita (imagine!), sounds quite different from the Merzbow of the past 20 years. Kouheiís loop and concrete-based approach resembles the days when Akita was more drawn to the dadaist cut-up and the post-TG industrial landscape than the sounds of the belt sander. Kouheiís half hour consists of thick, clear loops, voices, life-altering snippets discerned through late-night radio static, and a genuinely orchestral sense of how to put them all together. Itís an overused term, but reallyÖthe ebb and flow here seems more like an interconnected set of movements than just an A to Z straight line which is thought about only at the moment itís being created. Whether this is recorded live in one pass or in layers, it sounds like Kouhei is thinking about the whole thing at once, even while tweaking the details of the moment. So very, very good, I may just be forced to get a new Merzbow album (he and Kouhei are planning a series of five split releases on different labels) to hear the continuing story (watch out also for the new Sensational album, which features everybodyís favorite not-all-there rapper kickiní some rhymes in front of a Kouhei beat!).
Dave Phillips - Live Aktion 011116 3" CDR (Tochnit Aleph)
Dave Phillips live, or Dave Phillips live and then edited? I donít know. Are those mouth noises on turntable, or mouth noises and turntable, or both? I donít know that either. A close look reveals that Phillipsí style is dissimilar from Eb.erís, but certainly related. The Ďattackí style of editing is less punching and stabbing here than it is recurring orchestra motifs. Phillips might be the Alban Berg to Eb.erís Schoenberg, a slight easing up on the hard math (so who gets to be Webern?). Like his previous two full-lengths, this is beautiful and, I think, soulful experimental music, but experimental in the sense of testing or analyzing something, not hitting it with a hammer to see if it breaks. Very few of the characteristic "SLAM!"s until minute 9 (out of a 15 minute disc). The Bigfoot recording on Stomach Ache comes to mind sometimes. Also unlike Eb.er, Phillips canít seem to resist going for a BIG! finish. The "audience" sounds miles away, in an editing sense, not emotionally! This is a primer for those wishing to unlock the beautiful mysteries of his "III+" and "IIII" full-lengths, which, though I named the latter one of the best 15 discs of last year, I admit are still a bit beyond my comprehension.