Sleeping Dogs Lie 18sep09: Marc Manning, Bionulor

marc-manningThis edition of 250 showcases the work of guitarist, Marc Manning. Occupying territory somewhere between the delicate restraint of a typical 12k release, and with slight jazz infusions, not dissimilar to some of David Sylvian’s recent forays, this is an elegant work of textural strings, using reverb, multi-tracking, and a variety of other elements to build around. The album consists almost solely of guitar, and effects are used to form atmosphere and dynamics. Manning deploys a variety of compositional techniques, creating scrolls of delicacy, wispy tracts like “Not any time soon”, or “Not forever but for a long time”, with their dreamy, almost transcendental moods and shifts. For guitar experimentalists out there, don’t expect Fennesz’s influence here, as Manning uses the instrument in it’s purest form, unadulterated,and unaltered,a work of profound beauty, and stark simplicity. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

Oh, this is just a beauty of a release. Simple, lush, beautifully played guitar pieces with a lightly ambient touch which emphasises the nature of the room it was recorded in. Earthy, warm and fragile sounding there’s an honesty here that will please your ears no end. I can’t fault it really and have been enjoying it for some time. It’s one of those things I keep going back to as it has a timeless quality which suits many different moods. Truly gorgeous and another outstanding release from Dragon’s Eye. (Mike Olliver, Smallfish)

BionulorTaking a similar approach to the classic likes of Aube, Bionulor is billed as being focused exclusively on “sound recycling,” or using only a single sample or sound as the basis for an entire piece. As a self-imposed limitation this sometimes does keep the compositions to a Spartan minimum, yet just as often become a chaotic mess of layered sounds and effects.

Some of the pieces are intentional details of singular sonic elements: both the opening “nchr.01? and “nchr.03? focus exclusively on singular stringed instrument sounds, left to repeat for lengthy periods with only the most minute changes in dynamics and layering. The changes and variations are there, but are extremely subtle, with more electronically effected sounds serving more as accompaniment to the organic sounds rather than being the dominant focus.

This is a pretty stark contrast to tracks like “pvn.,” which opens with subtle ambient tones and cricket-like loops, while plucked string notes are there and clearly defined, the focus becomes much more on the processed sonic elements, via spacey pitch bent tones and more low frequency percussive thuds. The final minutes of the track pile on the effects and noises to a level of pure chaos. This dynamic carries over into “l. fll.” which, though opening with a large pastiche of silence, eventually becomes dominated by digital clicks and cuts over plucked string notes. Piano sounds are allowed to appear in their natural state for most of the piece, but the digital elements are much more the focus.

Unfortunately, these tracks are almost too chaotic for their own good, and the shift from subtle repetition to erratic texture shifts is a jarring one. Tracks like the symphonic “nchr.04? are among the most satisfying, balancing the natural with the digital well.

This is a good debut release, and the concept of limiting ones self to a single sound to create an entire piece is a good one, and definitely goes beyond the limitations of a Boss DD-5 delay pedal that Akifumi Nakajima was too reliant on, but the actual structure and composition needs more attention. A greater focus on development and sequencing as opposed to just a quick transition between moods and textures would be a definite asset to future releases. (Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 110 17_18sep09