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Sleeping Dogs Lie 21: Richard Chartier, Lawrence English

Current is of a piece, a 20-minute steady emergence from chirping quietude into a slightly louder and progressively richer sound world. It’s not very different from any number of recordings that listeners in these parts will have heard before, but…well, it is. Structurally, its additive nature will be familiar as the initial crickety nightscape is layered with a discreet organ-like tone, a persistent (though not insistent) three beats of wood and, later, what seem to be embellishments of clarinet origin. The music splays out gently toward its conclusion in a kind of soft, silty delta. Then it’s over before you realize it. I’m not sure there’s much more to say except that, if you appreciate the choices Chartier makes here, as I do, you’ll find “Current” to be a thoughtful, even ingratiating bubble of ideas.

The Australian composer and electronic artist Lawrence English delivers a record for varying degrees of winter. Sounds twinkle and scintillate like snow under the sun, they shine like icicles, they hiss like a polar wind and seep into you through your insufficiently isolated ear holes. Each one of the six pieces is a monochrome composition ranging from the blinding whites of the snow to the blue-grays of cloudy days. Although English’s music can be quite abstract at times, here it turns out to be suprisingly evocative an inhabited by an understated sense of musicality. Recorded in 2005-2006 in Japan, Hong Kong, Europe and at home in Australia, For Varying Degrees Of Winter features contributions by Mike Cooper, Janek Schaefer and Aki Onda.

01. Richard Chartier: “Current” (from “Current”, Room40, 2006)
02. Lawrence English: “End Game” (from “For Varying Degrees Of Winter”, Baskaru, 2006)
03. Lawrence English: “Fleck” (from “For Varying Degrees Of Winter”, Baskaru, 2006)
04. Lawrence English: “Desert Road” (from “For Varying Degrees Of Winter”, Baskaru, 2006)
05. Lawrence English: “Swan” (from “For Varying Degrees Of Winter”, Baskaru, 2006)
06. Lawrence English: “Soft Touch” (from “For Varying Degrees Of Winter”, Baskaru, 2006)
07. Lawrence English: “Unsettled Sleep” (from “For Varying Degrees Of Winter”, Baskaru, 2006)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 17: Bill Laswell, Paul Schutze, Pete Namlook, Thomas Köner

I listened to a fair sampling of Laswell-related projects during the mid-1990s (he had waaaay too much product) and this disc was one of the ones I really liked. What we have here is a various artist collection that remains remarkably cohesive on the whole and also offers some stand-out tracks, depending on your cup of tea (a darker one here, to be sure). I was heavily into isolationist sounscapes at the time this was released and most of the artists here contributed something to that ambient sub-genre. Anyway, I lost sight of this CD for some time and stumbled on it again recently and have been enjoying a resurgence of interest in it! It’s a great late-night or early-morning piece to sip your coffee and/or read to.

With Paul Schutze’s Green Evil, we have an 11-minute plus excerpt from his album with the same name (and I believe only one of two tracks here that was featured on other albums). Schutze has a very recognizable sound, and yet – to his credit -plays it ‘very’ minimal here. Pete Namlook’s “Subharmonic Invocation of the Dark Spirits,” nearly 13 minutes of cavernous rumblings through a yawning abyss. A straight-ahead dark ambient piece. Thomas Koner is a well-respected master of cold and sparse ambient. He’s one of those guys who you might initially compare to someENOone else but who has really taken things to a new level and gone his own way with it. His work is typically out-of-print and therefore goes for a premium when you do find it, but here you’ll get a good sample of what he does best on this disk. This track actually has some percussive elements, which are rare for him. Laswell himself provides the longest piece on the set, the 30-minute long “Black Dangers” (despite the title’s name being overly stated, it’s a wonderfully sparse and barren track that remains delightfully consistant for its duration) and plays well with the rest of the CD set. This is a rather solid double CD, “well worth” any ambient fan’s money. If you love the darker domains of ambient, then make room for this disk!

01. Bill Laswell: “Black Dangers” (from “Divination: Distill”, Sub Meta, 1995)
02. Paul Schutze: “Green Evil” (from “Divination: Distill”, Sub Meta, 1995)
03. Pete Namlook: “Subharmonic Invocation Of The Dark Spirits” (from “Divination: Distill”, Sub Meta, 1995)
04. Thomas Köner: “Zone” (from “Divination: Distill”, Sub Meta, 1995)

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