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Sleeping Dogs Lie 02oct09: Jamie Drouin, Yann Novak, Bionulor

auditoriummutekAnother exquisitely packaged treasure trove from Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin on Dragon’s Eye companion label, Infrequency. This is the fourth edition released by Infrequency, and sees the live work of Drouin and Novak captured for posterity in this fine release, a document of their live performance at Canada’s hugely influential Mutek sound festival.

As with any combination of artists it is always a reviewer’s worst nightmare in trying to ascribe authorship of any sequences to any particular artist, and this is one such instance. As both artists inhabit very similar sonic territory, that would be a futile exercise, and detrimental to the overarching and pervasive sense of sheer quality and precision of this release.

Auditorium Mutek is about as polished and delicious as any ambient soundscaping gets, with an evenly paced tonalism permeating a sonic vacuum right from the outset, this release fully engages with the senses, and lures the listener in to one of the most accomplished and beautifully worked pieces I’ve heard in many a year, and it’s run of 250 copies should easily expire in a very short time. If I sound excited, its because I have seen the work of these two artists evolve and become more defined over the last couple of years, and I think here, we perhaps see that collaboration at its peak, in a singular release that is at once mature and measured.

Drouin and Novak take familiar elements that could easily fit in with any minimal/digital release, and yet somehow they manage to make it sound fresh, at times like Ryoji Ikeda on downers, with delicate rhythmic sequences, and protracted bleep-fests, draped over raw, elemental tones and atmospherics, that creep along, enveloping the senses, and sparking the imagination.Sometimes the rawness is extruded into almost pure feedback, but a feedback that does not grate or tear at the listener’s sensibilities, but recedes into the background as texture. If you only buy one CD this year, then Auditorium Mutek would be the one that I would go for… hands down, one of the best releases of the year so far. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

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)

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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

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 11sep09: Yann Novak, Bionulor

In-ResidenceNovak continues his epic self-publishing project with a mature and evenly paced series of works, based on three art residencies that took place in the fall of 2007. These works catapult the listener into a remote and somewhat desolate form of isolationism, and in fact it is the sense of frequently working in isolated conditions that informs the three pieces on “In Residence”. The stuttering opening sampling of the first piece,”1?, is a minimal, oblique tonescape, occasionally blistering with subtle sonic interventions and distant activity, that give the piece its depth. Similarly in “2?, and “3?, the theme is continued, and the sense of calm and isolation are denser, more stratified. Whatever Novak’s source material was here, it is reverentially treated and distorted, negating any kind of formal recognition, and propelling the auditor into unfamiliar, yet strangely soothing territory.

Novak is without doubt, a minimalist, and most of his work interlocks at a deeply cerebral level that is unique, but not alien, and is always assuredly calm, and subtly and expertly understated. Reluctant as I am to mention the man Chartier as an obvious comparison, “In Residence” has many of the hallmarks that have set Chartier apart from his peers, with a restrained and perfectly poised pallette of sounds, interwoven with rich and resonant incidentals, Novak is most certainly a name to watch out for in the future.Fine work indeed. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

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 109 10_11sep09

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