Sunday 18 June 2023

Non-Music Roundup (June 23)

Greetings ladies and gentlemen,

I hope you're all having a nice summer. I bring you my latest roundup of all things non-musical and great.

As usual, they're all available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp. Please consider supporting these talented artists & labels. They deserve it.


Micaela Trombini - Target 

(Rata Sorda Rec, 2023)

Micaela Trombini is an Argentinian experimental electronic/noise artist. This is her debut solo album - out now on the Chilean record label, Rata Sorda Rec.

'Target' is an album of hypnotic pink noise generated from the data transduced from different fruits. Specifically, ''the electrolytes present in the juice of lemons, kiwis and strawberries generate frequencies of the pink noise spectrum in real time". I find this to be such a fascinating idea and method for creating an interesting noise record.
I can't talk about the technical details about this album, or speak about the creative process in the correct terminology... but what I can say is that this album really blew me away! 
It consists of three fairly long-form noise compositions (note : you will only see two tracks displayed on the Bandcamp page, but you get an extra track if you download it) which are filled with vast thunderous rumbles, haunting drones, small explosions, rippling ambience, hissing static, strange sonic fluctuations, swirling winds, dissonant flutters, howling signals, deep dark gurgles and various other electronic abstractions. All the noises, textures, timbres and tones that you hear within these exquisite soundscapes are constantly shifting shape, frequency and pitch... which makes you feel like the atmosphere is alive and breathing. These immersive noises permeate right through your system, and penetrate you right at the core. It's incredible that these sounds were derived from such humble fruits!

'Target' is an outstanding debut album of haunting and mesmerizing noisescapes that'll leave you suspended in a dark yet wonderful trance-like state. The surreal and abstract audio environments that Trombini has created within these compositions provide a powerful ambient soundtrack to deep introspective thought. A fascinating listening experience.

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Nichola Scrutton - Interzone 

(Nonclassical, 2023)

Nichola Scrutton is a Glasgow-based award-winning composer, vocalist, sound and visual artist who works across a range of mediums and processes including sound art and soundscape composition, performance, radio art, improvisation, writing and drawing. She has extensive experience as a collaborator in interdisciplinary and participatory contexts.

'Interzone' is an album inspired by the state between consciousness and unconsciousness, at the border between daytime and night... created using field recordings, archived materials and Scrutton's own vocal experimentations. It constantly shifts between stark, raw, bare minimalism and more melodic, cinematic, ambient soundscapes.
The core of this album's sound is primarily focused on Scrutton's intricate and atmospheric vocal work. You will hear waves of dark choral voices - swelling and distengrating, undulating waves of melodic vocal ambience - ebbing and flowing with a shimmering dissonance, and at times a gong-like resonance. The rich vocal layering and the constantly shifting and evolving movements of it has a very dramatic and beautiful effect.
These segments are strangely juxtaposed with the more erratic, gutteral, non-melodic vocalizations. Throughout this album you will hear vocal shuddering, crackling, fluttering, rattling, rasping, choking, squeaking, humming and eerie breathing. It really sounds like the artist is speaking in tongues... or some psychedelic dream language.
Aside from all things voice-related, you will hear fragmented bursts and blips of glitchy electronica, fragile radio static and eruptive cracklings, gurgling ethereal ambience, sinister rumblings, ominous drones and a vast array of subtle field recordings, such as dripping water, airy birdsong, room sounds, environmental acoustics and mysterious bodies of water.
'Interzone' is a mesmerizing and captivating work of experimental sound art. These haunting and beautiful soundscapes of layered vocals and various immersive noises effectively capture the dream-like twilight state that marks the end of the day, and also heralds the coming night...

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Adam Matschulat - Formosa

(Calling Cards Publishing, 2023)

Adam Matschulat is a Brazilian experimental composer, sound designer and mastering engineer based in London. His diverse output of sound works have included composing for film, sound installations, electroacoustic composition, musique concrete, dream pop, synthwave, field recording, and structural noise music. He composes through the exploration of psychological states, rendering sonic experiences that are psychological investigations in and of themselves.

'Formosa' is a deeply personal sonic exploration of Marschulat's family history in the south of Brazil, mortality and his relationship to Formosa's rich magical landscape. Formosa has always been Marschulat's safe place, and the place that he calls ''home''. This album is comprised of two long compositions, simply titled 'Side A' & 'Side B'.
Side A begins with fragments of church singing and distant murmurs of conversation, buried within a crackling bed of tape static. This morphes into a shimmering, ghostly, bell-like ambience for a while. Then you will eventually hear some snippets of hymnal singing and intimate familial conversation. After that things quieten down momentarily, before we hear the distinct and haunting sounds of the forest coming alive at night. The entire soundscape fills with the cacophonous sound of insects chirruping and trees rustling, before the drone of Marschulat's grandfather's accordian cuts through the mix and we hear him singing a bit of an old German song. I think I also hear some farm sounds in there too. This soon becomes replaced by the noise of flies buzzing and distant animal howls. You can get a really strong sense of how hot and sticky and humid this environment must be. The insects gradually get more and more intense, and the atmosphere becomes rather ominous before there's a sudden and abrupt silence...
The piece ends with more accordian and hymnal singing, and Marschulat's grandfather talking in Portuguese, and singing some soulful a'capella. A gorgeous recording.

Side B is a much more quieter, grounded and intimate affair. It begins with the sound of boiled eggs being rattled in a bowl of water, which aurally signifies the Marschulat's love for his grandmother's potato salad, and the sound of its making. Then you will eventually hear a variety of unmistakable domestic kitchen sounds - the sink running, dishes and plates clattering, the phone ringing, and all the various noises of busy preparation for this delicious potato salad. You will hear the peeling of eggs, the squelching of mayonnaise, the grinding of salt & pepper, the mixing of the salad, and the inevitable washing up of all the dishes and utensils used in this process. I really love potato salad, and it makes me hungry just listening to this. It's so peaceful and soothing.

'Formosa' is a beautiful, meditative and heartbreaking album of experimental sound art and electro-acoustic manipulation. It's full of unique insights into Matschulat's rich family history, and his deep love and admiration for the pious people and bountiful nature of this unique and magical place. A rich and intriguing listening experience. Musique Concrète at its finest.

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Tossapol - no plot, only landscape 

(Presses Précaires, 2023)

Tossapol is an experimental sound artist that lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He makes minimalistic sound collages using small objects and field recordings.

'no plot, only landscape' is his latest album, which is out now on Presses Precaires. It consists of two compositions - simply titled A & B.
'A' begins with the ominous booming bellow of an approaching thunderstorm over an airy urban environment, while at the forefront of the mix you will hear a variety of small shuffling sounds, eerie thumps, frantic micro-movements and little tingling bell-like rattles within some kind of hollow vessel. Then you will start to hear the static humming of some sort of mechanical device, creating a soft pleasant ambience. As the track develops, the soundscape starts to rumble dramatically while an unidentifiable object/s are being dragged around, creaking and squeaking as they go...
Around the midway point, the volume and intensity of the piece quietens down to just the sound of a lone object being dragged along a surface...before the background ambience emerges back into the mix, along with (what sounds like) a tiny teacup vibrating, as if it's on a speeding train. As you get towards the very end of the track, the intensity builds up and you'll hear some interesting pitch shifting and noise experimentation going on.
'B' begins with the clattering and scraping of small objects against a backdrop of distant traffic sounds. Whether these sounds were layered on top of another in the studio, or if they just naturally/organically occured at the same time, I don't know. After a minute or so, you will hear a sinister drifting drone come in. This is accompanied by some dark reverberations and whooshing white noise. Eventually you'll hear some percussive knocking and atonal feedback, before the thunder returns and signifies the end of another segment. And like the previous composition, there's a peaceful middle section of small objects being shuffled, clicked and dragged. Then you'll hear a plastic bag/sack of something being crunched, and a variety of high frequency squeaking, which may be trying to emulate the sound of bird song? After this quiet section has passed, we hear once again the sound of passing cars, along with a wall of audio hiss, very faint human voices, and more small objects being moved, squeezed and banged in unpredictable and ever-changing ways. The track ends with low broken murmurs of a voice coming through cheap speakers and more environmental noises and audio hiss.

'no plot, only landscape' is an album of bizarre and fascinating lo-fi sound collages, full of tiny objects coming to life and oddly dancing along abstract surfaces, while the familiar environmental sounds of every day Thailand provide a peaceful and intriguing background ambience. This is proof that small things can create a work of such powerful noise.

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Christian Schiefner - Februar + Folgendes 

(Titre, 2023)

Christian Schiefner is a sound artist from Marseille (France) and the owner/founder of the Falt tape label. 
'Februar + Folgendes' is the only work of his I have explored. It's a quietly enticing work of exquisite, minimalistic musique concréte. The album consists of two long-form sound collages, made up from both familiar and unfamiliar sounds. 

'Februar' begins with soft sustained gong-like bells, ringing out and creating beautiful meditative drones over a bed of wonderful crackling noise, which then transitions into more of a percussive backdrop of gentle clicks, shuffles and plops. After that you'll hear an array of subtle rustling movements, audio drone and high-frequency feedback within a wall of tape hiss, before all the noise dies away and the soundscape is filled with the bare sounds of little steel/wooden objects. As the track moves towards its end, we are aurally taken back to where we at the start - to the sound of gong-like bells and delightful hiss.
'Folgendes' starts with the frantic glitchy sounds of tape manipulation and (what sounds to me like) fragmented shortwave radio transmissions. These noises gradually build up in volume and intensity, and we are introduced to the sounds of larger objects moving, banging, squeaking and breaking...and snippets of human voices, accompanied by some high-frequency squeals and plenty of audio hiss. After that you will hear abstract field recordings of some kind of wide open public place, with busy sounds of industry going on. Many more frantic rustling movements take us to the end of the track, and the end of our audio journey.

'Februar + Folgendes' is a highly immersive, utterly ambiguous and strangely beautiful album of avant-garde sound collage, intriguing noises and ambient tape hiss. Highly recommended for all fans of experimental sound art.

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David Wallraf - Santé Et Efficacité 

(Falt, 2023)

David Wallraf is a noise artist, author, theorist & researcher from Hamburg, Germany. He has released a number of works, both independently and through various small labels.

'Santé Et Efficacité' is an album that was recorded during a summer heatwave in Hamburg, 2022. This was also a period of quarantine during Wallraf's second Covid infection. It's maybe a bit more musical/melodic than the majority of releases that I write about in this blog, but it's noisy and unconventional and intriguing enough for me to make an exception.
In Track 1 you will hear a series of arpeggiated and detuned Slayer-esque guitar chords that ring out with shuddering dissonance, warped metallic drones that swell and fluctuate in their frequency and intensity, squealing waves of feedback and sinister percussive pulses - sporadically thumping through the mix. A haunting and dramatic opener.
In Track 2 you will hear some kind of manipulated steel clanging sounds, warped electronic tones, dancing bell-like percussion, erratic bursts of tortured noise, squalls of resonating distortion swirling around the soundscape, bending detuned drones and some melodic synth melodies towards the end. A whirlwhind of warped tones and engulfing noises.
In Track 3 you will hear an industrial soundscape full of dark, fuzzy, drill-like drones, eerie guitar notes, haunting metallic noise, abstract hissing and some emotional synth ambience. This one has an emotional and pretty apocalyptic vibe to it.
In Track 4 you will hear a variety of industrial sonic abstractions, shimmering white noise, high whining feedback, steel cymbal hits, monstrous drill-like sounds and some sort of electronic bleeping. A short, bizarre, absurd yet somehow fitting ending to this dark noise record.

'Santé Et Efficacité' is a powerful and haunting post-industrial noise album. The soundscapes that Wallraf has created are bleak and claustrophobic sounding... yet they're immersive, fascinating, unpredictable and rather cathartic. Highly recommended to fans of interesting experimental noise.

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Paul Nataraj - The Night Is Young 

(Hard Return, 2023)

Paul Nataraj is a sound artist, audio maker, teacher & lecturer from Blackburn, Lancashire. He holds a practice led PhD in Sound Studies from the University of Sussex and has released a number of works through various record labels, as well as having his sound works featured on a bunch of prominent radio shows.

'The Night is Young' is an album of sounds sourced from Nataraj's grandparents' records and gramophones, which the artist then manipulated and processed and looped through various experimental techniques. 
The album begins with the repetitive clunking sound of the gramophone starting up, followed by the unmistakable crackling of vinyl spinning and fragments of old-time piano music.Then we're introduced to more surreal aspects of Nataraj's atmospheric sound design. You will hear an ominous drone coming drifting in, along with dark spacious reverb, while the mechanical clunking rings on, and the snippets of music deteriorate and become more fractured and broken.
Throughout the whole of this album, these pieces of music are looped to give a really hypnotic and demented effect, while minimalistic drones ring on, and shards of indistinguishable rustling movements, sinister rumbles and crackling sounds bring more intensity and urgency to these unsettling soundscapes. The way these cut-up bits of music and sounds are manipulated also bring a wonderful type of ambience to the forefront, which is really immersive to listen to, and undeniably atmospheric.

'The Night is Young' is a beautiful and fascinating sound experiment. This album as a whole is dark and unnerving, emotional and fragile. Excellent sound art. 

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black_ops - Hallucinated Music

(Mahorka, 2023)

black_ops is an experimental noise/soundscape artist from the UK. He also hosts and curates the black_ops radio show - ''sound-tracking the darkness with experimental sound art, drone & psych, spoken word, found and manipulated sound.''

'Hallucinated Music' is his latest album, released on the experimental Bulgarian label Mahorka. The album begins with the haunting and hypnotic sounds of ritualistic cult activity - visceral singing, tribal percussion and other gathered noises, which have been electronically manipulated and echoed, over which lies a mysterious voice sample, heralding the darkness to come...
Throughout the rest of these songs you will hear the familiar mixed with the unfamiliar, the mundane mixed with the surreal... a series of dark hallucinatory soundscapes filled with raging wails of distortion, unsettling drones, tremulous grainy textures, swirling voices, empty building sounds, desolate reverberations, industrial mechanisms grinding away, fractured white noise, eerie synth melodies, creepy ambience, rhythmic thumps, watery tones, trembling electronica, groaning rumbles, dissonant atmospherics and other abstract sonic phenomena. 

'Hallucinated Music' is a dark, troubling and utterly intriguing listening experience. It constantly makes me wonder about the original source material for these field recordings. It also makes me marvel as to how seamlessly these manipulated field recordings blend with all the twisted sound samples and fragments of dark, eerie music. This is brilliant experimental noise.

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Coagulant - KNEPS​\​The Driftworks 

(self-released, 2023)

Coagulant is the experimental sound art project of Fabio Kubic, who is an Italian-born artist based in London. Since 1998 he has been creating experimental sounds and abstract noisescapes using a variety of environmental microphones, electronic manipulation techniques and audio-feedback editing.

'KNEPS/The Driftworks' is the latest self-released Coagulant album, split into two long-form reworked sound experiments from recording sessions from 1998 to 2002. These sound works were recorded using primitive techniques and means, and were electronically re-processed and mixed with tape, micro tape, cut- up feedback, TV, shortwave radio, environmental microphones and computers.

On Track 1 ('Wölfli Morphophonemics') you will hear rapid stuttering signals of some sort, swelling feedback tones, a muddle of indistinguishable voices, swirling waves of whooshing noise, shuffled objects, watery trickling and gurgling, wavering static, eerie low frequency drones, intense pulsations and mysterious reverberations. About halfway through, the sheer intensity and fierceness dies down and various voice samples start rising to the surface of the mix, but never become clear or distinct. Then things gradually start ramping up again. The abstract noise builds and builds and entrancing feedback fills the soundscape. The rest of the track is filled with fluttering fuzz, metallic shimmers, monstrous noise, deep echoes, more voices and bursts of various other sonic abstractions.

Track 2 ('Harkening Forms') begins with a kind of metallic gong-like resonance surrounded by slowly shifting sound patterns, followed by some undulating waves of high sustained feedback and dark cacophonous noise, gaining more and more power and intensity as the track develops, completely enveloping you in its wild psychoacoustic madness... until around the halfway point when you will hear a rain-like pattering along with an array of mysterious environmental sounds. There is cavernous echoes, objects being shuffled and/or banged, and unknown abstractions ricocheting off unknown surfaces...while the noise shudders on in the background. It all gets quieter and calmer towards the end, yet no less haunting or atmospheric. 

'KNEPS/The Driftworks' is a brilliant sound journey into surreal and abstract environments, full of dark tones, hypnotizing drones and constantly-evolving noise. An utterly powerful sound work.

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Heavy Cloud - Interior Monologues  

(Difficult Art & Music, 2023)

Heavy Cloud is the project of Cornwall-based artist/musician Ryan Hooper. His works are inspired by memory and internal and external landscapes, often in tandem with collage-based artworks and textual explorations. He has released many albums - both independently and through small record labels.

'Interior Monologues' is a deeply personal collection of textural/granular soundscapes, which Hooper created using his voice, his body and various environmental and material field recordings. It's an improvised representation and reflection of both personal and national anxiety.
In these recordings you will hear warbling tape noises, snippets of improvised (mostly non-verbal) spoken word poetry/ prose - manipulated and mangled beyond recognition, granular synthesis, unnerving breathing sounds, shuffling body movements, fuzzy rumblings, warbling mechanisms, erratic tape hiss, environmental abstractions, subtle drones and layer upon layer of grainy white noise. These compositions are fragile yet wild, unsettling yet fascinating...

'Interior Monologues' is a poignant, abstract sonic expression of the confusing and tumultuous state of being here and now in the world. These sound collages aurally depict the anxiety, confusion and dread that comes with trying to process and cope with the pressures that weigh us down on a daily basis - personally and globally. It's certainly not easy listening, but I don't think it's meant to be. This album is jarring and unsettling, yet strangely fascinating and engaging. 

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Luciano Maggiore & Louie Rice - Three Things 

(adhuman, 2023)

Luciano Maggiore & Louie Rice are two long-term experimental collaborators. Their outputs (which are often filled with humour and absurdity) are described by the duo as 'unrewarding task-based actions' or simply 'two people in a room, doing something’ and has resulted in an ongoing performance practice based on prompts actions and scenarios, which they continue to explore.

'Three Things' is an album consisting of three long-form non-musical sound experiments. 
Track 1 is a recording of a drive around London, and is ''punctuated by loud hissing whenever their vehicle passes an unwitting participant in the street, their footwear acting as a prompt for the vocal intervention''. In this recording you will hear the unmistakable sounds of busy city traffic and urban environmental noise, over which Maggiore & Rice can be heard hissing at regular intervals in various rhythms, speeds and levels of intensity. It's unpredictable and absurdly hypnotic. You will also hear the metronomic ticking of the vehicle's indicator. Whether the pair are indicating to pull over and hiss at people, or simply just turning left or right, I don't know... 
If you listen closely, you will also be able to hear low-end rumbling drones in the background of the piece. I'm not sure if it's environmental urban ambience, or if it was added and layered in the studio... but either way - it has a rather haunting effect...
Track 2 is ''a sequence of voice recordings exchanged via WhatsApp where they mimic each other's contributions until all memory of the original has been lost. The results are set to synthesiser in a nod to the duo's long-standing interests in electronic music as solo artists.''
In this recording you will hear a series of electronic pulses and feedback, bounced back and forth between left and right speakers, along with the mimicked voice samples of Maggiore & Rice - spoken and growled in repetition. Some of these vocal fragments are raw and organic and bare, and at other times they've been electronically manipulated, pitchshifted and mangled in a cartoonish frenzy of psychedelic wackiness.
Track 3 is ''audio derived from EMS Stockholm's Buchla synth is played back and re-recorded via mobile phone speakers in the duo's pockets as they attempt to walk in sync with its pulses''. In this recording you will hear the looped mechanical synth pulses, along with a constantly-shifting series of shuffled body movements and crunching footsteps... all working in a strange and mesmerizing rhythm with one another. Around halfway through the piece, you begin to notice changes and variations to the synth loop... and the whole soundscape evolves and grows with a fiercer volume and intensity as you come to the end of the track.

'Three Things' is an album of spontaneous absurdity, humourous performance art, bizarre audio experimentation and avant-garde sound collage. It's a baffling yet entertaining listening experience that'll undoubtedly make you scratch your head in confusion/frustration while it's playing out... but if you have a good sense of humour and an open mind, it should also make you smile. 

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