PATRICE SCIORTINO – CHRONORADIAL (OMNI)

You get the sense that French composer Patrice Sciortino was a little too close to genius to be successful in the kind of way that Ennio Morrcione or Bernard Herrman were able to generate popular acclaim from their at times quite challenging compositional works. The problem is that Sciortino’s work is actually too challenging and restless, refusing to reference the work of others, or at the very least stick to one or two or three ideas within a piece. At the very least he could be repetitive, but no, it’s all about new terrain for Sciortino.

You can hear everything in his music, all kinds of genres and approaches, often playing against each other within the same track, and it’s truly mind blowing. One composer shouldn’t have this much the dexterity.  It’s truly a singular vision. Yet that vision is of everything.

He briefly studied at Pierre Schaeffer’s GRM and has composed for stage, tv, ballet, choirs and of course library music. It’s in this realm that he is best known.  Originally released in 1970 on the PSI label, the breadth of the music is spectacular, simultaneously mischievous and avant garde, hardly the sort of music any television producer would be picking up for their show. The strings, often near hysterical, and galloping percussion are mainstays, though he also uses piano, vibes and voice to great effect.

Omni of course aren’t content to simply rerelease the LP, they’ve included three different 10inch recordings from the prestigious Musique Pour L’Image library label, bumping it up to 36 tracks. At times it feels like cartoon music, such is the speed, humour and movement in his compositions, yet when combined with the strings and elements of 20th century music it becomes a very strange, quite challenging brew.

You might not have heard of Patrice Sciortino, yet that is clearly not a reflection upon the quality of his music. Music this good deserves to be heard.

Bob Baker Fish

Advertisements

Fragmented Frequencies Feb 2012

Womadelaide is just around the corner and reasons to visit the spiritual home of Coopers include paraplegic street musicians Staffa Benda Bilili who live and play around the zoo gardens in Kinshasa in their hotted up tricycles, legendary touareg guitar warriors Tinariwen, who’s most recent album Tassili was recorded outdoors in the Saharan desert, and Senegalese legend Baaba Maal. Local Bollywood fanatics Bombay Royale will also be there, though you can see them every Tuesday night in Feb at the Evelyn. They’re due to drop their debut LP You Me Bullets Love in April on Hope St and if their recent 45 Sote sote Adhi Raat is any indication it will be a cracker.

DJ Rupture is coming back to town for the first time since 2002, when he brutalised Kelis’ milkshake song with intense noise in an incredible free ranging mix that encompassed popular r&b, experimental noise, and Berber pop. Since then he’s uncovered entirely new genres, of sounds from faraway lands. His radio show on WFMU and blog Mudd Up is almost a community service, with clips of all manner of faraway sounds. A few years ago he formed Nettle and their new album El Resplendor is a reimagining of The Shining in a luxury hotel in Dubai. He’s playing at the Mercat on the 8th of March and if you’re into progressive mixes of blurred musical boundaries then Rupture is your man.

 

Whilst the Adelaide Festival is the only place you’ll see Italian soundtrack maestro Ennio Morricone in Australia this year, some of the lineup are making their way to Melbourne, including Jane Birkin singing Serge Gainsbourg (18th of March Recital Centre), and Neu! Guitarist Michael Rother (19th March Corner Hotel). Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV luminary Genesis P-Orridge is hooking up with Stuart Grant (Primitive Calculators) to present and discuss THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE at ACMI on the 5th of March.  Whilst the brooding, explosive and often violent music he made over the last 30 odd years is innovative and challenging enough, it’s the art project in which he is the canvas, that is nothing short of mind blowing. In 2000 Genesis began a series of surgeries in order to more closely resemble Lady Jaye, his lover and artistic partner for nearly 15 years. “It was the ultimate act of devotion,” offers the press release,  ”He’ became a ‘she’ in a triumphant act of artistic expression. It is a project they called ‘Creating the Pandrogyne’, an attempt to deconstruct two individual identities through the creation of an indivisible third. The ultimate union.”

Local composer Anthony Pateras offers up his first soundtrack in early March, Errors of the Human Body (eMego), which sees him working with strings, brass, prepared piano, organs and electronics. As you’d expect this isn’t coming from your John Williams school of film composition, with many of Pateras’ experimental sounds, techniques and preoccupations finding their way into the work. In a world where every film score sounds the same, Errors of The Human Body Stands on its own. Filmed at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany, the film apparently has something to do with isolation, questionable ethics and scientific intrigue, and it pushes Pateras into unexpected new directions, such as the strangest banging club track you could ever hope to hear. It’s a monster. Pateras is playing in PIVIXKI, his duo with Max Kohane (who has his own imminent release on Sensory Projects as Crumbs), alongside doom riffers Whitehorse, noise fanatic Marco Fusinato and a Madga Mayas and Tony Buck (The Necks) duo on 16th of Feb at the Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood.

Paul Kidney Experience are Melbourne’s noisiest wig out band. An improvised jam band, they delight in gradually building up to a throbbing crescendo of chaos and then holding it for far too long until the audience either have their fists in the air or down their throats. They’re joined on their new album by legendary German freejazz komische drummer Mani Neumeir (Guru Guru), and the results are a snarling mass of squealing noise. They’re launching this monstrosity at Bar Open on the 1st of March. Be alert but not alarmed.

 

Minamo – Documental (Room40)

There’s a real feeling of stillness to the work of Japanese quartet Minamo. The piano chords are searching, somewhat restrained, acoustic guitar weaves in and out, gentle but high pitched drones flicker, electronics splutter and the piece Draw The Line begins to evolve, perhaps even come to life as a repetitive pulse begins to grow. It feels quite simple, somehow sweet, definitely calming, yet as the ingredients begin to coalesce, playing gently off each other, there’s so much to listen to, so many textures, so many melodic fragments. It’s not played like a conventional song, the form seems to be based of density. It feels improvised.

Techniques vary throughout the rest of the album, yet this feeling remains. There’s a slight hesitancy to the way they play and it comes across as charming. It’s very much an album for close listening, as every sound, every plink or shimmer feels important. The ring of a bell, the plucking of a thumb piano, and the deep scrape of a cello are all childlike moments of fascination and joy.  Yet when these moments are placed alongside each other something truly beautiful occurs. The pieces are loose, seemingly accidental, very freeform, and very difficult to explain. This is music that slows you down, that gently draws you into it’s own pace, into it’s own logic.

That said it’s not music for new age pursuits necessarily, as there are some quite experimental techniques at play. It’s just that they’re not wrapped up with any desire to shock or provoke. Rather the strange structures, the non musical developments, the peculiar way in which the electronics and the more organic instrumentation dance around each other feels honest and pure, the way musical expression should be. Documental is electroacoustic music for the soul.

Bob Baker Fish

 

 

 

Interview with Prince Rama

Mesmerising Brooklyn based two-piece Prince Rama produce sound like no one else around. The work of two sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson, their music is ritualistic quasi-spiritual experimental noise, where psychedelic washes of melody and stripped back tribal percussion collide with near operatic vocals that veer between Kate Bush style pitches and bizarre chanting.  Raised on a Hare Krishna commune in Florida, before going to art school in Boston, the sisters eventually settled in Brooklyn where they caught the eye of the Animal Collective who subsequently signed them to their Paw Tracks label and produced their first two albums. Everything about this duo is strange yet slightly beautiful. From the bizarre imagery used on their releases to the odd musical structures at play in their music to what the sisters are doing to create these sounds. All the reference points are murky.

“You’ll probably be surprised that its coming from some pretty standard instruments,” laughs a slightly delirious, Taraka Larson who confesses that she’s in a desperate need for human interaction after travelling in the car for the past eight hours. In her eyes it’s quite simple. “I just play two keyboards and guitar and my sister plays drum set.”

Yet the results are anything but. To begin with there’s the vocals. Whilst there are elements of English hidden in her words there are also bizarre unintelligible heartfelt chants and wails, drawing upon positively operatic connections, it’s clear that Taraka is keen to push the boundaries of what is vocally accepted.

“There’s a few different languages on the record,” she offers. “There’s some English obviously, there’s some Sanskrit, and some channel language I guess. I got really interested in using language as a medium of communication between experiences. Kind’ve breaking down the barriers of what traditional language forms can be, getting more in touch with primal relationships between meaning.

“I feel like the syllables I’m saying don’t necessarily have an individualised meaning that we assign for words, but it’s more like a general meaning, a full collection of those syllables strung together. I feel like it’s liberating the voice really from only speaking recognisable languages of having all these meanings attributed to it.”

It’s this interest in channelling music from the ether and using it to communicate themes, concepts and emotions that words cannot adequately express that continues to interest Taraka.

“I’m definitely a believer in art as the language of the future,” she laughs.  “Art is an abject form, a way of bridging the communication between internal and external worlds. “

“It’s hard to put into words,” she continues, attempting to explain how to put the theory into practice. “You have to be open to it is the main thing. But the idea of being aware of that relationship number one, that it can exist and acknowledging the potential for it to exist within you and then opening yourself up to that and seeing what happens really. “

“It’s not something that you can go ‘ok I’m going to sit here and I’m going to write a song.’ It’s not about writing a song, it’s about a song being delivered to you and you putting your hands up and asking to receive the song you know. “

This is particularly relevant to their live show, where the idea of touring new places means opening the music up to new experiences. Yet it also means taking a risk as you can’t guarantee that the energy will be there every night.

“It’s a challenge. Every night is a challenge,” Larson reveals. “A new space, a new set of faces, new sets of distractions. I mean travelling on the road you get into some strange headspaces. It’s a constant challenge, but I kind’ve like that challenge.”

“A concert space has concentrated energy,” she continues enthusiastically, “and you can just tap into it and it can be this really intense magical experience. We’ve been on the West Coast for nearly a week now and the vibe in southern California is completely different to up here in Oregon. It’s completely different set of energy that you’re up against. If you’re not tapped into that energy, then you’re closing yourself down. If you’re just focussing on ‘ok I’ve got these songs and I’m going to play them every night,’ if you’re not opening yourself up for that kind of variation in places then you might as well be playing in the same city or something. What’s really the point of going on tour?

In recent times though the energy within Prince Rama hasn’t necessarily been as centred as they would like. The result is that their third and original founding member Michael Collins is, according to their press release taking a hiatus from the band.

“We were a three piece but I don’t know, it got a little bit like Prince Drama,” she laughs.

Collins played synth in the band and there’s no doubt his absence has impacted considerably upon the Prince Rama’s sound.

“I think the sound has become a lot more minimal and focussed,” suggests Larson. “I feel like it’s been a lot more stripped down. He added mostly a lot of texture. Now we’re down to the bare essence of drums and melody. It definitely forced us to step our game in a lot of ways. The more people you have in a band the less you have to work because everyone’s playing different parts. But now me and my sister have felt pressure to step up our games. Just get a lot tighter, more experimental in our instruments and just push ourselves more really.

She pauses for a second considering the situation.

“There’s nowhere to hide now,” she laughs.

“Our performances too have got a lot more intense and confrontational for some reason. A lot has changed. It’s shifted the entire energy, being a two piece. I mean there’s something too about just being me and my sister, there’s something very special about that. We’ve got this psychic family connection with each other. I feel like that’s a lot more apparent now than it was before.”

Their new album Trust Now is the duos 5th, and second for Paw Tracks. It was recorded in Seattle in a 19th Century Church by Scott Coburn (Sun City Girls, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire) and surprisingly, despite Collins departure it’s as twisted, psychedelic and powerful as its predecessor. Interestingly the music is quit rhythmic with Larson’s extraordinary vocals often the sole melodic element in the music.

“A lot of time the vocal melody is what comes to me in a song,” Larson reveals. “I’ll hear a vocal melody first and build the song around that. I feel like it’s a primal way of songwriting because it’s on a very basic human level, the voice, the breath, the human anatomy and then it goes out from there. But I’ve never really thought about that.”

What Larson is conscious of though is the energy, of making music that means something, music that transcends your daily life and connects you to another realm.

“Something metaphysical is something I really conscious of in the music,” she offers, “I feel like music should be in service of the metaphysical realm as much as the physical realm. Sound is so ephemeral or abstract unto itself that I think it’s a really important conduit to eliciting these kind of metaphysical experiences. I think it lends itself to that, so I definitely try to invite that.”