Dan Friel – Total Folklore (Thrill Jockey/ Fuse)

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Dan Friel loves noise. But he also loves melody and pop music. In a world where pop music and noise music are at opposite ends of the spectrum Friel elects to construct a new world.  Its name is Total Folklore and his ingredients are searing pitches of sound, horrible, abrasive and shrill. Yet he harnesses them in the most melodic manner possible with a sugary pop sensibility. Friel creates noisy anthemic tunes where you’re just as likely to have your hands over your ears as your fists in the air.

Total Folklore, is his second album and it really develops upon some of the ideas floating around his previous album Ghost Town. Here there are rare sparser moments, even some field recordings taken via his iphone while wandering around everywhere from his own neighbourhood to a panchinko parlour in Tokyo. Everything is proudly lofi, crafted with his first ever keyboard, a Yamaha portasound from 1984 all attached to a bunch of guitar pedals. When he plays live he just opens his battered old suitcase, plugs in and he’s ready to go. Just to sweeten the deal this album was also apparently recorded on a computer purchased in 2001 that’s still running OS9.  Apparently Friel doesn’t like to throw things away.

Dan Friel is a founding member of New York post rock outfit Parts and Labour, yet his solo work, a kind of electro fuzz frenzy is much more energetic, not to mention groundbreaking. No one else would even think of this – let alone do it. It’s the audio equivalent of overdosing on red cordial, pure, woozy, adrenalized hyperactive euphoria, which whilst it may leave you with a slight headache wont have you regretting a single minute you spend with it.

I interviewed Dan Friel a few years ago here:

http://www.cyclicdefrost.com/blog/2008/12/dan-friel-interview-by-bob-baker-fish/

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Faspeedelay – Ghost On The Waterfront (Audio Actions) review on themusic.com.au

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If you don’t want your message diluted by an over the top egomaniac, then it’s much better to keep it simple. Or at least that seems to be the idea behind Melbourne three-piece Faspeedelay.

full review at:

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/album/2013/03/26/faspeedelay-ghost-on-the-waterfront-bob-baker-fish/

Fragmented Frequencies March 2013

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With the beginning of the talkies in the 1930’s cinema changed forever. Suddenly the path to the emotions was more direct, as sound had three levels to contend with, the dialogue, the score and the foley. What we’ve learnt since is that it’s often how these layers intersect that can define your cinematic experience. Good directors know this, auteurs like David Lynch and Sergio Leone have transformed it into an art form, a deep sonic experience that can be as playful as it is affecting and elevates film exponentially.

Berberian Sound Studio (Madman) is fascinating, simultaneously a homage to the sound design of the past and a claustrophobic, somewhat surrealistic psychological thriller.

“Come this way, don’t be afraid, a new world of sound awaits you,” offers the mysterious producer Francesco when the cherubic faced English sound designer Gilderoy arrives in Rome to work on a sadistic horror film.

“Strike a light man,” what’s he doing to her,” Gilderoy says on his first screening, as the assistants provide the sound effects by smashing watermelons with sledgehammers.

If ever a film delighted in sound design, fetishised it’s construction and used sound for narrative development, it’s Berberian Sound Studio. It’s a love letter to the Italian slasher films and Giallo’s of the 70’s, where Dario Argento was the undisputed king. It’s a bygone era populated by analogue tape based approaches and chunky fx boxes. Directed by UK’s Peter Strickland, Gilderoy is ostensibly creating sound for an unseen film, yet the results of his labors and manipulative sonic techniques are still profoundly unsettling to both the audience and even himself – to the point where he is driven to the brink of madness by his own dark sonic creations.

The soundtrack comes from UK outfit Broadcast, one of the last projects before Trish Keenan’s tragic passing. Like the film itself it’s self aware, a pastiche of the spookier elements of Goblin, dark keys of Fabio Frizzi, a reference here a reference there. Yet it’s also unmistakably Broadcast, forging their own identity over sleazy and cheeky sonic gestures, and you get the sense they had a ball.

“I listen to film music today and even these composers that are fantastic, every sound is so completely rounded off, and smooth and over compressed, and has the same kind of reverb that sounds the same,” offers US based film composer William Ryan Fritch. “They’re recording in million dollar sound stages for a film that’s nasty, where you need real grit and real bite. They could learn so much from seeing what these lofi recording studios can do, like early dub recordings. You just don’t get that at these high-end studios, because they think that a piano should sound like an open grand piano, I get sick of that. I get sick of the perfect sound.”

You might know Fritch from his role as bandleader in Anticon stalwart Sole’s Skyrider Band, or for his fourth world excursions under his Vieo Abiungo moniker. Yet his score for the Oscar nominated (no it didn’t win) The Waiting Room (Lost Tribe Sound) is nothing short of remarkable, The Waiting Room is a documentary about one 24-hour period in the waiting room of Oakland’s Highland Hospital. The film touches on how the patients (many of whom are uninsured), staff and caregivers deal with the injuries, disease, frustration and bureaucracy.

Fritch’s score is sparse, recorded of course in his home studio, and imbued with an uplifting feeling of hope, a certain dignity, despite the dire situation of many of the films participants. The music is deceptively minimal, modern classical music, pretending to be film music, with some intricate gestures that posses an almost pop sensibility. Without having seen the film it’s difficult to judge its effectiveness, however as a separate suite of music it’s awe inspiring, offering a complexity of emotion that is all too rare in contemporary scoring. Utilising strings, piano, cello, electric bass, electric guitar and various other percussive instruments, it’s clear that Fritch isn’t simply following conventions, pandering to the masses. This is score as a work of art, complex and emotive music that elevates the form.

Interview with Andrew Leavold director of The Search For Weng Weng

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Weng Weng is small. Andrew Leavold is much bigger, but has a small Weng Weng on his arm. Confused? Nothing is straightforward when you enter the world of Filipino exploitation cinema. Weng Weng, the diminutive star of classic z-grade James Bond rip offs For Y’ur Height Only and The Impossible Kid became an obsession for Leavold, and it’s easy to understand why, karate kicking baddies in the kneecaps, jumping out of tall buildings with only a handkerchief for a parachute, whilst fearlessly snaring bad guys and getting the girl, Weng Weng is a man for all seasons. With Leavold launching a kick-starter campaign and holding screenings around the country, Bob Baker Fish took the opportunity to ask the maker of The Search For Weng Weng the most important question. Why?

Read the full interview here:

http://monsterpictures.com.au/features/the-wild-wild-weng-weng/

Fragmented Films March 2013

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When you’re a hot new director the suitors come calling, studios, the moneymen, famous actors, musicians, and the world is your oyster. Budgets inevitably rise but you’ll make it back, after all you’re an auteur. And given you’re such a genius why not get a little outlandish and do that passion project, you know, that musical about the life cycle of a toad, or how about a Western on roller skates?

This kind of delusion is called the Cimino syndrome. After the Academy Awards of Michael Cimino’s Deer Hunter in 1978, his follow up Heaven’s Gate sunk a studio. His subsequent films have been tainted with his wounding, attempting and failing with by the numbers films like Desperate Hours, before all but disappearing in 1996.

But what if you went the other way? You know, go for broke.

In 1991 Leos Carax made Lovers on the Bridge, the most expensive French film at that time, and whilst popular, it still lost a bunch of money. His last feature was 1999’s controversial incest drama Pola X and since then, perhaps not surprisingly, he’s struggled to get films financed.

With Holy Motors (Icon) you can see why. This film is too good to make money. No wait, too surreal to make money. It comes from a tradition that owes as much to Jodorowsky as Bunel and Cocteau. The beginning is pure Alice in Wonderland, with our main character Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavent) discovering a hole in the wall through which he finds a passageway. In a peculiar moment of cultural zeitgeist the conceit mimics Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, in which the main character cruises around town in a white stretch limo, chauffeured to various appointments. Yet the paths diverge dramatically as Oscar alters his appearance and behaviour dramatically for each appointment. It’s never clear who these appointments are with, and who has arranged them, yet there is an almost collective delusion at play as participants treat him as a father, lover, beggar, you name it. Eva Mendes pops up, as does Kylie Minogue and she is remarkable. Depending on how you see it, the ending is either a slap to the face or complete genius. Nothing in cinema has prepared you for this. For God’s sake give this man more money. We can’t wait another 13 years.

Speaking of surreal and wrong with no easy answers, it’s season cinco for Adult Swim’s Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job (Madman). We’re talking base humour about dihorrea, male lactating, and bad health advice that’s distended, spazzed out and held for too long beyond all uncomfortableness until the gross out idiocy achieves some kind of transcendence. Or doesn’t. It’s a world of dodgy infomercials, marginal chat shows and cheesy skits that hurt as much as they humour. This is surrealism updated for the burger generation, viewed through a prism of ineptitude and z grade television sheen. It’s outsider humour, where not only do they celebrate the random lunatic muttering to himself on a street corner, they give him a recurring role. Not unlike their multitude of guest stars including Marilyn Manson, Ted Danson, Ben Stiller, Patrick Duffy and Will Ferrell as a clown breeder who doesn’t fiddle with his stock.

Interview with Ollie Teeba of The Herbaliser.

the-herbaliser“I kept hearing about this Nicki Minaj, this is probably 18 months ago, and now she’s very famous and on X-Factor or whatever it is, and I thought I’m going to go check out what this is. So now I’ve made a rule to myself whenever I’m reading on the internet about a hot new rapper or whatever, I made a mental rule to myself not to go on youtube to check it out because it will upset you.”

Read the full interview here:

http://www.cyclicdefrost.com/blog/2013/02/interview-with-ollie-teeba-of-the-herbaliser/