Acid test: soothing techno, free jazz, music made by chickens and more
By Miles Bowe June 10, 2020
The outer limits of Bandcamp continue to be a rewarding place for psychedelia, experimental clubs, noise, steam waves and totally unclassifiable music. In each volume of Acid Test, Miles Bowe explores the far reaches of the platform to unearth hidden gems and obscure quirks. This month, we explore an album made with the sounds of bats and another “played” by a couple of chickens; an emotionally heavy ensemble of ultralight techno and a healing music collection heavier than most doom metal. But first, we highlight the mind-blowing Dreamcrusher project, which in one track delivers their best album yet.
Dreamcrusher, the project of New York artist Luwayne Glass, has always extended beyond the limits of noise, envisioning club music through the harsh prism of hardcore punk. But while cult classics like those of 2014 Luxury suicide may have helped broaden their audience, Glass has never expressed his vision so majestically as on Panopticon !, a unique 39-minute epic and an album that deserves the exclamation mark at the end of its title. The album takes its time, with whispered vocals and streaks of commentary that stretch out luxuriously, before a screaming guitar ignites the album. Those earth-shaking surges and Glass’s throat-ripening screams burst out so loud the speakers can barely contain them. Noise, hardcore and club are all straight to the body genres; but where so many albums fail to achieve this volatile combination, Panopticon! masters these three genres at a fundamental level. It’s an amazing breakthrough and the perfect place to start delving into Dreamcrusher’s epic discography. If you like rap, noise, rock or dance music, literally all combination, you are going to love this album, you will tell your friends, and you will feel that damn exclamation mark.
Myth of balance
We usually think of “healing music” only as something soothing and calming, but C. Lavender – a sound therapist and former assistant to the late Pauline Oliveros – takes a different approach with her debut at Editions Mego, Myth of balance. Recorded in the misty geodesic dome pictured on its cover, Lavender uses bells, bowls, gongs, and enough distortion to fill an album with doom metal to create soundscapes designed to create and release tension in the mind and the body. The longest track on the album, “Remedy Potion Extraction,” captures this balance perfectly, opening up on the darkest note possible before gradually blossoming into a state of bliss. Lavender also makes incredible use of a binaural microphone to create an almost three-dimensional atmosphere, where sounds envelop the listener. It’s a recording technique that almost always strikes me as a cool gadget, but Lavender uses it in ways I never imagined to create an album that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. . Myth of balance transcends simple ideas of noise or new age, creating a form of “healing music” that feels more honest and invigorating on every level.
Oregon techno artist Joel Shanahan is making a welcome return with his third album as Auscultation, the first since surviving the unbearable tragedy of the Oakland Ghost Ship fire in 2016. Just like its discreet title, III unfolds like a long cathartic sigh. Even in its most lively moments, like the thunderous finale of the penultimate slow-burning “Fool” or the choppy rhythm of “Purgatory Sway”, the album remains immensely sensitive and sweet. The sprawling “Glowing Hearts In The Rainbow Room” opener and the equally haunting and dazzling “Turn Down These Voices” offer marvelous portals to traverse endlessly; but it’s III ‘Sweetest Hitting Moment: Closer stripped-down album “Exit” brings the album to a heart-wrenching ending with only a floating synthesizer streak and simple chord progression that grows stronger with each affirming repeat life.
Algorithmic music for synthesized strings
Keep the title in mind when you hear Algorithmic music for synthesized strings, because Dane Law’s computer music is so hypnotic and naturalistic, it will make you forget its source almost instantly. Every sound on the London-based artist’s album was generated by playing MIDI files through a computer algorithm, but the resulting fragile music, often resembling a finger-picked guitar or lute, flows like traditional folk music. Some tracks, like the exceptional “Delph”, embrace techno while remaining stripped down to a minimal and pointillist edge. But it’s just as satisfying to hear these beautiful tones when they simply tumble into abstraction. Both ancient and futuristic, computer music has rarely sounded so far removed from time itself.
Tatsuya Nakatani and Rob Magill
Valley movements captures the storm of a live set between free jazz percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and saxophonist Rob Magill. The only track is titled “Consequences,” after the oddly named New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences where it was recorded. Although Nakatani and Magill embrace the extremes of clicking and skronking respectively, there is a deep sense of communication throughout. Valley movements. Nakatani’s vast polyrhythmic canvases can take the form of crashing cymbals, squeaky rubbed metal resembling a howling violin, and dizzying rushes of thorny drums. It’s thrilling to hear Magill not only roar in these moments, but also retreat and work his gnarled tenor saxophone melodies through the labyrinthine clamor. The best part is that this feeling only increases when Valley movements play. Through silent rumblings and explosions at full speed, it is a pleasure to hear these two unique musicians understand each other in real time.
Through his unique Field Works project, the Stuart Hyatt field recorder finds some of the most fascinating sounds on Earth or beyond, and enlists collaborators to make music with them. Ultrasonic kiss our four-legged friend the bat and the wonderful sounds of echolocation. An excellent list of contributors including Kelly Moran, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Sarah Davachi use this unique sound source as a starting point to offer their own distinct visions. Mary Lattimore creates a magnificent brittle duet with bats using her harp, while Noveller creates a dark fanfare with her distorted guitar. Others are moving towards abstraction such as the haunting “Music for a room with a vaulted ceiling” by Christina Vantzou or “Night vision, she touched my neck” by Felicia Atkinson, where the dizzying, but silent sound design , corresponds to the mystery of the elusive animal. . Satisfactory crowned by a moving oral contribution from Julien Marchal, Ultrasonic represents the Field Works project both musically and conceptually satisfying.
One of the most memorable experiences I have had during this pandemic was the collective brain fusion fans experienced during Aaron Dilloway’s quarantine concert for ASRA, when the musician performed live. with two pet chickens. The video is a masterpiece in terms of clever revelations: the uncomfortable crunch of Dilloway’s rocking chair that continues to loop after he gets up, the ominous bell hanging from the back, the subtly curved metal plate on the floor that unexpectedly slams when Dilloway steps on it like a haunted house prop… All before the first chicken enters a Dilloway playground made of singing bowls, contact microphones and a guitar. The contrast of Dilloway’s puzzled reactions as he led his enthusiastic birds with handfuls of food along with the terrifying music they inadvertently produce makes the video a must-see, but the concert’s official audio output is just as essential. Far from really seeing his playful creation, it is a much more abstract and threatening listening where the border between animal and machine blurs abnormally. More than just a fun idea concocted during quarantine, Chicken traces is one of the more substantial versions of Dilloway, made even better by these two distinct perspectives.