Swollen Avantgarde roundup

Naturalism-Female Edition split (SA08, recycled C60 cassette)
Female Edition solo tape (SA05, C15 cassette)

Stefano Spataro: Solquest is dead (but I’m fine, thanks!) (SA06, CDr)
Noah Coward (SA07, CDr)

Regular readers of this blog (hello both of you!) will know that I’m a great fan of ambient noise/improv guitarist Naturalismo. His work straddles grumpy noise, subdued ambience and spiky free improvisation in a really interesting and cool way, with each new release renegotiating the liminal zones between those genres.

Naturalimso-Female Edition

His recent split with Female Edition on Italy’s Swollen Avantgarde label is a particularly spectral example of his craft, offering up knackered country blues from a broken-down empire.

Things are lethargic at first, with Anatomia’s plucked guitar lines seemingly determined to stay at home under the blankets, as feedback whines underneath.

That wheedling drone, presumably manipulated by a tremolo bar or volume pedal, occasionally sounds like one of John Butcher’s exercises in controlled feedback, at other times like some wayward Theremin.

Things get progressively more smeared with dust and rubble, before a tangle of free improv clusters gradually melt into a gloop of fuzzy bedroom guitar heroics.

His compadre on this tape, Female Edition – aka Matteo Poggi – fills his allotted time with an unheimlich selection of greasy sounds.

In Val de Ronchi, an initial milk bottle orchestra and spooky harmonics build to a dense and quivering mulch. Its pulsations are as bilious as they are hypnotic, growling and screeching like some inexplicable otherness at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Vajo dei Colori is more subdued and hostile in its intent, its low throb masking its metal machine digestion ready to chew you up in the dark of its unfathomable maw.

A good outing for these two marauders, then, all packaged up in a rather fetching paper sack and presented on a repurposed C60.

The aforementioned Mr Poggi also runs the Swollen Avantgarde label, while also masquerading as one half of field recording manipulators Gelba (I reviewed his recent cassette on Lonktaar here). A while back Matteo was kind enough to send a packet containing more from his label and a right cheeky bag of swag it is too.

Female edition C15

As well as the split cassette above, a short tape of his own is part of the bundle, a (C15) cassette with two long-ish compositions. Cracked lullabies for solo electric guitar, they are bucolic takes on Sonic Youth’s dissonant melodic fragments. The occasional whispered vocals give this cassette an air of listening to an alt-rock radio station from behind the wall of sleep. Smooth stuff.

Next up is a charmingly homespun collection of improvisation and noise collages from Stefano Spataro. This release takes a slightly different path from the lysergic ambience of his Solquest work – check out In spite of black clouds over me, I’ve still got a rainbow in my hands for a taste of what that’s like – with a charmingly wayward collection of tracks.


I get the feeling that Spataro is trying whole load of different things here to see what works and what doesn’t, and that’s cool. I really dig Spring’s strange yoking together of vocal snippets, samples, electronic burblings, and improvised fragments. There’s no unifying theme to it all, yet there’s a virtue in the disjointedness of its plunderphonic improv concrete. There’s even a cover, of sorts, of The Pop Group’s Blood Money, which disembowels the original and kicks its broken circuitry around in the dust.

There are more splintered free jazz avalanches from the Ukrainian trio Noah Coward, whose CDr comes in a tastefully textured cardboard sleeve and includes the usual mysterious inserts and extra matter.

Adrij Orel, Nastasia Terekhova and Yuri Kulishenko recorded the five long pieces in 2009 in Kharkiv, Ukraine and right old bloody noise it is too.


The approach is anchored firmly in the deep, hectic waters of European free improv, but the group’s approach is pleasingly eccentric, with wordless vocal moans and wails adding to the already jumbled cacophony of percussion, guitar, various wind instruments and horns.

Even the quieter pieces – such as Voluptuous Navel – bristle with grumpiness, guitar feedback vying with electronics, organs and what sounds like bird song in a surreal collage.

Souvent Souspire amps up the hollers, its mantra-like chants – not wordless this time yet not intelligible to an ignoramus like me – floating over the restless Han-Bennik-with-road-rage percussion and gridlocked guitar smudges, like a seagull soaring over some wreckage-strewn beach.

Great stuff.



Get them all from http://swollenavantgarde.blogspot.co.uk/


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