Francisco Meirino: The Aesthetics of Everything
for Nothing (3″ CDr)
Seth Cooke / Dominic Lash: Pact (3″ CDr)
Birgit Ulher, Ilia Belorukov, Andrey Popovskiy: Live at
Teni Zvuka 2012 (CDr)
Having thoroughly enjoyed Gregory Büttner’s recent collaboration with Birgit Ulher, Araripepipra, I was very pleased to be pointed in the direction of some recent releases on Gregory’s own label, 1000füssler.
Each release is interesting and compelling in its own way, and while they occasionally seem to explore similar interests – which I’d suggest is something to do with the repurposing of everyday objects into mysterious sonic artefacts and integrating them into a series of shifting, electroacoustic collages – all three exist entirely in their own space and are well worth checking out.
Francisco Meirino’s The Aesthetics of Everything for Nothing takes as its starting point the sounds made by children’s toys, recorded close up with binaural mics and edited into a seamless, flowing blanket of noise.
I’m not normally a fan of this type of work – all too often it seems to be a case of winding a lot of things up and listening to them clack and whirr until they stop. I’ve heard enough of that when my own children were small so I figure I don’t need much more.
However, there’s something about the Meirino’s composition that marks it out from all those other wind-up merchants. I think it’s a combination of the detailed recording, which renders the subtleties and variations of the toy motors in hi-def clarity, with Meirino’s own meticulous editing and post-production, that just lifts this piece into an almost Futurist sonic collage.
I particularly like the opening section, a series of rustles, ticks and grazings that sound positively unearthly, like cyborg dinosaurs hatching from vast eggs. Then at around eight minutes, there’s a lovely disorienting passage of overlapping thrums and clacks, which drop out abruptly in place of a mournful metallic ticking, before things blast back in for a final cacophonous section of phased drone, The Nutcracker meets The Art of Noises.
Seth Cooke and Dominic Lash’s duo recording pits Lash’s double bass wrangling against Cooke’s junkyard scratch band made up of a ‘waste disposal sink, electronics and a pile of crap’.
Two pieces, both about 12 minutes long, are rigorously executed and yet, I suspect, hide a sense of playfulness under a deadpan façade.
The first piece, PA, starts with a piercing, buzzing tone, an opening incantation if you will, for the following hi-jinks. The drone fades just as it is getting nice and mesmerising, succeeded by a series of bad-tempered growls and churns.
At first, this sounds like an iron giant waking up with a hangover all ready to punch my lights out, but then the wheezes and scrapes get more irregular and dispersed. I can’t quite make out which noises are Cooke and which are Lash, save for the occasional bass thump and pluck, which is a feeling I quite like. It lends the rumbling cacophony an intriguing sense of mystery. By about eight minutes, they’re in full flow, with a pained squealing in the higher registers and a whole swirl of grunts and clunks, like some demented mechanoid farmyard.
CT takes things into more meditative territory, metallic whirring drones overlaid with bass scrapings and unearthly buzzes. Again, the duo seems locked together in their sound making, individual sonics caught up in the whirl and drift. Listening to this piece is like soaring over some vast machine city at night, an immense panorama picked out by the sea of electric lights and the clank of innumerable robotics doggedly carrying out their prime directive. Corroded aluminium grooves and cyborg shuffles.
And so to the artist who provided my first link to Büttner and 1000füssler, Birgit Ulher. The final release in this batch sees Ulher recorded live at the Teni Zvuka festival in St. Petersburg in 2012, playing solo and in a group with local experimenters Ilia Belorukov and Andrey Popovskiy.
Ulher deploys her usual setup of trumpet augmented with speakers, radios and objects, with a feisty solo performance that’s full of strained wheezes, rushing blasts of air and metallic scuffs.
It’s an entertaining set, nicely recorded too, with some unexpected twists and turns despite staying within her own well-defined parameters.
There’s a very nice section at about six minutes 50, where a series of gleeful chirrups alternates with a kind of boiling kettle whistle in an abrasive duet. Then at about 17 minutes, a mysterious, gaseous whoosh takes things into a cosmic dimension before this too fades to be replaced by a series of watery gurgles. Frosty.
Ulher’s trio with Belorukov and Popovskiy expands on these explorations somewhat, with Belorukov adding some astringent sine wave tones, manipulated via an iPad, and Popovskiy conjuring a variety of noises from a collection of mini-speakers and amps.
At around seven minutes it’s a relatively short collaboration, much less aggressive than Ulher’s solo set, at times almost ambient with its wind-like murmurations and understated electronics, the latter occasionally resembling some digital alarm clock rousing us from an uneasy sleep.
By the end of the piece, however, the mood has changed to something more sinister, with Popovskiy’s scuttles and rattles sounding more like some uninvited visitor, meddling with the windows as the wind blows and rattles outside. A succinct yet atmospheric experiment.