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Deconstructing Interference #20

deconstructing interference
Illustration by Emily McCafferty

We made it! This is the 20th installment of Deconstructing Interference, and there are some very interesting recent albums to share with you. Free-jazz master Peter Brotzmann released a record marking the anniversary of the seminal Machine Gun, while Laurie Anderson collaborates with two greats in Tenzin Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith to investigate the mysteries of the Bardo. Fly Pan Am return after 15 years reestablishing their off-kilter take on shoegaze, while Copperhead turns back the clock to the early days of the noise rock and industrial scenes. Mike Patton continues his tradition of great collaborations, working with Serge Gainsbourg co-conspirator Jean-Claude Vennier, while the bizarre alliance of The Utopia Strong unleashes a staggering work of kosmische musik. On the experimental front of electronic music Floating Spectrum arrives with an excellent debut of minimal bliss, while Carl Gari and Abdullah Miniawy continue to blur the lines between electronic and traditional music. Finally, on the techno side, Evigt Morker returns with his first full-length and drummer Merlin Ettore steps into the spotlight with Sorcery.

Brotzmann/Schlippenbach/BenninkFifty Years After… Live at the Lila Eule 2018
September 13th, 2019

Peter Brotzmann is a pioneering figure in the free jazz world, being one of the innovators that moved away from the traditionalist approach and bravely stepped into the improvisational realm. His second full-length Machine Gun was one of the first records to perform this herculean task, ushering the European free jazz movement. It has now been 50 years since the release of Machine Gun, and so Brotzmann returns to the origin of his transcendental work, the place where the recording of the album took place, with original Machine Gun drummer Han Bennink and fellow free jazz band leader, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach.

Fifty Years After… Live at the Lila Eule 2018 does not hold back, and from the opening seconds of the title track, the frenetic performance of this trio arrives as an unforgiving tempest. The piercing saxophone endlessly transforms through dissonant pathways, the piano keys brutally producing fragmented phrases and fantastical interludes from the ongoing storm while Bennink’s drumming is relentless and unstoppable. “Frictional Sounds” takes a slight step back, allowing for a bit more space between the performances, making the dynamics the protagonist of this progression. From tumultuous moments of furious improvisations, to taking turns and sharing the spotlight all the way to elegant and smooth moments of jazz bliss, this trio has an endless well of ideas to uncover. The remainder of this work continues on that motif, with Boltzmann leading the show in “Bad Borrachos” before subtly concluding the track in an elusive and melancholic note, while the two remaining tracks “Street Jive” and “Short Dog of Sweet Lucy” see the trio pedaling heavier with rejuvenated energy. It might be 50 years since Machine Gun was released, but these three legends prove that they can continue in the same extravagant path, always leave behind gems from these explorations.

Carl Gari & Abdullah MiniawyWhities 023 (The Act of Falling from the Eighth Floor)
September 6th, 2019

Upon coming in contact with Abdullah Miniawy, through a common acquaintance living in Cairo, Jonas Friedlich, Till Funke, and Jonas Yamer set the Carl Gari project in motion. The first release of this collaboration arrived through The Trilogy Tapes in 2016 with Darraje, a work that would forge the route for the project. The electronic concepts of Carl Gari would navigate through drone soundscapes and laid back techno structures, while Miniawy’s traditional take would breathe in a folkish narrative.

Whities 023 (The Act of Falling from The Eighth Floor) is another formidable take on both experimental electronic music and the political climate reigning in Egypt. The mysterious atmosphere of “A’laj” is defined through the downtempo electronic approach, while Miniawy’s lamenting vocal delivery creates an aura of melancholy. While this sense of sadness thrives, Carl Gari masterfully tilt towards further concepts, using a more abstract rendition for the excellent “Zyaj” that makes the whole journey appear as a condensed odyssey. And then there are moments of pure darkness, with “Haj” unfolding a desolate and dangerous scenery, a nomadic desertous landscape, before returning to the noir-esque world of “B’aj.” Despite the changes in ambiance, the flow of this record always entices with the chilled, detached downtempo perspective colliding perfectly with an absorbingly emotive vocal delivery.

CopperheadGazing in the Dark
September 6th, 2019

Purple Tape Pedigree has a very diverse release history. In 2019, they unveiled Dis Fig’s fantastic experimental electronic work PURGE, YATTA’s poetic investigation in WAHALA, and the abstracted, improvisational collaboration between City and i.o, Spirit Volume. And that is to name a few. This limitless inclusion now continues with the intriguing Copperhead debut record Gazing in the Dark, a work baptized in the off-kilter sound of noise rock and industrial music.

Behind the Copperhead project is David Leonard, who works as a welder as a shipyard. His everyday occupation has been a major influence with Leonard stating that much of rhythm component of this work has been inspired from the machines he works with. This industrial backbone actually brings to mind much of the sound established by Justin K. Broderick’s sublime visions and the early weaponized days of Godflesh. The pummeling force and relentless repetition of “Sound Bath/Sub Lingual” or the cinematic onslaught of “WorldWideDarkWeb” speaks to that fact. On the other end, the dissonant lead work that Leonard implements scream of Helmet’s glorious findings during the 1990s, with the progression owing a lot to the most brutal moments of Melvins and the modus operandi of The Jesus Lizard. The finishing touches comes through the heavier post-hardcore realm and the preliminary phase of Unsane and Neurosis, with the closing track encapsulating the post-apocalyptic spirit of that scene. Gazing in the Dark offers a glimpse into a glorious past, reconfigured by Leonard to fit the present day by reawakening the best that the heavy post-hardcore and alternative scenes had to offer in decades past.

Evigt MorkerKrona
September 27th, 2019

Balancing at the intersection between techno and ambient music is a difficult task, but Evigt Morker has been performing this defying act for the best part of his career. Throughout the years, the Swedish producer has unleashed a plethora of etudes in this matter, with his Slukande Hav and Total Makt EPs, released through Northern Electronics, capturing everyone’s attention. Now, Morker returns with his debut full-length, portraying in greater detail the rich foundations of his mysterious sonic realms.

In Morker’s world, the feverish touch of techno comes with a strong hallucinatory dose. Instead of adding a fervent pressure, inducing a state of anxiety, Morker takes a step back and moulds progression and sounds to create a psychedelic kick. The introduction with “Kloten” is a perfect example of that approach, leading straight into the more hectic world of “Stang Tand.” Acid ideas come into view more and more with “Fullandad varld,” before Krona flips the script, diving into a completely ambient state with “Erovring, krona.” It is a moment of haunting bliss, as dissonant synths dress the atmosphere in eerie colours. In an almost drone sense, this ambient world is revisited with “Kvard” as the glacial pace produces a majestic result, before the techno ecstasy returns with “Frihet.” It is a work of fine balance from Morker, being able to move outside the comfort zone of electronica and into the elusive world of ambient music. But, not only is he able to traverse these two spaces fluidity, but in the process build a connecting bridge between these worlds.

Floating SpectrumA Point Between
September 20th, 2019

Ambient music flows through narrative and world crafting. It is simple enough to implement a few waveform generators, introduce a bit of noise and some feedback and simply rely on those. But there are those that do undertake the extra step and undergo the herculean task of creating a whole new sonic sphere through their ambient experimentation. Mei-Fang Liau is new in this scene, preparing to release the debut record of her Floating Spectrum project, but she already sounds like a seasoned veteran of atmospheric electronic music.

The crystalline world of A Point Between opens up with a powerful collection of sharp synth arrangements firing with piercing precision. It is an awe-inspiring introduction, but Liau refuses to capitalize and instead uses this momentum to calm the waters with “Rising tide, nourished soil.” Shifting between different ambient flavors, the track is able to traverse the serene and pass onto the harrowing before returning to its soothing origin. It is a narrative that works through A Point Between, where Liau slowly builds to a devastating crescendo, as is the case with “Inner Island” as the synths crush halfway into the track creating an overwhelming wall of sound. What is still profound is the amount of variation Liau produces with this work, combining her synthesizers, including some crafted by herself, with musique concrete application and some novel practices. Fractal-based software, generative models that transform input video data to audio are solid flourishes, but it is the producer’s subtle touch that brings this record to life.

Fly Pan AmC’est ça
September 20th, 2019

The heavy, enclosing, and shattering qualities of shoegaze offer a vast field of possible experimental elements. The heavy distortion and the deeply pronounced use of reverb seamlessly combines the heavy with the ethereal, but there is actually a deeper whelm of sounds that certain luminaries can call upon. Fly Pan Am is such an act, and despite their prolonged inactive status, with C’est ça being their first record in 15 years, they have always taken advantage of all that shoegaze has to offer.

The introduction is performed in a chaotic manner, as disfigured electronics combine over percussive fragments to build an amorphous collage. Remnants of this approach soon find their way in “Distance Dealer,” surrounding the smooth kraut rock progression with a volatile injection. The same abstract sense also infects the performance, with the playing taking on characteristics of free improvisation as in “Bleeding Decay” or leading magnificently in the ambient bliss of “Dizzy Delusion” or the terrifying renditions of “Alienage Syntropy.” And even with all these in store, Fly Pan Am still move into further uncharted territory, taking on the more extreme characteristics of the post-black metal scene to provide a further layer of explosiveness. The finale of “One Hit Wonder” exposes this mentality as noise and distorted vocals join in perfect cacophony, before “Interface Your Shattered Dreams” wraps up C’est ça in all its elegant otherworldly glory.

Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris SmithSongs from the Bardo
September 27th, 2019

In Buddhist tradition, the Bardo is an intermediate state between death and rebirth. This concept has provided inspiration for many artistic endeavors, the most notable perhaps being George Saunders’ Lincoln In The Bardo, depicting Abraham Lincoln’s son William trapped in this liminal place. Now it is the turn of famed avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson, Tibetan musician Tenzin Choegyal and multi-instrument Jesse Paris Smith, being joined by cellist Robin Kodheli and percussionist Shahzad Ismaily, to investigate this elusive space in a very ambitious manner with Songs from the Bardo.

The record was initially conceived as a long-form performance drawing influence from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In order to pay homage to this work, there is a plethora of approaches that this trio of musicians take, starting things off with the spoken word narrations of Anderson. The serene way is the perfect vehicle for guiding through such a richly spiritual and philosophical landscape. Joining this constant and subtle narrative, the ensemble brings in Kodheli’s fantastic cello, creating slowly moving drones in “Listen Without Distraction,” while Ismaily’s percussive palette offers everything from fine flourishes through cymbals to echoing gong hits. At the same time, Smith offers her moving piano lines, awakening a transcendental quality in “Moon In The Water” and enhancing the emotional quality of this work, while Choegyal absolutely shines through his unbelievable vocal delivery in “Heart Sutra Song — Gone Beyond” and “The Three Jewels” with a staggering amount of depth and control over his voice. It is through the combination of these otherworldly performances that this collective examines all the wonders of the Bardo, depicting its multifaceted presence, from the ethereal and calming to the ominous and almost infernal.

Mike Patton and Jean-Claude VannierCorpse Flower
September 13th, 2019

Mike Patton is an artist that cannot stand still, and this hyperactive work ethic has not only led to iconoclastic bands like Faith No More, Fantomas, and Mr. Bungle, but it has also resulted in a plethora of collaborations. From mathcore legends The Dillinger Escape Plan to experimental artists like Kaada, Patton’s partnerships have always been enticing. The latest entry to this stunning series of collaborations is Corpse Flower, which finds Patton working with famed French composer Jean-Claude Vannier. Vannier is of course best known for working with Serge Gainsbourg, most notably in Histoire de Melody Nelson, and has influenced an array of off-kilter acts, including most of the UK’s trip-hop scene.

Vannier and Patton move through elusive pathways with Corpse Flower, starting off this journey with the unbelievable hooks of “Ballad C.3.3,” bringing to mind the latter days of Tricky and especially Knowle West Boy. But from that point on, the transformations are constant, with a dissonant, noir-esque perspective arriving through “Camion,” leading to the strangely romantic “Chansons De Amour.” Through this trip Patton provides the sardonic backbone, particularly noticeable through the Eastern influences and Faith No More like choir arrangements of “Cold Sun Warm Beer.” The baroque moments of the title track swiftly interchange with the operatic approach of “Insolubles” and closer “Pink and Bleue.” Despite its constant metamorphosis and ever-changing approach, Corpse Flower makes perfect sense. It is a collaboration made in heaven between two artists that appear to be completely in tune, understanding what each other is trying to achieve and seamlessly melting away to create this strange brew.

SorceryManufactured Conflicts EP
September 27th, 2019

It is about time for Merlin Ettore to step out of the shadows. A fantastic drummer who has collaborated with an array of forward-thinking producers and artists, including Kangding Ray and Belief Defect, Ettore always brings a diverse and rich rhythmic component. Now establishing his own project Sorcery, Ettore is releasing a work of darkened, cutting edge techno in Manufactured Conflicts.

The backbone of the record is immediately exposed through the title track, as Ettore manages to balance between the immediacy of the core rhythmic component while enhancing its presence with further experimentation. Shrewd synths and prolonged echoing notes coupled with slight polyrhythmic notions make for quite a panorama, but the manner in which the tracks are build up that steals the show. “Orbature” is such an example as the repetitive themes steadily grow while noise injections funnel the chaos to produce a mind altering overture. Half way through the remix by Samuel Kerridge shines a light to the abstract side of Sorcery, something that is further highlighted by the first part of “Artificial Landscapes,” before Ettore makes a powerful return to form. No matter the case, the fluidity that Sorcery display in this first EP is staggering and a very promising start for Ettore’s sonic investigations.

Utopia StrongUtopia Strong
September 13th, 2019

Steve Davies, the legendary snooker prodigy, collaborating with Kavus Torabi of Gong fame and winds player extraordinaire (and Coil collaborator) Michael J. York, might appear like an unlikely company. Talk about strange bedfellows, right? Yet, when one takes a look at Davies’ musical interest and DJ career, things become much clearer. And, in this instance, with two seasoned veterans of psychedelic experimental music, the resulting Utopia Strong offers a blissful journey through elusive soundscapes and otherworldly dream worlds.

With their self-titled debut the trio looks upwards to the cosmic essence of kosmische musik, starting off with the enigmatic progression of “Emerald Tablet.”. This mysterious setting that Utopia Strong expose however, never appears menacing or harrowing. Instead there is always an almost ecstatic sense of wonder and discovery. The upbeat continuation with “Konta Chorus” further exposes that fact, while “Swimme” creates a wondrous effect with its smooth percussion and colorful synth pads. Still, more powerful moments of mind-bending quality arrive, as the glacial pace of “Transition to the Afterlife” sets off a process of cosmic deconstruction, resulting in the minimalistic joy that is “Pickman’s Model.” The highlight comes soon after with the trio injecting a world music perspective in the epic “Brainsurgeons 3,” with York’s pipe organ taking over before descending into the ambient madness of “Do You Believe in Two Gods?” Still, Utopia Strong return back to their core ethereal practices with the choir of “Moonchild” concluding an immersive work of off-kilter psychedelic bliss.

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