Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cham-Pang - Tant Pis 81-82

Cham-Pang - Tant Pis 81-82

Format: LP

Label: Tenzier

Check it out:http://tenzier.org/en/tnzr055-cham-pang

      Yvel Champagne’s Cham-Pang only released one EP during its very brief existence (1980-1982), an unusual New-Wave duo endeavor featuring Allan McCarthy of Men Without Hats on synthesizer called Ne Mourrez Pas, released in 1981 on Montreal Yul records. After the release of the EP, eager to explore more experimental territories, Champagne would enlist Bernard Gagnon as her new musical co-conspirator.
      This artistic change led to the addition of several new members, including drummer Angel Calvo from Rational Youth and Vex, and musique actuelle reedist Robert Marcel Lepage.This new collective would work on a recording session leading up to a final mythical multimedia concert at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal’s Tritorium in April 1982 and a possible future full length.
      Despite some local buzz around the performance and the fact that Ne mourrez pas was well received (play time on the radio and in clubs, review in Billboard Magazine…), the group would ultimately disband making the album project fall into oblivion.
      Thirty five years later, thanks to Tenzier and Gagnon’s editing skills, we get the unexpected pleasure to hear that first album now appropriately named Tant Pis 81-82.
      It is clear from the opening track, that we are dealing with something much more darker than the Ne mourrez pas EP.  If some level of New-Wave sensibility can still be perceived through the catchy synth lines, the fact that these lines are delivered along with dark spoken words performances, crazy saxophone skronk, lo-fi circular rhythm and noisy electronics make industrial pioneer Throbbing Gristle or experimental weirdos The Legendary Pink Dots better points of reference than any Rational Youth record.
      Through Gagnon’s collage chops and brilliant manipulations (I would warmly recommend looking up Gagnon’s own Tenzier solo release for additional credentials), the hit single potential of Come Se Dice gets crushed by a raw compressed production, and the inherent funkiness of Oriental Intrigue has to compete with a bunch of Space Invaders discovering the existence of the alto Saxophone. Even Champagne’s voice gets some ingenious creepy, and yet weirdly sensual, harmonizer trafficking. Despite their edginess, these tracks are still wise selections for any dance floor.
      Beside these potential hip DJ classics, a track like It may be acid rain, my love with its multiple vintage electronic effects and concrete music influences would not feel out of place on a Luc Ferrari’s record, while the surrealistic kitschy charm of Presqu’heureuse foreshadows the work of Montreal’s mavericks Les Georges Leningrad.
      Namedropping aside, the discovery of Champ-Pang’s Tant Pis 81-82 is something worth celebrating and will make for a great addition to any weird music library.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jazz Bras Dot Com - Witch Tapes

Jazz Bras Dot Com - Witch Tapes

Format: Cassette

Label: Havn

Check it out: https://havnrecords.bandcamp.com/album/witch-tapes


I’ve received a Jazz tape with:
No swing
No changes
No saxophone
No drummer
No 2-5-1
No standards
No 12 bar blues
No quavers with dotted rhythm
No bass player mumbling over his solo
No shitty press kit about having one foot firmly in the past and the other walking toward the unknown
No mentions of who they studied with nor the university they went to
No ugly Blue Note inspired covers
No list of who the group played with
No akward smiling pictures
No New-York street names references in the track list
No Galaxie Rising Star
No horrible tribute attempt
No grave robbery
No Radiohead covers
No elevator’s ascension
No fedora
No pork pie hat
No trumpet
No Shoo-Bi-Doh
No La-De-Da-De
No cats
No cocky showboating
No homework 12 keys reciting
No vibing
No bandleader
No dude was playing on it…

It was quite a nice listen.

Bruno Duplant & David Vélez - Preservation

Bruno Duplant & David Vélez - Preservation

Format: Cassette

Label: Dinzu Artefacts

Check it out: https://www.dinzuartefacts.com/#/dnz13/

   In an era marked by an excessive influx of information and abundant technical transformations, Bruno Duplant and David Vélez seem to have adopted a subversive approach through their solo work, collaborations, and their fruitful inter-continental dialogue by adding their fair share of abundance and excess when it comes to musical information.

   On top of being highly active through their solo work, both artists have multiply collaborative efforts (insuring an higher degree of dissemination of their music) working with a impressive numbers of labels (Gruenrekorder, Linear Obsessional Recordings, Éter Éditions, Notice Recordings, Creative Sources, Suppedaneum, Marginal Frequency, Lurker Bias...), as well as being involved in the documentation of others projects through curating (with Rhizome for Duplant and through Impulsive Habitat for Velez. This particular duo seems to be pushing their interest for information, documentation, and memory in their music (it might be worth noting that Bruno Duplant is a librarian teacher):

   With Moyens Fantômes (Cd on Unfathomless), they’ve questioned and somehow challenged programmed obsolescence and the decay of information by using only so-called dead media sources (VHS, floppy disc, Beta…) in the process.
   On Last Solar Powered (Cdr on Still Sleep), they forced us to reflect on the end of the world by telling the dystopian tale of a solar powered computer that is realizing his imminent doom (and by extension ours ?!) with his knowledge of the upcoming disappearance of the sun.

   This most recent release is called Preservation. It’s an engaging collage made out of samples, analog equipment and found objects. It plays like a dark statement about the passing of time, where sounds are fleeting through foggy white noise. The actual composition seems to be competing with the simple hissing from the tape while remaining captivating. As two witnesses of our era, Vélez and Duplant are extending their concerns about desuetude, disappearances, and decay to the reality of physical degradation.
   Can the physical traces and monuments we built and left behind guarantee our preservation and our memory?
   It’s not to hard to see a strong relationship between the choice of the tape to publish this album, a physical medium that tends to degrade more or less dramatically over its regular use and its conditions of conservations, and the implicit concerns of the duo. The print that we leave behind as a society, such as the infrastructures we erect (as accentuated by the building cover art), that at first might outlive us and withstand the challenge of time and guarantee our place in history. Is it not just as fragile? Are they not just as much damaged, and eventually erased, by the passage of time? No matter how many traces we left behind, how can we guarantee that we will remember and be remembered ? Is there any way to guarantee our individual and collective memory?

   If the questions raised by the duo’s music are not the most reassuring ones, the actual listening proves to be a pleasurable experience at this point in history. A strong release that makes us anxious to hear what will be coming next with this duo! Buy it, or, at the very least, listen to it while it’s easily accessible.

   *By the time I was getting down to work on this review Dinzu Artefacts had already released their brand new fall batch. And you can check it out right here. Thanks to Joe and Dinzu for the continuous hard work they do to please our ears! : 


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Psithurism Trio with Xavier Charles - Lure

Psithurism Trio with Xavier Charles - Lure

Format: CD

Label: SoundOut Recordings

Check it out!:https://soundoutrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/lure

   Lure is the recorded meeting of the Australian collective Psithurism Trio (Richard Johnson, Rhys Buttler and John Porter) with French clarinettiste étoile Xavier Charles. This one time only performance was arranged exclusively for the 2017 edition of the Australian improvised music festival SoundOut. The reunion of these four bonafide woodwind players could have also announced, if we were to believe the cover picture and the song titles, the dawning of a new group of mycophiles.

   I guess everybody was feeling the power of the mycelium on that particular date because what this quartet is seamlessly sporing is nothing short of astounding

   From a welter of spits, blasts, puffs, squeaks and throbs emerge two beautiful fruiting bodies. Panus Lecomtei and Mycena Interrupta exhibit the full range (and/or amazing restraint) of the quartet. No showboating to be found here, as each player uses his own rich vocabulary to good use, always vividly reacting to each others idiosyncratic expirations with an impressive attention to space and orchestration. If I was a smurf those two mushrooms are where I would want to live.

   Aebus Albopictus has the trio working with swarms of slaps, whistles, and rhythmical murmurs, without Charles and with considerably less tension. A patient and compelling piece of organic music where the group seems to be evolving on known soil.

   Charles ends this successful encounter as a lone fungus with some focused solo works (Multicellular and Ameboid) full of circular breathing, rustling overtones and a generous variety of his signature growls.

   A recommended listen dressed with a side of grilled portobello mushrooms (or psilocybe according to your taste)!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First review (!!!): Henrik Pultz Melbye - Frogs // Toads

Henrik Pultz Melbye - Frogs // Toads

Format: Cassette

Label: Insula Jazz

Check it out: https://henrikpultzmelbye.bandcamp.com/album/frogs-toads


   Just like you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince, you have to listen to a lot of recent solo improvised saxophone albums to find one that is this exciting. This is way more than just another where-the-hell-is-that-rhythm-section-to-back-those-boring-changes or the average one trick-pony-circular-breathing-until-death-comes solo sax album.

   Working with the rich register of the tenor saxophone, Danish improvising saxophone player Henrik Pultz Melbye stretches his instrument far into the wild through some surprising timbral and percussive herpetologic explorations.

   From beautiful screeching overtonal serenades to over-blown growls, the improviser makes the salientian species go wild! The playing oozes so much grit and gusto that it made me wonder if the saxophone player would blow up like a toad smoking a cigar.

   After listening to these concise, eloquent and fierce pieces, you might be tempted to bring a boombox by the creek next time you plan on getting high licking a toad. If for any reasons the lick does not bring you the full-body rush and powerful hallucinations you’re looking for, this tape surely will (plus that way the frogs can also party with you !).

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