Artists: A variety!
Title: IFAR Musique Concrète 4’33” Compilation
Keywords: Experimental, Musique Concrète, Bath
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
Xena kissed John in a Cage as we mixed the concrète for the final stage of the eschaton’s immanentization, our Messiaen complex holding firm to the temptations of Luc’s Ferrari. Welcome to another review at Yeah I Know It Sucks: one that will suck your brain through your ears and stick it in a jar of noise and formaldehyde. This is a monstrosity of a compilation, each track clocking in @ 4 minutes and 33 seconds, not to mention presenting electro-acoustic sounds of a high quality and abstractness that will be sure to amaze, bewilder, enthuse. But, before we begin, a side note that has nothing really to do with anything…
… apparently, we’ve received a lot of traffic to the site after our review of Circuit Demon’s album Porn Anthems, mostly of people we believe were probably just cycling the web for porn, caught in the throes of passional self-pleasure, and likely moving on with haste once realizing our site is not, in fact, porn. Audio porn, maybe, but not really what they were looking for. In order to keep the flow moving…
… sex, porn, free porn, meet hot young singles in your area, fucking, rimjobs, goatse, boobs, hot ass, pudding farts, hardcore fucking, giant tits… ok, that should do it for now. We encourage and appreciate anyone visiting the site with their penises hanging out… it’s also the way we write reviews! But our apologies for the digression.
Getting straight to the music… the first track, by Zreen Toyz, is titled ‘Diluted Concrete Paranoia’. Wisps of female vocals float ethereal in the mix with reverb as strange electronic sounds warble enticingly and we catch traces of piano. The concrète is like a grainy, grey mass that is slowly bubbling as it takes in air during the mixing process. I hear what sound like drills and a quacking duck. Noisy winds rustle dust and ashen synth effects scatter across the lot. Some very pretty synthwork for the last minute or so! Then, also, bits of acoustic guitar, very subtle.
On Anla Courtis’ ‘Afrechero Fermion’ we are treated to a slow-rising surge of white noise. The concrète here is being gradually churned in the barrel of a truck. Sounds something like a choir for a bit but it’s very low in the mix. There are some fireworks being shot off, or it is an emulation of such a sound being created using whistles and power tools. Some kind of rhythmic sound is reversed, or maybe those are just explosions? It ends with what sounds like someone hitting several keys on a piano, but the sound of it is really low and reverberates out.
‘4’33”, The Mark Of The Beast’ by Bryce Ellman begins with gong or some other deep cymbal and reversed clap-like sounds. Very concrètic, slowly hardening to rock. I’m hearing trickling beads… there’s a strange rhythmic sound that comes across as if the toothy, guttural slurp of some horrible cryptozoological beast of nature. This is a very abstract arhythmatic piece of music, and I love it!
I think a steel string as thick as my wrist is being pulled across the teeth of a rake on Klangeffekt Quartet’s ‘Impromptu de Cordages’. The concrète here is still but a powder in a bag being shaken. There’s feedback and a sharp shriek, followed soon by electronic modular tones. Scraped strings abound, treated with a number of bizarre effects and sampled at different pitches. Piano strings sound like they’re being run across by knives, intonating in a particular way as in keeping with their shapes, as if they were springs or slinkys. This is uniquely beautiful, the fruits of the excesses of the Quartet’s sound fetishism.
‘Paradigm’ is by Shaun Robert, and sounds like a shutter is being slammed while lofi electronic burbles and gurgle tones of bass resound. The concrète is separating. I hear a large gun fire off, reversed whip snaps, a bottle being spun around. Then later there’s a low dial tone, sustained peculiarly, answering machine white noise evocations. Then there’s water and noise, a sizzling… it intensifies. It’s kind of a frightening soundscape, altogether, and very lovely! I get chills while listening. Ending with strange sucking and filtering, then wind blown through a narrow tunnel for a moment before the mix shorts out.
There’s a drip, drip, dripping in the sink at the beginning of Satisfacción Lab’s ‘Mi Vida En Una Cocina’. The concrète, as you might suspect, is wet and settling. Static hiss envelops the drips subtly, and now someone’s running the tap for a bit. These are the sounds that keep you up at night. A pissing develops, as a low rumbling buzz grows louder over the static. I’m waiting for a deuce to drop, but it never does. Instead, something like a clock chime run through spring reverb and then several cut-up clips of noise infringe upon the mix. There’s a clanging of steel, like something you’d hear while out doing some urban exploring in the industrial sectors of town. Ends with a piss!
Ana Maria Romano’s ‘Entre Cuatro Parades’ assails us with fierce wind, one ear at first but becoming stereo soon after. Our concrète is abstracted, immaterialized; all that is left is the base idea of concrète. There are haunting whistles among the wind. Birds sounds come into the mix, noisily at first as though distorted, and then chirping in and out of the mix. They are treated as such that it is difficult to tell if they are acoustic recordings or synthetic.
Then it’s Public Domain’s ‘Debbie Does Dallas’. Speaking of porn, I think I caught that one very early one morning on Skinemax when I was 13 or 14 years old. Vocal samples start us off, followed by a shrill sound and heartbeats permeated with more vocal clips. Acoustic guitar for a moment… the samples are very self-aware, discussing the rudiments of musique concrète, the concrète here being almost thoroughly solidified. More shrill noises, more diverse in sound profile, and heavily treated voices. Then we return to composites of cut up voices. A very strange piece of music, a tapestry of collected sound and voice.
‘Polytope Sphérique’ by Wehwalt comes next, with dark ambient style textures. Plonking piano and feedback, a cabinet being shaken or a plastic suitcase being slowly dragged up a flight of stairs. Some giddy laughter with effects, wild electronic sounds, some of which are reversed. The concrète, now solid, is being stepped upon by feet unknown. Modulations go nuts for awhile, the atmosphere is atonal and darkly bizarre, putting the listener in a state of distress. Toward the end, the feel of the music takes a turn for the spacy!
‘No Limbo Fits’ is by Zoy Winterstein. It’s concrète is strangely malleable, possibly Martian. Rhythmic bits of acoustic sound, found instrumentation is arranged as if in a haphazard way. I hear trumpets over the arrangements, later violin. A low, bubbling synth and steely, mercurial drips. Wellsprings of feedback and electronic weirdness, then some laughter for good measure being cut up, sequenced! It’s like a circus of sound. It has some great moments as you go along, times at which sounds combine unusually.
Next is Factor X, with ‘4’33” Of 034’ in which low, distorted tape feeds with barely traces of whatever voice is there underneath. Some very pretty sounds soon emerge, chords, organs, low voices, rumbles, a cat’s meow. The concrète is enthusiastically painted, shaped industrial waste. Floating electronics, whole measures of silence besides the tape hiss. A door slams shut and it feels like something has disappeared behind it, though it didn’t before sound like anything was there. Very mind-bending sound. A sequence, sounding like distorted cuts of either a jazz band or orchestra comes in. Then more soft, light and low fidelity tape loops of orchestra / choir. After are some people having a conversation that’s hard to hear. This is probably my favourite track on the compilation thus far.
For fans of lengthy titles, Artificial Memory Trace brings us ‘4 33_21.9.2011—Slavek + James Kwi Listening To The KONKRETONE 2’… if James Kwi is James Kiwi, they are an artist I’m familiar with, but that might have just been some strange coincidence. A high-pitched triangle ding, crumpled rhythmic sounds, a spoon repeatedly tapping, a car starting, something being wound up, and then the voices of those who are listening. The concrète’s being cut up into squares and slotted to fit sidewalk planners’ schematics. A buzzsaw starts up, immediately followed by a rolling tin ball and some water being splashed. There’s a baby talking as well. Brass instruments are being tuned, something of metal is being sliced, a fuse is set fire to. This one seems to be made mostly of disparate parts that tend to flow one after the other in not-so-quick succession, but there is a large diversity of sound presented.
‘She Will Last Forever’ by Mutant Beatniks starts with a modulated white noise frequency… I hear a wisp of what sounds like a choir but with heavy amounts of white noise, it’s very nice! I now hear a siren, which is then mimicked by the choir. The concrète is being drawn upon with chalk. Shrill, sudden blast of throttled white noise that turns to electronic buzz. Bird sound or lasers with a definite, strange background choir noise thing happening, very hard to discern just what is going on here but I love it. I think this is also a favourite of mine on this compilation. The space of the track is broken into to be expanded by the addition of other noises. A creaky door opens.
Richard Wilmer’s ‘Train Of Thoughts’ comes up afterward. There’s a light amount of tape hiss, echoing and reverberative noise comes in. I feel like the noise is spinning. It must be that our concrète is being broken down, crushed, repurposed somehow in a recycling chamber. The profile of the wind noise shifts slowly… similar noises but of a slightly different character also creep in. Then there’s a blast of feedback.
The final track is The Implicit Order’s ‘Day And Night Afar’. It starts with noise, background tape static. Bits of percussive sound are floating around somewhere far away… it’s difficult to say just what is creating the percussive noise. The concrète is finished, grey and hard. I think I hear film rolling now, bursts of low white noise. Very sudden clamour of noises after a long stretch of time. The sound of this track for the most part is supremely subtle, fomenting an awareness mostly of the space of the recording medium used.
This was a highly impressive and engaging compilation. Every musician / artist has provided a piece of very legitimately strange and engaging, not to mention expert musique concrète acoustical experiments, all of which I’m sure you’ll enjoy. You can find it at this link: