Rapoon – Cultural Forgeries (ALRN 058)

So dark... I can barely make out the album art for Cultural Forgeries, by Rapoon... also, I get the most unusual sensation that there's someone else in the room. Probs just my imagination running wild, though.

So dark… I can barely make out the album art for Cultural Forgeries, by Rapoon… also, I get the most unusual sensation that there’s someone else in the room. Probs just my imagination running wild, though.

Hey, still there, reader? Didn’t mean to scare you, it’s just me, Alex again. It’s so dark in here… I discovered a flashlight awhile ago, but the batteries were low. Thankfully, it provided just enough light for me to read the liner notes of the next album for review…

“In 2013, I was asked by my friend Robert Pepper (Pas Musique), if I wanted to do an ‘unplugged’ album. I was intrigued by the idea and agreed. I thought of ways of constructing pieces that did not involve any ‘processing’. I wanted to make something that was essentially acoustic recordings but which were composed and arranged to give some depth and intricacy to them.

I started recording some of my many acoustic instruments on a portable stereo digital recorder (A Tascam DR-05… for those interested in such things). The recorder has built in microphones, so I just used those.

Sometimes I placed the recorder inside a large Bodhran to get natural reverb reflections. I listened back to the things I had carefully recorded. I listened to them again… they were ok… but something was missing…

I added some reverb, delay… back masking and… it suddenly sounded fab to me…

This album is part acoustic and part processed… all the recorded parts are live… one take. The treatments and processing are as much a part of composition as are the instruments and the recordings… in a way I failed to make an unplugged album but I did make something which was outside of my usual work process and for that I am thankful. To simply repeat the same processes over and over seems very dull to me.

Viva la Difference!”

Thus, we have Cultural Forgeries… a nice, thought-provoking title here in consideration of the above tract.

Rapoon is an artist I’m familiar with slightly, by name more than anything. It formed as a project spun out from :zovietfrance:, much as William Spybey’s Dead Voices On Air had been. There’s a sense to the project on this work of avant-garde artistry, higher concepts developing with fluid intuition out of a process of intense labour and thought. Therefore, something of a base ritualism permeates Rapoon’s acts of creation here, in a way subtly similar to projects like Hybryds or Coil.

The first track is titled ‘donnez-moi une cigarette’, and immediately I hear trumpet echoing in a vast room, refracted.

This leads us to the second piece, ‘Bodhran and ran’, on which a drum is struck, it’s hollow body enticingly echoing… ah, this is excellent… in my mind, a ritualistic dance is taking place in darkness.

Afterward is ‘Banjo Arabiata’, a lovely cultural recontextualization of a stringed sound I’m not typically fond of. This is excellent. So far, in just three very minimal, mono-instrumental works, I’m in love with the album.

‘Suit Toot Coconoot’ is like a choir of kazoos creating a kind of disharmonic, Middle-Eastern dirge, followed then by a fluted pipe of some kind, very subtle effects create a sense of space. This is really good. A stringed instrument comes in, pure magic.

Then, on ‘I saw a man’, I hear accordian… the echoes make it feel like a kind of seaside ambient music, and it’s beautiful, the way subtle chord changes effect the mood in these minute ways. A tone like a steamboat or train is pushed out of the instrument. There are these clipping sounds, like something that’s been cut in in reverse, like a liquid. The mood of the piece slows, becomes darker… night falls on the ocean, and the moon can be seen and felt overhead in full, the smell of brine, ale and pipe tobacco is heavy in the mix. I can only just lay back and enjoy this. A voice suddenly comes in, kind of surprising! Very brief, something about a man, seen, who was probably dead.

‘Slender…in clouds’ features acoustic guitar, and suddenly I’ve been swept elsewhere. A quiet desert in my mind, and under bright sun. Audio teleportation. It kind of meanders among dust clouds, an expression at a slow pace headed nowhere in particular, and kicking up sand as it goes. Perhaps there are clouds here… large and cumulus, in my head.

Next is ‘Some distance’, which feels like a didgeridoo in a gas tank. I hear a voice in the vat… maybe a racecar shifting gears someplace outside, the revving of engines. There’s the drip of some kind of clave. The sounds become distorted, rumbling with greater intensity, shaking the mix completely. I feel like I hear crowds of people, cheering. This is starting to feel to me like some kind of experimental deconstruction of a racing event. I hear a trumpet blow, which spins out into space.

‘The summer lies heavy’ begins with cello that reverberates out into infinity, a bowed string stretched to eternity. More strings enter, presumably violin, and there are very subtle ways in which the sound of it seems electronically manipulated, like the string is glitching out a bit, shaking with artificially intense vibrato! This is pretty cool. At times it feels like I’m hearing a saxophone or other reed instrument in the mix.

‘Along the calling path’ features reversed string instruments echoing down an endless expanse of tunnel we may choose to follow. A drum, also reversed, shoots through with a series of beautiful “thwums”. It’s as if we are arrangements of sound walking backward in a large hall, while the movement of present toward past sends ripples into future, a very surreal experience.

‘Sway..down down’ is comprised of flat bongos being struck with acoustic guitar… and something in the way of the static and its ebb and flow always suggests edits, it’s very peculiar, a feature that has been present on most all of the tracks on the album so far. The guitar picks up as the drums drop away.

Strange electronic sounds fill the mix on ‘Bells temple ask’, like a series of acoustic bell tones that have been run through granular synthesis and molded as if clay into a cracked, earthen soundscape. The frequencies scramble. The naturalism of the bells disintegrates further, while something of the essence of their timbres continue unabated.

Next, ‘Glass’ is filled with brass instruments, an airy jazz ambiance. It’s something like the warm up before the recital rendered as atmospheria.

On ‘Cello transfused’, strings play darkly into a woody, empty room with some slap-back. The drum feels like a ball bouncing in a corner. The harmonies are deranged, string voices as like a chorus in solitude, drum banging its head against the wall.

‘Cello yellow’ also features strings, but there is a bright, lovely electronic ambient tone behind, possibly the product of an effect on the instrument in post. Sudden drums, with plenty of body and density, create a sense alongside the strings of a twisting, serpentine dance.

The next piece is ‘Je veux d’l’amour’. I hear upright bass, and deeper back in the mix a hat. Now, a full drum set emerges, scattered and arhythmic. A trumpet begins playing. Empty niteclub, the smoke of finished cigars lingering. There are more of these strange clips in the white noise field…

After this is ‘The delta ends’, in which acoustic guitar seems again to take us to an expanse of dry, dusty serenity.

The final track is ‘murmur now…finis’. I hear what feels like a choir of reflections, and reversed sounds float by. A humming voice comes in, echoing in the space.

In all, this is an almost mystical release, I feel lifted into another plane of existence totally after hearing it. Of course, that could also be because I’m light headed from lack of food in this hellish museum. By the way, if you see any artistic sandwiches laying around, please let me know.

Speaking of the museum, though… the monster is definitely still at large within the halls… I feel like it’s hunting us. I’m just grabbing stuff as I run, now… I found some old sword on display, but since I don’t do much swording in my spare time, I don’t think it will be much use. Plus, the blade fell off the hilt… must have been a replica, a cultural forgery, if you will…

… wait a second… I feel like we got turned around, somewhere… are those footsteps I’m hearing? Uh oh… you’d better run, reader, I think the monster has caught up with us… quick, click on the link below and maybe you’ll make it… aaagh!


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