September 19, 2013
Cremaster & Angharad Davies
Satanic Abandoned Rock’n’Roll Society
Mikroton cd 12
Dealing with varieties of sound arising from electronic interface poses aural challenges, especially when traditional instruments are also part of the mix. Brushing aside the need for familiar textures from, say, the violin and guitars used on these two discs, one can still appreciate the extended techniques finessed to blend with – or against – the massed electronics. Yet when the multiplied processing reaches its zenith – as it does several times on both CD – the welcome disintegration of the opaque sound mass may appear to be musical development.
The situation is somewhat easier to decipher on Bloody Imagination since the four Japanese players – who recorded this disc in 2004 – have chosen an ostensibly sardonic name for their quartet. The Satanic Abandoned Rock’n’Roll Society is the sort of name a band of ex-Teddy Boys who have recently converted to Black Metal would adopt. Tying all the sonic excesses of Metal, Industrial Rock and a soupçon of musique concrète together in one package the exposition of the single track appears as obdurate as a pyramid; a concrete-like sonic block that only occasionally let processed wave forms enter the picture. Considering the band is careful to assign frequencies from high to mid-high (sic) to low to each player, and in view of the fact that the sound-makers used are Tetuzi Akiyama’s resonator guitar with samurai sword; Naoaki Miyamoto’s electric guitar; Utah Kawasaki’s analog synthesizer and Atsuhiro Ito’s optron or piano hammer, the (joking?) idea may be to create a Hard Rock sound to end all Hard Rock sounds.
But here’s where the situation become complicated. Following this introduction, the quartet members, all of whom would end up being part of the almost noiseless, Tokyo-based On-kyo movement, begin varying their output with a reasonable facsimile of call-and-response. Besides textures that could have been sourced from the sputtering of an ancient automotive engine plus carburetor thumps, vibrating string slices – perhaps literally done with Akiyama’s sword – and replication of bass drum-like banging enter the mix, sharing space with swathes of pulsating drone – both higher and lower-pitched. Following the extended buzz of what in other circumstances would be a bass guitar note, jagged lead guitar-like flanges mark the climax of the upfront section as crunching reverberations continue sounding then blur and finally fade.
Adding a further layer of complexity to the electro-acoustic mix is Pluie Fine. Pieced together by the Barcelona-based Cremaster duo of Alfredo Costa Monteiro on guitar, electro-acoustic devices and speakers and Ferran Fages using feedback mixing board and electro-acoustic devices, the source material comes not only from their studio experiments from 2010 to 2012, but from specific violin parts recorded by London-based Angharad Davies. Although the seams resulting from material moving back-and-forth from the UK to Spain and vice versa have been sutured, an unsettling mechanicalism infects the proceedings like a lingering infection. The more Davies’ sul ponticello sweeps and angled scrubs assert themselves to express emotions such as melancholy, the more strenuously the Catalan two strive to neutralize those sounds. Fungible buzzes, rotating static and splintered whistles take up most of the aural space; while the machine-like friction that arises from rubbing unyielding objects against one another contribute to the sonic density.
A crescendo is reached with “Crachin”, the final track. But overall, the narrative must be defined as a series of strident granular forms each less melodic, less focused and more closely packed than the last. Although the penultimate sequences produce animated movement in the form of electronically altered guitar licks and some string glissandi, the machine appears to have conquered the human here.
Like Cremaster’s other, earlier collaborations with the likes of trumpeter Ruth Barberán and tubaist Robin Hayward, the CD is fascinating in its audacity. Yet both it and Bloody Imagination suggest that an overreliance on processing and processes may end up sucking the improvisationary life out of a project.
Track Listing: Pluie: 1. Embrun 2. Buine 3. Crachin
Personnel: Pluie: Angharad Davies (violin); Alfredo Costa Monteiro (guitar, electro-acoustic devices and speakers) and Ferran Fages (feedback mixing board, electro-acoustic devices)
Track Listing: Bloody: 1. Bloody Imagination
Personnel: Bloody: Tetuzi Akiyama (resonator guitar with samurai sword); Naoaki Miyamoto (electric guitar); Utah Kawasaki analog synthesizer) and Atsuhiro Ito (optron)