Nexsound – experimental, ambient, noise, improv record label


Sonic Arts Network

v/a – Rural Psychogeography

The CD comes packaged in a slender, understated yet striking, cardboard sleeve. Unfold to reveal the contents. A disc and some brief liner notes printed on greaseproof style paper. The paper type here may not be all that significant, but its potential in the kitchen is perhaps more inspirational than the text contained upon it; an unnecessarily pretentious rambling that alienates its readers and lacks even a basic critique of what psychogeography is. Here’s my explanation: Psychogeography; A study of how the geographical environment affects the behaviour of individuals and society. It is often connected to the ideals of the Situationist International [SI].
The basic concept, as personally interpreted, seems to be that sonic experiences in a rural space can be captured and imported into the city whereupon the listener can construct their own abstracted environment, a ‘constructed situation’. Sounds are relocated so that “an underground station in Paris all of a sudden becomes reminiscent of a country backyard”. Similarly, the aural characteristics associated with the city, sounds of automated industrialisation and electronic tools, might be manipulated to mimic the complex relationship between sounds in rural surroundings.
Insert the CD. The opening twenty minutes comprises four tracks of faintly manipulated environmental recordings. Beautifully captured though they are, especially Geoff Dugan’s binaural recordings near Lake Otsego, rural New York State, they’re perhaps a little deceptive of the textural architecture that comes to characterise the rest of the compilation. Indeed, it isn’t until we arrive at track five, a composition by Andrey Kiritchhenko, that we get a true insight of the CD’s nature. ‘Babai’ is the first composition that cuts and splices field recordings and combines them with anomalous sounds, here some freely improvised acoustic guitar and bubbling sine wave bleeps.
The geography of the CD, the positioning of the tracks, causes some confusion on first listening. Unlike most contemporary music albums, which give each artist’s work its designated plot of digital space, ‘Rural Psychogeography’ emphasises a continual mix from track four onwards. The experience isn’t unwelcome though. Taking the mastering process of a contemporary album to this new phase emphasises more acutely the ‘journey’ aspect of the disc. Each of the sixteen tracks states a dedication to a particular location on the planet, ranging from Arizona [USA] to Huia [New Zealand], passing through Korea and Ukraine, the homeland of the releasing record label, Nexsound.
Despite the initial troubles, this album proves itself on compositional elegance alone, with well-known composers such as Francisco Lopez, Kim Cascone, Rosy Parlane [Touch records] and Radian [Thrill Jockey records] contributing to the project. Its terrain starts at a reasonably low, minimalist level and gradually crescendo’s toward the pinnacle, to the heightening pressure from feedback and fractured connections of kouhei and freiband’s live set. Upon hearing the sound of the disc spinning down, it begs to be revisited. This won’t become a dusty shelf-filler. Sit back and enjoy another journey. Where will your ears take you?
Reviewed by DJC de la Haye

Sonic Arts Network

v/a – Fourfold Symmetry

Fourfold Symmetry presents us with a simple idea – four artists supplying source sounds to each other and then composing pieces. Little is explained about whether these source sounds are organic or computer derived or indeed how each artist set about working with them. For this reason it is difficult to judge what transformations have taken place and how original or well used any of the sounds are. One also gets the feeling that this is an opportunity missed and the feeling that comes across is that the artists just loaded up the source sounds into their computers and did what they usually did.
First up we have two tracks from KIM CASCONE. Using obvious processed noise and the dreary after effects of granulation, time stretching and spectral filtering Cascone creates a fairly ineffective couple of pieces. No attempt is made to engage with the spatial depth of sound and so apart from a few arbitrary auto-panning sounds, the pieces end up appearing quite flat. This may be intentional, but it sounds ill considered. Generally both compositions fail to evoke anything other than the sound of computers making sound. The pieces lack subtly, over use the cross fade as a transitional method and seem to be missing any propulsive elements. They also fail to recognise the importance of silence, space and gesture.
‘Misplaced’ by ANDREY KIRITCHENKO succeeds with simplicity and layering to create a slow crescendo. As before all the sounds are static, non dynamic and expressionless, but in this instance the blandness and flatness of the ingredients is useful in gradually heaping them on top of each other to create a charged engaging space.
The next eight tracks by KOTRA introduce a more obvious metre using fast gated repetition, loops and short percussive gestures. The sounds used are much purer in tone and have none of that overstuffed feel that makes it difficult to move from one sound to another. With this limited palette KOTRA goes a lot further in exploring the sources and composing with them. The only problem seems to be in the sonics – the harsh clipped tones of the foreground need to be calmer in both volume and equalisation. They appear sped up or have had their sampling rates reduced to create an effective harshness of texture, but they at times overwhelm the background drone sounds.
ANDREAS BERTHLING’s only track ‘First Out’ [though he contributes source sounds to two other tracks] is quite similar to KOTRA’s piece. Short harsh sounds are looped into a one bar repetition at around 120BPM. Over this percussive sounds skate and skid around in stereo using modulated bouncing ball algorithms to simulate acceleration and deceleration in both space and sound. An interesting idea, but to repeat this loop all the way through [around 130 times] is unacceptable and just plain lazy.
ANDREY KIRITCHENKO’s two tracks finish the album with clear tones and low chord like drones, creating a soft atmosphere. Unfortunately the electronic birdlike sounds, though well realised, create an atmosphere that is more suited to a flotation tank ambience than interesting composition. And once this soft atmosphere fades away all that is left is the sound of effects, not the sound of composition. The problem lies in no keeping hold of the beauty, a feat that is achieved in the last track ‘three figures’ where a simple idea is held.
Overall a well packaged and thoughtful compilation demonstrating the various methods of sound manipulation. Unfortunately the fact that much of the sound here has no dynamic expression means that compositions become demonstrations of valueless computer pyrotechnics, rather than considered explorations in sound. A lot of the work in the album has failed to realise that sound creation is nothing without composition. And composition is a skill which there has yet to be a plug-in invented for. Unless composers work on their methods of transitions and expression, listeners will be forever trapped in listening to one fairly interesting sound cross fade into another fairly interesting sound. With the limitless possibilities of computers, this is simply not good enough.
Reviewed by Mark Mclaren

Sonic Arts Network

I/DEX – Seqsextend

After a little research it turns out that like most electronic musicians, I/DEX also has a few other aliases such as Harmash, Mystique and of course his real name Vitaly Harmash and started on doing field recording/tape experiments around ’97 and combining them with a Sony playstation of all things. His release for Ukraine Nexsound label is a bit different from what you’d imagine and it seems that Harmash has moved into the slicker world of minimal digi-dub constructs that would fit nicely into the ~Scape catalogue. Harmash’s ability to build from the crackly minimal warmth platform of his cohorts his shown on Seqsextend. He gives a nod to the moody melodies of early the early Detroit/Berlin techno and I can’t help but think of the old Kenny Larkin and The Black Dog records when I listen to the patches he uses. Comparisons aside, this is an excellent release (but perhaps a bit too long) and will be interesting to see how Harmash’s style develops in the future.
Reviewed by Justin Hardison.