Nexsound – experimental, ambient, noise, improv record label



the Moglass/Tom Carter & Vanessa Arn – Snake-Tongued / Swallow-Tailed

The more abstract music gets, the harder it gets to assess its quality in empirical terms. You can’t sing along to a 15 minute ambient track, or hum it, or rock out to it in the car with your friends — so what makes it “good”? For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s a question of physical and emotional response; the best abstract material will take you places, make you feel things, and generally affect your perceptions while you’re at it.Tom Carter, better known as Charalambides, is the biggest name on this globe-spanning ambient split. Teamed with Vanessa Arn (Primordial Undermind), he coughs up a pair of resonant, atmospheric tracks. Opener “Mojave” is endless open space as rendered in musical form — sighing lap-steel notes and generated tones processed into howling winds, heat-haze and eye-bewitching expanses of monochromatic sand. At nearly eleven minutes, it’s quite a sonic hike, but “Atmananda” more than doubles its run time. The detail is more extensive here — a progressive series of bell-like tones, resonant whirring noises and almost-air raid siren howls that drift in and out of focus like objects on a fog-shrouded road. There’s even an addled guitar lurking in the mist somewhere near the six-minute mark; it yields a befuddled, quasi-mystical jangle of notes before disappearing. In short, this is moody, meditative, potentially disquieting stuff — never overtly frightening, but unlikely to inspire pleasant daydreams about flowers and bunnies.
Ukrainian improv trio The Moglass, who can hear stuff like “Atmananda” every night simply by opening a window (or so we’ve all been lead to believe about Eastern Europe), favor a denser sound — which isn’t surprising, as they have more members to keep busy. Their “Untitled (Tawny Owl)”, for example, sounds a bit like a late-night nature hike with members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, during which you have a close encounter with an alien spaceship. Once again, the impetus here isn’t so much musical as mood-defining, and headphones are more or less required to reveal the full extent of the trio’s layered sonic collage — scrapes and clatters, electronic shrieks and effects-treated rattles stirring mysteriously behind an impenetrable mesh of synth drone. “The Map (Webfootprinted)” dangles some more conventional music as a lure — a ghostly trail of violin, a brief burst of marching band — but you’ll quickly be pulled into the ever-changing murk behind them. Almost-recognizable instruments emerge as the piece builds: an effects-treated guitar chatters away like a cartoon duck, and an angry bass guitar emerges from its lair, strings humming and clanging. These questionable companions will dog your steps, sometimes camouflaged and sometimes audible, as the thirteen-minute piece rolls inexorably forward.
Closer “Kakerlakische Kakerlak” begins with laughing, chattering human voices — a timely opportunity to reconnect with your own humanity — but don’t be fooled. Soon enough, we’re once again plowing through sheets of resonant haze, striated notes shimmering and hanging in the air as they seethe and pulse. Fragments of speech are distantly audible as the drone pulses brighter and darker, and eventually there’s a hint of a more conventional melody line looped deep in the mix — nine or ten notes that lurk, semi-audible, beneath the track’s surface, emerging from their feedback cocoon like the most fragile and spindly of butterflies as the piece dwindles to its conclusion.
These descriptions may sound like faint praise, but they’re intended as an endorsement; it’s simply difficult to adequately describe a sensation that’s more visceral and intrasensory than musical. In the right circumstances, any of these five pieces can summon its own measure of spine-tingling, consciousness-trapping reality. The places to which Snake Tongued Swallow-Tailed takes you may not be recognizable physical landscapes — and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be pleasant places to visit — but they’ll seem palpably real while you’re there. Like a particularly vivid nightmare, the quality of the experience ultimately transcends its purpose.
— George Zahora


The Moglass – Telegraph poles are getting smaller and smaller as the distance grows

Cross Ukraine off the list of Countries from which We’ve Never Received a CD. The Moglass are a self-described “guitar/bass/electronics” trio, which essentially means that they create sprawling ambient soundscapes — presumably loosely structured improvisations — peppered with familiar musical elements. The shortest of Telegraph poles…’ six tracks runs a modest five minutes; most are significantly longer. Sonically, they land somewhere in the midst of a triangle defined by the Aphex Twin, Roy Montgomery and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop circa 1982.These nameless tracks are built on foundations of looped samples or atmospheric keyboard effects; repetitive guitar figures, piano sequences and simple guitar progressions (or, in track three’s case, improvisational noodling) fill in the musical meat. Dropped-in samples and processed sounds are layered on as needed — everything from track three’s intermittently modified frog ribit to track six’s bouncy, IDM-friendly compressed vocal bytes.As is typically the case with this sort of material, it’s difficult to say much about the individual pieces without resorting to clumsy descriptions of de facto movements and transitions; suffice it to say that none of these pieces linger excessively on one expanse of sonic real estate. There’s little sense that The Moglass feel obligated to meet any expectations or deliver specific sonic stimuli — they’ve simply devoted themselves to that vaguest of musical holy grails, the Quest for Stuff that Sounds Cool. They’ve done well, too; each track is, in its way, enthralling, though a few of the grinding, clanking, mechanical background textures are creepy enough to lodge Telegraph poles… in horror film territory.The three guys who make up The Moglass reportedly recorded the majority of the disc on Christmas day, 2000. Crowding into a bedroom/basement/garage studio with two friends seems like an odd way to spend a holiday, but who are we to tell these guys when, where or how to make their music? Your time is better spent trying to hunt down a copy of Telegraph poles; only 500 were pressed, and they may already cost a small fortune on Ebay Ukraine…
— George Zahora


Kotra – Dissilient

The salary, health care, and retirement accounts available in the field of reviewing music (which ranges from the indie/mainstream to the almost unfathomably obscure) are fantastic, but many of us enjoy working 40+ hour per week jobs on top of it. Naturally, in workplace gab sessions, the subject of our super-hero identities as reviewers occasionally comes up. Once people have looked at the site, they usually ask the following: “So, what’s the (worst/weirdest/most memorable) thing you’ve reviewed?”
My stock answer for “weirdest” album has long been Magali Babin’s Chemin de Fer, which consists almost entirely of the recorded sound of pieces of metal interacting with other pieces of metal. I actually kind of enjoyed Chemin de Fer, but I have listened to it maybe once since I reviewed it.
With that in mind, I’m pleased and amazed to announce that I have a new winner in the “weird” category. I’ve experienced albums based on formless electronic noise before — but I’ve never heard one that was so decidedly listener-unfriendly. Kotra definitely has a vision, and it’s easy to see that Dissilient came out precisely as intended. It’s just hard to imagine why he has distributed copies of it to others.
In addition to the fact that Dissilient consists entirely of sounds that most mainstream listeners would go out of their way to avoid hearing, it contains so little modulation, and such an apparent lack of purpose or structure, that it almost seems designed to put off adventurous listeners as well. The first two thirds of the disc (all tracks titled “Minus”) consists almost entirely of different interactions between an almost unchanging, high feedback tone and other, incidental noises. After the silent “Zero” track, the “Plus” tracks emerge, with a sonic palette that might sound richer, but only to ears already dulled by the earlier tracks. There are other, exceedingly minor variations, but the album closes in the same aggressively unvaried form in which it began.As some sort of experiment in audience provocation, Dissilient might be sort of interesting…but only to an observer in a soundproof booth.
— Brett McCallon