Wednesday, April 28, 2010

May 4th 2010 Releases

White Box Recordings CD

WHITEBOX005 - Richard A Ingram 'The Melioramentum' by whitebox

- 'Consolamentum is a mature, cohesive and powerful work a world away from Ingram’s day job' (Mapsadaisical)

- 'a fascinating piece of experimental work, which, despite its minimal settings, is rich in textures. He is here very much in control of his music and of the moods he manipulates, and convincingly assembles them to carry his narrative from one end of the record to the other' (The Milk Factory)

Richard A Ingram's 'Consolamentum' is a bold body of work and a fearless statement of intent. As guitarist in Manchester-based rock outfit Oceansize, little in Richard's day job suggests either the genesis or the source of this album. This music comes from somewhere else entirely, some undefined centre; organic and ever expanding, fiercely powerful compositions, tonal explorations and melodies, with Richard himself as its source, rather than any vague sum of 'influences'.

Following a self-released CD-R EP, 'Consolamentum' is Richard's debut solo album. From its opening moments the ambition of Ingram's work is immediately apparent; where did this come from? Words really cannot do this music justice, if only because the assuredness of the music speaks for itself. Using electric and nylon string guitars, piano, a variety of tape recorders and assorted electrical equipment, 'Consolamentum' casts an oppressive shadow over a distant and very dark horizon, a vision of bleak futurism.

While Richard admits to taking inspiration for the track titles from the history of the Cathars, he is adamant that 'this is not a fucking religious concept album'. There is an unstated narrative in the album's six track titles, but it is the sequence and flow of the music which creates its own narrative. 'Consolamentum' is not 'a score for a film not yet written', nor is it ambient 'drift' designed to soundtrack some nebulous void between waking and sleeping - current and lazy 'ambient music' tropes are inapplicable to this (and any) music so demanding of attention. 'Consolamentum' could be classed as some form of 'acoustic doom', perhaps some form of drone based music, but it is none of these things; it exists entirely in a realm of its own.

Despite its title, the opening track 'Kll Thm ll…' presents a cautiously optimistic entry point, and is something of an overture for what follows: melody emerges from a backdrop of machine hum, where curious tonal phases suggest something unfamiliar yet exultant. Then comes the statement of 'de Montfort', its sustained, opening (treated) piano chord planted with determined finality. Creeping piano segments and washes of static tape hiss create a tension that builds and builds, until it finally resolves back to its opening piano chord, bringing everything full circle. The beauty is in the simplicity of the parts - Ingram's expressive playing and economical approach to the pieces, at times lo-fi, at times presented like field recordings, is the key to these stunning and peculiar arrangements. Take for example, the lurching, emptiness of title track 'Consolamentum', its drunken, hazy detuned guitar phrases, low and sustained, submerged under an ever present silence…the result is deeply unsettling. Melancholic throughout, Ingram's music does not let up. 'Beziers' exacerbates the tension further, and, as the longest track, acts as a kind of centrepiece, embodying all of the above while never losing sight of where the track is heading. 'The Melioramentum' and then '…Gd Wll Rcgnz Hs wn' feel like mournful recapitulations of the four tracks so far, but there is little consolation offered, as the album comes to a close with the sound of all the machines slowly being switched off, until there is just hiss, and then it ends.

'Consolamentum' is the work of an assured artist; it is as at times as stark as the grim Manchester skyline of the cover picture, and probably won't entertain any listener seeking a bedtime ambient soundtrack. However there is still an undeniably euphoric core to 'Consolamentum', but one which feels more closely related to that point at which pain is surpassed and becomes pleasure - like something pushed beyond its point of maximum tolerance, way beyond the threshold, transforming negatives into positivity.

A. Togetherness
AA. Horizons (Asusu Remix)

Immerse 12"
(IME 017)

Bristol's Immerse label is on something of a roll at the moment and whilst still basking in the glory of the incredible debut LP from Russian wunderkind Kontext, they set force with the imprint's debut single from Asusu. Asusu christened Craig Stennett hails from Gloucestershire in the west of England where he has been developing his own twisted take on infused sounds of dub and techno.

The A side of this single comes in the shape of 'Togetherness' a brand new recording from Asusu that tears down the walls between techno, garage, house and dub. Broken garage inspired drums and intense deep bass notes provide the undercarriage for a heady mix of rich synth lines and warm washes of ethereal pads. 'Togetherness' is an instantly engaging and highly inventive piece of electronic music that immediately marks Asusu out as a production talent to watch.

The flipside is an Asusu remix of Furesshu's recent release for Project Squared, entitled 'Horizons'. Here Asusu manages to beautifully gel an upbeat rhythm section with a deeply entrancing soundscape of off kilter Detroit inspired sythns. This is heads down hypnotic techno of the highest quality and goes to show the breadth of ability that this young producer has to hand. 'Horizons' (Asusu's Strip Lit Mix) is a surefire late night winner and is certain to find it's place at the core of many twisted early morning sets in the months to come.

Immerse continue their blatant disregard for genre pigeonholing and acutely passionate dedication to quality electronic music at every step, this single is yet another marker in the ongoing history of a great British label.

A. Razor Boy
B. Broken Soul Music

Reduction 12"
(RDCTN 004)

Long-anticipated return of the excellent Reduction label out of Bristol town. Funk Ethics are welcomed after a very well received debut tune on the Destructive/Pitch Black compilation series 'Our Sound' . 'Razor Boy' treads a knife edge most delightfully, mighty sized subs add significant low-end weight to a mighty original riddim, its plucked motif is particularly redolent of some of the recent developments from the likes of Kowton, XXXY, Indigo - you perhaps begin to get the picture....but this is deepest soulful electronic club music. 'Broken soul music' - well, the clues rest in the title - stone killer low end boogie music. Another highly imaginative flex from the Reduction camp, as it gathers some serious momentum - watch out!