Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cathartic Process: Bucketovsissors, Clew Of Theseus, Dajjal

CLEW OF THESEUS (Cathartic Process #CP32) Live, July 3, 2010 (2011) C60

The new Clew Of Theseus tape, titled "Live July 3, 2010", consists of three separate performances from the same day, in concert, at the Vesica Piscis Cathedral in Flagstaff, Arizona. My expectations were already high, given my familiarity with the mastermind behind this project, Ben Brucato, who has created an impressive discography over the last 15 years of brilliant noise and experimental sound works. Brucato is obsessive about the smallest details of his recordings, a very careful and discerning composer, setting his work apart from the slopmeister improv set who release every session they record. (there are arguments against and in favor of both of these ethics)

The A side is a 30 minute track simply titled "First Performance". Unfolding slowly, but with electric tension, this minimalist composition is made up of long, sinuous tones and strange, buzzing frequencies that drift through the wastes of a vast space. That space slowly becomes filled with a stern, but magisterial, sounding drone. This music, for me, has many metaphoric possibilities: the slow movement of time, shifts in tectonic plates, eons of existence/non-existence, generations swallowed up by generations. This is not a romantic, or nostalgic vision, nor is it cynical, there is no crescendo, yet the rising, falling and overlapping of tones contains an inherent accumulation of energy. At the end it feels like emerging from a time-portal to be in exactly the same place, but feeling profoundly elevated and refreshed. I rank this track up there with the very best ambient music that I have ever heard. Not to mention this could be performed by an orchestra with great results and hopefully, one day, will.

"Second Performance" begins the B side with some of the same characteristics as the first live set, a circular feel to the sound elements, a hovering effect, but the sounds are more distorted and grittier around the edges. This is a strong counter-piece to the earlier performance, at 12 minutes there are no lulls and Brucato is in complete control of his resources.

The bonus track, "Recorded During Sound Check", is the surprise of the tape, a really nice bonus for the listener, as Brucato takes on the ambient genre directly and with eloquence. Don't let it's humble soundcheck origins fool you, this is a composition that feels complete on it's own, it may be an edit, but doesn't sound like one. Here we have a really beautiful floating track that is without darkness, yet is compelling on it's own terms all the way through. The austerity and control maintained by the composer in the live execution of these sound structures, his peerless mastery of technique, are at once fascinating and insightful.

The fetishistic tape/vinyl underground culture has created a retro-worship of analog sound. But Clew Of Theseus, I think, deserves the ultimate hiss-free and stereophonically wide characteristics of digital sound. So it's too bad CD's don't sell any more! Fortunately, the tapes released on Brucato's label are the ultimate in cassette sound, I have never heard better dubs, very little in the way of hiss, and able to contain all frequencies without overloading, or compressing. Amazing!

DAJJAL (Cathartic Process #CP30) De-Evolution in Simulation Generators (2011) C90

The new "De-Evolution In Simulation Generators" by Dajjal, on Cathartic Process, is a ridiculously great tape! First thing I notice is the superb sound. One thing I will say about tapes on Cathartic, they have the most amazing sound quality I think I've ever heard: virtually no tape hiss, little compression and no bleed-through! Really beautiful dubs. So who is the mysterious Dajjal? Whoever he/she is, they've created a throwback, in a sense, to early industrial noise, and have really come up with something to be feared on this release. This is the aural equivalent to being one of the human guinea pigs in "Rubber's Lover", subjected to intense and unbearable sound frequencies! Fucked by noise, basically. An extraordinary and imaginative release, it's hard to believe this was recorded live to cassette, what a feat at ninety minutes! Just one more reason to believe that the youth of the noise generation have fantastic possibilities, that the noise scene is not stale or running out of creative steam. There are no cliches on this release. Take my word for it, this is better than almost anything else out there, a must-have. Highly recommended!

CLEW OF THESEUS/BUCKETOVSISSORS (Cathartic Process #CP21) Split (2011) C40

Also released on Cathartic in 2011, the Clew Of Theseus/Buckettovsissors Split cassette. Each artist has composed two tracks for this project and, though they are not thematically related, there is a cohesive quality to the album that I really enjoyed.

I think I understand now what Ben Brucato, with Clew Of Theseus, is trying to do in his work. His sound paintings are becoming deeper meditations, more possibly religious even. But he is painting, and these paintings have a solemnity, a humble quality, yet they are also monumental. In a way, it's like the landscape of Arizona, where he lives, wind-licked, ancient landscapes that have quietly survived the harshest conditions, while passing overhead are skies of the most beautiful colors... I feel more and more his sound-world does reflect the experience of living there. I don't think this is uncommon for artists who have lived in Arizona, as I think that even my friends, Jeph Jerman and Adam Mokan, have found their music altered by that profound landscape.

The first track here is a really beautiful rising and falling ambient drone composition. Many frequencies of sound passing through the spectrum. The splice at the point where tracks one and two meet will make you jump out of your seat! But we're immediately in a darker place then. Bass frequency looming there below as an array of sonic colors pass over and build ever changing surfaces, each part of the composition always moving but without a strong forward push, so more of a hovering, buzzing, or in my estimation, "painterly" effect. The side ends in thundershower sounds, a direct reference again to that Arizona landscape, and the rain dissipates after some time creating a perfect ending to a really great set of works.

German experimental artist, Theo Goodman, aka Bucketovsissors, has been active since the early 2000's, not prolific, but doing some very interesting soundwork in that time. I have to say it's a great pairing here, and thank goodness, as split tapes should at least sometimes sound thoughtfully curated. Bucketovsissors provides the more psychologically dark side to this tape, creating a blown-out, futuristic urban landscape. Whatever Goodman is using to create his sounds: synths, field recordings, turntables, one can only speculate, but what he achieves in this music is really interesting, a world of machines in control, listened to in a certain frame even the titles then could be said to be satirical through those eyes. "The Enlightened Man" has finally "found himself" at a time where he can do least in response to his enlightenment, therefore it's still a world of alienation, helplessness, slavery-and that is exactly how this music sounds. Excellent metaphorical noise!

Get these brilliant releases at Cathartic Process. The online catalog is HERE.

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