Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ini.Itu Label, Vinyl Releases: Anaphoria, Blindhæð , Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Dave Phillips, D'Incise, Freiband

The Ini.Itu label, founded in 2008, has released eight LP's. With a focus on field recordings, extended techniques for acoustic instruments, drones, rhythmic collages and crossing of Eastern and Asian musical structures, this promises to be a label to watch. The quality of their music releases are superb, vinyl pressing is very quiet and rich in detail, the excellent cover graphics also set their albums apart. Following are reviews of five of their albums. For more information on Ini.Itu or to purchase any of these items please check HERE.

ANAPHORIA (Ini.Itu, #0902) Footpaths And Trade Routes (2009) LP

"Footpaths And Trade Routes" is an LP by Kraig Grady, aka Anaphoria. This composer, born in California in 1952, studied with Nicolas Slonimsky, Dean Drummond, Dorrance Stalvey and Byong-Kon Kim before meeting up with Erv Wilson in 1975. Wilson is an esteemed Mexican-American music theorist who has written extensively about microtonal music and just intonation. I have not studied all the specifics of these tuning forms, but I have heard a bit of this type of music (Harry Partch and Wendy Carlos, for instance) and, for the uninitiated, it consistently sounds exotic to these ears and able to achieve moods very different from western music and the common musical scale we all grew up listening to. At some point, apparently, Grady also became inspired by indigenous music forms, perhaps specifically the music of Aboriginal Australia (?), and this album seems to reflect those studies. The first track, "Zephyros" is a minimal composition beginning with chiming bell sounds that are created by a vibraphone using a once forbidden tuning. On this track we hear the basic blueprint for the rest of the album, as the overtones created by Anaphoria's acoustic music instruments dynamically rise within the tracks, sometimes very ambient, in the background, other times floating up directly in the mix only to disappear momentarily. Although the music is minimalist, the patterns aren't repetitive and he's not using obvious loops in the structure either, the movement in the composition is slow paced and without dramatic effect. "Zephyros" sounds like a prelude and, indeed, proves itself to be so as it weds to the beginning of the followup track, "Hierophone A341", which is immediately more dense, more complex. This track too contains some of the same sort of instrumental tones with rhythmic bell-like percussives being most prevalent. Here the rising overtones are more apparent, becoming buzzing atmospheres that rise up in the mix behind the closely miked instruments. Nice, quiet LP grooves are essential when listening to such music and this LP is mastered perfectly, pressed on superb quality vinyl. "Ostaelo", the long single track that takes up side two, is the inventive re-imagining of the previous tracks, using all the same instrumental configurations in an effort to find a music balanced somewhere between Balinese gamelan orchestras and the minimalist droning of LaMonte Young. A beautiful, meditative album, particularly good for morning listening.

 FREIBAND (Ini.Itu, #1101) Stainless Steel (2011) LP

Freiband is a sound project of the prolific Frans De Waard. De Waard is very well known in the noise community for his vast review document, Vital Magazine, which he started producing in 1986, later evolving into the internet journal, Vital Weekly. He has also created excellent noise/experimental sounds as Kapotte Muziek and Beequeen (amongst others). Freiband, however, is quite unique from De Waard's other projects, here the glitching of computer hard drives create loops of different recordings, mainly it seems, pop music of one sort or another. This album was created by De Waard between 2009 and 2011, and then the tracks were mastered by James Plotkin. Some of these structures are very minimal, musical and acoustic to the ear, others have a more fractured and complex electronic feel. The post production on the sources seem to give them their environment, as the reverbs set up a habitat for the unusual sound loopings. The result, on side A's "Stainless (Software)", is a montage of strange and wonderful miniatures, at times with jarring cuts and unusual rising of volumes. It all adds to the invigorating quality of the sound material here, as you never can expect what will come next. Especially when you get to the end of the side and you are so tranced out it takes five minutes to figure out that it's a lock groove! Side B, "Steel (Hardware)" can supposedly be played in 33 or 45 rpms, and is considerably different from it's companion. Extremely minimal but not without interest as the sounds intertwine into an infinite loop that, seemingly, has no beginning and no end (in actuality has no end since the needle finally settles into another lock groove). I've had conversations with turntablist, AMK, about our mutual fascination with skipping records/cd's and this album is a perfect way to explain it's appeal. Because the post-modernist disconnect with the actual creation of these glitching textures, the surprise content, or potential of pure chance is unlocked by such experiments, then to take those experiments of chance and make them into something more compelling than their technical origin, that is the accomplishment of a true artist! This is fresh, unique work by one of the icons of the noise underground.

 D'INCISE (Ini.Itu, #1001) Rivages Sur L'Antipode (2010) LP

Laurent Peter is an experimental musician from Switzerland, operating under several pseudonyms: Diatribes, Heu{s-k}ach, and the better known, D'Incise. As D'Incise, Peter has been releasing sound material since 2005 on many different European labels. "Rivages Sur L'Antipode" is something like the 14th or 15th album that's been put out and, judging by the quality of it, I can certainly see the justification. Again, we are treated to a superb electroacoustic work, but this one based entirely in rhythms. His approach is a, sort of, left-field/free hip hop setting but with deeper textural qualities. The sounds are ever changing and what might, in another context, be drum rhythm sounds, are here created by any possibility of sonic reference. Because many of the samples are edited into "hits", i.e., short bits of sound that can be used rhythmically, you feel the reference but do not get enough of the sound to exactly identify it. So this myriad of possibilities is always flashing by and morphing, from noisy static to cracklings into gamelan orchestral things, or analog synthesizers, ethereal pads and so many more. Also it seems like many different samples are used in every "hit" of sound, layers of them, as I hear it. Cleverly programmed and utilizing some interesting glitch techniques too, these rhythms are deeply imbedded with underlying references. Mastered by James Plotkin, this is a superb sounding album, filling the sonic spectrum from bottom to top and it's also one experimental album you could play at a party or could be used in some DJ mixes.

 DAVE PHILLIPS & CORNELIA HESSE-HONEGGER (Ini.Itu, #1002) Mutations (2010) LP

An astonishing work of art recorded by Schimpfluch Gruppe member, Dave Phillips,with paintings and inspiration provided by Swiss scientific illustrator, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger. This album is packed with amazing sounds from start to finish! Recorded by Phillips in Thailand, Vietnam and his home of Switzerland between 1994 and 2007, the field-recordings already provide a tremendous personal diary, but then through "mutations" the stories in the sounds are transformed by Phillips into metaphor for some kind of microbial sound world, in this case the most likely correlation(via the eye-popping artwork of Ms. Hesse-Honnegger) are insect habitats. The noises here, clickings, pops, whistles, animal/bird sounds, howling, jabbering, sawing, wind, etc- while listening to this surrealist melange I can't help but wonder if every sound on the album could just as well have been made by Phillips' own voice? But their origin doesn't matter in the end, as he has transformed these sounds with great mastery into one of the most compelling albums I have ever heard! There are jarring moments here, but it's not a typical noise album, those moments provide drama, even a fearful element that creeps in. It's absolutely visual, but what you visualize is so bizarre as to destroy any preconceptions. As with most of Ini.Itu's output, this album is also mastered by James Plotkin and the sound is fantastic. This definitely makes my Top Ten list for 2011.

BLINDHAED (Ini.Itu, #0801) Whether That Will Make People Want To Become Archaeologists, We'll Have To See (2008) LP

What to make of an album with such a title? But this one-sided LP turns out to be a brilliant excursion into the world of electroacoustic sound. This has some of the air of the classic musique concrete sessions of Paris in the late 40's/early 50's, but where fascination with process at that critical moment seemed to overpower the composer's imagination sometimes to the point of silliness, here the aesthetic is never divided. The purity is impressive, the composition always unfolding in lushness, layer after layer, the composer's intent: a cinema for the ears. With the apparent ability to capture alien sounds, most of which seem like they are actually created using everyday objects, or tiny musical instruments, with such intimate presence and in many different environments, Blindhæð then refashion these sources into a remarkable sonic painting! Totally absorbing and listenable to over and over again on this pristine vinyl. I can't say enough about this fascinating album, but for my noisehead friends, there is no violence here, just the languid rise and fall of sonic textures like water lapping shores.

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