Hyper-Minimal MP3s

There’s music minus one, and then there’s music that’s little more than one. “Music Minus One” were those old LPs of arrangements lacking a single part, so you could practice your Dixieland clarinet playing or whatnot. “Little more than one” describes how spare, how thrillingly threadbare, are the mere crusts of tempo-suggesting static that comprise the four tracks on Nicron‘s Cod.coq, from the relatively new Complementary Distribution netlabel. (A modest Hungarian enterprise run by Andras Hargitai, aka Soutien Gorge, it was launched this past July, and Nicron’s is its fourth release yet, posted on the 23rd of this month.) These are less instrumentals looking for a soloist or a singer than they are single elements of an imaginary rhythm track, their testy little syncopations chattering away like some anemic bboy’s heartbeat. If you’ve ever stared at a blueprint for an as-yet-unbuilt skyscraper and marveled at its architectonic pleasures, then Cod.coq is your cup of hypotheticals, as pregnant with possibility as it is barren. More info at the Complementary website, bitlabrecords.com/cod.

Space Music MP3s

An eight-minute slice of glacial melodicism sandwiched between two half-hour vacuum-packed decanters of space music, SounsScenarios for the Real Self is as expansive as it is ethereal. The relatively concise interlude, “Natreal” (MP3), is almost unbearably light ambience. On either side sit “Frozen Ocean” (MP3) and “Evolution of a Flower” (MP3). They’re something of a return to form for Kikaku, the releasing netlabel, resembling the earlier organic, formless work by its founder, Pocka, aka Brad Mitchell, who of late has been hosting more riff-driven, if still electronic, work. Scenarios for the Real Self, originally self-released by Souns, is the label’s 85th release. The online liner notes include some astral musicology about the structure of a flower and the C major scale. And before writing this off as a handful of laptop presets set on loop, check out the list of equipment it was recorded on: an old Atari computer, late 1980s equipment like an AKAI sampler and a Yamaha guitar effects unit, and the estimable Yamaha MD8 multi-track recorder. One track, “Frozen Ocean,” was “edited slightly in ACID Pro,” the digital music suite. The album’s title was apparently borrowed from alternate-spirituality figure Robert S. Ellwood. More info at kikapu.com.

Roomy MP3s

Each of the six tracks on Gate Zero‘s 6 Rooms is intended to suggest a different space, among them a living room, a kitchen and an illusory locale on the Star Trek holodek. The experiment is an interesting idea, though no one would cry foul if all the tracks on 6 Rooms had simply been labeled “lounge.” They all have a steady beat (one occasionally reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”), a pricey-casual feel and a moody flavor. The standout, inevitably, is the one intended to serve as a cellar — inevitably because the close confines seem to have restricted Gate Zero’s palette, and less is almost always more. The “cellar” track (MP3) is less frilly, less lush than the album’s other five. There’s more space between the beats, space that allows the background sounds, light puffs of circulating white noise, to make themselves heard. In the album’s liner notes we’re reminded, “A cellar is intended to remain at a constant cool (not freezing) temperature all year round.” And, true to form, the six-minute track is constantly cool. More on Gate Zero (aka Stefan Biermann) at his homepage, gatezero-music.de, and at the netlabel that released 6 Rooms, stadtgruenlabel.net.

Jason Kahn MP3s

“Whereas the Limmat runs deep and fast and appears rather pure in its composition, the Sihl plunders along slowly, is comparatively shallow and interspersed with a good number of rocks jutting through its surface, small whirlpools and random clumps of tall grass.” That’s musician Jason Kahn describing the two rivers that passed by an old studio of his in Zurich, Switzerland, where he lives. Kahn titled his recent record after the latter, and if the free download at the Sirr Records website (MP3) is any gauge, then the Limmat must truly be a quick-running waterway; the sample Sihl MP3, apparently the album’s fourth track, is a rapid flurry of percussive swells and a jittery line of tapped out chimes. Two additional Sihl cuts, housed at Kahn’s website, are no less energetic. The album’s sixth (MP3), a rising and falling drone, has no specific downbeat, but its underlying waveform and overall intensity are anything but languid. And the album’s eighth (MP3) is similarly upbeat, with a whirring purr above a light patter of metallic sounds. According to Kahn, the primary components of the album are percussion and analog synthesizer. More info at sirr-ecords.com and jasonkahn.net.

Tangents (printless, networks, multitrack)

Quick Links, News and Good Reads: (1) The Hafler Trio is planning a subscription service for limited-edition releases (brainwashed.com). … (2) Grooves magazine is ceasing to be a print publication, the website announced earlier this month, opting to become a subscriber-supported website (groovesmag.com); in related news, the website has launched a podcast, hosted by the magazine’s editor, Sean Portnoy (groovesmag.com/podcast). … (3) W. Brent Latta has some initial thoughts on the musical properties of Microsoft’s newest gaming platform, the Xbox 360 (createdigitalmusic.com). … (4) DJ Krush announced in a note on his website earlier this month that his next album will be a double-disc best-of, featuring remixes, one half instrumental and one half rap, due out in 2006 (mmjp.or.jp/sus/krush). … (5) Zoe Irvine‘s sound art event involved a 24-hour quasi-party line where whenever you called in you heard someone, somewhere around the globe, singing. One inspiration was the “theatrophone” of the late 1800s: “Networks were set up, allowing subscribers to hear live performances in opera houses and theatres, much as an outside broadcast works today” (timesonline.co.uk). … (6) R.I.P, Link Wray (1929-2005), guitarist and speaker-cone splitter (nme.com, nytimes.com, newsobserver.com).

… Select New Releases: (1) The Village Orchestra‘s Et in Arcadia Ego (Highpoint Lowlife); see the November 13 Disquiet.com field notes (link). … (2) Herbaliser with Jean Grae‘s Nah’Mean, Nah’m Saying 12″ (Ninja Tune), with an instrumental cut and a Platinum Pied Pipers remix. … (3) A bunch of Van Der Graaf Generator rereleases, including H to He Who Am the Only One, Pawn Hearts and The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (Caroline).

… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) Greg Davis and Sebastien Roux‘s Paquet Surprise (Carpark): Don’t let Davis’ well-deserved reputation for folktronic transience, or the lulling sensibility of this album’s opening track, let you be taken off guard. Paquet Surprise, which teams Davis with Roux, a fellow at IRCAM (the legendary experimental-music institution) and a contributor to the 12k record label’s guitronic compilation (E·A·D·G·B·E), is as anxious to irritate as it is to please. For every expanse of placid ease here, there is a sharp call for attention. … (2) Nine HorsesSnow Borne Sorrow (Samadhisound): Nine Horses is three men: David Sylvian and Steve Jansen (two thirds of the band Japan, that legendarily graceful pop-fusion act) plus Burnt Friedman, the dub-minded electronic composer.

… Quote of the Week: Autechre‘s Rob Brown talks with the Japan Times: “Everyone’s got a multitrack studio in their bedroom, or in their pocket, these days” (japantimes.co.jp).