Pocket reviews for April


Erdem Helvacıoğlu – Eleven Short Stories

The prolific multi-instrumentalist composer/improviser turns to the prepared piano to evoke the work of 11 film directors (Lynch, Aronofsky, Lee, Kieslowski, etc.). There’s plenty of Helvacıoğlu‘s warm textures, deconstructed hints of ambient techno, and so on – but the underlying wood and copper of the piano gives it all an earthier, more grounded, and strangely more mystical sound. Some of his best work yet.

Eleven Short Stories is on Innova, #245

Watch an interview with Helvacıoğlu here.

Neil Luck, Fiona Bevan, ARCO – Last Wane Days

Pavlovian jingles, schmaltz and avant-garde noise. This should be a recipe for postmodern cliché, but intelligent composing and focused performances from Bevan (voice) and the ARCO string ensemble pull it out of the bag. Bevan in particular can turn her voice on a dime. As co-composers, Luck and Bevan use sound and recurring motifs cleverly, so that the rampant dislocations achieve an unexpected coherence and continuity. Serious artistry.

Last Wane Days is available as a free download from Squib Box.

Anett Németh – A Pauper’s Guide to John Cage/Early Morning Melancholia

Anett Németh’s first release. Her first track is sort of Cage-like in its use of time brackets and wide open spaces (late Cage anyway), but more deliberately structured: Németh multi-tracked her composition, using a semi-improvised piano part as a “spine” to the piece, and everything else was oriented around that. Sometimes, she admits, she tweaked the time brackets to help the different sounds connect with one another. There’s a lack of abstraction here that is distinctly un-Cagey, and hence a particular warmth too. Early Morning Melancholia is more continuous, and more disconcerting: electronic static and hum. It’s considerably more restless, which may have something to do with Németh’s wanting to engage with more negative emotions in this piece. Intriguing music that doesn’t quite fit the box you think it should.

A Pauper’s Guide … is on another timbre byways, atb-08

Listen to an extract here.


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