At around 5:30pm a whiskey breather rocked-out on an acoustic guitar on the bus while his friend, of equal incapacitation and holding two garbage bags filled with beer cans, yelled lyrics as they manifested in his mind. We came to an abrupt halt, the bags went flying, the guitar player smashed into three people, and the two men rolled out of the doors in a true slap stick whirl-wind, their limbs bending in impossible ways. Even though they were now gone, a stream of foul beer and a few bruises remained as mementos for their equally appalled and appreciative audience. And to think, I had nearly lost faith in public transit.
I thank you, Evan Lindofff-Ellery and Travis Bird, for the cassettes you sent and for this drawing (by Evan), which was inspired by a quote I re-posted by Francisco Lopez:
"What we call the sound of rain or wind we could better call the sound of plant leaves and branches.” – Francisco Lopez
Evan Lindorff-Ellery - The Tea Merchant and His Atmospheres
Evan Lindorff-Ellery's music comes from a deeply personal place. The Tea Merchant and His Atmospheres reflects a broad range of elements from the artist's life, who has taken a multi-faceted approach to his sound work over the years, and arrived here, at a fully realized album through careful assembly of at-home processed field recordings and archival tapes. Lindorff-Ellery is careful in presenting this work as non-narrative and nonrepresentational, which I believe reflects the notion that, although these sounds are steeped in personal meaning, that meaning becomes lost to anyone but the artist; the best the listener can do is to take in the sounds at face value, and bring to them their own thoughts, experiences and tastes to derive meaning and opinion.
I doubt a lone critic's opinion, or many critics' opinion for that matter, would have much sway in Lindorff-Ellery's world, but for what it is worth, the analog permutations found within The Tea Merchant... are of great interest to me. On this album, the second solo offering from Lindorff-Ellery on Notice, he presents a series of recordings from South Korea and of Chicago factories, whose peaks and valleys have been filed down to create a warm analog soup via nondescript at-home tape processing. Certain sounds have obvious origins, like those of birds and bells – the bells here reoccur throughout – while others remain unidentifiable, often lurking at first, then surfacing as fizzing drones or rumbling electrified-static.
The album's length (this is a C95!) speaks more to Lindorff-Ellery's intense intrigue toward the sounds then it does just breaking tape-release norms. Yes, it is a long work, and one that requires the luxury of a freed up afternoon to enjoy, but given the potential for drag and filler, The Tea Merchant... falls victim to neither. And in listening to this work and realizing its immensity packed inside a humble tape release, one can't help but sense an overwhelming sincerity about the whole thing.
Ben Owen - Birds and Water, 1
Readers of the Scrapyard Forecast will need no introduction to Ben Owen, as his solo and collaborative work, and releases on his Winds Measure label, have become staples to this site. Birds and Water, 1 is part of a series of sprawling minimalist drone recordings that Owen captured while in residence at The Experimental Television Center in Owego, NY. Using an analog modular system which included a multi-input sequencer and a bank of oscillators designed by David Jones, Owen set about his work. The result is not dissimilar to the austere ruminations of Eliane Radigue from her heyday, with many minutes of uninterrupted flatline-bordering drone and intervals of silence.
There is, however, something dynamic about these seemingly static drones, not entirely a result of the medium of choice here, but, I think, a conscious effort by Owen to dance upon that line separating activity and stasis. This is especially evident of Side B, which requires far greater patience because the quivering, mid-range drone presented spans the whole of the side's duration, something like 45 minutes.
Owen is also a rather prolific producer of field recordings, in which he more often than not leaves completely unprocessed. I get the sense that the title, Birds and Water alludes to a type of field recorder's mentality of electronic music; that these, minimalistic recordings, left to ring out in an open space, completely devoid of all the tempting bells and whistles, speaks to the beauty of the simplicity of sounds from natural environments, unencumbered and timeless. Perhaps that's a stretch and I've read too far into these sounds. In any regard, I've enjoyed listening to this.
Making far more clatter than Ben Owen is Tiny Music on their Notice debut, Epitaph. While still, I suppose, on the minimal side of things, I wouldn't put it past the four members of the band to have had looted a hardware store before recording these group improv sessions. Where a bronze angel and PVC piping come into play is impossible to hear in the clamor of this sonic detrital-heap, nor is it very important. What is perhaps clearer, or at least easier to sympathize with, is the grab-what-you-can free-for-all expressionism. The band does find a rather compelling sea-sick groove now and again, the flip especially tapping into a shanty h3o vibe at the beginning (or is it more like Organum?). What can I say? By delving into this I've exposed the work's repeated listening value as mere surface-level intrigue. Was fun while it lasted.
Tiny Music - Side A (Excerpt) by ScrapyardForecast