Version & Delineation – glacis and Caught in the Wake Forever







It’s an interesting idea – record unrehearsed piano pieces direct to the Voice Memo software that comes with an iPhone, then allow a second artist to make such additions as they see fit afterwards. It’s also an approach which leaves itself open to claims of ‘flippancy’, a notion rightly rejected by label Crow Versus Crow, who say the recordings are “considered, concentrated distillations of reflected emotional experience, precise and lyrical.”

Which they are.  Short, one and two minute pieces by Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken aka glacis, contemplative but never slow, introspective but completely accessible, across which Fraser McGowan of Caught in the Wake Forever pastes and interweaves snippets of sound, abrading the edges of the piano with domestic backgrounds and the muted refrain of repetitive mechanics and misfiring electronics.  The additions range from mere hints of rough interference to distinct instrumentation given equal weight to  Euan’s piano, but in every case the collaboration works to create something greater than the individual elements.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this:

Available on digital download and as a limited edition cassette.

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What would this record have sounded like if John Cale had had some setback and Cinzia La Fauci and Alberto Scotti had taken his place? – Various

Bandcamp is positively littered with this kind of thing; huge, sprawling collections of themed cover versions by bands you’ve largely never heard of.  The themes range from the tentative (single band efforts which are effectively just ‘stuff the band can actually play’ – though this set by Bournemouth based band Chuter is really good) to the pretty damn ambitious (there’s a great 45 track collection of Pearls Before Swine covers out there with not a single duplicate – or bad – track). 

This Stooges covers collection falls somewhere in between those two stools.  Crucially, though, the quality is great, and the approaches taken pleasingly varied (odd that more than a fifth of the running order is taken up by versions of ‘Ann’ though – it’s not exactly the most obvious Stooges cover).  There are relatively straight-forward garage/noise covers, of course – including, predictably but enjoyably enough, ‘1969’ and ‘I Wanna be Your Dog’ – but also experimental soundscapes (‘We Will Fall’) complete with what sounds like someone taking a hacksaw to a violin. Nouvelle Vague-tinged euro electronica (‘No Fun’), and all sorts of heavy, bone weary twists on the Stooges tale.

Oh, and most importantly, the fabulous Frank Chickens do a cover of ‘Not Right’, so – frankly – there’s no reason not to own this, right now.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this

(Digital and compact disc)

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A Shadow in Time – William Basinski

The thing with drone is that – even more than other types of music – just as much depends on what the listener brings to the experience as the creator intended. Titles are a helpful guide to the intent of the artist, but as often as not I find the images a drone piece conjures up in my head to be a mile away from the label attached to it. ‘A Shadow in Time’ is an example which both exemplifies and contradicts that point.

Let’s start with the title track, a 20 minute plus slice of layered sound, in which individual layers build and peak, then fade back into the background, all set against a constant, swirling hum. Listening to this on decent headphones in a dark room, it begins – for me – as the soundtrack to some slice of early sixties’ BBC science fiction; a slow walk across the moon, or a monochrome pan across planets hanging in matte painted space. Four minutes or so in, and the little effects which prompted that image disappear from the mix, and we’re left with long washes of sound, where one note or other dominates for a space then falls back again, the sound to me of travel and things passing by. And then, fifteen minutes in, sparse chimes and muted bells herald a slowly building repeated refrain of 8 or so notes which increase in clarity until the end. It’s a beautiful, restful piece, if a little different from other Basinski I’ve heard.

The flip side, ‘For David Robert Jones’, on the other hand, is more straight-forward and does exactly what it says on the tin. It begins much like ‘A Shadow in Time’ with waves of swirl and drone, but after six minutes the sound of (Bowie’s?) disintegrating saxophone bleeds into the mix and takes over, repeating its brief, collapsing riff for fifteen glorious minutes, each time ending with what sounds to me like a foghorn (and with the track being a requiem, I can’t help but picture a boat being guided through the mist, like some Styxian vision). It’s a melancholy, but perversely triumphant, piece and one the man himself would have appreciated, I think.

If you only listen to one track listen to…

(digital only on Bandcamp – also available on vinyl and cd)

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Selections for Fort Evil Fruit – Taming Power

It’s all one track, so it’s easy to become unsure which track you’re actually listening to at any point, but it doesn’t really matter.  The music on offer here splits and reforms like some sort of giant electronic current, with guitars tripping over themselves and colliding with deep pulsing beats and pleasingly lo-fi abstract sounds (there’s even a point at which it comes over all 1970s Radiophonic Workshop).

It’s a mix, of course, as the title suggests, but whether the artist (one Askild Haugland of Norway, apparently) conjures up the heaviest of drones or the most intricate of guitar harmonies, it’s all good. (cassette and digital).

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