Various Artists – “Crows of the World, Volume 2″ – Last Visible Dog
It took an extra year, but economics being what they are, I’m still happy to see Volume 2 of this set make it out of the gate. As nearly as I can tell this is an entirely new group of artists for this compilation, though it’s still well within what you’d expect from Last Visible Dog. Excepting “Skull Death Dive,” the opening burnt-out garage jam from Bury My Heart, this is a rather subtle disc. Ashtray Navigations and RST evince a heavier end of drone; but selections like Juppala Kaapio’s “Kagami Hebi” and Renato Rinaldi’s “The Bite” are gentle tours through an aural wonderland of unexpected sounds and odd direction. Basically, a lot to recommend already– but in truth, the highlight of the disc is “Movements Under Water” by Bosch’s With You. I was hanging Christmas lights outdoors while listening to it, and didn’t notice until much later that I had been mentally comparing the sounds of its slow-motion ringing to how I expected the twinkling lights to look. Strange thoughts for an afternoon here in Smallsville. Thanks, LVD!
Various Artists – “Serge Modular Users 2009″ – Resipiscent
Go fig– a totally geeky compilation devoted to a synth I’ve never previously heard of, and it still manages to be completely enjoyable. This is synth how I like it: fifteen tracks of analog exploration, soundscapes, gut-shaking bass, and general weirdness. John DuVal’s “Distress Call” and Cebec’s “Transformer Substation” take a fairly understandable direction (alternately evoking a plaintive signal from deep space, and electrical mayhem), but others’ contributions are far more abstract. Still, if I drop the title of Carlos Giffoni’s “All the Mistakes I Made During the Caribbean Winter;” I have no problem getting into his bumpy, meandering series of increasingly hectic bleeps and buzzes. Most importantly, everyone involved seems happy to let their synths be synths without attempting to simulate trumpets, pianos, etc. A good set of liner notes (including complex directions for using one’s own Serge as a vocoder) complete this disc; which I recommend for fans of vintage electronics, Louis and Bebe Barron, and banana plugs.
Markus Jones – “Send & Receive” – Con-V
The Serge Modular compilation got me thinking about this free netlabel release, from May of this year. Markus Jones took what might have been an opportunity for some IT workplace phonography, and turned it into something much better– a chance to record actual sound transferred across a network, utilizing some 16 servers and 1200 ports for the sound data. The result is a highly-varied pulsing cloud of sound events, oddly seeming to have some internal structure that occasionally comes across to the listener. This isn’t a straight recording, Jones does mention some real-time manipulation of the sounds, but “Send & Receive” retains an exotic quality nonetheless.