DAVID MARANHA + Z'EV - Obsidiana

    Certain musicians names can speak for themselves, before even a note of music has been played. Their reputations proceed them, although of course there will also be those ignorant of both reputation and name. David Maranha - solo or with Osso Exotico - explores the territories opened up half a century ago by John Cale and Tony Conrad. Z'ev is the grandmaster of industrial/ tribal percussion. The fusion they create together is a magma of movement and stasis before which only legless cripples will remain motionless.
(Jérôme Noetinger / Metamkine)

    A meeting of minimalists, I'd say, but minimalists with a maximum output. I saw David Maranha once in concert at his organ, loud and long, and minimal, like Terry Riley on speed. Z'EV is a man to play percussion on stainless steel discs, bass drum and maracas and most his playing is minimal, letting tones do the work in the space it is played in, leading to heavy bouncing sounds. These two heavy weights plays a concert at ZDB in Lisbon on June 24 2010 and the result is this thirty-five some piece. It starts out moody and slow, silent with Z'EV playing the stainless steel discs, waving the listeners into some kind of obscure magic ritual which is about to take place. Tones bend in various directions and slowly the hammond organ on Maranha comes in and from then on things evolve in quite a natural way, but once everything is in place it no longer carries that ritualist tag, but unfolds itself as a great psychedelic piece of music. Terry Riley meets the Velvet Underground. When Z'EV picks up the maracas to play the bass drum, Maranha starts adding some fine clusters in the lower region, and both knit a very dense pattern of closely linked tones. Maybe just a bit short with a bit too abrupt ending, and next to being at the real concert, I can imagine the CD is best substitute.
(Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly)



    'Furl' is already the follow-up to last years 'Flock & Tumble' (see Vital Weekly 684) and continues his shift away from the field of drone music. Like it says on the press release 'these compositions whip, crash, swoop, glide and burble'. The music of Seth Nehil has moved into the field of acousmatica. More than on the previous it seems to me that Nehil is working with real instruments (played by himself or others), which are transformed, thanks to the computer no doubt, but he cleverly stays away from the regular type processing that the schooled composers use. Instead he creates quite vibrant pieces of music that bounces off into various directions and moods. Even a quiet piece like 'Hiss' has this vibrancy, with slow changes in sound and volume. As said its not easy to recognize the instruments he uses (piano? guitar? percussion?), but he works with them in a great way. He's now entirely away from the field recordings and drones and works in a modern classical approach. A piece like 'Swarm' sounds a stage piece with various voices from behind and slaps and bangs on the piano and percussion, with the addition of electronics making glissandi. Yet he has sprinkled the thing with his own magic - the sort of obscuring the sounds and that gives his music something of its own. Its hard to say what that is exactly, but it doesn't sound like anything else, which is the best compliment a composer can get, I guess. Its by far the best Nehil CD I heard and a fine career move.
(Frans de Waard - Vital Weekly)


   Yannick Dauby is not very well-known I guess, but by now he has a nice body of work which deal with field recordings. He is originally from the Mediterranean Alps but lives these days in Taiwan. 'Overflows' is just one track, which was already composed in 2005 and extended in 2006. The field recordings were made in Taiwan and in the surroundings of Saint-Nazaire, and consist, if I am correct with the devastating powers of water and overflowing of water, plus a great deal of wind sounds and a minority of city sounds. Its a fine work I must say… while I also have to admit that its the kind of work I have heard more than once in my life. Think a lot of Lopez music, although Dauby is throughout the more audible person, and working less with treated sound, or much closer, Eric LaCasa. Especially his work comes close to that of Dauby. Its that same type of sounds that he uses, a story like approach in composing it and the execution is pretty similar. So while I think Dauby does something great actually - all the right sounds, a fine composition, and such like - its also something that is well explored, by Dauby himself as well as by others. If you are new and think 'what is music made with field recordings' than this might be an excellent place to start.
(Frans de Waard - Vital Weekly)

   A French born composer now living in Taiwan, Yannick Dauby comes from the same school of concrete-centric field-recording as Eric LaCasa, Tarab, Jean-Francois Laporte, and to a lesser extent Francisco Lopez. As such, Dauby pulls his compositions together from a near constant investigation of the environment, with the chorales of frogs and cicadas situated next to the thrum and hiss of heavy industry. Where LaCasa in particular is interested in matching particular textures and frequencies into sympathetic collages of intertwined sounds from any number of sources, Dauby has more of an interest in emphasizing a divergence in his sounds, juxtaposing comparatively dissonant field recordings to force them into a dialogue. So you'll find rasping blurts of locusts buzzing above a constant hum of some unnamed high-speed electrical dynamo, which gradually fades against a backdrop of metallic clinking, that almost sounds like the ambience of an ancient blacksmithery, becoming a smart counterpoint between two forms of human innovation. Dauby's composition is one of slow evolution with his numerous passages of water (thunderstorms, streams, subterranean dripping), the din of distant traffic, various bird utterances, windstorms, and clattering squeaks and whirls from industry effortlessly moving in and out of each other. All of these field recordings originate from France and Taiwan, although Dauby is very cautious not to make either locale too obvious, even when the chatter of children intermixes with that of incessant insect noise. It makes for a great, psychogeographical listen! (Aquarius store)


   To make noise is pretty a not very difficult thing, but the main question remains: is it interesting for the listener? This where lots of noise makers leap away and do an endless barrage of distorted sound and think that the more is the better, and the louder it gets adds to the fun all around. I beg to differ. There is good noise and its not always about being the loudest for the longest duration, but to actually compose with unusual sources. It needs skill, imagination and experience, I guess. Mike Shiflet (former boss of Gameboy Records) and Daniel Menche have exactly those qualities. They work here with Hammond organs (odd, just like Golden Serenades on 'Hammond Pops' - see Vital Weekly 702) and electronics an create a three piece suite of electronics that is both minimal and maximal. Minimal towards the sounds they use, the actual composition and sometimes to the volume. Maximal to some of the louder parts of this work. They use a variety of layers in this work, built them up in a great, never letting go of the idea of 'noise', but at the same time think of the listener: what do we want to create that is also interesting for him/her to hear, who is so far away? They succeed well. This is a well-crafted, thoroughly composed work, loud, menacing but a great pleasure to hear. This is the noise I like very much!
(Frans de Waard - Vital Weekly)

   The landscape surrounding Lake Wahtum in Oregon looks like the surface of the moon in Daniel Menche's photographs adorning this fine collaborative venture with Mike "Gameboy" Shiflet, but there's apparently plenty of forest nearby, and strange things lurking in it (http://www.bigfootencounters.com/stories/whatum.htm). Both Menche and Shiflet have been alarmingly prolific in recent years, and I can't claim to have heard more than about ten per cent of the music they've released, but these three extended cuts for Hammond organs (they both played Hammonds? at the same time? we wanna live version!) and electronics are among the most impressive and well-constructed pieces I've heard for a while. Alan Courtis and Lasse Marhaug's North and South Neutrino (Antifrost) comes to mind – one knows what these musicians are capable of, in terms of sheer volume and brute strength (images of Menche on one of his punishing runs in the forest here), and it adds a sense of foreboding to the music. Events often feel as if they're ready to spiral out of control, but the distortion and grating metal ugliness is held in check, buried under layers of menacing drone. There's a terrific sense of tension throughout, maintained by both the musical material itself and the form it's forced to assume. Masterly work, check it out.
(Dan Warburton - Paris Transatlantic)

   Some serious dronage, on Hammond organs, no less (with electronics). This was a good example at the kind of release which, on first listen, I largely glossed over, save toward the latter third of the disc. It happens with drone work sometimes--the details, where much of the meat resides, get subsumed (by me) into the larger scheme of things, causing the music to be read as blander than it is. You have to (at least, I have to) balance the sets of elements simultaneously, the details and the whole. The extraordinarily rich, basic sound of the Hammond might obfuscate everything else that's going on but is the core, invaluable essence here. Shiflet and Menche presumably mess around with the organs a good bit (hard to tell where that messing with the organ ends and the electronics begins), steering them into distortion and static, though these sounds are always nested in that fundamental throbbing hum. The first two, of three, tracks are fine and rewarding, but the third leave no jams unkicked, a ferocious mix of rough, gravelly noise and drone, those Hammonds straining to gleam through the dust, a wonderfully complex cloud that eventually resolves into pure organ, wavering but strong. great stuff for the drone-inclined.
(Brian Olewnick - Just outside)

   Despite his role as a mastermind behind the Gameboy label, the considerable quantity of releases and the abundance of collaborations entertained (including artists respected from yours truly, such as Brendan Murray and Francisco Meirino aka Phroq), this is the first time, if the memory is not failing, that I hear sounds produced by Mike Shiflet. Bad for me, especially in view of the brilliance of this collaboration with Daniel Menche, my impartiality towards the latter well known (sorry, gimme a second as I go lighting up another candle under the Portlander’s icon, heh heh). The sources used were Hammond organs and electronics; the material was recorded between 2007 and 2008. OK, all ready for an amassment of crabby drones? Hold your horses.
The opening movement is constructed upon acute frequencies (initially similar to radio waves, then fusing in a single painful flux), irregular crackling/purring and a low rumble underneath – picture the sound of heavy wind hitting a microphone’s capsule. Factors that appear independent yet mesh with no trouble, providing a tense expectancy tinted with insubstantial colours. No ornamentations, no conjectures, as directly affecting as you can get. The increasing hostility of the subsequent chapter is characterized by the anticipated massive droning – of the flanging / metallic / industrial kind, very threatening indeed – and by an implicit pulse giving an idea of unavoidable virulence. The organ timbre - here as everywhere else - is often hard to distinguish, but one couldn’t really care less: this is sunless music, utterly absorbing and entrancing. Myriads of micro-rhythms and illusory patterns are detected, a magnificent underworld of inappropriate presences gradually turning into the verses of a post-metropolitan poem. The final third comprises bottomless booming, mangled fragments of – again – radio-like emissions, a sense of boiling grimy liquids, additional crackle-and-pop activity. We envision mechanical seagulls fighting for food at one point, then Father Drone comes back with a vengeance and it’s guerilla warfare: vicious ferociousness until the record’s conclusion, signaled by a humongous throb generated in the keyboard’s low-register area.
An outstanding work, heterogeneous and smartly crafted, mixing violence and brainpower in equal doses. Mental purification dressed in timbral infectivity.
(Massimo Ricci - Touching extremes)

   C'est le fruit de la rencontre de deux monstres du drone et de la musique expérimentale bruyante qu’offre le disque Stalemate. Une rencontre en trois temps (aucun titre n'est donné aux morceaux) entre Mike Shiflet (orgue Hammond) et Daniel Menche (electronics). Attention : l’orgue Hammond dont on parle ici n’est pas celui de tout le monde… Parce que jamais cet instrument n’avait paru aller contre sa nature avec une telle force. Méconnaissable, il est la boîte d’où tout s’ébruite et d’où part la cacophonie : le vrombissement du premier titre / les dérapages incontrôlables et les parasites du deuxième / les infrabasses poignantes et les clusters givrés du troisième et dernier. Le duo nous conduit en trois étapes jusqu’à l’impasse (Stalemate), c'est-à-dire devant le mur du son derrière lequel rien ne peut être envisagé.
(Pierre Cécile - Le son du grisli)

JEAN-MICHEL RIVET - À fleur de quai

   Following Donzel-Gargand two weeks ago, and last week's Zanesi, there is now a third composer from France who I heard off, but in fact don't know much music of, Jean-Michel Rivet. He studied composition at the GMEB in the late 70s and at the Xenakis' Cenamu in 1982. His music is mainly for theatre, radio and exhibition. The liner notes are in French (pardon my) but I understand that each of the seven tracks uses a particular set of sounds culled from daily life. It opens with railway sounds, taken at a station, also there is a piece of voices, a demonstration and a game hall. The first piece, with the train station, is great, with the train entering and leaving in the stereo panning of the piece. Haunting are the police dogs in 'Vah Ma Awalo', with a voice speaking in despair (it seems). Rivet applies all the techniques from musique concrete and such like Donzel-Gargand and Zanesi in his own way, avoiding too strict rules from the book of composition. This music has some great qualities as radio plays or soundtracks. Scary effects dropping in at various times, reversing the sound to give it that extra force. Planes, cars, trains pass by, warning signals flash around. Especially if you play this is a darkened room, at night and pretty loud, it could easily bring on serious trouble. Beautiful trouble at that. Scary beautiful trouble. Great music, and especially 'Pique-Nique Au Bord De La Route' is great with all its car and motorway sounds. Even better than Donzel-Gargand and on par with Zanesi.
(Frans de Waard - Vital Weekly)

   Interesting experience listening to this disc (my first exposure to Rivet, as far as I'm aware). My initial reaction was quite positive, just bathing in the sounds, appreciating the space interwoven around them, their timbral range, their juxtapositioning, etc. On second listen, I was somewhat dismayed by what I heard as the obviousness of the structures, the "narrative" nature that seemed a bit too pat, too predictable. Even tracks that delighted, like "Dalila I." with its mellifluous female voices wafting in and out of quasi-song, struck me as too cute, too posed. I find I'm very touch and go with this kind of post-Ferrari concrète work--it has to have the naturalness achieved in pieces like "Presque Rien", despite the amount of work that went into constructing it, for me to really enjoy it. Maybe analogous to naturalistic film making--the artificial is done well enough, with enough sensitivity to appear natural; one's sense cease to register the craft and just accept. Eventually, maybe inevitably, I settled into a middle ground, enjoying many of the purely audio elements as well as their sequencing in brief segments even if most of the tracks, as such, felt a little constrained and overly worked on, too thematically glued together. I do enjoy it, often very much, just want to hear things weighted differently; difficult to quantify. I'd be curious to get the reaction of others with more experience in this area.
(Brian Olewnick - Just outside)

   Dans la lignée des premiers « concrets » (l’univers ferroviaire convoqué sur la première piste rappelle immanquablement la fameuse Etude aux chemins de fer de Pierre Schaeffer), Jean-Michel Rivet utilise des bruits de la vie quotidienne comme matériau de base de ses constructions cinématiques. A la différence de ses prédécesseurs, surtout théoriciens à la recherche d’une nouvelle grammaire sonore, le compositeur assemble et transforme ses sons dans une optique résolument poétique. L’aspect narratif est accentué par les titres et par l’intégration de voix et autres éléments suggérant à l’auditeur des embryons d’histoire qu’il peut développer à sa guise : quelques phrases d’une femme en partance sur le quai d’une gare, le monologue essoufflé et tendu d’un fugitif poursuivi par des chiens… Les manipulations électroacoustiques sont toujours subtiles et discrètes. Ainsi, elles s’intègrent et se juxtaposent au « réel », pivot des différentes pièces qui évoquent souvent certains des enregistrements de Luc Ferrari. Mystère et délicatesse se dégagent de morceaux comme le très beau Dalila I, une « chanson traditionnelle kabyle chuchotée dans le creux du micro ». L’enregistrement de base, simple et touchant, est ici sublimé en une ritournelle obsédante par les subtiles manipulations du musicien. Les moyens techniques mis en œuvre ne sont jamais démonstratifs, ils servent à évoquer, à raconter.
(Jean Dezert - Le son du grisli)

SETH NEHIL - Flock & tumble

   Seth Nehil promotes the furtherance of wrinkled soundscapes and unadulterated emotions amidst the difficult-to-admit homogenization of consistent chunks of presumed avant-gardes, which recur to limp certainties after their name is established and the funds are granted for new “adventures”.
   The audio imagery comprised by Flock And Tumble is certainly not easy to decipher: it juxtaposes various proportions, meshing physical expressiveness and studio-generated propulsion according to methods characterized by an admirable uniqueness. It doesn’t necessarily respect the blueprints of thorough independence, often sounding composed to the tiniest detail, yet its freshness is perceptible even on a first and not excessively attentive listen. But it’s only with a radical incursion in the winding spirals of these sonorities that the work reveals its importance and - in various circumstances - an unpolished, modest radiance.
    Take for example the contrast between the use of the voices, which Nehil exploits in unusual fashion having the performers theatrically emitting incomprehensible, almost panic-stricken clusters and sudden disconnections, and the organic qualities of the percussive features, halfway through an on-site installation and the rattling of abandoned objects in a god-forsaken area. Elements that sound remotely isolated, practically unlinked, describe instead a courageous attempt to indicate a different mindset for the listeners, invited to join a multitude of signals whose impoverished semblance does not detract from their psychological weight. The disorientation is partially amended by the less “active” sections, where everything gets levelled by electronic or heavily processed sounds that lead us across the recondite aspects of sonic disrepair, all the while maintaining a fundamental essence of artistic incorruptibility.
    An important demonstration of Nehil’s abilities, this is a classic sleeper which deserves immediate exposure, well beyond the small circle of experts to which music like this is usually addressed.
(Massimo Ricci - Touching extremes)

   Not too often you come across something that just sounds like little else. I suppose, stretching things, I could make a tenuous connection between Nehil and sometime collaborator Olivia Block insofar as a predilection toward certain hollow, echoey sounds and the general kind of construction in effect, but really, this stands apart. And it's very good.
    The first rack, "Tew" (so named, I take it, for the vocalized sounds that approximate the title), contains elements that might be kindling wood (or it might be watery in nature, sometimes hard to tell), various percussive tones both tonal and not, scattered irregularly but consistently, and the aforementioned, soft vocalizations, all but hidden. But there is a sense of composition here, of a carefully placed and layered sequence of three sound-zones that don't so much intermix as entwine. The "whuips" of "Whuip" are indeed whuiped like a, um, flock of cranes, arising here and there from another kind of percussion bed, pinned by deep, sizzling thuds and a ringing drone. Here, as in the first piece, the essential pace is very slow (even as some events flit by quickly), a twilight kind of atmosphere with distant rumbles, fireworks, parties. There's some wonderful clatter in other places, sounding like pool cues and wooden balls dropped in a large, resonant space, odd voices often present as though commenting on the delirious activity surrounding them (each piece contains its own nest of ideas, another impressive aspect of the disc).
    Highlights abound, including the marvelous and unexpected explosion of (all but indecipherable) lyricsal content in "The Sun" and the fantastic, Xenakis-like eruption of percussion in the concluding "Blackhole". If I had to pick, I'd say there are one or two moments when the dronage holds sway a bit long, but overall this is a fine and unique offering, do check it out.
(Brian Olewnick - Just outside)

   Today I have been listening to a quite extraordinary CD. Extraordinary in that it sounds really good and within this narrow area of music that I write about actually quite original. It is called Flock and Tumble, is by the American musician and sound arranger Seth Nehil, and is released on the Sonoris label. I have been listening on and off to this one for a few days now, and also played it on my journey to work, an exercise that once again lead me to wonder which sounds were coming from my immediate surroundings, and which were part of the recorded music. Tonight though I have played it twice (third time through as I type) quite loud on the stereo without headphones.
   So what makes it extraordinary? Well its hard to explain. On paper Flock and Tumble is made up of seven short(ish) tracks that involve field recordings, treated instrumental and incidental sounds, bits of human voices and other assorted sonic detritus sculpted together, presumably with music arrangement software. Nothing particularly unusual about that I hear you say, and well, to be honest no there is nothing unusual about the sounds used or how the album has been compiled, but somehow, for some reason Flock and Tumble has a certain character about it that is quite unusual.
   I have long admired Nehil’s work. Ura, a really early little 3″ disc he released was a big favourite of mine (and only mine it seems, I never saw it mentioned anywhere else). His albums with Olivia Block and JGrzinich are both also pretty good, but Flock and Tumble feels like a step onwards, Nehil’s boldest statement yet. The album is put together using fragments of field recordings, rain, insects buzzing near a microphone, resonant rooms etc… with portions of treated instrumental sounds (piano, percussion, probably much more less easily identified) and little bits of human voices shouting or chanting. What sets it apart is a wonderful sense of confidence in the material, an ability to go somewhere quite new without worrying about how trendy or tasteful the different elements might end up sounding. The voices appear from nowhere, brief snippets of shouted non-words, sometimes several voices collected together, sometimes just the one. They are not overused, they appear infrequently, and so always take the music to a different, slightly jarring perspective. The rest of the sounds are collected together in a jagged, energetic manner. Things do kind of tumble out of the speakers, all kinds of sounds at once, bouncing off of each other and falling about the floor. There are no gentle drones, tasteful uses of white noise or gradual fades. Sounds just drop into the music, crash about next to others that feel completely unrelated and yet very much at home and then flow onwards to the conclusion of the track.
All of the pieces are strong, but The Sun, a track that amongst other things seems to match violently plucked metal twine against a sole, distantly hammered drum and what sounds like a fly attacking a microphone is particularly exciting and unusual. Somehow these sounds, which are joined by clattering drums, a murky outdoors field recording and strange, somewhat scary voices chanting something not quite intelligible. There is a weird horror movie feel to it all. If this track was played behind a film of zombies walking towards a camera across a misty field it would work superbly. That comment probably makes the music sound cheesy or shallow however, and it really isn’t. This track in particular really did leave my hairs standing up on my neck on the first listen.
   This is such a hard CD to describe in words like this. There is a hint of Jeph Jerman in there, natural sounds turned into rhythmic sections, and field recordings used in a bold manner so as to project something more than captures of a moment. The seven tracks all feel like thoroughly planned and realised structures, pieces put together with an end product already in mind rather than chance happenings when random sounds are placed together. Often the sounds are far from random anyway. The treated piano that forms the centrepiece of Tew, the first piece on the album, or the manic percussion of the closing Blackhole both portray a striking sense of musicianship. Flock and Tumble is just a really exciting album, very fresh in its use of sounds, creating a natural tension from parts that don’t really belong together, and energy from the way it all flows, complete with sudden twists and moments of actually quite sparklingly excellent composition.
   This review probably doesn’t tell you enough about why I like the CD, and my descriptions probably do not set it apart much from many other albums, but certainly this is a really very good piece of work indeed. One that fans of field recordings will enjoy, but moreover this is one for those that seek really vibrant modern composition. I really liked this one, in case you can’t tell.
(Richard Pinnel - The Watchfull Ear)

   Throughout the years we have reviewed much of the work of Seth Nehil, who belongs with people like JGrzinich and MNortham to the main players of the US drone scene, which finds itself largely based in field recordings, but also acoustic instruments and just a little bit of electronics. All of this is collected and played and then put together into pieces of music. Music that is not easy to describe as it simply defies categorization, which is always good (and difficult for such reviewers like me, who like to use them). Partly we could say the music is improvised on the side of the instruments, percussive mainly. Then afterwards, or perhaps before hand, field recordings are put to it, something set in a loop, although not always 'on', and sometimes dropping out of the mix, in order to return later. If a word applies to this music, then 'organic' would, I think, be appropriate. Organic in the way the material is put together: from various sources, but it seems to fit together like it always was. Organic also in the sense of playing the instruments and the use of field recordings. This leads to some pretty strong pieces of music, in which we also recognize someone like Af Ursin or Yannick Dauby. Dense and delicate. (Frans de Waard - Vital weekly)

"advanced obscured concrete-ambience, lovely unexpected & challenging, hard to compare to anything else" Drone records distribution shop


   "(...) Looking at the sparse credits on the cover this seems not to be a collaborative effort, but both deliver two long pieces entirely based on their own recordings of machines in Taiwan and Malaysia (Gendreau) and Singapore, China, Taiwan and Japan (Lopez). In the first Lopez piece he comes close to the old Vivenza sound: hammering machine rhythms with lots of sound effects to transform the sound, but his other is entirely different. Very low in volume, and the sounds of the machines seem to be pushed to the background. There is a sense of rhythm to it, but it sounds quite strange. Ultimately, in fine Lopezian twist, things go up and the real machines comes in and as suddenly disappear. In the two pieces by Micheal Gendreau machine sounds play, obviously I say, a role too, but somehow he seems to be interested to create 'more music' out of it, especially in 'M928', with its organ like tones comes in and out of the piece, before it slips into silence first and then into noise. The first piece by him has a similar built-up but a different ending. Four different sides of the same coin. Excellent stuff, but I don't think I expected something else." (Frans de Waard - Vital Weekly 656)

   " (...) Part of the fun, as a listener, with these types of compositions made from industrial field recordings, is that it is left up to me to interpret and intuit what exactly it is going on. I will probably never know whether or not I am right or wrong in my assumptions about a given sound source. In the end I take them of their own accord, enriched by my experience of arm chair traveling, an eager to journey further. Lopez and Gendreau are invaluable tour guides." (Justin Patrick - Brainwashed)
Read the full review here.

   " (...) Together these four pieces deliver something archival and undeniably musical. It’s a success in itself that two individuals (one in Madrid, one in San Francisco) should independently pursue their own intentions, share the same underlying interests, and come up with such a unique and listenable collaborative project." (Alan Jones - Bagatellen)
Read the full review here.

   " In times like the ones we live in, contrasts are at the basis of everyday life and nothing more than a working place showcases them. Think, for example, to the difficulties typical of the relationships with colleagues, or to the mind-boggling irrationality in the combination of routine procedures, extreme noise and vocal exchanges commonly found in a factory. This is a good starting point for the appreciation of Tddm, a double CD comprising four long segments chock full of deafening environments and thunderous machines interspersed by exceptionally rare moments in which a faint human presence – or an intercom message - is perceived amidst the continuous threat of the mechanical monsters.

   The recordings were made in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Japan, as to homage the renowned toughness of certain Asian labourers, used to the hardest sacrifices yet frequently swallowed by a sense of duty that represents both a stimulus to exemplary productivity and the reason for nervous instability and, ultimately, suicide in the nastiest instances. This might remind someone of Phill Niblock’s films, where infinite drones accompany the images of people performing manual works but this release is much less rewarding in terms of adjacent-frequency nirvanas. López and Gendreau share the discs with a piece each, having separately collected sonorities that range from massively static to heavily rhythmic. Theirs is a coldly detached view of the ambience from which this stuff is originated: the raw materials remain for the large part untreated (even though some degree of editing seems to typify particularly reiterative parts), only the definitive dynamics decided by the assemblers. Describing what happens in detail is utterly pointless, although the first section of López’s “D138” is transfixing to say the least, profound reverberations and vacillating auricular membranes the by-product of a superior susceptibility to the propagation of sonic waves.
The monolithic qualities of the captured sounds reveal a series of acoustic sub-particles attributing to the record its “musical” characteristics. This is actually another functional contrast: the clunking mass, the violent thudding, the constant racket of roaring apparatuses that, especially at the beginning of Gendreau’s “T921” gives the false idea that airport echoes are being heard, are in effect “minimalist” according to a heartless repetitiveness absurdly determining a sort of hypnosis, the brain cuddled by the booming resonance of these monotonous cycles. In turn, a disproportion with the tremendous amount of physical and mental tension surely experienced by the plant’s personnel during their shifts.
Indeed, should a single album be labelled as a paradigm of “industrial music”, this would have to be it. But Gendreau and López are not Esplendor Geometrico or Maurizio Bianchi: they are authentic composers who in this circumstance chose to use alienation as the principal factor in a project whose distressing temperament must not detract from a tangible value. One has to learn to find musicality down to the apparently inaccessible lower spheres of clangour, and there’s no doubt that this nice pair mostly succeed in letting us crave the mere illusion of a tiny light at the end of a massacring experience. "
Massimo Ricci - Touching extremes


   "Behind Bowline we find the more and more present musician David Maranha, who was once best known as Osso Exotico, and these days also works as a solo musician and one Francesco Dillon. He is from Italy and studied the cello. These days he is a member of Alter-Ego (see Vital Weekly 602 for their work with Gavin Bryars) as well as playing with people like Matmos, Pan Sonic and Scanner. A man of many talents. Here too Dillon plays cello, whereas Maranha gets credit for 'hammond organ, violin, vox amplifier (with Francesco cello signal), glass harmonica, tremolo and distortion pedals'. Of the four tracks , the first is the most silent one, taking several minutes to get started. Like with so many other projects of David Maranha, in which ever form it takes, this is a work of minimalism. Of sheer, utter minimalism and what beauty, once again. The careful strumming of various string instruments, the drones added, sparsely of course, from the other instruments. Three short tracks which eventually culminate in the fourth track, which takes up about two-third of the CD and in which the three previous excursions return but glorified. Everything comes together here. If you love Osso Exotico or any of the works Maranha did after that, this is will be a most welcome addition. Also fans of traditional minimal music, especially Lamonte Young will find this a great release, I'm sure of that." (Frans de Waard - Vital Weekly 605)

   Bowline traces the first documentation of Maranha's duo with Francesco Dillon, cellist for Italian New Music ensemble Alter Ego. Dillon's cello alternately glides and rasps, swooping from the the edges of audibility to full tonal range, providing a rich foundation for Maranha's violin, Hammond organ, glass harmonica and amp/pedal manipulation. He often parallels the warp and weft of Dillon's playing with yet more tremolo action, so everything trembles in tandem. It's an audio aquivalent of a slow motion, multiscreen flicker film, with each strand developing in parallel, cleaving in and out of direct reference. (Jon Dale - The Wire, april 08)

   Bowline is the project of David Maranha joined by Francesco Dillon,italian cellist member of the group Alter Ego. The first thing that comes to mind is : if you love harsh and painful minimalism, made up of long eternal-like phrases, which are typical of the portuguese musician, run to buy this Bowline release because the two musicians, together ,give us 30 minutes of music that you won’t forget.
With Dillon on the cello, and Maranha on hammond, violin, glassharmonica and effects, more than just creating a dialogue, they mix, melt and create an austere sound, almost religious, wich tastes like late autumn, like rocks and stones, like dust fallen from an ancient era.
Imprisoned in this digital grooves are ecstatic notes, constantly pelting down (hammering) in long, frightening spirals, only now and then illuminated by flashes of gentle light, and in the last track, 22 minutes wich in reality represent the whole album, we reach the highest pinnacles of absolute beauty.
We hope the project will continue, because Bowline, despite its brevity and its many high moments, leaves still the desire for more. (Valerio Mattioli - Blow-up, march 08)

   Based on four tracks, it's a work of absolute uniformity and simplicity (these elements make it beautiful) that would not disfigure if compared with other illustrious pieces of minimalistic tradition.
The first three tracks are linked in a continuous progression, dominated by a melodic flow, that generates a crepuscular atmosphere. The fourth is almost similar, but more structured, with a variety of resonant textures and incidental drones, hypnotic fluctuations, cello vibrations.
Undoubtedly a successful interaction between these two artists. (Spiritual Archives blog)

   It does sound like many stringed & bowed instruments going at it, impacting each other, and then slightly manipulated. Pleasing and tension filled at the same time. Lower stringed instruments are the clearest, the higher pitched ones are almost tone generators. There is shorter 'staticy' bits to add texture on top of the held notes, all in all well done, and tough to say if it is relaxing or gets me edgy. A subtle power moves through the music. (Don Poe - Ear Rational)

   Bowline est la rencontre de David Maranha et Francesco Dillon, pour cordes mixées ainsi que différents interventions noyées dans la couleur d'ensemble d'un glass harmonica, pédale de tremolo, orgue hammond. L'idée étant d'accorder différents timbres selon des rapports de hauteur plutôt consonants et d'animer cette texture de glissandi, de trilles, de bisbigliandos et doigtés instrumentaux susceptibles de donner vie à un bourdon.
Si Bowline évoque en premier, c'est vrai, le minimalisme de LaMonte Young et de son « dream syndicate », son aspect mélodique récurrent, son lyrisme légèrement nostalgique l'en éloignent. Les pièces ont bien plus traversées d'échelles modales acquises que de la « scie à os » du « syndicate » et de son laminoir à vriller les nerfs.
Morton Feldman conviendrait-il mieux pour approcher le travail de Maranha et Dillon ? Peut-être mais l'absence d'attaques, les nuances réduites au seul 'piano', la durée, la lenteur, corollaires du rejet forcené de tout pathos de ce dernier, en limite là aussi la pertinence. Non, Bowline serait plutôt un rejeton pop de tout ce background savant d'un coté et populaire de l'autre celui d'une prégnante beauté qui procure un sentiment de détente, de sérénité immédiate. Un possible versant, mélancolique si l'on veut, métissé de microtonalité du minimalisme plus euphorique de Reich et Glass sans répétition.
En tout état de cause un beau disque, un point de passage heureux entre l'écriture et le studio, le radical et sa déclinaison tout public.
La rencontre sur une table de dissection de God Speed You Black Emporor avec cordes et du « Early minimalism » de Tony Conrad ! (Boris Wlassoff – Revue & Corrigée 75)