By Marc Masters April 29, 2022
All kinds of experimental music can be found on Bandcamp: free jazz, avant-rock, dense noise, outer limit electronics, deconstructed folk, abstract spoken word, and much more. If an artist tries something new with an established form or invents a completely new one, chances are they’ll do it on Bandcamp. Each month, Marc Masters selects some of the best releases from this wide exploratory array. April’s selection includes distanced guitar duos, dizzying sonic debris, a rotating concert featuring eight artists and a seven-piece ensemble specializing in hammering drones.
Jesse Kudler and Graham Stephenson
The debut album by Chicago trumpeter Graham Stephenson and Philadelphia sound artist Jesse Kudler, Relevant reply sounds like an improvised field recording, or perhaps a journey through the sounds between stations on a radio dial. Stephenson’s horn is sometimes recognizable as a breath coming out of the brass, but more often evokes the wind and mist of stormy weather. Kudler’s contributions are even more mysterious, coming from guitar, transmitters, tapes, etc., moving quickly from distant to immediate. Each of the four tracks here merges into the next, with recurring and morphing sounds, until Relevant reply culminates in 16-minute closer “Liquid Assets,” a tunnel of noise and distortion as grainy as beach sand.
Charmaine Lee/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Gabby Fluke-Mogul/Joanna Mattrey/Weston Olencki
live in harmony
For the past few years, Notice Recordings has hosted concerts in upstate New York, where co-founder Evan Lindorff-Ellery lives. live in harmony is the first record from the label of one such show, which takes place on the top of a farm in June 2021. It’s like an overlapping compilation: various combinations of eight different artists (five musicians and three dancers) appear, starting with a frenzied vocal and electronic solo by Charmaine Lee. This is followed by an even busier duet improvisation between Lee and trombonist Weston Olencki. The highlight of the tape is a 15-minute set by the trio of cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, violinist Gabby Fluke-Mogul and violist Joanna Mattrey. Accompanied by the dancers, this group weaves taut and inventive explorations of strings, capturing the good vibes of a night that seems to have been full of them.
An interior maneuver
Before guitarist Jessica Ackerley moved to Hawaii in late 2020, her New York trio MAW (featuring pianist Eli Wallace and bassist Frank Meadows) was able to record for the first time. The result, An interior maneuver, is an exciting conversation between three comrades who clearly know how to exchange musical ideas. While there’s an egalitarian quality to the music here, Ackerley’s nimble playing is the star of the show. His ability to move up and down with his partners, sometimes both leading and following them, is always compelling. That’s especially true on 22-minute “Decay,” in which Ackerley pulls out every guitar trick in the book but never seems to show off, always gelling perfectly with what Wallace and Meadows feed him.
For a year, Jason Henn and Dan Melchior traded recordings of their own individual guitar work, fusing the material together to create their first tape under the name Natural Dice. The pair don’t provide any information on how they did this, and you never know who’s playing what, but elements familiar to their respective solo releases (garage riffs, blues accents, distorted noise, textural dissonance) come through all over. during. Natural dice. Each side contains a number of titled songs, but it is unclear where each begins and ends, as Henn and Melchior intersect, sometimes meeting in the middle, sometimes crossing each other. The peaks sound like an improvised session between Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, but identifying referents is not the point of Natural dice– better to drown in the inspired peregrinations of Henn and Melchior.
Cath Roberts and Olie Brice
In early 2021, during the COVID-19 lockdown, UK-based saxophonist Cath Roberts and bassist Olie Brice found a way to improvise together in real time online. Ducts, a three-track, half-hour CD, shows the pair taking full advantage of what could have been an awkward setup. They are adept at both busy sound design and sparse minimalism, but the most exciting parts of Ducts come when Roberts’ saxophone cuts and strikes as Brice saws his strings to pieces or plucks them into ripples. Over the middle track, the 11-minute “Peering,” Roberts finds all sorts of tones and textures in his horn, deftly matched with Brice’s nimble responses.
sick for you
A scream opens RXM REALITY’s (aka Chicago producer Mike Meegan) latest album, but it’s immediately subsumed by huge chords, followed by a machine gun beat. sick for you This may be Meegan’s first release to include her own vocals, but it’s clear from the start that her clipped screams and breathy howls will compete for air with all the other sonic debris swirling around RXM’s tracks. Reality. Meegan’s vocals certainly lend a new shade of chaos to her music, which now sounds both darker and more sentimental. Whatever the mood sshit for you arouse, all the kick-starting energy Meegan exudes is dizzying, on what is probably his most explosive album to date.
A seven-piece band from Austin, TX hailing from bands such as Spray Paint, Black Eyes and Swans, Water Damage seems even bigger than them. Generating huge drones with ground-shaking beats, the band uses three drummers, two bass players, a bowed guitar and a synthesizer to forge an amalgamation of Tony Conrad’s violin sawing and Earth marches that create the gravity. The repeater leaps straight into the thunder with the 22-minute opener “Reel 2,” with a dense grind that melts heartbreaking sounds into one big slab of tectonic rage. Grooves this heavy and primitive could easily run out of gas, but Water damage intelligently drawing inspiration from the masters of the Eternal Drone, realizing that endurance itself can be a musical instrument.