steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

review + interview
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info opinion

Andreas Brandal / Ian Holloway

Split C60

AghartA Tapes

Genre: clatter and calm

Bergen, Norway / Britain

January 2010

This delicious split album from Lithuania's AghartA label pools the efforts of two curiously culled international acts: Bergen, Norway's Andreas Brandal and Britain's Ian Holloway. Limited to sixty copies and adorned with a colour-printed cardboard inlay, it's a minimally packaged nugget of sound from this fledgling imprint.

Brandal has been releasing music since 1994, although the past few years have seen a sudden surge of activity from the devoted sound-tinkerer, including the release of several tapes via his harsh noise outlet, Flesh Coffin. His side to this split is dubbed (har har) "Ritual" and split into five parts, brandishing a variegated array of sounds recorded from 2007 to 2009. "The Attic" begins with sparse field recording clatter and ominous keyboard meandering, a delightfully haunting notion that hardly prepares the listener for the startling "False Accident," which is piercing and venomous as it rolls through metal screeching and rolling shards of industrial noise. "Electricity" also boasts its share of spasmodic abrasion, this time in impressive imitation of its namesake, though it's the meandering pensive moments which turn out to be the composition's most enticing assets. Unoriginal "Blooded on Arachne" brings on a whole lot of rather wacky clatter in the form of cymbals, recordings played in reverse, and assorted tinkers and clanks; everything stays purely percussive and somewhat grating as a result. The title-track, "Ritual," is my favourite exploit of the bunch, with its dense layers of distorted sound. It boasts a menacing mouthfeel which should leave your ear canals in a nice state of shock.

Ian Holloway's sound is a subtler blend than that of his splitmate -- in fact, it's a solid thirty minutes of ambient drone, somehow mechanical as is suggested by its title​, "The Prescient Machine." The sound starts with a looped factory ambiance -- machines breathing? -- then adds a field recording of rain alongside faint synth whiffs which strongly remind me of Biosphere's Substrata. Think bedtime dreamscape music. At some point, a high-pitched flute part toddles around for awhile, sort of grating compared to the rest of the track, but required, presumably, to add variety and momentum to the track. The track then concludes with an extended stretch of subtle ambient sound built out of faint woodwinds trill loop that bubbles darkly, conjuring up an eerie, ritualistic demeanour. As Holloway attests to, it's a supremely relaxing but somehow portentous affair. (MT)

Interview with Ian Holloway:

Why did you name this particular composition 'The Prescient Machine'?

The title is a reference to this piece being a taster of things to come. It's the first in a trio of releases based entirely around acoustic sounds. I'm not one for planning things out in advance but in this case it's an idea I've been tinkering with for about a year now so the title is a gentle allusion to this. The next part will be the new collaboration with Darren Tate and the third will appear towards the end of the year.

What sorts of images or feelings does this recording evoke in you?

Personally I find this sort of music immensely restful and cathartic.

how did you end up working with Andreas Brandal, and putting this out
on AghartA?

Linking me with Andreas was entirely down to Arma at AghartA who I've been in contact with for a few years now. I'm a long standing fan of the music he released through his now defunct Perineum label, the guy has a great ear, and so when he asked me if I'd like to supply a piece for his new project I was flattered and happy to.

I'd not heard any of Andreas' music prior to this cassette but I very much like his side of the album and I think our styles compliment each other very nicely.

How did you first get into experimental music?

I've always had eclectic tastes. My first loves were thrash and hardcore and I got into stranger music from there via people like Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground and Faust.

I started making experimental music as a reaction to the music scene in this part of the world. I formed a band with the stated desire of being the antithesis of everything else around us and just indulging any musical whim that popped into my head. Our first gig featured a 20 minute version of Rhys Chatham's Guitar Trio and ended with 15 minutes of feedback. It was a wonderful feeling to just be so utterly true to oneself. The band lasted a few years until we all moved on to other things and by which time I'd started fiddling around with samples and sound-editing software which gave rise to the first Psychic Space Invasion album.

Describe your performance/recording set-up. In other words, what is
responsible for the sounds we hear on your releases?

My set-up is decidedly simple. I use a Zoom H4 for recording the initial sounds - field recordings or instruments - which I then mix on my PC usually in Acid. I've tried other packages but I keep coming back to Acid. I think it's simplicity appeals to the Luddite in me.

Recently it seems there have been more releases under your actual
name, and fewer under 'Psychic Space Invasion'. Why the change?

The PSI name is pretty much dead at this point. Timing and circumstances dictated it's demise. One of the reasons it went is quite personal and I talked about it before so I won't go into it again here but essentially the name had served it's purpose.

Over time Iíve got more and more uncomfortable with the whole idea of 'band names', they feel slightly childish to me. It's like a mask that is put on to identify one as being a certain way - regardless of whether there's any truth to that assertion. I began to question why I needed the nom de plume, PSI was only ever me so why did I need this other identity to hide behind. As I couldn't come up with a satisfactory answer I dropped it.

When and why did you start Quiet World label (formerly Elvis Coffee
Records)? Do you enjoy the releasing end of music production?

We (my guitarist friend Adam Lewis and I) started Elvis Coffee Records for the simple reason that no-one else was going to release the music so we did it ourselves. The name was just something to tag it with until I later changed it to one that more suited the music I was releasing through the label.
The label is something I enjoy immensely and wish I could afford to do more often. It involves a fairly substantial commitment of both time and money of which the latter is always in short supply and the former is mostly taken up these days by writing the Wonderful Wooden Reasons zine.

This next year will see Quiet World changing slightly though as I'm going to start releasing more music on CD as opposed to CDR and depending on how well these are received I'll be opening the door for more releases by other artists.

ian's myspace

 

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 2 tracks, limited to 70 copies, distributed by the label, released 2009]