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Mr.Prolix reviews JNN050 "no-R-mal" compilation

#1 | Posted: 7 Sep 2009 09:51 | Edited by: Picshit 
Yet another astonishing review by the Russian music blogs scene veteran, Mr.Prolix, has been published recently on his website. It's all still about Mark Stolk's compilation "no-R-mal" which obviously has a legendary status amongst net label releases in 2009.

Here we have a full translation of this review, which appears to be the most advanced in terms of creativity amongst all reviews related to this release, where Picshit and Sebo de Tripa were presented with the "Scuffs" track.

Mark Stolk a.k.a. "MyStahr" is the sound enthusiast from Netherlands, which gives us a wide amount of sound hobbies via Internet; probably the most famous are "Not the normal shit radio", presented on the online radio Stillstream, and his labels, "Just Not Normal" and "Not Normal That Shit". As you see, "not normal" is numero uno in Stolk's favorite movement. Celebrating the annual anniversary of "Just Not Normal / JNN" releases, which always provide a mysterious magnetic sound with elements of eclecticism, Stolk collected, in his opinion, the most impressive net labels musicians and their essential works on the 50th "various-artists"-class release. Most of tracks put here were not published in other places before, and it already sounds unusual in our net labels era,. In result, the epic journey into sound has been built using 52 musicians powers from all the Globe. It lasts for more than 5 hours and is suitable split for 4 material CDs. And you can get it for free. Amazing!

The first CD is about dark ambient and something further in this aspect; an experiment to create a showcase about monotones. Despite the first two tracks performed by the mystical British "Herzog" or sound psycho Joe Frawley from Connecticut, promise an indie-introduction electronically mixed with guitars and voices, further we have the wide atmosphere turned off and the not normal music world going into darkness ("Altus" a.k.a. Mike Carss from Canada with no doubts even called his track "Trying to elude that DarkPlace"). That's a place where only rarely something swirrs and squirrels (Ian D Hawgood from Oxford ft. Miko the Japanese), kklangs ("Effacer" from Seattle), twitches (Cousin Silas from Yorkshire), moooms (mysterious "Hymn" of mysterious ":retreat:") and languidly rocks (the outhere German brothers "Nagual Art"). Finally, the track with not a human title "Leb 'wohl", wrotten yet again by the English sound sculptor Bob Dickinson (hey-yo Bruce Dickinson where are you? we need more cowbell!), with the same strange, superhuman sounding, compresses your head into the vises by its vile middle frequency coating, and it comes out from the peace of night, the accurately covered by a mucus enormous worm. Immediately, the perception of a listener attempts to be enlarged with the aid of notches on metallic guitars (an Italian Gabriele Ranica a.k.a "Gabran"), which during about next 8 minutes mysteriously and indistinctly tickle the eardrums. It's indistinct probably because an unknown spirit was trimmed between their strings, and it appears immediately in the further following French project of "The Ghost Between the Strings", which symmetrically draws dense shutter, without giving the light to filter into an already fairly slacked brain. Written by heavy oil, the apocalyptic picture is unexpectedly changed by the looped high-frequency (by Michael Trommer, the Canadian from Toronto), as in the confirmation of senselessness of being necessary; finally, 74 minutes of the first of CD end in the extraordinarily three-dimensional industrial drone performed by Terje Paulsen from Norway.

Like after hard work, after such music listening would be worth to make a break, so the brain would have a chance to rehabilitate, and then - on the road again. Let's open the map with the 2nd CD of this artists collection, and we are here in the world of not normal, which looks like it was not interrupted at all. The second part opens from an unexpected covering with wide 13-minute wave of kind of soft three-dimensional noise, created by the Russian improviser Bogdan "Dullsky", notably remarkable on the background of entire compilation even taking the loudness level into attention, no speaking here about infinite atmosphere and the key of sounding. It rumbles OK. The ultrasound which subconsciously shreds continues its matter in the track called "Termite College", created as the sequential example of musique concrete on the basis of acoustic sources by Tim Walters. Willy-nilly you begin to think, that the theme of reversing inside will be developed on the entire second part, but certain avantgarde impregnation in "Altocumulus" (a.k.a. Hannah Michael Gale Shapero from the distant Washington) nevertheless a little lead to the steadiness. Everything returns to the mute sounding, sinusoid-oscillographic passages from "Mind6Spiral" (yet another American Mike Metlay), if we look on the title, even described angels flying around, although these angels sometimes champ and knead mud like pigs. "A massive hit" from the avantgarde Spaniard Juan'а Antonio Nieto under the nickname of "Pangea" continues the direction of the collectivization of many diverse sounds in one flask, which to avoid breaking nerves is better strongly not to shake. The very stressed disgrace is swapped then by the theme of directly opposite although inherited something from the past: "D'incise" improvisations from Geneva are filled with melancholy of guitar strings countershaft proceeding somewhere in the lonely desert, where only rarely flies midges and a gopher walks. The guitars prelude proves to be completely regular before the moderately strong next track performed by yet one USA citizen Phillip Wilkerson; its genre and thematics are sufficiently complicated, but an extensive and very "live" melodious sound from the "random guitar" acoustics area mixed with synthesizers was a pleasant surprise for me, especially after such amount of reckless sinkings into the peace of chaos. A soft harmony continues in the track of mysterious Gregory Conte with the memorable title "Deep Blue". It spectrally scatters in the mini-sketch from "Kendall Station" which are American Stolk's colleagues Stillstream radio, obviously consistsing only of sorting the keys for a space tool: it is present as the priming before the main space battle of the second series, "Unstable star 0.25" piece programmed by the gallant Croat Dzlav, which obviously used cheap computer games sounds to depict the certain similarity of a joysticks battle. It was disgusting and ridiculous, and luckily not very long, else I would completely begin feeling not normal inside of me. So that in the end tracks like long-playing mono-tone from the Koeln's "8m2stereo" or the lonely siren from Wells, Susan Matthews singing in front of sonic fragments, pieces of coal and shots in the night, and even indistinct itching and scratching from the Russian Djet (Alexander Lisovskiy), seem like honey on ears. They began from Russia, passed through avantgarde America, and returned all there. A symbolic one!

From the politically continental themes then we are transferred to the third "CD", of natural science. It opens with the spectral sea "Waterdreams", a composition by Parisian Julie la Rousse, which unites field recordings and synth inserts hybridizating them with a lot of sound improvisings. According to the mood and structure of sound it immediately reminded me the stylistics of the Russian dark-worlds-woman Ariu Kara, recently mentioned by Stolk on his Stillstream air; however, la Rousse's sound nevertheless is more saturated, dense, panorama-extended, and more natural. In a "female box" of a similar type she clearly wins (although as I know the compilation's author found also Ariu Kara's release interesting at least). When I listened to some of her tracks here, there was a bug in my head like somewhere the telephone is calling - but it was just a panoramic effect inside of my boombox... amazing. Gurgling wide-format sketches smoothly submitting the listener to the far away ambient space, are continued in "Palancar"'s track as well, synthprogrammed by American Darrell Burgan. His compatriot, Robert Nunnally a.k.a. "Gurdonark", developes the theme of the departure into the space of sound similar way; however this time he smoothly decorates it with out-of-standard genre elements. Noise and "not normal" sound are gradually driving in, passed to the sufficiently heavy for ear and mood composition, executed by Toronto's Steven Hamann, under the "SIGHUP" pseudo (do not mess with Sign Up!). After such noise compression bolts are finally torn away by the improvisingly acoustic disgrace shown by the Switzerland couple Laurent Peter/Cyril Bondi in association with "Diatribes". But even such free jazz looks like kisses on ears in comparison with its follower, the German duo "Strom" (Gaudenz Badrutt/Christian Muller). I would call it a lot of shyzo-sound-stuff, not something like music. Probably it's just a simplified collection of randomly arranged sounds, like if the sound could have jaws and would be able to chew, to champ and to move its extremities. It seems there are so many creatures passing under the label of "not normal", and they are sometimes so difficult to recognize, that you even don't note where the ends one and continues the next track. It author is now not a pseudo, but just an "o" letter with two dots above and on sides. It's kind of small insect like chinch. In his works I revealed nothing except minimalist folly, designated not in a human word as well, but by a wild mark of two equal signs and a dot in the middle. In a four-and-a-half minutes I was completely dulled by it. Next to it, minimalism rocks in the track of Kevin Haller, from USA, again; it appears entirely primitive, although sufficiently simple harmony. In my opinion, for larger persuasiveness there was missing kind of more saturated sounding. However we deal with various artists here, and "not normal" sound is swapped then by quite solid line on the horizon, composed by yet another American-drone master under alias of "C. Reider". His music has a monotonic hypnotizing rhythm rolling the cosmic gas. The loop continues also from the side of Polar belt - here comes the Canadian "Anime Hill" which loves the rigid, gloomy rhythms and so we can't see nothing all around, but still having strong vertigo in heads. Following the surgical-psychological directivity with minimal actions, next track is observed by another German, Siegmar Fricke ("Pharmakustik"): after listening to his work, you only have to wonder again how Germans live and what they prefer for life's delight. Thomas Park a.k.a. "Mystified" gives a loop its final maximum power in his "The Haze" Remix. A knowledge comes from the deep brain, finalizing the experience through the crystal clear hypnotizing rhythm with small and dirty details. We're almost here - the only Post Scriptum to these three-dimensional-experimental atmospheres we enjoyed millennium ago is left. Here comes a deep sonic fog, filled furthermore by the American ambient-guitarist, "Har".

Didn't tired enough? Let's go to the final 4th part, dedicated to global improvisings. It begins from the dense violoncello twitchings or similar stunning tool, which is sad and lonely rolling strings as if they would be pupils, in the acid-base stratification of keys and blown synthesizers. The author of this sound-wheel is another one compilation's mysterious character under the moniker "JFox", which is present in search systems like a needle in a stack of hay. His prelude to the subsequent events immediately assumes the presence of many diverse sounds, sometimes not connected together, cacophonies, experiments, buzzings, whistlings, mewings, chompings and other not normal shit. It seems, for the "desert" in his kitchen Stolk prepared the surest pieces of audio-knock-outs. In a similar way is performed the work of "achH & N." Frenchmen, and Anton Mobin (do not mess with Amon Tobin!). But the urban passage of one more Evil-American "Pighood" (David Waldman) again smoothly transfers the listener into more calm atmosphere... although not to say it's brighter. These is a unique respite before the track of Ukrainian sinusoid under the "v4w.enko" nickname, reminding me Yushchenko in some ugly manner; it's a "live" electronica performed by the self-running algorithms. The total robotization of sound. Then we are repulsed into the peace of diverse noise collages, composed by "Emerald Adrift" from Indians continent again (David Herpich). Themes and structure clearly are not for average minds. The improvised nature of the 4th part of the volume is continued by "My Brother Daniel", the side-project of Boston musician and "Radio Scotvoid" DJ; however his sound seemed pale for me, specially on the background of other presented hooligans. Immediately from this plane we are transferred into the world of very bold and wide sound by Mike Metlay again: it seems the author of the compilation loves his patterns a lot, he even put two his tracks in the anniversary release. This time, the space passage looks different comparing to the earlier one. Predominantly, it's composed by metallic guitar only or its looped sample, and it brings in some way similar spirit of "Deadman"'s movie. Sound visibly spreads on all sides, although it's very simple. "Petal"'s drones look more like factory's noise than music, also simple, but less gripping already; but the "Controlled Dissonance"'s track, consisting of stratification and association of textures into one deep cave rumble, was an impressive one. It sounded very closely to "Lustmord"... Because of his honest modesty the author of the volume could not ignore his own sound, too. Significantly he appears almost in the end. At this moment I'd recommend to decrease the loudness of reproducing equipment, because Stolk's recording is looking more like shooting two thousands soldiers from the enormous space howitzer. I do not have an idea how it was possible to place such sound power in one amplitude, but I could describe this "Howonakemoise" like impacting a snout by the heel of boot and then by dipping it into the toilet. Very cruel sound. After this, two minutes guitar strings passage by the American improvisation princess Sabrina Siegel seems like down of dandelions flying on the uninhabited beach. But there is still no ending: the biggest surprise is the volume and the whole anniversary JNN050 are finished with "Scuffs", a dedication to some Agnese Scuffs, a Latvian girl which left his fiance just few hours before the ceremony; instead he moved to the many times here mentioned United States, where he built the legendary Coral Castle. By this day this architecture achievement appears mostly uninvestigated for the best planet minds, it's specially unclear how these tons-blocks were moved just by a one small man? But this sound epilogue is not composed by Americans - this time there are real Latvian guys and girls beyond "Sebo de Tripa", which recently shocked me with their crazy home recording "Picshit.1". This track is included from there, and I must mention it's on a very honorable place on the compilation of such type and in the neighborhood of modern worldwide masters of contemporary experimental sound. We are the champions!

What could I say about the compilation in whole? It's a giant job done. I wouldn't be patient and excited to listen through such a lot of recordings, then order and master them in some manner, create kind of graphics, post it on some of the web page and so on. Even the inspiration to write such a long review and then translate it to English came to me after I decided to compare, what does it mean to share a lot of time on a description of hours of work spent in background. It seems it always take a long of time to work on big enthusiasm like this. Despite in the final there could be not thousands of listeners at all: it's not a therapy for nervous, when your head is unscrewing counterclockwise during 5 with a half hours. Probably at this time JNN050 is the anthology of net experimental music, the sound graph of the current moment of living. It is interesting even not so much because of its internal content, which could be both very different and similar to itself, but it because of its spread, size, idea.

The cons are sound levels in tracks, which could be sometimes more hearably adjusted: while listening sometimes I still prefer to make it closer to the Mute to keep my head safe. Sometimes I didn't understood the logics of how tracks follow each other and what kind of concept they complete that way; for me it seems some tracks would need re-ordering. However I will let the psychological perception to the author's shoulders. Mark Stolk with no doubt is one of the brightest representatives of free experimental music, which in our time is distributed free of charge under Creative Commons license. It sincerely gladdens me, that free music increasingly finds more interested listeners. Once upon a time such music was recorded by only crazy lone persons and listened by only crazy ones; time was going quickly - now we have it on top of independant fashion. The history is always being developed, and it's always interesting to follow not depending the side it's located to. And it's being developed by such enthusiasts like Stolk. The amateurs time is now!


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