Name: Jason B. BERNARD
On the front line: since 1998
Activities: inter alia: solo act SKULL:AXIS; runs the Peripheral Records / Peripheral Minimal labels and distribution.
My ‘date’ receives anonymous 6 compositions picked by me at random. He/She is supposed to discuss their artistic merits, including strengths and weaknesses of applied means of bruitist expression, structure and composing techniques.
1. BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Slow Vehicle Bay
from “We Count These Prayers…” (Corpus Hermeticum 2001) CD
This track starts off with a clanging metallic sound that continues into a fairly constant drone, at first only punctuated with the occasional creeping echoes of icy synth, other sounds slowly seep in, a whirling ambient sound heavily reverbed alters the atmospherics, becoming more lucid, a dreamscape perhaps. Further along, more disturbing sounds filter in and the metallic scraping slowly fades, to reveal something a little more sinister, a ritual or a rite of passage. It’s a beautifully understated piece of droning ambience with obvious comparisons, but stands alone against other perpetrators of drone or dark ambient.
2. Bob OSTERTAG Getting A Head
from “Getting A Head” (ReR Megacorp 1980/2000) CD
What initially starts as an almost ‘Kraut-Rock’ intro., quickly becomes a surreal melange of sounds, akin to Nurse With Wound’s distinctive early free improvisations. Then the sounds become more fragmented, with speeded up and slowed down tape noises / loops, followed swiftly by bizarre and absurdist acoustic sounds that penetrate the chaos, before string scrapes and random noises finalise the proceedings. Unfortunately I find this piece to be overly long winded and it soon becomes a little tedious!
3. SMEGMA Semi-Incongruous Morass
from “Nattering Naybobs Of Negativity” (Harbinger Sound 1988/2007) CD
An all together peculiar intro., creepy animal sounds and a random selection of ‘traditional’ instruments open the track, then slowly alter and oscillate, before becoming almost cacophonous! Again it has the elements of an NWW track, an ambivalent piece of improvisation, that thankfully keeps itself to a reasonable length.
4. WILL TO LIVE Lying In Bed
from “Will To Live” (FLESH Records 1986) 12″ EP
This in my opinion has a more interestingly developed intro. Detuned shortwave radio sounds that flitter around, but ultimately don’t seem completely random, there is thought and technique involved, that reminds me of a covert cold war recording. Besides that a creepy vocal intonation is injected into the wall of sound, almost gasping sinisterly. The ‘Conet Project’ springs to mind immediately, an historic set of recordings from another era. Ultimately an accomplished piece of sound-art.
5. WINQUIST VIRTANEN Dead Last
from “Dead Last” (Soulworm Editions 2002) CD-R
The track opens with an almost inaudible drone, that even at the half-way point doesn’t develop much. Eventually a slightly more tangible sound creeps in, metallic tonal washes soon penetrate the silence and give the piece an almost transcendental atmosphere, or conversely the sound of a distant factory that reverberates across a distinctly urban landscape. Perhaps a piece of work destined to be background music, unless the volume is turned up to the maximum, possibly the best way to fully appreciate the ambience.
6. KEMIALLISET YSTÄVÄT Sata Salamaa Iskee Tulta Ja Koko Elämä Räjähtää
from “Alkuhärkä” (Fonal 2004) CD
The opening chords of this track begin with a rhythmic metallic drum sound combined with spacey analogue synth whooshing and what sounds like a distressed feline, that quickly descends into another piece of random surrealist improvisation, it has all the de-constructed hallmarks of free-jazz. Perhaps something more for the ‘art’ sound crowd.