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Sun Stabbed, "The World Upside-Down"

Using E-bows (probably) and sculpted feedback, this guitar-based drone duo from Grenoble, France have achieved a masterful balance between womblike bliss and disquietude.  This is an understated and obscure gem.


Peasant Magik

This cassette-only release consists of two very similar sounding ambient-drone pieces (perhaps two halves of the same piece) built upon what the label describes as "expertly crafted, drifting guitar feedback. Ranging from Sunroof!-esque shimmering skree to glacial amplifier buzz."  It certainly is glacial, no argument there.  As for the skree, I am not entirely sure.  "Skree" is something of a pseudo-word that is not clearly defined, but I believe in this case it means an insectoid hum.  That is equally apt.   

Both pieces are based upon a sustained pure, wavering tone and a low drone, and slowly swell and ebb as additional tracks of feedback and hum wash in and out.  It never becomes harsh, but abrupt noises intermittently stumble into the mix (backwards chords, radio noises, some vaguely sinister rumblings deep in the mix that may be mangled speech) to keep things from being totally predictable or one-dimensional.  Listening to this album is not unlike (I suspect), lying in a field surrounded by crickets whose comforting whine is weirdly shifting in subtly psychedelic ways.  Every now and then a darker or harsher tone breaks through the cricket hum, threatening to shatter the nocturnal idyll and remind you that there is an ugly world waiting just outside, but it is always overpowered by your helpful acid-cricket pals almost immediately.  

Guitarists Pierre Faure and Thierry Monnier display a striking and egoless command of nuance, control, and patience throughout.  The World Upside-Down never escalates, incorporates other instruments, or really changes mood.  It just floats.  Endlessly and hypnotically. At least, it does if your cassette player automatically flips tapes.  Otherwise it only floats hypnotically for two twenty-minute stretches.

This is the first Peasant Magik release that I was exposed to. I have historically not followed the cassette-only noise genre too closely (even after being blindsided by the amazing Natural Snow Buildings).  However, I have since heard some other releases from this label and they are also pretty unique and intriguing.  This is still my favorite though.  It is a shame only 99 other people will be able to share my experience (as it's limited edition to 100).

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Review of the Day

PHILIP JECK, "STOKE"
Touch
Philip Jeck always seems to surprise and surpass expectation every time I hear him perform. I've heard him spin out haunting loops for avant garde dancers to strut about to in art spaces. I've heard him spin stickered platters alongside guitarist Vergil Sharkya and fractal videographer Gerd Willschvetz in an underground car park in Liverpool. I've heard his scaffolded ranks of old car boot turntables mash up crackly memory traces from worn needles bumping into wires and stickers in a London gallery. I've heard him go walkabout at a festival opening, cutting up dictaphone recordings with the pause button. After his ambitious quartet of lengthily (r)evolving 'Vinyl Codas' released by the Intermedium label, he returns to Touch with seven shorter live excerpts from performances in Liverpool, Manchester, Osaka, Tokyo and Vienna. With only a single sample Casio keyboard to aid the junkyard turntables spinning varispeed deteriorating vinyl, he necessarily limits his options but unlocks endless potentials from abundant alternate histories coded in the grooves. When he loops records at low speed, worn old cliches morph into haunting new textures. A phantasmal keyboard hoot that forms the bedrock of "Pax" sounds like it might've morphed slowly from a cheesy old J. Geils Band charity shop hit. "Above" cuts scratchy old vinyl into train chug clunks and chicken squawk with some slowed speech narration to explain what exactly isn't going on. "Lambing" is a home recording, soundtracking a film by Lucy Baldwyn, and wouldn't sound out of place on his previous Touch CD 'Surf,' with groaning ghost vox repeating an eerie refrain over the crackle'n'drone spin, until slowly a sunrise glow cracks dawn beneath the locked groove rhythm faultlines. "Vienna Faults" waltz around like a music box in a tumble dryer. There's some crazily mangled sitar "Below," reversing into hollow metal hammering, cut dead by a sudden descending blues guitar riff. "Open" seems to rework familiar noises from 'Surf' into a noisier delayed clatter. "Close" does just that, with some more sitar loops, more meditative but just as playful as before. Stray starry plucked fragments drop in at odd angles until a loop locks and deteriorates to a stutter as a single piano note bashes to infinity. A ghost choir of Hamaiian folk singers emerges from the vinyl crackle fog to bid a fond farewell. If you haven't heard Philip Jeck before, this is not his most immediate recording and 'Surf' or the 'Vinyl Coda' series might be better ports of entry. He has not yet left the building.

 

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