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Manning/Novak, "Parings"

One-off partnerships can be a dubious proposition: often they are an excuse for the musicians to showboat or goof off. The personal dynamics of collaboration may be interesting to players but are irrelevant if the music can't be appreciated outside that context. Mark Manning and Yann Novak avoid indulgence by making spacious, echoing pieces of ambient moan and murk. Dream Theater this is not.


Dragon's Eye Recordings 

Both Manning and Novak have similar playing styles despite their different instruments and approaches. Novak's contributions are subtle and often restricted to simply processing Manning's voice and guitar. He does take the foreground in first two compositions, holding down resonant, metallic drones while Manning's wordless vocals float over top. Visions alien monoliths and cryogenic storage would not be inappropriate.

The rest of the album is less alien and foreboding. Manning plays more melodically while Novak throws the music slightly off kilter with oscillating delay. Both heap generous amounts of reverb on their concoctions, making the whole CD sound like it was recorded in a basketball court.

Rather than coming off as a recorded jam session, Parings sounds like the work of group experienced with each other's playing. Manning and Novak are obviously operating on each other's wavelength. 


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Alva Noto, "Univrs"

cover imageCarsten Nicolai's latest album returns to the themes and concepts that he explored on 2008’s Unitxt (which has been reissued in a limited, artist edition to mark the release of the new album). Combining the ideas of a universal language, repetition and the relationship between data and sound, Nicolai has come up with a stunning collection of electronic music that bridges another one of the gaps between audio and visual art.

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