Sunday, March 1, 2009

Radiant Husk - Several Potem (Bezoar Formations CD-R)

Just got a swell batch of items in from San Francisco based label Bezoar Formations. Beautiful little packages all. Figured I'd start the review damage off with this one from Matthew Erickson, aka Radiant Husk, who's put together a fine little sub-half hour meditation work with Several Potem's four tracks.

Using reeds, tapes, keyboard and "etc." (which seems to most notably include vocals), Erickson opens with "Bell Peel." Layers of keyboard drone emit outwards from some center a la Terry Riley while saxophone squeals and voice gel together into a nice and fluid four minutes, opening on a note that finds some pretty active material between stagnant drone and anarchic sax work. While sax seems to be making a comeback in the world of experimental tape release, usually you get the grimy, Olson via Doyle sound but Erickson goes a little lighter and airier on it. Sort of a Lee Konitz meets Bill Dixon thing if both were stripped of any jazz associations whatsoever, and limited to slow high end snake charm styles.

The next track, "Kalpa Night," steps back from the near Gregorian clarity of the first one to get its hands a bit dirtier in some vacuum loop material. Nice and slow, everything here just sort of bubbles along, with odd little punctuations and breathes of tone repeating over one another to create an internal momentum like some caterpillar snaking about "find that milkweed" style. Erickson's got a knack too for filling these compositions with enough rich warmth without ever stepping over into cosmic territory. Everything is nice and grounded and subtle, each move important and distinct. As it all disintegrates towards the end, it does so more by washing itself out than cacophonizing it, slinking back into a pool of algae.

"Leaning Strata" continues with some nice keyboard excursions, kind of Ducktails tropical style only with more of a goth lo-fi overtone going on. Sort of reminds me of those old John Bender discs almost. Odd warbles and nauseating motions that keep everything nice and off balance as they build toward silence, only to be overtaken by the sonar squeals of a zillion hungry bats. Everything stays nice and unsettled though, with the melody still hovering gently in the thick air. There's an indecisiveness here that keeps it interesting and quite beautiful in its fragility.

The closing "Water Margins," the longest number here at over a third the length of the disc, explore some sparsely laid electronic drones that hum and stammer their way about beneath sax bid calls. Very subtle and not too distant from some of that Housecraft material in its intense and insular grace. Moves pop up, retract, overtake, in a constant epochal race to the top of the food chain. A nice end to an understated and super effective disc... more to come from this killer label for sure (oh and the two cover art pictures are the inside and outside in case that needs clarifying...).

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