Thursday, March 25, 2010
Michael Northam & Jatin Vidyarthi - Golden Shadows (Semperflorens CD)
Got a batch in recently from (I believe) the relatively newly christened Russian-based label Semperflorens. Thought they'd sent me this Jeph Jerman disc, but when I opened it up I realized there were two others thrown in there to. And when battery power wanes, the more discs the better! So rather than do a go over of the Jerman, whose work I know well enough, I figured I'd give this one a go. Seems like the label's definitely pointing itself in the minimal acousmatic improv direction with the first three releases here though, so one to watch if you're on that train.
Apparently these recordings happened during a Khoj residency session in New Delhi. Not really sure what that is, but it's manifested here as a combination of improv sessions and field recordings, along with some other strange sound stuff that has a heavy grey area vibe between sounds of life and life of sounds outlooks. "Shade Walking" opens with various concrete patters and electro scrape, like some guy running his nails over a circuit and letting it resonate deep into the walls. "When They Came In" reads a bit more like Waves (the Olson project, not the band) covering some raga in ultra hi-fidelity. Street sounds enter and leave and the whole thing swings right on over itself with loping kinetics. Heady stuff to be sure, and perhaps a tad academic, but not without the grit necessary to keep it relevant.
"Gold Walking" sets itself up as one of the main acts here at over ten minutes, but it strays more toward the aimless drone walk of life. Rather, it's tracks like "Digressing" that feel less like digressions for me, despite it's being half the length of the former. Here you get shell-style percussion jangled in an elevator shaft to eternity, way more odd and unexpected and atmospheric. "That Was" poises itself as a centerpiece as well at almost fifteen minutes, but here you get a lone ascending drone line over go nowhere horn action that's muted and restrained but playful and weird enough for a good zone sesh. "Chandni Chowk," a killer field recording of radio spewed in the streets, nearly beats it all for me though. Total immersion for two minutes and you're out. Killer before the closing "Lotus Contacting," which uses the same strength of field recordings to garner its power. This is where it's best and though the disc moves around like a bear in a bomb brigade (what is with that analogy?! seriously...), they hit the hot spots often enough to warrant this a major win in my book. Nice label to keep an eye on.