Friday 29 July 2011

Friday 17 June 2011

Nonima : Morphism (Section 27)

Music Review.
Nonima: Morphism. (Out Now)

Electronic music reviews are fascinating because you can imagine the trepidation of the reader who will often be approaching such a review with either a sense of repetition,preconception or defensiveness about the music under scrutiny.

This is most definitely down to the sheer volume of reviews of such abundant music online these days and the genre itself, coated as it is with incredible variations, eclectic styles, art deconstruction, conflicting and yet ultimately un-ending idea's and arguments of what electronic music is suppose to be or how it's meant to sound or be produced.
There seems to be a strange increasingly blurry void between the relevance of signed and unsigned music and a veritable soft tar staircase of understanding that has to be climbed in order to try and get a grip on the "electronic music scene" of 2011.

That said, they are also incredibly fun to both write and read, often impenetrable and enlightening at the same time, filled with gloriously absurd terms and analogies. Did music reviewers in the past have it any easier when the music industry was different and bands were 'bands' as is often said? It's tempting to think so but probably unlikely.

Scotland's rich musical heritage should already be apparent without much further need for analysis here but in the last 15 years, the electronic music coming from the country has been consistently fascinating and ever evolving. Perhaps much like Poland, Norway, Russia, Canada and the more remote parts of the US, the sense of confinement, vast landscapes and a particular way of life contribute to such direction and ideas.

It's with those regional based thoughts in mind that I approach the new album release from Scotland's Tam Ferrans, prolific producer of experimental,
electronic and beat based sounds for many years now under a variety of pseudonyms including Mitoma and Altered:Carbon and head of prolific Scottish music label Section27

His particular personality under the microscope today however is Nonima. With a healthy back catalogue of varied albums, Ep's and remixes under each of his guises, this new Nonima album entitled "Morphism" follows last year remarkable and well received Nonima outing "Bit encryption".

The first thing that strikes you about Nonima's sound is the depth and the production values.Crisp, captivating and immediate production that never sounds strained or rushed. It's been mentioned before but I think it's worth bringing up again here that previous Nonima and Mitoma albums have occasionally drawn very lazy comparisons with a certain famous electronic Manchester Duo on Warp records. Having glitchy beats and experimental time signatures does not make an act a clone,yet the comparisons still get carted out. This is short sighted at best and while it's safe to say that Ferrans output will most definitely and easily appeal to fans of said outfit, it's clear to tell after listening to just a few tracks that there's no carbon copying happening and you get the sense of a very different and possibly more approachable (one might even say danceable) agenda at work.

Any influences that might be apparent under the surface here have a far more varied catchment area, echo's of early Richard Devine,the droning sensibilities and head pounding beats and experimentalism of Mick Harris, the micro detail and machine'isms of Lexaunculpt and Arovane put in the freezer and deconstructed further, the confidence and energy of Glasgow's Slam and Soma but without any Glowsticks or drunken fumbles. (Well not IN the music anyway) Nonima brings beats and he wants you to get lost, dance like a skeleton and bring them to your Science lab to extract their DNA. If your names not down though, you're not getting in.

So "Morphism" is brought to the table and the energy in the room shifts.

Opener 'Implode' starts proceedings in the most unexpected, painterly and enveloping manner. Washes of flashing synthetic plankton laced synths do their best attempt at drowning you with no promise of being saved although you may unnervingly question yourself whether you would want to be plucked from such a blissful aural haven.

This short intro only gives you a limited time to breathe before the ominous pulses and
binary skree of "Stimat" opens the centrifuge and throws you inside. Primarily based on a dramatic and frenetic glitch beat structure that stomps along while simultaneously giving the impression of fragility, once it hooks you, you'll quickly realise there's something quite fresh and complex happening here, both in feel and sound design.

'Chasm' as the title suggests is the number that splits the ground wide open for the listener here, the hints of darkness that permeate through "Stimat" in the distance suddenly makes its presence known here. This is a huge number, atonally attacking the senses with an undercurrent of delicious over-driven sub bass, chiseling beats that seem to have emerged from a futuristic UFO Grabber only containing mutant Industrial/Dub crossover specimens and that taunt you wishing you'd come up with such floor breaking madness.

'Mefrac' tumbles out sporting a different signature and an even more twisted mask, has it come from the same machine or does it live in the coils hidden from public view? Either way, it's infectious and you may feel inclined to roll on the ground or let your inhibitions go as it pours its slate sound through your capillaries. Strange untranslatable and heavily processed machine language suddenly emerges hinting at an attempt to communicate. Only repeated listens may hold the answer and with music this addictive, replays are a certainty.

'Suboxide' suddenly drops in the room, invisible but immediately audible and stopping you in your tracks, demanding you listen and making anyone else there fall silent like a tired hitchhiker entering a coven and asking if anyone knows about "The legend". The Massive industrial laced cutting beat is the showcase here, following a distinctively soundtrack-esque and timely melodic framework. This is the sound of drama, a confused outsider being perused by shadowy dangerous characters through a rusting, bleak metalscape.

'Root' may be the sound of that character being captured or maybe escaping to an even more alien and more metallic, morphing beat base. Whatever path we are being led down here (and it's most definitely a journey of discovery) is starting to break up like a corrupted digital forest encroaching on what was previously a deceptively luminous road to escape. Cold tones and sinister pounding bass make you almost want to look behind you, the use of space turned on its head and glitchy clatter falling like snow in your eyes.

If 'root' attempted to lead you astray and trip you up then "Looking glass" is the reward for letting yourself get absorbed into this musical map. The synth sound hinted at towards the end of 'Root' suddenly flourishes here, comes to the forefront and feels like a glinting light, catching your breath with an epic frozen melodic net. Although the exact reason that Ships have a gendered pronoun is long lost to history, if songs or 'tracks' were to be given a gender, then "Looking Glass" would be a She and then the reason would be obvious, stunning beauty and mystique.But this She ends with a quiet vulnerability and aural breakdown. A personality.

From here on Morphism carries on a steady and consistent pace, delivering heady beats and hypnotic glitchy wire-work until we arrive at one of the standout moments which comes in pill form under the catchy name of "Symmetrophobia", definitely not available from your local pharmacist and if such a pharmacist were to exist, it would be a labyrinthine nightmare, constructed from wonky diagonal lines and rounded edges, stairs that lead nowhere and filled with retro arcade machines with no names, the sounds of which can be heard emanating and controlled throughout this wonderfully
playful piece which is intertwined with some of the strongest beatwork on the album.

With "Morphism" Nonima has delivered another eclectic and remarkably assured electronic cut. Nonima is producing some of the most essential glitch and beat based electronic music coming out just now. This is at a time where, as I described in the opening of the review, we are almost crawling to a halt with a seemingly endless flood of music coming out every second and with little way to assimilate or deal with the flow, unless you have your wits about you, have a bag of patience and a tin foil digital wet suit on, it's easy to get swallowed in the flood.
This album provides a lot of aural oxygen and we need it. An essential listen.

Morphism is available here in a highly recommended special edition bundled with an
additional six track EP and bonus Artwork at Bandcamp
Morphism Special Edition

Nonima on Facebook
Nonima on Myspace

Saturday 11 December 2010

Arsenic and some Bass

A quick check of the calendar. It's December 1936 and have we a show lined up for you?
Yes! A 12 track bumper mix that might not be that seasonal but you know it is really. Anyway, Seasonal greetings and buy your friend some arsenic based lifeforms this Christmas.

The tracks this month are:

2.Fugazi:Smallpox Champion
3.Ivor Cutler: The moon outside the window
4.Onethema: Geigeticbeaux
5.Wingtip Sloat: They came with Margarine and Inlaws
6.DZ: Slowmo Coffee Cups
7.The Jaffa Kid: Searching for you again
8.Bark Psychosis: Blue
9.Atoniad Ygmenigol: 9th of April
10.Abalone: Pello Zeus
11.Rancid Hell Spawn: Zombie Girl
12.Speedjack: Tone Control

Saturday 23 October 2010

Coming apart at the Seamless

Hello from today at the Quagmire, where the sound never stops and even when it does, it's just playing in a different room. After the runaway success of the last mix by guest contributor Trills, we are excited to bring you lucky sponges some fresh Sonandy(tm) (which is a mix of sonics and candy) in the form of the sweets you were never allowed to buy as a kid. These decadent, sometimes un-chewable but always tempting audio enemies of teeth are brought to you this dark month by intriguing Scot's Lad Nonima, aka Tam Ferrans, creator and also enthusiastic backer of many exciting and often neglected electronic sounds, which when found in the wild, are generally know to fascinate scientists due to their hard to categorise nature and are often cataloged haphazardly in the Scientific community under the Genuses Glitchafernous, DJingGenreClashilifious, DarkAmbienceorphicus, BeatousRealmousStrangeous and FuckwherecanIbuythis.

Using some kind of special wizardry culled from deep breathing near special standing stones only found in Kilmarnock, Scotland, he has somehow weaved his contribution into some new form of musical devilry which, will perhaps make you question many things,including your faith, taste in clothing and fear of heights due to the fascinating lack of gaps between the audio. Now the more nervous amongst you might be initially alarmed at all this calamity but with time, perhaps with counselling, you will come to accept this and feel a compulsion to listen to this strange new method of "hearing" over and over, until you forget about anything else and find yourself pacing around like a cold leopard, waiting until the next time you can buy new batteries for your Walkman.
Now, we must stress, the many varied electronic species to be found here don't just live in a herd but have many exciting neighbours too for you to put down in your field note book so coming along to join the sweetie party are the wonderful Captain Beefheart himself, Henry Mancini who will even bring his own personal copy of 'Lifeforce' with him in case there isn't anything good on the TV and an Owl to keep things suitably Labyrinthine while DJ Spooky watches through coloured Glass. You won't need to watch TV though because the lineup here never gets boring for a second.
The Quagmire gives you full permission to throw away your Justin Bieber Itune Dl's and Twilight DVD's and listen to only this and eat only Avacado's for a week. It's ok, you can do it! The rewards are indescribable.
Tam decided not to adorn this special delivery with a name so in a sort of Headachey Autechre's John Peel session type way, we shall name this as thus:
Reality laced Toblerone for the mind controlled masses.
Be sure to thank and go visit Tam and grab his avalanche of releases

1.Throbbing gristle - e coli
2.Qebo- deepcore
3.I love you but I've chosen darkness - the owl
4.White noise - love without sound
5.Aphex twin - come to daddy (richard devine trapezoid remix)
6.Anbb (alva noto & blixa bargeld) - ret marut handshake
7.Asa-chang & junray - hana
8.Autechre - all tomorrow's linoleum // araya - out
9.Dj spooky - earth sky life line
10.Captain beefheart - safe as milk (take 12)
11.Amon duul II - archangels thunderbird
12.Amon tobin - verbal
13. A silver mt. zion - 13 angels standing guard round your bed
14. Adamned_age - invisible divider
15. Henry mancini - lujon // autechre - LCC

Available here

Coming soon(or next month) the last 2 installments of the current Quagmire mixes, sniff.
Can you handle the Excitement!

Sunday 10 October 2010

Peachy Keen

As we enter the month of Samhain, we have an exciting hectic, maybe spooky but definitely fish fueled generous time ahead of us here at the Quagmire. Hopefully our eccentric listeners will have filled up on the previous mixes because here comes another, and we are happy to say this time it comes from an eager outsider, possibly an astral traveler, who has arrived from a distant star holding a small flashing device filled with audio greatness. Or it could simply be excellent electronic experimental musician type, Trills/Jonathan Jindra disguised as such a being.

Regardless of what form the traveler appears as, the sonic quavers he brings are tasty and are mysteriously headed under the name "Peach Genesis" which we think is really cool. Is this the name of another planet capable of sustaining life not as we know it or is it the name of an edible book, or perhaps an exotic mantra. We have a pet cat called Genesis actually who has back legs like a rabbit and sometimes when he meows, no sound comes out. Sound most certainly does come out here though so enjoy and listen to the excellent Failure, who don't live up to their name with some grinding melodies and emotional tones that aren't Emo, the lush Boreal Network who bring some warm synths to watch silent 80's science programs to and the slow 'Low' try and run away with your eternal organs, mainly your heart only using the singers sparkling voice, who appears to have originated from a planet where the term "tone deaf" doesn't exist. Pan Sonic have been living in your membranes for their entire existence and are the sound of electronic rain falling inside a cheese grater which is slowly rubbing up against your internal band pass filter while you visit the Arctic.

Go visit Trills at his site here.

Peach Genesis.
1.Pan Sonic: Current 1
2.Failure: Heliotropic
3.Steve Brodsky: Halo 4A Hula-Hoop
4.Low: Laser Beam
5.Nico: Afraid
6.Boreal Network: Adrive
7.Oceansize: Massive Bereavement
8.Machinefabriek: Hieperdepiep
9.Greymachine: Wolf at the door
10.Track53: Dimensia

Available Here

Thursday 23 September 2010

Soda in the stream

It's been a busy week here at the Quagmire. The decorators were round
because we felt that coming up for this Halloween season, our window frames were
just not black enough! Since all the staff here have an inability to paint anything,we had to shell out and pay for some top action painters to come round and do the frames proud! However, much to our dismay, when they arrived, pots and brushes
in hand, several large spider crabs had decided to make a new home, right on the window sills and just refused to move. Now we like animals round these parts so painting over them was not an option. Not wishing to make the decorators journey a wasted one, we offered them some tasty Sodastream from our dynamic range of flavours in the cupboard. However we didn't have the cucumber and turtle flavour they wanted so we just compromised and gave the guy some music to listen to instead. But he said he didn't like it and ran out of the house, taking one of the spider crabs with him to go and start a new life in Northumberland.

Luckily we still have plenty of music left over for you lucky listeners. Harold from East Devonshire writes in this week, inquiring what is the best format and equipment to listen to the exciting mixes available here at Quagmire central. Well Harold, we quite like 78 speed records but for maximum aural enjoyment we recommend only listening on tape which you can play on this great up to date synth by Casio electronics, the CK-500, available in all the big retailers like Lewis's and Woolworths.

If tape doesn't do it for you Harold, can we suggest a step forward into space with the use of a CD Disc and highly recommend this tasty boombox which is a CD player and Sega Dreamcast all in one! If your eyes are fizzing at the prospect then wait to
see what happens to your ears!

You can also try recording it onto a wax cylinder, tying that to a hobby horse, tying yourself to the hobby horse, jumping into a road side ditch and lie drowning as you ponder on how much you dislike that aunt that made you read bible passages endlessly while sticklebacks eat away at your nose. Harold, we only want the best for our listeners here.
As a great man once said to me, ..."AHHHH, help, I'm in quicksand, quick, get a rope, nooooo."

On then to this weeks midgie torturing mix. Don't forget to take those carbonated empties back to your local MP.

1.Solar Race: Not Here
2.Fabio Frizzi: Irrealta Di Suoni(City of the Living Dead OST)
3.Engine Kid: Bear Catching Fish
4.LoveLiesCrushing: Ursec
5.Cranes: I Hope
6.Resident Evil Remake OST: Guardhouse 1
7.Third Eye Foundation: Four Damaged Lemons
8.Prolapse: Serpico
9.Sun City Girls: Flesh Balloons of Tibet
10.Arkos: Polarity
11.Since the Operation: Self Realisation through Vimto
12.Jonny Cohen: Christmas Trees Everywhere