Sunday, July 27, 2014

Merzouga - Live at Fluc / Prinzip Nemesis - My Name is Assumption

Merzouga - Live at Fluc
Attenuation Circuit Concert Series. ACC 1013. CDR in DVD Case.

Prinzip Nemesis - My Name is Assumption
Attenuation Circuit Concert Series.

Seeing as how we were about to see an improv performance by the Vibracathedral Orchestra at the WC, in Leeds, West Yorkshire, I asked Phil Todd if he’d had the email that was going round wondering if there were people interested in restarting The Termite Club. After nearly spraying his beer all over me I took it that he hadn’t.

The Termite Club was one of the few organisations in the country that dared to dirty its hands with Improv and the chances of it reforming are slim indeed. The reason it eventually died a death was mainly down to the fact that gigs of an improv nature were nearly always poorly attended. After Derek Bailey went to join Elvis they became even less well attended. An improv gig in Leeds was the fiscal equivalent of setting fire to tenners. You could be virtually guaranteed to lose money, along with, as is more likely, your sanity, friends and musical associates.

But I do like a bit of improv. When its done well it can be the most rewarding of musical experiences creating sounds that appear as if from nowhere, sounds that you’ve never heard before, that moment of sheer rhapsody that emerges in the midst of a 30 minute scrummage between guitar, drum, sax and electronics. In its myriad forms it can and does delight, but, and heres the rub, just as easily infuriate. For when improv goes bad it goes bad like little else. Its very nature demands that there will be as many, if not more, lows than highs. Its comes with the territory.

If the Termite Club ever does reform I wouldn’t mind seeing Merzouga on the bill. Merzouga are the German duo of Jano Hanushevsky [prepared electronic bass] and Eva Pöppelin [electronic sounds]. They’ve graced these pages before, working their improvised sounds into field recordings and wax cylinders with equally joyous and stunning results.

On ‘Live at Fluc’ they’re on their own as it were with a 40 minute performance as given in Vienna in 2012. The pairing of prepared bass and electronics is an inspired one at once linking a physical wood and steel instrument with a massed produced piece of technology, the results being far more organic than anything produced entirely via lap top or similar. The seemingly endless array of sounds Hanushevsky teases out of his instrument is quite stunning, everything from frotted strings to plucked strings to sawed strings, to vibrating strings, hammered, drilled, knocked, bashed whatever but always seemingly in control weaving his instrument through the effects as produced by Pöppelin, be they chirping insects, sine waves, ringing glasses or as in one particularly memorable instance the inside of an effervescing Alka Seltzer glass whose sudden leap in volume is nothing short of magnificent. The mood is often sombre and austere, at times thoughtful, chin stroking but never for an instant boring. Quite an achievement.

On the other side of the coin we find Prinzip Nemesis and their awful ‘My Name Is Assumption’. A car crash of musical styles that would only appeal to people with Attention Deficit Disorder and FDW over at Vital Weekly [he said after a quick internet search].

From the press release: ‘Prinzip Nemesis are wise enough to know that sounds do not always speak for themselves, so to tell a story with sounds you still need words - and music, in this case a kind of goth/rock/electro-pop/ambient hybrid style …. ’

Quite possibly one of the most hideous and misguided releases ever to cross this desk. Not even the Termite Club would have had them.

Attenuation Circuit


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