Smooth Assailing

Thursday, June 22, 2006

mattin & cremaster

[audiobot, 2006]

not one of those godawful improvised sound/cinema pairings (see: scanner's mindless noodling over alphaville), the cremaster in question is the iberian duo of ferran fages (pictured bottom right) & alfredo costa monteiro (pictured right top), true superstars of eai, with literally dozens of fans EACH. though they usually indulge in traditional instrumentation (yet still managing to alienate the casual listener), in cremaster form they're operating in noise country; mixing board & guitar/pickups. i've seen other cremaster releases referred to as harsh or painful, but the only one i've heard personally (infra on antifrost) seems to suggest links more to crystalline japanese eai.

meanwhile, cremaster's holiday in raw eai takes place in mattin's (pictured left) home territory; his outdated laptop (which seems to be a point of pride) feeds back through the internal microphone, which he then fucks about with in typically obscure fashion; lo and hi-tech wrangling. on top of that his constant confrontational politicking (think a drunk, surly cardew) helps set him down awkwardly between austerity and brutality.

typically enough, the trio kick off proceedings with a screaming noise vignette which then develops into.... near-silence. the drop-off is dramatic enough to spark an obligatory headphone-check, yet the attack doesn't lose intensity. it's still raging quietly, till, to fuck with you further, it starts throwing up waves of volume over the speakers which dissipate as quickly as they come. flowerbursts of static on a sinewave stem start popping up soon after; hopes are high. while momentum tapers off a little, and it settles down into more extended slices of icy tones and/or blanketing noise, what follows is still enough for some premature year-end list jockeying on my part. the impressive restraint and inventiveness probably makes this the years top contender for gateway noise album. novices need definitely apply. even at cracking volume, as a whole it's still strangely inviting.

one thing a little unusual is the packaging, which looks very diy this time round for audiobot. the cover has a retarded collage thing going on; some kind of witty satire which years of apathy and disinterest in the political arena have helped me to shrug off immediately. in any case, i guess they had to admit their ridiculously elaborate packaging wasn't realistic if you're issuing 3 new albums a month. and liking the album without even the promise of a free matching t-shirt makes me feel like slightly less of a whore for the impulse-buys.

Barcelona, part 2

Paris Transatlantic (May 2006)
Mattin & Cremaster
Not a collaboration between Basque laptop terrorist Mattin and cult filmmaker Matthew Barney, unfortunately (shame – sure he could have done a better job than la Björk). Cremaster, in case you don't know, is the Barcelona-based EAI duo of Ferran Fages (feedback mixing board) and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (guitar and pickups). No surprises here as to what to expect: lots of decidedly user-unfriendly noise, some of it relatively harmless – fine static drizzle, sprinkles of pops and clicks – some of it pretty obnoxious, ranging from howls of feedback to all-out screaming. It's jolly enjoyable stuff, if you like that kind of thing, wonderful for a hangover (as in Vyvyan's famous question to Mike in The Young Ones: "What's good for a hangover?" "How about drinking the night before?") but if you've got several Mattin or Cremaster albums in your collection you can probably do without this one. That said, if you have got several Mattin or Cremaster albums in your collection you're probably an Iberian Peninsula EAI / noise completist, in which case you won't want to pass it by.–DW


w.m.o/record label
desetxea net label