RALPH WHITE AND THE HORAFLORA SOUNDSYSTEM (CDR by Resipiscent)
On both CDs the analogue synths play an all important role. On the compilation its the Serge Modular and unnamed synthesizers on the CD by Loachfillet. The latter is from Oakland, California and has worked with Pigs In The Ground, Mummers, Diatric Puds and Psicologicos Traumas, as well as various involvements with labels. The ten tracks on this release fit perfectly into the current revival of cosmic music. Yet what Loachfillet does isn't exactly what say Tangerine Dream did. This is not light your hashpipe kind of music and drift away. This is nightmare music, the horror movie soundtrack. More alike the experiments carried out by some of the more radical early composers such as Morton Subotnick or Ilhan Mimaroglu, or 'Planets Of The Apes' soundtrack. Dark, menacing music, long sustaining sound, heavy oscillations. A pleasant nightmare of course. Like a good horror movie can be pleasant too (or even a bad one). An excellent connection is made to the past tradition of this music, not necessarily taking it into a new field, but a fine continuation within that tradition.
The only time I ever saw a Serge Modular synth was studio 4 of the EMS studios in Stockholm, but it didn't work (unlike the Bucla in the same studio), so I never had the change to fiddle on one. I am actually quite surprised to see a compilation with so many artists that actually have access to one, or perhaps even own one. Much alike the release by Loachfillet, this is nightmare music, soundtrack music or just downright scary. Lovely again. None of these pieces are really noise based
(except perhaps Cebec, Lowenzahn or Grusel), but each of them breaths analogue warmth. Pieces by m/N/Ml, Jan-Hinnerk Helms, Cray, John DuVal, Benge, Kkonkkrete, Electronic Waste Product, Carlos Giffoni, Mono-Poly, Sonic Dada and David Talento. Perhaps not the most well-known names around - not all at least - but each of them knows how to get something nice out of such beasts.
On CDR we find Ralph White, who has recorded his fiddle, banjo, accordion and kalimba with Jandek, Sir Richard Bishop, Michelle Shocked and Powell St. John (of 13th Floor Elevators), together with Raub Roy, who works as Horaflora, and who plays the computer. Reipiscent calls this: 'Konono No. 1 playing Ricardo Villalobos as recorded by David Tudor', which I sort of can see, but it surely doesn't have that Konono No. 1 drive to it. Three long pieces of improvisation, none of which could impress me very much. Very much like stuff a bunch of separate sounds going on, that never seem to match very well. The processing of whatever White does is a bit crude and noisy, and never seems to find a common place, where they both play or interact together. 'A Space Between A Chimney And A Swift' is the best piece with a nice fiddle sound to it. Overall not really bad, but not enough to keep it going for the entire length. (FdW)
Anyhows I just watched Danny's old buddy Ralph White play an experimental set and thought it would be of interest here. He did a collaboration with a fella that goes by the name of Hora Flora. His mbiras and banjo were amplified through an assortment of objects instead of a regular PA. Hora Flora had a bunch of tiny speakers and he would balance them on big metal dishes or stack rocks and tin foil and stuff on them. There was a little subwoffer with rocks all over it, or sometimes a plastic bag would be stretched over it. This would either cause the object to resonate with frequencies Ralph was putting out or make crazy distortion. All this stuff was spread out in front of the stage and sometimes even out in the crowd a little bit. It worked in a really cool way with the percussive nature of the instruments. Mbiras typically have a chain or something that lays across the keys to get a rattling sound, and this was a sort of an extension of that, except instead of a little chain or something it was mostly garbage from the modern world that was somewhat frantically being arranged on the fly as Ralph's sounds passed through. Since all this stuff was vibrating it would kinda fall apart at points and Hora Flora would have to run around like a crazy man to keep things balanced or rearrange them. You could tell Ralph was getting a big kick out of it. They did one song with little tape recorders placed all around the room playing a fiddle drone, which was extra cool. They have a CD out together on this label - http://www.resipiscent.com/ - and you can hear some short samples on the site. The first track is binaural, so if you listen on headphones you're plopped down in the middle of all the crazy resonating objects as they're moved around and played with. I think it's a cool CD and an innovative concept in the treatment of traditional sounds. Hooray for folktronics!"