The latest releases reviewed.
GARETH MURPHY Atlantean RMG ****
Artist's collective, sound wash, acoustic wallpaper or sonic shag carpet? Paris-based Irish renaissance man Gareth Murphy is as readily conversant with broad brush strokes as he is with microscopic portraiture. Atlantean navigates a landscape inspired by filmmaker Bob Quinn but populated by a many-tongued (and not just multilingual) chorus of chanting voices, wilfully obtuse samples and rhythms that swing from lounge lizard hip to streetwise funk, all of which adds up to a hugely cinematic listening experience. Murphy's an unashamed dilettante, cherry picking from Iarla Ó Lionáird, Sarah Grealish, Lisa Hannigan, Natacha Atlas and the mighty Quinn himself. Best approached with a compass, an ordinance survey map of life and a pair of ears wide open to the unexpected. Audio subversion at its best. www.atlantisrecordings.com Siobhán Long
JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON IBM 1401, User's Manual 4AD *****
Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's fourth album and his first for the echt-indie label 4AD does exactly what it says in its title, a music composition inspired by and incorporating the sounds of a 1960s IBM Data Processing System. Written for choreographer Erna Ómarsdottir's contemporary dance piece, its four movements merge propulsive polyrhythms and delicate melodic lines with electronic and found sounds (from analog hiss to the IBM 1401's mechanical noise) and eclectic instrumentation (orchestral strings, Hammond organ, celeste and bells), to produce a loosely structured symphony of astonishing drama and exquisite lyricism. IBM 1403 Printer (Part 4)'s recording of a clipped IBM instructor's voice, in particular, achieves a haunting urgency. With IBM 1401 Jóhannsson boldly evokes the ghost in the international business machine. www.4ad.com Jocelyn Clarke
ADRIAN KLUMPES Be Still The Leaf Label ****
Adrian Klumpes was a founding member of superb jazz/ electronica trio Triosk, and his solo debut is a doozy. Recorded in a small room over five hours, Be Still recalls the aleatory and atonal experimentalism of John Cage and Morton Feldman while charting new territory in electronic music composition, particularly in his dynamic integration of jazz improvisation and minimalist composition. Foregrounding his solo acoustic piano, Klumpes layers electronic and found sounds over its repetitive melodic lines and warm colours to create a collection of compositions that sound at once improvised and formalised. Pulsing through his deft juxtapositions of fragmentary and discordant sonorities are bright melodies and warm harmonies, notable in the driving 10-minute ebb and flow of Unrest. Be Still is too challenging to be chill-out, but its very angular expressiveness is nevertheless rewarding - like avant garde jazz or postminimalism. www.theleaflabel.com Jocelyn Clarke