May 1998 Reviews
Ash International [R.I.P]
# Ash 9.2
Farmers Manual: Explorers_We
# Squish 4
As the pop music culture turns more homogenizing and repressive, it's refreshing to hear every once in a while some sounds that do not worry about radioplay friendliness, heavy MTV rotation, "catchy" pop hooks, melodies, hummability nor how many units it should sell in the international music market. This approach is totally experimental, totally freaky. That's why we love it and that's why we call it ANTIMUSIK.
First we have the latest album, R&D2 by Disinformation. The first impression is that this one goes so far in its pure experimentation and sheer fiddling around with sounds and noises that some minimalist stalwarts like Pan(a)sonic and Mika Vainio are pure pop music in comparison. The liner notes and other information attached provide more background data on how this music/frequencies/noise came into being, most of it indecipherable to a technologically blind layman but fascinating nevertheless. "Geomagnetic, space physics and atmospheric-electrical recordings, featuring the sounds of phenomena produced by electrical and magnetic storms, solar coronal mass ejection, tropical and local lightning." Scary and impressive. So these are the pure sounds of space, and no one can say any more that in space no one can hear you scream. The album starts with a violent, insistent industrial eruption, "Live at the Museum of Installation", lasting for 13 minutes. You swear you start a hear a rhythm, even melodies after awhile amidst the repetitive minimalist patterns. Like a more intense version of Hertsi's "Kohina" on Sähkö and strangely catchy. The CD continues pretty much as an electrical storm of static noise, reminiscing at times some electronic farting or cracking sounds of logs in camp fire and frying sausages in a pan. You can't really decide what to make out of it but after a while the listening experience becomes strangely hypnotic and you can't belive you are actually concentrating on the sounds of static and electric disturbance.
Next is Farmers Manual with their Explorers_We CD, and oh boy, country music this ain't. First of all there is 60 (read: sixty) tracks on CD that lasts sixty minutes. It says in the press notes: "One constantly changing track with 60 PQ starting points, making full use of your dusty SHUFFLE button...", which is very nice except my ancient CD player doesn't have the function in question, so a more linear listening experience it will be. Which is good in a way since the album starts deceptively with sounds that are barely audible before gradually turning to a monster of sheer audio frequency madness. (Furthermore, it says in the notes that: "Ost, one of the farmers, called it 'a sinewave massacre'.) At times it sounds like deranged screams of machine elves or a LSD trip of Duracell bunny. Snap, crackle and pop produced in totally electronic means. Electronic waltzes for dysfunctioning androids in the middle of indescribable sexual acts. "Does humour belong in music?", Frank Zappa once asked and this album gives it a Zen-like koan answer of frantic one-hand clapping. Pinball machine sounds and intense hoovering. Musique concrète? More like your skull hitting concrete in 200 MPH. An album like this is a somewhat fragmented experience, splicing up the conventional ways of listening and receiving music and the musical compositions itself. Some minute-long snippets even have bits and pieces of rhythm, like some gone-beyond-recognition industrial mutant funk, but how can you dance to it? One thing can be taken for granted: you will reap some most unsual crop following the advices from this Farmers Manual.
Copyright © 1998 Erkki Rautio
Ash International OR Farmers Manual