The best experimental music on Bandcamp: November 2021
By Marc Masters December 01, 2021
All kinds of experimental music can be found on Bandcamp: free jazz, avant-rock, dense noise, borderline electronics, deconstructed folk, abstract oral creation, and much more. If an artist is trying something new with an established form or completely inventing a new one, there’s a good chance they’ll do it on Bandcamp. Each month, Marc Masters selects some of the best releases from this broad exploratory spectrum. The November selection includes zoned loops, Bollywood-inspired abstractions, noise as stand-up comedy, and a reissue of recordings from the installation of an eight-foot-tall book.
Mesmerics / Hindsight A
Mesmerics / Hindsight B
San Francisco oboist Kyle Bruckmann has forged a formidable discography over the past decades, but the two-part album titled Mesmeric / Retrospective is his first solo effort made only with electronics. It feels like a fresh start, as his dizzying explorations on two discs are a bit like a child let loose in a candy store. The first half features longer tracks, filled with hyperactive tones that dive, splash and scream.
The shorter pieces in Part 2 are even more exciting, as Bruckmann unleashes a barrage of clicks and purrs that are reminiscent of the thumps and pings of a busy auto repair shop. Mesmeric / Retrospective is not just a question of speed and volume; Bruckmann adds moments of reflection throughout his bubbling mixes. But the main thrill comes from driving it like a sonic roller coaster.
The Plumb Sutra
The last cassette of Greek sound artist Daphne X The Plumb Sutra Harnesses the power of cycles and loops for nearly limitless rewards. In each piece, she finds a pattern to repeat – a drum beat, a piano chord, an echoing synth sound – then floods it with echoes, textures and other sonic accents. The result is music you can focus on – just close your eyes as “Irimia’s Bones Crackle” gives out ghostly growls – but it’s as urgent and energizing as a treadmill workout. The Plumb SutraThe highlight of s is the “Halo Dragon,” a nine-minute beat adorned with moans, whispers, and the hypnotic massage of Daphne X’s own voice.
Sounds of the bean book
Originally released on cassette in 1982, Sounds of the bean book is an offshoot of Alison Knowles sculpture / installation The Bean Book, an eight-foot-tall book that she built that was actually big enough to fit in. Knowles recorded the actual sounds of the book’s construction and mixed them with his readings of the text inside, creating a 20 minute collage of voice and pitch recording that is utterly haunting. Knowles’ voice is reassuring and frightening at the same time. The vinyl reissue of Recital Program adds four more tracks also featuring Knowles’ speech, as well as grains that she uses to produce sound with glass and wood. Absolutely, Sounds of the bean book is much like the avant-garde ASMR, soothing through Knowles’ patient sounds, but thrilling in the way it continually probes the possibilities of speech as an art.
Cecilia Lopez / Joe Moffett
Caprichos is the first duo release of two excellent New York improvisers, synthesizer Cecilia Lopez and trumpeter Joe Moffett, but you can tell the duo have been working together for quite some time. Their combination of whirring electronics and staccato horns are so well synchronized that they often seem to rhyme with each other. During each of these nine tracks, Lopez and Moffett also surprise the listener and the other with abrupt sounds, rapid momentum changes, and moods that go from languid to frenetic in the blink of an eye. Perhaps the best example is the shorter, the two-minute “Nerve Membranes”, a splashing and uplifting collage of trumpets and synthesizer bangs.
Andrew Pekler & Giuseppe Ielasi
Continuing a ten-year collaboration, Andrew Pekler from Berlin and Giuseppe Ielasi from Milan met in 2015 in Ielasi’s hometown to improvise together. Since then, the pair have sent results back and forth; add, subtract and multiply their sounds in literal “palimpsests” (modified material that still resembles its original form). Across nine tracks named for different cities, Pekler and Ielasi construct loops and rhythms in a sort of synthetic replica of a metropolis’ soundscape. Some pieces, like the slow and dramatic “Trébizonde”, are like lost film scores; others, like the dripping “Piombino” and the echoing “Maratea”, evoke imaginary field recordings, bringing to life mental landscapes as real as any city.
Earlier this year, Mark Trecka posted the intriguing Acknowledgement, using voice, tape loops and prepared piano improvisations. Now he’s gone back to the raw recording of that piano session to create four new pieces for Implication. By refining the textures and resonances of her instrument, Trecka reshapes them into pieces that feel both composed and unrestrained. The result has an aura imbued with memory, as if Trecka were dreaming new dreams from the reality he created on Acknowledgement. Most fascinating is “Solemnity”, a cycling piece that combines shifting backgrounds with dividing metronomic notes, creating a constellation of sounds from a single musical star.
Abstractions in Meera
In PM Tummala’s music, the story is absorbed, entangled and awakened. Using a number of tools including synths, vibraphones and tape loops, the Chicago-based producer concocts fuzzy worlds that alternately focus and blur. In the process, he nods to some of his inspirations, especially the Bollywood music he heard as a child. Nothing on Abstractions in Meera plays like a direct quote or a nostalgic feeling, however. Everything passes through the clouds of Tummala’s memory, emerging like a kaleidoscope in which chords, beats and voices swirl together like colored liquids combining in a glass.
Longtime Chicago experimental musician now based in Michigan, Daniel Wyche has collaborated with many like-minded artists. Earthworks shows that he is equally imaginative and thoughtful solo, although only one of his three pieces has been composed by him alone. Recorded live in 2015, the side opening “This is Home” features four other musicians and even contributions from the audience, as Wyche guides them all on an 18-minute journey, from heavenly chimes to murky reverberation. On the other hand, two shorter tracks are more minimal and intimate, including the moving title track, in which Wyche’s little string strikes create the tension of a horror movie, as if a huge guitar chord. was still around the corner, ready to pounce.
viral dogs and cats
Ranting and delirious on dissonant sounds, Yol is a sort of noise actor. At viral dogs and cats, his passages are always hilarious, from his complaint about the bad flavor of ice cream on “chunks of tongue” to his claim that sitcoms are dead on “glue comedy”. The random noises that accompany these routines are pretty funny as well, but what makes this fast-paced 22-minute album really click is Yol’s perfectly bizarre delivery. He makes his case by yelling and moaning words repeatedly until they freeze into full statements, only to then be broken by more tense screams. Yes viral dogs and cats doesn’t make you laugh out loud, that’s okay: Yol just wants you to hear it, over and over again.