Barry Cleveland: 5 Experimental CDs Worth Noting

| December 5, 2010

We receive a lot of CDs every month, many of which are good, and some of which are quite good. Unfortunately, space constraints make it impossible for us to include more than a handful of reviews in each issue of GP, and time to write full-length online reviews can be difficult to find. So much good music and so little time and space!

As a partial remedy, I’ll be posting Quick Pick reviews of albums by noteworthy artists in the hope that readers might be inspired to investigate them more fully.

Here are some more "experimental" discs that have crossed my desk in the past few months. Click on the CD titles for additional information.


Dither Guitar Quartet

The Dither Guitar Quartet comprises four New York City-based experimental guitarists who together create a sound aptly described in Elliott Sharp’s CD liner notes as “beautifully violent strangeness.” Taylor Levine, David Linaburg, Joshua Lopes, and James Moore wend their way through works by Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, Lisa R. Coons, Eric km Clark, and Lopes that traverse tonal territories from starkly sparse to quirkily rhythmic to gently dissonant to stridently chaotic. Brilliantly realized but not for melody seekers or the musically faint of heart. Henceforth.


Of the Body Prone

This Asheville, North Caroline-based trio—guitarist Shane Perlowin, bassist Derek Poteat, and drummer Ryan Oslance—dishes up ten highly creative musical concoctions loaded with restless and often relentless rhythms, angular and edgy stop-and-go riffs, oddball arpeggios, fuzzy noise bursts, eerie atmospherics, and cacophonous climaxes. If that’s your thing you will absolutely love this record. Tzadik.


False Flag

Featuring a double-guitar onslaught courtesy of Ben Chasny and Richard Bishop (who also plays piano), with Chris Corsano providing drums, organ, and clarinet, Rangda is heavy on twang, scratchy fuzz/octave tones, squealing feedback, and aggressive drumming, with occasional respites of pretty melodicism. The individual musicians’ iconoclastic musical sensibilities poke through the ruckus now and then, but just as often they are obfuscated in the din. Drag City.


The Paranoid Critical Revolution
The 12 pieces on this CD by guitarist Regina Bloor (wife of guitarist/composer Glenn Branca) and drummer Libby Fab have interesting names, but sonically they are virtually indistinguishable. The ladies leave the starting gate with all pedals to the metal—especially the distortion and kick drum pedals—and the heavily effected screeching, flailing drumming, and calculatedly manic time mangling continue more or less unabated until the end.


Angels of Persepolis

“Inspired by and dedicated to the brave people of Iran,” this instrumental disc by Iranian-born flamenco guitarist Mehran features lots of acoustic instruments, but is produced more like an electronica album, with enough super-squishy limiting and oddly reverberated ambiences to make Joe Meek smile. Mehran’s skillful guitar work and imaginative compositional approach shine through, however, resulting in an intriguing mélange of romantic, Middle Eastern, Spanish, Latin, Brazilian, smooth jazz, and experimental themes and tonalities with a political edge.

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