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Rene Hell – The Terminal Symphony (Vinyl / CD)
Includes a 40 minute bonus CD, The Hilton, featuring previously unreleased material: It might not have been so long since Jeff Witscher released his debut ‘proper’ album under the Rene Hell moniker, but he’s kept himself busy in the interim all the same…
Since ‘Porcelain Opera’ Jeff has put out a whole series of collaborations, 7”s, tapes and splits but few of these have given even a hint at what to expect from this sophomore full-length. Looking to his love of classical minimalism Jeff took this as the starting point for the record; he is quick to state however that this is not homage but a reinterpretation of those specific forms. The result is a deeply electronic rendition of this classical formula; the digital and analogue synthesizer and drum machine sounds that brought ‘Porcelain Opera’ to life are reframed and transferred into a very different compositional structure.
‘The Terminal Symphony’ is Jeff’s attempt to write tighter, more composed pieces of music – something of a reaction against the glut of long, often-flabby drone compositions that have become a mainstay in the scene. The pieces here are short, concise, and packed full of ideas that can take multiple listens to unravel, and the album, as a whole is almost obsessively structured and complex. Each side of the record is composed very specifically with a beginning, middle and an end (as opposed to the almost expected prolonged noodling jam) and when we begin with the familiar grunt and grind of ‘Chamber Forte’ it is only mere minutes before the track dissolves into the main theme of the album. The sounds we became familiar with on ‘Porcelain Opera’ are pushed slowly into the background to allow these new symphonic passages to shine through. An appropriate enough comparison might be arch-recluse Aphex Twin, but there is no pandering to dance music culture here. Rather Jeff has used his enviable background in noise, punk and synthesizer music to come up with something totally removed from the current scene, and absolutely singular.
The album comes to a close with the hauntingly melancholy and purposefully referential ‘Adagio For String Portrait’. The dancing synthetic blips that pirouette across Witscher’s mournful electronic waves not only re-enforce the decades long love affair between electronic and classical music but help to define it in 2011.
Mind Over Mirrors might not be a household name, but the brain behind the project, Jaime Fennelly, has been involved in numerous acclaimed and respected projects over the last few years. Primarily known for his work as an integral member of Peeesseye, he’s also involved with Acid Birds, Manpack Variant and Phantom Limb & Bison.
‘The Voice Rolling’ is his first solo record in five years and the first under this new moniker. First and foremost, this is a harmonium record and that’s important to remember because it doesn’t sound like any other harmonium record you’ve likely heard. Nearly all of the sounds created were made using a medium-sized Indian harmonium and then processed electronically via tape echo, harmonizer and other guitar pedals. Add in the fact that it was recorded to tape and you get a dense, warm record full of grit and emotion.
A year passes by and finally Talvihorros is back with his latest album Descent Into Delta to be released on both vinyl and CD. The man behind this one man guitar driven excursion is London based Ben Chatwin who in addition to hibernate has had material released through Benbecula, My Dance The Skull and our sister label Rural Colours. Despite only recently forming the Talvihorros project in 2008, Chatwin has been experimenting with sound ever since he first picked up a guitar as a teenager. His live performances have seen him share a stage with the likes of Tim Hecker, Stephan Mathieu and Ian Hawgood to name just a few. Chatwin has to this point juggled live performances and studio work as two separate entities with studio material being culled from sounds derived from as many different instruments as possible and live performances being restricted to just guitar and pedals.
Distressed notes run asunder on Tetra, a vinyl-only offering from the duo, Mem1. A current, quivering along these three fine works, creates a unique yet indistinct mass that, as we follow along in its icy wake, degrades and renders the listener inert, as we wait to meet the ghosts.