četvrtak, 10. siječnja 2013.

Gareth Davis & Frances-Marie Uitti - Gramercy (2012)

Prijeteće violončelo i klarinet za mučenje ateista. Lomljivo izranjanje iz sjena. Zaboravljena tragičarska folk muzika srednjeg vijeka na početku 23. stoljeća. Ljepota i melankolija kao sijamski blizanci.

The latest impossibly black-hearted offering from Miasmah is the work of Gareth Davis and Frances-Marie Uitti. It's one of the least obviously electronic releases on the label to date - Uitti and Davis achieve its sublimely haunting, enervating sound largely through the natural power of their chosen instruments - clarinet and cello. But this is no neo-classical driftscape to pass an idle half an hour, it's a work that's angry and alive, possessed of a seductive and nightmarish energy. Davis's low-swooping clarinet tones in particular are capable of dredging up all kinds of dark thoughts - some welcome, others less so - while Uitti's attacks her double-bowed cello with the fervour and focus of a priest carrying out an exorcism. Fans of The Haxan Cloak, Morricone and Macchi's most visceral, spiky giallo scores and the oneiric jazz noir of Kreng and Bohren should check the samples post haste.- boomkat

Gramercy is an anxiety attack waiting to happen; a languid, seemingly infinite prelude to madness. Every second draws closer the darkest of thoughts, nestled in the furthest corners of the mind with no chance of evading those events, no chances of stopping the terrible from becoming a reality. They say there’s nothing to fear but itself, well think again, for this wait is far worse and it will shake your being.
To the first time listener, the melancholy emanating from Frances-Marie Uitti’s cello on album opener “2 am” – probably the most straight forward track on the album – might seem as dark as it gets. It’s brooding, cold and shapes up as an instantaneous call for attention on the listeners’ behalf. What ensues from then on, however, abandons melody almost completely and focuses entirely on the atonal, using abrupt silences and Gareth Davis’ clarinet drones to maximal effect. What follows is a test to anyone who listens to the album, an exercise in allowing the overpowering sense of despair to conquer one’s thoughts and send listeners to terrains they often avoid treading. An overwhelming urge to recluse from all things material runs deep; that far corner in your room seems like exactly the place to be at the moment.
On viewing the album as a whole, a twisted sense of symmetry begins to reveal itself around the album’s centerpiece and clear highlight “Detour”. Sounds unfurl, with cello and clarinet playing as extremely interesting counterpoints to each other, and dissolve into nothing but distant wails. As we approach the aforementioned “Detour” sounds begin to disappear, the music grows slower, silence prevails. It would be natural for one to expect that this silence will give way to something louder, more tangible, a long awaited resolution to the wait, at least one would hope so, but Davis and Uitti have other plans in mind.
Chaos resumes, reaching its peak, the drones have gotten more abrasive and the notes less and less audible. We ask for reprieve, hell we beg for it! The answer remains a very firm “NO!” and by the end of that extremely solemn, highly ill advised, detour, silence returns. “Razor” shuts one out completely and reasserts what “Cold Call” achieves. We accept our fate and come what may, nothing good can come out of it; we surrender. The music is that intense; it consumes all around it with no need for overdoing anything, a stroke of rarely paralleled genius.
The question that begs to be asked right now is why would anyone put him/herself through all this? Why would someone, after reading this, want that amount this amount of madness? Simply put, because it adds flavor to one’s day, it shakes things up and opens closed caverns in one’s mind. It stirs the thinking in a way that I personally haven’t experienced before through music alone. There will always be a yearning to opt out, press the stop button, pick that needle off the record and take the easy way out, but with music this raw and with a gravitational pull as strong as such, it is nearly impossible. This is a record that has to be played from start to finish, a ride that has to be taken without pit stops and one that ends up enlightening its listener.
Being released through Miasmah, this album takes the label in a somewhat different direction since it might be the most atonal, arrhythmic project to be released by the label so far. Signs of any percussion, or moving forward in anyway aren’t to be found on this hour long record, a sickly beautiful all encompassing stalemate, which makes the prospect of whatever Mr. Skodvin picks next for his label extremely appetising and incredibly hard to predict. Having reviewed five of Miasmah’s last seven releases both here and on the pages of The Silent Ballet, the label doesn’t seem to be backing down any time soon and it might be, or in fact is, the most exciting label in experimental music these days. Some will think it’s an overstatement, but it isn’t. END.
- Mohammed Ashraf for Fluid Radio

The sparse, spare yet evocative track titles on this collaboration between clarinettist Gareth Davis and cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, if taken all together, offer up a for-once helpful guide to the music that they are labelling. Pieces called ‘Smoke’ ‘Razor’ ‘Stained’ ‘2 am’ and ‘Cold Call’ were never going to be lush, rich or pastoral in a way that might be reasonably expected from the instruments involved, and, indeed, Uitti’s twin-bowed cello playing and Davis’s guttural, droning clarinet together serve up a brew that is much harsher, more astringent and abrasively arresting than that.
Opener ‘2 am’ starts abruptly, casting you straight into its feeling of late-night dread with its scratchy sawing strings, underpinned with the clarinet’s keening gloom, rising and falling, vibrating on its deepest notes. Eddies of night time angst are mirrored by the ripples that rise and fall. The moments where the two instruments dovetail provide coherence and, often, beauty to the piece, a motif found again and again throughout the album, noteably also in ‘Felt’, ‘Razor’ and on ‘Stained’ at the album’s end, where their intertwining brings an understated loveliness to the surrounding tremors of unease.
Changes of pace and  mood abound. ‘Felt’ and the (once again) aptly-named ‘Detour’ both lead the listener on a chaotic stop-start journey full of tension, suspense, stately elongated passages disrupted by frantic outbursts. The 20+ minutes of ‘Detour’ include moments where Davis’ clarinet takes on the sci-fi sheen of a synth, while at others, Uitti’s cello playing – remarkably – seems to evoke muttering, sarcastic speech, providing an under-the-breath commentary on the music.  It often seems like the playing is a deliberate experiment, an exercise in the trying-on of different moods, paces and effects – the two musicians testing out different sound combinations and points of synchronicity and divergence, half-haphazard, seeing which ones best intersect.
At the album’s heart is the astonishing ‘Cold Call’, an organic, literally [heavy] breathing beast of a piece. Sparse and infused with weighty gaps and near-silent spaces, it features cello like footfall and clarinet that Davis seems to blow so gently, so tentatively, that no notes are hit, only painful breathless breaths taken and amplified. These two elements combine into an eerie mix of the unsettling and the curiously, blankly calming in this piece that is down to its bare bones – stripped of some of the histrionic or frantic elements found elsewhere.
After ‘Razor’ gives us suitably slashing string striations, which emerge after its almost dubstep-py womp womp womp opening throb, the long end piece, ‘Stained’, once again runs the gamut of atmosphere and mood, the stain of half-stated fears described by the undulating clarinet notes, the loud moments of intensity frantic, the quieter moments finding both instruments conjuring the image of floorboards creaking in a deserted room. The clarinet both flickers like an extinguishing flame, and sustains a long, final fading note, while the cello behind it plays a repeated two-note segment, like a muted siren, before the album ends with 20 seconds of silence.
Gareth Davis and Frances-Marie Uitti, both remarkable musicians, have come together on Gramercy to produce something yet more remarkable in their collaborating; a piece of music that genuinely sounds like nothing else that these two instruments might produce in combination – difficult, dark, full of inquietude, dread and sombre tones, but also infused with a gritty hard-won beauty in places, and the ability to occasionally delight as well as confront and surprise the listener. - www.theliminal.co.uk/

 Erik Skodvin’s Miasmah label has made a name for itself by means of a very clear-cut focus on dark ambient and modern composition. And while the sonic palette has been expanded a little bit recently – with the addition of Simon Scott’s shoegazing elements and of Kreng’s jazz surrealism – it would still be hard to claim that Miasmah are thinking outside their proverbial box. The most recent offering, a collaboration of clarinettist Gareth Davis and cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, closes out what little light some of the more recent releases have let into the dark cinematic box of modern composition. In other words: “Gramercy” is as orthodox Miasmahian as an album could possibly be – and it’s an absolute stunner.
Davis, who collaborated with Steven R. Smith and Machinefabriek in the past, breathes unnerving drones or hiccups muted chokes. It is Uitti’s cello, however, which dominates the album. Playing two bows at once, she drowns Davis’s clarinet to dramatic effect. It is when realizing he is edged out that Davis retreats to unsettling melodies to stand his ground. There is an insistence on individual sounds that is reminiscent of free jazz. Clearly, both artists approach their instruments academically rather than aiming at a particular soundscape. Yet that is precisely where they frequently arrive. It is as if both instruments were bleeding into each other, withering in the process until – album centrepiece “Detour” is longer than 20 minutes – a wasteland is all that’s left. “Gramercy”, then, is a ride from the conservatory to Twin Peaks. “Gramercy” is out on cd and 2lp, the latter containing a download code and two bonus tracks. - www.foxydigitalis.com/

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