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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Black Swan Network - 'The Late Music volume 1' (Camera Obscura)

For those of us who loved the turn of the Millenium because the Olivia Tremor Control serenaded us through some of the highest and lowest points, the Black Swan Network recordings exist as a weird afterthought. Appreciated at the time, yes, but a bit forgotten. I remember the "split" with OTC being the high point, but since the membership is essentially identical it's just a choice in styles. And listening to The Late Music volume 1, Camera Obscura's 61-minute release of OTC sound experiments, I'm left feeling both enamored by the sound collage construction and a bit surprised at how amateurish it sounds. You can hear the residue of cheap delay/reverb boxes and layers of 4-track narcolepsy. Clarinets, strings and horns poke little jabs into the soundsoup but rarely get the chance to scream. Track 4 is a cello improvisation saturated with tape manipulations and other electronic effects, and it stands out as the high point - a bit of LAFMS-styled fuckery. Ten years ago (which is probably the last time I listened to this) I was struck by how intense and focused it was - two qualities I don't hear at all now. A quick assessment would be that it sounds like all of the parts of the Olivias records that aren't the pop songs but that isn't completely true because there's an economy to those interludes that isn't as constraining when they have an hour to mix it up. Despite the low-budget feel, the layered tape hiss and pause button edits are a beautiful aesthetic that stuck with me for all of this time. The more raging, thick sections aren't what I like; it's more the hints, the distant echoing bells and smoggy cloud formations that paint the best images. Late night music? Maybe that's the intention, or maybe 'late' means 'dead' as in 'the late Marlon Brando' but I stuck this on first thing in the morning and found it still had some ability to transport me.

1 comment:

  1. Have you guys heard that Miles Kurosky is coming out with an album. He’s the front man fro Beulah, and the song “I Can’t Swim” is awesome. http://www.myspace.com/mileskurosky