Thursday, 18 November 2010

Chamber Music - Raudive

You know when Ornette plays violin, what it sounds like...a right ol’ racket, yes? Well, imagine that put a beat, a thumping repetitive beat, along with a persistent bass line and handclap. It couldn’t, shouldn’t work, surely? But, you know, on Raudive’s album, ‘Chamber Music’, he makes it work. And it’s wonderful. It’s Oliver Ho under another name. There are female vocals here too, but I don’t know what they’re saying. They don’t say much, or very often. And there’s a little keyboard stab too. The violin isn’t quite like Ornette’s playing, but he sprang to mind. It’s what you might call ‘avant-garde’ playing, you see. And the more it plays against the rigid rhythm, the greater effect it has. I’ve played it a few times now and it’s power grows every time. The track’s called ‘Paper’.
   On ‘Is It Dark In Here?’ Ho works wonders again with a limited palette - percussion, vocals, a beefed up rhythm halfway through, and that Voice Of Doom favoured by the likes of UR simply saying ‘Release’ (I think). On ‘Cone’ he employs a saxophone back in the mix, lending it that bluesy round about midnight feel, along with abstract tinkling on the piano.
   Minimalist Techno, or House? I don’t know if those terms apply. But who buys it? You know, I imagine they wear black a lot, William Gibson, and only buy Apple technology...and live in ‘apartments’, not with minimalist interiors, of in New York, Berlin, Tokyo...surely.
   ‘Tul’ uses the kind of rhythm employed by 23 Skidoo on one track, I don’t recall which. It features sax-playing again, but you wouldn’t call it jazzy...more as an atmospheric enhancement...and there are sparsely-used vocals saying more words that I can’t understand, which enhances the experience.
   If Steve Reich went to a club with Terry Riley and enjoyed it so much that they said ‘Let’s have a go at that, after all, we fucking invented minimal repetitive rhythms!’ they might produce something like ‘Brittle’.
   The two beatless tracks, ‘Over’ and ‘Sienna’ are also effective, the former especially, using as it does a staccato violin for rhythm, a cello (?), and other strings to create the background waves of disorientation.
   It’s a finely-tuned album, as minimalism must be, and I find that combination of subtle techno flourishes topped with sounds from another musical world altogether most alluring.

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