Notice Recordings

Joda Clément ‎– I hope you like the universe (Notice Recordings)

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In a sense, Vancouver-based composer Joda Clément constructs music that feels like a direct continuation of his father's works. While Joda's music never errs on the side of new age, there's a clear interest in juxtaposing field recordings with one's own instrumentation. What truly separates these two artists from each other, though, comes not from the immediate sonic differences but the degree with which one is able to distinguish between these two source materials.

Ever since Clément's debut solo album Movement + Rest, he's tried to intensify the innate emotional and musical characteristics of nature by layering it with his own input. Identifying what came from Clément's own hands wasn't particularly difficult then, and the mixing proves it wasn't his intention to make it such, but there was still a sense that he was striving for a unified sound. That same goal has stayed with him and defined releases like Silo 11, The Narrows, and North North.

The two sides of I hope you like the universe feature field recordings from around Canada but both are wholly distinct. On the first side, we hear the sound of wind rustling leaves and children talking. It isn't the most relaxed atmosphere but it soon dips into something far more sinister; a mood that is primarily established by brooding synths and harmonium. The different sounds that Clément accompanies this with—machinery, static, the faint sound of bells—only make the piece feel more tense. This new soundscape is so well realized that single water droplets around twelve minutes in evoke a sense of helplessness. Soon after, the synth disappears and it sounds like we've exited a cave and the world around us has opened up; sirens, rain, and insects sound surprisingly pleasant.

The second side starts off dense. There are some sounds that penetrate the fog, most noticeably the sounds of cars driving by, but it isn't until about five minutes in that the song starts to shed its skin. What follows is essentially a long-form drone. Synths occasionally warble and the sound of seagulls and ringing buoys act as nice flourishes but most of these sounds coalesce due to their similarities in tone and timbre. It's a piece that envelops the listener and it proves constantly engaging due to its expert mixing and the way in which the focus frequently shifts between the different elements of the recording.

Interestingly, the final minutes of the track feature a slowly dissipating field recording that sounds like white noise. It eventually fades into silence and our attention slowly shifts to the actual environment we're hearing this piece in and we become conscious of the different sounds around us. The 34 minutes that make up I hope you like the universe are the most homogeneous of anything that Joda's created yet. And through it, he shows us the beauty that lies in his corner of the universe. It ends with an invitation for us to realize how it also exists in ours.



Prants - Hot Shaker Meet Lead Donut (Notice Recordings)

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On Ain't it Grand / Journey to the Center of Something or Other, Bhob Rainey and Chris Cooper took a stab at imitating each other. While not a collaborative effort, the resulting tracks gave insight into the sort of music both generally create. Rainey's track shows how frenetic Cooper's music is, particularly under the Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase moniker and in noise "rock" band Fat Worm of Error. Cooper's piece is also noisy but it reveals the more reserved approach to sound design that Rainey aims for in his solo works and Nmperign.

Both artists were involved in The BSC but as Rainey was the director and founder of the ensemble, the project sounded more in line with his own works. Consequently, Hot Shaker Meet Lead Donut is the first truly collaborative release from Rainey and Cooper and the result is one of the most satisfying records from either artist to date. It's an interesting title—both items are lab equipment, one stirs liquids while the other stabilizes the flasks that contain them. And appropriately, the combination of these artists leads to a volatile but carefully controlled reaction.

"Vapor Viper" opens up the record with shrieking from both Rainey's sax and Cooper's processed guitar/electronics. There's piercing high-pitched noise heard but it's balanced by sounds that frenetically pan across both channels. It all eventually fades out into the sound of church bells and the song thereafter stays relatively mild. Field recordings and oscillating tones occupy much of the space for the duration of the recording but the electric squelches return about two-thirds of the way in. It's a fascinating and thoroughly detailed track, one whose louder moments contrast and give purpose to the quieter one and vice versa. 

"Igotu Otius" is even more ambitious than "Vapor Viper". While it doesn't feel quite as cinematic, largely due to its nonlinear progression, it's mostly fascinating for how it arranges and balances its collage of sounds. On the track we have numerous musicians playing a variety of instruments—cello, contrabass, harp, viola, and dry ice—and that's on top of all the electronic whirring and input that Rainey and Cooper have. It never sounds obnoxiously erratic though: each plucked string and dizzying burst of noise is in its proper place. It's a real treat, a product of mindful mixing and adventurous composing. Both of those ingredients have existed in previous releases from Rainey and Cooper but with Hot Shaker Meet Lead Donut, it seems more apparent than ever.