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Reviews
Daniel Menche - Bleeding Heavens
Thursday, November 15 2007 @ 01:00 AM PST
Contributed by: empty j

Bleeding Heavens

Artist: Daniel Menche United States

Title: Bleeding Heavens

Label: Blossoming Noise United States

Genre: Experimental / Drone / Noise

4 untitled tracks

From the noise-fertile soil of Portland, Oregon, comes this release of focused and intense sound sculpting recorded this past winter. Daniel Menche has been releasing his music since 1994 and has become especially active in the last three years with a slew of recordings in various formats. His brand of extreme physical music stands firmly on its own somewhere between noise and concrete musics. Although it's subtitled "organ and trumpet destruction," this fact is not always obvious but a nice bit of information at any rate.

Deep low frequencies gradually modulate upward for the first minute of the eleven minute opener. While this sweep continues, other aspects of the sound spectrum are filled in by more static elements not unlike some far-off radio transmissions. As the piece gains in momentum and volume, it is tastefully punctuated by throbbing bass that is frequently characterized by beats (the acoustic kind not the rhythmic variety) that cause the room to hum and swirl sympathetically. The last minute or so is dominated by some upper-mids in the form of some alien skull drilling that ends just as it threatens to get tedious. The second track plays out like a twenty-two minute showcase of Menche's penchant for subtly shifting and timbrally varied sonic textures. A consonant enough organ chord is accompanied by some celestial crackle only to be usurped by a slow machine-like rhythmic figure before dissipating back into drone territory. Here the first blatant trumpet sounds emerge. The pitch warbles like some uneven vibrato from the lips and lungs of a player trying to circular breathe. When the rhythm returns, it's only for a moment and as if warped in the space-time continuum. The longest section is like an amplitude-modulated LFO allowed to do its thing over the course of several minutes. The movement between consonance and dissonance, and of ease and unrest, gives this piece an exceptional sense of drama. It's not only a great work of layered processed sound, but displays a great sense of composition as well. There's even a coda, or a recapitulation if you will, for those of you who are so structurally minded.

Next we get a pulse-dominated track that is not anything new, but a nice example of cumulative stasis at any rate. Even as the pulse starts to dissolve its presence is always felt untila ll we are left with is the buzzing and swirling of metallic insects. Deconstructive additive synthesis ? The concluding eighteen-minute piece is something of a subdued synopsis of the preceeding works. It flutters and throbs like what one might imagine the aural equivalent of the power grid during a lightning storm. When the distinct timbre of the organ resurfaces it sounds like it's been submerged underwater. Despite the overall push and pull throughout the disk, it actually concludes rather consonantly.

Although Menche's music is undeniably physical, I find a cerebral element at work here as well, or maybe that's only in the mind of the beholder. I'm generally turned off by the term "destruction" used to describe music or a compositional process. I prefer to think of it as more of a reconstruction of the organ and trumpet, as if the instruments' idiosyncracies have been put under a microscope and re-presented to the listener as heard by the artist. "Bleeding Heavens" has an impeccable sense of cohesion and stands out from a lot of Menche's contemporaries. The Georgia-based Blossoming Noise label deserves your attention as well, as they're accumulating an impressive roster of experimental music from all over the world. While I'm at, hats off to Stereophonic Mastering, who mixed and mastered this disk "in the analog domain," for making a digital reproduction sound so damn good.

     


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