AuxOut is back from its extended hiatus, fiiinnnalllyy. I’m sure you enjoyed ogling at all the pretty ladies on that Kevin Shields CD cover for the past couple weeks though. Anyhow, I am back with half of the newest batch from UK’s First Person label (abbreviated in the review title due to Bloggers lame limit on the amount of characters in the title; yr holding be back Blogger!). First Person, in case you don’t know, is run by Andy Jarvis and he rolls exclusively with 3inch CD-rs in transparent acetate slipcases. The label is 45 releases deep and has put out stuff by Uton, Amber Lions, Ben Reynolds, Ashtray Navigations, Neil Campbell, Taiga Remains, Voice of the Seven Woods and the list goes on and on. These three however come from Jarvis himself in collaboration with John Schofield, overnight sensation Slow Listener, and yet another Florian Tositti project Xochipilli.
Starting with the lowest catalogue number is Near Field Hypnosis. I'm sorry to say that I know absolutely zero about either of these guys musical pasts. First of the three tracks here, “An Arc”, is full of hovering fuzzy motion. It moves at a slow place that would almost feel floaty if the sound wasn’t so dense. There is digital twinkling and occasionally piercing shards of feedback punching holes through the muck and pretty soon it segues into the next track “A Line”, continuing the geometric theme. A good portion of the track is a guitar fuzzed 2 tha maxx and loops of different sounds kind of orbiting around it. More loops are slowly added, including some nice ones towards the end which I think came from a keyboard and maybe tapping on some percussive item. The epic finale, “A Full Stop” swells gradually, as the prior track fades. This one is somewhat similar in style to “A Line” but ups the eeriness to a considerable degree with some not-quite-scraping metallic sounds circling the drowning dual guitars like vultures. At some point though, the guitars’ sludge steadily expands, almost masking the other sounds and seeping into all remaining sonic space to rad effect. I’m having trouble putting my finger on the Schofield/Jarvis “sound”, some of it sounds a little like tense “mood” music employed in some films and the last track had a bit of Earth/doom influence in it’s dynamics but a different kind of aesthetic. So I guess if yr into fuzzcrawls and other strange clatter, this disc is certainly worth checking out.
Next up is Bruise Journal by Slow Listener a.k.a. Robin Dickinson, one supplier of the Curor label. You may remember a while back, I fell head over heels for the Slow Listener JK tape, I think I called it “lovely zombie murk” or something to that effect. This one has bit different, rougher, less expansive sound to it, part of which I attribute to its digital format. There also appears to be less looping going on, but maybe I just can’t pick them all out. I might apply the term “roughnecking drone” here (which I totally stole from some place I can’t remember). Distorted drones are manipulated almost in a way like kneading dough (that pops into my mind for some reason) and gather intensity. Around a third of the way through everything coalesces into a sweet climactic thicket of overtones and with a blink of an eye it’s all gone, replaced by a single high pitched tone. Come on Robin, give me a minute to bask in the splendor before you move on to a new idea. Thanks :) The next part of the track moves pretty slowly (I guess that’s the operative word today) but has a much fuller aesthetic than the first part. It sounds really nice but I wish it got a bit more active. While, this one didn’t blow me away the way the tape did, it’s still a decent entry and I’m definitely looking forward to new SL stuff. Speaking of new SL stuff, he has a Tape Drift CD-r on the way, and his lauded Peasant Magik tape I missed out on is being reissued too. I'm looking forward to those and I advise you to do the same.
I remember downloading a rip of some self-released hyper-limited Xochipilli tape. I also remember it being pretty killer though I don’t remember why. No need to say I was looking forward to this, which I believe is Xochipilli’s first release on a label and second release overall. As I alluded to earlier, Xochipilli is Florian Tositti (Ghost Brames/Capricorn Wings, Heads of Pagan, The Reggaee etc.) and Antoine Clemot, and I think it may be my favorite of Tositti-related projects. Aircoquocces of the Arc Tones is split pretty cleanly into two tracks, the first “Aircoquocces” begins with a heavily autopanned vocal loop and is eventually augmented by rather unadulterated field recordings of wildlife and a strange percussive rustling. The track takes off when a buoyant acoustic guitar begins strumming stridently. Pretty soon the guitar takes a backseat to some French sing/chanting and homing beacon type sounds. The thing that I like about the piece is that even through each element comes through very clearly, each element clouds the other a little bit. Despite working with so many jagged edges, Tositti and Clemot are able to fit everything together pretty damn well. Meanwhile, the guitar comes back for a bit along with some spacey oscillatorwork. The track ends at its most bizarre with some sampled vocal is thrown into the restless cacophony. Other than the vocals get a bit too breathy for my tastes, the track is pretty great. Though, the real jam here is “Cyuti” (perhaps pronounced like 'cutie'?). It’s a bit murkier than its predecessor, where the strange noises are wrapped in a coarse blanket of drone. There is a muffled bass drum type sound that sounds like a really heavy heartbeat. The pace quickens and other layers of slightly irregular rhythm emerge and the track actually gets really movin'. I’m confused too because neither guy is credited to percussion, so I guess they must be field recordings or something. The thick droniness is really excellent too, subtle, but also lightly melodic and there is a slow but constant shifting of sounds rather than a static drone... Then at the end you hear a sheep ‘baah’ing and the animals come back chattering. Uh, it’s weird man. But totally sweet too. I didn’t even realize it but I was taken on a journey through the fuzzy marsh to some French farm I’ll never go to otherwise. And I thought I was just gonna be jammin’ some tunes...
So anyhow, really diggin’ on that Xochipilli one, hope that unit stays active and puts out some more tapes. The Schofield/Jarvis and Slow Listener entries were nice enough too. As mentioned, the CD-rs come in clear slipcases with the artwork/info printed right on them. I digging the Slow Listener educational coloring book style artwork the most of this bunch. As far as I know, all are still available at the label, along with the other half of the batch (Ys Trys, Ghost of the Octopus and Culver). And if yr in the UK, you get free shipping so check em out.