Monday, July 24, 2006

Mazen Kerbaj and The Israeli Air Force

A minimalistic improvisation by Lebanese trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj 'duetting' with the Israeli Air Force as it bombards Mazen's home city of Beirut. Recorded by Kerbaj on the balcony of his flat in Beirut on the night of 15/16 July 2006.

Mazen Kerbj is the lynchpin of the nasant Lebanonese impro scene. This piece of sound art was recorded from the balcony of his flat in Beirut. This duet is between Kerbj extreme trumpet playing and the sound of the Israeli Air Force as it bombards his home city on the night of 15/16th July 2006.

Kerbj use of the trumpet stretches the sound palate of the instrument. This is not playing in the sense of melody or rhythm. The trumpet is used as a source of sounds without recourse to traditional methods. Scraps, clunks, blown air, pops and whacks are the order of the night. The timbres that the trumpet produces sound as if they have been passed through a series of electronic filters but Kerbaj is infamous for the range of sounds he can draw from his instrument. On Rouba3i his playing covers similar non treated realms. The friction of the metal itself, the possibilities of tonal and texture nature of the sounds are explored.

For all the sound mining and avant garde nature of the Kerbj’s performance it’s the backing track that catches your attention. The sound of aircraft, exploding bombs (some distant, some terrorifly close), post dentionaon sirens, dog barks, car alarms an eerie silences. It’s a six minute trip into the hellish heart of a war zone. The sound of violence. Ultra Red’s attempts to explore acoustic space as enunciative of social relations ripped open by warfare. The Fire This Time unfolding in a live environment.

After listening to the track on a loop for over an hour I found sleep difficult to achieve but that must be nothing compared to the nightmare of those living in Beirut. I do not have the power or the language skills to describe the power of this piece. Download it and let the impact flow through you.

  • Starry Night (excerpt)

  • Starry Night (excerpt)


  • Mazenkerblog
  • Nick Heywood - Kite 7"

    Nick Heyward – Kite (Epic 1993)

    So here’s the first of my reviews of records that I found abandoned in charity shops, dime stores or car boot sales. Its something I spend to much time doing but its great fun.

    I wasn’t buying this blind or rather deaf. I owed this snapshot of perfect pop on cassette single when it first came out. Somewhere along the line it went missing and when I unearthed it in a pile of 7inch singles it brought a smile to my face.

    The song is constructed around a gloriously infectious acoustic hook. This is a cooling summer breeze of hidden brass and dolorous strings. Nick Heyward always had the knack of penning watertight tunes and on this track he was on top form. Nick Heyward’s story is an interesting one. He split his band Haircut 100 at the peak of their popularity. This was the usual lead singer bigger than the band ego fit. No Nick wanted to escape the clean cut image and commercial straight jacket that success had unwittingly fostered. After some initial success with a more introspective sound Heyward disappeared into the musical hinterland. Kite was a surprise return to the charts as his most successful record in America. It stood out like a shining diamond amongst the grudge sludge in the US in 1993. This was cystal clear, sweet and charming the polar opposite of the dark heavy macho posturing of much of grunge scene. This was lemonade to their methadone, poptastic Beatles to their stained Black Sabbath.

    After a single play on a Saturday afternoon I was still humming it on the following Wednesday evening. Now that what I call a memorable melody. Three minutes and five seconds of top notch pop.

    To watch the video go here

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Yellow Swans

    Yellow Swans – Drift

    Oakland based Yellow Swans have garnered a reputation for their extreme electronic assaults. Their music viewed as a bitter fusion of spastic drum machine rhythms, lashing spilt wire firestorms and shuddering feral pulses. This study in the quieter aspects of the noise genre comes as something of a surprise.

    The Drift is spilt into three long tracks that swell and recede like a computer virus eating away at an aging hard drive. The sound stripped of drums and percussion is a static wave. Swirls of reverb drenched interference, sound modulation and high pitched electronic whine. The extreme nature of the treatment given to the sounds makes it impossible to pinpoint their source. Swells of arching desolated distortion crash against brief clipped bassnotes, strange undulations melt into granular question marks.

    Yellow Swans show remarkable skill for creating space and progression out of shards of electronic detritus. Each movement evolves and decomposes. A dense matted web of sound will build and thicken before shattering into blissful hiss and a slow burning buzz and drone. The fleeting moments of aural overload are buttressed by long periods of drifting beautiful noise. Drift’s swarming electronics, lonely disintegrations flicking sonic spittle and open end vista are a liberation. I have been lost in this for days, dive in and disappear.

    Tony Heywood (c) 2006