actuellecd

Review

Kurt Gottschalk, The Squid’s Ear, April 1, 2009

Upon repeated listens, the first 5 minutes of Five A’s, Two C’s, One D, One E, Two H’s, Three I’s, One K, Three L’s, One M, Three N’s, Two O’s, One S, One T, One W start to seem very strange. Strange because the brief opening is familiar yet out of place. Veteran experimental musician is heard playing jazz piano, a bit discordant yet not too jarring. And it is something that, if you put the record away for a while, you’re likely to forget. A few minutes in, Aki Onda’s manipulated cassette player rips the fabric of the piano melody with a surprising whoosh. Alan Licht’s guitar soon follows, ambient at first but soon becoming imposing. The piano makes one last attempt with a little filigree before disappearing entirely. Music has lost, and sound is left to impose its will. For much of the rest of the set, recorded live at the 2007 Victoriaville festival in Quebec, Snow generates sounds from a synthesizer and a radio. In deference, perhaps, to the MIA piano, Licht’s guitar refrains from making recognizable sounds, and the remaining 40 minutes are filled with disembodied tones, ghost voices and anxious static. The result is something like a maximal AMM: the instrumentation is similar to the legendary British group in its recent trio form, but the line-up says little about the resultant sound. Snow, Licht and Onda create a nervous, visceral frenzy laced with the feeling of turning knobs. Dozens, it seems, hundreds of knobs, electrical impulses running awry. When at length the piano returns, it provides scant solace.

Snow, Licht and Onda create a nervous, visceral frenzy laced with the feeling of turning knobs. Dozens, it seems, hundreds of knobs, electrical impulses running awry.