Waclaw Zimpel – Massive Oscillations

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For anyone interest in the rudiments of electronic music, titles don’t come much more thrilling than Massive Oscillations, the name of the second album by Polish multi-instrumentalist Waclaw Zimpel. It is both a perfectly accurate depiction of the structure of the title track’s enormous, ever-shifting undercurrent of snarling, wild, grinding synth lines, and the guiding principle that runs throughout the record.

The album finds Zimpel, an arsenal of vintage electronics from oscillators to tape machines, a piano, his clarinet and a guitar operating in a many-layered excursion into the underexplored territory between the slow evolutions of minimalism, avant-garde jazz and intense electronics. The four tracks were recorded at Willem Tweestudio in Den Bosch, Netherlands over a period of nine days and then mixed by James Holden, a musician who knows more than a thing or two about fusing together jazz and electronics (see his deployment of Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic theory with fellow auteur Marcus Hamblett for evidence).

Both ‘Massive Oscillations’ and ‘Sine Tapes’ deploy a tension between wandering electronics and Zimpel’s clarinet, resulting in something that can – on one level – appear meditative and soothing but at other times presages a dirty, turbulent discordancy. The expressive reed playing could easily be allowed to dominate, but instead it threads noisily through the wavering, oscillating tones that dominate the foreground, only rising to the top when developed into thick, heavy blocks of drones, squeals and resonant melodies.

‘Release’ is perhaps the biggest departure from the sonic architecture used on the preceding three tracks, given that the electronics take something of a backseat, reduced to textural white noise, gentle shimmers and air cylinder hissing. Here we find Zimpel exploring territory not dissimilar to Terry Riley’s In C, repeated motifs for prepared piano, clarinet and guitar quietly developing over the course of its eight beatific minutes. The introduction of heavenly vocals provides the piece with an unexpectedly transcendent, dream-like quality.

Massive Oscillations by Waclaw Zimpel is released January 31 2020 by Ongehood.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

Marcus Hamblett – Detritus

The second album from Brighton-based multi-instrumentalist Marcus Hamblett is a significant departure from his debut LP, 2015’s Concrete. Featuring six tracks of diverse styles ranging from jazzy balladry through to scratchy electronica, Detritus hangs together through Hamblett’s dexterous ability to assimilate himself into often incompatible genre reference points, ably switching between guitar, synth, cornet and vibes across the course of the album.

Hamblett is joined by a cast of similarly-minded sonic adventurers, including LNZNDRF’S Ben Lanz, synth maverick James Holden and saxophonist Etienne Jaumet, a fellow member with Hamblett in Holden’s Animal Spirits and one half of French electronic duo Zombie Zombie. These extra musicians add counterpoints to Hamblett’s own, many-layered vision for Detritus, the result being far from the trashy leftovers implied by the album’s title.

The central piece of the album is ‘Ghost Socks’, which features Hamblett sparring seamlessly with Colin Stetson’s clarinet and saxophone. Running at over eleven minutes, ‘Ghost Socks’ has a journeying, restless quality, effortlessly flicking between passages of languid jazz guitar, rigid electronic sections, noise rock and a concluding moment built out from stacked circular loops of Stetson’s playing that owes a debt to the effervescent cycles of Terry Riley’s In C. To cram this many ideas into one track is, on paper, a recipe for a dizzying, capricious sprawl, yet it feels entirely logical in Hamblett’s hands.

After a segue into Latin guitar on the reflective two-part ‘The Warren’, the second half of which features some beautiful, if mournful, strings, we find ourselves in the fizzing electronics of ‘Gardner’s Basement’. Aside from some horn sections from Mathieu Charbonneau and Ben Lanz, ‘Gardner’s Basement’ is mostly Hamblett at the synthesizer, offering a towering, cinematic piece loaded with rich detail and evolving melodic passages edged with a noir sensibility, twinned with rhythms and beats which seem randomised to the point of chaos.

The album concludes with ‘Vibraphone Piece’, for all intents and purposes an Animal Spirits track given the involvement of Holden and Jaumet, alongside flutes and strings. On this piece we are transported to a distant exoticism thanks to Hamblett’s contemplative vibraphone playing and its elegant string accompaniment, only for the mood to become suddenly unpredictable: echoing sprinkles of electronics appear out of nowhere, rasping horns that are both reflective yet curiously abrasive drift gently to the surface, and a sense of discordancy emerges as a metallic rhythm begins to underpin the whole assembly. At some point along this track’s path you realise you are no longer in a romanticised eulogy to mai tais, sunsets and palm trees but a dangerous, edgy, noisy, brilliant, harrowing vision of what it feels like to be alive right now.

Detritus by Marcus Hamblett was released on November 15 2019 by Willkommen Records.

(c) 2019 Further.