touchedRAWKISSEDsour : CINDYTALK album on HANDMADE BIRDS…
Not all that dissimilar from the trend one time collaborator Robert Hampson made from Loop to Main to his solo works, Gordon Sharp has also evolved from a more conventional musician (appearing on works by This Mortal Coil and the Cocteau Twins no less) to an idiosyncratic electronic composer in the past 30 years. In line with his work from the earlier part of this century, touchedRAWKISSEDsour is a mass of laptop generated noises that are actually much more nuanced then they would seem on the surface, intentionally obscuring a rich world of composition.
One of the things I found most compelling about my first listen to touchedRAWKISSEDsour is how Sharp sneakily mixes in conventional sounds and instrumentation in these otherwise digital whirlwind chaotic recordings. Low-end sweeps and high pitched screeching might be the first impression of “Dancing on Ledges,” but a little bit of guitar begins to sneak through and at the end taking on an almost overtly funk sound to it. Piano appears throughout on the lengthy “Yugao,” and makes for a stark traditionalist contrast between the off-kilter orchestral samples and textural layers of DSP noise. It makes for perhaps the most melodic, beautiful piece of music on the album, but sounds like it came from a different universe entirely.
Noisy might be a characteristic of recent Cindytalk albums, and this is no exception, but there is also a good deal of rhythm to be had, even though it might be unconventional to say the least. “E Quindi Uscimmo a Riveder le Stelle” has Sharp piling dissonant loops together with harsher moments of laptop noise stabbing through. The loops, while of an unclear source, have a metallic complexity to them that fits together like a digital gamelan. Closing piece “Mystery Sings Out” is built from similar rhythmic techniques, but, in a more open, subdued composition. What sounds like synthetically modeled rain and thunder sounds creates the mood as bits of voice sneak through, perhaps as a passing reference to Sharp’s previous role as a vocalist.
More rudimentary and erratic rhythms underscore “Reversing the Panopticon,” paired with a twinkling, melodic electronic passage up front in the mix. While at first it might seem to follow a more conventional structure, before long it slips into disorder and entropic noise, with even what sounds like some raw guitar feedback tacked on at the end. A majestic, almost fragile melody also is emphasized on “Mouth of my Sky (Open Up and Swallow Me),” but again placed within the confines of a larger industrial soundscape. The beautiful and ugly slowly lurch along together for the piece, paired up perfectly.
Like last year’s A Life is Everywhere, touchedRAWKISSEDsour at first blush makes for a messy, dissonant and extremely chaotic sounding record. It does not take long, however, for Sharp’s musicianship and ear for composition to reveal itself. These concessions to melody, or brief flashes of conventional instrumentation is exactly what makes this album so memorable. Complex and multifaceted, each song seems to mutate with every listen, a feat very few artists working in similarly discordant techniques can manage to accomplish.
Review by Creaig Dunton @ brainwashed.com
Right from the offing, “Dancing On Ledges” is a difficult listen, plies a remarkably fucked-up notion of ambience, shooting your lobes in sherbety shards, like a redux of “Everybody is Christ” from Cindytalk‘s Camouflage Heart (which is 30 years old this year), its heavy drones daggering you brilliantly into submission as the uncompromising vision jousts it through with lathe-like screams. Discernible licks of bass give you fleeting compass points, continually torn up on an ominous blare of differing textures, shattered splints. A great opener that offers little if any sanctuary, taking the corrosion and paradoxical beauty of last year’s A Life Is Everywhere to a whole new level. A gutsy, almost autobiographical delve into the abstract, full of corner of the eye glimpses.
“Fire Recalling Its Nature” is gentile by comparison, awash with nocturnal synth and sustained vapours, these teethy rotations gnawing at you, meta-shifting into a soak of locomotive-like shudders, bringing to mind a dampened thud of Steve Reich‘s “Different Trains,” but with rain-lashed windows and a dread of destination. “Mouth Of My Sky” introduces a narrative zest to the proceedings. A gleam of humanity caught in the disturbed prism of its own making, before eaten in dead raven drone and brackish Chernobyls, its fluid spiderings bringing to mind Main‘s introspective auras but definitely more broken — dare I say septic. A lot of abstract electronica leaves me cold, but this has plenty of gristle, feels eerily composed whilst in the process of ripping itself apart, your senses cascading the instabilities like riding a psychic roller-coaster.
“Reversing The Panopticon” is a jiggeridge of loom-like percussiveness. A ghostly mechanical feel, like an entity trapped in a heavy oak wardrobe knitted to the spiral arms of some spacey texturing, some high-end glints shoaling around, eating into your ears like glassy hypodermics; its message tied to a disintegrating pigeon, telepathically fleeing the scene, leaving you groping a phantomised outline, a resonance. “E Quindi Uscimmo A Riveder Le Stelle”‘s harbour bells bring you a touch of fog-laden reality before pulling away on a bed of weird squid-like whirls, chattering diodes x-ray layered in differing pitches. An eerie 3D feel that becomes more rhythmic, panting away in the ear coupled with a metallic jangling overtaken in elliptical slivers that falls naturally into “Yūgao”‘s Budd-esque jewel encrusted melancholia, its fractured nature akin to their In This World album’s piano filigrees; a yarning, beautifully jaded gem that sucks you in to its empty spaces.
The album signs off on “Mystery Sings Out,” an octo-sea of fuzzing circuitry and shale-like sibilance, with Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet hobo-like vocals (Gordon Sharp‘s own, maybe) crumbling in the bleached wake of a low-laying sun. Scratches fanning out like scythes folding like water over internal scars, dorsal diving the nagging kernel like the mirrored fragments of the soul.
Review by Michael Rodham-Heaps @ FREQ
Swirling drones and fragmented acoustic smear, delicately arranged like a black bouquet of unknown flowers. Cindytalks music is not easy to grasp. And a secret. Handmade Birds released the album with stark contrasting artwork, frontwise designed by dutch multidisciplinatory artist Max Kuiper. A woman, the back exposed to the viewer, photographed through sharp edged fragments of a window. The message can not be decoded easily, and so the music- it unfolds like an endless stream of melangery, the black parfume of freedom and youth and a unmistakable sense for playfulness. „Yūgao“ is a fine example, clocking just under 11 minutes starting like a laid out demo of Godley & Creme, then collapsing in an organic float of piano vowels, treated with eloquent slices of reverberating walls and stops. „Mystery Sings Out“ closes the album with a hissing suite of modern day activities, captured by a mechanical phonogram, warped in the kissing delight of sun mourns. The music generates a rather surrealistic imagery, from the strange nebolous movement of sounds, to stereoscopic dissections of voices. „Dancing On Ledges“ citates a rather webbed approach of dark and sweated acoustic stripes from punk and new wave. Cluttering fragments of guitar twangs and shattered feedback are thrown into the orcus of soft, ballet-like figurines. The haunted „Reversing The Panopticon“ reminds of the sickly sweet air-filling smell of carnival and shivaree, leaving gaps for unseen ghosts hidden in the vibrant structures of the songs unison droneage. Another box of sonic enigmas- who wants to decode them? (5/5)
Review by Thorsten Soltau @EXPERIMENTALIZM
1 – Dancing On Ledges
2 – Fire Recalling Its Nature
3 – Mouth Of My Sky (Open Up And Swallow Me)
4 – Reversing The Panopticon
5 – E Quindi Uscimmo A Riveder Le Stelle
6 - Yūgao
7 – Mystery Sings Out
Cover image and art by MAX KUIPER.