Newspaper article International New York Times

Sounds with Stylish Distortion and Choral Hypnosis

Newspaper article International New York Times

Sounds with Stylish Distortion and Choral Hypnosis

Article excerpt

New releases from Blackball, Lesley Flanigan, Andy GonzAlez and Robert Curgenven.

The New York City composer Lesley Flanigan works with electronics and voice to create flickering repetitions with layered vocals, a kind of choral hypnosis. Her new EP, "Hedera" (Physical Editions), has two songs, one long and one short. The long one -- the 20- minute title track -- is the keeper: A stuttering, machinelike sound acts as the underpinning. You wouldn't necessarily guess it, but it's the sound of a malfunctioning tape deck. On top, Ms. Flanigan sings extended tones, making them digitally repeat as she builds up her own choir and creates her own gradual harmonic movement. It's a slow process, at times beautiful.

Blackball is a hardcore punk band from Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, Va., as of early last year. It has a new self-titled, six- song vinyl EP, released by Sorry State Records, and listening to it feels like inhaling some kind of straight-to-the-point vapor. Hardcore does not operate on a mandate of permanent evolution; this band evokes mid-'80s CBGB matinees. The thrill is in how it's done. Track 1: "Bone to Pick." Two guitars whistle through a second and a half of bright feedback; bass and drums join them for a single chord pounded fast 32 times. Both guitars start a four-bar riff, the drums tumble in and the recording crunches into the red. This is distortion as style. The singer Ericka Kingston goes off against an anonymous bully operative, her voice so enraged it sounds like another guitar. "You toe the line!," she sings. "Self-serving justice!/A righteous initiative!/Heartless and cruel!" Again: "Heartless -- and cruel!" Those are all the lyrics; she repeats them; there's a bridge and then a final section. One minute and 16 seconds. Just about perfect.

Robert Curgenven, a minimal electronic composer originally from Australia and now living in Ireland, uses sound to transmit something about the space in which sound occurs. He has a natural affinity with the artist James Turrell, who uses light to transmit something about the space in which light occurs. …

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