Friend: Inaccuracies and Omissions (Flying Nun)

 |   |  1 min read

Friend: First Easy Piece
Friend: Inaccuracies and Omissions (Flying Nun)

"Musique concrete" has generally had a bad rap. The problem lies in the "musique" part of the equation. Being constructed from found sounds or by mixing up sounds into some other form, musique concrete doesn't conform to a definition of "music" as most understand it. Put it this way: you can't whistle it.

So it's a courageous, inspired or art council-sponsored artist who enters the territory. Friend is actually Chris Knox, who is all of the above, and these nine pieces range from three brief "easy pieces" at less than two minutes of Protools-edited piano to lengthy things involving reprocessed field recordings (literally, in one case, Scrape, which began with the sound of raking rubbish off Ericsson Stadium) and the usual digging about in the belly of a piano.

If all this sounds unlistenable - or worse, masturbatory - it isn't. Knox creates spatial sense, tension and even humour as he takes (most of) the material far from its source while bringing his musical sensibilities to bear.

Cheap Jazz is a quizzical little affair of almost melodic scraping and ticking over a heartbeat, Insecticider is like a stoned, electro-ambient night at a mosquito pond, and Scrape is almost funky in places before it hits a middle section of amusingly irritating overtones and drones. 

A couple of the "easy pieces" sound too easy, but the 11-minute Heartbeat Whale Meat at the end, a rehit of Cheap Jazz with a discreet Tall Dwarfs rhythm added, is a quiet, sonic spaceflight through the subconscious.

No, it's obviously not for everyone but if the label "musique concrete" doesn't send you rushing for your Carpenters' greatest hits or the words "arts council-sponsored" don't have you firing off a stiff letter of disapproval to the Minister of Arts, then this is more than an indulgent digression.

Can't see any of it featuring on playlists - although it might be coming to a gallery installation, fringe festival or soundtrack near you soon.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Grayson Gilmour: Infinite Life! (Flying Nun)

Grayson Gilmour: Infinite Life! (Flying Nun)

When Grayson Gilmour signed to Flying Nun four years ago, back in that brief period when Roger Shepherd took control again of the label he had founded, there was considerable optimism that it might... > Read more

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

As with the blues, rockabilly is always out there, but only occasionally gets its time in the spotlight when artists such as the revivalist Stray Cats or -- more recently -- the great original... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

I, ME, MINE; THE EXTENDED EDITION by GEORGE HARRISON

I, ME, MINE; THE EXTENDED EDITION by GEORGE HARRISON

When George Harrison's slight autobiography I, Me Mine was first published in 1980 as a limited edition hardback his onetime friend John Lennon was livid. He said George had barely mentioned... > Read more

LOCUS AND LOCATION: THE SOCIO-GEOGRAPHY AND POST-COLONIAL DISCOURSE IN DON McGLASHAN'S DOMINION ROAD

LOCUS AND LOCATION: THE SOCIO-GEOGRAPHY AND POST-COLONIAL DISCOURSE IN DON McGLASHAN'S DOMINION ROAD

Don McGlashan is one of New Zealand's most respected and successful songwriters. He been awarded the Apra Silver Scroll for songwriting 47 times and has been given honorary doctorates from many New... > Read more