Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Alek Novak

Alek Novak
Pod Vodom
Sloow Tapes - CS 54

Serbian dystopian bedroom psychedelia from the one man band Alek Novak that fits these gnarly times very well. Poetic lyrics (so i've been told, I don't speak Serbian) over a psychedelic rock/noise sauce makes perfect listening while walking through shady corners of Belgrade, tasting the last drops of your bottle rakia. 70 copies.

Gintas K

Gintas K
Sloow Tapes - CS 44

Gintas K, once part of the first Lithuanian industrial band Modus but since over two decades he dedicates himself to electronic music, more specific granular synths and live electronics where he takes fractions of notes and moulds the sounds through speeding/slowing down and other obscure alchemical processes into new abstract configurations of space debris with remnants of drones, hums and bleeps. 70 copies.

Resonances, the first of these, ‘was recorded live, using computer, midi keyboard & controller on Autumn 2021’ and has been released by Sloow Tapes in an edition of 70 copies. It spins slow-swirling vortices around hovering hums and low-humming drones over the course of its ten, comparatively short (only a couple extend beyond four minutes), ponderous tracks. It’s perhaps one of his more varied works, both sonically and atmospherically – and Resonances really does explore atmospheres and cavernous swampy echoes. (Aural Aggravation)

Gintas Kraptavičius was once a member of the industrial band Modus, and afterimages of their music can often be heard in the cold, metallic nature of his solo work. Resonances comes from a live session where he used a computer, a midi keyboard, and a controller. He modulates sounds, slows down and speeds up the layers, and sinks into sound waves and musical constellations. At the same time, he keeps an eye on structures – the compositions are relatively short, apart from two which reach eight minutes. Overpowering drones rumble from one side, a mass of noise and interweaving atmospheric layers from the other – an impressively constructed mesh of sonic sketches. (The Quietus)

Gintas K has been on these pages a lot of times. I must admit that, despite not knowing Sloow Tapes all too well, I am a bit surprised to see his work. I always think of him as a serious operator of laptop music, which seems not to be the home at Sloow Tapes. He creates ten pieces of music using his computer, midi keyboard and controller, but as this is a cassette (the label has no Bandcamp), I found it hard to tell where a track starts and stops. This cassette could very well contain one track per side. Oddly, perhaps, there is also an element of free play in Gintas K's music. Other than what I think is his stricter approach to composing, these pieces arrive in a free-flowing modus. Sounds drop in, quite uneventful, but are just 'there' and change in form, may grow, or reduce or simply, as unexpectedly disappear again. Yet there is never silence because there are many sounds, each fighting for our attention. It never becomes chaotic, as Gintas K manages to control the proceedings, which he does quite well. A certain psychedelic, ambient quality is part of this music, and I can see why Sloow Tapes found this to be an interesting addition to their catalogue. (Vital Weekly)

Mike Hovancsek

Mike Hovancsek
Texture Studies
Sloow Tapes - CS 90

Late night atmospheric soundtracks for two short movies. 'Aea' is an acoustic improvisation with tons of illustrious instruments and contributions on shamisen and shakuhachi by Lydia Schneider and slide guitar by Mohonbeena Soumalaya Mukherjee. 'Antroposcene' is a meditation of floating electronics on our disastrous pollution of the world. Mike Hovancsek is a former member of Pointless Orchestra and collaborated with Egyptian composer Halim El-Dabh (who composed some of the earliest tape music in 1944). 70 copies.

He has releases on Pointless Music (and he was a member of the Pointless Orchestra) as early as 1991, and Infinite Number Of Sounds Recording Company, and yet this is his seventh release only. The four lengthy pieces receive some liner notes in which he mentions that he plays all the instruments but doesn't specify these. There are some guest players, such as Lydia Schneider on the shakuhachi and shamisen and Mohonbeena Soumalaya Mukherjee on slide guitar. The first side is all acoustic, and the second is electronic. What ties these sides together is Hovancsek's rather free approach to sound. On the electronic side, with two versions of a piece called 'Anthroposcene', the music is all about modular synthesizers, resembling all things living on this planet but under attack by humans. The sound changes constantly and sounds like a swarm of bees (or ants, but is that a swarm?) and a great piece. The two pieces, on the other side, are quite different. While also constructed freely, from many recordings stuck together, especially in the title piece, the music has a relatively reflective mood and the most in 'Aea - Espiral'. There is a raga-like drone machine, and on top, we hear what seems to be the processed sounds of the wind instruments. With the slide guitar, this free-style, hippie-like element gets more confirmation in the title piece. Maybe a bit too much on the incense side for my taste, but there is a fine touch of experimentalism to each piece, which saved it in the end. (Vital Weekly)