Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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)