Thursday, January 5
1. jUctIOn 01:46
2. wEIghtOfwAx 37:28
3. AclOsErlOOkOnwhItE 04:39
4. tOuchpOInt 00:29
5. wEIghtOfdUst 15:07
6. EndlEss 04:48
Audio CD, 6 panels digipak
Release date: 10 December 2011
12 Euros + shipping
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The Watchful Ear
Its been a while since I wrote anything about the music of the Malaysian electronics musician Goh Lee Kwang. To be fair, its been a while since I was sent this newish album by him on the Herbal International label, and its only really the last few days I have got to it. I have always found his music a curious affair, somewhat raw, with an unfinished quality to it, and often very difficult to figure out exactly how the music might have been made. This new solo album, entitled _, and Vice Versa hasn’t really helped me with any of this. I quite like it, or at least most of it, but I am still in the dark about how it was made or really, who it was made for.
There are six tracks here, each with a title, though you have to go to the label’s website to discover what they are. The first of them, titled jUctIOn is a stream of what sounds a lot like long wave radio distortion mixed with the sound that early personal computers would make while slowly loading software via cassette tapes. Like much of Goh Lee Kwang’s music it feels oddly inhuman, and yet somehow also quite natural, as if a by-product of some process or other captured here. The track lasts a fraction under two minutes, but is followed straight away by the album’s longest track, the thirty-seven minute long wEIghtOfwAx which is a very different affair, a long lazy drift of vaguely ambient sound that feels like a mix of heavily reverbed, dramatically slowed down percussive sounds. Its a dreamy, sleepy piece of music that to be honest lost my attention a few times, but then perhaps that is the point, to lure the listener into a kind of dream state, particularly as the four minute track that immediately follows it is a vicious sheet of loud, piercing, noise. The track keeps stopping and starting, but essentially is a clean, metallic blast that lasts for a few minutes and clears out the sleepy cobwebs before another tiny track, the half-minute long twittering, squeaky tOuchpOInt leads us into another fifteen minutes of quiet drift in wEIghtOfdUst. The album closes with a vaguely looping, semi-technoesque pulse called EndlEss that is a lot nicer to listen to than that description might suggest, particularly as it slows, fades and gradually falls apart over its four minute duration.
Again, its hard to know what to do with this album. I find that it leaves me devoid of any emotion, neither adding tension or energy to my state of mind, and yet it somehow is attractive, if only because of its own curio value. Goh Lee Kwang makes music that doesn’t sound like anyone else right now, using sounds that veer wildly between inhospitably ugly through to sleepily soft and dreamy, avoiding any real sense of progression or musical narrative and making its mark on the listener through jarring shifts between the dynamic of adjacent tracks. Its hard to (k)now what to make of it. listening all the way through three times tonight wasn’t all that easy, partly because concentration proved to be difficult during the longer, flatter periods, but also because when it flares up the album has you reaching for the volume dial in a hurry. A curious one then.
- Richard Pinnell -
Le Son Du Grisli
Ce que Vice-Versa renferme : l’électronique inquiète de Goh Lee Kwang. Six pièces, composées entre 2007 et 2011, qui requièrent l’attention de l’auditeur quelques secondes seulement, sinon plus d’un quart d’heure.
Pour les plus courtes d’entre ces pièces, parler de chants minuscules frappés de frénésie expressionniste : leur domaine de prédilection est le bruit, la boucle, le parasite, leurs interférences enfin. Pour les plus longues – les plus intéressantes sans doute –, évoquer ce quart d’heure de bruitisme des sphères en cinquième plage, au cœur vrombissant, et, plus tôt, ces trente-sept minutes d’éléments épars et sifflant qui évoluent en satellites autour d’une mécanique prête à les broyer, et l’entier disque avec.
- Guillaume Belhomme -
Un disque aride, abstrait, mystérieux - très belle pochette, aucune information, pas de titres de pièces, jusqu’à ce qu’on insère le disque dans un ordinateur et là - paf - des titres. Six pièces de musique à base électronique et bruitiste - mais essentiellement un bruitisme délicat, zen. Les pièces vont de 30 secondes à 37 minutes – et justement, “wEightOfwAx”, 37 minutes, propose une sorte de drone discret qui devient rapidement trop long. Les pièces courtes, par contre, offrent des textures minimalistes fort intéressantes. Les albums solo de Kwang sont toujours confondants (dans l’intention et les techniques utilisées). Celui-ci suit cette veine.
An arid, abstract, mysterious record - beautiful cover artwork, no credits, no track titles, until you put the disc in a computer and then - ta da - track titles. Six pieces of basically electronic/noise music, though of the delicate, Zen kind. Pieces range from 30 seconds to 37 minutes, and the 37-minute “wEightOfwAx” features a kind of discreet drone that quickly goes on for too long. However, the short tracks present very interesting minimalistic textures. Kwang’s solo albums are always puzzling (in terms of intention and techniques used). This one too.
- François Couture -
Yesterday I fell asleep while playing this new CD by Goh Lee Kwang, which in the world of John Cage is probably a compliment. It happened during the long piece 'WeightOfwax', which is curious ambient piece for electronic insects and mild feedback like sounds. An excellent piece I think. Not because I fell asleep, but something I noted when fully awake. Its not easy to say what Goh Lee Kwang is doing here, in relation to what I heard previously by him - turntable and no-input mixer - but the general quiet mood worked excellent. As said its a long piece, well over thirty-seven minutes, after which 'Touchpoint' works as a nasty wake-up call. Although not as noisy as some of his previous work, this loud block of high pitched sounds, nervous, is not so much my cup of tea. The other main tour de force, although 'just' fifteen minutes, is 'Weightofdust', which is even more subdued and sounds like metal wires being played which an extended use of reverb, pushed to the far end quiet side of the sound spectrum. 'Endless' closes down the CD with a strange bouncing rhythm that slows down over the course of the piece, and is a bit like a cover version of Alvin Lucier's 'Clocker'. Plus there are two more pieces that are so short they go by hardly noticed. Without that 'Touchpoint' intermission, I think this is by far the best work I heard from Goh Lee Kwang. A great variety in approaches to sound material, resulting in some very fine and refined music. Maybe a bit more info on the cover wouldn't do no harm though.
- Frans De Waard -
More strange electronica for the redoubtable Mr. Kwang. Four shortish tracks surrounding two lengthy ones, totaling an hour. The initial one a 2 minute flurry of squelchy bleeps, mildly annoying, which segues into 37 minutes of the ethereal. It's all gentle echoes, a chirping (insect variety) background, soft, watery. it's...long but ok enough, very placid. We then lurch back into rollicking electronics for a few minutes, then a mere 30 seconds of squeakitude before heading off into the other longish track, about 15 minutes of low, far-off hums and rumbles, like an airport behind a large hill; my favorite track. Lastly, a slow bit of roundly popping electrics, ping-pongy, amidst metallic reverb.
Odd stuff, interesting but not for everyone, not always for me but nonetheless intriguing.
- Brian Olewnick -
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