Lately, Edmonton and the surrounding area has been experiencing an emergence in noise, drone, and experimental music which shouldn’t be much of a surprise given the amount of support from websites such as Weird Canada which have undoubtably added to the growth of the scene, or has at least mildly pulled it out of obscurity. With this more recognized popularity what began as a Canadian specific label and distributor, Ramshackle Day Parade, is now home to a diverse range of experimental music. This release is a compilation of 16 tracks from musicians and bands that have released music on the label this year.
I originally became familiar with Ramshackle Day Parade when I reviewed ‘Nocturnal Reveries’ by improvisational drone / noise band, Pigeon Breeders which are featured on this release. Some other notable mentions on this release include a track from Pigeon Breeders side project Ocra and one from Will Scott as well as a track from drone / jazz trio TAIWAN who I became familiar with a few weeks back when I reviewed ‘Belladonna‘.
This 2012 compilation features a diverse selection of noise from the traditional dadaist inspired eclecticism of raw noise to tracks that take a more musical approach mildly integrating smooth jazz or and lounge (TAIWAN, Pigeon Breeders) . The compilation starts off nicely with the melancholic ambience from TAIWAN whose unique direct-to-VHS style sounds eerie enough but at the same time it also has this sensual nature about it. One thing that I found so enjoyable about ‘Belladonna’ was the mood and how well the project was able to replicate such a strange and specific sound. The crackle and sputter adds to the overt mysterious nature of the track and makes for a lot of interesting background textures that really do well in evoking that sense of nostalgia that the trio does so well in creating. There were quite a few tracks that are raw minimalist noise and I don’ have a problem with that but I found that there were a solid handful that really separated themselves from the rest.
Will Scott, the musician who contributed to much of the percussion and electroacoustic textures on Pigeon Breeder’s Nocturnal Reveries contributes to the compilation with his track ‘A Moment of Mathematical Clarity’. Although short this is one of my favorite pieces from the compilation mostly because of the sudden unexpected shift halfway through the song that switches from abstract electronic noodling to serene guitars and vocals. Sometimes I feel like even in experimental music even with the spontaneity of noise it can get dull yet this track kind of shows that there is still a lot of forward thinking- making something non-musical into something within the frame of listenability is a talent that Will Scott proves with this track.
‘Drifting Towards Darkness at Noon’ is a song that at first seems slightly out of place on this compilation, although it is still welcomed. If you have listened to Meat Force before it should be fairly apparent that this project, much like TAIWAN draws influence from old horror soundtracks but this track does deviate slightly from the warped and manipulated symphonic soundtracks heard on “A Corpse Waltz”. This time around Meat Force shoots for a more downtempo almost lounge-esque atmosphere while combining it with ambient textures that give it a breathy but dark mood.
Although there are some strong pieces like I stated at the beginning of my review, a lot of the tracks are very minimalistic which shouldn’t be a problem seeing as I do enjoy music that employs reserve, however, I feel like there isn’t much payoff in listenability when the minimalism doesn’t really capture an emotion or grab my attention, a similar problem I ran into while listening to Jahktute’s ‘A Record of Things Gone‘. As with many compilations each contribution is fairly hit or miss but if you enjoy noise and experimental music there are quite a few solid tracks from a label that is deserving of your attention.
Overall Rating: 6.5
Favorite Tracks: TAIWAN – Untitled, [willscott] – A Moment of Mathematic Clarity, Meat Force – Drifting Towards Darkness at Noon
Recommended: Check out Zugzwang Productions, another small experimental label.
Released: 24 April 2012