Holland Hopson with Hidden Noises, Brekekekexkoaxkoax, and Oceanographer
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., May 12, 2006
John Cage once said, "I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones" advice that seems to encapsulate the zeitgeist of current experimental music. What sounds can be used that nobody's heard? The beeping of an alarm in the a.m. is not a pleasant sound, but ECFA saxophonist Holland Hopson manages to make it somewhat tolerable. His second release on local imprint Grab Rare Arts is a grab bag of rare sounds, hence the name With Hidden Noises. The aforementioned beeping sets off man vs. machine, accompanied by a distorted female voice, loops, bloops, bleeps, and trilling shots of noise set off by motion sensors. At 48 minutes, it's not the easiest listen, but it probably translates better live, sounding not so much like ingesting a bottle of cough syrup, but more like a post-apocalyptic radio transmission. Equally heady is the tongue-twisting collective Brekekekexkoaxkoax, featuring the guitar and clarinet stylings of local improv vet Josh Ronsen and a few fellow experimentalistos. We Used to Be Such Good Friends weaves in and out of free-jazz traffic jams, incorporating flute, oboe, guitar, and turntable for electric soundscapes with equally boggling names like "Haifa Hi-Fi." Easier on the frontal lobe is On Leaping From Airplanes (One Mountain), from the Denton-based quintet Oceanographer. It's a slow-burning patchwork of soft-sliding guitars and blue-hued vox, the title track ending in a flameout of guitar and noise. "Stations" mimics the lazy, swirling melodies of the Sea and Cake and "Polaroid Prince" drips with electro-sweat and sweet vocals. It's ambient for the slowcore set or perhaps it's electro-pop-emo. Whatever, invent a new genre for it. Just don't use the old ones.