Hello, I thought I’d upload a track from 1993’s Strange Beauty today. It was reviewed by the WMR (Weekly Module Reviews) team (in 1996 I’m guessing.) These reviews were published on “uesnet” about music posts to the same system - Usenet is an internet system that is slowly dying. Usenet was a lot like email but you sent it to a machine instead of a person and anyone who joined the group could read what you posted - much like the AT forums.
Composer’s intruduction: The Bells is a tonally complex song using diverse elements combined with a heavy beat. From the chants of African women to the bells of Westminster it travels through space encountering jazz, metal, and downright weirdness, while maintaining a melodic character throughout. For those whose ears like a challenge! As with most anything I do…play it loud! [Chris and the Clones (my former pseudonym)]
Tilt: Positive Overall: 92 Composition: 95 Technical: 70 Originality: 95 Samples: 80
Somehow I get the feeling that this mod would be absolutely despised if not ridiculed by most. That’s a shame because this is music on a different level then the usual techno/lite jazz/demo/etc. fare that is all to prevalent in the mod world.
I will do my best to describe what I hear but words cannot do justice, and to make it more difficult, I cannot really draw parallels to others’ music. The best I can do is to site Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell album. The bottom line is a plodding rhythmic foundation and bassline. Atop this are disjointed and fragmented melodic ideas that are anything but predictable, bordering on atonality yet somehow retaining a semblance of harmonic foundation. These fragments are played by various synths, a sax-like sample and a terrific nightmarish choir. This is not minimalism, every space is taken up by something, yet to me it doesn’t sound cluttered. It does, though, sound like a nightmare induced by a fever. My only complaint is that it’s all over too soon at under two minutes.
The Bells cannot be pigeonholed into a neat and tidy category thus the best I can do is call it experimental. If you like run of the mill techno or pretty little ballads or dreamy new age and fear the sound of originality then stay well clear. If you are like me and have ears and a mind that are wide open to possibilities then open wide and take a big toke.
Tilt: Positive Overall: 85 Composition: 90 Technical: 85 Originality: 90 Samples: 80
C&TC are also lurkers on absm and have been releasing tracks there for a while, some of which I’ve liked–even! This track, to my ears anyway, could have been a Frank Zappa track in another incarnation, so close does it come to that frantic ‘Zappa’ trademark cacophony. I am not in any way a complete Zappa fan, but I can’t help but admire his innovation and sheer musical perversity; I can say the same of this track.
However, one thing spoils my enjoyment of this track completely. Dear C&C, at 1:39 this is waaaayyy too short!!! Tack on another 4-5 minutes of this kind of material and you could make a reviewer froth at the ears…wouldn’t you like to do that so you can tell your grandchildren one day about the frothy eared reviewer you once knew…coooommmeee on, don’t be cruel ….
Innovation with a capital YEEAAHH!
Tilt: Neutral Overall: 60 Composition: 40 Technical: 55 Originality: 80 Samples: 70
Ever had one of those nights, when you wake up with your head on the foot-side of the bed, dizzy, sweaty, and with that nauseous, “I’m gonna throw up!” feeling? Remember the feverish dream you just had? The one where more and more surrealistic things kept showing up, where people, cars and animals were howling at you, where your feet were stuck in the mud, and at the same time you’re late for your flight, which leaves in five minutes?
The Bells is the soundtrack for that dream.
It’s a chaos of totally freaked out little melodies, massive, false chords and insane voices. Sometimes it’s like C&C just randomly fill the patterns with notes, and sometimes it’s not quite that cacophonic, but still on the edge of total meltdown. It’s actually quite refreshing, and worth listening to.
But only once, maybe twice, or your brain will start to do strange things all by itself. You’ll begin to see tiny, blue elephants in your drawers and small imps in your drinks, and hear funny voices in your head telling you to do the weirdest things. You get the picture.
Tilt: Neutral Overall: 60 Composition: 30 Technical: 65 Originality: 65 Samples: 65
This is what I’d call an experimental eclectic jazz piece. It utilizes jazz form, but barely uses jazz sound. I had to listen to this about four times through before I started to “get it.” The result is sort of blurred. The skill this author(s) has is confused by the presentation of the piece. Clearly this person understands some music theory, and applies it to form pretty well, but overall this piece is entirely too flustered. It doesn’t sound at all interested in maintaining any sort of formal cohesion, such that in many ways it sounds like a stacking of many strange and independent musical phrases, and not like a single song. For this reason I dislike the piece. It sounds more a joke conducted by a musician than a song conducted by the same. The music however takes itself seriously, even if the author who produced it didn’t.
There is some interesting uses of odd pieced-together harmonies and varying types of instruments forming a terrific obscurity of noise. There are sections that quite clearly have separate cohesion, that is, apart from the rest of the piece, and yet when heard in sequence, it sounds chaotic.
I might call this a musical sketch more so than a refined piece, but I don’t at all discount it simply for that reason. The use of samples, speed, and orchestration leads me to want to appreciate this piece even though I would not play it for anyone I know unless I wanted to invoke a look of estrangement.
Tilt: Negative Overall: 40 Composition: 31 Technical: 30 Originality: 72 Samples: 65
This is a difficult song to comment on, primarily because of its high SQ (Strangeness Quotient). It’s hard to say whether the bizarre sound of this song is due to lack of skill on the part of the composers, or if it was intentional. I tend to give musicians the benefit of the doubt, so I will assume the sound was intentional.
This song reminded me a great deal of another song which the WMR has reviewed, called Cacaphonium. It’s just short of sounding like random notes at times, but there is a very SLIGHT wisp of orchestration under there. For the most part, this annoys the crap out of me. However, if you like the sort of music where harmony and melody are more hinted at than obvious, you might like this.
I will close by saying that although I am a very open-minded music listener and reviewer, I cannot understand how somebody could find this music pleasant to hear over and over.
Tilt: Negative Overall: 30 Composition: – Technical: – Originality: 80 Samples: –
How shall I describe this…hmm…mental images…. Picture the Chipmunks, possessed by demons, gleefully destroying an expensive synthesizer. Need I say anything more? =) The song IS worth a laugh, which is the main reason I can give it thirty points overall instead of two. Oh yes, bells can be heard at one point, so the title is not completely unrelated. This song is really, really bad, but in an amusing way.
I notice this was a direct composer submission. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously….
Tilt: Neutral Overall: 18 Composition: 5 Technical: 10 Originality: 35 Samples: 5
The Bells is an unorthodox style of module, and can best be described as an assault upon the listener by as much sound as possible. There is little rhyme or reason to the cacophony presented in this module, and it can only generously be called music. The melody or theme is only slightly discernible amid the vastly over-sampled instruments and voices, and while there are, as the name suggests, bells in the module, the listener may be hard-pressed to distinguish them. The Bells is a failed experiment, but it is anyone’s guess as to what hypothesis was being tested. Chalk this one up to experience and move on.
Tilt: Negative Overall: 17 Composition: 5 Technical: – Originality: 80 Samples: 70
Hehe, I feel for Boris in these cases, because as this is labeled as experimental jazz, it may be the best he can do beyond calling a spade a spade and labeling it as pure cacophonous noise. The best thing about it is that it’s mercifully short at only 1:40 or so. Intrigued? Morbid curiosity niggling at the edges of your brain? Read on….
I’m all for experimentation and the efforts of composers to strike out in completely new directions (If I weren’t, I would have gladly skipped this review entirely), but there’s a point at which a person can’t really expect to get away on the grounds of the old ‘Modern Art’ dilemma where the artist claims more depth than their artistic inability really shows; maintaining the hope that others will invest their work with some perceptual value only a certain elite few can really appreciate.
As with modern art, I just don’t see it. To me it’s noise, unstructured and unworthy of much, if any, praise from this quarter. It actually sounds more like a war between three or four independently weird songs. The warped bells of a gothic horror or Halloween type song are there, as the title might imply; so are random saxes, some odd synthesized organ noises, percussion with twenty-five legs all struggling to go in different directions, some heavy metal or gothic guitars, and a plethora of other random sounds forming a collage without form or apparent intent.
To this I give a shrug, a shake of the head, and a great big, “whatever.”
Still, it gets big points for originality, which it justly deserves. However, there remains the question of whether or not a recording of someone slamming a dead cat against aluminum trashcans filled with lime jello, would be worthy of the same recognition….
Tilt: Neutral Overall: 10 Composition: 10 Technical: 10 Originality: 10 Samples: 10
When you first start tracking, it is hard to do decently. Especially if you have little knowledge of music theory, and no experience in the techniques of tracking. It takes a lot of time and patience to create something in a tracker that other people will find worthy enough to listen to. There are only a few talented trackers whose first tunes were good, but these are exceptions. Usually, the only thing you can do as a novice tracker is to practice a lot, and eventually, after having made a lot of horrible music, you will make a module that other people will enjoy listening to.
It is a pity that there are always novice trackers who release a tune too early, and this particular tune is an example of that. This track is just not good enough for the ears of the general public. It shows a lack of tracking skills, such as sensible use of effects or volume settings. The composer made no effort to create an atmosphere, to highlight various melodies or to make the track sound as smooth as it could have been.
There was hardly any sign of musical knowledge either. The notes were placed seemingly at random, forming no structured melody, chord progression or anything else music needs in order to be enjoyed. What is left is cacophonous anti-music or, to put in more popular words, crap.
Also, after listening to this track a couple of times, I still haven’t any idea what style of music this track is supposed to be an example of; and the mushy old samples don’t offer any help towards an answer either. The WMR considers this tune a progressive jazz, but I think that that name is given much to easily to music that doesn’t fall within the borders of today’s music theory. Of course, progressive jazz is experimental and not always easy to listen to, but that doesn’t mean that any music that is ‘different’ also is progressive jazz. This tune is not progressive jazz, it is crap. [Either way, it is represented as Fusion-Contemporary Jazz, not Progressive Jazz, for whatever that’s worth. -Boris]
What on earth was this guy thinking when he wrote a song running at 1@7D? It’s so fast that he either wanted really HIGH accuracy… or it was a conversion of a MIDI.
Describing this song as bizarre is too kind. He makes no effort to maintain a theme (it’s very eclectic), no solos, no harmony, and discord abounds–just a single drumbeat offers any kind of continuity. The end result is a track utterly repugnant to me.