CAJID MEDIA - AUSTRALIAN EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC/SOUND ART LABEL
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CAJID REVIEWS

Cajid 001CD: Thembi Soddell - Intimacy
Cajid 002CD: Bruce Mowson - Static Tones
Cajid 003CD: Lawrence English - Transit
Cajid 004CD: Camilla Hannan - More Songs About Factories
Cajid 005CD: Thembi Soddell - Instance
Cajid 006CD: Phillip Pietrushka - Itinerant Labours
Cajid 007CD: Anthea Caddy and Thembi Soddell - Iland
Cajid 008CD: Natasha Anderson - Spore
Cajid 009CD: James Rushford - Vellus

CAJID MEDIA

OFF THE SPINE – Cajid media
Label profile
e|i magazine issue 8

 The efforts house by the Australian label Cajid Media search for novel presentation, not in order to enjoy them, but in order to impart a stronger sense of the unpresentable. These are musics that, by establishing underlying extended techniques and supportive microscopic details as the bedrock of their sonic vocabulary, are imbued with a certain laceration, a certain lack whereby each movement alludes to something that does not allow itself to ever be fully realized. As a result, compositions are characterized not only by what is present, but also that which is absent, and the ensuing music engages in a constant disrupting of itself that is equal turns frustrating and rewarding.

Bequeathed Instance, the second fledgling release from solo artist Thembi Soddell, is indicative of this principle, crafting pulsing energy fields where even silence harbours a distant residue of sound. Silence, generally a negative principle, is here enmeshed with crackling patinas of dust-speckled surfaces and abrupt discharges of hoarse noise such that it begins to take on positive qualities, signalling not only rest but a heightened sense of enervation, anxiety, and dread. The tonebending and rubberising of sounds adds to the uncanny dimension of the music, as the restless babble and chirruping retains shades of the natural field recording from which they sprang, but at the same time, become swamped in tubular fuzz and electronic grime to such an extent that they brim with a foreign, alien, altogether unsettling presence. Sometimes much of an entire track waits with bated breath while other time the stillness is short-lived, while spasmodically twitching tones paw through low-end bass rumbles. During such moments, a broad dynamic range is displayed, and one feels as though one were wavering atop a precipice, being beckoned by the searing head and sharp squeals that echo from below.

All of this marks something of a departure from Soddell’s first full-length effort, Intimacy. Although one finds numerous compositions bathing in the same tepid pool of calm, Soddell is no longer solely interested in the shapes of forms, their quantities and qualities, but also about the way in which they relate to the emotions of everyday experience. Perhaps unsurprisingly, romantic relationships are the point of focus, but Soddell has a lewd interpretation of these interactions, portraying them as a continuation by other means of the perverse strategies of sadism and masochism. “Violation” reminds of a rape scenario: at first, tiny particles of sound rustle like leaves caught in the wind while the low-end hiss of power lines looms above, when, after a few false starts, a lumbering mass of grating aural textures at once attacks the senses like an intruder springing out from under the bushes. “Mistrust,” meanwhile, is a 37-second torrent of crude noise which seems intent on annulling the presence of the beloved. After a pair of similarly sinister attempts at overloading the senses and objectifying the other, Soddell contrasts this active approach with the passive, uneventful piece that is “Expectation”. It is a credit to Soddell’s arrangement abilities that such an underwhelming, almost entirely barren, work nevertheless garners such strong, entrancing reactions.

For Transit, Lawrence English who also has a hand in the expeditions of the like-minded Australian label Room40, culls source material from the works of Philip Samartzis, Robin Rimbaud, and DJ Olive. On their own, these artists are purveyors of rather disperate territories, but here there is no question of their personal and sometimes opposing predilections muddying the attempts of English to fashion a unified poignant statement, for he manipulates the timbres and layers the textures to the point that they fuse into something else altogether. Pieces such as “Dual Process” are therefore static-washed drones that slowly brush up against digital crunches and swim through faint half-melodies. Once again, nature seems to be that towards which these songs are pointing, but as per usual, it is always kept at a distance, shrouded in radiowaves and electric interference. In this way, a lacuna is forged between the sign and the signified, and it is one, which impregnates many a moment with certain understated melancholy. Subsequently, the appeal of Transit is that its most frustrating element, namely its shadowy atmosphere and continuous oscillation between metallic clamor and soapy melody, through patience and scrupulous care, becomes that which entices the listener to reach out time and time again.

On the other hand, Bruce Mowson offers up a more largely static piece of music to the ears. More specifically, he takes intersecting planes of musical activity, phrases them over a single electronic pulse, and loops it indefinitely. As such, there is no change in the music whatsoever. Give the incessant pounding of the hulking mass of static, however, any slight movement on the part of the listener such as a tilt of the head this way or that induces a subtle perception of change. Often the alteration one perceives is an accelerating or slackening of the delicately piercing, rhythmic tones. Similar effect can be had by listening to the works of Phil Niblock or La Monte Young, but this effort, Static Tones, also toys with one’s sense of spatial dimension, for every now and again these furling waves of static and needles of feedback seem to approach and recede, grow heavy only to become slender once again. The music is indeed hypnotizing enough so to send one trudging off to the bathroom for an untimely visit, yet when one begins to reflect of the experience this music brings, the questions that arise are many and often profound. One wonders, for instance, whether any of the slight changes actually occurred, and if they did, how much of it stemmed from the music and how much of it form oneself. The ultimate resolution seems to be that neither the listener nor the music – neither the subject nor the object can be considered in logical isolation, but that each requires the other in order to blossom and bear fruit.

Bustling through industrial site in Melbourne for a two-year period, More Songs About Factories is the debut effort from Camilla Hannan. In contrast to some of the other releases from the label, there is very little here that is remotely suggestive of natural settings. At onset, the timbres of the field recordings are extended and tweaked only slightly, as Hannan allows the mechanical, rhythmic nature of the source sounds to shine through. As moments proceed however, Hannan slowly begins to smooth the edges of these jagged, beating sounds, and one realizes that these earlier, somewhat laborious moments were implemented so as to make this transition all the more sharp. Allusions to nature thereby become more prevalent during the second half of the recording, as the rhythmic element is ripped apart by sonic flurries and some electronic malevolence. The final pair of tracks tread through a despondent atmosphere where ambiguity holds sway over all of the proceedings. The dimly glowing tones and howling noises of the final composition, for example, could easily be taken as the last gasps from a weather-beaten generator or as sudden irate gusts of wind. As is often the case with the efforts from Cajid Media, the pieces are always incomplete in and of themselves, and it is this limited yet constantly reaching approach that adds another endearing dimension to the label’s sound.

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last updated 17/11/09
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