By Nick Ostrum
Tim Olive has as busy as ever. Just since October, he has released albums on Notice Records, MRM Recordings, Steep Gloss, Chocolate Monk, Verz Imprint and his own 845 Audio. Many of these have been solo efforts, which range from the barren (Okay Dependable) to his more characteristic blend of pick-ups, metallic noises and playback (Ribbon) to the strangely, smoothly ambient (Eye Hill, Arm River) to radio feed distortions (Chocolate Radio Band, The Golden Sceptre). Others have been duos, both Covid/distance efforts (Dissipatio with Matt Atkins) and, as reviewed here, live. Knapuu is a collaboration between Kayu Nakada on rhythm machine circuit boards and Olive on radios, magnetic pickups, and undokai.* I am tempted to say this one is a triumphant return to form, but I am not sure Olive really abandoned this style – just listen to Ribbon. Rather, it seems he has seized the pandemic moment to take detours, explore other tunnels he previously had just touched on and, as the solo output indicates, spend more time examining his own art in isolation, before reaching out again.
I am less familiar with Kayu Nakada’s work, though he and Olive had collaborated on 2021’sEntenka (Tsss Tapes), which is a strong recording in its own right and Olive’s first live collaboration release since the pandemic began. Kanpuu is his second.
Kanpuu runs just under 29 minutes. It begins with what muffled but festive undokai recordings over which Nakada and Olive project sizzles, buzzes and other mechanical whirrs. The festivities subside into the second minute as the industrial clatter and drones take over and take the listener through a relatively linear progression through the end. What matters, however, is not just the progression, but the textures, the distortions, the odd crackle and pop here, the odder modem-like proto-melodies there, and the fluttering in and out of those field recordings. It paints a picture, but a grainy one and a mysterious one. The dynamic range is minimal, but the depth seems almost endless. Likely because of the voices and smeared radio sounds, some of this does sound like a sound collage. However, it also sounds more interactive, improvised and alive than composed, as many of sound collages are. Nakada and Olive were likely unsure where exactly this session would take them. That curiosity, unpredictability and playfulness (especially on the second track) shines through.
is available as a download and CD. You can hear it and order it here:
* Undokai are recordings of Japanese school track meets that Olive has chopped up, stretched and woven throughout portions of this release. These mark Olive’s first use of “field recordings,” though, as he told me, that term seems too passive, whereas Olive conscientiously employs them as a malleable instrument rather than just a predetermined and rigid structural element.
I really, really enjoy the diversity of music being reviewed lately. Hope that readers (fans of music just like us) feel the same way//
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