Various - Haunted Weather: Music, Silence and Memory [Staubgold - 2004]Haunted Weather is a double CD compiled by David Toop. It is meant to be a sort of panorama on “the way people work with and experience sound in the 21st century”. Featuring such fine artists as Fennesz, Autechre, Oval, Derek Bailey, Pan Sonic or Evan Parker.
It’s always difficult to review compilations. On what ground should you judge it? The music alone? The concept? The correlation between the concept and the music? Haunted Weather is also the title of the latest David Toop book. The Cd is the audial companion to the book. Having not read the book, I’m condemned to solely base my judgement on the music. “Haunted Weather, says David Toop, is a metaphorical term I have used to suggest period of uncertainty, excitement and profound change.” New technologies and how they affect music, or the listeners view on music, how we relate to sound, etc.
Most of the music on this comp is widely available on other albums, which diminishes the interest the real “connoisseurs” of the artists might have in Haunted Weather. The first CD starts with Christian Marclay’s Jukebox Capriccio, which featured already on the compilation available with The Wire’s 20th anniversary issue. If you’re looking for novelty, forget it… But then again, it’s not really the aim of Haunted Weather. Oval and Matmos are some of the most famous electronic acts right now and both tracks are lifted from widely available albums so I won’t comment. Terre Thaemlitz’s Resistance to change part I & II is the reworking of a pop standard. Not great, but quite funny. Up next is a field recording by Janet Cardiff. One of the question Toop wants to address is why fieldrecordings have become so important, which explains the appearance on this comp of not only Cardiff, but also Sarah Peebles, Toshiya Tsunoda and Tacita Dean. So far, most of the tracks have been on the noisy side. Yuko Nexus6’s track is more openly melodic, although still full of “weird” noises and surprising changes. One of the rare tracks here is Haco’s Start up + No wave. It is taken from the CD companion of the first issue of the “Improvised music in Japan” magazine. Haco is that avant-pop genius who is equally at ease with weird melodic pop as with noisy improvisation. This very track is based on “the oscillating sounds emitted by the electronic mechanisms of her computer”. Compelling sounds that have a rather strange effect on your ears…Not gentler with the ears is Otomo’s Filament project with Günter Müller. Ever so nice to hear Sachiko M’s sine waves… Next up is Alin Lucier Sferics, soundwsise a very rich work on natural radio frequency emissions. Traditional instruments still play an important part in today’s music. Proof is brought by Evan Parker’s rather extreme take on saxophone and by the beautiful improve of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Other artists on the CD are John Oswald (and his well-known plunderphonics), Akiyama/Nakamura/Sugimoto/Wastell and Yurihito Watanabe.
Even more household names feature on the second CD: Autechre (with a track from Confiled), Fennesz (from Endless Summer), Ikeda, Pan Sonic, Kaffe Matthews as well as a track from the fabulous Vrioon album, a collaboration between Carsten Nicolai and Sakamoto Ryuichi. A must have CD… The use of traditional instruments in a non-traditional way is more obvious here, with a collaboration between Derek Bailey and John Stevens, and between Keith Rowe and John Tilbury (two third of AMM). One of the most interesting pieces on Haunted Weather is the unreleased contribution by Akio Suzuki. It’s mysterious (what instruments does he use?) yet unequivocally beautiful.
Haunted Weather is an interesting, varied compilation featuring some of the most essential names in contemporary music. However, if you’re familiar with those kinds of music, the CD will only be interesting as a companion to the book. But people with no previous knowledge of most of the artists feature might want to check it out: an interesting introduction to a compelling world.François Monti