Peter Kutin - Burmese Days [Gruenrekorder - 2015]
Avid readers of my reviews (its ok - I’m being facetious), will have noticed that the last few Gruenrekorder releases I’ve written on, have received fairly short shrift from me. I’m pleased to announce an end to this run, with Peter Kutin’s wonderful album, “Burmese Days’. It comes in a very low-key package, with minimal artwork and information - most notably, a distinct lack of ‘field-recording text’: praise the Lord. The album has eleven tracks across two sides of vinyl.
I say eleven tracks, but you might be hard pressed to point out clear divisions: ‘Burmese Days’ is a collage of a record. Aided by Berndt Thurner (‘original burmese metallophones’) and dieb 13 (‘additional electronics/turntables’), Kutin constructs a dream-like narrative using field recordings - some of which might be processed, its not completely clear. A case in point, is the very start of the record; simply called ‘The Sound Of Insects’, the first track features rattling noises which certainly sound processed, but - given the terrifying array of wildlife sounds on this planet - most probably aren’t. The record’s grooves then take us through a forest and into the gong-like tones of metallophones; blending with droning insect chirrups. These shifts are effortless and feel non-forced - indeed, the whole record passes through the ears very smoothly: its a very listenable album. The first side comes to a close with monsoon rains and wind, eerie drones and buried voices.
The second side continues in a similar vein, even breaking down into a very quiet drone at one point - only to explode effectively into a hubbub of voices and train sounds. Around this section some synthy ‘pad’-type tones appear, and whilst they work well, combined with the field recordings they do raise the spectre of old-school ambient records - The KLF’s ‘Chill Out’, for example. The entire second side feels oddly more ‘conventional’ in terms of field-recording and its content, but at the same time has two long droning sections - the aforementioned quiet drone and the possibly metallophone-powered drone that closes the record. The overall effect is a more laid back, muted side of vinyl; but just as digestible as its counterpart.
This is a really great record, a rejoinder to the somewhat stuffy field-recording albums that I’ve crossed paths with of recent. It layers recordings, embellishes them with musicians, even processes them - rather than obsessing over the fallacy of some ‘transparent’ representation of an environment, it constructs a more impressionist sound-poem to the people, wildlife and places that Kutin has visited: ending up with a record that has nestled quite happily on my turntable. The record does have a dream-like quality, and on a technical level, moves with great ease between passages. Definitely a recommended release on Gruenrekorder!Martin P