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Experimental Music: Michael Chocholak/Ooy, May Roosevelt

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MICHAEL CHOCHOLAK & OOY: The Hadron Suite (CD on Triple Bath)

This release from 2010 offers 68 minutes of unconventional electronic music.

What we have here is a mixed collaborative release, in which half of the tracks were composed by Chocholak based on material provided by Ooy (who was recruited by Conrad Schnitzler to be a member of the recently revived Kluster), while the other half is composed by Ooy based on material provided by Chocholak.

The tracks tend to consist of minimal electronics, drones of a sparse nature designed to evoke introspection through their vaporous definition. Ethereal tonalities are seasoned with blooping electronics that serve to punctuate the flow with their curt unearthly expressions.

Melody plays only an incidental role here. In fact, the tuneage is often so sparse that even harmonics cannot be applied as a descriptive. The songs are soundscapes of a drifting character, frequently presenting themselves as if snippets from an aural sketchpad. The result is a journey through unpredictable terrain, where the listener has no notion of what to expect. One track might be barely audible texturals, while the next features grinding machinery blending with buzzing insects. This presentation of the unexpected tends to offer a constant source of surprises.

Music like this cannot be considered musique concrete since it is crafted to be soft and not jarring (as most musique concrete tends to be). Ambient is the best classification, although its content is clearly meant to be more experimental than conventional ambience.

Consequently, bereft of specific melody, this music serves as an excellent protagonist for inciting the listener's own creativity.

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MAY ROOSEVELT: Haunted (CD on Roosevelt Music)

This release from 2011 offers 37 minutes of moody electronic music.

Roosevelt plays the theremin. (For the uninitiated, the theremin is a classic pre-synthesizer electronic instrument that generates a magnetic field which the performer influences by moving their hands within the field. The instrument is historically known for generating numerous haunting (i.e.: spacey) soundtracks for sci-fi films from the Fifties.) Vocals and percussives are also featured.

In the past, the theremin has been primarily used to add eerie sounds to compositions. Here, though, it serves as the backbone instrument. Under Roosevelt's guidance, the theremin is coaxed to approximate several conventional instruments (like stringed instruments, bagpipes, clarinet, violin, and even wind). Thus, the music tends to be more lush than one might expect.

The tunes are generally forlorn and emotionally moody. Inspired by an array of Greek myths, Roosevelt merges traditional Greek stylings with modern sensibilities.

The percussion lends a funereal touch to the music, with uncomplicated tempos setting a dirge aspect to the overall pastiche. There are occasions, however, where the beats adopt a more lively cadence.

The vocals are straightforward and often recital in style.

These compositions are attractive in their dark moodiness. The music itself is far more lush than one would expect capable of coming from such a primitive device as a theremin. There's even one track can be considered an industrial pop tune.

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