candlesnuffer aka david brown

... guitar seemed hell-bent on breaking the sound barrier ...


with culture of un
Moonish CD
Bocian Records, 2012

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Dan Warburton, The Wire
These six relatively brief tracks were recorded in a hastily-arranged studio session in Melbourne when pianist Chris Abrahams was in town during a Necks tour a couple of years ago, and then edited and mastered over a year, a process guitarist David Brown describes as strangely rewarding. So is the music. In performance, Brown's guitar, laid across his lap and heavily prepared with clips, sticks and wires, looks rather like a giant hedgehog. And there's a porcupine prickliness to the music too, with Abrahams's Balinese Boulez and Cageian curlicues interlocking with Brown's spiky microtonal pointillism to protect the fragile, sensitive musical heart beating underneath.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
Now here I find myself puzzled and pleasantly confused. A down-under duo of piano (played by Chris Abrahams) and prepared acoustic guitar and prepared semi-acoustic guitar (played by David Brown). I could take this down to Dolf Mulder, as it sounds at times pretty jazz like, but there is something very captivating about it. Their acoustic approach seems amplified, sometimes lingering on the verge of feedback (only slightly though), and when their playing is conventional, like playing the keys of the piano, it sounds jazz but not in a way I have encountered before. On top of that the prepared guitar sounds most of the time as a percussion instrument, with objects placed on top like a cymbal. Strange tonal textures arrive and in every way this is an odd record. Improvised music of course, but in an odd way also jazz or pop like. Small melodies are used, every now and then, such in 'Porpoise To One Side', but with those strange acoustic approaches on top of that. As said this is all very captivating to hear. Chris Abrahams never lets me down, it seems. All of his releases are wonderful, and this one is no exception.

Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear
I have now worked twenty-four hours in two days, with today being particularly stressful mentally. So excuse the quality of tonight's review and ignore any increase above the usual high number of typos and sections that make no sense whatsoever. I have spent a little time over the past few days with a CD on the Bocian label by the duo culture of un, who are the Australian pairing of Chris Abrahams, also of The Necks playing piano and David Brown, whose prepared acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars appear here as well as in the trio Pateras, Baxter, Brown, whose music I have enjoyed in the past. This is also a very nice recording.

Moonish is one of those CDs that you play, and think you understand and relate to, but when it comes to writing some thoughts on it certain elements, such as defining it through any particle genre tend to go out of the window. Essentially what we hear here is the piano, which is mostly relatively sparely played, sometimes at the keys, sometimes inside under the lid, and the acoustic guitars, which on the whole are not really played in the standard manner but rubbed, scratched and struck in a variety of manners. The music is generally quite airy and very nicely close-mic recorded. It isn't a flurry of activity and neither does the rough and tumble of speedy call and response improv ever come in to play, but then also there is a certain jazziness to the music, though in a manner that is really quite hard to define. Maybe there is something about the phrasing of the little fragments of sound we hear, but at various points throughout the six tracks something points me towards dimly lit jazz cafes and mournful tunes, though never does this music ever really hint at melody and (despite the presence of Abrahams with his Necks connections) rhythm never enters the equation for very long. So it is hard to pin this music down. Often it is very beautiful, particularly when Abrahams lets long decaying notes hang in the air while Brown contributes tiny scratches and trickles at his guitar. There is a definite closeness between these musicians as the interplay between them is very easy to hear, and the way the instruments are balanced is excellent, the perfect companion for one another with a very clean, precise feel to things. It is very easy music to listen to, simple to connect with, light on the ear and yet full of subtle detail, particularly with Brown's guitar, which shifts through a vast range of sounds without you nearly noticing.

Moonish matches my taste well then, particularly on evenings like this when I seek not to be overly challenged or have anything hammered into my skull, and yet also want the vibrancy of engaging semi-minimal improvisation. This is a very classy work then, in the best sense of that term, by two musicians that know their instruments extremely well and are able to come together as a seamless duo and make really rather attractive music indeed. Out since a couple of months back on Bocian.

Michał Fundowicz, muzyka.pl
The ivy in the photo on the cover of "Moonish" intimates dense narration. Despite being rather complicated and making unclear references (see track titles such as "Narcotics, Video Production And Mining"), the music of the culture of un duo (lowercase spelling intended) is no less communicative. Discipline of the performers enabled them to produce a work of profundity, worth returning to.

Abrahams and Brown's joint project may seem confounding at first, but with every listen it lets you identify more and more of its elements, rooted in jazz, 20th century avant-garde and free improv. The dazzling piano lines remind you of Charlemagne Palestine's "Strumming Music" but soon you get thrown off balance when the piano sets out into sonoristic areas. The tabletop, prepared guitar is used play a couple of chords only to produce harsh percussive sound a mere moment later.

The sonic dialogue culture of un hold balances on the border between refinement and uncouthness. It both shows the duo's impressive erudition and daring attempts to invent music anew. Keen in their actions and interaction, sometimes through shock, as in "The Saw Had A Job To Do That Summer" where an aggressive sound of a dental drill (?) deafens a quiet piano line make, make every single minute of this set an electrifying experience.