candlesnuffer aka david brown

... forged baggage ...

with candlesnuffer & Lukas Simonis
Nature Stands Aside CD
hellosQuare, 2011

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Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector
The Dutch multi-media talent Lukas Simonis teamed up with Candlesnuffer in 2011, and they did tour for a time in the summer of last year. In October they also sent us a copy of Nature Stands Aside (HELLOS SQUARE RECORDINGS CUBE046 / Z6 RECORDS Z6009060300), where the two of them meld and clash their improvisational skills together, like two avant-garde hamburger chefs grinding the meat. Right from the opening few seconds, it's a very unnatural sound on the record, and it becomes even less familiar as we delve in. What's going on? Very few clues are provided in the cryptic press release, but based on a YouTube video rescued from the gigs, my guess is they might both be playing guitars; Candlesnuffer (i.e. Dave Brown) is an improviser from Melbourne who has played with Bucketrider, Western Gray, and as part of a trio with Pateras and Baxter, and he's certainly a six-string wielder of the first water. Nature Stands Aside contains a lively and abrasive assortment of non-musical, mostly acoustic, eruptions and creaky scrape-a-thons, episodes where the frenetic fondling and stroking actions of the stiff wooden necks occasionally resulting in harmonics and vibrations that might be mistaken for musical notes. There's also plenty of percussive and frottage effects that jangle your bones like loose change in the pocket, and odd whimpering and whining that might be generated from highly unconventional fingering and slide techniques. In all, a forward-looking collaboration that suggests strongly the makers are intent on expanding the vocabulary of the improvised guitar, even if it comes at the expense of ordinary listening pleasure. However, the project may have something even more radical behind it. "Doing 'abstract' stuff and actually 'improvising' (even worse!) means 'failing the best we can'," explains Lukas, enclosing many phrases in inverted commas to underscore his point, and sounding a tad fatalistic about the possibilities afforded by free music. It seems they revisited the recordings (made in 2010) after about a year and Lukas confesses "we were very fond of what we heard", before going on to make some references to natural anomalies and irregularities that remain obscure for me. I suspect this album will remain indigestible in places, but my advice to you is keep on chewing and see. The sleeve is a frieze of blurry quasi-Gothic images by Adam J Bragg which at first made me feel we should be getting a record of mysterious dark droning. How wrong I was.

Vito Camarretta, Chain DLK
Unquestionably, curiosity for the sonic expectoration by this duo made up of two eccentric and inventive guitarists and performers with a remarkable background and an intricate web of collaborations and projects in different art/punk constellations like the versatile Dutch music "activist" Lukas Simonis, also known for his tireless work in the field of organization of music festival (he recently collaborated for the setting out of WORM, a multimedia centre for experimental arts in Rottardam), and David Brown aka candlesnuffer, skilled guitarist coming from the fertile Melbourne art-punk scene with a meaningful experience in film score composition, might be aroused by the intellectualist framework they find for their bizarre experiments on prepared guitars: while being aware of cultural diktat of the so-called capitalist civilization and neoliberalism's pretensions to set a strict universal (and somewhat natural) order during an historical moment where anyone's aware of its detumescence, they build a conceptual bridge with "Special Cases", which is not the notorious song by Massive Attack, but an interesting art book by photographer and collage artist Rosamund W.Purcell about a peculiar human obsession with monstrosity which features an approach, remarkably differne tfrom the grotesque one pervading most of last century's literature, where monstrosity is not related to external aspect, but it's more something cognitive, so that a monster could just be something we don't know and we don't understand. The manifest lack of regular rhythmical and melodies structures, the abundance of jumps from one scale to another one and chaotic arrangement of cracks and nice sonic creatures (I particularly liked the moment when they jump from saturations of plinks, so that sometimes listeners could imagine guitar cases have been overfilled with marbles, to detonations and somewhat molecular sonic decay as well as those ones when disruptive scratches, cracks, rumbling thumps and other timbrical trifles look like jamming rusty mechanical cogs like in "Morph My Logic", "A Happy Life At The Expense Of Others" and "Hottentot Venus"...and the final lovely divertssment "Mermaid Giving Birth To Twins While Kissing Her Consort"...what a title!!!) could have fed this conceptual link with those natural anomalies explored in that book (even if I'm more inclined to associate it to another art-book by the same author, titled Bookworm, where there's a bizarre re-interpretation of a French economics text by imaginary termites!). Such an intellectual approach could eclipse the musical content of this release, which could sound like a frivolous oddity, but I'm pretty sure many listeners will discern in these abstract improvisational knick-knacks more marvels than monsters!

Dan Warburton, The Wire
Australian David Brown aka Candlesnuffer recorded these eight colourful, spiky improvisations with fellow guitarist Lukas Simonis in the Dutchman's Rotterdam studio three years ago. Both guitarists have roots in rock - Simonis in Dull Schicksal, Brown in Dumb & The Ugly (he was in AC/DC too, but not for long) - and there's a refreshingly punky excess to proceedings, a rough whatthefuckness that recalls rambunctious pre-Country Chadbourne or early Keith Rowe. On the all too brief closing "Mermaid Giving Birth To Twins While Kissing Her Consort" they also have fun with an old Mattel Optigan - one of the great forgotten precursors of the sampling keyboard which used actual instrumental sounds stored on celluloid discs - whose weird cheesy funk counterpoints the spidery twangs and feedback howls to perfection.

Josh Rosen, Monk Mink Pink Punk No. 23
Guitars and electronics clash together in raucous collisions, focusing on scrapes, clangs and buzzes, at times hard to discern exactly what is happening. That could be a description of much of the music in this section, and it is a welcome, vital seemingly endless sea of sound. Lukas Simons is a Dutch serial collaborator (not a serialist!), having released records with Anne La Berge, Pierre Bastien and Takayuki Kawabata. The total sound made on this record suggest that Candlesnuffer is a group, but it is just guitarist David Brown; at times you will think you are listening to a quartet of dedicated noisemakers. The short closing piece, "Mermaid Giving Birth to Twins While Kissing Her Consort," changes direction by infusing the guitar scrapes and crackles into a jolly lounge groove dominated by a bouncy electric piano riff.