VARIOUS ARTISTS  The Nature Of Systems  CD   (Carbon)   9.98

This excellent compilation has been out for awhile, but we've never carried it before, and with the great mix of artists/bands on this CD, we just had to offer it for anyone who hasn't come across this stellar psyche/drone/free noise/deathjazz comp previously... Featuring exclusive songs from CHARALAMBIDES, THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS, PELT, LOREN MAZZACANE CONNORS, BARDO POND, as well as THE ARTHUR DOYLE ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC ENSEMBLE, Andy Gilmore, FINKBEINER, THE GOLDEN CALVES ESKIMO LIME BAND, BURLAP, JOE+N, NOD, MICK TURNER, SHEET, SQ, Karl Precoda/Mike Gangloff, and PENGO. Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble starts off the disc with "Flue Song," a queasy flute melody delivered overtop what sounds to be field recordings of frogs with some spacey whoosh appearing throughout. Nice. Andy Gilmore follows with some pleasant string-bending ambient guitar abstraction, all subdued haze and hum with a strange voice sample appearing briefly halfway through, and ending with a chime-driven climax. Charalambides donate "Mansfield Dam", a minimal, glacially paced piece of abstract folk drift, not too far from their "Being As Is" material released on Crucial Blast, though it sounds strangely "digital", with the sporadically plucked acoustic strings being processed into little blips of melody that zip by via tape editing and masking. Eventually a minimal riff appears reminiscent of LOW and Charalambides "Home" and "Houston" CD, as Christina Carter's angelic voice loops in and climaxes the track with an absolutely GORGEOUS haze of droning bliss as her vocals become layered upon each other into infinity. Next up is FINKBEINER, with a dusty, cosmic drone-jam that straddles the line between sublime 70's sci-fi sound effect bleepery and Ennio Morricone style epics. Golden Calves Eskimo Live Band emerge from the shadow of TOWER RECORDINGS, with a brief duet between a roughly Jandekian acoustic guitar and what might be the weird recorded laughter of a battery-operated talking doll. Thoroughly creepy. The Flying Luttenbachers appear next with "Maximum Cruelty", a BORBETOMAGUS -esque blast of improvised-with-cues free-jazz-meets-death-metal splatter. Burlapís "Coming Home" features a haunting, repetitive bass and guitar melody with wheezing electronics and shimmering blip noise. Pelt's track is recorded live and is more of their basic ethno-forgery drone sound, being a cavernous/ominous jam by an actual violin quartet, reminiscent of Sun City Girls collaboration with Eyvind Kang. Joe+n delivers some droning vinyl pops layered over ORGANUM style metallic shimmer. Loren Mazzacane Connors coaxes a dreamlike melody from gently reverbed guitar. Nod do their usual shambolic garage-rock, although "John Henry vs. The Smog Monster" infuses it with a country blues vocabulary, making it a wistful, vaguely Dixieland-sounding burst of free-rock stumble. Mick Turner of the Dirty Three follows and defies expectations with a rather wild cut-and-paste plunderphonic 'contemporary classical' type piece. Sheet is another Rochester-ite doing 'sheets' of noise. Kind of John Wiese-y, though with less "digital shock" and more on the "incendiary robo-drone" tip. SQ brings back the free-death-chaos with "After Being___So Long", an icy room-ambient piece with distant amp buzz, improvised cymbal splatter, and eternal feedback that mutates into shrieking skree collapse. Bardo Pond lumber through "Vagabond", a gnarly drone rock abrasion that sounds like SHELLAC drunk on cough syrup and stuck on a merry go round. Karl Precoda and Mike Gangloff team up for "Metal Shop", fusing field recordings of the aforementioned locale to a lower-register bowed-string drone. And Pengo end the disc with a jam called "New Loft Elevation 2001." At the raucous beginning, John Schoen's 'sound sources' create a feel more like To Live and Shave in L.A. than what one would expect from these guys, although it soon dissipates and out of the dust emerges a percussion-driven ethno-forgery jam with weird multi-tracked reed playing by Joe Tunis. The last few seconds are really great stuff, as the percussion groove morphs into a lurching electro-glitch groove. Overall, a superb diverse collection of drones, psyche-folk, free-noise, and deathjazz!