Boomkat Product Review:
Oh this is very tasty; Aussie archive excavators Efficient Space hail the glistening 1983 work of sound sculptor and musicologist Ros Bandt and Live Improvised Music Events, with a reissue of their mesmerising gamelan and tape scapes.
Reissued in its radiant entirety, the rare and sought-after ’Soft and Fragile’ lands blissfully on the ears, resonating with Michael Ranta’s eastern percussion fascinations, Keiji Haino’s most minimal incantations, the inventions of Harry’s Partch and Bertoia, or Tomoko Sauvage’s delicacies, but in its own subtly modest way. It’s an ideal addition to Efficient Space’s roster of resurrected Aussie gems and their contemporary echoes, and plugs a fine gap in our knowledge of Aussie experimental music that we, and likely many other, didn’t know existed ’til now.
Lead by Dr. Ros Bandt, a musicologist, sound sculptor and performer working out of Geelong, Victoria (a city SW of Efficient Space’s Naarm/Melbourne) the Live Improvised Music Events quartet combined ideas from the C.20th avant garde as much as Javanese traditional music in naturally lissom and floating structures guided by elegantly attuned intuitions. ’Soft and Fragile’ is one of only three recordings made by Ros with LIME (who also counted Carolyn Robb, Gavan McCarthy and Julie Doyle) and their only to make it onto record, with original copies now understandably penny on the 2nd hand market.
The A-side depicts Ros solo on the 18 mins of ‘Ocean Bells’, fondling her self-built ‘flagging’ - a three-tiered vertical glass marimba made in 1978, and inspired by the ‘cloud chamber’ bowls of Harry Partch. Using long tape loops, she coaxes a sublime play of glancing resonance and half-melodic gestures that melt into air, most tactfully playing with her instrument’s decay and skin-ingle shimmers. On the other two parts Ros is joined by the rest of LIME, who chime in in on clay bells for the levitating structure of ’Shifts’ with its remarkable sonorous backdrop, before exploring higher register timbres sourced from glass and metal, plus clay bells, in the tintinnabulous suspense of ‘Annapurna’.
Trust this is no academic exercise; it’s spirited and lush in the proper new age sense, yet perfectly unconceited with it. Just gorgeous, timelessly expressive, experimental music.