1.'Gescom Minidisc' by Elizabeth Olson
Let me first explain the concept. A minidisc (a vaugely obscure format, still) with 88 tracks, interspersed with vingettes of sound. It can be listened to straight through (which i've done exactly once)or put in random mode, and allowed to remix itself. I prefer the latter.
There are some haunting, beautiful pieces here. There are some scary, scraping pieces. There are some things that hurt, and some things that hurt in a different way. There are parts that make you want to throw down your headphones and run away. But you never know what's coming. That's part of what's so neat about this. These pieces all complement each other, contrast each other, and support each other.
I find this release to be most effective with headphones. It's the sort of thing to listen to when laying in bed, in the dead of night.
It's not the sort of thing to listen to at a party. O'm not sure it's even the sort of thing to listen to when you're fully awake.
While not merzbow, this is not for the sonicly timid. It is not, on the whole, melodic. It is jarring and striking, and textured and wonderful.
2.'Gescom Minidisc' by Freq1C
When Sony invented the MiniDisc, they probably didn`t envisage a couple of Manchester's finest noise sculptors messing around with the parameters of their shiny new technology in quite this way. Officially recognised as the first Mini-Disc-only release, this MD was released back at the dawn of consumer magneto-optical recordable media - all of two years ago now. As the Twenty-first Century shuffles into global (sub)consciousness, it does now look like MD may replace the clunky Compact Cassette after all - or until the next MPEG/DVD/crystal format appears on the market. Anyone care to recall the rich mans eight track tape, or the DCC?
What Gescom (Messers. Booth & Brown of Autechre) chose to do with the new format was not only take the limits of the compression standard of the MiniDisc as a limiting restriction, but also to make use of one of the few advantages this technology has over CD-Recordable apart from size. This lies in the read buffer, which means that when set to shuffle play a MiniDisc doesn`t skip with a noticable gap as a CD can do. Minidisc is loaded with 88 tracks of aural detritus of fairly trebly kind to suit the compression standards, designed to be played back randomly. The result resembles something akin to semi-programmed Free Noise, or a Techno take on Systems music, where the rules are a scheme for a score rather than being laid out as a series of notes. Regurgitating bursts of noise, tape rewinds, avant-skiffy Electronica and the occasional burst of overdriven HipHop breaks provide the raw material for a not-quite endless set of atonal configurations. Most people who have MiniDisc players thus far seem to favour the portable variety, so this disc is hopefully more listened to on the bus or street than at home from the settled comfort of an armchair, where experience shows its admirable suitability for meshing into the background atmospherics.
Like other discs suggested for shuffle play - Otomo Yoshihide's The Night Before the Death Of The Sampling Virus or Kaffe Matthews' CD Bea spring to mind - MiniDisc can spring some foruitous surprises on the listener, as the random cut`n`paste effects bring the Beats' tape-loop experiments into a particular digital format. Of course, CDs do allow for multiple random play on multi-disc players; but MD rubs those little gaps away!
3.'Gescom Minidisc' from The Wire, UK
Autechre have a second album out this month, this time in their Gescom guise, and it's definitely the better release. As it's only available on MiniDisc, Autechre/Gescom completists will have to shell out for a MiniDisc player, too, if they want to hear it. Gescom are undoubtedly aware of the MiniDisc 'wow' factors - like the title scrolling across the LED screen while the track is playing; what next, bouncing ball singalong texts? - but they've also investigated how the MD's digital compression of information might affect the sound. You don't need to know the psychoacoustics of the thing to enjoy it, though. If some of the disc's 45 tracks (spread over 88 cue points) are little more than spare parts from the Autechre toolkit, parts of MiniDisc are as good as anything they've done: the blue hour meditations of "Shoegazer" and "Dan Dan Dan"; the compacted perforations of "Is We" and "Vermin"; the envelope folds and sugar twists of "Wab Wat" and "Squashed To Pureness". A consistently astounding range of effects, treatments and transformations here give Gescom a leg up into the realm of such studio alchemists as Coil or Luc Ferrari.
4.'Gescom Minidisc' from Vital
Of course Minidisc is another attempt to exploit the market of digitalia, after CD, DAT, DCC and of course it has added some gadgets: you can have many more track numbers on a disc, it's easier to use in loop mode, or shuffle the information. Therefore I doubt whether many people who actually own a minidisc player will have it hooked in their home stereo system, or packed next to their records for tonight's DJ set... Nevertheless this is the first official independent minidisc only release (and I'm sure it will be bootlegged to CDR by those who think that the format is just a waste of money)(Yep, you're right there, Franky - MP), and it's not hand copied, but factory manufactured. Gescom, as we all know, is one of the alter ego's of those very intelligent technoids Autechre (my favorite in this field). So far I've heard the odd piece, and a dancy 12", but this is altogether something different. The 88 tracks are quite short, and very noisy. Occasionally it hints at something, that may be a beat... but it's rare. Knowing that this is released by OR, we are not suprised it sounds like Farmers Manual or Pita - the Viennese abuser of digital media. Of course I tried looping some tracks (as the minidisc is better capable of performing that than the CD) and it worked fine. No doubt this minidisc will appeal to the adventurous DJs (I'm not) and that bootleg copies will be made to CDR (the other exciting new medium) for home consuming (Right again, Franky _MP). If the shuffle modes of previous CD's by Jos Smolders, Farmers Manual or Otomo Yoshide appealed to you, then this is another treasure-trove of sounds.