Before The Libretto
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The Lappetites is a quartet made up of Eliane Radigue (France), Kaffe Matthews (UK), Ryoko Kuwajima (Japan) and Antye Greie aka AGF (Germany). Rather than paraphrase I'll quote direct from their website:
"The Lappetites is a laptop group playing with digital and sonic linking games for composition. 4 woman (sic) from different background and different generations. Regularly active as solo artistes all over the world they have recently come together in the Lappetites to check out ways of live sharing and poaching sound and data from each other as a means of composition."
The graphic on the front cover shows four wet, pink tongues isolated against a white background. Either stuck out at the listener or forming a strange, lolling flower, its pairing with the title suggests a playful refusal to conform to expectation. "Tzungentwist" speaks in tongues and made up languages. It's full of phonemes, guttural exclamations and limpid hisses. Someone stumbles amusingly as they try to pronounce Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry (who doesn't?)
"Avoiding Shopping" besides being a delightful idea delivers a regular rhythm (of sorts). Deep, rubberised bass vies with all manner of sonic detritus, humming tones and flecks of digitalia. Given the clipped reflections on an upbringing in East Germany on her website, AGF's singing and speech on "Heimat" (Homeland) acquires chilling undertones when married to a fragmented nursery-like melody and snatches of what sound like patriotic roar. "Birken" is confessional, weirdly haunted and strikingly dramatic.
Before The Libretto is further evidence for a personal suspicion that the most interesting electronic music is produced in collaboration. Autechre, Boards Of Canada and Cabaret Voltaire immediately spring to mind. Okay, it's a silly theory so full of gaping holes that it sinks before setting sail. However, these sound formations (to call them songs seems inappropriate) are such densely detailed affairs that it's impossible to imagine their being produced by a single person. The presence of the artists' sometimes intimately recorded voices on a number of tracks "Tzungentwist", "Birken" and "Aikokuka" offsets what might otherwise be a stringently abstract affair. Which is not to say that their vocal presence necessarily softens or humanises the music, in fact if anything it frequently serves to emphasise the harshness of the overall effect.
The conclusion to a review is meant to provide a neat summary of the listener's impressions, but Before The Libretto resists. Some of its power lies in that resistance. --Colin Buttimer
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
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Ryoko Kuwajima sounds a bit like Tujiko Noriko....wafting in and out with spoken bits and scraps of private song. Whenever it strikes her fancy, while the others weave a playful prickly and peculiar musical bed for all of the strange vocalisations. Very hard to describe what's going on, totally alien sounding but at the same time, so inviting you just want to touch and fold and feel and try to figure out what the heck is going on.
The sounds are gentle, but not soft, crunchy, but not hard, like diving into a swiming pool full of autumn leaves, then running through the forest naked. The separate parts sound a little like puzzle pieces forced into the wrong places, a curious hodgepodge of ill fitting pieces, but together thay have some strange poetry, it's what makes this all sound so charming. The parts and pieces and sonic fragments don't mesh, but somehow....that's what makes it work. The cover is quite striking as well, a creepy fleshy tongue flower that inspires lot of "hmms" and "eeews" from customers when it's in the 'Now Playing' slot on our counter. Highly recommended, a curious and curiously appealing record.
The music of The Lappetites is pretty difficult to label, mainly because it inhabits a world where rhythm and melody don't play any real major part. In fact, this release may very well be one of the more fractured albums I've heard in a long, long time, sounding like a glitched-out art installation project that combines improvised laptop mashes, found sound, spoken word, deconstructed hip-hop, ambient, and several other styles all run through the sonic blender. Words are chopped-up, blips and bleeps fly to and fro, and shattered beats stutter along like they're on their last leg (when they're even recognizable as a rhythm).
As a rough sort of guide to how things go on the release, "Tzungentwist" opens the album with cut-up bits of Japanese words while electronic washes scuffle and shard in the background. "My Within" follows with harsh washes of electronic noise before fluttering into more welcoming sections of off-kilter tonal blends with more cut-up and panned spoken word. There's not a whole lot of flow to the disc as it progresses either, as just about every weird element one could imagine gets tossed into the fray.
"Disaster" sounds like dark, almost industrial-inspired ambient while "Prologue" gets locked into some sort of glitched-out modem meltdown freakout. Amongst the chaos, there are some rather inspired moments, as on the harsh coupling of traditional Eastern instrumentation and almost Mego-like digital breakdowns of "Aikokuka," but as a whole the thirteen track, and over fifty minute album is a bit of a chore unless you're feeling like a real challenge (including more than one song that sounds like it ends right in the middle). If I'm feeling like listening to enjoyable music from four women electronic musicians, I'll just go with 4 Women No Cry.
(from almost cool music reviews)