An Eilean Spring (Part II): Daniel K. Bohm & Phi Bui

coverEilean Records continues to investigate its experimental side with its third and fourth releases of the season: a mysterious outing from Daniel K. Böhm and an elaborate, cross-genre debut from Phi Bui.

Daniel K. Böhm’s Carrier comes with a carefully constructed fictional back story, a la Griffin and Sabine.  The press release states that Böhm is a disgraced physicist “best known for causing the reactor meltdown in Wüttenschlesig.”  The author claims to have visited the physicist, finding peeling wallpaper, dusty cassettes and (of course) a cat; and that he later became the executor of the estate.  First off, we love this.  As daily readers of our site are aware, we occasionally publish reviews of albums that don’t exist. Second, the template for the story exists in the life of physicist David Bohm, disgraced in America (and later cleared) due to alleged Communist ties.  Although his work was hugely influential, his life ended in depression.  Carrier goes a long way to restoring the dignity of both men, fictional and non-fictional, even coloring their lives with hues of joy.  The album rejoices in tape loops and short wave samples, guitars and bells, and even includes a cheerful, carousel-like romp (“Critter”).  One can imagine yellowed papers, shattered chalk and burnt-out fuses; but also the brilliant mind of the scientist, gazing out the window to imagine possibilities, making connections between disparate ideas, discovering designs and patterns.  When a child runs across the floor in “Estuke”, returning to say, “the coolest thing – ever!”, one’s appreciation is cemented.

coverPhi Bui‘s Unnoticed Moments seems to take up where Carrier lets off, with tape loops and static.  It’s another superlative release, the debut album from a San Francisco composer whose influences are all over the map.  It’s hard to tell where the samples end and the compositions begin, which is the beauty of this brief yet effective set; if the tracks overlapped, this would be the rarest of treats, an avant-garde mix tape.  (Listen here for an eleven-minute sample of what this might sound like.)  Even so, there’s beats and textures galore, sullen sounds and strange leanings, and an off-center feel to the entire set.  An opera singer’s voice is looped over garbage can clangs on “Une Femme”; an old television sample launches the lovingly nostalgic “Remembering.”  The sluggish hip-hop of “Hidden People” manages to reference both Deep Forest and DJ Wally’s “Space People”, displaying an appreciation for the sub-genre’s history.  As the album plays, we’re unsure what year we’re in, or even what decade: a sign that the artist has done his job well.  Congratulations again to Eilean Records for taking a chance on these intriguing artists; spring has never sounded so sweet.  (Richard Allen)

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