Bruce Russell

w.m.o/r 11 cd

Los Desastres de las Guerras

Bruce Russell ~ electric guitar i-iv
Mattin ~ computer feedback iv


Yo le pregunté a la Muerte [I asked Death a question]
~ 6’ 39”

El sollozo de las almas perdidas se escapa por su boca redonda [The sobbing of lost souls escapes through its round mouth]
~ 3’ 19”

En la redonda encrucijada, seis doncellas bailan… [In the round crossroads, six maidens are dancing…]
~ 17’ 55”

iv. Los Desastres de las Guerras [Disasters of War] ~ 30’ 07”


i-iii ~ mono analogue tape recordings made at the Temple of Music
13 March 2004, engineered Bruce Russell

iv ~ stereo DAT recording by Mattin, made at a performance at The Physics Room, Christchurch 26 February 2004.

Bruce Russell -Practical Materialism Lesson three
Matthew Hyalnd -Disasters of Peace
Mattin -Refleciones en Identidad



Practical Materialism: Lesson Three
Concerning the Duende
duende / n. 1 an evil spirit. 2 inspiration. [Sp.]
“All that has dark sounds has duende.”
F.G. Lorca: ‘Theory and Function of the Duende’, in Selected Poems: Penguin Books; 1960,
p. 127
As the Spanish Instrument par excellence, the guitar comes pre-loaded with a burden of extra-musical cultural significance. When we play the guitar, we are always playing with a caravan of images which trail us like ghosts across a television screen. Jimi Hendrix; Robert Johnson; and a crowd of anonymous Spanish gypsies, swarming like penitents on the road to Santiago.
The spirit of the guitar is the duende, neither angel nor muse, but animating spirit, equally malevolent and indifferent, demanding nothing but blood on the strings.
“Spain is always moved by the duende… being a nation open to death.”
Lorca, p. 136.
For me as an artist, sound is the central activity - which in my case is the attempt to say something from the self itself. Opening the self to allow this expression to emerge is a problematic exercise. The best results come from a loss of conscious control over this process, an opening to ‘something other’. In the Spanish model, this is the duende speaking. Being an evil genius, the art inspired by the duende is never simple; clear; or light-filled. It is dark; ambiguous; and tinged with horror - the horror of our contingent existence. This is why an appeal to the duende is always a looking-within, this is where the abyss opens.
‘Diving in’ is the metaphor of improvisation. A recital of compositions cannot be a real encounter with the duende, only when we put ourselves on the line is the duende awakened.
“The appearance of the duende always presupposes a radical change of all forms based on old structures”
Lorca, p. 131.
For me the guitar has endless possibilities, especially once the twin tyrannies of the song and of conventional technique are overturned. In this way the realm of practical freedom is briefly created, within the alienated form of artistic expression. Lacking easy access to the euphoria of the revolutionary moment - Paris 1870; Petersburg 1917; Barcelona 1936 – the option of creating a personal space for revolution on stage is more readily achievable as a laboratory for the duende.
Using the guitar purely as a noisemaker has the effect of ‘gutting’ the troubadour archetype, ‘the gypsy with the guitar’. The ‘bits’ of the archetype are still there, ‘the rebel’ (actor), ‘the guitar’ (signifying object), ‘the stage’ (context) but put together in the wrong order. The dislocation experienced by the audience [‘what is this noise?’] is the crack through which the duende can enter a public space, like a matador entering the bull ring, banderillas in hand - a las cinco de la tarde.
The guitar as loaded cultural signifier is vital to this process, its abuse is the jemmy-bar that opens the window of opportunity to admit the unwelcome shock of the new. Everyone understands what the guitar ‘means’ in the context of a performance. Inverting this is a potent signifier of cultural dislocation.
Practical freedom presupposes an outlook of practical materialism; an engagement of autonomous subjects with real objects within a social context. The duende is a metaphor for creativity in just such a setting. It elevates human subjectivity to a higher plane of existence, an all or nothing throw of the dice, balls on the line man, ‘do you take a chance, fan?’.
“The real struggle is with the duende… to help us seek [it] there is neither map nor discipline.”
Lorca, p. 129.
Having ‘made’, or ‘had made for one’ the choice of the electric guitar over other potential contenders in instrumentation, certain parameters are set.
Technical limitations in terms of guitar playing can be a positive advantage in the creation of a genuinely ‘alternative’ vocabulary for the electric guitar. To be technically limited in the traditional sense, can be combined with developing aptitude at an extended and idiosyncratic form of technique, that is predicated on rather different strategies from those of most players. If one works with the guitar as a signal generator, and as a noise-maker in the acoustic sense, there is much that can be achieved with a complete ignorance of musical theory, notation and conventional aesthetics. I myself am not much interested in the specific frequencies and harmonics of the sound, or even making them predictable or explicable. My interest is in textures of noise, and juxtapositions that are often outside the vocabulary of ‘real music’.
For me the performance is in a real sense a wrestling bout with an implacable foe. The duende resides in the guitar, in the electrical circuitry, in the exigencies of the performance itself. All these variables can conspire to seek to overcome me. How, or if, I emerge unbloodied is the drama of every performance, with or without an audience at hand.
There is no practicing with the duende, every encounter may be le dernier combat.
“The duende can never repeat itself.”
Lorca, p. 137.
The main thing is to keep surprising oneself, as well as the audience, in that way every performance involves giving the utmost to the audience, or nothing at all.
For me the guitar is a totem; my efforts with the guitar underpin every piece of sound praxis I attempt in an artistic sense. I have the courage to experiment with other things, when I have the urge to do so, because I am anchored in my relation to the guitar. The real trick is to express something inherent to myself, and uniquely of myself, in this more or less arbitrarily chosen activity. It would be inauthentic to deliberately choose an artform at which I was naturally gifted. That would be too easy. The duende does not emerge from ease and familiarity, but from danger and uncertainty.
The real attraction of the guitar for me (as instrument qua instrument, apart from the cultural baggage alluded to earlier) is that it is a resonating object. With a keyboard or a sampler, you just push buttons; with a guitar you have wood, metal, strings, wires and pickups. If you hit a string hard, it sounds different than when you hit it softly. If you hit it with an object, it sounds different again. If you smack the body of the guitar with a hammer while moving a five-pound flat-iron up the strings, it sounds different again, both at the instant you hit it, and for quite some time thereafter, in a dialectic of truly electro-acoustic attack and decay. Further, the pickup is a microphone that generates an electric signal, that too can be the subject of ‘interventions’. It changes depending on the signal path (effects) and relationship to the speaker (feedback).
All guitars are very sensuous instruments, any movement can set them going. Merely tuning the strings in sympathy can be enough to activate a sound-torrent of positively Dionysian proportions. ‘Sensuous’ in this sense means ‘responding to physical stimuli’, and ‘existing within the realm of the physical’. The opportunities to intervene with the electric guitar are very many, if the player approaches the business with the correct attitude, and in willingness to admit the influence of the dark spirit over the form the activity will take.
“It is clear that each art has a duende of a different kind and form, but they all join their roots at a point where the ‘dark sounds’ of Manuel Torres emerge, ultimate matter, uncontrollable and quivering common foundation of wood, of sound, of canvas, and of words.”
Lorca, p. 139.
The potential limitation is not in the instrument, but in the instrumentalist, and his or her willingness to be situated in the realm of practical freedom.
When the duende comes to the door of the bar “…dragging her wings of rusty knives along the ground” [Lorca, p. 132.], there is only one way to respond to the apparition - we play.
Bruce Russell
Lyttelton, NZ
April 2004




Disasters of Peace
You love life, we love death
(from Associated Press translation of videotaped statement in the name of 'Al-Qaeda', claiming authorship of the March 11 Madrid bombings.)
    These words were seized on enthusiastically in Europe and America by Authorities (in both the active and the contemplative senses: 'leaders' and 'experts') who sought in the Atocha wreckage proof of the stubborn, atavistic anti-rationality of the Islamic mind.  But this 'example of what the Prophet Mohammed said' can also be understood in almost exactly the reverse sense.  Not as pre-modern cruelty howling theatrically against humanist values, but as an in'humanly' rational description of bio-thanatopolitical reality in the contemporary material world.
   (Any objection based on what's already known about the 'we' of the statement would barely merit a dismissive gesture here.  But in order to pre-empt all confusion, some obvious principles may need to be spelled out once more.  First, nothing whatsoever is known about the speaker's relation to the ephemeral subject 'Al-Qaeda', or about that subject's relation to the bombings.  And even if speaker, bomber and 'Al-Qaeda' are presumed to be identical, the latter's (presumed) diffuse organizational form and its still more nebulous political constituency mean that who is and is not of the 'death-loving' party is a matter of idle speculation.  But more importantly, the statement matters not for what it reveals about the speaker, but for its independent sense: for what it can be made to say about the world.  As in the interpretation of any other text, there is no reason automatically to identify 'I' (or in this case, 'we') with the (presumed) author.  Coherence, not biographical information, is what authorizes any reading.) 
    Some speakers using the 'Al-Qaeda' brand have claimed to be acting in the name of the Iraqi and Palestinian populations.  The question of such unsolicited political representation's 'legitimacy' is meaningless, of course, where the questioner's approval is not being sought.  Engaged intellectuals from neocon think tanks to liberal Muslim columnists have already squandered enough billions of words (or tonnes of 'general intellect') on 'critiques' of an absolute non-interlocutor.  But because the concentrations of besieged life in Iraq and Palestine are also saturated with the televisual gaze, in spectacular perception they symbolize all the life capable of occupying the 'we' position in the 'Al-Qaeda' statement: the global 'class with nothing to lose and therefore nothing to defend'[1.] in the most literal, urgent sense. 
   On these terms, the rationally inhuman paraphrase of 'you love life, we love death' would run:
  Exposure to death (our own and that of others) occupies our lived time (and living memory, and foreseeable future), so fully that the distinction between 'life' and 'death' breaks down.  Unlike you, we have no life separate from death to lose or defend: thus it only remains to become death-levellers, to redistribute our great surplus of death so it engulfs and becomes indistinct from your life.
   The condition of this statement's truth is the self-evident fact that in this world, as it is now, the distribution of forced exposure to death (or the problem of survival) is violently unequal. This is no more a matter of natural tragedy or immoral actions than it is of divine visitation.  To put it with appropriate crudeness, the present distribution of death reflects the division of labour in a world where capitalism is universally indifferent to the distinction between labour-power's 'life' and 'death', as long as its living and dying yields value.  Dying is work when life is wholly consumed in producing value.  A perfectly 'normal' phenomenon, inasmuch as millions of lifetimes are filled by waged and unwaged labour that eventually breaks or exhausts them.  An 'extreme' case like the war and ensuing primitive accumulation in Iraq only demonstrates the same thing: by living and dying under multilateral siege, the newly proletarianized population produces the conditions for the security and reconstruction businesses, literally paying for the contractors' profits.  The same logic underlies the transformation, noted by the SPK/PF(H), of 'biomatter man' – cells, genes, organs – into a productive, i.e. labouring, force.  The universal equivalent transcends the life/death threshold: 'everyone is totally valuable, dead or alive'[2.].
   Capital's formal obliviousness to the difference between death and life almost seems to be parodied by the attitude of the class for whom existing social relations have provided plenty to lose and defend.  Continuous experience of shelter eventually breeds forgetfulness of the shelter itself, and of the reality of what it shelters from.  This forgetting of death sometimes takes the form of an anomalous ignorance among 'educated' subjects, explicable only in terms of an inability to conceptualize and remember in the absence of direct exposure.  Thus an editorialist in Italian left-moralist daily L'Unità ('founded by Antonio Gramsci', etc), cancelled 60 infernal years to call the Madrid bombs 'the worst barbarity in Europe since Nazi Germany'. 
   Affluent societies' officially-sponsored obsession with 'risk' and its management also depends on ignorance of death, or deep assurance of ultimate preservation.  The tendency for the absence of any perceptible threat to appear primarily as sign of the threat's potential presence (as in 'anti-terrorism' vigilance) demands that the apparatus of 'security' fill every space indifferently.  This wish bespeaks an enormous, ingenuous confidence in that apparatus, endowing it with the capacity to measure and pre-emptively control a risk as infinite as uncertainty itself [3.].
   But the fact that so many life-lovers enjoy a subjective experience of shelter does not make their sense of security a true one.  What they are really forgetful of is that capital's indifference to 'life' and 'death', which their own insouciance mimics playfully and which has left them living-space to play in, also guarantees that they themselves are never safe.  The law of value is as unconcerned with their life as with others' death: the non-sensation of non-exposure is a contingent privilege, liable to be revoked devastatingly, sunk into in the most abject 'bare life', at the remotest shift in global class cold-war.  But one of the 'blessings' of their once-removed exposure, their brittle shelter, is forgetting that such special status is unusual and revocable.  It remains to be seen whether another violent announcement that all privileges are cancelled, made 'on behalf of' the unsheltered, will disturb the oblivious, laying bare the minimum they hold in common with death-lovers: not 'humanity' but exposure, eligibility to be consumed by the apparatus that so far happens to have spared them.              
[1.] See Amadeo Bordiga, 'Fundamental Theses of the Party':
[2.] SPK.PF(H), 'The Communist manifesto for the Third Millennium':
[3.] In this way the risk-management congregation attributes to preventive mechanisms precisely the same spurious capacity for metacalculation claimed by the systems of professional gambling.  See 'Say Fear is a Man's Best Friend', Datacide 9 & metamute:




A finales de abril Tony Negri vino a Madrid y habló con mucho entusiasmo del 13 M como "La Comuna de Madrid", un claro ejemplo del concepto de "multitud" en acción, conjunto de singularidades que se reunen en un momento decisivo sin tener que atenerse a ninguna sigla, partido o identidad concreta. Esta multitud demuestra que fácilmente puede ser recuperada para ciertos fines (en el caso del 13 M como una estrategia politica empujada fuertemente desde el grupo PRISA hacia la dirección de un partido: PSOE), o en el caso aún mas patético de las manifestaciones contra la Guerra de Irak, sí que hubo muchisima gente y tal vez muchisimas ideas pero con la imaginación insuficiente para demostrarlas fuera de manifestaciones convencionales. Todos sabemos que estas manifestaciones no fueron muy lejos. La ambivalencia de la multitud, tan peligrosa como poderosa, puede llevarnos a momentos de intensa resistencia y al conformismo más reaccionario. Por su naturaleza, la multitud encuentra dificultades pera crear constancia , tambien esto va en contra de su manera de ser ya que bajo esta constancia se estaria definiendo una identidad. Como ya hemos comentado la potencia de la multitud puede ser facilmente recuperada y utilizada para servir a ciertos intereses: bien encajar dentro de estrategias politicas o en conceptos teóricos de moda. Por tratar de dar la maxima visibilidad a sus acciones, la multitud puede llegar a perder el control sobre su propia representatibidad. Pero aqui estamos jugando al juego de los medios de comunicación, en el cual de nuevo la constancia pierde cualquier tipo de efecto.
La multitud, siendo utilizada por otros, gana una identidad no deseada; y es aqui donde reside el problema, en la incapacidad de esta multitud para responsabilizarse de sus actos, para coger las riendas de sus acciones. El concepto de multitud va dejando paso a otro más constante con el cual mucha gente hoy en día se puede sentir identificada, que es el de precario. Si la ambivalencia de la multitud estaba menos definida y es más fluctuante, la ambivalencia del precario es su condición de vida. Un momento estamos trabajando y al siguiente tratando de romper esa cadena de trabajo. Esto no puede llevarte más que a pensar de una manera esquizofrénica, a sabiendas de que por mucho que estes resistiendo hoy, no olvidas que en un dia, un mes, o un año volverás a estar trabajando. ¿Cómo puede uno expresar su singularidad de la manera mas singular y a la vez estar en comunicación con otros?
Paolo Virno en el libro “Gramática de la multitud” comenta cómo el lenguaje se ha convertido en eje central del trabajo, en herramienta de trabajo. "En los procesos de trabajo contemporáneos, hay constelaciones enteras de conceptos que funcionan por si mismas como "máquinas" productivas, sin necesidad de un cuerpo mecánico, ni siquiera de una pequeña alma electrónica. Es un error comprender tan sólo o sobre todo la intelectualidad de masas como un conjunto de funciones: informáticos, investigadores, empleados de la industria cultural, etc. Mediante esta expresión designabamos más bien una cualidad y un signo distintivo de toda la fuerza de trabajo social de la época postfordista, es decir la época en la que la información, la comunicación juegan un papel esencial en cada repliegue del proceso de producción; en pocas palabras en la época en la que se ha puesto a trabajar al lenguaje mismo, en la que éste se ha vuelto trabajo asalariado - tanto que "libertad de lenguaje" significa hoy ni más ni menos que abolición del trabajo asalariado". Entonces, ¿cómo podemos encontrar “la libertad del lenguaje”?
La música improvisada es una busqueda de esta libertad ya que constantemente se mueve alrededor de un lenguaje que no se puede establecer, solidificar ni institucionalizar. Su naturaleza efímera y a la vez necesitada de otros ( para tocar y como publico) incorpora nociones políticas.
“Las artes que no realizan ninguna <<obra>> tienen una gran afinidad con la política. Los artistas que las practican –bailarines, actores, músicos– necesitan de un público al que mostrar su virtuosismo, así como los hombres que actúan [politicamente] tienen necesidad de un espacio con estructura pública; y en ambos casos, la ejecución depende de la presencia de los otros.”2
Es por esto que es necesario encontrar nuevas formas de lenguaje, en el caso de la música improvisada, experimentar con tu instrumento y llegar a zonas donde estipuladas previamente ciertas reglas, éstas se rompen dando paso a la convulsión de tus deseos. Es importante profundizar abriendo nuevas grietas en las maneras convencionales de tocar, encontrando nuevos aliados en esa busqueda, así, la música improvisada es capaz de abrir posibilidades para llegar a comunicaciones donde no se trata de alcanzar acuerdos o acabar canciones sino de destripar las marginadas condiciones materiales del instrumento.
Marginadas y esterilizadas por fabricantes de instrumentos y músicos que no centran su actividad en dar rienda suelta a sus deseos sino en cumplir una funcionalidad en la cadena de montaje de la industria cultural.
En la improvisación es el deseo el que mueve a los individuos, que de primeras ya se saltan las reglas como bien explica Bruce en su texto. Estos deseos no son inculcados por estructuras del conocimiento, en otras palabras, por estructuras de poder previamente concebidas sino que se dejan atrás para sacar partido a los intereses particulares de cada individuo. Estos intereses no son más que la intesificación de cada momento a la la hora de interactuar con tu instrumento, músicos , público y espacio.
El que en cada momento todo esté en juego y no haya miedo de defender o salvaguardar secretos o trucos. Compartir toda tu creatividad ininterrupidamente.

1 Eskorbuto
2 Hannah Arendt “Entre el pasado y el futuro. Seis ejercicios de pensamiento politico”. P.206.
Bilbao, Julio 2004



Best record of the year 2004 for Brian Morton (The Wire, Issue 251 Jan.2005)

The Wire (UK) and Paris Transatlantic (France)

Bruce Russell's Los Desastres De Las Guerras, an album haunted by the duende of Federico Garcia Lorca's "Theory and Function of the Duende", a text from which guitarist Russell extracts several quotations to illustrate his own essay "Practical Materialism: Lesson Three". This is one of three tracts accompanying this release, the others being Matthew Hyland's "Disasters of Peace", a Marxist analysis of Al Qaida's claiming authorship of the Madrid bombings on March 11th this year, and Mattin's own musings on the mass protests that took place in the Spanish capital two days later. That same day, Russell recorded the three magnificent and desolately throbbing guitar improvisations that open the album, Lorca poems once more providing their titles. The danger implicit in the concept of duende - the noun is untranslatable, combining the notions of evil spirit and inspiration - has long been a central element of Russell's work both as a solo performer and with The Dead C. "The duende resides in the guitar, in the electrical circuitry, in the exigencies of the performance itself. All these variables can conspire to seek to overcome me. [T]he performance is in a real sense a wrestling bout with an implacable foe." As foes go, there are few more implacable than Mattin himself, unleashing a torrent of terrifying feedback from behind his computer without batting an eyelid. On the album's title track, a thirty-minute duo recorded in Christchurch's Physics Room, Russell's mournful strums are suffocated by clouds of howling feedback in a slow-building electrical storm of hums and buzzes that might have a made a fitting epitaph to the bombings had it not been recorded a fortnight before they occurred. To quote Russell once more: "When the duende comes to the door of the bar 'dragging her wings of rusty knives along the ground' (Lorca), there is only one way to respond to the apparition - we play." She was there all right on February 26th.—Dan Warburton


Revue & Corrigée (France)

Nouvel opus solo de Bruce RUSSELL " Los Desastres de Las Guerras " est sans aucun doute son album le plus fascinant, le plus beau, celui qui tourne autour de quelques accords approximatifs et pourtant sublimes, dans la répétition et le trébuchement, attiré comme par un aimant par ces notes ferreuses et les résonances magiques des cordes ; ritournelles métalliques minimalistes comme le blues pouvait en faire. Ce disque est un album authentique de blues, pas un de ces hommages obscènes à Robert Johnson façon Eric Clapton et tiroir caisse, mais son esprit entre aperçu et depuis avec çà au fond de l’être. " For me a guitar is a totem ", dixit Bruce RUSSELL, nul doute que sa pratique relève du vaudou, ranimant les esprits morts du blues dans la performance et l’électricité qui s’y consume. Il trouven, plus qu’il ne cherche, des techniques obliques sur son instrument, étendant son vocabulaire à ce que les lecteurs de " guitar players " d’ordinaire éliminent. " The potential limitation is not in the instrument, but in the instrumentalist, and his or her willingness to be situated in the realm of practical freedom ". Le dernier morceau qui donne son titre à l’album est un duo avec le jeune musicien basque Mattin à l’ordinateur. Radicalement dans les matières, façon sculptures de Richard Serra, ces vastes structures de métal qui redécoupent l’espace ou plus encore les barricades libertaires de 68 quand la vie s’inventait à travers la vérité du désir. Et le nôtre ici c’est ce son qui le porte.


VITAL WEEKLY (Netherlands)

Maybe I didn't write this very often before, but I think Bruce
Russell is one of the more interesting improvising musicians there
is. Although he is far away in New Zealand, we don't see him very
often around in Europe or America and therefore he is not very often
part of the improvisational music circus mentioned before. On his CD
there are four pieces, all dealing with the disasters of war. Three
of them are Bruce solo on his electric guitar and one is a duet he
recorded with Mattin in live concert in New Zealand. For his three
solo pieces, Russell plays electric guitar through some echo unit,
carefully playing around with silence and noise in a very thoughtfull
way. In the duet, Russell extends his guitar playing and serves the
computerized feedback of Mattin who takes in return the room
vibrations to let things explode. This is a very nice release, not
just the music, but also the philosophical texts that are also
enclosed, and which are certainly not easy to understand.(FdW)

GIAG (a.k.a. Gaze Into A Gloom) - electronic music & non-music website. (Latvia)

Experimental music as a term has without doubt been used in so many different occasions that it would really be impossible to clearly define what it actually is about. Bruse Russell approaches his blend of experimental sounds from a rather minimalistic angle, nonetheless constantly exposing some harsher and unexpected elements beneath it all. Russell's works remain quite solid, thus giving it a more ambient sense.
Merje Lõhmus (a.k.a. Mad Sister), 2004

Autsaider issue 5 (Ukrania)

Bruce Russell is a dilettante guitarist, his background includes some twenty years in New Zealand noise (rock) underground. Particularly, he was a member of the Dead C, a big name in noise music community, as well as founded a number of independent record labels. “Los Desastres de las Guerras”, released by Mattin’s w.m.o/r label, includes four improvisation tracks. The first three represent Russell playing his electric guitar alone, recorded in studio. The forth one, which gave title to the album, has Russell’s guitar accompanied by Mattin’s feedback, recorded during a joint performance in February 2004.

“Living to a Stuttering Beat” would be a good title for the first track. It’s a kind of rock, even post punk, where the delay effect’s rhythmic stuttering in place of a bass’n’drums rhythm section sets the pulse for the music. Russell throws guitar chords (muffled by the munching distortion effect) into a riff, kneads the riff like clay, marks rhythmic accents with these arbitrary chords and pauses, the guitar accompanying its own munching and stuttering. At moments the guitarist by accident pulls a string more heavily, and the guitar quacks like some fowl – a harsh sound breaks through the deadened mass thus setting an additional, third level of rhythmic accenting. Altogether Russell’s piece sounds like old-fashioned, hand-made glitch music.

… Describing his practice of taming the electric guitar in the booklet that comes with the disc, Bruce Russell talks about the duende (the inspiration demon of Spanish guitarists), quoting Garcia Lorca. This music beats about somewhere between fractious electro-duende and absent-minded laboratorialness. The second track is a three-minute miniature ala quasi-Derek Bailey (with a strong stress on “quasi”). Quite flexible, and somewhat nice. The third track is a study of passive monotony. Low-frequency zooming, quiet micro-claps and micro-shots; the pulse of the zooming is at times dispersed into a static condition, at one moment it goes quieter, at another it becomes more oppressive; at times one edge of the music submerges into feedback that starts pulsing simultaneously with the zooming, contending with it in tedium.

The forth improvisation, a half-an-hour play in duo with Mattin, expressively contrasts with Russell’s solo improvisations. The flavour of routine duty has evaporated. Out of the non-poetic and wasty (amplifiers’ hiss, audience talk, and other unidentified noises)  ground of the first minutes, as if by accident, hesitatingly, a complex improvisational impressionist poem blossoms (if only one dares to use the words “blossom” and “impressionism” in relation to this play of rough joints, gaps and defects). But if we continue running a parallel with symphonic poem, we can say that sick and tormented unstable parts of the instruments, assorted untuned gear, cords, joints play the role of a symphonic orchestra, and musicians’ hands try to in-and-out conduct all this under-tamed equipment as if from a distance: stirring up feedback, making it alternately clash with guitar pulsations and mutilated guitar chords, pacifying it abruptly by pulling out the cords. This rusty, torn kaleidoscope of moods hides a lot of pathos inside some of its anticlimaxes and slides… for one instant some pathetic poltergeist materialises in the form of an earthquake, in the centre of the sound junkyard. Maybe it’s the ghost of Hector Berlioz? The ghost of Stravinsky? The Duende? (or is it only an impression that I have?)… Either way, you can feel the active presence of destructive – or maybe, on the contrary, motivative? – forces that can not let the crude instruments (electric guitar and computer) and their personnel (musicians) work “smoothly”, i.e. roll down inertly.

Andrij Orel

Брюс Расселл – гітарист-дилетант, що має за плечима більш ніж двадцятирічну кар’єру в новозеландському нойз-(рок)-андеграунді. Зокрема, він – учасник відомого в нойзових колах гурту Dead C, а також – засновник кількох незалежних лейблів. Альбом “Воєнні нещастя” випущений на лейблі Маттіна w.m.o/r і містить чотири імпровізаційні треки. Перші три – це Расселл наодинці зі своєю електрогітарою, студійний запис. Четвертий, титульний – це гітара Расселла плюс комп’ютерний фідбек Маттіна, запис спільного виступу, який відбувся в лютому 2004 року.

Життя в ритмі заїкання – так хочеться назвати перший трек альбому. Це щось, схоже на рок – може, навіть на пост-панк – але пульс музики задає не ритм-секція басу-й-барабанів, а ритмічне заїкання delay-примочки, через яку пропущений звук гітари. Расселл зминає (заглушені чавканням примочки) гітарні акорди в риф, розминає той риф у руках, мов глину; відмічає цими довільними акордами та паузами ритмічні акценти (гітара акомпанує власному чавканню та заїканню). Деколи ненароком гітарист шарпає струну сильніше, і гітара крякає, як якась домашня птаха – різкий звук пробивається крізь загальну заглушеність і таким чином задає ще один, третій рівень ритмічного акцентування. В цілому в Расселла виходить щось на кшталт старомодного, ручного глітчу.

...Описуючи свою практику приборкування електрогітари, в буклеті, який постачається разом з диском, Брюс Расселл говорить про duende (демон натхнення іспанських фламенко-гітаристів), цитуючи Гарсія Лорку. Десь між капризним електро-duende та напіврозсіяною лабораторністю і коливається ця музика. Другий трек – трьохвилинна мініатюра в квазі-Дерек-Бейлівському стилі (з сильним наголосом на “квазі”). Досить рухливо, і досить гарно. Третій трек – штудія пасивної монотонності. Низьке зудіння, тихі мікрохлопки та мікропостріли; пульсація зудіння часами розсмоктується в статичність, робиться то тихіше, то настирніше; часами музика одним краєм занурюється в фідбек, який починає пульсувати синхронно з зудом, змагаючись із ним в занудності.

Четверта імпровізація – півгодинний дует з Маттіном – виразно контрастує з соло-імпровізаціями Расселла. Присмак рутинності кудись вивітрюється. З малопоетичного й засміченого (шипінням підсилювачів, розмовами публіки та іншими не дуже виразними шумами) ґрунту перших хвилин, ніби ненароком, вагаючись, виростає і розквітає складна імпровізаційно-імпресіоністична поема – якщо тільки можна застосовувати слова “розквіт” та “імпресіонізм” по відношенню до цієї гри грубих стиків, пробоїн і дефектів. Але якщо вже продовжувати паралель із симфонічною поемою, то в ролі симфонічного оркестру тут виступають терзані болячками нестабільні частини інструментів, неналаштована підручна апаратура, шнури, роз’єми... а руки музикантів зі змінним успіхом намагаються, наче з великої відстані, диригувати усім цим недоприрученим причандаллям: збурюючи зворотні зв’язки, зіштовхуючи їх з то з гітарними пульсаціями, то зі спотвореними гітарними акордами, різко втихомирюючи їх висмикуванням шнурів. У цьому іржаво-рваному калейдоскопі настроїв є чимало справді пафосних спадів і зрушень... посеред звалища звукового сміття ніби на одну мить матеріалізується у вигляді землетрусу якийсь пафосний дух-полтергейст: може, це – дух Гектора Берліоза? дух Стравінського? duende? (а може, це мені тільки так здається?)... Так чи інакше, тут вчувається активна присутність руйнівних – а може, навпаки, рушійних? – сил, що ніяк не дають грубому інструментарію (електрогітарі й комп’ютеру) та його обслуговуючому персоналу (музикантам) працювати “спокійно” – себто, котитись за інерцією.

Андрій Орел