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Marcelo Radulovich/Marcos Fernandes - "The Whisper Chipper"

I first heard "The Whisper Chipper" on July 31 at Galoka's in La Jolla, and was quite taken by the live performance. However, the recording by Radulovich and Fernandes proved to be even more interesting due to its density and dynamic prowess. Using recordings of a wood chipper as source material, the first movement is introduced by a slowly evolving looped crescendo of minor seconds, and the piece continues to maintain a cohesive ambidexterity of rhythm and harmony as well as tension and release. It comes as a pleasant surprise to see a wood chipper take on a romantic quality by adding and decreasing the sound of wood chipping over harmonic drones and electronic sobs. Through all the frail webs created by the duo, they keep the improvisational element intact.

The second movement is a conclusion to the subtle tension created in the first. It does contain a few surprises and eventually winds down to the original motive introduced by the guitar. The final vocal "feed" is a bit distracting, aswell as commendable, for its sense of timing and dramatic dexterity.

The other compositions on this recording seem to be based around the same sonic formula with very few, if any,disappointments. Fernandes' percussion in "Shipbuilding" is an excellent addition to the electronic mix. The duo makes tasks like "Shipbuilding" and using "the Internet" seem quite poetic. Fernandes and Radulovich eventually sculpt a howling percussive clamor into intricate polyrhythms. They exhaust the exploration of range, dynamics, rhythm and harmony, and this may cause the listener to contemplate his or her next breath until the closing of each piece.

"The Whisper Chipper" proves to be a very rewarding experience for those with enough enthusiasm and patience to plunge into Radulovich and Fernandes' aural lexicon of impressive musical soundscapes.

     - Curtis Glatter, San Diego New Music

Sound: ****
Composition: ***
Musicianship: ***
Performance: **
Total rating: 12
Marcelo Radulovich and Marcos fernandes crank out what appears to be improvised music in a style that might be described as ambient industrial, though this label is not entirely accurate. The music is certainly based in noise: grinding guitars, machine-derived clamour, white noise and squall from radios, percussive shocks and a racket and din from miscellaneous sound sources. The grating, raucous edge has been removed from many of these sounds through studio processing, lending a softly focused, blurry, quasi-impressionist haze to the music. Additionally, many of the musical gestures are looped or grounded in long drones and presented at relatively low volume levels, making the appellation "ambient" more or less correct. While the craggy edge has been smoothed over somewhat, the sound sources remain noise, and much of the intensity stays intact. As a result, the music is at once evocative and disturbing, dreany and nightmarish. In any event, the music;s strength prevails.

     - Dean Suzuki

Sometimes overlooked, San Diego-based multi-instrumentalists Marcelo Radulovich and Marcos Fernandes, founding members of the Trummerflora Collective, have once again produced a wonderful haunting improvisational-based recording of wood chipper/shredder field recordings combined with layers of ambient guitar noise loops, radio collages and tamboura box percussion. The overall result of these processed compositions with multiple and delayed effects are stunning and beautifully mesmerizing. This is a must-have item for the avid connoisseur of ambient electro-acoustic music.

     - Gary Lopez, New creative music

MFollowing his 'Two Brains' album, reviewed in &etc v2.8, Radulovich has teamed up with Marco Fernandes (who runs the label) for this album. Sitting under the spine is a twig, which together with the recycled paper the inserts are printed on, reflects the instrument used to create the basic sound on the title track's two parts - a whisper chipper mulching machine. Over this Radulovich and Fernandes have improvised with guitar, radio, voice, percussion, eq and tapes.

The first 34 minutes, broken into 2 parts, comprise the title track. In the first a low throbbing drone regularly bursts into a clattering noise - I presume this is the chipper being put to work. Its position in the mix varies, and is more obvious in the middle section, perhaps reflecting a quieter phase for other instruments. Anyway, over, round and through this a variety parts are brought into play: plucking strings which are stretched and relaxed varying the note (it could even be a saw!), a guitar, long tones, extended keyboard chords, shimmering percussion and tortured synths. The density varies and elements come and go, but start to build at around 8 minutes with a wild burst of plucking, feedback guitar chimes in a few minutes later and then a couple of minutes before the end the noise drops out, leaving the instruments which fade out to a crackling-buzz. The second track seems less busy - and is longer - but the chipper is there in the ground. The mood that ended the first part is carried over, not precisely, but it is very buzzy, with guitarish high tones that phase into echoed pings, lots of wood being chipped, and developing spacey synths which grow out of a deep bass sound. A third of the way in things get quieter, with a gentler development of drone, strings, (samples? horns for instance) and percussion before starting to rebuild to dense layers of noise including high sirenlike tones, feedback and white noise, and which then pulls back again. In the last five minutes a ticking pulse takes over, followed by piano and background noises as a radio is tuned and voices sample in. This winds down the piece with little noises behind it.

A harmonising tonepulse opens 'Shipbuilding' with banging sounds around it, perhaps some organ and something harsher - synth or radio noise deep below. It shimmers like a machine throbbing into action, a combination of electronic and mechanical components, a sort of gentle noise, atonal and almost random as parts fire up. The radio becomes more apparent, on the edge of speech, and cymbals crash. The grumbling continues, with percussive effects and some high whines, fades and then builds before being cut off.

'The internet' has a whispering maelstrom of tones building and swirling for the first few minutes: these are accompanied by a percussion which works towards a crescendo, bring the ground noise with it. It bottoms into a pitterpatter and whine which move into another growth phase - a distant howl joins, percussive rumbling - ebbing and flowing to another peak of drums and high tones (one of which is a minifan). During a quiet phase some samples enter - someone saying 'the internet', a horn phrase, other voices - and another noisey peak occurs as it pulses in an edgy noise of samples, high atmospherics, buzzing to a close.

The underlying phrases from the mulcher and the fan are suggestive of the feel of this album - it verges between random noise and subtly manipulated sounds, with the weight definitely towards the second, swaying between periods of quiet beauty and aggression. It is edge music - both to the listener and the creator - which is intense in its demands, and it repays through its complex and constantly shifting sounds which seduce you into its noise heart. An intriguing piece, drawing on and reflecting the San Diego experimental/improv scene which we will have a look at next issue through Accretions' rummerflora 2 compilation.

     - Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera

Multi-instrumentalists Marcelo Radulovich and Marco Fernandes have often collaborated in musical projects, in and outside the Trummerflora Collective. The Whisper Chipper a collection of studio improvisations from late 1999 and early 2000 is their most ambient release yet. The heart of these four tracks consists of a field recording of a chipper/shredder. It is subdued to so many treatments that you will barely have the chance to identify it. The tape is equalized and looped in real-time, and accompanied by percussion, tamboura box (an analog drone generator), guitar, and radio.The resulting tapestry slowly reveals itself as a nice style of atmosphericnoise art. This music is all textures. Things get a little noisier on the two-part title piece, but never cross the threshold where it would become aggressive. "Shipbuilding" and "The Internet" stay calmer but also feel less involved. The use of radio waves adds a humorous touch -- that woman talking about her armpits shatters any pretentiousness possiblyconveyed by this otherwise serious music. If Radulovich and Fernandes'ideas deserve to be heard, this CD doesn't stand above the many similar ones delivered during the same period by a growing number of avant-garde artists turning to the lowercase esthetics of live electronics and textural sound art.

     - François Couture

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