Review of Asteroid by Graculus

Review of Asteroid by Graculus

The Screaming Target reviews Asteroid by Graculus, recorded between September 2021 and February 2022 featuring improvisations and electronic re-imagining. All intriguing stuff is it not dear readers. Graculus, named after the weird bird in Noggin the Nog, are based in Liverpool.

Graculus – Asteroid
Out now through Whi Music

Graculus release a double CD called Asteroid featuring Richard Harding on classical guitar and Phil Hargreaves on sax and flute, Graculus as a concept has been around since 2008 and recorded one CD this being the second one.

The idea of Graculus is to improvise around the structure of classical guitar and flute and occasional saxophone. Each instrument being diametrically opposed to each other and so, creating a tension in the musical timbre or tonality produced.

In terms of being diametrically opposed, this could describe the two CDs. The first one being completely different from the second. The second one is a restructured version of the first CD having taken the raw data from the first and electronically re-imagined.

So, through that process it now bears little relation to the original CD in question. But that”s ok, because that’s interesting in itself is it not.

The music contained in the first CD reminds me of the work of Teiji Ito, a Japanese composer who would work with filmmaker Maya Deren on her film “Meshes of the Afternoon”.

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) directed by Maya Deren

Ito would combine traditional Japanese theatre music (kabuki and no) with elements of American avant garde music. The other world feelings provoked by the esoteric sounds would echo the surrealistic elements in Deren’s films.

The Japanese influence extends to the structure of the music played on the first side of the CD. To me, this resembles a Japanese Haiku. Where several layers of text are placed together to create alternative rhythmic patterns. Other tracks remind me of Eric Dolphy in his minimalist later period.

The publicity sheet makes reference to the futurist poet Mayakovsky. This was for Graculus an influence in choosing the titles. But does the influence extend to the chaotic structure of the other tracks on the CD. Becoming a musical version of various neo Dadaist and Futurist ideas that play with narrative structure.

The other CD is as I mentioned before, an electronic re-imagining of the last CD. The methodology is explained in great detail by Richard Harding inside the press release.

And to be honest it would have probably taken half of this review to be able to pass on the details about the creative process. Taking the raw data and creating something which is completely new.

A brief explanation though would be that it was recreated through using various sound processes. Such as extended mellotron effects, and then adding reverb and delay. So, pushing the sonic base to a degree where the notes actually change from their original position and become something else. The sound is then manipulated from that base.

But to be honest, on first hearing it sounds like it was recorded in outer space. Reminding me slightly of Brian Eno’s album “Apollo” based on Eno’s memories of the Apollo missions in the late sixties and early seventies. The album captures the out-of-this world sense. After witnessing space exploration on TV. Or, perhaps, another soundtrack. This time Tarkovsky Solaris, a strange sci fi art movie.

Solaris (1972) directed by Tarkovsky

So, all the interesting stuff. Graculus has then, through these two albums, managed to produce something really interesting and worthwhile recommended.

More information about Graculus and Asteroid can be found at these sites:

Downloads can be obtained through the Bandcamp site, https://philhargreaves.bandcamp.com/album/asteroid
http://www.whi-music.co.uk

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