Axolotl
Memory Theatre
Important
120
2007
****

{$Karl Bauer}, a violinist and noise constructor, records under the name
{$Axolotl}, and it's easy to see why his work has generated such a
devoted following among adepts of what is affectionately known as the
"noise underground." While his compositions are complicated and dense,
they are rarely forbidding and never - well, almost never - truly
abrasive. On this collection of tracks taken from out-of-print vinyl
releases and private CD-Rs, he demonstrates how much variation is
possible within a fairly constrained structural approach: each track is
basically a shimmering, pulsing mass of sound, but each sounds very
different. {&"Chemical Theatre"} is chaotic but consonant, static but
constantly moving, like a huge school of glittering fish swimming in a
circle or a tightly-grouped colony of restless single-celled organisms.
{&"Oranur"} is darker and a bit more abrasive, with a high drone
floating over rising and falling mechanical moans of despair. {&"Lake
Garden"}, however, is simply and enigmatically beautiful and sounds like
a three-way musical summit meeting between {$Laraaji}, {$Yo Yo Ma} and
{$Fred Frith}. Perhaps best of all is the minimalist and quietly
gorgeous {&"Bions"} - least successful is the interminable and deeply
annoying {&"Illiaster"}, which closes the album on an unfortunately sour
note. Highly recommended overall.