By Ted Jamison /// Staff Writer
Alright, let’s get some things sorted. I’m not here to lecture you on Pitchfork’s “Best New Music,” nor will I sit here and recite what I just read on Stereogum. My goal: pure, D.I.Y. archaeology. Let’s kick dust.
Artist: McCloud Zicmuse
Tape:The Well Tuned Iaeniaen
Genre: experimental, DIY
Label: Shelter Press (St. Martin, France)
About the Tape:
There are a few things you should know before listening to McCloud Zicmuse’s new tape, “The Well Tuned Iaeniaen.” For instance, it’s from France. Also – Zicmuse doesn’t use traditional instruments. The tape is full of “iaeniaens” – a family of improvised instruments “constructed intuitively with available materials, usually a tin can or wooden box, a stick, a string and a couple of screws.” Don’t worry, there is a story.
Originally from Olympia, Washington; Zicmuse was touring with a band in Europe when his guitar was stolen just before a stint at an artist residency in Lyon, France. A musician in an artist residency – without any instruments – and no stipend to buy new ones! Like any good artist Zicmuse made due with what was available, hand-crafting an array of instruments with which he recorded this tape.
Contrary to the title of the tape, iaeniaens are NOT well tuned, in fact they’re out of tune. According to its description, the tape “allows for the weakness of the instrument, it’s lack of precise tuning mechanism and rough components, to be transformed into a sonic meditation” in which “micro-tonal hazards” are embraced.
Listening to this tape isn’t easy, and that’s the point. It’s paint splattered on a canvas. How many times do you have to gaze into a Rothko before you actually feel it? Listening to this tape is a similar experience. You kinda have to meet it halfway. Only once your mind is on board, your ears will follow. Its only downfall: frustratingly inconsistent volume levels track by track.
About the Label:
From the website: “Shelter Press is an independent publishing company based in the French Alps. Our publishing program focuses on contemporary art, poetry and experimental music through artist books, monographs and records.”