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JDG

"Living Underground" (CDR)

>JDG stands for John D. Gore, owner of Cohort Records, and sometimes known as Kirchenkampf or The Oratory Of Divine - with subtle differences between the two projects. I don't know why this is credited as JDG. 'All tracks are made from source material provided by Robert Carlberg's Anode Urban Soundscape Series' it says on the cover, but that doesn't ring a bell here. However it sounds nice: a muffled recording of street sounds. It's really hard to tell what Gore did to the material and how it sounded in its original form. Simple in its execution, but it certainly has something captivating. Like sitting on a square in a big city with eyes closed, listening to the multitude of sounds around with none standing out of the rest. Great if you don't have to deal with the noise of a big city on a daily basis. (Vital #472, Frans de Waard)

>Cohort Records from Indiana is run by the man behind Kirchenkampf, him being John D. Gore and 'Living Underground' is the first album being released under the JDG moniker. Being fairly unfamiliar with the sound of Kirchenkampf, I'm unable to make any references towards differences in sounds or conceptual approaches. So let's check this one out "as is". The album contains four untitled tracks which all have a playtime of above 16 minutes. They're nice and slowly evolving soundscapes based on the 'Anode Urban Soundscape Series' by Robert Carlberg. And here we head into another problem, because you humble storyteller is also unfamiliar with those. It has probably something to do with the gap between Indiana and Europe, but luckily the interweb gives an idea of what this series is about. "My Anode Urban Soundscape Series (AUSS) is a series of CDRs documenting particularly-interesting environments. Unlike other "natural sound" releases which seek to record environments free of mankind - or through editing, create such an environment artificially - my series dismisses the view that all human activity is "noise pollution." We live, most of us, in human society and the natural sounds around all of us include our fellow pink apes. The sonically-rich environments presented here will yield to careful attention, but they also can be placed in the background for reading, sleeping, or simply experiencing the ambience of a different time & place. My ultimate hope is to build up a library of such urban soundscapes, allowing one to go "around the world in 80 minutes. They also explore the idea that we don't have to travel to exotic locales or witness unusual events to find something worthy of our attention." Quite a long quote for a review, though it also triggers a basic question that comes to mind while listening to 'Living Underground', being: Why manipulate these recordings? Why did JDG choose these recordings to serve as a base for a new themed series? The original series are based on recording the truth in sound (that's how I read the quote). True ambience to be listened to as part of the listeners reality. And the Cohort website gives the advice to listen to the JDG recordings in high volume, in darkness! Strange ... So many questions arise while listening ... This release is not for people who only accept their food bite-sized, but it is a welcome addition to the collection of someone who likes to thinks while listening. (Gothtronic)

>JDG is John D. Gore who operates the very fine Cohort Records label out of Indiana and may be better known to some under the pseudonym 'kirchenkampf.' 'Living Underground' is a collection of four pieces, nearly equal in length over the course of some sixty-five minutes, of processed source recordings made from the 'Anode Urban Soundscape Series' earlier this year. Anode is the brainchild of Robert Carlberg, a Seattle-based accomplished music and book critic who, for several years, has also specialized as an archivist of field recordings. Without a lot of background information as to the nature of the sources here, I'm led to conclude that they are of the subterranean variety. Perhaps automobile tunnels, underground railways or even sewer passageways? At any rate it's an overall ambient experience, not as in 'ambient' music per se, but more like a 'you are there' type of ambience. Any threat of a completely realistic listening experience is trumped by the minimal but significant sound processing that, nonetheless, leaves the listener feeling like he or she is inhabiting some cave-like structure with a certain sense of claustrophobia. The opening track begins immediately with a bed of white noise that sounds like traffic in a rain storm. Granted that the source material is coming from the Pacific northwest, this doesn't seem so far-fetched. If this is truly an urban soundscape, where are the car horns or is that only an East coast phenomenon? Occasionally the general stasis is punctuated by foreign elements that take on a particularly dramatic character. These could be squealing brakes, the passing of vehicles in need of some much needed care, transport trucks spewing unwanted amounts of moisture in ones direction, who knows? The mystery of the recordings does really add a sense of drama to the whole thing, and that sense of unknowing lends an air of intrigue. If this first piece seems mysterious, then the second track is a complete enigma. A low rumble provides the foundation for very little else. When sounds do manage to bubble to the surface their identities still remain anonymous, but seem to be of an industrial nature. It's like listening to the daily proceedings of a paper mill in slow motion that makes for some very engrossing audio verite, even if I have no idea as to what I'm hearing. There's a menacing demeanor throughout the work that begins to gain prominence in the final six minutes. This is exacerbated by the near silent moments in contrast with a howling in the distance. It's no Chris Watson disk, but I'm still waiting patiently and attentively for whatever comes next. What actually comes next in the form of the third part of 'Living Underground' is a much noisier affair. In fact this could pass for some pedal feedback improvisation if I didn't know any better and there weren't so much reverb. This one reminds me of living in Boston where I spent a great deal of my time on the subways and trolley rails. The sounds were exceptional despite the otherwise unsavory conditions and rather putrid odors. This is an intense piece with the ebbs and flows of a high speed vehicle, the sudden stops and awkward social circumstances that are part and parcel of a commuter's life. Not so different from riding the 'T' with Michael Dukakis trying to chat you up while all you want to do is sip your coffee, read the paper and get to work on time. The last track seems to have speed at its foundation as well. There's a more dramatic contour here that contrasts the steady flow of traffic with less predictable elements and full-on waves of white noise. There's nothing really harsh about it, but it's merciless in its persistent realism and sonic honesty. Once you get comfortable, it kicks your ass; when you're ready for action, no dice. That's one of the beautiful aspects of field recordings; nature is not doing ALL of the talking, but control still remains out of your hands. Know your environment and maybe strike a balance; JDG certainly did. Mr. Gore has assembled a fine disk here. I wish I knew a little more about the source recordings and would prefer a little less reverb. Hell, if he had wanted to present a true sound document then he would have left Mr. Carlberg's recordings alone eh? I'm hearing music here folks. As for the fidelity, I guess I'd call it 'mid-fi.' It's not too muddy and not too clean, but better than a high-bias cassette if that means anything to you. Regardless, this is a fine contribution to the annals of processed field recordings...if such a thing exists. Good shit. (Heathen Harvest)

>Living underground is an ambient/ field recording cross breed, which as it’s title suggest takes all of it’s sound elements from field recordings of underground tube stations and other subterranean urban spaces then manipulates them into atmospheric and deep sounding expanses. The album features four tracks in all, each around the 15 to 20 minute mark, totalling in all just over an hour of deep, vast and often omnibus sonic fair. Track one starts off quite active and shifting in it’s make up, with all manner of mechanic groaning and echoed sound, bird sound , etc - giving the feeling of descending away from the surface and all it’s familiar and comforting sounds.  By the second track you feel a lot further down, away from the surface and alone - the tones are deeper, more stretched out, echoed and less distintictive. It's more drifting, vast and eerier in it’s make up. Track three is a return to the more mechanically/train rail like tones of the first track but instead of been shifting in tone it concentrates on stretching out this grating train track like tone. Sending it off back and forward towards you and away into the expansive darkness like a ghost train shifting in and out of an deep underground tunnel.  Track four takes a similar tact as track three, but users a few tones which are echoed and bounded around, it has a more hallucinogenic feel to it  as the tones dreamily and eerier a mass around you. A rewarding & atmospheric journey into subterranean tone manipulation that manages to nicely suck you deep down below everyday life into an eerier, hallucinogenic and strange often nocturnal world. (Musique Machine)

>JDG stands for John D. Gore, alias the man in charge of this and other fine labels active in the land of low-profile-good-quality abstract music and a very prolific artist under various monikers (for example, Kirchenkampf). In "Living underground", Gore used as exclusive source material Robert Carlberg's field recordings from the "Anode Urban Soundscape Series"; it goes without saying that the idea of vast metropolitan areas as seen (and heard) from long distances is what defines the "discouraging beauty" of this opus, whose platform is the unpromising whooshing that the compositional preference inevitably determines. We manage to distinguish engines, metallic clangours, even birds, sirens or whatever the mind suggests it's there (and usually is) but, by and large, the feel is one of a massive droning undercurrent. It doesn't take an eternity for the sounds to establish their authority on the nerves, in that peculiarly habitual occurrence according to which an accumulation of noise gets nearer to the beneficial effects of silence almost more successfully than a semi-quiet environment. The same applies here, an entrancing fusion of nihilism and beatitude that works wonders when echoing in your own setting. (Touching Extremes)