CRYSTAL PLUMAGE "night conference" c30


MUSIQUE MACHINE (02-10-2013)
by Hal Harmon
Italian label Sincope presents the cassette Night Conference by European duo Crystal Plumage. Ostensibly named after the Argento film, Crystal Plumage is a collaboration between Benjamin L. Aman from France (guitars and electronics) and Sean F. Barrett from Germany (electronics & synth).
I'm not familiar with either Sincope or the band itself, but the aesthetics of the cassette piqued my interest. It's just a standard norelco case and j-card, but the grainy, black and white image of a man in deep thought caught my attention. I don't know, something about it seems sterile and emotionless, which I strangely gravitate towards. Plus the mysterious title Night Conference just seems like a perfectly fitting accompaniment to the art as the figure on the cover seems intently listening in on a lecture. But what does it sound like you ask?
It just so happens that the music presented on this short tape (c30) is exactly what I've been listening to a lot lately, namely minimalistic synth drone. And Crystal Plumage manage to produce those sounds to near perfection. Side A starts with a long and steady electronic hum that continues for several minutes. Reverberating synth pulses join the drone, adding darker overtones to this already nocturnal piece. The duo manage to evoke a very sinister mood,cold and calculating, through the use of really simple layering of sounds. Near the end of the track a guitar makes it's presence known, producing it's own effective reverberations. Then it ends abruptly.
Side B starts off a little more active than the first track, though certainly maintaining the same formula. There's more minimal electronic reverberations, coupled with longer synth washes. That's all great, but my favorite part of the track takes place several minutes in. The electronics recede and there is a long passage of: junk rustling, shutting doors, voices, clicking, clanking, and other human activity. This takes up much of the track's mid section. The final 1/3 of the track reverts back to the electronics with a dark synth rumble, a brighter wobbly synth sound, wide laser synth pulses, and a garbled robot voice.
This short cassette is a real gem, which I'm very happy to have discovered. This release is by far one of the most pleasant surprises I've stumbled across in my current review pile. This is limited to 50 copies and was released in 2012, so I'm not sure about it's availability. But if synthy drone is your cup of tea, you can do no better than Crystal Plumage.


by FdW
I am not sure if I heard of Crystal Plumage before. This is a duo of Benjamin L. Aman (guitar and electronics) and Sean F. Barrett (electronics and synth). They recorded their pieces in Berlin, and side A is filled with one piece, 'Neon Swans', maybe as a nod to the Yellow Swans? It sounds like so, with a heavy drone like sound that is right buzzing around, in a minimal way. Piercing and loud, yet  a drone. Not unlike the other Swans. A slow pulse, a minimal change over, breaking it up and down, so that the end is something completely different. The other side has four shorter pieces. Here too we have something that is very minimal, and a bit less loud. Oscillating tones, mildly distorted guitars, all moving around in minimal fashion. Here I thought of Idea Fire Company in concert. This is a great cassette, I thought, exactly the kind of noise/drone that are highly appreciated here.

by Emiliano Grigis
Probabile omaggio a Dario Argento il nome di questo duo formato dal francese Benjamin L. Aman (Glue Pour, Lucie Huck Palace, Poldr, Rose Poussin) e dall'americano Sean F. Barrett (Koroshiya, Spectre Circuits), entrambi residenti nella città più cool del decennio... Berlino naturalmente! I Crystal Plumage non sono alle prime armi e si sente fin da subito in questa cassetta da 30 minuti edita per Sincope. Il lato A è interamente occupato da Neon Swans, che con il suo pulsare aritmico contorniato da suoni di chitarra e synth avanza inesorabile in una atmosfera a dir poco claustrofobica. Sul lato B trovano posto quattro brani divisi tra freddo rumore, field recordings e accenni di chitarre e tastiere, mantenendo sempre una costante sensazione di disagio e di cristallina quanto fredda angoscia. Di sicuro non un ascolto rilassante, ma "il manico" c'è tutto e fa sì che il disco cresca ascolto dopo ascolto.