Avarus - II (HP Cycle LP)
Who are HP Cycle, and where do they get off putting out amazing records? They first came into my peripheral with last year's Shackamaxon LP, but they've also done recordings by Richard Youngs with Neil Campbell and Alex Neilson, LSD March, Ceylon Mange and an older one by Finland's Avarus ("III", the precursor to "II" I imagine). Alls I can tell you is that they're based in Toronto and they know the score. Any domestic label that puts wackos like Avarus on wax so I don't have to pay crazy import prices is A-OK with me. The only thing I can tell you about this particular slab is what's printed in the lower right hand corner of the back sleeve: "Avarus II played in Turku, Finland 2004". Well there you go.
I can't even being to guess who's on this disc, or how many of the Avarus players participated (I think they're up to 9 members now or something?) but if you've ever heard one of their albums you have a pretty decent notion of what to expect. Side one begins with an ambling, noodley string instrument being scraped and plucked, slowly morphing into a hypnotic dubby bounce with quiet electronics being shot off in the background. Ten minutes in a more ominous tone takes hold, advancing like dark clouds over bizarre tape loops and sound effects. Occasionally you can hear someone talking, but I don't know if it's an actual band member or coming from one of their machines. The side takes a very druggy sweep with that same weird rhythm chugging alongside the sounds of tremendously zapped tapes n' things. I think there's a bit of flutewerk towards the end as every starts winding down and the wheels fall off. It's hard to envision this being played live, I suspect some post-recording studio fuckery but who's to say.
The flip opens up with the group playing over a weird psych pop/hip hop??? beat, again accompanied by various unplaceable sound effects, harmonicas, and god knows what else. There is a brief spurt of applause though so maybe this is live? Anyway it quickly cuts to more bass/electro gizmodgery, homemade/damaged instruments and the sound of things running in reverse. The last half is a pretty apocalyptic sounding post-war panorama with an aggressive-sounding flare and a dog barking in the distance. No, literally. It ends with a rather impressive showing from a toy keyboard.
I've never seen Avarus live but I'm sure it trumps hearing them on record, especially a record as nondescript as this (although I do remember particularly liking the tUMULt 2CD quite a bit). For all I know though, this could be one of the Avarus dudes in the studio with some tapes of a few of their gigs chopping them up and reworking them. Then again maybe Avarus is like the Magic Kingdom. You just...gotta believe.