whistle pig saloon |cs160









































The idea of repetition in the film Ground Hog Day (aka whistle pig day) is that the past as the future can be re inscribed with novelty, and appears in a more opaque form in the writings of Deleuze and Guattari - an opacity in part given by a certain reading of Nietzsche which carefully removes - "of the self same" - which is cool - as it arises out of a long line of (lit) critters, I.A. Richards, William Empson, William K. Wimsatt, Monroe Beardsley, F.R. Leavis as well as Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Geoffrey Hartman et al. so allowing the "re-appropriating a previous moment." It opens up I suppose a conscious re-evaluation - re-working of difference - to and with the pioneers of modernity such as Cage and Tudor. And so techniques become -re-new-ed. However one criticism needs to be addressed which is scientism - these works were produced in a culture *lab* - how immune from the Sokal affair? - but for myself at this moment more importantly the serious reality of Nietzsche's eternal return of the same as a not knowing identical experience, "this spider.. moonlight...", "the most scientific" not literary idea, a la Markov. "John configures the electric guitar as a site for multiple simultaneous points of interaction and queries the iconic cultural status of his instrument via feet, fingers and feedback. Robert crunches, growls and smashes both John`s live sampled sound as well as his private stack of industrial bits and organic beats." Either there is nothing new - or there is endless novelty - "two cultures"? Jliat (Vital Weekly)

Van Heuman is also half of this duo, along with guitarist John Ferguson. Equal parts STEIM-y electro-acousticism and raunchy guitar noise, the latter sometimes reminding me of Kaiser in his Synclavier period. Itchier than 'Stranger', it might find more favor among post-Zorn enthusiasts. Some good work (the piece "Hogg blog" stood out for me), but a bit too much in that hyperactive sprawl zone for my taste. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

Whistle Pig Saloon is Netherlands based guitarist and FX man John Ferguson and Robert van Heumen on laptop, joystick and allsorts. The groundhog (whistle pig) reference isn't incidental and helps point to a level of repetition and sonic revisitation that might initially be resisted by anyone committed to real-time, don't-look-back improvisation. Ferguson's lunging, whole-body approach to the guitar should be very reassuring. Van Heumen has a box full of noises at his disposal and the whole set is sensuous fun as well as intellectually stretching. Brian Morton (The Wire)

A noisy and exciting duo. As good as strong tea to wake me up this morning! Van Heumen (laptop, joystick and controls) and John Ferguson (electric guitar and pedals) make quite a racket, but it’s a controlled racket, like fireqorks of metallic and luminous sounds. The energy level is similar to the Pateras/Fox duo. I’ll keep an eye on these guys. François Couture (Monsieur Delire)

Repetycja organiczne dz´wiełki preparowanej gitary laptopowe t?o pustka ha?as intelektualne rozciałgniełcie. Astipalea Records (Felthat)

There is an ongoing tradition in academic electroacoustic music: over thinking and too much talk. Composers spend months of preparation for a piece, forming a system and working out every detail to eschew errors and exert control over the processes of a once-exciting creative spark. This occasionally works, but more than naught — even with the elder statesmen of the genre — these factors equal a sterile homogeny and a lack of happy accidents and exciting miscues that lead to attractive tangents. Because of the complexity and otherworldly nature of their sonic palette, many then feel the best way to connect (aka apologize) an audience to their universe is through lengthy extra-musical programs that break down the results. Unfortunately, this desire ultimately stunts the mystery an audience could feel while mentally interpreting the work.
Robert van Heumen and John Ferguson, however, prefer to withhold their agenda, leaving listeners free to enjoy and translate this almost-palpably visual, cerebral yet immediately mesmeric work as they see fit. With that, to say "the duo launches into their set" is a fitting metaphor, as this music exudes the grace and violence of a NASA enterprise: at times lingering in static poses on the dark side of the moon, other moments crashing face-first into the sun. On "Perpetual Mole", shimmering, hammered, pitch-bending guitar chords hover above barely-registered high frequency blips and swirling bursts of hiss. Soon, all systems are go and the music literally blasts off, mangling the digital limit and overwhelming the soundboard with psychoacoustic mischief (the passage will make you look up and wonder — one, who put a pack of dogs on my roof? and two, why are they stomping? — before settling into a floating gesture of pops and echoing harmonics. After a mountain of sub-woofer rumbles and ear-drum-piercing feedback — a clamor definitely heard inside a shuttle's boosters — Ferguson interrupts "Somatic Listening" with a naked, jazzy excerpt of "Blackbird", a phrase van Heumen immediately aborts in favor of more thunder; interestingly, the duo repeatedly skews the line of "what is tension, what is release", and you find yourself more uneasy and rigid during the quieter, representational moments.
The two continue in this fashion throughout the disc, reeling off an endless host of keen, compound sounds with an inimitable familiarity of their technique and each other...but wait? What exactly are they doing? Sure van Heumen could offer countless diagrams of his joystick-meets-laptop method in the liner notes, and Ferguson's unique anti-guitar attack deserves an explanation, but the duo prefers to let their demanding "I can't do anything else but stare at the speakers while this is on" music draw up schematics, construct the diorama and tell the stories. Dave Madden (The Squid’s Ear)

I feel creatively invigorated today after working hard on a number of sleeve designs and getting somewhere with them. I worked hard, aided by a constant flow of freshly ground coffee from waking at eight this morning until stopping late tonight when I realised I have to be up early in the morning and so had better get this written! Regular readers without anything important to remember int heir lives might remember a week or two back I said I was hoping to review a whole load of Creative Sources discs in one hit, a la the great little capsule reviews that Brian O turns out when the new deluge of CS discs hits… Well, having tried to do this, I didn’t work. While writing for The Wire recently has helped me become pretty tight at saying what needs to be said in 300 words, this blog isn’t meant to be that way. I tend to just spew words down here every night, without editing, often without even going back to read what I have written. This approach, which is a necessity given the limits of time I impose on myself here doesn’t lend itself so well to capsule reviews. So here goes with a longer CS review… The disc that caught my ear tonight came out some time in the last eighteen months. Its an eight track album named, curiously, Whistle Pig Saloon, by the duo of John Ferguson (electric guitar and effects pedals) and Robert van Heumen (laptop, joystick and controllers). The music is a fiery, hectic array of rapidly changing, often very interesting bits of sound, with a strong sense of “guitariness” throughout, but dispersed, processed and chopped up enough to make you keep doubting. The music is thoroughly electroacoustic, with (I think) the guitar sounds being used as samples by van Heumen, who threads them back into the music. So we hear the guitar, which is rarely played in a traditional manner anyway, and then we get the guitar fed through an array of wild filters back into the music. The end result is a mass of textures and colours that come thick and fast, broken up by little interludes, but a real assault on the senses when they really get going. Whistle Pig Saloon probably isn’t an album to put on if you feel like a relaxing night with some restful music. I am reminded by Otomo’s early improvisations, rapid cuts from one sound to another but with a use of feedback and natural electronic distortion to apply a kind of glue to hold it all together. While everything is very frantic, I tend to find myself enjoying the parts where structures are allowed to build, such as the section at the end of Somatic Listening when a squealing loop of feedback from van Heumen is pushed into the background by an impromptu bluesy finger picked section from Ferguson. Generally these little passages where the musicians settle into something interesting don’t quite last long enough for me, and the sensation of being bombarded by a constant flow of aggressive shapes and patterns can get a little tiring after a while, though the technical ability of the musicians to produce such a mash up of material in real time is impressive. Its pure coincidence, but the first time I listened to this disc, around midday, I also read Brian Olewnick’s piece about Hendrix at his blog. Naturally I began to think of this music as some kind of distant extension of the creative spark Hendrix began, the urge to extend the guitar out from its originally intended restrictive role. In the piece Brian wonders where, if he had lived longer than he did, Hendrix’s music might have ended up in this technological era. I suspect it actually wouldn’t have sounded much like this. Although much of the pyrotechnics are here on Whistle Pig Saloon, when I think about it what is missing is a little soul, a feeling of personal expression beyond the crashing together of interesting samples. As exciting and technically excellent as this album may be, it probably lacks that extra something that draws you back to music, a feeling that the musicians have something to say, something to connect with. With Whistle Pig Saloon I don’t get that feeling. The album, for all of its impressive features feels a bit cold and technologically clinical. Still, a good, very well put together album by two new names to me. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)

Whistle Pig Saloon are Robert van Heumen on laptop and controllers and John Ferguson on guitar and effects. Their music deals with drastically misshapen textures, instigated at first by Ferguson’s axe; at times they sound processed in advance and already unrecognisable per se, or else the cure applied by Van Heumen alters – make that “devastates” – whatever original trait is left of the six-stringed apparatus. It goes without saying that the large part of this record is frantically running from an inner space to the other, its whimsicality dictated by systematic changes in timbre and dynamics. There were occasions, during a headphone sitting, in which your correspondent was continually decreasing the volume to evade membrane stabbing. Essentially, a sense of explosive fluency underlines the skilled building of a 43-minute textural citadel, presenting the project as an interactive 2-head unit that knows what to do at any given moment. Scrambling across a multitude of dangers, the couple manages to remain unscathed by the redundant garbles that frequently classify several brands of feather-brained computer-fuelled gobbledygook. Starting from semi-agnosticism in terms of related genres, these gentlemen ended up creating a form of their own. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)