Stephen Vitiello Scratchy Marimba

Sound artist and electronic musician Stephen Vitiello's Scratchy Marimba is the second in the Meld series and brings together six tracks of listenable avant-garde music. Vitiello works in many forms of media ranging from CD-ROM to audio-visual installations, dance choreography music and soundtracks, a recent example being Hal Hartley's film Flirt. So it is no surprise that the record begs for visual accompaniment. Working with Hahn Rowe on turntables, Anthony Moore on subtle guitars and the broken beats of Dean Sharp, Vitiello's sound collage is a fractured version of those musical innovators par excellence, Can. The warm scratching sound of needle on record while tinkering guitars meld beautifully with the disjointed percussion - the highlight being the title track for its haunting melodic refrain. There is a lot of colour and depth in the first few tracks. Imagine the experimental short films from '50s director Harry Smith, with its wash of colours and kaleidoscopic images, and you get a visual translation of Vitiello's music. He could have been inspiration for Blonde Redhead's later works with their mad, disjointed sound, and the listener almost waits for vocalist Kazu Makino to wail her way into a track or two. But by the end, "Taxi Take Off Turbulence and Landing" and "Taxi Take-off With Anthony's Landing" drag the listener into near claustrophobic territory; the kind of lulling drone that pulls you along in a bad dream. A haunting but compelling listen. (Beggars Banquet)