Non Credo - Happy Wretched

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Non Credo
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Non Credo is the Los Angeles based duo of multi-instrumentalists Joseph Berardi and Kira Vollman. She's a singer, he's a drummer, but their musical palette extends well beyond the scope of their primary instruments. Clarinets, marimbas, accordions, cellos, broken down keyboards, cheap electronics, altered children's toys and anything else that falls into their path are utilized. Nothing is sacred, nothing is wasted. Layering sounds and textures, they create enchanting songs and evocative moods in the seclusion of their studio, Zauberklang. Kira's voice displays a remarkable range, both tonally and emotionally, and their musical landscape is equally far-reaching. From gothic thriller to film noir haze to disturbed fairy tale, their audience is led on a journey with many detours and dark alleys along the way. Colorful characters inhabit their world, telling tales of the mundane elements of everyday life...greed, lust, hatred, crippling fear. You are never sure where this journey will lead, but be prepared to get seasick, beaten up, thrown in jail, fall in love, contract an STD, have your heart broken, your wallet stolen, get shanghaied, hog tied and crucified. Non Credo's debut LP, "Reluctant Hosts", was released in 1988 by No Man's Land, the German affiliate of Recommended Records, and re-released on CD in 2000. In 1995 they released "Happy Wretched Family" on the noted Canadian label, Les Disques Victo. They have also appeared on several CD compilations in Europe and the USA, and have composed music for film, radio, dance and performance pieces. Their powerful live performances, which mix song with improvisation, have been presented in galleries, theatres, museums and rock clubs, and they have played New Music festivals in USA, Canada (Musique Actuelle) and Europe. Non Credo's influences are wide and varied. They draw from all styles and eras of music, from contemporary experimental forms to Saturday morning cartoons to film scores to pygmy war chants. But they can be equally excited by a page from Edward Gorey, a B movie full of smoke and fog, a twisted Bruegel landscape or an overheard conversation in a late-night diner. Improvisation can act as a springboard for their compositions, but they always pay close attention to their keen sense of structure. Their improvs usually take the form of "instant compositions", rather than freeform ramblings. ............... HAPPY WRETCHED FAMILY: Superb, simply superb, but also disorienting and disquieting: that's Happy Wretched Family, Non Credo's second album, seven years after Reluctant Hosts. The avant-pop format found on the first LP has evolved into twisted shards of pop intermingled with improvisation and experimentation. The voice of Kira Vollman remains the center of attention. The first track, 'Sporco Mutande,' is sung a cappella and illustrates her very wide operatic range. Her vocal palette lies somewhere between Fatima Miranda and Diamanda Galas. Arrangements are polyphonic and complex, and include keyboards, drums, percussion, clarinet, cello, and tapes. Vollman and partner Joseph Berardi handle all instruments, with Bernard Sauser-Hall playing extra keyboards on three tracks. Every piece is a little gem that has been polished for three years. The numerous overdubs give the impression of being in the presence of a ten-piece ensemble -- there is a lot happening. They reach peaks on 'Curious Couplings' (haunting melody), the strange half-awake dream 'Piano Urine,' and 'Miliza Three Flights Down' (with improvised nonsense vocals where Vollman turns into a female version of Phil Minton). Compared to Reluctant Hosts, Happy Wretched Family is the work of fully matured artists of exquisite originality. As deranged and avant-gardist as these songs are, given the chance, they will leave their mark in the listener's mind - if your voice is flexible enough, you might even sing them in the shower. All Music Guide EXPERT REVIEW -- François Couture ............... 33 rebellions per minute 'The hieroglyphics that filled in the spaces' Non Credo, HAPPY WRETCHED FAMILY Some bands want to rock and roll all night and party every day. Bands like Non Credo, fortunately, understand that the proper role of night time is to scare the fuck out of you (I didn't mean that literally, although lyrics like 'His body conceded his yield; there's a good boy... He turns away feeling sick for tasting all forbidden fruit dropped along his way' suggest less than full respect for whatever fuck remains in you). And the daytime? Well, that's for voice lessons and the most neurotically inventive production re-takes you could ask for. Kira Vollman, in addition to playing clarinet, bass guitar, lead guitar, and keyboards here, is probably the single most impressive vocalist in my music collection. Not necessarily my favorite, but the most controlled, every word, pitch, choice of octave (from deep contralto to glass-smashing soprano to kneecap-smashing alto hiss), nuance, minor roll of the tongue. She writes and vocalizes the opening track as a Latin mass, the first of many tricks, all of them by her as sole vocalist--- her other styles include pop song, writhing speech-in-tounges, soft tongues-in-cheek, sprechstimme, and wordlessly melodic oratorio, switched among at a moment's notice for appropriate dramatic effect. Add in a bit of processing and radio sampling, and 'Miliza Three Flights Down', over it's warped drumming, sounds like as a one-act play featuring a choking opera soprano, a hapless Nazi officer from a tasteless sitcom who rescues her and restores her to operatic normality, an English-speaking mouse, a choir of Valkyries, an annoyed neighbor, and John Belushi as Samurai Florist, plus two computer-generated voices calling in their parts over defective phone lines. I suppose you could ask why--- but I'd answer 'cuz it's really cool'. As for the playing, she and Joseph Berardi (drums, percussion, marimba, keyboards, cello, viola) are great examples of why avant-garde bad notes and weird timings are different from junior high orchestras doing the same: just a continual and clear sense that everything here has been carefully selected as the single attest option, and that playing a different wrong note, or maybe a right one (which happens when necessary), has been considered and rejected for plain old ineffectiveness. Does it sound like anything? The melodies recall the Slapp Happy/ Henry Cow collaboration DESPERATE STRAIGHTS. The strange layered rhythmic textures are like Laika when calmest and somewhat Miranda Sex Garden-ish at densest. The ambience is much like Portishead, in the soundtrack noir and the cynical female-voiced words, but far busier. The strings suggest alternate opening themes for Jaws. If you don't know those names, well, keep the adjectives surrounding them and assume Non Credo sound weird, okay? Even if you do follow the comparisons, they don't account for the keyboards. Now, industrial music is pretty gloomy, but it does seem built around the notion that machines work: clang, 2, 3, 4, clang, 2, 3, 4. What Non Credo make, as decoration not main content, is industrial music for a world where record of your credit payments gets eaten, where your computer 'has committed an illegal operation' and it punishes you, where your TV gets static and your electrical connections get erratic, where those power brakes you never asked GM and Ford to invent require a few seconds to get the power going. The irony, of course, is that sounds like that are far harder to make than a programmed Energizer loop, especially when you care about making it sound good. Truth ain't just stranger than fiction, it's more work. Aren't you glad Non Credo did some of it for you.

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1) Sporco Mutande
2) Curious Couplings
3) Slips Through Fingers
4) Piano Urine
5) Ambrosia and Arsenic Tango
6) We Can Build You
7) Entzauberung
8) Snake Oil
9) Hacked
10) Big Teeth
11) Pay ; Learn
12) Tokyorama
13) Miliza Three Flights Down
14) Arms Trodden Off By the Cows
15) Joyeria
16) Looking for Eddie
17) Happy Wretched Family

Happy Wretched
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Happy Wretched | Non Credo