Among the many small, largely digital labels that fill up increasing swathes of the internet, Unexplained Sounds Group stands out. With a solid back-catalog of experimental music, a number of physical releases and a diverse assortment of different genres, you never know exactly what to expect when you put on a new release selected and released by Mr. Pezzella, the label’s founder and boss. The latest such surprise is a selection of works by Scottish composer, organist and avant-garde synthesizer musician Michael Bonaventure. It is a peculiar journey through some strange limbo between the realms of Western art music, avant-gardistic modern experimental and ambient/dark ambient miasma (in approximately that order of importance).
Works 2008-2017 has a surprising consistency, considering the rather lengthy period of time covered. The music is unconventional, but not chaotic or extreme for the sake of being extreme. Rather, whenever a dissonant tone or an atonal noise enters what are mostly structures based on uncommon but melodic chords, pads and lines, it is for good reason. The anomalies (which occur frequently enough to almost, just almost, not be anomalies at all) function as thought-provokers, enlighteners and wake-up calls. The metal head or harsh noise junkie may find the proceedings too calm, and the pure dark ambient nut might feel that there is too much body and musical substance to get him where he wants to go, but if you’re just a wee bit open-minded you’ll find musical pleasure a-plenty.
Mr. Bonaventure’s background as an organist is very much evident in “Darenth III”, simply because it features prominently placed organ notes, but it is also present in more subtle ways across the track list. Whether we’re enjoying the fleeting ambient clouds of “Celestial Objects”, the dyspeptic shadows of “Dark Electronics” or the intelligent synthesizer musings of “Doxology”, Works 2008-2017 always bears the mark of its progenitors musical education and experience.
For those who would like to delve deeper into the works of Michael Bonaventure, there is a concise and informative page on him at the Scottish Music Centre. As a solid introduction to the many sides of this musician, I can think of no better choice than an investment in Works 2008-2017. It is available for digital download from Unexplained Sounds Group’s Bandcamp.