Black Beauty

Andrew Liles

Black Beauty

Year: 2007
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (MT127)
Format: CD

Dead Roses
A Numbers Game
Bamboo Sheep
All Things Bright and Beautiful and Corrosive
The Artless Shaman
George the Chemist
Tinder Box

Forming part three of ‘The Vortex Vault’.

Limited edition of 300 numbered copies plus 100 numbered and signed copies available from Andrew Liles.
Gatefold sleeve made with 24 point cardstock, with an insert, a coupon and a black Obi Strip around the CD.

The Vortex Vault was originally released as a collection of 12 CDs. The discs came out on the first of every month from December 2006 through to November 2007. The entire collection is available at the Andrew Liles download site.


For its centerpiece, Part Three of Andrew Liles’ collection of rarities features two extended experiments in ambient music and found sound. The first, “All Things Bright and Beautiful and Corrosive,” is as bleak as its title suggests, and as varied. Starting off with quiet ambient drones, creaks, and occasional tapping sounds, it also features slowly echoing gongs and washed out crashes of cymbals. For its second movement, soft chimes slip into the mix, adding a sort of creepy music box vibe vaguely reminiscent of Coil’s early work, and the emphasis on random and unexpected sound effects calls to mind Nurse With Wound. “George the Chemist” is less eclectic, but perhaps also less unsettling, with softly ringing tones evoking the subtle loneliness of Tor Lundvall or Raison D’etre. It’s the scattering of short pieces on Black Beauty though, that prove to be most compelling. Each a quick experiment in melody, they run the gamut from beatnik weirdness on the rain stick-soaked jazz wails of “Dead Roses” to the Tim Burton chiming of “Tender Box.” Each is long enough to present a thought, but short enough to leave you wanting more; the eerie dulcimers of “A Numbers Game” in particular would make a good basis for a longer piece. “The Artless Shaman,” on the other hand, is perfect just the way it is; any more of its mellow tribal beats and puzzled, puzzling growls, and the fun would be ruined. And Black Beauty is, most importantly, a fun CD; it has its dark places, but Liles’ passion for extravagantly weird music comes through even in its bleakest moments.
Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007
By: Matthew Johnson
Associate Editor

Classical Drone
Things take a decidedly weird turn on the third volume, Black Beauty. For one, although there are still a couple of short tracks that would have fit nicely on Black Hole, there are two much longer tracks, each clocking in at sixteen minutes. In addition, some of the music is considerably more abstract here. The opening track, Dead Roses, is a wispy electroacoustic piece, with a couple of instrumental reference points with some percussion and a few trumpet licks, but which otherwise would fit comfortably with some of the more subdued work of the French-Canadian acousmaticists on the Empreintes Digitales label. On the longer tracks, he has time to show how his drones and melodies transform themselves into each other over time. For example, on All Things Bright and Beautiful and Corrosive, percussion scrapings and boomings with extended resonance mingle with garbled and otherwise treated vocal sounds, finally joining with a melodic loop played on a gamelan. The other long track, George the Chemist, uses slow loops combined with more constant and ominous drones, with a loop played on flute and percussion floating in the middle.