2015 has been a great year for new sounds. Here are some of my favourite choices in no particular order.
William Basinski - Cascade (2062)
The albums of William Basinski, America’s most-renowned quasi-ambient tape loop manipulator, are most affecting (or perhaps just most approachable) when they provide a temporally specific “in.” It’s no wonder that The Disintegration Loops and their 9/11 narrative remain his most well-known pieces, and the wisps of 1980s Brooklyn street noise rippling the loops of 92982 tinged that album with a hyper-specific nostalgia. The temporal rifts built into pieces such as those opened the door to reams of theoretical and emotional loops, time and affect torquing around one another in bewildering ways.
But there’s always a first-level affect at work in his pieces as well — repetition of emotionally resonant minor chord loops as a gateway into deeply felt sorrow — but aside from 2003’s Melancholia, he’s rarely approached his work with such strict focus on crafting a specific somatic response as he does on Cascade. Like his other pieces, it’s simple to describe: an endlessly repeated piano figure draped in delicate reverb and echo, lightly hissing with tape distortion, minutely altered over the course of its 40-minute duration, aside from an abrupt drop in volume followed by a nearly choral figure for its last few minutes. It is, of course, crushing.
In a way, it’s a strange inversion of Eno’s now-insufferable and inescapable bit about ambient music functioning as furniture music, allowing for attentive listening but not requiring it, etc. etc.; except that, in this case, the music barely changes upon closer inspection. One notices the changes in reverb, in new harmonies and dissonances, but they’re hardly the focus, quickly overwhelmed by an explosive affective response, an overpowering and enveloping sadness. It’s a misery not unlike Cobain’s also-inescapable but equally valid quote about the comfort in being sad, that strange combination that brings forth incommensurable words like “unbearable” and “cathartic” in the same breath. And that breath brings along a movement into the physical — the catch in one’s gut, the uptake of breath, the tears pooling in the eyes. (I’m crying now, with the piece on for reference as I write, for no particular reason and for no one in particular.)
None of this is new for Basinski, whose work has always crept up on a listener only to emotionally erupt at their cue. But here, he’s stripped aside much of the theoretical sprawl, resulting in a work that feels both minor, even by his standards, and gargantuan, even by his standards. Here we’re adrift among crystalline shards of piano and minor chords, which work because they work, with little else to hold on to. We can grasp onto his craft for help — there’s no doubting that a simple loop wouldn’t yield the power his nearly-unnoticeable but methodic, thorough manipulation of timings do — but his craft is so subtle that it nearly eludes us. This stripping down leads to strange avenues — Does one feel cheated? Have we approached the terrain of the “merely cinematic”? What does it mean to feel this much when there’s no signifier to attach it to? (Those burning towers made it so easy for us, validated our misery, put a narrative to it.) Is a sadness for no one in particular merely a form of ego-love?
Cascade remains impenetrable on the matter, but perhaps that theatrical dive into hushed tones and choral rebirth at its close provide some clues, their overt manipulation finally bringing the piece into focus as a performance rather than a process (another rarity in this oeuvre). The tape loops and, as always, the temporality bound up in their tiny snaking physical bodies have been brought forth to perform, Basinski (winkingly? wittingly?) reminds us, and we diligently weep. The misery landscape here reveals its ties to the operatic tradition, with textural complexity bound up in the simplicity of the human response. And we go home, our eyes bright.
after a break of 5 years, alva noto continues his xerrox series with »xerrox vol. 3«, entitled "towards space", a journey that started with »xerrox vol. 1«, referring to the "old world", and »xerrox vol. 2«, heading "to the new world".
using the process of copying as a basis, the xerrox series deals with the manipulation of data by means of endless reproduction. due to the inherent vice of the procedure that becomes especially visible when copies are made from copies, everyday sounds are so much altered that they can be hardly associated with the source material anymore. as a result, entirely new sounds are created that, being copies of originals, become originals themselves.
on »xerrox vol. 3«, a new aspect enters the scene. inspired by childhood film memories from the 1970s including tarkovsky‘s adaption of "solaris" and "la isla misteriosa y el capitán nemo" based on jules verne‘s "the mysterious island", the record shows alva noto‘s private side. with its very intimate atmosphere, it is a personal reflection of dreams, an imaginary journey through emotional landscapes or, as he himself puts it, a "cinematographic emotion of a soundtrack to a film that actually does not exist in reality."
alvo noto himself further states, "I see »xerrox vol. 3« as my most personal album so far. I have to admit that this emotional output is a surprise even for myself. it remains exciting how the last two albums of this series will sound like."
No Ware is a label started in May of 2014 by German producers Uwe Schmidt, AKA Atom TM, and Material Object. With a speed and consistency typical of Schmidt, it's put out out three 12-inches and a dozen or so digital releases in the last 12 months, including the first release in five years from Max Loderbauer and Tobias Freund's collaboration as NSI. The founders' own collaboration as No. Inc. has reflected the label's focus: slightly skewed, digitally-constructed ambient sounds, rich in texture but icy in character.
No. I is a label compilation mixed by Schmidt and edited by both artists. At first it feels like a 75-minute mix of high definition textures flowing patiently into each other, and it's difficult at first to find the seams where the tracks combine. Three of the first four feature Atom TM in some capacity; the other is by Chile's Raw C. Mixed together like this, they allow you to float on top of the ornate, spacious sound, dipping in and out as you please. It's not an opening sequence that demands your attention. Start pushing up the volume though, and wonderful details in the low-end start to appear.
The first real bassline is the pulse of Jacek Sienkiewicz's "Berceuse," which is akin to a Basic Channel track in its combination of rootedness and ephemerality. Even when the more percussive stabs of Atom TM's remix of Sagittarius A's "Omega Point" begin to poke through, the top end of the mix stays filled with cloudy, amorphous textures. This dualistic approach is extremely effective, leaving you feeling like you're being pulled two ways at once. When the mood eventually calms on NSI.'s "A.R.T. V," the effect is both confusing and surprisingly uplifting.
The most striking thing about No. I is its cohesion. Over a year's worth of releases by artists from all over the world, Atom TM and Material Object have maintained a rich but focused aesthetic sensibility. Only rarely does the consistent beauty of the sound design become saccharine, as with some reversed piano taken from a live recording of an Atom TM performance in Japan—in such an inscrutable sonic context, the recognisable piano sounds out of place. The propulsive melodic sequence of Material Object's "Omega Point" remix that comes next, though, is utterly beautiful. It's an ideal conclusion to the mix, and a fine way to cap a year spent challenging the idea that ambient music ought to be a passive experience.
A breathtaking album, nothing short of a masterpiece!!!! Starting from this edition* onward, our Zeit Composers series will go vinyl, and will definitely open up to international artists beside the usual Italian suspects. The first release in the new vinyl-only series features the collaborative effort of Belgium-based talented composer Giovanni di Domenico (of Italian origins) and avant-everything master Jim O'Rourke. A long composition for string and electronics, Arco is a piece for sustained tones and drones,a vividly immersive, almost physical; the subtly shifting tones, the way the overtones interact with each other, the evolution of the piece, are all impeccable, much in the vein of acclaimed composers like Catherine Christer Hennix, Eliane Radigue and David Behrman, although with a warmer" soul.
It explores the antinomy between stillness and movement, buildings towards a hypnotic (and rewarding) aural experience. In Giovanni di Domenico's words: "ARCO is born out of two necessities, strongly interrelated: 1) creating a sonic space where the concept of waiting (patience?) can turn into form, and 2) doing this together with Jim O'Rourke, a musician who finds in form and its use his true greatness; The structure of the composition is quite simple: it is based on a cell of four repeated notes (the Dna of the piece), forming a melodic/harmonic texture which slowly freezes into suspended, levitating chords, in which the passing of time itself becomes a sort of harmonic extension, and in which the strings and the splendidly rich sonic palette of the electronics fuse into the true essence of Form."
In recent years Sunn O)))’s recorded output has been mostly limited to collaborative works. The bescumbered escapades of Soused, their album with Scott Walker, opened the band’s drones and Walker’s scatological lyrics to a whole new audience, whilst collaborations with Ulver, Pan Sonic and Nurse With Wound gave the band opportunities to explore new pastures whilst retaining their identity.
On paper, Kannon is the first non-collaborative Sunn O))) effort since 2009’s Monoliths & Dimensions, but a quick scan down the list of contributors suggests that it is, in reality, very much a group effort. As usual, co-producer Randall Dunn is on board, and once again long-term vocalist Attila Csihar lends his gurgled growl to proceedings. Also on board are Rex Ritter and Oren Ambarchi, amongst others.
However, the concept of Kannon as a whole relies, not just on the drones and tones of Grimmrobe mainstays Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, but also the commissioned art of Angela LaFont Bollinger, whose sculptures grace the cover, and the liner notes of Aliza Shvartz (whose piece about Sunn O))) for The Brooklyn Rail, entitled Black Wedding, is well worth a read). The presence of Shvartz and Bolinger are absolutely necessary to provide Kannon with the kind of scope that is expected from Sunn O))). Shvartz’s essay on the nature of duality, metal, gender, space and void might well be impenetrable at times, but these subjects lie at the heart of Sunn O))) and within the nature of this album in particular.
Kannon takes its name from the Buddhist Goddess of mercy, and is essentially a three-movement offering on behalf of the band that is, by turns, a prayer, an invocation, and in the case of Kannon II, something of a homage to doom metal. Where it differs from the band’s previous work is in its directness. At a little over 30 minutes’ running time, Kannon is a relatively short, concise work, which sees the band not at their most “metal” as has been suggested (with the exception of elements of the aforementioned Kannon II), but at their most focussed. Sunn O))) tend to cloak themselves and their intentions be it with robes, layers of distortion, volume, or clouds of thick smoke, but here everything seems to be laid bare. Even the colossal shifting chords and bass notes that are Sunn O)))’s calling card seem to be cleaner than usual and delivered with a keen accuracy that was previously only hinted at. This is not to say that Kannon as a whole is not capable of causing nosebleeds at the right volumes, there are tones here (particularly when the main trio synch up perfectly) that can do real damage, but the brutality of the band’s sound seems to have been pared back a little.
Kannon I finds the band at their most meditative and joyous. The high register guitar squalls that wrap around Attila’s reptile-in-ecstasy vocals feel positively heavenly. Listen closely to Kannon II and behind the feedback and Slayer in treacle riffs there seems to be a brief flirtation with sleigh bells before it develops into a doom-laden Gregorian chant that fizzles out in curious fashion, rather than reach for epiphany. Final track reaches back into the band’s history and reworks an old track “Cannon” giving it a different and new form of existence, albeit a somewhat stripped back and oddly distant interpretation. Certainly the oscillations, pulses and drones are all present, but there’s an almost clinical feel to the playing and production that is at odds with the organic, unfurling beauty of the version from 2008. Kannon is most certainly the shortest and most precise Sunn O))) offering to date, but brevity doesn’t mean there’s a lack of quality here, just a slightly different approach.
This is still a solid offering that initially might feel a little lacking in depth and scope, but all the elements are in place. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Kannon is that, although it is officially the first Sunn O))) album since 2009, it’s the collaborative nature of the whole that makes it work on a conceptual level. Its concise nature, glossy finish and sense of clarity (something that even extends to the band photography) suggest that, as strange as it might seem, this is not a return to Sunn O)))’s metal roots, but is instead, for all intents and purposes, their pop album.
Akira Rabelais has long been in our list of the most interesting, overlooked producers in electronic music. His early material for Mille Plateaux offshoot Ritornell was nothing short of revelatory, a mysterious, complex maze of elaborate layering that genuinely sounded unlike any of his contemporaries, or anything we've heard since. He was then picked up by David Sylvian's Samadhisound imprint and released an incredible, career-defining head-scratcher of an album in 2004 called "Spellewauerynsherde' - one of the most spectacularly odd and brilliant electronic records of any description you'll likely hear - seriously - seek it out.
Anyhow, that preamble is just to set out the extent to which we're all Rabelais fanboys here - so this new double album, the first disc in collaboration with Harold Budd no less, has arrived here with much excitement, offering his first new recordings in over five years.
The Little Glass breaks down clearly over two discs; the first containing four plaintive solo piano parts by Budd and Rabelais, followed by a 2nd disc presenting Rabelais’ hour long, inharmonic, electronic transformation of the preceding material.
Rabelais has collaborated with Budd before, he provided his own incredible side-long second CD to Budd's majestic Avalon Sutra album, and while the piano pieces that make up the first CD here are bloody lovely and all, pardon us if we do hurry on to the second disc, because, well, you know this is going to be special.
With a deliquescence touch perhaps best compared to William Basinski, the L.A.-based artist renders the original improvisations as a breathtaking hour of glistening tone clusters and mid-air melting partials growing in complexly yet naturally as fractals experienced under the lens of DMT, or a time-lapse image of ice crystals forming at the edge of moving water.
To be quite honest, we haven’t the foggiest as to what process that he’s using to achieve these results - it may well be his trusted Argeïphontes Lyre software but, we can’t confirm this - however that matter only ratchets the sensation’s enigmatic appeal - if ever there was a more acute application of the word.
It’s the sort of music that gives us involuntary rapid eye movements, as though we’re in sleep mode while awake, making time feel plasmic and space almost tangible in a sense that you could almost huff up his starlight and recline in his hyaline webs.
Live Knots, Oren Ambarchi’s first release for PAN, presents two live realizations of ‘Knots’, the epic centrepiece of his Audience of One (Touch, 2012) release. Built on the interplay between Ambarchi’s swirling, guitar harmonics and the metronomic pulse and shifting accents of Joe Talia’s DeJohnette-esque drumming, the piece merges the organic push and pull of free improvisation with an overarching compositional framework.
‘Tokyo Knots’ presents the complete recording of a duo performance of the piece by Ambarchi and Talia recorded at Tokyo’s legendary SuperDeluxe in March 2013. The performance builds gently on the foundation of Talia’s insistent ride cymbal and the shifting tonal bed of Ambarchi’s rich overtone-drenched guitar, eventually going into a free rock free fall of buzzsaw harmonics and crashing drums. From within the maelstrom, Talia picks up a pulsing motorik rhythm that leads the piece back to where it began, with the addition of the shuddering, elastic tones of a hand-played spring reverb unit.
‘Krakow Knots’, recorded live at Unsound Festival in Krakow in 2013, works with the same basic structure but stretches it out to nearly twice the length and adds strings played by the Sinfonietta Cracovia, led by Eyvind Kang on viola. The strings expand the piece’s textural range with lush chordal blocks, uneasy dissonances and occasional Ligeti-esque swarms of micro-activity, the swelling string tones intensifying the ecstatic nature of the piece as it moves towards its mid-point crescendo in which Ambarchi unleashes a particularly malicious continuum of stuttering harmonic fuzz. The strings then enter with a series of swelling chords, announcing the piece’s final movement, and reaffirming the uniqueness of the tonal and compositional language that Ambarchi has patiently developed over the last two decades, in which the influence of post-minimal composers such as Alvin Curran, Gavin Bryars and David Behrman can be felt alongside the inspiration of raw free jazz, harsh noise and academic psychoacoustics. The final moments of the performance pit Talia and Crys Cole’s amplified objects and spring reverb textures against a field of gently gliding string glissandi before the audience erupts in much-deserved applause.
It has often been said, and we gladly repeat it again, here at the UE office tower, "Folks drive faster without a drivers license", and that's not a lie, it might be because the popo's are right behind you! Boy or Girl, can those assholes make a real human nervous! Once one enters Avantgardegasse, somewhere In Germany (a country known for its brutality on the road) rules and laws concerning your ride all flush down the toilet like a recycled napkin! No popo's on Avantgardegasse! Forget about the lights of the road, and expect to be surprised or boohoo'd, houses might melt on the side, the lines that divide the lanes might become bigger or smaller, or not present at all, and once you think you get it, it can only get more confusing.
Besides many glasses of special liquids, the Swedish sound artist BJ Nilsen and Icelandic confusor Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson have shared a lot of time on stage and on record, in earlier different combinations such as BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa, Evil Madness and so on.
This is, strangely, their first duo collab record, an alien workshop of collage class, shaved by Avant Garde tactics previously unknown to human beings! Trainings organised by secret forces between silence and the soft sound of French speech, or something similar.
limited to 200 hand numbered copies, comes in a duo tone pro sleeve and with a insert and a sticker!"
Noise/experimental music vanguard PRURIENT have completed work on its highly anticipated new album “Frozen Niagara Falls”. In what will be presented as a double-album spanning 90-minutes of music, the follow-up to 2011’s paradigm shifting “Bermuda Drain” LP sees mastermind Dominick Fernow unleash his most uncompromising and massive album under the PRURIENT moniker.
For almost 20 years, with PRURIENT, Fernow has singlehandedly defined a genre of music and created a musical entity unlike any other that filters within the umbrella of experimental, noise, and ambient music respectively. Throughout a massive catalogue that consists of full-lengths, EPs, splits, singles, limited cassette runs and 7” releases etc. PRURIENT has been known to constantly shape shift its sound into many mutations and incarnations within the noise genre through massive layered walls of sound consisting of harsh feedback, tortured vocals, meticulous sampling, machine-like industrial pounding, entrancing synth work, darkwave beats, and waves of electronica to create an aura that treads the fine line of harsh noise extremity and dark, brooding atmospheric beauty.
With “Frozen Niagara Falls”, PRURIENT amasses a sound in which one can find familiarity from the entire PRURIENT repertoire, all while defining a new statement within the PRURIENT sound as something unlike anything PRURIENT has done before resulting in what could very well be the PRURIENT magnum opus.
‘I Abused Animal’ is Heather Leigh’s first proper solo studio album after solo releases on labels Golden Lab, Not Not Fun, Fag Tapes, Wish Image and Volcanic Tongue. Renowned as a fearless free improviser, I Abused Animal is a breakthrough work showcasing Heather Leigh’s songwriting prowess, foregrounding her stunning voice and her innovations for the pedal steel guitar. Warmly recorded in a secret location in the English countryside, the album transmutes the power of her captivating live performances to a studio setting, capturing her tactile playing in full clarity while making devastating use of volume and space. Heather Leigh explores themes of abuse, sexual instinct, vulnerability, memory, shadow, fantasy, cruelty and projection. I Abused Animal is a personal, idiosyncratic and deeply psychedelic work, ranging from almost Kousokuya-scale black blues through the kind of ethereal electro-ritual of Solstice-era Coil. At times the intimacy of the recordings makes you feel like she’s singing directly into your ear, playing just for you.
The daughter of a coal miner, weaving a trail from West Virginia to Texas and now residing in Scotland, Heather Leigh furthers the vast unexplored reaches of pedal steel guitar. She’s performed and released music since the 1990s as a solo artist and with a wide range of uncompromising collaborators from Peter Brötzmann to Jandek and has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Her playing is as physical as it is phantom, combining spontaneous compositions with a feel for the full interaction of flesh with hallucinatory power sources. With a rare combination of sensitivity and strength, Leigh’s steel mainlines sanctified slide guitar and deforms it using hypnotic tone-implosions, juggling walls of bleeding amp tone with choral vocal constructs and wrenching single note ascensions.
She’s played/performed/released music with Ash Castles On The Ghost Coast, Charalambides, Scorces (a duo with Christina Carter), the Dream/Aktion Unit (a group with Thurston Moore, Paul Flaherty, Chris Corsano and Matt Heyner), Taurpis Tula, Jailbreak (a duo with Chris Corsano) and Jandek, as well as collaborated with Peter Brötzmann, Lynda (as Termas), Stefan Jaworyzn (as Annihilating Light), Richard Youngs, Blood Stereo, MV & EE, Robbie Yeats of The Dead C, John Olson of Wolf Eyes, Smegma, Jutta Koether, Kommissar Hjuler & Mama Baer and many others.
The music of legendary jazz saxophonist Peter Brötzmann is at its finest when the great man has something to push against. Typically these performances find him collaborating with drummers like Hamid Drake, Paal Nilssen-Love, Steve Noble, or Nasheet Waits. The music is built upon a power-versus-power formula. The drummer bloodies his nose, and he's off—throwing roundhouse punches and haymakers.
It's something altogether different, and just the same here, where he is in the company of two guitarists, Jim O'Rourke and Keiji Haino. Recorded in 2010 at Tokyo's Pitt Inn, two nights are represented with the LP Two City Blues (Trost, 2015) and the CD Two City Blues 2 (Trost, 2015).
The one-two of O'Rourke and Haino give these two discs their rich color. The pair jostle and joust around picked notes, slurred pedal steel guitar. Brotzmann is game to go a-hunting here, as he holds back, back until the pair of guitars decides to cut themselves free. Once they spark off, the energy cannot be held back on the LP. The two sides traverse the heights of energy like two fighters (in this case three) with wobbly knees leaning on each other in the 10th round.
"Two City Blues Two" gives us the tour-de-force of this collaboration. The 49-minute title track meshes the O'Rourke's blues slide guitar, Haino's traditional Japanese three-string shamisen, and the blues-soused saxophone of Brotzmann. Haino adds his tormented vocals as O'Rourke fires his Sonny Sharrock-like machine gun guitar. The piece journeys through hills of energy and valleys of placid dreams. Noise energy intrudes and exits and a prayer-like grace hovers, before the blues returns and Brotzmann's urgency spurs on the affair. Ethnomusicologists could make a career sorting this one out.
A Year With 13 Moons, a nod to a Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, was recorded at the Headlands Center for the Arts, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco – where he and Clipson were artist in residence. It was a time of major transition. As he describes it, “the time at the Headlands was a real gift – of space, time and being cared for. This allowed me to create music in a way I never had before, on a day–in, day–out basis for hours on end. I stopped caring about end results and fell in love with the process. I learned how to let the music create itself in a way, to lead me rather than trying to force it down a path. I would start each session with a simple rhythm, or sound or a guitar riff & see where that led – it was cathartic, freeing and ultimately really transformed my approach to music making. In the end I was left with literally hours & hours of recordings. A Year With 13 Moons was culled from these and formed while traveling the week after I left the residence.”
Using a friend’s reel to reel tape player, Cantu employed electric guitar, modular synthesizer, drum machine and concrète sounds from his surroundings at the Headlands, recorded while walking to the studio, cooking in the kitchen, talking with friends, the ocean, films he was watching, driving in a car. Everything was record stereo to tape. There is only one track with overdubs – otherwise each take is a true document of an entirely live take.
The result is gorgeous, haunting and sprawling. A companion to his last full length LP, Love is A Stream, (Type, 2010), 13 Moons, is a dense, swirling mass. A bookend to the end of a relationship. To say 13 Moons is comprised of “songs” might not be entirely accurate. They’re closer to transmissions from a satellite of love. Opener “The last time I saw your face” sets the tone. A bittersweet goodbye letter that unites guitars and modular synthesizer to widescreen ends over the course of its 8 and half minutes. It works dramatically well as an opening statement, and also as a summary of what he’s been doing in recent years. Second track, “In and Out of Love”, on the other hand seems to represents where Cantu might be going. Notably, this is one of the earliest recordings where drums feature. The pitched down LinnDrum adding a touch of Michael Mann to the shoegazy proceedings.
Though its title is borrowed from Fassbinder, the influence of other filmmakers – among them, Alain Resnais, Chantal Akerman and Chris Marker – played notable roles during the making of the album. Cantu explains. “Their use of personal and collective memory as a narrative was a big influence on the editing of the LP, and Marker in particular showed me that seemingly desperate elements (i.e. pop-like structures and melodies vs noise) can cohesively form a whole.”
Cantu was interested in ways of “conveying memory in music without being sentimental – somehow translating the fog of images, people and places that (he’d) experienced in the last two years into a body of work that could still be ambiguous & leave space for the listener to enter.” As such, 13 Moons succeeds. Incisive editing allows hypnotic guitar and drum performances to be interrupted by Modular synth squalls and otherworldly textures –– combining overdriven guitars, avant-garde composition (a la Xenakis) with the informal approach of underground tape weirdos (like Robert Turman, K. Leimer) into a lovely brocade of harmony and dissonance.
Tracks like “Shadows”, “Early Autumn” and “The Isar” bring these avant gardisms to the fore, conjuring early experiments in industrial sound. “A portrait of you at Nico’s grave, Grunewald, Berlin (For B.K.)” might represent the album’s loneliest moment, the air moving in hovering cloud formations. It would be perfect to soundtrack a Werner Herzog film. “Body of Moonlight” allows hope, a disappearing presence in the latter stages of 13 Moons, to resurface. It’s a feeling Ledesma is very good at. That sense of something very intense at hand, and that fracturing sense of looking down at yourself. It’s a feeling nearly impossible to describe. Then again, if words can’t convey something, sometimes sound is better.
Currently resided in Brooklyn, Ledesma s currently working on new Raum material with Harris and with Georgopoulos on a new, as yet unnamed duo.
A Gathering Together is Ron Morelli’s second full-length for Hospital Productions: a 'techno' cacophony brought to its granular detail and reduced to its most elemental tonal depths. A cohesive fusion of surreal and feverish deja vu loops, brittle noise, fucked rhythms, scrap metal percussions, pro-one metal synths, and an injection of near-buried, Drano vocal samples, it’s a fearsome celebration of brokenness, of amplified surroundings.
Stereo-shifting drones and driving rhythms the tell the stories of those now gone, more a soundtrack for a wake than 4/4 crafted for the dancefloor. There’s a naked anxiety at work that doesn't turn away from loss, but runs with an excited melancholy that looks to a future that won’t exist. The boldness of the gestures are not to be confused with exuberance.
With this effort Morelli has shown remarkable restraint and patience most notably highlighted on title track 'A Gathering Together.' An intense cut born from rapid-paced dead-end urban environments that force people together. It's a calling to do more, include more, and celebrate the many forms within those inconspicuous places.
Upon numerous listens, it's clear the sound design is a reflection of heavy compositional themes that suggest a greater whole. This is hard, dirty techno--humid, reduced, bare bones, yet dense and dissolved to its electronic soil.
Heavy without being oppressive, it is the culmination of many elements pulled from all spheres of modern electronics, eaten, digested, and spit back out. Produced at the end of 2014, with final mixdown and additional production in spring 2015 by Krikor Kouchian and Ron Morelli in Paris, Hospital Productions is proud to offer A Gathering Together.
PAN is pleased to announce the debut release from Lifted, an ongoing collaborative project initiated by Matt Papich (AKA Co La) and Beautiful Swimmers’ Max D.
Drawing on studio sessions recorded in their respective hometowns of Baltimore and Washington DC, the album sees the pair break free from the constrictions of the grid and exercise their versatility through improvised fusion. Working outside the framework that underlies their solo output, the eight tracks on offer showcase experiments in freeform techno, hyaline electronics, and ambient, with the duo reaching out to Motion Graphics, 1432 R co-founder Dawit Eklund, and Jeremy Hyman for additional synthesis, drumset and percussion.
The album also exhibits solo performances from Gigi Masin and Jordan GCZ (Juju & Jordash), who submitted overdubs from their bases in Venice and Amsterdam.
The album is mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M, pressed on 140g LP. It features photography by Traianos Pakioufakis and artwork by Bill Kouligas.
Yorkshire-based sound artist Mark Fell has collaborated with Budapest based musician Gábor Lázár to release ‘The Neurobiology of Moral Decision Making’, the 10th release for The Death of Rave, scheduled for release on 11th May 2015.
‘The Neurobiology of Moral Decision Making’ explores a radical re-calibration of conventional meter and tone in modern electronic music, probing specific aspects of Max/MSP software with the potential to acutely challenge our perception of time and space.
It’s a maximalist, future-shocking play of tension-and-resolution created from minimalist elements, featuring Lázár’s calligraphic, torso-morphing chromo-notes punctuated by Fell’s signature Linn drum cracks at ostensibly obtuse, yet deeply funked-up junctures across ten tracks in 50 minutes.
They range from precision-tooled 2-minute scrambles to swaggering showpieces, culminating in what has become a meme for Mark Fell albums with the uncannily emotive closing statement – a 12 minute masterstroke consolidating all the album’s ideas in one breathless, beguiling arrangement.
If music can be considered a catalyst for social change, what are the implications of this mutant record? Considered in terms of the dancefloor, it mirrors the muscle-memory re-programming impact of OG hardcore & jungle or Chicago footwork – think of scattered bodies attempting to synch with new, accelerated and “irregular” rhythms – offering a freedom of expression and interpretation that’s typically scarce in most grid-locked musics.
Likewise, the inversion of melodic convention in favour of warped, dynamic contours and visceral, psycho-acoustic timbre offers a sharpened grammar of emotional expression and sensation that doesn’t wilt to ordinary sentiment.
“Until Heat Will Tear Us Apart - Pt I, Pt II, Pt III - a contradiction in itself.
A cold heat in the summer sun.
A mild wind in a sandstorm ending up in a disaster.
Waking up slowly.”
Arell is proud to present 'Until Heat Will Tear Us Apart' by Chra (the alter ego of Viennese author/musician/DJ/Radio and TV Presenter Christina Nemec).
'Until Heat Will Tear Us Apart’ combines found sound, manipulated field recordings, beautiful tones and musicality in this stunning 19 minute sound painting in which Chra masterfully evokes “… landscapes, territories, silence, extraordinary and extreme situations, challenge.”
Diagonal mascot Russell Haswell returns to the burgeoning label with his most accessible - and vitally danceable - tech-n0!se attack after exercising the daemons in 2014's critically acclaimed '37 Minute Workout' LP. Practically bursting at the seams with destructive energy, 'As Sure As Night Follows Day' can be viewed as a flashback to 30 years of aktion at the coal face of extreme/ electronic music. Recollections of Napalm Death and grindcore shows in the Black Country bleed into strobing reflections on megaraves at Coventry's Eclipse, whilst the traumas of besuited early '90s J-Noise scrap for space in the memory banks with irrevocable experience of witnessing Hood & Mills in their Hardwax heyday. Displaying his improvised instincts at their sharpest, it's hard to ignore the fact that this is Haswell's most incandescent, urgent work to date, thrashing from the concatenated blast beats of 'Let's Go' to the self-explanatory 'n0!se RAVE' via a stack of brain-thumping techno brutes gagging for the DJs and dancers, including the bucked bang ov 'Hardwax Flashback' and invasive psychoacoustic thizz ov 'Gas Attack', along with the crack'd BMB styles in 'Extended Industry Knowledge (for Oscar)' and a brace of more deviant material such as the electro-acoustic ballistics of 'In The Air Today' or the grey matter-melting acid froth of 'Interlude' - all primed for quick-handed and chaotic DJ sets. As Haswell's modular virus mutates, the contagion is more lethal, wickedly unmanageable with each new release, seemingly inoculating us in advance of the next dose. Don't proceed unprepared, take Haswell's medicine without delay.
20th year anniversary reissue of the two milestone releases that kickstarted the entire Mego / Editions Mego imprint and initial aesthetic. This deluxe reissue brings together the first MEGO release, ‘Fridge Trax’ and the full length album that followed ‘Live and final Fridge’, originally released on Source in 1995.
Made by the founders of the initial Mego label, Peter Rehberg (Pita), alongside Andreas Pieper and Ramon Bauer (General Magic) these recordings are legendary in their execution. It was these pioneering releases, along with the earlier Warp and Sahko output, that really pushed abstraction squarely into the formally safe realm of dance music. The results were amongst the most influential musical offerings of the period and the paths laid out have been traversed by many a sonic explorer to this day.
Both the EP and full length were made via the same process whereby microphones were placed in a fridge in order to harvest the unusual microscopic sound world within. The resulting hums, buzzes, flickers and icy drones were then reassembled and reconstructed to make an assortment of tracks which range from rhythmic, ambient and glacial straight on through to the downright bizarre.
Fridge Trax is landmark release, a white good rearranged as awry ambience and freak funk. One which still resides fresh and aside from the pack 20 years on.
Written, produced and performed by General Magic & Pita
Remastered and cut by CGB, at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin December 2014
Artwork By Tina Frank
"Drawn With Shadow Pens" is the new album by Antwerp based synthesist and sound-sculptor Yves De Mey. With previous outings on a slew of renowned labels such as Modal Analysis, Semantica, Opal Tapes, his own Archives Intérieures imprint with Sendai partner Peter Van Hoesen, and the now defunct Sandwell District, "Drawn With Shadow Pens" is the next offering in the Y.D.M. codex.
Rarely is a gifted musician afforded the luxury of also being an incredible engineer, and this new album is a testament to these talents. "Prelament" sets the album off with a dense fog of acrobatic waveform maneuvers slowly shapeshifting through the audio spectrum before arriving at a vibrating, multi-dimensional sonic black hole . Tracks like "Adamance" and Xylo" sound like audible holograms, with stray rhythms dissipating into and out of sharp modulations and sinuous drone layers. A pure sense mastery over the instruments played is evident, however, many compelling sound events seem to occur and disappear almost magically. The beautiful and spacious depths of "Ostia" unfold with monk-like patience, creating a surreal and hypnotic electronic sound environment.
"Drawn With Shadow Pens" is a successful attempt at striving to reach new a new apex in modern electronic synthesis; an album that will sound futuristic even in the future. If one were told that this entire album was comprised of tracks recorded in one-take and in mono, it could be difficult to fathom. Difficult to fathom, but indeed it is true.
There was a time, from the late 1990s to the mid–2000s or so, when Jim O’Rourke sat at the center of a peculiar intersection of experimental, indie rock, and electronic music. His name on a record was an assurance of a certain level of quality, and he had his name on a great number of them. During these years, he engineered, produced, mixed, and played on records by Smog, Sam Prekop, Faust, John Fahey, Wilco, Stereolab, Tony Conrad, Sonic Youth (of which he was a member), Beth Orton, Superchunk, Phill Niblock, and many more. In a suspiciously high number of cases, he was involved in one of those artists' best records.
We’ve heard so much about the abuses of digital technology over the last five years—the compression, the brick-walling, the poor mastering, the lack of dynamic range. Well, O’Rourke didn’t do that stuff; in fact, he defined himself against it (he’s never released his solo work on mp3 and, in fact, only released his solo albums digitally at all in the past month). The music he worked on didn’t necessarily surface on radio, but it sounded fantastic in your living room. Throughout the period just before and just after the millennium, no one better exemplified the promise of what was then called post-rock—music steeped in tradition that also looked beyond it, integrating traditional tools with new technologies and exploring new contexts. And then, on top of all that, there were Jim O’Rourke’s solo albums.
Starting with 1997’s Bad Timing, O’Rourke has released a series of what are usually called his "pop" albums on Drag City. Not all of these have vocals (Bad Timing focused on steel string guitar and whimsical Americana, while 2008’s The Visitor is a difficult-to-classify proggy electro-acoustic instrumental suite), but O’Rourke’s Drag City solo records have threads running through them, from shared title inspirations to artwork to musical quotations from one album to the next. O’Rourke enjoys games and references and limitations that allow him to create a world where his music exists. Each album stands on its own but also feels like a brick in a slowly building wall. No two of O’Rourke’s solo albums sound alike; each exists in its own space. For Simple Songs, that space is firmly in the smart singer-songwriter world of the 1970s, the place where Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman might be hanging out and drinking and telling dirty jokes.
When O’Rourke first sang on Eureka, his voice stuck out like a crumpled bag of Cheetos on Queen Elizabeth’s dinner table. Part of the charm of the music came from hearing a guy who could not sing gamely do so, voicing complicated melodies while surrounded by luxurious production. It made no sense and somehow, because of that, it worked. With Simple Songs, O’Rourke’s voice has deepened and become more gruff, and he sounds almost normal. There’s a timbral similarity here to Cat Stevens, though O’Rourke couldn’t have that kind of innocence and sweetness even if he wanted to. Instead, the lyrics are the usual mix of dark humor and misanthropy, with occasional glimpses of warmth. Album opener "Friends With Benefits" begins with "Nice to see you once again," and it seems like he’s addressing it to listeners who haven’t heard from him in a while, but then he follows that with "Been a long time my friends/ Since you crossed my mind at all." O’Rourke’s songs are saying real things, but they are also constantly subverting themselves, in love with pop-lyric tradition while pushing against it. O’Rourke is the kind of songwriter who titles a closing song "All Your Love", but makes the chorus "All your love/ Will never change me" and then cuts that sentiment with "I’m so happy now/ And I blame you."
O’Rourke is always clever and funny, but the driving force in his music is the art of the arrangement. Many of the greatest pleasures on Simple Songs come from how certain instruments are layered together, how the chords are voiced and the harmonic progressions unfold. The songs, played by O’Rourke and a cast of Tokyo-based musicians, are generally driven by guitar and piano, but strings, pedal steel, mandolin, horns, and woodwinds are all featured prominently. There are gorgeous instrumental bridges and codas, like the one in "Half Life Crisis" that finds O’Rourke braiding a Fripp-like electric guitar lead and pedal steel around a violin line. Getting the mix perfect is supremely important; there’s never too much of anything, and nothing is ever buried. Midrange detail is prized over booming low end. Dynamics are powerful but not overpowering. Every instrument has its place.
All of which is to say that Simple Songs is a subtle record that avoids extremes, which also makes it a record out of time. It’s a record that asks you to come to it. If O’Rourke ever felt the need to keep up with every development in music, that time has passed. After moving to Tokyo in the last decade, O’Rourke has been a less central figure. He stays busy in music, art, and film, but much of his work doesn’t travel beyond Japan. He has his handful of obsessions, his rules, his limitations, and once in a while he returns and gives us a record like this, something that will be sounding good five or 10 or 15 years from now, or whenever the next solo record comes along.
Thomas Brinkmann is renowned for audio works that hover amongst forms such as techno, minimalism and ambient. Alongside such pioneering works as ‘Klick’, ‘Variations’ and last years duo with Oren Ambarchi ‘The Mortimer Trap’, ‘What You Hear (Is What You Hear)’ Brinkmann moves further to separate his art, not only from descriptive musical terms that oppress creative output, but also removing the individual or the notion of an author from the act of creation. The 11 tracks on display form a series of self perpetuating rhythms which exist more as sound structures than any kind of traditional sound forms.
Any associations, emotions and reactions are purely in the reasoning of the listener as the artist makes a strong and deliberate move away from intent. This is a strident development in the conceptual thinking of Brinkmann’s solid career, one which places the listener simultaneously inside and outside objective parameters.
Dedicated to Zbigniew Karkowski
Behold is the second collaborative release from Oren Ambarchi and Jim O'Rourke following on from the 2011 release 'Indeed'. Seamlessly blending field recordings, electronics, guitar, drums and other acoustic instruments into a subtle combination of Krautrock, minimalism and classic free flowing electronics. Side A takes the listener into the Fourth World adventures pioneered by Jon Hassell whilst the flip seems like an unlikely pairing of Krautrock aesthetics and the slow building repetitive structures of The Necks. This is sharp, focussed contemporary music, one where minimalist motifs meet maximalist tendencies. Behold is another landmark recording made by two of the most enthusiastic experimental explorers active today..
Oren Ambarchi - Guitar, Drums etc
Jim O'Rourke - Synth, Piano etc
Recorded & Mixed at Steamroom, Tokyo 2012-2013
Additional recording at SuperDeluxe, Tokyo, Jan 26, 2012 by Masahide Ando & at Chinatown, Melbourne by Joe Talia
Cut by CGB at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin, August 2013
Photography by Shunichiro Okada
Design by Stephen O'Malley
A journey through time, perhaps, for a daydreamer floating in a small boat amidst the radiant hues of a midnight sun. That daydreamer in this instance is the Icelandic artist Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, best known for his electro-surrealism in Stilluppsteypa. He has long been an artist of extremes and absurdities -- mania fueled performances, wildly scribbled drawings, and Haflerian audio shock-therapy, on one side; and on the other, a profound meditation on austere shape, form, and mood cast through similar media. Sigmarsson will intermingle these sentiments in slippery juxtaposition and assemblage, with beguiling, haunting, and / or charming results. So Long aligns itself firmly within that latter aesthetic of crypto-minimalism which began to germinate some 20 years ago. At that time, Stilluppsteypa was a trio who had recently eschewed their art-punk trappings, drunkenly scheming to corner the market at Documenta with deconstructivist drone and 21th century circuitry. Sigmarsson would find himself in his own studio, crafting sympathetic works to Stilluppsteypa; but these were directed inward as wounded, naked, and vulnerable concoctions reflective of Sigmarsson getting lost in his own little world. So Long quietly simmered in his head over the years; and with the completion of this album, we now have a sublime gesture of polar impressionism flecked with hallucinatory ambience, Vaseline-smeared crackle, and hauntological displacement. This album had originally been planned for release through the impeccably curated Intransitive Recordings, but that publishing house shuddered its doors before this could see the light of day. Sigmarsson self-released a condensed version of the album on the artbook / cassette If You Have Any Questions, Let Me Ask. The Helen Scarsdale Agency is delighted, honored, and humbled to publish this dronescaping threnody in its full radiance and blur.
Over the course of its episodic run, ghoulish sounds creep and slither across the eerily suggestive piece’s skeleton, low-pitched synth chords swell to monstrous proportions, and bass drums and footsteps loudly punctuate the haunted space. A sense of dread seeps into every pitch-black corner, making Last Days of Montrose House one of the most evocative and macabre Anduin pieces on record.” Textura
“Resembling Dark / Death Ambient with a twist that will surely appeal to admirers of projects as legendary as Kallabris but coming across serving an ever morphing, constantly changing perspective on tone and athmosphere going from calm and harmonic into more dark and threatening territories whilst catering non-dancefloor crowds with slow, heavy and highly compressed beat structures before a short innocent breakdown reminisces of fairies and other magical creatures that are – in the further progress of the tune – accompanied by highly digital swamp sounds and haunting, unspecified animal calls appearing somewhere in the very background. A surely interesting and well-fascinating journey for all lovers of Deep Listening Music.” NiteStylez
“Infinite Greyscale is one of our favorite labels, known for releasing quality 10″ records, only a handful each year. They’ve upped their game in 2015, as Anduin‘s Last Days of Montrose House is paired with a digital package of seven remixes from artists including Elian, Radere and Stephen Vitiello. It’s a generous move that essentially turns an EP into an album. The original, however, is the best. This is a compliment to the artist, as the guests are of such high pedigree one might expect them to challenge the composer for the title. But wow, what a track.” A Closer Listen
“2011’s Stolen Years was a seductively easy album to get lost in, but this latest 10-minute cut, “Last Days of Montrose House,” is more of a tricky beast, though no less evocative. Of all of Lee’s music it hews closest to his work as installation artist, an unpredictable amalgam of electronics and field recordings that capture the ethereal mood of interior spaces, a revolving door into chambers haunted by the interference of ghosts and memory. The full 10-inch also includes remixes by a whole host of artists including Stephen Vitiello, whose excellent take imbues the track with an awesomely off-kilter techno throb.” AdHoc
“After several outings on Richmond Tape Club, the enigmatic Anduin lands on Infinite Greyscale with a rather handsome remix package. His “Last Days Of Montrose House” track – a sparse, airy, beat-driven and drone-fuelled affair – is revamped by the likes of Stephen Vitiello, who throws in a 4/4 kick and makes things relatively more stable (but nonetheless abstract) and Radere with a power electronics version among others. Elian’s take is our pick, a stunning whirlpool of dicing electronics and humming, ominous drones. A gloriously forward-thinking release.” Juno
“Jonathan Lee’s Last Days of Montrose House only clocks in at a little over ten minutes, but you get seven remixes along with it so you’re getting your money’s worth. As another selling point, this was mastered by Rashad Becker whose name I only expect to see more and more on album credits. Infinite Greyscale likens this record to “entering a long abandoned building,” which my mind went straight to upon listening to this. I’d like to think this building’s got a blizzard pounding outside its walls, along with graffiti and rubble as far as the eye can see. It’s like Last Days of Montrose House gives voice to the spirits that vanished from this place…” Sly Vinyl
“Last Days of Montrose House’ is an enveloping collage piece sweeping from diaphanous field recording textures to treacherous drones and semi-organic modular scree. It’s a welcome return from Anduin, whose series of LPs for SMTG Limited between 2009-2012 have aged beautifully. Check also for the rumbling, Gas-like ambient techno of Tag Cloud’s mix, and Radere’s deeply abstracted version.” Boomkat
Soft Corridor’s ninth edition is the new album of Ben Fleury-Steiner : “While The Red Fish Sleeps”
“Just under the surface I shall be, all together at first, then separate, and drift through all the earth and perhaps in the end through a cliff into the sea, something of me” Samuel Beckett, From an Abandoned Work, 1957
Ben Fleury-Steiner is an American sound artist born in 1970. He has released mostly anodized and a single vinyl works on the likes of Rural Colours, Low-Point, Infraction, Gears of Sand, Mystery Sea, taâlem, Umbra, Hypnos Secret Sounds, 905 Tapes, Peasant Magik, Crucial Bliss, Reverb Worship, Lo Bango Sound as well as numerous net labels. He is an unabashed moody experimentalist drawn especially to flows between hypnotic micro-sounds and vast aural wholes (e.g., opportunities for deep listening).
Ben Fleury-Steiner about “While The Red Fish Sleeps” :
“This work picks up from where my last work Clearings (Rural Colours) left off but is a much more explicit embrace of the surreal. Rather than just sounds as abstract place constructions alone, I returned more consciously to oceanic sounds recalled from sense impressions and memory fragments. At some point I found myself very interested in something I did a lot in the past–namely allowing for a kind of soundtrack to emerge. I like that the listener is both passive and perhaps curious in a way that might evoke emotions and memories of their own. If I were to choose particular influences I would summarize in this way: What if Tarkovsky and Malick co-directed a remake of The Old Man and the Sea and Nurse with Wound an Alio Die were cast in sonic drag as Santiago. All kidding aside, I feel like this is the most realized of my works to date.”
Posh Isolation is proud to present a triple cassette album containing five of Kirkegaard's previously unreleased works
The five compositions all bear the signature sound of Kirkegaard's processed field recordings slowly evolving into carefully crafted drone works, rich in both detail and emotion. Exclusively released on cassette
29:50 min © 2014
Composition from underwater recordings at several places in the Hudson River, including the New York Harbor Estuary, a transition area where the tides, waves and salty water of the ocean mix with the flow of fresh water and sediment from the river
Æsturarium was composed during Kirkegaard's artist residency at ISCP in New York City in 2014
29:50 min © 2006 - 2014
Composition from vibration recordings of iron fences along the Rhine around Cologne, Germany. The flowing river, the wind in the air and the large passing tugboats vibrate the fences and cause them to produce tones
Iron Wind is a composition made from recordings used in Eisenwind
28:25 min © 2014
At Deutschlandradio in Berlin, Kirkegaard turned on the microphones and speakers in eight empty broadcasting studios and connected them to create a circular chain reaction: Studio 1 broadcast its own ambient sound into Studio 2. Studio 2 picked up the broadcast of the ambient sound of Studio 1 along with its own ambient sound and broadcast this into Studio 3. Then Studio 3 broadcast the ambient sound of Studio 1, 2 and 3 into Studio 4… and so forth, until the eight gathered broadcasts of the ambient sound of all eight studios were ultimately broadcast back into Studio 1. From a separate radio studio, Kirkegaard could control the amplitude and equalization of the feedback broadcast of each one of the eight empty radio studios
Déjà Vu is a composition made from recordings used in Speculum Speculi
28 min © 2008
Composition from noise received and transmitted by pyrite and galena crystals. By attaching an electrified needle to the crystals a negative/positive charge was created in the barrier between the crystal surface and the needle tip. In these isolated charged spots atoms jumped across the barriers and made the crystals receptive to radio waves, which were picked up by the needle.
The title of this work derives from 'fool's gold' another name for pyrite, and pyr, the Greek word for fire
Fool's Fire was created for the exhibition Paramirrors held at Riga Art Space in Riga, Latvia
58 min © 2011
Shortly before Carlsberg’s main factory in the center of Copenhagen closed down, Kirkegaard got access to the large basement area of this legendary 150-year-old building, and recorded the vibrations of its many tubes and kettles. The composition Under Bjerget was made from these recordings. Two years later it was presented as a 16-channel sound installation inside four large and pitch dark rooms in the now abandoned Carlsberg basement. The project was initiated by and made in collaboration with Line Kjær from Kontoret for Undergrundsanliggender, Copenhagen
We’re proud to present brand new work from Chicago-based sound artist Olivia Block in the form of “Aberration of Light.” An accomplished composer of electro-acoustic music, Block has premiered her work all over the globe in the form of both solo and collaborative live performances, sound installations at highly-regarded art institutions, and lectures at academic establishments. This conceptually inspired work was originally conceived in 2011 as a four-speaker soundtrack for a collaboration with two expanded cinema artists using manipulated light from film-less 35mm projectors. For NNA’s 82nd release, the artist offers us a 31-minute reworked version of this material for the cassette format. In essence, this piece is as much about the absence of sound as much as the presence of it. Slowly materializing from total silence, Block utilizes acoustic sounds blended with a palette of electronics to create intricately assembled fields of sonic depth. The result is richly ominous without being overtly aggressive, as the compositional arc of the piece follows a swelling, almost respiratory motion of expanding and contracting. The dynamic nature of Aberration of Light is enhanced by Block’s delicate use of white noise as a textural guide, calling attention to the acoustic sounds at its valleys, and overwhelming the listener with ferocity and harshness at its peaks. As the piece progresses, harmonic tonalities begin to emerge, reinforced by the use of clarinet and bass clarinet from fellow Chicagoan musicians James Falzone and Jason Stein, respectively, seamlessly integrating themselves into the mass of electronics. The quieter moments of the piece command deeper listening, to the point where the sounds of one’s own listening environment become indistinguishable from the recording, calling to mind Cage’s ideas on the impossibility of true silence. Block claims to bring an emotional element to her work which can be both heard and felt through the delicate and dynamic nature of the recording, further deepened by a brilliant use of control, precision, power, and patience.
Material repeats on both sides of the cassette.
Fratello Mare, a reference to Folco Quilici’s classic film of the same name, is the latest tropical opus from UK born, Italian based musician Mike Cooper.
It’s Cooper’s continuing ode to the Pacific, its people and the traditions that have flowed from that part of the world into seemingly endless iterations within contemporary culture. Recorded across 2014, the album dovetails neatly with his other Room40 editions White Shadows In The South Seas and the post-everything classic Rayon Hula. It expands his combining of highly personal lap steel playing, with exotic music and percussion alongside field recordings made on islands across South East Asia and the Caribbean whilst on residencies and other travels.
At the record’s heart is a yearning these distant islands that dot the vast oceans. A love letter of sorts, a poetic and dreamlike wandering, that sonically traverses the ever-changing edge of land and sea and Cooper's musical imagination.
'Decomposition – I – III' is an experience of sonic realities and aural layers that usually remain undetected by our perception. This collaboration of Peter Kutin and Florian Kindlinger has brought forth a conceptual piece that leads the listener through three territories antagonistic to human life. Following the subjects 'Absence' and 'Introspection', 'Illusion' concludes the perennial trilogy now released as a sound edition. A live implementation of light, sound and film will be combined to create a unique form of presentation, premiering this year at the Donaufestival 2015 in Krems.!
The presented record holds acoustic parables that cause the listener to reflect upon himself. Starting with recordings from the Atacama, the driest desert on earth, 'Absence' presents a piece of abstract, desolate music that hauntingly extends dark and bizarre over two sides of the record. A brute inferno of noise, recorded inside a telescope during its calibration, eventually dissolves into the surge of the Pacific Ocean. In between, salt-crystals crack through the sunset, erosion gnaws at empty mining villages, nature plays with leftovers of civilization and the wind blows through neglected cemeteries. 'Absence' carries its own mood. It is the unheard music of abandoned spaces. Kutin and Kindlinger emphasise a strict documentary approach: the individual recordings are unaltered, raw and multifaceted, allowing the quality to speak for itself. The trilogy delivers a totally new experience to the genre, leaving the now moribund category of “field recordings” far behind. Radical and ! merciless, estranged and aggressive, yet still poetic – it is
a bizarre narration.! The second part –
'Introspection' starts with a harsh walk over a snowy field, suddenly collapsing into silence. One is thrown into the deep seclusion of a glacial crevasse whose inherent resonances slowly build up – following the concept of Alvin Luciers 'I am sitting in a room'. This creates an odd acoustic maelstrom, driven by a peculiar threat that won’t l!et go until a helicopter blows up the silence. !
'Illusion', the final part, was recorded in Las Vegas in cooperation with German sound artist Christina Kubisch. The city is used as a big synthesizer creating an opulent work in an orchestral manner, yet still following the documentary path. Kubisch recorded electromagnetic signals all over the city, which later on were arranged by Peter Kutin in his studio, using no transformation other than cutting techniques. This is a pre-electric music probably only to be found somewhere between Edgar Varese, Ben Frost and Pan Sonic. Occasionally, sound fragments from inside the casinos mix with the electromagnetic fields, proclaiming an acoustically surreal world. With 'Illusion' the record reverts back to its beginnings in the desert. A hundred years ago, Las Vegas was planted in the solitude of Nevada, bringing two primary things: electric power and light. 'They left their lives to make the desert bloom' – is a quote engraved into a monument near Hoover Dam, a hydro-electro plant providing electricity to the city. Not much is left of the deserted sounds from 'Absence'. !
Kutin and Kindlinger link genres with their acoustic work. Their pieces have been presented and honored at music,film festivals and symposia for contemporary music! (NK, Berlin/ 25fps, Zagreb/ Diagonale, Graz / Schwindel der Wirklichkeit, Akademie der Künste, Berlin/ PIAS Awards 2013/ jury Nomination for the Golden Nica 2015). This record is not in search for sensation. It is the quality of the sounds mixed with a precise dramaturgy what leads to! its hypnotic evolution, entrancing and entrapping the listener.
Compressions & Rarefactions is the fourth solo release on 12k from New Yorker Kenneth Kirschner, who is widely known for epic-length compositions that challenge the forms of modern composition. The album is released as a single CD with a digital download of over five hours of additional music that couldn’t be realized within the time constraints of the CD format. Also included is a booklet of essays on Kirschner’s music from Marc Weidenbaum (Disquiet), Simon Cummings (5 Against 4), Mike Lazarev (Headphone Commute) and renowned visual artist Kysa Johnson, who was also responsible for the album’s artwork.
Kirschner’s title, Compressions & Rarefactions, refers most directly to the physics of sound: the pressure waves in air that are the physical component underlying what we perceive as sound. This concept finds an evocative parallel in the art by Johnson, whose work is about visualizing the imperceptibly tiny physical phenomena that make up everything around us. The title can also be related to the compositions themselves: this is music that alternates between extreme density and extreme sparsity, using those contrasts as a major expressive element as they alternate like waves of pressure and absence in air. Finally, the title also evokes the very long durations of several of the pieces on the album, including two that stretch to over two hours in length.
Kirschner’s music is often described as “challenging,” and certainly he has a unique voice among his peers and throughout the extended genres of his sound. His work tends to hover precariously between the worlds of electronic music and chamber music, likely due to his influences from the worlds of modern classical music, philosophy and science fiction. This can be seen quite clearly in two of the album’s tracks, “September 13, 2012” and “January 10, 2012,” which use what appear to be small ensembles of classical acoustic instruments, but which are actually electronically realized – thus allowing both subtle and radical alterations that aren’t possible with traditional instrumentation. These pieces in particular focus strongly on microtonality, twisting and bending the apparently acoustic instruments into tunings that wouldn’t be feasible in a conventional performance.
Harkening back to territory Kirschner explored on his previous album Twenty Ten (12k1066, 2011), “April 16, 2013” uses tuned percussion instruments (bells, glockenspiels, xylophones) played with constantly shifting, irregular meters, while “July 17, 2010” is made up entirely of sounds derived from everyday kitchen drinking glasses. These tracks are dense and highly intricate, showcasing what can be seen as a rare “beautiful” face of Kirschner’s music. The percussion cascades and shimmers, like falling water, in highly melodious layers and webs.
The final piece, “October 13, 2012,” is composed entirely with viola, played by Tawnya Popoff, under the direction of Kirschner. Her performances are layered and processed to create a sort of “polyphonic viola,” allowing for much greater harmonic complexity than could be achieved with just a single instrument. This piece, in a quite characteristic style for Kirschner, is founded on silence and repetition, and cements the “compressions & rarefactions” concept with swelling chords of viola that seem to end with a dissipation of air into silence that awaits the next wave of sound. This style has become a trademark for Kirschner, in which extended listening and concentration pay off in what ultimately becomes a highly meditative and unexpectedly serene epic.
Compressions & Rarefactions sees Kenneth Kirschner further prove why he is one of the most important figures working in highly composed and conceived serious music that blurs the lines between technology and modern composition. He creates a new “classical” blueprint and is one of the true 21st century composers pushing the boundaries set by the 20th century masters such as Feldman and Pärt.
Divertissement is the third collaborative full length from minimalist composer William Basinski and sound artist Richard Chartier.
The duo utilize electronics, piano, tape-loops and short wave radio to evoke a dense atmosphere suggesting hundreds of years of history rising up from the depths of a reverberating cathedral. Subtle, buried and intense murmurs of melody morph through this deeply consuming and slowly evolving composition in two parts.
Pressed in an edition of 500 with beautiful cover drawings by artist James Elaine. 100 copies are on color vinyl for mailorder customers.
Basinski is currently touring the world in support of Cascade and The Deluge, his latest works released in 2015 on 2062/USA and Temporary Residence/USA.
William Basinski is a classically trained musician and composer who has been working in experimental media for over 30 years in NYC and most recently, California. Employing obsolete technology and analogue tape loops, his haunting and melancholy soundscapes explore the temporal nature of life and resound with the reverberations of memory and the mystery of time. His epic 4-disc masterwork, The Disintegration Loops received international critical acclaim and was chosen as one of the top 50 albums of 2004 by Pitchfork Media. The Temporary Residence deluxe LP box-set reissue from 2012 was awarded best re-issue of the year and a score of 10 on Pitchfork. Installations and films made in collaboration with artist-filmmaker, James Elaine have been presented in festivals and museums internationally, and his concerts are presented to sold out crowds around the world. Most recently, Basinski was chosen by Music Director, Antony Hegarty to create music for the new Robert Wilson opera, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic which had its world premiere at the Manchester International Festival in July 2011 and toured Europe in 2012 and North America in 2013. Orchestral transcriptions of The Disintegration Loops by Maxim Moston have been performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Queen Elizabeth Hall and La Batie Festival in Geneva, Switzerland. Basinski is currently touring the world in support of Cascade and The Deluge, his latest works which will be released in Spring 2015 on 2062/USA.
Richard Chartier (b.1971), sound and installation artist, is considered one of the key figures in the current of reductionist electronic sound art which has been termed both "microsound" and Neo-Modernist. Chartier's minimalist digital work explores the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, perception and the act of listening itself. Chartier's sound works/installations have been presented in galleries and museums internationally including the 2002's Whitney Biennial and he has performed his work live across Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America at digital art/electronic music festivals and exhibits. In 2000 he formed the recording label LINE and has since curated its continuing documentation of compositional and installation work by international sound artists/composers exploring the aesthetics of contemporary and digital minimalism. In 2010, Chartier was awarded a Smithsonian Institution Artist Research Fellowship to explore the National Museum of American History's collection of 19th-Century acoustic apparatus for scientific demonstration.
Joséphine Michel is a French Photographer, who has recently collaborated with the Finnish electroacoustic composer Mika Vainio to produce the book and audio CD, Halfway to White.
As John Cage would have it, the spaces between the notes are equally as important as the notes themselves in creating the sonic texture of a piece of music. In Joséphine Michel’s photographs many of the recognisable, or one might say figurative, details are virtually bleached out, remaining only as pallid traces and, as a result, many of the details that were formerly incidental or peripheral, take on a new, albeit abstract, significance. In these images, as newly empowered voids realign with the surrounding forms, reality becomes re-invented. The ephemeral has, in effect, been elevated, creating a new set of parameters for our visual perception of those scenes. Through the sampling, processing and filtering of everyday sounds Mika Vainio likewise offers us aural experiences that sit outside those soundscapes that are part of our everyday world. Together Michel and Vainio challenge our often-jaded perceptual habits and patterns, offering a whole new palette of experiences, both visual and aural.
Freelance art critic and curator Roy Exley interviewed Joséphine Michel about her recent work.
Here you can read the full interview with Joséphine Michel with The Photographers Gallery and also an essay in Photomonitor
Brainwashed (USA): writes:
For the inaugural release in their new Folio sub-imprint, Touch has paired Mika Vainio with photographer Joséphine Michel for a joint photography and music project heavily focused on the abstract nature sound and its impact on the other senses and mediums. With heavy use of white exposure on the photographs, and the heavily treated use of white noise on the CD, it culminates in a very strong synthesis of audio and visual.
Compared to his recent albums, Vainio's audio contributions to this project are more abstract and deconstructed than his busier, often rhythm tinged work. He utilizes expansive passages of silence (white space) amongst blasts of noise and strange frequencies that sound anything but identifiable. "Fade from Black," for example, features Mika melding the large passages of silence with heavy, almost imperceptibly low frequencies tones and glassy resonations.
At the conclusion of the album, "White Out," is less rooted in silence but features the same subwoofer destroying bass frequencies. A rising and falling electronic hum from what sounds like processed white noise stays consistent throughout the piece. Towards the end, bits of what sounds like actual melody appear and result in him creating the most traditionally musical sounding piece on the disc.
"Missing a Border" is a noisier excursion, with bits of what almost sounds like a conventional synthesizer heavily processed and demolished. Even though it is one of the more kinetic and noisier pieces, it still never becomes too overwhelming or aggressive, barring the overly shrill ultrasonic bits that sharply cut through. Bleak and moody are the best ways to describe "Notes On the Exposure," a slowly expanding piece of midrange digital noise that is less of a dominating sound.
It is on "Lines of a Curve" that the sound I most associate with Vainio’s body of work. Sequences of pitch bent clicks and pops scatter about, resulting in the loosest semblance of rhythms. Much of the piece is made up of crackly textures, with buzzing noise and silence blended in, and oddly disorienting Doppler effect heavy passages of sound.
Michel’s photography, sourced from a digital camcorder, may differ in its technological nature from Vainio’s analog instruments, but the presentation complements it perfectly. Natural and man-made structures feature heavily in her work, as do candid photographs of people in industrial spaces. While critiquing photography is not at all my forte, her heavily white-drenched digital stills, with odd color artifacting, and often overlaid with found patterns and textures, look as Vainio’s music sounds.
As the Touch label continues into its fourth decade of activity, Halfway to White is a contrast to its early days. While before the label would issue compilations on cassettes paired with small run magazines, now they are working in the media of high quality digital recordings and beautifully bound, art edition quality books. Vainio's and Michel's work compliment each other splendidly on here, and the result is a fully realized collaboration between two distinct and exceptional artists. [Creaig Dunton]
Fennesz and OZmotic - AirEffect AirEffect | AirEffect is a real and highly imaginative flow of sounds made up of tone research and electronic background, where musicians bring the audience to unexpected and usual places. It develops in structured scenes, each of which is part of a descriptive process evolving without interruptions.
Parallel Landscapes is the first solo full-length album from Swiss artist Steinbrüchel on 12k, despite his relationship with the label and apperances on compilations, collaborations (Status, with Frank Bretschneider (12k1033)) and EP releases (Mit Ohne, (12k2010)). It seems that Steinbrüchel was waiting for the right moment to release such an illustrious album that is not only a release of music but of visual art as well.
Parallel Landscapes consists of a compact disc in a cd wallet and a beautifully printed sixty page colour printed booklet with a laser stenciled wrap-around cover conceptualized and designed by Steinbrüchel featuring photographs from Taylor Deupree and an essay by Lawrence English. The booklet and cd wallet are housed in a slipcase printed inside and out in black and white on contrasting paperstocks.
The music on Parallel Landscapes was created with the design process in mind. Steinbrüchel engaged himself with ideas of «designing» music instead of making or writing music and about the importance of music existing with (or without) visual enhancement.
The ideas of landscape, while not new in the musical world, were prevalent throughout the creative process. Music vs. landscape, music as horizontal layers, drawing new curves (landscapes) over sound files, imposing one landscape onto another and hearing/seeing the results. However, the album isn¹t just about horizontal combinations but vertical inbetweens as well. What happens from one event to the next? What happens when events are combined? How does the addition of one object (audio, visual) redefine another object next to it? What happens to a table when a chair is placed in front of it? ... And how does all of this coalesce into sonic and visual space?
There¹s an incredible amount of exploratory thought behind Parallel Landscapes that make this one of Steinbrüchel¹s most ambitious projects to date. His music has become increasingly refined but always retaining his signature sound. Still using the ideas of sine waves and pure tones but now softened with time, his palette stretches across electronics into a variety of found and acoustic sources. Bell tones are in the forefront, interspersed with the soft crackles of noise and static. Tones are stretched across the visual plane like a bell being carried across the land forever duplicating itself. Parallel Landscapes is engaging and reflective and sets a new standard in Steinbrüchel¹s creative output.
Terje Paulsen is a norwegian sound artist whose previous digital and physical productions were released by mystery sea, impulsive habitat, conv, resting bell or gruenrekorder. you'll guess then that he mainly deals with experiments and field recordings. he usually works with simple instruments and equipment and sounds from found objects.
for this powerful track, terje has also used his own voice, which is a very new things for him. these whispers in norwegian language add a little mystery to the track.
Enigmatic faces stare out from tableaux on walls and caves.
Impenetrable and mysterious they haunt the mind.
On the last edge of vibration they cross.
Unwelcomed and uninvited. A murmur in a shadow.
A last breath.
They have a tendency to walk through walls.
Wheels of fire spit flames into the night.
A dark road echoes.
The stars vanish.
A face in darkness shines.
A ribbon on a trace weed.
The last curl of smoke.
Eyes wide and seeing.
Cerebral, minimalistic and restrained, Cloudscapes is a collaborative album by sound artist Yui Onodera (Japan) and multi-instrumentalist Vadim Bondarenko (Russia). Onodera’s unique approach to sound processing and electronic composition is augmented by performances from Bondarenko on piano and clarinet.
Yui is no stranger to collaboration having worked with artists such as Celer (Spekk), Pjusk (12K) and Stephen Vitiello (12K) as well as regularly remixing music by other artists. Vadim Bondarenko will likely be a new name to most; coming from a background in classical music, he studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and since 1996 has performed with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra as a solo clarinetist. Vadim also founded the improvisatory trio ‘Rushobo’, combining performance and production in this ensemble.
As on many of Yui’s solo albums, individual tracks on Cloudscapes are not given titles. The decision to have all tracks bound to the one-word album title is an obvious indicator that the album ought to be listened to as a whole, but it also reflects the minimalistic nature of the music itself. Given just that word, it is impossible not to imagine wide, expansive skies with clouds slowly unfurling while listening to the music; it seems the perfect title.
The opening track sets a tone and pace that’s prevalent throughout the album; the sound of the outdoors is captured and magnified, unhurried piano phrases drift in and out; there is an open, spacious quality to the music. Despite the electronic sounds and processing that underpin the relatively unadulterated acoustic instruments, the arrangements feel free and organic as though they’ve been captured in the moment, without labour.
There is just one track on Cloudscapes where I cannot discern any acoustic instruments, but it could be that they are present and have been processed beyond the point of recognition - this is on the fifth track which is also the longest at ten minutes, a wonderful, dense electronic piece that envelops with great swathes of shimmering sound. Even when the album reaches these more intense moments, the feeling of spaciousness remains, I think this is thanks in part to the extraordinary clarity of not just the live instrumentation, but the electronics too - the sounds are detailed and nuanced, bright and harmonious.
For me, this is bright and hazy morning music best enjoyed before the mind has shaken off the last vestiges of sleep; Yui and Vadim seem to have captured the essence of that tranquil, languorous state of mind.
With the days of synthetic minimalism fading beyond the horizon in our rear view mirror, we pick up where Chessa (12k1030) left off. In his most bold and experiential work yet, Shuttle358 (Californian Dan Abrams) pulls you into a highly immersive blend of cinematic loops met with warm analogue performances, fragments of long ago spools of mellotron tape, piano string plucking, hazy guitar processing reminiscent of Abrams’ Fenton project, and field recordings under the stars.
The first in several different upcoming works from one of 12k’s most revered and respected artists, Shuttle358’s long-awaited new album Can You Prove I Was Born is a melancholic bedtime story; a familiar aura. A mobius strip.
Created and mastered for vinyl with artwork featuring Polish photographer Ada Augustyniak, whose forest landscapes echo the cosmic motifs of the album. The jacket is beautifully printed on heavy-weight stockwith a silver foil inlay and the pressing is on 180g virgin vinyl. It is limited to 500 copies.
Abul Mogard is a mysterious man, supposedly a retired factory-worker from Serbia who has since turned to create expansive and poetic drone pieces in the last few years, and little is known about him. It is something of a fanciful tale, and since his appearances are otherwise scarce it’s difficult to say whether this backstory is true or not, especially considering how sonically mature the music he’s producing is. Artist backstories aren’t why we’re here though, we’re here to talk about his latest effort on cassette with Ecstatic from mid-July and my oh my, what a record this is; comprised of heady synth drones and possibly some warped guitars also, The Sky Had Vanished is a drawing and complex album that ensconces you in its mystifying expanses before choking you with claustrophobic anxieties, and I love it.
The first and longest track of the three presented here, “Staring at the Sweeps of the Desert”, truly lives up to its namesake, filling its 18 minute span with luxurious spacious dronescapes, every direction we turn another view of the dynamic yet quietly serene biome, soft waves of tickling airs creeping over the dune crests in the dimming sunlight, propelled by deep and heady roots that remind us of its depth and breadth. Its lightness is admiration in the smooth perfection of the sculpted dunes before it, whilst a slightly grittier and clipped edge recognises the uncountable myriad of grains that it is comprised of, faintly detectable as nought but a frosting from our vantage point. It escalates slowly and carefully as more and more becomes apparent, the panoramic vista slowly unravelling itself in our minds eye in all its wonderment, before dipping away towards the middle of the piece, dying with the falling Sun and ushering in a new realm of impenetrable darkness and unending expanse, of labyrinthine dunes cloaked in blackness that reaches up to suffocate us in oscillating thrums and menacing, bleak stretches of oppressive drone noise. We are nothing in the face of nature, just another grain in the desert as it swallows us up in crippling claustrophobia.
The title track is half the length and somewhat less dark than its predecessor’s deepest moments, but in what sounds like deep and distant guitar drones we do seem to find ourselves lost and alone, our path unlit and future uncertain as it ratchets itself into life, growing in volumetric strength as well as textural complexity as it begins to swirl around us, the chaos refined and almost consistent in its whirling patterns, flashes of light rising unbidden from our tightly shut eyes, random bursts of activity that torture our poor, tired mind. It’s noisy and disturbed but it never reaches the fearful heights of before, pushing through the oppressive tracts of sound with a single-minded efficacy; hope lies on the other side it says, all we need to do is outlive these crushing moments and it’s ours.
Before we know it our life is almost spent and “Desires Are Reminiscences By Now” rolls around in our final act to turn about in introspective passages and survey the damage, all the moments and wants and could-have-beens we’ve left in our wake. It’s a smoother cruise than the others, its synth currents sounding almost helpless in their earlier movements as they slink forwards born out of regret and nostalgic failure. Vangelis-esque blasts, electronic warblings and thoughtful croons cry out for the life they wished they’d lived, but it’s too late for all that now and each moment seems to emotionally eclipse these miserable thoughts, replacing them with waves of blisteringly cathartic energy that turn us away from the past and its many lost moments, the only changes remaining to us here in the present and in the future. It’s a crushingly beautiful conclusion to this true rollercoaster of emotion and I can’t think of a more fitting end. Open your eyes and steer yourself true, Mogard seems to say, don’t let your desires become reminiscences to regret forever, act now and beat the desert rather than become it. Effortlessly, poetically, beautiful.
Tapu presents the third album by Banabila & Machinefabriek. Whereas its predecessor Travelog had a charming brightness, Error Log is abstract and dystopian. The album is comprised of three long monolithic tracks, based on electronics and heavy sampling of acoustic instruments. Howling bass clarinet, warped voices, cinematic strings, Muppet drums and glitchy electronics are used to create a delirious sound universe. Keimpe de Jong (wind instruments), Edita Karkoschka (voice), Salar Asid (violin), Umit Sav (electric violin) and Oene van Geel (violin) all contribute their masterful sounds.
In 2010, acclaimed German sound experimentalist Florian Hecker and multidisciplinary artist Mark Leckey came together for the first time. Their combined Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera—a mutant configuration of two geneti- cally discrete solo works—was originally presented as part of a two-day performance event at the Tate Modern called Push and Pull, and arrives as PAN’s inaugural offering of 2015. Both artists, as the art historian Alex Kitnick notes in his text accompanying the release, have a demonstrated interest in sound and its material effects; Hecker’s acute, algorithmic computer music is noted for impacting the very molecular infrastructure of its listeners, while Leckey’s work across performance, sculpture, and installation takes up transcendence and the occupation (or animation) of new bodies and modes of being.
In Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera, Hecker decomposes, modulates, and re-synthesizes the vocal track from Leckey’s 2010 performance piece “GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction” (for which Leckey intoned the inner monologue of a black Samsung fridge) and his own “3 Channel Chronics” installation from that same year, where distinct sounds from three speakers telescoping down from the ceiling were combined and altered by visitors’ movements. The result- ing work—like that three-headed beast of Greek mythology—is a multivalent, tri-part hybrid in which heavily distorted fragments of Leckey’s narrative intersperse Hecker’s synthetic textures and fidgety tonal patterns. On the PAN release itself, channel 1 from Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera corresponds with side A and channel 2 with side B; channel 3 is available as a monophonic mp3 download.
Florian Hecker returns to PAN following his 2011 vinyl issue of Sun Pandämonium. Trained in computational linguistics and fine arts, Hecker’s work deals with specific compositional developments of post-war modernity, electro-acoustic music and psychophysical domains of audition. A fixture of the Editions Mego roster with releases on Rephlex and Presto?!, Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera is included in his recently published artist book Chimerizations, which both documents and extends the concept behind his project for for documenta 13 (2012) and includes texts by the writer and philosopher Reza Negarestani, anthropologist Stefan Helmreich, and curator Catherine Wood.
Mark Leckey is a British artist, pop-culture provocational agent, and self-described autodidact working across sculp- ture, sound, film, and performance. His notable video works (collaged from found material) include the 1999 cult short Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore and Industrial Lights and Magic, for which he was awarded the Turner Prize in 2008. A career retrospective, “Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials,” was recently presented at WIELS in Belgium, and his work is included in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Hammer Museum, and Walker Art Center, among others. He has served as Film Studies professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, and is currently Reader in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, London. The first comprehensive monograph of his work, On Pleasure Bent, was published in 2014.
Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera is written and produced by Florian Hecker; GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction courtesy of Mark Leckey. The album is mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M. It includes liner notes by art historian Alex Kitnick, and artwork by Florian Hecker & Bill Kouligas.
Antigravity is a trio album from legendary trumpeter Jac Berrocal and two fellow travellers in the French avant-garde, David Fenech and Vincent Epplay. A lugubrious mise-en-scène in which ice-cold outlaw jazz meets musique concrète, DIY whimsy and dubwise studio science, all watched over by the lost souls and hungry ghosts of rock ‘n roll.
Born in 1946, Berrocal is the embodiment of saturnine, nicotine-stained Parisian cool, but he is also one of a kind: indeed, “trumpeter” is hardly an adequate epithet for this musician, poet and sometime film actor who came of age in the ‘70s Paris improv scene, where the boundaries between music, art and theatre were porous and begging to be breached. Inspired by bebop, chanson, free jazz, beat poetry, early rock ‘n roll and myriad Eastern influences, and with an iconoclastic, anything-goes approach to instrumentation and technique that would later align him with post-punk sensibilities, Berrocal blazed an eccentric and unstoppable trail across the underground throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, both solo and as part of the Catalogue group he co-founded.
During this time his uproarious performances routinely wound up jazz and rock audiences alike, but earned the admiration of no small number of wised-up weirdos: Steven Stapleton invited him to perform on two Nurse With Wound albums, and other notable collaborators in his career include Sunny Murray, Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, Lol Coxhill, Yvette Horner and James Chance. In the 90s his protean achievements were celebrated on the Fatal Encounters compilation, but far from slowing down in the autumn of his life, Berrocal has maintained an extraordinary work-rate, keeping studio dates with Pascal Comelade, Telectu and Jaki Liebezeit, among others. In 2014 he released his first solo album proper in 20 years, MDLV.
Now Berrocal has found the perfect foil in David Fenech and Vincent Epplay, two fearlessly inventive improvisers, composers and catalysts who create challenging, acutely modernist yet historically aware settings – wrought out of synthesis, guitars, computer processing, field recordings and unorthodox percussions - for Berrocal’s unmistakeable voice and breathtakingly lyrical horn sound to flourish. Fenech cut his teeth in the mail-art scene of the early ‘90s, leading the Peu Importe collective in Grenoble. His 2000 solo debut was recently reissued by Felix Kubin’s Gagarin label, and he has also worked as a software developer at IRCAM, and played with Jad Fair, Tom Cora, Rhys Chatham and James Plotkin; in 2011 he formed a trio with Berrocal and Ghedalia Tazartes for the Superdisque LP. Epplay is a highly regarded sonic and visual artist with a particular interest in aleatory composition and autonomous pieces, concrète, and the puckish reappropriation of vintage sound and film material, with dozens of published works to his name on labels like Planam/Alga Marghen and PPT/Stembogen. He is also responsible for the cover imagery and video work that accompanies Antigravity.
The Berrocal/Fenech/Epplay trio’s first album together, Antigravity is a richly imagined universe combining original compositions and détourned standards. Berrocal revisits his own signature piece ‘Rock N Roll Station’, which first appeared on his ’77 LP Paralleles with chain-wielding, leather-clad wildman of British rock ‘n roll, Vince Taylor, singing the lead, and Berrocal on mic’d up bicycle; here, the Frenchman takes the vocal reins. A barely recognisable interpretation of Talking Heads’ ‘The Overload’ pushes beyond the bush of ghosts into a fourth world dread-zone of stalking drum machine rhythms, humid electronics and jagged guitar phrasing, while ‘Where Flamingos Fly’ reroutes the Gil Evans Orchestra’s classic rendition through the seamiest back-streets of the 13th arrondissement; there, as on the trio’s reading of ‘Kinder Lieder’, the mood is romantic, but stark, isolationist: imagine Chet Baker falling through the glacial sound-world of early PiL or Scott Walker’s Climate of Hunter.
Originals include the agitated Iberian psychedelia of ‘Spain’, and ‘Panic In Bali’, which begins in seemingly trad-jazz fashion only to swell into a cacophony of a gurgling electronics and fevered ‘Lonely Woman’ quotations. ‘Solaris’ is a swirling, suspenseful arabesque of whiplash guitars and Black Ark FX, Berrocal’s trumpet hitting deep blue notes while his vocals are sliced and diced and tossed into a yawning void of tape-delay – like Antigravity at large, the result is oblique, dissolving, forever out of reach.
Despite the chilly, sometimes austere mood of the album, it is, ultimately, a deeply human and welcoming work, with a playfulness and sly humour pervading: see the anarchic cross-hatch of ‘Ife Layo’, or ‘L’essai des Suintes ou le bal des Futaies’, Berrocal’s poetic disquisition on the infinite variety of female genitalia. Mischief and misdirection are rife here, and fans of Officer!, Henry Cow and the ReR axis will find much to chew on. Play, as we know, is a serious business.
Put another way, and to quote Berrocal entirely out of context, Antigravity is completely crazy, completely timeless, completely out. As its title suggests, the objective is nothing less than lift-off, weightlessness, a total unshackling from earth. Sunglasses on, collar up, let’s go.
London-based experimentalist Luke Younger (a.k.a HELM) returns to PAN with ‘Olympic Mess’, a record born of destructive practice, competing desires, and troubled optimism.
Where his previous effort, 2014’s ‘The Hollow Organ,’ dealt in dense, distressed sonics, ‘Olympic Mess’ is Younger responding to a period spent engaged with loop-based industrial music, dub techno, and balearic disco. These musical references, all of which can induce hypnotic states and feelings of euphoria, inform ten evocative aural landscapes which unfurl over the course of an hour and act almost as a counterpoint to the turmoil that spawned them.
“It’s about exploring a perverse desire to pull the rug from under yourself, and the struggle to achieve a healthy equilibrium between one’s personal and artistic lives,” Younger says. “Dealing with the problematic consequences of pushing your own limits, forming and dissolving relationships, transient lifestyles, physical and mental exhaustion, excess, and other kinds of personal chaos”.
Crafted using an array of heavily processed samples, found sound and electroacoustics, personal conflict manifests in “I Exist In A Fog” and “Outerzone 2015,” where visceral noise disintegrates into veiled, ambient strata. The disquieting crescendos of “The Evening In Reverse” and “Fluid Cloak” offer no such relief, while the title track and “Don’t Lick The Jacket” are mineral, multilayered abstractions twisting around a brittle pulse.
Following a period of extensive touring throughout the States and Europe, which included 20 dates in support of Danish punk group Iceage, ‘Olympic Mess’ was recorded in London, New York and Berlin by Sean Ragon, Luke Younger and John Hannon.
The album is mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M, pressed on 140g 2xLP and CD. It features photography by Kim Thue and artwork by Bill Kouligas.
Originally self-defined as an electric guitar project, Lipstate began recording under the name Noveller (pronounced "know-veller") in 2005 whilst living and studying in Texas. She uprooted to Brooklyn and subsequently made waves on New York's live scene and internationally, sharing the stage with the likes of Six Organs of Admittance, St. Vincent, Xiu Xiu, the Jesus Lizard, U.S. Girls, Aidan Baker and Emeralds, whilst capturing the attention of NPR, The Village Voice, Time Out New York and The Wall Street Journal.
Noveller's prolific output has seen her release albums via No Fun Productions and her own imprint, Saffron Recordings, including the Desert Fires LP and the critically acclaimed Glacial Glow. She also released a split LP with unFact (David Wm. Sims of the Jesus Lizard) and has collaborated with several renowned musicians, including live improvised duo performances with Carla Bozulich (Evangelista, The Geraldine Fibbers), Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), and JG Thirlwell (Foetus, Manorexia). She has previously performed as a member of Cold Cave, Parts & Labor, and One Umbrella.
Upon returning to Texas, Lipstate developed her signature cinematic soundscapes further, and it was here she completed her spectacular new release Fantastic Planet. It is an album largely steeped in place, both real and fantastical, and influenced by Lipstate's various interchanges and relocations, physical and emotional.
Noveller takes the elements of rhythm and synth textures introduced in her previous album No Dreams and expands them to a new level of prominence through her guitar work on Fantastic Planet. From the dark beat propelling "Pulse Point" to the distorted synth on post-punk track "Rubicon", Lipstate pushes her sound in new directions that complement and elevate her intoxicating filmic soundscapes.
"Some artists traverse boundaries. Sarah Lipstate's work seems to come from a world where they never existed. Her color-rich visual art has a mournful literary quality to it; her short films trigger collisions of emotional crosscurrents; and her instrumental music, which she makes under the name Noveller (emphasis on the middle syllable), seems to call to attention all senses at once, to the point where even the word music seems somehow limiting." - Time Out NY
"...simultaneously soothing and mind-wrecking noise, along with a compositional depth that most loud-for-the-hell-of-it guitar droners never reach." - NY Press
"...hypnotic, rich-textured electric guitar works." - New York Times
"Sarah Lipstate creates miniature musical worlds, places that you feel like you'll never leave long as the record is playing." - Pitchfork
"For all the wrongs we wrought, Fantastic Planet reminds us of the rights we create." - KEXP
“Open Interior explores feelings of loneliness and anxiety. It is a sense of disconnection to the outside world. My intent was to form a mixture of light and heavy sounds that reflect these emotions.”
This sense of disconnection remains prominent throughout 'Open Interior', with Nadia's intentions appearing to gear towards a place of mental retreat, to soothe a cluttered thought. 'Slight Drift', perhaps the highlight of this release, embodies this approach completely through its gentle pulsing repetition and mournful synth lines, we feel compelled to assume a position of quiet. This theme continues throughout, with both 'Grid Work' and 'Milky Sweat' coming off like lost Harold Budd 'Abandoned Cities' era works. The final long piece 'Selective Thoughts' is where we feel this sense of anxiety truly manifest, Nadia here captures a sense of total isolation and fear through the creation of a dense and cold fog, conjuring a lonely, ritualistic march towards the end.
All songs written, recorded, and produced by Andrew and Michael Tasselmyer with a 2-track USB recording device, assorted cheap guitars and effects processors, and a personal computer in Wilmington, DE.
Many thanks to Shannon Penner and Michel de Jong for continued inspiration, and to Jon Rodman for giving impetus to this project.
The ink of the cover of his previous release “Sacred Grounds” had barely dried when Stephan Mathieu announced his new release called “Nachtstücke“.
(metaphorically speaking of course: these are both download-only releases).
The first thing to notice is that the full release of these “Night Pieces” is 260 minutes in length – that’s about a half night’s sleep!
Part I and Part IV (65 and 135 minutes respectively) both exceed Bandcamp’s maximum filesize, so ordering will get you a download code for the ‘missing’ tracks.
Since Mathieu releases his work in 24/96 format, you’ll have to anticipate a 2.7 Gb download or alternately go for the 600 Mb 320 kbit MP3 version (which will do nicely for most listeners by the way). The package also includes a PDF-booklet with beautiful pictures, designed by Caro Mikalef.
Parts I, II and IV were commissioned recordings of an entropic process setup in the historic baths of Saint Georges, Rennes (France).
(I cannot imagine exactly what entropic process means in relation to the music, but it sure sounds great!)
Before starting Part IV, which lasts for 2 hours and 15 minutes, Part III is a (subtly) different intermission piece featuring cassette loops by Federico Durand.
For most – if not all – listeners, four hours and twenty minutes of extended droning is simply too much for concentrated listening. So that obviously is not what this music is intended for.
From the album title and the sheer length of the album you might think that this is meant as some kind of sleep music – not unlike Robert Rich’s ‘Somnium.Perpetual‘ release.
But this is not entirely true: Rich’s works cover a full night’s sleep (over 8 hours) and follows the rhythm of sleep cycles, which means it gets quieter and quieter until it slowly returns to daylight.
When compared to Rich’s ‘sleep music’, “Nachtstücke” seems a bit more ‘busy’, musically… there’s some more going on in the backgound, so it may be somewhat harder to ‘sleep to’.
The explanation is in the definition: in visual arts, a “Nachtstuck” is ‘a scenery in artificial light, or moonlight’.
This is not intended as music to sleep to – in fact it’s more like music for insomniacs: music to play softly in the background while contemplating a night scenery….
In the end, everyone will of course find it’s own personal use: I thoroughly enjoyed playing this music in the background during the day, too.
Busman's Holiday opens with audio taken from an iconic scene in John Boorman's Point Blank. Walker, played by Lee Marvin, has just been betrayed and left for dead by his accomplice Reese and his wife Lynne. Having survived the incident, he makes his way to Los Angeles with the intention of getting revenge. As the scene plays out, Walker's footsteps reverberate loudly, juxtaposing the calmness of Lynne's morning routine. Interestingly, these footsteps continue and become non-diegetic sound for images of Walker himself. It's effective as a means to build tension but also as a way to establish the unwavering one-track mind that defines Walker throughout the film. As a result, there seems no better way to start off Busman's Holiday. This record definitely sounds like the collaborative work of Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet but it's even more uniform in style and mood than The Abyss. It's a bit surprising considering the variety of sounds that both Drumm and Lescalleet have explored within the past year, let alone their entire careers, but these six tracks are far more potent for it. The result is a cohesive and ultimately better album, and Busman's Holiday ends up being an incredibly strong statement for both of these highly accomplished artists.
When the footsteps and film soundtrack that introduce the album cease, "The Hunt" explodes into electrifying noise. The reason this piece feels so powerful is the perceptible movement of these sounds in the mix. In albums like Purge, Sheer Hellish Miasma, and The Pilgrim, passages of harsh noise feel domineering because of their huge monolithic presence. Numerous components may contribute to an overall structure but the main effect is less a frenetic assault on the senses (as with the second track on Land of Lurches) and more an all-encompassing wall of sound that completely envelops the listener. From its moment of impact, "The Hunt" does very much the same thing. The general shape of its screeches and howls keeps the listener trapped inside but what makes the track particularly oppressive is its refusal to stay motionless. These buzzing drones move around the listener at a moderately slow pace, circling them like prey, and it adds greatly to the piece's ominous ambiance.
There are approximately ten seconds of silence before "The Hunt" ends and "Powerless" begins. Those ten seconds act as a chance to catch one's breath, and when the piece starts with a loud tone, one may assume that it'll rupture into something as equally raucous as the last track. But what starts shrill soon crumbles through fuzzy noise and into a static drone. The album's liner notes state that the record is "a meditation on the inner mental environments that one encounters and endures during times of work-related travel." I've consequently listened to this album numerous times while driving to work and "Powerless" has felt particularly effective in accomplishing that feeling. Through my car stereo, the smears of high-pitched tones overhead are the primary sounds that catch my ear. Aside from adding textural interest, they act to stimulate and direct my attention towards the stillness of the drone and the repetitive mechanical rhythms heard underneath. In turn, this makes me aware of the blankness of my thoughts during these periods of travel. It's something that presumably occurs as a way to distract myself from the banality of such an everyday event as well as the equally familiar workday that's to follow. Before long. the song gradually builds into something comfortably noisy and it slowly ushers me back into that empty state of mind.
"The Wait" bears a similar structure to "Powerless"—it first descends into a dark pit before clawing its way back out. It's the longest track on Busman's Holiday but its length feels justified as it allows the listener to feel the physicality of its rattling machines. Here, the clatter is at the forefront while the subtly shifting drones are in the service of accentuating its deep reverberations. This relationship is key as it magnifies how eerie these noises actually are. It's comparable to "Asking for the Initial Thing" from the eighth edition of This Is What I Do but more dynamic, nuanced, and dramatic. As a result, when the piece ends with a more prominent drone, it feels like a natural extension of the mood evoked by what came beforehand.
This eventually leads into "The Push", a track whose title presumably refers to the perceived stasis of the cacophony here. The piece consists of three large blocks of noise, the first of which is the longest and highest-pitched. This section also evolves the most elegantly; it's difficult to pinpoint the exact development of these noises unless one hears the beginning and end of this passage right after one another. The following sections are just as noisy but their individual components are "livelier" and less homogeneous. The sequencing here is important and it, along with other factors—the general sounds used in each part of the song, the decision to have complete silence before the final passage, the relative lengths of these three sections—all contribute to the effectiveness of the piece as a whole.
"Belligerence" comes next and it's most interesting for its spontaneity. While not exactly high-energy, there's a fierce unpredictability to how this piece progresses and it grants the song some intensity. Near the beginning of the track, a high frequency tone appears unopposed and it pierces the ear. Considering the sound palette of the previous tracks and the general density of their structures, it feels particularly refreshing at this point in the album. This tone pops up frequently throughout the song, juxtaposing roaring electronics at one point and low rumbles at others. At around the six minute mark, a buzzing noise starts to pan back and forth across both channels before abruptly halting. A burst of cloudy noise emerges, as if snapping all the previous sounds into place. The surrounding fog dissipates and the track soon ends.
Busman's Holiday concludes with what's perhaps its most surprising track. Both Drumm and Lescalleet have made incredibly "pretty" pieces before, both individually (Imperial Distortion, Shut In, Archaic Architecture) and together ("The Abyss"), but it's accomplished here in a way that's far more affecting. "Honest Toil" consists of a high-pitched tone, a shifting drone, and the sounds of various objects and machinery. It's all incredibly delicate and all these specific sounds—light tapping, miniature squeaks, the flipping of switches—are carefully organized as to sustain the track's child-like essence. These small sounds brings to mind moments in Keith Rowe and Graham Lambkin's Making A, though with a much sweeter tone (alternatively, a less saccharine Four Forms). One such example is an incredibly delightful moment at 2:54, when a tiny beep and ticking sound play harmoniously. Even when the rattling gets a bit noisy, the sustained sound of the other instruments help to maintain the piece's calming mood. A looping melody eventually appears and closes out the album on a nostalgic note. It may be too romantic for some but it feels appropriate both as a musical contrast to the previous tracks and as a final statement regarding the album's theme. Work is tiring and overwhelming but in the warmth of this final track comes encouragement from Drumm and Lescalleet to persevere.
Awake is a collaboration between noise veteran Mike Shiflet and guitarist John Kolodij (aka High Aura’d), and was recorded over the course of three autumn days in Kolodij’s Rhode Island studio. This isn’t your expected by-email collaboration though; rather, the two sat together in the same room with amps humming and strings vibrating, letting the space and the physicality dictate the music.
The sessions were improvisational in nature, and as the recordings were cleaned up and edited, only sparse field recordings were added to enhance the live takes. It’s a record the might sound electronic in parts – indeed echoes of Tim Hecker or Yellow Swans are present throughout – but has the guitar at its core.
Awake is a direct descendent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor or even Glenn Branca, but has been smudged, distorted and delayed beyond recognition. Whats left are traces – the ghosts and outlines of songs, trapped in a fog of white noise and overdrive – and the end result is disarmingly serene.
Sheathed in some of the best album artwork of 2015, Mika Vainio and Franck Vigroux reveal the buzzing and psyched-out electronic sculptures of 'Peau froide, léger soleil' on Shapednoise's Cosmo Rhythmatic label.
The latest and arguably most powerful in a long line of collaborations between the Finnish producer and his peers aesthetically finds him closest to the crushing electronics + processed guitar equations of 'Life (… It Eats You Up)' (2011) or 'Kilo' (2013), but also with a couple of brilliant runs into vocodered, sidereal electronics that really set this record apart.
Three years in the making, following a live collaboration in Paris 2012, 'Peau froide, léger soleil' is an exercise in sensitive intensity and spatial scale, seamlessly mapping Vigroux's alchemical guitar process into Vainio's free swaggering structures and tonal extremities.
From the deep freeze intro and craggy peaks of opener 'Deux', they take in the ice palace designs of 'Mémoire', which first reveals the strange voices that come to haunt the rest of the record, emerging from the buzzsaw blasts and subbass waves of 'Souffles' like the ghost of Bruce Haack, or creeping like hyaline spectres from the microtonal gloam of 'Ravages'.
However, if you're after out-and-out Vainio wreckage, they excel at that too with later trax such as the white-out guitar storm of 'Parabole', and certainly in the finishing move of funked-up electro bass riffs and banking amp buzz entitled 'Le crâne tambour'.
Effectively it's the heaviest you'll hear from this icy and bloodied corner of the field this year, and surely marks the Cosmo Rhythmatic label as one to watch.
Thanks to all the respected artists and the record labels for expanding our listening habits.