Mittwoch, 24. April 2013

ALAN LICHT - four years older

"alan licht solo electric guitar. four years later recorded december 2012 at echo canyon west. four years earlier recorded live december 2008 at the electric possible, washington d.c. all selections played as heard, no overdubs. a new set by the coolest chap in new york city documenting the development process of a solo electric guitar piece that alan licht has been playing out for last four years. revered for his work in the blue humans and text of light, and a key figure in the pantheon of experimental solo guitar players born in the late sixties such jim o'rourke and oren ambarchi, 'four years older' is his debut editions mego release, representing another peak in a career of mining the rich seams of minimalism, noise and avant-garde in general that stretches back more than two decades. as it says on the box side a was recorded four years later than the side b (and vice versa). if that wasn't enough it's been four years since his last solo lp, ymca, on family vineyard. four years older sees a move away from the loop-based pieces of recent releases. on four years later in particular the guitar's fingerboard is actually touched more than on any other solo piece of the last ten years, although the guitar is pushed to sound more like a suitcase synth, a church organ, a hornet's nest, and a malfunctioning playstation than a guitar per se." (label info)
four years older

Samstag, 20. April 2013

NIGEL BUNN - index

Nigel Bunn is a shadowy figure from the periphery of New Zealand's underground music scene; until now his output has been limited to a couple of tracks on obscure compilation albums. He's better known in Dunedin, his hometown, as a polymath who paints, photographs, makes experimental films, and helps organize art exhibits. Index is culled from years of varied musical experiments. The title track is a stirring fanfare for a looped piano phrase overlaid with distant trumpets. Several paradoxically tranquil pieces are woven from threads of guitar feedback. Others feature percolating antique electronics. Two sullen organ interludes impart an aura of dread, but Bunn's recitations of fragmentary texts in a filtered and sped-up voice are the most disorienting element of all. The album is deftly sequenced so that its disparate elements flow together like a surreal film that one could watch many times without extracting all of its secrets. (Bill Meyer)

Nigel has rooms full of old machines. Many of them found their way onto this album. He’s also a visual artist (mostly pencil and watercolor), a cinematographer and a photographer, developing his own films and photos in his flat in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Anyone that’s heard his music no doubt first became familiar with him via the seminal New Zealand compilation Killing Capitalism with Kindness (1992). His contribution “Goodbye God Baby Goodbye” (included in this collection) set the world on end for just over two minutes. It’s a disorienting and exhilarating listen, with primitive computer gurgles and plinked guitar set alongside Nigel’s disturbingly droll vocals. Besides a couple more compilation appearances and a rare lathe cut 7” EP, nothing else was released by Mr. Bunn.
Alastair Galbraith (Emperor Jones’ resident Pacific Rim A&R dude) coaxed/tricked Nigel into assembling a double album of his work, and the result is this impressive body of work Nigel calls Index. It’s largely instrumental and a good bit of it is loop-based, with pulsating guitar songs. But ultimately all of his music is simply beautiful and his vision alone. (Emperor Jones)

Nigel Bunn is a solitary avantgarde musicians from Dunedin, New Zealand.Index (Emperor Jones, 1999) is a generous collection which spans several years of his career. His art is generally built on loops of treated instruments with a penchant for ambient and industrial cliches (long steady drones, metallic timbres, ripetitive figures). He sits somewhere between Stars Of The Lid and Roy Montgomery, but also rather close to composers such as Harry Partch and John Cage. Patterns of electronics and guitars mold the ambient celtic music of Index and Beam, where fragments of melody are awash in methodically repeated sound effects. Goodbye God Baby Goodbye is a short surreal piece for two cartoon-like voices, a gently strummed guitar and a bebop trumpet.Rusty And Iron Green's whirling raga is played on a dissonant guitar scale.Katzenjamer's mini-symphony for languid guitar feedback may be the album's strongest ambient track. The World Of Spirits is the ultimate feast of Bunn's bizarre tones, albeit a tad too long. Elsewhere, Bunn indulges in sound experiments of a more dadaist kind, which bring to memory electronic composers such as Gordon Mumma and Robert Ashley. While naif and, all in all, outdated, these pieces (Striartum is the longest) transfer those techniques into the humbler setting of do-it-yourself music. Bunn is the quintessential eccentric, expressing the deepest emotions of his soul through a cryptic and unorthodox language. (Piero Scaruffi @ the history of rock music)

Montag, 15. April 2013

LOREN CONNORS - till morning: more collected works 1995-2005

(by alexander richter)

"till morning" is a very arcane compilation. or at least, i feel this way. in times where mazzacane's work is recognized by more and more listeners, i'd have expected to find data about it. but i could not track down any information about "more collected works" anywhere. it comes along pretty much as if it was meant to form some sort of trinity along with "as roses bow: collected airs 1992-2002" and the relatively wide spread "night through: singles and collected works 1976-2004". just guessin' - but if you know, just drop a comment.

till morning part I

till morning part II

Sonntag, 14. April 2013

PHILIP BLACKBURN - ghostly psalms

Innova-man and Harry Partch-expert Philip Blackburn's "Ghostly Psalms" would have won the trophy "Best Record 2012". So, that's why it's here.
I can imagine that to be in the presence of the “Duluth Harbor Serenade” recording session must have been a most surreal experience. While the harbor’s sonic fingerprint usually manifests over the course of a day – conducted by the ritualistic, day-to-day triggers upon which each sound resounds in the fulfilment of its duty – this piece condenses the location’s most distinctive sounds into a bustling eight minutes. Between 3:00pm and 3:08pm on Labour Day 2011, operators of these sounds were permitted to produce them as they pleased, while a flash mob of musicians paraded the streets and merged into the soundscape. The end result was like a scene-setting sequence from a Hollywood film; ellipsis squeezes out chronology and brings sonic identity into a single point, amounting to a chorus of noise that splashes out a mental image of its place of origin. The rapid-fire ring of bridge alarms quivers across the breathy calls of ship horns, pressurised expulsions of steam and the spluttering acceleration of motorised engines, while streams of weather blend in with the constant babble of conversation. There’s something beautiful about how this musical dilution arises in real time and without composer intervention. While the situation itself feels fantastical and out of proportion, there’s a warming authenticity that arises from the fact that the people of Duluth Harbor are the players at work, coaxing its breath cycle into being.
From here, this collection of works descends into dream, with time and location swirled into indistinction. The 50-minutes of “Ghostly Psalms” stems from an actual from an actual recurring anxiety dream from 1982, described by Philip Blackburn as follows:
“This memorable one…was about crawling uphill through a rocky desert with a crystalline trickle of clear water flowing uphill, entering a fortified mediaeval village (like Conques, perhaps) on the hilltop through a culvert, and walking into the abbey while voices played all around.”
This dream is sonically manifested as an eternally morphing combination of strings, voices, organs and other abstract unidentifiables; the listener is guided between them and caught awkwardly in the fluid formation and dissipation of its shadowy dream-shapes, as the familiar is bent out of recognition and thrust into the company of those sounds that are utterly alien in form. Blackburn’s justifications for choosing each textures, along with his interpretation of their effects, are laid out in full in the album’s accompanying booklet. Personally I find it easier to be consumed by the immediacy of the piece without Blackburn’s carefully assembled preconceptions – for the first listen at least, I found it beneficial to be left always questioning, but without the time to discover the answers nor even formulate the questions themselves. The piece is evocative of a dream-like logic (illogic, perhaps), through which objects and states are free to mutate without cause or consequence. Voices gather and babble into panicked ascents, string drones overhang like thin streaks of grey cloud, while faint ghosts of woodwind and brass make wispy entrances and disappear without leaving a trace nor imprint.
The five minutes of “Gospel Jihad” takes the collection to its conclusion, in a bizarre contrast of language. One choir strips sound of its rhythmic content, gliding in streams of gaseous harmony around the backdrop; up and across cathedral walls, circulating around wood-beamed ceilings. The other spits words and celebrates their harsh punctuations and emphases, with phrases shot out in yells so that they collide like reactive particles. The former feels cleansed and unified, while the latter is restless and in the process of deconstruction.
The sonic range covered across this selection of works is eclectic, and I find my emotional response to it to be equally so. Some of its material sends impulsive pangs of anxiety and excitement, while other sections skim across my surface without so much as a ripple so show for it. But such an inconsistency feels strangely appropriate for such a mercurial work; Ghostly Psalms is forever fading and emerging, with its only constant being its eternal state of transformation.
ghostly psalms

Donnerstag, 11. April 2013

MAAN - manifold

(label info) "MAAN consist of two Flemish engineer students in their early twenties. They do not only love their sciences cold, their debut LP 'Manifold' harks back to the misanthropic aesthetics of Belgium's wave era, bringing to mind a drumless version of Joy Division inspired bands such as Gruppenbild or De Brassers. But MAAN are not the kind of revivalists you would expect them to be. Although the four track garage quality makes them sound like a lost demo tape of teenage angst expression of those days, they owe as much to the literary side of the Shadow Ring or even the intoxicated parlando-and-bass methods of early Arab Strap. Simon Marius and Tim Depraetere had no clue when old cunts like us tried to impress them with name dropping and references to the bands of our youths. To them we were just an annoying update of nagging hippies who compare everything new they hear to the Velvets or Hawkwind.
MAAN told us to fuck off and went home to listen to their fresh free jazz downloads, then took up some random instruments, made a bunch of tape loops and decided to make a record. Nevertheless, they still sound like something you found on Mutant Sounds in a quest for some obscure shit you had not heard before. Performances of MAAN always show the band's many different angles. Their link to a couple of young Belgian visual artists had them playing at art galleries a lot when they just started out. That might be the reason that you could catch them doing an hour long minimalist mantra, using only trumpet and voice, as well as a more traditional basement gig. 'Manifold' is the product of song writing, although the art school vibe is present all the same. Do not be mistaken though: Maan are scientists and they do not care about your intelligent pseudo-music philosophy."

aspirant to claim the crown of  "best record in 2013".
buy it!

Mittwoch, 10. April 2013

RICHARD LAINHART - white night

Back in 1974, one year before Brian Eno’s first landmark in Ambient-music, some young musician from New York wrote down a fragment of beauty’s hidden story with the minimal vocabulary of sine waves on the young black skin of a Moog synthesizer.

Richard Lainhart about the work’s origin:
"White Night" was composed and recorded in the late fall of 1974 at the State University of New York at Albany in the Coordinated Electronic Music Studio (CEMS). CEMS was created by my composition teacher Joel Chadabe with design and custom fabrication by Robert Moog and was, at the time, the largest integrated Moog modular synthesizer studio in the world.

The piece consists of a dense, continuous four-note chord, each note in the chord recorded in a separate pass to one track on a Scully 4-track studio recorder. Each track consists of a single sine wave oscillator which is frequency modulated by a group of eight additional sine wave oscillators. Those oscillators are all tuned to different tones, each harmonically related to the fundamental chord tone. The amplitude of each harmonic oscillator is continuously varied under the control of an individual sequencer, and each sequencer is free-running - that is, the sequencers are not synchronized to each other, but rather running in their own independent timebases.The result is a continuously-changing complex harmonic waveform which modulates the frequency of the chord tone oscillator, generating a continuously-changing complex timbre based on the fundamental pitch of the note.
The center tone of "White Night" is 212 Hz, slightly higher than the G below Middle C. The other notes create a chord consisting of a perfect fifth below the center tone, a major seventh just below the center tone, and a major second above the center tone. "White Night" was composed without reference to the standard A-440 tuning system, as we had no such pitch reference in the studio; I just picked a center tone that felt right, and went from there. As such, "White Night" lives in its own pitch world.
The title "White Night" came about so: it was late December in upstate New York when I was finishing the piece, and a blizzard passed through town the night of the final mix. As I sat in the glow of the sequencers and tape decks in the University studio listening to the final version, I looked out the window and saw a security light on a building opposite the studio illuminating the blowing snow as it drifted off the roof. All I could see was the snow swirling in the light against the blackness; a moving painting continually drawn, erased, and redrawn, always changing, but always the same. It may sound bleak, but it wasn't - it was beautiful. It seemed to me that the image of the dancing whiteness perfectly matched the sound of the piece, and so I called it "White Night" to commemorate that evening of wind and snow."
white night

Montag, 8. April 2013


check this here too.

Michael Northam surely is one the most fascinating contemporary figures and deserves way more attention. He told me once that he is not best in self-marketing. Especially in recent years, tags like "Drone", "Minimalist" and "Experimental" were so heavily abused and consequently misleading, that instead of discovering Michael Northam one would end up paying attention to recordings of irrelevant copycats. So, here I am trying to reach a few more people who open their ears and hearts towards this king of sounds.

Since his earliest memories of family journeys through desert state of Utah, Michael Northam has been intimately and directly inspired by vast geographies, severe weather and and other impressive natural events and places. This life long fascination of the phenomena of perception and experience faced with intimidating scales (large or small) continues to the foundation of his work with sound and images.

His work is the continuation of more than 20 years active art-life-travel which has brought him to visit, work with, and learn from over 90 artists (e.g. Catherine Christer Hennix, Loren Chasse, Yannick Dauby, Melanie Velarde, In Gowan Ring,etc.) from over 50 locations in 25 countries. Through these various experiences he has woven a complex tapestry of influences into a very personal intuitive process of creation. He continues to rediscover relations between visual/physical and sonic structures via a continual activity in graphic design, photography and filmmaking parallel to the sound work. As well as finding and practicing links between 'sound as art/experience' and traditional 'musical' approaches, such as the study of Kirana style raga singing with Michael Stirling (the last student of Pandit Pran Nath) and most recently an intensive residency studying the Dhrupad vocal tradition with the Gundecha Brothers in Bhopal, India.
He has established studios, organized events, made his own way independent of institutions and nationality now for over ten years through relocations between several countries. By now his work has been presented in over 15 countries with CDs published on four continents. He is ever surprised to discover new listeners and collectors of his music in the most disparate places - from Japan to Lapland from Moscow to Montana.
Northam performing "Owl's Songs" at O Tannenbaum, Berlin in 2011
Currently using specially prepared instruments such as the Magnetic Table Harp (a controllable magnetic resonance machine that acts simultaneously as a stringed instrument, a large contact microphone and a tone processor) as well as computer processing, prepared recordings (such as potatoes frying, wind moving through trees and walks through foliage) and a range of sounding objects. Michael explores the no-man's land between improvisation and acousmatic composition. A delicate position poised in search of the ever elusive morphological 'flow' where sound and action melt together and the eidetic triggering of sound as pure material transcends playing into the territory of 'sonic compost' - that which feeds our insatiable need to listen deeper.

Northam is a productive craftman who released uncountable recordings. His discography can confuse as to wander an unknown forest. I want to help those of you out, who seek a path in this vast jungle. However, it is not my ambition to make all of his compositions available here, but to give you some idea of his œuvre.
cyclogenesis (life on tape vol1.)
(with melanie velarde)
tracking the woodwouse
(with eirth/in gowan ring & regina la roca)
shapeshifter owl songs
log cabin
(with jatin vidyarthi & alex bhagat)
(with yannick dauby & hitoshi kojo)
les arrels de la mare serp
(with emmanuel holterbach)
golden shadow
(with jatin vidyarthi)
brilliant tedium
le neuvième déguisé en sept