Berry's approach to time-structure is to present the music as a series of evolutionary fits and starts, mimicking the way successive generations of humans have to relearn, to at least some degree, the history of music before finding a way of adding to it...
Sound 323 [Brian Marley]
A list of albums which I have contributed tracks to.
framework editions its proud to announce its latest release, framework500, produced in celebration of our 500th(!) edition, which premiered on sunday, february 22nd, 2015.
To celebrate this important moment in our history, we are publishing this new 3-disc compilation. we invited the artists who participated in our first release, framework250, to return with a new work. we are proud to present those works here, slow burnt onto the highest quality CDRs, and housed in a beautiful origami sleeve made from locally produced recycled stock from räpina paberivabrik and letterpressed on the historical machines at studio.tartuensis.
What’s more, we have had the amazing opportunity to be present for both the production of our very own paper stock, and its printing, and have thusly been able to include on the release recordings of both of these processes. so you can hold framework500 in your hand while you listen to the sounds of the paper you are touching being made and the words you are reading being printed. many, many thanks to mihkel peedimaa and lemmit kaplinski for making this possible. we are very proud to be able to produce this object with local materials in collaboration with local artisans.
01 räpina paberivabrik | making this paper | 05’00
02 jeph jerman | prayer wheel | 06’06
03 loren chasse | moonlight on the villages | 07’43
04 matteo uggeri & luca bergero | paper blocks | 06’56
05 felicity ford | fermenting madder | 06’55
06 eamon sprod | rock pool: blanket bay | 07’26
07 murmer | signal from the dam | 08’06
08 scott sherk | 9 steel stele | 05’49
09 peter cusack | milking a camel | 03’21
10 keith berry | bay of trujillo | 07’17
11 maria balabas, mihai balabas & nicolas triboi | la madeleine sonore | 10’07
12 asmus tietchens | deb 1b | 03’38
13 keith de mendonca | echo | 06’30
14 martin clarke | varanasi | 04’20
15 maksims šentelevs | river styx | 10’46
16 kodama | cauldron | 14’24
17 dallas simpson | tunnel improvisation (edited mix extract) | 06’11
18 eric cordier | les gardiens de la forêt | 07’14
19 jonathan coleclough | köln fork | 04’28
20 ben owen | stairwell bergen st | 07’01
21 toy.bizarre | title | 04’30
22 jim haynes | we feared there was an unfortunate woman amongst them | 07’01
23 thomas tilly | mycelial path | 09’06
24 jean-luc guionnet | what happened? | 10’31
25 emmanuel mieville | ascenseur en montée | 09’46
26 jez riley french | dorset circle (extract) | 08’27
27 joel stern | follow that ice-cream truck (java) | 05’54
28 richard garet | shaped water | 07’14
29 simon whetham | the other side of the hall | 05’19
30 phill niblock | crick | 11’07
31 studio.tartuensis | printing these words | 05’00
Five years ago, the Framework radio series broadcast its 250th episode with a massive 4cd anthology of works by artists who had been regularly featured on the series. The motto for the show states that "Framework is a show consecrated to field recording and its use in composition. Field recording. Phonography. The art of sound hunting. Open your ears and listen." The host of Framework - Patrick McGinley (aka Murmer) - asked all of the contributing artists to that four cd set to contribute to another milestone for the 500th episode. And what we have here is another tome of sound ecology and obfuscated environmental texture all woven into composition through this impressive triple cd set. Here are some of the highlights of the 31 tracks to Framework 500...
Long time aQ favorite/friend Loren Chasse layers melancholy chorales of bowed psalter over recordings of what very well could be the clamor of bells rattling from the tidal churn on a nocturnal harbor. Eamon Sprod (aka Tarab) presents a similarly oceanically-themed recording of crunched crustacean shells above a deep, distant roar. The dromedary groans followed by a sequence of squirting liquids on Peter Cusack's "Milking A Camel" are exactly that. According to Cusack, the resulting yogurt is wonderful. Hitoshi Kojo and Michael Northam pull an archival recording for their contribution as Kodama, here joined by Framework's Patrick McGinley on resonant metal objects in a watery cistern. On "Koln Fork," we get a rare track from Jonathan Coleclough, the once prolific dronologist whose been far too quiet in past six or seven years, with his contribution being a brightly hued burst of snowglint metals and drone-guitar mesmerism. Toy Bizarre offers a claustrophobic piece of insectoid buzz and bone-snapped textures that gives one of the most dynamic and abrasive tracks on the compilation. Both Thomas Tilly and our own Jim Haynes follow this more caustic aesthetic with industrial whirrs, piercing tone, and raw electrical crackling erupting through both of their tracks. All of the artwork was letterpressed into a nifty folio, making this a very limited edition.
A Popular Guide to the Starry Heavens with Notes for Small Telescopes
A Popular Guide to the Starry Heavens with Notes for Small Telescopes is the first presentation of Fescal's music on vinyl. It features both originals from Alchemical Wanderings and remixes from Keith Berry, Asphodel, port-royal and Fescal/Ruxpin. With it's rustic sound and celestial map within the package this is a true gem for all the stargazers and wonderers.
In early 2015, re-issue of his monumental work 'Alchemical Wanderings' -previously released on Time Released Sound- in 2CD format of unreleased work and re-mixes from artists such as Dirk Serries, Ruxpin, Keith Berry, Ingenting Kollektiva, Aidan Baker and port-royal will be released.
VINYL SIDE A: SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
01 Into Gold | (Original)
02 Learning To Love | (Original)
03 Universal Elixir | (Original)
VINYL SIDE B: NORTHERN HEMISPHERE
01 Into Gold | Keith Berry's "Sandcastles At Lowtide" Remix
02 Nightsky Illuminations | Asphodel's "Hiraeth" Remix
03 The Moon Flower Opens Its White, Trumpet Like Flowers At Eventide | Fescal & Hummingbear's "For Stars Lost" Remix
04 Under A Spell | port-royal's "Bound" Remix
05 Chemical Weathering | Fescal & Ruxpin's "Lo & Behold" Remix
12'' Lathe Cut Vinyl in white discobag and protective plastic sleeve.
Mastered by Atay Ilgün and Emilio
Replicas of a Celestial lithograph from Edinburgh (1963).
An edition of 50.
We are celebrating a landmark. in september framework aired its 250th edition. to mark the occasion, a collection of artists who have been important to the program over the years agreed to donate new and exclusive tracks, which we have published on a pair of double-cdr compilations, in handmade packaging.
They come in hand-cut, hand-folded, hand-silkscreened opaque origami sleeves, with inlay cards printed on local 100% recycled estonian-made paper from the rapina village paper factory, about 20km from me here in mooste. the sounds are slow-burnt onto the highest quality taiyo yuden cdrs, and hand-stamped with custom made rubber stamps. they sound and look great, if i do say so myself. all in all, my novice over-enthusiasm means these are more effort that i would probably ever be willing to make for a release again, so snap them up while you can!
01 jeph jerman | insects in bamboo | 08’44
02 loren chasse | furniture next to twilight | 13’00
03 nuno moita & matteo uggeri | machines help us | 05’15
04 felicity ford | celebrations | 06’26
05 tarab | untitled artefact | 10’33
06 murmer | many hands, no eyes | 12’44
07 scott sherk | victor’s lament | 04’18
08 steve roden | six small storms | 05’39
09 peter cusack | rail contact hoverfly | 01’32
10 keith berry | archipelago | 10’03
11 peter cusack | rail contact trains | 01’44
12 toshiya tsunoda | vibration of the rope of a fishing boat under moor 12.aug.09 matsuwa, miura | 09’38
13 maria balabas | in principio erat verbum | 09’02
14 asmus tietchens | FMF 4/1A | 05’07
15 keith de mendonca | 4 nights in lhasa | 07’17
16 seth nehil | twine | 06’59
17 martin clarke | three | 07’03
18 maksims šentelevs | river dam performed | 10’26
19 hitoshi kojo | perruel | 07’04
20 dallas simpson | M25: radio/traffic | 07’02
21 eric cordier | montchaibeux | 10’19
Beginning back in 2002, Framework is a radio show hosted by Patrick McGinley, who presents his listeners with an hour dedicated to field recordings and their use in composition. The first broadcasts appeared via Resonance FM in London, with syndication of the show expanding through various stations online and over-the-air in Belgium, Greece, and on occasion New York. The shows are stellar productions (even when streamed online) with McGinley often able to solicit exclusive field recordings from his numerous contacts around the globe. In celebration of the 250th broadcast and in support of his original host Resonance FM, McGinley has assembled this amazing 4cd document of exclusive compositions that in some way, shape, or form incorporate the art of field recording into the final piece. The list of contributors is quite large, and certainly acts as a who's who in the realm of avant-garde composition, featuring Phill Niblock, Asmus Tietchens, Peter Cusack, Steve Roden, Giancarlo Toniutti, and of course Chris Watson (arguably the pinnacle of sound ecology). But there's plenty of those who we here at aQuarius have long championed: Loren Chasse, Michael Northam, McGinley's own project Murmer, Jonathan Coleclough, Tarab, Keith Berry, John Grzinich, Eric Cordier, Richard Garet and our own Jim Haynes.
With four discs, there's a lot to cover and a surprisingly large amount of high caliber material. So, here it goes... Wooden creaks, bell strikes, and distant bird calls slowly percolate to the surface of Jonathan Coleclough's collaboration with Ben Owen, who collectively augment those sounds with Feldman-like gestures of windswept tonal clusters. Stalwart concrete / sound artist Toy Bizarre offers a compacted mass of water sounds; and Mark Schrieber offers a composition of squeezed noise courtesy of a windshield wiper grating against a contact microphone. Jim Haynes scrapes slabs of slate together before transmitting a harmonic overdrive of clustered bell-n-shortwave tone-floatation. Toshiya Tsunoda's exquisite study in low-end vibration patterns originated from a rope lashed from a boat to pier in his native Japan. Seth Nehil turns the cacophony of a traffic jam into a meditative thrum punctuated by mechanical gestures, aerated hisses, and oblique moanings. Having set contact microphones upon several pieces of wood mounted to a small dam, Maksims Sentelevs captured a polyphony of chiming noises amidst the bubbling watery percolation that's quite unsettling. Eric Cordier's haunted ululations and distant squeals loop hypnotically, making allusions more to horror sound effects rather than typical field recording fodder, even if the material is probably the sound of a gull screeching just off the shoreline. Jeph Jerman's grey hiss of a field recording scrabbles with the sound of insects rummaging around bamboo, all the while sounding like an extract cassette from the bottom of a tarpit. Conducting something of a small ritual with objects around his apartment, Loren Chasse layers textural sounds into an enthralling, mysterious mass of hushed sound. Tarab's corroded drones and tactile spillages from pure field recordings are as captivating as ever, proving that he's one of the more under-recognized composers around today. Steve Roden's contemplative, lulling piece is beautifully composed from two notes on guitar quietly plucked against the hiss of a rainstorm recorded back in 1930s on a 78 as an early sound effects record. Keith Berry's hauntological ambience could easily give Leyland Kirby a run for his money. Industrial rumble and concrete bunker reverberation dominate the low-end frequencies of Jez Riley French's exceptional contribution, perfectly situated next to the obscurant documentation from Giancarlo Toniutti's rattlings of ironworks and deep environmental droning. Chris Watson makes no secrets as to the source on his recording "Ravens" who sound as ominous and cackling as you would expect. Phill Niblock's contribution was sourced from a field recording he made back in 1986 of church bells, but elongated digitally into a slightly atypical piece for the minimalist, as it's less than 6 minutes long!
Whew! All of this and more. There's also the fact that this is limited to 250 copies. Actually, none of these discs were to be available in shops at all, but McGinley made one exception to this rule, allowing Aquarius to have a handful of these. We have less than a dozen, and it remains to be seen if we'll be able to get more. Yes, it's expensive, but it is worth it for the material at hand, plus the proceeds are going to support McGinley's production for Framework and Resonance FM.
a cleansing ascension
On the occasion of Elevator Bath's 10-year anniversary, the label has issued its first compilation release. This 73-minute compact disc is not a retrospective but is instead a collection of (almost) entirely exclusive material from 10 artists currently involved with Elevator Bath.
A Cleansing Ascension includes previously unreleased recordings from: Matt Shoemaker, Adam Pacione, Jim Haynes, Keith Berry, Rick Reed, Dale Lloyd, Colin Andrew Sheffield, James Eck Rippie, and Tom Recchion.
This is the ideal introduction to the label, offering a particularly cohesive yet varied selection of works from some of the brightest names in the experimental music community. Uneasy narrative, warm ambience, rusted drones, sine waves, field recordings, meditative composition, plus a glorious photograph on the inner sleeve (taken by Colin's father in 1971) can all be found in this single, beautiful package. Elevator Bath = A Cleansing Ascension.
elevator bath Colin Andrew Sheffield
01 matt shoemaker | waning ataraxia | 7’22
02 adam pacione | soilbind morning glory | 4’46
03 jim haynes | like a thief in the night | 7’19
04 keith berry | toward the blue peninsula | 8’04
05 rick reed | the fiery sound of light | 10’01
06 dale lloyd | our morphosis | 6’01
07 colin andrew sheffield | for today | 8’30
08 francisco lópez | untitled #194 | 5’20
09 james eck rippie | hidden mirrors | 10’40
10 tom recchion | drift tube | 5’07
The compilation of the week is 'A Cleansing Ascension', which is to celebrate ten years of Elevator Bath, which bears catalogue number 040, which means an average of four releases a year. That may not seem much, but why say more if you want to say fine things? Exactly my point, there are too many mediocre releases. Elevator Bath's releases span all sorts of formats, from 7"s and LPs to CDRs and CDs. The ten artists gathered on this disc may be regarded as the current bunch 'signed' (a term not appropriate to the world of Elevator Bath, but you get my drift, I hope) to the label and it makes quite a coherent family. The pieces move along the very fine line of ambient music, sound scapes, drones and modern electronics. The exact definition of each might be hard to give, but fact is that there are vital and subtle differences between the pieces. It may require some insight to tell these differences, but they are there. None of these pieces is weak or even remotely weak, as all of them are quite good. But there is also no track that really makes the big jump and leaps ahead of the rest. Perhaps in a showcase like this, this is also not really necessary. The ten that create this birthday bash are Matt Shoemaker, Adam Pacione, Jim Haynes, Keith Berry, Rick Reed, Dale Lloyd, Colin Andrew Sheffield, Francisco Lopez, James Eck Rippie and Tom Recchion. If this is a new label for you, then you should definitely seek it out.
Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]
They don't make compilations like they used to; but this one from Elevator Bath is certainly an exception to that rule. A good percentage of the currently released compilations tend towards collections of impossible to find rarities (at best) or (at worst) a random assortment of tracks which never quite made it onto proper albums, so why not lump them all together on some disposable compilation with the good tracks just ending up on the iPod anyway. But there was a day when labels took the job of curating compilations very seriously with the artists rising to the task as well. One can think back to the Perspectives And Distortion comp from Cherry Red back in 1981, or the eccentric electronics on The Elephant Table Music Album, or those weird comps on United Dairies, or even 4AD's Lonely Is An Eyesore. Dare it be said that A Cleansing Ascension might be one of the few modern comps that even comes close to those seminal compilations of post-punk atmospherics and obscure experimentation.
Elevator Bath was birthed in Texas, although relocated to Seattle in 2004; and this compilation marks the 10th anniversary of the label, which has quietly and consistently released an excellent body of deep drone construction, damaged plunderphonic collage, sound ecological research, and even a few things which are down right sublime. The heavy hitters on A Cleansing Ascension are LAFMS ring-leader Tom Recchion and the globe trotting field recordist Francisco Lopez (operating here in a more musique concrete guise), with plenty of Aquarius favorites as well: Keith Berry, Adam Pacione, Matt Shoemaker, and aQ's own Jim Haynes. Shoemaker opens the album with a synthetic soaking of midrange din and drone immaculated sculpted in a blur of mottled hiss. Pacione, Keith Berry, and label boss Colin Andrew Sheffield conjure the more lush moments of Eno's Music For Airports with remarkable flare for restraint through their smoke & mirrors. Haynes does his best Organum impersonation with a cranky motor rumbling beneath a hallowed gasp of refined long-form tones. Rick Reed moves from a Delia Derbyshire squiggle into a deep reverberant bellow. The vastly under-published Dale Lloyd generates a thick rumble dappled with bristled electronics and distant Andrew Chalk-ish half melodies. James Eck Rippie turns toward a clank and clamor of found objects scraping across the patina of vinyl surface noise and Phillip Jeck stabs at turntable manipulation. Tom Recchion's maudlin lullaby reconstitutes haunted melodies of ye olde carnival into a beguiling conclusion to the compilation.
While each track is quite solid, the album also flows very well, with somber drones dominating the palette of sound although similar themes and complimentary sounds seem to return after small detours towards the heavy, the oblique, and the desolate. Highly recommended!
Sagely practitioners of electro-stalactites that glimmer amidst pulses of hiss, flutter, and bubble, Elevator Bath here acknowledge their ten years of existence and, without dabbling in the quixotic, gather together traces of what is still yet to come. A Cleansing Ascension amounts to nothing less than a constant bath of sounds, lights, images, and movements from the likes of Matt Shoemaker, Keith Berry, Jim Haynes, Rick Reed, Dale Lloyd and Adam Pacione, to name a few. The artists on hand summon a wide breath of events that travel in material waves and which build to substantial proportions such that listener's may float on them like straws. The vast majority of tracks are previously unreleased and a good many click, spit, gurgle, and growl with subterranean menace. "Warning Ataraxia", from the aforementioned Shoemaker, knows moments of ever-heightening subterfuge, as sheets of high end debris grow more caustic and ride out on a crest of propulsive electricity. Others never entirely outstrip this basic setting, but they effectively take it up in different ways. "Untitled 149", from Francisco Lopez, drips and reverberates like a cavern deep beneath the surface of a distant planet, while Dale Lloyd's contribution features a rich, sumptuous drone that is wreathed in swooping high frequency susurrations, and which becomes ever-more frazzled for having been so rudely disturbed from its sedimental slumber. Although dystopian drones are generally the rule, warm, floating chords and temperate half-melodies, such as those that shadow Tom Recchion's "Drift Tube", appear at crucial points throughout the work so as to illuminate the stereo spectrum. The proceedings thus remain clearly in focus even while being highly vulnerable and challenging.
e/i Magazine [Max Schaefer]
Anyone new to Elevator Bath's offerings could do a whole lot worse than initiate the relationship with A Cleansing Ascension, the Seattle-based label's first compilation release. The seventy-three-minute collection is notable on other counts too: the release celebrates the label's ten years of existenceno small accomplishment for an experimental imprintplus its ten pieces are almost all exclusives by distinguished artists such as Keith Berry, Francisco López, and Adam Pacione, among others. The pieces range from beatific ambient settings and field recordings to industrial drones and aggressive experimentalism.
In Matt Shoemaker's opening Waning Ataraxia, a vaporous mass patrols the countryside like some low-flying, marauding colossus. Considerably less gloomy and oppressive by comparison is Pacione's Soilbind Morning Glory which, in its thoroughly abstract manner, conjures a blissful, spring-time mood in its hazy evocation of day dawning. Elsewhere on the ambient front, Colin Andrew Sheffield lets billowing clouds drift through For Today, Berry's dream-like Toward the Blue Peninsula presents a slow-motion, misty evocation, and Tom Recchion's Drift Tube offers a glimmering exeunt that, stripped of its gauzy coating, could pass for some Eno ambient drum-machine experiment from the 70s.
In terms of soundscapes, Jim Haynes pairs the rumble and grind of what sounds like a rusty old engine with glassy tonal shimmer in Like a Thief in the Night, and fragments of ghostly whistles and deep exhalations intermingle during Dale Lloyd's Our Morphosis. It's hard not to think of Philip Jeck when the corroded scrapes of decaying vinyl ripple alongside insect buzzing and static during James Eck Rippie's Hidden Mirrors, and in López's chaotic Untitled #194, churning rhythm patterns gallop and careen through a war-zone of explosions and ammo-fire. Rick Reed's The Fiery Sound of Light merges electronic fireworks with a swarm of darting glissandi and bass-level choral hum. He makes full use of the track's ten-minute running time by packing in episodes of space shuttle drones, industrial smears, and a closing mix of buzzes, clicks, and pops. Overall, A Cleansing Ascension provides a sterling overview of Elevator Bath's current musical activity.
Rameses III Basilica
Basilica is Rameses III´s eagerly anticipated follow-up totheir acclaimed release Honey Rose (Important), Basilica is a double album of live recordings of new Rameses material accompanied by re-interpretations of those same recordings by contemporaries Robert Horton, Keith Berry, Gregg Kowalsky and Astral Social Club.
Each artist approached to contribute to the Basilica disc was given free range to experiment with the live files, to re-invent and re-interpret the recordings as they saw fit.
Minimalist sound-sculptor Keith Berry rolled out the slow-motion waterfalls of Basilica and gave the album an early focus and provided inspiration for the glacial artwork.
Gregg Kowalsky played the Rose Blood remix as part of his own performance at the OVERLAP 02 event in San Francisco using its tuned sinewave oscillators, cassette tapes and loops to induce, to quote the man himself, "a psychoacoustic listening experience".
Our subtle textures were pushed way into the red when noise veteran Neil Campbell sandblasted the original tracks into the howling mirror of Astral Social Club. His Tigers In The Snake Pit was remixed live in the very same venue in which it was originally performed and finessed with some post-performance layering.
And Robert Horton was open-minded and kind enough to allow Rameses III to remix his remix, leading to the gentle trumpet curlicues and electronic birdsong entwining the original drone of After The Red Rose.
Although Basilica was originally envisioned as a single disc album, once the remixes were complete it slowly became evident that they should be paired with a disc of live recordings in order to put the Basilica disc into context. In contrast to the heavily-produced and painstakingly-constructed Rameses studio albums, all five of the previously-unreleased tracks on the Origins disc were recorded directly to stereo at various venues around London. As such, they fully represent those moments in performance where the trio strive to make the most beautiful music they can.
01 Robert Horton / Rameses III remix | After The Red Rose | 7’49
02 Keith Berry remix | Basilica | 6’08
03 Gregg Kowalsky remix | Rose Blood | 15’55
04 Astral Social Club remix | Tigers In The Snake Pit | 8’53
track listing cd 1
01 Rameses III | Origins I | 4’15
02 Rameses III | Origins II | 11’30
03 Rameses III | Origins III | 7’12
04 Rameses III | Origins IV | 12’51
05 Rameses III | Origins V | 5’02
track listing cd 2
Ramesses III ruled Egypt for thirty years; Rameses III has ruled my headphones for three weeks. Thanks, Wikipedia. The nomenclature is abstruse and inexplicable and probably just as well. The pharaoh's reign was marked by conspiracy and conflict, but this music is all snowdrift and hush, the calm center of the universe, even in its loudest moments. The disparity is fine. As with most music of its kind, we are free to read into things here what we may.
I believe in two dirty secrets of ambient music, and that is the importance of process and packaging in their overall artistic success. Basinski's Disintegration Loops—ambient's high point this decade, perhaps—are magnanimous and wrenching on their own, but knowing the physical process of decay that worked upon them and having the context reiterated by the New York skyline packaging makes their 2002 release all the more felt. Likewise, as a music that acknowledges and attempts to become part of the physical world (hence the name) ambient's packaging should be appropriately well-thought; it is the music's ambassador to the physical world it attempts to influence. These principles hold true on Rameses III's excellent Basilica.
The release contains two short discs. Disc two (dubbed Origins) is all live performances from various venues in London. The first disc is the album proper, and is comprised of four remixes of the live performances into greater wholes. I'll cut to the quick: the first disc—the remixes—is sanguine and frequently astonishing affair. I might even call it beautiful and just let that word hang, unverified and woefully overused, because defining or qualifying the term in the context of a straight ambient record is moot. Sometimes ambient works, in other places it does not, and on Basilica we find scintillating sonic inspiration working all over your face. Its sounds are less haunted by melody than pregnant with them, aglow, perhaps because of the subsumed Origins they portend to remix.
Although, seriously, "remix" is a term loosely applied here. The discs contain no discernible trace of one another. If the titanic wintry waterfall of the album's packaging is a visual symbol for the music of Basilica, all grandiloquently beautiful, think of Origins as an indoor swimming pool, tones playing softly against one another and quiet patter and home. Album standout "Rose Blood" (from Basilica) features in its sixth minute of spiraling choirs a single celestially pitched tone—when it comes it hits like an alarm clock but lingers upon that moment of awakening before more sine waves crash and recede for another ten minutes. "Origins III," probably the most full among the Origins pieces, maintains its calm, and when it hits notes they are played lazily and as accented as feels pleasurable.
And, like I said, it's good ambient. It works. Let it have its space among your possessions.
cokemachineglow [Clayton Purdom]
We had a friend over last night and around 11pm my 3 year old son Henry woke up and came downstairs. He saw 'Basilica' out and asked me to play it saying that it was his favorite record. When I put it on he said "This isn't music, it's a movie." I thought that was pretty well said, myself.
Important Records [John Brien]
Here english Ambient/ slowed post-rock guitar and synth duo return with their second releases on Important after the simply stunning rural tinged 'Honey Rose' ep from last year. This double disk set brings together a disk of live recordings of new material and an remix/ re-contextualized versions of the live tracks by the likes of Robert Horton, Keith Berry, Gregg Kowalsky, Astral Social Club.
I'll have to admit the original and live tracks initially under whelmed me alot after the distinctive, atmospheric and tuneful Honey Rose. I expected more of the same but this is a much more slow, dreamy and less structured, the tracks drift with sun warming guitar drones, expansive shimmering melodic strums that hint of country, blues and slowed post- rock-isms, With the odd brush of synth textures and slight touches of environmental sound. When I excepted the pace and slow unfolding-ness of it all it certainly made more sense. Though I do enjoy it I still feel a little under whelmed- it's pleasantly enough but still somehow wanting.
The second disk of the remixes are far more rewarding and appealing, thankful the are no major changers or sudden use of beats(thank god) but the tracks just seem to blossom and develop more. As each remixer finds and investigate new textures and sound movements. The tracks managing to keep their own original feel and personality, never really taking on much of their remixers ones. It's just like the sonic ideas and textures have been watered and let to grow into fuller formed perfume heavy and beautiful sonic flowers.
So in summing up passable collection of live ambient tracks and their more rewarding, detailed, rich and remixed cousins- certainly worth a look if you enjoy guitar ambience and mellow soundtracking.
Musique Machine [Roger Batty]
Approaching atmospherics outside the glen, Rameses III, the UK trio of Spencer Grady (guitar and noise), Steve Lewis (guitar), and Daniel Freeman (keyboard and processing), are set to release a double album on Important. The collection pairs live Rameses recordings from the Red Rose Club on March 2, 2006 with remixes of that "source material" by Gregg Kowalsky, Robert Horton, Keith Berry, and Astral Social Club. The remixes are complexly riveting, but the purity of the live records are my favorite. For instance, the majestic "Origins II."
As far as the remixes go, the minimalist treatment by Keith Berry seems most in line with the group's regular, untouched presence.
A wonderful collection of remixes and live recordings from the Rameses III camp, conveniently divided between two discs offering two very different listening experiences. The Basilica set features remixes by Robert Horton, Keith Berry, Gregg Kowalsky and Astral Social Club, all of which somehow feel like they've been undertaken with the same goal in mind. The steady, profound ambience of these works could hardly be more immersive, with Digitalis regular and Tom Carter collaborator Horton introducing a subtle ebullience, laying down major key experiments as an introductory composition. Next comes Keith Berry, an artist who began his career recording for Bernhard Gunter's Trente Oiseaux label and his since gone on to compose such widely acclaimed microsound works as The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish (a beautiful album, but one that came packaged in fresh tea leaves, meaning period of fairly intense dusting was necessary every time you wanted to play the thing). In his reinterpretation of the title track Berry occupies an intense stillness, like a cascade of subtly modulating cold liquid drone. Gregg Kowalsky's treatment of 'Rose Blood' is rather more extroverted, tackling his source material in an almost celebratory fashion, with overtones in the background sounding like church bells. Neil Campbell is less upbeat on his 'Tigers In The Snake Pit' reinterpretation, allowing more aggressive dissonant sounds into the mix. Between the four re-compositions on the disc there's plenty of variety and quality on offer to justify a purchase in its own right, but given the addition of the second, live disc, Origins - offering the rawest possible perspective on the haunting Rameses III sound - there's an abundance of material to make this release worthy of your investigation.
More drifty droney gear is in order as we just can't seem to get enough of it. Fortunately Rameses III is at hand with their new 2CD set 'Basilica' on Important Records. The 2nd disc (who says I have to do the 1st disc first?) is new tracks recorded live.... the 1st disc features re interpretations of those tracks by folks like Robert Horton, Keith Berry, Gregg Kowalsky and Neil 'Astral Social Club' Campbell. Long middle name right...... This is lush stuff indeed. I've heard the reinterpretations disc twice now and the Keith Berry reinterpretation is one of the warmest pieces of Drone music I've heard in ages. It's well Kranky..... with a bit of Eno. The Origins disc (ie the live tracks) is completely beautiful warm ambient music with layers and textures that lull you into this lush 2 disc set.... Again I can hear lots of Eno.... but with a healthy dose of Loren Connors chucked in. On both discs there are some of the most gorgeous ambient atmospheric pieces of music I've heard in ages. Fantastic stuff!!
normanrecords [Phil Norman] record of the week 25/03/2008
Blissful ice storm fragments tinkle and ping against each other as they descend on the night wind. Riding on currents from the North they follow their own logic and show you the face of the land as they pass. You stand on a high promontory arms outstretched and eyes wide opened to the wild, wild sky. The tattered sleeves of your robe catch gusts and billow with the promise of flight. A great chord arises from the landscape and settles into the atmosphere for an eternity. Like some Borealis of sound it hovers just above and just out of reach. This ectoplasm of sound expands and contracts in a never-ending octopoid undulation. Bending and swirling it grows to fill ever more space and time. Now from horizon to horizon it reaches; a vast and swirling dome. Your work is done here. You descend the mountain to bear witness to the people below.
Such it the power of Rameses III’s new release, “Basilica” that you can imagine whole mythic scenarios such my ramble above. This is ambient music but it’s not a background affair. It’s tones and sweeps pull your mind along for a glistening and beautiful ride. “Basilica” is made up of two discs; one being a culling of live performances by the group at various clubs in London. The other (I suppose this is the “real” and proper release here) are remixes by friends such as Neil Campbell (of Astral Social Club fame), Robert Horton, Keith Berry and Gregg Kowalsky. The two discs actually bear very little resemblance to each other and that is a testament to how flexible the sources actually are. It is however a wonderful contrast to hear some sound elements in one stretched out and given new life on the other. It goes a long way towards explaining just how differently we all encounter music. These tracks are built from what these re-mixers heard. What would they sound like if you or I had done them? That is a part of the non-hierarchical aspect of ambient music. It has no leaden, lock-step rhythm to chart its course, hence it can go anywhere with each of these permutations being equally valid expressions of the whole. In that sense it mirrors our developing understanding of the universe. Everywhere is the center simultaneously. That is beautiful and liberating thought. It’s not often that you get a chance to witness an elegant beauty that is also revolutionary and liberating. I feel that these non-source point sound pieces give us just that chance. The timeless and glacial aspects of the music are mirrored in the cover art’s panorama of almost invisible, yet palpably powerful, winter waterfalls. This Basilica is one with room for all to worship.
blogsandiego.com [Keith Boyd]
Rameses III, het elektronisch-experimentele project van Daniel Freeman, Spencer Grady en Stephen Lewis, heeft zich zijn tijdens relatief korte carrire kunnen profileren als een vaste waarde binnen het wereldje van de klanklandschappen. Deze Basilica moet zowat hun tiende album zijn in 5 jaar tijd en in die tussentijd hebben ze samengewerkt met artiesten zo divers als Rothko, Fursaxa, Christina Carter van Charalambides en nog anderen. Basilica voegt daar nog de namen Robert Horton, Keith Berry, Gregg Kowalski en Astral Social Club aan toe. De eerste CD van deze release bevat immers 4 remixes van live-opnames van Rameses III-materiaal dat zich situeert tussen 2005 en 2007. De vermelde artiesten weten dit materiaal te verwerken tot niet oninteressante soundscapes waarvan Rose Blood van Kowalski en Tigers in the Snake Pit van ASC het meeste bij blijven.
Op de tweede CD, Origins (whats in a name) vinden we dan het bronmateriaal door Rameses III zelf. Geluidslandschappen zoals te horen zal zijn tijdens uw favoriete bijna doodservaring. Te ontdekken materiaal van een hoog niveau dat gedeeld wordt met een Ghosts on Magnetic Tape van Bass Communion. Haal dus eens een farao in huis!
Ambient = fuckin boring!, zei u!?
Can I have a word with you??
Groupe anglais, Rameses III produit une musique trs neurasthnique, aux bords du sommeil. Des drones, donc, mais qui ont de jolies particularits : celles d’tre jous par musiciens dlicats, qui ont l’air d’avoir cout les disques de Durutti Column et Labradford plutt que ceux de Throbbing Gristle et Wolf Eyes. Du coup, leurs bourdonnements rsonnent avec une chaleur immdiate, oscillent entre les oreilles coups de notes de guitare, flottantes et parses, formant, bout bout, d’tranges zones mlodiques. Ce nouvel album (le prcdent, une collaboration avec l’amricain The North Sea, intitule Night of the Ankou, tait dj de haute vole narcoleptique) est double : un Cd enregistr live et un autre compos de morceaux mixs par des proches du groupe. L’ensemble voque les amricains Stars of the Lid ou encore quelques moments de Brian Eno, et il y a l comme un sentiment de flottement apaisant. On pourrait tre dans le mivre, mais on est au contraire dans une musique qui n’a rien de fig, rien d’arrt. Au contraire, tout ici est question de parcours, de cheminement : peu importe la destination, les chos de cet album vibreront longtemps, la manire d’une forme nouvelle de musique classique, idale pour rver en se tordant les sens. Bonne nuit.
Partenaires occasionnels de David Grubbs, Christina Carter ou Fursaxa, Rameses III trio form par Spencer Grady, Steve Lewis et Daniel Freeman voit ici remixes quelques unes de ses pices enregistres en concert : par Robert Horton, Gregg Kowalsky, Keith Berry et lAstral Social Club de Neil Campbell.
Cousines, les rinterprtations prennent lallure de longs et lents dveloppements allant crescendo, faits de couches de rumeurs diffrentes perturbes peine par lapparition de parasites, de chuchotements ou des feulements dun bestiaire peu rassurant. Dense, lpreuve du remix persuade de la qualit des quatre intervenants.
Sur un autre disque, trouver les morceaux do est parti le projet : Origins aux nappes lointaines de claviers et aux guitares lectriques prises de tremblement, sur lequel dautres bourdons graves ne pourront rien contre les effets dune conclusion plus mlodique. Dpareilles mais persuasives, les deux faces de Basilica.
This collection of live recordings from London trio Rameses III attempts to both manipulate and document the group's live sound. So the first part of this divergent two disc set consists of a series of remixes of four live tracks by Robert Horton, Keith Berry, Greg Kowalsky and Neil Campbell (aka Astral Social Club). The Horton track is a remix of a remix, with Rameses III adding to Horton's own interpretation of a track originally performed at London's Red Rose club. What each of these versions does is reshape the group's sound, shifting the emphasis away from its more sedate elements and focusing instead on amorphous, freestyle drones - the most extreme being Campbell's taut buzzing "Tigers In The Snake Pit".
The result is an impressive but rather daunting succession of abstract pieces, moving from the mesmerising shimmer of "After The Red Rose", through the murky, Ambient fog of "Basilica" and the piercing tonalities of "Rose Blood" to the aforementioned simmering tension of Campbell's remix. The companion disc of straight live recordings, entitled Origins I - V, is an altogether smoother ride, even grandiose at times, with glacial, slo-mo guitar melodies to the fore and gentle, elegaic waterfalls of sound washing over the tidal ebb and flow of pulsating keyboards. If, in constrast to the remixes, it casts Rameses III as a less adventurous proposition, there's still enough here to justify the inclusion of these unadorned tracks, particularly the distorted, reverb organ and penetrating bass sonorities of "Origins IV".
The Wire [Tom Ridge]
FOURM REMIXES KEITH BERRY
3” CD Housed in a pvc wallet with superb artcards with photography by Maura Wallace-Nichols, & FOURM, Stasisfield impressario, John Kannenberg, and Italian graphics stylist, sim_ultan.
100 signed, numbered copies
After several false starts, finally we are able to bring the second WHITE_LINE EDITION, the much anticipated FOURM REMIXES KEITH BERRY, “VOID PATH” CDR.
FOURM’s 21 minute remix of the minimalist drone master promises to be something very special indeed. Far from being a faithful copy of Berry’s restrained washes of sound, his source material is deconstructed, stratified and re-processed, giving it an edgy, cavernous sound
FOURM [B.G. Nichols]
01 VOID PATH | 21’40
As I'm writing, the player is spinning this disc for the fourth consecutive time. One of the many things that define Keith Berry's seriousness is his reluctance to publish unnecessary albums, in an obvious countertendency with practically everybody in the world of in-depth electronica. Therefore, along the wait for the next official CD, this 3-inch by Fourm (B.G. Nichols) can help in reminding why people should always remember the Londoner's contribution to the elevation of post-ambient soundscaping to a real form of art. Although starting with a pretty dramatic, almost cinematic throbbing drive, the 21-minute composition "Void path" possesses a sacred aura of sorts, particularly explicated in the second half, which sounds like a muted funeral mourning wrapped by a bubble of liquefied rubber foam. The current generated by these pseudo (?) vocalizations - slowed-down records, maybe? - evidences its low-frequency component by spreading all over my listening space, while being slightly disturbed by abundantly reverberating noises and samples that agitate the music only the strict necessary to avoid a complete standstill. A luxuriously intense piece, where both the original sources and the manipulation work contribute in equal measure to the achievement of the prefixed goal. The hunger for new material by Berry is now even more biting.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
Yasujiro Ozu - Hitokomakura
This is the second of a proposed trilogy of projects pertaining to film directors - the first one was for Andrei Tarkovsky. This second release turns its focus upon Yasujiro Ozu's use of "pillow shots" (i.e. short poetic pauses that appear between the acting segments of his films. The term "pillow shot" was not coined by Ozu himself, but several years after his passing in the early 1960s by a Japanese journalist who was trying to draw a comparison of the intermediate scenes to "pillow words" found in traditional Japanese poetry. This is a double CD release with both CDs featuring audio plus a cross-platform compatible PDF booklet containing pillow shots (courtesy of Criterion Collection) and liner notes.
Each artist who appears on this release was asked to choose one or more "pillow shots" to use as inspiration for their pieces. A link to web pages containing a large assortment of pillow shots" was provided, and accordingly, the pillow shots were reserved on a first come, first served basis. The artists also watched the films from which the pillow shots came from in order to get a sense of how their chosen pillow shots were employed by Ozu.
The sound work featured represents a wide range of artistic approaches, but as always with these projects, the artists were chosen specifically, based on their previous work and on how it might contribute to the collective whole of each project.
01 Steve Roden | Tapping the Inside of Sitting Still | 4’45
02 Hitoshi Kojo | Ka Ra Mo | 7’00
03 Koura | Tadaima | 1’32
04 Kiyoshi Mizutani | Two Tables (2) | 3’47
05 Aono Jikken Ensemble | Tsuiso (Chasing Memories) | 4’12
06 Yoshio Machida | Kaze | 4’00
07 Alejandra & Aeron | Ukigusa | 3’01
08 Aono Jikken Ensemble | Kodama (Echoes) | 2’15
09 Haco | Blind | 3’40
10 Jason Kahn | Pillow Shot 10, Ukigusa | 2’02
11 Asuna | From Scene 99 to the End: Kohayagawa-ke no Aki | 1’34
12 Steinbrüchel | Seen | 5’32
13 Taku Sugimoto | Tengu in Linguistics | 4’11
14 Sawako | Tooi Soba | 4’52
15 Dale Lloyd | One and the Same, Beginnings and Endings | 3’03
track listing cd 1
01 Bernhard Günter | Iki no Kaiga | 5’18
02 John Hudak | My Windsock | 3’51
03 Steinbrüchel | Waldsee | 1’36
04 Toshiya Tsunoda | Similar Figure on Horizon | 6’00
05 Keith Berry | Hatsu Yume | 6’57
06 Kiyoshi Mizutani | Two Tables (1) | 3’59
07 Michael Shannon | Hitan | 2’41
08 Koura | Dakara | 0’30
09 Roel Meelkop | Ukigusa | 5’39
10 Marc Behrens | Samma no Aji | 7’19
11 Lawrence English | Before That Tower Lies | 3’44
12 Sukora | Rendered | 3’37
13 Michael Shannon & Dean Moore | Jiken | 2’37
14 Heribert Friedl | W* | 3’45
15 Michael Shannon | Graced by Loneliness | 2’07
16 Dale Lloyd | Return to Me Who Sleeps | 3’56
track listing cd 2
From a very simple premise, that of inviting experimental musicians and sound workers to interpret the film work of a renowned Japanese director, comes a startling and invigorating panoply of sounds and visions in the form of the and/OAR double CD release, “Hitokomakura”.
Interlocking at the threshold of perception, “pillow shots” are a device that film directors utilise to cut away between “action” or narrative, a discrete segue that mainstream directors and audiences alike invariably attach little significance to, in preference of the more meaty intricacies of production, plot, narrative, action and acting . Yasujiro Ozu, famed in the main for his intimate portraits of the everyday, a series of seemingly mundane occurences finely wrought in hyperreal detail, and a gentle, enveloping pace,(his work seemingly composed entirely of overlapping pillow shots in themselves) has become the focus of attention for label curator, and cinephile Dale Lloyd.
Hitokomakura is without doubt, Lloyd′s labour of love, and like the recently released Extract booklet by NVO, shares a similar, towering roster of some 25 artists,of varying pedigree. To focus attention on any one artist from such a wealth of talent would be to relegate others of equal stature, so I will save any kind of musical analysis or critique for those braver and better than I.
One unique selling point of this scintillating double CD pack is that it is enhanced by the addition of a series of Windows and Mac compatible pdf files, that house some of Ozu′s images, and gives the artists an opportunity to describe their approach. Very often, source material is gleaned from the most obtuse and elliptical angles, and each artist defines their approach concisely, elevating this release way above it′s contemporaries for sheer entertainment value alone. Needless to say, most of the soundworks on display here are subtle workings and reworkings of pillow shots, or in some cases take the pillow shots, or other fundamental elements of Ozu’s ouevre as the point of departure, a catalyst for musical inspiration that in most instances touches on beautifully nuanced, meditative works of Zen-like ambience.
No longer a fledgling label, and/OAR has gained ground and reputation on a series of releases with an almost obsessive focus on field recording, and it’s associated personnel, and on Hitokomakura, Lloyd simultaneously reconfigures the definition of what field recording actually is, and in turn presents us with a simulacra, a second hand field recording at a distance, but nevertheless, a singularly beautiful collection of sounds, images and texts..this is the kind of stuff that I live for…exceptional.
WHITE_LINE [B.G. Nichols]
When an album of this calibre drops onto the Smallfish doorstep it's really a rare treat. Based around the idea of legendary Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu's 'Pillow Shots' ('still life or neutral images in films that serve as visual and emotional resting points') the artists were invited to choose a Pillow Shot by Ozu (and you can see these in the accompanying PDF documents on the discs) and then compose a track to accompany it having watched the entire film that the shot came from to give it some overall context. The range of styles is, frankly, marvellous and features some real heavyweights from the world of contemporary electronic music, electro-acoustic sound and field recordings. Steve Roden, Steinbruchel, Sawako, Kiyoshi Mizutani, Alejandra & Aeron, Lawrence English, Roel Meelkop, label owner Dale Lloyd, Heribert Friedl, John Hudak, Keith Berry and plenty more all feature and from that list alone you should be ble to get a sense of how expansive this double CD is. From micro-fine minimalism, through to deeply beautiful sculptured sound and on into cleverly adapted field recordings that seem to capture the essence of the frames perfectly. A brilliant work of musical art (literally and otherwise) that really deserves your attention as work of this calibre is something to savour. Remarkable.
Yasijiro Ozu was a Japanese filmmaker (1903-1963) who had emphasized restraint throughout the 54 films of his career, offering emotionally rich, if purposefully understated narratives about the simple pleasures and pains of everyday life. This compilation is a tribute to Ozu's tableaux; and given that Ozu quietly punctuated his tales with shots of clouds, arrangements of bottles, industrial landscapes, and other environments, the tribute features a handful of suitably quiet sound artists who often use field recordings or environmental space within their work. Steve Roden is the perfect artist for such a tribute; and fittingly, he opens this compilation. His circular softness for chimed guitar and tapped drum patterns is a wonderful departure in which Roden pushes his sound design closer to the post-rock elegance of Bark Psychosis. Roden's piece is one of the better tracks on this compilation, with other highlights including Keith Berry's mournful grayscapes of drone and slow-motion crackle, Toshiya Tsunoda's impeccable recording of aerated hiss, a series of lilting lullaby chimes from John Hudak, There's plenty of raw phonography from the likes of Hitoshi Kojo (aka Spiracle), Kiyoshi Mizutani, Michael Shannon, and Ralph Steinbruchel. Taku Sugimoto's piece has to be noted for its sheer blankness except for six piano notes that emphatically emerge after 3 and a half minutes of silence.
This happens to be the second tribute to filmmakers from And/OAR, following the now out-of-print compilation homage to Tarkovsky Another Kind Of Language.
We owe a lot to labels like and/OAR. Not only because they present us with some of the most extraordinary environment-based aural experiences, something that Dale Lloyd's imprint releases with impressive constancy, but also for their contribution to what we used to call "culture", either in terms of "learning to penetrate both the essence of sound and the absence of it" (which, on a second thought, means much more than culture) or "encouraging new artistic interests" through cross-references to different fields of contemporary creativity.
Enter Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963), a highly respected figure in the opinion of movie connoisseurs, his art being mostly constructed upon "insights into family relations, everyday struggles and simple pleasures", as per Doug Cummings' liners. Characteristics that, in today's self-indulgent world, assume a fundamental meaning since our very life - the life outside the circles of "powers" and "establishments", the good old "regular existence" that once was a given if one just stayed on a course, and today is threatened unless you bend to not exactly explained "rules" - can keep going on exclusively by nourishing the core of normality, an extraneous annoyance for the non-silent majority ("money, sex, fame" is nowadays' single refrain). When one takes the whole under a microscope, comparing the activity of listening "in" silence and "to" silence to the inner balance that we should always maintain, and which seems to stimulate abnormal behavioural responses in a largely repressed human neighbourhood, then it's possible to acknowledge the importance of such an edition.
A double CD comprising 31 tracks - their compositional methods analyzed in the PDF booklet available as a file in both discs - whose beauty is reinforced by a series of factors that include the depth of the location recordings constituting the foundation of the large part of this music, the sensitive use of instruments and electronics complementing them, the pregnant hush that leaves spaces for the mind to add its own variations and colours and, last but not least, the earnestness of the participants (among the many, Marc Behrens, Keith Berry, Lawrence English, Heribert Friedl, Bernhard Gunter, Haco, John Hudak, Jason Kahn, Dale Lloyd, Roel Meelkop, Kiyoshi Mizutani, Steve Roden, Sawako, Steinbruchel, Taku Sugimoto, Toshiya Tsunoda). There are outstanding moments of contemplative self-collection (a personal highlight is the Berry/Mizutani/Michael Shannon consecutiveness on the second disc) and several sections where we struggle to distinguish between record and reality (until, in my case, I was brought back to the latter by the firing guns of the nearby hunters during Gunter's wonderful flute meditation, reminding that the battle against men's stupidity is definitely a lost cause). All things considered, Ozu is probably smiling somewhere, as this is a gorgeous piece of sound art that succeeds in every account, the perfect tribute to painful sensibility.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
The and/OAR label, which mainly focuses on "environmental recordings," has beaten the odds and delivered a highly engaging concept record in the form of a double CD, various-artist tribute to the late Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. Steve Roden, Alejandra & Aeron, Bernard Gunter, Marc Behrens, and John Hudak are a just a few of the notable artists that contributed works.
At first glance, Hitokomakura could have been a disaster; seemingly random contributions from big-name artists, 31 tracks long, a slightly over reaching selection of genres - and for us audio snobs - the apparent lack of a mastering engineer. To be fair, it would be next to impossible to sequence this type of compilation to give it a natural flow. However, this tribute succeeds because of its ability to draw implicit parallels between Ozu's film making technique and the aesthetic choices the compilation's contributing artists employ to create meditations on environmental space.
The handsome CD packaging includes a well-written introduction by Doug Cummings that provides context to Ozu's contributions to film. We learn the filmmaker employed "pillow shots" to provide emotional resting points or dramatic pauses in the narrative. Think of these cinematic moments as "still lifes" where the content is devoid of any meaning, but inserted to set pacing. I will admit to never having seen an Ozu film, but after reading the introduction, I went straight to my Netflix queue to fix that problem.
According to Dale Lloyd, and/OAR label boss, audio contributor, and executive producer of Hitokomakura, "…all the artists featured on this release were invited to choose one or more pillow shots from an assortment of Ozu films; then watch the film (or films) and create new pieces based on their impressions."
Various Ozu screenshots, Lloyd's liner notes, and other helpful reading material are included as part of the overall product in a PDF contained within the CD's.
I recommend that if you find a particular photograph or scene compelling, skip to that track first then jump to the next interesting scene or track using the PDF document as a reference. Remember, all the pieces are derivative or inspired by some meditative scene or pillow shot. This may help explain why I feel the CDs are not cohesively sequenced when listened to straight through without any visual context.
Hitokomakura contains artists working within a wide range of genres, including microsound, onkyo, minimal electronic, phonography, and acoustic ecology. In many ways their contributions feel like excerpts from larger pieces, melodic ambient segue ways, or even interesting noisy room tone recordings. Ozu's "pillow shots" as expertly translated by sound artists provide Yoga for the ears, and present a case for more subtle, peaceful banality in our audio diet.
furthernoise.org [Derek Morton]
Japanese film maker Yasujiro Ozu became famous in the post-war period for his depictions of family life amid the tensions of modernity, and his influential use of 'pillow shots' - images of empty domestic space inserted between the main scenes. The latter inspired this wonderfully conceived and executed tribute to Ozu's art. Each artist was invited to select one of these shots, electronic images of which accompany the package, and compose a track to compliment it. Despite the range of idioms on display, from delicate electroacoustic tapestries (Bernhard Gunter) and meditative drones (Keith Berry) to bucolic field recordings (Kiyoshi Mizutani) and frequent uses of silence (almost all), each perfectly serves their respective image. Highlights include Steve Roden's beautiful pairing of chiming guitar and hushed percussive patterns; label owner Dale Lloyd's gently shifting gamelan shapes; and Taku Sugimoto's "Tengu In Linguistics", where he drops six strident piano notes into a reductive vacuum, reflecting another of Ozu's themes, the eschewal of action in favour of the contemplation of the surrounding space.
Wire [Spencer Grady]
These thirty-one imaginary soundtracks combined in a deluxe two-pack are based on the films of Yasujiro Ozu. A very diverse international compilation that includes work by John Hudak, Roel Meelkop, Steinbruchel, Steve Roden, Taku Sugimoto, Marc Behrens and many others. They've each created their own visual/visceral sound experience for the listener to explore with conceptually dramatic sequencing throughout. In a combination of field recordings, samples and electronic experimentation, most of what is contained herein is a wash of drone and ambience – especially noted in the beautiful three-minute piece "Ukigusa" by Alejandra & Aeron.
Doors creak in syncopation, a stream flows quick and softly, with a light roar from the mysterious outdoors. On Behrens' "Samma No Aji" there's a dramatic shift between understanding the listening experience as sine waves or the nature of crickets. The tone is sharp and postured like stalking prey, while incidental chirping distracts the potential of the situation. The work is dramatically dense and ordered, and not necessarily through common sense, but the shared experience, the happenstance of aural cinema perhaps. As you listen, read deeply into the well-written liner notes from Masters of Cinema's Doug Cummings, who truly gives a quick, yet rounded historical interpretation of Ozu's film work and how it can possibly endure through recordings such as this. The shaking feedback in Asuna's short "From Scene 99 To The End - Kohayagawa-Ke No Aki" alludes to the never-ending buzz of the fixed machine age. It changes the continuum of energy here, but is much needed grounding.
Kiyoshi Mizutani presents two pieces titled two tables (1 and 2) where field recordings of domestic scene, watching television in the kitchen are layered with exotic birds and the hiss of a light rain. Part 1 sounds like the bass roar of a waterfall combined with the delicate gathering of well water, or bathing. There are voices and knocking (industrial or 'peckers?). Rustling through woods can be heard over a fine din of more rapturous rain, along with vehicles whizzing by and a few cawing birds. It's all quite noir, really. "Tooi Soba" is Sawako's unusual free-form ambient noise contribution. Sauntering in slippers, perhaps prepping breakfast with the clink of teacups, it's definitely morning. There's a frustrated bit of pacing, and a few sparse words as familiar birds call. This is the morning after (what though)? Dale Lloyd contributes one of the few truly melodic pieces here called "Return To Me Who Sleeps" which closes the set. Strumming on strings, with the echo of a gong-like instrument, there's a distinctly Japanese quality to the timing of his playing as it fades softly.
Igloo [TJ Norris]
Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu has never so much tried to express his own thoughts as he has endeavored to help clarify those of others. Hitokomakura, a double CD comprising thirty-one tracks, may be taken as reciprocation, as a counter-gift or sacrifice on the part of the artists involved. Steve Roden, Keith Berry, Bernhard Gunter, Taku Sugimoto, and Toshiya Tsunoda, amongst a welter of others, each select a 'pillow shot' by Ozu, view the remainder of the film, and then fashion a work which portrays and carefully brings into clarity the particular investments underlying the sublime scene in question. The work thus stands as a a tribute and a festive challenge. That each artist took pains to respect the structure of each shot is evident enough, but in reflecting on the scenes in such an undistorted manner, characteristics of a personal sort seep through its pores and challenge the listener to reflect upon the ever-changing relation of this filmmaker to present-day society. A concern with sound and sonic relationships abounds. While flirting with silence, Bernhard Gunter keeps the music mobile, leading the listener through a succession of warm, often delicate, acoustic states. On a similar wave-length, Taku Sugimoto has full, harmonically rich piano notes ease ever-so gently into one another, until the piece comes to partake in a rumination on still, seemingly neutral spaces, a common theme in Ozu's works. Asides from compositions of an electro-acoustic bent, the album canvasses a good many other forms, from minimalism to sound art, and it does so with remarkable naturalness and lack of contrivance, stressing the communicative aspects linking all of these poles. One is left with a simplicity of construction and presentation which has an elegant way of being open to interpretation.
Cyclic Defrost [Max Schaefer]
É surpreendente dar conta de que por vezes basta activar um conceito inteligente para alumiar uma perspectiva até aí desconsiderada ou pouco questionada. A partir de uma selecção que privilegiou a consistência e validade da matéria, a And / OAR, selo prestigiado de Seattle, conseguiu, através de uma dupla compilação, provocar uma reavaliação da relação a manter com o cinema do mestre japonês Yasujiro Ozu - conhecido também como o poeta do quotidiano, tal era a sua tendência para retratar a rotina da classe média japonesa do seu tempo, frisando aspectos globais como a circularidade e o carácter transitório da vida, e recusando, sempre que possível, colocar em prática acessórios ocidentais como a moral fácil e artifícios melodramáticos.
Ao longo dos cinquenta e quatro filmes que compõem o seu muito apreciado (e imitado) cânone, Yasujiro Ozu manteve-se fiel aos mesmos temas e estrutura narrativa utilizada. Sobre a última, sabe-se que progredia através de diálogos e outras vulgares ocorrências familiares, e que - respeitando a resistência do público - abria espaço a momentos reflectivos através da inserção pontual de pillow shots (conhecidos também como espaços intermediários). A funcionalidade dos pillow shots assentava principalmente na necessidade de assinalar a passagem do tempo de um modo neutro e desvinculado de um só personagem por regra, consistia simplesmente num plano único de uma paisagem campestre ou industrial, um estendal de roupa sujeita à vontade do vento, o registo circunstancial da circulação de comboios ou barcos.
A And / OAR reconheceu perspicazmente o valor dos pillow shots como pontos de referência passíveis de interpretação livre por parte de diversos artistas sonoros - levando isso a que distribuísse por algumas dezenas desses estetas um generoso número de pillow shots, encorajando a que a imagem atribuída fosse considerada como parte do filme a que pertence. O resultado materializou-se na compilação Hitokomakura, que, além dos exercícios reunidos, contém, em cada um dos seus discos, um ficheiro PDF que corresponde cada pillow shot a seu dono e, assim, permite uma mais completa contextualização de tudo o que por aqui desfila.
A partir dos múltiplos matrimónios instigados por Dale Lloyd (patrão da And / OAR e participante directo em Hitokomakura), descobre-se então o germinar de outros enquadramentos lógicos que poderiam, porventura, passar despercebidos até aqui. Serve isso para esclarecer que Ozu dedicava meticuloso cuidado às suas composições visuais tal como às sonoras - sendo habitual escutar aos seus filmes passagens que somam ou isolam o cantar de pássaros, o ruído de transportes e o burburinho constante de uma localidade habitada (gomos de uma mesma roda dos sons comuns). Hitokomakura esmera-se por demais em prestar elegia a essa noção de que Ozu era, além do celebrado poeta do quotidiano, também um estudioso do som e do seu enquadramento na vida de cada dia. É evidente que isso cativa estudiosos das propriedades do som como Taku Sugimoto, Toshiya Tsunoda ou Marc Behrens esses que, entre outros, se servem do mote para, à sua maneira, elaborarem um diário metódico directamente inspirado pelo tal pillow shot. A partir de field recordings e instrumentos acústicos, obtêm-se postais naturalistas que nem sequer deixam de parte a harmonia zen-budista parcialmente presente no cinema de Ozu (essa perspectiva é nitidamente constatável nas participações de Yoshio Machida e do Aono Jikken Ensemble).
Contudo, cada levantamento verificado é inevitavelmente hipotético. Hipotético porque, na vida tal como no cinema de Ozu (o corpo e o seu espelho), tudo se encontra submisso a uma relativização a que não há escape possível. Hitokomakura acaba por ser um objecto de um valor imenso, pelas tais pistas que deixa soltas em relação à composição sonora, enquanto subestimada extensão do génio de Ozu. Além disso, repare-se que funciona em pleno mesmo quando à revelia desse paralelo assim dita o seu desdobramento em paisagens perfumadas e divisões (templos) propícias ao apuramento de uma estabilidade espiritual superior. Fica-se pelo excelente, mas...
bodyspace.net [Miguel Arsénio]
The second of and/OAR’s tributes to film directors, Yasujiro Ozu Hitokomakura, is an extensive work, which is to say nothing of its uniqueness. Twenty-five musicians and ensembles put to tape their interpretations of select still scenes from various Ozu films, in an instance of art responding to art. I get enough from simply listening to the comparatively short pieces across two CDs, but another experience is delivered in taking Hitokomakura as a whole. Ozu is known for his posthumously-coined “pillow shots” those visual segues between scenes with the camera seated before a snapshot of the world as it might relate to humanity. Humanity is indeed the defining characteristic of Ozu’s oeuvre, and the music here channels the emotion and mystery well enough. Using still captures of chosen pillow shots, the assignment was to then make music inspired by what is seen. The musicians were also instructed to view the film from which the shots were gathered, in the interest of interpreting the poetic still frames as parts of the greater whole, and, I gather, to allow more perspective from which the music could be made. As music is a living art, it is always a crunched representation of experience, no? The project’s most literal offering is the Aono Jikken Ensemble’s “Kodama (echoes)”. It’s a four-minute piece that adheres to the concept but goes a bit further by summarizing a complete passage of the subject (The End of Summer, 1961), and not just the shot itself. Live snippets of voice and acoustic instruments are laced over field recordings. In this case, a pillow shot of crows atop gravestones is the inspiration. The ensemble’s accompanying notes to the music explain that the piece reflects upon the life of family father Manbei, yet no summary may be required when studying the frame alone. The ensemble’s field recording of crows is hardly abstract, but through the additional gorgeously capture sounds confined to four-plus minutes there is the unmistakable sense of development, as in a miniature story. Other offerings included are from Roel Meelkop, Steinbrüchel, Haco, Steve Roden, Jason Kahn, Hitoshi Kojo, and Marc Behrens, to name a few. The discs also contain a PDF-file, which include graphics (compliments of Criterion) of respective pillow shots for each track, and, in some cases, the musicians’ personal notes on inspiration/instrumentation. A sure keeper that deserves to be heard and studied, and a lovely homage to Ozu.
bagatellen [Al Jones]
EXTRACT - Portraits of Soundartists
Book (hardcover, 96 pages) + 2 CDs
Since we started the label Nonvisualobjects two years ago, many collaborations with artists worldwide have arisen, a large, growing network has evolved and an extensive body of work has been formed that we would like to explore and try to sum up. The book developed from the idea of presenting an extract of artists involved in the current experimental electro-acoustic music scene, often following a rather reduced approach in their work. We would like to present artists that work in different areas in this field of electroacoustic music, to cover a large spectrum even in this quite specific area.
With essays, interviews, photos, drawings and other materials presented in this book, we try to look at the motivation and intention behind the sound production from different perspectives, to possibly allow for a new/extended approach to this form of music.
Many of the artists involved in this project do not exclusively work with sound, but also in other artistic disciplines. In this book we would like to present these other sides of their work to allow crossreferences/crosslinks to open up new aspects of the music.
EXTRACT contains interviews, essays, photos, drawings and 22 tracks by: Keith Berry, Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Heribert Friedl, Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Bernhard Günter, John Hudak, I8U, Dean King, Dale Lloyd, Roel Meelkop, Will Montgomery, Tomas Philips, Steve Roden, Jos Smolders, Steinbrüchel, Nao Sugimoto (aka mondii), Asmus Tietchens, Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet and Michael Vorfeld.
01 Keith Berry | Finger Pointing At The Moon | 6’00
02 Richard Chartier | A Field For Recordings 2 | 8’43
03 Taylor Deupree | Live In Osaka | 6’00
04 Heribert Friedl | nbvto | 5’52
05 Richard Garet | Précis | 6’00
06 Andy Graydon | Microclimates For Paliku | 5’57
07 Bernhard Günter | Listen to what you see (audio
--- sample of location of all Koblenz photos) | 6’00
08 John Hudak | Radio | 6’00
09 I8U | Steganography | 4’22
10 Dean King | In Absentia | 5’53
11 Dale Lloyd | Provisional | 4’06
track listing CD 1
01 Roel Meelkop 1 | (hole in a heap) | 5’30
02 Will Montgomery | Split Chance | 5’55
03 Tomas Philips | Each More Melodious Note | 6’01
04 Steve Roden | air into form/voice into breath | 6’49
05 Jos Smolders | Aiolos (Vangsaa Interior) | 6’00
06 Steinbrüchel | Parallel | 7’02
07 Nao Sugimoto | (mondii) Nature Out | 5’33
08 Asmus Tietchens | Vierte Beisetzung in Wien | 4’37
09 Toshiya Tsunoda | Scenery of vibration/Listening
--- to the reflection of points (@Westspace) | 5’36
10 Ubeboet | Lux Vivens | 3’43
11 Michael Vorfeld | Geste | 5’29
track listing CD 2
As sound editing software has
become ever more widely available, the number of artists working with
sound has increased exponentially. Networks of artists who may live thousands
of miles apart, and perhaps never meet except in the virtual realm, have
become commonplace. One such network of electroacoustic artists is based
in and around Nonvisualobjects, the Vienna-based label inaugurated by
Raphael Moser and Heribert Friedl some two years ago, and Extract provides
some of its participants with an opportunity to explain a number of things,
including: what it is they do, why they do it, what musics and sounds
have influenced them, what it is they value in art, what value their art
(if indeed it is art) is to themselves and to society, and whether the
sound pieces they make constitute music.
Because sound is often only one of the materials these artists work with, the editors have encouraged them to present other aspects of what they do. The chapters are, as they put it, collage-like and open to interpretation. There's a tendency therefore to present information somewhat obliquely, as John Hudak does through a series of crudely hand-drawn self-portraits, which he considers analogous to the way he makes music. Roel Meelkop's entry consists of a short piece of autobiographical fiction that wryly purports to explain how he became a sound artist. Bernhard Günter highlights a non-musical aspect of his work - his 'photo walks', illustrated by five of his highly abstract photographs - though he declares there's no real distinction for him between audio and visual: "It . . . doesn't make an essential difference whether I handle a sound sample in a digital recording system, an instrument in my hands, or a camera in front of my eye: my success or failure will always depend on my being able to enter the right state of mind". Taylor Deupree emphasises one of the major themes that runs through the book, the importance of social networks, by presenting a visual diary consisting of 69 small photographs, taken during the four trips he made to Japan between 2003-05, almost all of which are snapshots of friends and colleagues in informal situations, only a fat handful of which are of performances or were taken at concert venues. It should perhaps be mentioned at this juncture that all of the visual illustrations in the book are monochrome, and of lower resolution than one might have wished for, but otherwise production values are high.
Needless to say, the reasons these sound artists give for making the work they do are as varied as the work itself. Sometimes it comes down to feeling uncomfortable playing traditional instruments, especially as children; or other influences creep in that won't reconcile themselves with the music they hear around them. Keith Berry, for example, writes of the hot water tank in his childhood bedroom that fed the house's central heating system, the noises of which fascinated him, and he helpfully includes a photograph of the water tank in question so we can see what he heard. Of present day influences, less is said; or perhaps it's truer to say that what's said is less revealing. Jos Smolders points up a particular dilemma in this regard: "Since the existence of the internet, the scope of what we can choose from is so wide that nothing can be outstanding. And if something does, for a moment, then immediately there are at least 100 others copying it, thereby obliterating the original". He concludes, feelingly, "So, maybe it sounds a bit presumptuous, but I really haven't a clue about my present day influences".
Smolders may feel dispirited about the lack of outstanding work he gets to hear, but the two CDs of sound material that accompany the book don't bear this out. Each of the 22 contributors has supplied a piece of sound/music, including (of those yet to be mentioned) Steve Roden, Ubeboet, Richard Garet, I8U, Asmus Tietchens, Richard Chartier, Will Montgomery, Steinbrüchel, Dean King, Heribert Friedl, Andy Graydon, Michael Vorfeld, Nao Sugimoto, Tomas Phillips, Dale Lloyd and Toshiya Tsunoda. Some of the pieces are, as the book's title suggests, extracts from longer works (and, if not, one could argue they're extracts from a lifetime's work), none of which tops the nine minute mark. The most striking pieces, to my mind, are those by Graydon, Tsunoda, Berry, Smolders, Montgomery, Vorfeld and Tietchens. It's perhaps inevitable that once all the texts have been read, the best reason for returning to this volume will be to listen to the CDs, but the book is nonetheless a valuable and extremely welcome resource.
The Wire [Brian Marley]
It is encouraging that at last there seems to be a genuine groundswell of interest in the sonic arts here in the UK, in part stimlulated, no doubt by groundbreaking tomes by David Toop, followed by his inspirational Sonic Boom Festival in London some years back, which to some extent defined the paradigm shift in public understanding and acceptance of sound art. The accompanying book/catalogue was also representative of a weighty cross- section of sound artists in the world at the time. This was followed by another thoroughly defining book, "Blocks of Consciousness" issued by Sounds323, that has quickly become a kind of ready reference manual for neophytes, would-be sound artists, and sonic art adherents alike. The arrival in the UK of artists such as Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda, and RLW, playing in prestigious venues such as the Barbican, Tate Modern, and Sage Centre, also indicate a subtle shift of interest into more obscure, and radical approaches to sound work. Now comes the beautifully produced EXTRACT, by specialist label Non Visual Objects, whose output over the last couple of years has cast a bright light over the genre of minimalism, with a series of exquisitely produced releases that focus primarily on the ultra-minimal, both in terms of design and presentation.
This book, rather than following tried and tested routes trawling the theoretical aspects of sound, takes a warmer, and more intimate approach by selecting sound artists who are very much "of the moment", and gaining insights into their psyche by asking stock questions about early influences, recent influences, working methods, collaborations, connections to local art scenes, etc ,etc.
What is interesting about this approach is that it becomes a kind of census of a representative cross section of artists, which in itself reveals patterns and commonalities that perhaps may not be obvious to the layman, and are refreshingly re-assuring to others, like myself, who operate within this field. Some of these commonalities such as encounters with the sounds of air conditioning systems, heating systems, refrigerators etc in formative years are deeply interesting, as they become the catalyst for experiments in later life for many of these artists, and indicate a predisposition to the more cerebral and marginalised elements of contemporary culture.
The majority of these artists also appear to be operating in relative isolation with respect to local music scenes and the art establishment, and it is only via the internet, and their respective record labels that they have been able to connect with like-minded individuals and audience alike. Other common themes appear to be that many of these artists are also deeply interested in nature, and natural systems; they also have great sensitivity to the visual arts (many also being visual artists as well). Recurring themes also appear to be Kraftwerk, Burroughs, Cage, Eno, all in themselves highly revealing as sources and origins of inspiration, as very few of these influences are inherently "minimal" in their approach.
I have deliberately not singled out any one artist for scrutiny here, preferring to deal with EXTRACT as a product to be dealt with holistically. From a purely subjective point of view, the strength of this book lies in it's position of defining minimalism not only as a musical/sonic genre, but as a microcosmic social network, a spiritual economy based upon the communal exchange of information, goods, and most importantly, ideas. The selection of artists in the spotlight in this publication is by no means exhaustive, and prominent figures such as Chartier and Deupree, Tietchens, Gunter, Steinbruchel, Roden, are positioned alongside relative newcomers such as Dale Lloyd, Tomas Philips, Michael Vorfeld for example. This in turn presents a wider spectrum of possibility for those interested in pursuing the work of all of these artists, and in a wider sense, stimulating interest in minimalism in general. The CD's enlcosed within the end papers of the book will surely emerge as a "who's who" of the genre, very much in the way that Selektion's "Tulpas" did in the 90's, and will be reviewed here at some later point.
EXTRACT itself is a relatively quick read (I did it in under an hour), but it's influence, and implications will remain with me, and others for many years, I am certain. An absolutely essential insight for anyone interested in minimalism…
WHITE_LINE [B.G. Nichols]
Its possible to start with saying I don't like to review compilations, and 'Extract' is a real difficult one. Two CDs, twenty-two tracks, by people that we may know from the world of microsound. That is twenty-two pieces of deep bass hum, crackles, processed field recordings and static hiss being filtered through Max or PD (depending who's side you are on). It's not easy to spot the highlight in this contest of 'I am more silent than you'. That is a possible approach. But we should be better off approaching this from a more positive view. The owners of Non Visual Objects have already released a bunch of CDs and this book is a sort of introduction to the world which they are present in. The hardcover book has about 100 pages, and it's four pages per artist. 'Where are you from and what do you do' is more or less the approach taken by the curators of the book. Not a book about theory, but a gentle introduction. Some people talk about their origins through the form of interviews, others write themselves about their work, which is not always about their music. It can be also about other forms of art they occupy themselves with, such as photography, installations or drawings. It adds a more human aspect to the music, seeing the photo's of the artists and their personalized stories, which work best if they leave the format of an interview, and when they are really personal, like the ones of Steve Roden, John Hudak and Roel Meelkop. With a fresh look at the book (with excellent minimal design), we return to the CDs and listen with different ears. Here we now notice small differences in the various musics that are presented here. The sheer silence of Chartier, I8U, Dean King and Meelkop, but also the street sounds of Gunter, the radio looped minimalism of Hudak, the looped ambience of Taylor Deupree (who has a true trademark sound by now), drone like material from Dale Lloyd and Keith Berry, Jos Smolders' musique concrete based on environmental sounds, or even a bit more noise based as with Will Montgomery. It's the smaller variations perhaps to the untrained ear, but major ones to people who are used to microsound. Also included are Heribert Friedl, Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Tomas Philips, Steinbruchel, Nao Sugimoto, Asmus Tietchens, Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet and Micheal Vorfeld. One could wonder a bit over the selection here, which seems a bit arbitrary. Why no Francisco Lopez, Stephan Mathieu or Marc Behrens? But it's perhaps too much of a personal selection, but at the same time it introduces us to some lesser known people such as Andy Graydon, Richard Garet and Micheal Vorfeld (who is better known in a different scene, I guess, that of improvised music). This is an incomplete overview but it may serve as an excellent introduction to the uninitiated as well as shedding some light on some of the people we know so well, but who don't get so much coverage in the real press. As such the best book this year so far.
Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]
Non Visual Objects is one of those labels that comes with something of a guarantee of quality with every release. With works from Steve Roden, Richard Chartier, Roel Meelkop, Tomas Phillips and Dean King and label co-owner Heribert Friedl, you can expect a certain level of presentation and sound that always pleases. This book is the logical extension, then, for a label that's incredibly aesthetic and Extract really does make for a comelling read an, indeed, listen. A series of interviews and articles on the artists involved in the CDs that accompany the book, it looks in depth at techniques, motivations and the history of these artists. It's all in black and white which rather suits the minimalist ethos of the label and is designed with great care and attention as well as being hard bound. Musically, the range on offer here is wonderful and artists such as Taylor Deupree, Richard Chartier, Bernhard Gunter, Nao Sugimoto (aka Mondii), Keith Berry, Dale Llyod, Will Montgomery, Steinbruchel, Jos Smolders, Steve Roden, John Hudak and more all contribute excellent works of sonic art. I could waffle on about this for hours if I had the space, but for now all I'll say is that if you have any interest in this contemporary minimalist style of music you'll find this to be a really exciting release indeed. Highly recommended.
smallfish [Mike Oliver]
For anyone interested in modern-day approaches to experimental electro-acoustic music, especially the more minimal interpretations, Extract | Portraits of Soundartists is a valuable, practical, and enjoyable reference. Conceived by Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser, the release consists of two compact discs featuring compositions from twenty-two contemporary artists involved in making electro-acoustic music. The discs are housed in a 96-page hardcover book containing text and/or images from each artist.
I've had Extract | Portraits of Soundartists in my possession for about a month now. It has accompanied me wherever I go throughout the day. Sometimes I just listen to compositions on the discs, other I times I sneak in a few minutes to read (and re-read) the essays, interviews, etc. in the book, but the most rewarding times are early mornings/late afternoons when I can sit down, relax, listen and read at the same time. It's at these moments that things begin to come together as the text that I read and the images that I see help make sense of and give context to the intricate, abstract, and beautiful sounds that these artists are producing. I'm also humbled by what I've read realizing now that so much of what I've written and reviewed in the past is way off the mark. If only I knew then what I know now.
Describing the music found on the discs is difficult. In the broadest sense, it's about artists exploring the seemingly infinite and non-traditional ways in which sound can be manipulated, transformed, sculptured, recontextualized, disassembled, and reassembled. Dean King summed it all up nicely in the form of a question - "how far can music be reduced and still be understood as music? (p.47)"
At a minimum, Extract certainly achieves two important purposes: First, it provides a representative, international cross-section of the many sound artists involved in composing experimental electro-acoustic music (although I would liked to have seen more female artists included). Of the twenty-two artists included, there were only five whose work I was not at all acquainted with. For the remaining seventeen artists, my awareness ranges from very familiar to just a mediocre knowledge. Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Heribert Friedl, Bernhard Günter, John Hudak, Dale Lloyd, Steve Roden, Jos Smolders, Ralph Steinbrüchel, Asmus Tietchens, and Ubeboet are common names to me. Also known to me, but not quite as familiar, are Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, I8U, Dean King, Roel Meelkop, and Tomas Phillips. Now, with deference to Extract, I've been introduced to the work of Keith Barry, Will Montgomery, Nao Sugimoto, Toshiya Tsundo, and Michael Vorfeld.
Secondly, we get multiple viewpoints in varying formats (interviews, essays, photos, drawings) detailing the inspiration, influences, purpose, and techniques behind the process of sound construction and revealing mutual threads of interest and other commonalities. Examples are plentiful - Dean King gives a wonderfully articulate and philosophical exposé concerning his methods establishing connections and drawing parallels to literature, abstract painting, and photography. He also writes about disassembling and decontextualizing sound and how granular processing makes possible the "transformation of time." Tomas Phillips goes into some detail about "minimalist tendencies" and the "minimizing of sound." Bernhard Günter draws interesting analogies between photography and music viewing both cameras and audio recorders as samplers capturing visible and auditory frequencies, respectively, that can then be digitally manipulated, and the title of his accompanying track "Listen to what you see" says a lot about his methods. France Jobin (I8U) gives a short biographical essay outlining the "environmental and technological landmarks" encountered during the "creative process." Keith Berry and Richard Chartier each reveal the importance of early childhood "sound memories" and discuss the significance of visual art in their musical development. John Hudak writes about the similarities in the creative processes of drawing and music creation. Heribert Friedl writes about his interest in combining sound art with his work in "non visual objects." Andy Graydon expounds on the influences of music concrète, film/cinema, and environmental art on his sound work. Toshiya Tsunoda discusses his interest in "vibration phenomenon" and the role it plays in his compositions and installations. Jos Smolders labels much of his sound work as "abstract" explaining that it's often constructed from concrete sounds, but not necessarily connected to reality, and he makes an interesting analogy between his methods and the expressionistic school of painting. Nao Sugimoto explains that "the sounds, textures, and colors of nature" are essential to his current work. In a similar fashion, Richard Garet regards his sound art as a "constant response to the complexities of the environment" taking in everything around him and then "putting it out in different reconfigurations." Will Montgomery makes reference to the element of "uncertainty" in his work and speculates on the indirect influence of his interest in contemporary avant-garde poetry on his music. Steinbrüchel speaks for several artists when he says that "I feel more connected to other artists throughout the world than in my local area." There's a common theme of local "isolation" tempered somewhat by a connectedness with like-minded people outside their locale via collaborations made possible by the internet. Finally, more than one artist made it known that regardless of how much intent and purpose is put into a composition, among the best pieces are the ones in which chance takes over and allows the work to "unfold" naturally on its own.
My only wish now is that enough people see the worth and importance of such a dual media work like Extract that we see more of the same. A free, virtual/downloadable online follow-up to this reaching out to anyone interested would be the ideal. A fresh roster of sound artists might include names like William Basinski, Marc Behrens, Esther Bourdages, Joda Clément, Anne Guthrie, John Kannenberg, K. M. Krebs, Francisco Lopez, Stephan Mathieu. Christopher McFall, Nathan McNinch, Michael Northam, Ben Owen, Pablo Reche, Asher Thal-nir, and Sabine Vogel to name just a few.
EARlabs [Larry Johnson]
For a label named Nonvisualobjects, issuing a book would seem an incomprehensible move. But, as Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser explain in the introduction, they did it just in case that "the inevitable decay of digitally stored media" cancels every trace of this kind of art and culture. The thought of having passed a whole life transferring tapes to CD and DVD only to clutch at flies at the end is enough to think of myself as a cretin but hey, one has to find something to "enjoy the passage of time", as James Taylor would have it. Seriously, once upon a time I could only have dreamed about a honest publication containing news and pictures about artists whose music I follow and mostly respect, and that in this case are sonically represented by two CDs containing tracks that they recorded for this special occasion.
The names in question are Keith Berry, Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Heribert Friedl, Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Bernhard Günter, John Hudak, i8u, Dean King, Dale Lloyd, Roel Meelkop, Will Montgomery, Tomas Phillips, Steve Roden, Jos Smolders, Steinbrüchel, Nao Sugimoto, Asmus Tietchens, Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet, Michael Vorfeld. Every chapter presents an interview or some personal considerations by the artist about his own work and his/her relationships with other members of the same community. Most of them describe their approach and influences, others let drawings and photographs do the speaking while only a few - like Keith Berry, whose splendid track opens the first disc - report about the intimate sensations that unconsciously introduced them to certain types of withdrawn awareness. It is of course very interesting to know how these people have reached goals while still struggling to develop new means to synthesize determinate conclusions, but it's equally nice reading about a man like Asmus Tietchens, who distances himself from most everything while being capable of producing music whose level of efficacy on the perceptive system is portentous to say the least. The discs contain a lot of great moments, the perfect means to complement a very useful reading, and there is no actual sense in defining a "best of". But, since you asked, Berry, Deupree, Lloyd, Roden, Tietchens and Ubeboet are the tracks that I liked in particular, and it was not an easy choice. What I really suggest is using both the book and the CDs like a breviary: open your windows, turn the volume up, let the sounds mix and read a few pages. Everything will make sense then.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
Das Wiener Label Nonvisualobjects
legt mit "Extract. Portraits of Soundartists" als formschönes
Buch plus DCD akustische Fährten Richtung Mikrosounds und schickt
die Ohren auf Entdeckungsreise.
Stille: Spätestens seit John Cage eine ernstzunehmende kompositorische Praxis, von David Toop und anderen kontextualisiert, eine Art Gegenbewegung innerhalb experimenteller Soundart, die zum aktiven Zuhören zwingt. Die minimalisierten Soundcluster und -flächen gehen zwar schon als eigenständige Musik durch, dienen aber vor allem als Transportmedium, um die uns umgebenden Alltagsgeräusche musikalisch bewusster wahrzunehmen.
Bislang fehlte eine österreichische VÖ mit internationaler Relevanz, die sich ausschließlich mit derartigen Phänomenen auseinandersetzt. Nonvisualobjects war 2005 vom Musiker Heribert Friedl und dem Grafiker Raphael Moser gegründet worden. Von Anfang an hatte man sich dabei auf Sounds zwischen Installation, Ambient, Fieldrecordings und Stille verlegt, die Arbeitsmethode ist programmatisch: Reduktion. Experimente e-musikalischer Prägung stehen hier an, als Fluchtlinie sei etwa Bernhard Günter genannt.
Die 22 Tracks von Richard Cartier, Nao Sugimoto, Taylor Duprée, Steinbrüchel, Asmus Tietchens, Jos Smolders und klarerweise Günter und Friedl erforschen jene Klangfelder, die sich sozusagen hinter der Musik aufhalten. Mit der aus Montréal stammenden France Jobin aka I8U ist die einzige Frau auf dieser Compilation vertreten. Wenn auch in sich recht stringent, verzichtet dieser "Beginner's Guide" auf überbordende Theoretisierungen sondern verlegt sich auf die Personen selbst. Ein löbliches Unterfangen, wenn man endlich mal erfährt, wie eben diese Musik entsteht. "Extract" zeichnet ein vielschichtiges Portrait der Künstler und ihrer interdisziplinären Herangehensweise, die sich vor allem an der Schnittstelle zwischen akustischer/visueller Präsenz/Absenz manifestiert. Dies passiert mittels Interviews, eigenen Texten oder biografischen Skizzen, dazu kommen selektierte Diskografien. Schließlich ist "Extract" reich illustriert mit Projektfotos, Grafiken, Zeichnungen und John Hudak liefert Comics ab. Ambitioniertes Projekt.
skug [Heinrich Deisl]
In solo due anni d'esistenza e poco più di una decina di produzioni la Nonvisualobjects di Heribert Friedl e Raphael Moser si candida ad un ruolo di primo piano nell'ambito internazionale della sound art. E l'uscita più recente a diventare uno di punti di riferimento imprescindibili per tutti gli appassionati del settore. Esempi di parziale catalogazione dell'universo della sound art con tendenze microsoniche sono già stati tentati in passato, si pensi alle compilation della serie "Lowercase", ai due volumi della 12k "Between Two Points" e "Two Point Two" o in un ambito più specifico alla collana "Clicks & Cuts" o, ancor meglio, ai volumi con CD "Site Of Sound: Of Architecture And The Ear" della Errant Bodies Press e "Sound Art - Sound As Media" della NTT Publishing Co. Proprio a queste ultime due pubblicazioni può essere accostato "Extract - Portraits of Soundartists", benché rispetto ad esse risponda ad un approccio meno teorico e sistematico. Si tratta per lo più di istantanee di singoli autori condotte col metodo semplice e pratico dell'intervista, oppure attraverso note autobiografiche, diari, disegni, fotografie, riflessioni estemporanee (in pratica l'aspetto teorico dell'operare di ciascuno viene fuori in maniera più sottile, meno diretta, andando a comporre un quadro d'insieme in maniera piuttosto obliqua). Ventidue gli artisti selezionati con criterio personalissimo ma tutto sommato aderente allo stato delle cose (ovvio che non si possa pretendere completezza enciclopedica), ognuno dei quali presente anche con una traccia altrimenti inedita. Poche le sorprese e pochi i nomi relativamente nuovi (Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Ubeboet, I8U), con una scaletta che si concentra sulle grandi firme. Poche purtroppo anche le sorprese sotto il profilo puramente estetico, sia formale sia di contenuti, dacché ormai il tipo di ricerca cui si assiste concede poco spazio all'inaspettato e alla soddisfazione uditiva, con l'eterna dicotomia tra chi riesce a cavare dalle proprie manie private qualche emozione che valga la pena comunicare anche a noialtri (Keith Berry, Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Dean King, Dale Lloyd, Tomas Phillips, Steve Roden, Steinbrüchel, Nao Sugimoto, tanto per dire) e chi, con varie sfumature ed attenuanti, rimane chiuso nella sterile torre d'avorio della sperimentazione fine a se stessa (più o meno tutti gli altri). Palese manifestazione di cul de sac o, come si diceva all'inizio, manuale indispensabile (spesso, del resto, il quadro finale è superiore alla somma delle singole parti) è dubbio che lasciamo volentieri sbrogliare al lettore.
blow up [Nicola Catlalano]
Intensifies the brain's hunger for information and input: A fascinating read and listen throughout.
In rock, everything is personal. In soundart, it seems, nothing is. That is why a project like "Extract" is much more than just a nicely layouted book with two CDs packed with music. It is a tangible result from the conclusion that our understanding of art can benefit from the knowledge of the composer's personal history - and that the genre as a whole has the potential to be appreciated by a much larger audience if it allows itself to open up. That's no buy-out, mind you, but the simple realisation that by its very nature, soundart will always have a certain disadvantage: While crunching guitars, dazzling drums, gripping vocals and the ebb and flow of verse and chorus are mainly self-referential and an effort to offer one's own ego as a projection screen for others, the attempt to understand the world around us through its audible emissions is of a much more subtle nature. In fact, where the music is firmly placed first, the performer naturally steps back, turning all but invisible in the service of the composition. The functional and mostly faceless aesthetics of the genre have made it doubly hard for experimental works to compete with the bright lights of popular culture in the media. This is where "Extract" steps in.
A hole in the ground: Twenty-two biographies
Twentytwo artists have followed the invitation of Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser, the masterminds behind the Nonvisual Objects label and contributed music, visuals as well as text to the book. Twentytwo entirely different biographies and twentytwo unique views on sound have resulted in twentytwo short but vivid introductions to their work and their life.The nature of these contributions is highly diverse. Friedl and Moser have set up a basic interview with questions on the background of the musicians, their influences, their methods and their stance on collaborating with similar-minded colleagues. While a large chunk of the "Extract" line-up is presented through their answers to this questionnaire, others have chosen idiosyncratic approaches. Keith Berry tells a story from his childhood and how the mysteriously beckoning drone of a "monster of a heating system" in his parent's house would hold a deep and inexplicable fascination. 12k founder Taylor Deupree fills his four pages with small snapshots of a Japan-tour which, as he points out, "may mean a great deal to some, sparking memories and stories, or may mean nothing to others". Dutch Roel Meelkop is represented by a short piece of prose entitled "Another piece of general fiction or how I came to be a sound artist" (a hole in his garden apparently played an important role), while seminal American visual artist and composer Steve Roden has scanned entries from his "work diary", which go from scetched drawings of bagpipes to thoughts on the importance of calligraphy in Zen. Parts are intellectual and require repeated perusal - such as Richard Chartier's detailed and precise description of his technique and intentions. Others come in the form of personal reflections, such as I8U's France Jobin looking back on her early days as a sound explorer: "Being a difficult child, it didn't take long for my parents to realize they could keep me quiet and out of trouble by placing me in between two speakers." It's a fascinating read throughout.
Minimalism is the main criterium: Two and a half hours of music
The music is equally eclectic. Miguel A. Tolosa, who runs the Con-V netlabel
and operates under the name of Ubeboet, has called this the release of
the year and the two and a half hours of material certainly allow for
this kind of superlative. From his own sacral choir ambiances to Friedl's
minute incisions and crackles, from Bernhard Günter's urban field
recordings to Steinbrüchel's perfect drone pulses, this collection
offers a plenitude of moods, ideas, approaches and philosophies. Friedl
and Moser talk about a network which has formed thanks to interactions
between artists all over the world, whose categories for inclusion are
very much open: Minimalism is the main criterium, other than that the
spectrum and the scope of "Extract" are wide and all-embracing.
Nao Sugimoto drove to the outskirts of Tokyo, placed a speaker next to
his car, put on a playback of a prerecorded acoustic guitar piece and
taped it from a sizeable distance. Jos Smolders meanwhile, withdrew into
the solitude and comfort of a grandfather clock ticking in an infinitely
condensed space. Some of the harmonic and "musical" tracks reveal
their analytical origins, while many of the purely sound-focused pieces
take on a hauntingly emotional meaning: The music seems to speak to the
listener in a very direct way. "Perhaps the appeal of minimal art",
Tomas Phillips writes, "is that it provides a very particular bridge
between self and other, one that meets the artist's needs to contribute
to a cummunity, whilst allowing the listener/reader/viewer space in which
to offer his or her own experience to a "collaborative" project".
That's not only an excellent observation in relation to the arts in general, but to "Extract" in particular as well. While the common train of thought has been that the cold design of the scene has served to spark the imagination of the listener, forcing him to make his own picture of the composer, this book proves this theory wrong. The more one finds out about the personalities behind the music, the more one is able to appreciate the nuances of their oeuvre, the differences between similar results and the analogies between starkly contrasting contributions. The wealth of information "Extract" offers does not set the brain to rest, but only goes to intensify and increase its hunger for information and more input. Many of the artists talk about how they felt like outlaws during their school time for prefering "the sound of tires rolling over snow" above crunching guitars, dazzling drums, gripping vocals and the ebb and flow of verse and chorus - I am thoroughly convinced that if this book became part of the curriculum, many more would feel the same. Not everything in soundart is personal. But much more than anyone previously thought possible certainly is.
tokafi [Tobias Fischer]
For a label named Nonvisualobjects,
issuing a book would seem an incomprehensible move. But, as Heribert Friedl
and Raphael Moser explain in the introduction, they did it just in case
that "the inevitable decay of digitally stored media" cancels
every trace of this kind of art and culture. The thought of having passed
a whole life transferring tapes to CD and DVD only to clutch at flies
at the end is enough to think of myself as a cretin but hey, one has to
find something to "enjoy the passage of time", as James Taylor
would have it. Seriously, once upon a time I could only have dreamed about
a honest publication containing news and pictures about artists whose
music I follow and mostly respect, and that in this case are sonically
represented by two CDs containing tracks that they recorded for this special
The names in question are Keith Berry, Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Heribert Friedl, Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Bernhard Günter, John Hudak, i8u, Dean King, Dale Lloyd, Roel Meelkop, Will Montgomery, Tomas Phillips, Steve Roden, Jos Smolders, Steinbrüchel, Nao Sugimoto, Asmus Tietchens, Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet, Michael Vorfeld.
Every chapter presents an interview or some personal considerations by the artist about his own work and his/her relationships with other members of the same community. Most of them describe their approach and influences, others let drawings and photographs do the speaking while only a few - like Keith Berry, whose splendid track opens the first disc - report about the intimate sensations that unconsciously introduced them to certain types of withdrawn awareness. It is of course very interesting to know how these people have reached goals while still struggling to develop new means to synthesize determinate conclusions, but it's equally nice reading about a man like Asmus Tietchens, who distances himself from most everything while being capable of producing music whose level of efficacy on the perceptive system is portentous to say the least.
The discs contain a lot of great moments, the perfect means to complement a very useful reading, and there is no actual sense in defining a "best of". But, since you asked, Berry, Deupree, Lloyd, Roden, Tietchens and Ubeboet are the tracks that I liked in particular, and it was not an easy choice. What I really suggest is using both the book and the CDs like a breviary: open your windows, turn the volume up, let the sounds mix and read a few pages. Everything will make sense then.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
The premise sounds simple. Vienna based Non Visual Objects imprint invited twenty-two sound artists to present a piece of work. Over time, two CDs worth of sounds were filed. What are more impressive though are the non-musical aspects each of the musicians offers in "Extract" project, which not only consists of the music, but a nearly 100 page book. As the two project leaders - Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser - explain in the introduction, "We would like to present artists that work in different areas in this field of electroacoustic music, to cover a large spectrum even in this quite specific area. With essays, interviews, photos, drawings and other materials presented in this book, we try to look at the motivation and intention behind the sound production from different perspectives, to possibly allow for a new/extended approach to this form of music." Though each of the artists is somehow tied in to the electro-acoustic and microsound scene, variety of artists included in the project fluctuates greatly. Taylor Deupree chooses to express himself with a variety of photos taken over three year journeys to Japan. Many of these are intensely personal and to get an inside scoop into his work is real difficult. On the other hand, his "Live in Osaka" piece is a rather pleasant, gliding, and ear-ringing glitch of soothing proportions. As many of the artists favour the question and answer interview scheme, so does sound manipulator Richard Garet. His contribution in the form of "Précis" is inundated with off-the-wall, distant crackles and glissando waves of buzzing. Bernhard Günter chooses to display some of his photos and his attached "Listen to what you see (audio sample of location of all Koblenz photos)" is a serene journey into oblique concoction of unidentifiable sound. John Hudak shares some of his drawings [which honestly remind me of Daniel Johnston's better work], while his "Radio" piece is a glistening sound world full of cricket-like appropriations. Steve Roden's distant-echo call of old, crackly records "Air Into Form/Voice Into Breath" is accompanied with a four pages of his working diary, which ultimately lets us peak into his thought process. Package ends on a high note with German audio-manipulator and visual artist Michael Vorfeld whose masterful percussive manipulations turn out to be as eerie as they are enlightening. In between all of these are contributions from Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet, Keith Barry, I8U, Dean King, Tomas Phillips, Asmus Tietchens, Richard Chartier and a dozen others. In a nutshell, "Extract" fulfils its goal quite well. In showing the visual aspect behind many of these artists work, their music takes on an entirely new meaning. It's true that the more you know someone, the more you're bound to love them.
Gaz-Eta [Tom Sekowski]
You have arrived — now take a journey: It’s a journey to concrete places but also a search for their genius loci, their spirit within. In some rare and lucky moments a special location helps us tap into that great soul of which we just own a little piece and which at once can make us feel connected to the whole of creation and divorced from all our concerns.
Iain Stewart has found such places at Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point of mainland Britain and on the Orkney Islands and brings them to us with '58º North'. His skill is not communicating their geographical uniqueness but capturing glimpses of their spirit. The paradoxical concept of 'still life' is palpable in both Iain Stewart's photography and his videos. While a blur in the frozen image betrays life, the videos meditative focus on the same scene seems to contemplate the eternal in motion. We, as onlookers, also find ourselves simultaneously still and stirred.
On our journey we encounter boundaries of many types, frames and borders, edges and cliffs. Deprived of satisfying our instinctive urge to scan the surroundings of the observed environment, we are left to create context within ourselves. Sky and sea are powerful archetypal images that touch our collective unconscious. They are, at the same time, metaphors for insurmountable obstacles and for limitless freedom. Their incongruous nature feeds great longing, and occasionally great daring, born from dreams of the beyond and cautioned by fears of the below.
58º North essay © Oliver Haas 2006
The first major exhibition of Iain Stewart's colour landscape work was 'From the Morning' in 1995, mixing strong elements of abstraction with the glorious colours of Scotland's east coast light. 'From the Morning' featured in 'Light From the Dark Room', the major Scottish-Canadian collaborative exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in the summer of 1995.
Previous works had been included in exhibitions at Portfolio Gallery in Edinburgh in 1990 and 1993 and The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 1993. Previous bodies of work include 'Voices in a Small Room' and 'Unfinished Dialogue', toured by Stills Gallery in 1993. The work had mined deeply emotive, personal territories, exploring loss and bereavement. Writing of 'Unfinished Dialogue', Sara Stevenson, Curator of Photography at the National Galleries of Scotland, found that '... time and place shift in the perception ... emotion and thought take over from the outward senses ... outside comes inside and leaves a vacancy ...'.
Barely more tangible are the glowing horizons of 'From the Morning', and in his catalogue essay, 'Scottish Photography Now: Between the Culture and the Land', Dr James Lawson found in the work '...things to which we normally give no names; their larger containers - sky, land, day, night - usually suffice. But when this condition of the elements is brought together with this other, particular developments, harmonies, contrasts, keys are sounded. The musical simile is irresistible. It is the music of German Romanticism.'. Also speaking of these landscapes, New York curator Peter Hay Halpert found a 'profound sense of time that comes from studying a subject for a sustained period before committing an image to paper, leaving the viewer with a sense of a place understood more than just depicted.' . The work suggests a journey, but one where there is 'no place of arrival ... I want it to work on a number of levels - if you want to take it as a journey from dawn to dusk, that's ok. But it's not meant to be limited in narrative terms.' (Iain Stewart In Conversation with James Lawson, Studies in Photography 1996.) Speaking in the same interview, Stewart tells us 'My process is one of simplification ...like a poem, taking out words and taking out and seeing how far you can go before it stops having meaning ?'.
This process of elimination reached its logical conclusion in the minimalism of Stewart's 1996 seascapes. The three triptychs weave the most slender of narratives suggesting a journey. An incandescent glow of intense light rises and gently fades in the final set, the destination or point of arrival an almost invisible blanket of white light. These were featured in 'Sea Change; The Seascape in Contemporary Photography' at The Center for Creative Photography, Arizona, alongside artists including Hiroshi Sugimoto and Robert Adams. Curator Trudy Wilner Stack saw the work as a response to 'the contending notions of a quest or retreat brought on by the sea and its romantic associations.'. In 1999, the exhibition toured to The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego and The International Center of Photography in New York, where The Village Voice singled out the work - ' ..When Iain Stewart turns his impressionistic sequences of sea and sky into pale blue Rothkos, you want to take a long, cool dip.'
Projects since continued to combine his 'lushly coloured abstract views of the Scottish landscape (from 'Great 22', The Magazine of The Photographers' Gallery, London) and desert skies from his travels in the USA. A collection of his 'Recent Works' was on show at The Photographers Gallery Print Room in 1999, and in 'Thin Air' at The Julie Saul Gallery in New York. Writing of this show in The New York Times, Ken Johnston said that '..Minimalist Photography, like Minimalist Painting, can be paradoxically rich ... Iain Stewart's distant shots of deep blue skies fading to orange or white wed the formal and the celestial.'.
An installation commission for the National Galleries of Scotland permanent collection, Tender, showed at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as their Millennium launch exhibition January - March 2000. That year also saw Stewart exhibit alongside long time hero Elliot Erwitt in Recent Developments at Photographs Do Not Bend in Dallas, and his work joined the collection of Sir Elton John following the major success of Earth/Sky at Jackson Fine Arts in Atlanta.
In 2001 a major solo exhibition, The Road Less Travelled, showed at Houston Center of Photography from September - November. Work form the National Galleries of Scotland permanent collection also showed in The Fine Art of Photography at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery from September 2001 - January 2002. An accompanying catalogue, Photography in the National Galleries of Scotland, ISBN 1 9032278 23 6, was also published this year.
The success of this show was consolidated in solo shows in London (Sonnet, The Photographer's Gallery, 2002) New York (Land/Sea/Sky, Julie Saul Gallery 2005) and at Watermark Gallery in Houston where Land/Sea/Sky showed right through the hurricannes of 2005. The same year saw his work join the collection of The Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark and feature in a permanent collection show titled 'In The Shadow of The Shadow'.
2004 saw the exciting addition of film and video work to Stewart's repertoire, and resulted in a series of collaborations and performances with other artists and musicians in Edinburgh, Manchester and London. The highlight was 'begin again' , a series of live video/music event that opened at The 12 Bar Club in London, the result of a partnership with Paul Research of legendary Scots punk band The Scars. A solo video piece, i see colours, was shortlisted for DRIFT, a series of exhibitions and performances by New Media Scotland.
In 2004 Stewart undertook an extended road trip from Lands' End to Cape Wrath, journeying from the most South Westerly tip of the UK to it's most North Westerley Point. Land's End is something of a mecca for sunset watchers and draws the crowds. The summer light here was clear, the sea and skies pure and blue. However the rolling clouds and looming mountains of Scotland beckoned, and the roads narrowed and petered out as Stewart got closer to his destination. Cape Wrath retains a mystery and romance , inaccessible by road and only by boat once the lashing winter gales die down. True to Stewart's ethos, the journey took on personal and symbolic meaning, and for him it became 'a journey about journey ... literal/metaphorical, however you want to take it. I've increasingly been drawn to edges ... There's always some loose narrative in my landscape work, whether it's just a journey from dawn to dusk ... ' The light merges and fades and rises again through Land's End/Cape Wrath - from sunset in the South back to the fresh colours of new dawn in the North. The lightness of touch and airy colours of Land's End darken along with the skies as the weather breaks and mood darkens as we enter The Cape.
The most recent work in the show, 58º North picks up and elaborates on that mood and features two new video pieces, 58º North and Orcadia. Audio soundtracks to both pieces came through a collaboration with notable UK sound artist Keith Berry. 58º North is a 24 minute piece where Stewart re-visits the wild and remote landscape of the North West Scottish coastline, drawn by a particular spot that makes some deep connection or pull within him - " ... the location is kind of the key for me ... Wild and remote but peaceful and spiritually replenishing at the same time ... (like) the work I have done around Standing Stones ... I'm sure that certain places can give out special energies ... anyway, for whatever reason, I have favourite spots that make me work in a certain way and this place is definitely one of them. Unique and inspirational ... ".
'58º North' is a 24 minute piece divided into brief chapters, comprising an opening 'dawn/sea' section, an unsettling middle 'land/sky' section and a closing 'dusk/sea' section ... or is it dawn/sea ... it ends, with deliberate ambiguity, back where it starts, echoing an oft occurring motif in Stewart's work. Once more the viewer is left captivated - though perhaps with more questions than answers.
Heaven knows how long one would like to remain alone in front of the sea at sunset, contemplating the rippling magnificence of the water kissed by those oblique rays, the eyes full of that hypnotic shimmering. It's probably one of life's most intense sensations. "58º North" uses this kind of imagery for about 24 minutes of dazzling immobile sheen, wonderfully captured by the camera of Iain Stewart, who created a splendid complement to those rare moments where silent consciousness finally finds the courage to knock at our brain's door to introduce itself. Also comprised in this heart-shattering film are heavily clouded skies, grey encounters between horizon and sense of doubt, peculiar natural openings with shot-from-below water droplets gleaming like tiny shooting stars. Everything is underlined by a masterful soundtrack by Keith Berry, whose sources are slowed down by the quicksand of eternity, which swallows every refraction and assimilates it in a dark chamber of unconfessed emotions. Berry works with static, almost immutable tapestries that change - again, s-l-o-w-l-y - according to the games of shadows and lights conceived by Stewart. One seems to perceive marine sounds, wind and seagulls at one point, and they're probably looped somewhere in there. But it all resounds damn near to those wordless songs of sorrowful loneliness that childhood taught us by the dozen. They're still the best music that I've ever heard.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
Present on 'I, Mute Hummings' is Keith Berry, who provided the soundtrack to a film by one Iain Stewart, called '58 degrees North'. To create film to music by people like Keith Berry, it is not difficult to turn to the imagery of landscapes, or in this case, sea scapes. Big panorama shots of the sea, with it's slow waves. Then a clouded sea scape with some rain somewhere in the back. Berry's music is that of stretched out sounds, which fits the aquatic theme quite well. Both the music and film are made with great care, but both thread also common ground and such offer no new road to the development of drone music. Not that is necessary always, but some development wouldn't hurt.
Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]
Each of us has a special place, a library where our fondest memories reside. This brief, but enchanting, DVD documents minimalist photographer Iain Stewart's special spot, as he revisits the wild and remote landscapes of the north west Scottish coastline, a site he describes as "peaceful and spiritually replenishing". As the series of slow motion images unfurl - sea at dusk and dawn, the belly of a rain-drenched cavern, sky at night – they successfully communicate the genius loci of each geographical space, providing their audience with a meditative focus, a conduit through which to visit their own idylls. By lingering on the same subtly shifting scene, each materialising without explanation and without the context of a surrounding environment, it is as if Stewart is encouraging pantheist or Buddhist thought, attempting to dislodge the individual from their selfish concerns, placing them at the heart of the whole of creation. This he successfully does with an easy artistry, using such powerful images as sky and sea to tap into our collective unconscious.
Keith Berry's minimalist sound sculptures form the perfect accompaniment to these visual paeans to natural beauty, barely moving and yet full of the textural richness and complexity that is to be found within these stunning images. His music, reminiscent of Thomas Köner's glacial drifts and Steve Roden's tidal figurations, is so evocative and cinematic it lends itself perfectly to the film. The muffled rumbles and shadow reverberations constitute their own auditory weather system that, when taken in tandem with Stewart's visuals, create still further images, metaphors and avenues of thought.
The Wire [Spencer Grady]
Iain Stewart made the movie, Keith Berry did the sounds. This one is a succession of lushly-photographed shots of the ocean and the skies above it, projected I think at a slightly slower speed than normal. The photographer likes the murky movement of the serene waves that this art produces, but he's also seduced by the orange skies and twinkling lights on the surface of the sea. Fortunately, although this one may start off a little chocolate-boxey for my tastes, the image area soon becomes a very abstracted field with a minimal colour range of greys, blacks, and whites, particularly when the weather gets worse and the clouds thicken and we get a sickly white sun trying to poke through. It's particularly nice around 16:00-17:00 when we're watching a steely blue ocean turn slowly into a sluggish field of black. Unless I'm wrong, there is also a symmetrical arrangement to the sequence of the shots, which is something I'm always in favour of (in poetry, this is called ring composition). Berry is the London sound artist who has made not a few mysterious nostalgia drones, so who better than to provide a quiet and ambient distant-drone soundtrack to this paean to nature. There's nothing better than watching a long film with no people and no talking whatsoever in it. The only thing that mars my enjoyment slightly is the statement 'Sky and sea are powerful archetypal images' printed on the disc. I'll make up my own mind about what constitutes an archetype, if you don't mind! Otherwise, this is a little gem.
The Sound Projector [Ed Pinsent]
I, MUTE HUMMINGS
This collection of dense atmopsheres features a former member of Tangerine Dream and offers you the chance to listen to the world premiere of a long-lost thirty year old gem by an early synthesizer pioneer - as well as exclusive tracks by seven influential artists from the field of contemporary drone music.
“I, Mute Hummings” combines the Zen-inspired timelessness of Keith Berry, the circulating guitarspots of Fear Falls Burning, Dronæment's welfare mix of vinyl crackling with mumbling ether, Troum's excursions into human dreamscapes and on the other side Column One's fluttering and sawing machinery. In between rest the well balanced works of Jeffrey Roden, Paul Bradley and Steve Jolliffe. Roden creates a whole aural landscape with his bass guitar alone. It's like walking through a drony barnyard. You can simply HEAR the fresh air. It all gets more and more closed with Paul Bradley's contribution. Like Berry's piece this one conjures up floating images - ceaseless waves of drones. Steve Jolliffe - who played on Tangerine Dream's 1978 output "Cyclone" - is an old stager of electronic music and here his wonderful flute-sketch sinks deeper and deeper into the hissing maelstrom of digital glitches.
But manages to reach the saving shore where Richard Lainhart - a pioneer of Moog-music - closes this collection with an exclusive rework of his stunning "White Nights".
Mirko Uhlig, Ex Ovo
01 Keith Berry | The Crossing | 7’22
02 Fear Falls Burning | Everything Was Wrong | 7’54
03 Dronæment | Phonorecord III | 7’48
04 Troum | Thrausmata Enos Eneirou | 12’27
05 Jeffrey Roden | The Seeds Of Happiness
--- (Ewa sur le balkon mix par Feu Follet) | 11’26
06 Paul Bradley | Aurorean | 7’31
07 Steve Jolliffe | One More Haggard Drowned Man
--- (redundant minimal development mix by Mirko Uhlig) | 8’07
08 Column One | Live Recording #3 | 5’52
09 Richard Lainhart | White Nights (remix) | 8’09
A while ago we reviewed an excellent CDR release by Mirko Uhlig
called 'Vivmmi' (see Vital Weekly 525), which should be re-released
on a CD is my humble opinion. Back then I though that the Ex Ovo
label was merely a vehicle to release this work, but much to my
pleasant surprise I receive now 'I, Mute Hummings' a real CD,
a compilation, along with a CDR that comes with the first 100
copies. Maybe Ex Ovo will be a real label, and maybe they will
consider putting ' Vivmmi' out as a real CD? The subtitle of the
compilation is 'A Collection Of Drone Music And Dulcet Atmospheres',
and it brings together some of the more known players in the field
(or perhaps even the true stars, such as Troum), but also people
like Jeffrey Roden, Dronaement, Rochard Lainhart and Steve Jollife,
who played on 'Cyclone', a 1978 record by Tangerine Dream. Some
of the contributions sound exactely like we expect them to do,
like the guitar humming of Fear Falls Burning, Troum's psychedelic
sounding space or Keith Berry or Paul Bradley's darker than life
music. All of high quality, even when a bit predictable. The interesting
pieces comes from Dronaement, with processed voices (or should
it possesed voices?) and crackling vinyl, Jeffrey Roden's guitar
playing on the veranda, Steve Jolliffe's flute playing in a onkyo
meets drone style mix (courtesy of Mirko Uhlig) and Column One
providing the harshest tones in a piece that sound like Organum
circa 'In Extremis'. Richard Lainhart's 'White Nights' closes
the CD, but it sounds too much like regular ambient music to me.
And if the first seventy-seven minutes aren't enough, there is the possibility of ordering 'Mute Scribbles', another seventy-two minutes of highly similar music, but by people that are lesser known, and who all have releases on CDR labels, such as Einzeleinheit (like Mirko Uhlig, Brian Uzna, Feu Follet) or Verato (like Emerge). Throughout the pieces here things seemed a bit more minimal and less worked out than on 'I, Mute Hummings'. Field recordings and synthesizer hummings play an important role in these pieces, but without much development, at least most of the times. Not that I think this is a great problem, since these are mighty fine pieces too. The best here is by Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf, who cleverly waves ambient patterns together with CD skippings. Not in an Oval-like manner, but as 'mistakes'. A fine piece. And the complete thing is a long trip in the darker underworld of sound. Some names are missing, like the complete UK scene, but it offers many new names instead. In terms of drone music a fine and steady release.
Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]
I, Mute Hummings EX OVO CD - Workmanlike Ambient compilation from a new label set up by Tobias Fischer and Mirko Uhlig, each of whom contributes a remix to the nine track collection. Mostly steering clear of New Age slop (though not always – step forward, ex-Tangerine flautist Steve Jolliffe), it's rewarding for the variety of approaches it showcases. There are some fine digital landscapes from Keith Berry, Dronæment and Paul Bradley (the latter an occasional member of Colin Potter & Darren Tate's Monos). There's also some pleasant, if somewhat underwhelming instrumental work from Belgian guitar/analogue effects exponent Dirk Serries (operating as Fear Falls Burning, a singularly inappropriate moniker for such pastoral sounding music), along with Jeffery Roden, who uses only bass guitar to produce his wide palette of lush, assessable sounds – just don't call him The Fish. At the other extreme, Berlin duo Column One's piece for massed scarped string glissandi makes for decidedly uneasy listening. Real fingernails down the blackboard stuff, but very well executed.
There's strong work, too, from Troum, who have been active in one form or another for almost 20 years now, and whose contribution evinces their deft and imaginative control over their resources. Based on organic but unidentifiable sounds, it achieves a plateau of mantra-like calm but never lapses into stasis. Finally, Moog pioneer Richard Lainhart contributes a remixed excerpt from his gorgeous 1974 drone piece "White Nights", which manages to suggest both Tony Conrad's violin overtone marathons and the tape loop section from "Close To The Edge". I know that's the second Yes reference in this interview, but it really does.
Wire [Keith Moline]
The label headed by Mirko Uhlig - aka Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf - presents a high-level "compilation of drone music & dulcet atmospheres" by nine lead players of the game, originally intended to be released on vinyl but now issued as a full-length CD with three late additions. It's one of the best gatherings of drone-manipulating artists that I've ever heard, and you know that my heart is not tender with this kind of stuff. Keith Berry opens the dances with "The crossing", instantly setting the quality bar quite high: a simple elaboration of haunting atmospheres and extensions of silence is beautifully complemented by memories of children at play by the water of a calm sea or a lake, delicious field recordings ending the piece with a virtual deep sigh of melancholy. Fear Falls Burning uses a two-chord loop - it almost sounds like a flamenco progression - as a basis for an intriguing superimposition of cyclical guitars in "Everything was wrong". Dronaement explores the fascinating features of vinyl noise and extraneous suggestions with "Evocation (Phonorecord III)", an intelligent minimal composition made with a few well conceived touches. One of the best offerings comes from Troum, whose "Thrausmata Enos Oneirou" is the longest track here, a mind-consuming alternative dream between catathony and REM, muffled reverberations and morphing melodies accompanying the altered voices of invisible souls. Jeffrey Roden mixes organic sounds and crumbling recollections in the evocative "The seeds of happiness", which lets us spiral into oblivion after a few minutes of bliss, then ends with - yes - humming frequencies. Paul Bradley has never brought something under average to the table and his "Aurorean", a fetching cloud of static synthetic matter, confirms the rule. Steve Jolliffe's flute is reworked by Uhlig with a "redundant minimal development mix" in "One more haggard drowned man", a "sub-aquatic vs Jethro Tull" segment that I would see more useful on the Mystery Sea label than here, although it's overall quite nice. While Column One's "Live recording #3" is a little more than an intellectual (?) exercise, a creaky repetition of piercing squealing noise that effectively contrasts the other compositions, "White nights" by Richard Lainhart is a static mini-masterpiece where harmonically gorgeous layers of long tones put the audience in resonance with the surroundings, leaving us unhappy when the piece - and the album - is over. It's the record's best, together with Berry, Troum and Roden. The first 100 copies of "I, mute hummings" contain the bonus compilation "Mute scribbles", a CD with with eight tracks by Mirko Uhlig, Monostabil, Feu Follet, Tholen, Emerge, Brian Uzna, Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf and Balog. It's a nice present - Uhlig and Aalfang tracks being a head and a half in front of all the rest as far as depth and compositional dexterity are concerned - but not on the same level of the main CD, which is the one to have at all costs.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
Das von Mirko Uhlig begründete Label Ex Ovo hat sich auf die Produktion von ambienter und experimenteller Drone-Musik spezialisiert - ungeachtet der Nähe zu Drone Records, die mit der Einbeziehung von deren Hausband Troum auch offen eingestanden wird. Was hebt diesen Ambient-Experimental-Sampler nun aus der hohen Zahl ähnlicher Alben der letzten Jahre heraus? "I, Mute Hummings" versucht einen Brückenschlag zwischen der Tradition dieser Klangkunst und aktuellen Versuchen, zwischen alten Moog-Sounds, Field Recordings und Computer-Kreationen.
Vom dunklen Klangteppich (Keith Berry, Troum) über experimentelle Collagen (Dronaement, Column One) bis hin zu bearbeiteten Gitarrenakkorden (Fear Falls Burning) oder Bassanschlägen (Jeffrey Roden) reicht das Spektrum. Mit Steve Joliffe ist zudem ein Pionier der elektronischen Szene dabei: Er musizierte auf "Cyclone" zusammen mit der deutschen Legende Tangerine Dream.
Die Erstauflage dieser liebevoll zusammengestellten CD im Aquarell-Artwork ist zudem mit einer CD-r ausgetattet, die jüngere Vertreter des Genres fördert (Aalfang mit Pferdekopf, Feu Follet u.a.).
Fazit: Eine schöne und fast schon entspannende CD, abwechslungsreich im gebotenen Rahmen, präsentiert mit Sinn und Respekt für die Geschichte der eelektronischen Musik und für Darkambientfans durchaus empfehlenswert. Hallende Choräle oder ähnliche apokalyptische Bezüge wird man hier jedoch vergebens suchen...
Ikonen Magazin [Christoph Donarski]
A fresh, new label co-founded by Tobias Fischer and Mirko Uhlig with the express intent of serving as a home for "drone music and dulcet atmospheres". Despite its difficult-to-parse title, this debut compilation features mostly soothing tracks by six of the most prominent names currently generating drone music, a veteran Moog pioneer, and the "world premiere" of a thirty-year-old recording by a former member of Tangerine Dream (okay, he only played on one of their albums, 1978's "Cyclone").
I, Mute Hummings opens with Keith Berry's magnificent, distant, and hollow-sounding "The Crossing", and then just keeps getting more magnificenter, with the odd bump in the road along the way.
By now, most fans of ambient music are aware of the fact that veteran ambienteer and experimentalist Dirk Serries has hung up his Vidna Obmana skates in order to concentrate full time on his latest project, Fear Falls Burning. This is possibly the most accesible track I have heard by him under that monicker, quiet, almost distractedly strummed guitar tastefully fed into the reverb machine. Almost an "around-the-campfire" moment.
Dronæment's contribution crackles and crawls ominously in the dirt, while Troum present a yeoman effort of dark isolationism, so dim as to almost not be there. Strumming returns with the Feu Follet (Fischer) remix of Jeffrey Roden's "The Seeds of Happiness", a lighter moment (though entirely based on bass) that evolves into something danker and more forbidding while less palpable and definable.
Paul Bradley's track is a close relative of Berry's, soft and gentle as a kid glove stroking your cheek while you drift off to sleep. "One More Haggard Drowned Man" is erstwhile Tangerine Steve Jolliffe's decades-old track, an incongruent effort featuring flute being dissolved into a zinc-bath of glitch in Uhlig's "Redundant Minimal Development" mix. A bit perplexing, a bit purposeless.
Column One's penultimate track is nothing for your present reviewer, being ear piercing of your ear drums rather than your lobes. Kind of unpleasnt. However, Richard Lainhart closes the proceedings on a high note by revisiting his own "White Nights" (1974) - originally a half-hour, "glistening" drone according to Fischer's own article about the composer <www.tokafi.com/newsitems/thesefirstdays/view>. It takes the listener heavenward and begs to be re-released separately, on its own disc, and at least twice as long as the original.
And if these seventy-seven minutes aren't enough, the first one hundred copies sold through mail order come with a separately-packaged bonus disc, "Mute Scribbles", a further seventy-two minutes on the same theme by artists including Uhlig and Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf (one and the same individual), Brian Uzna and Feu Follet . A bit sketchier, as the title makes clear - like excerpts of works-in-progress, but no less satisfying for that.
A double feast for the drone connoisseur.
sonomu [Stephen Fruitman]
A collection of drone music and dulcet atmospheres – such is the subtitle of this compilation cd of the young Ex Ovo Records. This is the sisterlabel to Einzeleinheit of Tobias Fischer and is led by him and Mirko Uhlig, the man behind Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf. The compilation has unknown artists to me such as Keith Berry and Jeffrey Roden, but also more known names in the world of drone ambient sounds such as Troum, Marcus Obst aka Dronaement or Fear Falls Burning, a side-project of Dirk from VidnaObmana. The latter name knows how to grab my attention with lovely soothing melancholic vintage guitar sounds in 'Everything Was Wrong'. Dronaement combines the sound of a softly crisping LP with nice sounds of which some resemble the sound of grasshoppers in a summer night in 'Phonorecord III". The Troum composition 'Thrausmata Enos Eneirou' is very beautiful, hypnotising and mysterious. Jeffrey Roden surprises with more uplifting sounds. A warm and soft effect also have the flutes in 'One More Haggard Drwoned Man' by Steve Jolliffe. This does not go for the scraping sounds of Column One in a live recording. Richard Lainhart sets it straight again with sounds that don't seem to come to an end in 'White Nights'. I, Mute Hummings is a quality compilation. Recommended to the lovers of drones or people who like to get familiar with the Ex Ovo label.
Dunkle, zähe Synthie-Schwaden ziehen auf. Schwer durchsichtig. Leicht neblig. Nach einigen Sekunden erkennt man ein Platschen im Wasser. Dazu leise Maschinengeräusche. Diese Sounds durchziehen den Opener "The Crossing" von Keith Berry. Gegen Ende wirkt das Wasser immer näher, die Töne werden klarer und wir hören sogar zarte Stimmen. Im Beitext beschreibt das Label Ex Ovo das Album "I, Mute Hummings" als "collection of drone music and dulcet atmospheres", vorgetragen durch unterschiedlichste Geräuschtüftler. Eine, wie ich finde, durchaus treffende Beschreibung.
Mal hören wir verzerrte Rundfunkansprachen, untermalt mit seltsamen Melodien (Dronæment – "Phonorecord III"), die zum Entspannen und Zurücklehnen anregen sollen. Doch bleibt ein unbehagliches Gefühl zurück. Die vermeintliche Ruhe scheint trügerisch. Zwar werden die Songs auf "I, Mute Hummings" nie besonders aggressiv (Ausnahme: Column One – "Live recording #3") oder melodiös und bleiben meist im dröhnenden Ambient-Bereich, doch brechen aus der maschinell-verstörenden "Schein-Ruhe" immer wieder verschiedenste Instrumente und Melodie-Fetzen aus. Ex-Tangerine-Dream-Mitglied und Synthesizer-Pionier Steve Jolliffe verwendet in seinem Song "One More Haggard Drowned Man" (im Ex-Ovo-Chef Mirko-Uhlig-Mix) beispielsweise einen orchestralen Beginn, bevor die Stille einsetzt, die schließlich den dröhnenden Flächen den Platz bereitet, damit an das Thema des Albums erinnert wird ("collection of drone music").
Die angesprochene Ausnahme bilden Column One, die dem Noise in vollen Zügen Freiraum gewähren. Pfeifende Maschinen, quietschende, ungeölte Scharniere, kochende Atmosphären – hier wird keine Rücksicht auf zarte Hörbedürfnisse genommen. Auf der anderen Seite hören wir meistens einen interessanten Mix. Hier bekommen wir Verkehrsgeräusche, durch welche sich verspielte Instrumente den Weg zu bahnen scheinen (Jeffrey Roden – "The Seeds Of Happiness"), zu hören. Dort kommen kräftige Orgeln zum Einsatz, die durch zartere Melodien unterbrochen werden (Paul Bradley – "Aurorean"), als würden die Post-Rocker von Mogwai auf Neo-Klassik treffen.
Dass moderne Ambient-Musik dabei nicht unbedingt nur elektronisch sein muss, zeigen uns Fear Falls Burning ("Everything Was Wrong"). Der Song ist mit einer Gitarre versetzt, die aus dem "Kill-Bill"-Soundtrack ausgebrochen zu sein scheint. Im Hintergrund rumoren verzerrte Gitarren, die die Hauptgitarre gekonnt einbetten. Auf "I, Mute Hummings" machen alle Künstler einen sehr guten Job und richten sich größtenteils nach dem Thema des Tonträgers. Das deutsche Projekt Troum macht dessen Sache allerdings besonders gut. Somit stellt "Thrausmata Enos Eneirou" den Höhepunkt dar. Für über 12 Minuten werden wabernden Sound-Dronen, flirrenden Maschinengeräuschen und verführerischen Chören, die wirken, als wären sie hinter einem tödlich prasselnden Wasserfall, die Bühne bereitet.
So gestaltet sich "I, Mute Hummings" zu einem echten Geheim-Tipp für Freunde gepflegter Ambient-Musik, sowie Noise-/Industrial-/ & Post-Rock-Anhänger.
Medienkonverter [Florian W.]
One has to have a lot of guts to start a new label in an era where illegal digitalisation and distribution of audio material is a daily internet activity of youngsters. But it has to be said that Mirko Uhlig (Aalfang mit Pferdkopf) and Tobias Fischer (Tokafi magazin) did the right thing when they decided to start the Ex Ovo label in the early days of 2006. Their main goal is to be occupied with sounds and emotions or maybe even better - as the subtitle of the first CD states so eloquently - to create "a collection of drone music and dulcet atmospheres".
Nine tracks in almost 80 minutes is the result of their first output "I, mute hummings". These are indeed atmospheres, like for example in "The Crossing" by Keith Berry, as well as loop-based drones (Dronaement's "Phonorecord III"). Other gorgeous tracks on this album are from Column One who present a soundscape with minimal metal-scrapings and sounds which are literally on the edge of creating feedback-loops. The masters of drones, Troum (counting amongst them the owner of Drone Records), are present with "Thrausmata Enos Eneirou" which creates a dreamy atmosphere for almost a quarter of an hour.
But this is not all there is, because there is more... So much more. Jeffrey Roden's "The Seeds Of Happyness" is a great piece solely made from sounds created with a bass guitar. Also, Steve Jolliffe, who has been a member of the legendary Tangerine Dream, plays flute which after recording was manipulated by label-owner Mirko Uhlig. The result received the name "One More Haggard Drowned Man (Redundant Minimal Development Mix By Mirko Uhlig)" and it must be said that even though it is not the easiest music to listen to, or to dream away to, the result is epic.
On the Ex Ovo website, Mirko and Tobias invite artists to send their demo to them with these words: "We don't care if you're well-known artists with hundreds of albums out or someone before his great debut - only music counts here". This statement is what this compilation CD depicts very well. Only music.
Connexion Bizarre [Bauke van der Wal]
Im Untertitel des vorliegenden Samplers heißt es "A Collection Of Drone Music And Dulcet Atmospheres", und eben das bietet "I, Mute Hummings" dann auch. Weit ausladende Soundscapes sind zu hören, die auf einem minimalen Instrumenteneinsatz basieren und sich von ihrer Geschwindigkeit her sehr langsam, fast stockend entwickeln, den Hörer aus dem hektischen Alltag herausreißen. In der Auseinandersetzung mit bzw. im Aufbau von Drone- und Ambient-Sounds zeigen sich die vertretenden Künstler (u.a. Keith Berry, Jeferey Roden, Paul Bradley oder Steve Jolliffe) durchaus unterschiedlich aufgestellt, doch im Erzeugen dezenter Klangwelten finden sie letztlich doch ihre Gemeinsamkeit. Es vibriert, dröhnt und schwingt und das weder laut noch offensiv aggressiv oder gar schnell. Die einzige Ausnahme diesbezüglich stellen Column One an vorletzter Position dar, die eine brachiale Noise-Kulisse zimmern. Die übrigen Acts, allen voran Troum, deren angekündigtes Release auf Viva Hate hoffentlich bald erscheinen wird, frönen intimen, zurückgenommenen Drone-Sounds, die allein von ihrer Intensität und Atmosphäre leben. Insofern trifft der Subtitel von "I, Mute Hummings" den Nagel auf den Kopf.
untertitel: "a collection of drone music and dulcet atmospheres". release #1 auf dem label des aalfang mit pferdekopf machers mirko uhlig und mit beiträgen von fear falls burning, dronament, troum und column one (um nur ein paar plakative namen zu nennen) auch gleich hochkarätig besetzt.
ursprünglich als vinyl geplant, aufgrund der menge der eingegangenen beiträge jedoch zur cd mutiert, bieten insgesamt 9 beiträge einen 2006 blick auf den obigen themenstand. und es fällt schwer, hier highlights zu nennen, gerade bei dem vorliegenden, da es mirko uhlig gelungen ist, einen qualitativ sehr homogenen sampler zu erstellen, ohne die bereiche gleichmacherei und langeweile auch nur zu berühren. das einzige, was zumindest mich stört ist die im vergleich zu den sonstigen beiträgen doch krass kontrastierende direktheit des ffb-titels "everything was wrong"; vielleicht wäre der an anderer stelle der cd besser aufgehoben gewesen. sehr schön dagegen übrigens der abschlusstrack "white nights" (remix) von richard lainhart.
für nur 2 euro mehr gibt es für die schnellen die "mute scribbels" als schön gestaltete cd(-r) dazu und im gegensatz zum hauptwerk, wo mirko uhlig "nur" als remixer des steve jolliffe-tracks in erscheinung tritt, bekommen wir dann auch ein stück von aalfang mit pferdekopf und eines von ihm unter seinem richtigen namen.
Unruhr [schöne grüße]
I, mute hummings has been released by the recently opened german label Ex ovo (january 2006), second release and first compilation they put out. It features 9 different artists in as many tracks over 1 hour and 16 minutes; the concept revolves around the diverse interpretations of ambient music the participants propose. The soundscapes are very clean and calm, gentle noises caress your eardrums, the music turns darker and ominous as time passes, as drones appear lightly at first then more and more clearly, only to return to a little more serene atmosphere in later tracks. A beautiful collection of drones.
Bleu : résultat
chat blanc records
111 copies with handmade cover
Joshua Convey, Stephen Fiehn and Steven Hess' sounds - appearing as "pt1/1 original w/mix" in the final track of this 3-inch CD, a hypnotic Tortoise-meet-Can interlacement featuring chugging non-rhythms spiced with jangling strings and moaning opacities - were reworked by Keith Berry in the remaining two tracks of the set. "Floating weeds (for Yasujiro Ozu)" starts with a few treated sources (apparently, rain and slowed down crickets but I'm not really sure: Keith is a master of the unlikely transformation) that immediately get embraced by a warm superlunar drone bringing us right back to the beginning of our atavic doubts. The best is yet to come, though: "The other shore" is a marvel of a piece, in the same vein of the recent "58º North" DVD's soundtrack released by Berry with Iain Stewart. The resignation to a still unknown fate is wrapped by an engrossing mantle of synthetic emanations moving in the low regions of the audio spectrum; upon this cloud of grief a barely perceptible, inherent embryonic melody characterizes this poignant combination, which I'd gladly enjoy for hours. "Bleu: résultat" comes in a limited edition of 111 copies; those who love the involved artists' work should not miss this microgem.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
For 'Bleu: Résultat' they work together with british drone meister Keith Berry. He has two tracks here, one being a pure solo piece, then he does his rework of Fessenden stuff, and then there is Fessenden playing their music, using Berry's previous work of the CDR. That is: if I understand all of this well. In Berry's two pieces field recordings and feedback seem to be the main protagonists to develop into a nice piece of dark drones, along the lines of Paul Bradley. The second one is more present and louder, but also more single minded developping around one sound. Strangely enough but of the Berry tracks have a similar length. The Fessenden piece is twice as long and here the Berry drones sink away in slowly strummed guitar and scraping percussion. Repeating elements give even the idea of a 'song', but I'm sure that is not the intention.
Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]
Pour sa nouvelle sortie, encore une fois proposée dans le format CD-R 3" avec un packaging en tissu cousu à la main, chat blanc records nous présente un disque partagé entre Keith Berry (habitué des labels expérimentaux : Trente Oiseaux, Crouton, etc…) et Fessenden (trio formé par Joshua Convey, Stephen Fiehn et Steven Hess).
Avec dix minutes pour chaque artiste ou formation, le partage est parfaitement égal et c'est Keith Berry qui débute avec une ambient assez traditionnelle : nappe plutôt chaleureuse, lointains bruits d'eau qui coule, notes éparses de guitare Floating Weeds For (Yasujiro Ozu). Le minimalisme est également de mise dans The Other Shore où une texture unique est présente, allant crescendo, jusqu'à frôler le larsen, avant de s'amenuiser.
Place ensuite au trio Fessenden qui, dans un schéma peu éloigné, intéresse davantage par l'utilisation, parcimonieuse mais judicieuse, qu'il est fait d'éléments électroniques aux consonances urbaines (entrechoquements, frottements), comme par l'intégration d'une batterie aux interventions d'arrière-plan (Pt1/1 Original W/Mix). Difficile de se prononcer avec un seul morceau, même de dix minutes, mais on ressort du disque en se disant qu'on explorerait bien la discographie de Fessenden et qu'on aimerait vraiment les voir sur scène.
etherREAL [François Bousquet]ss