'Kompositionen 1950-1972' collects 16 compositions by Christian Wolff. Most of the pieces collected for this portrait of Christian Wolff document the composer’s early activity and were mainly recorded around the time of their composition. Each recording exemplifies the sound gestures from their time.
"Finally I realized that the kind of sound made in an indeterminate situation includes what could result in no other way; for example, the sound of a player making up his mind, or having to change it. In fact, the indeterminate notation I've used is, as far as I know, the only possible one for the kind of sound I should like. And don't forget, we also like to be surprised. ...and the rhythm produced by that situation is like no other rhythm."
Uncompromising minimalism from the Bristol underground courtesy of Emptyset and their long-awaited debut full-length.
The duo have been exploring brutally reduced techno styles over the course of three 12"s for Caravan and Future Days since 2007, aligning the bass heavy sound of their Bristol heritage with the streamlined and linear structures of Berlin's Sleeparchive or Marcel Dettmann. For their self titled release they've extended the concept to a full album, allowing themselves to move away from strictly dancefloor functions and experiment with merging drones and gruff tonal textures into their oblique rhythms.
At times there are hints of inspiration from Alva Noto, in the caustic digital textures, or even glimpses of isolated Deathprod bliss, but the closest comparison may be to Dubstep's noise mongers Cloaks, who also stoically mix noisy textures with repetitive beats inherited from the dancefloor. Very good indeed.
Edition RZ document the first 30 years of Berlin’s Inventionen festival in this cornucopia of contemporary electro-acoustic composition, including work by Iannis Xenakis, Trevor Wishart, Boguslaw Schaeffer, and Ricardo Mandolini, among many others.
Established by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and Berlin’s Technical University, the festival is focussed around presenting premieres of recently composed works alongside “classics” of the genre by Xenakis, Cage, Nono, Stockhausen, and the output of the GRM in Paris, with the subsequent aim of connecting a number of other institutions such as BEAST (Birmingham), CCRMA (Stanford), and EMS (Stockholm).
Marking the festival’s 30th year upon its release in 2012, the box set offers a massive, 17-part DVD rendering the first ever performance of Xenakis’ Bohor using Ina-GRM’s famed Acousmonium speaker array, beside a 75 minute Trevor Wishart suite entitled Encounters In The Republic of Heaven, and the video for Rolf Enström / Thomas Hellsing’s Fractal (1984), whilst the first CD includes the audio of the latter, plus highlights in Takehito Shimazu’s microscopically detailed Zytoplasma, and two Boguslaw Schaeffer pieces, including the remarkable Berlin 80 II, and the 3rd disc, a CD, is given to the diverse, percussive, noisy and poetic Elektroakustiche Musik of Argentina’s Ricardo Mandolini, which proves to be some of the most striking material in the set.
One of only two CDs to bear his name at the top, Edition RZ’s Michael Von Biel collection presents a hardcore haul from the nebulous 1960s avant garde, including one blinding, 13 minute piece of electronic composition commissioned from Von Biel by Karlheinz Stockhausen - his tutor at Darmstadt - which resulted in him repeatedly breaking the sliders on the desk during its creation! No messing, it’s worth it for that one alone - you won’t find it anywhere else! (just checked youtube and discogs) - but his patent taste for noisy dynamics and twist on convention elsewhere on the CD also make this a bit of a must, if you’re into that kind of thing.
“2004 release. Michael von Biel's musical production at the beginning of the 1960s was clearly marked by the expansion of the musical material. "Quartet No. 1" (1962) and even more, "Quartet No. 2" (1963) are noise compositions whose expressiveness rests essentially on the discovery of new sonic possibilities and performance techniques. Bowing with excessive pressure, playing behind the bridge, leading the bow in a diagonal direction, hitting the tip of the bow on the body of the instrument -- these are the techniques with which the sound of the strings enters into the realm of noise. Whereas in the first quartet, the areas of musical sound and instrumental noise are still largely set off against one another, in the second quartet, the concept of a music based solely on noise is realized without compromise. Both of the compositions Quartet with Accompaniment for string quartet and cello (1965) and "Jagdstück" ("Hunting Piece") for 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 2 horns, 2 tenor tubas, contrabass, tape, e-guitars and electronically amplified barbecue grills (1966) are based on the contrast of divergent sound worlds. Before attending the composition courses of Karlheinz Stockhausen in Darmstadt for three years in a row starting in 1961, von Biel studied one year with Morton Feldman in New York where he met David Tudor and John Cage. Earlier than for most European composers, approaches in aesthetic thinking which couldn't have been more different from one another collided in his consciousness, and this occurred at a point in time when their music-historical consequence could not yet be foreseen.”
RVNG Intl parse Pauline Anna Strom’s incredible new age recordings on this collection of boundary-smudging synth journeys, containing material originally released between 1982 and 1988. They've spent almost a decade trying to bring this collection to life, kudos to them once again for compiling and conceiving it with so much care and attention to detail.
Drawn from seven obscure tape and vinyl releases made between 1982 and 1988, Trans-Millenia Music lives up to its mantle with a sense of ancient knowledge transposed into the contemporary future of the 1980s, realising a latent, transcendent sound that was perhaps just waiting for technology to catch up so it could speak freely.
Through the circuitry of pioneering synth tools, the blind composer and keyboardist from San Francisco feels out a spectrum of unfathomably celestial and synaesthetically-heightened sound colour along myriad, psychedelic vectors, haptically connecting diffuse spatial coordinates with a gossamer web of FX and morphing filter envelopes.
It’s music for oceanic introspection, beckoning listeners to fall deep inside themselves and diffract profound visions through their own lens, where you can interpret her descriptions of sonic flight in Crusing Altitude 36,000 Feet and In Flight Suspension, or decode the entheogenic synth voices of Mushroom Trip according to your own understanding of the cosmos and its play of energies, and draw your own meanings.
Gorgeous music, highly recommended if you're into Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Speigel or indeed Midori Takada.
South London soundman Parris stacks up four signature cuts of low key, crackly, sub-heavy vibes on his subtly probing debut with The Trilogy Tapes after really coming into his own over the past few years via 12”s for Ancient Monarchy, Idle Hands, and Hemlock, plus the ace TX280916 / TX111116 mix for Keysound.
The 2 Vultures EP catches Parris at his idiosyncratic best, hustling an early hours-of-the-dance feel that works beautifully well at setting mutable, plasmic pressure for heavier things to come, or just as well for eazing off in the comfort of your own space.
EP opener Lionel’s Dub is one the most orthodox, classically-rooted dubs we’ve heard from the guy, something like a dusty echo of Adrian Sherwood at his most red-eyed, whereas Hot-Blooded gets down to some Farben-esque micro-house with added steppers bass pressure. 2 Vultures then follows a masseur path into melting, brittle dub architecture, leavened by genteel jazz touches, and Hanging With The Birds can’t fail to leave you beaming its feathered confection of bird calls, bobbling bass and Mario power ups.
An absolute classic of the genre, this 2005 debut album from the Norwegian duo of Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland is a miraculous, hugely evocative blend and smoke-filled ambience and modern classical inversions that has more or less defined its own sub-genre in the decade since it was released. If you're into William Basinski, Lynch/Badalamenti, Eno or Harold Budd, this is as essential as it gets.
Over layers of fizzing aural sediment, Deaf Center build the kind of vista-expanding, piano tinged music that has you thinking you're in your own film. Manifesting itself in the stravaig and epic iciness of 'Thread', or the etiolated Nyman piano of 'White Lake', Deaf Center have a seemingly bottomless supply of pathos on which to draw.
For this new 2016 vinyl edition, Skodvin & Totland rappel deeper into the Pale Ravine to unearth a previously unreleased side D on occasion of the album’s 11th anniversary edition. All five pieces were made during the same 2003-2005 era as the rest of the album, yet didn’t make it onto the single, original LP edition. Now rejoined with their noumenal siblings, and, like the rest of the LP, they have more room to breathe and haunt, especially in the abyssal allure of Social Lucy Waltz, or the diaphanous, chiaroscuro pall of End Station at the album’s new final destination.
Just incredible music.
Excellent album of plasmic ambient dub pop, neatly balanced between weightless yearn and meatier industrial leanings, perhaps best grasped as some dream meeting between Suzanne Ciani, Teresa Winter and CoH?
“Air Lows is the debut solo album by Silvia Kastel. The Italian artist has been a fixture of the underground since her precocious teens, clocking up many miles in Control Unit with Ninni Morgia (“It’s like Catherine Deneuve dumped two cases of post-Repulsion psychiatric notes over Pere Ubu’s Dub Housing, lit the fuse and, ahem, stood well back" – Julian Cope), including collaborations with the likes of Smegma, Factrix, Gary Smith, Aki Onda and Gate (Michael Morley of The Dead C).
Both solo and in her work with others, Kastel has explored the outer limits and inner workings of no wave, industrial, dub, extreme electronics, free rock and improvisation. Air Lows is both her fullest and most refined offering to date, a work of vivid, isolationist electronics which draws deeply on her past experience but assuredly breaks new ground. Prompted by a late-flowering interest in techno and club music, Kastel sought to create something which combines a steady rhythmic pulse with the otherworldly sonorities of musique concrete, and avant-garde synth sounds inspired by Japanese minimalism and techno-pop (Haruomi Hosono’s Philharmony being a particular favourite).
The formal artifice of muzak / elevator music, the intros and outros of generic popular songs, the extreme light-heavy contrasts of jungle, the creative sampling of hardcore, and the very “human” synths in the jazz of Herbie Hancock’s Sextant and Sun Ra: all were touchstones for Air Lows’ conception and composition, and all strains of music addressing - or complicating - the relationship between the human and the technological.
By extension, visual inspirations also proved important: anime, and the avant-garde fashion of Rei Kawakubo. What does that shirt or dress sound like? Though used sparingly, Kastel’s voice remains her key instrument, whether subject to dissociative digital manipulations as on ‘Bruell’, delivering matter-of-fact spoken monologues, or providing splashes of pure tonal colour.
Recorded between her expansive Italy studio and a more compact, ersatz set-up in Berlin, Air Lows gradually takes on some of the character of the German capital: you can hear the wide streets and uninhabited spaces, the seepage of never-ending nightlife, the loneliness.
Air Lows is The Wizard of Oz in reverse: the glorious technicolour J-pop deconstructions of its first half leading inexorably to the icy noir of ‘Spiderwebs’ and ‘Concrete Void’. These later tracks are reminiscent of 2015’s magnificent 39 12”, Kastel in the role of numbed, nihilistic chanteuse stalking dank, murky tunnels of reverb and sub-bass. But in fact there is contradiction and emotional ambiguity to Air Lows from the outset, and throughout - a sense of both infinite space and acute claustrophobia; energy and inertia; fluency and restraint.”
Oliver Ho aka Broken English Club is the latest consort to Jealous God, the beautifully curated label administered by James Ruskin, Juan Mendez and Karl O'Connor.
Miles away from Ho's best known output as Raudive and under his own name, his 'Jealous God 04' dices with depressive and awkward post-punk, new wave and industrial memes over five icy cuts laced with speed-tweak noise and his own, blunted vocals. From the primordial no wave dub beginnings of 'A Square Shaped Room' the session takes shape with the drugged, sluggish electro-wave ace 'Boxes' and the dry, rasping delivery of knowing vocals and dissonant drones in 'Birth Control'. B-side, 'Casual Sex' is the record's most obvious dancefloor tune, mustering a muggy but lucid chug hypnotised with adder-charming whistle and Genesis-aping vocal beside the suffocating, skin-crawling atmosphere and malformed wriggle of 'Plastic Bag'. Best Jealous God yet? It's a toss up with the Powell remix…
Vol.II of Edition RZ’s documentation for the Inventionen Festival which ran between 1982-2010. Following Vol. I, Horatio Radelescu’s String Quartet No.4, this volume collects nine pieces by Hildegard Westerkamp, Salvatore Sciarrino, John Cage, Sainkho Namtchylak, Joe Jones, Giacinto Scelsi, Masanori Fujita, John Driscoll.
Hildegard Westerkampf opens with a ten minute electro-acoustic study based on the sentence from Indian mystic Kirpal Sing, When there is no sound, hearing is alert, which she feathers out ionto Whisper Study (1975-79) from the festival’s 1986 edition. Salvatore Sciarrino’s Sciarrino: Codex Purpureus (1963-83) For String Trio follows in tense, quiet fashion from the 1994 festival.
John Cage’s super sparse Cage: Music For Piano 55-63 (1956) from the 1992 festival is an exercise in purposelessness, following structureless notation - “Nosies were crotchets without stems”. Sainkho Namtchylak’s haunting overtone singing and gong work in, Namatchylak: Roots And Vibrations (1994) comes next, from the 1994 edition of the festival.
Joe Jones Solar Orchestra (1982/90), is a binaural recording of the titular, solar and wind powered installation at work at the TU Berlin, 1990. John Cage’s Music For Piano 78-84 (1956), a piece dictated by the I-Ching, is performed by Herbert Henck and recorded at the 1992 festival.
Giacinto Scelsi’s Scelsi: From 20 Canti Del Capricorno (1962-72) (No. 1, No. 4) For Voice (And Additional Instruments) is written for and performed by japanese vocalist Michio Kirayama, including some remarkable extended technique trills and microtonal singing, recorded at the 1992 festival.
A strong highlight of the set is Fujita: From Jü-Jü-Shin (1986) For 15 Buddhist Monks, a complex 23 minute piece written 1200 years ago for the Shingon-Buddhist sect and recorded at the festival’s 1986 edition. John O’Driscoll’s kinetic sculptural sound installation A Hall Is All completes this volume.
Edition RZ present Hermann Scherchen’s “realization” of J.S. Bach’s late period chamber work, Musikalisches Opfer or Musical Offering, which was completed by Bach in 1747 and is here recorded under Scherchen’s direction in Berlin, 1949, some years after he returned to city, and before he quit the Berlin Broadcasting radio station due to rival cold war sides jamming their signals.
Apparently comparable to the famous Goldberg Variations and the Art of the Fugue compositions (which is lucky, ‘cos they’re the only Bach bits these ears are ((sorta)) familiar with), Musikalisches Opfer was written in dedication to Prussian King Frederik the Great, and also includes a fugue theme penned by the King, which Bach treated “according to all the rules of counterpart”.
Scherchen’s “realisation” - so called as the studied master of Bach’s compositions (some 20% of his recordings were Bach compositions) preferred the term over “interpretation”, which implied, for him, a reliance on emotional reading - is a studiously technical representation of the original work arranged for instruments that were available in Bach’s day: 2 violins, viola, violoncello, flute, oboe, English horn, (oboe d’amore ad lib.), bassoon and harpsichord.
The results are, or course, utterly timeless. Would sound great mixed with some Bassline or Monta Musica, though.
On his 7th studio LP, Nils Frahm shows off the results of recording in his new, bespoke studio, based in the legendary Funkhaus on the bank of the Spree in East Berlin. Frahm’s signature, melancholic solo piano works share space with runs into 4th World soundscaping, illusive rhythms played on organs-as-drum machines, and gingerly crafted posh tech house minimalism.
“Since the day Nils first encountered the impressive studio of a family friend, he had envisioned to create one of his own at such a large scale. Fast forward to the present day and Nils is now the proud host of Saal 3, part of the historical 1950s East German Funkhaus building beside the River Spree. It is here where he has spent most of his time deconstructing and reconstructing the entire space from the cabling and electricity to the woodwork, before moving on to the finer elements; building a pipe organ and creating a mixing desk all from scratch with the help of his friends. This is somewhere music can be nurtured and not neglected, and where he can somewhat fulfil his pursuit of presenting music to the world as close to his imagination as possible.
His previous albums have often been accompanied with a story, such as Felt (2011) where he placed felt upon the hammers of the piano out of courtesy to his neighbours when recording late at night in his old bedroom studio, and the following album Screws (2012) when injuring his thumb forced him to play with only nine fingers. His new album is born out of the freedom that his new environment provided, allowing Nils to explore without any restrictions and to keep it All about the Melody.
Despite being confined within the majestic four walls of the Funkhaus, buried deep in its reverb chambers, or in an old dry well in Mallorca, All Melody is, in fact, proof that music is limitless, timeless, and reflects that of Nils’ own capabilities. From a boy’s dream to resetting the parameters of music itself.
Words from Nils, October 2017:
“In the process of completion, any album not only reveals what it has become but, maybe more importantly, what it hasn’t become. All Melody was imagined to be so many things over time and it has been a whole lot, but never exactly what I planned it to be. I wanted to hear beautiful drums, drums I’ve never seen or heard before, accompanied by human voices, girls, and boys. They would sing a song from this very world and it would sound like it was from a different space. I heard a synthesiser which sounds like a harmonium playing the All Melody, melting together with a line of a harmonium sounding like a synthesiser. My pipe organ would turn into a drum machine, while my drum machine would sound like an orchestra of breathy flutes. I would turn my piano into my very voice, and any voice into a ringing string. The music I hear inside me will never end up on a record, as it seems I can only play it for myself. This record includes what I think sticks out and describes my recent musical discoveries in the best possible way I could imagine.”
Brusque, Ballardian EBM techno and industrial clangers from Oliver Ho in his Broken English Club style.
The A-side’s Accidents & Romance clamps down with rottie-toothed 16th note synth snarls and back-breaking kicks whilst the owner chats like a man possessed, somewhere above the escalating madness.
B-side, Country Life bucks up some recoiling and lustrous EBM funk that burns on contact, backed with a descent into crushing industrial torpor with Private Death.
Banlieu bossman Benoit B offers a string of pearly, Far Eastern-facing vignettes on Berceuse Heroique in Japonaiserie, so titled in tribute to the term Vincent Van Gogh used to express the influence of Japanese art.
With a similar lightness of touch and colour applied in delicate strokes, Benoit B’s music lives up to the title in eight parts of almost weightless tonal structure and skittish rhythm, embellishing and adding to a long-standing sino-euro route of influence which is arguably at the crest of a wave right now with the swell of reissued electronic delicacies from ‘80s Japan.
RIYL Visible Cloaks, KWC, Japan Blues
Zov Zov is the alias for Oliver Ho’s most phantasmagoric, esoteric, invocational sounds and vibes. Since his Ruin Lust 10” for Shifted’s Mira label in 2013, the Zov Zov alias has run concurrent to Ho’s usual techno output and other action as Broken English Club, while this LP also introduces his Desert Burials alter ego on a bonus 7”.
In Fata Morgana he pushes off into the depths of his imagination with a free-roaming style that vacillates gamelan clangour on Casting with more bass-driven, sloshy swag ’n drone in From The Ashes, plus Cut Hands-esque percussive terror on Burning, and a wicked slice of Muslimguaze-style drums and ‘tronics nodding to middle eastern traditions in The Sands.
On the 7” he introduces Desert Burials with the serpentine post-punk dub Cages, and a starker percussive ritual called Clonk reminding of Bourbonese Qualk. We’re not too sure why he’s separated the projects like this, they sound so similar, but whatever, fans of Demdike Stare, Shackleton, Cut Hands will get a good kick outta this package.
An absolute winner from the SKRS INTL camp for Ancient Monarchy, the Paradise Magic Traxx Mobile Sound & Lighting EP arrives in the wake of their RunComeTest EP with a wicked, red-eyed smudge of digi-dub dancehall on a Lovers Rock and R&B slant.
Coagulating some 30 years of sound system styles from the Island in a seamless flow of sawn-off samples and plasmic FX on sloshing subs, the enigmatic Filipino/Canadian project gives up some of the most stickily seductive gear in their decade long catalogue.
Perhaps tricky for the DJs, but great for home listening and parties, the EP is sequenced in untrammelled transitions between its eight parts, but you probably wouldn’t even realise without looking at the track list online. Of course, DJs can use their ears and eyes to pick parts out, but it’s best consumed as a whole, preferably with a 21 minute long zoot and good company.
Belfast’s S>>D kicks it for the old skool Skam heads with a heavy batch of technoid hip hop beats landing square between Made’s Untitled album, VHS Head, and classic Gescom. Listen out for highlights in the mission sequence Devil’s Tower, the Dopplereffekt-meets-Black Zone Myth Chant arpeggios of Silver Shamrock Intermission, and stealth mode electro of Cell Intruder.
“S>>D aka Sean Dorris from Belfast delivers his debut album 'Co Intel Pro' on CPU. Refined sampling alongside hip hop influenced breaks sees S>>D operating in a similar dimension to VHS Head. Reminiscent of 1980s sci-fi soundtracks interwoven with IDM-tinged electro, haunting atmospheres prevail throughout with hints of a genre that has yet to emerge.”