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.”
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.”
Grade A, live improvised guitar and drum roil from the inimitable Bhutanese string picker Tashi Dorji and superb, free-limbed percussionist Tyler Damon. It can be such a fine line between embarrassing onanism and anticipation-baiting, edge of seat improv, but luckily this pair fall squarely in the latter category. Feral, biting, wickedly unpredictable stuff on Loren Connors’ label.
"When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself." - Shunryu Suzuki
As live albums go, Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon nail it down. No matter the crowd -- head thrashers, Instagram zombies, shaken jazzniks -- the shadow lines of feedback and bombastic percussive bombs are always at peak intensity. Through telepathic engagement the Bhutanese-born guitarist Dorji and Midwestern drummer Damon act with one-mind destruction as Leave No Trace: Live In St. Louis perfectly captures. It’s a pure sound for these disruptive, politically tumultuous times. Or Marc Masters describes it as -- a power lurching at you “in ways that feel dangerously uncontrolled, like someone playing with a plugged-in toaster over a filled-up bathtub.”
Mackem pop-funk marmite with added flute, piccolo and flugelhorn. Sounds a bit like it was based on a Vic Reeves sketch about Steely Dan
"The two years since Commontime have been strange and turbulent. If you thought the world made some kind of sense, you may have questioned yourself a few times in the past two years. And that questioning, that erosion of faith - in people, in institutions, in shared experience - runs through every song on the new Field Music album.
But there's no gloom here. For Peter and David Brewis, playing together in their small riverside studio has been a joyful exorcism. Open Here is the last in a run of five albums made at the studio, an unprepossessing unit on a light industrial estate in Sunderland. Whilst the brothers weren't quite tracking while the wrecking balls came, the eviction notice received in early 2017 gave the brothers a sense of urgency in the recording of Open Here.
There probably won't be many other rock records this year, or any year, which feature quite so much flute and flugelhorn (alongside the saxophones, string quartet and junk box percussion). But somehow or other, it comes together. Over thirteen years and six albums, Field Music have managed to carve a niche where all of these sounds can find a place; a place where pop music can be as voracious as it wants to be.”
Trevor Jackson unfolds the crankiest corner of his head with Skull’s Black Static; returning to his legendary moniker last used for the SNAPZ slab of funereal trip hop knocks on his Output label, and previously appeared on Mo’Wax’s Headz sets.
This lot is much farther out than we remember the original Skull soundz, firstly finding his range with 16 minutes of starkly abstract but hypnotic Black Static permutations, then locking into darkroom mode with the revving Burundi Black churn of Camazotz, then like DJ Screw in the neck-snap Toxicity, and like a rogue Powell cut that bolted when the gates were open circa 2013 with the cantering beast, Rent Yourself.
If you ragged Industrial, hip hop, and post-punk in your nan’s rusty meat grinder, it would come out a bit like this gear. Put it on toast and chow down.
One of Berceuse Heroique’s most reliable troopers plays into a deeper vein of bass-driven techno-house for the stalwart underground label after deposits made with Hemlock, Peder Mannerfelt Productions, Clone Basement and Livity Sound in just the last 12 months alone.
In Hodge’s now signature style of gritty groove control, he tees off with the furtive bleep techno rolige of Beneath Two Moons, reinforced 1990-style bleeps with muscular bass until a steaming siren/train sound shifts it up a gear to hypnotic drones and flying hi-hats ready for the Dj to mix out.
On the other hand, There Is A Storm Coming In lives up to its title with a tense, brooding display of industrial EBM influences, and Don’t Hold Your Breath tucks the vibe somewhere to the left of Levon Vincent and the right of Call Super with raw but classy strings and heaving subbass, before the beatless All Is Not Lost fades to close.
The kinetic chromatic techno chronics of Karen Gwyer’s Rembo album come under remix fire from Via App, Ron Morelli, E Myers and M//R for DBA.
Via App pursues Karen’s The Workers Are On Strike along twisted vectors similar to her BANK Records NYC and 1080p releases with wickedly discombobulated results. L.I.E.S. C.E.O. Ron Morelli runs He’s Been Teaching Me To Drive down a long techno tunnel.
E Myers does his retro-vintage Chicago house thing with a touch of jazzy class on his take of It’s Not Worth The Bother, and M//R reworks Why Does Your Father Look So Nervous as a deep, sidewinding sort of electro-techno meditation.
Super colourful and richly patterned pop music from Morr Music's earliest operative B. Fleischmann, working healthy inspiration from classic Afrobeat, highlife and modern Afro-pop into his joyfully optimistic and evergreen style of pop songwriting
“B. Fleischmann, the longest-tenured solo artist on Morr Music, returns with indie-spirited, electronica-enhanced moments of bliss on his new album Stop Making Fans. Recorded with a little help from friends including vocalist Gloria Amesbauer, Markus Schneider (guitars), and Valentin Duit (drums), it's a two-part reflection on artistic self-reliance vs. fame-seeking conformism, another deeply personal, utterly idiosyncratic album by the indie-tronic trailblazer.
"Stop it and just DO", Sol LeWitt once wrote to sculptor Eva Hesse -- and listening to B. Fleischmann's new album, he indeed does both: He slams on the brakes and stops looking at what anyone else is doing, stops pleasing, stops being restrained, and at the same time he floors the accelerator and delivers the kind of high-paced work that bursts at the seams with polyphonic energy and an urgency unique to his music.
Arriving with interlocked bleeps, the hustle and bustle of an invisible grand station's atrium ("Here Comes The A Train"), Fleischmann's trademark vocals serve as a gentle reminder to resist the siren calls, to not trust the latest hype. Energy levels remain high throughout the first part of the album -- whether it's the mumbling, personal stocktaking of what feels like an underwater hymn ("There Is A Head"), the robotic, immodest pop tune "It's Not Enough" (featuring Gloria Amesbauer) or the return to light-speed mode on "Wakey Wakey" -- the first half of this album is indeed all about letting off some steam.
After the collected canter of seven-minute instrumental "Hand In", the multi-instrumentalist and his studio mates kick off the slower-paced part two with the title song: it's a sonic tapestry that's impossible to compare or pigeonhole when he changes the rhythm in mid-track and turns yet another corner when you thought there was a fixed pattern. Guest singer Gloria Amesbauer returns for soothing tunes "The Pros Of Your Children" and "Hello Hello". B. Fleischmann guides us to his almost jazz-tinged "Little Toy", and leaves behind an "Endless Stunner" -- another typically dense and shape-shifting stream of harmonies.
Stop Making Fans, Fleischmann's his first full-length release in five years, is another totally unique, and thus potentially fan-base enhancing release.”
From the label that brought you S U R V I V E, comes the sensual debut album of romantic synth themes and pulsing proto-techno abstraction from Future Museums. Check it for the two rhythm driven highlights in his Gas or The Field-like ‘Natural Pulse’, and the slow strokes of ‘Hang Low, Moon’, and the sublime new age title sequence styles of ‘Rebirth of Empathy’
“Austin based experimental artist Future Museums makes a blissful Holodeck Records debut with Rosewater Ceremony. Future Museums is the long running project of multi-instrumentalist Neil Lord (member of Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Single Lash), and on this album he expands the scope of his classically hypnotic motifs using warm and familiar New Age tones. Lord’s delicate touch on guitar, synth and drum machine is deeply immersive and satisfying, voicing an authentic aura of truth and identity through sound. Emerging from the studio like an extension of Lord’s thought, Rosewater Ceremony is an omni-conscious and re-centered portrait of Future Museums.
Since 2012, Lord has recorded a prolific catalog of titles under the Future Museums moniker. Much of his work has been in collaboration with a rotating ensemble of various musicians, however Rosewater Ceremony is one of Lord’s many solo endeavors. Future Museums traditionally integrates select themes from vintage kosmische and ambient post-rock to embody a rich and natural essence that is wholly unique. Pulsing analog synth bass and percussion drive the rhythm of Rosewater Ceremony, creating a foundation for Lord’s vaporous pad swells and elegant guitar leads to breathe in and out organically. His attention to mood encourages the relinquishment of the self and relaxes the listener into a tension-free audio cleansing.
Songs like “Natural Pulse” and “Rebirth of Empathy” are isolated islands, sheltered from the unrelenting commotion of the outside world. Lord’s vast and weightless sound design seeks to nurture internal peace and clarity. The song “Low Visibility Clearing” dissolves the mind’s artificial barriers and seamlessly blends the music into one’s own inner dialogue. The graceful compositions on Rosewater Ceremony are precisely crafted to provide seclusion for the landscape within and profound enrichment for the soul.
Carefully balancing minimalism and beauty, Future Museums creates an inspiring sphere of meditative harmony for his Holodeck Records debut.”
Dan Abrams' Shuttle 358 is responsible for one of our favourite electronic albums of the early 21st century - 2000’s ‘Frame' - a masterpiece of Ambient music that recalls everything from Brian Eno to SND. Not the most prolific of artists, Abrams’ has only had a handful of releases credited to Shuttle 358 in the intervening years, so it’s a treat to see him back with a new full length for Taylor Deupree’s 12k.
Effectively a comfort blanket of chords and gossamer timbres held together with fizzing filaments, Field extends Abrams' beautiful signatures into more diverse terrain, working with ostensibly redundant sonic data - the sound of CPU’s booting up, dying, coughing - and the inherent grain and colour of early DSP algorithms - to creates vivid, living and breathing imaginary spaces.
These unpredictable digital behaviours suggest a ghost in the machine, a rarified personal spirit that perfuses the arrangements with an emotive mutability, diffused thru their midnight, jazz-wise hazy maze of fractured rhythms in a way that resonates deftly with his earliest gestures.
In a sense, Abrams is like a digital candle flickering at the core of Shuttle 358, quietly catalysing the atmosphere in myriad, microscopic chain reactions that shift across the ears, emulating imaginary space and teasing our 6th sense of perception with uncanny, but never invasive incision.
If you’re into SND, Jan Jelinek, or The Remote Viewer - this one's well worth checking out.
Moody fusion of neo-classical, folk and jazz gestures alloyed with grungy, rolling techno, in Stroboscopic Artefacts designer style. Sounds a bit like watching an historic documentary while a rave booms in the next room
“The Tel-Aviv centered Yotam Avni officially joined forces with Stroboscopic Artefacts last year, turning in a sensual an invigorating entry for the Monad series. Thanks to his personalized fusion of esoteric and worldly sound elements, Avni immediately made a case to deliver more work to the label, and now he has done so with 'Perlude to Dybbuk,' the second in a new series of S.A. releases to feature the Oblique Artefacts visual team's distinct, elegant portrayals of scanned foliage.
As with Avni's previous Monad contribution, the new Perlude to Dybbuk makes references - both in title and in sonic content - to the ancient Hebrew folklore of his homeland (a 'dybbuk' being a kind of limbonic spirit attaching itself to the body of a living human until it has successfully reached its final destination). However, the atmospheric, rather than overt, use of these references gives this record a level of dignity and quality as well as a premonitory feeling that hovers over the proceedings.”
American painter and musician Tor Lundvall crosses paths with Dais Records again, yielding the gauzy ambient pop anaesthetic Quiet Rooms as prelude to his next album, A Dark Place.
Quiet Rooms reminds us of tonnes of stuff from Signer to Deepchord’s Coldest Season and Closer Musik - basically really lovely ambient electronica with poised, etheric vocals. Here’s to hoping the album is just as sweet.
The chance to see Masahiko Satoh with The Akira Sakata Trio (with Chris Corsano and Darin Gray) was truly the most lightning fast processing of information I have had the honor to witness in years. NUTS. — Jim O’Rourke
"Proton Pump is a milestone achievement in the winding career of alto saxophonist, gibberish shrieker and jazz legend Akira Sakata. It’s a lightning-fast, real-time cut-up of melody and bare-knuckle action that swings between the avant-garde and hardcore be-bop. Sakata is backed by his famed rhythm crew Chikamorachi -- drummer Chris Corsano and acoustic bassist Darin Gray -- and joined by composer and pianist Masahiko Satoh.
Sakata and Satoh emerged out of the late-1960s Tokyo jazz scene -- Satoh already releasing albums and Sakata soon joining the famed The Yamashita Trio -- and while they’ve since become uncompromising pillars of free music and vision this marks their first proper album together.
On Proton Pump’s four pieces, Sakata is absolutely on top form on alto saxophone and clarinet -- blowing bold melodies with unstoppable momentum and also injecting deep textural fields with his startling vocalizations. Satoh’s piano is hyperbolic throughout as he splatters counterpoints and brilliant tones at dizzying speed.
Recorded before a jaw-dropped audience at Pit Inn, Tokyo in October 2015.”
Berceuse Heroique rifle Black Merlin’s Archives for some proper techno ammunition on his follow-up to the superb Proto World 12”.
There’s spacehead fuel inside, taking flight with tense arpeggios in Agro, then locking into gear with the powerful techno traction of Shock and the set-jaw cosmic drive of 12515 to complete the 1st plate.
On the 2nd disc, he eazes off the gas to go into cruise control on an ‘80s FM synth mission called The Alpaca Pet Boys, recalling a mix of La Rolls’ Sure Is meets the intro of Jamal Moss’ FGTH edit, then comes into sight of lush parallel rave dimensions with the purring mid-tempo élan and cosmic yawn pads of Laz.