Boomkat Product Review:
Erased Tapes rounds off its tenth anniversary celebrations with 1+1=X, a set of exclusive music from every artist on the label. Featuring never before heard tracks from Nils Frahm, Kiasmos and A Winged Victory For The Sullen, 1+1=X sees Erased Tapes artists come together to make an album as a collective.
“It was important to create something communal and reflective of our time, to capture something of value using traditional recording techniques, experimenting and reacting to each other in real time, sharing the same space,” says Raths. Between August 2016 and 2017, each artist arrived with a new composition or an improvisation to record at Vox-Ton. Run with much love and care by Italian engineer Francesco Donadello – who has worked on many Erased Tapes recordings before including A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Michael Price and Lubomyr Melnyk – it is one of the few studios left where it’s still possible to record fully analogue, isolated from the city noise and in a room that can fit a large ensemble. Reflective of the communal spirit, 1+1=X is the result of an ambitious undertaking; to create a singular record as a collective, not just a compilation of songs, that celebrates the benefits of community over individuality and improvisation over rigorous planning.
“As much as Erased Tapes probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the digital age, we should also remind ourselves of what we are capable of without it,” adds Raths. “1+1=X is a testament of what can be achieved when we work together as a collective, which is more than the sum of what we can achieve as individuals.” The majority of songs on this album feature contributions from multiple performers, whether it’s Nils Frahm duetting on the keys with Arthur Jeffes of Penguin Cafe, Kiasmos being joined by Högni and a string ensemble, Douglas Dare’s one-take ‘Darling’ featuring Rival Consoles on synths, Masayoshi Fujita on vibes and Raths himself controlling the tremolo on his voice. Peter Broderick’s ‘The Perpetual Glow’ meanwhile, brings in a full big band and choir where everyone present, including the studio staff, was invited to grab any instrument and join in. Every song has a unique story and approach – in-themoment decisions and little accidents that could only come out of these kinds of circumstances where people work together in the same space, sparking off each other and their environment. Even Rival Consoles’ remix of Daniel Brandt’s ‘Blackpool Sands Forever’ was conceived of in the studio kitchen during recording breaks.
Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit decided to bring a field recording of the ocean with her, which she had taken near the Fukushima power plant after participating in a memorial ceremony for the opening of the evacuation area. It is also no coincidence that the album opens with ‘Brutal Moderna’ by Qasim Naqvi (Dawn of Midi) and A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s ‘Long May It Sustain’, which were both recorded on the day the U.S. election results came in. “Qasim asked me to read the news headlines with a stutter over the top of his piece. It was an oddly beautiful experience which brought all of us together on a day when spirits were otherwise a bit low,” says Peter Broderick. “I thought this residency was a wonderful idea. In fact I would have loved to be there for more of it. I made some amazing new friends, some stronger bonds with old friends and some wonderful pieces of music that I’m honoured to be a part of. Robert has often described Erased Tapes as a family, and perhaps above all else this was just his earnest effort to bring the family together. I hope we’ll have some reunions in years to come!”