9.12.09

Label Highlight: San Francisco's isounderscore

Home to many modestly run outsider organizations bringing us only the best in far-out sounds, San Fran has ever steadily grown into it's musical guru-ness since those early counter-cultural tape days in the 60's. Since then, a vast array of distros, labels, bands, venues, organizations, record stores, and yes, even agencies, have manifested in the light of like-minded creative bodies; thus transforming San Fran into the musically cultured epicenter that it is today.

As of yet-another fairly recent discovery, I can now add the bay area's isounderscore label to the ever growing list of this city's virtuous sonic achievements. Since the label's early beginnings in 2003, isounderscore's Brandon Nickell has been quietly using the label as an outlet for his own atmospheres, releasing a handful of albums under the guise Aemae, including his 05' opus The Helical Word. The last two years have seen the label expanding it's horizons, releasing albums by artist's like Maleficia, Arastoo, the Persian avant-garde electronic composer Ata Ebtekar, Scrapyard fave Aaron Davis aka Acre, and tonal tape manipulators Dimmer, to name a few. The start of the new decade looks to be a promising one for the label with a string of releases in the pipeline, including a highly anticipated LP (for me at least) by Oakland based Rale. Promising indeed.

_______________________________________________________

Dimmer
Remissions 2lp
2009 iso_08

The two responsible for this lovely double lp offering are Thomas Dimuzio and Joseph Hammer, two prominent figures in the robust community of Californian improv and experimentalism. Of the two, I'm more familiar with Dimuzio's work, his Sonicism 2xcd release and last year's Upcoming Events, a collab with Dan Burke released on No Fun, are both fantastic efforts. On Remissions, Dimuzio and Hammer blend their skills flawlessly, Hammer handling the analog tape manipulations while Dimuzio utilizes feedback, loops and archaic processing. The outcome is a dimensional rift, a bending of time through the trans-formative arrangement of sonic minutiae. Looped hushed drone fragments are sped up and slowed down and at times they are completely taken apart and stacked atop a dissolving bed of multi-coloured noise. The four side long tracks on Remissions are actually a collection of live concert takes between 2006 and 2007 in California, a solidified conformation of the adeptness of these two musicians. One of 2009's best records.




Aemae
The Helical Word
Cd, 2005 iso_02

This was the first proper full length from isounderscore main man Brandon Nickell, an album that has so many subtle yet immensely intricate crevasses it's no wonder that it took over two years to materialize. But Materialize it did, through the use of self-written software, Nickell's digital format manipulations and synthesis techniques yield a vast dark ambient nether world, playing out like the soundtrack to one of Dante's stages of Hell. At times the compositions venture into a bubbly, yet still very ominous musique concrete, bridging on a deranged static-cloaked techno. Though The Helical Word ventures into many back alleys of avant experimentation, it's constant sense of mortality keeps it grounded, like a small black cloud that follows you wherever you go, telling you that any attempt of escape is futile. Lots to get lost in in The Helical Word.



Acre
Isolationist
Cd, 2009 iso_14

It seems Aaron Davis has slowed down a bit since his hyper prolific 07/08 year when I just couldn't get enough of his particular brand of oceanic floorcore. During that time I remember filling the days with his therapeutic drones oozing from the headphones at a molasses pace, fueling my constant state of bliss. With that said, I'm glad to announce that Isolationist is more of the same. If possible, this new material sounds even more stripped back, even more of a controlled minimalism that forces the listener to focus on what's going on under the surface. Not only should we focus on the underlying tonalities of the surface beneath the surface, but also those beneath the surface of that surface and so on. There are just so many layers here, and once you've tapped into them, that's when you're truly able to experience Acre's music. All that's left at that point is to lay back and let it all wash over you. A great compliment to the isounderscore roster.



isounderscore
Aemae
ACRE- Portland's tone purest provides a lesson in hypnosis 8.11.08

3.12.09

Fergus Kelly's Metallic Mantras

About a month ago I was surfing the web and stumbled upon a small run Cdr label by the name of Room Temperature. I can't remember a link I might have followed to arrive at it's doorstep or how at all I actually came across it. Lucky for me that I did, because the work of the label's founder and sole proprietor Fergus Kelly has reignited my lust for what I have come to refer to as, the metallic mantra. Bowed steel rods, sheet metal bellows and tactile scrapes, pangs, churns, and whirls slowly unravel in the man's work, rarely revealing their true identities, but more importantly working as a symbiotic mass, as if each source representing a limb of some many-appendaged musical body. This is music that is both raw yet precisely calculated, inducing a sculpted hypnosis that is hard to break from.

Though stylistically similar to 1980's David Jackman or early Andrew Chalk, Kelly utilizes less rudimentary methods of production and sound design for his compositions, often refurbishing raw recorded material through digital effects and filters to achieve desired results. Maybe it's the result of advancements in musical production techniques over the last 20 years, but it seems Kelly has achieved to do what David Jackman attempted to do in the early 80's when he first conceived of and started recording compositions as Organum, which, was to create something that sounded new, and not archaic like all the Organum stuff ended up sounding like anyway (not that that was a bad thing). Swarf and Fugitive Pitch are the most recent offerings on Room Temperature, in which, the interplay between the unfettered material and how the end product is actually spliced and rearranged, varies in appropriation between the two releases. Thus, making it clear to me, that these are works of many hours of labour and love.

_________________________________________________________

Fergus Kelly
Swarf, 3" mini cd
Parts I-IV, 2009

Attempting to pack 4 tracks in a mere 21 minutes can be a creatively daunting task, as temporal limitations can so easily result in compositional suffocation. Fortunately, Swarf avoids such potential tragedies by allowing just enough space for these choruses to breathe and uncoil; although personally I would have remained just as attentive if all of these tracks were twice as long. Kelly's bowing of 6 foot steel rods mounted to a steel sheet resonator serves as a testament to just how potent and hypnotic improvising can really get. The trance inducing quality of these tracks is in no small part due to the fact that this work is a culmination of 20-30 second loops of various recordings of the bowed rods, cross faded, blended and then left to stand the test of time. As alive as these tracks are, Kelly can rest assured that miles down that winding road, Swarf will most certainly stand tall.



Fergus Kelly
Fugitive Pitch cdr
2009

Fugitive Pitch is a work between Fergus Kelly and frequent collaborator David Lacey, created from recordings made in cellars underneath Henrietta Street In Dublin, Ireland. From it's manumit beginnings it's immediately clear that this is a much different, much darker, affair than Swarf. The distant sounds of rattling metals squirm like rats scurrying to not be seen, punctuated by the lazy rhythm of some miss-shaped plastic drum while a vat full of offal static bubbles to the surface. A seriously dark, pulled-apart heart throbs through the center of the album, sustaining life for these miscreant sounds. Though the album maintains a dark sheath through it's entirety, the ominous walls do occasionally part, revealing pockets of a filmy gossamer sub-layer, where we're given fleeting glimpses of the mechanical workings of this beast. The tightly knit framework in and around these 9 tracks allows for punctuated transitions executed to utmost precision, warranting many revealing listens and high praise. Quite lovely indeed.


Fergus Kelly is a Dublin based visual & sound artist/improviser. Working in photography, painting and releasing music via his Room Temperature label.

Room Temperature
Blog
Myspace
Flickr

Listen on myspace and support by buying this music.

26.11.09

Toshiya Tsunoda 'O Respirar da Paisagem' (Sirr.ecords, 2003)

It's been a slow month, lot's of other things going on. I hope most of you got a chance to read Tsunoda's words on the erswords blog as mentioned in my previous post. There is more truth behind those sentences than any of the ones written here about the man. I've recently revisited this release from '03 that perfectly showcases Tsunoda's talents and concepts: O Respirar da Paisagem (loosely translated as The Breathing of the Landscape).

The 14 tracks on O Respirar... are broken up into three categories, providing a sort of guide map of these micro/macro explorations, and providing a stream in which to approach this work. Tsunoda's work is very detailed, his releases are often accompanied with extensive liner notes explaining his humbly titled sound pieces: location, process, dates, times, etc... all never without a hint of personal sentiment. It's refreshing really.


On a Boundary Line

Physical vibration is like a wave... Like a wave, an exterior noise will spread indoors. ...Divisions are necessary for our everyday life. Between two divisions, there is a boundary. This boundary is cultural and social, it has an important meaning for us, but does not constitute a barrier for the continuity of physical phenomena.

listen to Deck on a Wharf


Context of the Space
A living space has two principle types of vibration; the vibration through air; and the vibration through solids...I believe we can regard these vibrations as the "context" of structured space. My suggestion is that we must recognize space as a vibratory system.


listen to Heater and Amplifier


Observation and Object
...An object is apprehended in its interaction with an observer. We observe the vibrations of our living space... The act of listening changes our perception of an object, depending on the point from which we observe it.

listen to TTV (air)



listen to TTV (Solid)


small letters in italics excerpted from linear notes by Toshiya Tsunoda


Track Listing

1. A signboard, wind blown
2. Cicada and window
3. 40 Oscillators
4. Pier
5. Road between warehouse
6. Deck of a wharf
7. Ground near an external unit
8. Floor boards
9. Heater and amplifier
10. Inside the warehouse
11. TTV (air)
12. TTV (solid)
13. Scenery of a fishing port
14. Wind frame and wind

18.11.09

Toshiya Tsunoda: Obtaining the Unamplifiable.

It's been a pretty exciting last couple of weeks, 10 days in Montreal meant plenty of time to roam stone-walled allies and tucked away parks, visit numerous record stores (without burning too big a hole in my wallet, surprisingly), eat great food, check out University campuses and spend time with my lady Lucy. Actually, I was even so lucky as to get to experience Stockhausen's Kontakte at the Oscar Peterson hall at the Concordia Loyola campus in all it's 35 minute-four-channel-spastic-pummeling glory. They even turned out the lights to heighten the experience. It doesn't do it justice but you can listen to the whole thing in 4 parts on youtube. Anyway, it's good to be back in Vancouver.


As I was walking around Montreal, I often thought that it was a shame that I didn't bring a recording device with me to capture all the amazing sounds of the city. I was trying to pack light. Complementing my regrets were another set of thoughts that focused around Toshiya Tsunoda. When aimlessly meandering through a city I can't help but think of him. Tsunoda is mainly in the business of field recording, but to call him just a field recorder is like a slap in the face, because really he's so much more than that. The reason Tsunoda ranks up there with, and maybe even surpasses, artists like Chris Watson, Ryoji Ikeda, or Jacob Kirkegaard is because he's able to present to us pure sonic specimens from the ever-present micro-cosmos. Not the cosmos out there, among the stars and such, but the world under your living room rug, or behind your refrigerator, or inside the very bottle of beer that you just consumed, the sonic world that we overlook every minute of everyday of our existence. At the micro level, everything is vibrating, everything emits a sound, and it seems Tsunoda is trying to stress this fact with every subsequent recording. The result is meant to open new experiential dimensions to the listener, dimensions of space, sound formation, and perception that help fortify the delicate art that is listening to this music.

photo from erstwords blog linked below

I would like to direct everybody to these candor words by Toshiya Tsunoda talking about his practice and about experimental music as a genre. Essential reading for fans: erstwords: field recording and experimental music scene.

28.10.09

News 10.28.09

On Friday I'll be leaving on a much anticipated vacation to Montreal, meaning no posts until about mid November. For now though, I leave you with some news on the cassette releases that I've been promising for over six months. My initial stabs at starting up a label basically flat out failed, but I'm pleased to announce that I've decided to give it another shot, from a different angle. To be continued...

25.10.09

MaëRor Tri 'Myein' (Waystyx Records, 2005 Reissue)


I've met a fair number of Germans in my life mostly through chance encounters while visiting annual vacation spots or when traveling abroad, and in my experience I have never met a shitty one. In fact, whenever I meet a new German person I either end up dating them (just kidding Lucy, honey) or partying with them for a week. Maeror Tri, consisting of the lads pictured above are three Germans that I would have loved to hang out with, because after long sleepless weekends of pub crawls and partying, instead of retiring back into the mundane 9-5 life waiting for the next weekend to emerge, come Monday we would gather in our cramped yet comfortable jam space to pay homage to the drone Gods with nothing but effect soaked guitars and a unified understanding of the transcendental qualities of our particular brand of music.

Formed in 1988 and influenced by the right side of the brain, Maeror Tri, the trio of Stefan Knappe, Martin Git and Helge Siehl emerged from the shadowy corners of Leer, Germany. Quickly establishing themselves as a band worth knowing about, Maeror Tri began to produce a specific yet completely pure form of guitar music, their craft blossoming from the dark atmospheres of their effect laden strings and adolescent creativity. After nearly a decade, Helge left the band to form Tausendschoen while Stefan and Martin started the untouchable Troum in 1997. Stefan also went on to establish Drone records, a label almost entirely dedicated to limited run 7"'s from some of the world's best.



Myein, originally released in a triangle shaped sleeve (pictured above) on N D records in a run of 1000 copies, got a proper reissue in 2005 on Waystyx, and with good reason, as this is quite universally accepted as one of, if not the most seminal release by the German trio produced in their eight years of existence. Just listen to the opener Phlogiston, with it's slow building guitar plod and fuzzy interference. The track manages to be super heavy yet gauzy at the same time while maintaining a climactic incline that is such a golden example of the band's structurally improvised purity. The static blast at around the 14 minute mark is worth the price of admission alone, and it doesn't even end there.



It's Desiderium, the 10 minute slow burner that's the highlight for me. It opens with what almost sounds like drenched organ tones but is soon overtaken by a reverberated guitar wash, reminiscent of Mcguire's work in the more recent Emeralds' albums. Then a voice, or maybe it's more guitar that comes in adding to the now lushly unraveling soundscape. The 47 minute! title track closes out the album, commencing with a densely distorted ocean of fuzz. Just as quickly as it fills the air it dissipates with one motion of a leg bringing a foot down atop a distortion pedal, leaving behind an unfathomably long comets tail worth of endless space and time in the form of simplified elongated guitar drones left to float aimlessly in a blackened unforgiving Universe. This album helped pave the road towards a tonal movement that has been steadily gaining steam in many underground music societies across the globe. Totally essential and limited to 675 copies.

Listen to Phlogiston


Listen to Desiderium


Also, you can stream the entire album Ambient Dreams, one of the first Maeror Tri cassettes released on ZNS Tapes in 1990 here. (content: fulltime tapes, 4th one down) Raw.



17.10.09

Terrors 'Inequipoise' Cassette (Monorail Trespassing, C30, mt65cs, April 2009)

Link to last post: Scott Reber of Ordinary Machinery has released not one but two cassettes on Jon Borges' Monorail Trespassing label under the name Work/Death. Inequipoise by Terrors was released on MT earlier this year. Monorail Tresspassing

It's great when a label releases something that is both equally unexpected and absolutely stellar. Diverging from the abstract noise and endless tonalities of most of the MT albums comes this absolutely addictive slice of midnight-loner-bedroom-pop, complete with interspersed segues of fragmented noise. This stuff brings to mind acts like Grouper and Californian doom folkers Flying Canyon (terribly unfortunate story with that band) but crafted into a distinct melancholy that is very much unlike anything I've ever heard. It all just works so well together and I can't get enough.

The
Myspace page reveals a few micro edition releases on Cavelife records including what I can only presume is Inequipoise's other half, Equipoise, and also a couple of forthcoming titles. According to the site, Terrors is from W. Baltimore, Maryland. During a show in Denver earlier this summer, however, which you can listen to and download here, the main man behind Terrors -anyone know this guys name?- said he used to live in California and is now residing... nowhere. In trying to find out more information I've only been left more confused, funny really. The bedroom haze is somewhat lifted in the live setting but I recommend those tracks none the less.

Recorded in a window in February 2009.

The opener Inequipoise/Smoke Anyway immediately ropes you in with it's repetitive warbly keyboard melody and guitar parts. Another great use of the looped phrase surfaces on the final A side track Wrought Iron Door, definitely one of my two favourite tracks, with it's totally catchy guitar part (you'll know it when you hear it) and cave dwelling vocals. Not to mention the embedded emotion in the overall pace and tone. So beautiful, like weepingly beautiful. The B side starts with my other fave, the mellow-epic (not to be confused with mellow dramatic) Turn Out the Cradle. A lazily strummed guitar just floats there over the duration while the almost Jamie Stewart- (think Fast Car cover) like vocal delivery is haunting. And as the word "One" is uttered a mildly uplifting wave of energy takes control of the song and it's absolute gold from then on.

My favourite line, which has been stuck in my head for days now, "...burn their villages, ruin their spires, pull down their skyline with fire...Yours to control..." is simply perfect, as if he's describing an incident of the destruction of a beloved pastoral oil painting from his childhood. Flail Or Rust, with it's crumbling electronics sets us up for the closer Last Chance/FNB, an appropriate finale to this downward spiral of an album, the track eventually getting crushed under the emotional weight of the preceding songs in the form of a howling vortex of muted noise. Love it.

12.10.09

Scott Reber's Other Project...Ordinary Machinery

In 2009 alone, Scott Reber has released at least three cassettes on some very notable labels operating in the American underground: Ekhein, Monorail Trespassing, and Arbor all under his Work/Death guise. Notably, last year's 5-way east coast tour collab cdr with Vancouver's own noise guru Sam McKinley (aka The Rita), and others also featured Reber. Sometime in 2007, or maybe late 06 (not much info out there), Reber started the Three Songs of Lenin label, it seems, as a personal creative outlet for (mostly) his projects. Spewing from this miasmic cloud of creative freedom is Ordinary Machinery, an apparent "field recording" project. Reber seems determined to capture a perfectly bleak urbanized landscape, barren and unforgiving, rife with mechanized buzz, generator churn, far off voices and the occasional lashing electrical surge. Sonically similar to Work/Death maybe, but an entirely different approach. These are the sounds of the everyday, walking to and from wherever it is you go, the typical white noise that most people don't give a second thought too, only slightly warped and pulled apart then woven neatly back together in a way that makes perfect sense. Expect to hear in these recordings what one can accomplish musically, given only that which is in their immediate environment, but don't expect the typically stagnant, background murmurings of your average ordinary machinery. This is so much more.


Ordinary Machinery "Stand While Fields Pass"
(Three Songs of Lenin, C20, 2008)

Recorded while others slept
At Work
Under Highways
Near Electricity and Refridgeration


Ordinary Machinery "Accumulate and Acclimatize"
(Three Songs of Lenin, C30, 2009)


In and Around one Building
Saturday Night. Spring Weekend
Avoidance Proximity
Inch by Inch Scrutiny
No Transmissions


News 10.12.09

First of all I want to thank everyone who has shown any interest in the Scrapyard up to this point. Ever since I changed the domain and name from the Church of Drone I guess I left a lot of people hangin'. With that said there now seems to be a resurgence of interest and for that I am grateful. Could it be because I am now properly linked from the Aquarius records blog? I don't really know. probably. In any case, thanks to all of you and plenty more posts to come.

Secondly, I am as of now instigating a new upload policy. I've been on the fence about this for so long. At first I didn't really care and linked everything, and then I felt guilty and took a lot down. But now I've made things available once again. So, from now on I will provide a download link for the majority of albums I review BUT ONLY FOR ONE WEEK. So now, the material is like a reward for those of you who follow close enough. Certain extremely rare or long OOP material and very limited run releases will be made permanently available. And upon request I will re-post almost anything for an extra week, but you have to ask. After the two week span, that's it. Down for good.

That's all for now. Have a good day.

A

3.10.09

Emeralds, A Kosmixtape.

Let me start by stating that I've been on a huge Emeralds kick lately. This Ohio three piece has become a staple in the soundtrack of my everyday life. Having these warm, enveloping sounds constantly playing in the background has made even the most demeaning tasks, like washing dishes, or folding laundry a complete joy to do. And I'm not saying that you can't enjoy this stuff in other contexts. I'm saying that it's enjoyable all the fucking time.

Last year's Solar Bridge was a huge favourite of mine (I totally overplayed it) and the number of albums to follow have been equally as good, if not better. And while I was trying to snag those releases I admittedly dipped into a lot of the older out-of-print tapes and cdrs that have been floating around the net. My findings are as follows: It all rules. Therefore, I couldn't help but compile this mixtape that I think is an excellent introduction to the band, but keep in mind that it's in no way meant to be a compendium of their material. It's just something I threw together. It's also heavily weighted towards their newer material because this blog has always been and will always be about tangible releases, and also because in my opinion the material that has come out in the last 6 months from these guys is most certainly their best. So yes, for the most part it's new stuff, or newly "released" stuff with a few older gems popping up here and there. Do enjoy.

Side A:

1. Up in the Air
Taken from What Happened (No Fun Productions, cd, 2009)


Released on the first month of 09' What Happened was the album that really sealed the deal for me. it's a collection of 5 improvised tracks that were recorded live to tape in 2007-08. It's hard to say whether these were all previously released or not because the one I know for sure that was previously released had a different title, and it was also the only one I had recognized as such. More on that later though. What Happened is a great document of the many subtle spectrums of sound that Emeralds shift into. Up in the Air, although short, perfectly exemplifies this subtle interplay of the band. Mark McGuire's guitar is heard first, a looping, sunken rhythm set atop building analog synth swells (Steve Hauschildt and John Elliott). McGuire then introduces another layer of angelic guitar plucks accenting the now fore-fronted synth pulse. It's an all too short tease for an album that only the coolest of dads would be saying "Man, I haven't heard such groovy spaced-out drone stuff since my trip to Germany in the late 60's when I did acid with the guys from Ash Ra Temple."

listen to Up in the Air


2. Mistakes
Taken from Allegory of Allergies (Weird Forest, 2lp, 2009)


Allegory of Allergies was the title chosen for a C120 tape released in 2007 on the Gods of Tundra label. The 2lp version is the same material as the cassette, only re-sequenced and shy a few tracks that I guess didn't make the cut. Mistakes, despite it's name, was a keeper. And for good reason too as this is some of the lushes straight drone stuff that the band has produced. Mcguire's guitar doesn't rear it's head until the final declining moments. Everything up to that point is shear blissful washed out synth-esthesia. Yes, there is most certainly something wrong with you if you can't hear vibrant colours in this music. LP is beautifully packaged, thick gate-fold, abstract paint smears, treetops, gold jackets and all.

Listen to Mistakes


3. Untitled A Side
Taken from Planetarium (Tapeworm Tapes, c20, 2008)


I always want to call this Aquarium and not Planetarium, because of all the submerged water sounds that seem to bubble up from uncharted depths and because of the blue cover. Or maybe because the oceans are just as dark and mysterious as space is, so it's easy to get confused or something like that. Either way, this stuff could easily allude to one or the other. The A side, which I've chosen for the tape, starts off in perfect Emeralds fashion with that ethereal bubbly synth stuff that 's just so warm and nice. Eventually the track gets a lot darker with Mcguire plucking some minor key notes. Oh it just hit me, the tape is about the sensation of floating down to Earth from space then suddenly falling through the air and finally plummeting into the ocean. Ya, that's' it.

Listen to Untitled A


4. The Quaking Mess
Taken from Solar Bridge (Hanson, cd/lp, 2008)


Solar Bridge is a masterfully crafted album. It's mere 26 minutes can feel like a life time, especially if you are playing it on repeat for hours as I was when I first laid my hands on it. All I can say is, the washed out wall of sound that overtakes The Quaking Mess midway through it's 14 minute duration is about as potent as it gets. So good.

Listen to A Quaking Mess



Side B:
5. Untitled A Side
Taken from Fresh Air (A Soundesign Recording, 7", 2009)



The first and only 7" release thus far by Emeralds. The great thing about this band is that their music doesn't limit them to any particular format. They are not stunted by brevity, nor do they drag in the longer form. The A side, almost bridging on a melodic tune, is about as busy as these guys get. Rolling-hill synth flourishes carve a meandering path for loping guitar rhythms, like a waltz that could go on forever. The flip is a bit of a darker affair, almost sounding like the A side but filtered through countless tapes, degraded with it's edges dulled. All around really nice.

Listen to Untitled A Side



6. Standing Water
Taken from Grass Ceiling (Fag Tapes, C34, 2007)


Released somewhere in the middle of a pretty prolific year of limited run cassettes and cdrs, Grass Ceiling stands somewhat taller than a lot of the other stuff. There seems to be matured sense of space, especially on the opener Standing Water that makes this one just a bit more special. The typical elements of gingerly plucked guitar and warm synth drones are there, but everything seems just a little bit s l o w e r. Judging by the opening track, this almost seems to recall a Dream Syndicate approach more than Berlin-school tactics. One of the best Emeralds songs to date.

Listen to Standing Water




7. What if God Was on the Subway?
Taken from Sunburned Hand/Emeralds Split Cassette (Manhand, C30, 2007)


So, what I was eventually going to get at about the shifty song titles from What Happened I am now going to get at. This track, What if God was on the Subway? is the same song as Damaged Kids from What Happened, just titled differently, which is perfect, because I wanted to include two songs from that album anyways. What if God.. is definitely a noisier affair, at least, it starts off noisier: far out space sounds and lazer synth lines. There are definitely a few distinct parts here, the whole track feeling a bit more heterogeneous than most of their material. Eventually the noise is subdued and we are lulled into more familiar Emeralds territory. I can't recall what the Sunburned side is like. Maybe I'll listen to that again soon.

Listen to What if God was on the Subway?




8. Lasting
Taken from Lasting Compilation (Pineapple Tapes, C90, 2009)


And finally we've got the Emeralds contribution to the Lasting Compilation, which I reviewed earlier this month. First off, the track start with a shot, as if already in the middle and the layers just build and build a top each other: lush droning synthesizers, mad guitar dabbling, and great squalls of UFO's orbiting the speakers. It's like five Emeralds tracks mashed into one but without subjecting the listener to a sensory overload. But, as the track comes to a close, everything is stripped away except for Mcguire's lone guitar plucks. Now were at the end and all you have to do is flip the tape and start the whole experience again.

Listen to Lasting




Well, that's it. I encourage all of you who download this to transfer it to cassette tape. Also, please consider buying some of these. You know where to go.

Emeralds Kosmixtape

27.9.09

Chop Shop 'Discrete Emissions' 7" (Banned Production, 1999)

The work of Scott Konzelmann is gritty, brutal, and all together noisy. But there is something else going on in his music, a consistent element of degradation that seems to permeate in everything he touches. Almost ten years before his 08' opus Oxide, Chop Shop's Discreet Emissions seemed to clearly allude to future endeavors. It's blown out fuzzy noise, at times mysteriously dark, brooding and warm and at other times fiercely noisy, is vaguely sourced to "speaker constructions," a tin daguerreotype adhered to the inner sleeve depicting one of these peculiar constructions. The seven inch wrapped inside sun-caked parchment while the whole thing comes literally sealed in a slab of tar paper (took me 20 minutes just to open it). Incredibly packaged.

The A side, a jet engine drone, like a decaying sine wave bubbles up from the initial record crackle then yields to a full on aural assault of blown out speaker noise before being subdued once more by an ominous low-end rumbling loop. Short and most certainly sweet. The B side, the same material, only you have to play it from the inside out, like the way a laser reads a cd. Just make sure not to leave the room or you might return to a broken record needle, as the arm simply takes the plunge after the wax runs out. With that said, these are some essential emissions. Don't miss out.








Discreet Emissions


12.9.09

Velvet Cacoon 'Atropine' 2CD (Full Moon Productions, 2009)

Described below is a dream I experienced one night after four days straight of listening to nothing but Velvet Cacoon's 'Atropine.' I believe this experience was channeled through me by the members of Velvet Cacoon as a result of some enchanted mystic force, soaking it's way through these recordings during their two year burial in the Earth, and infecting the mind's of all who dare embrace these otherworldly sounds. I awoke the next morning, out of focus and dizzied, but with a clear cut image of the vision tatooed to my brain. This is meant to be read while listening to Nocturnal Carriage by Velvet Cacoon. (Scroll to the bottom to stream)
Do enjoy.

______________________________________________________

At an indeterminable time of day I found myself in a large aquatic compound busy with activity, a warehouse environment in which the walls were draped in many shades of blue. I didn't know for sure what was really going on as there were many people around me flying by in all directions. The people were all wearing black, preoccupied with drilling, moving boxes and talking loudly over long tables covered in blueprints. I wasn't able to piece together much other than the fact that I was involved in some kind of heist or covert operation as the compound had a distinct military feel and there was a great tension in the air.

Suddenly, I am transported outdoors to a section of grass between a row of hedges and a doorway that lead into a narrow corridor about 10 meters in length. The width of the corridor could not have exceeded that of an elementary school hallway. There were four of us. Kris was a friend I had known for a short while. There was Matthias, an old teammate of mine from my College volleyball squad. And aside from myself, the last of the group was a man who had absolutely no distinguishing features. I don't remember his name and I had never seen him prior to our standing on that grassy patch. I don't remember a single detail about this man, so he will remain nameless and unknown. There was no time for introductions anyhow and the four of us then proceeded to shuffle into the corridor. When inside the only noticeable light darted in through two small windows located on the doors at either end of our narrow enclosure. In my disorientated state I could no longer remember from which side we had even entered, therefore leaving me in a state of naivety as to which side the exit was. This troubled me. What troubled me even more though was that at that precise moment I heard, like being shot in the forehead with a diamond, the fast and loud scrape of giant deadbolts locking the doors into place. My gut fell.

The four of us immediately scrambled to one of the doors, no-name fumbled over a set of keys and I remember thinking that there was no chance in hell we were getting out of here. We were fucked. Surprisingly the door busted open yielding a wall of the purest white light, quickly fading to the leafy shades of grassy knolls pocked with oak trees and mossy stumps. The chase began. From what we were running was a complete mystery, but neither of us wanted to stick around to find out. I ran and ran but my legs felt as though they were made of lead. my muscles ached but I had to keep running, all of us did. As I ran I noticed the environment as a vivid hallucination, large farm-like homes stood wearily few and far between. The rolling hills leveled out into grazing fields and land plots in the distance. Areas of dense forest seemed to appear from nowhere and would just as suddenly disappear. We were running on all cylinders through the outskirts of a suburban farmland. The vastness scared me, possibly even more so than being in that bleak corridor. No-name fell behind and vanished. I figured the dogs must have got him, or the terrorists or whatever.

As if sharing a collective thought, the three of us darted towards a denser forest patch. We broke through the first few layers of trees with relative ease and quickly came across a beaten path running perpendicular to our own. After a right turn onto the path I realized that maybe our drastic forest entry did not go as smoothly as a had thought as I was now alone with the others nowhere in sight. But no, I was not alone. People, approaching on the path towards me. I walked casually with my head down towards them. I didn't try to hide or run, they were too close now. I just walked stiffly yet carefully down the path. A couple, middle aged and fit jogged past me. The woman smiled in my direction, a smile that instead of being reassuring seemed to reveal something diabolical. And as if on cue a shrieking siren began blaring from every direction providing an appropriate soundtrack to the flashing red traffic lights that reared their heads from behind towering trees.

With no time to think I hopped a wooden fence into a backyard for cover and slid down the planks with my back pressed up against them. I laid there, motionless, waiting. The sirens then seized their racket and the red lights retreated to their dormant states. So I sat there for some time, body glued to the inside of that fence, waiting for something to happen. After what seemed like an eternity I relaxed a little and took note of my surroundings. The backyard was small and comforting, enclosed by three walls. The attached house stood white and bland, a small wooden step leading to a glass sliding door. Through the glass I noticed a woman's outline turned to it's side. The woman, middle aged, was lying in a pink reclining chair, her right arm lazily dangling over the flaked and faded upholstery. I could tell she was watching tv by her listless expression, her face radiating the act of comfortable routine. I felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for her because I knew things about her. Her husband supported her and although it once seemed like a dream come true, that she would never have to work nor even move if she did not desire too, the truth was that she was unhappy. I knew that she woke up each morning and fell into the sameness that was her life, yogurt and granola for breakfast followed by glass after glass of white wine. And at noon, she would take her glass and her wine to the living room and sit back in her reclining chair which everyday grew more and more comfortable as it continued to mold to the outline of her body. I had never seen her before in my life, but I watched her through that glass sliding door and I knew her. And I gloated over the fact that she knew nothing about me, let alone that I even existed, or that I was watching her through the glass sliding door from her backyard. No, she was utterly naive to her clandestine voyeur.

A faint, yet completely undesirable sound then jarred me from my fixated state and snapped me back into alertness, the sound of footsteps, of someone walking towards me. Long pauses in between short lengths of ground told me that they were searching for something, or maybe someone. I felt helpless again, all I could do was wait and hope that the woman in the house and the person approaching would not meet eyes as this would surely reveal my hiding space. The very thought of this seemed to manifest the situation into existence and the two locked eyes. The woman peered through the glass and over the backyard fence at a man who's face I could now clearly see from my crouched position. I became overwhelmingly apprehensive as the man proceeded to climb over the fence. Just as he landed I grabbed his shoulders from behind and forced his face into the ground and wrested him onto his back. I then madly threw wild punches with both arms at his exposed face until I had mashed it into a soft pulp and he lay motionless on the ground. I rose slowly to a fully erect stance, breathing heavily and holding my blood soaked hands out in front of me as adrenaline surged from my pores. It was then, right before turning to escape back into the wilderness that I glanced in through the glass sliding door. The woman, now sitting up right in her chair, stared at me. The apathy in her face remained the same but her eyes were now wet and glazed over, as if now, she knew me.

I would miss her. I liked her but I had to leave. The others would be coming for this one any time now. So, I ran. I ran fast and I ran hard to nowhere in particular. I just needed to get away, as far away from that dreaded compound as possible and as far away from the place I had buried a man with a fury of fists. I ran until my muscles were on fire. I tore my way through the forest and sped across endless kilometers of open fields of grass. When my legs wanted to give out I simply pushed harder. I knew I couldn't last much longer. In the distance and off to the right I spotted a sloped section of grass that appeared to descend into a valley. I headed in that direction, figuring it would be a good place to rest and to gain my bearings. By now I was running on adrenaline alone and the slope absorbed whatever little reserves were left. I fell to my knees near the base of the valley floor and crawled behind a row of stubby bushes like a dying dog crawling under it's owner's porch to be left alone for it's final moments. It was there, sitting comfortably in a lawn chair, that I spotted Matthias looking rested and content. He was with his family: mother, father and younger sister, who of which, could not have been older than six years old. Nobody spoke. The little girl skipped towards me smiling and blinking innocently. She then knelt down by my waist and rocked back to let her weight rest upon her feet. She grabbed my wrist, placed her hand into mine and I closed my eyes.


Nocturnal Carriage

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6.9.09

Various 'Lasting' Cassette, C-90 (Pineapple Tapes, 2009)

Some of you may have purchased, listened too, or at least noticed the Foust! release listed on the second to most recent Aquarius new arrivals list titled Jungle Fever, or maybe you're familiar with the man's work already. I wasn't.

The man behind Foust! and the Swill Radio label-started to promote Foust's projects and is also the label that said album was released on-is in fact Scott Foust. It seems Mr. Foust is also responsible for putting together this compilation, released on the Swill sublabel Pineapple Tapes, as sort of a grand finale to the demise of chrome cassettes. So yes, apparently this is the final Pineapple release, tallying in as the 10th release in about 7 years of the label's existence.

I was immediately drawn to this by the names I recognized: Emeralds, Vikki Jackman, and Andrew Chalk and I think I had heard something of Matt Krefting's at some point in my life but I can't remember clearly. Something like 30% of this comp is a cross breeding of Scott Foust and Swill Radio affiliated projects: Foust!, Idea Fire Company, Dead Girl's Party, Karla Borecky and Matt Krefting (Both doing time in at least one of the bands mentioned above while also producing their own solo works for the comp). With that said though, the incest does not in any way hinder the diversity of this compilation.

I dig this for sure. The lo-fi warmth, wide-eyed and bushy tailed desire to experiment, and diversity in musical styles makes for an interesting listen, reminding me of that L.A.Y.L.A.H. Anti-Records comp from 1985 with Coil, Organum, Current 93, Lustmord, Robert Haigh, etc.. Obvious stand outs include the Emeralds, Chalk and Jackman tracks (because I can drool over their work forever) but also the Jungle Fever excerpt by Foust!, Ian Middleton's phase shifting Forest Walk, Karla Borecky's spare and beautiful piano keys on Structure, and the epic closing track The Sinking Ship by Idea Fire Company.

All in all, Lasting is a good cassette to get lost in, with cool artwork by Karla Borecky. It's just a shame that there won't be any more. Scott, if you are reading this, why not just give up the pineapple and try another fruit? How about Mango Tapes? or Banana Tapes? Kumquat?...think about it.


Track Listing:

A
1. Foust! - Jungle Fever (Goldfish Mix)
2. Karla Borecky - Structure
3. Graham Lambkin - Recycle 19
4. Emeralds - Lasting (Music by John Elliott, Steve Hauschildt, Mark McGuire)
5. BRRR - Ditmas Park Excerpt (Music by Dr. Timothy Shortell)
6. Dead Girl's Party - The First Pill (Music by Scott Foust, Mark Krefting)
7. Timm Goss featuring Beverly's Records - Thunder-rum
8. Frans de Waard - Nijmegen Hiss

B
1. Asmus Tietchens - S.17A
2. Ian Middleton - Forest Walk
3. Vikki Jackman - A Night Sketch (With Andrew Chalk, Daisuke Suzuki)
4. Weyes Bluhd - All and Over (Music by Natalie Mering, Edited by Graham Lambkin)
5. Matt Krefting - Maiden Voyage
6. The Collection Of The Late Howell Bend - Long Fields (Music by Irene Moon, Rory Hinchey)
7. Andrew Chalk - The Rose That Falls
8. Idea Fire Company - The Sinking Ship (Music by Karla Borecky, Scott Foust, Matt Krefting)


16.8.09

Wolfgang Voigt 'Gas' Book and CD (Raster-Noton, 2008)

Steering way clear of any general rave culture associations of "Techno," Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project is a remarkable breath of fresh air in the often butchered, crowded and over-produced genre. I'm definitely no expert when it comes to beats, as I've only been able to come to terms with the idea of actually liking this stuff in the last 6 months or so. But discovering projects like Muslimgauze, Seefeel, Oval, Alva Noto, The Field, Gas (and others on the Kompakt label) has inched the floodgates of my mind a little bit more open.

Honestly, I keep coming back to those 4 Gas albums, each time discovering some new underlying texture to get lost in. Voigt has this remarkable ability to create looong looping soundscapes that are somehow both very repetitive yet never stagnant, a true wizard of the subtle shift. Sometimes the tracks are pure ambient beat less washes of elegiac strings, while other times the tracks rest upon a throbbing pulse, providing a backbone to these free-floating movements, the beat always active but rarely leaving the comfort of the background.

And thus, with what was a surge of Voigt related reissued material, came this book + cd released by Raster-Noton, a stunning collection of photos by Voigt accompanied by 5 tracks from the early Gas years, 4 of which were never previously released. Overall, these tracks are of lesser calibre than the proper albums. Lesser Gas, however, is still better than most things. Voigt's photos are stunning, and work so well when considering the music. Like the music, the images are simple yet striking in their texture-I like to think of them as the visual extension of the music. Experiencing these simultaneously is like linking up matching puzzle pieces and then realizing that it's only a two piece puzzle. When entering Voigt's visual world reality gets skewed, and the dimensions of the conscious and subconscious are blurred, beginning and end lose all meaning and one falls into a hypnagogic* state of being. And it's obvious that some thought went into the layout of the book, as only the last quarter of the photo's are in colour. And after seeing 3/4 of the book in b/w the sudden shift to colour makes the photos seem all that more vivid. The blues, reds, oranges and greens seem to bleed from the page, a toxic blood, that might stain your fingers if you hold them on the page for too long. I'm tempted now to visit the forests of Cologne just to look up and see the same overlapping leaves and branches that Voigt saw. I would go there just to walk around aimlessly in and amongst the brush, clasping my hands around tree bark and squinting my eyes at the light passing through the forest canopy. Maybe then and only then would I begin to truly appreciate this work for what it is.

*Thank you David Keenan of The Wire


















Purchase at Raster-Noton