Julia Eckhardt

Born in Berlin, Julia Eckhardt is an alt-violinist in the field of composed and improvised contemporary music. After she studied viola in Rotterdam and Brussels, she worked with several chamber music ensembles and was a member of the National Orchestra of Belgium. Since 1996 she has undertaken many artistic projects including forming Q-O2, the first ensemble for contemporary experimental and improvised music. Since 2001, Eckhardt has been a member of Incidental Music (with Manfred Werder and Normisa Pereiera da Silva), an international ensemble for conceptual music. She lives and works in Brussels.

Q-02 - /2009/ what do you make of what I say
(C0mpost and Height)

First, some context. /2009/ what do you make of what I say is by definition a compilation, though it is much more than that. Over the course of a year a chain of sound recordings were made by ten artists whose job it was to respond to the recording of an unknown predecessor. Each artist was allowed four weeks to create their own recording in response to the one they received, which would then be passed along to the next artist along the chain, and so on and so forth until everyone had contributed. Each track had to be 7 minutes in length and no additional information other than the track itself could be passed forward. The results were documented in this stunning cd + book release. The Q-02 -/2009/project was conceived and realized by Julia Eckhardt.

Eckhardt gets the ball rolling with an experimental composition for bowed viola – albeit a highly scripted one. The piece acts as a good starting point as its acousmatic approach to the instrument allows for plenty of variation in the composition. Almost immediately the tracks become more lush (though not overbearingly so) with the incorporation of field recordings and denser tones. The tones are slowed to a glacial pace on Mieke Lambrigts piece, Teufelskreis, an early stand-out. The middle section then becomes far less monochromatic, with Tim Parkinson's Melodica and Percussion, a more overt yet rather bland working of those two elements, and In between, by Annette Krebs, a thoughtful blending of radio snippets and bell tones. Manu Holterbach impresses with a day by day account of how his piece came to fruition – ie leaving a ghostly presence of the preceding piece by playing it back in a resonant basement, layering in sinewaves and field recordings, and also attempting to stay true to the form of the original work by keeping the structure of the sounds relatively the same.

/2009/ is an impressive document that attempts to dig beneath the question of how experimental music is perceived. When faced with having to physically respond to a work it's obvious that this happens very differently for everyone, the vast scope of sound captured here materializing from one seven minute piece. Not quite a current release but still very recommended.


Oren Ambarchi Live Recording

Oren Ambarchi Live at the Western Front, Vancouver, BC.
July 10, 2011


New from Winds Measure

Number of new things that just came in and have been circulating into my daily listening, including one new and one new-ish title from Ian Holloway's Quiet World label, Jim Haynes' double disc version of Sever (which has somehow miraculously come back into print) along with a collab from '06 called Wrack Light in Copper Ruin by Coelacanth & Keith Evans. Finally, here's a new cassette and dvdr from the ever remarkable Winds Measure label that I just couldn't let idle.

*photos from windsmeasure.net

Andrew Hayleck 'Weekend' c24

Intriguing new cassette by Andrew Hayleck. As the title suggests, this was recorded entirely over the period of one weekend in late 2009, from Friday evening thru to Sunday evening. When I say recorded over the period of a weekend I don't mean a few hours a day of noodling, I mean 48 hours solid of "ambient sound recordings" as Hayleck puts it. The sounds were then sped up to 128 times their original, and condensed into just under 24 minutes.

There is more weight to these recordings than just ambient music sounding as if stuck in the fast forward position, and Hayleck does address this, particularly in his struggle to pin-point the origins of certain sounds after they had been sped up (was I playing that or was that the sound of a car idling outside?). Unintended sounds are likely to enter the mix using a method like this, and it's this blurring of intention and happenstance (or happy accidents as I like to call it) that the "composer" must embrace in order to accept the inevitable outcome. That outcome being something they can't control for.

These sounds were all recorded in a studio, but if Hayleck framed these as Amazonian insect recordings, I'd be hard pressed to call his bluff. It's all very organic sounding, though likely electronic in origin, unfolding in micro swarm-like tactility, and in a broad sense, unchanging over its duration. Largely, this is not dissimilar to much of the "small music" by the late Rolf Julius, or select recordings by Francisco Lopez or Matt Shoemaker. Weekend also comes with a download code for a 5 1/2 minute time lapse video of a single shot facing one wall in Hayleck's studio. The accompanying sounds seem slightly less sped up then the ones on the cassette, though it's hard to tell for sure, could just be me.

Still from Lacunae

mpld - 'Lacunae' dvdr

I love building up my obscure dvdr collection (going to have to have a screening soon). This one comes by way of Gill Arno under the nom de plume mpld. Like Hayleck, I've only encountered Arno's work through the v-p v-f is v-n cassette compilation, and that was just a tease as all the contributions were a minute or shorter in length, so it's nice have something longer from both artists.

Lacunae is broken up into two sections, part one being an introductory length of just under 5 minutes while part two clocks in at just over half an hour. It's difficult to even begin to describe Arno's processes in deriving at both the resulting sound and images of this work. The illustration on the insert depicts a symmetrical set-up involving contact mics, induction mics, mixer, midi controller, laptop and two projectors producing overlapping images. The work is a series of slides that flicker and fade into one another, and it's interesting that the flicker seems to be produced by physical obfuscation of the light – by fans because they are situated right in front of the projectors – and not by the degradation of film (though that could be a factor) or digital processes.

Watching and listening to this, it would appear that Arno was able to join sound and light at the hip, which reflects on the ingenuity of his set-up. If I understand it correctly, by adjusting the fan speed Arno could simultaneously intensify or calm the flicker rate and the sound. The result is a spell binding video capturing pulsating images of people and landscape coupled with a cacophonous soundtrack of sputtering electroacoustics, static fissures, and brief ambient passages. Fantastic.


Rick Reed 'The Way Things Go' 2LP (Elevator Bath, 2011)

Needless to say, my focus lately has been somewhere other than writing reviews for this blog. Sometimes a hiatus is really necessary and I'm all for trying to maintain sanity at this point. I've been happy and busy just trying to go out and enjoy what finally feels like summer, and most importantly, making my own music. Luckily, writing for Dusted has at least managed to keep the creative juices flowing a bit. The final three posts for the women's series are still to come, along with a handful of already slated reviews that will appear either here or on Dusted. The more structured review writing for Dusted has allowed me to tone down some of the formalities here, so you may notice a bit more of a casual approach to reviews. Not to say that I've decided to forego all structure, just easing up a bit.

Here we have a nice luxury item thanks to Colin Andrew Sheffield and his humble, yet ever impressive, Elevator Bath label. Rick Reed is no stranger to the scrapyard – I reviewed his picture disc way back in august of '09 and also his marvelous 4cd retrospective in December of last year. The Way Things Go is the perfect document for fans who missed out on that retrospective (which was probably a lot of you considering it was limited to 50 copies). 2/3 of what is probably the best material scattered throughout those discs can also be found here. This is a must have, 180 gram vinyl housed in black inner sleeves and a very well designed gate-fold jacket.

Reed's recordings have continuously displayed a remarkable talent for composition. His ability to evoke mood through his brand of dark synthesis is unmatched by contemporaries, though I'm wondering if Reed's sensibilities have kept him from receiving the recognition he deserves, because it's certainly not his talent holding him back. There really is nothing bubbly or new-agey about his music, which I suspect is probably the appeal for a lot of people when getting into this stuff. Noise buffs into Daniel Menche, Kevin Drumm and Chop Shop could easily get into this, especially the second track, Capitalism: Child Labor – a soundtrack Reed produced for a film by Ken Jacobs – which easily bridges the line between kosmische and noise.

Despite his compelling forays into "noise", Reed shines brightest when he starts with the volume turned down and builds it up. Celestial Mudpie, In a Hazy Field of Gray and Green and The Way Things Go, are all good examples of Reed's seemingly effortless ability to weave beaming synth lines with granular percolations and motor-like flourishes. Occasionally, Reed will pull everything back in a track and go in a completely different direction, which happens to be the case for the closing moments of the album, a looping carnival-esque melody spiraling out and then collapsing in on itself. Great work all around and a nice archival document of some of the best synth driven music available.