IN PRINT RELEASES, REVIEWS, AND AUDIO SAMPLES

John Hudak Don't Worry About Anything; I'll Talk to you Tomorrow CD

Vital Weekly 155, Netherlands, Frans de Waard
Soon Hudak will be a new household name for you, this being his third CD in a short period. Here the minimalist offers one track, the soundsource of which has been taken from his answermachine: his mother. She died last year, and in the light of the title, this is a sincere hommage to her. The 55 minutes are filled with tones that work in layers, repeating clusters of some low resolution sound, but which embodies a whole universe and never bores. I've listened to this on headphones, and I was fascinated by the richness of the work, the moving character, the simplicity of the complex
work. Just minimalism beauty.

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Vince Harrigan (Manifold Records, USA)

The story goes that after his mother passed away, John Hudak found a tape from an answering machine that still had a message from her. In homage he created this entire disc from that recording. What results is a sentimental, obscured, soundscapish and yet gently-noised set of aural situations. Mechanical, gritty textures flow into sweeter, more melancholy triptychs of tone. No tracks are listed, but several meek scenes come into view and fall away again. There is very little of what could be recognized as a mothers voice here, except perhaps in the nostalgic impressions left behind for Hudak…or the conscious listener. Deep, thoughtful listens seem to evoke the feeling of looking through someones scrapbook…or is it the knowledge of what this work is inspired by that makes us think that?

Joda Clement Movement + Rest CD

VITAL WEEKLY 489 (Frans de Waard)

Somehow Alluvial knows where to find young and exciting and above all serious composers. Joda Clément (1981, Canada) started out when he was fourteen and ever since he has been working with sound. On this CD he works with instruments (Harmonium, Korg MS-20, PS-3200 & Polysix Synthesizers) as-well as field recordings. Everything goes into the computer and is melted together in a very good, but, I must admit, also a very traditional drone fashion. Things move unearthly deep in the low end, and on top, occasionally, there is something of a melody humming, such as in 'Song Of Threes' or traces of a small rhythm in 'Heliotaxis'. That makes the music of Clément only slightly different from that of Monos, Ora or Mirror (and such like), but it also means he has thought about where to put the icing on the cake. Next to Keith Berry another promising new name in the world of drone music.

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WIRE 261 November 2005 (Jim Haynes)

The Montreal based composer Joda Clement works in a mode familiar to contemporary ambient, minimalist,and drone based artists, as he seeks to bridge natural and synthetic sounds through an atomodpheric wash of blurred details. Within his debut album Movement + Rest, Clement buries field recordings of broken radiators, trains passing in the night and snow falling within a murky grey soundfield built from reverb and the sustained vibrations from a couple of synthesizers. While reverb is often employeed to give the illusion of space within a recording, Clement effectively flattens each and every one of his sounds into a monochromatic smear. Ghostly fragments of a melody, a rainstorm, or a vocal chorale occasionally emerge only to drift back once more into the shadows. While artists such as Jonathan Coleclough and Thomas Koner have succeeded in their mediated marriage of natural and synthetic sounds, Movement + Rest is a tentative first step that with time might develop into something transcendent.



Chain D.K.L. December 2005 (Eugenio Maggi, Italy)

Joda Clément is a very young Canadian musician, here debuting on an important label like Alluvial. "Movement + Rest" is an apt title for these six tracks of droning ambient, played with a series of instruments ranging from synthesizers to harmonium, from laptop to firebells, plus several field recordings taken in Canada, Mexico and France. Clément blurs all his sound sources in apparently static, yet layered and detailed soundscapes, with a style reminding of Monos, Alio Die, Mirror or Paul Bradley. While there are no let downs, not all tracks are memorable either; I personally find "The Ballad of Sleep", for example, a bit too standard sounding. Fully successful pieces like "Sacré-Coeur" or "Song of Threes", however, make this a very promising debut nonetheless. (3.5/5.0 stars)



Paris Transatlantic December 2005 (Dan Warburton)
"All songs by Joda Clement" it says, and that word "songs" is a clue. Strictly speaking none of the six tracks on this album, which were principally sourced in field recordings made in Toronto, Montréal, Paris, Guadalajara and Kabul (this latter a public domain recording), is a song (as in "a brief composition written or adapted for singing"), even if four of them feature additional voice courtesy of Natasha Grace. The second dictionary definition of "song" however does apply – "a distinctive or characteristic sound made by an animal, such as a bird or an insect" – provided one redefines "animal" as "man in his environment." "My recordings attempt to blur the distinction between electronic, acoustic and ambient sources," writes Clement, whose list of instruments used includes harmonium, bells and a whole battery of synthesizers and effects units. "Analog or acoustic instruments are used because of the direct physical process with which they generate sound. I take field recordings from sounds that habitually go unnoticed in the daily environment (airplanes overhead, trains passing in the night, the broken radiator at the end of the hall, falling snow), as well as those which are less accessible for hearing (the abandoned subway tunnels of Toronto, a muffled cab ride through Guadalajara, contact mics on Jacques Cartier Bridge, etc.). I combine nondescript omnipresent noises that surround us with instrumental and vocal recordings to create a landscape of sounds that unites the properties of both musical and everyday contexts." Those words "blur", "muffled" and "nondescript" are also significant here – Clement's work has more in common with the more meditative / introspective work of Andrew Chalk and Keith Berry than it does with that of Eric La Casa or Michael Rüsenberg. It's beautiful and evocative, if a little heavy on the reverb (but I'm not complaining), and I look forward to hearing more of it to come.



Touching Extremes January 2006 (Massimo Ricci)

Can you say "high class in treatment of sorrow"? That's what came to my mind while listening to the gloomy atmospheres of Joda Clement's music, which is often comparable to greyish funerals for the light-hearted, slightly dipped in pre-Lustmord sauce. Nevertheless, your approach with this composer should avoid any lateral esoteric thought, since Joda does not indulge in easy emotional tricks; his field recordings are treated and mixed in a rarefaction of drones - multieffect processing and various synths are used extensively - that reveal slow movements of disillusion in the agony of a futureless serenity. Furthermore, Clement works masterfully with time stretching, giving a sense of stasis even to the few moving blocks of his desolated quarters; over there, textural mud evolves into fascinating low-frequency densities, rarely enhanced - better, distracted - by some subtle pulsating sequence or a couple of lamenting synthesizer notes. Keep your eyes open.



HHH1/2 (culled from a Montreal newspaper article, January 14, 2006, by David Cantin)

JODA CLÉMENT -Fullness of Sound
In the shadow of the ever popular indie-rock scene, Quebec’s experimental music is sparking up as of late. There’s surely a lot of aventurous sounds to hear from people like Blake Hargreaves, Jacob Chelkowski, Alain Lefebvre or the well-known Alexandre St-Onge. In this experimental field, it’s relevant to point out the wonderful Movement + Rest by newcomer Joda Clément. With the carefull and inventive use of different sound sources, this young composer opens up to a field of possibility rather than a fixed agenda. Often minimal and quiet, these short pieces bring to mind a fragmented chaos. Never boring or too studied, Clément produces assorted and seemingly unrelated brittle, swirling electronic textures. From the human voices on Sacré-Cœur to the abstract melodies of Song of Threes, you have to look forward into this highly noticeable listen. Music in constant progress. (Translation from the French by Cantin)

Brian Leber Till CD

Vital Weekly 507 (Frans de Waard)

'Till' is the debut release of one Brian Leber, from Chicago, USA. Or better his first widely available work. The three pieces here were all released in small editions here and there between 2001 and 2004. Although his background is inside more serious composing, his work includes the more common (at least in Vital Weekly grounds) field recordings, electro-acoustics and drones. Apparently Leber writes scores before he performs them, leaving out the improvised side of his music. This works in various directions, each represented on this CD. In 'Isobar', the opening piece, things start out at a relatively soft volume, working their way up scale in a mighty crescendo before everything goes into decrescendo, which takes about the same amount of time. Sounds sources seem to include short wave radio, field recordings of a heavy storm and debris flying around. In 'Tracing Stones', a stone plays a role, but also the gentle playing of a cello. Here there is also a strong sense of density, but it works on a totally different level. The music is more and spacious, yet still dense. A bit Olivia Block like, or certain periods of Organum. The last piece is 'Mountains And Rivers', which apparently has the 'sound of manipulated objects and double bass'. The opening sounds reminded me tablets dissolving in water. Vaguely in the background there is the humming of a bass, and light crackle of an unknown origin. This piece, like the previous, has also two parts in it, because it breaks down and seems to be moving on to something else. I am not too sure why this is, but in 'Mountains And Rivers' it doesn't work to well. Both parts are quite loosely organized, but fail to leave a lasting impression. That's a pity, since the other two are very nice, but maybe two-third isn't a bad score either.

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W I R E Magazine #266 April 2006 (Jim Haynes)

Alluvial boldly liken the debut of Chicago composer Brian Leber to Organum's seminal albums Vacant Lights and Sphyx- both combine scraping of elements and longform bowing. The comparison sets a very high bar, but fortunately Leber often comes close to reaching it. He's at his best when accumulating sympathetic sounds from acoustic elements (small stones, leaves and rice being rubbed together) into linear compositions alongside shortwave and wind recordings. On "Isobar" these soft masses of white noise slowly evolve into an atmosphere that's vaguely ominous and sublimely contemplative. Leber occasionally stumbles when introducing cello and double bass, especially when he's percussively tapping at the string. But when he limits himself to a growling drone from either of his stringed instruments, he finds a good pairing for the restricted palette of a couple of rocks or a handful of twigs.



Touching Extremes May 2006 (Massimo Ricci, Italia)

The sound of stones is of primary importance for Leber, who uses them in all the three pieces comprised by "Till". Don't you think about some edulcoration of raw matter, though; this music unfolds with gradual, shivering authenticity in a discolored world of organic and instrumental layers that are totally alluring in their unassuming bareness. In "Isobar", wind and shortwave radio are channeled in a single current of isolation from the rest of the world; both "Tracing stones" and "Mountains and rivers" use the riveting breath of a double bass, whose frail spurious notes lose splinters of harmonic rust during intimate dialogues with wood, leaves, water sounds and bowl gong. Leber does not look for powerful appearances or tricky imagery; one figures him doubled over the ground, intent in the discovery of a primordial source of inspiration for his intriguing hoards of precious understatements.



GAZ-ETA 44, June 2006, Poland (Tom Sekowski)

Quoting Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe from "Wilhelm Meister's Travels": "Stones are mute teachers; they silence the observer, and the most valuable lesson we learn from them we cannot communicate." So, what exactly was US composer Brian Leber attempting to communicate when he was recording this CD? "Till", which is a compilation of three long-form pieces that have appeared previously on small private editions, introduces field recording with a heavy emphasis on stones and rocks of all kinds. His 2002 piece "Isobar" takes wind, small stones, sistrum, graps and shortwave radio; puts all of these in a blender and lets the sparks fly - in a very non-chalant way. Literally, there are no fireworks here, just pure unadulterated sounds of the elements. I especially think the concoction of a slow-blowing wind goes quite well with mutated, humming shortwave radio static. The second piece, "Tracing Stones", incorporates cello, which is heavily featured side by side wood, rain stick and small stones. Gentle scraping on the strings of the cello produce a good contrast to the barely audible stones. In the final piece, "Mountains and Rivers", Leber choose to add a bowl gong, rice, water, double bass, rain stick, leaves and mixed stones to produce a twenty minute study of the reality of a field recording. Gentle sifting of the rice together with occasional use of the bass and the constant crackling of stones and leaves make for a fascinating listen. Evenly paced and recorded with much care and afterthought, "Till" allows stones to speak in their own, unique language.

Kuwayama-Kijima 01.05.10 CD

Wire #230 April 2003, UK, Jim Haynes

Kuwayama Kiyoharu and Kijima Rina have adopted the habit of recording all of their improvisations for cello, violin and viola among the industrial wastelands of Japan. Thus, the rush of cars on a freeway overpass or the mechanical din of massive circulation fans often accompanies the expressive screeches, plucks, bangs and scrapes that the duo force from their instruments. Appartently the duo recorded these sessions at the No.20 Warehouse, although there are little, if any, aural suggestions of this specific environment. While previous recordings found the duo eagerly listening to the landscape for clues as to which gestural sound to make, this warehouse with its modicum of reverb remains a stately constant throughout the sessions, and Kuwayama and Kijima anxiously await any response that the building might have to their performance. Building sustained whines punctuated by erratic smears, the two accumulate a nervous energy that resonates powerfully within the warehouse.

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Vital Weekly #356, Netherlands, Frans de Waard

A while ago I visited Kuwayama Kiyoharu in his studio in Japan and it was a wonderfully strange experience: a sort of dislocated bar space underneath the subway of Nagoya. Every once in a while the subway would pass, shaking the foundations of the small, intimate workspace.  Kuwayama has a wide variety of materials to work with. Self-built speakers, violins, guitars and electronica. But for this, his second CD outside Japan, he and Kjima Rina concentrate exclusively on the use of cello, violin and viola. As the date probably refers to the date it was recorded (like the track titles), one of course knows that we are dealing with improvised music here. These two string players work through their sounds in a serious manner. No really focussing on the possible drone character of stringed sounds, these sounds jumps around, but in a rather friendly way. Unlike say Agencement for instance, whose nervous hectic playing is of a totally different area. This is more in a serious classical mood then anywhere close to noise.

 

Mem It Was A Very Good Year CD

Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly 390), Netherlands

Let's take a moment to correct the previous issue of Vital Weekly. I wrote that I never heard of Mem, but that was not entirely true. Behind Men is Kamil Antosiewicz, who was at one point a member of EA, a Polish trio, whose releases
were discussed in Vital Weekly before. EA does no longer exist and now Kamil works on his own. For this new CD he took as a sound source, the 1961 song "It Was A Very Good Year" by Elvin Drake, best known though for the interpretation by Frank Sinatra. His version is a like standard for romantic songs, about love, life and death. It's not Mem's idea to pay hommage to old blue eyes, but about the very essence of the piece. Strange to think that only this song is all he uses but maybe the possibilities of the computer sound processing are indeed endless. But still, upon closely listening to this disc, I assume, Mem just a very long time stretch of the entire song and processes those extremely long processing into an one hour sound event. Like with his EA days, Mem still loves to work with drone related material. What happens with a time stretch is that the sounds are much longer and by adding the right
filter one moves into the area of drone and ambient music. While listening, I was thinking, well, that's a rather simple thing to do. But does it matter? Do I really care how this was made? Not really. The disc is just a very nice ambient
record, quietly humming music, vibrant yet minimal. Maybe not the most fascinating innovative recording, but still a good ambient headphone music.

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Wire #239 January 2004, UK, (Jim Haynes)

Joseph Lanza's 1996 book Elevator Music offers a benevolent history of the machinations of Muzak. Central to his apprasials and arguments is the idea that the advent of modernity created a necessity within the population at large for some form of mood music. The Muzak Corporation simply filled that empty market with a particularly banal, lowest common denominator commodity. That is not to say that the subcultures of the world do not share this same need. Regardless of their own intentions, minimalists, post-minimalists, and Ambient artists might find their work serving this need for mood music. Consciously or not, It Was A Very Good Year, by Polish dronescaper Mem (aka Kamil Antosiewicz) draws attention to this potential gap between the artist's intent and the audience's use. Mem has stretched the maudlin croon from Frank Sinatra's rendition of "It Was A Very Good Year" into a frozen drone that adeptly reflects the plasticity of Asmus Tietchens as well as the sculpted infinity of Charlemagne Palestine.


Tidal/Peter Duimelinks Ablution mCD

Vital Weekly 538 (August 2006, Frans de Waard, Netherlands)

Perhaps by intent, but Peter Duimelinks is one of the few well-known names who however never released a full length CD on his own. He is part of THU20, Kapotte Muziek and Goem, did sound installations, recorded with Frank Bretschneider a CD in the Brombron series (see Vital Weekly 530) and could probably easily do one due to interest, but he just never did. This release doesn't change that. On 'Ablution' he works with Tidal, aka David Brownstead from New York. The two exchanged sound files back and forth in 2004-2005, going through various stagesof rework. "In Judaism, ablution is the process of washing away physical and mental impurities. Upon completion, the mind and body are cleansed and renewed." This miniCD with one track is a twenty minute deep dark rumble of colliding sounds. The basic is deep and dark, like highly processed field recordings, although the processing might have been generated by radical equalisation. On top there are light sparks flickering at a highly irregular shape. When listened on headphones, static and hiss seem to be part of the piece. It's a good and solid piece of music of highly dark ambient music. There isn't a specific role for either Tidal or Duimelinks: the mark of well made collaboration.

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GAZ-ETA (September 2006, Tom Sekowski, Poland)

DJ / music creator Peter Duimelinks teams up with New York composer Tidal [David Brownstead] for a 20 minute piece called "Ablution" [which in Judaism is a cleansing process of washing away physical and mental impurities]. Created over a span of a year, music on the record was traded back and forth a number of times until a final result was achieved. When you look at the CD cover work, you're faced with utter darkness. Dark blue waves of some sort of fire are seen on the front, while the back features either five burning candles or five car lights. Like the album art, the music is just as eerie. Contemplating who knows what for who knows whom, the duo stretch out long, spooky passages of pure sound over a forest of background audio. Delicate percussive effects are heard throughout that resemble high-pitched water drops dripping from the walls of a dark cave. The cavernous sound continues to delight as the piece draws on, only getting more scarier by the minute. Glistening star-like sounds emerge three-quarters of the way through, while a deep floating bass sound emerges near the end. While the mood is quite eerie, the overall atmosphere is rather calm. It's a shame the duo condensed their work to a 20 minute piece. There's huge potential waiting to be discovered just as the piece is coming to a close. Next time around, I hope the duo will stretch their combined possibilities over a longer timeframe.



Chain DLK (September 2006, Eugenio Maggi, Italy)

A collaborative one-track mini-cd from US Tidal (aka David Brownstead, ex-666 Volt Battery Noise, and currently involved in the militan zionist project Barzel) and Dutch Peter Duimelinks (known for his activity in THU20, Kapotte Muziek and Goem), clothed in two splendid photos by Alluvial's own Kevin Wienke. The work is inspired by the Jewish purification ritual, but as the cd gives no further information about that I will stick to the music - which by the way is excellent. "Ablution" features a powerful low-end drone probably created by mixing field recordings and some filtered instrumentation. Nothing new under the sun under this aspect, if you're familiar with the works of López, Meelkop, mnortham, Nehil, etc., but this surely ranks among the best in the niche. The soundscape is obscure and even frightening, but not bleak - which is probably the perfect way to portray an intense spiritual experience.



Touching Extremes (October 2006, Massimo Ricci, Italy)

That's right, you heard right: another example of 20-minute CD that needs to be listened in "repeat" mode - possibly in the very early hours of the morning - to fully appreciate its profound energy, which in this case is enough to have one's heartbeat and breath conforming to the subsonic pulse and the suspension created by some astounding underground rumbles. "Ablution" is also made of static high frequencies similar to the noise of pressure in water tubes, metallic tampering, rustling and shaking glass and stones - presumably. Everything sounds like engulfed by a cloud of gas, nebulous halos and hissing auras surrounding all the contours. No points of reference whatsoever, just an indefinite extension of that environmental shadow which wraps the all the best outings of the genre. It's a CD that should be loved by fans of installation soundworks at large and - although this music is a little more immaterial - of Jonathan Coleclough's most rarefied, matchless substances.



T H E W I R E M A G A Z I N E 273 (November 2006, Jim Haynes)

I'd like to believe that Peter Duimelinks and Tidal's David Brownstead met in a dank warehouse in the middle of nowhere to record the source material for Ablution. But even if they didn't create it in an abandoned space, as Lustmord and Lethe have done in the past, Brownstead and Duimelinks pursue a similar agenda of coupling evocative drones with performative gestures. Throughout Ablution's 20 minutes, the pair are heard throwing objects around, extracting the choicer timbres which result, and processing them into a watery ambience. As anxiously banged pieces of metal evolve into a distant choir of chiming phase patterns, swells of blackened sound alter the album's watery metaphors from mildly wet to ominously oceanic.

 

Janek Schaefer/Gino Zardo Walking East mCD

Vital Weekly 474 (Frans de Waard)

"Gino Zardo is a photographer and field recording artist, and perhaps that is the same thing. Taking photographs of people and/or environments is the same as recording their sound. This mini CD is the result of a travel through the North Western provinces of India, the Himalayas and Papua New Guinea. In the booklet we see his photography, which is quite nice. The sounds recorded while en route were handed out to Janek Schaefer, who edited the music, into a nice collage of ethnic sound - a soundpicture of the Third World. For me an area of the world that I haven't visited before, but which I know from previous releases in this area, starting with the Touch cassettes up until the Indian Soundscapes on Soleilmoon. In that respect it doesn't add something new to either field recording or knowing more about the cultures the recordings come from, but nevertheless its a well done release".

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Phosphor Magazine (August 2005, Berlin, Smm)

If like me you relish the idea of listening to the birds in strange foreign climes, conversing with Sadu’s, attending tribal rituals, taking taxi journeys in rickety old cars you’ve never seen before whilst listening to the radio and it all sounds so much better, lovely and new and all the while taking hundreds of photographs, then you’ll love this… ‘Walking East’ is the debut release from Gino Zardo who is a photographer and field recordist from Australia, its a photographic sound portrait of the artist’s travels through the North Western provinces of India, the Himalayas and Papua New Guinea, its very succesful as for the entire piece your right there with him. He was able to gain the trust to get close enough to live amongst the families and tribes of these regions and witness and indeed record their ragas and spirituals, crafting and blending it all together to create something quite special. The CD is also accompanied by a booklet full of Gino’s beautiful photography taken on his travels, in fact this is one of the theme’s that brings it all together, as you listen at certain points you will here the constant winding on of his camera. A lovely piece of work realising that the presence of community, hardship, joy and survival are universal. I’m off now to grow a substantial beard, live up a mountain and rear goats for their milk.



Gonzo Circus Magazine, Belgium (pds)

Original Dutch:

Meer dan zes jaar had Ginzo Zardo nodig om ‘Walking East’ uit te werken en af te ronden. Zardo, geboren in Australië uit Italiaanse ouders woont en werkt als fotograaf in New-York. Voor ‘Walking East’ trok hij twaalf maanden rond in India, Nepal, Papa New Guinea en de Himalaya. Zijn ervaringen bundelde hij in een fotoreportage. De foto’s – stuk voor stuk indringende beelden van de plaatselijke culturen. Zardo zoomt in op eenvoudige taferelen en plaats in zijn werk de mens centraal, een zeldzaam beeld van een maïsveld en een visvangst niet te nagelaten – worden muzikaal ondersteund met geluidsopnames die Zardo ter plaatse maakte. Janek Schaefer verwerkte de opnames tot een lang uitgesponnen collega. Voor Schaefer, een gevestigde turntablist en geluidsarchitect, is ‘Walking East’ opnieuw een verdieping in een andere cultuur geworden. Voor zijn vorige plaat ‘Songs For Europe’, een samenwerking met Philip Jeck, liet hij zich inspireren door de Turkse en de Griekse traditie, nu verdiept hij zich in de primitieve Aziatische culturen. De combinatie van het fotomateriaal en het ruw geschetst geluidsarchief maken ‘Walking East’ tot een volwaardig reisverslag. Het fijne oog van Zardo en het gehoor van Schaefer, stille ontdekkingsreizigers van een vergeten wereld, zorgt ervoor dat ‘Walking East’ een absolute aanrader is....



Very Bad English Translation:

More than six years were necessary for Ginzo Zardo to develop `Walking East'. Zardo, born in Australia to Italian parents, lives and works as a photographer in New York. For `Walking East', he travelled around for twelve months in India, Nepal, Paupa New Guinea and the Himalayas and documented his experiences with a photologue. The photographs - one after the other, show the uniqueness of local cultures. Zardo documented the places and people in his work. The music on the CD uses field recordings which Zardo made on the spot. Janek Schaefer processed the recordings into a long spanning collage. For Schaefer, established turntablist and sound architect, `Walking East' reveals the deepeness of another culture. He seems to have drawn inspiration from his previous offering `Songs For Europe', a collaboration with Philip Jeck, which was in the Turkish and the Greek traditions, now he absorbs himself in primitive Asian cultures. The combination of the photographic material and roughly outlined sounds turns `Walking East' into a full travel report. The fine eye of Zardo and the composition of Schaefer, quietly discover travels of forgotten worlds, and ensures that `Walking East' is an absolute must.



Touching Extremes, Rome, January 2006 (Massimo Ricci)

A renowned photographer (take a look at the fabulous pictures adorning the cover and the booklet of this CD) Gino Zardo captured many intriguing frames of regular everyday (and night) life during long trips to India, Nepal and Papua New Guinea, in a series of splendid field recordings later assembled and transformed in a veritable composition by Janek Schaefer. The short duration - a little more than 21 minutes - does not detract from the sheer beauty of this complex layering of noises, voices, television, human and animal calls; the juxtaposition of sources reflects a finely conceived architecture, well-thought sound placement becoming the key to the appreciation of a luxury audio artifact. The whole package - photos and music - brims with love for life itself and is not to be missed.



GAZ-ETA Number 40, Poland, February 2006 (Tom Sekowski)

Australian photographer and field recording artist Gino Zardo walked the trek through North Western provinces of India, Himalayas in Nepal and Papua New Guinea. For a full year, beginning in January of 1999, he covered a distance of 50,000 miles. His goal was to experience the daily life of the tribes. While camping with families along the way, he was able to take in the full scope of their daily life - their routines, their music, and their customs. On his return, he handed his recordings over to Janek Schaefer who constructed a 21 minute audio diary of Zardo's travels. The sounds on this brief CD range from flocks of birds whooshing by, someone playing a guitar, chants, chorus of kids playing, waves, rainstorm, cars, bits and pieces of human dialogue, sound of someone fixing a bicycle, and general sounds of nature. The CD comes packaged in a beautiful cardboard sleeve, complete with a booklet full of truly humane photographs taken by Zardo on his long journey. [Much of his photography can be viewed at www.ginozardo.com] For all it's worth, this audio documentary should've been two or three times its original length. Hats off to Janek Schaefer for an amazing editing job on original tapes. The flow of the piece is seamless, without a hint of a bad cut anywhere. "Walking East" turns out to be a true treasure for fans of audio and visual arts.



Auf Abwegen #35, Winter 2005 (Till Kniola)

Gino Zardo behandelt das Problem anders, indem er durch Fotos im Booklet und Betitelung eine sanfte Kritik an der Vormachtstellung des westlichen Way of life transportiert und in einer asthetischen Verbeugung vor dem Klang einer anderen Kultur (in diesem Falle Indien, Nepal und Papua Neu-Guinea) munden lasst.

 

Afflux Bordeaux TNT CD

Vital Weekly 521(Frans de Waard, Nederland)

Your ear is an excellent microphone. Imagine to be in a crowded place, close your eyes and listen. You will pay attention to detailed sounds around you, simply because your mind allows you to ignore the surrounding sounds, those you don't want to hear. Afflux does something like that, except that they use real microphones and contact microphones in a location. TNT cultural centre in Bordeaux is apparently a big building with a bar/restaurant, offices, concert space and a top floor. Afflux attached many contact microphones to all of these places and they were connected to a 32 channel mixer and the resultant mix was played over eight speakers in the concert half. The whole concert lasted six hours. Afflux is the collaboration of Eric Cordier, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa, all three composers in their own right. From the six hours of recordings, Eric La Casa edited this fifty one minute CD, with just one piece. We hear sounds that we recognize, like people talking, the elevator, maybe the coffee machine, but they all appear to be far away, or embedded in a strange environment - maybe like we would hear this when we would inside such a big environment ourselves, but now the ears don't select: the selection has been made for us, by La Casa. Our ears are now focussed on this CD, and not the rain outside, or own coffee machine. This makes this into quite a strange listening affair, since we recognize the daily sounds that we would always recognize but also all these other sounds. It makes this however not an uneasy affair, but rather a fascinating one: what are these sounds, and where are they going to? It's a highly captivating soundscape that is captured here. Not so much with a 'story' or a 'composition', but ambient music in the true meaning of the word: music made of the ambience. Gorgeous music.

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Touching Extremes May 2006 (Massimo Ricci, Italia)

The TNT cultural centre in Bordeaux was filled by "several hundred meters of cables" by Eric Cordier, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa, who proceeded to record the internal and external sonorities of the area placing a large amount of condenser and contact microphones, whose captured sounds were altered/processed and sent to a 32-channel mixer, then played in the building through eight loudspeakers. The perfect balance reached by Afflux is demonstrated by the beautiful results we achieved during consecutive listening sessions: at a good level with windows closed, the overall mix deploys a rapture of motors, trains and urban clattering juxtaposing the sublime of a peripheral zone and the danger of walking alone at night in the street. But if you let these recollections fuse with the sounds of life coming from outside - which in my case included a cuckoo, a distant jet and the faraway voices of a few Sunday country walkers among the rest - you could even feel entitled to some sort of monastic pondering alleviating this era's insecurity and mental tiredness.



GAZ-ETA Number 43, May 2006 (Tadeusz Kosiek, Poland)
"Bordeaux TNT" stanowi zamknięcie trylogii przedstawiającej dźwiękowe pejzaże, które trio Eric La Casa, Jean-Luc Guionnet i Eric Cordier nagrywało w różnych rejonach Francji. Oczywiście pejzaże to szczególne, stanowiące nie tyle dosłowny zapis, lecz próbę schwytania swoistego ducha miejsca, często nieuchwytnego nieuzbrojonym uchem, bowiem Affluxowcy nie ograniczają się tylko do rejestracji dźwięków, lecz często je przetwarzają, bądź miksują z innymi. Na omawianej płycie przedstawiają fragment słuchowiska, z którym przez sześć godzin mierzyli się goście centrum kulturalnego TNT w Bordeaux. La Casa, Guionnet i Cordier rozmieścili mikrofony wewnątrz (przede wszystkim w sali restauracyjnej) oraz na zewnątrz budynku i improwizowali, przepuszczając modyfikowany dźwięk przez 32-kanałowy stół mikserski do ośmiu głośników znajdujących się piętro niżej. Centrum, które mieści się w budynku dawnej fabryki butów, ulokowane w pobliżu torów kolejowych i szosy wydaje się być odpowiednim miejscem na tego typu przedsięwzięcie nie tylko ze względu na to, że dostarcza materiał dźwiękowy, ale i dzięki temu, że pozwala mu się swobodnie rozchodzić. Jak już wspomniałem cały koncert - a może lepsza byłaby nazwa instalacja, bowiem muzycy nie byli obecni w sali koncertowej ? - trwał sześć godzin, zaś "Bordeaux TNT" tylko pięćdziesiąt jeden minut, i m.in. dlatego (kolejnym powodem była konieczność zgrania wszystkiego na dwie ścieżki) materiał przeznaczony na płytę został na nowo zmiksowany przez Erica la Casa. Nie będąc świadkiem koncertu, trudno mi ocenić, czy aby przy tej okazji materia nie została specjalnie "zagęszczona" po to, by akcja rozgrywała się szybciej. A dzieje się tu wiele i dzieje się bardzo ciekawie. Odgłosy zewnętrza (ptaki, wiatr, pociągi, samochody, niezidentyfikowane trzaski itp.) i wnętrza (szmery, brzęczenie, głosy, itd.) splecione ciasno w mocny dźwiękowy warkocz, przenikają się, dopełniają, przekomarzają, przekrzykują - zwykłe dźwięki poddane manipulacjom ukazują swoją drugą twarz, niesłyszaną wcześniej, często zachwycając i drażniąc jednocześnie. Absorbujący uwagę, pełen smakowitych detali i niezwykłych barw elektroakustyczny kolaż, soundscape który podsumowuje tytuł metamkinowskiej serii Cinema pour l'oirrelle.



WIRE Number 268, June 2006 (Jim Haynes)

Afflux is an ongoing collaboration of French electroacoustic sound technicians who have habitually tackled large scale installations and convoluted recording situations. For Bordeaux TNT, the trio of Eric Cordier, Jean-Luc Guionnet, and Eric la Casa set up dozens of contact microphones and long-stringed devices throughout the 5000 square metres of a factory in Bordeaux which is now home to the TNT cultural centre. During a six hour performance, they amplified and manipulated the resonant hums, drones, and creakings inherent in the massive building. The trio extract the most engaging sounds from the building itself, with their gestural pings, strokes, and metallic clamour sounding futile in comparison. Nonetheless, this is a sophisticated piece of sound art.



PARIS TRANSATLANTIC JULY 2006 (Massimo Ricci, Italia)

The ability of a CD to satisfactorily recreate the experience of walking through a sound installation is limited, to say the least, yet labels like Dale Lloyd's and/OAR and Alluvial keep going against the odds, releasing important documents that more often than not approach "masterpiece" status in this particular area. In this instance, Eric Cordier, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa recorded a live performance at La Manufacture des Chaussures in Bordeaux, six hours of sounds specifically conceived to be used in the inner zones of Bordeaux's TNT Cultural Centre. The artists decided to mix prerecorded sounds together with those of the urban surroundings, extending cables throughout the Centre, installing condenser and contact microphones and channelling everything to a mixing desk manned in real time by La Casa, who modified and filtered the incoming results. The mix was played in TNT's concert hall by eight speakers, the three men working on the first floor of the building while people walked and listened on the ground floor. But none of this theoretical babble will prepare you for the uncertain weather of Bordeaux TNT, a 51-minute piece where the manipulation is almost undetectable, all sounds maintaining their basic attributes even in the most unpredictable moments. Screaming children and barking dogs are engulfed in a nocturnal dimness amalgamating the noise of traffic and the scary silence of a blind alley. The pulsing complex structure of vibrations (Guionnet is credited with "long string recording devices") had me thinking of Paul Panhuysen flying a miniature plane sitting on a cafe terrasse. Every once in a while a passing car roars louder, yet everything is organically linked in an obscure but perfectly functional mechanism of sonic circulation, a perfect example of how such projects should be realized. Above all, Afflux succeed in reminding us of the beauty of long-distance urban/industrial murmur, inviting us to leave our mental windows open, to change the air a little bit.



BLOW UP, May 2006 (Stefano I. Bianchi, Italia)

La Casa (microfoni a contatto) con Eric Cordier (processing) e Jean-Luc Guionnet (registrazione e mixing) sono gli Afflux, qui registrati nel materiale sonoro relativo a una instal­lazione effettuata al TNT di Bordeaux nel 2000. La musica e piu vivace articolata rispetto aI 3", pur dipendendo sostan­zialmente da con­cretismi : glitch elet­trici in comunella con scie luminose di feedback tenerissimo e rumore digitale che si modula e adatta con notevole efficacia.

 

SMALLFISH (JULY 2006)
Afflux is a collaborative project by Eric Cordier, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa and features a series of excerpts taken from a 6-hour installation / live performance at the TNT cultural centre in Bordeaux. The artists created a wonderful soundscape by recording the inner space of the building itself, then manipulating and processing it in real-time. Dense, striking and full of interesting, engaging moments it captures the sense of a busy space with style and panache. There's a beauty here that becomes more and more apparent  with each listen. Superb.

 

Paul Bradley Memorias Extranjeras CD

Vital Weekly 523 (April 2006, Frans de Waard, Nederland)

On the back-cover of the new Paul Bradley CD, we see a tourist picture: people standing in a sunny street and when we read that this was recorded in Valencia and Gandia, both in Spain, we may know that this picture is made while recording the field recordings used. At the basis of all Paul Bradley music is the field recording. After that Bradley manipulates the material until is a stretched out piece of drone music and the original source recordings have disappeared. That's why in the early days we thought it was a bunch of synthesizers. However for 'Memories Extranjeras' he has these recordings made in Spain, and he by and large does the thing he always does best but there is a slight difference. The original field recordings are here and there to be heard: at one point the rhythms of a marching band arrive out of a mass of sound and sounded like an odd counterpoint in this music. On other spots we hear the crowd cheering or talking in a reverbing hallway. This 'revealing' of sources is a quite nice new feature in this music. It doesn't add a whole new perspective, nor does it break the good flow in this work, but at the same time, you feel that Bradley is slowly shifting interest towards new paths. I wouldn't be surprised if he switches over one day and reduces the electronic processing in favor of the pure field recording. But that's all for later. For now, Bradley added another fine work of drone music to his already nice discography.

 LISTEN

Touching Extremes May 2006 (Massimo Ricci, Italia)

An interesting change of direction from Bradley, whose drifting drones find here a counterpoint in a series of field recordings he made in Spain. The sounds were mostly captured during a street celebration by the community of Valencia; we experience a compelling mix of transcendental and concrete, where the association between the composer's helical glissandos and hard-hitting inspections of the low-frequency domain with voices from the road, rhythmic slogans corroborated by drums and police sirens howling in the background becomes at times very involving from an emotional standpoint. Bradley's bravura resides in his capability of finding a way for the reality to hide in a niche of unconscious memory, so that one feels like having participated to the event without actually having been there. The contrast between the oneiric submersion and the edgy involuntary orchestration generated by the human element works extremely well throughout the album, establishing a sensation of whispered intrigue that highlights this artist's soundscaping cleverness.



GAZ-ETA Number 43, May 2006 (Tom Sekowski, Poland)

Paul Bradley who runs the Twenty Hertz label/collective is a busy guy. Recent releases have been abundant on his own label. His latest project "Memorias extranjeras" is a field recording based on a festival in Valencia, Spain that was in turn morphed into a 40 minute drone recording. Glimpses of festival are in fact few, which is a bit of a shame, but this was never the purpose of the record. Rather, Bradley wanted to take source recordings and simply use them as a starting point for the drone-fest that follows. Sure, we have minute glimpses of fireworks exploding, people cheering and clapping, crowd noise and what sounds like real life explosions of some type but that's not the core of the record. The feast occurs in the flow of the mid-bass drone that follows the piece from beginning to end. Fairly steady, slow to mid-tempo drone is actually pleasant to the ears. Mid- way through the record, drone changes to a guitar-like sound that may have been recorded inside of a large, empty cathedral. Not sure how to describe the drones here, other than to say that they're reminiscent of a semi- metallic spiral at one point, while in a different point, they're more like a hollowed-out, ominous call of doom. Perfectly paced and realized with a lot of afterthought and balance, this is one record that allows the mixture of field recordings and drones to flow freely.



Tokafi, August 2006 (Tobias Fischer, Netherlands)

Bang! Just when you thought you had settled in, your senses are warped into a state of emergency, there is a sudden rush of blood to the head, your heart starts beating furiously and you can feel your pulse in your jugular. For all those, who thought they knew Paul Bradley and had come to expect yet another work of deep, brooding, meditative and transcendentally comforting drones, the time has come to think again.



Not, because there are none of those on this album. But instead of the undisrupted flow and smooth transitions of previous efforts, “Memorias Extranjeras” presents the listener with a colourful collection of snap shots, each one with a different mood and intensity. Of course, the old Bradley is still very much present in many of the seperate episodes, especially when he operates in the lower regions of the sonic spectrum and treats the listener to physically powerful, subcutaneous layers of bass vibrations, which set both mind and body in motion. There are plenty of those here, but on top of that, there are also sweeling and decongesting harmonics, almost indian flavoured passages reminscent of a long-drawn sitar tone, field recordings of people talking and of foreworks being ignited, as well as (a real premiere in Bradley’s oeuvre!) rhythms. The latter light up the aural scenery at the very beginning, covering the fanned-out opening drone, only to disappear again in an instant of a second. Like a ghostly galley ship on an endless ocean, the 40-minute long composition sails through banks of mist, allowing only a faint glimps of what is to come and merely a distant memory of the past. The cooling spray touches your face and the wind caresses your hair like an invisible hand, as you gaze at what’s in front of you. And all around you, on a grey, but everlasting horizon, a wordless world slowly unfolds.



And then, just when you thought you had settled in, brutal noises set in and a frenzy of distorted voices and explosions shakes you up and brings your body back to the real world. There are more of these surprising moments on “Memorias Extranjeras” and they keep the mind in a transient state between waking alertly and sleeping peacefully. After a string of almost perfect drone releases, this is a step into a new direction for Paul Bradley. A most welcome one, as we might add.

 

Paul Bradley Mas Memorias Extranjeras CD

Gaz-Eta, Poland, July 2008 (Tom Sekowski)

On "Màs Memorias Extranjeras", sound artist Paul Bradley revisits his "Memorias Extranjeras" release from a couple years back. This is supposed to be the other side of the coin of the initial release upon which these sounds are based on. As Bradley put it, "On returning to Memorias Extranjeras (and to the Spanish city of Valencia), the foggy, dark somberness that punctuated the first CD had gone. A fundamental change had occurred in the 12 months between Memorias Extranjeras and Más Memorias Extranjeras and there was a desire to reflect this and re-work the piece to match this clearer change in perspective. The two releases are two sides of the same coin, one darker, more detached and the other, calmer and more open. Memories that had changed and warped, softened and melded together, the same experience revisited through different eyes." The edges are gone. The static is eased. The simple act of unyielding surprise has been thrown to the background. What Bradley has on offer within these 43 minutes are subtle drones, eerily laid out concoctions of metallic waves of static and a general atmosphere of calmness. It's not until the very end of the CD that we're thrown a few minutes of the street festival in Valencia. That's when we hear the drummers go wild along with the sounds of an ecstatic crowd in the street celebrate. To necessitate a state of continuity, what started as a calm piece, ends on a crest of an ocean wave like hum. Excellent release, proving it's always possible to go back in time to re-invent one's work.

  LISTEN

Touching Extremes, Italy, April 2008 (Massimo Ricci)

Presenting the second version of an album released about a year before would seem to be a wrong artistic choice. Furthermore, to add mystery to the puzzle, the first edition of “Mas memorias extranjeras” came out with the same cover of its predecessor, a move that could have been losing from a commercial point of view (I myself had thought about an error after opening the promo packet, and from what’s found on the label’s website the sleeve is now different - well done). Then you listen to the music, and - voila - this is one of the best Bradley records of the last years, in my opinion better than the previous episode. As it happened there, PB meshed his trademark dissonant-yet-caressing drones with location sources captured in the Valencia area (Spain). The difference lies in a more organic amalgam of the components: this time, voices and noises from the streets were somehow treated differently by the composer, who processed them in a way that almost results as ghostly, definitely incorporeal (except maybe the final section, where a marching band appears amidst the local clamour). The feel of mental absence, of suspension of the physical functions, is here rather evident. It all amounts to an outing that lovers of both drone-based soundscapes and static electronica-cum-field recordings should not leave unattended. Paul Bradley is one of the few artists in this zone who managed to create a personal style, soberness and introspection at the basis of the sense of achievement that his releases consistently guarantee.

 

Paul Bradley Chroma CD

The Wire April 2007 - Outer Limits / Jim Haynes
His seventh release in less than a year, Chroma is another stately album of strung-out vibrations from British drone artist Paul Bradley. E-bowed guitar is central to this album, which emerges on the first couple of movements as deep ripples of low-end frequencies exposing their source material through slow rotation of several phase patterns that could only be made by guitar. About halfway through the album, Bradley moves away from these Isolationist references through a pastoral set of brightly toned ambience. Here, the structural nature of Bradley's work becomes more apparent, as he composes through variable repetitions of elongated loops pocked with the odd effervescent flourish.

 

Seth Nehil Amnemonic Site CD

 

Seth wrote an essay about this music here (pdf). 

 

Vital Weekly 569, March 2007, (Frans de Waard, Netherlands)

Perhaps Seth Nehil is better known from his collaborative work than for his solo work. He worked with jgrzinich and Olivia Block, but his last solo work was from 2002. In the years between he worked mainly on different projects that couldn't be released on CD, such as multimedia installations. The new work 'Amnemonic Site' is covered with obscurity. Besides his name, the title, label name and catalogue number, the cover holds no information. 'Play Loud' it says on the
label, which always raises the question here: why? I usually like to make up my own mind if I want to play music loud or not. The whole time I was playing this CD, I couldn't stop thinking 'what are these sounds'? It's of course a question that I constantly ask myself when playing new music, certainly when covers are as obscure as this one, but in Nehil's case, it can be anything really. Are these field recordings? Perhaps. Or closely miked objects? Also likely. And what about the nature of sound processing? It seems likely there is some. How and to what extent? And do I also detect some real instruments, like wind instruments, or perhaps organs? It's all likely. Each of the pieces is a large mix up, I imagined, of all of these. There is field recordings, closely miked objects falling to the wooden floor, but also long sustained sounds of wind instruments. It all makes up a particularly strong CD, that is very much alike the latest Olivia Block release, in which a similar treatment of 'real' instruments and field recordings is used, and Nehil easily reaches to a similar height in his 'Amnemonic Site'. Full of tension, he offers a strong interplay between all of his soundsources and it's easily the best release I heard from him to date.

 LISTEN

Bagatellen, United States, May 2007 (Brian Olewnick)

Seth Nehil is interested in forgetting everything he knows about music. "I began imagining a culture in which the idea of music had been forgotten or never learned, but in which people insisted on the value and practice of collective sound-making activity. What would their 'music' sound like?" To this end, and after having experienced certain sonic immersions in "real life" such as an enormous welter of activity during a Chinese New Year celebration in Manhattan, he began investigating methods of blurring the distinctions between live and pre-recorded music and sounds, folding them into one another in systems and combinations that had as little as possible to do with his hardwired ideas of what music should be. "Amnemonic Site" is the first release documenting this idea. Of course, translating these concepts to the sonic sphere is another thing entirely. I’m sure I could have happily listened to the five tracks here without such thoughts ever flitting through my mind even though knowing this background might cause me to listen from a different angle. The first two pieces in particular don’t overtly straddle the music/non-music territories, at least as far as contemporary sounds go; they more comfortably fit into a similar electro-acoustic landscape as did the Matt Mitchell disc I wrote about last week, an extension of the areas explored by pioneers of the electronic avant of the 60s like Raaijmakers. You do ascertain certain elements that likely worked their way in from outside the studio, but they “read” as entirely akin to the (presumably) synthesized ones—their texture is essentially the same. This makes for a fine, shallow (not in a bad sense) spatial effect, one of sounds winging their way back and forth inside a narrow, metallic envelope before ending in a small spray of static clicks. The second section is muffled, anaerobic and severely claustrophobic, as though you’re drowning in heavy, flapping flannel. It’s effective and at the same time unpleasant though the organ-y chords and bloopy electronics that surface later on in the piece I could do without.  Over the last three portions, however, the work breaks out into the open and hits stride, Nehil’s expressed ideas (at least in retrospect) peeking aboveground for a glimmer or two. There’s a relationship between the sound world he’s exploring and that investigated by his sometime collaborator Olivia Block, a like affinity for open field noises with vague (hence enticing) narrative content. The layers of texture lap after one another, the soft drone, then the backwards-sounding thwacks and shuffles, the dully resonant taps, the thwacks taking on the character of burning wood, each element subtly rising and fading in volume, in degree of grain. Gradually, that third cut splays out into a play of high, reedy drones, what sounds like a bass flute (but undoubtedly isn’t) and faraway, impossible to decipher…voices? Almost out of the range of hearing, in any case. Those two sounds, the high whine and the low “flute” reappear at the beginning of track four, wedded to a lower, more clarinet-like bellow and a purer, medium range organ chord. The whole structure wells up, shedding clatter, coalescing into unintelligible voices and evaporating into a large, public interior space. Again, a moving, bracing “novella”. Amnemonic Site’s coda combines any number of the preceding elements (was that Chinese being spoken all along?) where that admixture of inside and outside gets its clearest demonstration. Impossible for me to say if Nehil accomplished his stated goal or if, indeed, it’s a possible thing to do with recorded media. But the disc works real well as an extended “story”, building in waves toward some perceptible, if indescribable, whole.



Tranzistor.gr, Greece, June 2007 (Nicolas Malevitis)

... the train is leaving from drama's station, if i had a few more days to spent i would have stopped again for a couple in this city, which no matter how small it is, it haunted me the first time i visited her 2 years ago. super people & super situations i lived! slowly emerge from my discman the sounds of seth nehil's 'amnemonic site', recorded between 2004-2006, drops like a real bomb after almost a 5 year silence at least regarding his solo works, with the exception of being the director of 'foarm' fanzine and some collaborations w/ his pal jgrnich. it's not simple electroacoustic or ambient music, it's a sound game w/ sounds crafted so harmonic kai bult/tied between them that they nail you down as riveted is at the moment am listening to them the ride w/ the train through the channels of the nestos river, in my opinion together w/ the part that starts at the moment the train leaves the station of 'bralos' 'till it passes through eleutherohori (through or close to the gorge of the asopos river w/ the old machine gun nests that hang as abadonded small towers in the middle of nowhere) perhaps make it as 2 of my favest landscapes regarding the train rides around greece. so as is the release, captures my heart as one of my favest releases so far for 2007!!!

 

Gaz-Eta, Poland, March 2008 (Tom Sekowski)

Sound and visual artist Seth Nehil is onto something with his "sounds". They're not alien but they tend to shy away from the human effect. Other than his name and the title on the CD's spine, the album only offers "play loud" as words of wisdom on the CD itself. Nehil leaves more questions than actual answers in his audio collage. Is he "playing" actual objects? Is he exploring world of micro-sounds or is he processing found sounds? Did he source out these sounds in the middle of the desert [are these insects?] or did he mike a static-filled television set? One thing I must admit, the "play loud" advice is well worth heeding. If the volume was turned mid way, much of the details of Nehil's exploratory work would've been completely lost. I admire the way the sounds like someone rummaging through abandoned garbage cans on the second track [all tracks don't come with a name attached] or the way in which I get mental pictures of plastic tubing being lightly struck on the next track. Hollow, tunnel-like admonition takes effect and the sounds are more ominous than their actual creation [or so I imagine]. Guesswork in the creative process for this album means an added bonus for the listener - our imagination is forced to do over-time to come up with ultra-vivid images that populate an imaginary soundtrack. Top rate recording from an artist who has his best work still ahead of him.

 

Frans de Waard Vijf Profelein CD

Vital Weekly 572, Netherlands, April 2007 (Magnus Schaefer)

Frans de Waard is a busy man, not only publishing Vital Weekly, but above all engaged in a lot of projects such as Beequeen, Freiband, Shifts, Goem and Kapotte Muziek. Occasionally he also releases material under his own name and this signals that the work is based on field recordings. In the case of 'Vijf Profielen', the basic sounds were recorded at the 'Zware Plaatwerkerij' in Vlissingen/The Netherlands. This is a building where so called 'profiles' - elements used in shipbuilding - were made, but which is not used as such anymore, as the area where it is located, is currently undergoing substantial change. 'Vijf Profielen' was originally conceived as a part of an exhibition called 'Mijn Domein' in Vlissingen, for which artists were asked to reflect that transition. Although there is just one long track on the CD, it is clearly divided into five distinct parts. This makes sense, since it emphasizes the unity of the whole, while making the individual parts actually function as profiles, similar to a series of different shots of the same location in a film. The music is neither cinematic in the sense of conjuring up images, though, nor is it a documentation on the site of the recording, but it rather captures the qualities of the original recordings of the rumble and clatter of large machinery in a suggestive way, transforming the original sounds into carefully abstracted drones. The work demonstrates a fine sense for the aesthetic possibilities of sounds found at a given location. It opens with unprocessed recordings of mechanic sounds, which show that the source material is highly interesting by itself. As the piece progresses it gets more and abstract, moving through minimalist fields of opaque sound, that are mostly subdued, but gain a powerful presence at times. In the final 'profile' the sound recedes almost totally and a fine, dark drone, just above the threshold of audibility closes the CD. Considering the contrast to the opening passage, the transformation of the material throughout the piece and the origin of the basic sounds, this is a great ending - a definite last point on the one hand, but on the other hand also like an emptiness, that reverberates in your memory while the location where the sounds originated doesn't exist anymore.

 LISTEN

The Sound Projector, Germany, May 2007 (Ed Benndorf)

Frans de Waard pulls the Vijf Profielen CD (ALLUVIAL RECORDINGS A26) out of his body like so much frogspawn. This is a single track of field recordings made in a building as part of an art commission, and probably reprocessed into low-key rumblings. The disc allegedly contains two 'glitches' which 'don't appear on the regular version'. Well, there's a cryptic utterance from this lanky Dutch meister, who's now past the stage of 'prolific' and has so many releases and projects to his name that he's fast becoming a feature of the landscape. However, that's easier to achieve in Holland than some other parts of the world.



Tranzistor.gr, Greece, June 2007 (Nicolas Malevitis)

'... we are at 'kokori' for a drink, various friends around, adam asks michael and me whether 'chrysallis' would be interested in expanding its activities in the city of ptolemaida that he moves back again regarding gig set ups, etc. 'we're in' we say no matter that 'chrysallis' is a project that deals solely w/ the city of xanthi kai is part of pakethra acitivities but don't worry we have many more disguises we can use be it editions_zero, the greek branch of elgaland - vargaland or whatever. all the atmosphere and the drinks but also the remembrance of last year's 3day festival w/ goem, freiband, cities of desolation, furukawa at the old tobacco factories of the city but also the amazing set of kapotte muziek in the hall of the city's folk museum make us feel that flow in our heads the sounds of 'vijf profielen' of frans de waard that was recently released on alluvial.. field recordings in an abandoned building in the little dutch town of vlissingen that were also done in the harbour and around the city and were used for an installation here are very well crafted as a sound carpet that travels you other times in more subsonic or other in more intense sounds of fuckin' amazing electroacoustics which as a catapult leaves you aghast w/ its freshness and maturity. i must admit that it must one of the most beautiful cds frans has given us for sometime and it's worth to seek it and allow yourself to get lost in its magic...



Progress Report, UK, August 2007 (Hassni Malik)

In 2005 Frans was asked by the organizers of the 'Mijn Domein’ exhibition in Vlissengen, Netherlands, to make a sound piece to mark the closing down of the local shipyard. He amassed a collection of field recordings that encompassed the sounds and the silences of that location. On the cover (an almost Touch-like design by Roger NBH) you can see the inside of the place, it looks like one giant hangar. The eerie little clinks and whispers Frans picked up form a vivid image of what it must have felt like to stand alone within that hangar. The album forms a reworking of that exhibition piece. Frans is known for his sensitive ear, allowing him to balance and position sounds carefully to the point that it forms a 3D quality. Repeated play allows a discovering of new sounds, new positions and an attentiveness even to apparent silence. The album plays as one continuous assembly but has definite sections that forms movements.
From what sounds like chains and the humming of lift shafts, to the distant flutter of wind through a gap in the wall, it’s an evocative and oddly moving piece, rather like flicking through an old photo album and capturing memories of things you had once forgotten. That ghostly sense is both strong and sensitively presented here, particularly emphasised by the final lingering silence. The cd is clearly one of Frans’ finer moments.

 

Arsenije Jovanovic Galiola CD

Original press release:

FO A RM Projects, in collaboration with and/OAR and Alluvial
Recordings, is pleased to present this 80 minute collection of sound
works, newly remastered and accompanied by extensive notes by the composer.



Over the last 40 years, Serbian radio-art composer and film director
Arsenije Jovanović has developed a deeply personal style of sound art for radio broadcast. His compositions are imbued with natural
environments and human-centered activities. They feel rooted in place - whether real, imaginary, remembered or dreamed. Weaving voices,
instruments, field recordings and manipulated sound, Jovanović creates vivid narratives without a story. He takes full advantage of sound’s capability for seamless morphing and far-flung association.



1. Prayer For One Galiola (1967)
2. Tombstones Along The Roadside (1967)
3. Prophecy Of The Village Kremna* (1990)
4. Les Vents Du Camargu (2000)



*Portions of this piece were used in "The Thin Red Line",
a film directed by Terrence Malick.



Comes packaged in a digipak with 12 page booklet.

Reviews:

Vital Weekly 631, Netherlands, June 2008, Frans de Waard

The name Arsenije Jovanovic I heard before and perhaps even his music - vaguely I remember a CD for La Legende Des Voix - but somehow, somewhere it didn't really stick in my mind. He creates music, film and writes books. I have no idea which is his most well-known side, but the four pieces on this CD might serve as an introduction to his work with music, through pieces composed for radio. That previous La Legende Des Voix CD is no longer available, so this may bring new interested to his work, like me, I guess. Two old works from 1967, one from 1990 and one from 2000. There is of course a slight problem with this, which is that the texts are sung or spoken in Serbian or Croatian (is there a difference?), which makes it hard to follow what it is about, and that seems to be a bit of a problem with pieces of music in which texts are important. I thought that 'Tombstones Along The Roadside' sounded like a religious work, with the chanting of monks, but then I read in the booklet that itsabout the tombstones of soldiers who died in the Balkan wars in the 19th century (this is a 1967 piece). However listening to this I'd say it's hardly a problem, since sound wise this is all great stuff. Jovanovic creates very imaginative pieces of sound - that transports the listener to another world - using field recordings and lots of voices in the older pieces. The later pieces are instrumental and have still a great power. Here the mind wanders out further and can freely make associations with the music on offer. Like I said, I heard of this composer before, but never could pin him down to something - now I can think and I think its great.

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Gaz-eta, Poland, October 2008 (Tom Sekowski)

From what I understand, "Galiola" is the first time Serbian theatre, radio and TV director Arsenije Jovanovic has been made available to the public at large. Four pieces presented here [two from 1967, one from 1990 and one from 2000] each range in their diverse approach to the subject at hand. "Prayer for One Galiola" [1967] is a radio work the composer dreamt up while he was hospitalized following a serious car crash. Recorded in mono, the piece is full of dialogue that mixes in with effects of water crashing all around. Sense of being lost and desperation is evident throughout. Composed the same year, "Tombstones Along the Roadside" is taken from a theatre production put on in a small, provincial theatre. Many of the texts are taken from tombstones of soldiers killed in battlefields, while others were borrowed from popular children's games and songs. Barren in its appearance, the piece is a call out for reflection and points the way to the holocaust that occurred in Serbia two decades later. 1990's "Prophecy of the Village Kremna" was used by Terrance Malik in the soundtrack to his film "The Thin Red Line". Based on an old prophecy that foretells future catastrophes, the piece is overtly ominous, dappled in nothing but the blackest shades of black. Its eerie sounds prop the listener to pay close attention to the illusive gathering of sounds that unpredictably appear out of nowhere. Final piece on the album is "Les Vents du Camargue". Composed in 2000, this is a chapter of the Jovanovic's acoustic diary. Recorded in Arles at the church of St. Trophime, the sounds contained within the piece feature hollering winds, cricket sounds, rattling of metal cans and muffled voices. Rich experience has led each piece to stand completely well on its own accord. Kudos to Seth Nehil for the fine work on excavating these long-forgotten works. I'm salivating at the mere thought, knowing there's more in the vaults. Perhaps someone will dig up further treasures soon?

 

Brain Dead Eternity, Italy, November 2008 (Massimo Ricci)

Criminally under-recorded, the music of composer and director Arsenije Jovanović possesses the kind of remarkable qualities that, love it or hate it, are going to finger the nerves of those who listen conscientiously. The nearest thing to a blurred concept of “notoriety” for this artist derives from the involvement in the soundtrack to Terrence Malick’s movie “The Thin Red Line”, which in fact features Jovanović’s “Prophecy of the Village Kremna”. That’s the longest and most suggestive vision in this four-episode compilation, based as it is on an ancient Serbian prediction, a numinous foretelling about “catastrophic events and apocalyptic occurrences which will fall upon the homeland and its people”. A sequence of haunting female voices, lingering nocturnal appearances, distant moans, sighs and mumbles, humming low frequencies chipping away at the tranquillity of a candid latecomer, likely to have impressionable audiences sleeping rather uncomfortably should this track be played at late evening.  Strikingly emotional as well is 1967’s “Tombstones Along the Roadside”, described as a “national Danse Macabre” by the originator; initially conceived as a theatrical stage act, the composition honours the innocent victims of the Balkan wars from the end of 19th century to WWII, portions of the texts taken from the gravestones of deceased soldiers and subsequently transformed in monologues and hypothetical dialogues between the sufferers and their tormentors. The remaining tracks are, to some extent, not as much of evil-boding - but extraordinary nonetheless. “Prayer for One Galiola” was born from an unpleasant incident as, many years back, Jovanović found himself lost at sea in the dead of night, his boat’s engine not working (he landed on a small island named Galiola after hours of wandering in the waters), and also from an assortment of hallucinations following a car accident that, somehow, were all associated with this name. “Les Vents du Camargue” is the most concrete-sounding affair, the main source being the Mistral that made impossible an external recording at first and took the leading role afterwards, either through its forceful blowing or via the psychological mechanisms that were set in motion by the wind’s influence, the whole taped at the Cathedral of St. Trophime in Arles. Still, this depiction doesn’t even acquaint with a tiny bit of what this great piece sounds like.

Jovanović’s particulars are uniquely vivid, having the large part of this music been written for radio broadcasts (and, in general, rarely performed). The dramatic aspects are definitely predominant, often disturbing; there’s a sort of bloodcurdling magnificence emerging in several fractions of these sonic constructions which is both illogical and inescapable, analogously to the attraction for the gruesome details of a scene of death that many people experience. Here’s to hoping that more of this body of work is unearthed, especially if the standards of inventiveness are confirmed at this level of impressive consistency.

 

MONK MINK PINK PUNK #15 (JULY, 2008, Josh Ronsen)
Serbian sound artist Jovanovic has been producing radio plays — known in Germany as Hörspiel — since the 1960s. Dozens of these pieces have been only heard by the public once, when they were aired. Seth Nehil, a friend and sound artist formerly of Austin now based in Portland, interviewed Jovanovic for the FO A RM publication in 2006. More importantly, he rescued 4 of Jovanovic’s treasures onto CD, which sit nicely beside the CD of Jovanovic’s works released by Eric La Casa in the mid-1990s. I think Seth and I both were captivated when Eric sent N D a copy of this release. The idea of a radio play is virtually unknown in America, where radio works are either the audio portion of theatre (Prairie Home Companion) or boring journalistic stories with sound effects (the banal reporting of National Public Radio). In Europe, the radio play combines all forms of sound, music, sound effects, interviews, acting and electronics into a slippery and artistic maze of meaning and personal reflection. 1967’s “Prayer for One Galiola” collages electronic and environmental sounds, acoustic instruments (cello, harp) and laughing and spoken voices. Each of the sounds seems to answer the preceding sound in a dreamlike cinematic way. I can imagine this being the soundtrack to a Fellini film, due in part to the many repetitions of the name Galiola (the name of one of Jovanovic's boats), which sounds Italian to me. The at turns monkish and ominous male chorus, to my ears sounding like a meeting of a secret Catholic society, adds to the Italian feeling. Also from 1967, “Tombstones Along the Roadside” presents a meditation on the deaths of the Balkan soldiers who died throughout the first half of the 20th Century and never received proper burials. Somber voice read from their tombstones (over empty graves) and create voices of the dead from beyond the grave over subtle electronic drones. None of the text is in English, so much of the meaning behind the piece is lost to me: the liner notes by Jovanovic help. The other two pieces were made later and largely eschew text for atmosphere. 1990’s eerie “Prophecy of the Village Kremna” was used in Malik’s film The Thin Red Line. Here drones, rattles and wind noises merge into a slow moving mass, like a curtain separating us from something awful. “Les Vents Du Camargue” from 2000 feels like a remix of the previous piece, with similar elements mixed more dynamically, mixed with bird and children noises recorded from a 12th century church.  Jovanovic’s slow-paced works are necessary listening, I think. With this CD and releases on Kunstradio and La Casa’s La Legende des Voix labels, we have just just scratched the surface of this radio master’s varied works. I used some of the promotional materials sent to us by La Casa in Monk Mink Pink Punk #6, which is now posted online.

 

THE STRANGER VOL. 17 #34 (MAY, 2008, Christopher Delaurenti)
Fans of cinematic electronic music should investigate Arsenije Jovanovic's Works For Radio 1967-2000, released by and/OAR, one of the leading labels for field recordings and experimental electronics. A cult composer and theater director - his "Island Of The Dying Donkeys" is a classic - Jovanovic blends everyday sounds into abstract yet compelling soundscapes, the aural equivalent of filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni ("Blow Up" and "Red Desert").

 

WIRE MAGAZINE (JANUARY, 2009, Owen Hatherley)
Pulling together four pieces from 1967-2000 by Serbian radio composer  Arsenije Jovanovic, Galiola is a brilliant but frustrating collection. The  two earliest works here, "Prayer For One Galiola" and "Tombstones Along  The Roadside", both produced for state broadcaster Radio Belgrade in  1967, are richly dense, emotive works, collaging imposing liturgical
incantations, orchestral fragments and clattering everyday sound effects.  Unfortunately, the texts, which are clearly integral to these radio pieces are completely untranslated. This would be an oversight with an opera, but here, where much is simply spoken word, it is maddening. The liner notes are reasonably helpful on subject matter, explaining the works in
Jovanovic's own words - "Prayer For One Galiola" is apparently inspired by a fantasy of an island in the Adriatic, while "Tombstones" is a "national Danse Macabre" in memory of Balkan wars - but the information just makes the linguistic impenetrability all the more frustrating.  Mercifully, this isn't a problem with the second half of the CD. "Prophecy Of The Village Kremna", broadcast by Radio Belgrade in 1990, abandons text altogether in favour of a swelling, 26 minute miasma of drones and atmospheres. It's a tremendous, elemental piece, and the CD is worthwhile for it alone; it was later used by Terrance Malick for The Thin Red Line, although it stands perfectly well in isolation. The final "Les Vents Du Camargue" (2000) sounds like variations on a similar theme, without quite the same unnerving power but with its own more
allusive qualities. In all, Galiola is a fascinating record, but an on-hand translator would be useful.

 

Giancarlo Toniutti qwalsamtimutkw?italuc'ik (and now he almost did make himself into hemlock needles, it is said) sound-field for rattle-harp CD

Vital Weekly 651, Netherlands, December 2008, Frans de Waard

Its been a while since there was a release by Giancarlo Toniutti reviewed in Vital Weekly. The 3"CD of some time back on Ferns didn't make it and the one before? I can't remember. In fact (I could look this up on the pack of lies called the 'internet', but I rather don't) the releases I do remember of Toniutti were collaborations, with Siegmar Fricke, Andrew Chalk and Conrad Schnitzler. Was the last Toniutti solo record indeed the LP from the 80s? Seems hard to believe, but who knows, it might be true. Although not as extensive as his previous liner notes, there is the usual Toniutti language again: "Taking care (to comprehend and develop) of the interaction between the future sound form and the final ambient function, while approaching the time of the exhibition, I decided to forge some tripartite heuristic processes to compensate the sound field, with an eye (ear) both to the final space and the sonic economy". Say what? But read on and on, because the text does make a few thingsclear. This is a recording made to accompany an exhibition of Luisa Tomasetig and it uses the Rattle-harp, an instrument, especially built for this occasion and being a 145 x 85 cm drift metal plate and a 1 meter long steel wire, furnished with 6 tintinnabula and accidental bone, wood and additional 10 metre metal wire. One day he made a recording with it and about a year later he 'treats and composes' it, using DAT, reel-to-reel tape recorder, analogue mixer and eq. This hour long work is a trademark piece for Toniutti. The acoustics of the piece, the dragging of metallic sounds, the analogue treatment of the material, the minimal changing of the equalization to make the piece sound different, it all sounds like comfortable Toniutti music. I never figured out why he doesn't want to release more music, as this is certainly great stuff. Surely there is an explain, but I don't have it.

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WIRE Magazine #300, UK, February 2009, Jim Haynes

Giancarlo Toniutti's last solo recording emerged some 20 years ago, with a few potent collaborations in the intervening years alongside Andrew Chalk and Siegmar Fricke.  The delay is due to Toniutti's fastidiousness in forging his sound execution within a conceptional framework, often with highly technical linguistic nuances and intellectual sleights of hand.  This album is no exception, as he has sourced his material from a self-constructed 'rattle harp' out of drift metal, wire, bells, and bones.  The growling drones and clatter of objects from this instrument develop into a brilliant openended composition that comes across as a poetic extraction from the ritualistic scrapping that Organum mustered in the late 80s.  Yet Toniutti's pacing and tactile sensibility are entirely his own; and it's one that seems to fit very well with his ideas on "the dynamics of perception itself as an element of a sharing experience".  Let's hope that another 20 years won't transpire between albums.

 

Tokafi, Netherlands/Germany/USA, March 2009, Max Schaefer

A sonic component, rather than foundation or reflection, of the art of Luisa Tomasetig, specifically - at least at first, though soon spilling well beyond - her exhibit which took place in Tolmin, Slovenia in the early months of 2002, sound artist Giancarlo Toniutti's second full-length, and first in some twenty years, so far as this reviewer can gleam from the inflated prose that fill the linear notes, deals with a sharing experience, more specifically, with rendering the duality of subject and object iridescent through unceasingly active inversions of linked micro-events that comprise a closed sound-universe. Toniutti gives this work its own feel, for one, owing to his selection of instruments: predominantly, he employs a rattle-harp, which consists of an iron plate and long metal and string wires, which are played by a mongolian bow. After processing and mixing the results, in a curious move, Toniutti ensured the instrument would not take on a historical dimension, and instead remain a completely closed past, beholden to the singularity of this point in time as its unwitting outgrowth, by dismantling it at the end of the construction process. Against the flux that ensues, which is individual in its pace and sensitivity to dynamics, the listener is indeed able to throw out one's own associations with ever-increasing ease. Over the course of its nearly one hour life-span, the work never comes to term, but instead turns in on itself as the loops ferment until the pressure is eased as the composition mutates in a subtle manner. Though it shifts in great, deep waves, it carefully pulls and pushes at itself without descending into inchoate sonic mire. Its crackling, churning mechanical movements, quartz-like detail and murky analogue delay, keep it in shape, and ensures it positively breaths space and a sort of ill-defined pathos. The work is thus enticing as a shifting architecture and inclosure for perception and imagination.   

 

Hitoshi Kojo Ezo 10"

Vital Weekly 666, Netherlands, February 2009, Frans de Waard

A few weeks ago I reviewed a record by Kodama, the collaboration between Micheal Northam and Hitoshi Kojo. The latter we know also as Spiracle, his solo outing which we reviewed before when discussing releases on Taalem and Mystery Sea. I have no idea when Spiracle is in place and when his own name applies. Especially his Taalem release seem to come close to 'Ezo'. In both he uses metal sheets or metal strings to play music that is not unlike the very early Organum 'In Extremis' sound, but whereas Organum slowed down his tapes to get his full sound, Kojo doesn't slow this tapes, but opts for a multi-layered sound. He staples as it were his material together. All sorts of possibilities to play the metal with bows are used here, but the beauty lies in the mix of the multiple sound sources. Two lovely pieces here pressed on vinyl, which have exactly the right length to maintain full interest by the listener. A fine little record, a great, daring piece of drone music, and one that iscreated almost acoustically. That's how these thing should be done. More I'd add.

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Massimo Ricci, Italy, October 2009

This 10-inch constitutes my first meeting with Kojo, a man who seems very interested in the spiritual aspects of things – including sonorous found objects, which is what he deals with in Ezo. In the sleeve notes (splendid artwork, by the way) one notices a thanking of Michael Northam, so I was hoping to find something along those coordinates – human frailty against natural elements in remote places, you get the picture. Instead, the noise – more or less harsh, at times layered in “contrapuntal” fashion – of the above mentioned objects remains the main character throughout, the focus almost completely centred on the abrasive qualities of metals. For the large part, this amounts to a poor man’s version of Organum bathed in lengthy reverberations. Despite the appreciable attitude shown by its engenderer this record didn’t manage to raise any emotional response, nor it can be analyzed as a serious experiment. Musical significance lies somewhere else.

 

Aquarius Records, Jim Haynes, US, Summer 2009

Occasionally working in the past as Spiracle, Hitoshi Kojo presents this thoroughly amazing piece of ancient-sounding drone music. No doubt, Kojo's work will be compared to that of the classic Organum sound; but considering that very few have even come close to replicating the power and mystery of such classic Organum recordings as Ikon or Horii, such parallels should be taken as the highest praise. Kojo claims that all of the sounds originated from various found objects. He doesn't specify beyond that, but all of the objects must be metal in origin, probably large pieces of sheet metal, or flexible rods of steel, or long pieces of wire, or something equally resonant and with a dynamic timbral quality. Each of these objects is bowed in order to coax a controlled dissonance of metallic screeches, protracted tonal bellows, and various acoustic drones. The two compositions are simple in their moderate pacing of the ebb and flow between all of these sounds, not too slow... but certainly not too fast. Through these recordings, Kojo offers very little in the way of digital treatments or effects of any nature. Just a terse edit of one layer here, or a reversing of a metallic gong decay there. The results are a timeless set of interlocking metallic rasps and gasping drones that rivals what Harry Bertoia, Taj Mahal Travellers, LaMonte Young, and of course Organum had done so impeccably in the past. Beautiful, mysterious, and very highly recommended!

 

Killed In Cars Blog, Dark Magus, US, August 2009

The limited 10-inch Ezo allows the versatile Hitoshi Kojo to enchant the listener with vague notions of animism and potential energy. As opposed to his fascinating Kodama project — a partnership with Michael Northam that was typified by bursting, electronic builds, repetition, and long-form structure that demanded the listener to grasp for context and meaning — Ezo, due to both its short length and its powerful, immediate initial burst, immediately immerses the listener in a largely natural, fast-paced world. It would serve as a natural contrast, in fact, to place Ezo’s familiar sounds of sloshing water and scraping metal, at all points filling the sound spectrum, with the alternately full and empty electronic drones and close-listening activities that menace and stare throughout Kodoma’s Turning Leaf Migrations.



To understand Ezo, and to get a sense for why it is an exciting record, it is important to see its place in Kojo’s 2009 output. Ezo serves as a bridge between the highly successful Kodama and the unsuccessful drone/ambient project Libellula, a trio comprised of Kojo, Sebastian Clinger, and the aforementioned Northam. (2) saw Libellula become too subdued, too reliant on nuance, and because both the nuance lacked detail and the structure lacked sufficient differentiation from a standard genre piece, the result was forgettable. Kodama solved all these problems, but the results were only tangentially related to drone. Instead of relying on new streams to add color to a drone, Turning Leaf Migrations varied the density, displayed a masterful grasp of movement within the stereo spectrum, and utilized a host of different sound sources, be they electronics, found sounds (such as water, insects, and walking), or whatever was on hand.



While Ezo predates the release of both of these records, it was constructed well after them. Kojo, cryptically explaining his thought process, speaks of the sound sources heard on the album, the resonances of everyday objects, and the spaces that contain those objects. Tellingly, he also makes reference to the artifact, the very record in discussion here. Each pressed record is its own object, with its own resonance, to be used and slowly degraded like anything else. Perhaps to Kojo, all physical objects have powerful potential resonances, and the environment within which they are found is the key to bringing forth such sounds. With this approach, Ezo differentiates itself from (2) in that it properly illustrates, rather than alludes to, the sound within things. Likewise, Turning Leaf Migrations is distinguished from Ezo by its exponentially greater direct manipulation of sounds. In other words, Kojo is letting things speak for themselves.



That said, Kojo’s artistic task, as with most musicians utilizing found sounds, is to get these things to say something, to mean something. The chosen approach is normally juxtaposition and/or layering, and Ezo is no exception. The introductory sound of pouring water quickly turns from serene to tumultuous, subtly morphing into a swirling sound, ice cubes seemingly flush to the edge of a cup, pressed harder and harder as scraping metal and low-register vibrations form an abrasive focal point. High-pitched activity towards the top of the composition gives way to a multiplication of the initial water motion, just as the metallic scraping and rumbling become increasingly unhinged.



Without spoiling the record’s moment-by-moment development, what does it mean? Ezo is an interpretation not only of Kojo’s surroundings, but also of Kojo himself. After all, if the object can beget the sound, and the sound can beget a new object, isn’t the architect also a layer and also an artifact? It stands to reason, then, that Kojo has his own resonance, and to unlock it, to decipher his meaning, you must place him in some context — namely, this record. Coupled with notions of impermanence; the destructive, unstoppable force of water that is ever-present on this record; and the building, manic metallic noises, Kojo could be exploring notions of his own degradation — a sense of invisible but surely present decay of his self and the emotions those realizations foster: fear, anger, aggression, helplessness. Ezo therefore represents a development for Kojo, a progression from passive, to active, to aware.



In short, Ezo is the crucial link that turns three albums into a telling, personal character arc, where both the works and the artist are revealed as fragile, organic things. Ezo is the sound of an artist becoming self-aware and deciding to sculpt awareness from whatever happens to be within arm’s reach.

 

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12/5/2009 12:19 PM