Statistique Synthétique draws as much from the history of computer sound synthesis as from its latest developments. But well beyond developing simply as a proof of concept, this piece aims to transcend the abstract status of synthetic sound objects and lead them to a properly hallucinatory state, that is to say to a meeting point where the object and perception dissolve into each other, in a sort of transcendental field. Beyond, also, hylomorphism, to reach the world of matter-form fusions, where perception knows how to see “shoulders of hills”, as Cézanne wrote.
Text by François Bonnet
Teum (the Silvery Slit) is, as the title suggests, an overture, an opening to the game of multiplications, fragmentations, duplications. But it is also the opening understood as the void that blossoms between two borders, a break from which escapes a double tension, both the pulling force of these two edges which move apart and the opposite force of reconciliation, of compression. Okkyung Lee invites us to a truly telluric moment, a rare moment of expression where tectonic movements and shear stresses become music. If the earthquakes were, as we thought in the 18th century, due to underground thunderstorms, there is no doubt that this piece of music, both celestial and continental, could have been their audible manifestation.
In 2018, the idea was introduced by Jeff Mills to address the lack of artistic collaborations within and from the city of Detroit/USA. The city had always been an engine of new innovative ideas related to music, art, dance, poetry and all other arts. It was thought of as a way to demonstrate the commonality people possess from various art forms and that by mixing ideas visions and perspectives together are might produce unexpected and often provocative results.
The project started when Mills reached out to one of Detroit Techno's founder and legendary DJ/Producer Eddie Folkwes. Though the two are known and connected to Detroit Techno and knew each other for decades, they never worked together so the first few meetings and conversations were marked with finding all the common links that have built both of their careers. During this time, Mills wanted to find a third person for the project, one that was from Detroit, but not a musician. His idea and theory was that by engaging two other creative thinkers would most likely produce something unique as emotions would become linked together to find that common, but higher level. While browsing the web, Mills discovered a post that featured the Detroit-born poet Jessica Care Moore. Struck by her words and the energy she mastered to say them, Mills knew immediately that she would be the perfect artist to approach for this creative venture. As with most artists that grew up in Detroit, they immediately opened up the links in their past, present and future outlook. He presented the case and explained to her how he thought it might work. She liked the idea and agree to join.
On this seven track album we hear MinaeMinae (alias Bastian Epple) playfully scurry through his dense soundscapes on a tightrope. The sounds lying somewhere on the crossroads of psychedelic trance, exotica, ambient and melodic dance music – veering further off orbit with nontypical rhythms and dystopian percussive patterns.
MinaeMinae understands musical material similar to documentary footage which he would cut up, repitch, and rearrange freely. Most of his tracks are a mix of analog, synthetic sounds and recordings of ethnic percussion and guitar. Recently Bastian began experimenting with modular synthesis and self made tape echoes - seeking a more reduced and minimal composition style compared to his earlier quite whimsical tunes.
Growing up in a small village in southern Germany, Bastian was never interested in kitschy folk sounds that everyone would mindlessly clap and sing along to, rather he took solace in the time he would spend delving into patterns and repetitions that pleased him. His guitar strumming and what sounded to his mother like a young Philip Glass on a cheap Casio keyboard encouraged little Epple to continue on this self-taught path of developing his musical language. He then started to experiment with a tape recorder and layering sounds with non-musical samples, which his former village friends found too weird – then to eventually working with a small freeware DAW. Bastian went on to study Media Art at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe – initially enrolled in music but the frustration and doubt of not being able to produce the music he wanted led him into film and documentary media. During his studies, Bastian was living with Florian Meyers (Don’t DJ) for several years where they would philosophize life and music into the wee hours – he encouraged Bastian to start sharing what he’s been quietly working on all these years and slowly emerge from this anonymity which eventually led to his first release on Human Pitch last fall.
Disproportionate forms, color changes, backdrops weaved into the foreground, all lay the dense earth for Gestrüpp through Benjamin Kilchhofer’s artwork.
Co-produced with Carlos Niño and scoring a 7.5 on Pitchfork, Jamael Dean is a prodigious 20-year-old jazz pianist and producer who has collaborated and performed with Kamasi Washington, Thundercat and Carlos Niño. Jamael Dean's debut album is out now on the prestigious Stones Throw label. Influenced by his grandfather, the legendary soul-jazz drummer Donald Dean, as well as Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock, Dean is one of the most sought-after artists of the new generation. From the ethereal horn section, to the kaleidoscopic piano, to the chill-out microcosmic collage of sound, the vibes are tremendous. A chaotic cosmic soul-jazz masterpiece that mixes beat music, hip-hop, ambient and electronica. This is a masterpiece of chaotic cosmic soul jazz that mixes contemporary jazz, beat music, and experimental music, reaching out to listeners of many genres!
The first Be With foray into the archives of revered German library institution Selected Sound is one of our favourites on the label - the super in-demand Japan from Victor Cavini, originally released in 1983.
Rare and sought-after for many years now, this is one of those cult library LPs that never turn up. With Daibutsu the giant Buddha of Kamakura’s presence gracing the hefty front cover, this is a record bursting with dope samples for adventurous producers: it’s koto-funk madness!
Victor Cavini was the library music pseudonym of prolific German composer and musician Gerhard Trede. He was known for exploring instruments and styles from around the world (he played over 50 different instruments himself) and Japan is his collection of 14 musical sketches painted with traditional Japanese wind and string instruments. These are the sounds of traditional Japanese folk music re-interpreted through Western ears, with the occassional contemporary twist. Contemporary for 1983, of course.
These “Pictures of Japan” are hypnotic, sometimes frantic, but always beautiful. The first twelve tracks offer airy explorations of koto and flute, with other strings and percussion being added and then given their own space. Indeed “Pictures of Japan XII” is just drums.
And then “Pictures of Japan XIII” seems to come out of nowhere. But the subtle sleaze of its full band sound still doesn’t quite prepare you for the towering climax of “Pictures of Japan XIV”.
This is Japan’s undoubted standout piece, completely and wonderfully at odds with the rest of the album. It’s the reason this has become such a must-have record. It keeps the traditional Japanese instruments but combines them with shuffling funk breaks, electric bass high in the mix and a Godzilla-sized psychedelic fuzz guitar sound that might actually be a traditional reed flute pushed to its limits. Whatever it is, it sounds awesome.
Recalling both Rino de Filippi’s Oriente Oggi and Giancarlo Barigozzi’s Oriente, the track’s a real head-nod groove for b-boys and b-girls alike that sounds straight out of a late 70s Yakuza film. Indeed, if you were told The RZA or Onra had cooked this up in the lab this century, you’d be convinced. It’s crazy that this dates from 1983.
The audio for Japan has been sensitively remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis to keep all the character of the original recordings. Richard Robinson has handled the careful restoration of the original Selected Sound sleeve. Essential.
This is an analog reissue of the 1956 album "Exotica" by Martin Denny, the undisputed king of exotic fantasy music! Once you drop the needle, you're transported to another world... A monumental album that launched Denny's 30-year career and opened up a whole new genre of exotica music! As the tropical mood from the iconic artwork suggests, the album showcases the full range of fantastic space-age sounds that reek of exoticism and imaginary charm.
The singular expressions of music across Indonesia are seemingly limitless, though few are as dynamic and hold such a colorful history as jaipongan of West Java. The form of jaipongan we know today was born from the fields of Java where an early form of music called ketuk-tilu echoed over fields during harvest times. Known for intense and complex drumming coordinated with equally dynamic solo female dancing, ketuk-tilu performances included a rebab (a small upright bowed instrument), a gong, and ketuk-tilu (“three kettle gongs”). Though the original performance context of this music revolved around planting and harvesting rituals, with the singer accepting male dancing partners, over time ketuk-tilu became an outlet for village life expressing fertility, sensuality, eroticism, and, at times, socially accepted prostitution. Activities in the first half of the twentieth century that were best suited amongst the elements of harvest and outside of urban criticism.
Fast forward to 1961, the year the Indonesian government placed a ban on Western music, most specifically rock and roll, ostensibly to revive the traditional arts and have the country refocus on Indonesian ideals. Though, this attempt to reclaim, and in many ways conservatize, musical output had an unexpected musical outcome. In the early 70s the composer and choreographer Gugum Gumbira (1945-2020) took it upon himself to retrofit and creatively expand the core elements of ketuk-tilu into a contemporary form. One that would harness ketuk-tilu’s core dynamics and nod to the government’s pressure to revive traditional forms, while creating a fresh and socially acceptable art form where enticing movements, intimate topics and just the right degree sensuality had a collective musical expression. Born was jaipongan.
Musically, Gumbira added in the gamelan thereby augmenting the overall instrumentation especially the drums. Importantly, he brought a new and very focused emphasis to the role of the singer allowing them to concentrate solely on their voices opposed to dancing as well. These voices weren’t there to narrate upper class lifestyles or Western flavored ideals (and colonial mentalities in general), but the worldview and woes of the common people of West Java. Intimacy, love, romance, money, working with the land, life’s daily struggles and the processes of the natural world were common themes in jaipongan that ignited the hearts of the people and directly spoke to both the young and old. The two timeless voices that would define the genre and fuel it to echo out across the globe were Idjah Hadjijah, featured here, and Gugum’s wife, Euis Komariah (1949-2011), two nationally cherished voices that catapulted the genre into the sensual, elegant and other-wordly.
Movement-wise, Gumbira included some of the original sensual moves of ketuk-tilu and intertwined them with movements based on the popular martial art called pencack silat. With just enough new and just enough old, and just enough safe and just enough bold, men and women danced together in public in ways never allowed before. The genre and its performances were an oasis for the optimal amount of controlled intimacy and sexual nuance to be socially acceptable. Jaipongan was embraced by a country longing for new societal norms and creative expressions.
All these elements combined rooted Jaipongan in the hearts of West Java and set the genre on fire. Gumbira established his own studio, Jugala studio in the city of Bandung, where a cast of West Java’s best players resided. This record, as well as hundreds more that have defined music in West Java of every style, were recorded there. Radio, a booming cassette industry, and live performances of jaipongan flooded the country, so much so that the government's attempts to reel it in were futile. Jaipongan had tapped into the hearts, daily worldview, airwaves and clubs of West Java and wasn’t going anywhere. And by listening here, it’s still as alive as ever.
A true mid-decade classic, Mica Levi's ‘Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill’ is available once again in this new edition featuring Matt Colton’s re-master and new artwork, for optimal absorption in its lush aetheric flux.
Issued somewhere between Mica Levi’s emergence in 2008, and their recent gush of solo and band releases with Curl and Good Sad Happy Bad, Mica wrote and recorded ‘Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill’ around about the time they were receiving award-nominations and resounding acclaim for their soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer film, ‘Under The Skin.’ Naturally it shares some of that OST’s tones and moods, but the results are far more febrile, lush rather than dark and tense, stitching together a tapestry like mixtape-cum-production showreel of curdled chamber pieces, shrugged hip hop, ambient flights of fancy and gorgeous snatches of strings recalling the intervals of Carl Craig and Derrick May’s seminal ‘Relics’ set going into what sound like early sketches for what would become Tirzah’s ‘Devotion’ album a few years later.
Replete with new, minimalist artwork symbolic of the album’s enigmatic nature, the record’s second wind is arguably ideally timed for the world’s current state of torpor and tentative anticipation, with 60 minutes of figurative, quietly perplexing, evocative melodies that work by inference as opposed to ever beating you around the head with a message. It’s peppered with some exquisite, often unexpected moments that arrive and recede into its matrix with uncanny logic that perhaps comes as close as you’ll get to living inside Mica’s iridescent, endlessly intriguing mind.