Synth legend Suzanne Ciani, Demdike Stare's Sean Canty & Finders Keepers' Andy Votel come together on this killer hour-long 2014 synapse popper of a collaboration pooling the occasional group’s esoteric collage-based approach into a remarkably foreboding session pregnant with a dread that’s never quite resolved. Think Vladimir Ussachevsky, Todd Dockstader, Spectre and Company Flow melted thru the Deutsch-Italo industrial DIY tape era and funneled thru an almost impenetrable fog of Ann Arbor basement noizze.
Hustling some of Neotantrik’s most amorphous gestures, ’241014’ is a four-segment movement of reduced Buchla treatments, destroyed vinyl loops and scraping foley suspense; like a cosmic dream diary layered into a collage of drones and clatters. Little in Ciani's extensive catalogue has hinted at what's on display here; the joyful lullaby-pop of "Seven Waves" or metallic alien soundscraping of "Flowers of Evil" are only hinted at. She instead paints new sonic vistas, allowing space for her collaborators to make themselves known; Votel's chiming toy autoharp and Bubul Tarang (a Punjab string instrument) add a distinctive flavor, while Canty's grimy drones and noise-soaked textures drizzle pitch-black molasses into the cracks and crevices. Together, the effect is a bit like hearing Philip Jeck improvising over Popol Vuh's peerless Moog-led debut "Affenstunde" or Demdike Stare knocking out impromptu reworks of Tangerine Dream's abstrakt early run.
Perhaps unusually, the trio have still never set foot in a studio together, exclusively maintaining their practice in-the-moment and on stage when schedules intersect. So it’s all the more remarkable that their improvisations naturally find a democracy of role and such a heightened level of intuition, beautifully converging their thoughts to mutual, open-ended conclusions that leaves billowing room for interpretation. In a most classic sense, it's like the sensation of sleep paralysis or dream/nightmare ambiguity, with a level of suggestiveness that’s disorienting from end to end.
For the first time the recordings are now available in high fidelity (there was a tape version a couple of years back) - now remastered by Rashad Becker to better represent the otherworldly scope of their actions on stage, from the NWW-like queues and drone of ‘Scanned Accents’ and keening silhouette of ‘Second Action,’ to new sections of subaquatic Porter Ricks-like murk in ‘Anti-Contraction’ and the levitating webs of synth and tactile, sampled textures in ‘Last Canción.’
Tape music and synth music have long shared a passionate embrace, and here turntablism coolly slides in on the action. Canty and Votel's background in beat tape assembly and crate digging pays off: they're keenly experimental creators but bring an unfussy sense of rhythm and performance that's miles beyond any facile repetition of a nostalgia for vintage glory. Combined with Ciani's delicate Buchla work - it’s a unique proposition.
Here is a portal to a vast and relatively unknown world, the Japanese cyber-occult underground media scene of the early 1990s; our guide is the late Henry Kawahara, a media artist and electronic music producer whose expansive and visionary conception of digital technology merged with a desire to break free of the constraints of mere rationality. This collection, the first-ever archival release of his work, is drawn from recordings released during the period 1991-1996, an exceptionally fertile time for Kawahara. Originally released on CD by a few Japanese independent labels including Hachiman Publishing, a cyber-occult/new-age book specialist, the releases were available mainly in book stores, so this sumptuous and prescient music has remained relatively unknown. The original titles and tag lines of the CDs give clues about Kawahara’s interests and the music itself: Digital Mushroom, Subtropical Illusion, Never-ending Asia, and so on. This 15-track gateway compilation is available on double 12” vinyl and DL; the CD version has two extra discs featuring sound from two art installations entitled "Dysteleology - α" and "Dysteleolog - β" from the 1990s. All formats feature extensive English liner notes.
Henry Kawahara has been called “the Jon Hassell of Japan”, but upon closer inspection one finds that his work operates on very different terms. Like Hosono's forays into computerized Ryukyu folk “sightseeing music” or Tsutomu Ōhashi's Ecophony trilogy, Kawahara's world projected ancient musical traditions and notions of cultural identity onto the modern digital plane through a fusion of cybernetic thinking and pan-asian cultural introspection that makes Western attempts to do the same seem quaint in comparison. Kawahara's omnidirectional sound “illusions” were constructed not as albums but psychological experiences, billowing with a then-nascent notion of early 90s cybernetic spirituality that was proliferating on both sides of the Pacific as the hyperlinked state of global connectivity we know today was just beginning to crystalize. Through digital representations of folk instruments, shifting MIDI sequencing and custom binaural recording technology he aimed for psychoacoustic effect as much as artistic, all via a countercultural form of distribution untethered from the commercial expectations of post-bubble modes of artistic production. This EM collection draws out the best of his fruitful early-mid 90s period into a revelatory sequence, generously opening Kawahara's world to all. —Spencer Doran (Visible Cloaks)
Henry Kawahara's deal is Intimate, Intuitive, Adventurous, and Acidy! Spice is added to all, whether its ethereal guitar, nature effects, gamelan club trance, or LSD experimentations. In the vibe of Coil's “Love Secret Domain” and out there clubgamelan. The creative force of the jungle is mutated and interchanged with further sound palettes, and his effex palette has the schwing of a 90s grunge guitarist. His musical tendencies are natural and his scope and variety are dangerous. —Spencer Clark (The Star Searchers / Pacific City Discs)
Limited color vinyl (Marble Orange & Red)/ Gatefold sleeve specifications.
The opening "The Ents Go To War" has a gloomy arrangement and heavy drums, "Skylark" has a hypnotic dance between the bassline and the snare, and "Zoom Zoom" has a whimsical percussion. The airy synthesizer is impressive. In addition, "Kaleidoscope Companion" is full of moments that fans will be surprised at. The big band meets easy listening "Hip Operation" was reused in the first version of Sukia's "Feelin'Free" remix, and "A Strange Walk" was included in the compilation "Xen Cuts". An unreleased version of the remix. "Stealth" is another version of the Gentle Cruelty Remix of "The Aging Young Rebel", also included in "Xen Cuts".
Another version of DJ Food's signature song, "The Crow (Slow)," extends the melodic theme to a calm soundscape that eventually blends into another dub version. The 13-minute-long "Quadraplex (A Trip To The Galactic Center)" is made by stitching together various takes from different synthetic tracks. Closing Kaleidoscope Companion, Boo Hoo is an early short version of The Sky At Night that conveys the cinematic mood of the album.
It's not a new DJ Food album, it's an album that wasn't born at the time. In another reality, these songs may have been on Kaleidoscope, but now, 20 years later, they will be released as an adjunct to the original album. --Strictly Kev
"When asked what were my early influences in music, I get reminded of my teenage years in Parisian suburbs, simultaneously discovering from public libraries two important French record labels: OCORA and GRM. Then the roots of my interest in traditional music and electro-acoustic experiments grew into doing it myself, recording ethnic minorities of the zomian plateau of south-east Asia and composing a soundscape around it. This is what is happening here."
— Laurent Jeanneau aka KINK GONG
Kink Gong works with what is unknown to him, as an artist who’s attracted by beauty and strangeness.
Like a stranger, he has been deeply curious about recording ethnic minority music isolated from dominating cultures within South-east Asia, thus working with musicians taking part in specific cultural communities to make almost 200 albums.
Like an artist, he has been leaning towards strange marriages, building on these raw materials. They are lived moments that combine space, people and music, as if they were blocks made out of the same material.
Over the last fifty years few musicians or performers have created as monumental and uncompromising a body of work as that of Keiji Haino. Through a vast number of recordings and performances Haino has staked out a ground all his own creating a language of unparalleled intensity that defies any simple classification. For all this, his 1981 debut album Watashi Dake? has remained enigmatic. Originally released in a small edition by the legendary Pinakotheca label, the album was heard by only a select few in Japan and far fewer overseas. Original vinyl copies became impossibly rare and highly sought after the world over.
Watashi Dake? presents a haunting vision – stark vocals, whispered and screamed, punctuate dark si-
lences. Intricate and sharp guitar figures interweave, repeat and stretch, trance-like, emerging from dark recesses. Written and composed on the spot – Haino’s vision is one of deep spiritual depths that distantly evokes 1920’s blues and medieval music- yet is unlike anything ever committed to record before or since. Coupled with starkly minimal packaging featuring the now iconic cover photographs by legendary photographer Gin Satoh, the album is a startling and fully realized artistic statement.
Totally absorbing new album flush with ambient-jazz-electronic touches from Vegyn, following their production chops for Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and JPEGMAFIA with an ear-snagging new showcase on London’s PLZ Make It Ruins.
Affiliated with James Blake and Frank Ocean and known for work on some of the most prominent, boundary-probing rap releases of recent years, Vegyn brings a refreshingly optimistic, laid-back, dreamy aesthetic to the table in ‘Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds’. If this album had reached ears this summer it would have bene among the season’s most played, but as it stands it’s going to keep us warm all winter with its collaged mosaic of fleeting field recordings, Satie-esque melodic wist and sparingly used but super crispy R&B/hip hop snap.
A big, big look for fans of Klein, Gila, BoC, Oli XL.
Fortunately for us, Dmytro Nikolaienko agreed to open up the jewellery boxes of his tape-loop archive for his debut album on Faitiche. What came to light was a collection of dreamy glittering gems, masterfully presented using the compositional possibilities of analogue tape machines. Some may consider a tape machine to be limited as a musical instrument, but Rings makes a convincing case with its sure-handed use of the available parameters – moving tape over the tape head mechanically and manually, cutting loops, manipulating timbre and creating noise by means of saturation. The results are eleven blurred, repetitive, rhythmic patterns that can be understood as an intervention against digital precision, as mechanical irregularities and background noise become musical events.
For those familiar with Nikolaienko’s work, his nostalgic approach here will come as no surprise: born in Ukraine and now based in Estonia, he has chosen a historical medium (that has been enjoying a renaissance for some years now) to record historical-sounding sequences. The way he manages his own back catalogue is similarly archival, documenting the chronology of his tape loops in such a way as to leave no doubt as to their advanced age. And then there are his two wonderful labels Muscut and Shukai, the latter being an archival project releasing electroacoustic obscurities from the Soviet past.
Guitarist RUSSELL POTTER's A Stone's Throw (1979) and Neither Here Nor There (1981) reissued via Tompkins Square - LP & Digital June 25th
The latest in a series of reissues spawned from Imaginational Anthem Volume 8 : The Private Press, following Tom Armstrong - The Sky Is An Empty Eye and Rick Deitrick - Gentle Wilderness/River Sun River Moon
Reflections on Russell Potter by IA8 co-producer and poet, Michael Klausman :
The two latest reissues to spin off from our acclaimed Imaginational Anthem Volume 8: The Private Press feature the solo guitar compositions of Russell Potter, recorded in the last waning days of the initial American Primitive explosion.
A then obsessed teenaged devotee of John Fahey, Robbie Basho, and Leo Kottke at a time when Punk and New Wave were ascendant, Potter harnessed a similar DIY ethos to his own ends by starting his own label & self-publishing his first record, 'A Stone’s Throw’, while a freshman enrolled at Goddard College in Vermont in 1979. Assembled at the legendary Boddie Records in Potter’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, and sprinkled liberally with references to his heroes, from the initial record label name of Fonytone (which more than a little recalls Fahey’s earliest record label, Fonotone), to the arcane song titles and references to obscure rags.
Even as he looks to his elders, Potter’s debut release nimbly evinces a complete mastery of his form and is all the more remarkable for one of such tender years, as only the chutzpah of youth can account for such moves as successfully grafting one of your own composition to one of John Fahey’s, as he does here. There’s a very immediate, lovely, and real homespun quality to Potter’s chiming twelve-string compositions that puts it in the realm of those classic records that seem to simply exist outside of time.
Shortly after ‘A Stones Throw’, Potter produced & released a 45rpm single by an Ohio bluegrass band featuring the cult singer songwriter Bob Frank performing a cover of Devo’s ‘Mongoloid’, before moving on to his second (and sadly final) album the following year, ‘Neither Here Nor There’. Following an independent study with a Goddard College ethnomusicologist, Potter’s compositions and performance only deepened on his second release — the recording quality steps up a little but loses none of the immediacy, the playing gets more exuberantly virtuosic —but then more reflective too, particularly on the tunes that are influenced by the gorgeous traditional Irish slow airs. He’s still tipping his hat to Fahey occasionally as well, this time with an audacious electric guitar setting of the classic “Dance of the Inhabitant of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain.”
Though these albums landed at a time when American Primitive guitar music’s 1960s & 1970s heyday was in the rear view mirror, they absolutely look ahead to the genre’s eventual 21st Century resurrection, anticipating both in form & content many of the same concerns you find in the great contemporary work of the last two decades by Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman, et al., and as such provide about as fine a stepping stone between these two eras as you’re likely to find.
Four Pianos (1979-80): It is recognized today that these tutelary pieces for four pianos are among the most powerful in contemporary music, their impact is almost unparalleled. After the historical version recorded forty years ago, this one, featuring four of the greatest European performers, is now regaining its full power. High level recordings too. Includes 12-page booklet.
Julius Eastman: There was some for John Cage, then came Christian Wolff, and finally Morton Feldman, from this school in New York. Only Julius Eastman remained outside the game, the last figure, the most solitary and enigmatic -- undoubtedly also one of the most powerful, and it is this power that is revealed through these recordings. In the 1970s and 1980s, Eastman was one of the very few African-Americans to gain recognition in the New York avant-garde music scene. He was politically committed, a figure of queer culture and a solar and solitary poet whose melancholy influenced his genius as well as his tragic destiny: suffering from various addictions, declared missing, actually homeless. During Winter of 1981-82, he got deported from his apartment by the police, who destroyed most of what he owned - including scores and recordings. He was found dead in 1990, on the streets of Buffalo, after years of vagrancy.
The Performers: Nicolas Horvath, pianist and electroacoustic composer; Melaine Dalibert, a French composer and pianist; Stephane Ginsburgh, a tireless surveyor of the repertoire but also explorer of new music; Wilhem Latchoumia, embraces both new music and the classical repertoire with success and charisma.