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Sunday, 14th of May, 2023

Playlist 14.05.23 (6:54 pm)

So a lot of tonight's material has some claim to "classical" music provenance for some reason, although there's nothing you could claim to be classical music. Some is more-or-less ambient, some is anything but.

LISTEN AGAIN. There will be a test. Stream on demand via FBi, podcast here.

Nicholas Thayer - on growing [Oscillations/Bandcamp]
Nicholas Thayer - on stretching [Oscillations/Bandcamp]
Nicholas Thayer - on refracting [Oscillations/Bandcamp]
I'm so glad that I'm following new London label Oscillations, which started operations last year with an EP from Gabriel Prokofiev, the composer who founded the nonclassical label back in 2004. Oscillations calls itself an electronic music label, but so far has had a "composer" lean to it, and it has gifted us with this brilliant album from Nicholas Thayer, a composer & producer from the Netherlands who happens to have some ties to Australia - he's composed for Sydney Dance Company and Queensland Ballet, although he's now based in Groningen the north of the Netherlands I believe. The music here is again for a dance work, titled in:finite, commissioned for the Swedish Skånes Dansteater, and in the vein of contemporary dance, it encompasses abstract sound-art, contemporary composition, glitched audio and even some beat-heavy sections. Thayer clearly has a love for drum'n'bass in there, with fidgety programmed breaks on some tracks, and growling neuro basslines elsewhere (d'n'b/dubstep legends Noisia happen to hail from Groningen too). I also can't pass by the Motley Crüe reference in his bio! Cello is the main acoustic/classical instrument here, beautifully performed by Mikko Pablo, expressively interpreting Thayer's score which is at times straightforwardly melodic, elsewhere processing the sound or employing extended techniques. It makes sense that the performance this music is written for is considered a work of "multilayered hybrid art", combining choreography, music, set and costume design, as this is not just music for accompanying a stage performance - it's a very rich, satisfying listen on its own, highly recommended.

Willis Anne - Comfort Zone [LAN]
Willis Anne - Jazz [LAN]
French-born, Berlin-based DJ & producer Willis Anne marks the 20th release from his LAN label with a solo album of his own. Comfort Zone follows an EP on Shall Not Fade and appearances on Tresor and Infiné among others. There's a club basis to his music, but in keeping with the "regularly irregular" ethos of his label, his new album is quite abstracted from the dancefloor, with acidy noise workouts as much as scattered breakbeats, 4/4 drum machines, minimalist jazzy house and more. No track does quite what you expect, from the glitched breakdown near the end of "Comfort Zone" to the off-grid blurting break snippets of "Span" and the raw not-quite-footwork of "Jazz".

J-Shadow - Beneath The Undertow [Sneaker Social Club/Bandcamp]
J-Shadow - Arsu [Sneaker Social Club/Bandcamp]
Jason Kan has been exploring the dancefloor's outer reachers for about 4 years, in a genre-crossing form influenced by Mumdance's "weightless" sound - his debut full-length album Final Departure was appropriately released on Keysound, with uk garage, dubstep and jungle splinters giving way to ambient rave memories. His follow-up album The End Of All Physical Form is out now on the home of all things bass/dubstep/hardcore/jungle, Sneaker Social Club, and once again combines its irrefutable junglist touchpoints with ambient passages even in beat-driven tracks (or is it the other way round?), and with excursions into ukg and techno. When the jungle breaks come, they're as intricate and driving as anyone's making these days.

Simone Sims Longo - Babele [Esc.rec/Bandcamp]
Simone Sims Longo - Fondale [Esc.rec/Bandcamp]
Coming soon on the highly dependable Dutch experimental label Esc.rec is an album of electro-acoustic sound-art from Italian composer-producer Simone Sims Longo. Paesaggi integrati (integrated landscapes) takes sound from a host of acoustic instruments - sax, cello, horn, violin, accordion, tuned percussion and clarinet - and transforms them into electronic music, split into granular fragments, flittered across the stereo field in rhythms that accelerate and decelerate, seemingly referencing deconstructed club techniques but outside of the club context. The sense of discombobulation is only heightened on headphones by the use of mid/side technique - technically this means that the left & right are in opposite polarity (so if you try to listen in mono you'll lose a lot of the signal!), but it also means that the stereo image is particularly vivid.

Anything Pointless - what happens is here [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
Anything Pointless - subside [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
Turin's Anything Pointless, now based in London, is a producer and mixing/mastering engineer, whose latest album Shape Time Divide comes courtesy of Salmon Universe, the label run by Richard Pike and JQ. Much like fellow Italian Simone Sims Longo above, the music here takes acoustic instruments (flute, strings, voice etc) and mutates them into the bright, contemporary electronic soundscapes that have characterised his music thus far. Even the synthesizers, digitally bright, move and flex in organic-feeling ways, only finally bursting into beats in the latter half of the last track. In a way, this is the inverse of Longo's album: IDM & deconstructed club that's found its way into the forests of the "fourth world", where Longo's acoustic instruments are dragged, unprepared, into the club. Both albums fascinate and delight.

Suura - Drevelnis feat. Joe Talia [bwaa./Bandcamp]
Suura - Adieu [bwaa./Bandcamp]
Back to Esc.rec for a sec, earlier this year I played a couple of tracks from the gorgeous album Aare by the Belgian acoustic trio Erem. Two thirds of Erem, Nicolas Van Belle and Stan Maris, are half of the adventurous post-acoustic (I just made that up) quartet Suura where, like in Erem, Van Belle's guitar & bouzouki and Maris' accordion are subject at times to subtle electronic effects, alongside the saxophones and clarinet of Benjamin Hermans and the double bass of Emanuel Van Mieghem. Van Belle and Van Mieghem are credited as composers, and this music does sit somewhere between 20th century chamber composition and the folk-jazz of Bill Frisell, Tin Hat Trio et al - but on at least half the tracks these warm, expressive instruments are transfigured into strange burbling, distorting drones or other unlikely shapes. The music is no less expressive, but the sense of the uncanny, already present in the compositions, is heightened further. This transforming of acoustic instrumentation seems to be a theme tonight...

Helen Money / Will Thomas - Trace [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Helen Money / Will Thomas - Thieves [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
As Helen Money, Alison Chesley has never been a conventional cellist, preferring to play through guitar pedals and amps even on her solo work, as well as playing with the likes of Earth, Neurosis, Russian Circles - and I do believe she used to call herself a "doom cellist". Her last album Trace - her third on Thrill Jockey - drew away from the looped metal riffs which on the previous two had been augmented with drums from Neurosis' James Roeder, instead complementing riffs with drones and melodies accompanied with piano and synthesizers, including electronics from soundtrack composer & producer Will Thomas. Now we have a whole duo album from Helen Money & Will Thomas, even more sumptuous and experimental than the last. On our first selection tonight, the title track, dancing lines of electric cello play off against repeating piano chords until a staticky rhythm enters, and as the cellos multiply orchestrally, chunks of distortion are dropped into the reverberating space, finally taking over at the end. Meanwhile "Thieves" takes shimmering loops of cello harmonics and accompanies them with stop-start industrial techno beats and thrums of distorted cello. It's cinematic stuff, the work of two excellent musicians working on the same wavelength.

Erik Levander - In i stunden [Supple9/Bandcamp]
Erik Levander - Kvad [Rumraket/Bandcamp]
Erik Levander - Väv [Supple9/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based Swedish musician Erik Levander started his career in the early 2000s making glitchy electronic and electro-acoustic music, but has unleashed his industrial leanings on some albums, and has also played clarinet with Efterklang. It was Efterklang who released his 2008 album Kondens, which struck a balance between glitch, rhythm and drone. That album happens to feature a track called "Kvad", in which choral voices float under busy synths and electronic noise. In Danish "kvad" translates as to chant or sing, and there can be no coincidence between that old track's title and his new album Kvad, released by boutique Berlin label Supple9. The story of this album is that a few years ago Levander discovered an old recording of his from 2001 of a choir rehearsing in the Lunds Domkyrka cathedral. He couldn't identify the work, but it became the backbone of this entire album - spectral voices floating in tape hiss, with waves of distorted bass, electronic drones and pulses. Additional choral voices add to the majesty of this cold yet enveloping Scandinavian music.

Magic City Counterpoint - Dialogue [Magic City Counterpoint Bandcamp]
Once again I have the honour of debuting a new track from Brisbane duo Magic City Counterpoint. Here the opening reverberating voices might be from Madeleine Cocolas, or might also be a sampled choir, but certainly once the heavy bass hits, it's Madeleine's voice shimmering alongside the crunchy beats. This collaboration between Cocolas and Chris Perren is producing music for game soundtracks at the moment, but regardless of the provenance this is lovely music and we must have more!

Bartosz Dziadosz - GABI [DRONARIVM/Bandcamp]
Peace is the first solo album that Bartosz Dziadosz has released under his own name, after many years as Pleq. Like his work as Pleq it combines post-classical aesthetics with electronics. His music is particularly expansive here, in a work that's dedicated to the end of the horrific, continuing war between Russia and Ukraine, recorded at a time when Dziadosz found himself with no fixed abode travelling around his native Poland. Notably Dmitry Taldykin, who runs DRONARIVM, left Moscow in horror in the early stages of the invasion and now bases himself in Israel. The stretched out vocal drone that carries through this piece gives both urgency and peace through the crescendos and drops, the mix saturated with synths and this vocal, with single piano notes echoing through. While I can find post-classical piano ambient quite cloying, this music is full of sincerity and beauty.

Panoptique Electrical - Slowly The Sorrow [sound in silence]
The Humble Bee - Small Copper [sound in silence]
Greek ambient/electronic/experimental CD-R label sound in silence celebrates its 100th(!) release with a low-key compilation of 18 artists associated with the label. The crackling final track from Hainbach is wonderful, but in the context of tonight we heard two equally wonderful pieces. Adelaide's Jason Sweeney appears as Panoptique Electrical, with his piano reverberating through his track like Dziadosz before, and a doubled-up cello line probably provided by Zoë Barry. Gritty noise gives way to pure drones, heavily saturated piano, and disturbed synth playing through what sounds like a broken woofer in the gorgeous contribution from The Humble Bee, the continuing work of Craig Tattersall, formerly of Hood, The Boats, The Remote Viewer, The Famous Boyfriend et al. Tattersall and Sweeney both have rich histories in many genres.

William Ryan Fritch - Vascularity [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
ARROWOUNDS - Blue Entombed [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Finally, two tracks from the ever-industrious Lost Tribe Sound. Cohesion is the second album in a 2023 trilogy from composer and multi-instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch which are exploring the many calamitous water crises already affecting life around the planet. While January's Polarity made music by feeding electronic sounds through solenoids, speakers and other electromagnetic drivers, Cohesion uses largely acoustic wind instruments - saxophones, clarinets, oboe, bassoon etc - to mimic electronic music, close-micing them and processing them so that finger clicks and breaths are augmented into elements of their own. It's not unlike the sounds produced by Colin Stetson on his bass saxophone, but harnessed towards a particular kind of abstract expression here. Meanwhile Athens, Ohio based Ryan Chamberlain aka ARROWOUNDS follows up on the submerged techno of his first release with a promised 4CD set called the "Therianthrope Series". The first of these human/animal hybrids is In The Octopus Pond, whose subject is a legend of ancient octopoeds in a green world that slowly succumbs to fire and violence. This arcane setting is evoked through Cocteau Twins guitars, slow moving bass and drums and shuddering delays. We're left needing to know where both these artistic series will go next.

Listen again — ~203MB


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