"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Wednesday, 30 December 2009


We noted the exceptional Type as LMYE's label of the year recently - but need to acknowledge more outstanding sound curators/custodians/compilers that were also key in helping shape our listening year.

At the risk of sending the pomposity/self-importance dial off the gauge, they start with four more highlighted labels that had a particularly intense impact here. An additional 15 who all also made a consistent difference bring us up to a top 20 - though this is a wholly arbitrary number, of course, & many other labels are also bringing out great music across a host of genres & styles; we try to acknowledge some below as well.

Implicit in all of this is the well-rehearsed idea that despite all of technology's lowering of barriers to entry labels remain important - perhaps more than ever. When we're flooded with new music their role as visible exercisers of taste, as rallying points, as cultural lenses, seems to really matter. Certainly, it still does to LMYE...

kranky > LMYE's larger label of the year: like Thrill Jockey (see below) only more so: meaning incredible vigour & new avenues even after all these years - especially this, this, this, this, this & this (& still thinking about this...) [previously/more/more] >> Tim Hecker > Visiting An Imaginary Country [LMYE hack] (from An Imaginary Country)

Low Point > LMYE's new discovery label of the year: consistently excellent & now making smart Type-style use of SoundCloud streaming - especially this, this, this, this & this [previously] >> Gareth Hardwick - Versions of Aversions [LMYE hack] (from Aversions)

> LMYE's 'staggering consistency' label of the year: an unflagging succession of exceptional releases, whether from its rich Australian connection (see Room40 below), label head Taylor Deupree himself or other sources - especially this, this, this, this, this, this, this & this [previously/more/more] >> TU M' - Monochrome # 03 (from Monochromes, Vol. 1) [re-up]

Anticipate > LMYE's 'if only they would release more' label of the year: regrettably few releases but always a source of, er, anticipation & excitement - especially this, this & this >> Klimek - Movies is Magic minimix (from Movies is Magic; NB: higher-res version available from Anticipate)

Ad Noiseam



Fang Bomb


Ghostly International/Spectral Sound

Highpoint Lowlife



Modern Love



Thrill Jockey

Uncharted Audio


Also: Amazing Sounds, Bedroom Community, BPitch Control, Constellation, Domino, Erased Tapes
, Hessle Audio, Hotflush, Home Normal, Honest Jon's, Hyperdub, Kesh, Kompakt, Mobeer/Moteer, Moving Furniture, Mule Musiq, Ostgut Ton, Overlap, Perlon, Planet Mu, Punch Drunk, Rekids, Room40, Root Strata, Rune Grammafon, Samadhisound, Spekk, Staubgold, Tectonic, Temporary Residence, Touch, Warp, Werk...

NB: further links & references to follow as & when...

>> The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble -
Embers (from Here Be Dragons, Ad Noiseam) >> Tujiko Noriko/Lawrence English/John Chantler - I Can Hear The Heart (Live at Cafe Oto) >> Pausal / Alpine. - Song From A Cloth Pocket / fr:om (from Pausal (EP) / Fr:om Harmed Weather To Stark, Micro, Climates., both Highpoint Lowlife) [re-ups]

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Just the one

Clumsy rhetorical question department: how many artists feature in both FACT's top 20 mixes of the year & disquiet's 10 ambient/electronica albums of 2009? Answer: just the one, of course - though it/he operates under multiple names...

(...& was featured here previously under a fair few of them).

Nomenclature aside, though, The Village Orchestra/TVO's unique appearance in two such contrasting lists (each stuffed with goodness, mind) underlines how much of a hinterland there is to Ruaridh Law's music - without even getting into his past with the underappreciated Marcia Blaine School for Girls & other projects. One part Drexciya homage-paying techno-lord (both as DJ & artist), one part electronica ground-breaker & one part open-eared adventurer into drone & even noise, his epic Coil to Lil' Louis FACT mix (archived here) exemplifies this uncommon breadth.

So too does the mix's reception. Besides the obvious sources, it won more unexpected appreciation from The Onion AV Club & - yes, really - The New Yorker...

Below, an attempt to capture that breadth (also evident in Ruaridh's judgement on this year's mixes: "a shame so few strayed outside niche genre confines") via a few recent releases - key among them an alternate edit of Tober that must rank as one of the most satisfying takes on dub techno in an age (something to do with this version's electronica roots refreshing an increasingly predictable genre, perhaps? Compare Marcia's The Ratio, also below...).

Also included: an extract from the "deathly beautiful journey into sound processing and manipulation" of I Can Hear the Sirens Singing (featuring a host of collaborators, including yesterday's post subject Erstlaub)

Finally, get ready for Ruaridh & (another HPLL-related Sirens participant) Production Unit's Past Papers: "an mp3 label of sorts, releasing archive material from Marcia history and eventually new slants on past releases."

The Village Orchestra/TVO > Non-euclidian (from The Starry Wisdom, Highpoint Lowlife) > Tober [alternate edit] (from The Dark is Rising, Stuff) > I Can Hear the Sirens Singing [extract] (from I Can Hear the Sirens Singing, Highpoint Lowlife)

NB: higher-res version of Tober available from The Wire. Photos by Dave Fyans/Erstlaub

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Forest rose

Since his fascinating interview here in March & the subsequent release of his immense Broadcasting on Ghost Frequencies on Moving Furniture (full Bandcamp stream below), rumbly drone-meister Erstlaub has morphed into an increasingly full-time art student & psychogeographic explorer.

Thankfully, though, he continues to knock out resonant slabs of dense, one-take sound - both as part of his art works & otherwise. Indeed, he's even recently shared an unexpected, Supersilent/Arve Henriksen-flavoured ethereal trumpet piece (Rose Made of Time) - under his own name since "I’m not really sure it belongs to Erstlaub as such".

It's invigorating to hear as distinctive a voice as Erstlaub's take a fairly different form. It's also thrilling to hear contemplative newer pieces like the fine Lost in the Forest & thestartisalsotheend - even the more abrasive Long Grind, of the same vintage, has a gentleness among the squeals & static storm...

Lost accompanies the striking installation piece A Mind Divided: "very much a product of the creature known as Erstlaub (it definitely turned out a bit more sinister than intended), here is the soundwork. Built and recorded in one sitting with the G2 and the first time I’ve used my DD20 and RE201 pedals in that context for ages, it felt nice to be back in familiar territory and that I’ve not lost my knack."

UPDATE: Erstlaub will "break cover" for a rare live appearance at next month's Hidden Door festival in Edinburgh (January 31): " I will be playing an entirely new set (which I’m also in the process of making visuals for) which at the moment may or may not be floating around in my head with the title of “Sleepwalking into the Underworld” but I can’t be sure yet."

NB: all tracks unreleased/self-released via erstlaub.co.uk (longer pieces available in higher-res versions than here). Also hear/download Blown from archive.org.

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Tam tam

A little yuletide regifting: Allez-Allez's thrilling, non-denominational Xmas in Addis Adeba - a beat as dry as the Danakil desert overlaid with echoey, blurry vapour trails & then that keening voice...

Note to self: time to wise up about Ethiopian jazz (Mulatu Astatke cited in King Midas Sound's extravagantly eclectic 2009 best ofs)!

NB: higher-res version available chez allez. Photos by baldiri.

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Reversion to type

In an exclusive interview, John Twells reveals that
2010 will see Fennesz follow Svarte Greiner in reworking On for Type - LMYE's label of the year after an astounding run of releases across 2009. The new year should also bring a new album from Sylvain Chauveau away from On, as well as the final release from Yellow Swans.

Twells explains Type as an expression of his broad taste ("If I released the same records all year, every year I'd get fed up very quickly...").

From the definitively modern Highpoint Lowlife (showing its
modest excellence with this, for example) to the venerable-but-still-innovating Thrill Jockey & kranky, plenty of labels have had outstanding 2009s. But none has had a deeper impact on LMYE this year than Type.

As noted recently, the label’s huge care over its releases, so obvious in the quality of their sound & artwork, is complemented by its exemplary use of Soundcloud streams – every album, in full, online. That’s confidence in your music – to set it before the world this boldly & unapologetically, with the message that if you want to own it that’s fine: but it’ll be here anyway...

Of course, Type was an exceptional curator of exceptional music long before 2009. But this year it elevated to a new level. In particular, its releases hit a vein of accelerating, cumulative form with Mokira's densely satisfying, underrated Persona (to these ears, the year's definitive kraut infusion - superior to/subtler & more developed than Oneohtrix or Subway, likeable as they are...) that never lessened.

On the contrary. Richard Skelton's Marking Time, On's Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night, Rameses III's I Could Not Love You More, Black To Comm's Alphabet 1968 & Seasons (pre-din)'s Your Eyes The Stars and Your Hands The Sea form a sequence of rare depth & intensity.

Johann Johannson's And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees should probably be cited too at this point - but it's quite rare & I've yet to track it down. City Center & William Fowler Collins' releases, which pre-date the run from Persona, also call for recognition, as does Kappe by Svarte Greiner (remixer of the On project).

In any case, a veneration of texture & space links much of this output - regardless of its stylistic branding. A reflective, melancholy sensibility also often flavours the work: everywhere from Rameses's shimmering, beatific All Shall Be Well, the cosmic build of Mokira's
Lord, Am I Going Down? & Zelienople's still more wacked-out Can't Stop to On's ravishing speed-drone Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night and Flies Around My Bed, BTC's resonant, cinematic Hotel Freund & the fading bliss of City Center's Killer Whale.

Zelienople > Can't Stop (from Give It Up)

Mokira > Lord, Am I Going Down? (from Persona)

Black To Comm > Hotel Freund (from Alphabet 1968)

City Center > Killer Whale (from
City Center)

On >
Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night and Flies Around My Bed (from Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night)

Previous Type-related coverage on LMYE here, here, here, here & here...

Below an interview with John Twells, Type founder & artist (as Xela): many thanks to John for participating!

How has Type developed this year (is this your biggest year for new releases)? Have you done anything different in 2009? Anything new you want to keep doing now it's been introduced?
2009 was a big year for us. It wasn't that we were doing anything particularly new, but the swell of support we saw in 2008 with the Grouper album certainly carried over. I've never really done much that 'different' in terms of what I do with the label - I always pick music that excites me and try to get it out in the best way possible. I just had some good people helping me in the last couple of years!

What's the thinking behind your use of full Soundcloud streams for all Type albums?
This is really important for me - basically I'm very aware that some people are going to download the albums for free, where some people will want the physical object. If you type in the name of an album into Google, the chances are you're going to find a 'free download'. So I figured, why not give people the option to hear the records straight from the site? The reason I started a record label was to allow people to hear music they might not otherwise have heard, not to keep it all for myself... so there is definitely a philosophy behind it.

When I was growing up it was very difficult for me to hear 'alternative' music. Giving people the option to 'try' an album I think should encourage people to listen to things they might not have expected to like - and that's what Type is all about.

How important is artwork to Type releases?

Being an ex-art student, the artwork is crucial to the releases. I'm quite hard on the artists in this way and try to make sure that we always end up with a very high quality package at the end of it all. There are a few designers and photographers that I work with and they never let me down, but the artwork often takes a very long time - a few months of drafts and reworks before it's absolutely right.

Is there a Type sound or typical Type artist?

I don't think so, but then I would say that. I think that people always 'think' there's a Type sound - a couple of years ago that might have been Deaf Center, now it might be Grouper, or Black To Comm. The music certainly has connecting threads, but it's nice to be able to release something like the City Center record next to a Svarte Greiner album - that's just how my music taste works really. If I released the same records all year, every year I'd get fed up very quickly.

Any Type artists you believe merit more attention than they've had so far?
I think Zelienople are one of the greatest bands in the world right now, and in a fairer place they would be extremely well known. Most people that have seen the band perform live agree with me on this one too. They are criminally underrated, but continue to churn out astonishing records.

How do you see Type developing in the future? Any new artists you can mention &/or forthcoming new releases from established Type artists?
2010 is going to be a very big year for us! We have the final album from Portland's Yellow Swans, a new album from Sylvain Chauveau, an album from On reworked by Fennesz, and a LOT more. Some of it I'd like to keep under wraps for the time being but I'm very excited.

More/less vinyl? Cassettes?
I'll always say more vinyl - I'm a huge, huge fan of the format and spend a good proportion of my life fondling wax. I wouldn't say cassettes are totally off the menu though. You heard it here first!

How challenging a time is this for labels?

It's challenging for sure, to keep going and keep afloat is harder than ever but I think if people stopped moaning and started putting more thought into music it would be less of a problem. I'm still enjoying it, and I can't really forsee a time when I'm not excited by getting new music out there - it's a life-long passion (or obsession).

Are we due a Typecast from you?
Yeah, I'm truly sorry for dropping the ball on this one - I've just finished a giant move from England to the USA so my life's been a bit topsy turvy. It's been hard to find the time to sit and make a show, but there's a new one in the works, I promise. I was thinking of doing a 'best of '09' show but that would be too easy, wouldn't it? The biggest problem when I take a hiatus is that the records I want to play just pile up to ridiculous levels.

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Shifting past

Anyone with a Mille Plateaux release in their past (never mind featuring on one of the Clicks & Cuts) gets a hearing here. & while the first of the tracks on Donnacha Costello's new On Shifting Sands does little for these ears, Time In Between's unusual retrofusion of yearning IDM-ish keys & skippy dubsteppy tropes is more diverting.

Diverting enough to hunt out more of Donnacha's output - in which the reverberating Zhana's clicky kinetics stand out (though an edit of its 11-minute lavishness wouldn't hurt...).

> Time In Between (from On Shifting Sands, self-released) > Zhana (Minimise)

NB: lo-res versions for personal use - "We give MP3s away at 128kbps for home listening. Yes! FREE MUSIC! You can buy 320kbps MP3s and 16bit 44.1k wavs at Beatport. 128kbps is absolutely NOT SUITABLE for club play so don't even think about it! If you like the music and want to play it in a club, do the right thing, head over to Beatport and keep food on our plates and love in our hearts :-)"

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Geological high

As noted here yesterday, Highpoint Lowlife has only added to its standing in 2009. A key element of its line-up has been 10-20, a Devon electronica-warper who book-ended the label's year: his eponymous first album emerged back in February; Lake, the second of Ed's subsequent four-EP outpouring, has been out for a week.

With it, we're now half-way through the Landforms EPs. Mountains & the physical Isthmus (7" blue vinyl!) are to follow in the new year.

The boldness of this series underlines HPLL's qualities - its ambition, its spurning of a set 'sound', its mobility & speed, its openness to different channels. Having the highly connected & admired Thorsten Sideboard at its helm is clearly a major driver of these.

In turn, Landforms' excellence repays HPLL's investment. Dense, detailed, insistent, the series so far is exemplified by the outstanding hallow (from Island, the first of the EPs): swelling, pulsing organs & then a virtuoso piece of sample-slicing are grafted at odd angles on to a ultra-dry bed of offbeats, augmented by little explosive snatches...

10-20 > Boat (from Lake, HPLL) > hallow (from Island, HPLL) > arcadeagle (from 10-20, HPLL; re-up)

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.
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