"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Thursday, 30 September 2010

"An unlikely glass of ginger ale"

On the same day we're 'treated' to
a first taste of Warped Eno, how refreshing to instantly shrug off that clunking disappointment with the shimmering, layered subtleties of Koen Holtkamp. The Mountains-eer's new Gravity/Bees (extract & video below) is the kind of record that Eno ought still to be making, a beguiling, warm experimental gem that manages to enlarge notions of what constitutes a sound source (bees?!) & of what ambient music can, er, be.

To drag this clumsy yoking of the two out a bit more: these ears detect a rich whiff of Cluster/Harmonia in the extract's middle section. & while the new record avoids Small Craft's extreme fetishisation, it too isn't averse to a little object porn: "Gravity/Bees was mastered and cut at D + M in Berlin and is presented in a mini-LP format and will be available in an initial pressing of 1,000 copies with a custom letter-pressed jacket."

Oh, & apologies for the apiology but it's striking how much this theme is foreshadowed in Holtkamp's earlier work - Hives on Mountains Mountains Mountains, Bee Change on Field Rituals...

Previous coverage (& here). Field Rituals stream. Discogs (KH; Mountains).

Blurb: "The main idea behind this recording was to combine the live and studio approach, older material with newer, as well as document Holtkamp's shift from digital processing on computers to the physical world of creating patches via modular analog electronics. Both "In The Absence Of Gravity Please Note The Position Of The Sun" and "Loosely Based On Bees" combine these elements and serve to document that transition.

"In The Absence Of Gravity…" is a side-long piece based around a 2008 solo performance in Brighton. The technical set up was somewhat inspired by Terry Riley's 'time-lag accumulator' pieces using a delay system where Holtkamp was constantly recording over himself in order to create a continuous and fluid overall sound. A friend sent him a recording of the performance and it encouraged Holtkamp to take a non-purist approach and combine the live recording with some of his more recent studio experimentations from the summer of 2010. The work is built mainly around processed acoustic guitar, analog synthesizers, and electronics but also incorporates recordings of harmonica, electric organ, small percussion objects, and an unlikely glass of ginger ale.

"Loosely Based On Bees" takes the opposite approach and is mainly a studio creation with only a few live additions from a 2008 New Years performance added on toward the end. Originally spurred by an invitation to take part in the Dissolving Localities Project in Jerusalem in May 2010, Holtkamp's decision to craft a recording from bees stemmed from a desire to create something he was attracted to from a production standpoint. Something extremely detailed and resonant. On one level representing a continuous flow of sound like a drone but also having a familiar association making it human. It just so happens that Holtkamp had a friend who kept bees on his roof and the project began. After trying several different approaches he placed a tiny set of binaural microphones inside the top of the hive and got the extremely detailed and saturated representation he had been hoping for. He took the extra step to do the piece in an open D tuning and used various analog filters to emphasize the sympathetic frequencies in the bees recordings so that they would work somewhat harmonically with the instruments. In the beginning of the piece the instruments are sculpted around the bee recordings, as the piece develops the actual bees gradually become background and the instruments take focus loosely emulating the buzzing resonant characteristics of the hive."

Next: "Holtkamp is staying busy by recording sound for a documentary in Japan and working on a companion piece that will be released on Barge Recordings in 2011. He will also be playing a few solo shows both at home and abroad, as well as doing a handful of Mountains US and European shows. "

Koen Holtkamp > Loosely Based on Bees [excerpt] (from Gravity/Bees, forthcoming on Thrill Jockey)

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

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Brother, can you spare two hours?

You’d like to think a more remarkable recording than Kenneth Kirschner’s mammoth delicacy 7/17/10 will emerge this year. Or you would if you shared my greed for the unheard, the next thing...

But it almost certainly won’t – what could live with the florid bravado, the bonkers impracticality, the sheer, willful provocation of a track that wants no less than 125 minutes from you? Especially one this other-worldly & skittering, the glassily beautiful, somehow tidal sound of the celestial spheres tipped on their side & swung slowly, deliberately round the room - like a thurible trailing a kind of sonic incense.

Below is a brief, lo-res extract hacked out of the opus - a kind of violation of its singular spirit, admittedly, but also a pragmatic taster (& an aggregation necessity...). Still, you really should find a spare 293MB & the small matter of 2 hours, 5 minutes & 10 seconds for a full immersion: when you commit time to it those moments (around 1:42:06 & especially 1:55:18) where the skittering spheres begin a final return & rushing after the piece's vast trek across darker tones & moods summon real power.

"I really had the sense the piece "wanted" to be that long, so I decided to put my doubts aside and let it win," Kirschner says. "The piece is really about that slow transformation of subtle little parameters. It's very hard to come up with decision criteria for what to cut where. I certainly did take out some stuff that was downright bad, and made a few more little trims here and there. But I really felt like it was resistant to being cut down, which is why it ultimately got so out of control."

Background: "Back in May, I sat down and sampled a bunch of glassware found in my apartment -- drinking glasses, storage containers, basically any kitchenware made of glass. These sounds initially ended up in my piece 5/25/10, which resulted principally from the systematic misuse of a granular pitch shifter/harmonizer (Melda Production's very nice little MMultiBandHarmonizer). This piece ended up being a bit of a disappointment to me, though, because out of 44 initial fragments, only 4 ultimately came together to form a coherent narrative. Thus I wanted to make some use of all those remaining sounds, and they ended up being the foundation for 7/17/10," he explains.

"I fed them into Audiomulch, layering multiple sounds together while running them through granulators and delays (specifically Audiomulch's Nebulizer and UAD's Cooper Time Cube). Using Audiomulch's Metasurface, I then did a series of very slow morphs through a large number of parameters on all the various effects, and it's the slow transformation of the sounds through those parameter spaces that makes up the piece. As always for me, the raw sounds were then moved into Digital Performer for editing, where the final piece was put together."

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

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Truth be told

Appropriate, you might think, that the first new music in an age from Burial - whose currency is absence, scarcity, reduction, erasure, er, burial - would be neither new nor, strictly, his. Yet this gossamer-wispy remix of Commix's Be True (finally surfacing for object pornsters on one-sided etched vinyl, as part of an all-star but underwhelming remix set on Metalheadz) drips presence.

It's an intense distillation, almost an X-ray of that sound - the woodblock clonk & dry clicks all but rubbed away to leave just a floating London fog of mournfulness, echoing chatter, debris...

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

Monday, 20 September 2010

Periodic combustion

Could this be any lovelier? At the risk of descending into total cringing fanboy wonderment, no, not really...

The smouldering, yearning, gently juddering Dodgson's Pleasure by Accrual, "the drone guitar project of TVO and Alasdair Satchel" from the "insanely limited release (the label didn’t even sell it to people who mailed them…)" Cheopiori (Diesel Combustible). TVO's impeccable Broken20 - coverage of its thrilling B20_0.5 3" cd shortly - is selling a single copy ahead of its supposed re-release on a new label next year.

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

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Fuller absorption

(Apologies - another re-up for aggregation, but the last for now.)

From the first it sounds special, precious, profound - & unlike almost anything else out there. Neo-classical drone? Yes, sort of. A classical palette is put to work bobbing on gargantuan bass swells that seem to last forever (& often do clock up serious, sustained minutes) – but the ‘real’ instruments involved seem to be all summoned snippets & loops. It’s a kind of classical hauntology in which traces of strings & horns are woven into epic drones, reconstituted adagios...

Kyle Bobby Dunn brings a rare intensity to bear in his music. Not in a balls-out, late Coltrane or Ben Frost mode, but rather an exceptional single-mindedness. There’s a real bravado to his very narrow sound range & its epic sustains.

Close-up it’s busier, layers of tremulous detail interlocking & fading. People talk, rightly, about The Necks’ magnificent, long-range builds. KBD, although commonly working in 10 to 15-minute chunks rather than an hour at a time, feels like their match - even if the comparison is off-beam in many ways (live improvisation versus composition, group versus solo, drums versus beatlessness...).

To take a far more obvious comparison (unsettling mood, slow-motion unfolding, uncloying beauty), he also holds his own with the drowsy, indolent Stars of the Lid...

To these ears Fervency & its ravishing expansion, A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn (out earlier this year on LMYE's revered Low Point & streamable in full below), remain his triumphant peak. Pieces like the radiant trio Empty Gazing, Small Show of Hands & Promenade (a Fervency original) achieve a consummateness of tone, of pace, of shape that is very rare. Several others are almost as memorable.

But nothing of his that's made it through to LMYE (yet to track those early releases on Housing & some others down yet, admittedly) is less than enthralling. Although the two long pieces making up the recent Rural Routes No.2 seem austerer, less instantly enticing than older material, they still unfold into richness - the more romantic Senium III especially. Dissonant Distances, meanwhile, draws on a refreshed & quite refreshing palette - more abrasive, certainly, but also fascinatingly studded with found fragments (voice, guitar, room sounds?).

"Low Point label proprietor, Gareth Hardwick, has been kind enough to release the 'Fervency' recordings on CD with extra material and second disc of music for guitar, piano, horn, viola, and cello. These are pretty old works for the most part - things starting in 2005 up 'til modern day 2009.

I worked again with various musicians on this but took very minuscule bits of their sound offerings and reworked them into mostly elongated pieces. There are some shorter works that feel longer -- 'Empty Gazing' and 'Last Minute Jest' are featured."

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

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Antipodean retouch

Apologies: re-up for aggregation...

Gig of the year in a city with a conspicuous, even woeful lack of live action isn't the biggest claim, granted. Still, the improbable news that the great Room40's 10th anniversary tour will be swinging close by the drastically less well endowed of LMYE's two home towns - & at a venue as sympathetic as Arnolfini - couldn't be more cheering. Hope to see you there on November 6...

The outstanding line-up comprises Grouper, label head Lawrence English, Rafael Anton Irisarri (who's also Ghostly's The Sight Below, of course - more to follow on his other guise soon) & Andrea Belfi. As the streams & videos below indicate, they operate across Room40's characteristically rich, undogmatic array of tones - by turns mournful & playful, crepuscular & sunlit, veiled & exposed.

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

Friday, 17 September 2010

Wynken, blynken & nod

Five further instalments of Machinefabriek's subtle, flitting inventiveness - for once, mostly solo (though as an inveterate collaborator he still manages to sneak in one of the first trombonists ever to feature on LMYE...). To these ears, the ravishing Interlude is the stand-out among them - its gentle burbling bonged into order by a not quite metronomic bass tone. But the twanging, creaking, faintly ominous Huiswerk pieces, the dissonant, decaying Hilary ('bone alert!) & the buzzing-edged "lullabye" Halfslaap all repay time invested in them too.

Hear more at machinefabriek.nu & his SoundCloud (some fine longer pieces there - Drijfzand, Duotoon & Loops for Voerman).


"From the album 'Music for Studies', a soundtrack to a performance by Bram Vreeswijk."

Halfslaap (fragment)

"A fragment of a 17 minute lullabye, to be released by Standard Form, on 3-inch cdr, Ocober 2010"

"Side A of a cassette single feauturing two tracks made in collaboration with trombone player Hilary Jeffery. Comes on an orange tape, housed in a stamped arigato pack."

"Recorded February 2008, using an electric guitar, a sampler and a laptop."

Machinefabriek > Huiswerk 1 (self-released)

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

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Panoramic window

Saddle up with LMYE hero David Byrne as he holds forth, in a just slightly too rapid voice that you might choose to hear as live commentary from the road, on the joy & zen of pedal power: the giveaway introduction to the gently augmented ("a cross between a podcast and a radio show") audiobook of his musing, digressing Bicycle Diaries...

"That same sense of liberation I experienced in New York recurred as I pedaled around many of the world’s principal cities. I felt more connected to the life on the streets than I would have inside a car or in some form of public transport: I could stop whenever I wanted to; it was often (very often) faster than a car or taxi for getting from point A to point B; and I didn’t have to follow any set route. The same exhilaration, as the air and street life whizzed by, happened again in each town. It was, for me, addictive.

This point of view—faster than a walk, slower than a train, often slightly higher than a person—became my panoramic window on much of the world over the last thirty years—and it still is. It’s a big window and it looks out on a mainly urban landscape. (I’m not a racer or sports cyclist.) Through this window I catch glimpses of the mind of my fellow man, as expressed in the cities he lives in. Cities, it occurred to me, are physical manifestations of our deepest beliefs and our often unconscious thoughts, not so much as individuals, but as the social animals we are. A cognitive scientist need only look at what we have made—the hives we have created—to know what we think and what we believe to be important, as well as how we structure those thoughts and beliefs. It’s all there, in plain view, right out in the open; you don’t need CAT scans and cultural anthropologists to show you what’s going on inside the human mind; its inner workings are manifested in three dimensions, all around us. Our values and hopes are sometimes awfully embarrassingly easy to read. They’re right there—in the storefronts, museums, temples, shops, and offi ce buildings and in how these structures interrelate, or sometimes don’t. They say, in their unique visual language, “This is what we think matters, this is how we live and how we play.” Riding a bike through all this is like navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind. It really is a trip inside the collective psyche of a compacted group of people. A Fantastic Voyage, but without the cheesy special effects. One can sense the collective brain—happy, cruel, deceitful, and generous—at work and at play. Endless variations on familiar themes repeat and recur: triumphant or melancholic, hopeful or resigned, the permutations keep unfolding and multiplying.

Yes, in most of these cities I was usually just passing through. And one might say that what I could see would therefore by definition be shallow, limited, and particular. That’s true, and many of the things I’ve written about cities might be viewed as a kind of self-examination, with the city functioning as a mirror. But I also believe that a visitor staying briefly can read the details, the specifics made visible, and then the larger picture and the city’s hidden agendas emerge almost by themselves. Economics is revealed in shop fronts and history in door frames. Oddly, as the microscope moves in for a closer look, the perspective widens at the same time..."

Full intro text. Some pics with excerpts. David's nine New York bike racks. Cities, bicycles and the future of getting around tour.

David Byrne > Bicycle Diaries - Introduction (from Bicycle Diaries, self-released (?) audiobook)

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