"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Des res

LMYE's New Label of the Year hardly released a thing in 2011. Not much of a basis for recognition, you may think. But however minimal its output what did come out of Desire Path was exquisite - & if there's a better record in 2012 than its next release (which almost made it out this year anyway, so gets co-opted for these purposes - along with its debut release from late last year...) these ears will be very, very surprised (& thrilled, obviously)...

A label "focused on creating distinct pathways" that seeks to enable listeners (for whom it prescribes a strictly vinyl regimen) to "escap[e] to a place they may otherwise never find", DP emphasises location & journey in its output - not in the literal sense of field recordings, but rather in the recapitulation & inspiration of memory of place. This year this led us down the path to Benoit Pioulard's blurry 'lake within a haze', Thelma, & Kyle Bobby Dunn's lovely lacustrine counterpart, Chester - as well as his inviting Canyon Meadows.

I've probably got entirely the wrong end of the environmental stick. But the next of these resonant spaces, which clearly also chime with the 'sonic topographies' Solo Andata summon on Ritual, seems to be the monumental Aude of Janek Schaefer & the genuinely legendary Charlemagne Palestine.

A first taste of this unexpected pair's extraordinary collaboration, Raga de l'apres-midi pour Aude, surfaced earlier this year in a fine DP mix for Type's Typecast series - stream & download the 'cast & hear the hallucinatory, keening Schaefer/Palestine raga below.

Can ears pray? Too metaphysical for New Year's Eve, perhaps. But these ears certainly offer up a profound hope that DP manages to build on its masterful initial quartet in the year & years ahead...

Kyle Bobby DunnDropping Sandwiches in Chester Lake (Start-3:45) DEMO - Taken from then-forthcoming album (later issued as Ways of Meaning) on Desire Path Recordings
AntonymesA Fragile Acceptance (3:45-10:10) Hidden Shoal
SkjolbrotRue Victor Masse to Gare d’Austerlitz (10:10-14:35) Self-Released
Janek Schaefer & Charlemagne PalestineRaga de l’apres midi pour Aude EDIT (14:35-22:35) DEMO Taken from forthcoming album on Desire Path Recordings
Solo AndataCarving (22:35-31:10) from Ritual on Desire Path Recordings
Black SwanMovement 1 (31:10-37:27) Experimedia
Jannick Schou21.25 (37:27-40:51) Dead Pilot Records
Field RotationAcoustic Tale 3 (40:51-45:10) Fluid Audio
Ithaca TrioFor Ailing Health (45:10-End) Self-Released

Kyle Bobby Dunn - Canyon Meadows

Statuit - kyle bobby dunn
"Somber piece for an indoor swimming pool setting on a really grey day. Afterwards, going home and watching french films and an animation you forgot the name of.

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

Noisy channel

LMYE's Under the Radar Label of the Year exerted an ever-increasing influence on these ears as 2011 ground on. So much so that by the end of the year Dekorder's often thrilling, usually genre-defying output would come to claim large chunks of the imminent 'Festive 50+50' of releases that mattered most to us this year... 

Even with label chief Marc Richter's outstanding Coldplay, Elvis & John Cage surfacing elsewhere (En/Of), the highlights of Dekorder's 2011 curation were a match for anyone's - the drama, intensity & invention in Ensemble Economique, Alexander Rishaug, Stephan Mathieu, Keith Fullerton Whitman/Alien Radio, Machinefabriek & Gareth Davis, Xela, Astral Social Club & Datashock (in parts) were exceptional. 

EE's Heat Waves & KFW's 101105 were two of  2011's most notable tracks. Mathieu's ravishing To Describe George Washington Bridge 10" added valuably to his immense year. Xela's The Sublime (a reissue of a Digitalis tape from last year, pedantically speaking...) gave a subtle but hugely powerful conclusion to an important trilogy of LPs. Rishaug's Shadow of Events was only a half share of his two delicious releases during the year (or perhaps three-quarters, since the other was a collaboration with Svarte Greiner), while  Hauer & Davis were their unfailingly gripping selves on the long-form Ghost Lanes.   

& there's still more (this, for example) to hear!

Dekorder playlists (Spotify) - 2011 & older

Ensemble Economique - Heat Waves

Ensemble Economique - Vanishing Point

Ensemble Economique - Everything I Have, I Give To You

Alexander RishaugThings That Disappear

Alexander Rishaug - Garden Memories

Stephan Mathieu - To Describe George Washington Bridge

Datashock - Kanal Telemedial Energieausgleich

Astral Social Club - Generator

xela - the sublime (album preview)

Alien Radio - Text Adventures

Keith Fullerton Whitman - 101105 [via alteredzones]

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

Friday, 30 December 2011

Psalm 12:7

After a truly exceptional year of releases from the likes of Area C, Deep Magic, Aaron MartinNickolas Mohanna, Fabio Orsi & Quiet Evenings, why isn't Preservation being showered with awed acclaim?

Like helloSquare, its predecessor as LMYE's Neglected Label of the Year, Australia's remoteness seems to play a role here. Though since Preservation's focus this year (reminiscent of its compatriot, Room40 -  our recently named Label of the Year for 2011) has been on international artists, particularly but not exclusively in its Circa series, this hardly explains it.

The series's limited-run nature (just 300 copies a time) may be more significant. But the Marrickville-based label has also served up compelling non-Circa releases from international artists - notably, Black Eagle Child's debut, Lobelia, a Richard Skelton re-issue & a raft of prominent remixers unleashed on Ous Mal's Nuojuva Halava - hear an exclusive breakdown of Marraskuu by the great Pimmon, an earlier Preservation artist (& a key element in Room40's output this year, incidentally) below.

Who knows? In any case, the label has powered its way this year into the pantheon of what you might call post-ambient music - deepening Australia's already rich tradition of artists & labels in this area still further...

& Circa, whose distinctive, systematised artwork (by Preservation partner Mark Gowing) has given it a sharp identity & sense of specialness, returns next year - with a new look, apparently.

Preservation 2011 playlist (Spotify).

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

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Blood & star dust

As noted, we share our recognition of a 2011 label of the year across two great decade-long curatorial efforts linked by this year's unmatched Lawrence English release, The Peregrine (below hear an exclusive stream of its Heavy Breath of Silence). Following a memorable exchange with English about Room40 just before Christmas, here is a companion interview with Experimedia guiding light Jeremy Bible - a diverting, challenging set of reflections as the label considers its future. 

That's a sad outcome after a particularly memorable year - & with fine releases from CelerFrom The Mouth Of The Sun (Jasper TX & Aaron Martin) & Sean McCann soon to come. But the label has only "about 4 other commitments left in the pipe", according to Bible - who has "been quietly running several other imprints.... which we would like to give more attention to". 

If so, 2011 will end up the high water mark of the label's breadth, its richness & an aesthetic distinctive enough to be immediately recognisable - dense, languid, reflective - but not so rigid that it can't accommodate interesting exceptions too (Charles-Eric Charrier's & Lüüp's spacey post-jazz, for example). This was embodied in Experimedia's outstanding label sampler earlier this year & is captured too in a hand-crafted (sic) Spotify playlist of its 2011 releases (plus an older Bible...). 

Besides English's peregrinations, the year's highlights include Black Swan's wispily playful but more often saturnine 8 Movements (a movie score playing through a murky, gritty fog...); Jannick Schou's thundering, monolithic Act of Shimmering; Aaron Martin's richly textured Worried About The Fire, which summons unexpected intensities from its traditional palette; Keith Freund's sweetly bucolic Constant Comments (though its darker later pieces appeal more to these ears); & Charrier's alarmingly twangy but also richly 'post-everything' Silver

Plus, of course, the dense poetics of Piipttjilling's exceptional Wurdskrieme - one of LMYE's Festive 50 of 2010 releases that particularly mattered to us, but out so late in the year it counts as an honorary member of the label's 2011 rollcall...


Lawrence English - Heavy Breath of Silence (radio promo edit)

How has Experimedia developed this year (has this been your biggest year for new releases)? Have you done anything different in 2011? Anything new you want to keep doing now it's started?
She became a monster and took on a life of her own.  She is now devouring me.  Yes, it has been the biggest year for new physical releases... quite a bit of vinyl, as I am sure you have noticed... which has always been the goal due to personal and early obsessions with the format... I started with vinyl 10 years ago (under a different name funded by student loans which we just finally paid off this year) but couldn't afford to sustain it financially despite the fact that it started off very well... as I wasn't in the right place.... poorer than poor... (from birth on up.... actually spent a couple periods of my childhood homeless.. I'm lucky I'm still alive)... then struggling to support myself through college... if I did have a vehicle it was a piece of junk.... getting screwed by roommates... floundering from shitty job to shitty job... from bowling alley to porn shop... in part due to unreliable transportation and proximity.  So when the distributor checks came in rent needed paying and I was left with nothing towards the next release, unfortunately.  Bad timing and over-enthusiasm/ambition, which has always been my curse.  Persistence is key... and the more we are pushed down the harder we push forward. This is a stream of consciousness with no regard to time.  What is time?... what is a year?... everything is evolving in a very organic manner... nothing is forced... I evolve with her and she evolves with me. In part I am simply along for the ride.  We want to do everything differently.

Celer - Bedded In Shallow Blades (Excerpt)

Is being a US label significant for Experimedia? How do you assess the state of US 'experimental' music currently?
No.  Borders have become an abstract concept. Irrelevant really from where we sit. I am not as concerned with 'scenes' as I am with community... and the community is global... it is too small and too wide spread not to be.  A global ecosystem.  Governmental borders only create challenges for us who prefer to deal in physical sound objects... passing something that I touched into the hands of another across to globe... customs... shipping costs.  We are living in what I refer to as a cultureless sub-culture culture.  So over saturated with sub-cultures that we have no culture.  What has become of culture?  Culture is rarely something we born into now... it is something we choose as individuals.  We search the internet and select a culture that fits the identity we want to create for ourselves.  Culture is becoming further fragmented and diluted as global communications technology progresses.  In the long run... if this is a good or bad thing... is yet unseen.  What will the global community look like decades from now?  For now... it is very awkward. Due to this it is difficult to comment on 'US experimental music'.  It's all so fragmented.

A great deal of modest genius is outspoken by a vast ocean of pompous mediocrity, pretension, and unwarranted elitism.  Everyone seems to think they are better than the next person.  Letting the smallest amount of approval go to their heads resulting in an avalanche of attitude and over-saturation. More time is spent by too many pandering to the press and seeking approval than spending the time creating anything truly thoughtful and original.... countless black round sound objects spewing single weekend recorded thoughtless synth meddlings.... wasteful and environmentally irresponsible.  Western media supported by technology has created a culture of attention hungry children... and we all buy into it without thinking about it... nearly uncontrollably... the progression and availability of technology and the influence of the media further enables these deep-seeded habits.  Those with the money get to the technology first and exploit us all before we even have a chance.... and even through acts of rejection and rebellion to these overpowering influences we are altering the curves of time and culture. The past half-decade we have witnessed pop punk dweeds jamming green day covers in their grandma's garage drop their guitars for synthesizers and become embraced by the mainstream-indie press.... who in turn assign new and daft hype stoking classifications.... so the future is unpredictable.  What underground movements will the current mainstream trends influence twenty years from now? Images of modern technology meet J Geils Band nostalgia covering a nearly unlistenable album of mediocre rubbish seems to excite the press... so things could go either way at this point.  We are teetering.  Idiocrity or enlightenment? There are few borders left when it comes to these issues.

Do you see yourself & the other Experimedia artists as working in any kind of tradition? Is there a Experimedia sound or typical artist? 
We are all related by blood and star dust.  There is no sound.  We follow what genuinely moves us over the course of time.  

From The Mouth Of The Sun - Like Shadows In An Empty Cathedral

Any Experimedia artists you believe merit more attention than they've had so far? Is there one Experimedia release you're particularly proud of?
All of them of course.  Exactly the reason they are released by Experimedia.  For the most part you will notice that our releases do not follow trends.  We follow our heart.. our taste... our ears... strictly... by releasing artists who have never had a release before... or who have been abandoned by other labels for more hype friendly artists. We could just as well run a label which sold out titles over night.. running a distro, we have a bird's-eye view of what is "popular"... but we refuse to allow that knowledge to influence the path of the label.. as we know that these statistics are irrelevant to what is truly relevant and important.

How do you see Experimedia developing in the future? Any new artists you can mention &/or forthcoming new releases from established Experimedia artists? 
The future of Experimedia as a label is undecided.  Regardless it is due for a nap ... we aren't looking to ride on any momentum... and its almost become too big... fanatics camping on our lawn, harassing our family, and other such absurdities.  Besides that we have been quietly running several other imprints.... which we would like to give more attention to. Experimedia does have about 4 other commitments left in the pipe.

Best thing anyone's said/written about Experimedia's music? Worst?
1.  We have been told "Experimedia has change the way I see the world". 2. No one has ever said anything negative to our face... and if they did it would be irrelevant.  

Jannick Schou - Then Filling Your Pockets With Stones

How challenging a time is this for labels? Are you tempted to go digital-only? Or the opposite?
Very challenging...  but this depends on intentions and expectations.   Unless you're a wealthy trust fund baby and can afford a massive marketing budget on top of manufacturing cost right out of the door your in for some frustration.  Its all undecided really.  We are blindly in love with the physical format... grasping on for nostalgia's sake... although we know it is environmentally irresponsible.  We are amidst the last deep breath of the physical format... enjoy it while it lasts.  The next couple of decades will certainly see the near-extinction of physical media ... except in very elite and wealthy circles.... unless we further develop environmentally-friendly energy sources.  Time, technology, the media, and most importantly energy sources will determine the future.

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

Friday, 23 December 2011

Breaking the code

You could make too much of it, clearly. But still it seems significant that LMYE’s Labels of 2011 (like our picks in 2010 & 2009, for that matter) base themselves in somewhat out of the way locations. Geography surely helps explain these exemplary curators'  distinct, even singular aesthetics. 

So too do the double lives of this year's double choice (linked by one exceptional artist). Neither is simply a conventional label. One is also a leading global organiser of events, festivals & exhibitions; the other one of the most significant sellers & distributors of experimental music

The artist who links the two is Lawrence English, founder of Room40 (Red Hill, Queensland) and maker of the compelling, genre-defying/redefining Peregrine for Experimedia (Ravenna, Ohio). Both labels have shaped LMYE's listening in 2011 in important ways. Even with their decade-long journeys beginning to diverge - Room40 powering on, Experimedia at a cross-roads - each demands some recognition here. 

A diverting, challenging interview with Experimedia founder Jeremy Bible follows shortly. But first some characteristically thoughtful, engaging reflections by Lawrence English as Room40's 10th anniversary draws to a close...

Named for an assemblage of creative code-breaking talent, as English explains below, the label’s first decade has seen it emerge as a key sponsor of less obvious music - shrugging off its physical remoteness as an Australian label to deliver cherished 'Sound Parcels from the Antipodes’ 

Notwithstanding the label's rich history, this year marked a peak for Room40. Despite the decision to have Experimedia handle The Peregrine – arguably English's masterpiece, though competition in that category is tough (most of all from Kiri Ni Oto, another external release) – the label unleashed what to these ears was its strongest set of releases yet.

Pimmon - Passing, Never To Be Held

Holding, Never To Be Passed [edit] by pimmon

pimmon - the oansome orbit (album preview)

This great series ranges from John Chantler’s modular synth masterclass The Luminous Ground to Steinbrüchel’s densely rewarding Narrow & on to Pimmon’s magnificently moving The Oansome OrbitChihei Hatakeyama’s ravishing Mirror & Minamo's often lovely Documental. The label also marked its anniversary with 10, a sprawling, glorious compilation of 40 of its artists & co-conspirators. 

More recently, Reinhold Friedl's Eight Equidistant pure wave oscillators, while slipping very slowly to a unison, textually spatialised on eight speakers, concret, 60 minutes added an uncompromising musique concrete workout to the list. 

In addition, Janek Schaefer's National Portrait enlarged & enriched Room40's output - in its full form a 24-hour album embedded (appropriately but also fabulously) in a TV remote control, plus 1,000 MP3s on a circuit board, & all wrapped in a TV listings page...

National PortraitJanek Schaefer

Moreover, English's commitment to field recording & hearing yielded his Brisbane 'site listening' project & book to again expand the label's scope & range of operation

Several of this year's releases feature in LMYE’s forthcoming Festive 50 – 50 releases that particularly mattered to the blog’s co-authors in 2011. Several more are among 50 further commendations that help make up a celebratory century…

Below read English's further thoughts on the label’s longevity, its landmarks, prospects & challenges. 

Steinbrüchel - Narrow (edit)

How has Room40 developed this year (has this been your biggest year for new releases)? Have you done anything different in 2011? Anything new you want to keep doing now it's started?
2011 has been a fairly interesting year for us. 2010 was the tenth anniversary (although technically finished in the first part of 2011....) and in some respects a marker for what room40 has been and continues to be. It was great to take stock and get a sense of part of the journey we've been on. In 2011 we started to make a few changes for the next phases of room40 - things like John Chantler's LP and Janek Schaefer's Remote Control edition is more something we want to move towards - special objects that take on a great meaning than simply 'releases' as such. I mean we've always had a pre-occupation with making 'editions' rather than releases - specialised packaging, design aesthetics etc - but in 2011 we've started to take steps more into a new way of approaching these ideas.

Did you always expect to make it to your 10th anniversary? Do you anticipate following Touch's lead & making it to your 30th?
It's a good question. These kind of celebrations remind you how quickly time flies. I think, at least in my mind, Room40 is an ongoing organisation. I guess this is heightened by the range of activities we undertake - everything from releasing editions to curating festivals and performance series and putting together sound art exhibitions.

Is being an Australian label significant for Room40? How do you assess the state of Australian 'experimental' music currently?
It's significant in that there's not many of us down here I guess....especially older labels. There's been some amazing labels over the years, but a great many of them have ceased or have really cut back on their release schedules. At the same time there's an amazing crop of new younger labels starting up - some really killer labels putting out all kinds of music. In terms of experimental work, I think we're blessed with some amazing artists here, working at all levels - there's your longer serving artists like Oren Ambarchi, Robin Fox and Philip Samartzis, and then a younger generation too - all of whom are active and creating some pretty special sound!

John Chantler - Untitled #2

john chantler - the luminous ground (album preview)

Do you see yourself & the other Room40 artists as working in any kind of tradition? Is there a Room40 sound or typical artist? 
I think everyone and every label fits into a kind of 'ecology'. We all fit together in different ways and the degrees of separation in this area of work aren't so huge and I love that. There's a real sense of community, in a global sense, and that's something I value and try to foster in whatever small ways we can. 

I'm not sure there's a typical artist as such, but I do like to think all the artists on the label are equally concerned with delving deep into the work they're doing and creating in a deep and personal way.

Any Room40 artists you believe merit more attention than they've had so far?
Quite a few of them. I'm just glad to see many of them doing well and being in a position to continue creating their work. That's one of the most important elements for me - ensuring we don't see attrition. I think we've lost some great musicians over the years due to the lack of consistency and support etc.  

Chihei Hatakeyama - Alchemy

Chihei Hatakeyama - Renitency

chihei hatakeyama - mirror (album preview)

Suspect you've been asked this before, but why have your own releases have often come out on other labels - as with this year's superb The Peregrine on Experimedia?
To be honest there's only a certain number of slots available for us to release editions this year and I feel it's important for me not to occupy those. Occasionally if there's some addition income to cover the production costs - for example, the recent Site Listening Queensland edition - then it's possible me to me publish the editions via room40, but I feel it's important that the labels focus lies with the artists we want to support and not my own work.

Will Lonely Women's Club be releasing on Room40? Or anywhere else?
The first record in that series will be published by Important Records. I'm very pleased to have the chance to work with them.

How soon can we expect the new Chris Abrahams - & can you persuade him to release some of his many solo piano recordings?
Actually in 2012 we will be re-issuing both his solos and I know Chris has been working away solidly on a new solo LP, so there's a chance that might also be ready in 2012. He's such an incredible musician - truly one of our great musicians in Australia.

How do you see Room40 developing in the future? Any new artists you can mention &/or forthcoming new releases from established Room40 artists? 
There's quite a few new projects on the boil. For example in the first quarter of 2012 we're venturing into some concrete territory with editions from Thembi Sodell and Anthea Caddy, ErikM and a wonderful pulsing work from Andrea Belfi - really something amazing. There's a swag of new editions on the way in 2012....a good few from artists we've worked with before, plus some new artists. There's going to be a series of editions from Eugene Carchesio - a collection of all his amazing electronic works - I'm very excited to have the chance to published these wonderful editions.

Will you be releasing more vinyl? Cassettes? Other media (DVDs/TV remotes/etc)?
I think it's all pretty well open for comment. I want to encourage the artists to think about what might make sense for their works and we can collaborate on coming up with unique ways to create an object with which their sound might work alongside.

Best thing anyone's said/written about Room40 music? Worst?
At one of our shows, a bar staff member remarked 'I'd rather be fucked in the ear by a cheese grater than listen to more of this.' Needless to say I'm very friendly with this person now - I respect anyone who has such an articulate way of enunciating discomfort!

How important is artwork to your releases? Who decides it?
I think one of the elements that ties together the catalogue is the print work and style we've developed. The monochrome artwork, matt celo covers and also the type face and font size are all basically deal breakers for us, but at the same time they lend a linkage between releases that I think feels great when you hold up the releases next to each other. I guess this was a centre theme for me when we started out - making sure we weren't just making regular cds in jewel cases, but unique objects (via the diecut for example) that people could see as something different from what else was around.

How challenging a time is this for labels? Are you tempted to go digital-only? Or the opposite?
I think for some labels it a very challenging time, but for us it's not a question of either/or. Honestly I think some music is best served digitally - as the quality can be much higher than cd. A great example is Reinhold Friedl's new edition which we offer in a 24 44.1 format. Other music sounds pretty damned amazing on cassette in my opinion. Other works really work best on vinyl - for example the Grouper 7" last year really works for me on wax. The cut added something a little special to the sound. So I think it's about finding the fit for the artist and looking to create something special with them. I honestly feel the most important thing we can do as label directors is honour and respect our artists work - I know, as an artist, how much of yourself you pour into the works - so it's important to true and realise the best fit and space in which the artists work can be presented.

Minamo - Bound Letters by ROOM40

minamo - documental (album preview)

PS Where does the label's name come from?
It's actually based on the Room40 of Bletchley Park fame. It resonated with me in terms of what I want from Room40 - a place in which many different artists from all over the place came together to explore a similar theme - sound. To me it still very much fits what we're trying to do and foster.

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

Friday, 9 December 2011

Previous Form

Like a man in Uniform? Check Aria Rostami’s nice new and re-stitched threads on 'bulb man David Newman’s growing download offshoot, Audiomoves. With previous Form, some with LMYE, his Uniform is in effect a re-Form, or at least in part, with several new originals thrown in to further pique, the whole being mastered by LMYE favourite, Lawrence English.

The artist speaks: “Form was about the deconstruction of sound while Uniform is about the reconstruction of it. Although the album contains only three proper remixes, the five new original tracks were guided by the spirit of a remix album. The songs were put together mostly by constructing field recordings, randomly recorded piano parts, and so on to create source material and then combined afterword to create songs. The new tracks were created to have some parallelism with the remixes. Uniform discovers the differences within similarities. Uniformity is nothing more than an idea; a force that turns and breaks from human lens to human lens.”

Opener “Midori” is a winsome piece of IDM-lite of the type we used to see regularly from labels like Neo Ouija and Expanding.

Midori by ariarostami

Best of all, though, is the gorgeous “Tokyo”

Aria Rostami - Tokyo by audiobulb

Elsewhere there are intriguing retoolings, one such being “Streetlights As Fairgrounds” by Finnish wonky-hiphop-cum-ambi-chill exponent, Saine.

Streetlights As Fairgrounds (Saine Remix) by ariarostami

And another by Ollie Bown, one half of near-veteran abstract electronicists, Icarus

Cleare (Ollie Bown Remix) by ariarostami

Here’s a bonus video from the lad, since you’ve been so readerly as to get through to the end of this post

Aria Rostami - "Black Tile" from Matthew Sevilla on Vimeo.

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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