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Sleeping Dogs Lie 02oct09: Jamie Drouin, Yann Novak, Bionulor

auditoriummutekAnother exquisitely packaged treasure trove from Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin on Dragon’s Eye companion label, Infrequency. This is the fourth edition released by Infrequency, and sees the live work of Drouin and Novak captured for posterity in this fine release, a document of their live performance at Canada’s hugely influential Mutek sound festival.

As with any combination of artists it is always a reviewer’s worst nightmare in trying to ascribe authorship of any sequences to any particular artist, and this is one such instance. As both artists inhabit very similar sonic territory, that would be a futile exercise, and detrimental to the overarching and pervasive sense of sheer quality and precision of this release.

Auditorium Mutek is about as polished and delicious as any ambient soundscaping gets, with an evenly paced tonalism permeating a sonic vacuum right from the outset, this release fully engages with the senses, and lures the listener in to one of the most accomplished and beautifully worked pieces I’ve heard in many a year, and it’s run of 250 copies should easily expire in a very short time. If I sound excited, its because I have seen the work of these two artists evolve and become more defined over the last couple of years, and I think here, we perhaps see that collaboration at its peak, in a singular release that is at once mature and measured.

Drouin and Novak take familiar elements that could easily fit in with any minimal/digital release, and yet somehow they manage to make it sound fresh, at times like Ryoji Ikeda on downers, with delicate rhythmic sequences, and protracted bleep-fests, draped over raw, elemental tones and atmospherics, that creep along, enveloping the senses, and sparking the imagination.Sometimes the rawness is extruded into almost pure feedback, but a feedback that does not grate or tear at the listener’s sensibilities, but recedes into the background as texture. If you only buy one CD this year, then Auditorium Mutek would be the one that I would go for… hands down, one of the best releases of the year so far. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

BionulorTaking a similar approach to the classic likes of Aube, Bionulor is billed as being focused exclusively on “sound recycling,” or using only a single sample or sound as the basis for an entire piece. As a self-imposed limitation this sometimes does keep the compositions to a Spartan minimum, yet just as often become a chaotic mess of layered sounds and effects.

Some of the pieces are intentional details of singular sonic elements: both the opening “nchr.01? and “nchr.03? focus exclusively on singular stringed instrument sounds, left to repeat for lengthy periods with only the most minute changes in dynamics and layering. The changes and variations are there, but are extremely subtle, with more electronically effected sounds serving more as accompaniment to the organic sounds rather than being the dominant focus.

This is a pretty stark contrast to tracks like “pvn.,” which opens with subtle ambient tones and cricket-like loops, while plucked string notes are there and clearly defined, the focus becomes much more on the processed sonic elements, via spacey pitch bent tones and more low frequency percussive thuds. The final minutes of the track pile on the effects and noises to a level of pure chaos. This dynamic carries over into “l. fll.” which, though opening with a large pastiche of silence, eventually becomes dominated by digital clicks and cuts over plucked string notes. Piano sounds are allowed to appear in their natural state for most of the piece, but the digital elements are much more the focus.

Unfortunately, these tracks are almost too chaotic for their own good, and the shift from subtle repetition to erratic texture shifts is a jarring one. Tracks like the symphonic “nchr.04? are among the most satisfying, balancing the natural with the digital well.

This is a good debut release, and the concept of limiting ones self to a single sound to create an entire piece is a good one, and definitely goes beyond the limitations of a Boss DD-5 delay pedal that Akifumi Nakajima was too reliant on, but the actual structure and composition needs more attention. A greater focus on development and sequencing as opposed to just a quick transition between moods and textures would be a definite asset to future releases. (Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 31jul09: Snowfield + Remix

snow“The seven untitled tracks here have a remarkable cumulative impact, the contrast between their tiny, crystalline details and the vastness of the landscape becoming ever more telling.” THE WIRE

“A deep work of musical art…Quite superb from beginning to end and a must for lovers of Raster Noton, NVO, Line and other such labels. Highly recommended.” SMALLFISH

“A tour de force…a worthy collection, that bursts with ideas.” WHITE_LINE

Disc one of this 2 CD set features documentation of Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen’s 4-channel installation SNOW:FIELD from 2003. The seven tracks were derived from the interaction with a field of snow in British Columbia measuring the same dimensions as the empty host gallery in the United Kingdom where the compositions were played back.

Disc two contains remixes of the original material by Drouin and Olsen, as well as by invited artists Tomas Jirku and Yann Novak, breathing new dimension and variation into the tracks. The intimate scratchings of the SNOWFIELD tracks open up into extended cinematic movements, with familiar textures reshaped into micro journeys through icy terrain.

Sleeping Dogs Lie 105 30_31jul09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 24jul09: Jamie Drouin, Lance Olsen

snow“The seven untitled tracks here have a remarkable cumulative impact, the contrast between their tiny, crystalline details and the vastness of the landscape becoming ever more telling.” THE WIRE

“A deep work of musical art…Quite superb from beginning to end and a must for lovers of Raster Noton, NVO, Line and other such labels. Highly recommended.” SMALLFISH

“A tour de force…a worthy collection, that bursts with ideas.” WHITE_LINE

Disc one of this 2 CD set features documentation of Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen’s 4-channel installation SNOW:FIELD from 2003. The seven tracks were derived from the interaction with a field of snow in British Columbia measuring the same dimensions as the empty host gallery in the United Kingdom where the compositions were played back.

Disc two contains remixes of the original material by Drouin and Olsen, as well as by invited artists Tomas Jirku and Yann Novak, breathing new dimension and variation into the tracks. The intimate scratchings of the SNOWFIELD tracks open up into extended cinematic movements, with familiar textures reshaped into micro journeys through icy terrain.

Sleeping Dogs Lie show 23_24jul09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 10jul09: Cotton - Dragon's Eye Second Anniversary

cottonUS label Dragon’s Eye celebrates and consolidates its second year with this specially packaged release, beautifully presented in a transparent DVD case with cloud images by Steven Miller.

This particular milestone showcases the wide remit of the label, featuring unique collaborative works alongside existing artists and forthcoming releases, giving a further indication that Dragon’s Eye intends to be around for quite some time. Opening with “Gensho no Tabe”, a collaborative piece by Tadahito Ishinoseki and Tomoyoshi Date, a restrained, elegant piano workout, with a theatrical voiceover in Japanese, followed by a Yann Novak piece, “Lullaby” – a tense, metallic dronescape draped over a shifting textural tonal backdrop. Kamran Sadeghi’s “Untitled (kha series)” is a classic ultra minimal tone work, a bleepy, glitchy, utterly compelling soundscape that is for me, one of the high points of this collection. Next we have Corey Fuller’s “Light along the edge of the water” full of sparkling, razor sharp textures, overlaid with twinkling layers of tones, that barely escape lapsing into New Age cliché, by subtly bringing the textural elements to the front of the mix. Manning and Novak follow with “Feeling alone all together”, an expansive, evenly –paced, guitars and samples piece, dripping with reverb, and peppered with organic elements and fissured electronic gestures, that keep the piece alive and interesting. “Midnight Sanctuary” is another collaborative piece, fusing the work of Corey Fuller with Tomoyoshi Date – another tonal piece replete with field recordings and sampladelia that reminded me of some of Fennesz’s finest moments, with splintered, fractured keyboards, and electronic shards. Jamie Drouin is the label’s maverick composer, his “Dresden” track is a skewed, abstract slab of electronica that takes a walk on the dark side with it’s eerie, nagging electronic refrain, and overdriven guitar stabs that collide and invert to create an intense, unnerving edgy soundscape. The collection finishes with label stalwarts, Son of Rose, whose “Grand treatments” lives up to its name completing the album with a finely wrought, muscular tonal edifice of cascading samples and chords, topped with a crackling textural skrim, that gently swells and evaporates, finishing the whole collection on a high.

For a label still so young, Dragon’s Eye have the sort of sharp production values, and keen eye for aesthetics that will take them much much further. With a roster this strong, and inventive, it will surely make them a label to watch for in the future. Fine stuff indeed. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

01 Tadahito Ichinoseki + Tomoyoshi Date: “Gensho No Tabi” (5:15) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
02 Yann Novak: “Lulluby” (8:47) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
03 Kamran Sadeghi: “Untitled (Kha Series)” (11:00) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
04 Corey Fuller: “Light Along The Edge Of Water” (6:53) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
05 Manning / Novak: “Feeling Alone All Together” (5:10) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
06 Tomoyoshi Date + Corey Fuller: “Midnight Sanctuary” (8:10) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
07 Jamie Drouin: “Dresden” (6:33) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
08 Son Of Rose: “Grand Treatments” (9:42) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)

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