Sleeping Dogs Lie 23oct09: Dragon's Eye Recordings

+room-roomRecorded live at the Henry Art Gallery auditorium during the opening reception for Novak and Drouin’s installation +ROOM-ROOM, the performance re-contextualizes the sounds from the installation. Now abstracted from the installation rooms, the sounds take on new potential meanings as the artists build a dialogue of tones and textures in an improvisational environment. The performance is recorded using omnidirectional microphones placed on the stage. The result is a mix of the effect of the room on the sound, and the physical interaction with the performers’ equipment.

Dragon’s Eye has grown up fast in the field of designer minimal electronics and drones. Already with a distinctive brand identity forged through an active roster of core artists, it’s now established enough for Yann Novak, Seattleite installation art and sound designer whose baby DE is, to be seeing his main roster-men return with second, sometimes third, offerings. If not exactly seasoned campaigners, these artists are now evidently hardened enough by service in the post-digital frontline to be delivering discreetly different goods than previously: Wyndel Hunt an audio-visual collab with Thom Heilson; Kamran Sadeghi, last seen under the guise of Son of Rose, an exploration of rhythm and spatiality.

unit-of-selectionFirst to Unit of Selection, wherein Hunt’s audio pieces are subject for/to digital media artist Thom Heileson’s visualisations. Hunt is a sound designer whose work carries the infinity impulse of drone but here bespeckled with something cinematic and something else vaguely like the ghosts of Autechre Mk.1 discovering shoegaze. Thom Heileson is a visual artist with a penchant for fabricating fictive spaces drawn from photographed and filmed architectures. The collab sprang from realization of thematic commonalities between their sound and video works. Unit of Selection sets out with an ambitious brief: “to fashion new perceptual sculptures, in which the textural fluctuations and movements of each medium carve into one another.” Whether this is achieved is debatable, but the ride is certainly an interesting one.

Hunt’s sonics provide the trigger, conceived around the idea of an “anonymous force that shapes,” which determined movements of pitch, tone, and volume. Heileson based the imagery, on Hunt’s soundworks, bringing out “emotive tonalities” within them. The results range much more widely than Hunt’s earlier brittle minimalism. Unit of Selection has a big warm prickly resonant sound design threaded through with electrified drizzle and steepling drones. Hunt gets much mileage from patching in to a digitalised simulacrum of the post-MBV shoegaze-starburst familiar from Tim Hecker and Fennesz (see esp. “1” and “4”, and the closing minute); that is when not mixing up edit-heavy collages between audio-drama and ambient textural experiment (see “2” and “5”). Track 7 (confusingly entitled “6” according to the liner) effectively combines orientations, a nocturnal hum manoeuvred under welters of fuzz-drone and buzz-tone, swathed in a flicker and shimmer of harmonized static. In fact, static seeps into every corner eventually like aural rust, particularly eerie on penultimate track 9 (confusingly entitled “1”), spreading a sombre dystopian mood redolent of decay and desolation. Heileson’s visuals are not the subject of review here, but they offer effectively synched linkages to Hunt’s compositions with images of environments, sometimes bleached sometimes saturated, reflecting back the richness and glaciality of Hunt’s patterns and colours. (Alan Lockett, Igloo Magazine)

LeatherDragon’s Eye Recordings is celebrating its third anniversary with the release of Leather, a free digital compilation. The Leather compilation showcases sonic excursions from artists currently working with the Label. Leather is indicative of the label’s goal to explore new territory in minimal electronic music and sound art, and to expose and promote individuals whose voices it feels should be heard. The tracks included are all previously unreleased. The cover features a photograph by Chelsea Gaddy.

12k presents term., an online-only series of minimalist sound explorations. term. is an extension of 12k’s output but its mission lies in careful balance to 12k’s aesthetic. while 12k’s emphasis lies not only in sound but on design and presentation as well, term.’s function is the exact opposite: existing entirely in the digital domain with no tangible object or package, term. is the representation of pure data and imageless sound information. the antithesis of physical form. term. is an ongoing series of MP3 releases by sound artists from around the globe. all downloads are free and will remain online as long as possible.

Sleeping Dogs Lie 115 22_23oct09


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)