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Sleeping Dogs Lie 06aug10: Akira Rabelais, Vladimir Petrovsky

Spellewauerynsherde: Spell. Wavering. Shard. Spell as in speaking, incantation, a digitally constructed matrix of words and voices, summoning up a strange, distant past. Wavering: the shivering of those voices as they dissolve and recombine in Rabelais’ rich filtering systems, turning into pulsating, frequency rich drones. Shard: fragments, of voices, of ideas, of memories, of the past, brought back to life again.

Spellewauerynsherde is built up from found sounds, field recordings of traditional Icelandic accapella lament songs recorded in the late 1960s or early 1970s on Ampex tapes and then forgotten about. After discovering the neglected tapes, cleaning them up and digitizing them for a library, Rabelais became fascinated with the heartbreaking sadness of the voices and began to think of them as source material for a series of compositions.

In working with the tapes, Rabelais was very careful to preserve the sound and shape of the originals giving some of the tracks, such as the lovely track 5, an almost Duchamp-like sound quality — they sound barely touched, hardly compositions at all by most people’s standards. “I didn’t want to abstract it so much that it lost its essential quality. I didn’t want to damage the fabric of the original language, I wanted to set it, cast it in a certain light.”

The frame that Rabelais uses was constructed using a piece of computer software called Arge•phontes Lyre, which Rabelais developed in the late 1990s – a flexible tool for filtering sound sources, turning them into the remarkable pulsating, shifting sound fields and strange choral effects to be heard on Spellewauerynsherde’s track three for example. In contrast to much of the contemporary electronic music scene, which remains heavily dependent on commercially available software, and which mostly consists of running through every possible combination of the potentialities within such software, resulting in a glut of music that is basically indistinguishable from each other, Rabelais has worked continuously on developing software that can achieve his various sonic goals. “I tend to write filters as I need them and they go through quite a bit of fine tuning. At the same time I try to let them evolve organically. I try to appreciate my mistakes.”

Even though Rabelais’ use of the software has an iterative, mathematical aspect, in that it can be used to crank out numerous mutant variations on a particular block of sound, he claims that he sees writing software as similar to writing poetry. “I have a sort of Magical Realist approach to writing code. Borges, Garcia M‡rquez and Bruno Shculz. Labyrinths, a cascade of stars and tailor’s dummies. Code can intersect with function and abstraction in a way that poetry can’t. It can take on a life of it’s own, really surprise you.”

Rabelais then decided to throw his own unconscious as a tool into the mix: “When I was working on it, I would do an iteration of filtering and editing and then I’d burn it on a disk and play it. Put it on repeat in my bedroom for a weekend and sleep to it. Let it seep into my subconscious and then make changes off of those impressions.”

If the tracks on Spellewauerynsherde are ultimately built around the complexities of digital programming, the framework of title and text that Rabelais gives the music is equally important and transformative. In fact, Rabelais says that he worked simultaneously on the editing and processing of the sounds, and the extraordinary texts that accompany the music, as well as the seven long, mysterious track titles, drawn mostly from the Oxford English Dictionary’s definitions of the words that make up the title of the piece. “The OED is one of my favorite books. It’s interesting how words and meaning evolve over time. It’s like a secret natural history of human thought.”

What Rabelais has come up with in Spellewauerynsherde, is a haunting spiritual disk that sounds at once medieval, especially framed by Rabelais’ beautiful texts, while at the same time, on the cutting edge of electronic music. Digital technologies, with their use of permutation and combination of seemingly unrelated elements, bring us back to the world of magic, which also sought to transform matter in ways that give it spiritual significance. Spellewauerynsherde brings back voices from the edges of history, tapes gathering dust in archives, and transforms them into ghosts that thrive in the digital era, albeit in sometimes monstrous forms. “I transmit, “As above, so below.” I try to connect to something ineffable and then transmit it in some way.” (samadhisound.com)

Bell ringer: Vladimir Petrovsky . Bells of the Arkhangelsk museum reserve “‘Malyie Karely” (Small Karely).

Bells in Russia appeared soon after Christianisation. For already a millennium their chimes accompany every person’s life. Bells were not a Christian Church invention, they came from the West, first as a signal, but already at the beginning of the 16th century Russia had its own national original art of bell ringing. The main expressive means of these chimes are rhythm and timbre. Rhythmical variety of sounding is reached by the new way of bell ringing – not by moving the bell itself, as in European countries – but by moving the tongue of motionless bells. The fate of Russian bells is tragic. They were silent almost for about half of century. One of the contemporary centres of bell ringing revival is the Arkhangelsk museum reserve of wooden architecture “Malyie Rarely”. Here in the Russian North – a real treasury-house of national culture “Chimes of Russian North” were revived. These chimes are characteristic variety of All-Russian chimes. This museum is the only place in Russia where a school of bell ringers is situated. Vladimir Petrovsky is a bright representative of this school. He is a professional musician for whom the tradition is a basis, both in musical and moral aspects. He can really hear and feel the soul of a bell. The compositions featured on this disc show the listeners his careful attitude to the old Russian heritage and gift of free improvisation. The latter feature you can see more vividly in his performance of “Waltz of Bells”, “Monk’s Tale”, “Delusion”. In this chime Petrovsky affirms his own understanding of contemporary bell ringing as a concert genre.

01 Akira Rabelais: “1671 Milton Samson 1122 Add thy Spear, a Weavers beam, and seven-times-folded shield” (from “Spellewauerynsherde”) (2004)
02 Vladimir Petrovsky: “Funeral Chime” (from “Chimes of Russian North”) (1991)

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Atlantic Waves 27jul10: In Spanish

01. Son De La Frontera: “Bulería Negra del Gastor” (4:49)
02. Diego Carrasco: “Poeta Cai” (5:01)
03. Peret: “Que Levante El Dedo” (4:04)
04. Daniel Melingo: “Narigón” (3:19)
05. Mercedes Sosa: “Tonada Del Viejo Amor” (4:06)
06. Juana Molina: “Un Día” (5:35)
07. Aníbal Velásquez Y Su Conjunto: “Mi Sombreron” (2:43)
08. Tito Chicoma Y Su Orquesta: “Fat Mama” (2:54)
09. Peru Negro: “Son De Los Diablos” (2:28)
10. Novalima: “Chinchivi” (4:05)
11. Los De Abajo: “Pa’ Huitzilpochtli/Anda Levanta” (1:58)
12. Conjunto de Arpa Grande: “El Perro” (2:20)
13. Compay Segundo: “La Negra Tamosa” (4:01)
14. Yerba Buena: “El Burrito” (4:01)
15. Lhasa: “Con Toda Palabra” (4:36)

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Atlantic Waves 08jun10: Drag City

I still cherish the description of British-American art collective Art & Language once given by Mayo Thompson, the head of four-decades-and-running concept/psych-rock outfit the Red Krayola: “the baddest bastards on the block.” Truth be known, I’ve lost touch with Art & Language’s recent form (except to mourn the passing of Charles Harrison in August 2009), so they may not be the ‘baddest bastards’ any more—but suffice to say, I’ve never seen art and theory with such rigour and such antagonistic, ornery force as their ’70s period.

Tellingly, Thompson first fetched up with Art & Language in the ’70s. The albums produced in that first blush, Corrected Slogans, Black Snakes and Kangaroo?, aren’t the most puzzling in the Red Krayola’s long career, but they are among the most formally intriguing. By shackling Marxist dialectic and art-historical commentary to rude, crabby post-punk music, Thompson created music that conducted itself with a perpetual question mark over its head. Nothing you think you understand, it seemed to say, makes any sense here. It was a very rigorous music performed with a strange ‘off-the-cuff’-ness that was permanently surprised by the recombinations and juxtapositions it coughed up. In line with the best post-punk, you could hear the musicians thinking as they played—and in some cases, you could hear them wondering what the hell was going on.

The five portraits here are of singular figures in American mythology: Wile E. Coyote, President George W Bush, President Jimmy Carter, John Wayne, and Ad Reinhardt. (Reinhardt, perhaps, deserves the sub-heading ‘American modern art mythology,’ but never mind.) Of course, those coming to portraiture-via-music will expect vague mythologizing via lyrics, a bit of mysticism, maybe some rock heroics (U2 does MLK, in other words). The Red Krayola, being the baddest bastards in modern rock, give you the minutest, most programmatic painterly detail of each portrait, framed by songs that riff on motifs lifted from other, apparently relevant songs. Most hilariously, Ad Reinhardt (the abstract artist who, in the ’60s, painted his canvases in shades of black) cops a Mozart Sonata and…The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.”

I’ve been borderline-obsessed with the Red Krayola for a long time now, but even I can admit that Thompson’s practice sometimes gets maddeningly diffuse. The ‘forced cohesion’ that he so values, and passed on to partisans like David Grubbs, is in fine form here. There’s an inherent clumsiness in the way he forces lyrics like “The iris and shadow beneath / The lid of the right eye, / A shadow of the inner corner of the left eye, / The opening of the left ear / Of President Jimmy Carter” against something that sounds like a defrocked 12-bar blues that’s still hard to process. Of course, this leads into a purple patch of messy free improvisation, before the Raincoats’ Gina Birch continues the tale. And on it goes.

If the last Red Krayola With Art & Language record, Sighs Trapped By Liars, surprised with its gentility, Thompson’s dialectical relationship to/with form pretty much dictated that its follow-up had to jut out at right angles from its predecessor. That push-me-pull-you is intrinsic to the Red Krayola’s practice, God bless them. It’s also what makes their history so uniquely and individually compelling. (By Jon Dale, Dusted magazine)

“Let’s get right down to business,“ mutters Bill Callahan, and he and his backup band gradually constructs “Our Anniversary,” starting with guitar and a barely brushed snare and blending in sweeping strings. Immediately, any long-term listener will understand why the man we knew as Smog started performing under his Christian name – very little remains of the self-flagellating lo-fi angstmonger who gave the world Wild Love, Burning Kingdom and The Doctor Came at Dawn and helped make the ‘90s even more depressing. The transformation that began with 1997’s Red Apple Falls is now complete. He retains a rigorous ear for detail, but he’s opened the windows, and his conversational baritone exudes a mature authority. The music is, if more conservative, unarguably richer and more thoughtful. If much of his back-catalog sounds like it came from a mental hospital, Rough Travel For a Rare Thing seems to emerge from a very productive, very well-organized home office.

For anyone who only got on board in time for the post-Smog stuff (officially starting with 2007’s Woke On a Whaleheart), this elegant live record brings back some of his earlier songs, performed through Callahan’s new perspective. An intriguing concept not fully actualized – four of the songs are from 2005’s first-rate A River Ain’t Too Much to Love, on which Callahan 2.0 had already fully emerged. “The Well” and “Rock Bottom Riser” build expansive arrangements over threadbare structures, allowing Bill and the band to sustain and develop their moods in ways the abbreviated studio versions couldn’t. The most interesting self-cover is “Bathysphere,” a ruthlessly bleak fan favorite from Wild Love rendered here as only vaguely ominous dad-rock.

Nothing terribly exciting here, but as it comes from a guy who made his bones as one of the most genuinely fucked-up-sounding people in music (an image his stint as Mr. Cat Power did nothing to diminish), it may be a welcome relief to hear him act like an adult.

Perhaps acknowledging it as a fans-only affair, Drag City released it as a double-vinyl exclusive (for, in the words of the typically cheeky promo copy, “in-the-know tastemakers and their gullible friends”). Right down to the packaging, it’s a classy show. (By Emerson Dameron, Dusted magazine)

Jon Pitt does an exceedingly accurate job of describing the core of Scout Niblett’s aesthetic in his review of 2005’s Kidnapped by Neptune. The quiet/loud dynamic and the Nirvana/grunge influence are fundamental to her last few albums, so much so that one might remark that there is little difference to be had between Kidnapped, 2007’s This Fool Can Die Now and her most recent, The Calcination of Scout Niblett. What makes Niblett interesting, though, is the way these outdated strategies (grunge hasn’t been popular in the aughts at all and is hardly rife for a comeback at this point) are merely a facet of her work, and the way in which they are tempered by other elements to create something wholly new.

It’s tough not to listen to Calcination without hearing decade’s old echoes – Bleach especially – but at the same time, these are merely reminders or remnants and not merely tools of pastiche. The music itself possesses a clarity – a clarity that grunge fights hard against. So wrapped up in Niblett’s work is already a tension between the this clarity – a kind of unambiguousness – and what she imports from her influences. Her voice complements this clarity. It is strong and full, a traditional voice arising from folk. These echoes though aren’t merely the reverberation of the American neo-folk movement, but echo back to Niblett’s British roots.

There is also a tension in Calcination as well between the loud/soft dynamic and the consistency of the album’s tone. Pitt, in his review, mentions that Albini’s production, “juxtaposes the quiet and the loud, embracing a bipolarism that repeatedly interrupts, jars and startles the listener to attention.” However, what’s masterful about Calcination is that through the changing dynamic, there is a remarkably steady tone. That which might be jarring in another context, calling attention to itself and pulling the listener out of the moment, is here a natural part of the music. It can’t startle because it doesn’t seem out of place.

Calcination itself is a process of heating something in order to break it down; there may be the idea of process in Calcination, of dynamics, but the steadiness of the tone gives the illusion of stillness. It takes an incredibly steady hand and a reservoir of patience to pull off this tone, but delightfully, still below the surface is that tension. There are these competing moments in her music then, and it is the way they compete that makes her aesthetic unique and beautiful. (By Andrew Beckerman, Dusted magazine)

Rangda is a mighty new project from the all-star coalition of Richard Bishop (here listed sans knighthood), Ben Chasny (best known as the Six Organs Of Admittance leader) and improv drumming legend, Chris Corsano. Notably, while Chasny and Bishop are most closely associated with virtuosic acoustic guitaring, False Flag finds the two wielding electric instruments, taking every opportunity to shred mercilessly through fuzzball workouts like opener ‘Waldorf Hysteria’ and ‘Serrated Edges’. In fact, all three musicians cut loose and rampage over their respective instrument at just about every turn – Corsano is his usual imperious self, setting his kit ablaze (figuratively speaking, at any rate) during ‘First Family’ in particular. Somewhere along the line Bishop sets his axe down in favour of a spot of piano, and Corsano turns his hand to organ and clarinet (although a cursory scan through the album doesn’t necessarily make it clear as to where this might be), but the musicians’ primary roles yield enough terrific results to last the album – an especially brilliant moment comes four instrumentals in, when ‘Sarcophagi’ arrives as a spooked slow jam, capturing some spine-tinglingly lovely duelling guitar work and sensitive, atmospheric percussion from Corsano. Highly recommended. (Boomkat)

Sometimes the best gigs are the happy accidents– stumbling on an unknown band, or being convinced to see an artist by a friend only to become a convert yourself. That’s how I was introduced to Major Stars: Hijacked, dragged to a tiny Baltimore bar where the band was headlining. And then, boom: Wayne Rogers launched into the first of many acid-rock solos and full-front assaults. I was awestruck in a way you assume people felt when first seeing, say, session guitarist Pete Cosey (best known for his work with Miles Davis) or Wayne Kramer (MC5).

I don’t throw those comparison points around lightly, either. But Rogers, partner Kate Biggar, and third guitarist Tom Leonard do play as if the merger of those two turn-of-the-70s titans was the most natural thing the world. The Major Stars sound begins with the post-blues/proto-metal of the MC5 at their most raucous. Unlike many 21st century bands known for guitar pyro, Return to Form trucks in muscular anthems rather than sprawling mess. Tunes like “Black Point” and “Low Grade” are as memorable for their rhythm section’s heavy-machinery lurch as the feedback splatter. Which just makes the freaky, near-freeform soloing– think electric jazz before it was tamed into fusion or psychedelia at its most caustic– all the more surprising when it erupts on “Black Point”.

But despite what you may have heard– or how the above sounds– this is not is a noise band, at least in the feedback-for-its-own-sake sense of the word. At their best, Major Stars combine tight riffs and chops with a deep, abiding love for joyous guitar slop. Vocalist Sandra Barett only sometimes adds to the band’s hummability quotient. If nothing else her slightly droning style adds a human presence, sometimes tough and sometimes surprisingly fragile, to what would otherwise be an hour of epic screech and murk. But she’s not Major Stars’ focal point by a longshot; the guitarists have a lot more charisma. Major Stars’ leads alone could command an arena, if bands this hairy hadn’t been banned from arenas a long time ago.

But occasionally the devotion to six-string mayhem overwhelms the songwriting, and unless you really get off on reams of guitar raunch, Major Stars on CD may still not be for you. Sure, Return to Form has the sound of hardcore 1970s psych down, even if the mp3 is about as ideal for capturing the music’s oomph as cheap hi-fi’s and transistor radios were 40 years ago. But for music as much about volume and spectacle and physicality, it’s undeniably easier to be wowed when the band is within spitting distance– flopping all over each other, axes and hair flying, amps approaching critical mass. Return to Form may not always have the tunes or the funkadelic special effects to keep casual listeners interested in the comfort of their own homes/cars/heads. Still, if the album sometimes feels like an advertisement for the next Major Stars tour, well, it’s still a pretty damned good advertisement. ( Jess Harvell, Pitchfork)

Introducing: Ryan Trevor is an unexpected relic of the late 1970s, a self-produced, self-released record mired in the sounds of the Beatles and late 1960s Los Angeles psych bands. Many have compared Trevor to Emitt Rhodes, which doesn’t seem quite right to me aside from the whole “guy who played every instrument and produced the album” angle.

I knew there was some Southern California band that had a similar sound to Ryan Trevor’s, it was driving me crazy and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out which one. The other night while I was checking out the Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets box set I figured out who I was thinking of: The Penny Arkade, a terrific band that worked with Mike Nesmith on a legendary unreleased album that was finally issued on CD by Sundazed in 2004. If not for the synthesizers, several of the songs on Introducing could almost be mistaken for Penny Arkade outtakes. You could also say Ryan Trevor is something like a psych-pop Kenneth Higney. Okay, maybe he’s not quite as weird as Higney, but there’s a distinctly strange, outsider quality to a lot of the music on the LP.

Ryan Trevor started recording the album in 1976. At the time he was already a professional songwriter and had co-writing credits on two Barry Manilow songs. A few years later he found some degree of success writing songs for “Sesame Street.” Trevor was an avowed Paul McCartney fanatic, though he doesn’t quite wear the influence on his sleeve as much as you might guess. After the bombastic symphonic “Prelude,” “Nights In The City” (a song Barry Manilow had turned down) starts off with a borrowed riff from “Taxman,” then goes off in a more interesting and original direction.

“Different Form Of Harmony” is easily the strangest on the album. The lyrics are boilerplate psychedelia—”try and sing high and you’ll find / it’s the same form of harmony / and melody sings through your mind”—but the music is weirdly slow and dark, and some of the backing vocals are screechy and sinister, almost like something off of Comus’s First Utterance album. But the best songs—fairly straightforward pop tunes like “England,” which is sung in a full-throated British accent, and the closing track “Rama (Come And Take Me)—are the least weird of the bunch, and sound like they could have been written by the bubblegum songwriter Tony Hazzard. It’s odd that “England” and “Different Form Of Harmony” even exist on the same slab of vinyl, which is part of what makes totally independent, private-press albums like this one so much fun to listen to. The mistakes and odd stylistic choices amplify the quality of the songs that actually work. (By Rob Hatch-Miller, Dusted magazine)

There have been some thorough examinations of post-punk– Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up and Start Again being the most exhaustive– but could any study ever be complete? The reservoir of out-of-print/never-in-print gems from the fertile late 1970s and early 80s would have to dry up, and that hasn’t happened yet. The last few years alone have seen excellent reissues of San Francisco’s Units, New York’s Interference, London’s Lines, and Georgia’s Method Actors. Writing about the latter, Pitchfork’s Andy Battaglia guessed that the “post-punk vault… would almost have to be empty at this point.”

You’d think so, but mere weeks after the Method Actors release, Drag City has unearthed another treasure deserving of a new audience. Formed in Louisville in 1978, the Endtables lasted less that two years, releasing just one four-song EP while together. The Endtables compiles that EP, a posthumous two-song single, and six live tracks, painting a quick, sharp portrait of a band that sounded like they were in a hurry. Chugging along at a palpitating clip, the group flies toward the sun of the Buzzcocks and Gang of Four, but something about their hyper energy makes them a little more off-kilter than those groups. Like a sonic game of Jenga, their tunes feel like they could spill into unruly cacophony at the slightest nudge.

That never happens, but it’s not for lack of pushing and shoving by guitarist Alex Durig and singer Steve Rigot. Rigot in particular has a uniquely skewed rhythm, biting off his words in strident yelps like the Undertones’ Feargal Sharkey if you cut all of his lines in half. One of the best things about post-punk was the way many singers– Ian Curtis, Mark Mothersbaugh, David Thomas– turned technically imperfect voices into weapons through phrasing and attitude. Thomas may be the closest parallel to the bulbous Rigot, who certainly deserves a place in that patchwork pantheon of inventive vocalists. Durig is equally creative, slashing his chords across the songs like a whip across skin. But it’s Rigot’s delivery that gives these songs a mix of robotic staccato and wiry nerve.

Highlights abound– the engine-rev of “Process of Elimination”, the rubber-band snap of “Circumcision”– but the six studio songs are most notable for how little they deviate from the quality level established in the first note. The live tracks are less even– endearingly earnest and raw but often rather illegible. A few little twists, like an interlude of Clean-style garage swing in “Europe”, a song they never recorded in the studio, hint at some other places this band could’ve gone. But as a self-contained document of a lightning-quick, pretension-free moment in time, The Endtables is pretty spot on. ( Marc Masters, Pitchfork)

The late Hamper McBee was a moonshiner, carnival barker, and ballad singer of legendary proportions. First “discovered” and recorded by folklorist and performer Guy Carawan in 1964, Hamper’s prodigious talent and personality won him admirers not only in his native Smoky Mountains but throughout the folk music world, where his wholly unique approach to old-time ballads and lyric songs struck like revelations. He drew from both the oral tradition and from records — he especially loved Bradley Kincaid, Vernon Dalhart, and, surprisingly, Burl Ives — to create a repertoire entirely his own, and that he sung in a warm, powerful voice seasoned by prodigious quantities of cigarettes, booze, and joie de vivre.

Recorded by renowned country music scholar Charles K. Wolfe and filmmaker Sol Korine at Hamper’s home in Monteagle, Tennessee, in 1977, ‘The Good Old-Fashioned Way’ compiles the best of McBee’s traditional ballads, affecting original compositions, and outlandish, side-splitting stories of life on the carnival circuit, at the moonshine still, in the back of Sheriff Bill Malone’s patrol car, and as Hamper McBee. You’ve never met anyone like him before. You’ll be glad you did. (recordstore.co.uk)

A sepia-tinted kaleidoscope of garage rock, surf guitar, psilocybin’d folk and one of the oddest pop sensibilities this side of Beefheart and his Magic Band, cult artist and obscurantist favorite Michael Yonkers’ unreleased 1977 solo gem, Lovely Gold, shines with a 2010 dust-off and release from indie label Drag City. During the social tumult of the late 1960s, Yonkers had retreated, sequestering himself in his parents’ basement to experiment with tape loops and homemade synthesizers. A broken back, suffered in an industrial accident, would cause him to retreat once again. Recorded six years after that incident, Lovely Gold is the sound of an artist moving inward, into his own fractured and fascinating inner landscapes.

Indeed, this is freak folk before there was a name for such a thing. Rumbling percussion, effects-warped guitars and Yonkers’ warbly voice all intertwine and dovetail into an avant-everything wonderland of psychedelic minimalism. Songs like the rumbled croons and strums of “I Knew You’d Remember” give the first side of Trout Mask Replica a run for its money; “Drifting Off” forms a mid-album vortex of burbling noise effects beneath a slinky chorus melody; and “Will It Be” predates — and outweirds — the best of the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s moody down-tempo material with a wash of haunting wails and shadowy sonics.

Yet however strong the Lovely Gold’s remainder is (and it is), the album would be crippled without its blistering title track. A four-minute paean to adrenalized freak-rock, “Lovely Gold” starts off as an ominous and nervy sway of circular surf-pop before steadily building, building, building into a guitar implosion gone nova as Yonkers pushes his instrument — and himself, by the sound — to its outer limits. Drag City was kind enough to pack in a bonus track (the unsettling moans of “Nevermore”) with this long-overdue release, but the sound of Lovely Gold meeting the light of day is bonus enough. (Travis Woods, Prefix mag)

Cave is a five-piece psychedelic group that originally formed in Missouri in the mid-2000s. After a few years of formless outre jamming with a constantly shifting lineup, the band settled into its current form, relocated to Chicago, and released a series of EPs, singles and albums on zeitgeist-attuned underground labels like Permanent, Important and Trensmat. The band’s latest full-length, 2009’s Psychic Psummer, was its most cohesive work to date and presumably led to its signing on with the renowned Drag City for its latest EP, Pure Moods.

Pure Moods clocks in at 25 minutes and three songs, opening with the relatively terse “Hot Bricks,” which showcases the group’s knack for conventional song form with a catchy melody and a hypnotic rhythm section. Traditional notions of rock music begin to dissolve on “Teenager,” whose repetitive chorus is a direct nod to Cave’s acknowledged forebears Oneida. The tune steadily builds throughout its seven-minute running time, and it’s easy to imagine the effort being a hypnotic, head-banging revelation live. The production is refined enough to allow individual instruments to shine but retains the signature warm and fuzzy atmosphere of this brand of muscular jamming.

Closer “Brigitte’s Trip (White Light/White Jazz)” has an unwieldy title to match its 13-minute running time, and although it never fully derails it can be a tedious listen at times. Despite being technically expert, the predictable deployment of synth squiggles, wah-wah peddles cascading out into space and the notoriously fickle pleasures of the buildup and release dynamic fail to come together. There’s no question that the quarter-hour jam is meant to signify a new evolution in Cave’s sound, but unfortunately the track sputters rather than explodes, at times bordering on indulgent prog wankery.

Although Cave’s skill at expansive jamming can’t be questioned — the band’s exemplary full-length record is a testament to this fact — it is the poppier material on Pure Moods that I kept coming back to. Opener “Hot Bricks” is notably satisfying, a studied survey of the appeal of krautrock maneuvers expertly condensed into a hummable rock tune. It is the potential of this new direction that is most thrilling about the new EP. Pure Moods is a typical stopgap, but the members of Cave hold their own as representatives of the Midwest contingent of the new American psychedelia currently exploding coast to coast, from Wooden Shjips to White Hills. (Max Burke, Prefix mag)

Jeff Eubank is not a name that often surfaces in modern day music, which is sad. He released one of the great, lost albums in music history in 1983. What made it extremely rare was the fact it was limited to 500 copies and pressed privately. I had heard a number of tracks through the years but despite my passion for vinyl, an affordable copy had always eluded me. I could afford.A Street Called Straight has finally been re-issued in vinyl and CD form.

This private pressing occurred at a time when albums and bootlegs such as this had a sound ranging from very good to almost unlistenable. This album falls into the excellent category and may have the best sound for a recording of this type I have heard. It’s CD sound, which was created from the original tapes, is equal to much of what is being produced today.

Eubank was a product of Kansas City but his music has a light, airy California quality which can best be classified as light psychedelic folk/rock. While it was issued during the early eighties, it really would have fit better in the late sixties or seventies.

Eubank provides the vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards, flutes, plus he wrote all the songs. He is joined by electric guitarist Allen DeCamp, saxophonist and flutist Mark Cohick, bassist Don Harris, synthesizer player Scott MacDonald, conga player Gary Schroeder, and drummers John Cushon and Fred Blizzard.

It has a very smooth and at times other worldly sound. The flutes combine with the keyboards and then intertwine with the guitars. The lyrics are poetic and folk based at heart. Eubank is a good vocalist and has the ability to adapt to the uniqueness of each song. My favorite tracks include “Adolescent Daydream,” “Kamikaze Pilot,” “Earthian Children,” and “No Need For The Ground.”

It’s nice to have A Street Called Straight available again. Is it essential? Probably not. Is it interesting? Yes it is. Is it good music? Definitely! (David Bowling, blogcritics.org)

Although eloquent folk singer-songwriting is seldom in short supply, any particularly good contributions to the genre are always guaranteed a warm reception. Elisa Randazzo arrives with a Drag City debut via a role in the ranks of label favourite The Red Krayola, contributing not only to numerous live tours but four albums, for which she supplied violin and vocals. Randazzo seems to have gone into the family business, having followed in the footsteps of both her mother (Victoria Pike) and father (Teddy Randazzo) who were well-known on New York’s songwriter circuit back in the 1960s. Elisa’s music seems to be more rooted in the folk-rock sounds of the early 1970s however, and while there’s no shortage of evidence pointing to the influence of Canyon scene sounds, conjuring up references to the likes of Judee Sill and Linda Perhacs, and even channelling Harvest-era Neil Young on the excellent ‘Colors’. In addition to some very fine, seasoned writing, the articulate acoustic guitar work, delicate vocal harmonies and lavishly conducted country arrangements make Bruises & Butterflies an understatedly very special record despite it being something that could have been made at any point during the last forty years; there’s so much craft gone into songs like ‘He Faded’, ‘Circles’ and ‘Darkerlands’ that only the most hardened of folk sceptics could fail to appreciate its timeless charms. (Boomkat)

It was a little disturbing at first to hear that Joanna Newsom‘s full-length follow-up to the ambitious and polarizing Ys would be a triple album. Where 2004’s The Milk-Eyed Mender was an unusual record with its share of quirks (her squeaky voice and fondness for arcane language, the harp), it also had its simple pleasures. Most of the tracks were short and the sound was spare; you pretty much liked it or you didn’t based on how you felt about Newsom’s sound and her ability to put a song together. Ys, on the other hand, was unapologetically dense. The five songs averaged more than 10 minutes each, and through them Newsom sang continuously; Van Dyke Parks’ arrangements were similarly relentless, seeming to comment upon and embellish almost every line. It was a rewarding album– filled with memorable turns of phrase and impressive storytelling. Many were enthralled, and almost everyone at least admired it. But in comparison to Milk-Eyed, Ys took some serious work to crack. So when I heard that Newsom would be following it with a 3xLP set called Have One on Me, I had troubling visions of 25-minute songs with lyrics that stretched to 5,000 words.

As it turns out, Have One on Me is a “triple album” in the vinyl sense, in the same way that the Flaming Lips’ Embryonic is a “double album,” even though it fits onto one CD. There are 18 songs here, and they total about two hours. To pick a couple of reference points from the CD era, that’s the same length as Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and just a bit longer than Biggie’s Life After Death. Two hours is a lot of music, but having it broken into three discs, each the length of a 1970s LP, helps. You can dip into Have One on Me at a given point, listen for a while, and move on to something else. But while the album invites sampling, I’ve found myself returning to a different section each time I sit down with it. The highlights are spread out evenly, and Newsom couldn’t have sequenced the record any better.

While songs here evoke moments of Ys and Milk-Eyed and Newsom’s harp is still the dominant musical focus, it’s striking how much Have One on Me feels like its own thing. Not a progression, exactly, more of a deepening. You can feel roots going down and an edifice being built. Her voice has gained depth and she sings with more force and clarity, so that’s part of it. And the arrangements are more judicious and draw less attention to themselves (some tracks are just harp, others add horns, strings, and percussion, but with a lighter touch). But the bigger difference seems to be the overall mood, which is expansive and welcoming. The best songs feel more like conversations rather than artworks to be hung on the wall and admired from several paces away. Newsom seems to sing from somewhere deep inside of them, and her earthy presence has a way of drawing you in, bringing you closer to her music than you’ve been before.

The name you’ll most hear in discussion of this record is Joni Mitchell. Part of it is that Newsom can sound a fair bit like her with her more richly textured voice. Sometimes, almost eerily so, like on “In California” (the way she wraps the vocal melody around the evocative title word is just a few miles up the PCH from Blue’s “California”). In addition to her voice and phrasing, the more approachable songs here, from the stirring harp-and-voice ballads “Jackrabbits” and “Esme” to the funny, weird, and hugely appealing road song “Good Intentions Paving Company”, have bluesy chord progressions that stand in stark contrast to the rigid folk modes of Ys. These songs sway and heave with a warmth and approachability that are new for Newsom. They, and several others like them, offer a fresh way into Newsom’s music for the curious.

“The phantom of love moves among us at will,” goes a line in “Esme”. Most of the songs here deal with love in some form, another quality that connects Have One on Me to the broader singer-songwriter tradition. Sometimes the love is romantic; other times its about friendship or family. Newsom sometimes approaches the subject from her elliptical perch, talking in pictures– “Each phantom-limb lost has got an angel (so confused, like the wagging bobbed-tail of a bulldog),” is the line that follows the one above in “Esme”. But though Newsom indulges her gift for imagery early and often, Have One on Me has moments of simplicity and directness, where the tangled phrases can be boiled down to, “Life can be difficult and lonely and we all need love, but holding on to it can be hard.”

One significant difference between Newsom and Mitchell is that the latter, especially early in her career, was writing songs that would sound good on the radio. For better or worse, Newsom is not a pop singer– that’s just not what she does. So I don’t want to overstate this record’s accessibility. A few tracks here, especially longer ones like the title track and “Kingfisher”, approach the winding density that marked Ys. On these, song structure is elusive– at any given moment you’re not sure if you’re listening to a verse, chorus, or bridge. The lyric sheet helps a bit, but with two hours of music to digest, you won’t feel too guilty about using the skip button here and there, or digesting the record in pieces. Helpfully, returning to the most immediate songs causes their charm and appeal to bleed into the tracks that surround them– so the album seems to grow and change as you listen.

Have One on Me begins with “Easy”, about a wish for the kind of life the title suggests, and closes with “Does Not Suffice”, which finds the narrator packing up a house to leave after a breakup, putting away all that reminds her lover of how “easy [she] was not.” The latter is subtitled “In California, Refrain”, it uses a similar gospel-inflected progression as the earlier song, and it’s flat-out gorgeous, heavy with sadness (“the tap of hangers swaying in the closet”) but also exhibiting quiet dignity and strength. It’s my favorite song here, and it comes last, which is a dependable sign that I’ll be returning to an album often. When I hear Newsom sing the word “easy” in “Suffice” and my mind jumps back to the opener, it reinforces just how many threads she’s weaved between those songs and how incredible it is to discover new things with every listen. (Mark Richardson, Pitchfork)

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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)

Picture 1

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 25sep09: Steve Peters

steve-petersAs a schoolboy, I found it hard to believe that an absolute vacuum was nothing but a theoretical construct, which could never be attained in practise (except maybe, in the equally hard to imagine state of complete timelessness the potential universe might have rested in before exploding into life and a singularity through the big bang): What was the problem in sucking out a couple of atoms from underneath a glass dome? As Steve Peters shows on „Filtered Light“, this phenomenon is however by no means exclusive to the world of chemistry or astrophysics. Sound, too, hides in the tiniest of corners and chinks of the acoustic world.

You can therefore see this album as the result of musical research and of a child-like question: What sounds remain inside an empty room? The various volumes of Peters ongoing series of „Chamber Music“ works are site-specific answers to that issue, concretised through the unique characteristics of different spatial surroundings. Sensitive microphones are left behind as silent pairs of impartial ears, picking up discreet frequencies and the remainders of whatever microscopic noises may have trickled in through the backdoor. Augmented to the audible part of the spectrum, these ambient tones are not source material for further processing or composing – they represent the actual music.

Peters is therefore not so much extending an invitation to listen more closely to what surrounds us. Rather, his pieces bring out the harmony and dissonance, the melodies and motives as well as the continous tones subtely permeating the air at all times. The terminology of his „Chamber Music“ was not chosen to stress the proximity of his intimate electronic soundscapes to a classical tradition of concertising within a circle of friends, but to mark a pronounced difference to the ambient concept of Brian Eno: This is not music intended for subliminal consumption in specific rooms, it is subcutaneously active music played by the room itself.

„Filtered Light“ is the most recent volume of this approach and sees Peters applying his technique to the University of New Mexico Art Museum. On this occasion, he filtered out fourteen frequencies between 70 Hz and 3 kHz from a one-hour long recording. This track was then chopped up into thirty-two scenes, which were in turn rearranged randomly during the installation. The album therefore constitutes one possible cycle of all thirty-two segments and by no means a definite interpretation.

It was by no means clear that Peters methods would result in a drone work. Calmly and majestically, structures of harmonics and deep resonance ripple and breathe, billow and ebb, contracting the space around the listener, while simultaneously revealing the majesty and splendour of the rooms they were culled from. Little themes form in the friction area between two frequencies, running ever so slightly out of sync and at different speeds, sparking tender melodies from the void. It is a music of great, unmeditated harmony, of structures forming constantly like icicles on a window pane. Every instant is closely connected to the preceeding one, but completely different all the same.

Fascinatingly, there are also moments of concrete tonality, of reverbed marimba-like instruments playing silently. Isolated, they have the appearance of interludes in between the stretched-out dronescapes, but sometimes, the two overlap, creating the impression as though a speck of dust were sailing slowly and quietly through the room in hypnotic slowmotion.

„Filtered Light“ is a work both capable of being appreciated as absolute music and of projecting mental images – without doubt a quality intended by the composer, as spatial and acoustic characteristics are closely connected on this effort: There is a neverending cosmos of sound surrounding us.

It also raises questions, which I, for one, would find interesting to be followed up upon: Could this cosmos of sound possibly be influencing our perception like pheromones? Can rearranging a room, for example through Feng Shui, influence its subliminal sound? Most importantly, however, it challenges our view of the world like school experiments did my view of of the vacuum: There is no such thing as complete silence, no matter how hard you may try. (Tobias Fischer, tokafi.com)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 111 24_25sep09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 18sep09: Marc Manning, Bionulor

marc-manningThis edition of 250 showcases the work of guitarist, Marc Manning. Occupying territory somewhere between the delicate restraint of a typical 12k release, and with slight jazz infusions, not dissimilar to some of David Sylvian’s recent forays, this is an elegant work of textural strings, using reverb, multi-tracking, and a variety of other elements to build around. The album consists almost solely of guitar, and effects are used to form atmosphere and dynamics. Manning deploys a variety of compositional techniques, creating scrolls of delicacy, wispy tracts like “Not any time soon”, or “Not forever but for a long time”, with their dreamy, almost transcendental moods and shifts. For guitar experimentalists out there, don’t expect Fennesz’s influence here, as Manning uses the instrument in it’s purest form, unadulterated,and unaltered,a work of profound beauty, and stark simplicity. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

Oh, this is just a beauty of a release. Simple, lush, beautifully played guitar pieces with a lightly ambient touch which emphasises the nature of the room it was recorded in. Earthy, warm and fragile sounding there’s an honesty here that will please your ears no end. I can’t fault it really and have been enjoying it for some time. It’s one of those things I keep going back to as it has a timeless quality which suits many different moods. Truly gorgeous and another outstanding release from Dragon’s Eye. (Mike Olliver, Smallfish)

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)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 110 17_18sep09

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Atlantic Waves 15sep09: Sean Palm

Days-On-End-Cover-Art-200xTracks Without End might be more like it, based on the nine generously-timed cuts that make up Sean Palm’s seventy-six-minute collection. And if that’s not enough, there’s a second disc where Palm refashions the album material into a “Continuous Poolside Atmosphere Mix.” But, in this case, such largesse is totally welcome when Days On End so consistently hits the sweet spot, even if its subtleties could lead the caual listener to underappreciate the material’s superior quality. Palm brings over fifteen years of experience to his debut full-length on Railyard Recordings, the New York-based label he co-founded with Matt Xavier in 2005, and it shows in the entrancing house rhythms that animate tracks teeming with synthetic sparkle, drifting melodies, and seaside atmosphere.

Despite its status as dance music, Days On End’s understated sound design is best appreciated via headphones. Opener “Silent Storm,” for example, is filled with all manner of detail—subliminal wave crests, owly burble, bubbly melodic interweaves, percussive touches—that would likely go unnoticed if the track were heard in a typically raucous club setting. Call it minimal if you wish but don’t dismiss it for being so: deeply reverberant tracks like “Silent Storm” and “Polyphonic” are impeccably-crafted exemplars of the form that insinuate themselves into your ear canals in potent manner. Palm sequences the tracks so that the recording grows progressively more energetic until it culminates, halfway through, in the splendour of “Lost in the Bronx” and “Days On End.” The former rises slowly with a standard minimal house pulse but blossoms beautifully when breathy voice accents and handclaps appear, fleshing out the sound in what becomes one of the album’s most exuberant and clubby outings, while the latter’s tech-house groove gallops spiritedly, its chattering drum machines occasionally spiked with acid droplets. In the penultimate track “Drumatrix,” percolating percussive patterns bounce alongside burbling drum rhythms and wisps of synthesizer melodies, after which “10 Years Later” takes the album out with an epic, ten-minute ride laden with congas and lush atmosphere.

The second disc is included as a presumed “bonus” but, in actual fact, it offers the more satisfying presentation of the album material, simply because the music hits harder in the mix form and Palm’s atmospheric style lends itself well to an uninterrupted, long-form delivery. Anyone feeling that the conventional presentation is a tad too polite should turn to the mix disc instead as the tracks are the same but Palm boosts their impact with the heartbeat of insistent kick drums and escalates the atmospheric design too. There’s a beautiful spring in the mix disc’s step that argues strongly on its behalf. It’s easy to imagine a listener passing on Days On End and dismissing it as “just another minimal” release, and one arriving late in the game at that. Closer listening suggests that that would be a shame because, whatever its minimal connections, the release remains a wonderfully-crafted labour of love. (textura.org)

83 Atlantic Waves 15sep09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 11sep09: Yann Novak, Bionulor

In-ResidenceNovak continues his epic self-publishing project with a mature and evenly paced series of works, based on three art residencies that took place in the fall of 2007. These works catapult the listener into a remote and somewhat desolate form of isolationism, and in fact it is the sense of frequently working in isolated conditions that informs the three pieces on “In Residence”. The stuttering opening sampling of the first piece,”1?, is a minimal, oblique tonescape, occasionally blistering with subtle sonic interventions and distant activity, that give the piece its depth. Similarly in “2?, and “3?, the theme is continued, and the sense of calm and isolation are denser, more stratified. Whatever Novak’s source material was here, it is reverentially treated and distorted, negating any kind of formal recognition, and propelling the auditor into unfamiliar, yet strangely soothing territory.

Novak is without doubt, a minimalist, and most of his work interlocks at a deeply cerebral level that is unique, but not alien, and is always assuredly calm, and subtly and expertly understated. Reluctant as I am to mention the man Chartier as an obvious comparison, “In Residence” has many of the hallmarks that have set Chartier apart from his peers, with a restrained and perfectly poised pallette of sounds, interwoven with rich and resonant incidentals, Novak is most certainly a name to watch out for in the future.Fine work indeed. (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)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 109 10_11sep09

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Atlantic Waves 08sep09: Sean Palm

Days-On-End-Cover-Art-200xSean Palm first dreamt of electric sheep during the early 1990’s. Ortofon Androids remained sleepless on traintracks in Brooklyn, their feet kicking up the dust that would eventually settle on the heydey of East Coast Underground Culture.

Before the decade was up, Palm began programming his visions into atmospheric rhythms, utilizing a customized shrine-like studio surrounded by faint whispers of his strongest teachers. His inspiration initialy came from a diverse collection of classic wax. Tattered jackets featuring the logos of Warp, R&S & Strictly Rhythm gave this dedicated producer visions of not only moving dance floors, but also stirring bodies and minds in more intimate settings.

In early 2005 he and partner Matt Xavier founded the label project Railyard Recordings. The forward thinking label with strong roots in Techno’s past would not only be an output for his solo productions, but would also provide a support system for past, present and future compositions in an open source family environment.

His first production “Where’s My Dongle?” was featured as the opening track on Loco Dice’s essential “Time Warp” Compilation. Riding the momentum, he made a guest appearance with Railyard’s Joel Mull on Steve Bug’s stellar Audiomatique label. The release was immediately licensed by Steve Lawler for his VIVA Compilation. The duo’s newfound project draws from the sonic mastery of Sweden’s most soulful producer while incorporating the trademark, hypnotic Palm sound. Klickhouse minimalist Tim Xavier, Poker Flat New Zealander Simon Flower, and long time mastermind Alexi Delano have all remixed the “future-sound” of Railyard’s head honcho.

The Railyard Co-Founder was born, raised and still remains in New York’s premiere suburban playground. He was there from the very beginning of the East Coast Movement, and the earworms that dug deep into the Sean Palm program are evident in the sounds of Underground Resistance, Warp, Harthouse, Eye Q and R&S Records. With over 15 years of techno experience in his arsenal, Sean Palm emerges with an Artist Album that crosses the 4/4 boundaries of House and Techno. Dare we say it even touches upon real deal “Trance”? Not the kind you listen to while the Mickey Mouse gloves are in the dryer, mind you…

The album launches with the simple sounds of Silent Storm and Polyphonic. The opening tracks invite the listener to soak in the deep reverberations of an underwater excursion. Seemless Dreams then steps up and spreads its strings wide, pushing forward the album’s energy. Not losing sight of dancefloor friendliness, Sightings, Lost in The Bronx and Days On End fuse an array of early 90’s Trance influences with modern day Hypnotic Techno design. Coming back down to earth is the wonky Green Matrix, wobbling with bits and blobs falling perfectly into place. The latter part of the excursion sees the strange computer rhythms of Drumatrix that dance in conjunction with proper synths over constantly building, intelligent drum programming. Palm rounds out the album with 10 Years Later, a lush, organic House production with an overall healing touch…

The eclectic Techno label from New York is on point again with their first debut full length from their head-honcho.

82 Atlantic Waves 08sep09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 04sep09: Yann Novak

Intermission200Label boss Yann Novak’s ‘Intermission’ is a piece of work that accompanied an installation by artist Alex Schweder. The piece, entitled ‘A Sac Of Rooms Three Times A Day’ involved the inflation and deflation of 2 transparent vinyl houses. Yann used recordings of the fans used to inflate the houses and it gives rise to an earthy, pulsating and dense drone flavoured work that subtley shifts in tone over time. I love this end of the electronic drone music style as it has a calming, serene sound that’s contemplative and surprisingly accessible. For fans of labels such as NVO or Line this is a must. Excellent. (smallfish.co.uk)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 108 03_04sep09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 13aug09: Marc Manning, Yann Novak

der004Marc Manning is an artist and musician living and working in San Francisco. He has released music under the monikers, legend of boggy creek, everything is fine, red weather tigers, and heavy lids. He has performed extensively on the east and west coasts over the past 10 years. Manning is a veteran of several Philadelphia atmospheric bands, the shoe gazer art rock of “the legend of boggy creek” and cave core rock of “everything is fine”.Likewise his visual art has been well exhibited on both coasts. In 2004 manning exhibited a show of abstract photographs at Disjecta gallery in Portland OR which featured an audio cd to accompany the images. Based on the music from that exhibit Dragons eye recordings released “things are happening at the same time” in 2006 which was packaged with a hand made book of Mannings drawings. This release marked the beginning of a creative relationship between composer and label director of dragons eye Yann Novak which has since inspired several critically lauded collaborative recordings.

Yann Novak (b. 1979 Madison, WI) is a sound artist, composer and designer based in Los Angeles. His compositions have been published by Dragon’s Eye Recordings (US), Dulcett Records (US), The Henry Art Gallery (US), Infrequency (CA), Mandorla (MX) and smlEditions (US). His work utilizes different forms of digital documentation as a point of departure. Through the digital manipulation of these sound and image files, his works serve as a translation from documents of personal experiences into new compositions fueled by the original experience.

Novak - Live @ Chapel Performance SpaceNovak’s installations and performances have been presented internationally at prestigious events and venues including American Academy in Rome (Rome, Italy), Blim (Vancouver, BC), Decibel Festival (WA), Ersta Konsthall (Stokholm, Sweden), Fiske Planitarium (CO), Henry Art Gallery (WA), Hit Art Space (Gothenburg, Sweden), Kasini House (VT), Las Cienegas Project (CA), Lawrimore Project (WA), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (CA), Mutek Festival (Montreal, QB), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA), Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (WA), Soundwalk (CA), Suyama Space (WA), TBA Festival (OR) and Western Bridge (WA).

As a result of these endeavors, Novak had been invited to numerous Residencies including Environmental Aesthetics Residency (WA), Espy Foundation Residency (WA), and Kasini House Studio A Residency (VT).

In 2005, Novak re-launched his father’s Dragon’s Eye Recordings imprint with a new focus on limited edition releases by emerging and mid-carrier sound artists, composers and producers. Since its re-launch, Dragon’s Eye Recordings has published over 25 releases and has received critical acclaim.

In recent years Novak has collaborated through select installation, performance and recorded work with Gretchen Bennett, Brittle Stars, Crispin Spaeth Dance Group, Jamie Drouin, Marc Manning, Brian Murphy, Alex Schweder and Tiny Vipers.

Dragon’s Eye Recordings is pleased to announce the release of Pairings, the first full length collaboration between Marc Manning (Heavy Lids) and Yann Novak. Pairings is an exploration into a now standard formula, a traditional instrument processed by laptop. Novak and Manning choose to use the formula to explore their often similar emotional states resulting in six improvisations divided into pairs by instrument. The album moves gently through melancholic drones and ambient washes, ending in a soft flurry of fractured melodies. Pairings showcases the tender relationships between songs, instruments and musicians.

“… the luscious ambience is subtly overwritten with more exploratory techniques, and at the “sweet spot”, the interface of chaos and equilibrium, we are treated to some very special moments, that most likely blossomed free of human intervention.”
–Barry G Nichols, White_Line (UK)

“when the ‘real’ instruments comes in, things balance quite nicely and makes this a fine work in the otherwise overcrowded scenery of drone, ambient and microsound. ”
– Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly.

Dragon’s Eye second installment of the de6000 series documents the live performance by Marc Manning and Yann Novak at the Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary showcase at The Chapel Performance Space. Available as a free download in MP3 format.

Sleeping Dogs Lie 107 12_13aug09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 06aug09: Son Of Rose

Iranian born, Seattle bason of rosesed musician Kamran Sadeghi, aka Son of Rose, has carved a niche over the last couple years sculpting tinkling drapes of simmering sound from elemental minutiae. Divisions In Parallel moves away from the concentric circles of noise on his self-titled debut and last years Top Flight into more adventurous instrumental realms.

Making use of the strings of a grand piano and a playful E-bow, it creates an arresting opening trilogy of tracks. Familiar grainy static drops into the watery textures and angelic chimes of “Triple II” before settling into a vegetative tonal din in the concluding “Triple III”. For a sound artist who veers so close to cinematic, it’s perplexing as to why Sadeghi hasn’t scored any movies to date. Midway, he switches to his trademark cyclic textures in the tantric bells of “Passage”, which carries an airy, weightless feel that would benefit Larry Clark’s or Harmony Korine’s probing verité style of film making. The ensuing 15-minute “From The Walls” edges between nervy and tingling Ambience, Sadeghi’s use of the slow-swelling properties of the E-bow filtering through subterranean museums of opaque, glassy dreamscapes like a less oppressive virsion of Halo Manash’s Isolationist Ambience. Disarming Stuff. (Richie Ruchpaul, The Wire)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 106 05_06aug09

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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 17jul09: Steve Roach, Robert Rich

redorange_transparent_128Aural archaeologists Robert Rich and Steve Roach delve deep into the strata of the primordial mind in this acclaimed 1990 collaboration. They forge a symbiotic artistic alliance where their signature sonic motifs are generally abandoned for the sake of a collective sound. Implementing their combined arsenal of synths, samplers, flutes, drums, and steel guitar, the duo creates a variety of moods and atmospheres – serene ambiences (”The Grotto of Time Lost”), ritualistic, rhythmic invocations (”Fearless”), intense dark ambient spaces (”Magma”), and surreal, bubbling soundscapes (”Persistence of Memory [For Dali]“). As with their other works, the composers utilize a balanced blend of organic and electronic instrumentation in an exploration of the human psyche that is simultaneously primal and cerebral. This album was a critical and commercial success, remaining on the Billboard New Age charts for several months after its initial release. (Bryan Reesman)

Master synthesists Roach and Rich excavate evolutionary layers of sound from their machines on STRATA, their first collaboration. The musicians are kindred spirits in both substance and style, and their probing, questing sonic architecture seeks not only to unearth the tangible from the unknown, but also to alight the unknown with a spectral quality. Instead of seismometers and pickaxes, Roach and Rich use their battery of analog and digital synthesizers to seize the geologic moment, embedding it in the amber of the studio. Like the translucent layers of the mineral bearing its name, “Mica” reveals a quartz-like refraction of images and movements, constructed with Rich’s interlocking vibe grooves, percussive gemstones, and Roach’s dense synthesizer shadings. “The Grotto of Time Lost” pushes one back even further into the pre-dawn era. Roach and Rich’s electronics and sundry noisemakers peel back the undergrowth to reveal tectonic plates convulsing with the breath of newly hatched organisms and moist jungle growth. STRATA is undoubtedly one of the best stylistic collaborations of the ’90s.

01 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “The Grotto Of Time Lost [SDL edit]” ( 58:56)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 03jul09: Steve Roach

roachSTORMWARNING takes you to the outer edges of Steve Roach’s music where he engages in a driving high-energy sound first explored on albums EMPETUS, and NOW / TRAVELER. In the live performances of STORMWARNING, Roach unlocks the synchronous perfection of sequencers, creating elaborate, interlocking patterns that weave into infinite, Escher-like designs, set against Roach’s skyscraping synthesizer fury.

STORMWARNING has been brought back to life as a release on Steve’s Timeroom Collector Series. Since the original was only 51 minutes long, “Day Three”, a 21 minute sequencer piece of epic proportions has been added. This piece was recorded on Steve’s first tour of Germany, and definitely feels like a missing piece to the puzzle in terms of its musical content and energy. Those who love the high-energy dramatic sequencer era of Steve’s work will love this rare piece recorded in the land of its stylistic origin. 24-bit remastered and over 70 minutes total playing time.

01 Steve Roach: “Day One” (8:23) from “Stormwarning” (1999)
02 Steve Roach: “Day Two” (30:16) from “Stormwarning” (1999)
03 Steve Roach: “Day Three” (20:45) from “Stormwarning” (1999)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 92: Steve Roach, Robert Rich

empetus“Empetus is full blown sequencer-based music illustrating a further evolution in the visceral side of Roach’s music. Nine precise pieces that still sound fresh today. A favorite of sequencer music lovers. Released in 1986, this recording of intricately-woven sequencer lines and buzzing synthesizers established Roach as the American answer to the pioneering European electronic masters of the ’70s (Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream). Alternately thrilling and serene (sometimes within the space of the same track), EMPETUS’ waves of energy rest upon labyrinthine patterns of interlocking notes and wildly cascading tonal clusters. Roach varies the moods from piece to piece as well: the bright, piercing electronics of ”Seeking” contrast vividly with the starker, sweeping veils of sequenced notes and arcing waves of ”Empowerment” or the turbo-charged synths that rev through ”Conquest”. It’s all riveting, exciting stuff, and although Roach largely abandoned the style as he moved forward, EMPETUS remains an important, if largely unsung, statement documenting the course of modern American electronic music.” — Darren Bergstein, Muze

somaLike the wild mushrooms that fungus enthusiast Robert Rich turns into gourmet dishes, the pieces on Soma seem to emanate directly from the ground, without belonging to any species hitherto defined. New Age? Nah. Ambient? Not exactly. Fungoid tribal trance? Maybe. Rich, the drone provocateur who invented the “sleep concert” in the early ’80s, and Roach, proto-ambient pioneer whose Dreamtime Return remains a classic of organic New Age, distill a potent nectar of heartbeat-paced percussion–including rain sticks, clay water pots, kalimbas, and sequenced drums–and reverberant flutes, didgeridoos, and canyon-sized synthesizers. More rhythmically active than either the Roach-Vidna Obmana duet Well of Souls or early Roach electronica like Traveller, Soma–named for the Vedic potion said to deliver the drinker to God–is a Southwest vision quest that suggests Terence McKenna’s psilocybin-mushroom theories: a connection to the very soul of the earth through ethno-botanical ingestion. Bottoms up… –James Rotondi

OriginsLike ancient cave etchings released from the stone they were carved upon, Steve Roach’s evocative music on Origins rattles the subconscious, bringing our most elusive dreams and primeval memories into focus through potent sonic essays. Roach’s twentieth recording documents the latest chapter in his ever expanding style; a highly instinctual vocabulary of futuristic, yet organic electronics combined with forms of expression, as old as man himself. Driven by hybrid percussion, enigmatic synthesized melodies, gravel-voiced chants, and intense cries of yearning, the opening piece Artifacts creates a sonic time warp that propels listeners into a surreal, almost alien, tribal landscape. This leads to some powerful didgeridoo playing on subsequent tracks as Roach deftly illustrates his growing virtuosity on the ancient Aboriginal instruments he learned to play during his extended stays in Australia. Even without electronic accompaniment, the didgeridoo conjures up some powerful imagery on Clay, Wood, Bone, Dirt, a stunning, entirely acoustic duo featuring Roach and Mexican multi-instrumentalist, Jorge Reyes who plays clay water pots on this selection. In The Face in the Fire, sinuous synthesized textures and mammoth drum beats build a rock solid foundation for Roach’s gritty chants in some long forgotten language, while the cryptic cauldron of churning sounds in In the Eyes of the Spirit feature Reyes’ performances on Aztec trumpet and other pre-Columbian instruments. Spanish artist, Suso Saiz provides his own brand of hypnotic guitar textures on several selections as well. Through it all, Steve Roach deftly brings to life a story of ancestors and heroes, medicine men and ceremonies at dusk, as he reminds us that one day we too will be artifacts in the minds of some future civilization.

01 Steve Roach: “The Memory” (05:57) from “Empetus” (1986)
02 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Silk Ridge” (06:05) from “Soma” (1992)
03 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Soma” (12:07) from “Soma” (1992)
04 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Seduction of the Minotaur” (05:21) from “Soma” (1992)
05 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Touch” (04:36) from “Soma” (1992)
06 Steve Roach: “In the Eyes of the Spirit” (07:56) from “Origins” (1993)
07 Steve Roach: “Dreaming Now, Then” (18:58) from “Origins” (1993)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 91: Steve Roach, Robert Rich

redorange_transparent_128Aural archaeologists Robert Rich and Steve Roach delve deep into the strata of the primordial mind in this acclaimed 1990 collaboration. They forge a symbiotic artistic alliance where their signature sonic motifs are generally abandoned for the sake of a collective sound. Implementing their combined arsenal of synths, samplers, flutes, drums, and steel guitar, the duo creates a variety of moods and atmospheres – serene ambiences (”The Grotto of Time Lost”), ritualistic, rhythmic invocations (”Fearless”), intense dark ambient spaces (”Magma”), and surreal, bubbling soundscapes (”Persistence of Memory [For Dali]“). As with their other works, the composers utilize a balanced blend of organic and electronic instrumentation in an exploration of the human psyche that is simultaneously primal and cerebral. This album was a critical and commercial success, remaining on the Billboard New Age charts for several months after its initial release. (Bryan Reesman)

Master synthesists Roach and Rich excavate evolutionary layers of sound from their machines on STRATA, their first collaboration. The musicians are kindred spirits in both substance and style, and their probing, questing sonic architecture seeks not only to unearth the tangible from the unknown, but also to alight the unknown with a spectral quality. Instead of seismometers and pickaxes, Roach and Rich use their battery of analog and digital synthesizers to seize the geologic moment, embedding it in the amber of the studio. Like the translucent layers of the mineral bearing its name, “Mica” reveals a quartz-like refraction of images and movements, constructed with Rich’s interlocking vibe grooves, percussive gemstones, and Roach’s dense synthesizer shadings. “The Grotto of Time Lost” pushes one back even further into the pre-dawn era. Roach and Rich’s electronics and sundry noisemakers peel back the undergrowth to reveal tectonic plates convulsing with the breath of newly hatched organisms and moist jungle growth. STRATA is undoubtedly one of the best stylistic collaborations of the ’90s.

01 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “The Grotto Of Time Lost [SDL edit]” ( 58:56)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 90: Steve Roach, Robert Rich

strataAural archaeologists Robert Rich and Steve Roach delve deep into the strata of the primordial mind in this acclaimed 1990 collaboration. They forge a symbiotic artistic alliance where their signature sonic motifs are generally abandoned for the sake of a collective sound. Implementing their combined arsenal of synths, samplers, flutes, drums, and steel guitar, the duo creates a variety of moods and atmospheres – serene ambiences (“The Grotto of Time Lost”), ritualistic, rhythmic invocations (“Fearless”), intense dark ambient spaces (“Magma”), and surreal, bubbling soundscapes (“Persistence of Memory [For Dali]”). As with their other works, the composers utilize a balanced blend of organic and electronic instrumentation in an exploration of the human psyche that is simultaneously primal and cerebral. This album was a critical and commercial success, remaining on the Billboard New Age charts for several months after its initial release. (Bryan Reesman)

Master synthesists Roach and Rich excavate evolutionary layers of sound from their machines on STRATA, their first collaboration. The musicians are kindred spirits in both substance and style, and their probing, questing sonic architecture seeks not only to unearth the tangible from the unknown, but also to alight the unknown with a spectral quality. Instead of seismometers and pickaxes, Roach and Rich use their battery of analog and digital synthesizers to seize the geologic moment, embedding it in the amber of the studio. Like the translucent layers of the mineral bearing its name, “Mica” reveals a quartz-like refraction of images and movements, constructed with Rich’s interlocking vibe grooves, percussive gemstones, and Roach’s dense synthesizer shadings. “The Grotto of Time Lost” pushes one back even further into the pre-dawn era. Roach and Rich’s electronics and sundry noisemakers peel back the undergrowth to reveal tectonic plates convulsing with the breath of newly hatched organisms and moist jungle growth. STRATA is undoubtedly one of the best stylistic collaborations of the ’90s.

01 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Fearless” (4:34) from “Strata” (1990)
02 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Mica” (4:59) from “Strata” (1990)
03 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Forever” (4:51) from “Strata” (1990)
04 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “The Grotto Of Time Lost” (9:03) from “Strata” (1990)
05 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Iguana” (7:16) from “Strata” (1990)
06 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Magma” (3:38) from “Strata” (1990)
07 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Persistence Of Memory (For Dali)” (5:11) from “Strata” (1990)
08 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Remembrance” (2:26) from “Strata” (1990)
09 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “Ceremony Of Shadows” (6:20) from “Strata” (1990)
10 Steve Roach & Robert Rich: “La Luna” (0:42) from “Strata” (1990)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 84: Steve Roach

Darkest-Before-DawnDarkest Before Dawn is a long-form composition that is meant for continuous play. It is from Steve Roach, a master of that technique. His activity that preceded this CD had been electro-tribal and experimental, with forays into some forms of rhythmic ambience and classic space music. The title of this disc says it all. This is dark, sinister minimalism as — and this is a reminder — only Roach can do it. This is serious space music with no grooves, no fractals, and no percussion. The atmosphere does have its own rhythm and its own pace. The continuous form is the soundscape; there are no breaks or interruptions. This is a marvelous work and is destined to become a classic of the genre. For now, it rates as excellent, but time will earn it a “best of genre” rating. While this piece is unique, Roach has performed dark ambience before — The Magnificent Void and Structures From Silence are classics of the style. He has also created several continuous-play pieces that work well on multi-disc units in shuffle and continuous modes. That would make for a fairly adventurous day — a dozen Steve Roach CDs on continuous shuffle play. (Jim Brenholts, All Music Guide)

01 Steve Roach: “Darkest Before Dawn” (74:00) from “Darkest Before Dawn” (2002)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 83: Steve Roach

worldsedgeRoach’s most ambitious release since Dreamtime Return, World’s Edge offers a synopsis of his various styles on disc one and offers an hour-long meditative mind journey called “To The Threshold of Silence” on disc two. The pieces on disc one are reminiscent of everything from Western Spaces (like “Undershadow”) to Dreamtime Return (like “Steel and Bone”) and extends the tribal-ambient direction he started on Dreamtime with “Beat of Desire” and “Thunderground”, the latter of which is the best piece on the disc one. Disc Two, “To The Threshold of Silence”, was his most ambitous space music composition at that time, beginning with a Tibetan- inspired gong ceremonial section, continuing with three other linked sections that move through various emotional spaces tied together by a common textural theme.

A great introduction to Roach’s music, particularly if you’re interested in his ’90s offerrings.

01 Steve Roach: “World’s Edge” (09:44) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
02 Steve Roach: “The Call” (03:29) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
03 Steve Roach: “Undershadow” (08:26) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
04 Steve Roach: “When Souls Roam” (06:51) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
05 Steve Roach: “Beat of Desire” (07:34) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
06 Steve Roach: “Glimpse” (03:05) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
07 Steve Roach: “Thunderground” (10:25) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
08 Steve Roach: “Falling, Flying, Dreaming” (06:13) from “World’s Edge” (1992)
09 Steve Roach: “Drift” (07:43) from “World’s Edge” (1992)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 82: Steve Roach

worldsedgeAmong Steve Roach’s vast and brilliant catalog of ambient, or “space music” recordings, very few are less than superlative and a select few transcend the rest to establish the new high water mark by which all other ambient recordings are measured. ‘World’s Edge’ is just such an album.

His first true masterpiece was the double album ‘Dreamtime Return’. With ‘World’s Edge’, Steve Roach moved into a new realm that integrated ambient textures with tribal rhythm’s to completely transport the listener to, (hopefully without sounding too metaphysical) a new plain of existence. The first disc is especially effective in creating this feeling of escape, while the second disc is one long piece that is more introspective as it delves into the inner soul of the listener.

Once again, I must disagree with Mr. Moodindigo2 who seems to have completely missed the point of these albums. This music isn’t about sensory deprivation: rather they are a complex and moving exercise in TOTAL IMMERSION. If you take the time to listen critically, you cannot help but be totally carried away by the intricate structures and subtle counterpoints of the music. I would suggest that Moodindigo2 give it another listen and try to stay awake this time.

This album is the second masterpiece in the triumvirate, but I must also agree with Moodindigo’s “friend” who ranks Steve Roach’s Early Man (yet another double CD) as the zenith of his career to date, and the third true masterpiece in his catalog. Buy them all and experience 6 discs of the best ambient music available anywhere.

01 Steve Roach: “To The Threshold of Silence” (58:23) from “World’s Edge” (1992)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 78: Pete Namlook, Jonah Sharp

perilous-100Alien Community is Pete Namlook of FAX Records, and Jonah Sharp, of Spacetime Continuum (Sea Biscuit). Together they have produced this double CD of space ambient mind-altering synth, weird effects, and beats. Each disc holds a single track and each of these tracks is longer than an hour in duration. Nevertheless, there is enough evolution over the course of each to maintain interest. The discs are also available separately and, given the choice, I would opt for the first, “Interdimensional Communication”. If you like this release, check out the Jonah Sharp/Bill Laswell collaboration Visitation, and Bill Laswell-related ambient dub releases, such as Axiom Ambient: Lost in the Translation. This is the trippiest ambient i’ve ever heard (alongside the aforementioned…)!!!

01 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 1” (04:59) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
02 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 2” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
03 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 3” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
04 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 4” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
05 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 5” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
06 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 6” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
07 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 7” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
08 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 8” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
09 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 9” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
10 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 10” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
11 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 11” (05:00) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)
12 Pete Namlook & Jonah Sharp: “A Long And Perilous Voyage Part 12” (05:40) from “A Long And Perilous Voyage 1-12” (1994)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 65: Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument

The Deep Listening Band was founded in 1988 by Pauline Oliveros, (accordionist, electronics and composer), Stuart Dempster, (trombonist, didjeridu player and composer) and Panaiotis, (vocalist, electronics and composer). David Gamper, (keyboards and electronics), replaced Panaiotis in 1990.

The band is named after Oliveros’ term, concept, program and registered servicemark of the Deep Listening Institute, Ltd., Deep Listening, and specializes in performing and recording in resonant or reverberant spaces such as cathedrals and huge underground cisterns including the two million gallon Fort Worden Cistern which has a 45 second reverberation time.

They have collaborated with Ellen Fullman and her Long String Instrument with Suspended Music released by Periplum Records, Joe McPhee Quartet with Unquenchable Fire released by Deep Listening. They have also performed, recorded, and released a trope on John Cage’s 4’33”. Non Stop Flight released by Music&Arts in a 70 minute excerpt from the 4 hours and 33′ trope.

01 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “Epigraphs In The Time Of Aids” (06:16) from “Suspended Music” (1993)
02 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “Epigraphs In The Time Of Aids” (06:15) from “Suspended Music” (1993)
03 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “Epigraphs In The Time Of Aids” (07:39) from “Suspended Music” (1993)
04 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “Epigraphs In The Time Of Aids” (06:06) from “Suspended Music” (1993)
05 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “TexasTravelTexture” (10:25) from “Suspended Music” (1993)
06 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “TexasTravelTexture” (12:21) from “Suspended Music” (1993)
07 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “TexasTravelTexture” (11:15) from “Suspended Music” (1993)
08 Deep Listening Band & the Long String Instrument: “TexasTravelTexture” (05:11) from “Suspended Music” (1993)

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 54: Pete Namlook & Bill Laswell

Pete Namlook (born Peter Kuhlmann , in Frankfurt, Germany) is an ambient and electronic-music producer and composer. In 1992, he founded the German record label FAX +49-69/450464, which he oversees. Inspired by the music of Eberhard Weber, Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chopin, Wendy Carlos, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Pink Floyd, he also composes his own albums.

01 Pete Namlook & Bill Laswell: “Outland” (1994)
02 Pete Namlook & Bill Laswell: “Outland 2” (1996)

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