Tagged: glitch

Blank Cassette

The latest enigma in the form of a cassette tape arrived from Rinus Van Alebeek on 13th October 2016. As usual the first task facing me – or anyone who purchases these hand-made works of art – is to unwrap the package and try and get to the tape. In this instance, you also have to remove strips of masking tape if you actually want to play the tape, since they’re placed so as to cover up openings that allow the machine to engage with the tape reels. Whenever I do this with one of Rinus’ releases (which are extremely limited), I always feel like I’m damaging the artwork in some way. I don’t see a way around this, however, since I do want to hear the sounds. How many owners of the first Velvet Underground LP actually have an unpeeled banana in their possession, and if they do, does it make the record any better?

Two sides…two suites which may or may not be related. With “Side White”, which is called “Done Before”, we’ve got a very episodic stream of consciousness, segments of long spoken-word affairs mixed up with the strange sound art which layers music, noise, field recordings and voices into tasty collage-pieces. There is an enclosed typewritten note inside the release, advising us “This tape has spoken word parts on it,” followed by allusions to details of the content, friends, fading memories, which leads into a slightly melancholic contemplation or reminisce of some kind. I sense that the artist is going through the attic and finding old letters, diaries, photos and other fragments of the past, and wondering what it all means. The only difference is that Rinus does his diary work using cassette tapes, rather than the notebook or the camera. “The other me that I heard on the recordings was at a long distance of the actual me”, is his puzzling conclusion. “The other me is almost a stranger”. I think we’ve all felt like this at some point in our lives…when I periodically clear out my desk at work, I look at notes I scribbled down months ago and don’t have the slightest idea what they refer to, or what I was thinking about.

“I could have faked the found tape idea,” the artist tells us. That triggered a reference in my own mental library…it’s possible that with “Done Before”, Rinus Van Alebeek has come close to realising his own take on Krapp’s Last Tape, that bleak vision of futility as penned by Samuel Beckett and featuring an old man playing back his old tape recordings, laughing at the folly and delusions of his younger self. But Beckett saw the universe as absurd and meaningless, and the whole play might be a metaphor for how we can end up alienated from our own past lives. “Done Before”, I would like to think, is far less pessimistic about the value and the meaning of memory; the creator is genuinely puzzled by it all, and would like to find out more. Perhaps the process of assembling this work is his way of addressing the issue.

Incidentally this side also includes contributions from the excellent Zan Hoffman who made Zanstones Fur Berlin on this label, and Tim Ruth, and portions of it may date back to 2001 and a visit to Louisville in Kentucky. Already the shifting time-travel aspects of this work present many interesting opaque layers for the ear and mind to traverse.

The “Side not so white” of the cassette is called “Historie d’un Pomme de Terre” (HPT). Voices on here too, I think…I’m not sure because things are somewhat more distorted here. At least on “Done Before” we can make out some snatches of spoken word (in English) which are intelligible, and indeed make us feel like we’re eavesdropping on a private conversation or a solitary reminisce, and create the effect which Van Alebeek anticipates when he speaks of “a…listener who will try to deduce a story”. On HPT however, the emphasis is more on the recording process itself, especially machines like Walkmans and their “inbuilt speakers”, and what ends up on the tape is a captured moment that’s as much a record of its own creation as it is a document of some slice of reality. The creator is evidently more interested in artefacts and faults, surface noise, tape hiss and distortion, relishing their unpredictable sonic textures, than he is interested in presenting an accurate record of the spoken word. We’ve heard this approach to the materiality of tape many times with Rinus, but what always impresses me is how nuanced and subtle the results are, the delicacy and care with which he preserves these fragile, fleeting moments of sonic beauty.

This material is great to listen to on its own terms, if you enjoy this strange decontextualised and rather abstract sound. But it also has the effect of making us try and decode the voices, and understand what is being said…we turn from being eavesdroppers and start to become more like spies, listening with our CIA headphones from the other side of the hotel wall, hoping for a clue that will break the case. It’s the aural equivalent of straining your neck to see what’s going on through an obscure window, and perhaps an even more extreme version of the “try to deduce a story” effect noted above.

HPT also features “unidentifiable French songs and Bollywood songs” apparently, reminding us that for all his apparent conceptual severity Rinus still enjoys good popular songs. Yet when these elements appear in HPT, they’re like fading memories of music, washed-out photographs, wispy and dreamy.

Bear With

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FRANCE ELLI RECORDS EL-03 CD (2016)

Otso Lähdeoja is a Finnish composer, guitarist and “omnidirectional researcher of all things sonic”, who also describes himself as a “man of many faces and many places”. One of those faces is ursine, judging by the cover of this CD. There he is, capering about in a bear mask on some unsafe-looking walkways over a frozen lake, like Disney’s Baloo transported north of the Arctic Circle. Time to forget about your worries and your strife, then, with four tracks of “music for phantoms and ancestors”.

This is a small but perfectly formed offering which confounded my expectations quite pleasantly. There’s a fair amount of glitchy hissing, field recording and distorted vocal samples, which at first made me think it was going to be standard electronica/ambient/experimental fare. But it quickly became clear that this is actually a psychedelic rock record with modern avant-garde trappings.

Opening track “QC Underground” sets the pace, as the vocal loop quickly gives way to some chewy guitar figures and harmonica drones. I also like the title, which suggests some sort of clandestine organisation of barristers. Next up, “Banshee”, where murky bass and drums open up into sunshine bursts of full-throttle Hendrix-style guitar. “0verwinning” reminds me of the more pastoral interludes of ‘70s German kosmische bands, before it all ends in the harmonica fantasia of “Mue End”.

Apparently, the album was conceived as an act of “technologic shamanism”, the bear acting as a totem that connects current and past lives. It’s also described as a search for an “electronic blues” sound, which I kind of get, as it has that feel about it, without being blues, as such. That seems like quite a lot to try and achieve in four short tracks, but you can’t fault the ambition.

Concise, focused and rather lovely. If you’re a bear with a sore head, this might just sort you out.

Crude Cassettes

Herewith one large envelope of Miguel A. García-related material from 19th September 2016.

The cassette tape Harigams (CUT#35) comes to us from the Polish label Wounded Knife. The story of it is that Miguel A. García was touring Europe with the French saxophonist Sébastien Branche, and during the Warsaw leg of the trip they recorded a studio set with the drummer Wojtek Kurek from the experimental duo Paper Cuts, and Mateusz Wysocki (sometimes called Fischerle), armed with his laptop of sound samples and field recordings. On the A side, an understated but dense cloud of smeared, fizzy, electro-acoustic noise was the result, a rather subdued and slow drone where it’s hard to say where the saxophone leaves off and the electronic elements begin. The musicians seem to be hampered by uncertainty, but at least their efforts create a fairly pleasing trance. At length, a more restless note creeps into the day’s work, and attempts are made to coarsen the surface with harsh electronic whines and bubbly, crackly emissions from the bell of Branche’s sax. Things improve somewhat on the B side, where the abrasive textures continue and the general flow of the music is subject to more ebb and flow. There’s a nice sample of some vocal music thrown in by someone, but it’s done tentatively, and you wish it could last for longer. The noises are generally pretty good, but the performers are not organising themselves. There’s a general lack of spirit and courage that prevents this music from really catching fire.

Another cassette tape Crudo (NYAPSTER 019) was recorded by García with Carlos Valverde. García and Valverde have performed and recorded together as Cooloola Monster, and their Canciones Del Diablo is an all-time classic in the blasphemous / supernatural noise stakes. On this occasion (as far back as 2011) the harsh pair locked their noisy antlers together and recorded a piece at Radio Bronka in Barcelona, under the general rubric of “Fuck The Bastards” – not sure if this refers to a regular broadcast on that station or a music festival or what, but it’s a good piece of anti-social hate-mongering, not unlike the sort of slogans employed by Crass and Flux Of Pink Indians in the 1980s, except they did it in an anarchist context. The word Crudo is of course entirely apt for this burst of coarse filth, and for about 23 minutes you’ll wallow in scads of black feedback and ugly electronic scabrousness. That sense of nagging insistence, like being attacked by a remorseless sewing machine or other torture implement, is one of García’s strongest characteristics, and in Carlos Valverde he has clearly found a kindred spirit who shares his sadistic tendencies. The cover art – a single word written in black – is spray painted on through a stencil, and the cassette is issued in a Poly-Frosty-Flexi case.

The split tape on Rypistellyt Levyt (RL-016) is not exclusively a Miguel A. García item, but he’s on the B side. At time of writing, this small Helsinki label only offers three releases on its Bandcamp page, but it’s been active since 2009 or earlier, starting out with CDRs but then specialising in cassettes, and has been home to such Finnish obscurities as Neue Haas Grotesk, Supermasters, and the jazz group Horst Quartet. The A side was recorded in Helsinki in 2015, and features our good friend Ilia Belorukov, the ubiquitous Russian, wielding his sax and electronic setup in the company of Lauri Hyvärinen, the Finnish improvising guitarist. The label describe this noise as “slowly unravelling acoustic and electric sounds”, and point out that it was recorded in a concrete bunker, as if that really made any difference. It’s a dud in any case; the duo’s attenuated electric whines and clattering junkyard scrabbles completely fail to cohere for me, but it sounds as though Lauri Hyvärinen has a unique approach to playing the guitar.

On the B side, Miguel A. García is doing it live in Mexico with Héctor Rey, about a week after the Helsinki gig took place. Rey from Bilbao is not unknown in these quarters as he runs the Nueni Records label, which every so often sends us a CDR missive containing obscure and challenging minimal / improvised music. We haven’t heard much of his own work, but his Myxini from 2012 (on the comp Radical Demos #4) impressed us, because of the utter seriousness with which he approached the problem of simply plucking a string. It was as though his very life depended on him sounding the right note. On this Live At Umbral set he’s playing violin and percussion while García supplies electronics, and it’s an extremely subdued set punctuated with much silence and hesitancy. There’s that same sense of deliberation (some might call it paralysis) that I recall from Myxini. When the duo do manage to make a noise together, it’s as if they’re looking at each other with doubtful expressions, asking each other “is this okay?”, as though they were questioning their very right to make improvised music before an audience at all. The duo “work on their sound from a sculptural perspective” according to the label blurb, which may be their way of trying to express in words the deliberation of this stilted approach to playing, likening the musician to a sculptor carefully chipping away at a large slab of marble. They manage to stretch this shilly-shallying out for 17 uneventful minutes, and you’ll need a lot of patience to get to the end of it. Limited edition of 50 copies was released in March 2016, and has already sold out.

The tape Absquatulate Azimuth (BC023) is an old one from 2015, and long sold out. Bicephalic Records is an American tape label and many of the releases feature cover drawings by the owner, August Traeger, who also appears on this split. On the A side, García turns in three variations on a theme he calls Stripes (For Windowpane)…probably one of the most unsettling and confusing sets I’ve heard from the man. It’s got the familiar sense of obsessiveness and the determination to explore an unknown area, but he’s really pushing against the limits, particularly on the spooky third part. Feels like something that members of Nurse With Wound would’ve welcomed in the late 1970s…a real creepster. Apparently the work is derived from “original raw sound sources by window pane”, if that means anything to you.

August Traeger is a new name to me, but he’s a video artist as well as a musician, and also trades under the name Somnaphon. His two contributions are no less creepy than the A side, and ‘Eating Borrowed People’ has a spooked cinematic vibe which I attribute to the sound effects of echoing footsteps and suspenseful chords in the background. But the footsteps are irregular and troubling; no human has ever trod the pavements of the world and created such an unnatural rhythm. I preferred this contribution to ‘Logistic Maps (Subset 2)’, a rather routine bit of glitch and scrambled low-key techno which barely hangs together, but even so Traeger has a nice line in producing synth tunes in the background which make the flesh creep with their queasy, off-centred nature.

Antras Galas

The enigmatic Lithuanian Gintas K. has featured in these pages numerous times, on each occasion baffling the curious listener with his quasi-scientific studies in glitchy electronica and producing mysterious sounds which seem to be taking place on a sub-atomic level. Maybe he reveals otherwise hidden events; maybe he’s the agency that causes them, dressed in his impersonal white overalls and goggles. His Dimensions (FROZEN LIGHT FZL042) album is mostly devoted to a 35-minute experiment he conducted in Vancouver in 2015, at the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art. There seems to have been a theme, or even an actual venue, called the “Immersive Sound Room”, where you would have found Gintas K. and his set-up. He did it using Plogue Bidule, which appears to be a particular kind of “virtual instrument” supported by various plugins, and which runs on popular operating systems. When one sees screenshots of this modular creation studio, one can only guess at the possibilities. It so happens the vendor is Canadian, so perhaps Gintas K. was taking advantage of an exhibitor at his stand in Vancouver that day. While he mentions the use of midi keyboards and controllers, the real point of interest here is that he did it live. It kind of shows, too; there’s an urgency and nervousness in this cybernetic jumble that I don’t usually sense from the cryptic, faceless Mr. K. It also sounds fairly loopy and unhinged in places, evidence of the software running away with its own ideas like an army of demented cyber-crabs scuttling across a digital beach of tiny pebbles. The album is rounded out with ‘antras galas’, six mins and 30 secs of even more crazy wriggles and splintered demons, winging their way madly inside a glass jar. One of the more extreme entries in the “glitch” genre, and a jolly time. from 7th September 2016.

Lightweight Distro

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Excellent set of minimal electronica-glitch computer music things from Phil Maguire, an English musician who has been quietly seeping out the odd cassette and Bandcamp release since 2014…this this (LINEAR OBSESSIONAL LOR 078) is one of his rare physical releases and in some ways an unusual item to find in the LOR catalogue. The album collects two “suites”, the five parts of the highly alien minimal buzz-drone of “This This”, and the even more dry, desolate and stark purrings of “th at ti me wh en”, which originally emanated in 2015 on his own This This Recordings imprint.

Maguire’s sound art is notable for originating mostly in the guts of a Raspberry Pi, which is the cheap circuit-board miniature computer that’s been creating quite a stir in the world of “digital” these days…a versatile piece of kit which even I can operate (I made mine into a media player) and features in a small range of dedicated computing magazines in the high street, full of articles suggesting DIY projects and teach-yourself-coding exercises. Maguire plays the Raspberry Pi to create wholly abstract and non-human noise, but somehow this this is not a harsh or hostile release, and it doesn’t take long at all for the listener to become acclimatised to its strange tones and start to enjoy or appreciate the textures and patterns inside this tiny world. It may feel sealed off, claustrophobic even, but it’s a good zone to visit for four or five minutes at a time.

The sleeve notes refer us back to the mid-1990s when, if you recall, “glitch” music was one of the big things in vogue. What I remember of it (and I do still enjoy the “genre”), a lot of glitch was associated with European labels and artistes, particularly in Vienna and Cologne. It may have had some lineage with Techno and dance music, and its production involved hacking into synths or (if feeling more radical) experimenting with sound files on a laptop. My verdict is that Maguire owes practically nothing to dance music, and has arrived at his extremely reduced and introverted abstractions by other means, perhaps more processed based methods. If I’m right about that, then Phil Maguire’s music might fit in on the Hideous Replica label in some ways, although I’m not sure if their aesthetic choices overlap exactly. As to the hardware and production aspects of glitch, evidently Phil Maguire has taken it further by bypassing musical instruments and keyboards altogether, and even surpassing laptop music, by working with such a compact and tiny instrument as the Raspberry Pi.

If we were going to start a cultural war of one-upmanship over this, it could be argued that Maguire’s exceptionally modest set-up makes the average laptop with its weighty OS, software bloat, and hundreds of MP3 files look like the excesses of a Rick Wakeman multi-keyboard array. Recommended…this release is a 50 copies limited press CDR with a Victorian photograph inserted, and a downloadable PDF of notes from the website. From 24 June 2016.

The Third Brain

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strøm is the superb duo of Swiss players Gaudenz Badrutt and Christian Müller. I thought we had in the past received some of their solo releases on the Swiss Domizil label, but I must have dreamed it. At any rate Gaudenz Badrutt has surfaced a few times, as part of the group Social Insects and with Jonas Kocher on a maddening record called Strategy Of Behaviour In Unexpected Situations. Plus he played with Kocher again in the Mayakovsky Library on Rotonda, where they were joined by Ilia Belorukov. This new record may be called X (MIKROTON CD 48) and is one of a crop of new excellent improv / sound art releases we received from the Russian Mikroton label.

Where Badrutt is all electronics here, Müller does some electronics but also plays the contrabass clarinet, the forbiddingly huge instrument which is the largest member of the clarinet family. On these six tracks, strøm are capable of creating a deliciously fractured and bitty approach to electronic noise, refusing any form of lushness or pleasant surface to the sounds, and accepting only the choicest moments of compressed digital glitch and crackle into the mix. Austerity and severity are just two of the watchwords hopefully sellotaped onto their respective consoles or mixing desks. This can result in very exciting music, where the listener’s fleshy brain and listening apparatus are draped over a stainless steel structure of some sort; there’s that much power and inflexible strength to the core.

Elsewhere, there is a menacing bass drone underpinning the work which may have originated from the clarinet. Oddly enough these moments are less satisfying for some reason, and I find I derive more satisfaction from the pieces which spit out their digital juices like so much hot fat over the roasting pan. Extremely abstract music, as reflected in the plain colourfield designs of the cover artworks. But this is very far from the clean lines of Raster-Noton or other minimal-glitch work of Cologne and Vienna, and its lineage does not come from techno beats or the dancefloor. From 14 April 2016.

The Daily Grind

mulllr-workers-large

I’m enjoying the album Workers (comfortzone CZ027 / PROGRESSIVE ForM PFCD52) by Mulllr, perhaps because it presents such an unflattering picture of office life and the daily grind of an average commuter, what with its titles grumbling about “crowded trains”, “caffeine poisoning”, “unproductive debate” and “excessive drinking”…the 21 hyper-active tracks seem to be structured in the form of a day in the life, beginning with the morning journey to work and ending with a restless sleep; not a single episode could be described as depicting a satisfactory life. Whether Mulllr is basing this on his own experiences I know not, but he’s managed to communicate something unpalatable about the nine-to-five job, and do so in a more subtle way than, say, Five Day Week Straw People, Crass, or Chumbawamba 1.

Ryuta Mizkami is the Japanese player behind these beat-heavy noisecore glitchfest episodes…although quite new to me, apparently his solo album reputation has been built on ambient experiments such as Init, For Minus Four Nine, and Join’Call, which he self-released on the web as file-based albums. He’s also one part of the trio Motoro Faam, along with Kato Ayumi and Kobara Daisuke, who debuted in 2006 with their IDM / glitch work Fragments. The word “fragments” also ought to figure heavily in any description of Mulllr’s style and practice; his bleak, but not completely despondent, take on modern capitalism and the soulless drudgery of the working life, makes much use of splinters of tiny sound, tripping like tiny artificial jackhammers against the temple of the unwilling wage-servant. Either that, or typewriters…maybe the insistent rattle of computer keyboards in your average open-plan office environment is a phenomenon that can now inspire contemporary music.

The main thing to get across is the disrupted flow of information; it’s clear that our hapless Worker is unable to concentrate on anything, and this constantly-interrupted flow of music, which never sits still log enough for us to discover any melody or underlying pattern, is the perfect soundtrack to represent the unengaged mind, unhinged by too much coffee and warped by lack of sleep. Why, the listener can even imagine an accompanying movie of speeded-up events rushing past the worker as he sleepwalks his life away. Speaking of cinema, if you’ve ever seen the movie THX-1138, with its drugged and complaisant task-force, albums like Workers are enough to make us realise that dystopian vision has sadly come true a long time ago. I suppose it’s kind of an obvious statement to make, and Ryuta Mizkami’s take on the theme is not massively original; the cover image, also the product of his imagination, verges on being a Dada cliché. Even so, it’s a hugely enjoyable record of minimal glitch madness, and the production sheen is clean and crisp. Jointly released by the Vienna label comfortzone, and PROGRESSIVE ForM in Japan. From 30 November 2015.

  1. Actually one of my favourite songs in this vein might be ‘Mr Webster’ written by Boyce and Hart for The Monkees. It starts out as though it might be a sarcastic dig at the “straights”, but in the end Mr Webster outwits everyone else in this little three-act play.

If Someone Hears Us…

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Another item from Gregory Büttner, the Hamburg sound artist who is very good with small sounds and generally doing more with less. We’ve heard him doing it with electric fans, loudspeakers, and even cacti prickles. On Wenn Uns Jemand Hört – sag – wir haben einfach kurz Luft geschappt (1000FÜSSLER 027), he’s doing what he does best with minimal drones, a highly-controlled species of glitch, and most probably sine tones generated by his numerous devices. The title track is very strong with its clashing timbres; cutting off one abstract sound and replacing it with another, or even with silence, so that we may better appreciate the grain of the digital tones. This particular 18-minute piece has a connection to a performance piece of the same name by Anja Winterhalter.

For that piece, Büttner remains silent on the means of production, but is more forthcoming when describing the method used to make ‘Falte’, a 33-minute work which was also related to Anja Winterhalter’s installation/audio work. ‘Falte’ is composed from “sine waves, digital crackle and white noise”; when played back over loudspeakers, these sounds created additional interesting events as they interacted with the physical objects which Büttner had put in place as natural resonators – tin cans, tubes, and boxes. One more pass of treating that re-recording output was needed in order to compose the final piece we hear. This tells us something about the distillation involved in Büttner’s works. Result is a high-scoring piece of dynamic micro-noise. It’s incredibly detailed, and quite episodic in nature; a wide range of distinctive, though subtle, tones will reward the listener, including drones, burbles, buzzes, loud eclats, and strange humming.

Even though Büttner’s work is thoroughly process-based and extremely abstract in nature, I always find it a compelling listen. It feels as though he’s making visible some elements of an invisible, microscopic world that’s all around us. Arrived 21 September 2015, with two outsize picture postcards of Hamburg.

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Ornate Verbs

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Here’s a popular trope or theme – electro-acoustic art-music derived from old wax cylinder recordings. The last time we heard something directly produced by this method was Music For Wax-Cylinders by Merzouga in 2014, where two improvising electronic types were allowed to get their stubs on thousands of rare cylinders stored at the Berlin Phonogram Archive, and produced subtle and delicate sound-art. There was also John Schott’s Shuffle Play: Elegies For The Recording Angel (from 2000), which included historic Edison cylinder recordings woven into its ambitious fabric. It’s always welcome in our line of music – everyone loves “old” recordings, the distressed surface noise, the “ghostly” hauntological vibe…78 RPM recordings are fair game too (just ask Robert Millis), but for sheer rotational groove and fragility, you can’t beat a wax cylinder.

In the case of RRBVEETNSOA (National Screen & Sound Archive of Wales / Sian Records GENCD 8002), we have a single recording made around 1904 or 1905 by Evan Roberts, an important Welsh revivalist / evangelical speaker whose enthusiastic preaching, along with the singing of a small male choir, was captured on a cylinder. John Harvey, the Professor of Art at Aberystwyth University, used this as the starting point – or I should say, one of several starting points – to compose the present work. The first piece we hear on the CD is the source recording itself. For 2 mins and 22 seconds, the stentorian voice of Evan Roberts struggles to be heard across 110 years of history. He wins that struggle. The authority and confidence with which he makes this “revival address” are astonishing; the force of his religious conviction can still be heard, and felt.

Professor Harvey faced a second challenge; the cylinder he was working with was broken into 11 pieces when it was deposited at the National Sound and Screen Archive of Wales in 2002. The archivists had it repaired and restored, using (unlikely though it might appear) the services of an American dentist. At the end of the process, the Archive had a playable object ready in time to coincide with centenary events and exhibitions celebrating Welsh revivalism. But it’s this “fragmentation” which clearly preoccupied the composer’s thoughts; even when we hear the source material, the clicks and scratches and breaks in the cylinder are audible, providing the impromptu “rhythm track” which many composers and scholars in this area appreciate, a mechanical rhythm further accentuated by the rotation of the cylinder itself in the machine, and the heavy needle scratching away.

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Exploring the idea of fragmentation, John Harvey proceeds to subject the source material to various re-recording and playback methods and technologies (all presumably digital in nature), producing samples, overdubs, remakes, cut-ups, and generally radical rearrangements of the potentially unpromising source. All elements are eligible for inclusion: voice, music, surface noise, artefacts. The extensive reworking processes transform them into drones, echoes, strange unearthly sounds. What does he create in these 12 episodes? Sheer beauty. He rescues and unleashes the evangelical power of Roberts the preacher…scrambling his words, but advancing the underling messages, now dark, now joyful, now full of foreboding, now promising salvation. The choir becomes, on ‘Servant Robes’, a celestial choir of angels with a virtual church organ accompaniment. Some of the reworkings exhort us to action; some are quiet and meditative, allowing space for prayer. Others, such as ‘Braver Notes’, are near-horrifying views of a bleak apocalypse spreading across the earth. Far from being an empty process exercise, the overall composition is entirely in sympathy with the devotional and religious meaning of the recording.

To call attention to the fragmentation theme and his own scrambling processes, Harvey has titled all the works using anagrams of the letters in Evan Roberts’ name. Even the title of the piece is such an anagram, and goes further to advance the theme through its use of reversed letters (which I can’t replicate here). Issued with a short booklet of explanatory notes and a full transcription of the sermon / address, this is a powerful and fascinating statement of electro-acoustic music, as well as a sympathetic reworking of a historical source. Recommended! From 20 April 2015.

Hacker’s Delight

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Another wild experiment from marginal genius Seth Cooke, the man who’s a practising psycho-therapist besides being a percussionist, sound-artist, and meddler with digital things…just in the last few years we’ve heard some astonishing published statements from him in the form of albums like Pneuma or Sightseer, besides his contribution to the computer-death virus tape Computer Music on the LF Records label. With his mini-CDR Eternal World Engines Of The Demiurge (LF RECORDS LF044), he’s returning to ground previously staked out on Four No-Input Field Recordings, a release on his own Every Contact Leaves A Trace label, where it’s likely he “normalised” digital sound files by subjecting them to a spot of conversion-tool malarkey that plays hob with the digital innards of an audio file.

On the present release, we have two further examples of subverting and bypassing the norms of computer technology, using the Infinite Jukebox software devised by Paul Lamere 1. On the first track he applies it to a 3D printer, and the hardware is sent into a tizzy as it tries to complete impossible commands or follow an illogical script. The resulting noise is far from musical…in fact it’s well-nigh insufferable, but the process is an interesting one to pursue. Even rougher on the old eardrums is ‘AARIEL’, where the fiendish Infinite Jukebox logic is applied to a corrupted .mp3 file, causing it to “sing gibberish forever”. Again, I assume the process that’s relevant is forcing a juncture between a hacked playback device and a badly-formed computer file, just to see if anything will happen.

In the short paragraph describing the work, Cooke stresses the “endless” aspect, implying that unless the whole set-up were unplugged the Infinite Jukebox would, true to its name, keep running these barmy scripts forever. Cooke and Lamere are not the first or only to explore this avenue of digital subversion; one of the more frequent tropes that keeps turning up is musicians attempting to “play” image information from a TIFF as if it were a music file, and since both image and audio data can be encoded in a RAW wrapper, they’ve already got a head start. However, Eternal World Engines Of The Demiurge is one of the more extreme examples in this “genre” that I’ve encountered. From 12 March 2015.

  1. As you can see I’ve included a link to this online application. Use at your own risk!