probability a: three studies for compositions of infinite length
Even though William Huston might be better known to a lot of folks as one third of noise rap pioneers clipping., the dude has been releasing excellent slices of minimal ambiance on and off as Rale since 2006. Huston’s music as Rale may be one of the most complete convergences between the more academically minded experimental music of the Erstwhile scene and the current New Age-influenced synth drone work of various American underground labels. Even though Huston’s work often incorporates beautiful sustained harmony like many of his ambient peers, it’s his use of negative space that put his Rale compositions closer to the works of Michael Pisaro or Eliane Radigue than Emeralds.
The music of Rale is all about ADSR, particularly how the attack and decay of Huston’s synthetic sounds enter and leave the natural sound world around them. In Huston’s live performance, this effect is absolutely stunning: Huston’s beautiful chords crescendo until the space physically rattles with sound and then slowly fade to near silence before beginning the process again. When I recently saw Huston perform a set of material at the wulf., it seemed like his synth playing truly interacted with the space; it was a rare instance of harmony and rhythm affecting the physical space in a natural, non-confrontational manner, where both the musical material and the physicality of the space itself seemed integral to the set.
With probability a: three studies for compositions of infinite length, Huston has created another superb recorded work out of this same material. probability… very much builds on Huston’s equally negative space-obsessed The Moon Regarded, and the Bright One Sought from last year. However, probability… is perhaps the most eloquently articulated of his Rale albums yet. The notion of Huston’s synth harmonies emerging from the space itself has been taken to a near psychoacoustic height on this record. One look at the waveforms from this excerpt on SoundCloud can confirm that Huston has found a way to constantly keep sound flowing, even when it feels like nothing’s happening. In this way, the dichotomy between sound and silence narrows further from The Moon Regarded, which found the composer using extremely quiet high frequencies to similar but lesser effect. In this way, probability… takes the Wandelweisser collective’s notion of “silence as sound” and redefines this statement quite literally. Huston’s music shows that sound can still exist within the decay of a particular digital sound, even when the listener perceives what they’re hearing as silence. Ultimately, these differences between the digital near-silences of Huston’s compositions and the natural “silences” of the listener’s space become almost imperceptible, allowing for “compositions of infinite length” to exist even when the record itself ends.
• Senufo Editions: http://www.senufoeditions.com
Mikel R. Nieto
Machine Pattern # 01
Some of my favorite collections of sounds are not really even albums in the conventional sense. Album = a collection of musical pieces meant to signify a whole. Machine Pattern # 01 = a catalogue of aural occurrences, collected more as a reference than as a source of pleasure. Who says references can’t be entertaining though? The best field recordings act as a well-written encyclopedia article or an interesting anecdote in a travelogue; there is clear contextual support to add depth to the recording, and therefore the act of listening becomes something of a learning experience, rather than an emotional one. Field recordings can elicit emotions too. Aki Onda has succeeded to do this with his Cassette Memories series, where field recordings are presented as passages from a tape recorder memoir. Nite Lite has also achieved great results using similar field recording manipulations.
So what is this right here? A caution-yellow tape packaged in styrofoam? Mikel R. Nieto, the music behind the project, wastes no time in pointing out the irony of such a field recording collection: this is literally a tape about tapes. Tapes about tapes have been done before. Tapes as dedications to tapes. Tapes of tape loops of tapes. Tapes as collages of tapes. But this, this beautifully-packaged cassette was made to “re-create the mechanical manufacturing processes that are experienced specifically in AE Harris & Co.” AE Harris & Co. as in 3M. As in the tape company.
Accompanying the cassette, which is limited to 100 copies, is a transcription of the music found within, interpreted by graphic artist Frederico Sancho as typographic symbols. A thoroughly beautiful package and some nice soothing, mechanical rattling of metal pressing and tube-bending machines, this tape has succeeded in its goal of being a viable historical document, an artistic dedication to the AE Harris & Co. workers facilities.
Sounds of the Indian Snake Charmer Volume 2
The melodies captured in Aaron Dilloway’s “field recording” of the Nath Family’s street performances in Kathmandu could have feasibly slithered back and forth through your brain without pause since their original release on cassette in 2006. Labyrinthine runs up and down the scale, lapses into seemingly endless repeating figures, sudden shifts from brooding mystery into triumphant fanfare mode — with these strategies, the musicians manage to hypnotize listeners years later as deeply as the snakes that they stared down during their original performances. Although anomalous within the Hanson catalog at first glance, both Snake Charmer volumes uniquely fit in with the label’s penchant for raw live performance, instrumental discipline, low-end drone, and shrill lead tones with the capacity to stun and awe. The forthcoming reissue of Sounds of the Indian Snake Charmer Volume 2 on vinyl brings the Nath Family closer to us than ever before, as the first 100 copies of the 600-copy run come bundled with a DVD-R of the actual performance itself! Check out a clip below and watch elaborate hand gestures and synchronized rhythms lull three cobras into sweet vertical stasis:
Dilloway’s notes on the recording session elucidate the performers’ source material and his own process:
There are some classic Bollywood tracks, a Nepali folk song, and a 19- minute drone journey into the head of the King Cobra. The recordings were done in stereo. A been on the left, a been on the right. A premtal (stringed percussion instrument) on the left, a premtal on the right. The stereo recording of the charmers’ sway creates a very disorienting stereo tremolo effect. It’s almost as if you are the snake! These tracks were recorded in an alley.
• Hanson Records: http://hansonrecords.bigcartel.com
If Crustified Dibbs-era R.A. the Rugged Man had been an art school dropout instead of a Suffolk County degenerate, he might’ve sounded exactly like Hype Wonder. Or if Ol’ Dirty Bastard had somehow seeded up Dose One, the trisexual spawn of their unromantic tryst might rap something like Hype Wonder. Artistic comparisons aside, this name-your-price download/limited-edition $10 CD offers up a fun, freewheeling trip into previously uncharted headspace soundtracked by Reservoir Sound founder A.M. Breakups and his roommate/collaborative partner, Jeff Markey, among others. A.M. is fresh off the critical success of 924 Myrtle Avenue and For Madmen Only, so if you’re feeling the stream below, be sure to check out those records, as well as his past collaborations with Hype Wonder on last year’s label comp ALEA IACTA EST.
Various Artists: Brownswood Recordings
Brownswood One Hundred Remixed
There’s an alternate universe where Gilles Peterson and his shiny Swiss face took a few too many pills in the late 1980s, spent all his time and money on an extended Ashram retreat in India, and ended up being that trilby-wearing frizzled jazz fusion fan at the corner of every trendy micro-brewery bar.
Luckily, the guy kept his shit together long enough to have reached 100 releases on his Brownswood record label, a feat that is being marked this month with a “straight-up retrospective of our favourite reworks from 2006 to 2013.” The Peterson and “Worldwide” brand that comes with it has an unusual sonic tenacity; essentially a clever collation of jazz, contemporary African, Latin American dance music, and the musical, soulfully crooning ground that house and techno share.
Listening to Brownswood One Hundred Remixed, it becomes clear how Peterson has kept that coherence despite the willful and constant appeals to eclecticism, the remixes providing a far neater, perhaps even musically flattened out chronology of Brownswood’s output. It’s this skill for collation that means that it’s not uncommon for DJs in Britain to describe themselves as “you know… a bit Gilles Peterson” by way of common understanding, and it’s also this skill for avoiding the oceans of really quite terrible “world”- and “fusion” (is there a worse word?)-styled bands that lets old Gilles stand out.
Moral of the story? Not sobriety, per se — plenty of us would rather spend an hour with the Frizzled evil Gilles drinking bloody marys and talking about Miroslav Vitouš’ — but moments that concede the limitations of vague “eclecticism” when it comes to compiling and releasing music. That, and making sure you are mates with Theo Parrish.
Musiikkia UFO-dokumenttiohjelmille 2
A late 2010 release that would never have made any 2010 lists, the gloriously spooky name-your-price six-tracker Musiikkia UFO-Dokumenttioohjelmille by this mysterious, ufology-baiting Finn was as easy to love as it was to overlook. However, by returning a sense of loss and wonder to the core of a sublunary pop music, by tethering dancefloor ecstasies to a telescope, its fog machine’d electro-creep represented an ephaptic twitch at the 10/11 meniscus.
And that seemed to be that — an unofficial remix of Plastikman’s “Ask Yourself” aside. The appearance of Musiikkia UFO-Dokumenttioohjelmille 2 is therefore as unexpected as it is auspicious, a spine-tingling treat for those who grabbed the first volume and an invitation for the rest to catch up. RIYL Howarth & Carpenter, Yesterday’s Harvest, Kraftwerk, Emeralds, X-Files.
• Albert Kuningas: http://soundcloud.com/albertkuningas