“curtains far seen”
I offer humble thanks to Takahiro Yorifuji for continuing to enrich our lives with his whispered ambient guitar work. The catalog he has created under the Hakobune moniker gathers limited cassette and CD releases by the month, like motes of dust and ash carried by the wind to their resting place in some untouched corner of the forest floor. 2014 saw the release of Seamless and Here, his first widely available LP, via Patient Sounds — accompanied by the release of pleasant sighs and the occasional rogue tear from our faces as we let his washes of reverb unfurl across our living rooms.
Hakobune has refined the process by which he improvises/composes/performs his music to such a fine point that each successive release can barely be distinguished from its predecessors to the naked ear. But to make such distinctions between his sessions is to miss the point of his work. Like La Monte Young’s notion of one primordial composition of infinite duration into which musicians tap for short stretches when they perform, the individual entries of the Hakobune catalog unite on a grand scale into one network of complementary moments captured in time.
A new Hakobune cassette entitled Love Knows Where arrives on July 11 via longtime supporters Constellation Tatsu. Our first listen to the tape, “curtains far seen,” compresses his typically expansive song structures into one nice little morsel of holy drone bliss. Trace the swells and rarefactions of his layered guitar performance, whose audibly plucked notes occupy only a small fraction of the spread. The rest is pure vapor, stretched and smoothed into sheets of shimmering texture that bear only vestiges of discernible six-string input.
“SpongeBob SquarePants Anthem”
Jersey club producer DJ 809 continues the tradition of taking children’s TV show theme songs and turning them into something trying to invoke nostalgia, and while it’s easy for that to succeed, it takes a certain skill to make the track more than just that. 809 turns the iconic flute sample grimy and combines the pirate’s voice with traditional Jersey vocal samples, and it’s not until the very end that we hear the main lyric “Spongebob Squarepants”. While the flute becomes unregonizable with the original, the voices clearly references the TV show for the entire track; we never leave the world of Spongebob, but it’s never a carbon copy. 809 never tries to impress or mystify. Like all good Jersey club remixes of well known tracks, the focus is always reimagining the experience of the original, respecting the formula of Jersey club, and still creating something that is not only totally new but always a banger. Very few producers in any genre could get away with remixing a Spongebob Squarepants song and do it legitimately. Congrats to DJ 809.
• DJ 809: https://soundcloud.com/dj-809-2
Sly & The Family Drone
A Fiesta Of Skin And Tears
A humorous, playful veneer encompasses the music of Sly & The Family Drone (“The ampersand is obligatory”). A bit of wordplay and Sabbath worship here, a sneering track title there; you get the sense that the joke is on you when Sly’s involved.
But, to paraphrase Rakim (and Lil B circa White Flame), “Sly ain’t no joke.” When it comes to their recorded output and live performances, The Family Drone chiefly deal in no-bollocks, unpretentious noise workouts. Swirling vortexes of sound emanate from their decidedly minimal set-up of a drum kit, tape machines and effects pedals – according to their bio, “There is no place for guitars within this band.” Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Cruel Nature Recordings recently popped off a recording of the group playing in Brighton, under the name A Fiesta Of Skin And Tears. This C45 nicely encapsulates what Sly & The Fam are all about: hypnotic auditory demolition, both pummelling and liberating all at once. Their egalitarian ideology also comes to the fore, as the crowd grows louder and more involved with the set. Maddening, yes, but thrilling and captivating to that end.
Cruel Nature themselves are SOLD OUT of cassettes, so the prospective tape-grippers among us are out of luck (unless they pop up elsewhere, no doubt at a marked-up price). Still, you can catch a stream down below, and peruse Sly & The Family Drone’s other physical editions right here.
As the institution of modular synthesis stretches its patch cables from the academic ateliers of its origin into the bedroom studios and DIY spaces of the experimental underground, a wide roster of distinct personalities continues to contort the idiom into increasingly warped permutations. Modular rigs, each customized into uniquely tangled configurations by their users, offer the freedom of truly alien tones and randomized rhythmic phrasings, yielding spontaneous compositions that harness the forces of chance and active discovery within the shells of deliberately structured sessions.
Chicago-based synthesist Jeremiah Fisher showcases a remarkably deep palette of modular tactics on his new Children’s Archipelago cassette (available now via Suite 309). He keeps us scratching our heads in sublime confusion over the course of a dynamic song cycle whose miniature sessions juxtapose hi-fi easter eggs born of unknowable patch manipulation. As 1/3 of the current incarnation of long-running avant project Panicsville, Fisher jams his corrupted synth output straight into the tumult generated by bandmates Andy Ortmann and Brett Naucke — often in the context of some hallucinatory performance art skit (brewing and drinking coffee; assuming the roles of cowboy sheriffs in the old west) that elevates their jams into the realm of true multimedia dissociation. In a solo setting, with only the audio feed to entertain us, Fisher maxes out his mixes with enough quivering fine-grain synth missives and tangled melodic phrases to melt our little minds with the warmth of pure bleeping ecstasy. Sessions turn on a dime from loping rhythms into up-tempo lattices of rapidfire pulses. Highlights like “Morphing Games” and “Dusk Magic Programming” revel in sudden shifts in mood and waveform texture, barreling forward on linear trajectories that encompass more disparate tones than any one rig should be able to conjure, without ever descending into pure chaos.
“I don’t like music and art to be over-explained, and I don’t think it should be,” Alex Cobb recently said to Resident Advisor, who featured his Students of Decay imprint as their “Label of the Month” earlier this year. The most recent album to emerge from the label is Cobb’s very own Chantepleure, which is presented, on the one hand, as “his most optimistic and sanguine musical statement to date,” while also having been recorded “at a time of heartache, isolation and emotional upheaval.” But to take Cobb’s advice, it might be more appropriate to forego an analytical approach and just immerse yourself in the album.
This also goes for the video for “Anselin,” which we have the pleasure of premiering here. With Cobb’s achingly beautiful music paired with John Davis’s nostalgic imagery (fun fact: Davis released the stellar Ask the Dust via SoD in 2013), one might be confident in pinning down the mood here as one thing or the other. But like the album itself, it’s perhaps best to take this seven-minute video as a perceptual experience.