RIP: Robert Ashley, experimental composer

RIP: Robert Ashley, experimental composer

From The Guardian:

The experimental composer Robert Ashley has died, aged 83.

Kyle Gann, who recently wrote a biography on the composer, wrote on his website that he had received confirmation of the composer’s death. Ashley had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver last June. He died on 3 March at approximately 1:30pm.

“Bob was one of the most amazing composers of the 20th century, and the greatest genius of 20th-century opera,” Gann writes. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take the world to recognize that.”

As well as being known for his radical reinvention of the operatic form, fusing electronic music into his operas and theatre works, Ashley also co-founded the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music in 1958 alongside Gordon Mumma, before creating the performing arts event ONCE Festival in the 60s. He won the John Cage Award for Music from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts in 2002.

According to Gann’s blogpost, Ashley completed a piece before he died entitled Mixed Blessings, Indiana.

• Robert Ashley:

Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi, and Randall Dunn advise watch synchronization so you don’t miss the release of their 2xLP Shade Themes from Kairos

Oh lord, here we go again with another convoluted and plot hole-ridden cinematic foray into the concept of time manipulation. At least Looper (TMT Review) had the chutzpah to work in actual dialogue attesting to the subject’s possibly inherent paradoxes, but is it too much to ask for some Bishop cameos, even in stories supposedly outside the X-Men universe? I feel as though time travelers with jheri curls lend a degree of credence. All that grease just has to play a role in the slipping of humans into different historical periods.

Kairos, the short film from Belgian filmmaker Alexis Destoop, unveiled in 2009 and serving as a fictional tale of time-turned-commodity, sadly lacked a spontaneous comic book crossover, but fulfilling the “badass” adjective nonetheless, the feature contained a score recorded and co-produced by Randall Dunn (Master Musicians of Bukkake), and composed by Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley. The ancient Greeks apparently had two words for time, neither of which accurately capture its seeming elongation that one time I found myself making direct eye contact with a urinating homeless man: “chronos,” which refers to chronological time, and “kairos,” which refers to an opportune moment.

With respect to the latter, the trio clearly appreciated something in their initial temporal collaboration. Shade Themes from Kairos, set for release May 19 via Drag City, is an extension of the aforementioned score, with further recording and mixing done at Dunn’s (now closed) Aleph studio in Seattle, and further “emanations evoked” (eh?) through the utilization of drums, analog synths, vibraphones, crotales, the requisite guitars, a shruti box, and a mellotron.

Surmise what this means in terms of the end result by watching/listening to the Kairos teaser here. Then, of course, wait.

Shade Themes from Kairos tracklisting:

01. That Space Between
02. Temporal, Eponymous
03. Circumstances of Faith
04. Sometimes
05. Ebony Pagoda

• Stephen O’Malley:
• Oren Ambarchi:
• Randall Dunn:
• Drag City:

NXNE wants you to come to a sexy Canadian pool party with Spoon, Swans, Sleigh Bells, Spiritualized and some other bands that don’t start with “S”

While music industry hearts across America dream of warmer climes, of margaritas consumed outdoors, and of hotel pools, our friends to the North in Toronto are all like, “Hey! Don’t make it all about Austin, guys! We’ve got fun, too! We’ve got NXNE!” And it’s true, they do. And summer will come, if only for the week of June 13-22, when Toronto gears up for its 20th NXNE.

The festival recently made its second round of artist announcements, so now you can prepare to get your Canadian pool party on with the likes of Spoon, Sleigh Bells, Spiritualized, tUnE-YaRdS, A$AP Ferg, Metz, Ryan Hemsworth, Swans, Goat, The Barr Brothers, Oneohtrix Point Never, Low, Fuck Buttons, Tim Hecker, Eagulls, Glasser, Kelela, Ratking, Perfect Pussy, Small Black, Le1f, The Pizza Underground, Swearin’, Dan Croll, DJ Jonathan Toubin, Astro, Juan Wauters, Mutual Benefit, Guerilla Toss, Laurel, Calvin Love, Alvvays, Hunters, Saint Rich, Death Hymn Number 9, Criminal Hygiene, Elektrisk Gønner, Krazy Drazy, and the always intriguing “more.” You can check out the full lineup at the official NXNE website.


tUnE-yArDs announces details of Nikki Nack coming in May. Personally, I can’t wait to hear what Chuck Klosterman thinks of it.

Did you know that Merrill Garbus, the lovable tUnE-yArDs lady who manages to keep all of her looping pedals in perfect working order but somehow has a bUsTeD cApS-lOcK kEy, just celebrated her birthday? Go write an impersonal ironic emoji-laden message on her Facebook wall before it’s too late! My advice? Make liberal use of the “:putnam:” guy if you want it to be extra funny. Oh, and you know what, if you actually want to make it a little more personal, consider mentioning her rEcEnTlY aNnOuNcEd NeW aLbUm!! It’s called Nikki Nack.

Nikki Nack is Garbus’ first full-length since 2011’s marvel of spacebar technology w h o k i l l (T M T R e v i e w), and it’s out May 6 in the United States. Garbus says to listeners, “Thanks for all your support and patience while we cooked this chicken!” That’s either a joke, or in the short break she took between albums, she got totally confused about what albums are and how they’re different from chickens. Jokes: I love to make them, but I’m terrible at interpreting them when others make them. Anyhow, Garbus has put together what she’s calling a “Megamix” of the album, which you can hear in the YouTube embed below. She’s also going on an international and festival-heavy tour starting in; scope those dates below and see if any of them are near your house! Really, the only thing left for us to do is to wait for Chuck Klosterman to follow up his oH sO vErY InSiGhTfUl and t o t a l l y c o h e r e n t think-piece on w h o k i l l with something similar for Nikki Nack. Get stoked!


05.05.14 - Los Angeles, CA - Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever
05.07.14 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
05.12.14 - London, UK - Village Underground
05.14.14 - Berlin, Germany - Berghain
05.15.14 - Hamburg, Germany - Nochtspeicher
05.16.14 - Brussels, Belgium - Les Nuits-Cirque Royal
05.18.14 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Bitterzoet
05.19.14 - Paris, France - Café de La Danse
05.23.14 - Bend, OR - Les Schwab Ampitheater*
05.23-25.14 - George, WA - Sasquatch Festival
05.31.14-06.01.14 - Houston, TX - Free Press Summerfest
06.18-22.14 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
06.19-22.14 - Dover, DE - Firefly Festival
07.19.14 - Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Festival

* The National

• tUnE-yArDs:
• 4AD:

Dean Blunt records a video single, Mersh 12-inch imminent, Black Metal full-length TBC on Rough Trade

The increasingly prolific Dean Blunt returned over the weekend in Hype mode on new pollyjacobsen video “Mersh,” a familiar sedentary YouTube scene chopped into twitching slices of white light and dark red, Friday night hyper-reel in place of slo-mo Sunday surreal, though perhaps not by choice: room-tone shit-speaker treble fills the air (“I Am Smoking In A Room”) and a nearly hidden sub-bass line rattles the floor, a head-nodder but only at Blunt’s slumped level. He sits up twice, addresses the camera, and freestyles, haltingly, about the maybe-importance of knowing your limits when feeling anxious or confused and also where dat w33d at. “It’s a problem,” but it’s also the new single.

And it’s a physical single, mate. Mersh as a 12-inch is “imminent” and then, believe it or not, date TBC, there’s a full-length album coming on Rough Trade Records called Black Metal. Not sure if “Mersh” is on both releases but the word on this comes straight from Jah.

Meanwhile there’s the Free Jazz show at Cafe OTO on April 1, maybe that Hype Williams album, maybe a solo Joanne Robertson record, and… a tour with new labelmates Warpaint? (Probably not.)

• Dean Blunt:
• Rough Trade:

William Basinski to reissue 2003 record Melancholia, news item unrelated to Kirsten Dunst film Melancholia

As we all know, Melancholia is a 2011 film starring Kirsten Dunst. This story is not about that. This story is about William Basinski’s 2003 album Melancholia. On April 15, Temporary Residence will reissue the record, making it available on vinyl for the first time. Copies are limited to 2000 items, so interested parties may want to pre-order through Temporary Residence in the near future. To reiterate: Kirsten Dunst is uninvolved with this record.

Melancholia, which does not feature actress Kirsten Dunst or, for that matter, co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg, was Basinski’s first record after releasing his career-defining Disintegration Loops. For the fancy reissue accoutrements, Temporary Residence Ltd. has printed the record on black, pure virgin vinyl packaged in a gatefold with new artwork by James Elaine. There will also be an MP3 download coupon, because we live in the year 2014.

Once again, Kirsten Dunst is in no way, shape, or form involved with the William Basinski record Melancholia. However, rumor has it you can hear the faint sound of Keifer Sutherland breathing on track four.

Melancholia tracklist:

01. Melancholia I
02. Melancholia II
03. Melancholia III
04. Melancholia IV
05. Melancholia V
06. Melancholia VI
07. Melancholia VII
08. Melancholia VIII
09. Melancholia IX
10. Melancholia X
11. Melancholia XI
12. Melancholia XII
13. Melancholia XIII
14. Melancholia XIV

• William Basinski:
• Temporary Residence:



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