Audiobulb has released a free sampler of music from eight artists on the label, including a track off Supple (see post below), subtly arranged and expertly mixed by label owner David Newman. Others included are: Jimmy Behan, Biosphere, Ultre, NQ, Mark Harris, Hans van Eck and He Can Jog. I’m honored to be among the talent in that lineup, and the music is just awesome.
Also recently, Xynthetic produced their Second Statement, a stunning cross-section of the artist roster that displays the wide variety to be had on the netlabel. My track “Herbsttag” is a taste of some dub to come, so keep yer eyes peeled for more Craque on Xynthetic.
A new .microsound project has come around again, this time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of William Burroughs’s novel Naked Lunch [player will auto-start].
Uncle Bill was a huge influence on the way I thought about putting things together to arrive at previously impossible conclusions, plus I was drawn to his relationship with my favorite beat, Paul Bowles. In fact, I wrote a piece for Comma called Sevenroughs just after he passed to the next level. This time around I still used the number 7, but applied it to divisions of the time limit, 3 minutes. I also kept to the fractured use of text (Sevenroughs uses The Western Lands), and the title is the first two words of the score: Making Pink [6.4MB 320mbps mp3].
To prepare a score, I started on page 1, with the last printed entity on the first line, page 2 the last entity on the second, and so on. Punctuation was taken alone, words only half-hypenated, and once I had reached the bottom of the page, I’d start back up on the first line. There were several happenings of the [ .” ] combination, so those became major delimiters of form. The outcome [fixed-font best for viewing] is a full cut-up of Naked Lunch, upon whose text I layered improvised sounds, with additional form and structure derived from the placement of the randomly intruding punctuation.
In addition to these recent projects, I’ve posted an archival recording of a live gallery show at Fetiço in Chicago, 2001. It’s in three parts, and is the most recent entry on CraqueCast, also subscribable and previewable in iTunes.
A special treat for blog readers: my collection of ringtones, RINGTONALITY! Great name huh? Well, these are loopy sort of poppy sometimes glitchy electronica beat things that I’ve made along the way, and are pretty loud with all sorts of variety. There are two versions available for download: the “m4r iPhone” version [6MB zip], and the FLAC version [42MB zip] for those who want to convert and use on another platform, or just want them otherwise. Feel free to pass them around.
Despite being laid off from my job in May, I’ve been trying to stay positive and keep active doing things: gardening, reviewing stuff for job interviewing like perl and networking and other unix/linux peculiarities, job searching of course, but also a good bit of music making. Other than some possible releases of newly improvised excursions, I’ve been attempting to make contact with some local galleries (Orange County, CA) for presenting experimental sound work and/or events. So as you can see, creativity continues to attempt its way out of my subconscious, and I continue to be hopeful that the perfect job is right around the corner.
Presenting: an electro-acoustic album of experimental sound sources and improvisations punctuated by iterative percussion, i.e. glitchy ambient slightly funky dance music. 😉
Supple is the way I’ve seen things come together over several years after moving to California, and owes some to dance forms that made this area of the country so important to electronic music development and culture. They are presented in a sort of story-form (I’ll blame my operatic tendencies for that), where endings and beginnings aren’t so easily discerned, and overall structure blends them in a sort of high-contrast, watercolor way… which I think is matched in visual form by gl0tch (check out the release page to see different versions of the cover art morphing), giving it all this primordial evolutionary cybernetic aspect that I love, as if everything is a petri dish of mechanically chaotic musical questions.
The tunes span from when I first moved here in 2002 up until 2008; “Navfrakure” was laid down as a one-night brush stroke back on a chilly October night, and grew into something quite deeper. Although “Lusid Crystalin” is the oldest, written within a month of my relocation from Chicago, “Topless” contains samples culled from a recording session with the trio Comma – recorded in Brooklyn way back in I think 1999.
Many of these tracks contain and/or are built with free improvisations I do on my homemade instruments and improvisation rig (read my blog further for some descriptions and pics). It’s an on-going process, building a morphing performance engine, a lot of which was originally from and inspired by my work with Comma, Gray Code, and the free improv scene in general.
Objects and constructions are sampled, voices rendered, and recently my simple DIY analog synths have given an entirely new dimension, all combined together with an array of acoustic instruments (mostly guitar, cello, prepared piano and african hand percussion), and processed with hardware looping and delay devices. In some cases the improv remains relatively intact, in others it is pieced out and chopped as if… Burroughsian perversions, perhaps? Joycean slips of the tongue, a composting of ideas and pursuasions that melt together as if merging stained…
“Sextant” is a poem I wrote around 2004:
Blue chrome carriage
Mouse brown hair
Dark shadowed eyes
Cold mean stare
White-armed glove driver
Sunshine in your car
If the signal never signaled
Would you have gone that far?
The Audiobulb release page contains links to eMusic, iTunes, Thrill Jockey and boomkat sites for purchasing the album. There’s also an interview with me including other details about the album and music making and creativity and things like that, with clips from some of the tracks I’ve mentioned here.
Lend Me Your Ears has a feature on Supple, as well as an interview that has different questions from the Audiobulb one, very little repeat info! super bonus! There’s also a free download of track 2, “Navfrakure.” Double Super Bonus!
I like to make myself feel as if I’m somehow close to the elusive community of electronic music. My problem, however, is that I am way too interested in multiple facets of music releases to pay attention in any style for very long. I seek out what really turns my ear, the gems of sound that are unique statements of purpose or individuality. Since I desire great pieces of listening, I spend time searching for it, which means I listen to a lot of not so great things too, and that goes double for netlabels. Needless to say I associate my music activities in a very close circle, I do very fringe stuff, really of a limited appeal on the grand scheme of things. My listening is only very more or less fringey than that, but I thought, well hell why not, I listen to all this music I may as well review it (however briefly) and share my twisted sense of what’s good music to the dozen people who bother to look at my blog (and if you do, i thank you for at least being interested). And yes you guessed it, listening to all 24 albums shown here will take you almost exactly 24 hours. So enjoy!
Autistici : Volume Objects : 12K
Subtle explorations of sound relationships and rhythm, blending elements of recognizable instruments and easy going synth gestures with elegantly placed electro-acoustic underpinning. I imagine a conductor with the most supreme control of his sonic elements, swirling around in a glaze.
Various : Favorite Places : Audiobulb
A wonderful concept! Recordings and compositions from favorite places of the included artists, a very personal record, wide in breadth. Equal parts phonography and arranged constructions, in some cases I feel like I become part of that place. Eerie and magical.
Ellen Allien : Sool : BPitch Control
Count this one as a surprise indeed. I’m used to a heavier hand when it comes to bpitch and this gal, so a well-crafted minimal techno album with some actual musical interest was the last thing I expected. The tunes are understated but driven in a way that especially matches the style, engaging but never harsh.
He Can Jog : Middlemarch : Audiobulb
There is a finesse with which HCJ can blend noise and consonance that’s infectious and maybe just a little frightening. He shares the same ranks with other electro-acoustic artists here that like a tasty blend of percussion with their textures, and I think he does it quite excellently with a sparing amount of sugar on top.
Ilkae : Light Industry : Eerik Inpuj Sound
Just one person now, Ilkae has released one heck of an outing that mixes pure abstract expressionism with a smattering of melodies and structures that stick in my ear until I’m humming it when I wake up in the morning. LSK and Magnesium are both choice cuts.
Proswell : Cyclothymia : Eerik Inpuj Sound
Over 65 tracks between 0 and 6 minutes. Inspired miniatures, fully rounded songs, brief brightly colored sketchings; some of the best work he’s done to date. A lot of the songs appeared in a podcast over the course of the year, but it is great to have a full collection of them under one cover. Randomized listening highly recommended.
Various : Format : Fällt
Along the same lines of the miniatures Proswell and Ilkae (and myself, inspired by thus) have done, one of my favorite pieces of this comp is Tonne’s “Paper/Pixels”: a corrugated 71 tracks at only 7 seconds or less apiece, from tiny little beats looped once to bursts of noise or nearly silence. Taylor Deupree and FourColor also stand out on this one, wonderful collection!
Tape : Luminarium : Häpna
Polished construction and structure, with a perfect balance of acoustic and electric. These guys know how to make an ensemble be an ensemble and not just a band trying to add computers. The compositional acumen stands on its own in a collection of poignant, soft melodies and instrumentation that I haven’t quite heard before in this context. Looking forward to more from this gang.
Various : Magnetism, That Electricity… : HighPoint LowLife
All the HPLL artists shine on this comp, but I especially like the dark analog synth contributions of Fink Industries (check out the remixes of his tracks too) and the contrasting bubbly lift of The Marcia Blaine School for Girls. There is such a wide range of styles on here that it’s difficult to describe, but it’s fantastic listening with a tropical forest of influences and approaches.
Anders Ilar : Sworn : Level
Moving to the 4×4 side of things, a flawlessly constructed set of tracks. Haunting would be a good word to describe the melodies and dub feel, but really it’s just good smooth techno with a nice groove and peppered funky.
Various : Terminal : Narita
This does have an Ilar track on it that could have easily been on Sworn, but it features so many other great techno folks that it deserves a place on my list for sure. Not to mention it’s supposedly the very last release from the depths of Merck/Narita. I like working in the garden with this one thumping out to me… Senior Frio, Blamstrain, Arctic Hospital, Brothomstates, Yard, Adam Johnson… grow plants grow!
Byetone : Death of a Typographer : Raster-Noton
I was pleasantly surprised when hearing this mechanical beast roar in my studio. Pure waveforms have become the subject of extreme grooves and almost downright hooky harmonic form. It’s good to hear these guys move on from their surgical masturbation to something more substantial. I’m all for delicate glass soundscapes but you can only have so many before the personality is literally worn thin.
Ø : Oleva : Sähkö
There are times when blocks of sound and imagined landscapes go hand in hand. Just wonderfully alien and funky, stuff that makes your torso vibrate. Contains probably my favorite Pink Floyd cover ever; “set the controls for the heart of the sun” is perfect for brooding, dark-sparked audio.
Various : Round Black Ghosts : ~scape
I have to be honest, the output of this label has been questionable for the past few years, so it’s good to hear this collection of experimentally tinged and dub-inspired dance grooves. Pole stands out of course, but 2562’s “Channel Two” is probably my favorite.
Unquestionably the best new thing to come out of Evan Bluetech’s new label. There is a hefty amount of experimentalism balanced out by beats, supported by (of course) a dub atmosphere, but further punctuated by a free jazz influence. Right up my alley, the vibraphone work is especially sublime. Somnia has turned out not to be a hyper-ambient thing like I feared, I’m encouraged by the diversity of their CD’s so far, and I love the beautiful packaging. Some of the only CDs I still buy, in fact.
Brassica : Microvictories : Tartaruga
Another CD I had to buy because of the packaging, Calika recommended this album, calling it the best thing he had heard this year. As you can see I had a hard enough time narrowing things down to 24, so naming something numero uno isn’t really my bag. However, I absolutely love the approach in this music. The same sort of collage-inspired acousmatic blending but with his own unique voice in a way that draws you into what’s happening, and before you know it the album is over. And you get an oragami turtle with it! How awesome is that?
This music reminds me the most of music school, I’m not sure why. I think there is a connection with composers I studied that made a subliminal crossing to the work of d’incise, but it could be the natural fluidity of the sound that works the most like a classical string quartet. I enjoy the fact that he uses less beats but arrives at the same atmosphere as earlier albums, carrying the listener along in what seems to be a storyline that never quite reveals itself.
Fennesz : Black Sea : Touch
Finally a Fennesz I can listen to all the way through without thinking it was on repeat the whole time. There is a lot more diversity in this record than any other, showing a real willingness to develop beyond the distorted-guitar-drone rut. I’ve heard other die-hard Fennesz fans poo-poo this album, so it’s interesting I think it’s more mature than others. It’s similar to how I think Murcof has grown, I’m looking forward to what he’s doing this year as well.
Portishead : Third : Universal Island
Uniquely spectacular in their own way. It thrills me to no end that they employed their own studio recordings for this instead of the sample-based thing. Not that Dummy isn’t the best triphop album ever, but they’ve shown here that the band is really a group with something musical to say, not just push out badass basslines. Beth Gibbons has the most sultry voice ever, I cannot get enough of her inflection.
Autechre : Quaristice : Warp
Say what you will, the “bonus” CD for this album is so much better than the “original version” of the tracks. I think it’s an amazing escape into surreal dancescapes and fractured electro, it’s very mature and non-egotistic Booth’n’Brown just having fun and making some cool ass tunes. The reason people hate these guys for doing things like this is because they won’t drop their expectations and just listen to the sound, and want it all to be like 1997 again.
Flying Lotus : Los Angeles : Warp
What I had always wished Prefuse73 was. And now I no longer have to! Artists who pull out just the right elements of hip hop that I like and pull it threadbare through an electronics sieve are A-OK in my book. It also helps this is not an hour of the same approach to beatcutting and voice splicing over and over again. I concede people are into that. I’m not.
Deadbeat : Roots and Wire : Wagon Repair
If you couldn’t tell there is a definitely swing towards the reggae side of things in my library. Swelling basslines and rim snaps, echoes filtering every which way, the sort of limping I love most. What starts off as a minimalistic break-beaty sort of dancehall album assuredly melts into easy rolling dubhouse. I think it’s the most well put together Deadbeat of any.
Letna : Tisza Meets Dunav : Zymogen
Ah some of the most beautiful drones of the year. Very popular this style, it’s only really successful when done with detail and depth. This album imagines me drifting between layers of impossibly smokey silk.
Jimmy Behan : In the Sudden Distance : Zymogen
A sort of minimal chamberwork, with an unevenness and simplicity that mingles the sound as if it belonged there the whole time. Definitely ambient, but more personal than a pure drone album, with smaller spaces and more intricacy.
Some others worth mentioning:
Implex Grace : Through Luminescent Passages (I & II)
HRSTA : Ghosts Will Come Kiss Our Eyes
Hol Baumann : Human
Fly Pan Am : Ceux Qui Inventent N’Ont Jamis Vecu
Evan Marc + Steve Hillage : Dreamtime Submersible
Electricwest : Divine de Vice
Alva Noto : UNITXT
Wilder Gonzales Agreda : Se Tu Propio Totem
Trivium : Shogun
Tanox : Astronomia de Balcon
Secret Chiefs 3 : Xaphan: Book of Angels Vol. 9
op.cit. : Under the Sweel
naw : vague terrain 10: digital dub
Motionfield : Optical Flow
Model 500 : Starlight remixes
Lone : Lemurian
Various : Dame Citrus
So my new full-length album, Supple, will be released by Audiobulb in March of 2009. Ain’t that awesome! It’s a real honor to be joining in the ranks of Autistici, HeCanJog, Ultre, Calika, and so many others.
Months have gone by (actually, no, YEARS) where I have absorbed things, seen new parts of the world, learned new techniques, sought out what’s further; and this album evolved alongside me. The entire work has grown from single tracks and loose groupings to continuity and connection through thematic reverberation, it’s been fun and full of discovery. There are parts which stand alone but don’t feel complete without the context, it’s a “large work” in every sense of the word. I even managed to squeeze a few vocal bits in there – yes! my voice! real melody!
Look out for it in March, 2009. Craque: Supple.
Six tracks, mostly beat-driven, of downtempo styled expressionism ripe with electro-acoustic improvisation; acousmatica for the brainwaves.
I was also honored to have Matt Mercer (of Microfilm) write up the release on Under the Lens, here’s an excerpt from the full article:
Craque [is] a project of highly abstract instrumental electronic music that often defies easy categorization. He’s not afraid of melody or traditional rhythm, even at times can lay down a healthy groove, but most of his music is characterized by heavily processed and manipulated sounds derived from everyday objects. Typically, though, these sounds are far removed from the source and take on a weird, synthetic life of their own.
Also from the release page:
…Craque assaults our senses with an eclectic amalgam of rich rhythmic patterns that derivate from dub, hip hop, techno and other urban languages, but instead of driving us straight to the physical emotion center, they drive us to the ‘braindance’ center… Excellent and extremely elegant electronic music.
The .microsound community recently embarked on a new project to honor the life of writer David Foster Wallace, known widely for his intelligently sprawling novel Infinite Jest.
Instructions were to take one of the films attributed to the protagonist’s father and create a soundtrack. I was attracted to the surrealism in the description of Baby Pictures of Famous Dictators and almost immediately had an image of what the film would be like.
Not having read this novel yet, the source of my inspiration was the description itself:
“Baby Pictures Of Famous Dictators” – Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. Poor Yorick Entertainment Unlimited. Documentary or uncredited cast w/ narrator P.A. Heaven; 16 mm; 45 minutes; black and white; sound. Children and adolescents play a nearly incomprehnsible nuclear strategy game with tennis equipment against a real or holographic (?) backdrop of sabotaged ATHSCME 1900 atmospheric displacement towers exploding and toppling during the New New England Chemical Emergency of Y.W. CELLULOID (UNRELEASED)
I took 45 minutes as my guiding point and imagined the film was a tableau, a “moving still life” of sorts. It’s a 45 minute long game, a slow motion still life of a disaster reflected in the childsplay of fooling around with physics.
We see a setting that never changes, of innocent children (we assume the same as in the pictures referenced by the title) against a backdrop that is ever changing, sharing an appetite for control. They become the embodiment of the Famous Dictators, playing games, like children, with adult toys of power and war.
A chemical emergency could imply this is related to nuclear power or physics. Are the children playing a game that caused the emergency? Are they blissfully unaware? Or are they working to solve the problem by a series of complex nuclear games? It’s unclear if we will ever know.
The soundtrack is not a reflection of the action seen onscreen, but rather the literal voice of each proper name. As their structures compost, weaving as they play the game, new forms are illuminated.
These nine names were used to drive various parameters specific to each person’s voice, guiding things like frequency, filters, delay effects and envelope (in each case, the longest, most familiar version of the English proper name was used):
- Adolf Hitler
- Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin
- Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini
- Mao Zedong
- Ho Chi Minh
- Francisco Franco Bahamonde
- Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
- Saddam Hussein
- Tojo Hideki
When I started the piece was a lot less “bright” than it ultimately became, but in a strange way I feel like it took on its own character, and mourns both the tragedy of these dictators and the loss of DFW.
The player on the project page is a great way to listen to the soundtracks everyone has done, and allows for direct downloads of the works.
I’m very happy to announce the release of a project I did this summer called Tekuchesti (a transliteration of текучести, which is a Russian word meaning “fluidity”), a piece in shuffle time for listeners and improvisers.
Download the entire work, and remember to listen on shuffle. Weird request you say? Read the liner notes below for more detail…
Please also visit the release page at Constanta and check out the other artists on this new boutique netlabel, which features some unique approaches to the microsound/glitch/experimental/drone genres; beauty through subtlety and simplicity. I personally enjoy op.cit.’s and To4ka.Dna’s most recent releases.
Here is my description and instructions for performance (these notes are also available in Russian through Constanta):
In tectonics, slices of the earth can be reduced bit by bit to their constituents, all in motion consistent with the plate. Below these fractured mantle pieces is a thick world of geology: elemental chemical reactions, intense temperature changes, varying strata of materials. There may be violent upheaval or capitulation of forces, or just still and silent veins of metal. If we could travel as a massless beings through the earth to the antipodal, each layer of Hell opens not a Dantean dream, but a surreal tour of random pockets describing the origin of the solar system.
Tekuchesti represents “fluidity” in physics, describing instability or fluid states. The piece consists of constructions mostly taken from free electro-acoustic improvisations, first recorded to create large elemental plates of experience, and secondly edited and combined into subdivisions of space. There were no structural or material limitations placed on the recording or editing of the improvisations, they simply happened.
Just as there are myriad structures and surprise events, there are the lack of these events, represented by the isochrons; dating scatterplots of history, constructions made from the lack of material to represent that which has passed on. The sonic architecture of each isochron in this piece is taken from relationships found in the five Platonic (or “perfect”) solids, found everywhere in nature, above and below the crust.
This piece is meant to be played in random order, where the slices intermingle anew each time to create an emergent form. Playing it in order will reveal some of the underlying structure, and is a perfectly acceptable way of listening – the shapes of the plates become much more clear, but it is an altogether different listening experience. Improvisers are encouraged to play along as well, but if done in a live context, it must be played on shuffle, as this will give the improvisers less expectation of what sounds will appear.
The work also ties in an immediate tectonic experience: I live only 10 miles from the epicenter of the 5.4 magnitude earthquake which hit the LA area on July 29, just shortly before the album was finalized. It also represents the “solid ground” – both as shared vision and literal Earth – between me and the constanta-label.ru headquarters in Perm, Russia.
Constanta on the web: http://constanta-label.ru
Constanta on myspace: http://www.myspace.com/constantalabel
All five tracks are both streamable and downloadable, I figured I’d do them all since the original is still available for purchase on vinyl and it’s got some dope tracks!
And I don’t know how many of my fans actually read this, but here’s the first hint that you can expect several new releases coming up in the coming months. At least three different labels will be hosting new Craque albums, so keep yer ears open!
Since this release came out while my blog was unavailable, thought I would shout it out that a new Craque album called Material is available on Kahvi Collective! From the website:
“Guest artist craque arrives on Kahvi Collective with a unique blend of textures and IDM elements. Five track ‘Material’ verges on the style of ‘MigloJE’. Torus Europa sets the scene with its lush, drawn out passages of sound and textures and leads into the interesting ‘strawberry jam’, an atonal melody drawing on a paced bass line which makes a nice combination and the extraordinary ‘organum’ (my personal favourite of this release) with ‘that’ sample hook that fits so well with the rest of the track. a great first release from craque, perhaps we`ll see more from him in the future?”
I think probably so there will be more Craque appearing at Kahvi, and hopefully others real soon!
I also have several pictures from the gig for all to see… John moves ALL THE TIME so my little digital camera could never get a clean shot of him!
As many of you may know, I improvise all my DJ sets. So I almost never have a full set list, because I’m just going with the flow. This time I stuck to only vinyl and after recording made a point to note the songs – I may have one or two titles wrong, but here’s the setlist:
- Savath + Savalas : Rolls and Waves of Ignorance
- Mr. Scruff : Get a Move On
- Parov Stelar : Wanna Get
- Mr. Scruff vs. Quantic : Dub!
- Tosca : Damentag
- Quantic : Mishaps Happening
- Pyokn : Ganesha
- Peace Orchestra Reset : Raw Deal
- Shpongle : Dorset Perception
- Ulf Lohmann : Java
- Flanger : Bosco’s Disposable Driver
- Herbert : Suddenly
- Losoul : Position
- Amalgamation of Soundz : For Real
- Mark Farina : Dream Machine
- Mr. Scruff : Night Time
- Awa Band : Bababatteur
- Savath + Savalas : Rolls and Waves of Acknowledgement
- Dub Taylor : Doin It
- Rithma : Love + Music
- Detroit Grand Pubahs : Sandwiches
- Losoul : Overland
- Swayzak : Form is Emptiness
- Soundtrack : Frosty
- Savvas Ysatis : Out to Funk
- The Orb : Cool Harbour
This was the first live show I recorded with my new M-Audio MicroTrackII digital recorder… it’s like having a DAT machine without any moving parts, I love it! More on that soon…