I hope this greets you in fine spirits and that 2022 is evolving into a more positive year for us all.
Olga Wojciechowska’s Struktura was originally released in 2015 to a limited audience due to its physical-only format, but since then has grown to a kind of cult status. Olga and I have been friends for some time, and one day the topic arose of my playing around with the original recordings. And so, this album was born.
I took an almost entirely live approach to the release, sampling and transforming a variety of sounds, using hardware in the studio, leading to a series of quite raw and detailed reworkings, that became something altogether new. Combined with Olga’s original album listeners can enjoy a rather eerie and mysterious release, which has been rather lovingly mastered by another friend Rafael Anton Irsarri.
The release itself is something to behold, featuring artwork by Rep Ringel and available on Gatefold 2LP in a black/grey half-and-half vinyl, with a 6×6” soft-touch heavy art card. It’s an absolutely beautiful production. You can pick it up directly from the label in the USA or at Bandcamp. However, please note, if you are based in the UK, it’s much cheaper to buy it directly from Juno, and if in mainland Europe buy it from One Eye Witness. This will work out much better for postage for you all!
To promote the album, I just performed an entirely new live set on Bandcamp on Sunday, which was recorded, so expect some video documentation of this in the next month online. It was rather a scary start though as Ryan, from the label, who was hosting the show from California, had a power cut about 30 seconds before we were due to be live on air! Thankfully he managed to throw some more coal on the fire and power up his internet connection again. Phew!
It’s been quite a productive month since I last wrote too. I also just released SCANNER X, my sound pack for Soniccouture’s Geosonics II.
Over the years, I have used a vast array of tools to create my work. In fact, it’s a question that is frequently asked of me, but there’s no simple answer at times. One day it might be entirely led by software, the next the sudden revelations from hardware synthesisers in the studio, unravelling ideas with my barely knowing!
However, in the last twenty years there have been some items that have remained steady in my creative arsenal. A piece of music software I have used consistently since it was first released in 2002 is Kontakt by German developers Native Instruments. It’s a sampling platform that can be as simple or as complex as you wish. In fact, in recent years, it’s been used in at least 60% of my productions.
So Geosonics II was designed for Kontakt, and most interestingly,it uses recordings of legendary field recordist Chris Watson, formely of Cabaret Voltaire, captured from all around the world.
In searching for a focus for my sound pack I was inspired by countless sources. Visually, I imagined it somewhere in between the worlds of Panos Cosmatos’s psychedelic action horror film Mandy, a vaguely impressionist revenge tale, the moody palette of David Lynch films with their dirty, unsettling, industrial ambience, and the unsteady world of Ben Wheatley’s In The Earth and compressed locations of A Quiet Place.
Sonically it offers up atmospheres that resonate with the music of Throbbing Gristle, Stockhausen, Thomas Koner, Abul Mogard, Éliane Radique, Burial, Cliff Martinez, soundscapes, innate eeriness, claustrophobia, strange echoing noises, pulsing rhythms, deteriorating harmonies, discreet textures and much more. And don’t worry, there’s also warm, seductive and dreamy sounds to balance out the darkness. It’s important to remain positive you know! ?
I look forward to hearing how these sounds will be used in other productions in the future. I wrote a longer blog post about the context for my blog which you can read in full here.
Despite what the song once said, video most certainly did not kill the radio star. In fact, I was on the radio twice in the last month, but not really as a ‘star.’ Firstly, I joined my old pals Colin Newman (Wire) and Malka Spigel (Minimal Compact) for their Swimming in Sound radio show.
Amongst much needed joyful laughter, I enthused about the wild surrealism of musicians Nurse with Wound and Stereolab working together. Listen back here.
Then, I was delighted to chat with Joe Reilly at CKCU FM 93.1 radio in Ottawa Ontario. It was a great spirited conversation, exploring works I have rarely spoken about too, so we focused on NightJam, Lost at Sea and GSTQ. We talked the contexts and impact of each of these works upon the participants and the local communities I worked with too. Listen back in full here.
I continue to populate Bandcamp with back catalogue items and unreleased productions. You can now pick up a classic live album recording from Paris at Le Garage in 1996, originally released on a limited-edition CD on Sub Rosa. Find it here.
I also added my second project with American writer Justin Hopper, Public Record, Ipswich. This was a recorded audio tour of Ipswich Museum, guiding the listener through unseen connections and subtle hauntings. New poetry and music created from the Museum’s own archives and collections took the listener in tangential directions, resurrecting forgotten lives through texts and objects. It’s free to everyone and features an exclusive instrumental mix too.
I’m also happy to have a track of mine feature on this new compilation on the DiN label, where I previously released my album, An Ascent (2020). iNDEX07 is the seventh DiN compilation album and includes two tracks each from the titles DiN61 – 69. The artists on show this time are Ian Boddy, Nigel Mullaney, Dave Bessell, Lyonel Bauchet and more. Packaged in a slimline cardboard wallet with fold out flap, it’s out on 18 February on an edition of 500 copies.
I’m also presenting new work at Prismatic, for a very special evening, with film, photography, dance and more, at the Studio Wayne McGregor in East London on 18th February. I have composed a new soundtrack for a dance film by Ravi Deepres as he explores the local area and its residents in a commission from the Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund. This should be super exciting. I’ll be there too if you want to come and say hello. Pick up a ticket here. Click the ‘Hackney’ box and you won’t have to pay for tickets either. It doesn’t check your postcode, don’t worry, so it’s free entry!
Don’t forget that I’ll be performing live at Earth in London on 4th March, alongside my old friend Christian Fennesz, so hope to see some of you in the real world again!
So, that’s enough to keep you occupied with for the time-being I think.
See you next month!
::: listen :::
Alvin Lucier: Bird and Person Dyning (Dialogue)
Piero Umiliani: Library Music Vol 1 (Cinedelic)
Merzbow: Collection 001-010 (Urashima)
King Crimson: Music is our Friend (Panegyric)
::: read :::
Sam Riviere: Dead Souls (Faber)
McSweeney’s 64: Sound Issue
R. A. Lafferty: Best of (Gollancz)
Lolita: Nabokov (Penguin)
::: watch :::
Titane: Julia Ducournau
Friends and Strangers: James Vaughan
Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time: Lili Horvát
Adieu les cons: Albert Dupontel