Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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Broadcast 05: “Listen, the Snow is Falling”

lescalleet_lambkin_glassBelow are two links to the WZBC Archives where you can listen to my November 24th radio show, broadcast on WZBC 90.3 FM in Boston. Those links will remain active until December 8th (I’m posting this a touch late due to the holiday), at which point the show will disappear and be replaced by a new one.

One caller compared this show to a taking warm bath. That’s a first for me. The sounds are gentler than the last couple weeks (there’s nary a jazz recording in sight), and a couple of them border on the ambient. The centerpiece is a beautiful collaboration between Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet, released on Erstwhile in 2008. If you listen to just one thing from this show, make it that. And then go get their new double disc, Photographs.

Anyone put off by harsher sounds will likely appreciate the cooler colors at play throughout the entire second hour. That William Winant recording is another beautiful and hypnotizing piece of music worth seeking out. The LP is sold out at the source, but certain online retailers may still have copies. Poke around your favorite sites and maybe something will turn up. It’s also available digitally on iTunes.

For those who want a little more action and some rougher edges in their lives, the first 25 minutes or so contain some very thrilling noise from Autechre and Bernard Parmegiani, who, if you somehow missed it, passed away on November 21st. Much of his music has been reissued in the last couple of years and I encourage anyone with even an inkling of interest to go and find it. Recollection GRM provides two great starting points.

My show on the 8th will probably follow a similar format, with the second hour sticking to somewhat more accessible music. If you like what you hear here, I hope you’ll tune in then.

Any questions or requests, send me an email.

Thanks for listening.

Laughter: November 24th, 2013 – Hour 1 and Hour 2

  1. Bernard Parmegiani, “Lumiere Noire: Moins l’infini/Instant O/Premieres forces – Premieres formes” from La création du monde (1993) on INA GRM
  2. Autechre, ‎”irlite (get 0)” from Exai (2013) on WARP RECORDS
  3. Bruce Gilbert and BAW, “Beasts of the Earth” from Diluvial (2013) on TOUCH
  4. Jacob Kirkegaard, “Church” from 4 Rooms (2006) on TOUCH
  5. Graham Lambkin/Jason Lescalleet, “Listen, the Snow is Falling” from The Breadwinner (2008) on ERSTWHILE
  6. William Winant, “Trackings I” from Five American Percussion Pieces (2013) on POON VILLAGE – written by Michael Byron, 1976
  7. Luciano Cilio, “Primo Quadro “Della Conoscenza da Dialoghi dal presente” from Dell’Universo Assente (2013) on DIE SCHACHTEL
  8. Franca Sacchi, “Arpa Eolia” from EN (2011) on DIE SCHACHTEL – piece written and performed 1970
  9. Labradford, “Twenty” from fixed::context (2000) on KRANKY


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The Monthly List: September’s Top 11

polo_grounds_imgLots of new music shows up on this month’s list. And though there’s a new Autechre EP on the way (out October 28th; some of you probably have it already), I went back to Exai all last month. Definitely one of my favorite records this year, and one of the best albums Warp has released in the last few.

I also spent a lot of time with some of the new Mystery Sea releases from Belgium. Both Philippe Lamy’s Drop Diary and (G)W(3) from the duo of Bruno Duplant and Darius Ciuta are excellent records worth seeking out. I wrote a review of the former for Brainwashed and hope to cover the latter soon. Both can be purchased on the Mystery Sea blog.

William Winant’s Poon Village debut—incredibly it’s his first solo artist record too—will be released shortly. I’ve been lucky enough to work with PV on the release of the album and have had the chance to hear it many times over the last month or two. It’s as good as the reviews make it sound and I’ve fallen in love with Michael Byron and Lou Harrison’s music because of it. Plus the presentation is pretty mind-blowing. A ton of work has gone into it and I’m excited to see how people react, so be sure to check it out. Sound samples are available online and there’s already a lot of press covering it.

Last but not least are two releases from Kevin Drumm; one from 2012 the other new this year. Keeping up with this guy is virtually impossible, but I keep trying anyway. You can read my review of Earrach here, and I’ll try to get a few words about Humid Weather together before long. With so much music to cover, I’ll probably end up writing a few brief summaries just to catch up. I desperately need more time to write.

Be on the lookout for more great music in the coming months. Erstwhile already has two more releases out that I’d love to cover as soon as possible, including one gorgeous looking double CD from Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet. Lescalleet, like Drumm, is now on Bandcamp, and releasing new music there, as is Howard Stelzer and Intransitive Records. There’s also a new 3CD reissue of Eliane Radigue’s Adnos I-III out on Important Records, which is definitely a contender for reissue of the year.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. Others may be available. If you like any of the samples I link to, please buy the album. You can find numerous retailers carrying these titles at the bottom of this page.


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The Monthly List: February’s Top 8

autechre_anvil_vapre

Autechre’s Exai and a surprise reissue of Gila’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee top my favorite records for February 2013. The list is short this month as most of my attention was focused on a few releases—including the Wandelweiser set on Another Timbre and the Autechre EP box set—but a ton of new music is on the way, including four new Editions Mego LPs, a new series from Erstwhile called ErstAEU, a re-issue of Michael Pisaro’s Tombstones project, and the fourth part of Jakob Ullmann’s Fremde Zeit Addendum, which is actually available now. I just don’t have a copy yet. Ullmann also happens to be featured in the latest issue of Wire Magazine.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. Others may be available. If you like any of the samples I link to, please buy the album. You can find numerous retailers carrying these titles at the bottom of this page.


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Review: Autechre, “Exai”

For every stubborn fan who thinks their best period ended with LP5, there are plenty of others who have found something to love in Autechre’s post-Confield run. Expectations and ideas about what Autechre should sound like aside, there’s actually plenty there to love. But Exai is one of their best albums, period. Forget about their past work. Without the shadow of Tri Repetae hanging over them, these 17 songs prove to be among the most hypnotizing and dynamic the duo has ever made.

Nevermind that Exai, Autechre’s 11th proper album, comes on two CDs and four LPs. It’s neither too long nor too taxing, and anyone with an attention span longer than a goldfish’s will find it easy enough to appreciate. Listen to it one disc at a time—or one side at a time—if going through two hours of music all at once sounds unappetizing, but don’t trust anyone that says it is poorly edited or too difficult to swallow in one go. Exai is littered with catchy melodies, intricate rhythms, and unexpected twists that make listening to it fun. It’s also beefier and more tightly woven than anything Autechre’s produced over the last couple of years. Instead of treating them as separate elements, Brown and Booth once again bind their melodies, rhythms, colors, and textures together, creating a geometric sound that gives their songs depth, structure, and a sense of completeness that’s long been missing from their music.

Even when songs like “irlite (get 0)” turn on a dime and meander into weightless, pixelated wastes, the duo maintain a feeling of cohesiveness by sticking to the palette and logic they’ve developed to that point. Exai leaps and turns in on itself this way, jumping freely from tightly wound passages to looser ones without falling apart. Not that there are many places where it could fall apart. Beats resolve into airy, stuttering loops and melodies disappear into a storm of snapping drums, but through all the twists and turns are familiar sounds and signposts: bright synth pads reminiscent of Aphex Twin take center stage on “T ess xi” and “cloudline” bounces with a rubbery melody and vocal effect funky enough for Squarepusher or Daft Punk. Autechre make it their own by using density and unpredictable variation to move the music along rather than tension or the usual structural devices.

But Sean and Rob have never relied on big builds or easy payoffs to make their music exciting. On Exai they’ve struck a middle road through the roaming looseness of their last two albums and the mechanical logic of well-loved classics like LP5 and Tri Repetae. Finding this road has obviously inspired them, or I don’t think they’d present two full of hours of music at once. Not everything on the album is equally excellent—the second disc is definitely the stronger of the two sets—but there’s nothing I’d want to cut. Digging into this music, stumbling on its nuances, and letting it work its magic is part of the fun. At two hours long, there’s plenty of time to get lost and forget about expectations and preconceived notions. Repeat listens offer up hidden patterns, previously unseen red threads, and a better lay of the land. Exai offers some upfront pleasures, but needs a little time to fully sink in. Once it does it sounds even better.

In fact, Exai’s biggest problem isn’t its length. It’s that albums like LP5 and Tri Repetae came long before it. They’re 15 and 18 years old now; as old or older than most people’s favorite pets. But these records aren’t going to die on us and we can listen to them anytime we want. In the meantime, it’s worth giving this new dog some time and attention. It knows a few tricks the old ones didn’t.

Exai is available on Warp Records
Sound samples available at Brainwashed.com


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Song of the Night: Autechre, “Cavity Job”


Autechre’s 11th album, Exai, is due out March 5th in the United States. It comes either as a double CD or a quadruple LP set, but is currently available digitally through Autechre’s official site. To my ears, it’s the best thing they’ve done since LP5 or Confield. And that got me to going through the EP box set they released last year on Warp. The “Cavity Job” 12″ has long been out of print, but you can find it in that box set, along with the amazing Anti-, Garbage, and Anvil Vapre EPs. Now if only they’d collect all the great, out-of-print 12″ singles that have been released over the years, like We R Are Why. Are Y Are We?, Keynell, and SpltRmx. A remix comp wouldn’t hurt either.