Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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The Monthly List: March’s Top 15 Albums

coppice_grass2014 continues with more great new music than any one person could possibly keep up with. I managed to cover one or two things in the last month, including Robot Records’ 3CD retrospective of Jacques Lejeune’s work. It’s probably the best GRM-related release I’ve seen since the INA-GRM put out those Luc Ferrari and Bernard Parmegiani sets in 2008 and 2009. I highly recommend it. If you’re looking for a place where you can get a copy, it’s currently available at Other Music.

I also covered Nicholas Szczepanik’s Not Knowing for Dusted in Exile, which is one of the more gorgeous recordings of 2014 so far.  As long as you’re there, you should also check out Jennifer Kelly’s review of Damien Jurado’s new record. Not so much on the experimental side of things, but a great record and worth checking out.

I’ve been catching up with and writing about Coppice and Haptic and I hope to get something together for The Patient as well. Those three recordings have most of my attention at the moment.

But there’s lots of new music coming from Editions Mego that I want to hear too. Along with the Schmickler/Rohrhuber LP below, which I’m slowly digesting, there’s new music from COH, LCC, Mika Vainio, Russell Haswell and Fennesz on the way. You can preview all of that on their website.

There’s also two new releases from Erstwhile, four new records and a 7″ from Kye, a boatload of Alga Marghen reissues, a new Thomas Ankersmit CD on Touch, and several new Sub Rosa projects that are either out now or soon to be available. Nevermind that Record Store Day is just a few days away, there’s more than enough music out there now to keep you record hunting for a good long time.

Links to my favorite sites for reviews and information are found at the bottom of the page. You can always find good info at Brainwashed.comDusted, Just Outside, and All Music Guide, and samples are available virtually everywhere. Forced Exposure and Boomkat are good places to go if you’re looking for the more obscure stuff.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. Further record-buying resources can be found at the bottom of this page.

  • Coppice, Vantage/Cordoned on CADUC. (CD)
  • Haptic, Abeyance on ENTR’ACTE (CD)
  • Joseph Clayton Mills, The Patient on ENTR’ACTE (CD/BOOK)
  • Donato Dozzy, Plays Bee Mask on SPECTRUM SPOOLS (CD)
  • Voices from the Lake feat. Donato Dozzy & Neel, Voices from the Lake on PROLOGUE (CD)
  • Various Artists, Enjoy the Silence Vol. 2 on MULE ELECTRONIC (CD)
  • Dead Rider, Chills on Glass on DRAG CITY (CD)
  • Marcus Schmickler & Julian Rohrhuber, Politiken der Frequenz on EDITIONS MEGO (DIGITAL)
  • Jacques Lejeune, Parages and Other Electroacoustic Works 1971 – 1985 on ROBOT (3CD)
  • Michael Pisaro/Greg Stuart, Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds on GRAVITY WAVE (CD)
  • Nicholas Szczepanik, Not Knowing on DESIRE PATH/TANGENTS (DIGITAL)
  • Gas, Nah und Fern on KOMPAKT (4CD)
  • Damien Jurado, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun on SECRETLY CANADIAN (CD)
  • Hiss Golden Messenger, Haw on PARADISE OF BACHELORS (LP)
  • David Bowie, Heroes on RYKO (CD)
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Review: Jacques Lejeune, “Parages and Other Electroacoustic Works 1971-1985” (Robot)

Robot Records’ three-CD retrospective of Jacques Lejeune’s music from the early 1970s and 1980s contains over three hours of heady electronic noise, surreal acoustic transformations, deconstructed field recordings, and disorienting aural splutter. It is a collection that spans 14 years and six electroacoustic compositions: one composed for ballet and inspired by Snow White, another inspired by the myth of Icarus, and others by landscapes, symphonic form, and cyclical movement, among other things. They flash with theatrical flair, jump unpredictably through minute variations, and churn chaotically, tossing fabricated scree and instrumental slag into the air. A 28 page bilingual booklet filled with photographs, drawings, and program notes accompanies the set, along with a 32 page booklet of interpretive poetry. In them, Lejeune, Alain Morin, and Yak Rivais offer up remarkably precise interpretations for each of the pieces, but the writing works much better as a rough guide to the visually evocative clamor of Lejeune’s electric transmissions.

Jacques Lejeune’s musical career began auspiciously, at the famous Schola Cantorum de Paris, a private music school in the city’s Latin Quarter whose alumni include Edgard Varèse and Erik Satie. From there, he moved to the Conservatoire National Supérieur, where Adolphe Sax had once taught and where Igor Wakhévitch would eventually study, and labored under the tutelage of Pierre Schaeffer. He finished his education with François Bayle at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, then joined the GRM in 1968 and became director of the Cellue de la Musique pour L’Image, or The Department of Music for Images, responsible for the production of sound and music for both theater and television.

By 1971 he had finished his first major composition, Cri, which premiered at the Royan Festival in 1972. It was Lejuene’s introduction to France and the first indication that his stint in the Images Department at the GRM had been as formative as the rest of his education.

Early on, Cri delivers brief, sometimes confounding glimpses of particular places and circumstances. Those images are held in focus just long enough to be recognized and then swept away: a marching band stomps through a busy street in the first movement, then disappears into the sound of French horns warming up before a performance; frogs croak in concert with crickets as sheets of tape noise flutter by imitating the sound of water; people laugh and conversations crash against bursting radio signals and gusts of analog distortion. In the second movement entire sentences survive, accompanied by reverse audio and a small gaggle of test tones. Exclamations leap out of the commotion and a radio transmission about Pakistan and the United States floats smoothly by, like a small town seen from the window of a passing train.

Read more… (at Brainwashed, includes sound samples)


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Broadcast 09: Persists Into Winter

helm-the_hollow_organ

Below are two links to the WZBC Archives where you can listen to my Super Bowl Sunday (February 2nd) radio show, broadcast on WZBC 90.3 FM in Boston. Those links will remain active until the 16th of February 2014, at which point the show will disappear and be replaced by a new one.

Lots of new music on this program, including two new songs from one of Joseph Clayton Mills’s most recent projects, The Patient. It’s an incredible record paired with a fantastic book that serves as a loose score for the music. The book includes notes written by Franz Kafka to his friends while he was suffering from tuberculosis of the larynx. The notes include common questions and observations that you might expect from someone unable to talk, but they’re also filled with peculiar fragments that seem designed to confuse. Mills takes advantage of their intensity and ambiguity and uses them as inspiration for recommended musical (and maybe non-musical) actions. The performance of those actions in whatever combination constitutes The Patient.  I talk about it a little on the show, but you just have to see it in order to appreciate how amazingly well it’s put together. Anyone interested in Kafka should definitely pick this one up. I have a review of that in the works, but if you want some information now, go here.

I also played a new piece from Anne Guthrie’s latest, Codiaeum Variegatum, due out on Students of Decay the 18th of this month, along with a composition by Jacques Lejeune,  who has a new 3CD collection out on Robot Records. Both are excellent, but I’m particularly in love with that Guthrie record. It’s one of my favorite albums of new music so far this year.

There’s a new song from Helm tucked in there and a new one from Machinefabriek too, plus a superb, low-key piece from Philip Corner. Italian Air: Wind, Water & Metal, the album it’s from, might be a little hard to find, but is worth seeking out. If you can’t find one at a local shop, copies are still available from Forced Exposure.

Any questions, comments, or requests, please send me an email or just drop a message into the comments section below.

Thanks for listening.

Laughter: February 2nd, 2014 – Hour 1 and Hour 2

  1. The Shadow Ring, “The World Phone” from Remains Unchanged (2012) on KYE
  2. Anne Guthrie, “Rough Above with Uneven Base” from Codiaeum Variegatum (2014) on STUDENTS OF DECAY
  3. Philip Corner, “Ear Wave” from Italian Air: Wind, Water & Metal (2012) on RICERCA SONORA
  4. Joseph Clayton Mills, “Part III” from The Patient (2013) on ENTR’ACTE
  5. Helm, “Analogues” from The Hollow Organ (2013) on PAN
  6. Aaron Dilloway & C Spencer Yeh, “The Hydra” from The Squid (2008) on HANSON RECORDS
  7. Jacques Lejeune, “Cri (Bursts/The Earth is Telling the Dead What the Living are Saying)” from Parages and Other Electroacoustic Works 1971-1985 (2013) on ROBOT RECORDS
  8. Baudouin Oosterlynck, “Le Point et la Ligne” from 1975-1978 (2008) on METAPHON
  9. Machinefabriek, “Manipulation” from Attention, The Doors are Closing! (2014) SELF RELEASED
  10. Joseph Clayton Mills, “Part I” from The Patient (2013) on ENTR’ACTE
  11. Zeitkratzer, “Four6” from John Cage [Old School] (2010) on ZEITKRATZER