"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Barbaric bombast

Two valuable voices of resistance performing powerful alchemy on the basest sources - each constructed directly from ultra-right material, Marc Kate's bittersweet, stately Deface (Falling Forms) & TVO's mesmerising Hell is Empty (V I S) point to an engaged experimental ambient beyond the genre's typical apolitical stance. 

Kate "steals the music of the ultra-right [especially 'National Socialist Black Metal'], & converts anthems of hate into shimmering spells of beauty...plunderphonic compositions apply all manner of filtration & effects to render the music as barbless, extracting the harmonic material as spectral emanations from their misanthropic origins."

All the same, he combats the risk of "amusing novelty": Deface "is dolorous. It mourns. Kate’s reaction to this deeply troubling political moment resonates with a sense of loss, and reflects on the work that lies ahead if the culture is to move through and forward."  

Similarly, Ruaridh Law (TVO)'s piece - which began life as an installation on the theme of alchemy at the FIBER festival in Amsterdam - seeks to "alchemically take the basest raw material possible and turn it into something beautiful or at least worthwhile, whilst also making a comment on how easily the raw material falls apart" [quote from this recent interview]. 

Hell is Empty is generated entirely from "alt-right shithouse" Breitbart - code line by code line: "The php code of the site is the rather 'data-sounding' noise that travels through the whole piece, grabbed & converted on the fly to raw audio then stretched & pulled, & the majority of the rhythms (short of an 808 kick) are all generated by grabbing code live from the site & clipping it to short lengths. There's MIDI data & sequence data that are generated by pulling numbers out of the php code, & the drones underpinning the start & end take their pitch, resonance & harmonics from light-sensing cameras taking data from the visual part of the installation, which is a gradual breaking down of the Breitbart site into granular pixels."

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Academy of the Holy Names

Femenine in thrilling, enthralling performance (at the LCMF's 'In Search of Julius Eastman' event - brief clip here) was one of these ears' musical highlights of recent years. So sign me up for a joyful, Reichian new Eastman release - especially one that benefits the exemplary work of the Transgender Law Center...

Moreover, Joy Boy is by the same early incarnation of the S.E.M. Ensemble as on Frozen Reeds' unearthing of Femenine. It could hardly not be, since one immediately preceded the other at the same concert (Wednesday, November 6, 1974 at Composers Forum on the Campus of the Academy of the Holy Names, Albany, New York). 

Double hat-tip to Frozen Reeds' Ian - both for the release ("sitting on this one for a long time now. One-sided 10" or whatever just didn't feel right - this really does") & for amping up Bandcamp's inspiring effort for TLC tomorrow

Time to hand over those Euros...

Finally, Adolfo Doring's fascinating Without a Net on Eastman. 

NB: Sleeve photo courtesy of University at Buffalo Music Library, The State University of New York. 

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

And counting...

Factory never died, it turns out. It just moved south. For LMYE's Label of the Decades, Touch, is the label Factory promised to be and might even have proved to be had it sustained its own model of a defiantly independent, endlessly ambitious imprint (something more than just a record company) - as Touch so manifestly & triumphantly has across its now 35 years of inspiring operation. 

So many happy returns today - the latest anniversary of co-founder Jon Wozencroft's first contact with New Order (by Touch mythology, the official start...).  

Factory has been a profound influence on Touch across the years, of course. Both New Order & Tuxedomoon feature on that first Touch tape later in 1982. Even today Chris Watson (of Factory Sample-ed Cabaret Voltaire) remains a core Touch artist. 

The connection was highly evident at Touch's last big birthday event at the end of 2012 - from the pontifical blessing of Atmospheres 4's audience with Peter Saville to the Ian Curtis postcards handed out to Wozencroft's willingness to frame almost anything in terms of Joy Division/New Order (& his Blue Monday beat-boxing to send the last night audience home) to an in absentia rendition by Watson

You might also compare Touch with the even more long-lived ECM. The two clearly share an insistence on the integrity of the whole product - emphasising recording & presentation - with quite a shared visual aesthetic - alongside/around the music. 

But where ECM has been underwritten for most of its near 50-year life by the earnings of a few outlying successes (Keith Jarrett's ln Concert, in particular - as Factory was too, of course: think Blue Monday...), Touch has sustained itself despite a championing a more resolutely uncommercial output - one that has been subsidised neither by the market nor public money.  

After all this time it combats middle-aged spread with an unmatched appetite for going beyond conventional boundaries. Who else runs a mentoring programme, hosts conferences, publishes print & audio-visual work, repositions the organ, curates free recordings by aligned artists, experiments not just with formats but multi-channel recording, proclaims a psychological/digital 'Kingdom', & even collates recipes & commissions its own beer mat?!

As a label Touch remains the benchmark despite its age - essential, genuinely pioneering, unself-consciously experimental, constantly reinforcing & broadening its unmatched body of work. One mark of its greatness: even 34 years in, few other labels - apart perhaps from eMego - rivalled the richness & vitality of its 2016 output. 

Ditto almost all of LMYE's 10 years...

Of course, Touch's non-pareil roster of artists - from Oren Ambarchi to Fennesz to Philip Jeck to Phill Niblock to Watson - is ageing with the label. Will it outlive them & its founders?

That's still unclear. As Mike Harding, Wozencroft's partner in Touch, considers in a typically thoughtful response (taken from an unpublished interview): "The artists we work with tend to be middle-aged – they’re in their 30s, 40s, 50s. I’m stretching middle age to encompass not-youth & not-extreme old age, that period. So ‘will Touch survive the artists around whom we are flourishing?’ I honestly don’t know because I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I don’t know what’s going to happen in relation to the reaction against things digital which is definitely alive and kicking hard. You never know. Someone completely outside our experience might come along and find a huge amount to relate to and vice versa, because all of our relationships are completely collaborative." 

"Maybe, thinking about it, there’s something generational about what we’re doing and young people relate to it in a different way compared to people who have lived through the same period that we’ve lived through and have themselves experienced the evolution and development of recording technology but also the cultural responses – digital and all the rest of it that we’re also horrified and fascinated and preoccupied with in equal measures." 

"We never react to anything. We respond, giving it the dynamic activity of a communicative dialogue-based relationship. Something doesn’t happen & we go ‘Ooh’. We do thoughtfully and carefully respond to issues that arise. And it may not seem to be necessarily very direct but all the time we’re having this discussion and these debates and conversations about what we think’s important."

Certainly Touch is far from winding down with age. On the contrary, it's been replenishing its ranks. As noted, its most compelling releases last year were Bethan Kellough's Aven & Claire M Singer's Solas

More established parts of its canon, BJ Nilsen & Hildur Gudnadottir are other younger artists who could "carry the flag into the long-term future"Moreover, the label has embraced Simon Scott in recent years. 

It is also mining an increasingly rich seam on the US west coast - scene of its 2016 'conference'. This connection links it with Kellough, the Richard Chartier/Robert Crouch/Yann Novak nexus & older Touch connection Mark van Hoen (Harding's collaborator in the excellent drøne), as well as Lustmord (Dark Matter). 

Novak's outstanding recent Ornamentation is soon to be followed by Crouch's Sublunar Something You Are Or Something You Do by Chartier alter ego Pinkcourtesyphone for the allied Tapeworm... 

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Capelli camicia

Ineptitude or high-mindedness? Either way (both, really), LMYE's Festive 33-1/3 - a selection of the releases that meant most to us in 2016 - again emerges on the last day of the year...

The song remains the same too: a clunky but sincere attempt to acknowledge how much more great music was released over the year, even just in our narrow corner of endeavour, than an inevitably partial list like this can begin to embrace. 

To spread the love as far as possible the two of us select 15 releases each, but no more than one per label or artist. After a bit of jostling & horse-trading over duplicates (though barely any this year, when we've evidently been further apart in our listening than previously...), we supplement the 30 with four projects that fall outside the normal 'release' boundaries - bigger &/or more ambitious (in multiple media, for example), or not strictly new - to derive our 33-1/3. 

This year's list has been unusually challenging since a number of key labels were in overdrive. Grand projects have multiplied too. So our self-constraining methodology became even more masochistic.

How, to take an especially painful example, to choose between Bethan Kellough's Aven & Claire M. Singer's Solas? Two exceptional releases that each expanded notions of sound palettes & what could be done with them, but both on Touch (about whom more shortly...). 

& that's to exclude Yann Novak's Ornamentation, Simon Scott's Floodlines, Anna von Hauswolff's Kallan (Prototype) & Fennesz's Mahler Remix, despite all four clearly demanding recognitition as part of the year's 'best'. 

Ditto conflicts between multiple pieces of outstanding work on Dragon's Eye, Editions Mego, Line, Room40, Sonic Pieces & Students of Decay - to highlight the concerns of only one pair of LMYE ears. 

Note to self: a follow-up without the hair shirt may be needed to honour all these exclusions.

At the very least, for a less partial picture of our listening priorities please check out the monthly Lend Me Your Radio series on SoundCloud, al's Mixcloud & jl's Bandcamp (collection & wish list)

2016 Festive 33-1/3:

Jeremy Bible - Music for Black Holes (Aole) [jl]
Dirty Hope/Graham Dunning/David Fyans/Mark Lyken/Orphax/TVO/Arne Weinberg - li series (Broken20) [jl]
Stephan Mathieu - Radiance series (Schwebung) [jl]
Abul Mogard - Works (Ecstatic) [al]

1991 - No More Dreams (No More Dreams) [al]
Chris Abrahams - Climb (Vegetable) [jl]
anthéne - Black Carbon (Assembly Field) [jl]
Beautumn - Bordeaux (Infraction) [al]
Benoît Pioulard - Thine / Radial (self-released) [al]
Bruised Skies - Guide (Blank Editions) [al]
Celestino - Beyond Enemy (A Guide To Saints) [al]
Dominic Coppola - Ladylike EP (Overview Ltd.) [al]

drøne - reversing into the future (Pomperipossa) [jl]
Drottning Omma - Iris av is (offworldcolonies ltd.) [al]
Christian Fennesz & Jim O'Rourke - It's Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry (Editions Mego) [jl]
Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci - Agoraphonia (Dronarivm) [jl]
Billy Gomberg - Slight at that Contact (Students of Decay) [jl]
Tobias Hellkvist - Vesterhavet (self-released) [jl]
Chris Herbert - Katushki (Low Point) [jl]

Braeyden Jae - Fog Mirror (Whited Sepulchre) [al]
KETEV - I Know No Weekend (Portals Editions) [al]
Bethan Kellough - Aven (Touch) [jl]
L’eoscombu Couti - Five Cambridge Utilities (Constellation Tatsu) [al]
Sophia Loizou - Singulacra (Kathexis) [al]
Sana Obruent - Prince of the Air (Blackjack Illuminist) [al]
Marsen Jules - Shadows in Time (Oktaf) [jl]
Moss Covered Technology - Speicherbank (Eilean) [al]

New Rome - Nowhere (Room40) [al]
Nils Quak - Ad Interim (Phinery) [jl]
Alex Smalley - JAN SBR 15 (Rural Colours) [jl] 
The Swifter - Wall Sailor (Sonic Pieces) [jl]
Triac - Here (Line) [jl]
Willamette - Diminished Composition (Scissor Tail) [al]
Uwe Zahn/Porya Hatami/Darren McClure - Veerian (Eilean) [jl]

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Friday, 30 December 2016


It's hardly a surprise from the home of Cosi, Ielasi, Orsi & Ratti, of course. But so much ravishing music emerged there in 2016 that if we were indifferent enough to the category's absurdity Italy would surely be LMYE's Country of the Year...

As our Festive 33-1/3 - out tomorrow, allegedly - will show, some of the 2016 releases that mattered most to these ears are by Italian artists. A number of those that fell victim to our hair-shirted methodology (only one release per label/artist) are too. 

This, ahem, renaissance embraces a host of styles - from post-rock to ultra-minimalism. Given that, is there anything distinctively Italian threading them together beyond nationality? 

Perhaps. Many of the artists below manifest notable care & restraint over their sounds - a commitment to selection & balance that seems rooted in the country's broader culture. Che figata!


Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.
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