When music takes us between pain and peace: Dimension Series mixes

Music can be wallpaper and fashion and groove and all those things – and sometimes those things are grand. But music can also be a torch to help us see out of the dark. The Dimensions Series of curated mixes this year took on those themes of metamorphosis – and how to find ways out of depression and darkness.

http://staticdiscos.com/dimension/category/metamorphosis/

Mexico City-based artist and curator Oscar González of the wonderful Static Discos label gathered some significant names for this series. And musically, it’s worth listening top to bottom. But I also appreciate that from the start Oscar opened up about his own personal challenges.

We need a reason to make music. Sometimes, that reason can be survival — finding peace when it threatens to elude us. Oscar tells CDM:

I think I’ve never talked about where the idea of the series was born.

The last five years have been and, in some way continue to be, challenging and shifting. It has been very difficult and there have been some very dark periods, actually. The idea was born right in that chaos; it was like a gift in the middle of depression. But during the last year, there have also been lots of wonderful achievements, new friendships made, lessons learned thanks to my falls and failures that — although they’ve hurt extremely – have helped my convictions and faith to be strengthened.

Some incredibly positive and happy moments also happened. My dad is a miracle, [surviving] several heart attacks. For my part, I got a job that I really love, and I learned to love myself such as I am. I stopped thinking that I was not enough for myself or for others, and I started to believe only what God says I am.

Now brief moments of peace are hitting me…

So, I tried to express some of these experiences and feelings into the series across these years. Each edition is a good representation of those shifting patterns and where my heart was in every moment while curating.

Please, don’t get me wrong – I do not want to be a hypocrite. Just like Luke Hess, I’m just a Christian guy from somewhere in Mexico City trying to spread a little love through music, because for me the music still is the best remedy for the broken heart, to inspire and give us hope where there seems to be none.

However, I feel a deep sadness, since there are many young people that now are going through by the same situation in which I was, mired in depression, with thoughts of suicide and in a deep pain — so if you want to talk, please hit me up, sometimes we just need someone to listen to us.

“Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us.”

I could add here, but I expect I don’t have to – this experience of navigating darkness and hopelessness through music is something that I know can resonate with most or all of you.

What’s been beautiful about the Dimensions Series this year is how each new mix has let the theme of metamorphosis unfold and blossom. And guest artists from a range of backgrounds often touched on these themes from Oscar even without prompting.

Elli. Photographer : Ryuji Sue
Hair & Makeup : Tori.
Styling : Joe (TOKYODANDY)

Elli Arakawa of Japan has an especially beautiful, artful, moving mix, one that tugs at your heart and lifts you to some transcendent plane.

And she also gets personal:

This year has been a year of transition and realization.
There have been many changes for the good and the bad to make me realize what is important in life and living in this difficult world right now as a woman, an independent and strong woman that I would want to be considered.

This mix is dedicated to my mother.
Who just had a bad accident/operation but still has a positive prospective about life, the overall cause, and effect, karma, everything happens for a reason and from that, we learn.

She has dealt the accident with grace and I could not be more proud. She has not let it affect her life and ever since she has only been moving forward. So I would like to dedicate it to her strength and determination. She is an inspiration to many of us women and continues to be. We need women like her to pull us all together and fight for what we deserve and what we wish for.

My mind was everywhere at the time but I found myself being centered when I was recording this mix.

I hope it triggers some kind of positive effect to every person who gets to hear this mix. Or some kind of realization towards life, to be able to embrace changes and to notice how lucky we are for what we have.

Jenus, artist and curator, has moved from helming Ostgut Ton to Kobosil’s bold R – Label Group. To anyone who says Berlin lacks a sound, here it evolves gradually, from Detroit to Friedrichshain, in a sense of experimentalism that is rooted and timeless.

Perversely, it’s often a lack of history that can hold producers and DJs back from experimentation – like traveling without a compass. What I’ve grown to appreciate about Jenus in the years I’ve known him in Berlin, apart from his deeply intimate sense of dedication to music, is that sense of history. And he has a knack for navigating shadowy sound, taking us deep into the forest.

He lends some theory to this soulful Winterreise that emerges in this series, and – sure enough, talks about how that connection to the past is meaningful to him. Connect this sense of music finding its way and how we personally find our way (including our personal path through music), and I think there’s something potent:

While working on this mix I was thinking about development and structural change. I wanted to reflect on the process of forming, it’s about memory and transformation. The mix combines some tracks that have been with me for a long time – since the early 90’s, through layering them with new sounds they evolve into something new. I need a lot of time to slowly develop a transition and I like a natural ebb and flow, the force of nature. Energy regenerates and then rears up, you can see this again and again everywhere you look. This mix is a little darker maybe and more pensive, you have to take time, in general, this is something that I believe people should do more. Change just happens, it’s inevitable, but positive change benefits from an understanding and contemplation of the past.

These wonderful images are created by designer FAX aka Rubén Alonso – as always for the Static Discos label. And if some of the guests here bared souls, FAX brings you into his home and workplace, with an eclectic soundtrack that reveals how he mixes his daily life and remains creative.

John Osborn is essential listening, too. And he speaks to the notion of traversing emotions, finding narrative. It’s mixing in the most personal and subjective way, far from the functionality required out in public. And it’s lovely (track listing is over on SoundCloud):

It was a long time since I last recorded a ‘home-studio’ mix. My previous mixes/podcasts have all been live recordings, mainly from sets in Japan & Asia. Oddly, it felt new to me to record a mix without a location defining what I play. Without the external defining the direction I found myself asking myself quite a deep, yet simple question; What do I want to communicate? I took a personal report of the past few years of musical experiences to find out where my head is today and in doing so I created this mix. I composed a mix that carries you through a rich narrative, that makes, holds and breaks tension in a gentle sine-wave pattern. I discovered the sound that currently interests me as a DJ is one that will always transport you, on the dance floor or in your headphones, like that magical feeling when you are in transit to a new, never seen before destination. Tension, drive and expression are not defined by BPMs, but emotions.

Oh yeah, and I did the first mix in this series. I thought about transformation and I knew Oscar had been going through a lot – I knew I’d been going through a lot of change, too – and so I felt a lot of the same calling he talks about above.

Oscar and I hadn’t talked about depression and metamorphosis so directly, but I’m looking back on what I wrote when I sent in the mix, and I think intuitively sometimes we speak these things when we share music. Here’s what I had to say:

I hope music is that one space that gets deeper the further we go, that makes us more malleable as we get older instead of more brittle. It’s the language we never stop learning. And when the world around us sometimes gives us pain and loss, I think sound can be the code that helps us find ourselves again. That’s true whether it’s silly, or repetitive, or ridiculous, or noise and grit and distortion. Screams become joyful and pain turns to laughter. Music is the sound our heart makes when it’s unafraid.

I find depression stops you from being able to make music, but I think that’s because depression is immobile and unchanging. But then music can be the way to get yourself out of that hole – to move again, to become yourself again by allowing yourself to become someone new.

I was fascinated by the rhythm of Charles Bukowski’s words, and the idea of beatmatching a poet to music … and then from there I find I’m turning to music from people I’ve gotten to know, strangers I wish I knew, music from labels I admire, finding the through line in all that.

I wish we mixed more, and listened to each other’s mixes more, and less to algorithms or albums we’ve grown tired of or what we think is cool. Isn’t that the stuff that matters?

My track listing:

Charles Bukowski – Hustle [Goldenlane Records]
Red Line – Ao Wu [UnderU]
Koji Itoyama – forest [Fumin]
Dark Sky – Imagine [Monkeytown Records]
Frank Bretschneider – A Soft Throbbing of Time [Raster-Noton]
Murcof – Rostro [The Leaf Label]
Stan Velev – North Island [Detroit Underground]
Library Tapes – Sevilla (from Europe, She Loves soundtrack) [Library Tapes]
Nadia Struiwigh – 010101 [CPU Records]
N1L – ijsv_0gel (Logos Rmx) [Opal Tapes]
Energun – Psychotic Sequence 001 [Wunderblock Records]
H. Takahashi – Water Lily [Slow Editions]
Lucas Bat – A Colony Always Works for the Gyne [Lucas Bat]
Yaporigami – PLMS_IV_B [Yaporigami]
Wilhelm Bras – Possibility of Artificial Suffering [Wilhelm Bras]
Analog Tara – Density and Surface [Tara Rodgers]
[unidentified artist] – Untitled (from Vague compilation [La notte di architetto]
Ten Hyphen Twenty – Hospitality Industry [Genot Centre]
Neel & natural/electronic system. – Sinistra [Tikita]
Gurun Gurun – Tsuki ni te (ft. Cokiyu) [Gurun Gurun]
Musica Sequenza & Buruk Ozedemir – Vieni vieni [Deutsche Harmoni Mundi]
CHAIRCRUSHER – Way station [Cornwarning]
Alessandro Cortini – La Sveglia [Hospital Produtions]
George Macreyannes – Dohena [Canary Records]

And do listen to the rest of the mix series; I’ve enjoyed the lot.

And if you feel pain, yes, do feel free to talk. I think if this site does anything at all, it should help us all to use music in how we live.

More mixes are coming —

http://staticdiscos.com/dimension/category/metamorphosis/

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Mystical music for midwinter, with SO of Tokyo’s Labyrinth, more

The Northern Hemisphere’s darkest days make a good scene for music, whatever your spiritual/religious persuasion. So here we have some gorgeous sounds in this holiday week.

First, this mix sets the mood for your end of December about as well as anything could, I think:

I will write about the ongoing Dimension Series of mixes shortly – it was an honor to make the first episode of that myself, and ever since Oscar Gonzales and Static Discos have delivered a steady flow of some of my favorite musical inspirations of the year, with mix after mix from delightful friends.

This particular mix is the work of Satoshi Aoyagi, aka SO, Tokyo DJ and tastemaker of The Labyrinth.

Electronic music has this connection to the club, but that space can so easily become claustrophobic – literally, as well as aesthetically. It can be limiting, and the music can sound trapped. So it’s wonderful that Satoshi takes us outside of that trap, and rewires techno from industrial cliche to a deep trip into the woods. In his words:

After traveling some music styles, I found some good point in between Techno and House this year.

I had an inspiration from nature for this DJ mix when I was driving in the deep forest. At the time of sunset, it was cloudy and there was a lot of mist that day, which was so mystic, but a few kilometers later… the sky had got slightly clearer and in the end, I could see it full of stars, it was a beautiful moment.

Since I prefer to play outside more than a club, this kind of experience always gives me an inspiration to think about what I play. Usually, I play more melodic stuff but this mix is showing the dark, hard side of the point I found and tried to make one big smooth flow from beginning to the end. In the beginning, I started from atmospheric Dub-Techno and slowly changed to straight clear techno to the later half and got more energy.

I think that this piece could translate the image I had that day through the music. I hope you can enjoy the journey.

I also like what Static Discos’ Oscar has to say about this mix:

So gave us a special christmas labyrinth mix. i think that this one is really beautiful and profound in some way and the kind of recording you want to save and listen to years down the road… Jeez! the last track is soooo epic…

well, i’m really not sure if i can fully convey in mere words how powerful what the labyrinth means for many of us, but without a doubt, it’s a place where nature, sonics, people and artists come together to create something genuinely wonderful. so not much more to add… that’s it. a merry christmas to you all
big thanks to Satoshi Aoyagi for taking the time to produce this beautiful mix. also i just want to thank Russell, Yasuyo, and all the rest of the crew that created labyrinth. keep up the good work.

this mix is dedicated to my dearest friends Daniel, Mike, Joshua, Abby and Li: ¡Gracias por su amistad, amigxs! Also to my pals Hugo, David, Joy, Jenus and Javier.
Have a lovely time in the company of your beloved ones.

You can download the mix and listen offline:

http://staticdiscos.com/dimension/so/

Traveling from Japan to the United States…

Chris Stack of ExperimentalSynth.com has always connected his love of synthesizers to deep-rooted musicianship on those instruments with both keys and strings. (Of course it’s a myth that synth love and instrumental love need to be separate.) So I really quite enjoyed this medley he’s made for his family – perfect if you’re resting off big Christmas dinners or holiday drinks with friends or whatever:

More on the pagan side of things, Chris and the local synth nerds of Asheville North Carolina played this far-out Solstice Jam to “send signals to the moon” – animistic space scientists, go…

Far out…

“That’s Geary Yelton’s hand on the iPad at the beginning,” Chris tells us, and “there was a Haken ContinuuMini just off camera.”

The black-and-white piano keys, alongside the continuous axis of the Continuum:

Photo (CC-BY-SA) LastHuckleBerry / “Dreamy Textures.”

Previously, in our December music listening lineup:

Ethereal, enchanting Winter Solstice drone album, made in VCV Rack

Download a free two-hour Panorama Bar mix from nd_baumecker

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A haunting ambient sci-fi album about a message from Neptune

Latlaus Sky’s Pythian Drift is a gorgeous ambient concept album, the kind that’s easy to get lost in. The set-up: a probe discovered on Neptune in the 26th Century will communicate with just one woman back on Earth.

The Portland, Oregon-based artists write CDM to share the project, which is accompanied by this ghostly video (still at top). It’s the work of Ukrainian-born filmmaker Viktoria Haiboniuk (now also based in Portland), who composed it from three years’ worth of 120mm film images.

Taking in the album even before checking the artists’ perspective, I was struck by the sense of post-rocket age music about the cosmos. In this week when images of Mars’ surface spread as soon as they were received, a generation that grew up as the first native space-faring humans, space is no longer alien and unreachable, but present.

In slow-motion harmonies and long, aching textures, this seems to be cosmic music that sings of longing. It calls out past the Earth in hope of some answer.

The music is the work of duo Brett and Abby Larson. Brett explains his thinking behind this album:

This album has roots in my early years of visiting the observatory in Sunriver, Oregon with my Dad. Seeing the moons of Jupiter with my own eyes had a profound effect on my understanding of who and where I was. It slowly came to me that it would actually be possible to stand on those moons. The ice is real, it would hold you up. And looking out your black sky would be filled with the swirling storms of Jupiter’s upper clouds. From the ice of Europa, the red planet would be 24 times the size of the full moon.

Though these thoughts inspire awe, they begin to chill your bones as you move farther away from the sun. Temperatures plunge. There is no air to breathe. Radiation is immense. Standing upon Neptune’s moon Triton, the sun would begin to resemble the rest of the stars as you faded into the nothing.

Voyager two took one of the only clear images we have of Neptune. I don’t believe we were meant to see that kind of image. Unaided our eyes are only prepared to see the sun, the moon, and the stars. Looking into the blue clouds of the last planet you cannot help but think of the black halo of space that surrounds the planet and extends forever.

I cannot un-see those images. They have become a part of human consciousness. They are the dawn of an unnamed religion. They are more powerful and more fearsome than the old God. In a sense, they are the very face of God. And perhaps we were not meant to see such things.

This album was my feeble attempt to make peace with the blackness. The immense cold that surrounds and beckons us all. Our past and our future.

The album closes with an image of standing amidst Pluto’s Norgay mountains. Peaks of 20,000 feet of solid ice. Evening comes early in the mountains. On this final planet we face the decision of looking back toward Earth or moving onward into the darkness.

Abby with pedals. BOSS RC-50 LoopStation (predecessor to today’s RC-300), Strymon BlueSky, Electro Harmonix Soul Food stand out.

Plus more on the story:

Pythia was the actual name of the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece. She was a real person who, reportedly, could see the future. This album, “Pythian Drift” is only the first of three parts. In this part, the craft is discovered and Dr. Amala Chandra begins a dialogue with the craft. Dr Chandra then begins publishing papers that rock the scientific world and reformulate our understanding of mathematics and physics. There is also a phenomenon called Pythian Drift that begins to spread from the craft. People begin to see images and hear voices, prophecies. Some prepare for an interstellar pilgrimage to the craft’s home galaxy in Andromeda.

Part two will be called Black Sea. Part three will be Andromeda.

And some personal images connected to that back story:

Brett as a kid, with ski.

Abby aside a faux fire.

More on the duo and their music at the Látlaus Ský site:

http://www.latlaussky.com/

Check out Viktoria’s work, too:

https://www.jmiid.com/

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Eerie, amazing sounds from tape loops, patches – like whales in space

Fahmi Mursyid from Indonesia has been creating oceans of wondrously sculpted sounds on netlabels for the past years. Be sure to watch these magical constructions on nothing but Walkman tape loops with effects pedals and VCV Rack patches – immense sonic drones from minimal materials.

Fahmi hails from Bandung, in West Java, Indonesia. While places like Yogyakarta have hogged the attention traditionally (back even to pre-colonial gamelan kingdom heydeys), it seems like Bandung has quietly become a haven for experimentalists.

He also makes gorgeous artworks and photography, which I’ve added here to visualize his work further. Via:

http://ideologikal.weebly.com/

This dude and his friends are absurdly prolific. But you can be ambitious and snap up the whole discography for about twelve bucks on Bandcamp. It’s all quality stuff, so you could load it up on a USB key and have music when you’re away from the Internet ranging from glitchy edges to gorgeous ambient chill.

Watching the YouTube videos gives you a feeling for the materiality of what you’re hearing – a kind of visual kinetic pcture to go with the sound sculpture. Here are some favorites of mine:

Via Bandcamp, he’s just shared this modded Walkman looping away. DSP, plug-in makers: here’s some serious nonlinearity to inspire you. Trippy, whalesong-in-wormhole stuff:

The quote added to YouTube from Steve Reich fits:

“the process of composition but rather pieces of music that are, literally, processes. The distinctive thing about musical processes is that they determine all the note-to-note (sound-to-sound) details and the overall form simultaneously. (Think of a round or infinite canon.)”

He’s been gradually building a technique around tapes.

But there’s an analog to this kind of process, working physically, and working virtually with unexpected, partially unstable modular creations. Working with the free and open source software modular platform VCV Rack, he’s created some wild ambient constructions:

Or the two together:

Eno and Reich pepper the cultural references, but there are aesthetic cues from Indonesia, too, I think (and no reason not to tear down those colonial divisions between the two spheres). Here’s a reinterpretation of Balinese culture of the 1940s, which gives you some texture of that background and also his own aesthetic slant on the music of his native country:

Check out the releases, too. These can get angular and percussive:

— or become expansive soundscapes, as here in collaboration with Sofia Gozali:

— or become deep, physical journeys, as with Jazlyn Melody (really love this one):

Here’s a wonderful live performance:

I got hooked on Fahmi’s music before, and … honestly, far from playing favorites, I find I keep accidentally running over it through aliases and different links and enjoying it over and over again. (While I was just in Indonesia for Nusasonic, it wasn’t the trip that made me discover the music – it was the work of musicians like Fahmi that were the reason we all found ourselves on the other side of the world in the first place, to be more accurate. They discovered new sounds, and us.) So previously:

The vaporwave Windows 98 startup sound remix no one asked for

http://ideologikal.weebly.com/

https://ideologikal.bandcamp.com/

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Two acid-y, space-y, terrific live electronic sets for your Friday

A great live set brews up new musical directions before your ears. It’s a burst of creativity and energy that’s distinct from what happens alone in a studio, with layers of process. From Liverpool (Madeline T Hall) and Moscow (Nikita Zabelin x Xandr.vasiliev), here are two fine examples to take you into the weekend.

Acid-tinged synths unfold over this brilliant half hour from M T Hall (pictured, top), at a party hosted earlier this year by HMT Liverpool x Cartier 4 Everyone:

I love that this set feels so organic and colors outside the lines, without ever losing forward drive or focus. It organically morphs from timbre to timbre, genre to genre. So just when it seems like it’s just going to be a straight-ahead acid set (that’s not actually a 303, by the way, it seems), it proceeds to perpetually surprise.

I think people are afraid to create contrast in live sets, but each shift here feels intentioned and confident, and so the result is – you won’t mistake this for someone else’s set.

Check out her artist site; she’s got a wildly diverse set of creative endeavors, including immersive drawing and sound performances, and work as an artist covering sculpture, sound, video and installation. (Madeleine, if you’re reading this, hope we can feature your work in more depth! I just can’t wait to release this particular set first!)

http://the-royal-standard.com/artists/madeline-hall/

And more music:

Darker (well, and redder, thanks to the lighting), but related in its free-flowing machine explorations, we’ve got another set from Moscow from this month:

It’s the project of Nikita Zabelin x Xandr.vasiliev, at Moscow’s Pluton club, a repurposed factory building giving a suitably raw industrial setting.

This is connected for me, though. Dark as it is, the duo isn’t overly serious – weird and whimsical sounds still bubble out of the shadows. And it shows that grooves and free-form sections can intermix successfully. I got to play after this duo in St. Petersburg and you really do get the sense of open improvisation.

Facing off at Moscow’s Pluton.

xandr aka Alexander has a bunch more here:

That inspires me for the coming days. Have a good weekend, everybody.

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Ectomorph, legendary Detroit duo of nerdy techno, finally get their 2xLP

BMG and Erika, playing together as Ectomorph, are about to do a full double LP album release on Halloween. And what you get is a magnum opus of weird, improvisational madness with machines. It’s about time – for Ectomorph, and for techno.

The teaser alone should make you excited: Doctor Who on acid on Halloween on Detroit:

Mmmm, sweet 303 and Moog, you can still sound futuristic in the right hands.

Here’s the thing: any moderately successful genre will get sucked at regular intervals into an industry that wants to polish it up and make it predictable and repeatable. And so you need people routinely shaking up that predictability. In the case of Ectomorph, that’s keeping experimentalism alive by hauling a whole mess of gear to gigs and getting a little strange. Erika and BMG are both formidable on their own at this. Put them together, and it’s like hitching two locomotives to the front of the train.

Interdimensional Transmissions, their label, is likewise good at channeling sounds both spacey and groovy and bits in between.

So, it’s all remarkable that Ectomorph, born in 1994, hasn’t really gotten a full-length outing. Let’s presumably blame the challenge of how to make a live act a record. The act actually was the launch release for Interdimensional Transmissions back in 1995, but by design, limited itself to Detroit-only 12″ vinyl. Now, it gets a wide release, just at the moment when the techno world needs a little less Instagram fashion brands and a little more, you know, people getting freaky with machines because it’s damned “techno,” not “sportswear catalog.” Oops, was I ranting? Sorry.

Now, how do you capture a live act’s immediacy, but make it work pressing to vinyl? For Stalker, that formula is one that has always driven great techno records – something like this:

1. Find that truly perfect groove setup.
2. Hit record.
3. Don’t do more takes. (Everything here is reportedly one or two takes.)

I can talk to these two artists a little more about that. But there’s something of the essence of techno in this approach, and it’s tough to overstate. Look, there’s nothing wrong with tracks that get worked over or micro-edited or whatever. (Yes, I’m an IDM person. And OCD. And enjoy long hours in the studio turning raw materials into something completely different.) But the roots of techno as genre have more to do with that “hit record on some groove on some machines that gets your ass shaking” than any particular superficial features of the musical outcome.

The press will make a big deal about the gear itself, because that’s something a non-musician can see by looking at the table at a gig. But I think it doesn’t matter if the groove comes from a cobbled-together pattern in FL Studio and an ElecTribe. What may well matter is that “hit record on a groove that’s working perfectly and then don’t mess with it.”

In any event, these really are perfect grooves. (I’ve heard the full length version, too, and this is definitely a top 2018 release.)

I think it’s also fair to expect this to be a highlight of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), where weirdo-friendly groovy techno is pushing its way into the spotlight in an event known more for overstuffed European industry scenery. The Bunker had their outing here in Amsterdam yesterday with No Way Back party figures like Derek Plasaiko and Bryan Kasenic, and you get Ectomorph, aligned with Berlin stalwart Tresor, on Saturday, along with other fine techno improvisers. (Midwest techno’s flag is flying with the likes of Noncompliant Saturday, too.) Sounds good to me.

Previously:

Regarding No Way Back parties:

In a documentary film, a return to Detroit and speaker f***ing

Erika:

We Travel The Space Ways: Hear Erika’s Stellar, Synth-y, Space-y Solo Debut [Listen, Video]

And again:

Here are some space-y solar Moog sounds by Erika

And it’s Thursday, I know, but:

This extended techno mix will get you through any Wednesday

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Free pack of sounds from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio

Think of it as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop of the east: the Polish Radio Experimental Studio produced unparalleled electronic sounds and inventions for decades. Recognition of those accomplishments is growing – and now Ableton are collaborating to produce a free pack of sounds and tell the PRES story.

Vital stats on this project:

Who’s behind this: Poland’s national cultural institution Instytut Adama Mickiewicza (IAM) commissioned the library from Ableton and contributors.

Where do the sounds come from: Works made at the studio by composers Krzysztof Knittel, Elżbieta Sikora, and Ryszard Szeremeta, 1970s-80s, comprise the original sound material.

Who built the pack: Project coordinator Michal Mendyk worked with Ableton Certified Trainer Marcin Staniszewski.

What’s in there: 300 sounds, loops, and effects organized into Drum Racks, plus custom Effect Racks, all pre-mapped with macros (making them easy to use with Push or other controllers)

Check out the pack and a full article on the studio and its history at Ableton’s site (plus more on Marcin Staniszewski and his music):

Sounds from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio

Lots more links there, but the history to me is the most compelling. Paralleling the hot-and-cold relationships of experimental sound and music technology in East Germany and the Soviet Union in the same period, there was a precarious relationship of electronic sound to the government in Communist Poland. Michal Mendyk tells the story of studio founder Józef Patkowski to Ableton:

Paradoxically, a couple of years earlier, it was Sokorski who introduced social realism and radical political and aesthetical censorship in Polish art and culture. He was famous for having said about Witold Lutosławski, one of the leaders of Polish music vanguard that “he should be thrown under a tram”. So, in 1957 the same guy was responsible for creating the most experimental music centre in the whole Eastern Europe! He later said that Polish Radio Experimental Studio was his way to redeem his previous sins. This is one of many example of how paradoxical cultural and intellectual life in an authoritarian system can be.

Here’s a great documentary on the studio:

And for an imaginative take on the studio’s work, see our previous story:

The retro-futuristic Apparatum draws from Polish electronic music history

Plus more on the ongoing legacy in Poland:

This 1971 Dancing Rectangle from Poland Predicts Modern Techno, AV

Live techno after Polish punk and communism: Dyktando of Brutaż

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Watch enchanting experimental live acts from Atonal’s control room

Berlin Atonal Festival wrapped up last week, and for all of the breathtaking impact of the power plant’s cavernous main room, as per usual, the sleeper hits came from the more intimate control room tucked next to the mainstage.

Once you’re done acting out your Homer Simpson fantasies on the controls, this room – staffed by the synthesis lovers of Schneidersladen – is home to more experimental acts and jam sessions and modular patching extravaganzas. And the crowd is different, too, more family style sound nerd reunion than festival scenesters.

Photo at top: Mark Verbos, modular builder, alongside Lady Starlight. Photo courtesy CTM Festival.

Our friends from FACT captured three performances. (Don’t watch on Facebook; that social network’s encoding is crap for some reason. YouTube seems fine.)

There were lots of great shows, but they also selected well with what they recorded, with two gorgeous ambient solo sets and one quirkier duo. (Also, anyone else noticed that laptops have just quietly reappeared alongside modulars? And why not – who cares what particular gear you’ve assembled, if you find some way to be expressive with it?)

There are some dropouts here and there, but it’s worth checking out anyway.

My favorite is object blue – all on Ableton Live/Push, but a kind of shuffled, irregular looping musique concrete:

London-based artist object blue has a bunch of great stuff in her discography:

https://objectblue.format.com/

Really digging this one, just out this year:

But then this is lovely, too, adding more vocal goodness, also a 2018 creation:

Hiro Kone (aka NYC’s Nicky Mao) is looking chill with her Elektrons and modulars, and with good reason – some chill sounds happening. Lounging in the control room, genau:

Nicky is one busy, multi-talented, insanely prolific touring musician. And she’s got a well-organized site to discover more of her music (we would all do well to learn from that, too… rarity these days):

https://hirokone.com/

She’s done a nice mix for Secret Thirteen recently too:

https://secretthirteen.org/stm-246-hiro-kone/

KILLER-OMA is the off-kilter, leftfield (and inter-generational) combo of Isao Suzuki and KILLER-BONG – yes, one bare chin on gear, and one long beard on contra bass.

More from them:

Check out their release on Bandcamp for Tokyo’s Black Smoker:

https://blacksmokerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/killer-oma

Mixed feelings about the live stream age, actually – and something to think about, as CDM revisits how to work with live performing friends. (I’d go for higher quality audio, no? Thoughts?) At the same time, a live stream is a nice place to introduce people, and it’s great to see what people are doing – if we can sort those occasional sound dropouts. Open to ideas for what you’d like to see, especially as a community of music makers.

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Immerse yourself in Rotterdam’s sonic voltages, in the WORM laboratory

It’s dubbed a “Waveform Research Centre” – and Rotterdam’s gear-stuffed WORM laboratory is a science fiction playground for voltages, making music and visuals alike. Let’s go inside.

Dennis Verschoor is a mainstay of the Rotterdam experimental electronic scene, with some decades of artist experience to his name and the legendary Noodlebar performance series. Filmmaker Steve Guy Hellier joins Thonk’s Steve Grimley-Taylor to produce a short film about him and this amazing space: (thanks, Sonic State, hat tip)

From the description:

I first met Dennis whilst I was in the WORM studio on an artist residency in 2017. The WORM studio is like a geological trip through electronic music’s history but I was about to travel even further back. Strange ghostly tones emanated from the old vocal booth next door, it was this space that Dennis had filled with mid 20th century audio test equipment, going back to the roots of audio electronic experiments before commercially available instruments from Moog or Roland, before keyboards, back to Stockhausen, Else Marie Pade, Daphne Oram, Raymond Scott and the like. Why now? is this the logical conclusion of Mark Fisher’s cultural hauntology? do we end up back at the source? the sound of past futures? For Dennis it seemed more a way to dodge the hipsters, and invite collaboration.

Dennis and I had a friend in common Steve Grimley-Taylor, a lover of all things electronic and sound related (founder of Thonk.co.uk). When I expressed the idea of making a film about Dennis, Richard Foster from WORM kindly agreed to let us. This is a short film about Dennis, his journey and his room.

Steve Guy Hellier 2018

You know what time it is, kids? It’s gear pr0n, time. Some waveform pics to get your Friday night started right.

WORM Rotterdam is also a great all-encompassing event venue.

The WRC has its own Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Waveform-Research-Centre-1157781711025359/

Information on the Sound Studio:

https://worm.org/spaces/sound-studio/

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From Japan, an ambient musician on solitude and views of the sea

As haunting, oceanic wells of sound sing achingly in the background, Tokyo-based ambient musician Chihei Hatakeyama talks in a new documentary about what inspires him.

The creative series toco toco follows the musician to the places and views that inspired the images of his music – including gazing into the sea. Of that view, he says:

“There wasn’t any gap in space, it was translating directly into music.”

Filmmaker Anne Ferrero writes to share her work, as she follows the artist “to the roots of his universe, in the Kamakura and Enoshima areas, where he grew up.”

And he speaks of the beauty in ambient music, and its connection to nature. And while solitude in computer music is often seen as something of a liability, here he talks about its importance – as he uses that laptop as a box for editing improvisations.

Being able to create music alone made it more personal. The music that I wanted to make could now express my mind – what I felt inside.

The film is subtitled in English, with Japanese audio. (Don’t forget to turn CC on.)

It’s a deeply personal film all over, and even talks about the journey from electronic sounds on dancefloors to the quieter, more contemplative world of ambient music. And he finds that moment of liberating himself from the beat – not by trying to copy what people would call ambient music on a superficial level, but by fumbling his way to this solution after eliminating obstacles to expression.

Hey, I love both modes of music, myself, so I can appreciate that balance. It’s just rained here in Berlin, and I’m reminded of that feeling of relief when it rains after long periods of sun … and visa versa. Maybe music is the same way.

Have a watch, and I’m sure you’ll want to pick up a guitar or laptop, or go to a beach, or take a personal field trip to the museum and stare at paintings.

Painting with colors in sound … filling the world with oceans of your own expression. What could be more lovely?

Now, an insane amount of beautiful music:

http://www.chihei.org

https://www.discogs.com/artist/440866-Chihei-Hatakeyama

https://chiheihatakeyama.bandcamp.com

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