“For Pauline” reviewed by Fluid Radio

Valencia’s accordionist and composer Isabel Latorre and sound artist Edu Comelles met in 2016. A couple of months down the line, and Comelles had commissioned a concert for Latorre: an interpretation on the Deep Listening philosophies and principles of Pauline Oliveros. The commission was scheduled to be premiered at the Ensems Festival in 2017, of which Comelles was the curator. But later on in the year, on 24 November 2016, Oliveros sadly passed away; the composition and commission became a eulogy. A central figure in the development and exploration of experimental music, Oliveros was one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century. For Pauline has much of the same ethos and spirit.

Isabel Latorre has studied Pauline’s music to such an extent that she performs in a similar vein, with a great deal of maturity and concentration but never forgetting the stunning magic of its creation. Latorre, already deep within her philosophies and submerged in the moods of the music – both physically and emotionally – kept on going, and her live performance is a heartfelt dedication. From the moment of its inception, and as a reaction to her passing, the music veered away from its original intention, and this has resulted in a very different work. The live performance, recorded at the end of May 2017, is at almost twenty-two minutes a long-form piece where, after a quiet opening, elongated tones gradually begin to stir, stretching their limbs in a high, bright, and sharp register before overlapping, evolving over the course of the first five minutes to produce a range of quiet gymnastics.

It’s gloriously playful, as all experimental music should be, but it’s edged with a serious intention. After simmering for some time, the music’s distant, occasional percussion and laser-like tones begin to bubble and froth, rising up, pulsing, building strong dynamics and engaging the listener with the strobing electronics. The electronics wash in and out of sight, demanding one’s attention while swaying like a pendulum. Benevolent or threatening, the intent is never made clear. One thing’s for sure: they come close enough to touch, invading the listener’s personal space before backing up, rocking from side to side with a tight, robotic functioning. An accordion blares inarticulate chords. Its screeching sounds are on the verge of leaving rationale behind. That’s the crest of the piece. Everything else becomes quieter after that, retreating back into silence and winking out of existence.

The second piece, ‘La Isla Plana’, was completed a little later, at the end of 2017. Comelles took inspiration from Latorre’s earlier recordings, and the two are somewhat symmetrical. The drone is similar, but the two pieces exist in alternate dimensions. Latorre’s drone is lighter, while ‘La Isla Plana’ is stronger, dripping a dark-red or a metallic crimson, throbbing instead of pulsing. Drones cut a little deeper, and when it comes to volume tampering there’s a little more in the way of variety. The two pieces could be sisters, and they’re both equally playful.

The drones occupying the second side seem to be more aware of their surroundings, their eyes blinking as they look around at the world. As it progresses, the drone moves into the range of a slow melody. And as the track ends, the sound of something like surf enters, foaming white and pushing its thunderous roar into the heart of the drone. This twenty-minute island cleanses the listener, but For Pauline has a much larger message: one of thanks, deep appreciation, and the utmost respect, wearing its influence proudly on its sleeve. James Catchpole

via Fluid Radio

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Natal dos Experimentais 2018

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Síria’s “Cuspo” reviewed by The Wire


Vinyl records, recordings and vocals combine in Portuguese artist Diana Combo’s latest work. I know this, because when you visit Síria’s Bandcamp page, the process of recording is explained. Artists, especially those coming from a visual world before they get engaged in music, love explaining what they do, how they do it, why they do it. How I wish Combo had kept scrum. Totally selfish reasons – self-promotion has to be informative, has to reveal things you’d ordinarily only guess at – but I wish total mystery had been maintained about the means of Cuspo’s creation (it was recorded after its first live performance at a Porto experimental festival in 2017).
The haunting steadiness of Combo’s vocals is key – emotional movement less important than populating the soundscape with a half-human, half-ghostly voice. The way Combo layers the sounds underneath her voice is interesting – sometimes overwhelming the voice in rushes if traffic noise ad city heat (the stunning “A Lua da Eva”), sometimes absconding to a place not quite tranquil, flooded with water, perhaps not even with land underfoot at all. The fact I don’t speak Portuguese is also key – there’s a suggestiveness to the words in a purely phonetic sense that means every moment the voice gets dubbed or echoed (which is often) you’re pulled along its syntactical shape without getting anchored in any frame of reference. That fluidity extends to the sequencing – tracks flow in and out of each other to the point where apertures into other realities seem to open up in your consciousness.
Trippy as fuck but entirely unpsychedelic, this is more like the true unhinged depths of extreme sleep deprivation turned into sound, where lighting seems to always flash from behind you and your peripheral vision hums with life. Freaky in extremis. Neil Kulkarni

via The Wire

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“Täuschung” reviewed by Fluid Sonic Fluctuations


Hello once again, I’m back with this month’s part of my Crónica review series. This time I got for you this album by Davor Mikan titled Täuschung, released in 2007. The 31 track album has a running time of only 38 minutes but is definitely packed with fun minimalist electronic experiments and glitchy goodness. This CD is housed in a clear jewelcase with tracklist and credits listed on the back as well as an 8 page booklet that features photos of various evergreen and other quirky looking kinds of trees in different colours, similar to the Christmas tree on the front cover, really fun little addition to the musical content of this release.

Now, Täuschung definitely reminds me a lot of the approach in composition to Further Consequences of Reinterpretation by Paulo Raposo & Marc Behrens that I reviewed earlier. Here we also have 31 tracks that are mostly very short bits, less than a minute long and most of them vary in sound material from track to track, the sounds on here are often glitchy, minimalist and subtle. Not entirely lowercase really, but rather soft most of the time. Unlike the aforementioned album however Mikan’s sounds are more distorted and a bit more abrasive and humorous at times. Most of the album consists of bursts of glitches, Noise and various mangled sounds, sometimes synths, sometimes guitars or manipulated vocal sounds. It’s not an album that really wants to sound “logic”, rather it jumps from track to track, always giving us a new burst of weird quirky sounds that are most of the time abstract, crushed and distorted. The album’s structure in terms of pacing of the pieces is rather curious as while many tracks jump from one to the other, there’s sometimes some silence in between them. This album does feel like one big piece of music in that sense, with all different parts being connected in some way, but how exactly is definitely completely up to the personal interpretation of the listener as Mikan definitely never gives you clear guides as to a pattern or recurring theme. This completely freewheeling approach does result in an always suprising collection of tracks however and while the abstract nature and short lengths of the tracks make for a listen that feels pretty odd and perhaps unclear, the completely off the wall and jumping sound of the album is always fun and original, rarely recycling sounds from earlier on and always going in a different direction. An album to replay many times to uncover more sounds from its exciting mixture of constantly changing sounds and textures. Amongst the many short tracks there are a few longer piece however that I’ll discuss a bit now. The first of these is Schon halb verwest which features some sweet Noise manipulations, strange harmonic tones and manipulated guitar as well as some sudden burst of percussive noise in the right channel. It sounds a bit like a degenerated electro-acoustic piece taken from a heavily corrupted file, mad but cool music. Dunkelnder is pretty quirky with its many pitch down / pitch up speed effects, mechanical, whirring sounds and also, typewriter sounds as well as a typewriter bell sound that made me laugh a bit while listening to this piece. This track does have some melodic fragments in the beginning put through Vocoder but most of the track is really based around mechanical sounds, synth and speed manipulated sounds and resonances. Wild piece, but very fun too. Ein Tag is the piece on here that is the most melodic (relatively speaking), with a simple two note pattern droning in the background, that sounds a bit like a mangled electric organ, combined with a tumbling glitched guitar pattern. This gets combined with an ever more crazy growing haze of chaotic noise and screeches until the climax at the end, really wild and intense, nice one.

Täuschung by Davor Mikan is a short but sweet wild ride of an album that is full of glitchy noisy music that is abstract but also subtle in quirky ways, ever changing and evolving and is definitely good to relisten again and again to uncover all the various sounds popping up in this album. A curious unique and personal album and a good recommended listen. Orlando Laman

via Fluid Sonic Fluctuations

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ocupa #3


Ocupa #3 is an event focused on electronic music and the digital arts. On December 15th, a program of talks and performances will take place at gnration, in Braga. Miguel Carvalhais, Rui Penha, and Alberto Simões will discuss Artificial Intelligence and Art, while Pedro Tudela, Roly Porter, and Filipe Lopes will focus on Performance in Electronic Music. Starts at 16h30, free entrance.

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Clube de Inverno


For three days, Crónica be heading gnration’s Clube de Inverno, an informal meeting place to explore and improvise with music, sound, image and video.

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15 years of Crónica at ZDB, Lisbon


Next Friday, November 30, Crónica will take over the stage at ZDB, in Lisbon, to present the last of the anniversary performances for 2018. Síria, Vítor Joaquim, and @c (Pedro Tudela & Miguel Carvalhais) start at 22h at Rua da Barroca 59.

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New release: Isabel Latorre & Edu Comelles’s “For Pauline”


Valencian accordionist and composer Isabel Latorre and sound artist Edu Comelles met in 2016 working on a third-party project. During that process Comelles recorded some samples of Isabel’s instrument.

A few months later, before Pauline Oliveros passed away, Comelles commissioned Latorre a concert meant to be a free musical interpretation of Oliveros’s Deep Listening theories and philosophy. The commission was meant to be premièred at the Ensems Festival 2017 curated by Comelles.

In November 2016, news broke of the demise of Oliveros. What at first was a compositional commission became something else, a very special tribute.
Latorre kept working and immersing herself, physically and emotionally, into the ideas and philosophy of Oliveros, delivering a heartfelt concert, whose testimony is side A of this tape.

By the same time, Comelles worked on a new composition arising from the 2016 recordings of Latorre. Inspired and encouraged by her concert, he finished La Isla Plana by the end of 2017.

Both pieces are the outcome of two parallel and uncoordinated creative processes that became something else altogether: a tribute, an inspiration, and a farewell homage to one of the most influential musicians of the last century.

Tracklist:

  1. Isabel Latorre: Isabel Latorre Plays Pauline Oliveros (Live recording 27.05.2017) (21:53)
  2. Edu Comelles: La Isla Plana (24:10)

Isabel Latorre Plays Pauline Oliveros: Composed, performed and premièred by Isabel Latorre at the Dormitory Room of El Carmen Monastery (now CCC) during Ensems Festival 2017 in Valencia. Recorded by Edu Comelles. La Isla Plana: Composed and arranged by Edu Comelles using a Shruti Box and accordion samples performed by Isabel Latorre. Valencia 2017. Mastered by MC. Cover photo by Paula Felipe.

For Pauline is available as a limited-release tape and as a download.

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“Praxis” reviewed by Fluid Sonic Fluctuations


Hello everyone, it’s time for another review in my by now monthly Crónica review series. This time we got this excellent album called Praxis by Cem Güney. This is a release on CD packaged in a three panel cardboard gatefold sleeve in which the CD is beautifully housed between two holes and which features sweet artwork on both sides as well as the tracklist and credits. The package is stored in a resealable plastic sleeve so you can store the release neatly after listening, very nice.

Praxis is a curious album of electro-acoustic, sound collage and sound art that while I was listening to it sounded quite like an album split in two sides of music. It’s got a pretty clear first half that is “bright” in a way, with the second half being “darker” I noticed. The album kicks off with this excellent piece called A Phonetic Theme which cuts from vocal samples to various other manipulated noise, music, glitches, field recordings in quite a dadaist sound collage kind of manner, really creative and enjoyable piece, pretty funny too, with one man saying “vinegar” at one point. Great glitching and timestretch effects in this one too, Güney goes pretty wild in here. Impulse is a much more gradual piece which features a lot of high pitched sounds, included sine wave beeps, clicking and shaking sounds, as well as a mysterious vibrating repeated motive, stuttered music samples and glitches and various other sounds popping up and then disappearing after some time. What I like about this kind of style is that the progression is pretty slow over time but there’s a lot of sonic colours in the music and it’s got this wild quirky vibe, feeling a bit like the lab of some mad genius professor. Undulations (dedicated to Janek Schaefer) starts of pretty dramatic with a looped vinyl music sample with a lot of tasty crackle sounds added in the mixture too but then moves to a lighter funkier kind of bright drone, in the beginning still accompanied by the vinyl crackles. What makes this drone so funky is the squelchy filter bass synth that’s accompanying the drone with varying tones, alongside the drone all kinds of harmonic and diffuse sounds float in and out including a great resonant “sequenced” resonant series, whooshing sounds as well as field recordings that pop up only once or twice, like the genius addition of the shop P.A. attention sound added at one point in the piece. With the mechanical industrial like sounds in the mixture the track feels quite like the sonic picture of a relaxed day in some workshop where people work wih various kinds of machinery. very peaceful. Visceral (In A Figurative Sense) is more similar to the atmosphere of Impulse combined with a more Industrial edge, an organ / synth drone combined with various high pitched clicks and bloops as well as more machinery sounds, a quirky and playful soundscape of a workshop, nice sound. Factitious Phobia features a very nice low rumbling bass that starts off as these intense “beats” that fade in and sped up making up the very low bass sound of the track. This track can definitely already be seen as a start of the darker side of this album, featuring a more mysterious and abstract atmosphere, a focus more on sound textures and sonic manipulations than melodic content. The piece features various metallic and clicking sounds this time more ear-penetrating and a bit more harsh in the metallic side of it, another interesting element is the Turkish (?) music radio samples that pop up in the mixture at some point and while the delay piano notes near the end of the piece sound pretty funny the piece is still in darker territory than the tracks before, it still feels like a metal workshop setting though, but this changes in the tracks to come. Adaptations features many high frequency sounds, sometimes at earpiercing frequency and is based around a “hovering” mid frequency drone, a theme in the track seems to be space and astronauts as there are also some samples used from an astronauts communication system. Adaptations of more a sound art kind of piece with a lot of emphasis on the high and mid frequency manipulation of sounds to create new spacy and also crunchy sonic shapes, mysterious and intense on the ears, cool stuff. Praxis continues in this style with a lot of high frequency manipulation and LFO manipulation all abound in this piece, a very physical experience of sound, great track. Behold Now Bhikkus, The Sounds of Nada Yoga features a sound that is more like a meditative religious ritual with the extended male vocal choir samples drone in the drone, this is accompanied however by chopped and glitched vocal samples and buzzing manipulated sounds and another second resonant drone that comes in in the second half of the track, mysterious and dark music again, but very nice. Somewhere Between The Middle is more sonic manipulation again, though much longer and with more layers and progression, there’s a mixture of various sounds used, field recording samples (including a pitched up car wiper), delay time / feedback manipulation and other synthetic and organic sounds, all accompanied by a mid frequency drone. Very nice piece again full of curious sonic adventure to dive into and nice closing piece of the album.

Praxis by Cem Güney is a varied and especially playful album of experimental music that goes through both light and darker ambience and creative sonic manipulation over 9 exciting tracks. The music follows a refreshing less “planned sounding” approach to experimentalism and conjurs up plenty of fun sonic imagery as well as delivers intense physical experiences of sound. A varied and nice collection of music, recommended listen. Orlando Laman

via Fluid Sonic Fluctuations

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Tamtam’s “Rheingold” reviewed by Toneshift


Such is the stature of ‘Des Ring Der Nibelungen’ that even the mildest utterance of Rheingold feels somewhat brazen, a laden-thrust to the overbearing musical resonance that word conjures: yet Tamtam’s work is entirely antithetical to the Wagner opera with which it shares a moniker. Based upon hydrophone recordings of the Rhine River, the listener is proffered an enchanting yet infinitely subtle world, a shifting, creaking mass that is amorphous by design. The source material serves both as a conceptual bed and compositional framework – the entire piece feels like a river, unfolding in waves of sound that build without drama, marking the mind with only the faintest trace upon their inevitable retreat. It is a highly evocative, highly visual work, and one that benefits from volume – under the right listening conditions you can almost imagine your body prostrated along the rivers bank, engulfed in the monotonous lap of water upon the bow of a boat.

This is in no sense a purist’s approach to field-recording, however. Whilst the recordings lack any overt processing, the inclusion of gong and electric bass accent and oppose the natural rhythms and timbres on offer, underscoring the soft crescendo’s that serve as the piece’s only real structural unity. The recordings are treated with a notable reverence, and whilst scrapes and drones of the instrumentation offer a broader and more defined musical palette, their performance is always secondary to the underlying qualities of the river, the repetitive, emergent motion of water.

As an album, Rheingold is perhaps boring – assuming we can for a moment reclaim that word, to remove its negative connotation and presume that, as with the work of La Monte Young, it points to an active capacity to exist beyond the border of interest or sense, a space of higher, transcendental engagement. Indeed, Tamtam’s work is reminiscent of Young’s, even as it invokes wildly different sonic materials – it carries the same focus on the microscopic, the same approach to temporality that forces its listener to abandon any comprehension of the piece as a whole. Every moment is lavishly ill-defined, a holistic experience that cannot be broken down into meaningful, free-standing parts. And whilst terms such as ‘organic’ or ‘sublime’ are used so frequently as to render them near-impotent, Tamtam’s work captures the vitality, the living presence of a physical location in a way few more straight-forward field-recordings can master. The sparse and textural instrumentation is embedded to completely into the Rheine that what emerges is a near seamless divination of composer and source, performer and site.

In addition to the main piece, the album offers three remixes, or perhaps, revisions, of the material. The first of these, Eosin’s ‘Erda’, eschews the dynamic, undulating life of its source material in favour of far more clinical, cold imagining that, if it lacks the inherent beauty of its source, is efficient and powerful none the less. Static to a fault, Eosin’s version adds layers of glitch and percussion that, rather than advancing the composition, seem to lock the listener into a not altogether pleasant funk, a faintly industrial soundscape that brings to mind the more textural work of Z’ev. Maile Corbert offers a restrained interpretation with ‘TamTam Tuning’, a work that seems at first so close to the original that it could almost be the same piece.

As it progresses, however, it becomes clear that there is some unusual, pronounced processing at play – some sort of phase or frequency alterations that steer the work in a new direction, without ever forcing its own footprint too firmly upon it. Embracing a sense of disorientation beyond the cyclical, repeating waves of its predecessor, Corbert adds a certain futuristic bent, as if the Rhine now sits as the backdrop to a Tarkovsky film, a somewhat alien, if no less organic, being. Finally, ‘Einhundertvierundzwanzig’ is the albums only remix proper, invoking a markedly different aesthetic and intent. Electronic percussion, spectral processing, and the use of samples, make for a buzzy, digital affair that somewhat squanders the source material – whilst not unpleasant, it is hard to see how his adds anything to the endeavour, with a final movement that feels utterly incongruous to the project as a whole.

This slight quibble aside, Rheingold is a wonderful, immersive listen, whose reverence to its source is such that it inhabits a uniquely unspectacular sound world, a beautiful, discreet, and texturally-rich tapestry that perfectly encapsulates and explores, in its own quiet fashion, the inherent life of the river from which it draws inspiration. Daniel Alexander Hignell-Tully

via Toneshift

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