titassite

The word for the world is forest

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Some of you may have noticed that we have spent the last few weeks caught in a whirlpool of Japanese ambient and minimal composition, perhaps driven by a subconscious impulse to find refuge from nasty reality.

Many of these records have natural or organic themes, which could well reflect the artists’ own search for spaces of serenity amidst the hyper-accelerated lanes of late-era capitalism. Today we bring you a selection of tracks with that vibe, hope that you find them as soothingly beautiful as we do, and also that when we get together this time next week we don’t have any more reasons to want to escape reality.

We cross our fingers, hard.

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We start with Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Flora (1987, reissued in 2006). We already featured Yoshimura a few weeks ago, a propos of his Pier & Loft Tape. While the tracks there had the blue mood of a melancholy playboy smoking cigarettes at the marina, Flora is all about the green (well there is actually another Yoshimura album called Green, but we’ll tell you about that some other time).

Flora is a paradox: it is an artificial replica of nature created by a masterful sound designer and composer. Its synths soar like childhood sketches of Popol Vuh, its melodies ebb, twist and flow like forest paths created by furtive furries , or secret streams hosting impossible dragonflies. It contains moments of sheer pristine perfection when rays of light reach for us through the trees like the fingers of a purifying spirit, to scrub away the grime of existence.

If humanity has a Fallout moment, and we have to retreat into underground vaults, we will play Flora to the children who grow up there, to show them the wonders that existed before we fucked up.

Hiroshi Yoshimura – Flora

Discogs page.

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Then comes Yutaka Hirose’s Soundscape 2: Nova. As usual, what little information about the artist/record there is comes from the wonderful Listen to This blog (who everyone should follow). There, we find out that Nova was financed (together with another Yoshimura album) by “Misawa Home Corporation for use in their prefabricated houses between 1986 and 1988”.

This is another example of the paradox between the natural and the artificial: birds chirping, water flowing, you can almost feel the branches of the trees rubbing on your shoulders as you ramble through this soundscape. But you are not in the woods, you are in a prefabricated house in one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Hirose’s intricate melodies pick up on the dreamy yearning of that cognitive dissonance, and open Ghibli-esque portals into parallel universes of green quiet, under the paving stones the mulch.

Yutaka Hirose – Slow Sky

Discogs page for Soundscape 2: Nova.

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We conclude today’s triptych of nature with Motohiko Hamase, a jazz bassist whose Notes of Forestry (1988) is a mystery in its origin, but that fits the music just fine. The title track, with its lithe Satie melody and playful assortment of cartoon noises perfectly captures the sense of freedom that we feel when walk out of the road, and into the forest.

With but a step we move from a clear grid of options to a rhizome of possibilities. As the sound of traffic fades away time and space themselves dissolve, and we feel that, if we kept walking, we would step into another country or another era. The forest doesn’t care, it has seen it all, and Motohiko Hamase’s music perhaps soundtrack’s the wry amusement with which it observes us, as we ramble happily through its home.

Motohiko Hamase – Notes of Forestry

Discogs page for Notes of Forestry.

This post’s artwork is one of E. McKnight Kauffer’s illustrations for a 1944 edition of Green Mansions by W. H. Hudson. We obtained it from 50Watts.

Saturday mixtape : The very power hungry fart

Featuring : Podcast

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On Monday morning he ate through democracy, but he was still hungry for power.

On Tuesday he objectified and degraded women, but he was still hungry for power.

On Wednesday he decided people of a different skin color were inferior to him, but he was still hungry for power.

On Thursday he decided people with a different sexual orientation to him were unacceptable, but he was still hungry for power.

On Friday he built a death star and pointed it at everyone who he disagreed with.

Trump

  1. emit wind from the anus.
  2. waste time on silly or trivial things.

noun

  1. an emission of wind from the anus.
  2. a boring or contemptible person.

Trumpery

  1. Attractive articles of little value or use.
  2. Practices or beliefs that are superficially or visually appealing but have little real value or worth.

adjective

  1. Showy but worthless.
  2. Delusive or shallow.

 
XXJFG Elected mixtape – Nominative determinism

The Incredible Lightness of Dub

Featuring : Luis + minimalviolence

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1080p continues to bridge the impossible divide between genre adherence and facsimile, and to erase the boundary between DIY Music and (presumably) ‘real’ dance music.  Because dance music made with pawn shop synthesisers was never DIY, oh no.

1080p is an interesting place to hang out.  The inners maybe artfully pre-faded and I’m sure if this 20JFG writer was more of a sample nerd the drums might be just so, but this seems like bait to those that would be easily blindsided by the aesthetic callback and miss the music within.  Like some sort of hautological camo.

And what music.  This week we share a couple of tracks that came out this month.

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First up is the beautiful minimal dub of Shea’s World by Luis.  All simple, looping melodies and equally simple drum tracks, floating past each other in the night-blue gloom.  Theirs is a beauty of the synthetic, the beauty of deserted concrete streets and grey brick buildings.  The 4am magic of the night.  The waking dream of the journey home, the hazy imprint of the night so far, the brutal light of public transport and the way it jolts you back into reality so hard you go spinning out the other side into your interior world.  All these things, moving past each other as your mind lies floating underwater between these vast shadows

Luis – Shea’s World

minimalviolence

Next we have the appropriately named minimalviolence and Girl Talk.  All squelchy early techno synths and those crashing symbol samples.  Here too, washes of synthetic chords weave in and around the drum patterns but where Shea’s World aimed for a dubbed grace, here we’re still nominally on the dancefloor.  Or at least the memory of one.  A tough, brutal one where when the drums hit, they come pre-dulled, like they’ve done this a million times before.

minimalviolence – Girl Talk

Shea’s world is taken from Luis’ 12″ Dreamt Takes.  Girl Talk is taken from minimalviolence’s 12″ Night Gym.  Both are out now on the incomparable 1080p.  You can order them both right here or from your favourite stockist of fine music recordings.

Manhole_69.biz

Featuring : Mamoru Fujieda

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The trials with human subjects had been going on for weeks before the investment was announced. The press releases were hyperbolic: if we want to stay relevant in a world of intelligent machines, we need to re-engineer our own brains. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we finally have the foundation to do this. This seed investment will help.

The initial trial results were very promising: the rejection rates for the neural grafts were low, and the cognitive performance of the test subjects improved significantly. We were so excited. We were breaking new ground, and we were going to make a ton of money. 

We were also taking the brain, the result of billions of years of evolution, and poking it with a stick to see what happened. Oh well.

After a few weeks, the cognitive capability growth curve started plateauing, and the behaviour of the patients became increasingly erratic. They were distracted, impatient and volatile. They sat at the cafeteria and the library in small groups, talking in whispers, gazing shiftily at each other and at us. Initially, we thought that their enhanced intellects were chafing at the restrictions of the test facilities. They were probably channeling their new cognitive resources into mind games, perhaps even getting a bit paranoid. We would need to keep an eye on them.

And then, one night, test subject Morales was stabbed in a corridor. 65 knife wounds. I remember the smell of his bowels, one of the orderlies skidding in the pool of blood, black on white. The CCTV footage was horrifying. Six individuals had assaulted Morales on his way to the bedroom. We couldn’t identify any of them because they were wearing crude masks made of bed linen.

I know what you are thinking. We should have shut down the trials and called the police, but you can imagine what our investors thought about that. Instead, we hired a private security firm and started interviewing all the test subjects.

Reese, a member of Morales’ ‘group’, opened up to us in the director’s room. His story was hard to believe. According to him, the neural grafts had produced a significant side-effect: they had severely warped the test subjects’ sense of time. The specifics of this distortion varied across individuals.

In some of them, the subjective perception of duration became extreme and unpredictable. Seconds felt like hours, days felt like seconds. What should have been a momentary irritation – a shaving cut, a sore tooth – became an eternity of agony.

In others, memories of the past, experiences of the present and expectations about the future blended into each other, making the subjects feel as if they were being buried alive in a tomb of time.

Yet another group perceived time as a road of forking paths, every action they took opened up a new path, a slice of them went this way, another that way. It was as if they were living through a shredder.

One group became convinced that future or past versions of themselves had travelled ‘here’ and were following them, perhaps meant them harm.

How could the test subjects function with all this going on inside their heads? It was hard, Reese said. It required a lot of mental effort. This explained why their test results had stalled: the subjects had been focusing their expanding cognitive powers on dealing with all this temporal disruption. But they were starting to get used to it now, and starting to think, ‘what next?’.

Subjects with the same symptoms started forming gangs. They didn’t think that different senses of time could coexist in the same society. They would have to compete with each other for dominance. They also felt threatened by our ‘primitive’, linear, sequential temporal perceptions. They started conspiring against us. Morales wanted to warn us about what was happening. This is why he was murdered.

The interview finished and we sat down in silence. The security director  stared at me uncomprehendingly. This was way out of his league. I looked at Reese. I wondered what must be going on inside his head. The level of neurosis that could have created this incredible hallucination.

And then the lights went off.

We tried to open the door but it was locked. After a few moments, I heard someone whispering outside, not just one voice, many voices, becoming a singalong chorus: Reese, Reese, Reese, you shouldn’t have, Reese, Reese, you are a bad boy, you telltale Reese, you are punished Reese, go and stand against the wall, go and stand against the wall. NOW.

Reese whimpered, and then there was silence. When the lights came on, some time later, he wasn’t there

30 test subjects escaped from the test facilities that night, taking with them several cases of biological materials and neural graft samples. Their attack had been coldly efficient, and as far as we could tell no-one was hurt. However, I remember something strange happened when I stopped by the director’s room to pick up my notes. I heard someone crying. The sound was very faint, as if arrived from far away. It sounded like Reese. It couldn’t be. The room was empty.

I went back home.

The police investigation concluded that the trials had induced an episode of mass psychosis in the test subjects. The company shut down and the investment was written off. I went to work for another lab.

Life has gone on. Sometimes I dream of an empty room, echoes of crying, a shadow against the wall. I try to imagine what those test subjects are up to now. If Reese was right, they are out there, super-intelligent, ruthless, intent on transforming humanity’s perception of time, and mould it to theirs. They are not short of options.

I look at my TV, my smartphone, my computer, I see news of big mergers between telecommunications giants and media companies, I look at my grandchildren staring at their screen of their mobile phones, as space dissolves and all time becomes now. I think of the Time Gangs, and I know in my bones that their project is in train.

This short story was partly inspired by James Gleick’s Time Travel, and Ted Chiang’s Understand. The image above is by Frédéric Fontenoi

mamoru_fujieda

Dissonant, vertiginous melodies chase each other across loosely coupled slices of quantum reality in Mamoru Fujieda’s Radiated Falling, achieving a temporal discombobulation to rival the effects of the best neural grafts in the market. Enjoy!

Mamoru Fujieda – Radiated Falling (1980)

eltime trav

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In the last few days, we have been pondering the existence of time and its relationship with deep philosophical ideas such as determinism/free will, causality, and idealism. The textbook inspiring such ruminations was Gleick’s Time Travel, and its soundtrack, a bunch of paradoxical bangers that span the space-time continuum with a mix of melancholy and weirdness which we could convey to you using mathematical concepts such as non-ergodicity and entropy, but we’ll let you off.

Maybe in another world, kiddo.

First arrive Richard Wahnfried (a.k.a. Klaus Schulze) and Arthur Brown of ‘Fire’ fame, whose 1979 Time Actor collab is a mesmerising ensemble of mechanoid glambeats, baroque robo-melodies and vocals drawn from a probability distribution whose states range from Philip K Dick ampheto-intellectualism to Mooney-esque daredevilry, and even moments of falssetoid longing so extreme that Brown’s voice dissolves in the eternal pool of emotional syrup whence Jamie Principle would eventually emerge like a cyborg Swamp Thing.

We are not certain what is the theory of time that Wahnfried and Brown are pushing. Our take, consistent with the title of the album, is that humans are not passive subjects in the stage of time. Rather, some of them are actors whose behaviours affect time’s operation, passage and perception.

The proof is in the music: time grinds to a halt caught in the relentless spin of a phase-shifted drum-beat, time speeds up pulled by the ellipses of a vertiginous arpeggio, time loops upon itself like the sonic motifs reflecting across the hall of mirrors which is this album.

Wahnfried and Brown are the architects and masters of this process, Princes of Time and, if only for a moment, more than gods.

Richard Wahnfried and Arthur Brown – Time Factory

Time Actor was reissued by Esoteric recordings in 2011. Get it here.

childhood

Igor Savin is, from what we have been able to gather, a bit of a legend in Croatian experimental music, with a particular reputation for his synth soundtracks for cartoons (check this particularly subversive one).

Childhood is a 2-track ambient album he released in 1982. We haven’t been able to obtain any information about it, but the music is enough.  While the A-side sounds like an ectoplasmic, slavic version of Kraftwerk, the b-side, Florianna, is pure Suzanne CIani-esque emo-synth music, a musical representation of the patterned yet unpredictable stream of consciousness through which we voyage into our own past, hover around the dioramas of memories frozen in neuronal bullet-time. If Beppe Lodda, the Elettronica Meccanica impresario, had created the soundtrack for a re-enactement of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu in his Typhon Club, it would have sounded like this.

Igor Savin – Florianna

We see there is one for sale in Discogs.

To all Citizens of Drumwhere

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In these days of latent balkanisation, when the centrifugal forces of populism and nationalism threaten to pull our worlds apart, we seek comfort in abstract musics that could only come from the countries they do, but do so and arrive with a fraternal spirit, speaking in the common language of humanity, a love of the rhythm representing our journey through space, time and life.

We begin with Midori Takada, percussionist in Mkwaju Ensemble (more on them here), whose Through the Looking Glass (1981) sits in between Steve Reich’s 1970s drumming, and more recent Boredoms’  sturm und drang crescendos.

Any of the 4 tracks in it would blow your socks off, but we will leave you with its second one, Crossing, a marimba journey which is disciplined and unfathomably beautiful at the same time, like the logical steps in a mathematical proof punctuated by transcendental drops representing epiphanic moments before the creative leap, when hidden forces give us cognitive lift off like Gods in some ancient greek epic, and propel us to more advanced states of knowing and being.

Midori Takada – Crossing

Original pressings of Through the Looking Glass go for hundreds of dollars in Discogs, but people say a legit reissue is due soon. We’ll keep you posted.

antico

Lino ‘Capra’ Vaccina’s Antico Adagio (1978) is equally amazing: a wondrous feast of percussions, chanting, dissonance and melody which makes us think of Basil Kirchin’s Abstractions of the Industrial North if we transplanted its psychedelia to some mythical Italian mezzogiorno of craggy landscapes, hallucinatory dawns and hidden gods disguised as animals, plants, legends of gold and water.

Keeping with today’s theme, Voce in XY thrusts forward with drums of Mo Tucker-esque primitivism, but it does so not in search of a higher plateau. Rather, it appears to be set on closing a loop and bite its tail, echoing its liquid, sister melody, and the eternal cycle of rituals and seasons for which it is not just a soundtrack, but a soul.

Lino Capra Vaccina – Voce In XY

Antico Adagio was reissued by Die Schachtel last year. Pick it up here.

Saturday mixtape: Novoline

Featuring : Novoline

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We posted a track from Novoline’s ace Movements album last week.  Here’s the man himself with a mixtape for us all on this fine Saturday:

Most of the artists here have a long personal history for me, but I chose these tracks because they reflect some aspect of Novo Line. It’s a crossroads of ancient wisdom, odd time signatures, DX7 sounds, sampling milestones, MIDI tech, coincidences, and my own touch of what I guess I could call humor. I pay attention to coincidences and accidents, and the tracks here have reverberated in my universe since I first heard them, mostly by chance. Like how an old fairy tale handed down generation to generation can contain knowledge within it that remains no matter who retells it, like for example a recipe for bread, there are embers in each of these tracks that have sparked something within me, and fortified my process.

I’d like to touch on just a few of the more unusual choices to help explain some (inter)relationship:

Conlon Nancarrow composed using two player pianos synced merely by manually starting them at the same time. I found it fascinating when I first heard it, as at the time I was researching Texas 1800’s era piano Boogie Woogie, not to mention using two Atari ST’s that are synced merely by manually starting them at the same time.

Wendy Carlos released an entire album using custom tunings for her yamaha DX synths, (Beauty In The Beast, 1986) and made these tunings public on her website. It was her hard work that opened me to trying out different possibilities, and so I eventually programmed a custom Pythagorean scale. Pythagoras was a teacher in his own secret/sacred school, founded after many years studying in esoteric Temples in Egypt. Gurdjieff, 2500 years later, started a journey from Armenia to find lost knowledge and wisdom in the hidden Temples he could find in the near East just a few years before Missionaries came and destroyed it all, and the music he heard there was much later dictated from memory to pianist Thomas de Hartmann, previously a composer for Kandinski. The Lyre Emsemble make music with reconstructed Mesopotamian instruments; “The Flood” is a reconstruction of a musical piece found inscribed on an ancient Sumerian tablet, utilizing the singer’s musicological research.

When I lived in a small town in northern Italy, I was lucky enough to find a broken DX7II, but I also found some amazing cassettes and records. Fausto Papetti is a schlonky Sax player who released volumes of records and cassettes with topless women on the cover. This track is from one of those cassettes that I digitized and have since lost the original. I love its strange swing, sounding almost like a U.S. Maple song.
Le Mondine di Novi Di Modena: The north of Italy before WWII was full of rice fields worked by young women, Le Mondine, who would spend all summer under the sun singing traditional songs as they worked. This is a particularly emotive group of original singers/workers, recorded in the studio about 50 years after their work was done!
Tenore Supramonte Orgosolo: For anyone that knows traditional Sardinian singing, this is one of the best recordings I’ve found. Seeing it live you really get to hear the separate voices with bass and abrasive and sometimes piercing overtones. The lyrics tell a man’s response to his friend’s invitation to come to Rome, replying that the city offers him nothing and he prefers to stay in the wild of Sardegna.

Novoline – 20JFG mix

Wally Badarou – Mt. Fuji and the Mine + Chief Inspector
Expanses – Life Wiht Jou (White Label)
Fausto Papetti – ??
Tom Hooker – Atlantis
Oh Hang – Memory In the Slow Devour
Severed Heads – we have come to bless this house
Harry Pussy – ??
Diana Ross – Upside Down
K.A.T.O. – The Booty Dance
Conlon Nancarrow – Study No. 3a
Art Of Noise – Who’s Afraid (Of The Art of Noise)
The Lyre Ensemble – The Flood
Gurdjieff & de Hartmann – Hymn From a Great Temple – No. 1
Melvins – Wispy
Wendy Carlos – Incantation
Le Mondine di Novi di Modena – Fischio del Vapore
B.E.F. (feat Tina Turner) – Ball of Confusion
Meat Beat Manifesto – Hallucination Generation
Kate Bush – Sat in Your Lap
The Droogs – Love To Love You
Tenore Supramonte Orgosolo – Sonetto di Remundu Piras, Risposta a s’invitu de Antoni Cubeddu