Aerial by 2562

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This minimal CD cover is my design for Aerial, the debut album from 2562, aka Dutch musician Dave Huismans. This is another release on the Tectonic label who released Underwater Dancehall, the Pinch album I designed last year. As with that release the photos on Aerial are by Liz Eve.

This is a really excellent album but then I would say that since it’s just the kind of electronica I enjoy, in this case being pitched somewhere between the infectious rhythms of Monolake and the sparse dub sounds of Pole. Mr Huismans knows what’s he’s doing and Aerial has already picked up some rave reviews. The CD will appear on June 2nd with a double-vinyl version to follow.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
New things for November

Fragment Endloss by Robert Henke

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I’ve mentioned before that Robert Henke, aka Monolake, is one of my favourite electronic musicians, and it was great last year when he reinstated his habit of offering a free download each month. Unlike the short fragments or scraps that many artists throw for free to audiences there’s been some substantial work on offer, such as an hour-long live performance of his Layering Buddha set.

The download for this month is a perfect soundtrack to accompany the New Year chill, Fragment Endloss, a 30-minute piece of ambient drift from 1992, reworked slightly for 2008.

This is a very personal piece for me, created in a time where I felt quite dark and lived in an appropriate environment. I just had moved from West-Berlin, Neukoelln, to the east, to Prenzlauer Berg, which at that time was not the expensive hippster neighborhood it is now, but the very opposite. I lived in a small place on the ground floor in a backyard, with a coal oven and a toilet outside the building… It was the end of winter, cold, unfriendly, and very dark. Pretty much like on the pictures above.

Musically this is influenced by ‘The Pearl’ (Brian Eno, Harold Budd). Sound design wise it shows that I just go the TG-77 and SY-77, and then there is this one long brass-like sound that I made as a result of listening to John Chowning.

For the free track of the month version I slightly edited the original 45 minute version and added field recordings of Bahnhof Zoo and the S-Bahn here in Berlin which I also captured in 1992.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Live Performance in the Age of Supercomputing
Layering Buddha by Robert Henke
New Monolake

Machinefabriek in Manchester

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The Bacon-esque blur is Machinefabriek, aka Rutger Zuydervelt from the Netherlands, performing this evening at the Cross Street Chapel with Xela and friends. Events I’ve seen here before have been predominantly acoustic so it made a change to see something where the balance was shifted in favour of electronics or the electronic processing of acoustic sources. The chapel is a good, intimate venue, with seating in the round.

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Xela (above) played first, comprising John Twells (Mr Type Records, left) with an amended line-up featuring Danny Saul on guitar and laptop with Greg Haines on cello and the chapel’s own piano which he proceeded to treat in a distinctly secular fashion. These three set the tone for the evening, starting quietly and harmoniously then working into an accumulated frenzy of noise. Type Records are one of the best labels around at the moment, all their releases (and, it should be said, those of these artists) are worth checking out.

There was a break from the noise with Soccer Committee, who aren’t a group of Eindhoven footballer managers but a young woman named Mariska Baars. Mariska plays very quiet (and very good) songs on guitar and it’s a shame that most of her pieces were so short. I didn’t get any photos as she was playing in near dark and rapt silence from the audience.

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Next up was Wouter Van Veldhoven (above) playing a Stratocaster guitar through a variety of what looked like synth modules topped by an antique table lamp. One can’t help but speculate whether any German musicians (including my sainted Robert Henke) would dare to have such an anacronistic item near their gear.

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And so to Machinefabriek, an artist who releases a bewildering amount of limited edition CD-Rs, mostly on his own label. Mr Zuydervelt sat before his tiny table and proceeded to produce a quite incredible array of sounds from an electric guitar and what looked like effects pedals and electric egg-timers (and a pan-scourer…?). As with Xela, the sounds proceeded from melodic ambience to noise, in this instance great sheets of harmonic distortion which—like all the best noise performances—became deliriously overwhelming. Brilliant, compelling stuff, and it’s a shame he didn’t play for longer. After this, Wouter and Mariska returned and the three quickly launched into an improvised coda. A great evening.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Helios in Manchester
Music on Cross Street

Layering Buddha by Robert Henke

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Layering Buddha on CD and limited vinyl.

The Fm3 Buddha Machine is a low-fi loop playing device containing nine pre-recorded loops which cannot be changed by the user. Due to manufacturing imperfections, individual machines play the loops with a slightly different sound, pitch and duration. The built-in playback circuit, with its low sampling rate and bit resolution, produces a very rough sound, similar to ancient computer games or talking toys. Rich, spacious textures and moving echoes occur when many of these machines are played at the same time.

I recorded the sound of one single buddha machine at 96 kHz, using a state of the art A/D converter. The recording contains audio information up to 48 kHz, which makes it possible to transpose the loops down and expose otherwise inaudible hidden details. The pieces on this CD have been created by granulating, filtering, pitching and layering either the original loops, or new loops which were re-assembled out of parts of the originals. Most pieces are based on one single source loop. The pieces as they live within my computer are set up as continuously permutating structures and theoretically could go on forever, just as the loops do within the buddha machines.

I made quite long renderings of these permutations and later decided which excerpt of each structure to put on this CD. Therefore, the tracks are not closed works, but views onto a perpetual machinery.