Tag Archives: house of alchemy

[2012 in Review: Adam Richards of House of Alchemy]

Adam Richards runs the Buffalo-based label House of Alchemy with his wife Katheryn. His recording project is called Chapels. He also records in the groups The Circle and the Point and Air Loom. Tune in to hear Adam guest host The Upstate Soundscape tonight (wed., 12/26) on 91.3FM WBNY at 8pm. Stream at WBNY.org.

David Kilgour- Here Come the Cars (De Stijl- reissue)
Of anything on my list, I definitely spun this the most in 2012. Perfect song craft, pure and simple. It’s so unassuming, it kind of just nudges you here and there until you realize that you’ve spun it four times in a row and you’re ready for another go.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEt8Tfy63gY%5D

Vanessa Rossetto- Exotic Exit (Kye)
Following up last year’s excellent Mineral Orange  is this astounding piece of work. Her deft handling of sounds both random and exacted is dazzling. It all melds together to create 3 sweeping and engaging pieces of music. Field recordings mixed with hunks of composed sound, or so I guess. Either way, dive in. It’s intoxicating.

Henning Christiansen- Fluxid Behandlung Op 189 (Kye- reissue)
Major reissue of late 80’s Fluxus sound works. Jarring, odd, engulfing soundscapes. Unpredictable, mildly erratic and totally compelling. Essential.

Aaron Dilloway- Modern Jester (Hanson)
Aaron Dilloway/Jason Lescalleet – Snakes and Grapes (Pan)
Modern Jester is pretty much perfect. From start to finish, you are treated to some of the finest electronic quackery I have heard.  Abrasive, gritty, elaborate and spot-goddamn-on. Probably the best thing I have heard all year.

Riding shot gun with that substantial album is a heavy collaboration with Jason Lescalleet. His set here in Buffalo this summer was above and beyond. This album gets deep and murky.  These are two of the best modern sound composers out there right now. It’s a menacing slow burn. Wow.

Josh Mason/Nathan McLaughlin – “3440” split  (Tape Drift)
What a tape. Mason’s side is liltingly cyclical, minimally evolving with minute, subtle flourishes. Piano, then some guitar. Deliriously just outside of repetitive. Something tiny is added with every lap. Coma sounds. Perfect coma sounds. McLaughlin offers lonesome banjo plucked with menacing deep bass looming behind. Plaintive, then dark until distortion washes it all out. It goes from minimal to sub-minimal and then turns to disorienting. It’s a puzzling and remarkable tape through and through.

Can- The Lost Tapes (United Artists- reissue)
It’s not very often that an essential band opens their vault and comes out with 3 CD’s of unreleased material that ranks amongst their finest. Vibrant, visceral, urgent. We now live in a world with three more CD’s of Can. That’s a damn good thing.

The Congos/Sun Araw/M. Geddes Gengras- Icon Give Thank (RVNG Intl)
This record is the soundtrack of a dream. I find myself in a trance within the first few minutes of dropping the needle, every time. It’s a magical hybrid of different worlds. Reggae vocal lay over outer limits psych grub. It’s like jumping into warm ocean water.

Venn Rain- multiple releases
The soundtrack of 2012 for me. In and around everything else on this list and all the other great recordings from this year, I was listening to Venn Rain. Half a dozen glimmering, mournful, hazy, cassettes: each one a comfort, an escape into tranquility. Get all of it.

Pedestrian Deposit- Kithless (Arbor)
They played a breathtaking set here in Buffalo this spring, on edge from beginning to end. This record rides from terse, tense minimalism to cathartic release with lots of space in between. Skin-crawling and beautiful. Essential sounds.

Hanel Koeck- Piano Music (Robert & Leopold)
Not only is the music fantastic but this has the packaging and concept of the year for me. Improvised piano, every aspect of the piano. After the recording the piano was disassembled and a piece of it is included with each cassette. Completely engrossing.

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giW06S_hur0%5D
Work/Death- Phone About to Ring (Three Songs of Lenin)
He played a devastatingly good set here in Buffalo In July. A batch of new releases came out this summer as well. They’re all great but this one is astounding. There is a good amount of menace here. The electronic yelps slowly build to a crowd of howling. Everything is vibrating. Drone and sound at its finest.

Scott Walker- Bish Bosch (4AD)
Wow. Intimidating, bizarre, hilarious, entrancing, puzzling. Magnetic. Rattling saber blades. Amazing.

Labels- All Killer, No Filler: Tape Drift, Robert & Leopold, Cave Recordings, cae-sur-a, Imminent Frequencies, Hooker Vision, Tranquility Tapes, Skell, Obsolete Units, Desire Path Recordings, Kye, Numero, 905 Tapes, Dais Records.


[2012 in Review: Needles Numark, host of the Upstate Soundscape]

Needles is the host The Upstate Soundscape radio show. Here are 10 releases that he dug from 2012.

 

 

Sax Tape, S/T 

 

This insane 60-minute romp came from Guelph’s Bry Webb. An unbelievable collage of looped beats, sonic twirls, and honking saxes. Funky, twisted, and psychedelic, this one hit all the right notes for me.

 

 

 

Alfred Brown, Music for Moving in Slow Motion (Asthmatic Kitty)

 

Probably one of the most graceful records of 2012. It could easily serve as the score for one of Terrence Malick’s majestic films.

 

 

 

Cinnamon Aluminum, We Ate the Wrong Crab Spirit (Level 4 Activated)

 

This Buffalo trio (now a four piece) perfectly straddles the line between experimental and pop. The songs on this album are as catchy as they are whacked out.

 

 

Venn Rain, Bioharmonics (House of Alchemy)

 

It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly I like about this cassette, but I just found it totally compelling. Four very simple recordings, all of which are mesmerizing.

 

 

M. Mucci, Days Blur Together

 

60 minutes of true drone bliss from Guelph-based M. Mucci. One of the most patient and refined pieces I have ever heard. Very few pieces present listeners with this type of challenge and subsequent reward for committing to it. Basinski-esque.

 

 

Phillips-Borden, System Vandross

 

A really discombobulating listen. Following the intersection of Borden’s crazed cello and Phillips’s turntable manipulation is like trying to walk on shifting ground in the dark.

 

 

Tony Conrad and HangedUp, Transit of Venus (Constellation)

 

Such a simple formula. Big sloppy drums combined with thick vibrating drones. The result is what I always imagined the Theater of Eternal Music would have sounded like. Great for both sitting in a chair and zoning out to or flailing around the room and breaking shit.

 

 

Damian Valles, Non-Parallel (in Four Movements) (Experimedia)

 

I am a sucker for any sample-based drone. Valles’s re-use of classical avant-garde sounds from the Nonesuch label is a fantastic example of the possible directions sample-based sounds might go in the future (even if they don’t sound at like sample-based works).

 

 

Thoughts on Air, Random Tandem (Old Frontiers)

 

I had the pleasure of hanging out with Scott Johnson (ToA) one night in Hamilton this past summer. We traded some tapes, and this was one he gave me. The art work immediately blew me away but it wasn’t until driving home the next day hung over with the window’s down and music blasting that I actually heard this amazing double cassette. The graceful tones poured out my windows down the QEW. Then I got stuck in traffic on top of the Rainbow bridge in 90 degree heat with no air conditioning. A faint mist from the falls blew over me ever so often. I just sat there listening in a sweat induced trance. This tape will always run through my mind whenever I cross that bridge.

 

 

Loud and Sad, Fales Intimacy (cae-sur-a)

 

At times, there is so little going on in this cassette, which is what I love about it. You can really only absorb this by listening with all your might.

 


[2012 in Review: Wrapping It Up and Looking Ahead]

At the end of 2011, we launched our [Reviews] section and to date we have completed over 65 reviews of releases that were put out by artists or labels from the Upstate region. Unfortunately, there were loads more releases that deserved reviews, but due to time constraints and limited resources 65 was what we had to settle with. Still, that’s more than we thought we’d get to when we launched the section. Plus, the reviews we did post expanded the blog’s audience to a size that was truly unexpected.

Despite everyone hating on music reviewers these days (and for good reason sometimes), people apparently still like to read reviews. Case in point: the reviews section has easily become the blog’s most popular section and the amount of visitors that it has brought to the blog, and then to the radio show, was totally unanticipated. So without further ado, a HUGE thanks to the all the writers who contributed their time and talent to this endeavor. You can read about these fine hard-working people on our [Contributors] page. Also, a huge thanks to the labels and artists for providing us with the music when we asked for it or–even better–just sending it in when it was ready for release. Hopefully, in 2013 we can build on the number and quality of reviews.

You may have noticed that there has been some very recent changes/additions to the site and the radio show, such as the [Events] page (which will be updated weekly and can be heard read on the air during each show), a master Upstate Soundscape Spotify playlist in the side column, and a FAQ that has been added to our [About] page for artists, labels, and other interested parties on how to get your recordings on the radio show and/or reviewed by the blog, etc. There are even more additions coming in 2013. Below are some of the new wrinkles we have in store for The Upstate Soundscape radio show and blog in the upcoming year.

Guest Hosts: We’ve already had Michael Vitrano of Desire Path Recordings on to guest host back in November, while Adam Richards of House of Alchemy is coming in for the December 26th show, and Adrian Bertelone aka Ay Fast is scheduled for the January 30th show. These guest host slots are intended to–on one hand–give Needles a break and–on the other hand–get more people into the WBNY studio to share the music and sound that they’re either personally involved with or just digging at the moment. We’re shooting for one guest host per month, so stay tuned to see who else we get into the studio. Interested in being a guest host? Spots are limited, but send us an email and we’ll see.

Batch reviews: One change we’re making in an attempt to cover more ground with the reviews is to begin reviewing batches of release that labels like House of Alchemy and cae-sur-a put out, instead of trying to review each individual release within the batches. These batches of cassettes are artistic statements in themselves like curated exhibitions and perhaps should be reviewed as such. We’ll continue to do individual reviews as well of artists and releases that aren’t necessarily released in batch form. Are you a label or artist who has something you think we might want to review and/or play on the radio? Check out the new [FAQ] page for details on how to get us your sounds and what our review policies are.

Mixes: Recently both Soundcloud and Spotify made it easier to share and embed mixes on various platforms, so we will begin posting mixes on a regular basis from both of those sites, which both contain a plethora of sounds by experimental artists at work in or associated with the Upstate region. These mixes will be curated mostly by the Upstate Soundscape, but will also be curated from time to time by artists, label heads, DJs, and other people from around the region. We will also continue to post regular mixes by Upstate artists when they arise. Interested in making a mix for us or curating one on Spotify or Soundcloud? Get in touch.

Spotlights: We’ve done several [Spotlights] in the past on Upstate labels, but the [Spotlight] series is going to get ramped up a bit in early to mid 2013. The goal is to now use the [Spotlight] posts to cover other things like organizations, venues, radio shows, artists, etc. The hope is to provide a more in depth view on these other entities through an interview and/or profile. Look for the first one to be published early in 2013. Know of an artists, organization, or other entity of an experimental nature from Upstate that you think deserves a [Spotlight]? Get in touch.

Compilation Series: The first one is in the can and it is fucking awesome and we can’t wait for you to hear it. HUGE thanks to the artists that contributed a recording. It will be posted for free download in early January via Bandcamp and Soundcloud. As of now, the plan is to do quarterly compilations. Eventually, we may decide to focus an entire compilation on a specific genre, or city, or something else along those lines, but for now the comps will serve as samplers of the sounds being created of all kinds throughout the Golden Horseshoe, from Toronto to Albany, and all points in between. Interested in submitting a recording to be considered for the next compilation (or radio play in the meantime)? Check out our Soundcloud group or our [FAQ] page for more details on how to get us your sounds.

All of these new components will launch once 2012 is in the rear-view mirror. In 2013 you will also see a continuation of our other regular posts, including [Free Music Friday], [Beyond the Upstate Soundscape], and [Soundmarks]. These have been going strong all year and will continue to do so in 2013.

For the remainder of 2012, however, we will begin posting Year-End lists by various people from around the region including radio DJs, label heads, and artists every couple of days starting tomorrow (Saturday, 12/15). These lists are intended to offer a different take on the critical posturing that has proliferated since the inception of music blogs. The lists you will see here are not intended to be any sort of “Best of 2012” lists, nor are they ranked. Instead, they’re lists compiled by sound enthusiast from around the region and feature very simply what they personally liked from the past year. Kind of a like a literary mixtape one friend makes for another. By no means are these lists intended to be the final word on music and sound from 2012. Instead they are intended to be a starting point to encourage dialogue within the region among people who are committed to and making experimental music and sound of all kinds.

Other things to keep an eye out for over the next couple of weeks. . .

-The Annual Year in Review radio program scheduled for this Sunday at 9pm. Tune in to 91.3FM WBNY or stream at WBNY.org

-Catch host Needles Numark DJing at the End of the World Party at Nietzsches (12/20) and at the Vinyl Monday’s X-Mas Eve Party at Essex (12/24).

-House of Alchemy label head Adam Richards guest hosts The Upstate Soundscape on Wed., 12/26.

-The first release in our brand new compilation series, The Upstate Soundscape: Vol. 1 (Winter 2013). Coming in very early January. And its so fucking good, its not even funny.

. . . other than that, it looks like 2012 is a wrap. Here’s to hoping to an even better 2013 for the radio show, the blog, and the Upstate experimental community. Cheers!


[Archive: 12.5.12]

The Upstate Soundscape, 12.5.12

1) Scott Walker, “Tar,” Bish Bosch (4AD)
2) Mercury Rev, “BLue and Black,” Yerself is Steam (Mint/Jungle) 1991
3) Tony Conrad and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, “Demilitariuzed Ozone,” Taking Issue (Dais)
4) Michael Pisaro, “New Orleans,” Tombstones (HEM)
5) Alfred Brown, “The Seagull: An Overture,” The Seagull: A Song Cycle (Abandoned Buildings)
6) Robert Phillips, “Shindo No Su,” Performed by  Talea Ensemble
7) Mike Parker, “Forward – The 5am Mix” Pulse Trader EP (Prologue)
7) Ay Fast, “For Shemmmm,” Nice Arps (Schematic)
8) James Ferraro, “SO N2U,” Sushi (Hippos in Tanks)
9) Believer/Law, “The Task at Hand,” Fox Hole Prayers/The Task at Hand (cae-sur-a)
10) Lee Gamble, “M25 Echo,” Diversions 1994-1996 (Pan)
11) Cinnamon Aluminum, “Forest of Leisure,” We Ate the Wrong Crab Spirit (Level 4 Activated)
12) Slowpitch, “Subtle Multipurpose,” The Upstate Soundscape Sampler, Vol. I (Wampizdat)
13) DeTrop, “Four Stages Apostasy,” Man, Woman & Beast (House of Alchemy)
14) Nite Lite, “Fire Walkers,” Megrez (Desire Path Recordings)
15) Tired Wires, “The Luthier”
16) Paper Armies, “Together”

 


[Preview: Ay Fast, Tony Conrad/Genesis P-Orridige Collab, New Scott Walker and more]

Ay Fast- Nice Arps

Tune in tonight to The Upstate Soundscape to hear lots of great experimental music and sound from Buffalo, the Upstate region, and beyond. Got new and semi-new stuff from Buffalo’s House of Alchemy and Rochester’s cae-sur-a labels, the Rust Belt’s resident electronic weirdo Ay Fast, and a collaboration that Tony Conrad did with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.

Oh, yeah….and some new music from the one and only Scott Walker and his new album Bish Bosch. 

Tons of other good stuff on tap, too, so don’t miss it. Show starts at 8pm on 91.3FM WBNY. Stream at WBNY.org.


[Archive 11.21.12: ft. guest host Michael Vitrano of Desire Path Recordings]

 

1) Kane Ikin, “In the Shadow of the Vanishing Night” Sublunar (12k) 15
2) Loud & Sad, “Track 5” Unknown Species (GreenUp Industries)
3) Akira Rabelais, “Gymnopedie 3” Eisotrophobia (Returnal)
4) Charlemagne Palestine, “Part 2,” Four Manifestations on Six Elements (Sonabend Gallery)
5) Ben Bennett, “I’ll Call You When I Get Creamed by a Motorist,” Spoilage (Experimedia)
6)) Andrea Belfi, “D,” Wedge (Room 40)
7) Prayer, “Night Vigil,” Sequence 5 (Future Sequence)
8) Nite Lite, “Mythopoeic Imagination,” Megretz (Desire Path Recordings)
9) Grasshopper, “Side A,” The Day America Forgot (SicSic Tapes)
10) Jon Mueller, “Impatience,” Death Blues (Home Tapes)
11) Nathan McLaughlin, “Unknown,” The Refrigerator is Emotional (Senufo)
12) High Aura’d, “Sleep Like the Dead,” Sanguine Futures (Bathetic)
13) Rust Worship, “Side A,” Terrestrial Society (House of Alchemy)
14) Kyle Bobby Dunn, “In Praise of Tears,” In Miserum Stercus (Komino)
15) Virginia Astley, “From Gardens Where We Feel Secure,” From Gardens Where We Feel Secure (Rough Trade)
16) Leafcutter John, “A Slowly Growing Beautiful,” Tunis (Tsukoboshi)
18) Alfred Brown, “Drawn To a Withered Hand,” Music for Moving in Slow Motion (Asthmatic Kitty)

[Review: Venn Rain, ‘Bioharmonics’]

This is it. The one you wait for.

Regardless of how many of these cassettes you get sent to your house directly from the label (who is usually also the artist), they’re always good, quality sounds because they’re wholly unique, like slices of an individual psyche preserved on magnetic tape for closer examination. Thus, you’ve grown to fancy yourself a discriminate culturateur who can appreciate what is impossible to categorize.  Admittedly, though, most of the time it’s not necessarily the aesthetics found within these ever-so-personal audio experiments that make them worthwhile. No–for me anyway–it’s usually more academic. Maybe it’s the socio-economic implications of the noise that comes careening into my overpriced headphones that makes them interesting. Something about those sounds and the way their arranged, seems to imply something about the subconscious, or society, or the cosmos . . . or something.

And this is fine. Because eventually, every once in a while–without even realizing it until you hear it–you come across it. The one you’ve been waiting for. The one whose twists and turns you can somehow anticipate almost as if you have traversed down a similar path at some point and you are now recalling the journey in vivid aural fashion. The one that seems singular somehow, as if set apart because not only is it a slice of an individual psyche, but it is a rather fascinating slice that speaks to you, or even gives voice to your own compatible ideas, when many other simply blurt at you in an interesting, but incomprehensibly foreign tongue. This is the one that gives you pause because it reminds you of what you were originally in search of when you began this strange postmodern hunting expedition. It’s not only sonically interesting in an academic manner, but it is aesthetically affirming.

Still unclear on what exactly it is? Well, if it were something expressible in written language than you have indeed been tracking the wrong prey. But you haven’t been. In fact, it takes a cassette like Venn Rain’s Bioharmonics. A simple little cassette that reminds you only through sonic exploration can a particularly deep emotion, idea, or memory, or something be stirred awake to consult even if it’s only for a brief moment. And of course not all sound-fueled journeys can penetrate into that submerged reservoir where those emotions, ideas, or memories settle like caked levels of earth. Some come close, while others merely skim the surface. But it’s not until it arrives. The one you wait for.  The one that–for whatever inexplicable reason–does the job on you.

In this case, maybe its the hypnotic drums coursing underneath heavy layers of analog synths on “Marble Mist,” or the strangely sampled spatial arrangements explored on both “Flow Motion” and “The History of Things,” or the blissfully looped submission of “Phosphene Scene.” Regardless, this is one of those rare cassettes that just has something that pulls you in deeper than you normally go. It may not do it for anyone else, the way their favorite cassette falls flat on you, but it doesn’t matter. Because it has been found and this strange foraging urge that our Neolithic ancestors expressed through the hunt has been briefly satiated and ultimately renewed so that the search for the next it can begin.  In the meantime, Biohramonics–the latest in a long line of its from Buffalo-based label House of Alchemy–gets a reserved parking spot on your cassette rack so that you can reach for it quickly in times of need when you require a reminder of what the hell it is all about.

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Review by Cameron Alexander