Tag Archives: venn rain

[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.

 


[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.

____________________________________________________

Review by Cameron Alexander


[Archive 09.19.12]

1) Venn Rain, “Phosphene Scene,” Bioharmonics (House of Alchemy)
2) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Nostradamus & Me,” Mature Themes (4AD)
3) Loscil, “Container Ships,” Sketches from New Brighton (Kranky)
4) Josh Mason, “JM3440_C,” Josh Mason/Nathan McLaughlin Split (Tape Drift)
5) Tomutonttu, “Live at Kiasma” September 8, 2012
6) UVB-76, “Dale”
7) JT Rinker,” Haole,” Out of Nowhere: Electro-Acoustic Music from the Upstate Fringe (Big Orbit)
8) University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio, “Dripsody”
9) Mercury Rev, “Pick Up if You’re There,” Deserter’s Songs Instrumentals
10) Aidan Baker and Tim Hecker, “Gallery of the Invisible Woman,” Fantasma Parastasie
11) Nate Young, “Sleep Anxiety” Regression (Ideal) 
12) Lindstrom, “Call Me Anytime (Oneohtrix Point Never remix)”
13) Jax Deluca, Pat Cain, and Martin Freeman, “Beating Synths” Recorded in august 2012 at the Institute for Electronic Arts, Alfred University, NY.
14) Steven Hess/Christopher McFall, “I,” The Inescapable Fox (Under the Spire)
15) Downsampling, “Action Figure,” Playthings
16) Scanner, “Hiss Concrete”
17) Lawrence English, “Entoloma Abortivum, For/Not For John Cage (LINE)
18) Windy & Carl, “Sketch for Flea”

[Archive 05.02.12: House of Alchemy Special]

 

1) Afghanistan, “Cicada Song,” And Bide Your Time
2) Mister Matthew, “Innerspaced (excerpt),” Telecut Powers (Gift/Draft Tapes)
3) Digital Dog Party, “Life’s Intermission,”
4) Steve Baczkowski and Nola Ranallo, “Marrow Bird,” Live the Soundlab 
5) Rust Worship, “Side A (Excerpt),” Terrerestial Society (House of Alchemy)
6) Parashi, “Undulate,” Parashi/Chapels Splits (House of Alchemy)
7) Venn Rain, “The History of Things to Come,” Bioharmonics (House of Alchemy)
8) DeTrop, “Four Stages Apostasy (excerpt),” Man, Woman & Beast (House of Alchemy)
9) Mama Baer, “Track 1,” Perverted People Girl Fuckers (House of Alchemy)
10) Scott Valkwitch, “InfraRed Black Haze,” TBA (House of Alchemy)
11) Jason Lescalleet, “Accidental Orriental,” Electronic Music (RRR)
12) Hive Mind, “Side 1 (excerpt),” Elemental Disgrace (Spectrum Spools)
13) Yek Koo, “East Hollywood Studio,” A Plea for a Night Desert
14) Clay Cantrell, “Late Aster Girl,” The Tree Farmer (House of Alchemy)
15) Transplant Mountains, “So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World (excerpt),” Transplant Mountains/Chapels Split (House of Alchemy)
16) Mundkrach & Kommissar Hjuler und Frau, “Track 3 excerpt,” A/N/T/I/Z/I/P/A/T/I/O/N (House of Alchemy)
17) Sheldon Siegel, “Side A excerpt”Midden (House of Alchemy)
18) Rambutan, “Midpoint (excerpt),” Rambutan/Fossils from the Sun Split (House of Alchemy)