Search Results for:

RVNG

Visible Cloaks With Yoshio Ojima And Satsuki Shibano

FRKWYS Vol. 15: Serenitatem

    Serenitatem, the fifteenth installment of FRKWYS, RVNG Intl.’s collaboration series pairing intergenerational artists in creative conversation, joins Visible Cloaks with Yoshio Ojima and Satsuki Shibano, two trailblazers of the Japanese avantgarde music and visual arts scenes of the 1980s and 90s.

    Yoshio Ojima began his career as a composer of environmental and ambient music, with a particular interest, and optimism, in the possibilities of generative software. His compositional pursuit of human synthesis with computerized forms was realized in its fullest potential alongside Satsuki Shibano, a pianist renowned for her interpretations of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy. Together, they were among a handful of influential Japanese artists whose innovations still resonate, if not more vibrantly than ever, well beyond the tightly-knit scene’s original core. In the early 90s, Ojima was among the programmers of the influential satellite radio experiment St. Giga, a constantly-evolving sonic landscape that combined field recordings and sound collage with occasional readings of Japanese poetry. Satsuki was a regular reader for the station. This musical terrarium bloomed out of sight in a small Tokyo studio, a greenhouse of sound with no set start or finish time that audiences could tune into, absorb, and immerse.

    The perpetual flow state of St. Giga — recordings of which Ojima shared with Visible Cloaks — would be highly influential to serenitatem’s constitution. As Visible Cloaks, the Portland, Oregon duo of Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile have developed their own set of creative strategies that form an aesthetic fuse point between human intention, aleatoric composition, and improvisation.

    These are notions most recently reflected in 2017’s Reassemblage and Lex, a respective album and EP in which the duo combined generative software and virtual representations of global instruments into lacy, interlocking patterns. Long time admirers of Ojima’s work on albums like 1988’s Une Collection Des Chainons, Doran and Carlile discovered after an online introduction that they shared with Yoshio and Satsuki an abiding interest in pre-classical composers, the Lovely Music, Ltd. label, and the British avant-garde, as well as a mutual respect for one another’s techniques and processes.

    The four musicians met in Tokyo, Japan at Sounduno Studios in December 2017, at the tail end of Visible Cloaks’ first Japanese tour, to commence work on serenitatem. Leading up to the studio sessions, Doran and Carlile sent Ojima processed sound sketches recorded while on a European tour, which Yoshio would add to and return. Visible Cloaks would then fold Yoshio’s edits back into the original compositions, which Doran and Carlile brought to the exploratory recording session. During that week together in Tokyo, the quartet made use of a number of creative strategies — “echoing sound together,” as Yoshio puts it. Among the strategies, MIDI randomization gave the quartet melodic lines and what Doran calls “randomized clouds,” or “tightly grouped notes that become smeared tonal clusters functioning more like chords in themselves.” Carlile would also feed Ojima and Satsuki’s text into Wotja, a generative music software which produced a MIDI language around which the quartet expanded their compositions.

    “The aim,” Doran says of serenitatem, “was to make a work that was not specifically ambient (or environmental), but something more multi-hued, weaving these deconstructive concepts into an album that has a deeper architecture underpinning it.” Accordingly, serenitatem is a marvelously sharp record, its sutures between human and machine virtually impossible to find but suggested everywhere you turn. The collaboration among Ojima, Satsuki, and Visible Cloaks is both musically and conceptually inseparable from the technology that made it possible. Throughout the album, Shibano’s playing resonates like Satie’s, her rhythms cascading like drops from leaves an hour after the rain. Overtones are stretched and warped like modeling clay, then spun around and shown off from multiple angles.

    A single soaring note might seem to be suddenly plunged underwater, its richness of sound made shallow and its sharp edges blunted. Pittering chimes and rapidly warping vocal samples hang in the luxuriously glossy space, water trickles from ear-toear, familiar melodies rise from nothing and dissolve before they can be traced. With the depth of its emotional charge, serenitatem burns away the easy cynicism of the day, presenting itself as the kind of delocalized work of art the internet promised us decades ago — a synthesis of artistic visions, technological sophistication, futurist ambition, and, occasionally, ancient polyphony. Listening to it can feel a bit like tuning in to a 21st Century version of St. Giga: It’s a place where the future still grows. 


    Helado Negro returns with This Is How You Smile, an album that freely flickers between clarity and obscurity, past and present geographies, bright and unhurried seasons. Miami-born, New York-based artist Roberto Carlos Lange embraces a personal and universal exploration of aura – seen, felt, emitted – on his sixth album and second for RVNG Intl. Helado

    Negro’s 2016 album "Private Energy", re-released as "Private Energy (Expanded)" in 2017, is an urgent affirmation of self-love and solidarity driven by Lange’s personal response to sanctioned violence towards people of color. The widely embraced album furthered the artist’s visibility beyond a community of fans long established through a rigorous recording and touring career, with moments like “Young, Latin and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin” aligning with a larger social demand for basic rights amongst marginalized people and the universal imperative to love, be loved, and thrive.

    This Is How You Smile’s opener “Please Won’t Please,” a call back to Private Energy, finds vitality in turning the privacy dial further inward. Setting the scene with a sparse drumbeat that moves the music forward in a more maligned than militant march, Lange’s voice tenderly permits himself weariness: “We light ourselves on fire, just to see if anyone believes.” Something must be reserved, “will anyone rescue what’s left of me.” Diving into glimmering spirals, the remainder of the album takes leave of the broader “we” and mines intimate pairings - siblings, parent / child relationships, partnership, and old friends. The story of This Is How You Smile includes a jaunty, head-nodding walk with his brother on hot pavement to the community pool of his childhood neighborhood in Florida. Such days end with a welcome fatigue and chlorine blurred reveries in “Seen My Aura.” The confidence and security of youth, moves away from family, across years and regions, to a bleak winter of “Imagining What to Do,” and loving partners deciding to make each other smile, while waiting for the sun to return.

    This Is How You Smile derives from Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” a story she wrote in the form of a mother’s sole, complicated, but loving voice, speaking a “How to” litany of advice ranging from domestic chores to what a daughter, an immigrant and young woman of color, must do to protect herself in a world that was not designed by or for her. This is how joy, or its visage, at turns comforts, constricts, or becomes armor.

    Contemplating a parental voice, or its absence, becomes a question of where one may choose to return or depart. The lyrics of “Running,” seem to retrace the cyclical path of pop’s familiar obsessions, addressing the unrequited, fickle, or feared lover, “I feel you in my mind, all the time… you got me running, running…” Instead, the repetition of fleeing breaks with a languid laugh of recognition, that the lives of those who came before are within one’s own, even when we diverge, “I see you in my hands… just like you.” The song may also be read beyond seeing the humanity of self and parent, to the ever more visible global failures of patriarchal structures, and those moments when one sees their traces in self and those dear. Lange describes the album as the soundtrack of a person approaching you, slowly, for 40 minutes. In “Fantasma Vaga,” one of the first songs he wrote that set his approach for the album, a ghost wanders in from the low end, building a fuller form with each shaking step. Whirring, stops and starts of an eco espectral, may be musician trying to imitate, synthesize, the sound of a haunting, or a ghost itself trying to render the human voice. Lange often visualizes meeting strange beings, the odd encounters that occur in the creative process, a sound form of manipulation, in which who, or what is changing whom, becomes unclear. This Is How You Smile invites listeners on a walk through the changing colors of early mornings and evenings, writing, recording, or hearing a friend, a figure emerges, and there you are.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: A superbly balanced mix of rhythmic downbeat, hip-hop percussion and good old fashioned songwriting, 'This Is How You Smile' epitomises how effective a melting pot of styles can be, fittingly for it's subject matter, being all the better for it's diversity and willingness to embrace a wide range of genres to great effect. A perfectly conceived and excellently written opus.

    Colin Self’s Siblings is a proposal for interdependence, critical joy, and an expansive sense of being. As the lyrics beam, “I used to live as an anomaly... no explanation biologically,” so siblings share hidden language, lore, and identity. On Siblings, ecstatic voices and sound knot to form new ideals of kinship, emerging as horizontal relations for multi-species flourishing.

    Colin Self challenges boundaries of perception with his art, music, and performances. Inspired by the work of Donna Haraway (Cyborg Manifesto, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene), Siblings is the final segment of the six-part opera series entitled Elation. Informed by Self’s exploration of the ways of knowing, Siblings places a non-biological family at its center. The characters, bonded by curiosity and caring, generate ways of collectively coming together on a damaged planet. Self uses Siblings to define this familial experience through sound and its soundmakers.

    Siblings is a mobile, transitional production, in equal parts by circumstance and happenstance. Field fragments taken from Halloween party laughter in Jamaica Plains and a cross-country video chat are refracted by session recordings willed to happen in places as far flung as Stockholm and Los Angeles. Siblings is a sound scrapbook or poster board collage, but not one without careful consideration of the clipping and composition.

    From years experiencing Riot Grrrl shows around Self's early home of Oregon to his involvement in the New York City-based performance collective Chez Deep, Self expands the DIY ethos to a space and mind of Do-It-Together. Feeding into Siblings is XHOIR, Self’s ongoing project of group vocal workshops for singing and listening, and a broad cast of kin including but not limited to Michael Beharie, Greg Fox (drums), Martine Syms (words and voice), The Mivos Quartet, and Raul De Nieves (cover art).

    On “Story,” Siblings’ opening moment, breath and beats emerge as echoes within a vast, heaving chamber, sound conjured and cajoled into a new, blistered terrain. “Foresight” urges us toward a worlding - a break from the planet we’ve disregarded: “I see on my screen all the doubt, where it comes from, why you trust in no one. I see a new light.” While the unhinged form of “Ante-Strategy” lays the sonic compost for a Belurusian political poem, written with Tanya Zamirouskaya and Anastasia Kolas, Self tends toward elaboration and excesses in a “joyous rendering of survival.”

    Siblings splits sides with “Transitions,” a pluri-vocal burst called forth from interstellar margins to put uncounted bodies in motion. Repetitions of “I commit to you” end with “We commit to you.” Self utilizes theoretical vocabulary to encourage germination of a new language. “Research Sisters” will make their own myths and forge their own families, the work’s fire sparking frenetic, ecstatic voices flashing back and forth in stereo. The gathering of choral voices lift up the melancholic words of “The Great Refusal” over pillowy layers of strings and stumbling, sputtering showers of keyboards.


    Michele Mercure often dreams of music, and in her waking life, reclaims fragments of these fleeting, floating melodies in her compositions and sound art. "Beside Herself", an anthology of Mercure’s self-produced and distributed cassettes released between 1983 and 1990, collects these dreamlike passages and lo-fi nocturnes, preserving the qualities of discovery and intimacy surrounding their genesis.

    Mercure’s sound is a porous electronic art that overlaps ambient, abstract, and industrial sensibilities – its spaciousness reveals an artist attuned cinematically rather than for radio play or public performance. She approached the latter theatrically, and rarely, disdaining most live shows as too serious, and bringing her music to bare on her audiences in playful, immersive contexts. On recordings, Mercure’s night lit synth music evokes non-confined environments, at once expressionistic and minimal and always aware of its surroundings.

    Mercure was a busy collaborator during the years surveyed by "Beside Herself", making music for theater, performance, film, and TV animation, yet it was through her self-released cassettes that she established her music among like-minded artists abroad. Circulated through tape-trading networks assisted by insightful reviews in Eurock, a seminal music magazine covering progressive rock and electronic music scenes, these album-length releases included "Rogue and Mint" (1983), "A Cast of Shadows" (1984), "Dreams Without Dreamers" (1985), and Dreamplay (1990). Though unvarnished in fidelity (and now scarcely seen), these tapes showcased Mercure’s transportive aptitude within and beyond the limited sound recording medium.

    Mercure’s artistic path never ran through creative meccas New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. Raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, and then moving to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in her twenties, Mercure was already an adept musician when she encountered a local and lively theater scene, and was asked to score an unorthodox performance of Waiting for Godot. The experience was pivotal in marrying music and image for Mercure, and so she began making music for film, television, dance, and theater. It wasn’t until a long sojourn in Eindhoven, however, that she became transfixed by electronic music (ala Conrad Schnitzler, whom she would correspond with for years) that would inform her music to come.

    Acoustic elements such as voice and stringed instruments add a haunting lyricism to the non-tonal space unoccupied by electronic presence in Mercure’s music. The graduality of phrasing and measured sequence of tones also distinguish her music from the repetition and improvisation-heavy hallmarks of the Kosmische genre, a stylistic antecedent for the artist. Mercure’s fascination, or obsession, with new, consumer conscious music technology is demonstrated in her inventive sequencing and sampling, adding a mechanical, sometimes menacing, feel to Beside Herself.

    Mercure’s contemporaries became the kindred minds of the Eurock “scene” such as The Nightcrawlers, Lauri Paisley, and Don Slepian. It was in association with Paisley and Pauline Anna Strom that Eurock featured Mercure in an article titled “Women Synthesists” in 1986. The three artists all shared a bravura for homespun, self-produced electronic music that looked beyond pop conventions for a higher plane of avant-gardism or musical spirituality. Not long after the article went to print, Mercure offered Eye Chant, her standalone vinyl album self-released in 1987.

    Beside Herself extends RVNG Intl.’s preservation efforts to sister label Freedom To Spend who reissued Eye Chant in 2017, an occasion marking just over twenty years since its original release on Mercure’s own Quick Shower Music. (Eye Chant, and the cassettes surveyed on Beside Herself, were originally credited to Michelle Musser, the name which the artist used until a divorce in 1987).

    The anthological scope of Beside Herself joins Eye Chant to restore the canon of Mercure’s arresting dream-music, revisiting this anomalous creator’s breakthrough material. “Beside Herself” is available on double LP and CD, featuring liner notes by Emily Pothast and an incredible array of unseen photography and ephemera of the era.

    Few Traces surveys a near decade of Mark Renner’s scarcely released and unreleased material from 1982 to 1990, embracing and evoking the timelessness of his artistic statement: a wordless translation of the individual’s musical experience, met with the poetic expression of being here.

    Mark Renner first encountered punk while a teenager in Upperco, a country town in rural Maryland. Growing up on his family farm, he became a young acolyte of the British exports hitting not-so-distant Baltimore record store shelves in 1979 / 1980 and was baited by an area musician-wanted ad declaring Ultravox a primary touchstone.

    This nascent band and a pair of other group experiments flamed out under the typical totem of despotism. In their ashes Renner began recording independently around 1983 with a portable four-track, electric guitar, and classic Casio CZ101 synthesizer. Aside from John Foxx-era Ultravox, Renner’s process was inspired by the period’s electronic pioneers venturing into deeper, romantic pop pastures: Yellow Magic Orchestra, Bill Nelson, The Associates.

    With his tools and teachers in place, the blueprints for Renner’s sound were laid out – metronomic, skeletal rhythms built on sturdy yet singular drum machines supporting luminescent guitar and synth lines, Renner’s reverent voice guiding the fables and construction.

    Most directly influential, Renner’s enthusiasm for Days in Europa, the third album by Scottish new wave band Skids, would lead to a correspondence and long-distance tutorship with Stuart Adamson. Before Adamson would achieve worldwide success co-founding the group Big Country, a chance friendship with Renner would impart great confidence in the young musician from Maryland, who, after a visit in Edinburgh, would then travel to London to demo an early version of “Half A Heart” featured in its final form on Few Traces.

    The sum of Renner’s music is one-part literary, one-part painterly. The artist cites the individualism of Herman Hesse as a guiding force, and there are overt references to W. B. Yeats and John Greanleaf Whittier among other authors. Lyrical themes evoke the presence of the ancient past, much like early Felt songs or the spiritual visions of Van Morrison. (Tellingly, Renner cites Morrison’s 1980s albums made between Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and No Guru, No Method, No Teacher as musical influences.)

    Apart from his writing, Renner explored music as a complement to visual language: many of the dream-like instrumental passages presented across Few Traces were originally implemented as sound elements for exhibitions of his paintings. Renner pursued wordless music as a pure aesthetic in its own right, pristinely balanced segues and open-ended compositions that lead to pasture but not without shepherd.

    Compiled three decades after the music was originally put to tape, Few Traces collects Mark Renner’s early music but strives not to simplify or reframe it. (Mark is still active making music and painting) The instrumental explorations remain on par with the great ambient adventurers of the period (Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Roedelius), while the vocal and guitar-centric songs crystalize across similar terrains being transversed by Cocteau Twins and The Chills.

    Few Traces highlights in intuitive sequence gems from Renner’s scarce discography and archive: the self-released debut All Walks of This Life (1986), the aptly titled follow-up Painter’s Joy (1988), plus early singles, compilation tracks, and exemplary songs that saw no original release. The collection allows an intimate look at an artist growing into their sound and surroundings, finding the in between echoes and spirituality of the individual.

    Helado Negro

    Private Energy (Expanded)

    Exploring the expressivity within intense states of being, Latinx identity, and pluralistic sensibilities, Helado Negro’s Private Energy (Expanded) is an engrossing statement achieved through lyrically personal and political avant pop music.

    Private Energy (Expanded) carves a deep groove through the electronic music landscape, challenging to best Brooklyn-based artist Roberto Carlos Lange’s previous accomplishments under the Helado Negro moniker. Half a decade and half a dozen albums later since Helado Negro’s 2009 debut album Awe Owe, Lange has cultivated an untraditional approach to songcraft that places his voice on an adventurous musical impulse without shying from familiar pop appreciation.

    The hymn of Private Energy (Expanded) initially sounded in 2014 while Lange absorbed accounts of the unjust death of Michael Brown and felt a sharpened sense of vulnerability and anger as a minority. Lange’s creative drive veered toward toward catharsis - he sought to make music that would protect as a form of protest. The music of Private Energy (Expanded) was shaped to demarcate the artist’s pride of being, preserving and persevering, and celebrating, as Lange puts it, “my brownness, my latinidad.”

    For the marginalized, the personal is always political. This truth is not exploited by Lange but used as a platform to examine fluidity in love and amongst various genders. Singing “porque soy una mujer, porque sigo siendo tu hombre”, (“because I’m a woman, because I’m still your man”), on “Tartamudo,” Lange subverts the expectations of the “latino man,” embracing instead a genderless expression of affection and sexuality. And yet the title “Tartamudo” means to stutter; Lange acknowledges the challenge of articulating one’s progressive ideals and the personal demands of stewarding the Helado Negro project.

    “Transmission Listen” is another exemplary selection from Private Energy (Expanded), a song so effortlessly tuneful and seductive it sounds beamed in from the radio waves of an outer world. Or alternately, an inner world. Speckled and reverberant, it’s a love song as much as a purely joyful sonic experience. “Young, Latin, and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin” are prideful lyrically but complicated texturally, fusing restrained synthesizer voicings with sparse percussion and an interpolation of rhythmic tones. Here, as elsewhere, though, Lange’s distinct voice is the spine of the music’s ambulatory energy.

    Though Helado Negro is essentially a solo project, the contributors to Private Energy were numerous, demonstrating Lange’s compassion for community and collaboration. In line, the lyrics to “It’s My Brown Skin” work as a central tenet of Private Energy (Expanded) and an intimate invitation to the varied cast involved and surrounding. Identity is celebrated as a possible personal shelter of sorts, yet complicated and humbly inclusive within abstract territories - i.e. the real and surreal worlds, inhabited by fellow humans and those that don’t identify as human alike.

    “My brown me is the shade that’s just for me / I’m never not missing anything but me, “the song’s lyrics state, offering insight into the infinite possible variations for individuality and self-invention that animates the music and ethos of Private Energy (Expanded).

    Helado Negro’s Private Energy will be re-introduced to the public via RVNG Intl. in expanded form on May 5, 2017, appearing on vinyl for the first time alongside new CD and digital editions. Supplemented with three brand new “versions,” this iteration of Private Energy (Expanded) will continue the strong narrative of Helado Negro’s spectral and transmissive 2016 opus

    RIYL: Tim Maia, Caetano Veloso, Stereolab, Empress Of, Xenia Rubinos Private Energy (Expanded) is remastered, redesigned, and expanded with three brand new versions.


    Latest Pre-Sales

    171 NEW ITEMS

    Very sad to hear about the passing of one of the greatest singer songwriters: Scott Walker, 1943 - 2019. #legendhttps://t.co/R3xXruSOrN
    Mon 25th - 10:34
    A new series of limited, special and secret 7inches on Art-Aud. Various artists will contribute to this new chapter… https://t.co/9dGaoKsZjf
    Fri 22nd - 5:01
    E-newsletter —
    Sign up
    Back to top