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Visible Cloaks’ "Lex" proposes a utopian dream language and its accompanying sound, a limitless, delicate space developed by fluid musical techniques and subconscious voices. The six pieces comprising "Lex" simulate a more peaceful future, their mysteries telling a new tale in an unknown but imaginable melodic language. Visible Cloaks are the Portland-based musicians Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile. Utilizing software-based composition rooted in randomization, MIDI-translation and chance operations, the duo has established an improbable humanist mode of music from esoteric processes. Following their self-titled debut album, Visible Cloaks offered "Reassemblage", an album simultaneously honoring the post-Yellow Magic Orchestra school of avant musical adventure and diverging from it. Veering from the paths cleared by Japanese and Italian electronic pop and ambient artists of the mid-80s / early-90s, "Reassemblage" established Visible Cloaks’ own camp in a forest of deep sound canopied by trees grown from synthetic seeds.The sound represented on Lex is webbed with sculptural arrangements and interpolated by the sounds of alien speech. These strange and serene utterances were created by Doran feeding a chain of multiple dialects and accents through a language translation software to create an auditory poetry of an evolved place and time.
"Lex" features both the final version of this process and earlier, simplified experiments with it (“Keys”). “The idea – building on ‘fourth world’ or ‘global village’ type concepts – was to create a projected language that was a fusion of many,” Doran explains. “The result was a very disorienting form of non-language that amplifies the lapses in meaning that occur with the inaccuracy of auto-translation software.”

Permutate Lex, a companion short film to Lex made by Visible Cloaks in collaboration with artist Brenna Murphy (who also created the artwork for Reassemblage and several virtualist videos for the album), is an integral counterpart, both visualizing an aesthetic alive with human form and guiding the sonic experience of the first five pieces: “Wheel,” “Frame,” “Transient,” “Keys,” and title track “Lex.” “World,” the longest piece presented on Lex, is redrawn from a generative composition originally produced for an installation Doran made with Murphy.

The original work incorporates LFOs and randomized MIDI-information, and was intended to variate indefinitely. In this ‘fixed’ version, “World” provides a more conclusive view into the impossible musical environments Visible Cloaks make real. Longer than any track on Reassemblage, “World” expresses the deepening, patient intimations suggested by Lex.

Doran says the Lex “attempts to communicate the essence of a world distant enough that it can’t be captured or comprehended from the present, appearing only surreal and inscrutable.” The statement reveals a broader musical philosophy fueling this new moment; an awakened voice woven through complex melodic shapes and phrases establishes communication between listeners and the unknown, here presented by Visible Cloaks as sounds coloring the very edge of the envisionable.

Sugai Ken

Ukabazumorezu

    With a melodic cluster dripping into a pool of dark water, UkabazUmorezU’s arrival ripples as an apex in Sugai Ken’s continued construction of a deeply resonant, enveloping sound world. Upon contact, UkabazUmorezU gently and generously unfurls across aural alleys and streets mundanely but mystically detailed with recontextualized Japanese rituals and tradition. Sugai’s compositional language took its most cohesive form in the producer’s almost decade long career with the 2016 album On The Quakefish. Evolving the sound design intuited on 2010’s ToKiShiNe and 2014’s Tada,

    Quakefish utilized an all-seeing, all-knowing edit for wider screens and wilder properties. The sable stage set for UkabazUmorezU is both bottomless and forgiving, a rich soil for new experiments to grow in Ken’s self-described “style that conjures [the] subtle and profound ambience of night in Japan.” A lived experience of traditional Japanese music’s conversation with environment, and vice versa, forms the melodic make-up and metaphysical philosophy conditioning UkabazUmorezU.

    Upon imagining a landscape, Sugai decomposes the image (and the images within the image) and replaces it with a sound representation - an artifactual terrain, tethered to but abstracted from the natural world.The eleven pieces which form UkabazUmorezU dovetail meaningfully with the invented album title, roughly translating to “slow and steady wins the race.” Made up of recordings sourced and appropriated from the local performing arts of Kanagawa, Japan (where Sugai lives), his daily surroundings, and Sugai’s tool kit of electronic synthesis, UkabazUmorezU evokes tranquil patience while never settling into a single style or still of sound for too long.Sugai Ken’s upbringing among a generation of Japanese artists exposed to Western culture becomes the basis for another part of UkabazUmorezU’s ritualistic experimentation.

    On “Sawariyanagi,” for example, an atmosphere inspired by the yokai monster Yanagi Onna finds itself speaking through a Western electroacoustic motif. Elsewhere on “Ganoubyoshi” a processed “hoarsely voice of the elderly” is treated with a reverence reserved for the realm of symphonic music - the micro and the macro receive equal amounts of mindful care in the cerebral ceremony of Sugai Ken. The profundity of UkabazUmorezU’s nighttime arrives, in part, upon the idea that what remains hidden is limitless. While one might be horrified by the concept of negative space, Sugai views this obscured horizon as an invitation for a tempered type of spontaneity. A heartfelt connection to his personal trajectory and the folk history of his country allows Sugai Ken’s UkabazUmorezU to calmly throw itself headlong into a jumbled sound experience sometimes beyond our conscious comprehension.

    Recorded at JD Twitch's Glasgow studio especially for NY's Rvng, Justine Delaney of New York's club Motherfucker presents the fifth CD in this compelling series. The eclecticism and trainspotter appeal of these DIY mixes makes them 100 times more vital than any officially licensed mix could ever hope to be. At over 74+ minutes of extreme noise pleasure, Justine D offers a quick-change glimpse of her varied musical knowledge and influences, providing us with a proper journey through eras and genres. The tracklist pays tribute to UK Balearic / rave era maestros (The Orb, My Bloody Valentine, Andrew Weatherall) and pioneers (Fripp, Eno, Bowie, Goblin, Arthur Russell), as well as taking in minimal wave, industrial and psych (Nitzer Ebb, Human League, Malaria, Ministry, The Zombies, Syd Barrett, Shocking Blue), disco, pop and new age disciples (Chic, Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom, Hot Chip, Daniel Wang) and sonic terrorists (Malaria, Crass, Death In June) in an unexpurgated frenzy of musical pleasures.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    CD Info: Limited run CD in superbly designed fold-out sleeve.

    The story of electronic music pioneer Kerry Leimer continues with a focus on his auteurist studio project Savant.

    Compiling the standalone album, 1983’s 'The Neo Realist (At Risk)', with Savant’s debut 12" and a grip of compilation and unreleased tracks, 'Artificial Dance' documents Leimer’s complete collaborative venture into the unpredictable realities of music, exploring the gulf between what is expected by its creators and what is eventually - and eternally - committed to tape.

    Savant was designed by Leimer to tap into entropic truths, asserting an uncaged counterpart to the loop-based minimalism he produced in isolation (recently surveyed on RVNG Intl’s 'A Period of Review (1975-1983)'). Aligning himself with the Cage-ean principles of chance operations and musical contingency, Savant was a band sans jam. Allegorically, a blindfolded collaboration whose happenstance source music Leimer would sample, loop and sculpt at will.

    Leimer was creatively autonomous to the point of being a persona absentia in Seattle’s 80s rock scene. Unconcerned by social status, Leimer enlisted musicians from experimental and post-punk groups in the area to come record as Savant at his home studio, Tactical. Among them were ambient composer Marc Barreca, John Foster (founder of Op Magazine – the experimental music publication), Jim and David Keller of the New Flamingos, and their bandmate Alex Petit. Others, like Roy Finch and Dennis Rea, came from a similar orbit.

    Even with these musicians at his beck and call, Leimer implemented a disarming musical strategy. Savant would have no fixed line up and often musicians would be asked to play instruments far outside their forté. Leimer would however give loose rhythmic direction for the musicians to develop spontaneously against click-tracks. When the performance locked in with Leimer listening at the controls, he’d capture it to tape. These moments became the soul of Savant and the combustive elements that would variegate its timbres.

    Savant tonally operates in a space between This Heat’s dark primitivism and the found sound collage of Brian Eno & David Byrne’s 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts'. These analogies are simply stylistic, as the narrative behind 'The Neo-Realist’'s production makes clear Leimer was concocting via more alchemic means, avoiding genre aspirations by looking for accidental moments of musical intrigue and discovery. Leimer explains this process in the collection’s liner notes: “I was looking for flaws, for faults to act as the stand-out features of the music.”

    Far from a provisional stab at avant-garde sensibilities, Savant represents Leimer’s repudiation of ambient music’s passive side. Artificial Dance embodies a perfectionist’s family portrait of outré musicians conforming to Leimer’s nonconformist musical ethos. Fitting for its name, Leimer created conditions for asocial brilliance with Savant, materializing an outward offering from an inward studio and a collaboration of audacious invention.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Ryan says: Tape loop heaven! Savant manipulates the magnetic medium to another level and creates a masterpiece akin to 'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts'. A fine mixture of simplicity and madness.

    Persuasionis a trio of new tracks by Blondes. The duo’s first offering since Swisher, Persuasion furthers the extemporized themes explored on that album but reveal Sam Haar and Zach Steinmanto be as dexterous in the studio as they are at motivating live, primal techno. With Haar and Steinman no longer living within earshot of each other, the distance has inspired a new work ethic. In the creative incubation since Swisher’srelease, the duo’s improvisational practice honed live in club settings has evolved from excursive to immediate and exacted.

    The engine of 'Persuasion' is fueled by kinetic textures and decisions. Melodies follow unpredictable paths and flare into spiraling percussion. Sounds simultaneously rise and crash entering and exiting the different track environments. Still, the groove remains true, a grounding technique. Space and time have refined Blondes blend of live dynamics and studio discovery. What sets 'Persuasion' apart from their prior records is the sense of Haar and Steinman’s maturation behind the controls, yielding more propulsive, assertive, and persuasive forces than ever.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    12" includes MP3 Download Code.

    Blondes were last heard demonstrating their transcendent approach to dance music - one favoring analog serenity to digital flare - on the duo’s 2012 self-titled debut album. The evolution of sound systems on which Blondes played created a curve along which Sam Haar and Zach Steinman learned to build a universally impactful sonic experience. After rehauling their gear and settling into a new studio space, Blondes’ busy year ended in an intensely focused production period during which Haar and Steinman sculpted the boldly detailed 'Swisher'. 'Swisher' unfolds as a series of mini-epics rather than a string of banging cuts. Still, the allegiance to the groove remains absolute. Percussive elements are most notably honed, drawing a sharp contrast between 'Swisher'’s rich timbres and the vaporous synth sounds that seep throughout the album. Centerpiece 'Andrew' and closer 'Elise' enhance the melodic concerns of Blondes early material, mantled now in a maturity that favors gradual force. By focusing on process rather than protocol, Haar and Steinman allow space in each track for dramatically immersive environments. Most tracks on 'Swisher' tread beyond the five minute mark, but always absorb rather than indulge. This cosmic scope aligns Blondes not only with the German synth masters of the 70s who have been a guiding inspiration for the duo since the onset, but also the slow burning dub-techno of later day Germany - though ramped up several bpms. The heterogeneous textures throughout 'Swisher' often brood, but ultimately make for a considerate and cathartic brand of dance music. 'Swisher’'s foundation is its tremendously crafted percussive core, and its architecture is the elemental beauty hinted at in prior Blondes work offered, offered now in lucid detail.


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