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Oliver Coates

Shelley's On Zenn-La

    For Shelley’s on Zenn-La, Oliver Coates designs a complex of bending truths and reverse walkways to vernal states. Open ears can peer down hidden aux channel corridors, while melodic patterns present two-way mirrors to rooms of other retinal colors. An endless euphoria is just beneath the dance floorboards of Shelley’s, and an inquisitiveness unencumbered by the institution of knowledge surrounding its frame and inhabitants.

    Shelley’s on Zenn-La was made between the Elephant and Castle neighborhood of London and a future dreamscape. In this realm out of time and space, Shelley’s (Laserdome) – a once-legendary late 80s / early 90s nightclub in the industrial town of Stoke-on-Trent in the north of England – can simultaneously exist on the fictional planet of Zenn-La, and can house a devotional, alien ritual of early UK rave culture, pioneering IDM, and deep minimalism.

    Much of the album’s construction extends from specific, self-imposed ambitions; particular palettes applied to individual creative ideas. These limitations become limitless manifestations of theme: two bass lines running in parallel (one cello, one synth), synthesized waveforms phasing with bowed acoustic drones and chords, synth sequences in nonstandard tuning sitting against folk melody in standard tuning. Coates made a lot of the music for Shelley’s in Renoise, composing drum sequences in hexadecimal numbers and pencil drawn waveforms and cementing specificity in the intricate, intelligent dance machinations.

    Some of Shelley’s tracks veer into and across FM synthesis. “I like hearing how one tone is enriched by another tone modulating the first, resulting in gleaming sets of new harmonics,” says Coates, “I started thinking about placing live cello playing into a chain of antagonism resulting in sounds I found beautiful.” This instinct to poetically process sounds in real life (“sitting on the tube, thinking: I’d remove the low end on that, compress that, add reverb to that”) give Shelley’s an exploratory feel, both guided and unbound, autodidactic by undoing.

    Shelley’s opens with “Faraday Monument,” matching the enigmatic precedent of the Brutalist box in London the track is named after. chrysanthemum bear’s vocals oscillate over “A Church” singing lyrics to melt metal and minds. Large spaces adjacent to small enclosed ones house the voice of Malibu reading poetry within “Norrin Radd Dreaming.” “Cello Renoise” is built upon the image of two drummers playing to one click track as if in different booths. The great flautist, Kathryn Williams, recreated midi parts to end Shelley’s as a “Perfect Apple With Silver Mark.”

    Cellist, composer, and producer Oliver Coates has studied at the Royal Academy of Music, been an artist in residency at London’s Southbank Centre, and received the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award. Coates has contributed to the recordings of Radiohead, and collaborated with Laurie Spiegel and John Luther Adams. He has also been commissioned for string and electronic arrangements by visual artist Lawrence Lek, recorded with composer Jonny Greenwood on the scores for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and Phantom Thread and collaborated with musician Mica Levi on the 2016 album Remain Calm.

    Kate NV

    Для For

    Moscow is mythologized for its grandeur and gravity but its parable pleasures offer splendor and even absurdity. Over the ten, symmetrical pieces of для FOR, Kate NV scores her native urban environment with just enough whimsy to gurgle through the city cracks and grow psychotropic foliage. Each sound assumes its own personality, moving through the album metropolis like miniature, mutating molecules viewed from NV’s apartment window.

    Alternately a guitar-wielding, post-punker and one within the multitude of Moscow Scratch Orchestra’s avant-garde, NV is a versatile artist that maneuvers instinctively in whatever musical environs she finds herself. Her second solo album is an even more abstract endeavor than the hybrid pop of 2016’s "Binasu". Inspired by casual moments of ephemeral sound from within and beyond her apartment walls, the record has a clarity arrived altogether and from right under her nose. Recorded at home, NV says it was as if the music was not written by herself, but her chair.

    "для FOR" inhabits a stage that Piero Milesi & Daniel Bacalov, Ann Southam, or Hiroshi Yoshimura may have written music for and dresses it with Viktor Pivovarov’s psychedelic depictions of Moscow – contorting bodies, flying pencils, and multi-dimensional faces dance with subtle arpeggiations, conversational voice synthesis, and anthropomorphic MIDI. Animating objects is essential to the album. Like a surreal still life, each piece is an alien arrangement of common elements that extend the everyday ritual into an eternal landscape of unconscious activity. Somewhere along that landscape, Kate awaits and greets with apples for hands and fish for feet.

    Like the album title, each composition contained within is represented as a three letter word, in Russian and English. The first half of для FOR was written in the spring. Starting with “YXO EAR,” previously released on the Peaceful Protest compilation cassette in 2017, melodies meander and lollygag. “двA TWO” incorporates human breath played like notes on a pump organ. “дуб OAK” offers a warm tune to tango. “как HOW” loops curious notes that bump into each other with a chirpy acknowledgement. “вас YOU,” the only track on для FOR with lyrics, sets a Wassily Kadinsky poem to song.

    The second half of the album was written in the autumn. The feathery edges of “раз ONE” extend like watercolors bleeding off a rubber scroll. “зря SEE” is a subdued, shadowy variation of “как HOW”, as if the same song were played in different weather, dimmer light, or by Kate’s devious doppelganger. The electronics unravel and unwind on “пес DOG” until the final track, “кто WHO,” ends with vague solemnity and rattled metals.

    A short online film series by Shura Kulak will accompany the release of для FOR. The films follow a solitary figure performing ordinary tasks through a slow, warped lens — each song enacting a daily habit: waking, dressing, reading, and so on. In her live performances around the album, Kate NV will play each song from memory, allowing for variation from the recorded tracks, and scenes from the films will be re-created and improvised in the moment.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: After the breathtaking vaporwave stylings of her mighty "Binasu" LP, Moscow's Kate NV turns to RVNG Int as the perfect home for her sophomore offering '??? For'. Playful and impressionistic, the LP offers the kind of post-Reich ambience we expect from Visible Cloaks or Brass Mechanics and is every bit as accomplished.

    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.

    Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, And The Congos

    Frkwys Vol. 9: Icon Give Thank

    Both the CD and vinyl formats include the 'ICON EYE' DVD.

    For the ninth volume of FRKWYS, a music and film series pairing contemporary artists with those that may have preceded them in style and/or approach, Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras meet legendary dub reggae group The Congos in St. Catherine, Jamaica and create the full-length album, ICON GIVE THANK.

    In conjunction, RVNG will release ICON EYE, a feature film documenting the young musicians’ time spent living and learning The Congos way. In hindsight, the FRKWYS Vol. 9 timeline takes on dream-like qualities. In a matter of months, the idea for the collaboration was divinely inspired, The Congos reassembled in their original formation, and Sun Araw (earthly name Cameron Stallones), Gengras, alongside filmmakers Tony Lowe and Sam Fleischner, traveled to St. Catherine, Jamaica (45 minutes from Kingston) for ten days to undertake the unknown. What events would transpire in the Portmore neighborhood of St. Catherine can only be described as blessed. The gates opened wide and warmly, the musicians and filmmakers ate, slept, and smoked at The Congos headquarters, their muralemblazoned studio, home, and spiritual compound. An environment steeped in the Ital lifestyle, Rastafarian reflection and meditation, and a rich community bubbling with musical energy, both young and old artist would learn an unspoken creative language.

    GIVE THANK is not a dub reggae album, though it shares some of the genre’s production characteristics. Rather, it’s an album of Stallones and Gengras’s melodically experimental meditations ornamented with The Congos’ soulful vocal leads and four-part harmonies. The four kings of the The Congos share the vocal throne over the course of GIVE THANK. Johnson’s tenor, Myton’s falsetto, Burnett’s baritone, and Fyffe’s cosmic vocal glue command singularity and create an essence combined.

    The visual companion to the musical fruit of GIVE THANK is ICON EYE, a featurelength travelogue that evokes a musical and cultural intersection through refracted atmospheres and a feeling of magical, rhythmic synchronicity. ICON EYE shares dubbedout editing techniques inherent in the reggae sub-genre, rendering a visual “version” of the album. Through the diaristic yet cinematic lens of handheld HD cameras, secret moments from the studio, fishing villages, late night dances, abandoned hotels and The Congos’ yard are blended into a strange tapestry. Musicians, computers, children, and food reveal mystical resonance. ICON EYE is the first RVNG Intl. film production.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Martin says: The pairing of sixty/seventy something reggae pioneers responsible for one of the most beautiful roots albums of the seventies with a couple of cosmically inclined twenty something stoner geeks from the West Coast might seem an unlikely one, with the potential for profound misunderstanding and embarrassment for all concerned escalating into an unseemly mess of mutual disdain and condescension. But it could - just - also make a great deal of sense, with the Congos' celestial vocal charms bringing focus and emotional depth to Sun Araw's wild galactic tempests, and Geddes/Stallones adding mystic relevance to what could have been a laudable, finely honed but not unpredictable effort from highly talented gentlemen who had been doing the same thing for too long. The blend is sublime in fact, unique and mesmerizing, an intoxicating symbiosis beyond roots, dub, noise, or anything either party could have achieved left to their own devices.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    CD Info: The CD also includes the 'Icon Eye' DVD.


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