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SEANCE CENTRE

Sophomore release from Toronto dream-duo Joseph Shabason and Ben Gunning, this time a more cosmopolitan affair, mapping fragmented cityscapes from bent electronics and late-night FM jazz transmissions. The boys are back in town. After recording their debut in a remote cottage in Northern Ontario, the duo relocated their jams to Shabason’s Toronto studio where they gained unlimited access to a virtual cornucopia of analog and digital gear and had the time to really push those instruments to the brink. In the crisp autumnal sessions the duo consciously set out to make "Ample Habitat" with a fresh slate; not a single melody or patch was smuggled in on a USB stick. Fueled with off-brand club soda, the ethos was to infuse the sessions and the music itself with a sense of discovery. Another perk of the new locale was being closer to friends and neighbours; TO music-scene luminaries Kieran Adams, Bram Gielen, and Thom Gill dropped in, rounding out a full jam band for the convivial B-side surprise “Is Jubilee.” Although the album calls on a wild menagerie of digital voices, the heart is warm and human, favouring performance and play over presets and quantization.

TRACK LISTING

Barbeau Peak
Sea Ices
Parkette
Measure Of Fog
Crystal Fake
Ample Habitat
Is Jubilee
The Shore Instead

You Can Can is an echoed affirmation, an album which traces song forms around silence, field recordings, and degraded analog memories. This is folk music transmogrified and mutated, as if recorded and reconstructed in Pierre Schaffer’s GRM studio.

Not your typical Mariposa folk duo, the group is comprised of Toronto avant-music scene stalwarts, vocalist Felicity Williams (Bernice, Bahamas) and bricolage artist and synthesist Andrew Zukerman (Fleshtone Aura, Badge Epoch). The album feels like a somnambulant conversation, fragmented and half-remembered with Williams’ vocals traveling through a landscape of field recordings and Zukerman’s saturated concrète topographies. It is an electro-acoustic assemblage, both analog and digital, comprised of air, electricity, minerals, wood, and water. Although the album nods towards traditional forms of folk and musique concrète (if at this point it can be called a traditional form), it is outwardly and inwardly contemporary; non-linear, citational, opaque, and sui generis. In a way it feels like a sonic index of the narrative experiments found on the infamous Language school-related publisher The Figures, in the work of Lyn Hejinian, Clark Coolidge, and Lydia Davis. In the musical continuum, the album picks up where Linda Perhacs left off in the early 70’s—explored by Gastr Del Sol in the ‘90s—a convergence of rural acoustic idioms and urban avant-electronics. This is country music for the discerning cosmopolitan citizen of the 21st Century.

RIYL: Luc Ferrari, Brannten Schnüre, William Basinski, Oval, Eric Chenaux, Emmanuelle Parrenin.

About "Everything In Time and Failure Figures", Felicity Williams says:

'Everything In Time is indebted to the language of Brazilian author Clarice Lispector (as translated by Alison Entrekin). Drawing on insights from psychoanalysis, we trace the roots of melancholy to render them available to consciousness; words from the ghostly realm of the transpersonal filter through dreams and shine a beam of light onto a lone trillium in a forest at night. Other influences include the experience of not knowing, of being subject to a gestation outside of one’s control. This is an ode to the power of naming to obliterate, to set free.

Failure Figures is a meditation on the radical contingency of reality and the vicissitudes of the will. With Slavoj Zizek as my guide (think: “Hegel for dummies” - I’m the dummy in this scenario), I wander through the valley of the shadow of death, and take heart. The last verse refers to an experience I had recording at a studio in Brussels. I was singing in French, with which I have some fluency, and the producer was complaining to the artist whose song it was that my delivery was not convincing. Thinking I was out of ear shot, he said in French, “c’est comme elle n'est pas là”; I was pronouncing the words correctly, but I failed to express anything. So what or whom is responsible for conveying meaning, if not the form of the word itself? And if the connection between meaning and form is broken, how do we fix it?

Gratitude to Thom Gill (guitar) and Daniel Fortin (bass) who joined us on the recording of Failure Figures. Thanks as well to my old roommate Christopher Willes, who unwittingly left behind his hand bells deep in the hall closet. We unearthed them by accident, and the bells became an important sound element. Thanks to other past roomies Robin Dann and Claire Harvie, whose childhood piano and guitar respectively still reside with us, and were used in the recording. Field recordings were made in Toronto, Canada and Celestún, Mexico in 2020.'

TRACK LISTING

Everything In Time
Lustrous Swarm
Can Can
Big Trouble
Papyri Papaver
Strobe Streusel
Failure Figures
Favorite Umbellifers
Infinity Of Loose Ends

"Many Worlds" Interpretation is a collection of cosmic Americana for electronics, guitar, and percussion culled from Jon Iverson’s extensive home-studio archive.

1984, Los Osos, California. In a small cinderblock cottage, hand-painted with bright psychedelic flora, Jon Iverson created vibrant new worlds. He spent long days and nights immersed in sound, perfecting home recording on his 8-track reel-to-reel, combining his love for kosmische and Berlin School electronics with an infatuation with ethnographic sounds and expansive guitar music. In a duo with fellow sonic traveler Thomas Walters, Iverson released missives from the studio on a self-titled LP released on country legend Guthrie Thomas’ Eagle Records. That release featured three electro-acoustic compositions (“Naningo”, “River Fen”, and “Fox Tales”) as well as a gathering of guitar duo tapestries. "Many Worlds Interpretation" re-imagines those interplanetary works alongside several unreleased compositions that also feature synthesizer, guitar, and percussion, creating a re-visioned album which leans into Iverson’s electronic studio wizardry.

All songs have been carefully transferred from analog tape to high resolution digital, retaining their vintage studio warmth, but mixed and mastered for modern ears and audio systems. The album is pressed at 45rpm, further enhancing the audiophile experience.

RIYL: Innovative Communication, Eblen Macari, Priscilla Ermel, Popol Vuh, Steve Tibbetts

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Artist Statement

I worked in a Harley Davidson parts warehouse in the summer of 1976 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The goal was to save enough money to buy transportation for college and a Teac 4 track 1/4" reel to reel tape machine. By September there was a rusting monkey-vomit green car in the driveway and shiny new Teac with a Sony condenser microphone in the bedroom. At this point I had been playing guitar for a dozen years and like most children of the sixties, dreamed of joining a band.

Went to college instead to study business.

But all was not lost. 1978-1979 was spent as Weird Al Yankovic's roommate and we recorded and created enough songs to play shows around San Luis Obispo, California, where we were attending college. Many of those recordings have yet to be heard by the public, including the first performances of My Bologna and many other parodies of pop songs of the day. We sent tapes to Dr. Demento, we auditioned for The Gong Show and were barred from playing at the local college after one memorable performance. Wild times.

I, however, was more intent on working on "serious" music, with albums from Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre providing inspiration. DJing at the local college radio station and then public radio outlet provided exposure to an endless stream of obscure albums (Sky Records from Germany was a particular favourite). Most of them would never make it to the air, but my buddies and I would pass them around like exotic treasure.

Fast forward a couple more years and I had picked up a Mini-Moog and eventually a Prophet V synthesizer as well as starting a collection of instruments from around the world. The Teac and synths formed the basis for a growing DIY studio that had taken over a modest-size garage (pictured on the cover) that had been converted into a two room cottage in Los Osos, California.

The Teac was eventually joined by a rented Otari 1/2" 8-track and then finally a vintage MCI JH-100 2" 16-track. The compositions on this album were recorded on these three machines between 1982 and 1989. At some point an Apple II computer with Alpha Syntauri sound card and keyboard were added and then later the first personal computer sampling hardware/software kit, the Decillionix DX-1. The DX-1 forms the rhythm track for “Fox Tales” and the Alpha Syntauri was programmed to create the pulsing synth for “Naningo”. “River Fen” was tracked with both the Alpha Syntauri and the Prophet V.

I knew this music wasn't commercial, but didn't care. It was inspiring working with the first computer-based synths and semi-pro gear. Home studios were still rare in the early 80s until the Tascam Portastudio blew the DIY door wide-open. But I was more interested in sound quality so stuck with reels of tape instead of lower fidelity cassettes.

During the time these songs were recorded, I was also collaborating with my good friend and mandolinist, Tom Walters. “River Fen”, “Naningo” and “Fox Tales”, were solo recordings that also ended up on the first Iverson & Walters album, First Collection. The other four pieces on this new LP were never fully finished or released until now.

— Jon Iverson, September 2022

Written, played, recorded and mixed by Jon Iverson.
Mastered by Brandon Hocura
Design by Alan Briand


TRACK LISTING

1.Danaus 03:08
2.Neo Gets Wise 02:10
3.Fox Tales 05:13
4.Sands Of Tycho 04:35
5.Naningo 05:47
6.Nyx And The Night Owl 03:53
7.River Fen 06:05

"Incantaions" is a collection of sixteen visual and sonic experiments centred around the idea of the score as a spell. The incantation of a spell gives it life, brings breath to body, raises hairs, moves minds. For this project, eight spell- scores were created by visual / text-based artists for a musician / composer to incant. Taking a wide interpretation of what can be considered a score, these works include concrete poetry, collage, painting, drawing, spell-poetry, instructional art, and recipe. The resulting sound works give voice to these evocative 'texts', residing in the liminal space between musical form and magical utterance.

Creating what became the cover artwork for this release, musician and artist Benjamin Kilchhofer conjured salt paintings reminiscent of ancient runes and salt circles - improvised talismans of protection. Translating these expressions into sound using a hydro harp (water drops hitting tuned water-filled porcelain bowls), musician and artist Tomoko Sauvage evokes an embryonic environment, the cleansing and purification of salt water oceans. Artist Mehrnaz Rohbakhsh created a piece that arose from a drawing ritual - a meditation on textile, pattern, and code. In response, Museum Of No Art (Mona Steinwidder) worked her composition by 'weaving the piece, layer by layer'. She was 'particularly interested in the state one achieves when one works repetitively, stoically and excessively towards a form. Which leads to trance or meditation and creates its own immaterial energy.'

Dani Spinosa, poet of digital and print media, created a typewriter poem that emerged after consulting Hesiod's “Works and Days and Theogony” to learn more about the witch goddess Hekate. Synchronously, interdisciplinary artist Gavilán Rayna Russom had recently returned to research on Hekate, teaching about the goddess in her class “Queering European Witchcraft Traditions”. Russom spent time with Spinosa’s spell, spoke to Hekate, and then unlocked the gate, seeking to 'stir sonic emanations that were radiant, multiple and liminal.'

The side ends with a composition by musician and artist Felicia Atkinson via an instructional text from conceptual artist David Horvitz. What is it like to inhabit the mind of a crow? This simple gesture to befriend a crow, to be in relationship with something other than human implies much more, a re- orientation to our living environment and forms of intelligence.

The B-side opens with electronic composer C.R. Gillespie’s sonic manifestation of a score by bricolage artist Andrew Zukerman. Taking compositional inspiration from the Smiss stone, Zukerman created a collaged visual score on staff paper that hints at the formal aspects of occult symbols and sigils, while remaining obliquely secular. Creating an interlocking tapestry of Roman gamelan, Gillespie’s track dramatizes the negotiating power and structure of the abstract score

Over three days, iconic Canadian poet bill bissett created a jazz-scape painting filled with an ecstatic gathering of eidetic spirits, 'connekting trembling xploring serching remote brooding grooving melodee solo lifting n refrain filling.' Immersing himself in the energy of the painting, musician and composer Idris Rahman overlaid three takes of bass clarinet and found that 'melodies, textures and harmonies emerged without thought and the piece took on a life of its own.'

As a way to explore the connection between food and music, the curators commissioned a recipe from electronic producer and home chef, Yu Su. Her simple and wholesome pudding recipe lays out instructions for texture and taste that musician Scott Gailey stirs into a sonic caldron of field recordings and electronics. The closing chant, penned by writer and activist adrienne maree brown and incanted by musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland, was the result of a synergistic conversation between the two. The refrain, 'surrender to the present moment / what’s coming now is all that’s left' is a mantra reminding us of the power of speech, repetition, and the evanescent nature of temporal experience.

The eight spell cards, inspired by the format of oracle and tarot cards, are invitations for further interpretation and play. To be under a spell is to be lost in a transformation, an alternate reality, to be in collaboration with an unknowable and powerful force. The works in this collection have created a spontaneous and ludic alchemy, courageous attempts to catalyze and spark in our present moment.

Curated by Seance Centre.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: One for all the modern day witches and wizards - very big in Pendle right now! A truly spellbinding (sorry) selection of tracks based around witchcraft, sorcery and alchemy with mesmerizing results. Datura not included.

TRACK LISTING

Tomoko Sauvage - Salt Spell (Spell By Benjamin Kilchhofer)
Museum Of No Art - Textile Trance (Spell By Mehrnaz Rohbakhsh)
Gavilán Rayna Russom - Shadows Cast By Moonlight (Spell By Dani Spinosa)
Félicia Atkinson - Enter The Memory Of A Crow (Spell By David Horvitz)
C.R. Gillespie - Invitation To A Clog (Spell By Andrew Zukerman)
Idris Rahman - Incanti Jazz Score 1 (Spell By Bill Bissett)
Scott Gailey - Ginger Soy Milk Pudding ŧ

"Plus or Minus Two" compiles four songs from Kansas City wave pioneers Short-Term Memory’s first cassette album, "Every Head Needs Cleaning", with two previously unreleased tracks recorded in the 90s.
This EP focuses on the group’s prescient dance-floor DIN-sync workouts which share sensibilities with contemporaneous early Detroit experiments by Juan Atkin’s Cybotron, Ron Hardy’s visionary Kikrokos tape edit, Shoc Corridor’s extended 808 exercises, and 90s Techno Pop by Haruomi Hosono. Rounding off the EP is the existential electronic soul ballad "Words".
Kansas City, 1983: a band formed, wires connected and synapses fired. Three friends, tired of guitar/bass/drums rock started jamming with newly acquired synths and Roland TR 808. They called themselves Short-Term Memory. Thanks to the vanguard technology of the time, these electronic instruments spoke to each other, and Jim Skeel, John Paul & Robert Duckworth could program their instruments, riding the DIN-sync wave. Weekly jams became more ambitious, and in 1983 they released their first album "Every Head Needs Cleaning" on their own Silly Poodle Music label. Over the 80s members drifted in and out of the group, and they released two cassettes, an LP and a 7” EP. By the 90s Jim Skeel was at the helm, the only original member, and joined by Tim Higgins he continued to record in MIDI mode for a few years before pulling the plug, leaving recordings and memories that resisted the great fadeout of time, and today sound vibrant and more visionary than ever.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Around a dozen releases in and Seance Centre are yet to put a foot wrong. Whether it be deep disco-not-disco, experimental, ambient or new age, the reissue label's aim is always true. Here they hit us with four proto-techno, synth wave jams and two unreleased cuts from Kansas City's Short-Term Memory. As well as pre-Detroit hardware heaters like "Twitch & Jerk", "Hysteria" and "The Veldt", check the esoteric flavours of "City In Mind" and lost wave ballad "The Words" for more sombre scenarios. Killer artwork from Alan Briand as standard...

TRACK LISTING

Twitch & Jerk
Yelping Doggies
City In Mind
Hysteria
The Veldt
The Words


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