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SEANCE CENTRE

Like many Canadians, Joseph Shabason and Ben Gunning like to untangle themselves from urbanity and disappear up north a few times a year. Unlike other cottage-goers, Ben and Joseph don’t while away the ur-time on jet-skis and lounge on docks reading pulpy mysteries. Instead, they bring a car full of synths, drum machines, saxophones, guitars, samplers, effects, and recording equipment to jam the days away in a cabin-fever inducing haze of wood smoke, cedar musk, hot wires and jazz sweat.

Muldrew, recorded on the northern Ontario lake by that name, is the culmination of several years of this collaborative tradition. Resisting their penchant for composition and arrangement, the duo embarked on this project with only an open framework that encouraged restraint. The result is a sparse and improvisational album, hung on enough structure for each song to evoke a distinct, albeit ambiguous mood. Space is paramount and even the most digital elements breathe with the resonance of the room and mingle with creaking floors. The resulting album is steeped in the placid stillness and northern ambience of a lake at dawn, and the emotive expanse of a forest at dusk. Imagine an ECM cottage-series, or Jon Hassell and John Martyn scoring a Bela Tarr film set in rural Canada. This is the future-proof music of metropolitan polyglot minds invigorated by nature’s mute refusal to follow a click-track.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Esoteric, atmospheric and steeped in the experimental tradition, "Muldrew" sees Canadian duo Shabason & Gunning decamp to a log cabin and lay down an avant-garde ambient masterpiece. From the Durutti Column guitars of the opener, through Cybe-style exoticism, Berlin school electronics and the fractal creations of Visible Cloaks, the LP finds its own way out of the forest and into our hearts.

“Stop here!” exclaimed Robert Oumaou as we passed a mango tree on the side of the road just outside of Point-a-Pitre, the balmy capital of Guadeloupe. He filled a plastic bag with ripe fruit, and we set off on our journey across the small Caribbean island in search of musicians he hadn’t seen in years. On the way, we shared stories in broken French and English, stopping at truck stops to eat delicious fried fish. Robert took me to his hometown, and placed a mango and a flower on the grave of his teacher and mentor, a local poet. The seeds of Vwayajé (Traveller) were sewn on this trip, but shortly after returning home, I heard that Robert was ill, and he sadly passed away in 2018. This compilation was originally intended as a way to share Robert’s brazen work with a wider global audience, but it now also serves to immortalize his indomitable spirit.

Gwakasonné is the ecstatic articulation of Robert Oumaou’s artistic and political vision, a unified expression of his interests in American jazz, pre-colonial rhythms, Guadeloupian independence, and Créole poetics. Over the course of three albums, all released in the 80s, Robert piloted a revolving cast of musicians, a venerable who’s-who of Point-a-Pitre avant-jazz pioneers, to deftly intone his creative communal concepts. The songs on "Vwayajé" are compiled from these three releases, Gwakasonné, Temwen, and Moun, along with an electronic mantra taken from his 2007 solo album Sang Comment Taire. Viewed from our current artistic and cultural landscape, Robert’s work is exceptionally enduring, grounded in its declarations of freedom and foundational use of the Ka (drum) and voice, and prescient in its borderless explorations of protest folk, electronics, ambient atmosphere, music from the African diaspora, and spiritual jazz. The long-form hive-mind expression of the group has parallels with similar explorations by The Grateful Dead, electric Miles, Pharaoh Sanders, and even the Boredoms, but these are only oblique references for a truly peerless sound. Like other conceptual children of Gérard Lockel, the group was part of a progressive movement of like-minded musicians, such as Serge Fabriano, Dao, Erick Cosaque, and Gaoulé Mizik, who embraced Lockel’s modernist ideals, fusing Gwo Ka drumming and tuning systems with contemporary jazz and vanguard recording technologies. Robert’s ecstatic phrasings, embrace of electronic instruments, and daring lyrics set the group apart as the beatific expression of a sagacious soul.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Seance Centre are back with their latest archival release, an essential window into the organic rhythms, naïve synthesis and future folk of sadly departed musician Gwakasonné. Highly recommended.

"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...

By 1981, after four years of DIY electronics, it was time for a change. For Philip Sanderson that change came in the form of film. At first, requests came from friends for soundtrack work, and by the end of the decade he was making short experimental 16mm films himself. "On One of These Bends" is a collection of unreleased songs, soundtrack work and obscure cassette only pieces from the 80’s which reflect Sanderson’s shift in focus. It was a departure from the industrial music he had been making with his group Storm Bugs, having more in common with Nino Rota and Henry Mancini, albeit as seen through a DIY lens, and with a reel- To-reel orchestra comprised of an EMS VCS3, vibraphone, DX7, Roland SH- 101, Roland TR-606, tape delay, acoustic guitar, fretless bass and Yamaha FB-01.
On two numbers, Philip jokingly asked an American chanteuse to “sing it like a cross between Streisand and The Shangri-Las”, and to his surprise she did, the results sounding like a loungey AC Marias, or a lost early Crépuscule recording by Anna Domino. Counterpointing this are tracks such as "E For Echo" made with just an acoustic guitar, and the very first piece Bright Waves which combines the choral vocal talents of Nancy Slessenger with a Revox tape delay system, originally released on his own label Snatch Tapes, under the pseudonymous duo Claire Thomas & Susan Vezey.
This album is presented with the ‘picture turned down’ so to speak, and as such the music acts as a kind of memento mori for the absent moving images, and maybe even for the decade itself. Remastered from the original reels, DMM pressing.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Canadian digger and esoteric auteur Brandon Edward Horcura invites us into his Seance Centre once again, this time to enjoy the spectral sounds of Philip Sanderson. Moody acoustic guitar compositions blur into hazy ambience and fractal electronics as Sanderson embarks on a journey to a new musical plane.

Compilation of the works by MJ Lallo, weird harmonizing mantras layered with drummachine rhythms.. Very psychedelic compositions where she uses her voice to create all kinds of sound(scapes)

Take Me With You is a revelatory voyage through the captivating universe of voice artist and poet MJ Lallo. The works on this 2LP compilation were all recorded in her home studio between 1982 and 1997, primarily using drum computer, synth and her own voice processed through a Yamaha SPX 90 digital effects unit. They range from wordless harmonizer mantras and primitive drum computer meditations, to psychedelic latin dance-floor anthems and synth-drenched end-of-the-nighters. Lallo has created her own inimitable galaxy of sound where the human voice, liberated from the constraints of language and abstracted using digital technology, is able to explore the outer realms of human expression, like Joan La Barbara with an Eventide and a new-age sensibility. Although Lallo’s flight path is distinctly her own, her journey converges with other travellers as diverse as Jon Hassell, Laraaji, Stereolab, William Aura, Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Gertrude Stein and even Terry Gilliam (whose film Brazil was a big influence on Lallo). Like something beamed in from another planet, Lallo’s work is both fascinatingly strange and strangely familiar, and will leave a lasting impression for lightyears to come. Double gatefold LP, remastered DDM pressing.

In 1982, a group of friends deep into post-punk, jazz and dub got together in Mad Professor's studio and lay down their youthful interpretation of a NYC disco cut. Their unique take included trombone, vibraphone, piano, and an ital dose of tape delay. They called the song "Trouble" and released two versions (vocal and dub) on their friend Tony McDermott's !Drum! label with artwork inspired by Russian Constructivism.
The group, comprised of Justin Langlands, Chrysta Jones, John Schofield, Tom Dixon, and Dave Killen, decided to call themselves A-Team, having no idea that Mr.T and Co. would make them almost totally ungoogle-able 30 years later. The result of their adolescent studio idealism sounds akin to otherdisco misfits like Arthur Russell, Maximum Joy & Talking Drums (The Scots, not our own cosmic weirdos) and wouldn't sound out of place on legendary NYC label 99 Records. This Seance Centre reissue comes remastered with an extended Club Dub formaximum dance-floor action.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Hells Yeah! After aligning our chakras nicely with a string of ambient and new age releases, Seance Centre switch it up with a big bomb for the dance floor. Originally released in 1982, this disco-not-disco bomb was recorded at Mad Prof's studio and sounds like Arthur Russell, ESG and Tom Tom Club cutting loose at Black Ark. Top drawer!

Created in 1987 for an exhibit of sculptures in Taos, New Mexico, Joanne Forman’s "Cave Vaults of the Moon" is a mesmerizing score for voice, Ensoniq Mirage, Juno 106, flute, guitar and effects. The playful extra-terrestrial recording wafted through the exhibit every day for its duration and then lay dormant for nearly 30 years. Unearthed now, "Cave Vaults of the Moon" sounds prescient and timeless, as if Pep Llopis and Iasos scored a Wicker Man remake set on Mars.

We humans, the nascent beings that we are, still haven’t quite figured out the full potential of music. Dancing, meditating, emoting, protesting; these are all pretty basic. But what if we communicated more complex ideas with music? What if we codified all of our activities with music? This idea came to composer Joanne Forman when commissioned in 1987 to create the soundscape for an environmental exhibition of sculpture called Artifacts from an Alien Civilization in Taos, New Mexico. The sculptures, elaborate ruins that had been found on the moon, begged the question: who created them and for what purpose? Joanne Forman imagined that Earth’s moon was a vacation spot for advanced beings from another galaxy. In her mind, the sculptures in the exhibit were the remnants of a deserted playground. "Cave Vaults of the Moon" became a collection of sonic texts describing the recreational activities that went on there; earth-viewing, collecting information, building and playing.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: More esoteric excellence for Canada's Seance Centre here via a welcome reissue of Joanne Forman's exhibition accompaniment "Cave Vaults Of The Moon". Entirely otherworldly, the set sweeps through imposing electronic suites, dark fourth world excursions and blissful new age pieces, perfectly in keeping with the sculptures it soundtracked.

Sam McClellan

Music Of The Five Elements

Acupressurist and electronic composer Sam McClellan's "Music of the Five Elements" is a work of perfectly tuned healing music. A deeply felt distillation Minimalism (in the Tony Conrad / La Monte Young school), American Primitive guitar (Fahey & Basho) and even psychedelia. The album is a continuous sound voyage for voice, synthesizer, guitar, bowed bass, piano, effects and ciao (Chinese flute) all played by McClellan himself. Although divided into sections, the journey is best undertaken as a whole, without distraction. As McClellan himself wrote on the original liner notes:

"The optimum effect of Music of the Five Elements will be achieved if each side of this recording is played through, from beginning to end without interruption. Music of the Five Elements, when used as a meditational or body work tool, rather than entertainment, will increase in effect over time. Overplaying or improper use, however, may eventually diminish its designed effect.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Draw the curtains and light a candle. Draw three chalk figures on the floor and feel the air in the room tremble - incredible esoteric psych-folk here unearthed by the excellent Seance Centre - don't sleep.

Double LP compilation of Dutch electronic artist Michel Banabila focusing on his incursions into otherworldly and imagined realms. LP1 is a compilation of works spanning over 20 years that acts as a bridge between his earliest work and his contemporary practice. LP2 is a reissue of his early masterpiece Marilli, a highly sough-after album that acts as both an LSD inspired DIY tribute to Byrne and Eno's Ghosts and a youthful exploration of Banabila's personal background and his experience as a squatter in Amsterdam in the early 80s. Gatefold LP with archival pics, essay and artwork by Alan Briand.

Beverly Glenn-Copeland

Keyboard Fantasies

    Invisible City's Brandon Horcura launches his latest reissue venture, the superbly titled Seance Centre, with a re-release of Beverly Glenn-Copeland's "Keyboard Fantasies" with a new carefully reconstructed glasswork design by Alan Briand. Beverly Glenn-Copeland is already known amongst collectors and music heads for two sought-after albums of folky jazz in the key of Joni. But it was this album, originally self-released on cassette in 1986 that blew Brandon's mind. The album, entirely recorded on DX-7 and TR-707, lies somewhere between digital new-age and (accidentally) early Detroit techno experiments. The inimitable style of BGC here is both peaceful and meditative while simultaneously rhythmic and bass heavy. The album was recorded in the northern Canadian town of Huntsville where BGC was living at the time and is a beautiful fusion of personal vision, technology and place. Reissued in absurdly limited quantities by ICE last year, this astonishing LP is the perfect way to kick off Seance Centre.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Invisible City's Brandon Horcura kicks off his new Seance Centre imprint with a new reissue of Beverly Glenn Copeland's techno-leaning new-age gem with lush new artwork. Buy-on-sight!

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: One copy found


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