Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Short appreciation for these guys from way back, San-Franciscan duo Ryan Bishop & Ryan Fitzgerald aka Broker/Dealer. Active in that historical grey area of dance music, the early noughties, Broker/Dealer favoured a synth-heavy neon kind of Cologne-esque house, releasing a mere handful of singles primarily for Traum and Spectral Sound. Their big hit was 'Boots and Pants' for Traum, which expertly delivered on the (short-lived) strobing, dubby, trance-tinged sound favoured by Dominik Eulberg and Michael Mayer back in the day. It showed up as the centrepiece on Riley Triple-R Rinehold's Friends mix CD for Kompakt, and a host of others; here it is as it appears on Doc Martin's Fabric 10.

Their only album Initial Public Offering for Asphodel showed promise, demonstrating consistent yet well-rounded sound and containing a few choice tracks:

The point of this post I guess is to highlight the fickle and ever-changing nature of the music industry and to remember once in a while some of the un(der)sung heroes of yesteryear. Chin Chin, Broker/Dealer!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Mathias Enard: Zone

A number of things attracted me to Mathias Enard's Zone: hyperbolically hailed as "The novel of the decade, if not the century"; flaunting its modernist trappings: A book length (500+ page) sentence - overwhelming Thomas Bernhard's book length (under 200 page) paragraphs - examining all the war, lies and carnage that have stained the countries of the Mediterranean. This region is the Zone of the title, the protagonist (Francis Servain Mirkovic)'s patch in his spying profession. Intent on ending his shady career Mirkovic has amassed a briefcase full of documents collating bloodshed of the Zone, encyclopedically revisiting these events is part of the novel's aim, and is on a train from Milan to Rome to sell the contents to the Vatican. The narrative follows the protagonist's reflections on the Zone, from his involvement as a Croatian solider in the Balkan conflict through his collation of material relating to all manner of historical bloodshed, on this train journey, with each kilometre lasting one page. So, we start in Milan on page 1 and end in Rome on page 514.
It's easy to get caught up in Mirkovic's ruminations, particularly if you've read Marias, also given the espionage connection, or Sebald, and the lack of punctuation allows you to freely roam his thoughts, like the blood flowing through his brain, and spilling across time. Stephen Burn made the following comment in the NY Times:
Removing periods, Énard leaves the reader floating free in the liquid of Mirkovic’s consciousness, where ancient and classical history interrupt more recent events. In this realm of eternal time, Mirkovic as a unitary subject dissolves, and across the solitary train journey he gains mythic dimensions, becoming Dante traveling through the rings of hell to a vita nuova; Hermes accompanying the dead across the Styx; and the harbinger of St. John of Patmos’s Last Days, carrying the names of the dead rather than the Book of Life.
Around the exploration of these grand themes, Enard's depiction of Mirkovic's comparatively humdrum immediate reality is vivid and equally engaging. He reads a novel about the Palestine-Israel conflict, itself presented in the book (and the only sections involving full stops), which mirrors his own history. He studies his neighbours and imagines their thoughts (again, Marias). He goes to the bar and drinks, admiring the label on a beer bottle. He smokes in the toilet. All this is rendered with the cold precision of crime fiction. Very well done.

Now I'm reading Harry Matthews' Cigarettes. Also note that Dalkey Archive Press are having a sale until the end of May - go shopping here.

Listening: Early Part of w/e 29 May 2011

Was hungover yesterday morning after too much champers at my four-week-old's welcome party. Even codeine couldn't help. Forgot my ipod too so had to listen to humanity on the tram, ghastly. Got home and needed comforting, so listened to the following.

I hadn't played Eno's Ambient 4: On Land for a while, and my how wonderful it is. With the gently chirruping frogs he skirts close to scented candle territory, yet paradoxically it's also his darkest ambient work. Marked by indigestion-like groans and slow, grating stomach twists, it's relieved by a shimmering warmth and soothing Gaviscon glow; an expertly balanced album.

Also listened to Akira Rabelais's excellent Caduceus from late last year, another album with two poles to it: gorgeous, sinuous threads of sound, and Mego-esque noise bursts sharp like a scalpel. I skipped the latter and savoured the former: as beautiful as anything he's done, slippery threads of guitar tone sliding between faint gritty elements, his trademark processing needling them deep into your ear cavity.

Excerpt below from Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad, shades of the art from Motion Sickness of Time Travel:

Above all from Caduceus, fantastic album. His website remains uniquely odd, based upon changes from the I-Ching, a la Cage. Developed years ago when the web was in its infancy, sad that it still stands out as innovative in an interweb choked with obedient blandness.

His software Argeiphontes Lyre is also available here, Mac users only, although I've never worked out how to access anything from his cryptic website:

Argeiphontes Lyre

And a wee treat: Hollywood:


We'll hear more from Rabelais in future, he's long been a favourite of mine, but I'll leave you with this:

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Latest at Cyclic Defrost:

Andreas Belfi and Ignaz Schick: The Myth of Persistance of Vision Revisited (Zarek)
Patient electroacoustic improv involving gamelan-esque gongs.

Mem1 and Stephen Vitiello: Age of Insects (Dragon's Eye)
Lowercase electronics with cello scrapes.

Donato Wharton – A White Rainbow Spanning the Dark (Serein)
Unremarkable Feneszian guitar haze.

Dalglish – Bennacah Drann (Highpoint Lowlife)
Unique, choppy post-techno.

Sylvgheist Maelstrom – Lahar (Connexion Bizarre)
Portentous, overlong and dreary industrial-electro.

Seth Cluett – Objects of Memory (L-ne)
Very slow and minimal Feldman-esque compositions, lovely.

Kyle Bobby Dunn – Ways of Meaning (Desire Path Recordings)
Sublimely beautiful ambient music, like Eno's Apollo made even more gaseous and amorphous.
Not on Youtube yet but this is from his earlier Young Person's Guide, also recommended:

Tupolev – Towers of Sparks (Valeot)
Piano-led post-rock reminiscent of Radian.

Koji Asano – Galaxies (Solstice)
Field recording as noise dominated by cicadas by prolific and always-interesting Japanese artist.

Luciano Berio – Berio: Differences; Sequenzas III & VII; Due Pezzi; Chamber Music (Newton Classics)
Old Berio classics given another outing. The Sequenza for Voice is particularly wacky, we featured a live performance of it by Majella Byrne for Resonance FM's Dead and Alive.

Marko Cicilliani – Jeanne of the Dark (Ahornfelder)
Strange and cluttered theatre music by a colleague of Terre Thaemlitz, who did the cover art.

Listening: Thursday 19 May 2011

Here's what I heard the past few days:

Grouper: Alien Observer
Various friends recommended this (and the other simultaneously released album) and the press love her, but I feel I'm missing something. Have only skimmed it so far but seems like low-fi nineties shoegaze to me - the source material too obvious, even beneath the clouds of haze. I do like the vocals however, reminds me of Slowdive, but buried beneath all that fog such that it's a faint indecipherable whisper. Still, what am I missing?

Julius Steinhoff: Out in the Woods (Geography)

Stunning Hamburg deep house, emotional and downbeat, with expert use of vocal loops to increase tension. Long, flat, gorgeous. The B1 title track is the best but not on YouTube, so here's the A-side 'Mischief of One Kind and Another', what Max is up to in Where the Wild Things Are.

Mompou: Preludes

Lovely short lightweight piano works, Satie-esque but more naive, childish, less angular.

Got home and listened to CD of Horowitz playing Scarlatti, light and breezy, even in the heavy sad ones. Think I prefer weightier playing in these, but for the others, all the virtuosic speedy pieces, he's great.

The K 466 was used beautifully in Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Climates:

Here is the album:

Horowitz Plays Scarlatti (CBS) (FLAC)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Daily Listening - Tuesday 17 May 2011

One of the reasons I started this thing was to pause and take stock of some of the dataflood that scrolls, almost ceaselessly, through my system. So, starting with a daily listening log, I'm going to try and take note of some of what happens. Not only will I consider what I listen to but more interestingly how, where, and (if I can be arsed) why. This will prompt a realisation of how much listening takes place on ipod, what music I favour in certain situations, how often the turntables revolve, etc. I'll also attempt a quick summary / evaluation of what I've heard.

This is partly inspired by my brother's daily noon photo update on his Facebook page (itself inspired by Paul Auster's Smoke). Fortunately for my brother he leads the sort of pleasantly disordered life such that he's often doing something different each day at 12pm - unlike the majority of us. Mine would be static, repetitive and very boring.

Tuesday 17 May 2011
I get the tram to work each day, leaving the house around 8am. Lately I've been leaving a little earlier to avoid running into my neighbor who, while pleasant, insists on talking and preventing me my solitude. Sometimes I'll listen to music over breakfast with my daughter but not today. Usually it's ambient or classical piano music on CD, quiet like, so as not to wake the whole house.

I'd put some new stuff on the ipod the night before and always listen on the tram, usually to new stuff. Today it was this:

Leyland Kirby: Intrigue and Stuff (Vol. 1)
I love Leyland Kirby, especially as the Caretaker, but it's all good, and so was this - weird, crackly, neon synth workouts, very much of the hypnagogic zeitgeist but not derivative. More Ghost Box than Not Not Fun, slower, and spookier, with faint shades of the school science program stuff the English seem to like. Only heard the first three (of six) tracks from this single but will listen again, and more closely.

CM von Hausswolff: 800,000 Seconds in Harar (Touch)
Von Hausswolff is one of those names I always mean to hear more of but never do, being interested in the psychogeographic concepts he explores in his dense and forbidding drones. The idea here is something about a trip to the titular Ethiopian city as part of a theatre project on Rimbaud, incorporating local field recording - playing children, insects, background hum - over thick drones produced, apparently, using a stringed instrument called the krar. Three parts, the first was outstanding, very beautiful, atmospheric, geographic, all-encompassing.

Deaf Centre: Owl Splinters (Type)
I really liked aspects of Pale Ravine, all that reverb and glacial deepness, but that's been stripped for this, leaving barren, bland 'cinematic' arrangements for strings and piano. Heard the first two tracks and, while pretty, were annoyingly empty. I have a problem with much neo-pseudo classical music of this sort, Dustin O'Halloran's latest being a particular bore, so this move by Deaf Centre is disappointing. Perhaps they're aiming for rawness, a 'Nirvana Unplugged' kind of purity, but I much preferred the moody earlier stuff.

Also listened to:
Philip Sherburne: Best of 2010 'Home' Podcast for Make Like A Tree, freely downloadable here.
Appealing tracklist of hip non-dance tracks from 2010 (Forest Swords, Raime, Wildbirds and Peacedrums etc) mixed by scribe and DJ Sherburne, some of which I'd heard but little of which rocked my boat here. His 2010 house-techno mix however, also available here, is very good and kicks off with Omar S's outstanding Gunnar Wendell remix.

That was the tram to work, on the way home I listened to the Delsin Shopcast for LWE, mixed by Delta Funktionen. Excellent mix of well-paced, not too fast techno, with frequent acid squiggles, captivating.

When I walked in the door the missus was playing something unusual, Country Gazette by Harumi Hosono(of Yellow Magic Orchestra)'s World Standard. She was bored of our usual Mozart, so was I, and this was welcome.

I then put on Kraftwerk's Autobahn LP and we listened to both sides. This was the highlight:

Doubt I'll be able to muster this much info each day, now for tomorrow...

Mix: Preparing for the Aerotropolis

While fretting over recent tumultuous personal events I found solace in the soothing tones of ambient music, and one night I hit the wheels of steel and came up with this. I call it Preparing for the Aerotropolis, a collection of sweet yet anxious pieces, reflecting the nervous yet hopeful state of mind of those awaiting vast change.

Preparing for the Aerotropolis

Ekkehard Ehlers: Rund (mille plateaux)
The Caretaker: It's All Forgotten Now (vv/m)
Philip Jeck: Chime Again (touch)
Loscil: Dub For Cascadia (kranky)
IMPS: Jonty's Way (Jan Jelinek Remix) (mule electronic)
William Basinski: DLP 1.2 (2062)
Brian McBride: Supposed Essay On The Piano (kranky)
Sawako: Air Aif (12k)
JZ+ARKH.CO.UK: Ddrhodes (kompakt)
Akira Rabelais: Pleure De Le Voir Gai Comme Un Oiseau Des Bois (orthlorng musork)
Ulf Lohmann: Falling Down (kompakt)
Brian Eno: An Ending (Ascent) (polydor)

Thank you. I hope that wherever you are the world is just dandy.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Disenchantment / Enchantment

I'm a little late to this party (or rather wake) but this analysis of the contemporary music industry by Stefan Goldmann is right on the money (or rather poverty). Goldmann is something of a modern-day Renaissance Man: house-techno producer, DJ, founder of the Macro label, executor of his late-father's (composer Friedrich Goldmann) estate, experimental producer, agent-provocateur, and overpaid consultant (as he reveals here), and given his attempts to disrupt the bland flow of formulaic 4/4 blagghh with things like syncopated locked groove LPs, synchronised cassette experiments and deconstructed classical edits, he's in a good position to comment.

It's a dreary world out there in music land, a ceaseless flood of dreary bilge, drowning consumers - and fellow producers - in blank data. Goldmann's comment below most perceptively (and cynically) highlight's this situation:

The total de-motivation doesn’t manifest itself only in the musicians’ under achievements, but also in the annoyance of everybody else. A frustrated DJ plays lame tunes in front of people bored to tears.

Goldmann then goes onto urge artists to experiment, leaving the safety of established roads for less-charted ones, but I'm more pessimistic than that. Very few are interested in taking up such a challenge, and even fewer can find success - in any sense - from experimentation. However, now is a fine time to celebrate some of Goldmann's efforts.

Here's his "breakthrough" release, "Sleepy Hollow" for Innervisions. Formulaic tech-house but as good as it gets and still riveting:

B-side "The Bribe" from 2007:

His proggy, operatic anthem "Art of Sorrow", big with Sven back in the day:

His divisive pan-flute remix of Santiago Salazar. I like it:

... And from his intriguing cassette experiment "Haven't I Seen You Before" (excerpt 1):

From his locked groove double LP "The Grand Hemiola":

And last my review for Resident Advisor of Goldmann's Rite of Spring edit, not so successful but an admirable effort, and one we need more of.

Disenchantment has also been responsible for my lack of posts but I'll try and pick up the pace.