Christina Schneider and Zach Phillips are CE Schneider Topical, a project centered around the duo's whimsical art-songs transformed by eccentric, manual arrangements which are recorded straight to a Tascam 388. "Exit All Seasons" is a track taken from the band's latest LP, Antifree, and set to glitchy digital animation created by Greg O'Connell of quiet hooves. The accompanying video peers into a digital city and gives the audience a passive tour of the decaying simulacrum of avatars' daily routines inside a misfiring graphics card. Like other quirky releases in the OSR extended family, there is an outsider, DIY charm channeled through Phillips and Schneider's dedication to live takes and reel-to-reel recording. Phillip's description of the process from OSR's website reads, "it's thick with the elusive art of multitracking : not that clever craft of 'production' so beloved by intellectual materialists but a multitracking that is instrumental and personal in nature , a pan-dimensionaliztion (sic) of ear ." Seeing the humanism of the band's recording process set against the video's digital disassociation reinforces the idea of music-making as human act. On their latest, CE Schneider Topical embraces the aesthetics of home-recording as a way to further their creative message, conciously favoring analog takes rather than letting their music be diluted by digital automation.
This article originally appeared in AdHoc Issue 11. Order a physical copy here and a digital copy here. Subscribe here.
Whatever you now find, weird, ugly, uncomfortable, and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD Distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit—all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. —Brian Eno, “A Year with Swollen Appendices”
You don’t hear a lot of people talking about glitch music these days, but the affected and repurposed sample is arguably even more ubiquitous than it was in ’90s. Just think of the the pixelated, percussive blasts of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Sicario score—or, for that matter, the shudders and squeals of the sound design for the Transformers franchise, largely composed of re-pitched found sounds.
In the realm of underground electronic music, examples of similar auditory wreckage—plasticine digital samples, melting synth textures—abound. A current crop of producers treats field recordings, YouTube clips, and fluctuating patches as physical entities to be molded, re-pitched, and chopped into unidentifiable new shapes. Noteworthy examples include the choir of fragmented voices on Holly Herndon’s “Chorus”; the leathery bass scrunch of M.E.S.H.’s “Piteous Gate”; the spasmodic artillery blasts that open Arca’s “Mutant”; the shuddering cybernetic vocal jumble on Amnesia Scanner & Bill Kouligas’s “LEXACHAST.”
The present-day vogue for defacing source material and exploring the limits of recording software follows a long tradition. Musicians have been testing their medium’s malfunctions since before digital recording technology became widely available, from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s implementation of radio in “Kontakte” (1958-60) to Steve Reich’s “It’s Gonna Rain” (1965), which integrated the idiosyncrasies of the tape machine into the composition process. Fast-forward to 1994, when the art of equipment-tampering and accidental sounds gave rise to “glitch,” a loosely defined subgenre of electronic music popularized by Autechre, Mouse on Mars, and especially Mille Plateaux, a Frankfurt-based electronic label whose roster included Oval, Thomas Köner, Tim Hecker, Gas, and more.
In a relatively short amount of time, Angelo Harmsworth has amassed a modest but impressive discography of beautifully unnerving, polished-yet-lo-fi drone music. Highlighted best on Silent Orgasm (Bathetic, 2012), Fluxus Rainbow (Patient Sounds, 2014), and Cerrillos Discos (released on his own Lime Lodge imprint last year), the Santa Fe-based musician effortlessly mixes the sinister with the serene. Harmsworth now returns with Blush, the first vinyl edition released by Denmark-based cassette imprint Phinery. "Blossom I" unveils the first taste of the LP with an austere drift of slightly serrated tones. Harmsworth's take on no-frills drone music carries the baton last held by the fringe imprints Ekhein or Phaserprone, eschewing unnecessary frills for more minimal, intimate presentation. The song's video, directed by Jenny Sundby, follows some anonymous protagonist in a variety of waking lives. Sundby compliments the random, vulnerable but natural motions with low-key meditations on light peeking through a window shade, perfectly capturing the song's vaguely hermetic feeling.
ALTO!—a Portland, OR three-piece comprised of Derek Monypeny, Kyle Reid Emory, and Steven T. Stone—have a new music video (or is it a music documentary?) chronicling the adventures of the trademarked Alto! red rhythm sedan, focusing on the recurring excitement of rolling through Teen Frenzy, USA. “Piece 14,” the first song on the band’s upcoming LP 3 from Trouble in Mind Records, is a conglomerate of the band’s influences from noise, long-form psych, and African drumming. An ambling rhythm makes way for scattered free-form freakouts throughout the piece, all the while drawing in elements of instrumental music from around the world, not surprising for a band whose guitarist Derek Monypeny has associations with Sublime Frequencies, and published this amazing tour diary while accompanying Hisham Mayet in Morocco.
It's a tale often told: in late 2013, John Olson of iconic Detroit avant-garde troupe Wolf Eyes told the Miami New Times that noise was over—and that Wolf Eyes were, in his words, "what I call a trip metal band." Two-and-a-half years and several thousand memes later, what trip metal is exactly remains unclear. Nonetheless, there's a whole festival now for the genre Olson coined: Trip Metal Fest in Detroit, taking place this weekend (May 27 to 29). The festival (which has free admissions) features performances by Hieroglyphic Being with Marshall Allen and Danny Ray Thompson of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Rubber (O) Cement, Morton Subotnick, and several more luminaries in the world of out-there music. There will also be film screenings, including a never-before-seen film by Aaron Dilloway and Andrew W.K. called Poltergeist, as well as Tony Conrad's Articulation of Boolean Algebra for Film Opticals and Kenneth Anger's My Demon Brother. Are all of these things "trip metal"? Maybe, maybe not. In any event, we got some oblique background on the "genre" and the fest from Wolf Eyes co-founders John Olson and Nate Young, plus the group's manager (and festival co-organizer) Forest Juziuk.
Nate Young: Trip Metal is elevating the role of confusion and jokes over the endless discussion of authenticity—the threat of joking is the ultimate destroyer of creativity. People ask if something is authentic, but they don't ask if it's good or funny—or confusing which is a feeling that encompasses all that. We are concerned with rejected people, total misfits, and freak scenes from every era. These are our people. People freaked out about noise being dead, but trip metal is just an injection of confusion—why splinter the misfits? We're all in this; there's no reason to take sides.
Forest Juziuk: While wrapping up TM Fest, we realized we had gone into the red—not by much—but it was an exciting realization because we put this together with no corporate money or sponsorships outside of the Knight Foundation grant, private donations, and the good will of a lot of our friends playing, who agreed to not a lot of money.
We're so used to seeing massive bureaucratic institutions go into the red blowing a ton of money on weird, inhuman festivals that we thought: what if Trip Metal was free? We're going to refund the tickets, give people an option to donate to cover the additional costs we incur (which there most definitely will be), and give Detroit a free, all -ges festival of experimental music. It rules. It's so crazy that it's happening.
I've been managing Wolf Eyes for a couple years now and I run the archive, so I feel like I've begun to have an understanding of all the influences that make up their sound and inform noise in general and I feel like we got a pretty great cross-section of weirdness to showcase—including Morton Subotnick's first-ever Detroit appearance. To me, the festival is almost a giant context-builder for Wolf Eyes and noise/experimental/electronic music in general. I consider this the unofficial 20 Years of Wolf Eyes Party.
John Olson on jazz: Wolf sound has always been jazzy influence. The double title "dread" was taken from concept of playing around and adding to the big solid electronic back beat that can be seen as a musical "head." The soloist—language has always added the detail and flow of the jams, especially now in this era. There has always been a simple sketch or rhythm and the jamming over that sketch has been the M.O. from nearly the start of the trio years. Great concern upon lines, harmony, embouchure, and note selection is commonplace in the post Stare Case blues structure Wolf game nowadays. Jazz has always been about personal communication in as many combinations and the "playing" of said ideas as immediately possible. The Eyes shake hands with that concept daily—as well as the music of Clifford Brown, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Jackie Mclean, Eric Dolphy, Art Tatum, Bud Shank, Gerry Mulligan, Sun Ra, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Lol Coxhill, Abe Kaoru, and countless others. "Jazz it Up."
Nate Young on Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica: Beef-man is self-taught and I listened to Trout Mask until it flipped backwards on my cassette copy on my first trip across country—15 years old—heading to Tucson to get a GED with my pet rat Jack in a bowling bag. Never got that GED but kept on listening to the tape backwards. Then I bought and heard Pussy Galore and Caroliner on the same day. Toxic Ranch Records, Tucson.
On Morton Subotnick's Silver Apples of the Moon: My ex Anna's sister died when she young. She was a magician's assistant, and that was one of the records Anna treasured. Never heard it before then. Heard of it, but never was able to get a copy. Anna introduced me to hip-hop and graffiti culture too. She was a good five to seven years older than me. Older women have always been a big thing in my life.
On Detroit, Michigan: I moved to Detroit with Anna. Southfield and Warren. She was a major player in my Wolf background. She sent me to Europe with frequent flyer miles—first Euro tour. Dilloway too. Love that woman but she got tired of my childish, broke-ass self. Alivia and I moved back to Detroit because we were going to gigs so much in Detroit and needed studio space.
Beginning with an ambling rhythm and a lolling, meditative piano, “You” showcases Durham, NC three-piece Ama Divers’ bewitching penchant for startling beauty. While the song’s instrumental portion is hypnotic, most striking are Renee Mendoza Haran’s vocals. Though many may be familiar with Mendoza Haran’s vocals in the darkwave project Ashrae Fax, in Ama Divers, she flips the script, trading her affected howls and siren calls for a more simple and pure approach. Backed by husband Brian Haran and Chris Girard, Renee’s imploring, reverberating croon—dressed in all its sincerity—floats lithely into the least fortified district of the human heart. “Knock at your door at the beginning/Knock at your door at the end/ You let me in,” she incants, a reminder of a time it was okay to be unguarded, before cynicism, before sarcasm passed for humor, before questioning intentions or words or love - when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
As Machine Listener, Cleveland-based Matthew Gallagher artist, musician, and occasional AdHoc writer, creates enormous and agile sets of noise music that skirts blunt of brutal tendencies of the genre for more curious, engaged experiences. Endless Coil, Gallagher's latest release, ventures even further into glorious and otherworldly treks of sound and away from some of the more abrasive areas the project has mined in the past. The opening motif rockets into the air in a spiraling din of Terry Riley-esque noise, shimmering in a trail of frayed and shifting sound. The display soon dissolves into a massive, undulating drift similar to Beat-era Bowery Electric and focusing its powers on both terrestrial and celestial bliss points. Gallagher steers things into more minimal realms, ditching the layers of tones and textures for a simple, optimistic but eerie bell melody. The B-side unfurls a slow and sedate but robust shroud of amplified electronics, burning through worn but sturdy organ drones as though John Cale's early New York recordings were slowed to a smear.
Omake Club, a Tokyo-based collective of rappers and beatmakers, has built a reputation over the past year as a hidden hiphop gem, regularly releasing EPs and demos for free download on their Bandcamp. With a small roster of creative young producers, the Omake sound takes cues from Japan’s strong pop legacy (think 80's acts like BaBe or Go Bangs) and combines them with sharp, old school hiphop sensibilities. Now, 2016 shows the label taking an ambitous step forward with two full-length releases from experienced producer YOSA and experimental pop artist Zombie-Chang. Adding to Omake's four-deep catalog of LPs, the two latest albums are some of the collective’s most fully-realized projects to date, and foreshadow what's set to be the young label’s most impressive year yet.
orion showcases YOSA’s abilities across a range of genres from Omake's standard playful beats to more lush, R&B-influenced grooves. A preview of the album is available to stream and for free download here, with the full album available via Omake’s online store.
Zombie Change is Zombie-Chang’s phenomenal follow up to her 2015 恋のバカンス EP. The album marries exciting production with the young pop star’s charismatic vocals for ten tracks of pristine electropop. The full album is available through Omake’s online store and the video for standout single GOODBYE MY LOVE AND TURN AROUND can be viewed below.
Chicago’s South Side has been home to an impressive burst of creative young energy in the last five years, producing a new generation of extraordinarily dedicated artists and organizers. Most prominent among these are Chance the Rapper and his #SAVEMONEY buddies, but anyone on the ground knows that these names barely scratch the surface of talent at work in the city. For all their myriad musical styles and attitudes, if this young generation of artists shares one quality above all else, it’s their sincerity — sincere in their love for their city, and sincere in their efforts to lift it up.
TASHA’s debut EP Divine Love is about as sincere a tribute to Chicago as one gets. The newcomer’s vocals sit in that sweet spot between emcee and crooner, providing listeners with three tracks of agile verses that flow effortlessly through butter-smooth hooks and back. The eleven minute EP runs strong throughout, but of particular note is closing track (We Got) Power [feat. Ethos]. With the repeated exaltation “We got power, Black Power” and an assist from Chicago-based activist, poet, and rapper, Ethos, TASHA has gifted us with an unexpected but necessary revolutionary hymn. If Kendrick’s Alright has been adopted as the de facto Black Lives Matter anthem for our generation to belt out as we storm the streets, (We Got) Power is the refrain we’ll hum on a summer drive, windows down.
The full EP is available to stream on Soundcloud below and up for download on her Bandcamp.
Is This Venue Accessible is a website that catalogues whether or not music venues are accessible to people with disabilities. Started by Birth (Defects) singer and Accidental Guest Recordings proprietor Sean Gray, the site has built up a comprehensive database of accessibility specs for venues both legal and less-than-legal in cities across the globe. "Accessibility for people with disability isn't just ramps," says Gray, "and access to the outside, but access to music, art, and culture." Impressively detailed and easily search-able, Is This Venue Accessible is now both adding capabilities (such as music festival information) and developing an app to make planning concert trips even more user-friendly. They're currently courting developers for the latter venture, but even if you can't code, you can always submit information about your favorite (or least favorite) venues on their site.