Author Archive

ALVA NOTO: Xerrox Vol. 2 (Raster-Noton)

Max Schaefer on Mar 23rd 2009 11:13 pm

Alva Noto: Xerrox Vol. 2

Xerrox Vol. 2
Raster-Noton 2009
11 Tracks.  66mins32 secs

Carsten Nicolai’s conceptual bent and experimental drive get relativized in a larger whole on this, the second edition of the Xerrox series.  The former, led again by Nicolai’s interest in clarity, precision, and finesse, are made to bleed into a previously untapped luxuriance.

Samples from Michael Nyman, Stephen O’Malley and Ryuichi Sakamoto are processed to varying degrees, and often occupy a delicate, fragile place between their original coherent identity and a unintelligible, anonymous state.  As a result, though the composerly feel for pace and dynamics is apparent, and though the arcs are finely wrought, the skillfully maintained ambiguity of these musical interfaces ensures that dubiously unresolved tensions characterize them equally as much. Continue Reading »

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FRAET: For Another Day (Benbecula Records)

Max Schaefer on Mar 9th 2009 10:51 pm

Fraet: For Another Day

For Another Day
Benbecula Records 2009
07 Tracks. 38mins34secs

For Another Day sees Tokyo-based electronic artist Fraet – who now and again also operates as Fjordne – relax into a selection of enchantingly faint techno pads that ping outward like splash rings in a pool of fresh melodic color.  In turning simple electronic tones and elastic percussion into slippery grooves, Fraet is decidedly unfussy, allowing them to carry on insistently, become entangled with competing patterns, and finally be taken asunder by the rich and luminous lumpen melancholy of the underwater ambience, which, gaining as it does in opulence near the end of the effort – provide some intimacy and perspective on the proceedings as a whole. Continue Reading »

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AUS: After All (Flau)

Max Schaefer on Feb 3rd 2009 11:29 pm

Aus: After All

After All
Flau 2008
11 Tracks. 56mins06secs

The lines traced between After All, Yasuhiko Fukuzono’s sixth full-length effort, and his previous works are distant and intimate at once. The album is indeed leagues away from the staggering beat patterns and temperamental pulses that sparked a wealth of variation in the homemade blueprints of past recordings now arrogated to the archives.

After All is no longer predominantly instrumental, but a thoroughly vocal-based work, which raises little melodic buds from the underlying networks of piano and computer. At the same time, intimacy is shared between the two periods inasmuch as the crafty yet elegant programming remains. Continue Reading »

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RICHARD SKELTON: Marking Time (Preservation)

Max Schaefer on Jan 27th 2009 12:58 am

Richard Skelton: Marking Time

Marking Time
Preservation 2008
07 Tracks. 40mins54secs

Richard Skelton doesn’t mark time in the sense of someone wading through the nugatory paradise of the weekend, but of someone partaking in an attentive re-collection of moments, corroded and crumbling. There’s no point in progress in a work such as this. Skelton embraces entropy at a stroke and only continues to settle in. Continue Reading »

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OBA MASAHIRO: Prot (Symbolic Interaction)

Max Schaefer on Jan 21st 2009 01:32 am

Oba Masahiro: Prot

Symbolic Interaction 2008
09 Tracks. 45mins39secs

Staunch pastiche’s accrue in Oba Masahiro’s debut effort Prot and swiftly erode, enabling him to build out from a zero point with renewed vitality.  A grating swirl of heavily processed sound surfaces at first, with keyboard and percussion putatively detectable in the mix, occasional sunbursts of cymbal breaking through.  Masahiro then bleaches and reduces the same basic palette in a long, breezy susurrus that seems to have no obvious limits or durational boundaries; you’re just a part of it and then it’s over.  Continue Reading »

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RENFRO: Mathematics (Meltwater Records)

Max Schaefer on Jan 4th 2009 09:35 pm

Renfro: Mathematics

Meltwater Records 2008
11 Tracks. 38mins54secs

The mathematics of this UK based duo consists in playing with the quantity, structure, space and change of symbols associated with the pop and avant-garde realms, respectively. The tracks are equally beholden to West-Coast vocal harmonies, traditional song structures and to spectral groans and fizzing static. It’s a disarmingly simple idea, but owing to the quick combinatorics, the resulting music is rich and complex. Continue Reading »

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THE 2008 REVIEW: Max Schaefer

Max Schaefer on Dec 21st 2008 08:19 pm

The 2008 Review

Before the year leaves we acknowledge our debts, we try and address those with and through whom we live.  While discrete exchanges of information happen nearly all the time today, those who approach with a face and speak to us remain few and far between.  Musically, this is achieved by those who, against a backdrop of emulsion, of input-output, and controlled chain reactions, resist the draw of the digital download or the anonymity of standard jewel casing and interrupt, confound, and challenge with a body of work whose meanings are quite insidiously written all over it.  My thanks, then, to the following labels who seek to maintain this dimension in music: Spekk, Symbolic Interaction, And/Oar, Helen Scarsdale, Crouton, Mystery Sea, Room40, Gears of Sand, Die Stadt, Twenty Hertz, Edition Sonoro, Sedimental, Afe, Data Bloem, Data Obscura, Noble, Cronica, The Land Of, Experimedia, Kvitnu, 12k, Line, Winds Measure Recordings, Infraction, Dynamophone, Die Schachtel, Sirr, Leerraum [], Staubgold, Samadhisound, Schole, Flau, Elevator Bath, Palace of Lights, and countless others.  A few noteworthy pennyworths:

Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet: Breadwinner


The Breadwinner

Header: line Continue Reading »

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STEINBRÃœCHEL: Home (Slaapwel Records)

Max Schaefer on Dec 11th 2008 12:43 am

Steinbrückel: Home

Slaapwel Records 2008
01 Track. 33mins36sec

Steinbrüchel’s high quality manipulation of guitar recordings from Daisuke Miyatani is pleasantly calming, almost indifferent, as though a light squall of rain at sea.  The instrumental colors are constrained, the harmonics scant, but the texture and friction is delightfully varied and yet fluent.  Rich, vibrant chords first lap up against scratchy textures and humid atmospherics, until they settle into a slow breathing that forms an organic polyphony with stately, levitating electronic tones and waves of low end fuzz. Continue Reading »

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B. FLEISCHMANN: Angst Is Not A Weltanschauung! (Morr Music)

Max Schaefer on Dec 10th 2008 11:32 pm

B. Fleischmann: Angst Is Not A Weltanschauung!

Angst Is Not A Weltanschauung!
Morr Music 2008
09 Tracks. 54mins48secs

Bernhard Fleischmann’s habitually dark electronic textures and minor key harmonics luxuriate in fresh, expansive grooves on Angst Is Not A Weltanschauung!, his most explicitly pop album yet.  An embryonic indie rock quality is whipped into shape on a number of pieces by stuttering drum machine hi-hats and cockily affirmative vocal twists.  At times the accessible minor key phrases evoke the grinding of large bodies and come off rather well.  The brooding, sexy male-female vocalizing of Last Time We Met At A T&tt Concert, for one, entwines effortlessly with a cavernous, tub thumping rhythm. Continue Reading »

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Diaspora: Cottage Industries 5 (Neo Ouija)

Max Schaefer on Nov 27th 2008 10:14 pm

V/A: Diaspora: Cottage Industries 5

Diaspora: Cottage Industries 5
Neo Ouija 2008
30 Tracks. 148mins10secs

Rather than pillage and plunder its own heritage, Neo Ouija exceeds itself and the tradition it helped rear by compiling this two disc set of melodic techno that is not so much machinistic as it is fragile, flawed, and human. The first half of this newly fallen apple clearly has a firm grasp of the language of melodic techno, and individual pieces update its cut and splice idioms with contemporary digital textures. The selection is first-rate, with each artist represented by strong compositions. Continue Reading »

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BETA TWO AGONIST: Autumn Perdue (Databloem Records)

Max Schaefer on Nov 16th 2008 07:29 pm

Beta Two Agonist: Autumn Perdue

Autumn Perdue
Databloem Records 2008
08 Tracks. 52mins53secs

Autumn Perdue has a well-defined identity, yet the music is continuously allusive, evoking diverse compositional styles and traditions.  The album comprises a series of interconnected miniatures, sprung from an over-arching tension between the mellifluous and the abstract, the judiciously hesitant and the prudent.  Kamunyak bears out these family resemblances, its careworn fuzziness being overlaid with static, a clip-clop beat, and some random noise, as if a satellite signal had begun to drift away.

It’s all arranged in a manner that is adventurously loose and full of rich, slow-burning incidents that heat up and flicker away in an exquisitely subdued manner. Continue Reading »

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AIDAN BAKER & TIM HECKER: Fantasma Parastasie (Alien8 Recordings)

Max Schaefer on Nov 13th 2008 10:49 pm

Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker: Fantasma Parastasie

Fantasma Parastasie
Alien8 Recordings 2008
66 Tracks. 33mins48secs

This Fantasma Parastasie sees Canadian musicians Tim Hecker and Aidan Baker fuse together in a constantly shifting surge punctuated throughout with barks, growls and excited panting in the dark from Hecker’s seemingly endless store of electronic distortions and Baker’s fractured instrumentation, which ambles to the rhythm of madness, joy and sheer exultation.

Phantom On A Pedestal supplies the first rumble of revolutionary thunder, opening with an astonishing array of guttural squeaks, burps, groans, and gasps: what sounds like their very souls were straining to burst free. Continue Reading »

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