By counts of duration and gravity, tape has been the most important instrument in electronic music. It was literally the first technology that was used to make a electronic music, and its experimental potential explored in the early musique concrète and BBC Radiophonic Workshop compositions has helped it sustain as an actively used medium into the 21st century.
Surely as the number of methods of creating electronic music has multiplied, especially in this millenium as the computer has supplanted the main use of tape a recording apparatus, tape appears less and less.
But there are still artists doing inspiring and innovative work with tape, and this post focuses on a few that show new possibilities yet with the oldest electronic music tool. Last decade’s wave of tape noise is more or less avoided here since a lot of that has been properly lionized.
Groove Cafe has covered Whitney Johnson before and probably will again. In her solo work as Matchess, WJ was using tape as a long time as a method of playing back samples, but recently she’s been employing it for long, overlapping tones in an Eliane Radigue type style:
With Laura Callier in Simulation, WJ would record the first half of their set in real time, and then play it back for the second half of their set, creating, yes you guessed it, a live simulation. Erica Gamble has provided both of these videos.
Continue reading Groove du Jour: Tape Music Today
Irreversible Entanglements was formed for an event commemorating the killing of Akil Gurley by the NYPD back in 2015, and that urgent spark has ignited into a blaze as state violence against black bodies has not just sustained brazenness but given way to near-giddy expressions of hate from America’s chief executive down to the clammy-handed white supremacist in a polo. The group’s improvisation and poetry harkens back to the genesis of free jazz as radical, revolutionary fire music. Their performance can drain all the blood from your skin.
Irreversible Entanglements is comprises series of radical musicians in their own right. The founding trio was Camae Ayewa, recording in the black power electronics solo project Moor Mother and in a fantastic collab with DJ Haram called 700 Bliss; Luke Stewart, who is one of the finest bass players in America currently; and fearsome sax player Keir Neuringer, who has been affiliated with the likes of Dutch group Ensemble Klang and Dromedaries. Irreversible Entanglements put out an album on International Anthem last year and it’s really great.
This video was recorded by Don Mount at the Arts for Art festival in New York.
Ah, the master. It’s really easy to piss off a man in a baseball cap and/or holding a BFA in composition by saying Suzanne Ciani is a better Buchla player than Morton Subotnick, but look at her do it! We really are lucky that SC was drawn back to the synthesizer after years crunching away at the piano’s dizzying arithmetic. She edged closer to Western melody for so many years that she devoted her talents to it exclusively, only to be yanked back by banana cables’ short drag. Another way to put it is that her music has such lucid compositional intent, rare in all-synthesizer work.
Suzanne Ciani’s only contemporary recording that has been released so far is a fantastic collaboration with Kaitlin Aurelia Smith, and if you enjoy the video above you should absolutely check out live recordings of hers from 1975 released a couple of years ago. But if you want the most heavenly Ciani, listen to Seven Waves and Velocity of Love back to back, on loop, all day.
ADT’s new record Insecurities is totally fricking phenomenal. It’s also something of a moment for the Chicago scene. Yes, Insecurities is the culmination of years of work by one of the most exciting bands in town. But it’s also a snapshot of a group of players who come from all these different pockets of the Chicago scene, making the band something of a local super group.
So, to give you a little context for who these people are and what they do. Here are a whole bunch of videos of members of ADT playing in other projects. Most of these videos were shot by the incredibly Erica Gamble. Ok, let’s do this alphabetically by band member.
Jake Acosta writes the songs for and leads the sophisitipop band Famous Laughs.
He used to perform solo as Jazz Baat (in this video joined by fellow ADT member Carlos Chavarria)
Continue reading Groove du Jour: The ADT Cornucopia
Stunning synth drone brimming with tension from Kaori Suzuki. The Oakland artist deals in that timeless style of modular synth work surveying that puzzling area between overtones. It reconfigures how sound works in spaces, like rooms or grey substrate between ears. When tones are so often means to an end, it’s always remarkable when an artist so deftly concentrates on just a few.
Suzuki builds synths as well as playing them, and founded the synth company Magic Echo Music. They made a really neat device to let a computer control a Serge synthesizer, that legendary synth system designed by a mad genius professor at Cal Arts in the 70s.
This video was shot by Bill Russell at Studio Grand in Oakland.
Smokin’ post-post-Kraftwerk beatdowns from one half of Chicago’s gonzo noise rock /electroterror duo King Tuts Tomb. Kurt Vise has been the relatively recent solo project where Kenny Klemeir dives into some quantized groovin’ over the course of these sets where elements like bass lines, drum machine patterns, and synths blend into each other endlessly. Truly the man machine at work. Very Deutsche.
Kurt Vise might now be known more often as KV, but be sure to check out the tape that he put out on Potions‘ Pretty Alright label last year. Kenny also played on Jake Acosta’s stellar tape on that very label, First Corridor.
The video was shot by Erica Mei Gamble.
Sick Llama is maybe the best noise solo act in America? The best noise comes from Detroit, and Sick Llama may just be the best classic noise jammer jamming in Detroit. Especially the past few years, Sick Llama sets have often veered out of harsh territory into the deep, heavy, and incredibly psychedelic. This video provides a really good example of where he’s at, with plenty of broken tape loops, fried manipulations of synth recordings, and, of course, the clarinet.
Heath Moerland is also proprietor of the soon-to-be-finito Fag Tapes label (once it hits 1000 releases, sometime soon apparently). He is also a purveyor of all sorts of merchandise brandishing the truly excellent graphic that goes “Music is a Natural High.” Sure is.
This was video was recorded by Erica Mei Gamble at an edition of the Resonance Series, booked by Ben Baker Billington and Sullivan Roger Davis.