T_ZERO_3 – Touch Sampler 3

CD – 27 tracks

Track list:

1. Unknown Artist (Untitled) (0:17)
2. Unknown Artist Hole In The Universe (1:36)
3. Panasonic Otaksuma (5:03)
4. Unknown Artist (Untitled) (0:08)
5. Chris Watson Out Of Our Sight (2:59)
6. AER Brightness Contrast Volume (5:22)
7. Unknown Artist A Television (0:23)
8. Biosphere Knives In Hens (6:35)
9. Unknown Artist Prediction (0:29)
10. Philip Jeck 16/17 Rehearsal (8:18)
11. Unknown Artist Temple Garden (2:52)
12. Unknown Artist North. Speed (0:35)
African Music Village, Holland Park, London: Instrument Demonstrations
13. Bagamoyo Group Of Tanzania I. Drums (1:04)
Featuring Basil Mbatta
14. Bagamoyo Group Of Tanzania II. 9-String Iseze (2:17)
Featuring Hukwe Zawose
15. Bagamoyo Group Of Tanzania III. 13-String Iseze (3:11)
Featuring M. Arnot
16. Bagamoyo Group Of Tanzania IV. Marimba 1 (1:24)
Featuring John Bohnar
17. Bagamoyo Group Of Tanzania V. Marimba 2 (2:16)
Featuring Hukwe Zawose
18. Bagamoyo Group Of Tanzania VI. Drum Chime (1:30)
Featuring Hamisi Waziri Digalu
19. Rehberg & Bauer Opla (1:31)
20. Disinformation Live At The MOI. Simulation (2:02)
21. Unknown Artist Kitchen Appliances (1:05)
22. Farmers Manual DspKILL (4:30)
23. Unknown Artist (Untitled) (0:13)
24. Bruce Gilbert Voice (1:38)
25. Chris Watson Demonic Laughter (4:05)
26. Unknown Artist Don’t Try This At Home (0:12)
27. Scala Fuser (4:53)
Cello – Mikhael Junod


Illuminations (Turkey):

Right after being welcomed by two unnamed recordings, coded as tracks 1 and 2; partially naked, partially droney minimalistic ambience of Panasonic opens the real show of Touch Sampler 3. The marvelous natural-ambience of Chris Watson is also here with two pieces ( on tracks 5 and 25 ), from his new CD “Outside The Circle Of Fire” .In both, sounds are flowing so vigorous and nearly-breathing that by multiple listenings you can feel yourself like a real piece of the puzzle, or an unidentified protagonist of these rituals of environment, more than just a silent witness. AER is presented with 3 recordings in one track. Actually, the third is the most interesting of them, an atmosphere recording of a reading room in the British Library. You can either forget the description and hear how even locked mouths can humanize the air, or activate your dada and listen to he crescendo of dozens of voices, each reading a different line from a different story, loudly…Biosphere’s “Knives in Hens” is made of heartbeats veiled in randomly drifting noises, while a string harmony is slowly appearing on the soundstage of the song. After the ethereal show of Philip Jeck’s feedback-washed semi-metallic sonorities, a series of African Music demonstrations from African Music Village take the turn. These 8 tracks are only solo pieces played with such instruments like the guitar sounding Iseze, the odd Marimba and drums… Rehberg & Bauer’s magnetic picture of looped frequencies, thin signals and waterphoney background follows Disinformation’s long audio-torture. The buzzing sound miniatures of Farmer’s Manual gets more consecutive in every passing second of dspKILL while they become more straching and disturbing at the same time…The funny human voice collage of Bruce Gilbert, already reserved place of Chris Watson’s second song and a wonderful final of Scala’s Fusion/Wave Dynamics “Fuser”, icy words into inebriating mantras, mechanical beats married to soft harmonies… [O.S.]

VITAL (Netherlands):

“This label and it’s amazing catalogue requires (?) no introduction to those who regularly scan this screensheet. So now that I’ve got that over with I’ll just carry on with my imaginary review again. This is the third in a series of compilations which do not always contain material which has been (or has yet to be) included on other releases. This makes them items in themselves and this particular one struck me as being the strangest yet. Recordings of Temple Gamelans and demonstrations of African instruments are sandwiched between short audio photographs and longer pieces by some of the regular composers whose work appears on Touch and it’s various related labels.The latter are, for me, the most interesting, ‘cos I’m not too keen on Gamelans, me. (Maybe it has something to do with Paul Schutze slowing them down all the time ?) There are two pieces from ‘the legendary’ Chris Watson, who achieved some success with his previous full-length CD ‘Stepping Into The Dark’, a collection of field recordings from around the planet. This time he considerably closed the distance between himself and his unwitting subjects capturing hyperreal, very, very close recordings of selected natural environments and most especially the creatures that inhabit them. I did review ‘Stepping Into The Dark’ when it came out and was perhaps a little too dismissive and cynical about it. Despite this, however, I use it continually on radio and at gigs, especially the beastly track with the rooks. Then there’s the spooky piece ‘Knives In Hens’ by the very Biosperical Geir Jenssen, as we don’t normally hear him. Was this recorded from transducers implanted into an extraterrestrial, I wonder ? Rehberg & Bauer (the Twins of Digihurt), Farmers Manual, Bruce Gilbert and Philip Jeck all provide sound structures which many used to think harsh, but which now, thanks to the efforts of labels like Touch, Mego and Sahko, have become almost easy listening. Disinformation aka Joe Banks has created a simulation of a live gallery event which proved to difficult to record on location… there’s a new sound object coming out very soon (on vinyl, I fink) on the late label ASH. This inclusion really rocks ! And the whole thing ends with a piece by Scala (a group which includes Darren Seymour – Seefeel, and Mark Van Hoen – Locust, both who I think can – and do – make far better music elsewhere), a band I simply cannot get to grips with. Release date of this compilation is 23 February. Get it. Got it ?” [MP]

Dddd (UK):

“[This CD will be]…cursed with the description of being “fascinating”. Some of the awkward squad don’t want fascinating food, they want delicious food – even if it makes them fat and turns them into an Ocean Colour Scene fan. This album passes the test of “needing-the-repeat-button” because of the final track – it’s called Fuser, it’s by Scala, it starts with the familiar drum machines doing the things that immediately tell you this track is going to be delicious, the familiar gentle keyboards, the x-gasmic little tweety riffy things, a woman casually saying that she doesn’t have an original thought in her head. Nice, isn’t it. Relax. Don’t think there’s a written exam before we get into heaven. Kinives in Hens by Biosphere is one of the best things I’ve ever heard from them – a train-going-thru-a-tunnel echoey rhythmic thing that makes your ears feel brittle. There’s some Gamelan stuff here. DspKill by Farmers Manual is very Ovoid…um, that’s me trying to to be clever and saying that they sound like Oval. Panasonic are here too, Otaksuma, is more minimal than ever and I hope this is the direction they continue to travel. Elsewhere there are deposits by Philip Jeck, Disinformation, and Rehberg & Bauer. Chris Watson records a nightjar on the Zambesi, and some jays in a jungle. There’s the Bagamoyo Group of Tanzania playing some fine/funny/joyful tracks in Holland Park. There’s a tv. There’s AER’s recording of the domed/doomed reading room in the Old British Library (RIP)…….and yes, oh lordy me yes yes yes (and I wish it was “no”), there’s dear old Bruce Gilbert, and you know exactly what his track is gonna be like even before you know the title – “Voices”. Yep. This is an album that intrigues and tells us many things – it tells us that Scala are stars, that Biosphere and Panasonic are getting even better, and it tells us that it really is time Bruce Gilbert bought a tweed jacket and took up Fell-walking.”

The Wire (UK):

“AER, who also turns out to be designer Jon Wozencroft, also crops up on Touch Sampler 3 (Touch TZERO3CD), with a piece that resurrects the lost ambience of the British Library dome. He’s in the company of professional location recording recordist Chris Watson here, plus an engaging variety of tape segments: Philip Jeck, a Tanzanian group featuring Hukwe Zawose, and a Bali gamelan ensemble all captured during rehearsals; an unrecordable Disinformation installation; a piece for theatre by Norway’s Biosphere; and unquantifiable sundries from Farmers Manual, Rehberg & Bauer and Panasonic.”

fused (net):

“As Bruce himself would say (Bruce Lee, that is): “It’s like a finger pointing at the moon, don’t look at the finger, or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory”. That’s why I avoid using genre terms as much as I possibly can, and with labels like Touch that’s a doubly good idea.

Here they compile an extraordinary range of sounds: from up to the minute electronic experimentation via the superb Farmers Manual, Rehberg & Bauer, Disinformation and the icy Panasonic and Biosphere, to “on location” recordings from the banks of the Zambezi, weird dialogue, the obligatory gamelan bashers, disorienting overtones, and a recording of the Reading Room at the British Library as it was – an unrepeatable gem for the archives. Chill out to those page-turning vibes!

Without a doubt this will be lost on a lot of people but hardcore ambient heads (ambient as in musique concrete, not tie-dye acid blarps) will recognise the chilly but quality choice, and the electronica is suitably alien. Anything can happen in the next 30 seconds.” [Jonny]

REMIX (Japan):

“It’s a compilation of TOUCH, which is a Electro-accoustic, post-rock label in U.K. Including 27 tracks. Among them Panasonic and Biosphere are well known and we are glad when we can listen to such an artists’ track in this compilation. Moreover, almost all tracks are unreleased one so not only beginners but also fan of such musicians cannot ignore this CD. From natural sound to machine noise – from feedback to soft sounds – I’d like you to enjoy various sounds in this CD to your heart content.” [Hidetosi Tatsumi]

Last Sigh (net):

“Touch has released another CD in their series of “Samplers.” This is the third, and it contains 27 tracks that are best described as explorations or investigations of sound. Sampler.3 includes very brief samples and snippets of voices and atmospheres, field recordings, demonstrations of indiginous instruments, as well as songs and compositions that generally fall at the more extreme end of the experimental musical spectrum. The short moments of speech and incidental recordings — most of them untitled and no more than 10-20 seconds in length — that separate many of the pieces on the CD, are curious little aural sketches. The sound of a creaking door with city noises audible in the distance; the ambiance of a kitchen; the workings of machinery; the static whispers of a television set; and, strange little bulletins from unidentified voices. At first seemingly pointless, these scraps of sound jolt the listener’s attention, and nicely accentuate what seems to be the underlying theme of this compilation as a whole — the wonder and beauty of the aural world.

The longer field recordings by Chris Watson and AER find ‘music’ in such unlikely places as a domed reading room in the British library, and amongst the songs and chirps of exotic birds. The echoes of shuffling feet, pages turned and chairs being restlessly moved, at first appear arbitrary, but by the end of AER’s “Brightness Contrast Volume” these commonplace, and apparently random sounds and noises, assume the qualities of an orchestre, and the ambiance of the British Library becomes a subtle and unpredictable symphony. Likewise with Watson’s recordings of birds. The serene voices of the birds that serve as the focal points of each of his field recordings, become arias within the greater operatic environments of cicadas, other birds’ voices and general sorrounding atmospheres that the recordings also contain. The series of demonstations of Tanzanian indiginous instruments serve as a contrast to the various field and incidental recordings. The warm, compelling sounds of the various drums, marimbas and isezes naturally register as musical, however, played solo in the context of this sampler, the pure aural qualities of the instruments become apparent. Just as the combined sounds of given environments carry musical qualities when listened to intensely, the individual elements of musical arrangements, when listened to separately become recognizable as nothing more or less than sound.

Sampler.3 also features a number of more structured musical pieces. Bruce Gilbert (of Wire fame) presents a short piece composed intirely of cut-up and rearranged fragments of speech. Rehberg & Bauer deliver a similarly brief, and rather noisy segment of manipulated electronic sound pulses. Farmers Manual is represented with a piece entitled “dspKILL,” which is likewise composed of extremely manipulated and treated sounds and noises of unknown origin. Panasonic’s “Otaksuma” also utilizes brief fragments and snippets of static and noise to create rhythm and melody; it is an amazingly rich piece composed of the most minimal means. Biosphere’s contribution is possibly the most enthralling piece on the CD, featuring the hypnotic rhythm of a train travelling over railroad tracks as the foundation for “Knives in Hens.” The closing track by Scala (including members of Seefeel and Locust) is by far the most conventional song on the CD. It is a compelling little pop tune with strong harmonic flow, and endearing female vocals. The song returns the listener to the more commonly known world of music, after a program of sounds and music of an originality and imaginativeness that I have rarely heard the equal of.” [Michael C. Lund]


“Installation number three for the Touch gallery presents 27 new ‘tracks’ of everything from various (listed and unlisted) field recordings to odd ‘sounds’ to historical and scientific content channeled from Touch Radio to various instrumental percussive samples (can you say marimba?) to band rehearsals to birds chirping to exclusive full-length ‘songs’ by the likes of Biosphere, Farmers Manual, Panasonic, Rehberg & Bauer and Scala. In essence, a motley array of sound — be it music or not. Even Geir Jenssen, the (one and only) mastermind behind the cool, ambient waves of the Biosphere machine, provides one of his most experimental pieces to date with a track called Knives in Hens — a stuttery, rough slurry of grey noise, rainy waves and deep-sea pulsation that eventually give in (but not entirely) to the soothing sounds of beautiful strings. While it may have found a home on Substrata (Geir’s latest work of pure brilliance and one of 97’s finest ambient moments), Knives serves a perfect interlude amongst the bizarre field recordings and other head-scratchingly twisted snippets of sound. Exclusive tracks from the other artists listed seem to follow form as the robotic bass throbbing of Panasonic (who now call themselves Pan Sonic after 4+ years of using the popular electronic manufacturer’s name and logo) pumps and circulates to a destination unknown much like anything from Vakio or Kulma. And, of course, that zany Austrian contingent (Rehberg & Bauer, Farmers Manual) are up to their usual tricks of time-manipulated sampling and regurgitated sound frequencies. Wrapping up one of the wildest collections of the year 98 (thus far) is a lovely vocal track by Scala (entitled Fuser) — a spacey, string-laden, hypnotic tune with some truly incorrigible lyrics, namely “It’s nice to be objectified / You never know, you might like it.” Without question, a compilation that will change every time you listen to it. ” [Aaron]

David Cunningham (Piano Records):

“That Touch Sampler – it really takes the biscuit! It’s ridiculous!”

The Sound Projector (UK):

Terrific compilation of aural exotica-philes and sonic scientists associated with Mr. Mike Harding’s Touch Label, here’s a stimulating combination of musical and environmental recordings, all spliced together with strange and interesting fragments in between. It’s a library of exotic and unusual documents, a species of aural voyeurism. Quite simply, these sounds are amazing; they could reawaken even the most entropic braindead moron to the wonders and mysteries of the world – so many things which we simply take for granted or overlook, capable of producing such astonishing sound events. One of my personal favourites is the environmental taping here of the British Library round reading room, a document that comes with an added dimension of sadness since this particular feature of British life, history and heritage is now a thing of the past. So it is meet that someone had the foresight to add this to our collective archive of memories. This is the end piece from a tripartite collage by Jon Wozencroft, starting with the old man in his attic finding a ‘convertor’, leading to the found poetry of a language school lesson from the airwaves.

The unassuming Chris Watson is here with three minutes of atmospheric recording from Zambesi, filled with sunlight and recommended listening to start the day with; he later resurfaces with ‘Demonic Laughter’ courtesy of a lively magpie jay. Chris has travelled extensively on account of his career in cinema production; the unadulterated recordings he fetches back from his adventures are, strictly speaking, almost peripheral to his purpose, yet they amount to more than a taped diary – their utter vividness makes the listener into a traveller too. Likewise, the two central segments of ethnic music on this disc – one heavenly episode of Temple Gamelan music (recorded in 1983), and six tracks of African music from the Bagamoyo Group of Tanzania, recorded (at Holland Park in London) in 1984. Given the currently hep status of this strain of ‘World Music’ just now, you’d be foolish to pass up a listen to these irresistible rhythms, and the deeply pleasing sound of the 9-string iseze here.

After the African solace the CD goes wild – entering a noisy, dirty chaos zone as embodied by the near-incoherence of Rehberg and Bauer, Farmers Manual and Bruce Gilbert’s horrifying ‘Voice’ cut-ups. Truly, these are manifestations of electronic glossolalia from possessed spirits. These are spliced either side of Joe Banks performing Disinformation ‘live’ from an event at the Museum of of Installation, a heavy bass drone in all probability generated by a National Grid.

Linking fragments are possibly taken from domestic objects, familiar everyday items going mad before our very ears. The TV set (obviously) beams out strange messages; the refrigerator hums ominously or comfortingly. This latter sound phenomenon has been noticed by Masami Akita as ‘interesting’ that people have recently discovered to be music, and by Robert Crumb as a potent reminder of one’s mortality in his Existentialist one-page comic strip. I’d be disappointed to learn its not a fridge at all, so let me cherish my illusions. This domesticity-subverted factor extends to the old retired couple clearing out the attic (see above), a similar document not heard since Alvaro recorded his German wife Hildegard reciting her recipe while baking brown bread, as a filler for side two of his second LP.

Unofficial title for this comp has to be ‘Teleform’ – analysed to mean something new, Tele = ‘recording at a distance’ and Form = ‘having the shape of’. These pieces were all recorded from the margins of life, by quiet and unassuming artists observing the miracles of life from the borderlines. This mix carefully selects items that display the most worrisome and alarming emotions alongside the most reassuring and relaxing, with very little in between. Touch releases are among the gentlest and least aggressive in the world, surely a welcome balm to the torrent of banal MTV-styled youth culture that is increasingly becoming inescapable.”

The World is so full of a number of things… I’m sure we should all be happy as Kings.

Ptuch (Russia):

“TOUCH has issued a third in the series of samplers, inventively named “SAMPLER 3”. Names such as FARMER`S MANUAL (www.farmersmanual.co.at), PANASONIC, CHRIS WATSON, PHILIP JECK, BRUÛE GILBERT and SKALA are found in the section “site recording at the banks of Zambezi River, with required sounds of gamelan, bizarre dialogues, disorienting overtones and recordings from the British Library”. Relax at the sound of the pages turned over! No doubt, this sampler will be a true gift for those interested in “ambient music” (ambient in a sense of particular sound, not of circle-painted T-shirts). They will immediately recognize this cold alien electronics. Anything can happen within the next 30 seconds… They call themselves sound-explorers, which is, basically, the meaning of the release. Surely, it is not a pop music, and much of what you hear is not music in the common sense. Yet, it could serve as a perfect soundtrack, as well as a good starting point to further exploration on the capabilities of sound.”