Monthly Archives: March 2018

Rochelle Bates’s 10 Minute Fruit Compote/Jam (gluten, starch and sugar-free – has honey)

If you are avoiding added sugars and starches, you have to make your own fruit spreads and toppings: pectin is in every commercial type, and most have corn sweeteners and refined sugars.

I make this on the stove, but through experimentation found that it is better in the pressure cooker or Instapot, which every Paleo-eating person seems to have. My pressure cooker is electric, absolutely safe (no explosions, I promise!) and cost about $75. It makes a pot roast in ½ hour!

The freeze dried fruit really makes these recipes work without pectin or excessive amounts of sweetener – the compote will thicken just like regular jam.

Freeze-dried fruit can be found in small packages at any health-food store, the “Just Peaches,” and “Just Blueberries,” etc… is a good brand, but they are very expensive.

I buy freeze-dried fruits from a wonderful, family-owned company in Wisconsin called North Bay Trading Company –https://www.northbaytrading.com — they sell superb freeze dried and traditionally dried organic and regular fruit, vegetables, beans and wild rice. I buy huge bags of peaches, blueberries, etc… for a fraction of the cost per oz., compared to the small packages. Their stuff is wonderful for camping, and they sell berry powders for smoothies. Yummy.

I’ll give you ingredients for a few kinds of fruit compotes we like, as the instructions for cooking are the same (although cooking times may vary).

THE METHOD FOR PRESSURE COOKING: Put fresh, thawed or still frozen fruit in cooker, along with all of the other ingredients. Lock the lid and choose low pressure. Set the time (see each type of fruit, below) and start. When done, release the pressure manually (place a cloth over the steam valve to protect yourself), and watch out, as juices will escape with the steam and run down side of cooker. Open cooker and check for doneness. If you desire softer fruit, just close it up and add a few minutes cooking time. After you’ve made a batch and know how long your cooker takes to cook to your satisfaction, allow the pressure to release by itself in the future. The consistency will be more like stewed fruit with juices than a finished jam at this point. It thickens as it cools.

If the compote really is too watery, make a note to add less water next time, and add some powdered, freeze dried fruit to the pot, a few tablespoons at a time, either pressure cooking for 1-2 minutes or transferring to a stovetop pan and bringing to a simmer, stirring constantly. Repeat until it is of desired thickness, but remember, it will thicken up as it cools, too.

Keep refrigerated or freeze.

THE METHOD FOR INSTAPOT: Since I don’t have one of these, I’d suggest looking at your manual for fruit cooking times – if you have a pressure option, though, see above.

THE METHOD FOR STOVETOP: Place fresh or frozen fruit in a large saucepan or dutch oven and add all of the required ingredients. Make sure to choose a pan that is larger than you think you’d need, to prevent boil-over if you have to step away for a minute. Heat until bubbling, continually stirring, then turn down the heat until the pan is just simmering. Cook, stirring and scraping bottom of the pan, until fruit is soft and the mixture has thickened a bit. The consistency should be more like stewed fruit with juices than a finished jam at this point, but not too watery. It thickens a bit as it cools. When cool enough to taste, adjust for sweetness: add honey or a squirt of lemon. Keep refrigerated or freeze.

If the compote really is too watery, make a note to add less water next time, and add some powdered, freeze dried fruit to the pot, a few tablespoons at a time, bringing to a simmer and stirring constantly. Repeat until it is of desired thickness, but remember, it will thicken up as it cools, too.

Peach – 2 approx. 1 lb bags frozen peaches (I use Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)
½ c. water
Approximately ½ cup of pulverized freeze dried peaches or freeze dried mango (I put the freeze dried fruit in a ziplock bag and crush it with a rolling pin. At least ½ of the fruit should be powdered, the rest no bigger than ½ inch –all powder is great).
1/8 c. honey, to your taste
1 tsp vanilla
a few good shakes each of cinnamon and ground ginger
pinch nutmeg (if desired)
A few drops of lemon juice to taste (if desired/needed) – AFTER cooking is completed

Peach and Cherry
2 approx. 1 lb bags frozen peaches (I use Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)
1 cup freeze dried cherries
½ c. water
1/8 c. honey, to your taste
Approximately ½ cup of pulverized freeze dried peaches or freeze dried mango (I put the freeze dried fruit in a ziplock bag and crush it with a rolling pin. At least ½ of the fruit should be powdered, the rest no bigger than ½ inch –all powder is great).
1 tsp vanilla
a few good shakes of cinnamon
A few drops of lemon juice to taste (if desired/needed) – AFTER cooking is completed

Apple
6-8 apples, at least ½ should be granny smith, cut into 1” and 2” chunks, or thick slices. You may peel or leave unpeeled, to your taste.
½ c. water
1/8 c. honey, to your taste
Approximately ½ cup of pulverized freeze dried apples (I put the freeze dried fruit in a ziplock bag and crush it with a rolling pin. At least ½ of the fruit should be powdered, the rest no bigger than ½ inch –all powder is great).
1 tsp vanilla
a few good shakes of cinnamon
A few drops of lemon juice to taste (if desired/needed) – AFTER cooking is completed

Mixed Berry
2 approx. 1 lb bags frozen or fresh blueberries (about 4-5 cups fresh)
Same quantitity of any other berries – I like to make this after going to the farmer’s market, as a way to use up all of the last week’s left-over berries
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. honey, or to your taste (berries will need more honey than peaches or apples)
Approximately ½ cup of pulverized freeze dried peaches or freeze dried mango (I put the freeze dried fruit in a ziplock bag and crush it with a rolling pin. At least ½ of the fruit should be powdered, the rest no bigger than ½ inch –all powder is great).
Approximately ½ cup of whole and or pulverized freeze dried blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or strawberries
1 tsp vanilla
a few good shakes of cinnamon
A few drops of lemon juice to taste (if desired/needed) – AFTER cooking is completed

TO:110 – Strafe F.R. “The Bird Was Stolen”

CD – 14 tracks – 63 minutes
First edition of 500

Strafe Für Rebellion is Bernd Kastner and Siegfried M. Syniuga
All songs recorded by Strafe F.R. in 2017 at STRAFE Studio, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Thanks to Detlef Klepsch for technical support and for helping with the mix down.

Mastered by Denis Blackham
Artwork & photography: Jon Wozencroft

Female vocal: Caterina De Re
Male vocals: Strafe F.R.

Track listing:

1. Jovian Tempest
2. Prepper’s Home
3. Aconite
4. Anophelis
5. Cap de Barbaria
6. Pianosmoke
7. Flare
8. Medusa
9. Golden Stomach
10. Dictator
11. Himmelgeist
12. Megalitic
13. Violet Sun
14. Towton

The bird was stolen because the donkey was sleepy

Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, Strafe F.R. is a long-term collaboration between the artists Bernd Kastner and S. M. Syniuga, which started in 1979. After a long period of hibernation, The Bird Was Stolen marks their return to Touch following four previous releases in the 80s and early 90s.

From their early connection with the local punk and new wave scene, centred around the Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf, Strafe went on to develop a unique and influential form of sound sculpture that pioneered the use of field recordings alongside home-made instruments and the use of the studio as a performance space.

A new track, ‘Virgin’, which appeared on the recent Touch Movements CD/book, gave an early indication that they are back at the peak of their powers. The Bird Was Stolen presents 14 new compositions that push the signature sound of Strafe F.R.

1. We have a piano that is somehow completely bare-boned as if a butcher had been at work. The piano is lying on its back – we can climb into its corpse. The piano strings are easy to access and we prepare them with anything that influences a possible recording. Loudspeakers are installed. Inside the piano we play bass and guitar to use the resonance of the strings of the piano. Pianosmoke was recorded in this way.
2. Sound sources are often ‘accidents’. We were recording with our old Uher Portable Tape Recorder –
all of a sudden the machine developed a strange malfunction: the Uher had problems with its engine. Himmelgeist was born. The recorder began to ‘scratch’ like a vinyl record, but it was the recorder doing everything itself; we could also manipulate the speed with our hands. This was magnificent. Strange rhythms just happened, the tape recorder did it… We are thankful that we managed to record all of this.
3. We often amplify sounds quite loudly, that actually have a very low natural dynamic. This is interesting when recording guitar, piano and the human voice… To reduce the normal recording level by an extreme and amplify the soft, low sounds.

It all started with the eagle, Eaton, who was eating the liver of Prometheus. Prometheus was a Titan, not a god. He was teaching humans how to make fire and was punished by the gods for having done that.

Through this, the humans experienced the meaning of Strafe Für Rebellion
(in English, ‘Punishment for rebellion’). Ever since this happened, the members of SFR register peculiarities and specific incidents as an incitement to make music.

Some examples are as follows:
When searching for new sounds inside the bowels of a piano we occasionally found the sleeping Franz Liszt. Underneath the piano pedal, the MC5 were glued. Unfortunately the mites have eaten all of our socially and critically-engaged texts.

Recently, neozea, similar to indian parrots, fly above our streets. They are able to talk, and they scream: ‘No Guitars!’. Several foxes devoured the analog tapes from our old tape recorder; there are Chinese mitten crabs living inside the bass drum. A bullfrog has eaten up the marsh frog population that we once recorded at a nearby airport. Large blowflies are sitting on the guest chair in our studio lounge.

The helicopters belonging to German army are in a desperate condition. However, the poor maintenance of the machines has unleashed a fantastic new sound. The same way that Prometheus’s liver is renewed and grows again each night, happens also to the Zeitgeist. Because of this, we must continue to work on the music. We cannot stop and will never finish.

There is vanilla fudge in the coconut trees.

Reviews:

Toneshift (USA):

Long-running German duo Strafe F.R. has been at it since way back in ’79 and The Bird Was Stolen is their first recording on Touch since four releases between the 80’s and early 90’s. Next week (5/24) Bernd Kastner and Siegfried Michail Syniuga unveil this new album in an edition of 500 on CD (and Digital) with fourteen tracks, and a running time of just over an hour. As Jovian Tempest opens we enter a bit of a sacred and mysterious space. What sounds like radio channeling pairs well with other frequencies and effects. It’s definitely in a gray area and I recommend that you may want to listen in the dark.

Indistinguishable field recordings of moving elements are embedded with exquisite corpse harmonies on Prepper’s Home where rhythmic percussion rises into the mix. It’s warming and pent up until a remodeled voice emerges on Aconite accompanied by charged guitar and fiery electronics.

The album delves into areas of balmy funk and post-rock, all the while erasing any evidence of genre identification. Then comes Caterina De Re who assists with random vocalese on Anophelis and elsewhere. Her voice is a lighter version that reads like a combo of titans Lydia Lunch and Nina Hagen. The under-the-radar, yet playful experimentation on The Bird Was Stolen has a passing tin echo like a bell tolling in various places. Instead of opting for a constant tone drone, the two fabricate shorter puzzle pieces like a classic film director shaping a plot between Cap de Barbaria and Pianosmoke. So many twists and turns here, even a alien siren call evoking Close Encounters of the Third Kind (yes, Spielberg) on the quirky track Flare. It’s warm and fluid, it’s awkward and expressive. As spelled out Strafe Für Rebellion share about their process in a bit of stream of consciousness:

“When searching for new sounds inside the bowels of a piano we occasionally found the sleeping Franz Liszt. Underneath the piano pedal, an MC5 sticker was glued to it. Unfortunately the mites have eaten all of our socially and critically-engaged texts.”

In this light the tracks assign a sense of timeless references that act as both incidental music, and complete vignettes. They are in the lab concocting a better beast and delivering a formula like nothing out there right now. Dictator is just a jaw-dropping melange, a transection of Coil, People Like Us and early Ministry without any overt pop spirit whatsoever. Take a copter beat and walk the aisles to old-school Woolworth’s background muzak, add some intermittent cartoonisms and you have Himmelgeist. They saved a bit of psychedelia for the very end in the form of a trippy guitar laden Towton. Stripping down rock n’ roll to its barest and blend with male and female vocals, contorted synths run on fumes, and there you have it. This is one of those records that traverses a lot of territory without taking stock in one camp or another, modern gypsy music with a spiritual-fluid byline. [TJ Norris]

Chain D.L.K. (USA):

Strafe F.R.’s second album since returning from a 20-year hiatus is an exercise in contradictions. Truly experimental, it provides us with 14 unique and hard-to-read environments of metallic noises, heavy filters and tape effects, heavily gated guitar and guitar-like noises, pulses and processing- then crashes into them to various degrees with percussive surprises that are sometimes harsh and unpleasant, sometimes quirky bordering on comical. Even the press release skips from talking about vanilla fudge in coconut trees and finding Liszt sleeping inside a piano to the devoured liver of Prometheus. It’s one of those “really don’t know what’s going to happen next” releases, exemplified by the sudden appearance of heavily processed vocal on “Aconite” with a lyric in which the album title is found.

But among the wilful surprises, there’s a rich depth to be found here as well. Though constructed from unorthodox parts, “Prepper’s Home” is a fascinating bit of electronica with a truly emotive undercurrent that suddenly breaks into almost Krupa-esque jazz rhythms in its second half. “Pianosmoke”, built from an experiment in playing bass and guitar sounds through a loudspeaker inside a piano in order to stimulate the resonance of the piano, ends up being a very coherent and melodic work that with the right electronica remixes would have a lot of crossover appeal, while other pieces like “Flare”, though built of similar stock, have a darker layout and a more spontaneous and theatrical flavour. “Violet Sun” is a good example of a sparser approach, in which the processed guitar evokes feelings of some sort of alien road movie, while final track “Towton” throws furthest back towards the band’s 80’s roots with some very analogue, fuzzy tape flavours and Nina Hagen-ish vocal wails, right down to its abrupt halting end.

It’s an unpredictable, fresh-sounding and rich hour-long release which never drops the interest levels, and it’s certainly worthy of attention. [Stuart Bruce]

Silence and Sound (France):

Depuis maintenant presque 40 ans, Strafe F.R. (Strafe Für Rebellion) composé par Bernd Kastner et Siegfried Michail Syniuga, produit une musique faite d’accidents et de manipulations sonores, où field recordings et assemblages instrumentaux forment un ensemble singulier, qui doit autant à Throbbing Gristle qu’à Cabaret Voltaire.

The Bird Was Stolen marque le grand retour du duo qui n’avait plus rien sorti depuis 2013. Manipulant les effets et les prises de son, jouant sur l’acoustique et l’espace, Strafe F.R. nous perd dans son dédale aux résonances dub et grisaille industrielle, développant des paysages dévastés par une pandémie aux effets contaminants.

On est littéralement happé par le magma de matières traitées au vitriol, qui voit les pianos s’écorcher sur des rainures noise aux mouvements surréalistes. Les couches se multiplient et se superposent, pour donner naissance à des ambiances sombres, enchainées à des mouvements aléatoires à la complexité concentrique.

Oeuvre riche en rebondissements, The Bird Was Stolen ne s’inscrit dans aucune catégorie prédéfinie, alliant éléments classiques et traitements électroniques expérimentaux, aux allures d’ode post-punk electro acoustique, aux effluves accidentelles gorgées de sensations écorchées. Un opus ténébreux qui voit le futur se liquéfier de par ses propres maux. Captivant. [Roland Torres]

Nonpop (Germany):

Alles begann mit einem Adler, heißt es. Der aß von der Leber des Prometheus, der an eine Felswand des Kaukasus gekettet wurde, weil er den Menschen das Feuer gebracht hat – was ihm strikt verboten war … So die Legende des ersten Rebellen, dessen Strafe das Anketten war. Und schon sind wir beim Thema.
STRAFE FÜR REBELLION, beziehungsweise STRAFE F.R. heißt dieses lang bestehende Projekt aus Düsseldorf, das bereits 1979 von BERND KASTNER und SIEGFRIED M. SYNIUGA gegründet wurde. Ihre erste selbstbetitelte LP, der eine 7inch beigelegt war, erschien 1982. Viel Beachtung wurde ihr aber leider nicht zuteil. Obwohl doch die 1980er- und 1990er-Jahre durchaus produktiv waren. Dann kam die Pause. Sie dauerte etwa zehn Jahre. Erst 2014 knüpfte STRAFE F.R. an das Musikalische der vergangenen Jahrzehnte an. Doch nun gibt es mit “The Bird Was Stolen” eine brandneue, auf 500 Stück limitierte und auf dem Label TOUCH herausgegebene CD.

Man merkt sofort, dass die Musik nicht – wie mittlerweile üblich – auf digitalem Weg produziert wurde. Das wurde sie nie. STRAFE F.R. nutzt keine elektronischen Musikinstrumente. Es werden ausschließlich herkömmliche oder – positiver ausgedrückt – klassische Instrumente wie Klavier, Gitarre, Bass verwendet, die dann allerdings präpariert oder zweckentfremdet eingesetzt werden. Dazu haben KASTNER und SYNIUGA, die übrigens auch als bildende Künstler tätig sind, eigene Instrumente und Geräuschmaschinen gebaut. Diese werden dann auch schon mal ins Wasser gehalten, um die so entstehenden Töne mit einem portablen Tape-Recorder aufzunehmen. Das Ganze wandert schließlich in ein Archiv. Man weiß ja nie, wann und wo ein Sound noch eingesetzt werden kann.
Beim Hören der neuen CD fallen gerade die Sounds auch ins Ohr. Sie sind gleichermaßen alt, retro und neu. Mit etwas musikhistorischem Hintergrund erinnert die Soundkulisse an die EINSTÜRZENDEN NEUBAUTEN der frühen 1980er-Jahre oder an DAS SYNTHETISCHE MISCHGEWEBE. Auch bei diesen wurden Instrumente verwendet, die zweckentfremdet zum Einsatz kamen. Auch bauten sie sich ihre eigenen Klangerzeuger, beziehungsweise wurden artfremde Geräte zu Instrumenten umfunktioniert. Allerdings war und ist die Herangehensweise dieser beispielhaft genannten Formationen bis heute höchst eigen. Und ein direkter Vergleich führt in die Sackgasse. Jedoch hilft ein indirekter dabei, sich in etwa vorstellen zu können, in welche Richtung diese Veröffentlichung zeigt.

STRAFE F.R. baut zum Beispiel auf musikalische Unfälle, die dann als Quelle für die Aufnahmen ins Spiel gebracht werden. Sie nutzen das Studio dann auch eher als eine Art Grundstück, um sich darauf auszuprobieren, oder als abschließbaren Raum, um darin ungestört Ideen umzusetzen. Sie gehen also nicht in Schwimmbäder oder unter Autobahnbrücken. Sie gehen vielmehr in Klausur.
Es entstehen durch Arbeit stark entfremdete Sounds, die nichts mehr mit der eigentlichen Klangqualität gemein haben. In “The Bird Was Stolen” sägen Gitarren, klappern metallisch klingende Gegenstände, wabern unzählige Fäden, die zeitlich immer weiter ausfransen. Auf „Pepper´s Home“ (02) etwa ein Schlagwerk, das sich wie von einer defekten Maschine gespielt anhört, die auf wundersame Weise jedoch noch den Takt halten kann. Und Flächen, die hier und da wie Schollen vom Grund und Boden abbrechen. „Aconite“ (03) steht ebenfalls stellvertretend für diesen speziellen STRAFE F.R.-Sound.
Dazu dann die Stimmen, die früher schon mal von eigens engagierten Opernsängern kamen und hier meist an verzerrte, nicht menschliche Stimmen erinnern. In „Anophelis“ (04) klingt das wie in Wasser gesungen. Dazu Störlaute, Brummen, Kratzen. Fehlfunktionen und Feldaufnahmen. Tierlaute und Klangereignisse, die ob des besonderen Ortes, an dem sie aufgenommen wurden, auch besonders klingen.

Ein 14 Titel umfassendes, ein kraftvolles und doch warm klingendes, tief atmendes Album, dessen Intensität an ein Früher erinnert, das sich selbst eingeholt hat, um alt und neu zugleich zu sein. In Anbetracht der geringen Auflage ist schnelles Zugreifen wärmstens empfohlen. [awk]

VITAL (Netherlands):

While I easily would say that I am a big fan of the Germanys Strafe F.R. (in which that F.R. stands for ‘Fur Rebellion; punishment for rebellion) I must at the same time admit, I am not that big of a fan that I heard of their return in 2014 when they released ‘Sulphur Spring’. So when I got ‘The Bird Was Stolen’, I thought that was the first sign of life since ‘Pianoguitar’, which was released in 1995. As said I always enjoyed their music, even when these days it is not always found on my turntable. Strafe F.R. is a duo from Düsseldorf, Germany, consisting of Bernd Kästner and S.M. Syniuga and already started out in 1979. From their early no wave post punk sound they quickly expanded into a group that was really beyond any musical boundary, with the studio being their main instrument. Their music could have the shape of a pop song, but then it is made with field recordings, tape-loops, object abuse, samples and instruments. Over the years vocals have mostly disappeared from the mix and the studio was used extensively to shape their musical phantasies. The music this results in is open, spacious, poppy and above it always tells a story, however abstract it sometimes is. Every song is a like a small radioplay. They have fourteen of those on ‘The Bird Was Stolen’ and it is not unlike a time machine. These pieces remind me of the best Strafe F.R. works, ‘Lufthunger’ and ‘Oschle’, and perhaps that begs the question that after twenty or so years there has been little musical development for them, but I’d like the positive point: they were not yet done with their unique story telling and after a long hiatus they pick the story they started and just continued where they left off. Their approach is as varied as before. Sometimes a piece is like fully rounded pop song (even including a bit of female vocals here and there), sometimes a bit more open and improvised in their execution, with sound effects tumbling and falling, sometimes introspective and small, but in song like ‘Dictator’ it all bursts open and becomes a wild massive piece. There are soundscapes, there more rhythmic approaches, and no instruments are spared. Maybe they can’t play them properly, but Strafe F.R. knows how to extract sounds of them and how to use them in the bigger picture of the piece. This is all an excellent return to form. [FW]

Amusio (Germany):

Was geschieht – und was nicht alles geschehen kann – wenn der Gefiederte geklaut wird, veranschaulichen Bernd Kastner und Siegfried M. Syniuga auch im annähernd vierzigsten Jahr ihrer Kollaboration. Zwar scheint ein Tanzflächenfüller nach Art von Hochofenballet (anno 1984) nicht zu den Folgen besagten Diebstahls zu gehören. Doch der geistige Elan, mit dem auf The Bird Was Stolen (Touch/Kudos) die Verwertbarkeit an sich ruinierter Instrumente oder dysfunktional orientierter Aufzeichnungstechnik abgefedert wird, mag zum neuerlichen Nestbau der Synapsen beflügeln. Die Welt ist Klang, also kann alles auf, um und in ihr zur Waffe werden. Hierzu bedarf es noch nicht einmal der Agitation im eigentlichen Sinne: Die Einengung der Strafe – für den Tatbestand der Rebellion – war ja gestern schon gestrig. Noch verblüffender als die Quellen, aus denen die Düsseldorfer schöpfen, erscheinen die Arten und Weisen, mit denen sie das forschend Elaborierte – über seine Manipulation hinaus – der endgültigen (?) Hörbarkeit überführen. Was die Lehrbücher der Mikrophonie verschweigen, verkommt bei Strafe F.R. noch längst nicht zum Jargon. Vielen Dank dafür. Wie wäre es mit einem Wohnzimmerkonzert? [Jovian Tempest]

Blow Up (Italy):

Touching Extremes (Italy):

Exactly as it happens with their bizarre and unpredictable output, several mental doors opened up when I saw that Strafe F.R. had released a new album following an extended hiatus. First came the recollection of a long-distance interview that we had carried out (via snail mail!) during my early days as a music writer, this reviewer’s half 90s rants limited to the restricted audience of an Italian quarterly. Then, the realization that nothing has changed: in fact, the same impossibility of classifying the astonishing upshots of Bernd Kastner and S. M. Syniuga’s studio wizardry accompanied the inaugural spins of The Bird Was Stolen. All of the above turned into a classic “OK, let’s go to work for real” type of approach, which is the only requirement for a decent comprehension of the duo’s universe.

The name may translate as “punishment for rebellion”, yet Strafe’s electroacoustic visions are never really “punishing” for a listener. Rebellious, maybe – but in a subtly enticing way. The incredible diversity of situations presented in these fourteen tracks is balanced by perfect dosages of compositional seriousness and somewhat sinister humor. Standing still in one or few places is unfeasible for Kastner and Syniuga; they definitely prefer fleeting hints, occasionally synthesizing vivid details and tactile timbres in a single minute’s capsule. Stylistic crystals are thoroughly shattered in about ten seconds: lunatic songs chained to odd-metered sequences, alien reverberations enhanced by awkward superimpositions of feedbacking melodies, “traditional” instruments alternated with sources of unidentified origin, filtered voices uttering incomprehensible messages. You can even try and memorize short snippets of what is heard; however, that memorization will last until the next instant.

Should someone see a similarity with today’s typical lack of logical strength and gradually shortening attention spans, that someone is completely missing the point. This set appears to be grounded on fragments of a deeper knowledge, both technical and congenital. And when one wishes to repeat the trip right after it’s finished, that’s the unmistakable sign of being in the face of artistic intelligence. Therefore it’s not a “welcome back” but a “thanks for welcoming us back”. In the hope that, this time, Strafe F.R. are here to stay. [Massimo Ricci]

Bad Alchemy (Germany):

Sonic Seducer (Germany):

Music Map (Italy):

Dal 1979 il duo tedesco Strafe F.R. (Strafe Für Rebellion) è artefice di allucinazioni sonore che traggono linfa da uno spiccato senso della sperimentazione, che porta a dei collage di rumori controllati. Dopo una pausa dell’attività e un ritorno nel 2014, il 2018 vede la luce il nuovo lavoro “The bird was stolen”, appena uscito per la Touch Records. E come accadeva in “Lufthunger” (1991), il pianoforte viene ancora una volta rovesciato e preparato in ogni maniera che ispiri a Bernd Kastner e a S.M. Syniuga, con esito quasi da danza malata (“Pianosmoke”). Come accade spesso nella musica sperimentale, diverse idee arrivano da un imprevisto, o da un errore creativo. Ad esempio, per la traccia “Himmelgeist”, alcuni rumori sono ottenuti dal registratore analogico Uher, che aveva avuto un problema. Qualunque disturbo, qualunque graffio solitamente non voluto e nascosto, qui diventa materiale centrale. L’effetto è a tratti allucinogeno, a tratti pauroso. “Jovian Tempest” è una continua modulazione ondeggiante di stimoli sonori analogici e digitali mescolati. “Prepper’s Home” ospita una sequenza di due note d’allarme (o di suoneria, chi può saperlo) che erano presenti anche in “Jovian Tempest”, creando una continuità da incubo, come quel brutto volto che non volevi rivedere in sogno, e ti si ripresenta. Ci sono anche voci umane, rese disumane, come in “Aconite”, dove il parlato ripete le frasi inerenti al titolo dell’Lp dietro un effetto di forte tremolo. Tra distorsioni di chitarra messe in loop e rese indistinguibili dal noise, ci sono concesse delle note di archi synth. In “Anophelis” le vibrazioni più basse ottenute dal pianoforte raggiungono il subconscio, al pari di certi toni lugubri di Trent Reznor. Qui la voce di Caterina Da Re canta stralunata in mezzo a questi rumori dal timbro d’acciaio. Dal solido si passa al gassoso (ed elettrico) in “Cap de Barbaria”, costituito nella prima metà da soffi ed aria quantizzata, e nella seconda metà da scosse elettriche, che scottano come le scintille di un flessibile fissate senza protezione. Dal solido al gassoso, manca lo stato liquido; ed eccolo in “Flare”, con rumori resi melodici (e di nuovo tornano quelle due allarmanti note udite a inizio album, che non vogliono abbandonarci, neppure in “Megalitic”). “Medusa” invece, tramite fischi presi in prestito dai Kraftwerk e un tappeto di rapidi input, sembra rappresentare fotoni di luce che viaggiano più veloci della luce. Esperimento analogo, più lisergico, in “Dictator” e “Violet sun”. Altre trasformazioni della materia si possono apprezzare in “Golden stomach”, dove le note intonate di un vibrafono vengono tenute nascoste, sotto la prevalenza dell’aspetto rumoristico. In coda all’album, “Towton” ospita una batteria; anch’essa non sfuggirà alle manipolazioni del duo di scienziati pazzi. E qui torna anche Caterina Da Re, con le sue note libere (anche perché impossibili da collegare ad una qualsivoglia armonia). Il ritorno degli Strafe Für Rebellion li fa ritrovare ai propri ascoltatori pressoché immutati, nella loro costante ricerca di rumori sempre più agghiaccianti ed affascinanti. [Gilberto Ongaro]

Rockerilla (Italy):

Dark Entries (Belgium):

Strafe Für Rebellion werd in 1979 opgericht door het duo Bernd Kastner en Siegfried Michail Syniuga. Vanaf 1991 opereerden ze onder de naam Strafe F.R. Na het in 1995 verschenen ‘Pianoguitar’ verdwenen ze stilletjes van het toneel om in 2014 een onverwachte comeback te maken met ‘Sulphur Spring’. Een hernieuwde samenwerking die smaakte naar meer, want nu is er de langspeler ‘The Bird Was Stolen’. Het tweetal staat bekend om zijn persoonlijke stijl en visie wat betreft abstracte en surrealistische instrumentale muziek. Een belangrijke ontwikkeling waren en zijn de zelfgemaakte instrumenten, het aanwenden van ‘gevonden voorwerpen’ als muziek speeltuigen en een zelf opgebouwd arsenaal aan veldopnames. Je kan het zo gek niet bedenken of ze gebruiken het op de één of andere manier. Werktuigen van dienst zijn bijvoorbeeld een helemaal gestripte piano waarmee ze van alles uitproberen via onder meer luidsprekers en de resonanties van de pianosnaren. De uitwas er van kreeg als titel ‘Pianosmoke’. Of het mankement aan hun oude, draagbare Uher opnameapparaat. Het defect kreeg een functie en het resultaat noemden ze ‘Himmelgeist’. Ook vocaal wordt er op ‘The Bird Was Stolen’ druk geëxperimenteerd. Naast beide heren zet ook Caterina De Re haar beste beentje voor. Onder meer in ‘Flare’, het springerige ‘Towton’ en het hitsige ‘Anophelis’. Een paar tracks zijn deels gebaseerd op klassieke muziek (‘Prepper’s Home’, ‘Megalitic’) Meest intrigerend is het pulserende ‘Dictator’ waarin heel wat van voornoemde facetten aan bod komen en tot een intens geheel worden gesmeed. Ook het cinematografische ‘Violet Sun’ en het metallische ‘Golden Stomach’ zijn nog een vermelding waard. [Paul Van de gehuchte]

Rumore (Italy):

Kryptische Botschaften aus einer dunklen Moderne sendet das Düsseldorfer Duo Strafe Für Rebellion (bzw. Strafe F.R.) seit vierzig Jahren. Sie sind seither kontinuierlich aktiv, obwohl in ihrem Veröffentlichungskatalog eine fast zwanzigjährige Pause klafft. Seit kurzem mehren sich die Lebenszeichen jedoch wieder und mit The Bird Was Stolen (Touch) geben sie nach all der verlorenen Zeit ein ziemlich definitives Statement ab, dass die verschiedenen Phasen ihres experimentellen und jegliche Formatierung scheuenden Wirkens Revue passieren lässt und nahtlos weiterführt. Das Album sammelt vorwiegend filmisch dräuenden Dark Ambient mit aggressiven und disruptiven Sounds, aber auch avantgardistische Sound-Collagen mit eingefrorenen Industrial-Beats und -Dubs.

Touch Live at Iklectik | 23rd March 2018

This show is now sold out

Philip Jeck
Yann Novak
Simon Scott
Touch

iklectikartlab.com

TO:104 – Mark Van Hoen “Invisible Threads”

CD – 7 tracks – 39:51
Limited edition of 500
Ekopak

All titles composed and recorded by Mark Van Hoen in Los Angeles 2016
Photography & design by Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Denis Blackham

Track listing:

1 Weathered
2 Dark Night Sky Paradox
3 Opposite Day
4 The Yes_No Game
5 Aethēr
6 Flight Of Fancy
7 Instable

In mid 2016 I did a brief tour of the west coast with Philip Jeck, Simon Scott, Daniel Mensche, Lee Bannon, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Pye Corner Audio and Marcus Fischer. The music of all these great artists and the experience of playing these shows with them all informed what would become ‘Invisible Threads’ which was primarily composed and recorded in the latter half of 2016. I had not played live at dates in such a dense cluster for many years, and the exposure to so much great music and the artists was inspiring. Other Touch artists were also an influence here – Claire M Singer, Jana Winderen and as ever Chris Watson (who has been an enduring influence from the moment I first heard Cabaret Voltaire in 1979)… along with my project ‘drøne’ with Mike Harding… the collaborative aspect of drøne brought up a few new paths in itself.

During the time I was recording the album I was editing audio and sound design for films – this too went some way to defining the structure and sound of ‘Invisible Threads’. At the time of recording several of the titles on the album, I had re-read ‘The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion’, a short story by Edgar Allen Poe… and in some ways this record is a soundtrack to that.

The title ‘Invisible Threads’ refers to the intangible connection between all of the musical and personal influences that brought this record into being.

Instrumentation/sound sources

Modular synthesizer notably using modules manufactured by Make Noise, The Harvestman & Mutable Audio
Software – Ableton Live, Pro Tools and many plugins – heavily used were Max, Soundhack and Native Instruments’ Reaktor & Kontakt
Sound libraries from Spitfire Audio.
Fender Rhodes piano, Fender Jaguar guitar. Farfisa Organ, Vox continental.
Notably no analogue synthesizers were used on this album – probably the first time I’ve made a record without them since ‘Aurobindo: Involution’ in 1994
A few field recordings made on my very modest Zoom H4n recorder (mainly domestic sounds) made it onto the record
Some ‘found’ sources also are present, mainly from vinyl records and YouTube.

Reviews:

Loop (Spain):

UK artist Mark Van Hoen is producing electronic music since 1981. He played bass guitar and synthesizer on the superb Seefeel’s “Polyfusia” album, one of the seminal bands of the ’90s. He works under his own name and worked as well under the Locust moniker. Now he lives and works in Los Angeles. This record was composed and recorded in Los Angeles in 2016, inspired by Philip Jeck, Simon Scott, Daniel Menche, Lee Bannon, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Pye Corner Audio and Marcus Fischer, who were on tour west coast in the USA, alongwith Van Hoen.

In the meantime our protagonist was recording the album he was editing and making sound design for films, which influenced the structure to the album. Several of the titles on the album were influenced by the reading he made in those days of the apocalyptic Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion”.

Van Hoen with his modular synthesizers, sound design software, piano, guitar, organ, field recordings and library sounds, is the instrumental and sound sources that make up the seven pieces on “Invisible Threads”. The strong cinematic nature of the music suggests images at all times. Ambient atmospheres transport to intimate and cozy spaces. “Opposite Day” is a good example of this, where the organ notes are suspended in the air and keep resonating. On “The Yes_No Game” emerges a female vocalist whose singing emerges from the background. “Aether” with its subtle melody conjure up composer Angelo Badalamenti.

“Flight Of Fancy” and “Instable” show a disturbing aspect in which a dark plot is woven. Mark van Hoen undoubtedly produces one of the best albums of 2018. [Guillermo Escudero]

Brainwashed (USA):

Mark Van Hoen’s latest album is the result of a series of live performances with other Touch luminaries, such as Simon Scott and Philip Jeck, that he participated in all throughout 2016.  This experience manifests itself in a somewhat different than expected way on Invisible Threads, because this final result is purely a solo work.  However, it was these previous collaborations and performances that lead to Van Hoen approaching the record from different perspectives and with a variety of instrumentation, resulting in a diverse, yet overall uniform sounding album.

While he intentionally avoided using one of his staples on Invisible Threads, vintage analog synthesizers, Mark did utilize modular synthesis throughout the record.  Right from the opening of “Weathered” this can be heard:  a rich bed of layered electronics set the stage as he patches in some occasionally shrill tones and a pleasantly dissonant crunch, but with a tasteful level of restraint.  For “Opposite Day,” he follows a similar pattern, blending mostly elegant ambient electronics with just the right amount of heavy low end vibration.

Even some conventional piano sounds appear on “Aethēr,” culminating in a melodic progression that continues and builds throughout the piece.  The combination is one that, once a bit of dissonant ambience comes in as a contrast, makes for a rather conventional, song-like sounding piece of music.  The shimmering, sustained electronics that are the focus on “Dark Night Sky Paradox” also have a nice pleasantness to them, and fits in with Van Hoen’s experience doing sound design for films given the end result’s film score mood.  Later, a bit of drama comes from the heavy electronics that enshroud “Flight of Fancy” and, with the piece’s dense and brittle electronics have a cinematic quality as well.

Like any good album, however, Invisible Threads has some more sinister moments to balance out the more pleasant light ones.  The varied electronics and processed field recordings on “The Yes/No Game” make for a different sounding piece of music, one punctuated by a sense of bleakness in its light drift.  Compared to many of the others here it is a more sparse mix, but what is there carries a significant amount of emotional weight.  The album closer “Instable” also especially stands out with its ghostly haunting sound.  There are some large electronic swells throughout, but Van Hoen blends transient layers throughout like passing spirits, resulting in a spectral, ghostly closing to the album.

There does not seem to be any specific conceptual theme linking the seven pieces of Invisible Threads, other than his intentional use of different instrumentation, but Mark Van Hoen’s latest work definitely has a cohesive feel to them sonically.  As an album, it has a great sense of variation and diversity from song to song, with a strong blend of pleasant, ambient electronics and heavier, darker passages.  Consistent from beginning to end, Invisible Threads is an excellent record of electronic music. [Creaig Dunton]

I Heart Noise (USA):

Mark Van Hoen, veteran of the electronic music scene as a visit to his web site will attest, has had an extensive career as both a solo and band (Locust) member. Now entering his 50’s, he continues to explore sound and texture to create some unsettling pieces of music. Invisible Threads is his latest solo work. Informed by a love of Edgar Allen Poe and the experiences of touring with other Touch artists (see the interview below).

This is a dark ride. An absorbing soundtrack to a rather hesitant night of self-examination. Cinematic in scope, claustrophobic in execution, the album opens with “Weathered” – a wide-screen wash of dark expectation set against a vast ebbing pulse of keyboards, half-heard voices and static interference. This mood is perpetuated by second track, Dark NIght Sky Paradox, a sound constantly threatening direction but perpetually on the edge of collapse. Anxious music.

“Opposite Day” reminded me slightly of TG’s “Exotica”, water and bird sounds mix with chimes to gently soothe. The Yes_No Game is suspended tones and a lone, lamenting female voice. Think Eno, with a Beth Gibbons being recorded at the far end of a very long corridor. Aether is a simple keyboard (not synth, Van Hoen is at pains to point out) that reminded me of Japan’s “Voices Raised in Welcome, Hands Held in Prayer” , but heard through a fug of low-level sonic interference.

Again, at no point can one relax with this music. At least, I couldn’t, It’s not Ambient. It is suffused with an unyielding, unrelenting dread and demands to be faced head-on. Reckoned with, almost. Flight of Fancy is anything but. Nothing is playful and all of it unsettles. Don’t play this to chill-out to or mollify dinner guests. It will set people’s teeth on edge and may actually make people a bit angry. I love it.

This is an excellent release from Touch and despite my anxious emotional reaction to it, I’ve found myself returning to it frequently over the past few days, perhaps finding within its structure and sounds a suitable soundtrack to these dark, strange and frightening days. Bravo, Mr Van Hoen. Bravo.

You can read an interview with Mark here

Toneshift (USA):

Touch releases the latest adventure by Mark Van Hoen just today (25th May 2018), its called Invisible Threads (CD/Digital). Let’s attempt an unveiling as I need to play catch-up since his last record I experienced was 2012’s amazing The Revenant Diary. Starting with the top track Weathered, the mood is strangely symphonic, light crackle and hiss over an otherwise moody, darkened mid-range synth drone. It’s pure aural theater from the start. The foreground actions are minimal while the back is bold and shape-shifting, with a random radio frequency throwing practically inaudible voices that are assimilated into the mix. Dark Night Sky Paradox continues without the tail end, and adding a slightly higher pitched tone creating a bit of an alarm. This feels like an extended overture in suspension.

This has inflections of his past work throughout, but Van Hoen has matured in his editing, and paring down any excess, keeping each track here packed with drama. The air is goosepimple inducing on Opposite Day. It’s part tropical forest meets part space exploration, with a tinge of shadow play. He’s heading into the world of independent soundtrack scoring in the foggy space created on The Yes_No Game. Strident synths, lapping waves and bare whispers become space age symphonic. This blend of unyielding artful restraint is also indicative of label head Jon Wozencroft‘s ghostly green coverart, like a found object from another galaxy.

It’s been since 2010 since I saw him play live (my Resident Advisor nod) and this is a great chance to catch up with a true sound artist. The final three tracks continue are bathed in the balance of luminous trepidation, most notable in the vast reverb of Flight of Fancy. It roars tensely, quietly into Instable which is quite a dizzying mix of a swirly synthesizer that sounds as if it’s being broadcast inside a cathedral. The conclusion is on-point, especially if you appreciate a great disappearing act. [TJ Norris]

Das Filter (Germany):

Wenn Mark Van Hoen neue Musik veröffentlicht, ist das eigentlich immer eine gute Nachricht. Doch – Überraschung! – seine letzten Alben hatte ich überhaupt nicht mitgeschnitten: Der Bandcamp-Dschungel ist an einigen Stellen einfach zu dicht gewachsen, gerade wenn es um die Aufarbeitung eines über die Jahre stetig gewachsenen Archivs geht. Mark Van Hoen war mal bei Seefeel am Start. Veröffentlichte als Locust. Und ließ die Musik vieler eher akustischen Band elektronisch schimmern. Schimmern ist genau das richtige Stichwort bei seiner neuen Platte, die er dieser Tage auf Touch vorlegt. Ruhige und in sich ruhende Miniaturen, die dabei jedoch kontinuierlich mäandern und in den unterschiedlichsten Schattierungen brodeln, einem immer wieder die Hand reichen. Ob man sie wirklich ergreifen soll, bleibt aber bis zum Schluss rästelhaft. Es ist genau diese Stimmung, die Mark Van Hoen über die Jahre erst entwickelt und dann perfektioniert hat. Seine Musik ist wie ein Blick in eine andere Welt. Besser als das Hier und Jetzt, aber nicht frei von Makel. Damit erschafft der Musiker eine Art des Hyper-Realismus, ausgebreitet und arrangiert in einem komplexen Spiegelsaal der affirmativen Irritation. Oder ganz einfach gesprochen: In diesem Ambient-Skyscraper stoppen die Aufzüge ganz besonders sanft vor der Dachterrasse ab. [Thaddeus]

Silence & Sound (France):

Moitié de drøne aux cotés de Mike Harding, Mark Van Hoen dit avoir puisé l’inspiration pour Invisible Threads, dans l’énergie créatrice des artistes avec qui il a tourné en 2016, ainsi que dans celle des artistes du label Touch.

Invisible Threads est une oeuvre étrange et envoutante, aux climats presque mystiques, avec ses orgues et ses synthés décrivant des cercles habités de field recordings naturalistes et de zones urbaines fantomatiques. On est happé dans un monde que l’on imagine du bout des oreilles, capable de se faire presque imperceptible.

Mark Van Hoen compose des ambiances sombres sans pour autant être pesantes, laissant la lumière passer au travers d’interstices minuscules, desquels s’échappent en catimini des bourdonnements frêles.

Climatique et cinématographique dans son ensemble, Invisible Threads tire presque parfois vers des ambiances expérimentales aux arrangements classiques, avec ses cordes et ses cuivres en fond, flirtant avec une certaine idée du divin et du profondément émotionnel.

Mélangeant proximité et éloignement, le travail sonore effectué sur Invisible Threads est des plus impressionnants, effleurant l’idée que l’on ne doit pas perturber les mouvements par des gestes trop brusques, mais pénétrer en sourdine dans cet amas de matière à la plasticité des plus ensorcelantes. Vital. [Roland Torres]

DLSO (Italy):

Chi ha iniziato le frequentazioni nel genere elettronico negli anni 90 si ricorderà di Mark Van Hoen grazie alle sue produzioni con il nome d´arte di Locust, in buona parte pubblicate su label Apollo/R&S. Da lì in avanti una infinità di collaborazioni – con Seefeel e Mojave 3 tra le altre – e progetti artistici di vario genere. Parallelamente si sono anche susseguiti ad intervalli più o meno regolari alcuni convincenti album pubblicati a proprio nome dei quali Invisible Threads è il convincente ultimo arrivato. Ispirato dal contatto diretto avuto con altri artisti appartenenti alla label britannica Touch, per la quale questo album arriva sul mercato, nonché dalle ulteriori collaborazioni avute nel corso degli ultimi anni, non ultima quella con Mike Harding nel progetto drøne, ed ancora dalla letteratura Edgar Allen Poe: è così che Van Hoen è arrivato alla realizzazione di questo incantevole album. C’è molta drone music dentro mentre la lunare e sospesa The Yes_No Game sottolinea la vicinanza che il londinese ha avuto con le frange più sperimentali del genere shoegaze, Opposite Day e Aether sono invece pura beatitudine ambient. Ascolto straconsigliato. [Tony D Onghia]

Aural Aggravation (web):

The Revenant Diary feels like a long time ago now: perhaps because it was. Six years is long time (although Mark Van Hoen has released two albums as The Locust in between). And yet, it continues to haunt me in some way. Returning with Invisible Threads, Mark Van Hoen continues to explore ominous, shadowy territories.

This is a dark, immersive work. I’d had a tough – and very strange – day at work. Oftentimes, when weary, stressed, dazed, I will select an instrumental work as my review project for the evening, as I find I can simultaneously write and relax, allowing the sound to wash over me. It transpires that this may have been precisely the album – or not, depending on perspective – for the occasion. I say, staring blankly. Not really listening, not really engaged, and certainly not typing. Not thinking, and not doing anything else. I don’t know exactly how long I remained like this, to all intents and purposes, immobile, in a sort of fugue state.

On returning, and attempting to remain focused, I find Van Hoen’s dark, churning sonic nebulae every bit as arresting and distracting.

The album’s inspiration stems from multiple sources, not least of all Edgar Allen Poe’s short story The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion which he re-read while on tour. The album is in some respect designed as a soundtrack to this, but equally, the Invisible Threads refers to the intangible connection between all of the musical and personal influences that brought the record into being.

In truth, the context and background have only limited effect on the reception. The reception is pure: a direct engagement between sonic output and listener.

Low, humming, hovering tones undulate across the album’s seven subtle compositions. Creeping, interweaving, fragmentations of light dance across these cold, bleak expanses which often bleed together. Even the silence between seems to provide an integral part of the listening experience and contributes to the shape of the overall arc of the album.

It’s distinctly background but in a way that fulfils that criteria of ambience that affects and colours the mood rather than being sonic wallpaper, disappearing into the background unnoticed. Repeated listens to Invisible Threads have not lifted my mood: instead, I feel claustrophobic, tense, weighted by an indefinable oppression. I give up: my critical vocabulary is as exhausted as my mental state when faced with this album at this time. I take a shower. Reflect. Accept that perhaps this work is so immersive that I am, temporarily, drowned.

Norman Records (UK):

After an enlightening and enriching tour with a number of Touch luminaries, Mark Van Hoen channeled his inspiration into the pieces that would become Invisible Threads, which have been layered up out of a mass of modular synthesis, sound samples from records, domestic life and YouTube, various instruments, and computer processing. The resulting seven tracks create an extremely immersive soundworld all of its own, despite its many crucial roots. CD on Touch.

and a staff reviewer wrote:

Former Seefeel member and sometime Locust — as well as having tucked numerous productions in his own name under his belt — Mark Van Hoen continues his long line of detailed, often intense ambient electronic albums with Invisible Threads. In the twenty-plus years he’s been making music, Van Hoen — stellar himself, of course — has kept some equally illustrious company; of late, on a string of live dates stretching back to 2016 he shared a stage with Philip Jeck, Simon Scott, Kara-Lis Coverdale and Pye Corner Audio.

Those experiences seem to have played a part in his continuing evolution; elements of sound design and techno influences have filtered in so that individual parts are increasingly granular and would probably bear inspection under a microscope, should we have the time. I couldn’t possibly do this album justice by summarising it as ‘pretty drone with dark ambient undercurrents’. In other words, there’s a lot going on and there are many depths beneath the surface. You can probably ignore the ‘Danger’ and ‘Hidden Currents’ warning signs, though. It’s a perfectly safe and enjoyable swim; also, Mark is a trained lifeguard, which helps.

Waves of sound — in both the literal and metaphorical senses — wash over the listener to create a feel of ebb and flow; it’s an immersive as well as fluid listen. The track ‘The Yes_No Game’ is a good example of this, as a woman’s voice, previously obscured, periodically emerges as the swells subside; it’s a call, an invitation to plunge into the waters. I could happily listen to this track alone on repeat for hours… ‘Opposite Day’ starts gently with some pleasing dissonances, sub-aquatic rumbles of bass and some delicate strums and harmonious chimes. It’s all very pleasant but don’t expect to be lulled into slumber; there be darkness here. Sweet, reassuring darkness.

VITAL (Netherlands):

Also on Touch is the latest CD by former Seefeel member Mark van Hoen. As far as I know he’s been on Touch for some time now, including his drøne duo with label boss Mike Harding (which is not something I heard). Two years ago Van Hoen toured the west coast of America with a bunch of Touch and related artists and along with influences of Claire M Singer, Jana Winderen and Chris Watson, Van Hoen set himself to compose the pieces on ‘Invisible Threads’. Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Conversation Of Eiros And Charmion’ inspired the title of the pieces, and so he says “this record is a soundtrack to that”. Van Hoen uses a variety of tools, modular synthesizers, software, piano, guitar, organs and bit of field recordings and some found sounds from Youtube and vinyl, and no analogue synthesizers. Unlike the
Strafe F.R. disc I have just been overwhelmed with, Van Hoen has not a lot of interest in playing out many variations or approaches. In these seven pieces (in total forty-one minutes) they more is very quiet, highly atmospheric and perhaps the perfect comedown record after the massive ear cleansing of Strafe F.R. It is not to say that the music from Van Hoen is necessarily ‘easy going’; his ambient approach is that of uneasy unrest. There is always a rough edge to be spotted in these pieces, which is something I like very much. It is perhaps something not entirely new but it works wonderfully. Van Hoen is someone who knows what he’s doing when it comes to ambient music. It is all-spacious, surely, but there is some visible rust on this spaceship. Maybe the same kind of beautiful spookiness one finds in the work of Poe, I was thinking. When playing Strafe F.R. I had the urge to play the entire output of the group again, straight away, and with Van Hoen I wanted to stick it on repeat, find that Poe story and read that again. And if the story were too short, I’d probably carry on with a few others of his. Unfortunately there is only so much one can do in a single day. Sad but true, but surely one evening soon I will find the time to just do that. [FdW]

Blow Up (Italy):

Ondarock (Italy):

Per Mark Van Hoen il graduale ritorno a pieno regime sulla scena sperimentale non è stato la rivendicazione di un posto riservato, quanto piuttosto la risposta a una necessità di fare tabula rasa e ripensare radicalmente le modalità espressive già adottate con profitto a cavallo tra i due secoli. In seguito alla riedizione in doppio Lp di “The Last Flowers From The Darkness” (Touch, 1997), a ridosso del suo ventennale, il sound artist londinese ha lavorato a ben tre dischi in tre anni con Mike Harding, co-curatore di Touch, per il progetto-laboratorio Drøne (“Reversing Into The Future”, “A Perfect Blind”, “Mappa Mundi”). A quest’ultimo e a molti altri sodali si ispirano e sono dedicate le composizioni confluite in “Invisible Threads”, titolo riferito propriamente ai sottili legami e alla comunanza di visioni artistiche che si instaurano tra autori di simile sensibilità ed estrazione culturale.

Composto e registrato nella seconda metà del 2016, l’album del ritorno su Touch prende notevolmente le distanze dalle tematiche (post)apocalittiche degli umbratili concept a nome Drøne, inserendosi piuttosto in quel filone ambient che negli ultimi anni ha visto un notevole ampliamento dei suoi accoliti, facenti capo a label indipendenti più o meno storicizzate quali Room40, 12k, Dragon’s Eye e Cyclic Law. Van Hoen cita esplicitamente influenze vecchie e nuove, su tutti Chris Watson e Philip Jeck – le brumose stratificazioni sonore di quest’ultimo sembrano suggerire il mood di diversi momenti – ma anche due più recenti conferme al femminile, Jana Winderen e Claire M Singer, le cui affascinanti intersezioni con la scrittura neoclassica e il field recording portano avanti onorevolmente l’inestimabile eredità Touch.

Tenendo fede alla sua formazione da producer, Van Hoen gioca a carte scoperte elencando anche la strumentazione, i software e i materiali sonori cui ha attinto: una varietà di elementi dosati con sapienza e misura tali per cui nessun brano somiglia ai precedenti, nonostante prevalga nettamente un’atmosfera fluttuante e contemplativa (“Weathered”, “Opposite Day”), quando non di assoluta pacificazione spirituale (“Dark Night Sky Paradox”). Solo in “Flight Of Fancy” si addensano sinistre nubi in forma di bordoni vibranti, mentre laddove coesistono chitarra e tastiere pare di ritrovarsi nel limbo cosmico dei Natural Snow Buildings (“The Yes_No Game”); “Aethēr” simula la più delicata delle orchestrazioni per archi, e nel finale “Instable” le ondulazioni dell’organo rievocano di sfuggita i miraggi del “Solaris” tarkovskiano.

Lavoro in certo senso “tradizionale” ma nell’ambito di un artigianato sonoro tutt’altro che elementare, “Invisible Threads” svela un lato della poetica di Mark Van Hoen che forse mai si era manifestato in maniera così trasparente. Godiamocelo, prima che il pessimismo torni inevitabilmente ad avere la meglio. [Michele Palazzo]

Bad Alchemy (Germany):

Cyclic Defrost (Australia):

Mark Van Hoen, quite renowned under his alias Locust and a founding member of Seefeel, returns with the first release under his own name on the legendary label Touch in more than 20 years.

Invisible Threads is a cohesive collection of tracks made after touring around the West Coast of USA with artists like Philip Jeck, Simon Scott, Daniel Menche, Lee Bannon, Kara-Lis Coverdale, among others. It’s also inspired by other Touch artists and by his collaborative project Drøne with Mike Harding. The album is deep and emotional, with sustained strings and textures floating around in a shady, spectral way on the opener ‘Weathered’. A more drone aspect on the echoes of the fading ‘Dark Night Sky Paradox’, and the layered and meditative ‘The Yes_No Game’.

You can also feel nostalgia on the evoking ‘Aether’, one of our favorites, which also includes hints of a piano and makes you want to play it again and again. But then it can also get darker and more heavily loaded, like on ‘Flight Of Fancy’, which is reiterative, expanding and rising on its intentions. But same as the last mentioned song might sound thicker, the closing title ‘Instable’ can also feel thin in a way, with recurrent wind-like sounds unleashing digital howls that yearn for a time that might have not existed. A more oneiric vibe can be perceived on the calm ‘Opposite Day’, which forms melodies over a bass sound that roots back to the earth. Field recordings of what seems to be falling water and outdoor sounds complete the palette. No analogue synthesizers were used on this album, which is a rare circumstance on Van Hoen’s recent recordings.

Invisible Threads is the type of album that, similar to other notable releases on Touch, must be heard with a serious soundsystem, or at least some decent headphones. The experience might turn trascendent. [Paranoid]

Against the Silence (Greece):

Και τι είναι η μουσική αν όχι ένας μαξιμαλιστικός τρόπος απόδρασης από τα βασανιστικά οχτάωρα της καθημερινότητάς μας; Μιλάμε για αυτό το σύντομο ταξίδι που λέγεται μουσικό άλμπουμ, το οποίο, ενώ διαρκεί συνήθως λιγότερο από ώρα, αφήνει το σημάδι του μέσα σου για αρκετό χρόνο παραπάνω. Η απαρχή του ταξιδιού, όμως, γίνεται από την πλευρά του πομπού-δημιουργού και εδώ ο Mark Van Hoen διαθέτει το know how με βάση και την πολυετή και σημαντική πορεία του, η οποία περιλαμβάνει μεταξύ άλλων τη θητεία στους Seefeel, τους Scala, τους drøne και το προσωπικό του σχήμα Locust.

Ο ήχος πάνω από όλα, θα λέγαμε κοιτώντας τα παραπάνω ονόματα, και ομολογώ ότι το νέο του άλμπουμ στην Touch σε μεσαία ή χαμηλή ένταση περνά ως αδιάφορο, χαμένο στον σωρό παρόμοιων φαινομενικά μουσικών κυκλοφοριών. Σαν να βλέπεις μια παραλία από μακριά και να λες μέσα σου ότι, εντάξει, μοιάζει σαν τόσες άλλες που έχεις δει. Όταν την πλησιάσεις, όμως, ανακαλύπτεις στοιχεία πανέμορφα και πρωτόγνωρα, τα οποία ήταν καλά κρυμμένα από την αρχική απόσταση. Όταν μάλιστα βουτήξεις στα νερά της, είναι ακόμη πιο χορταστική η εμπειρία, ανοίγοντας όλες τις αισθήσεις σου μπρος στον βυθό της.

Πιο συγκεκριμένα, το Invisible Threads αν και φαντάζει αρχικά ως κάτι στατικό, εντούτοις είναι ένα ξεκάθαρα μελωδικό και πολύχρωμο άλμπουμ, όπου υπάρχει ένα υποθαλάσσιο ρυθμικό στοιχείο που δίνει μια ενέργεια στο υλικό του. Κάπως σαν να δημιουργείται ένα ρήγμα ενδιάμεσα των σφριγηλών ήχων και να αναδύεται ένα μπουκέτο ανθών. Με δυνατά την ένταση και κλειστά τα μάτια, η ονειροπόληση είναι δεδομένη. Είναι τόσο δε γεμάτο το άλμπουμ με τα αόρατα samples, τις γλυκές αφηρημένες νότες και την άμπιεντ αιθαλομίχλη του, που είναι δύσκολο να περάσει απαρατήρητη η νοσταλγική του διάθεση. Νοσταλγία με δυναμικές, θα την έλεγα, καθώς οι ήχοι σε πιάνουν για τα καλά και το όριο μεταξύ σκότους και φωτός προστατεύεται ευλαβικά προς όφελος άγνωστων από τα πριν συναισθημάτων.

Υπάρχει μια σκηνή στο Naked του Mike Leigh όπου ο πρωταγωνιστής, καθώς περιδιαβαίνει τους δρόμους στη νύχτα, κοιτάζει σε ένα μπαλκόνι την ελκυστική σιλουέτα μιας γυναίκας, η οποία ανταποδίδει τη ματιά. Όταν φτάνει στο διαμέρισμά της, αντικρίζει μια μεσόκοπη, κουρασμένη και μελαγχολική γυναίκα, η οποία καμία σχέση δεν είχε με το προηγούμενο είδωλό της. Αυτό μερικές φορές συμβαίνει όχι μόνο στη ζωή, αλλά και στη μουσική, αλλά εδώ συμβαίνει ακριβώς το αντίθετο. Κι αυτό είναι τόσο σπάνιο στις μέρες μας! [Μπάμπης Κολτράνης]

Etherreal (France):

Présent très épisodiquement sur ces pages (deux albums chroniqués ici, parus en 2010 et 2012), Mark Van Hoen en retrouve le chemin par ce nouveau disque, publié sur Touch et pour lequel il nous indique avoir été influencé par plusieurs artistes avec lesquels il a fait une tournée : Philip Jeck, Simon Scott, Marcus Fischer ou Kara-Lis Coverdale. Avec ce compagnonnage, on se trouve logiquement face à un album plutôt ambient, marqué par un travail de qualité sur les nappes, allant chercher des matériaux à la limite du field recordings, et des apports vocaux féminins un peu évaporés.

Pour celui dont on connaissait des travaux plus electronica-pop ou plus rythmés, il y a là l’exploration d’un univers autre dans lequel il opère avec une belle allure. Comme souvent avec ce registre musical, la superposition des plages de synthé confère une dimension très lumineuse, proche du scintillement (Dark Night Sky Paradox). Signe du talent de Mark Van Hoen, ce même aspect lumineux et scintillant, tel un miroir dans lequel se refléterait le soleil, émane d’un morceau nettement plus dépouillé comme Opposite Day.

À un autre bout du spectre, la granulosité saturante de Weathered remplit parfaitement son office, emportant l’auditeur dans une forme de vertige dont l’extrait les vocalises féminines déjà évoquées. De même, le caractère plus obscur et inquiétant de Flight Of Fancy se dévoile à mesure que les strates sonores s’empilent. Alternant ainsi morceaux plus riches et titres moins instrumentés, extérieur chatoyant et tension plus sombre, l’États-Unien démontre une véritable aisance. [François Bousquet]

Dark Entries (Belgium):

De in Croydon, Londen geboren Mark Van Hoen resideert vandaag aan de Amerikaanse westkust, meer bepaald in Los Angeles. Van Hoen is een veelzijdig muzikant en actief sinds 1981. Naast werk onder zijn eigen naam, bracht hij door de jaren heen platen uit als Locust en was actief in acts als Autocreation, Black Hearted Brother, Drøne, Scala en Seefeel. Deze ‘Invisible Threads’ kwam tot stand in 2016. Mark liet zich inspireren door een aantal artiesten waarmee hij toen een korte tournee ondernam. Van de partij waren onder meer Philip Jeck, Daniel Menche, Lee Bannon en Marcus Fischer. Ook Touch label genoten als Claire M Singer, Jana Winderen en Chris Watson (Cabaret Voltaire, The Hafler Trio) zorgden voor de nodige stimulansen. Het feit dat hij in diezelfde periode bezig was met het bewerken en ontwerpen van filmmuziek had eveneens zijn weerslag op ‘Invisible Threads’. Net als het herlezen van ‘The Conversation Of Eiros And Charmion’, een kortverhaal van Edgar Allan Poe. Voor het eerst sinds ‘Aurobindo: Involution’ (1994) maakt Van Hoen geen gebruik van analoge synthesizers. In plaats daarvan bestaat het instrumentarium uit orgel, piano, gitaar en door verschillende merken aangeleverde synth modules en software. Dat alles aangevuld met zelf geregistreerde veldopnames en ‘gevonden’ geluiden op vinylplaten en videowebsite YouTube. Elk van de zeven tracks is specifiek van aard met talrijke, maar soms kleine nuances. ‘Invisible Threads’ is verre van een pure ambient plaat, doch dient zich eerder aan als een transcendente belevenis. In zijn totaliteit is het een verontrustende en intense langspeler. De verscheidenheid aan ingrediënten zorgt voor een sluimerend effect van onbehagen, dreiging, angst, maar ook van nostalgie, romantiek en de eigen muzikale identiteit. In het geval van Mark hebben artiesten als Karlheinz Stockhausen, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Can, Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, David Bowie en later LFO hun stempel gedrukt op zijn werk. Ze maken nog steeds deel uit van Van Hoen zijn muzikale expeditie. ‘Invisible Threads’ is een plaat die ook vraagt en uitnodigt tot een intensieve wijze van inleving. Hetzij ofwel door middel van wat wij verstaan onder de betere geluidsinstallatie of toch op zijn minst met een goede koptelefoon. Want de schoonheid en afwisseling zit hier in de gedetailleerde uitwerking. [Paul Van de gehuchte]

Rumore (Italy):

Spire 7 | The Eternal Chord – “Semper Liber”

CD – 4 tracks – 78:40 minutes

Release date: 4th May 2018 (North America) | 18th May 2018 (Rest of World)

Track listing:

1. Aeternus
2. Perpetuum
3. Immortalis
4. Semper Liber

‘Semper Liber’ consists of a series of duets featuring Marcus Davidson, Hildur Gudnadottir, Mike Harding, Charles Matthews, Clare M Singer, Maia Urstad and Anna von Hausswolff and are drawn from recordings made at Spire events since 2009. Mixed by its curator, Mike Harding, at the Völlhaus, and mastered by Mark Van Hoen, this powerful 4 track collection – to be played as one piece – explores the sonics of the mighty organ in all its thundering glory. 

***WARNING! EXTREMELY LOW FREQUENCIES (BASS) MAY CAUSE DISTORTION ON HEADPHONES/COMPUTER SPEAKERS!***

Performed on the 1893 Schlag & Söhne organ at Johanneskirken, Bergen; the 1967 Karl Ludwig Schuke organ at Passionskirche, Berlin; the Peter Bares organ, inaugurated in 2004, at Kunststation St Peter, Cologne; the 1885 ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ at Lincoln Cathedral; the 1877 ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ at Union Chapel, London; the Rieger organ at St. Stephan’s Church, Mautern & the 1897 Johnson & Son organ at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Riga between 2009 and 2016

The 4 colour plates by the art historian and author Sydney Russell show cave art from 4 to 6 thousand years ago. Taken in Brazil on one of several expeditions she made around the world, these highly emotional works reveal the sophistication and ageless quality of the imagination of the peoples who were expressing themselves at this time; they have been slow to reveal their beauty to us, having survived all weathers; their acoustic soundtrack unfolds slowly, submersive and involving.

Sydney Russell writes: “These photographs were taken in 1976 in Brazil. We eventually obtained minimum radio carbon datings for levels covering the paintings from approximately 3750-2500 BCE. They originate from the rock shelter sites of Sucupira, (Lagoa Santa) and Lapa do Cipo (Santana do Riacho), near Minas Gerais and Quadrillas (Montalvania), Bahia. Please refer to the website for more information.”

Mixed at the Völlhaus
Mastered by Mark Van Hoen
Photography by Sydney Russell
Artwork by Philip Marshall

Editor’s additional note: It really DOES matter what equipment you play this audio work on… I have tried several and there is a huge difference; best results are obtained with a high quality CD + speaker system with separate subwoofer.

Order The Eternal Chord – “Semper Liber” [CD + Download] in Bandcamp
www.spire.org.uk

Spire 7 – The Eternal Chord “Semper Liber”

CD – 4 tracks – 78:40
Limited edition of 500

Track listing:

1. Aeternus
2. Perpetuum
3. Immortalis
4. Semper Liber

‘Semper Liber’ consists of a series of duets featuring Marcus Davidson, Hildur Gudnadottir, Mike Harding, Charles Matthews, Clare M Singer, Maia Urstad and Anna von Hausswolff and are drawn from recordings made at Spire events since 2009. Mixed by its curator, Mike Harding, at the Völlhaus, and mastered by Mark Van Hoen, this powerful 4 track collection – to be played as one piece – explores the sonics of the mighty organ in all its thundering glory. 

***WARNING! EXTREMELY LOW FREQUENCIES (BASS) MAY CAUSE DISTORTION ON HEADPHONES/COMPUTER SPEAKERS!***

Performed on the 1893 Schlag & Söhne organ at Johanneskirken, Bergen; the 1967 Karl Ludwig Schuke organ at Passionskirche, Berlin; the Peter Bares organ, inaugurated in 2004, at Kunststation St Peter, Cologne; the 1885 ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ at Lincoln Cathedral; the 1877 ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ at Union Chapel, London; the Rieger organ at St. Stephan’s Church, Mautern & the 1897 Johnson & Son organ at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Riga between 2009 and 2016

The 4 colour plates by the art historian and author Sydney Russell show cave art from 4 to 6 thousand years ago. Taken in Brazil on one of several expeditions she made around the world, these highly emotional works reveal the sophistication and ageless quality of the imagination of the peoples who were expressing themselves at this time; they have been slow to reveal their beauty to us, having survived all weathers; their acoustic soundtrack unfolds slowly, submersive and involving.

Sydney Russell writes: “These photographs were taken in 1976 in Brazil. We eventually obtained minimum radio carbon datings for levels covering the paintings from approximately 3750-2500 BCE. They originate from the rock shelter sites of Sucupira, (Lagoa Santa) and Lapa do Cipo (Santana do Riacho), near Minas Gerais and Quadrillas (Montalvania), Bahia. Please refer to the website for more information.”

Mixed at the Völlhaus
Mastered by Mark Van Hoen
Photography by Sydney Russell
Artwork by Philip Marshall

Reviews:

Reviews:

weblog (UK):

Spire is a long-running flexible pool of musicians and sound artists who explore the capabilities of church organs in a non-traditional way. This 79-minute CD comprises four long pieces where different sustained notes, chords or note clusters are sounded simultaneously and gather momentum as drifting strata. Novel secondary patterns emerge and sparkly, shimmery, whining tones weave threads of fabric in and around sheets of deep pitched drones. It’s weighty though not asphyxiating. Back in 1998 the cult electronic trio Coil achieved similar results on their 73-minute four part ‘Time Machines’ using analogue synthesisers. Whereas Coil attempted to suspend listeners’ sensation of time, ‘Semper liber’ with its cover image of 5,000 year-old cave art, marvels at the immensity of historical time and the mystery of time itself.

Coincidently, US philosopher Robert Crease writes bravely on page 18 in this month’s Physics World (a UK Institute of Physics publication) that “you can’t explain time by putting physicists in charge of what time really is”. Here, he is calling for scholars of humanities to ramp up their voices on matters where scientists appear to have the upper hand. Perhaps sound artists should ramp up their voices too? [AH]

Ambientblog (Belgium):

The church organ, the most majestic of keyboard instruments and the instrument with ‘the greatest frequency range of any acoustic instrument’ has recently gained some extra (and deserved) attention in experimental and drone music. Detached from its usual association with classical and/or devotional music the instrument opens up a completely new sonic world.

“There is no ‘correct’ way to play the organ. Of course, there are strong and long traditions of how it should be played and by whom, but in the realm of time these strictures count for nothing.” Unlike many other instruments/performances, the sound of a church organ opens up a unique world, too: the characteristics of the organ strongly depend on the skill of its builders ánd on the acoustic properties of its location.

Semper Liber (‘always free’) is a very special project dedicated to the sound of the church organ – ‘the Emperor of Instruments’.

The Eternal Chord is a series of live concerts that grew out of the Spire Project, based on an idea by Mike Harding who was fascinated by this instrument but also was frustrated that during church services the “the organ players clearly never pushed the instrument to its limits.”

Ever since 2009, various duo’s have performed on different locations: Hildur Gudnadottir, Claire M. Singer, Anna Von Hausswolff, Marcus Davidson, Mike Harding, Charles Matthews and Maia Ustad. Some of the recordings of their explorations / performances can be found on the Eternal Chord Live page, or on this Bandcamp page. Semper Liber, however, is not simply a performance recording. Mike Harding has drawn material from the different recordings and mixed them into four long tracks that are meant to be played as one continuing piece. It’s impossible to distinguish who is exactly playing when. But all performers definitely share a single goal: ‘to explore the sonics of the mighty organ in all its thundering glory.’

You may have to set aside some of your preconceptions of ‘church organ music’ if your first association with the instrument is a church service or Bach. But I know you can, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be here and read this.

The reward: an incredible journey into an almost otherworldly sonic space… provided of course you can play this on a decent sound system and on an appropriate volume (there’s a warning in the liner notes about the extremely low bass frequencies that may cause distortion, especially in the last track). And even then, I guess that even the best sound system cannot live up to the real ‘live’ sound of a church organ in its own reverberating environment. After listening to Semper Liber, I really hope that this series of live performances will be continued in the future. [Matthias Urban]

Wreck This Mess (France):

Le système son de notre vénérable tour a survécu… Il faut dire que ce vieux Mac Pro en a vu d’autres. Malgré la mise en garde — warning! extremely low frequencies (bass) may cause distortion on headphones/computer speakers! — aucun dégât constaté. Ni pour nos enceintes, ni pour nos tympans…! En fait, seule la quatrième et dernière piste, qui donne son titre à cet album au tirage limité, accuse vraiment des fréquences très très basses. Un lent bourdonnement que l’on ressent presque de manière physique et mentale. En parallèle, une longue plainte monocorde s’élève puis meurt tranquillement, dessinant une hyperbole sonore. Une note prolongée qui se déploie progressivement, sans variation de style, mais qui gagne en intensité avant de refluer (“Aeternus”). Un drone acoustique qui sort des entrailles d’un orgue “martyrisé” notamment par Marcus Davidson, Hildur Guðnadóttir et Mike Harding qui forment The Eternal Chord (et Mark Van Hoen pour le mastering). Les morceaux intermédiaires (“Perpetuum”, “Immortalis”) sont basés sur ce même schéma, mais ils offrent un aspect plus soft, moins intense. Nous sommes là sur un registre plus ambient, plus subtil aussi, avec un habillage un peu plus sophistiqué. Cette réalisation s’inscrit à la suite d’une série de performances live du même ordre où des artistes du label Touch sont invités à se produire dans différentes églises et à jouer de l’orgue de manière minimaliste et expérimentale. [Laurent Diouf]

Guerrilla 64

March 15th 2018 – Guerrilla 64

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Touch Is 36 Today

Today, 11th March, is the official 36th anniversary of the founding of Touch in 1982…

First contact with New Order after their concert at the Newcastle Mayfair on 11th March 1982…

You can follow our progress year by year here…

Yann Novak Tours USA & Northern Europe | Feb – March 2018

February 23rd @ Human Resources, Los Angeles, USA
Curated by Mike Harding & Yann Novak
Touch Presents…
Jasmin Blasco
Robert Crouch
Garek Druss
Jake Muir
Yann Novak
Zachary Paul
Geneva Skeen
Byron Westbrook

March 9th @ Fylkingen, Stockholm, Sweden
Touch Presents…
Carl Michael von Hausswolff
Leif Elggren
Yann Novak
Touch

March 14th @ AB Salon, Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
Touch Presents…
Philip Jeck
Yann Novak
Touch

March 15th @ De Ruimte, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Touch Presents…
Philip Jeck
Yann Novak
Orphax
Touch

March 23rd @ Iklectik, London
Touch Presents…
Philip Jeck
Yann Novak
Simon Scott
Touch

Tone 60 | Touch Presents… – “Live at Human Resources”

Download only – 9 tracks – Available from the Touch Bandcamp page

Release date: 1st March 2018

February 23rd @ Human Resources, Los Angeles, USA
Curated by Mike Harding & Yann Novak

To launch the release of Yann Novak’s second album for Touch, a live event was held at Human Resources on 23rd February in Los Angeles.

The evening also included a tribute to Jóhann Jóhannsson by the ensemble

“Inspired use of @Bandcamp by @touchmusic – presenting last Friday’s #gigoftheyear to a global audience less than a week after @yannnovak & co (@robertcrouch @JasminBlasco @garekjondruss @_jakemuir @geneeves @byronwestbrook)’s “absorbing & immersive salon”” (Lend Me Your Ears)

Touch Presents…

Jasmin Blasco
Robert Crouch
Garek Druss
Jake Muir
Yann Novak
Zachary Paul
Geneva Skeen
Byron Westbrook

You can read about the event here – artculturejazz.com/yann-novak-album-release-at-human-resources

Photo: Jon Wozencroft, Kew Gardens, London

Available from the Touch Bandcamp page

Tone 60 – Touch Presents… “Live at Human Resources”

DL (Bandcamp only) – 8 tracks

February 23rd @ Human Resources, Los Angeles, USA
Curated by Mike Harding & Yann Novak

To launch the release of Yann Novak’s second album for Touch, a live event was held at Human Resources on 23rd February in Los Angeles.

The evening also included a tribute to Jóhann Jóhannsson by the ensemble

Touch Presents…

Jasmin Blasco
Robert Crouch
Garek Druss
Jake Muir
Yann Novak
Zachary Paul
Geneva Skeen
Byron Westbrook

You can read about the event here – artculturejazz.com/yann-novak-album-release-at-human-resources

Photo: Jon Wozencroft, Kew Gardens, London

Reviews:

Art Culture Jazz (USA):

Human Resources in LA’s Chinatown was brimming with fans for the launch of Los Angeles-based artist Yann Novak’s latest album, The Future is a Forward Escape into the Past on Friday, February 23. The event – carefully curated by Novak and Mike Harding – was salon style, featuring eight short performances covering ambient, field recording, experimental and contemporary minimal electronics that were absorbing and immersive. Human Resources and Touch presented a powerful evening with performances by Zachary Paul, Geneva Skeen, Robert Crouch, Jasmin Blasco, Garek Druss Jake Muir, Byron Westbook and of course, Novak, who performed a track from his new album. Like all the other performances, it was concise and highly digestible – none longer than 20 minutes and a packed, intelligent audience on a cold night lapped it up.

The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past, the latest album by the multidisciplinary artist and composer, Yann Novak and his second for Touch, considers the relationships between memory, time and context through four vibrantly constructed tracks that push Novak’s work in a new direction while simultaneously exploring his sonic past. The album’s four tracks dynamically shift and surge, where time is rendered as material and momentum compels it into a movement. Subtle distortion throughout the album ties the tracks together and echoes techniques explored in Novak’s Meadowsweet (Dragon’s Eye, 2006). Tension gives way to a halcyon vision of place in “Radical Transparency,” immediately followed by the austere swells of “The Inertia of Time,” a piece that captures the twin impulse of generating optimistic beauty in harshly muted tones. Both tracks introduce subtle bass swells and stabs reminiscent of In Residence (Dragon’s Eye, 2008). From there, the album grows darker with “Casting Ourselves Back into the Past,” and “Nothing Ever Transcends its Immediate Environment,” two icier tracks that preserve the album’s core: a layer of something long since passed that locks us into the very moment we inhabit. The latter introduces a processed vocal sample of Geneva Skeen, similar to Novak’s collaborative work with Marc Manning on Pairings (Dragon’s Eye, 2007). The album is a study in perception and alteration, manipulation and awareness, effectively capturing Novak’s command of emotional texturing.

Guerrilla 63

March 1st 2018 – Guerrilla 63

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