CD – 21 tracks
1. Ryoji Ikeda Matrix (For An Anechoic Room) (6:02)
2. Daniel Menche Down (5:42)
3. Chris Watson Friday The 13th (2:25)
4. AER As You Wander Round (2:28)
5. Thomas Brinkmann Olga A1 (6:26)
6. Unknown Artist Relationship Volume (0:31)
7. Locust Wrong (4:42)
Vocals – Holli Ashton
8. Unknown Artist Naming A Flower (0:12)
9. Chris Watson A Celebration (2:17)
10. Scala Breaking Point (6:54)
11. Philip Jeck As My Shadow Passes … (9:37)
12. People Like Us / Jet Black Hair People, The / Wobbly KZSU 14 Sept 99 (3:35)
13. Unknown Artist In Brief (0:28)
14. Hazard Flood Gate (5:39)
15. Unknown Artist Mach .853 (Moscow Air Traffic Control Over Turukhansk, Siberia, October 1990) (1:04)
16. Richard H. Kirk Entering Valhalla Without A Laptop (But With An Umbrella, A Sewing Machine And An Operating Table – Dig It) (5:22)
17. Chris Watson A Blessing (1:00)
18. AER Bread Upon The Water (3:38)
19. Biosphere Sun-Baked (3:43)
20. Tobias Frere-Jones F-Hz (#190736, 1996) (1:15)
21. Mika Vainio Ilmaantuva (Airing/Appearancing) (6:38)
Your Flesh (US):
For those unfamiliar, the London based Touch label may be the finest progressive music label in the world. Their releases range from ethereal pop to abstract electronica, from field recordings to ambient drum ‘n’ bass. Each release is designed by inhouse photographer and artist jon Wozencroft, and often the packages are in oversized cardboard – an utterly unique and compelling combination of music and art. Touch 00 is their 4th combination and running just shy of 80 minutes, contains all previously unreleased tracks. Stand out pieces include Thomas Brinkmann’s “Olga 1″, a spooky, beat-based breathing atmosphere, Chris Watson’s field recordings in Ethiopia of young boys chanting while herding goats, Scala’s |Breaking Point”, which begins in rather benign symphonic grandeur only to collapse in a vortex of crunching rhythm and voice, the brooding heavy ambience of Hazard’s “Flood Gate”, and the list goes on. The recordings are uniformly excellent, and headphones take it all to another level. I’ve heard a good deal of these artists CDs, and I’ve yet to be let down. Exceptional. [Wade Iverson]
The Wire (UK):
Touch samplers recalibrate your listening habits by stretching you in new directions while reintroducing past interests. On T_Zero_0 (Touch 00 CD), unlikely juxtapositions such as Locust’s crystalline pop next to Chris Watson’s anthropological field recordings, are utterly refreshing, even if these pieces could possibly be annoying to hear on their own. AER’s “As You Wander round” is local anthropology; Richard H. Kirk’s “Entering Valhalla Without A Laptop” is surrealist homage’ Mika Vainio and philip Jeck complement Ryoji Ikeda’s hard-edged formalist abstraction; and Scala’s “Breaking Point” shifts from oceanic strings through extreme sun Ra chaos to a heaving trance beat and spatial guitars. The breadth of approaches here exemplifies the deftness of Touch. [Ben Borthwick]
The latest Touch sampler presents a mixed bag of exclusive tracks from various artists on the current Touch roster. The diverse soundworld that is the Touch label is always wonderfully represented on their samplers, and this latest edition is no exception, and is perhaps their most successful sampler to date. Ryoji Ikeda opens up with some smooth ikedian frequencies, and Daniel Menche follows with an exceptional piece of low rumblings, breathing in deep subterranean dimensions. Chris Watson provides the punctuations on this compilation with 3 pieces spread at various points on the record, each of which is quite unlike the usual nature recordings he is known for: each piece presents hypnotic chants from around the world (Morocco, North Ethiopia…). Thomas Brinkmann is also here, with a nice, crisp and minimal rhythm construction: totally unlike the Soul Center series, this track is one of my favourites on this disc. Mark Van Hoen returns as Locust here with his own take on more experimental forms of pop music, with absolutely stunning results which build on the styles found in 1998’s Morning Light. Van Hoen is curiously missing from the Scala lineup for their track “Breaking Point”, however, and it shows: the piece has very little in common with the miraculous density and compositional integrity of Compass Heart. The trouble with the Scala track is its lack of direction: it begins in 4AD mode, with light and dark synths and timpani, then shifts suddenly to a flurry of jazz percussion and noise, which then finally subdues into a driving rhythm and the processed vocal stylings of Sarah Peacock, then shifts again for a final high-frequency shriek which doesn’t seem to fit at all into the piece. Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere contributes a short piece in the vein of his incredible full-length Cirque, released earlier this year on Touch. Philip Jeck presents a 10-minute piece of quiet loops for the turntable (his instrument of choice), and AER present two tracks of mysterious ambience and bizarre broadcast messages. Excellent contributions from Mika Vainio, Hazard, Richard H. Kirk, Tobias Frere-Jones and others make this a diverse and rewarding listening experience, the promise of great things to come from Touch. [Richard di Santo]
Weekly Dig (USA):
The avant-garde record label Touch has put out a sampler surprisingly titled Touch Sampler. The sounds on this CD are experimental and daring, but unlike so much music in the experimental genre, they don’t tend to exhaust an idea by pushing it to the point where the listener is filled with an uncontrollable and irrational compulsion to bludgeon innocent passerbys with heavy glass ash trays, which is quite a plus.Listening to this CD is a little like thumbing through an exotic textile catalogue where each page seduces your fingertips into feeling the samples. Touch Sampler is an aural textile experience that contains pure sonic textuality as does Ryoji Ikeda’s ‘Matrix’, an exquisite four-minute exploration of pure tonality and the effects of pitch. So compelling is the piece that it seems to induce a form of sonic vertigo in me with each listen.
Touch Sampler also does nice work with found sounds such as the crackly static anxiety-ridden ‘Mach.853’, which contains found sounds from Moscow Air Traffic control over Turukhansk, Siberia, October 1990. The same effect can be heard on AER’s ‘As You Wander Round’, which uses a snippet from a walking self-tour audiotape in Salisbury Cathedral. That being said, there are dramatic soundtrack-y-moments that are more musical, such as Scala’s ‘Breaking Point’, which sounds like a remix of Keijo Heino’s ‘Clubbed to Death’. Also of interest is Richard H. Kirk’s ‘Entering Valhalla’, which is dark and enticing.
While not for the faint of heart, this CD could provide much honey for your otherwise deprived imagination. [Doug McDonald]
Pure tones from sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, field recordings and soundtracked paranoia from ex-Cabaret Voltaire bods Chris Watson and Richard H Kirk respectively, taut steel wires of techno minimalism from Thomas Brinkmann. While many experimental / noise labels are like sprouts – hard to digest and best served only once a year (if that), Touch is like asparagus – a refined taste well worth acquiring. [Tom Mugridge]
The South End (USA):
Let’s step into the lab and get experimental.
Warning: there will be no taking it to the bridge.
Step by step, let us begin at the beginning, with Ryoji Ikeda’s ‘Matrix (for an anechoic room)’. Ah, I see. Made for a room with no echoes. The hoverings/hums vibrate quite well on their own. Step two. Daniel Menche’s ‘Down’. Write this down: it is sparks, crackles & crunch. Do I smell a fire, or just an old microphone?
Get out the tape recorder. Real life makes the best samples. Chris watson takes it to Morocco and Ethiopia to record chants of ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘A Celebration’, and ‘A Blessing’. And AER records voices and clacking heels in Salisbury Cathedral in England, and the drips of a Frenchman’s bath in ‘As You Wander Round’ and ‘Bread Upon the Water’. Yes, and the news, the news. Richard H. Kirk makes ‘Entering Valhalla without a laptop (but with an umbrella, a sewing machine and an operating table – dig it)’ with what souns to be a news report and a keyboard. Eerie. But interesting.
Hypothesis: the atmosphere will be heady. An airplane roars in your space on Hazard’s ‘Flood Gate’. Feel the pressure in the cabin pushing in on your brain. Track 15: ‘Mach .853 [Moscow air traffic control over Turukhansk, Siberia, October 1990’. More crackles and static accompanied by musical notes turn into a distorted echo of a voice and millions of singing evening frogs, and then back to the familiar distortions in Philip Jeck’s ‘As My Shadow Passes…’. Strange. Yet compelling.
Here are the beakers, for making potions with many perfectly measured ingredients. Milky are Thomas Brinkmann’s repetitive beats and pops in ‘Olga A 1’. I want to say “deliciously spacey” to Locust and ‘Wrong’. Take three parts beeps and jangles to two parts wailing cat/screeching baby, add melody and mix for the japanese pop-like People Like Us/The Jet Black Hair People/Wobbly track. Scala will swell and swoop the strings, add a drum beat and then freak it all out with crazy guitar and pounding piano for ‘Breaking Point’. Biosphere’s ‘Sun-Baked’ is all sweetness and light.
The study of natural phenomena, such as the weather, can bring forth a study in sound. Where is the thermometer? Tobias Frere-Jones has made the following examination in ‘F-Hz (#190736, 1996)'”The high and low temperature for each day in 1996, as recorded at Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts, is converted to audible form. For each of the seven hundred and thirty-two readings, the unit of measure is switched, Fahrenheit to Hertz. With one-tenth of a second for each reading, F-Hz (#190736, 1996) recounts an entire year of climate in a sequence of sine waves. Aside from the one-tenth second interval, every aspect of the composition is ‘found’, written by the natural world”. Ah, science.
The definition of a circle. Mika Vainio’s ‘Ilmaantuva [Airing/Appearance]’ brings us back to where we began, explosion of static turns to a humming hover.
Note: lesson learned. “The world is bigger than you.” It’s certainly bigger than America. [Doctor Experimenting Robot]
Label-showcase compilations often fail to live up as the sum of their parts, but for Touch, the compilation is more like a carefully curated exhibition, a dialog within the catalog. Touch – the audiovisual label curated by designer Jon Wozencroft and Mike Harding – has, over the past two decades, quietly built a reputation as one of experimental music’s strongest venues, a home as much as an enterprise, and its fourth compilation draws the label’s identity as a set of Venn diagrams, overlapping, swapping space, resisting unification and separation alike. Mere description won’t suffice but to suggest the range conveyed here: the pristine undulations of Ryoji Ikeda, the uncannily lucid field recordings by Chris Watson, the radiant and enveloping pop of Locust, like Kate Bush blown ecstatic and offworld. At the edge of it all, the single, rotating column of light that Philip Jeck extracts from vinyl in its final, dead spin. Repeat after me: this is not ambient music. And it simply has to be heard. [Philip Sherburne]
Label samplers are often very hit and miss, the odd gem amongst several inconsequential tracks, not so with Touch. Touch is a label that has been in existence for two decades and has been gradually but quietly building a reputation for consistently high quality experimental electronic music. This sampler is evidence of that and covers a range of artists, all with their own respective styles and interpretations, collectively forming a cohesive consistency. This CD is a journey through sound and features almost 80 minutes of exclusive tracks never released on CD.
Ryoji Ikeda opens proceedings with an experiment in tonality and pitch, created for a sound as art exhibition in Tokyo. Daniel Menche expands on this idea by combining a low mechanical rumble with ghostly vocal samples in a quite unnerving way. Thomas Brinkmanns Olga A1 sees its first release on CD with Brinkmann taking gentle mechanical rhythms and metronome like ticks and slowly building on them, creating an excellently soothing track. Then comes Locusts track, which is a kind of dubbier more digital interpretation of Brinkmann’s track (yet totally unrelated to it), but with added female vocals that sound like a deranged Kate Bush. This leads into Scalas track, which is almost like three tracks in one. Starting out with a medieval and then classical feel, mutating into rapid junglistic beats combined with manic piano and electric guitar madness. This then gives way to the main section of the track with fast low-key beats and electric guitar drones combined with cool My Bloody Valentine/Sonic Youth style female vocals. Philip Jeck then experiments with various forms of distortion, echoing vocal effects and assorted cut-ups to form a nine and half minute stream of dream-like strangeness. People Like Us (and friends) take to looping a skipping CD and manipulating radio shows samples almost beyond recognition.
At this point, the mood subtly shifts to one of atmospheric beauty. Hazard combines a number of mechanically based samples; a deep rumbling drone is joined by a running motor, a small propeller-driven aeroplane and a pounding industrial machine. As usual with Hazard, these sounds are combined and layered in such a way as to make them captivating. Then to Richard H Kirks Entering Valhalla, a track that takes gentle strings, a heartbeat and a repeated TV news sample and combines them with radiating keyboard sounds to great effect. A steady atmospheric track with peculiar similarities to Jean-Michel Jarre. Biosphere follows with a track based around the layering of various string samples to form a completely new piece of music with occasional static hiss for emphasis. Like Hazard, Biosphere never ceases to create atmosphere, this time gentle and soothing. Next up is a concept piece by Tobias Frere-Jones that is created from a whole years high/low temperature readings from a weather station in Massachusetts and converted into sound, with each reading given just a tenth of a second. The CD closes with Mika Vainio bringing the compilation full circle by combining a low tone-switching drone with the occasional deep bass rumble.
Each piece of music is further enhanced by the inclusion of a number of short segues, ranging from segments of conversation to static buzzes. Added to this are longer field recordings by AER and Chris Watson, the most interesting of which is Watsons curiously fascinating combination of a tourist guide tape from and recording of visitors to Salisbury Cathedral in England.
As a representation of a labels output, a compilation such as this serves as a testament to the consistent quality of output produced. A cohesive collection of both artistic and truly experimental pieces that shouldnt be missed. Look out for more samplers from Touch soon. Excellent stuff. [Paul Lloyd]
Passage à lan 2000 pour le moins dépaysant à lécoute de cette compilation inédite assemblée par le label Londonien Touch. Fondé en 1982 il fut un modèle pour beaucoup, débuta avec des compilations K7 ou lon croisait, entre autres, New Order… Continua par des projets avec dex-Cabaret voltaire ou Wire, et surtout imposa en son pays bon nombre de créateurs de génie, dont ceux empruntés au label Autrichinen Mego : Fennesz, Farmers Manual, Rehberg & Bauer. Touch a toujours privilégié les musiques qui vont de lavant, et les sons digitaux mais sans jamais négliger les richesses traditionnelles, éthniques ou contemporaines. Ce sampler, leur quatrième, offre une musique dapproche difficile, riche et généreuse. Qui sadresse plus aux sens et à lintellect quau corps. Des sons qui exigent une constante attention. Ryoji Ikeda, Japonais de Tokyo qui a trois albums chez Touch, joue ici de la fréquence… Le prolifique Allemand Thomas Brinkmann impose son rythme minimaliste millésimé : excellent… Mika Vainio (Pan*Sonic) fait un peu office de second rôle et je lui préfére largement les fugues solo de son compère Ilpo Väisänen… Les anciens de Cabaret Voltaire : Chris Watson -ici pour trois morceaux- ou Richard H. Kirk sont bel et bien toujours à la pointe… Scala revient à ses premiers amours avec un killer percutant et attachant qui nous remémore que son meilleur disque est sorti chez Touch, avant quil ne rejoigne la trop polie écurie Too Pure… Locust place ses ambiences étherées et jai du mal avec le timbre de voix… Les titres senchainent bien et démontrent lunité du label, les autres membres de la famille ont pour nom Aer, Thomas, Philip Jeck, People Like Us, Hazard… 21 titres inédits et exclusifs qui raffermissent lillustre réputation dun incontournable de la musique cérébrale. [philippe petit]
Touch [and Leaf] have long been two of the top UK labels worth checking out with cutting-edge stances that have forfeited more hits than misses. 00 highlights Touch’s radical leftfield leanings with a 21 track platter of tasty sound sculptures. The colorless buzztone science of artists like Hazard, Mika Vainio, Daniel Menche and Ryoji Ikeda fill one end of the spectrum with storms of studied disquiet and satisfying slices of sonic nihilism, while Thomas Brinkmann and Tobias Frere-Jones pick up the baton and add some rhythmic devices built on throbbing patterns and clickity-tapping mayhem, respectively. The concrete collage work of AER and the contextual field recordings of Chris Watson squeeze listening pleasure from captured moments, while downplaying the circuit-based archery of their 00 counterparts. Meanwhile the lush and inviting melodica of artists Locust, Scala and Biosphere pepper the release with relatively accessible respite, just about rounding out the spectrum. Except…I can’t forget to mention a collaboration among People Like Us, The Jet Black People [sic] and Wobbly, whose track boxes up a Takemura-style, skippy texture, adding meowing samples and arriving at a weird interpretation of DJ aesthetic [sic]. This track, while a deconstruction of – I think – hiphop, is the closest this compilation gets to acknowledging any music genre, at least overtly. And even here, that reference is oblique. Overall, a good, challenging collection of some of the brightest sound painters. [Maveriq]