• Announcing Vague Terrain 15: .microsound

    24 Oct 2009, 20:30 by serial_consign

    The latest of edition of Vague Terrain is dedicated to celebrating the tenth anniversary of the .microsound community. Guest curated by the American composer Kim Cascone, the issue provides a range of commentary and context on "sub-atomic" musical aesthetics and a window into this globally distributed community of electronic musicians. In Cascone's own words .microsound is a fertile middle ground between "the ivory tower of sterile academia" and "the seizure-inducing din of the dance club". For those unacquainted with this zone of musical production, this collection of work provides a perfect introduction.

    Featuring text & video contributions by Ben Neill, Charles Turner, Dextro, Joanna Demers, Pere Villez, Thanos Chrysakis, Thomas Bey William Bailey and William L. Ashline.

    Feature audio contributions from Mike Rooke, Lubrication, Ronnie Cramer, [ruidobello], Richard Lainhart, sound art, TomDjll, Brett Ian Balogh, Scant Intone, Yota Morimoto, Jorge Castro, Joaquín Gutiérrez Hadid, Francesco Rosati, Asférico, Water Falls, Yann Novak, John Hanes, Epoch_Collapse, Jhenner Gayap Benadrilled, Skjølbrot, Markus Jones, Jon Hawken, Adern X Fades 4:38, Julien Ottavi, Vanessa Rossetto, Kim Cascone, Larnie Fox, eddie135, Di.J Crisis, shg, Cheryl E. Leonard, Noé Cuéllar, Gary R. Weisberg, Osvaldo Cibils, Kotra, Gintas K, John Kannenberg, Ricky Pannowitz, ocp, TheSAD, Margaret Schedel, Pereshaped, so/on, Eric Miller, Nux Vomica, v4w.enko, UmanoidSomeday, Epoch Collapse, Umanoid and Noé Cuéllar.

    To view the issue please visit

    Kim Cascone
  • Vague Terrain 10: Digital Dub

    13 Aug 2008, 19:35 by serial_consign

    After a brief hiatus, Vague Terrain is back with a new website and a fresh issue of our digital arts publication. Vague Terrain 10: Digital Dub features a variety of multimedia projects that explore the intersection of digital culture and all things dub.

    This body of work contains contributions from Aguno, DubRocket, Eduardo Navas, Jonah K, NAW, Ohrwert, Segue, The Straggler and interviews with DJ Spooky and Kevin Martin (aka The Bug) conducted by Eduardo Navas and Corina MacDonald - you can view the issue here.

    Vague Terrain is now moving towards augmenting the journal content with a group blog. I'm hoping that we can enlist a dozen or so of the 100 artists, scholars and musicians we've featured over the last three years to provide semi-regular contributions related to their areas of expertise, supplementing the journal content in the process. We've also got a stellar next issue lined up by way of the CONT3XT.NET crew.

    Originally posted on Serial Consign

    The Straggler
    Jonah K
    DJ Spooky
    The Bug
    Razor X
  • mutek 2008 mini-review

    6 Jun 2008, 00:57 by serial_consign

    [murcof & xx+xy visuals at a/visions 1 / image: basic_sounds]

    For me, the end of May is always marked by a road trip to Montreal for the Mutek festival. I haven't taken in the entire festival since 2006 as that year I realized that I have a tolerance for about ten shows in a week, after which point I start to run up a dangerous bar tab and foam at the mouth. As luck would have it, this year's schedule condensed most of the programming I was interested in into a 48 hour window. I opted to arrive in Montreal on Thursday evening and skip the Saturday night and Sunday events and more or less saw and heard what I needed to. I'm not going to provide that much of a qualitative assessment of the artists and performances I saw and heard but what follows may provide some useful observations and links for the interested.

    First and foremost, it is really great to see the scope and quality of the A/V programming improving and diversifying. This year's lineup featured three dedicated A/V showcases and the majority of the SAT shows also featured prominent visuals. I missed several collaborations I'd like to have checked out on the first two nights, which included Murcof & xx+xy visuals, Sans Soleil & Nokami and Martin Tétrault's artificiel.process. I was fortunate enough to check the final A/Visions showcase for the much anticipated Christian Fennesz and Lillevan collaboration. Lillevan chose to marry the shimmering textures and trademark warm Fennesz fuzz with an assortment of composites which overlaid shots panning across masonry with a variety of slow-motion swirling water vortices. The entire performance was quite dreamy and it was great to see the immaculately controlled distortion of Fennesz visualized in an appropriately loose and moody manner. As solid as this collaboration was, it felt a little restrained, especially after the cascading celestial mood conjured during Tim Hecker's incredible pitch dark performance.

    [chic miniature at experience 2 / image: basic_sounds]

    The SAT is always an essential component of the Mutek experience and this year was no different. Over the course of the Friday evening warm up party and the (rained out) Saturday piknic I was able to hear Barem, Chic Miniature, Komodo and Flying Lotus. Flying Lotus didn't do that much for me, but his set outlined enough of a middle ground between shufflin' J Dilla percussion and top shelf dubstep that I plan on keeping an eye out for his debut album, which drops next week on Warp. Barem was quite excellent - he's definitely one of the more interesting cats in the minimal game at the moment. My great regret of the festival is having to miss Marcello Marandola perform his Des Cailloux et du Carbone project in order to scoot over to the Tim Hecker/Fennesz show.

    [sans soleil & nokami at a/visions 2 / image: basic_sounds]

    Friday's Nocturne event was a pretty good indicator that Mutek finally seems to have pulled together its programming for the larger events. The last few years' larger events have been quite erratic and sullied with some outright bad programming and performances. To see a lineup of Kid Koala, Megasoid and Modeselektor shadowed by a mini-minimal room featuring Dave Aju, Half Hawaii and Jeremy P. Caufield is proof positive that Mutek has really figured out how to balance mass-appeal with more left-of-centre performances. Beyond this, Megasoid and Kid Koala's inclusion suggests the festival has conducted some much-needed musical outreach into the broader Montreal music scene. As for the performances, Modeselektor seems to have kicked their rave nostalgia up another few notches and as much as I appreciate their energy and sound design I'm really not a fan (although their 2006 Mutek performance was the stuff of legends). I rolled into Metropolis quite late, just as Half Hawaii was tearing down and Jeremy P. Caufield was hitting the decks. Jeremy is an old friend, and I haven't heard him DJ for several years. To hear him bump out a totally fresh extended set of bleepy minimal was fantastic. I've been over saturated with minimal-mediocrity over the last few years so any opportunity to hear the sound DJ'd well is welcomed with open arms.

    Over the past couple years my reviews of Mutek have been quite mixed, but the five shows I attended this year gave me a little more optimism about the direction of the festival. Watching the Montreal community slowly drift away from their experimental origins (see the original Mutek lineup) has been a little distressing but I suppose the nature of scenes and movements is that they fade away or become institutionalized. I think Mutek appears to finally be striking the right balance between adventurous programming and larger events without ghettoizing the experimental content - no small feat. I can only really comment on the shows I was at, but this year things felt quite positive, rather than tentative.

    If you're on the prowl for more scuttlebutt about Mutek 08 the events pages at Create Digital Music/Noise are quite comprehensive and worth visiting. Ken Taylor of XLR8R has also been posting about his experiences on the XLR8R blog and no doubt our friend at basic sounds (thanks for the images) will be posting on the festival soon as well.

    Originally posted on Serial Consign

    Mutek 2008
    Sans Soleil
    Martin Tetrault
    Tim Hecker
    Chic Miniature
    Flying Lotus
    Des Cailloux Et Du Carbone
    Kid Koala
    Dave Aju
    Half Hawaii
    Jeremy P. Caufield
  • noise/music: a history

    21 Feb 2008, 17:14 by serial_consign

    Late last year, Paul Hegarty released Noise/Music: A History, a writing project which traces the phenomena of noise across various genres and experimental practices throughout 20th century music. After hearing about the text on Networked Music Review, I was quite excited to finally get to spend some time with this work over the last few weeks. The text is constructed as a series of short, thematic essays with the expected readings of Futurist Italy and Thatcherist England, as well as more involved analysis of proto-krautrock, the contradictions of "free" jazz and the noteworthy and enduring noise scene in Japan (with a well-deserved chapter on the enterprise that is Merzbow).

    Noise/Music is most easily appreciated as a "disturbingly succinct" history of 20th century music and perhaps the most appropriate text to compare the work to is Michael Nyman's Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. However, where Nyman's text is a comprehensive "academy friendly" catalog of sequential progressions and developments, Hegarty's text covers more ground and wanders into a more diverse and adventurous territory - one characterized by amplitude and excess. The brevity of Hegarty's text is quite remarkable, and each essay sketches out a unique noise-aesthetic pertaining to a specific time and place, movement or means of production. The following excerpt from the "Japan" chapter is perhaps the most universal definition of noise to be found anywhere in the entire text:

    "Music offers a world, and inhabitability. Noise offers something more like dark matter which may be what allows a structure for everything else to exist (i.e. music, meaning, language, and so on, emerge from and against noise), but also the living on of that other material that is excluded as, or, for being, noise, and, beyond that, the continual limit of expansion of matter (or meaning/music). Noise is like a turning away from the world into an imagined pre-linguistic self..."

    Readings such as the above emerge out of a provocative array of genres ranging from dub, jazz, hip-hop, industrial into more ambiguous realms such as sound art and the post-microsound contemporary electronic scene. The text features extended commentary on a number of artists including John Cage, Public Enemy, Throbbing Gristle, John Oswald, Jimi Hendrix, and the list goes on...

    Noise/Music ends rather abruptly in the present day with an indexing of contemporary production paradigms as rut, bit, interrupt and beat. Respectively, these address the materiality of vinyl, digital fidelity and fair use, glitch-culture and the error and new thinking regarding rhythm and percussion. One has to appreciate a text that draws direct connections between the sample-obsessed early work of Matmos and Matthew Herbert and Musique Concrète. Beyond identifying key aesthetic genealogies, Hegarty skillfully superimposes a broad range of critical theory over top of the work being examined. Jacques Attali's Noise: The Political Economy of Music is brought into play several times throughout the work and that book provides a compelling companion text to Hegarty's project.

    As a whole, Noise/Music: A History is a dynamic reading of 20th century music and the text would sit nicely in any theory-friendly music library alongside titles like Kodwo Eshun's Brighter than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction and the Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner edited Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music.

    Originally posted on Serial Consign

    John Cage
    Public Enemy
    Jimi Hendrix
    John Oswald
  • sebastian meissner interview

    5 Oct 2007, 16:08 by serial_consign

    Originally posted on Serial Consign

    The creative practice of Sebastian Meissner is scattered across numerous pseudonyms and disciplines. I am a huge fan of his work as Random Inc., Autopoieses, and Klimek and I never even suspected these projects were all crafted by the same musician until 2004. I began a dialog with Meissner earlier this year when he was gracious enough to allow me to use the track "Sand" to score a short video piece. As we chatted back and forth, I learned about his photography and video (see post) and I became increasingly curious about the atmospheric and spatial qualities that run through his diverse body of work. Sebastian was kind enough to take a considerable amount of time to provide a thorough contextualization of his art and music. This conversation addresses: aesthetics, Meissner's nuanced perspective on Israel, his thoughts on sound and cities and his opinions on the evolving electronic music market in Europe. He also has shed some light on his forthcoming Klimek album (due out on the NYC based Anticipate imprint later this fall).

    A good place to start would be your myriad of pseudonyms. You have recorded under close to a dozen projects under the following monikers: Bizz Circuits, Random Inc., Random Industries, Autopoieses, Klimek and your own name. Could you discuss your perspective on identity in electronic music and how it relates to these many projects?

    I find the average relationship of an artist ego towards the topics/issues he/she is trying to address as quite problematic. The artist as the carrier/distributor of beauty and aesthetic arrangements has stopped working for me. Such works have little to do with the outside world, which surrounds me – delivering short-term entertainment and/or creating new virtual spaces, but without bridging them with reality. Above all what’s important for me in this "game" called art is participating in public life and reacting to society. I am interested in proposal such as expressed by Artur Zmijewski in his essay Applied Social Arts, which demands a new role of the artist in society. Urging him/her to take active responsibility for the shaping of the society which is surrounding him/her. Each of my projects has its own perspective and its own focus, thus they need different names to make contextual distinctions possible. I started to entitle my works with project names to draw a bigger attention to the subjects. From an economic perspective, it is of course more advisable to stick to the classical artist image using your first and family name (faked or real).

    I consider your record Walking in Jerusalem to be one of the most interesting records of the last decade. It is political, without wearing a polemic on its sleeve and raises all kinds of provocative questions about the digital musician as a new kind of flâneur. What are your thoughts on the rhythm and sound of urban space? Also, could you talk about your connection to Jerusalem and perhaps provide a bit of a back-story to that specific album?

    Well, thank you! I have watched, read and followed the many strains leading to the Middle-East region and it’s so called "conflict" over the years, but it was always a view from outside. On Walking in Jerusalem I wanted to get confronted with real people, being with them in their homes, looking them in the eyes. It could have ended with my first CD, Jerusalem: Tales Outside The Framework Of Orthodoxy, which was mostly about the mysticism of the city, but my visits turned out as quite productive, which encouraged me to keep on moving with the subject.

    Lots of people on the outside who are debating on the politics of the Middle East make it easy for themselves to jump on one perspective, and defend it then by all means. Muslimgauze (Bryn Jones) – to whom I was compared a lot during this time – is surely an example for it. He never wanted to visit the region ("I don't think you can visit an occupied land. It's the principle. Not until it's free again"). Well, you can make an artistic point out of such neglect of dealing with the other side. It will stand like a monument erected by such an artist for the human right struggle of the Palestinian people. Fine, but as the time has shown this position is not solving anything and not contributing anything positive impulses in solving this "conflict" – basically it’s only approving the victim status of Palestinians and it does even worse, because it opens up a mistimed debate on the right of Israel’s right to exist.

    From a perspective of a person who is living in Germany it’s really difficult to deal with Israeli-Palestinian issues. On the far left you have people who no matter what stick to Israel’s right to defend itself (without even looking behind those actions of self defense – like the "Jerusalem question": a matter of Israel’s self-defense or a matter of marking a dominant position in the region?). Those people are very easily manipulated by some key-slogans like: "survival of the Jewish state," "war on terror" etc. Looking for a meaningful place in the "western" society some people (like Mr. Jones himself) are escaping into allophilia (embracing cultures/ethnicities/gender/disabilities). On the political "far right" some are still handling a vocabulary like it was used some 70 years ago and living a strange, quixotic reality (silently supported by those who wants to get rid of this part of German history). On the representative level those people can easily be muted – but it seams like nobody want to deal with them, which is causing a high probability for a (sub) cultural reproduction of those views/positions. The very center of German society is still too paralyzed, too dozy or too afraid of everything, which has to do with the Holocaust and/or the Israeli state. This is an uneasy starting point, but the most productive thing you can actually do is to take it as a challenge and to deal with it. But then again I didn’t want to do a work about the inner German controversy, but something, which could have been viewed from every other global position as well. National affiliation is playing not an important role within my identity. When you step a side of this construct you realize that you now you don’t have to speak for Germans, not for Poles, not for the culprit, not for the victims – just for yourself. This exercise enabled me to develop a kind of natural born curiosity and a specific curiosity towards Israeli-Palestinian issues.

    The Israeli society is divided into many parts. The traumas of the Holocaust and an anti-Arabic (actually and anti-Islamic) climate made it up to date possible that this joint-venture "Jewish identity in Israel" remains to the outside world in an uniform appearance and maintains an strong identity shaping instrument inside of the Israeli society. Israel is build upon the traumas of the Ashkenazi population (East/Middle European rooted Jewish population). The Sephardic (North Africa and Iberian rooted Jewish population) and the oriental/Iraqi migration of the 50ties were theoretically speaking a big chance for Israeli society to approach the arabic-islamic population inside of the state but also in the states surrounding Israel. Upon arrival in Israel those immigrants had a strongly Arabic shaped identity – first Arabic THEN Jewish. The state of Israel tried to assimilate those people by all means and made them adapt the mainstream attitudes of the Ashkenazi dominated mainstream society, disposing them of their Arabic roots. But the biggest challenge for the Israeli state of all time will be the immigrants from Russia, who arrived there mostly during the 90s. The second generation of those immigrants is producing now distortions such as "Nazi Jews" vandalizing synagogues and violently assaulting religious people.

    It was DEFINITELY not my goal to deliver sort of a well-reflected exoticism to the average electronic music lover. Not like it was proposed (for example) by Freeform's Audio Tourism (an audio artist equipped with microphones goes to an arbitrary country, collects lot of interesting sounding source material and decorate his own composition with that ambience, using an exotic looking picture on the front cover) or Deadbeat's Journeyman’s Annual (hotel, sound check, party, motel, taxi, airport). I wanted to open a door for a deeper, more complex/diverse view at this region and also to look for a little bit more then pure aesthetics and the love of new software and hardware technologies. This album and all my other works referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where part of my own journey and part of my own studies of how to approach a situation seemingly with no way out. I was studying Jewish history and the history of the Holocaust way before I started to play with sound. My interest is rooted in my childhood and adolescence. I grew up in a family with half Polish and half German roots. On the one hand side there were several members of my family exterminated by Nazis, on the other side people who served in the Wehrmacht. It is surely also a story how I was trying to understand what happen in Europe during the 30s and 40s.

    The next step I did then was focusing on the era before that time – looking for indications what could have make National Socialism possible. But somehow naturally my focus shifted to post World War II history. What happened to all those survivors who have decided to leave Europe and create a new state? My releases are documenting this slowly approach: Jerusalem - as the view from very far away, Walking in Jerusalem – wandering through the city streets, Intifada Offspring – arriving at peoples homes and finally Into The Void offering a view to the roots of what later shaped Israel.

    Eskimo by The Residents is for me an incredible album and a perfect example how to avoid the aspect of a "flâneur". The written stories on this album accompanying each track are so deep and so disturbing. They are not creating in you the desire to travel to Greenland or to become part of the Ennui society – but they make you think about human societies and its behaviors. Other good example is Geir Jenssen’s Field Recordings from Tibet album, where the journey itself is the topic.

    Art (aesthetics) is for me just a vehicle to a deeper understanding of the world around me. The politics of the Middle East are so much present in our globalized western society, but so far away from a deeper understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics happening there. There are more identities at work in this region, which divide and connect people with each other – more then as on religiosity centered main-stream debates wants us to believe.

    The rhythm & sound of urban scenarios can’t be uniform, as companies advertising fashion accessories would have us believe. Drum’n’Bass and Downtempo-Jazzy-Beats might also have found a home in India or Tajikistan, but the urban sounds of such places (Jerusalem included) might be not those songs we would like to hear (like "cheesy" Arabic pop-songs). The trap is that if you want to look for sounds which represent a specific local vibe/way of expressing yourself, you have to move closer and not end your search at the local copy of a New-Wave, Doom-Metal or Electronica act etc.

    [ghetto ambient photo-interface]

    It is clear from your recent Ghetto Ambient project, that you are interested in the aesthetics of the city above and beyond sound. How does this project and Autokontrast, fit into your creative practice?

    Within the Ghetto Ambient project various aspects and different forms/methods of my work are melting into each other, displaying GA at the present time in a stage far away from having reached its final destination.

    It started by linking my newer audio-compositions with my "animated photography". Here I am cutting some chosen motives from my pictures into numerous zooms and apertures and arrange them into a new whole, trying to develop an abstract narrative over a given time span. The pictures are showing predominantly specific symbolic places from geographic regions I have visited over the last few years. For example: construction yards and sites of house demolishing in East Jerusalem, suburban housings on outskirts of Algiers, the Bullring Shopping Center in Birmingham, Kazimierz, former Jewish neighborhood of Cracow, anarchistic stencils in Porto and many other. I am assigning then those movies to a specific track, which is sometimes from my Klimek repertoire and sometimes a newer composition, which is mostly turning out in a darker, slow motion dub-step like mood.

    Recently I started also to expand this platform for my installation works. For example I will incorporate a series of installations dealing with socio/cultural/economic changes in the Upper Silesian region in Poland (where I grew up). As I already did with my work "Business Never Personal" for the Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes/Norway – a work about "arrested" Russian ships in the port of Kirkenes and those seamen who are maintaining those vessels.

    City above and beyond sound? Yes, definitely beyond sound or using sound in a new context. I think the Music To Fall Asleep album is portraying this step very precisely. Working with the motive from Jean Cocteau’s Orphée and using a dirty slop as a mirror, my attention started to shift (as someone described) to "forgotten places at the edge to the globalized world". By providing the listener with my associative tracks titles – with double names – such as "Pathways to Work," "Accompanying Guilty Thoughts of Unauthorized Candy," "Kingdoms Here We Come" etc I wanted to create a pool of keywords/verbal parameters allowing the listener to develop his/her own storyline, while listening to the audio compositions.

    I really like to see the come back of the "walkman-culture" (now: "IPod-culture"). While walking through cities with my favorite music on my headphones I had experienced magical moments. Taking the music labeled as "ambient" to places outside safe environments such as chill-out launches and comfortably and stylish living-room couches ("The world isn´t a safe place," Artur Zmijewski), I wanted to create an everyday life soundtrack for subways and places that passing you by, while covering distances in urban scenarios. So "falling asleep" means NOT into a relaxing, siesta-like atmosphere, but into an uncontrolled passing away, losing control over your body like you know it from people suffering from narcolepsy or like exhaustingly returning from work on public transport.

    Autokontrast is the output for my photography. I have been taking pictures (and working in video) for quite long time now, way longer that I have been involved in composing sound. The website is documenting a selection of my scanned, celluloid based works, divided into various aspects and themes, where intuitive navigation is part of this work.

    [photograph from the slunsk trilogy / ghetto ambient]

    Your Klimek project seems to oscillate between an almost confrontational sparseness and an incredible warmth and assurance. While these moods are polar opposites, the consistent theme seems to be an incredible attention to the slow, nuanced "pace" of melody. Could you describe the atmosphere you are creating and exploring with this work?

    Klimek tracks are mostly based on edited / processed acoustic samples taken from songs / compositions / composers which / who influenced me over the years. For example the tracks "Milk" & "Honey" are based on guitar plucks from the play by Fred Frith and Bill Frisell. By disassembling these tracks I carefully listen and pay attention to the composition on a nearly microscopic level, and pick up those elements, which "speak" to me the most. Maybe you could compare it to what I was doing when I was a little kid: by taking apart my grandparents' cameras. Screw by screw I was getting deeper and deeper into those machines and discovering hidden, yet invisible elements. Later then led by thoughts of guilt I was trying to put back the cameras to their primary shape, but ended up having constructed three or even more new objects, with temporarily no practical usage. Maybe with a similar portion of passion, curiosity I am approaching my method of sampling and creating new arrangements out of it.

    Slowness/slow motion is a very fascinating aspect in music composition for me. Working on Klimek tracks the question for me always was: "how slow can I get before losing the perception of a movement/rhythm? This aspect you could also convey to the Ghetto Ambient visuals as well, where I am trying to move the picture layers so slow, that it’s hard to realize when a transition has been completed. A phenomenon we are experiencing on everyday life basis: realizing that on our way to work a new building has been completed or when looking in a mirror and realizing that our face doesn’t look like it was looking some years ago.

    So accordingly to this I am not associating my compositions with so called electronic "ambient" (or even "drone") music, but rather then with composers and bands who explored the slow-motion aspect in music such as Swans, Bohren & der Club of Gore and The Melvins. My compositions might sound less silence breaking as their, but I hope the Klimek sound can create other powerful perceptions ("violently sad sounding music" as the German magazine SPEX wrote about this album). Here we might come back to the aspect of losing control while listening to music – not in an ecstatic mood – but more out of a loss of control about oneself perception. Making you forget about time and opening doors to a new perception of the place you abide / dwell – creating a mood of anticipation for a change.

    Your next Klimek release is due out in November on Ezekiel Honig’s Anticipate imprint. The album, entitled Dedications, seems to dive further into the realm of tribute that you describe above. With this record you work through a range of personalities including artists including Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Marvin Gaye, Charles Mingus, your grandmother Zofia Klimek, an ex-partner/collaborator and even the fictional Jimmy Corrigan. Is this attempt at autobiography through aknowledging the work and influence of others?

    Inevitably it is dealing with drawing attention to the work by people who - in one way or another - have influenced me in my life (but I wouldn’t say that the selection of names on this album is necessarily representative for my biography).

    I want to draw attention to the relationships and tensions between two characters symbolizing opposite values, different discourses or personalities.

    For example using Spielberg’s name on one of the tracks goes back to my work Into the Void (installation + concert + composition + collaboration with Israeli artists Ran Slavin and Eran Sachs) I have done for the XIII edition of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland, where I have used parts of "Schindler's List" soundtrack to point out the aspect of virtual Jewish places/virtual Jewishness: klezmer nostalgia meets concentration-camp-tourism meets pilgrimage to spots such as sceneries for film-shots, while being served by dressed-up Poles in orthodox Jewish "costumes" with semi-kosher food to the sound of second-hand klezmer. Azza el-Hassan, a Palestinian filmmaker, was urging Spielberg in one of her works finally to start working on his movie about the "holy-land," which he (meaning his production company) had announced years ago and which supposedly wanted to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    It deals also with the artistic relationship between Grant Hart and Bob Mould, the Lennon-McCartney of the post-punk. It deals about working and doing art about work (Michael Gira versus Russian seaman Vladimir Ivanovich). It is trying to point out how "fame" can influence the "real" life of an artist (Ol´ Dirty Bastard versus Marvin Gaye) aka cocaine (ab)use. About real and staged loneliness, hopelessness and despair (my grandmother Zofia Klimek versus Gregory Crewdson) and about different approaches towards life (Lia versus Jimmy Corrigan).

    The idea on this album is to confront people from different "worlds" with each other.

    Mille Plateaux was an absolute hotbed of experimental electronic music from 1993-2004. The label was a vibrant testing ground for digital aaesthetics and yielded all kinds of new permutations of house and techno and speculations on pop and more experimental soundscapes. Could you talk about the culture surrounding the imprint and how being involved with it influenced you as an artist?

    I have a very strong biographic connection to the label group of Force Inc./Mille Plateaux. I guess it started with Boy-Records (primarily a fashion store chain from London, which was famous in the 80s), one of the first record stores in Frankfurt where you could find a solid selection of by the end of 80s/beginning of 90s emerging dance culture. I was spending lot of time there listening to new house and techno records. Achim Szepanski was working there at this time, who in 1991 founded Force Inc and in 1994 Mille Plateaux. Force Inc was releasing at this time a colorful mix of Acid-Techno, Break-Beats and banging rave music. Thomas Gerlach & Ian Pooley, Alec Empire, Wolfgang Voigt and Thomas Heckmann were responsible for the main output. One day I found out that why paying more for vinyl in record stores, when you could call this local phone number printed on every Force Inc vinyl and getting those records for 1/3 less of the regular price. Something, which made me visiting Achim´s first office (which was actually his apartment at this time) on a regular basis. Force Inc started to get boring after a while, and I was (and like some more people) exhausted by the club culture, which had been absorbed by the mainstream. At the same time as WARP started to release their Artificial Intelligence series, Mille Plateaux started to release their series of Modulation Transformation compilations, which contained many adventurous tracks, which were at that time really hard to classify. Another unique aspect of Mille Plateaux was to link Deleuzian/Guattarian philosophy to abstract electronic compositions, which made it possible to attract new audience/listeners at the doorstep to universities. Most of the main Force Inc artists started now also to produce abstract (but most of all slightly downtempo) electronica tracks for Mille Plateaux. The real turning point started when Oval (later also Microstoria) started to release their albums for the label. They were the first seriously demanding act on Mille Plateaux with a fresh sound-design and lot of love for acoustic abstraction and reflection on their mode of production. Mille Plateaux wasn’t the only label releasing abstract electronic music at that time. But it had the popularity (achieved through well selling Force Inc releases) and so the strength to make new (and little bit older) abstract sound composers visible. The well acknowledged compilation series Electric Ladyland started quite abstract but ended up reproducing styles between Trip-Hop and darker down-tempo tracks (marking also the expansion of the label group to the Drum´n´Bass sub-label Position Chrome). Next label character defining new entries were Pluramon, Terre Thaemlitz, Ultra-Red, Thomas Köner, Curd Duca and Gas (aka Wolfgang Voigt). At the same time – 1998 – as SND, Vladislav Delay and Frank Bretschneider entered the release catalogue; me and my former partner Ekkehard Ehlers offered the label our first release La Vie A Noir as Autopoieses.

    I think we were quite good example of those new "bedroom producers" who emerged around the globe, caused by affordable personal computers and Internet connections. You could maybe compare that boom with that one which happened during the 80s, when in Japan produced music hardware became affordable, influencing/creating lot of new house and early techno producers in the USA. By the end of the 90s those producers, who were skilled to write their own programs (and/or using platforms such as MAX/MSP) could shine with a new digital sound at the edge to noise by using – like many times in music history before – those sound effects, which weren’t originally intended to be used: "clicks"/"glitch" (like for example: guitar feedback = Jimi Hendrix, Roland 303 = Acid House). Talking about any possible culture surrounding the imprint of Mille Plateaux (but also lot of other exciting labels) you have to face the geographic axis between Western Europe, North America and Australia . If there was any culture surrounding the output of that time, then surely it had a predominantly virtual character.

    By 2000 I had starteded working for Mille Plateaux and was beginning to gain a new perspective on the scene / market from this involvement. Between those young labels, young producers and the new media reviewing it developed a productive flow. The global aspect of this scene and its allocation beyond (post) rave cultures – means: in galleries, established theaters – allowed (at least in Europe) financial support by government and local state funds, covering expensive continental flights.

    Right now I am realizing (after Mille Plateaux is practically speaking gone) that what I am missing right now in midst of this so-called electronic music scene, is this "rhizomatic" way of thinking and releasing music. Nowadays it seams like most of labels (dedicated to abstract electronically produced music) has a very strict and specific vision on sound aesthetics or are following a chose sub-genre. The artwork is uniform, the releases/products are adjusted, the focus is on creating "stars" and being represented by big festivals. Surely this is an economic/pragmatic/market orientated approach and - as described by the music business: "shrinking back to a healthy shape," but this development is also lacking new (creative) visions. And I still find that electronically/computer produced music can be and IS so exciting.

    For more information about Sebastian Meissner visit

    Originally posted on Serial Consign

    Walking in Jerusalem
    Random Inc.
    Bizz Circuits
    Mille Plateaux
    Force Inc.
    Anticipate Recordings
  • Various - Classifields (tripostal - trip.6)

    2 Oct 2007, 09:12 by nimtree

    "Classifields" is our first compilation about field recordings but not only... Not only because we allowed artists to send us their recordings with acoustic sounds in it or processed sounds. We just asked them to respect the phonography main theme. Also we tried people listen the complete album as it was a real story.

    This is a free release from out netlabel subdivision

    You can listen here on last fm :

    With contributions from :
    - Marcus Obst the man behind fieldmuzick and also member of Dronaement
    - Nim Is A Tree also known as Nim
    - Christophe Bailleau (remember the awesome duo Christophe Bailleau & Won on carte postale records and Eglantine)
    - Silencio
    - Saint Nerbard
    - Christopher Todd
    - Akira Kosemura the man behind the nice label schole
    - Armatt
    - Yannick Dauby
    - Wendt also active under Alexander Wendt and Alexander Wendt & Jodi Cave but also running 12x50
    - rash tumbled down rabbit
    - Runar Magnusson also active with his bro under Runar Magnusson & Thor Magnusson (Thor Magnusson) and running whitelabel
  • ghetto ambient

    19 Aug 2007, 18:44 by serial_consign

    Walking in Jerusalem
    Random Inc.
    Bizz Circuits

    I've been a longtime fan of musician and artist Sebastian Meissner who releases beautiful and often unsettling ambient music under the moniker Klimek on Kompakt. I began a dialog with Sebastian when I tipped him off that I had used a Klimek track to score my Kamera Obscura project, and as we chatted back and forth I realized he was the creative force behind a number of other projects that have showed up on my radar over the years.

    Sebastian is also behind or was involved in: Bizz Circuits, Autopoieses (with Ekkehard Ehlers) and Random Inc. In addition to the Klimek material that I find so mesmerizing, the Random Inc. record Walking In Jerusalem was one of my favourite albums of 2002, and Autopoieses's locked-groove laden La Vie À Noir Transposed didn't leave my crate for two years when I was still playing records.

    What interested me so much about about Walking in Jerusalem, was that the album proposed a remixed urban space. In Meissner's Jerusalem, political and cultural boundaries melted away and the city was rebuilt one sample and one loop at a time. The album utilized scores of field recordings, collected from different points within the city as source material and the resulting (re)composition was something altogether special. The project is one of the most successful "city" records that I have heard and for this reason, it pleased me greatly to learn that Meissner has continued to explore urban space through his work.

    Riffing off the infamous Geto Boys quote that "the world is a ghetto," Ghetto Ambient (pictured above) and Autokontrast both serve as archives for an exploration of what French ethnologist Marc Auge has referred to as non-places. The statement for Ghetto Ambient articulates these spaces as:

    "..places in which identidy, relations, and history are only marginally significant and where social relations are minimal. Familiar and recognisable aspects, are minimized. Classically defined through arbitrariness and repeatability of its architecture, places such as freeways, airports, malls and supermarkets make their visitors feel like they are always, and never at home."

    The work displayed on these sites blends photography and video from Israel and Palestine, Algeria, Poland, Argentina and the United Kingdom much in the way Walking in Jerusalem reconfigures distinct urban moments into a new de-familiarized entity.

    Just as a brief aside, it is very refreshing to see image based work buried in an idiosyncratic interface as I think I'm starting to find the neutrality of flickr a little numbing. For anyone who can't handle viewing this work on Meissner's terms, he also recently launched a YouTube account which archives his video work from the last few years.

    Originally published on Serial Consign
  • misc. music infosnacking

    3 Aug 2007, 20:13 by serial_consign

    It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
    Noah Pred
    Vergel Evans
    Digital Mystikz

    It has been a bit of a slow week here at Serial Consign, through no fault of ours the site was down for the majority of yesterday and now I'm feeling a little under the weather. In lieu of a coherent post, here are a few music related links:
    - In writing my foreword to Vague Terrain 07: Sample Culture I had to give a shout-out to The Bomb Squad, the production team behind Public Enemy. I first was exposed to It takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back when I was wee lad of 13 in 1989. I can honestly say the record changed my life. Not only was I listening to intelligent lyrics for the first time (sorry LL), but the production wrapped around said lyrics was dense, frantic and historically charged. I lost track of The Bomb Squad in the mid 90s and haven't heard much about them since. GRANDGOOD just tipped me off about an extended interview with Bomb Squad member Hank Shocklee in Cool'eh Magazine. Schocklee sounds off on artist development, copyright, social media, and reveals he has really been digging the Digital Mystikz dubstep crew of late.
    - Yesterday I had my second piece published on the Torontoist. The article, entitled Techno 2.0 is a crash course in social media and digital distribution in the world of techno with some good perspective from local producers Noah Pred and Vergel Evans.
    - If the above is up your alley then you owe it to yourself to check out Eduardo Navas's amazing resource Remix Theory. Eduardo is quite possibly the most astute scholar of mix culture I've encountered since meeting Paul D. Miller. Navas also wrote an incredible essay on the history of the mashup for the aforementioned Vague Terrain Issue.
    - Last but not least, I've added two more Music related blogs to my watchlist. Check out Curbcrawlers for all your GTA dubstep needs and Allez Allez for mixes by way of many of your favourite producers [via Philip Sherburne].

    originally posted on Serial Consign
  • techno 2.0

    2 Aug 2007, 18:14 by serial_consign

    Noah Pred
    Vergel Evans

    Discussion about the evolving intersection of web 2.0 and the music industry tends to gravitate towards the repetition of cliched mantras which (re)announce the death of the major label and champion the democracy of social networking. While these market trends appear to be in full swing, the manner in which they play out in specific musical economies and subcultures varies greatly. Since electronic music is so tied to technology, it makes sense that independent labels and artists in this field would serve as a good barometer for the market shifts that are transforming the entire industry from the (under)ground up. Torontoist has sought out the perspective of two artists working within the local electronic music scene to chat about their experience with social media and new-school digital distribution.

    DJ and producer Noah Pred cannot be accused of being lazy; in addition to several recording projects, a job at Moog Audio and teaching aspiring producers the ubiquitous Ableton Live software platform, he also runs the label Sentient Sound. Noah's imprint features an international roster that includes several seasoned Toronto techno producers such as NAW, Myers Briggs and Adam Marshall.

    What distinguishes Sentient Sound from a number of other Toronto based independent electronic music labels is the fact that it is exclusively digital. The label was launched in 2005 and Noah is quick to point out the decision to 'go digital' was relatively straightforward as “the uphill battle of pressing vinyl...with its daunting manufacturing costs, no longer seemed worth it, while the digital download market was just beginning to flourish.” DRM-free niche retail outfits like Bleep and Beatport have reshaped the marketplace for the once vinyl-obsessed DJ community. Beatport has further blurred the distinction between online artist presence and the retail experience through a proprietary media player which can be plugged right into any web page and profiles on many social networks. Noah categorizes these changes as both democratic and inclusive as the market is now "unrestricted by manufacturing runs and accessible to everyone with a computer, playable by anyone with an iPod or CD-burner. The size of the market for electronic music has expanded exponentially."

    Vergel Evans is another example of a local artist who has thrown himself headlong into digital distribution. Evans writes and releases music and also hosts the popular techno-culture podcast Lx.7. The podcast invites the audience into Vergel's studio to "de-mystify the process" of producing house and techno and also documents key North American festivals like Mutek and DEMF. Vergel is extremely enthusiastic about the potential for artists to "find their audience" through social media: " is especially amazing since it allows the community to rank and associate music they find relevant. I've uploaded two albums worth of material and have found that my music ranks well with people who like like Arpanet, The Black Dog, and Sleeparchive. I didn't pick them, the network of listeners on did."

    While no stranger to utilizing social media for promotion, Noah Pred has spent time doing A&R for other labels in the past. He is rather direct in his prognosis that at the end of the day "at least for underground's the quality of the music that sells the record."

    It is worth noting the range of experience artists are having in marketing their music right now; on one end of the spectrum, you have self-publishing and distributing artists tapping into niche communities that span the globe and conversely what Vergel Evans describes as the sad reality of "major artists trying to move away from labels and record stores and retail in business like Starbucks." Artists like Noah and Vergel are a good frame of reference when considering how social media and digital distribution might play out across the music industry in the near future. Given the perennial marginal status of techno in Toronto, it only follows that these artists have to hustle that much harder than your garden variety buzz band.

    from the Torontoist
  • vague terrain / x avant festival

    1 Aug 2007, 05:09 by serial_consign

    Pauline Oliveros
    Anne Bourne
    Des Cailloux Et Du Carbone
    Musique pour 3 femmes enceintes

    I'm thrilled to announce that Vague Terrain has once again been invited to assist in programming the X Avant festival in Toronto. We co-curated a show with the Music Gallery last fall as part of the inaugural edition of their festival and built a night around the Toronto premiere of Jan Jelinek. I am completely confident that our event this coming Friday September the 14th will be equally provocative.

    X Avant will feature the Toronto premiere of Marc Leclair's 5mm project. Marc is quite famous for the work he's recorded under his Akufen pseudonym and his 2002 album My Way is probably one of the most influential techno albums of the last decade. For X Avant, Marc will present a project he premiered at Mutek 2006 which marries the sleek introspective minimalism of his Musique pour 3 Femmes Enceintes project with the video of Gabriel Coutu-Dumont. We will also be welcoming one of our favourite artists back to Toronto, Montreal's Des Cailloux et du Carbone. Neil Wiernik and I have been championing this ultra-talented producer for about two years now. He has released two EP's worth of material for Vague Terrain and his lush, gorgeous production can be spoke about in the same breath as that of Vladislav Delay and Ezekiel Honig.

    We will also be featuring an apperance by drone music pioneer Pauline Oliveros who will perform One Long Piece in collaboration with Anne Bourne. Pauline was one of the original members of the seminal San Francisco Tape Music Centre, a hotbed of electronic music innovation in the 1960s and also founded the Deep Listening Institute in the 1980s. Last, but not least CONTACT Contemporary Music who will be performing a suite of acoustic chamber versions of "classic" electronic music by artists like Aphex Twin and Brian Eno.

    In addition to this amazing roster of musicians, Noir and Patricia Rodriguez will be performing live video to accompany the first three acts of the evening. Noir is a filmmaker and developer for Derivative's Touch software and performed alongside Peter Mettler and Monolake at the Pusher show earlier this summer. Patricia Rodriguez is a frequent collaborator and like Des Cailloux et du Carbone, has contributed to Vague Terrain on numerous occasions. I know both of these talented visual artists quite well and I'm curious to see what evolves out of this collaboration

    In planning this event with the Music Gallery we really wanted to blur the boundaries between 21st century classical and contemporary electronic music. I think this show is destined to be something very special and I'm thrilled to be involved with it. Official event info and ticket information is available at the event page at the Music Gallery's site.

    originally posted on serial consign