An intoxicating and incredibly immersive set from Tokyo-born, Dusseldorf-based artist, Miki Yui, who over the course of 35 minutes crafts a burbling, chirruping sonic petri dish where strange electronic-organic hybrid life is conjured into being.
Yui effortlessly blurs the boundaries between the electronic and the organic to a degree where it’s often hard to tell whether the result is real or only imagined. The sounds that Yui creates have such a tactile, physical quality that it almost makes you feel as if you could take schematic slices from the air in the room.
Nothing is careless here, everything is considered, yet the listener has the impression that this is a soundworld spontaneously emerging into being in realtime. There is a precision to the frequencies, but it is the precision of natural balance; everything having its place in relation to everything else, as part of an artfully created auditory ecosystem. There is space for you here too.
Recorded by Billy SteigerMixed and mastered by Oli BarrettCover photo by Foto Schiko
3.4.23 – Miki Yui
Stunning duo from France's Julie Normal and Olivier Demeaux (Cheveu, Heimat). At the centre of their sound is one of the last remaining ondes Martenot's - an instrument loved by Messiaen and Varese, and carefully packed up and shipped across the channel to OTO last year by a worried Julie. Beautifully paced, the pair create a sort of precarious evensong for an alternate universe. Includes previously unreleased tracks "La Reine", "Lycaon" and "Txwo".
Julie Normal / ondes martenot
Olivier Demeaux / harmonium + pedals
1. Ouverture all'inglese - 6:59
2. Txwo - 5:47
3. Merluzo - 3:13
4. Le Noir Pays - 6:08
5. Lycaon - 2:56
6. La Reine - 8:14
7. Encore - 5:20
Recorded live at Cafe OTO by Adam Matschulat on Thursday 29th September 2016. Mixed by Olivier Demeaux. Mastered by James Dunn.
29.9.16 – Accident Du Travail
Recorded over their two day residency, 9.9.16 spans the pastoral, the brooding, and the free-form progg moments of Trad Gras in one oozing zip folder. Their seemingly endless, bucolic bass lines and humble DIY approach create an ever expanding atmosphere of good will - these are surely the nicest guys in rock? The opening 'track' is a 25 minute wigged out version of Harvester's 'När Lingonen Mognar', and 'Stina' is a never before recorded folk-rock track written by the band's close friend Mats G Bengtsson. Spread the word my friends.
Reine Fiske / guitar, vocals
Sigge Krantz / bass, vocals
Tom Watts / drums
Jakob Sjöholm / guitar, vocal
1. När Lingonen Mognar - 24:18
2. Kaffe med Tårta - 12:52
3. Down in the Basement - 11:07
4. Stina - 7:12
5. Sommarlåten - 13:54
6. Silverffloden - 11:39
Recorded live at Cafe OTO on the 9th and 10th of September, 2016 by Simon Holliday and Shaun Crook. Mixed & Mastered by James Dunn. Photo by Dawid Laskowski. Many thanks to Jakob.
Trad Gras Och Stenar – 9.9.16
OTOROKU is proud to present the first vinyl reissue of Blue Notes for Johnny - a defining statement by one of the greatest ensembles in the history of jazz. Recorded in mid-1987 by Blue Notes - then reduced to the trio of Dudu Pukwana on alto sax, Louis Moholo-Moholo on drums and Chris McGregor on piano - it encounters the band 25 years after their founding embarking on an inward meditation through collective music making dedicated to Johnny Dyani, their former bandmate and friend.
Blue Notes were founded in Cape Town in 1962, and stand among the most important ensembles in the history of jazz. Artistically brilliant and groundbreaking - gathering, within a few short years, a devoted following that included Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, Abdullah Ibrahim, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Drew, Keith Tippett, Evan Parker, John Stevens and numerous others - they were also the first widely visible multiracial band in South Africa.
As a mixed race band under apartheid, this group of friends and like-minded artists - Chris McGregor, Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana, Nikele Moyake, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo-Moholo - existed within a context that viewed their mere existence as a dangerous and subversive act. In 1964 they joined an exodus of musicians leaving for Europe and eventually settled in London the following year. Sadly, not long after arriving and facing continued economic peril, the group buckled. Johnny Dyani left to join Don Cherry’s band. Moholo-Moholo and Dyani followed suit and joined Steve Lacy on tour, and the remaining members morphed into a number of ensembles that eventually grew to become Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath.
Following the death of Mongezi Feza in 1975 the remaining members of the group had come back together to record Blue Notes For Mongezi, reigniting a sporadic period of activity over the coming years. Following the untimely passing of Johnny Dyani in late 1986, the last three members of the original line-up - McGregor, Pukwana and Moholo-Moholo - reformed to pay tribute to yet another of their fallen brothers.
Blue Notes for Johnny, the group’s second musical memorial to a band member, incorporates a considerably broader range of touchstone and practices than its predecessor, nodding toward the band’s foundations in be-bop and post-bop without abandoning where they had journeyed along the way. Internalising equal elements of hard-bop, modalism, and free improvisation, it is a startling creative statement, imbued with a tension that renders an equally radical and sophisticated challenge; a furious tide - slow in pace and it slow to reveal itself - masquerading in gentler forms.
A celebration and a memorial. Joyous and tragic. A real time resurrection of personal experience, Blue Notes for Johnny dodges, dances, and transforms across its two sides, refusing to be nailed down. As the trio pushes against each other, bristling tonal and rhythmic collisions leave the impression that something is bound to explode, without ever fully letting go.
Blue Notes for Johnny’s memorialisation is unwittingly doubled by capturing the final time that the Blue Notes would come together in the studio. Both Dudu Pukwana and Chris McGregor would pass away three years later in 1990, leaving Moholo-Moholo - who continues to carve a groundbreaking trajectory across the world of jazz - as the last surviving member. The album remains as a journey between an imaged future and the beginning of it all. Six friends meeting and communing through sound. Six friends who had triumphed against the odds, becoming some of the greatest creative voices of their generation. Six friends who were five, then four, and then three, before they were done. Friends who never failed, in whatever form, to come together and play. It is a story begun 60 years ago that remains just as prescient today.
DUDU PUKWANA / alto sax
CHRIS McGREGOR / piano
LOUIS MOHOLO / drums
This 2022 re-issue has been made with permission and in association with Ogun records. Transferred from the original masters and featuring an exact reproduction of the original artwork. Remastered by Giuseppe Ielasi. All music by the Blue Notes. All music published by Ogun Publishing Co. Cover design by Ogun.
Blue Notes for Johnny – Blue Notes
Very special release from filmmaker Lucia Nimcová and sound artist Sholto Dobie. Highly reccomended.
"I first discovered khroniky – Ukranian folk songs – in the Highlands of Scotland. I was watching a screening of Bajka, a mesmerising documentary made by the filmmaker Lucia Nimcová and sound artist Sholto Dobie. I knew nothing about these ballads beforehand, but I was fascinated by these odd, beautiful songs, especially the easy way in which they mixed misery and levity, where gentle melodies blend with tales of dark violence. The folk songs describe hardship, murder, torture, death in gulags, heavy drinking, outsmarting men, love affairs. But they’re often very funny too – many of the songs make fun of marriage, and there’s an amazing subcategory of khroniky songs called potka (vagina) songs.The khroniky have never been properly documented because they were considered too crude, or contained lyrics that were problematic, politically. When Ukrainian folk songs have been archived in the past, it’s normally a sanitised, more polite version of the ones that Lucia remembers from her childhood. Lucia grew up on the other side of the Ukrainian border in Slovakia. She is part of the Rusyn (Ruthenian) minority ethnic group found in the borderlands of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Poland. Rusyn is a centuries-old Slavic language, looked down upon as a poor, uneducated dialect by the neighbouring Ukraine and Slovakia. It was forbidden to talk about Rusyn culture at Nimcova’s primary school, but the khroniky stayed in her memories.“I remember weddings when I was young,” says Lucia, who now lives in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. “At the end of the night, when everyone was drunk and the young couple would go around their guests, people would sing in Rusyn. There was singing and dancing, and songs about being in prison or falling in love. I picked up the lyrics and sometimes my mum would make my sister and I sing them for people we met on the train. I was about five or six but the lyrics still come back when I sing to my kids.”Determined that these rich, nuanced, unique songs shouldn’t be forgotten, she decided to record them. Over two years, Lucia, joined by experimental musician Sholto Dobie, visited Rusyn villages high in the Carpathian mountains to rediscover the songs and make the documentary. It was at the beginning of war breaking out in Ukraine in 2014.“The Rusyn community is a very closed one,” explains Lucia. “Sometimes we’d have to wait several days to hear someone sing; we had to earn their trust before they shared something very personal to them. We’d stay up ‘til 5am at a wedding, then go straight to a morning baptism, or collect haystacks with the villagers, hoping they’d sing while they were working.”DILO is named after an important independent Ukrainian daily newspaper that was shut down when the Red Army entered Lviv in 1939. The four long tracks on DILO blur field recordings with song; an unpolished, privileged glimpse into a private world. We hear dogs barking and insects buzzing in the summer heat, then a blast of hurdy gurdy or violin will drift in, or a plaintive song soars softly over the rural background noise, with casually harrowing lyrics about a cuckoo, “lifeless in a world of misery”, as translated in the album’s booklet.For both Lucia and Sholto, it was important not to tamper too much with what they heard. “When you think about ethnography,” Lucia explains, “you have to have a lot of time, love and respect to document it with sensitivity.”“The songs all have their own atmosphere and intimacy from the spaces they were recorded in and it was important to maintain these particularities and move with them,” adds Sholto, who now lives in Vilnius, Lithuania. “They guide and sometimes interrupt a journey between interiors – domestic spaces; in kitchens, by the fire – and exteriors; marketplaces, cow sheds. We used contact microphones to record metal bridges and fences, and we spent one afternoon recording a wool processing machine, the details of the rattling and tuning wheels are the ground layer for the third track.”Lucia took rough notes and diary entries during the recording process, which are now shared in the booklet alongside a selection of lyrics, loosely translated, but revealing the depth and astonishing beauty that sometimes lies in the language of these folk songs.The feel of the album is intimate, flipping between laughter, where a woman sings about selling her pussy to buy a cow in one track, then shifts to a raw, painful truth; an adult son asks his mother why his dad won’t be back for dinner, as he’s gone to war.Since Lucia and Sholto began working together in 2014, they have shared the audio recordings on radio and film and shown photos in gallery spaces, making sure these special, smutty, poignant songs don’t get lost. This new record and booklet joins that same continuum, another glorious fruit from the same rare tree. "
Concept, photography, notes, and research by Lucia Nimcováwww.luco.skRecorded and mixed by Sholto Dobiesoundcloud.com/sholtodobieDesign by Ondrej Jóbwww.setuptype.comMastered by Tomáš Vtípil / dinn (dinn is not noise)www.vtipil.czWords by Claire Sawersclairesawers.comPhotography by Lukáš Rohárikbit.ly/2QT4r49Released by mappa as MAP025 in 2021This project has been supported using public funds provided by Slovak Arts Council.
Lucia Nimcová & Sholto Dobie – DILO
Originally released in 2000 on the Hot Air label, this album was deleted for a very long time."You can find lower quality audio rips of this album online for free, as you can a lot of People Like Us. It was us that put it there! However, we do appreciate it if you purchase things from us to help us sustain this kind of work. Many thanks." - Vicki Bennett
"No really, she's laughing with you... With all the sneaky charm of a car commercial that leaves you inexplicably in tears, this latest romp from People Like Us serves up the emotional complexity of, say, the complete works of Proust, crammed into bite-sized snacks for the easily distracted. In some sense Vicki Bennett's work could be seen as companion volumes to Neil Postman's incisive mid-eighties critique "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business". Her assemblages of found samples and oddball artifacts, punctuated by peculiarly catchy little synthpop interludes, are populated with all the random and irrelevant crap with which most of us are bombarded daily, skillfully crafted into preposterously pointless exchanges and easy-listening jingles which slyly undermine the intention and substance of their original forms. Bennett has an uncanny ability to transform the trivial, ephemeral, boring and banal into deliciously naughty indictments of our media-saturated culture. In this her work is not unique; artists like Negativeland explore similar territory, and it could even be said that mockery and pastiche, as hallmarks of the post-modern, have become something of a staple gesture.
What is truly singular and surprising about her work, given its penchant for deconstruction, is simply its overwhelming gentleness towards its subjects. Never smugly clever or bitter, Bennett's real human warmth manifests in the strangest places, moving what would otherwise be searing sarcasm towards a genuinely fun and good-natured laugh at ourselves and our collective predicament. Ultimately it is her kindness that gives her work both its distinctiveness and its effectiveness: while her commerical Muzak jingles at times lead you to believe you are being lulled into a bludgeoning, her manipulations and surreal juxtapositions are never cruel, offering instead an uplifting glimpse into the possibilities of meaningful communication within (or despite) a sea of chitchat, of real emotion inside the sentimental, and ultimately of an ennobling critical method which is engaged, insightful and diabolically effective without being condescending or overly self-absorbed.
"Thermos Explorer", her ninth solo album, is my favorite PLU to date. Each listening finds me singing along and grinning like an idiot. Why is listening to this so much fun? It's like having a sleepover with your hilarious best friend, where everything they say makes you giggle—behind all the music is the irresistibly sweet Vicki Bennett, and you just can't help but like her. "
People Like Us – Thermos Explorer