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Wednesday 4 September 2024

Bill MacKay

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Tuesday 21 May 2024

Upset the Rhythm presents:

EARTH BALL & FRIENDS – A SERIES OF IMPROV SETS WITH EARTH BALL FT. CHRIS CORSANO, PETRONN SPHENE, STEVE BERESFORD, AGATHE MAX & CONTAINER

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Wednesday 22 May 2024

10 Years of Death Is Not The End:

Thomas McCarthy + Death Is Not The End (DJ)

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Danielle Price is a tuba player whose work explores the range of creative possibilities of the instrument, both in her own compositions as well as her extensive list of collaborations ranging from artists as diverse as Ashley Paul, Bill Wells, Oxbow, Ntshuks Bonga and Mats Gustafsson. After the Allotments sees this expansive approach in full flow, blending improvised and structured forms in delightfully unexpected ways. Across the five tracks, Price crafts an enviable parallel universe where singer-songwriters have traded their ubiquitous acoustic guitars for tubas. Opener, Seeking, sees Price’s breath gradually expanding into soft evocations under which a tentative tuba line deliberately draws out resonances both wistful and reflective, before Room In a Shared Apartment Looking For a Soul snaps back into focus, building a sparse, propulsive rhythm where utterances from both voice and tuba blend and unfurl in one fluid line that contorts and loops back on itself. Price’s brass melodies extend further on each new time around before splitting off from its rhythmic underpinnings and soaring upwards and outwards. Square Peg takes a sudden about turn, dialling the smokey jazz atmosphere up to 11 as a playful tuba walks the bass and almost audibly clicks its fingers along to Price’s yearning, soulful vocal, evoking Sofia Jernberg’s stellar work with Fire! Orchestra. Track four, I’ll Tell You That, pushes this interplay further, as voice and tuba exhort each other into ever more untethered contortions in an increasingly raucous call and response. After the minimalist palette of the first four tracks, the plaintive opening piano notes of the titular closing piece ring out like a bell. Price deftly glides across the keys, weaving a tremendous sense of calm like the freshness following a downpour, as her understated spoken vocal conjures up a deceptively everyday yet far-reaching scene that in a few short sentences seemingly captures a life.

False Self* works are electronic music compositions that explore identity, authorship and the delineation between self and other. The series so far, comprises of three albums: False Self plays music for six pianos (2021) A false memory of a sports party (2018) False Self (2016) The first two albums were created in collaboration, and sometimes antagonization, with a self authored SuperCollider algorithm — that I named False Self. I envision this algorithm as a fractured version of myself. False Self plays music for six pianos was composed whilst undertaking lessons with Jim Denizen Simm. Jim kindly indoctrinated me into his own working methods and some of the methods of his friends, many of whom are ex-Scratch Orchestra members; such as Michael Parsons, John White, Christopher Hobbs and Howard Skempton. These lessons led me to abandon SuperCollider in favour of working with more flexible, and to my mind, more interesting systems designed on paper. The compositions are experimental, system based works for six pianos. They deploy integer tables to arrange cells of slow, jazzy piano music. Each piano has eight cells of music and one silent cell. The cells mobilize as hypnotic cyclones of repetition, that move in and out of sync, to create complexity from simplicity. As the compositions progress, the cells extinguish themselves in a languid, stuttering fashion — before the process begins anew. Rudi Arapahoe 2021 Composed, recorded and mixed by Rudi ArapahoePerformed by False SelfProduced by Jim Denizen Simm Artwork by Oli Barrett *The term False Self is lifted from the psychiatrist Ronald David Laing's writing. I use the term to imply that there is another self working on the compositions with me.

We're thrilled to present two longform pieces from Yorkshire-based sound artist, Sophie Cooper. Composed during a week-long residency in the OTO Project Space in February 2022, Lean In was originally written for an 8-speaker surround set-up, here distilled into an equally expansive stereo version. Over 25 minutes, Cooper weaves fragments of on-site found radio sounds, processed trombone, electronics and voice to explore themes of broken family structures and the unspoken estrangement issue. We release this alongside the newly remastered companion piece, Intact, commissioned by hcmf// in 2019 and for which Cooper was nominated for an Ivor Novello Composer Award in 2020. Together, the pieces build upon each other in a way that uncovers new insights with each listen, revealing a multi-faceted work at once intimate and far-reaching in its emotional and sonic impact. "This release is a double A side of accompanying pieces both written during residencies for spatial audio systems namely the HISS (Huddersfield Immersive Sound System) for hcmf// and the set up at Café Oto project space. These versions have been designed to be listened to on stereo set ups. Both of the pieces deal with the topic of family estrangement using verbatim sourced with permission and support from a UK based charity called Stand Alone who support adults in this situation. Intact was the first piece made of the two in 2019 and Lean In was written in early 2022 so you’ll hear references to how people’s lock down experiences impacted on their estrangements in the second piece. It was really interesting to come back to this topic after a break and reflect on changes between the texts in both years." – Sophie Cooper, February 2023 -- Enormous thanks to: Everyone involved with the HISS, hcmf//, Cafe Oto, Arts Council England, Kathy Hinde and Matthew Olden for the support with these pieces. -- Cover photography by Maryanne RoyleMastered by Oli Barrett

'Solos for _ _ _ _ spaces' is the debut release from London-based percussionist and sound artist Regan Bowering. Her music is created by placing snare drum, amplifiers and microphones in configurations which trigger volatile yet malleable flows of sound. Across these four tracks, percussion and amplifier feedback are carved into crescendos and diminuendos where coarse textures move in intricate constellations. The album charts this process travelling through different contexts, moving from live improvisations in a large, reverberant hall to micro-edited versions on a laptop. Bowering’s interest in feedback is an extension of research into how, historically, technology (such as mics, amplification, instrumentation, and recording processes) have affected the ways improvisers approach rhythm. “I wanted to explore ways to use the drums that extended beyond typical rhythmic gestures or the need to hit the drums to generate sound,” Bowering explains. “To create a continuous texture which doesn’t need continuous input. The unpredictability of feedback is what draws me to it. It’s similar to playing with another musician. Things can happen unexpectedly, just like in a group improvisation.” To our ears, touchstones for Bowering’s use of space and feedback could be Alvin Lucier, or perhaps even Ryosuke Kiyasu’s radical approach to percussion, amplification and setting. However, there are fluctuations between frenzy and gentleness, a sensitivity to mood and affect on 'Solos for _ _ _ _ spaces' which are uniquely hers. This is far more intricate than a simple bridging of minimalism, free-improvisation and electro-acoustic techniques. This is perhaps explained by some of the musicians that Bowering mentions having a long-running impact on her practice, from percussionist Seijiro Murayama to saxophonist, composer and Art Ensemble of Chicago founder Roscoe Mitchell. While their influence may not be explicitly audible in these four tracks, their unique approaches to texture, space and improvisation are undoubtedly present. Bowering treats what might typically be cacophonous – drums and feedback – with subtlety and nuance. “I like exploring the possibilities in feedback beyond just harshness, and drums beyond being loud and rhythmically dense,” she reflects. “The detail that’s possible. The emotional intensity you can get from different sounds. The feelings that come when you move between extremes, such as from loud and abrasive to almost silent. The feedback gives me a different set of colours to work with, a different material to carve as part of my sonic and rhythmic pallet as a percussionist.” System, organism, ecosystem – there’s a litany of metaphors which could be used to describe how her music is produced. All make sense, and all feel slightly inadequate. Her music originates in processes, but its realisation comes through liveness and response. Bowering manipulates the sound by bending drum skins to change pitch, moving mics to alter intensity. Striking the snare to trigger dramatic upheavals in the circuit. But her music is a balancing act, a compromise between her own actions and the context they’re happening in. “It’s a system I improvise within, but it’s also always affected by the space I’m playing in. The acoustics, the number of people in a room and if they move. How I’m feeling at the time. These subtle dynamics all affect the sound.” This variation is highlighted throughout the album. The recordings here document performances in vastly different settings. A reverberant hall at Goldsmith’s University. An intimate gig at Avalon Café where the audience enclosed Bowering, and on track 3, an empty studio. For the final track, a DAW is used to rearrange components from the preceding three into a new composition. Here feedback and drums enter the possibilities of another space, a computer, and the different means of response it offers. More than a live album, this tape charts a consistent practice applied to inconsistent contexts, capturing in real time how the outcomes are determined by the player, the moment and the situation. credits -- Mastered by Billy SteigerAll sounds by Regan Bowering.

The heavyweight trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke and Oren Ambarchi return with their 12th and most epic release to date, the triple LP With pats on the head, just one too few is evil one too many is good that's all it is. Documenting the entirety of their final performance at the dearly departed Roppongi home of Tokyo underground institution SuperDeluxe in November 2018, the music spread across these six sides splits the difference between the guitar-bass-drums power trio moves and experiments with novel instrumentation that have defined the trio’s decade of working together. Containing some of the most delicate music the three have committed to wax since the gorgeous 12-string acoustic guitar and dulcimer tones of Only wanting to melt beautifully away is it a lack of contentment that stirs affection for those things said to be as of yet unseen (BT011), this wide-ranging release also offers up some of their most blistering free rock performances yet. The side-long opening piece finds Haino on a single snare drum in duet with O’Rourke on unamplified electric guitar, playing in the lovely post-Bailey vein heard on his classic 90s recordings with Henry Kaiser and Mats Gustafsson. Spiky dissonance and ringing harmonics interweave with flowing melodic fragments as Haino single-mindedly explores the resonance of the snare like an untutored Han Bennink. On ‘Right brain, left brain; right, left; right wing, left wing. Just how many combinations can be made from these?’, O’Rourke moves to synth and electronics, joined by Ambarchi on drums, who at first focuses on sizzle cymbals before hypnotic cycles of gentle tom rhythms combine with electronic burbles and flutters to suggest a dream collaboration between Masahiko Togashi and Jean Schwarz. Ambarchi’s percussion is then joined by Haino on wandering, overblown flute, before the man in black switches back to the snare for a bizarre, stuttering drum duet. For the first trio performance, Haino makes another new addition to his seemingly infinite catalogue of instruments, this time a homemade contraption he refers to as ‘Strings of Dubious Reputation’. Joined by O’Rourke on increasingly spaced-out electric guitar and Ambarchi on skittering percussion, Haino’s wonky, slack strings adds a definite ‘musique brut’ edge to this side-long performance, certainly one of the most enchantingly odd in the trio’s discography. When the group reconvene for the second set, spread out across the final three sides, they seem ready to breathe fire from the first instant. O’Rourke slashes distorted chords on the six-string bass, Ambarchi breaks into his signature irregular caveman thump, and Haino squeals and squawks on heavily delayed oboe before unleashing an overpowering electrical storm when he first picks up the guitar. For over half an hour, the trio pound out one of their most relentless performances, a constantly rearranging kaleidoscope of tortured fuzz guitar, insanely busy bass riffing and propulsive, tumbling drums. A hushed atmosphere initially reigns on the final long piece, given the mournful title ‘There are always things I wish to say but I can only convey them in this language August 6 August 9’. Haino’s clean guitar strumming calls up the shimmering tones of his PSF classic Affection, gradually building to a surging wall of sound, bass and drums lumbering through a roar of jet-engine guitar. Arriving in a deluxe trifold package with photos by Lasse Marhaug alongside inner sleeves with extensive live images, this epic release is perhaps the most remarkable document yet of this unique trio’s stamina and continuing inventiveness. 

Originally from Inner Mongolia, Deng Boyu has been active in the Chinese music underground since the late 1990s. His work spans numerous genres, as a drummer, solo electronics artist, improviser and collaborator to many musicians both in and out of China, including Mamer, Lao Dan, Lee Ranaldo, Marc Ribot, Akira Sakata, Theresa Wong and Federico Casagrande. Having hosted two of his releases on our site through the Old Heaven and Dusty Ballz labels, we're delighted to present《Inertion》on our in-house OTOroku imprint. Opening with the thrumming, pulsing hum of ‘Her Eyes Lost Their Luster’, Boyu hints at reverie but wastes no time in pulling the rug out, the lulling bass drone being intermittently disrupted with static bursts and fragmentary synth stabs before the two sonic factions coalesce in an increasingly dizzying scree of chirping electronics. Just as you think the palette has settled, Boyu abruptly changes tack once again, laying down a sparsely propulsive rhythm over which a stadium-sized guitar suddenly erupts, whose initial incongruity is instantly washed away in a surge of giddy euphoria; Boyu not so much setting fire to his guitar as the whole damn stage. Second track, ‘Like Blade of Grass’ doesn’t let up, with fuzz-drenched tones dancing around each other in percussive patterns that skitter and churn in a freewheeling clatter that constantly threatens to unravel whilst always keeping just ahead of itself. The titular closer, ‘Inertion’, piles on the Industrial Lynchian dread, beginning with a funereal march over which a digital analogue appears to be arguing with itself. All is resolved, however, as Boyu’s layered guitars unashamedly crash back in, releasing all the built-up tension in an all-too-brief rush of power-chord endorphins. There is an almost dizzying restlessness here, covering more ground in 20 minutes than most would manage in a triple LP. The result is anything but scattershot, however. Instead, Boyu crafts a collagic density consisting of myriad reference points all competing for space. There can be no neat outcome - these are not clues to decipher. Instead, Boyu builds around these competing approaches; tongue-in-cheek modern jesterisms versus considered sincerity; minimalist arrangements brushing up against maximalist sound; structured craft and tonal dissonance - not coming down on one side or the other but revelling in the clash. You might not have time to get comfortable but it’s a compelling and compulsive place to be.