We need your help – please
Jazz / Free Jazz
Drone / Ambient
Outsider / Art Brut
Sound Art / Spoken Word
Indie / Rock
Folk / Song
Our new in house label, releasing music recorded in lockdown.
Since 2006 the Portugese duo of Marta Ângela and João Artur (CALHAU!) have been quietly labouring away on their wonderfully tilted practice, embracing music, text, film, and visual arts on a path that has included performances, exhibition projects and several artistic residencies.
For this new release on Takuroku they take influence from medieval Galician-Portuguese songs/poetry of insult and mockery called cantigas d'escarnio e maldizert. A carnivalesque sense of play, pathos and absurdity haunts the 33 minutes run time as they shift between sung and spoken incantations, baroque organ dirges, junk-yard musique concrete, layers of tape mush and sonic trickery.
Although medievil in theme, there is a particular timelessness to proceedings. One of the main instruments CALHAU lists is "the ghosts of an old cassette re-recorded thousand times during the last 20 years" - with sounds fermented and rendered into beguiling forms. Another is "a crappy electric organ from 1980 called ORION", which dispels both baroque and twisted sonics from its tired engine.
When first listening to this it instantly brought to mind the late Ghédalia Tazartès, who sadly passed away this year. Similar to Ghédalia's work this is ageless, contradictory, old, new, sad, strange and often hilarious music. Music that fearlessly reveals its multiple facets to slowly reveal its twisted, tender core.
CALHAU are Marta Ângela and João Artur
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
CALHAU! – orioNoiro
Patrick Ward’s performances are dynamic contractions of his gallery installations in which video sequences designed for multiple screens are 'stacked’ within a single frame. Following up his Retroversion/s performances at Cafe Oto Ward’s Video Evidence presents a collage of sounds sourced from old VHS tapes, incidental phone footage and barely viewed YouTubes.
Edited and mixed in Tottenham, September 2021
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Patrick Ward – Video Evidence
One way to spot a rip current in the ocean is to search for a rippled surface surrounded by still water. When many different currents are pulling in different directions, a rippling effect is created on the water's surface.
This piece is for 4 unamplified electric guitars. It’s in a 13-limit tuning that I've been exploring in various contexts recently.
Over the the piece's duration, the guitars are tuned up or down at specific points, so that they cross each other, moving from a close cluster to a spread voicing over three octaves.
As the frequencies push away or pull towards each other, the stillness is disrupted, sometimes only subtly, other times quite chaotically. At times many shifts happen at once, at other times the movement is against a backdrop of static pitches.
Julia Reidy - 4 unamplified guitars
Recorded in 2021
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Julia Reidy – How to spot a rip
Very pleased to digitally release this set of music and poetry from the polar circles from Himali Singh Soin & David Soin Tappeser. ‘we are opposite like that’ is a vast series of interdisciplinary artworks that comprises fictional mythologies for the poles, told from the non-human perspective of an elder that has witnessed deep time: the ice.
The release of ‘we are opposite like that’ nestles itself in the twilight of 2021, year of fires and floods, in mourning and as an attempt to remember the last vestiges of ice on Earth. The first part of the release features an original score for string quartet inspired by field recordings from the Arctic and Antarctic circle. The music recounts the tale of the omnipresent anxiety in Victorian England of an imminent glacial epoch. The disorienting fear of an invasive periphery sent shudders through the colonial enterprise, the tremors of which can be felt in contemporary times.
The 2nd part of the release, ‘Subcontinentment’, is a manifesto that posits a South Asian Futurism, anti-chronicling the geopoetic links between the poles and the Indian subcontinent. The extra-terrestrial echoes of stones skimming on frozen lakes sound like firecrackers, blackening the air. The soundscape is set against the image of an alien figure from the equator traversing the blank, oblivious whiteness, slowly transforming into glimmering ice.
The album will be released later this year on vinyl, and will include a limited edition print comprising imagery and poetry from the visual ‘we are opposite like that’.
Mastered by Oli Barrett
Himali Singh Soin & David Soin Tappeser – we are opposite like that
Dan Haywood's practice exists in the liminal space between folk, pop and outer-musics. Indebted to troubadour cultures as much as natural history, psychogeography and centuries of British poetry and prose, his work takes singer-songwriter culture to the edge of the cliff, tip-toeing off the precipice, occasionally flying freely over uncharted territory.
For this new one-track album Dan uses the aesthetic language of American music (the cyclical dirge of blues and rock'n'roll, the organ funk of r'n'b, the rhythmic syntax of hip-hop) and folds them into a subjective template for his 'Country Dustbin': a song that attempts to come to terms with the clutter of a life in the 20th & 21st century. He utilises the Country Dustbin, in his own words, as “a bottomless pit when you need to dispose of a traumatic episode, a confession booth, a time capsule… an alembic to distil experience, a torch to illuminate a mystery, an arena for a reckoning.”
From Los Angeles to Peckham, from Armenia to Perry Barr, switching between autobiographical scenes and stolen observations of the lives of British people, Haywood conjures poetry that walks a tightrope across the joyful, the sad, the wondrous, the banal. Unburdened by dogmatism or linearity, there are glints of Ted Hughes, J.H. Prynne, Robert Burton and Bob Dylan, whipping his observations to allegorical and metaphysical heights. Each syllable is wedded to the band’s hypnotic beat as organic sounds unfurl throughout the 53-minute duration of the piece.Following a slew of ambitious projects, beginning in public with his star-gazing New Hawks triple LP in 2010, and more recently a series from his high gain outfit Pill Fangs, 'Country Dustbin' finds an uncompromising artist playfully pushing songcraft to new places.
“The best songwriter you’ve probably never heard of has delivered another diamond” Record Collector
“Very far out” David Berman
Dan Haywood – Country Dustbin
Pleased to reveal a new release from prolific experimentalist Mamer. "A natural born multi-instrumentalist blessed by a prodigious gift, an iconoclastic music author notorious for reticence and reclusiveness, and a profound contemplator about the contemporary conditions of Kazakh culture with an often dystopian vision." - Mabu Li, The Wire
The unbounded creativity and elasticity of Mamer's practice finds itself at home in this new release. Tying his fingers to the strings of his guitar, he engages with a wide array of acoustic and fx-driven approaches, exploding the melodic, rhythmic and textural possibilities of the instrument wide open. Winding pitch-shifted motifs unfurl themselves slowly before falling off-track and into unknown terrain. Elsewhere lightning fast runs and percussive attacks on the strings collide and soar towards maximalist flurries.
Mamer's approach to his instrument nestles itself closely to Kazuhisa Uchihashi's pliant guitar playing and Fred Frith's wiry explorations, but heralds its own incendiary potential. This is music that literally can and does go anywhere, gleefully subverting any improvised tropes and delving itself deep into a world of sonic oddness.
Mamer - guitar & fx--
Cover design by Oliver Barrett
Recorded & Mastered by Fan JunzheRecorded in December 2017
Mamer – Freeze Wizard
The Mermaid Cafe's music arrives at the curious intersection between British song-based experimentalist practices. Tipping towards the tender minimalism of Jane and Barton and Young Marble Giants, as well as the contemporary composition of Mica Levi and Neil Luck, the group explore the awkward space where melody, harmony, sound and outré weirdness meet in tryst.
In this debut release by them, moods and tone palettes blend and shift, taking clouds of synthesis, ruffled tape work, scrapes of guitar and field recordings along with them as they lead us inward. Like the music, spoken refrains and diaristic laments arrive and disappear, providing signposts to their maze: intersections that gradually lead way to a romantic, melancholic core.
A pleasure to put out a new release by this exciting young group who are bursting full of ideas.
The Mermaid Café – An Impossible View
"Minton spins the dial across the spectrum of vocalising. At points it feels as if semantic meaning is under the skin - a Beckettian monologue is close by - but then it skitters away. Minton wants us to find meaning in sound rather than the other way around."
Louise Gray, The Wire, 2021
"But the Acoustic Chicken is tame beside Woke Up At 8, a free range download from Torquay vocalist Phil Minton. This thirty minute one-take outburst showcases the octogenarian’s unfailingly ability to make unexpected sounds come out of his mouth, often inhuman, often all too human, and owing as much to Beckett’s Not I as to the sacred tablets of improvised music. Panic, terror, social embarrassment, primordial energy and existential awe break the barriers of Minton’s all-consuming and physically exhausting soundscape. "
Stewart Lee, 2021
"Minton immediately triggered the flux of temperamental vocalism he’s renowned for. Shards of verbalization beyond the human, preposterous implosions, deranged emulations, triturated syllables... Thirty minutes of incredibly natural virtuosity summarize an entire existence." Massimo Ricci - touching extremes, 2021
Fished from a dream and dispelled through his contorted and bewitching vocal chords, long-time OTO-favourite Phil Minton shares with us a stunning new one-take solo recording. Phil turned 80 last November and was due to celebrate it with a residency at OTO, but as it couldn't happen we're happy to share this instead, and look forward to having him back in the venue soon...
"I had never tried recording myself before, but since the dreaded youknowwhat I’ve been stuck at home, like most people. There's been some music zoomups with colleagues in various parts of the world which I’ve really loved, practicing the trumpet, some far out voice improvising with my grandchildren to keep my chops bouncing, walking our dog Molly, an occasional puff now and again and a glass of vino or two, but no travel and singing in front of people like there has been for the last sixty or so years.
Putting out the recycling every Wednesday evening was no substitute, so when Fielding asked if I would like to record a solo for Otoroku, I thought great yes, i’ll give it a go. A new departure.
I've always had a problem with technology, I can’t drive among other things, and the practice of improvising and button pushing etc all on the same day is difficult for me: my brain sort of curdles into a white noise custard, whistling and walking no problem. I've had some recording tips from other musicians and have a not so difficult recording program, so when I see that the sound waves are not going into the red when I get loud, all I have to do is press start and off we go - all pretty straight forward.
I recorded *woke up at eight* in the morning after not sleeping that well, before any breakfast. I had a lot of fast sounds and images from half remembered dreams only just below conciousness. I’ll leave it to the listener to imagine a narrative if needed. As it is with most dreams, I remember nothing now, just an abstract sense of speed going nowhere….
If you do listen to the recording, please do it in one take like it was recorded and I really do hope you enjoy or whatever.
*Also on Fontana records circa 1965, last line. "Because I new that my basal metabolism was not so demanding”
A beatnik observation for the time, the producer requested the American accent."
- Phil Minton
Phil Minton - voice & recording
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Phil Minton – woke up at eight
Food People - the delectable trio of Matthew Hamblin, Greg Thomas, and Lila Matsumoto - serve us up a generous portion of swampy psychedelia, avante-blues, DIY folk ramshackle and tape hiss melancholia on this new release. Following in the tradition of British astral-gazing junk connoisseurs Vibracathedral Orchestra, Food People fold their sounds into one another to form slow moving meshed collages of sound. Less focus is put on the progression of each sound, and instead on creating a non-hierarchical space where each guitar riff, wistful violin line, synth wash and tape recording can meet each other and sing together.
To celebrate the release, Food People will play OTO on the 29th of September, as part of a packed bill featuring Kelly Jayne Jones, Chora and The Heads and The Golds.
Food People are Matthew Hamblin, Greg Thomas, and Lila Matsumoto
Cover design by Oliver Barrett
Food People – Flank
So pleased to present this new intimate solo saxophone recording by the utterly singular Akira Sakata. We can't wait to have you back at OTO some day, Akira!
“Under the Covid 19 pandemic all the musicians and live music venues’ livelihoods are under threat.
Currently, August 5, 2021 is in the middle of the TOKYO 2020 Olympics. Over 5,000 infected people,
It jumped 10 times more than before the Olympics. We have entered an unknown territory. I am lucky to live.
This solo is a continuation of the recording prepared to take a video in memory of the late John Russell. It was recorded at Bar Isshee in Tokyo. Many musicians, including Toshinori Kondo, died this year, but I couldn't even go to the funeral. I'm sorry. I can't help but hope that cafe OTO will hold up and this pandemic will end soon. "
- Akira Sakata
現在２０２１年８月５日はTOKYO ２０２０ Olympic の真っ最中です。感染者は５０００人を超えて、
このsoloは 故John Russel追悼の映像を撮るために用意した録音の続きであります。東京にあるBar Issheeで録音したものです。今年も近藤等則をはじめ多くのミュージシャンが亡くなりましたが、葬式にも行けませんでした。残念でなりません。cafeOTOが持ちこたえられること、このパンデミックは早く終息することを願わずにはおれません」
Recorded at Bar Isshee Tokyo
Recorded on 13 Feburuary 2021
Recorded by Eriko Suzuki(suzueri)
Mastering & cover design by Oliver Barrett
Akira Sakata – Tosaka to Watashi
Long term close OTO affliliate John Chantler treats us to a new work of deftly arranged textural synthesis, seeing soaring drones, weaving harmonic interplay, fluttering high ends and rolling snare drum work meet and be driven forth by a burning emotional core.
We’d been thinking about getting a dog for a couple of years, but it was always tricky to work out a good time amongst the regular travel. We eventually settled on trying to make it happen after coming back from some concerts in Australia in June/July 2020 where I’d also planned to premiere the speaker/synthesizer objects I’ve been building for the last little while and that form the basis of all of the music for this piece. Australia was very quick to shutdown at the pandemic’s onset so the tour prospect vanished and the dog prospect moved into our immediate future instead. I see now that I replied to Fielding Hope’s invitation to make something for the Takuroku series the same day that Eli came to live with us in April 2020 and didn’t really anticipate how much his joyous presence and the ensuing impact of the bigger picture would make difficult what would have previously been a simple task. So, here is my piece — at the tail end of things. - John Chantler
John Chantler - Digital synthesis, speakers, percussion.
Recorded July/August 2021, Spaden / Sweden.Cover design by Oliver Barrett
John Chantler – Eli Licking Ice
Bad barrier the blood-brain, the glaucous membrane. Not much changedby a public plague year (during=other matter): flailingpinions, Distress or Alarm likely to cause Distress or Alarm, Neuronopsychononeuropsychocataract. Congestion of the blood-brain cloaca, a site for eyesores, spite for spyspores.
So yeahblooming droopingthanks -- ornate and frailalready, no paralysed arm, no calcified brain. 3 nests of morpionsmakeupa Nervenkostum. Ululate onto mono tape forhours (1 yearis20, 12?), renounce/reduce/denature later, same as we always did. Triple-jointed wrists/unsnappy turns, at least spare us "real time". General Demolitionhaswon the allegorical war, the swifts are back, don't know for how long.
Recorded to Sony mono condenser tape deck, NE/E Ldn (connected by sinkware x stereo speakers), 2020-21. External samples (scream of swifts, Monique Morelli sings Villon) played straight to tape on Ymh SU-10 (1993). Tape-tape recursion on 2-track free trial computer program (discontinued).
Triple Negative: Mme Tlank, Velimirovich, clinical wasteman: voices, percussion
Triple Negative – What good do you think your lousy senses do
Recorded in her boyfriend's kitchen in Menlo Park, CA, part of Silicon Valley, 'Crushed Shells' sees electronic artist Madalyn Merkey start her practice afresh, engaging with a whole new set of tools. Starting from a hodgepodge of small borrowed equipment, Madalyn's set-up grew into d.i.y. eurorack modules until it took up the whole room. The album is reflective of this raw, homemade process, including first time interactions with the equipment through to blossoming sound worlds. In her own words, "it is about starting from scratch and seeing where things go."
At once baroque and experimental, Madalyn lets wandering melodies find their feet in open terrain. Crystalline synth lines meet others in gentle harmony and disharmony, like slow moving clouds floating past each other, overlapping and forming new shapes. Elsewhere she lets sounds blip, fizz and crack, gifting each gesture plenty of space to come into being. Rather relying too much on iterative electronic phrasing, she creates lively sonic dynamics, with altered repetitive patterns dancing in flux with punctuated rhythms.
Carrying itself with a weightless minimalism, 'Crushed Shells' soundtracks an artist that has built a small new world for themselves, and has opened the kitchen window for us all to see.
Madalyn Merkey - Waldorf blofeld with midi keyboard & d.i.y. eurorack modules
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Madalyn Merkey – Crushed Shells
Taku Unami is a performer of multi-instrumental, improvised, and unclassifiable (non-)music. Influenced by cosmic-pessimism, science-fiction, supernatural-horror, and weird-fiction, his work involves the myriad playing of string instruments, piano, synthesizers, recording hardware and software, and “obfuscated everyday, non-musical objects.”
On this release Taku embraces 100% computer programmed music. Instead of sculpting everything himself, he allows his computer to generate its own sounds as much as possible. The result feels like a slow scan through the astral plane; a journey through deep textural fog and indeterminate sonic debris. Oscillated sounds flicker, ascend and descend, tipping the axis of the journey on and off its free-falling motion . Less focus is put on the progression of sounds or narrative scaffolding. Instead, each of the 5 pieces acts as a segment of parts of a journey: aural illuminations of parts of the deep unknown.
It has been far far too long since Taku played in Cafe OTO. Here's hoping he can make it back here soon, but in the meantime we hope you enjoy this new album by one of the most radical artists in Japan.
Taku Unami - computer
--Mastered by Taku Unami
Cover design by Oliver Barrett
Taku Unami – Stardust
The Modern Institute presents Tomorrow forgot to plan for you, six new improvisational compositions created during lockdown, 2021. Founded in Glasgow in 2009, The Modern Institute play with concepts of anti performance while remodelling their previous work into new shapes. With this release they aim to return to the city in the wake of the blackout to explore the aftermath in the underground in what some describe as ‘psychogeography’, travelling back to scenes of their previous works and experiencing the city in a different light.
1926 / Live in Tallinn / Antifa / Mered-Pot / Inframundo / Interplanetary Dialogue – Prólogo y Rondo / KLAM – Iučatva / Torpedo Son / Diego Tiscali – Riposo / Lojban / Digital Fritz Klamer / Lojban / Zuar / Pauce / Asnat and Arte / The v.s. The Edge / Inframundo /
Cover design by Oli Barrett
The Modern Institute – TOMORROW FORGOT TO PLAN FOR YOU
Camille Émaille was the big surprise of Peter Brötzmann's four day festival in OTO in 2019, bringing her remarkably inventive percussion playing to the fore alongside free-jazz & improv heavy-weights. We hope to welcome Camille's return to OTO in the not-too-distant future, but in the meantime we're delighted to share this all new solo percussion suite by her, whipped up in the spring of 2021.
"Digging the metal, as one would dig a hole in the earth. Kneading. Metal expands. Sometimes, it seems to grow. Mineral. Piercing space and other materials. Roots. Underground, aerial.Metallic atoms are the ones with the hardest links.Hard and binder.Protection.In the centre, fire. Elusive and so present.Metal as a matrix. Alma Matrix.An origine without beginning. Total. Basic.Find curved ancestors above the earth.Going back to their home. My home. Inside myself.Pur and grainy. Saturated.The calmness of metal. Massiv stability.A guardian of fire and time. Belisama. Of the ones who forge matter, to find themselves, inside, among the metallic roots. "
Recorded in april 2021, in église Notre Dame de Vauvert, Argens and Café la pêche, Paris.Recording, Mix, picture, texte Camille Émaille.
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Camille Émaille – Belisama - The Metallic Roots
"When I think of home recording, I remember all kinds of experiments I did with cassette tapes in my teens. On bootlegs by Lou Reed and John Lennon they would push the record button of their reel-to-reel tape machines. I used to make demo tracks for albums with them in mind, playing the acoustic guitar in the kitchen or somewhere. It's a good old, tasty sound.
On the other hand, although I recently got some new recording equipment, I didn't feel like making a demo with them because they were too gorgeous for me to use. The sound was too good. I also played around with a small old cassette recorder, but it also didn't work.
Instead, I was listening back to the live recording archives which I had left unattended for more than a decade, and found out that the sound quality and content of the live concert source in Brazil about 13 years ago was quite like a home recording (there's the applause in the end, though). It's a bit sloppy, but for this release, I proposed this material to Takuroku as a response to their kind offer.
Although the organizer, Peter, recorded it on a reel-to-reel, the sound was twisted in some places, and it was a bit like a lo-fi cassette. It's pretty good.
Like the demo tapes, there are some tunes that haven't been officially released as studio recording yet (I will include one of them in the near future coming album dedicated to three hippies of turbulent Shinjuku in the 60’s). On the release I also play three tunes which are in my solo album “Thaumaturgy”, which was released last year.
It means so much to me that I can let them go after such a long time. Well, now that I've made a series of excuses, please overlook mistakes here and there. Here you go."
- Tetuzi Akiyama, May 2021
Composed and performed by Tetuzi Akiyama (acoustic guitar)
Recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder by Peter Gossweiler on 6th October, 2008 at Sol da Terra / 13o Festival de Música Livre, Florianópolis, BrazilMastered by Toshimaru Nakamura in 2021Thanks to Peter Gossweiler, Toshimaru Nakamura and Japan Foundation
Tetuzi Akiyama – Thou Shalt Not Hurry
Seymour Wright and I had exchanged some ideas in advance of, to prepare for, our live performance for the launch of the XT 'Deorlaf X' OTOroku record, at Cafe OTO. I began to prepare some material based on our thoughts, and the Deorlaf X record. This congealed unexpectedly, into the 38 minutes which became this Deorlaf "Z" iteration. For the OTO event, the sounds were then reworked live (from Brussels), with Seymour's material (live in London). I'd said this: "The ingredients were those initial ideas: 'dub' mutations, Deorlaf (Dalston) & XT histories (memory) plus mutated bifurcations:—thinking about (distanced, as we are/will be for the 14th [July, 2021]) joins, connections, transitions (edges, bridges, membranes, blocks) intense and continual communication (pouring in/out, simultaneously: time, density, speed) across real and imaged spaces. I used the Deorlaf [X] section (beeps) as one draped, initial frame, the rest was a continual pouring in/out; ultra(s) close/far/fast/slow/low frequency/high frequency."
Thanks to Seymour Wright, Fielding Hope, Abby Thomas, Shaun Crook, James Dunn and the ongoing generosity of all cafe OTO crew.
Paul Abbott - real & imaginary drums
Paul Abbott – Deorlaf Z (version) for XT Deorlaf X Live