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Our new in house label, releasing music recorded in lockdown.
If there's anything the 2020 lock-down has been missing it's been the Twitter commentary of experimental music's own enfant-terrible WANDA GROUP/LJ/PRESSURE CARCASS. His mischief, caustic call-outs and hilarity embossed in capital might have drifted away, but we're delighted that he's spent some instead documenting 127 beguiling (!!) tracks of musical verite, recorded over August on his phone in Huddersfield.
Where do we start with this one.... perhaps the most honest and stripped-back collection of musique concrete there's ever been? Where autuers of the genre mostly mould delicately selected audio fragments to piece together a narrative, LJ instead just turns on his phone whenever he feels appropriate and shares the moment with us untouched. It's sound-art; songs with his daughter MTP; sounds of work and play; sounds of doing nothing; the sound of life uncovered and rendered unvarnished in its all its banality, hilarity, sadness & beauty. In his own words:
"IT FEATURES SOUNDS OF HUDDERSFIELD, THE BREWERY AND WHATEVER FUCKING ELSE IS INSIDE THAT LOT. DRUMS, BANJOS, SINKS AND TAPS AND A BATH AND LOADS OF STUPID FUCKING CARS THAT DRIVE TOO FAST UP OUR ROAD. DRUMS AND RADIO FREQUENCIES FROM THE CAR AND OTHER POINTLESS SHIT."
PRESSURE CARCASS – YEAST QUEEN
"Listening is and always has been at the core of The Quiet Club’s (Danny McCarthy & Mick O’Shea) work combined with their policy of not discussing the work before or after its performance this has been the hallmark of their practice.
Unable to listen to each other perform during the Covid 19 Lockdown the duo resorted to Telepathic Listening. Uninterested in Zoom, Facetime etc. the duo decided to each perform in their own separate studio’s miles apart at a given time on appointed days for twenty minutes. The concept was that then the two recordings would be combined together unedited.
On June 16th 2020 (Bloomsday) the artists inspired by Joyce, performed separately but at the same time and the recordings were then combined together unedited to form Telepathic Lockdown Tape No 7.
There are several other works in the series including one which they both played at 4:33pm as a tribute to John Cage. Telepathic Lockdown Tape No 9." - Danny McCarthy & Mick O’Shea
All music by Danny McCarthy & Mick O’Shea
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
The Quiet Club – The Telepathic Lockdown Tapes
Nour Mobarak is a compelling new artist from Los Angeles whose work, as she describes "excavates violence and desire – the compulsions, and glitches in both a person or nation state." We fell in love with what she does thanks to her 2019 album 'Father Fugue', released on Sean McCann's Recital label. In it, the left channel of the audio documents conversations with her father Jean Mobarak - a polyglot who has a 30-second memory and lives in the mountains of Lebanon - while the right channel is composed simply of improvised song. The result conjures a similar effect that of Godard's 'Numéro deux' - whereby documented, composed and improvised elements are projected through two channels, then coagulate to form a multi-faceted, beguiling whole.
To understand Nour as a film-maker - someone who acts behind and in-front of the lens - is perhaps easier than that of a musician. When we asked Nour to do a release for Takuroku she kindly responded by offering us compositions used in her multi-disciplinary, multi-channel live performances over the past 2 years, mixed down to stereo as self-contained works. What we hear is just one part of her overall projection, but that of which delves deep; investigating the voices of others, her own voice and vocal material that forms human languages. It's poetry, a Cassavetes set piece, a walk in the park, a voice in abandon, a philosophical meditation on voice, agency and human beings - but of course much more than ideas projected on a flat canvas. Each piece moves and shakes, creating rhythms emanating from the syntax and intonation of language and the voice. Toothtone sounds like rippling streams of water running concurrently, splashing into themselves and overlapping one another. Allophone Movement and its arrangement of voices captures the immediacy of machine-funk sampling techniques, whipping the immediacy of vocal expression into a composition that swings back and forth, like a Ron Hardy edit stripped to its bones. On Phoneme Movement her own vocals take centre stage with spirals, gurgles, purrs and cries that reach ecstatic heights: the voice excavated from its bodily origins. Hopefully we'll be able to present Nour's work in Cafe OTO some time in the not too distant future.
All music & recording by Nour Mobarak
Photo: Performance of “Phoneme Movement II”, Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, December 8, 2018. Photo by Marco Kane Braunschweiler, design by Oli Barrett.
“Allophone Movement” samples sourced from the UCLA Phonetics Archive.
“Toothtone” voices recorded in Pershing Square, Los Angeles, September 2019.This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.
Editing technical assistance for “Allophone Movement” and “Toothtone” by Sean McCann & Juliette Amoroso
Nour Mobarak – 3 Performance Works
Cara Tolmie's practice centres itself upon the voice, the body and the complex ties between the two. All at once subjective as well as socially determined, she explores voice and body as two codependent entities able to prompt as well as contradict one another.
Here, on her debut release, her vocal ruminations explore a practice of sounding on both the inhale and exhale as well as a self-soothing touch strategy she developed in reaction to symptoms triggered by post-concussion syndrome. In an attempt to displace vocality towards and through parts of the body extraneous to the mouth, Cara lets sounds forge paths and encircle the body's inner topography, soaking her voice through a labyrinth of pumping blood, organs and the touch of skin.
The result is a music that offers snapshots of the body tempered by different conditions; resting, moving, listening, pleasure, strain and sensitivity. Cara invokes waves of sound; sometimes calm and meditative, sometimes teetering on discomfort; sometimes falling into an anxious refrain. 'Lit by a Car' offers the space and time to come to terms with these feelings and give them life - letting the breath of voice twist and turn in compellingly peculiar new directions.
All music & recording by Cara Tolmie
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Special thanks to Nisse Bergman, Stine Janvin, Gavin Maycroft, Kimberley O'Neill, Duncan Marquiss, Deirdre J. Humphrys, Frida Sandström, Birk Gjerlufsen and Susanna Jablonski for lending their ears
Cara Tolmie – LIT BY A CAR
"Threshold reflects on how lockdown has affected both our perception of time, and the manner in which we experience architectural thresholds.
Set against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the physical effects of the virus, the piece references the subjectivity of memory, and highlights issues relating to thresholds and boundaries by focusing on liminal space between inside and outside, private and public, close and distant.
The project embraces social distancing as a central part of the process, using binaural microphones to capture a personal perspective from the footpath outside Jessica Lee’s home, as the sound of her clarinet drifts out through open windows and doors.
The final piece combines these layered performances with the sound of a hand-made Aeolian harp as it responds to the movement of air across a threshold, alongside the incidental suburban sounds that accompanied each of the recordings." - Ed Carter & Jessica Lee
Ed Carter & Jessica Lee - electronics, clarinet, hand-made Aeolian harp
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Ed Carter & Jessica Lee – Threshold
Cath & Phil Tyler play Anglo-American folk music using guitar, banjo, voice and fiddle. Coming together musically through a shared love of traditional narrative song, full voiced sacred harp singing and sparse mountain banjo, they have performed on stages as diverse as the Royal Opera House in London and a dank tower in the old city walls of Newcastle.
For this release they've kindly shared with us 5 new works written & recorded in the heat of the summer 2020 lock-down, taking in traditional tunes, workers songs and laments crafted with words from the past and present. The stripped-back selection offers an intimate portrait of the duo alone at home in the North of England, singing ghostly tales that echo from their bedroom through the empty pubs, folk clubs and spaces where people come together to listen, meet, drink and dance. A selection that pulls at the heart strings and offers some much needed respite in these trying times.
--Cath & Phil Tyler - guitar & voices
Thanks to Rob W
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Cath & Phil Tyler – To The Dust
Derek Baron is a New York based artist whose quotidian and diaristic work quietly fizzes with creative energy. With field recordings, text-based works, chamber ensemble works, solo piano works and various other techniques, their deft hand has scribed a compelling set of both stripped-back and collage-based releases on the likes of Penultimate Press, Recital, Regional Bears and their own label 'Reading Group'. For this new release they’ve treated us to a series of musical vignettes; uncovered fragments of memories and offering us tiny glimpses into their personal world. Tender, haunting and beguiling - these works burrow deep.
"Fourteen Latches of Heaven and Earth is a collection of fragments from the last decade or so of my thinking about harmony and performance. "J&C" was a collaboration with V Haddad; "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" was recorded with Dominic Frigo. "Choral Arrival" is a group learning of the Franciscan Salve Regina, sung at the co-incidence festival in Boston in January 2019. "Choral Arrival" is named after a phrase by Annika Finne." - Derek Baron
Derek Baron – Fourteen Latches of Heaven and Earth
Zach Rowden is a singular young voice in the American experimental music scene, dealing with the acoustic and performative possibilities of the upright/electric bass, violin and other instrumentation. Whether embracing microtonal fiddle music in his duo Tongue Depressor, contributing as a member and soloist in Iancu Dumitrescu and the late Ana-Maria Avram’s Hyperion Ensemble, collaborating with Tyshawn Sorey, Leila Bordreuil, Michael Foster and many others, Zach lends a distinct focus and sense of adventure to everything he touches.
For this release on Takuroku, Zach uses loops, bass drones and a caustic field recording, letting each element mesh together in a circling broth, like a Tony Conrad jam slowly digging itself a hole in the muck and mud. There's a distinct US tape jam flavour to this, caking the layers of folkloric laments and eerie distant signals in a foggy murk and hiss. At once a sacred dirge and zoned DIY junk experiment, 'We Were Listening to Music' feels like a dimmed apparition - a recurring anomalous vibration from a bubbling underworld.
We were talking about music:
Talk about it to get it or?
The history of histories of histories of people bumping into each other
“Now how many instruments you play?”
People usually describe music to other people with these conjuring looking hand gestures
“when y’all started playin I passed OUT”
“Haha yeah I’ll have to listen to that again”
Is this all we talk about?
“It’s kind of like if you mixed the first ______ record with _______ and slowed down”
- Zach Rowden
Zach Rowden - loops, drone, field recording, strings
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Zach Rowden – We were talking about music
A gorgeous and dexterous saxophone and vibraphone dialogue between two key players in the UK free jazz/improvisation scene.
"We conducted this session over a Zoom meeting and recorded ourselves seperately and then mixed the tracks together. Corey and I had a duo project between 2013-2019 when Corey decided to retire from public performance and choosing instead to focus on recording, radio and academic pursuits. We used to play once a year at the London Jazz Festival, and had an 8 date tour by train (not easy with a vibraphone!) in Germany in February 2015. Suddenly, in lockdown, we had both been plunged into the same form of 'retirement', so took this opportunity to reconnect online. Despite fears around latency and it not feeling the same, it felt pretty close to 'old times'!" - Rachel Musson
Rachel Musson - saxophone
Corey Mwamba - vibraphone
Artwork picture by Rachel Musson
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Rachel Musson & Corey Mwamba – What We Said When We Met
Beautiful, spare and sensitive home recordings by cellist Hannah Marshall, who has treated us to so many special moments as a player at OTO over the years.
"Recordings made in a friends spare room on a half and full size cellos with re-tuned strings, not far from an open window on a quiet row of back gardens.
In some of the gaps you will hear the chair creak, the rain fall, the children at near by child-minders house. The slap and fall of strings, on fingers on wood.
In memory of Beth Hardisty. Rest In Peace."- Hannah Marshall
Hannah Marshall - cello & recording
Artwork by Hannah MarshallArtwork design by Oliver Barrett from a drawing by Hannah Marshall.
Hannah Marshall – Clouds
The 2nd in a series of two new releases by French tape-based experimental artist Jérôme Noetinger, who has treated us to countless unforgettable live sets at OTO. For this he presents two pieces in collaboration with Jean-Philippe Gross based on the idea of the exquisite corpse.
"There is a great tradition of exchange and correspondence work in experimental music. In the 80's, there were a lot of cassettes with musicians who had never met each other but were exchanging sounds by mail. Nowadays it's even simpler and more obvious.
The imposed period of confinement - in France between March 17 and May 11 - was ideal for restarting such projects.With Jean-Philippe Gross, our collaboration is older and we have had the opportunity to play several times as a duo. I have always been impressed by his dexterity, rigour and discipline in the electronic field.
For the first track, a musician created a first sequence lasting between 10 seconds and seven minutes, and sent only the last 10 seconds to the next one who then mixed or pasted his sequence into it, and so on for a total of 16 exchanges.
For the second, the number of exchanges has been limited to 14, with a duration of between 10 seconds and three minutes, but each having a maximum reserve of 10 minutes.
The final result was only filtered and slightly equalized in terms of volume." - Jérôme Noetinger
Jean-Philippe Gross & Jérôme Noetinger – Nos cadavres
"While the Coronavirous lockdown made many things impossible or infinitely more difficult and painful, it also opened up an unprecedented space to think, to reflect and to work in ways that the usual pressures deny.
On March 17th David Toop and Lucie Stepankova were due to play in a trio with Yifeat Ziv at Café Oto; then on April 9th they were also booked to play at Iklectik as a duo. Both gigs were cancelled, of course, because of the virus. In support of Iklectik, Lucie and David agreed to record a track together in the only way possible, by exchanging files and passing mixes back and forth across the aether. The feeling of working on this first track was positive so they decided to make a mini-album. One of the elements from the first track was a reading by Lucie of a passage from Kenya Hara’s book, On White, and this preoccupation with colour became a theme for the whole project. Other tracks were inspired by the writings of Hilma af Klint on mystical blue, Hokusai on shades of black, François Jullien on the six colours of Chinese ink and Cees Noteboom on the yellow/orange hue of a ceramic bowl.
Jullien wrote of a transition from ‘physical concretion to spirit dimension’, according to the dilution of the ink. This is how these tracks felt as they emerged between April and June of extraordinary times. When the album was finished it seemed fitting to offer it to Café Oto in a gesture of support and hopefulness for the future of London’s key venues.
David Toop and Lucie Stepankova have previously played in duos at Café Oto, Iklectik and at the Jhilava documentary film festival. They have also played in trios with Yifeat Ziv at Hundred Years Gallery, Tania Caroline Chen at Iklectik and John Butcher at Hangar Bicocca, Milan." - David & Lucie
David Toop and Lucie Stepankova - composition & mixing
Dave Hunt - mastering
Oliver Barret - artwork design
David Toop & Avsluta – On White, Indigo and Lamp Black
Ute Kanngiesser - cello
Daniel Kordík - field recording
The release is accompanied by a PDF of writing by Evie Ward in response to the release.
Please note that the WAV recording of this release has been recommended by the artists involved.
"At 4AM I slip out of the house to cycle east, towards dawn, with cello on my back and a stool strapped to the rack. The word 'essential' is turning over and around in my head. I am taking the quietest roads, trying to stay invisible, worried that someone might stop me and interfere with our plans. I find Daniel with recording equipment and hand sanitizer and together we walk another distance through dawn and smell of rain. We enter the Marshes, these essential lungs of East London. It is where he had come almost every day of these locked-down weeks to field-record and breathe. And it is where Evie and I met for walks and secret music - carefully bending the laws of the officially ‘essential’. I am wondering about places and times when public music was forbidden and never driven to extinction. This time it is for pandemic reasons and the severity of consequences is unspeakable and has turned into much noise in my head. But the birds, the wind, and the rain offer such relief and I feel so shy in their presence that my music can only become the smallest of offerings to them in the rainless window between 4.48AM and 5.15AM." - (Ute Kanngiesser, June 2020)
Photography by Daniel Kordík
Cover design by Oliver Barrett
Ute Kanngiesser & Daniel Kordík – 5AM
All new work by London-based artist Robbie Judkins (Left Hand Cuts off the Right), created on keyboard, zither, field recordings, synthesizer, khene, electric guitar and effects.
"Being classed as a key worker yet not feeling like one is a strange position to be in. Neither working for the NHS, caring for others, being a shop worker, ensuring safe transport nor providing an essential public service; yet remaining at work during this pandemic has filled me with worry, guilt, anxiety and some stability. These compositions and sketches bring together audio documents created during this time with a yearning for quiet despite a fascination with unavoidable noise." - Robbie Judkins
Left Hand Cuts off the Right - All music & recording
Robbie has very kindly offered for all money from this release to go to Cafe Oto.
Left Hand Cuts off the Right – Worker
An all new collaborative work by exciting new Belgian artists Ben Bertrand & Otto Lindholm:
"The first time we collaborated as a duo was for our interpretation of The Sinking of the Titanic by Gavin Bryars at les Ateliers Claus. At that time, there was an audience surrounding us. Now secluded and on our own, we went back to the same venue and locked ourself for 2 days arranging and recording the music Ben Bertrand wrote while he was in confinement.
We designed a dense and mineral triptych. Digging into this music, we experienced the current and pressure of the passing time. At some point we saw light coming in. The transformation has already been done, reversion to fundamentals is now our single option." - Ben Bertrand and Otto Lindholm
Composition : Ben BertrandArrangement : Otto Lindholm and Ben BertrandBass clarinet and electronics : Ben BertrandDouble bass and electronics : Otto LindholmRecorded and mixed at les ateliers claus by Christophe Albertijn the 29th and the 30th of June 2020.Thanks to : Dad, Mom, Tommy and Keiko.Painting : Pierre Vande PittePicture : Laurent Orseau
Artwork design:Oliver Barrett
Ben Bertrand and Otto Lindholm – Reversion
Ikue was due to perform a 4 night residency at Cafe OTO this September 2020, but due to coronavirus had to be rescheduled to some time next year. In its place she's very kindly put together this selection of new work, all made at home on her own. In it, collected samples and concurrent keyboard lines are projected like aural holograms of dreams shot through crystal. Elapsed drum patterns and gurgling digital electronics emerge and scatter themselves in a haze of tropical music concrete, before wandering into melodic patterns and glimpses of songs. Ikue says "this is where I’m in right now, being home my own" - and its clear she has formed a natural symbiosis with her laptop during this time; conjuring thick synthetic clouds of thoughts, feelings and dreams for listeners to swim through.
Ikue Mori – Invisible
Takuroku has been supporting new work by artists made during lock-down, but now and again we’ll be releasing lost archival gems that we feel need to be heard. This is one of the latter: A fiery session between two key players in OTO’s international community, featuring Denmark’s Julie Kjær (saxophone) and Thurston Moore (guitar), recorded at neighbouring experimental music hub The Hundred Years Gallery.
Fans of Rudolph Grey/Arthur Doyle, Kaoru Abe/Masayuki Takayanagi and Sonny Sharrock/Peter Brötzman's explosive symbiosis will relish here in Julie & Thurstons’ bellied roars, tonal dips and dives and thick sheets of sound. Ecstatic spiritual crescendos emerge and collapse, but during which never lose their sense of focus and imaginative interplay. Here’s hoping this duo can play again once things are back to normal (whenever that maybe be).
50% of OTO’s share of the proceeds of this release will be passed to Hundred Years Gallery. Please support their great work in the experimental music community.
"As I was reviewing music files of live events I had been involved with since moving to London over seven years ago, I came across a duo concert with Julie Kjær and myself from 2018. We had played at an event set up by saxophonist Alan Wilkinson at the Hundred Years Gallery in Dalston, a stone's throw from Cafe Oto, and very much a part of the community of exploratory music venues we're so blessed to have here. Julie and her paramour, the composer Paulo Dias Duarte, had been living in the same London neighborhood as my paramour Eva and myself (as well as Alan W and his paramour Gina - it's paramour wild here, kids!), before they relocated to Julie's native Denmark a couple of years back. I had first heard Julie play at one of Alan's always fabulous Flim Flam series shows in the basement of Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington and was struck by her free playing in the moment of sub/conscious inter/action with her compatriot players. I soon realized her dynamic and long-running breadth of engagement with the London improvisational music scene, as well as the European, primarily Scandinavian, scenes. It was an honor to be asked to play this particular concert, and with eyes, ears and hearts to the past, present and future we created the music presented here. While in a shared quarantine with the world in 2020, it is astounding to see and hear voices rising in collaborative positive energy towards a renewed and consciously just planet. On Saturday June 27 Julie gave birth to her and Paulo's son Hugo, new life, new light, new music and new promise. At a time when creativity is such a significant, and profound, key to our shared consciousness - in regards to the planet and all sentient life - to grace our lives with birth is the hope and truth, the wonder and the spirit, of nature's joy." - Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore & Julie Kjær - Guitar & saxophone
recorded by Graham MacKeachan at Hundred Years Gallery, 19.1.2018
painting by Gene Moore, 2020
Thurston Moore & Julie Kjær – New Life Music
Fergus and Dee have never met in person, but through written correspondence and a shared love of songwriting and music, they have come together and continue to work remotely - writing and sharing. The album, MORNINGHAIRWATER was written under lockdown between May and June 2020. A fervent correspondence of lyrics, ideas and sounds between London and Glasgow, musicians Fergus Lawrie of cult band Urusei Yatsura and Dee Sada of NEUMES/An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump come together as Paper Birch to share their mutual feelings of despair, fragility and hope in this collection of nine songs.
The video was shot on 16mm by Scottish filmmaker Grant McPhee who has directed successful music documentaries, ‘Teenage Superstars’ and ‘Big Gold Dream’.
Fergus Lawrie is a guitarist and songwriter who was a founder member of fondly remembered '90s geek rockers Urusei Yatsura who emerged from the celebrated Glasgow 13th Note scene that also fostered bands such Bis, Delgados, Yummy Fur, Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand. Known for their ferocious live shows and burnt out noise pop songs such as 'Kewpies like Watermelon' and 'Hello Tiger' the band released 3 full albums and toured extensively in Europe and America and were Radio 1 favourites recording sessions for John Peel and the Evening Session. In the 00s he released the album Yoyodyne as the band Projekt A-ko with other former members of Urusei Yatsura. He also released three experimental improvised noise rock albums as Angel of Everyone Murder with fellow members Lea Cummings (Kylie Minoise/Kovorox Sounds) and Sarah Glass (The Fnords). As artist Obscure Desire of the Bourgeoisie he presented several large scale installations featuring guitars and electric fans at Northampton Fishmarket, Dundee School of Art and Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. He also co-produced a documentary about the Glasgow experimental noise scene 'Send/Receive' which was featured at Cardiff Arts Festival.
Multi-instrumentalist Dee Sada has created an eclectic and diverse collection of music over the last 10 years and has worked with a number of international musicians. Whilst in percussive noise band, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, she recorded an album with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago. She has also been in electronic duo, Blue On Blue and performance art band ORAL ORAL, which is an ad-hoc group of improv artists that began performing together after a request by artist Wolfgang Tillmans. Dee also performs in the London-based trio, NEUMES who recently recorded a mini album at 4AD studios and supported composer Colin Stetson at the Round Chapel in 2019. She has curated a range of multimedia events which include screenings, spoken word and performances with Raindance Film Festival, Whitechapel Art Gallery and Cafe OTO.
Paper Birch – MORNINGHAIRWATER