Our new in house label, releasing music recorded in lockdown.
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.
An Impossible View – The Mermaid Café
"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
Flank – Food People
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
Tosaka to Watashi – Akira Sakata
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
Eli Licking Ice – John Chantler
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
What good do you think your lousy senses do – Triple Negative
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
Stardust – Taku Unami
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
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
TOMORROW FORGOT TO PLAN FOR YOU – The Modern Institute
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
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
Deorlaf Z (version) for XT Deorlaf X Live – Paul Abbott
"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
Japanese group Yumbo play an intricately simple style of indie pop that's informed by the experimental nature of post-punk, the freedom of jazz, and the softness of '60 pop. Sunshine and Baroque in equal measures.
Weightless, whimsical but endlessly curious, this new mini album is filled with charming ditties and melodies that wind themselves deep into your consciousness. With a mixture of string, brass and percussion-based instruments, they follow the tradition of pop-based big bands, but retain a compositional compactness, allowing their intimate songs to open themselves gradually up and spread wings. Anyone who has loved those stripped back Carla Bley ballads, the gentle melancholy of Bill Wells and the ramshackle experimentalism of Maher Shalal Hash Baz will fall in love with this. Perfect music for those fading late summer nights.
Mastered by Oli Barrett
Yumbo – The End Of A Song
An all new release by the glorious Japanese duo Tenniscoats - one of our personal favourites here at OTO.
Recycling is the term Tenniscoats use to describe this new release, which features re-imaginings of some of their past work. Rather than eskewing the songs, each track is infused with a sort of ebullient electronic pop, with crisp drum machines, samples of Saya's voice and synth pads shining rays of light into their sound world. Elements of the tracks are cut, spliced and re-edited in a tongue-in-cheek DJ-remix style, but retain all the charm and beauty of the original compositions.
As with all of Tenniscoats' best work, everything is kept tender, compact and intimate. Music that is weightless and breezy as a Joao Gilberto ballad or one of Young Marble Giants' more upbeat numbers. Happy to get this out in time while there's still sun in the sky.
Tenniscoats : Saya and Ueno
all beats, instruments worked by Uenosome keyboords, almost vocals, lyrics by Sayaexcept ‘On the Beach Boys Bus’ - lyrics by Bill Wells
recorded by Ueno, Sayamixed by Saya
Tenniscoats – Song Recycle
Straight outta the gutter and splattered onto digital for our Takuroku series, we're pleased to welcome this new suite of incendiary, liquid abstractions from gilgul. We first heard of gilgul's (otherwise known as Genghis Cohn) prolific spell of 7" and tape releases from the enthusiastic words of Kenny from Low Company (RIP). Anyone who has revelled in Wolf Eyes' junk concrete, Graham Lambkin's primal vocal work on 'Poem (For Voice & Tape)', Henri Chopin's tape work and Container's breakneck punk take on techno will a home find in gilgul's macerated sounds. Listing as many comparative names might seem a bit disingenuous, but how gil's work flows seamlessly between different stylistic approaches, while retaining a driving, caustic energy at its core, is truly something to behold.
A worldless incantation, an uncanny apparition from a slime-dripping underworld, a limbless dance by bodies real and unreal. A delight to release such burning hot work by an artist this young (still in his early 20s).
Music by gilgul
Music videos for 'Tollva hof Danse' and 'Bel-Bel' by Gisele P and gilgul.
OS-22 – gilgul
Honoured to present this new work by Japanese improvisor, producer, and singer-songwriter, Eiko Ishibashi. This mysterious "live session" sees her paring back her song-craft in favour of a multifaceted suite of synthetic sound and rhythm, pushing and pulling her work in radical new directions.
The work opens with seething, dense layers of synthesis, driven skyward by the powerful dual percussion work of Tatsuhisa Yamamoto and Joe Talia. Elsewhere she embraces scattering electronics, allowing programmed and indeterminate elements to trip over themselves. As the session progresses, iridescent organ laments and spiraling synth arpeggios emerge, collapse and dissolve, birthing moments of lava-hot extra-terrestrial funk.
This is Eiko going truly "out": loosening, expanding, falling off the grid and into deep unknown terrain. We're here for it.
"Actually, I'm still afraid to play music live.
But the feeling of jumping off a cliff, the feeling of being able to go far from my consciousness, the feeling of resetting to go to creation again, the feeling that my world is inevitably opened by customers and people I meet at live performances... these feelings, I wouldn't get anywhere else.
I am deeply grateful that I was able to have such experiences with the help of many live music venues and their staff in Japan and overseas.
I hope to see you again in good spirits.I will do my best until then.The live performance I did at cafe oto was also an unforgettable one.I want to come again.
Thank you for the opportunity. "
- Eiko Ishibashi
<Japanese Text >
EIko Ishibashi: Synth, Piano, Voice, Flute, Vibraphone, Sound CollageTatsuhisa Yamamoto: DrumsJoe Talia: DrumsMastered by Jim O'Rourke
Live at Incubus – Eiko Ishibashi
“Consider the whole of your life, what you already do, all your doings. Now please exclude everything which is naturally physiologically necessary (or harmful), such as breathing and sleeping (or breaking an arm). For what remains, exclude everything which is for the satisfaction of a social demand, a very large area which includes foremost your job, but also care of children, being polite, voting, your haircut, and much else. From what remains, exclude everything which is an agency, a "means" -- another very large area which overlaps with others to be excluded. From what remains, exclude everything which involves competition. In what remains, concentrate on everything done entirely because you just like it as you do it.” – Henry Flynt definition of "Brend," from “Against “Participation”: Total Critique of Culture”
Sigital Krutulys-Sygis (1967-1996) called himself a poet, thinker and professional dilletante. He wrote several drama works and a stack of poems, and in 1993-1995 actively participated in the development of Alytus avant-garde. He was radically critical of new capitalist relations and universal alienation. Almost none of his writings and creations have been published until this year, and his expression is a purest example of Henry Flynt's description of Brend. In 2021 January, his best friend Redas Dirzys, has collected and published the majority of Sygis (anti)literature (dramas, poems, short stories and at the same time something that does not fit any of those standards) in a form of book sequel. Pages – this is how the author suggested naming these works in order to avoid the toxic concept of art and creativity. In pages, grammar is ignored, text is transformed into matter/image and image into letters.
With Shortcoming, I tried to explore the failure of meeting a certain standard in a contemporary society. What does it mean to make something just for the sake of doing it? Without expecting anything in return and without trying to fit in in certain frameworks of the society. Us trying to constantly chase success and fame made us glorify hustle culture, being non-human, machine like creatures that are not allowed to make mistakes.
First track - Math won’t save the world is based on algorithm generated percussion pattern (made using custom build max for live device) and guitar improvisation. With this track I mainly experimented with machine and human collaboration for imperfect and unpredictable creative outcome.
The longest track and centre part of the whole project is Elephant. This track was based on an unnamed poem of Sygis, about our high ambitions that do not necessarily come true, and that it is not a bad thing. Instrumentation wise I continued my experimentation with computer generated rhythms, highly processed improvised guitar, and overlaid disintegrating cassette tape loops (for which I used another custom build max for live device that progressively destroyed loops by crushing sample rate and bit depth).
For a final track - Tale of darkness, I used another unnamed poem (he really did not like naming things) of Sygis. By using this poem of his I wanted to better look into the stereotypes of evil and bad and how we all have a not so glamorous sides of us. I have combined Sygis poem with family archive audio recording from 1995 (year of when I was born) between my father and my brother. So it happens, that previously mentioned best friend of Sygis, who has published his poems, is my father. And even though Sygis took his own life only a few months after I was born, I still have a very strong connection to his ideas and his way of thinking has influenced my own relationship with creativity.
- Gong Girl (Guoda Dirzyte)
Gong Girl – Shortcoming
Working primarily under the name Action Pyramid, Tom Fisher's projects range from site-specific sound installation and headphone works for galleries and museums, to experimental radio works and commercially released music. Utilising a multitude of recording techniques his work often seeks to explore and re-interpret the seemingly unnoticed and unseen/unheard elements of our surroundings.
In this release for Takuroku, Tom takes to remote locations in his native county of Suffolk, unearthing the sounds of the local marsh, woodlands, river and coast and the multitude of life that exists there. Occasionally arranging these sounds with his own musical interventions, he whisks together beguiling sonic material, rich in timbral, textural and rhythmic quality.
'Singing Below the Surface' features 7 tracks, each of with their own haunting identity. Through subtle collaging, spatialisation and musical symbiosis, Tom opens the liminal space between real and imaginary worlds.
"Over lockdown #1 (Spring/Summer 2020) when I was out in the sticks in Suffolk I amassed quite a large amount of recordings, including but not limited to; hydrophone recordings of the local river, some red list bird species, aeolian harps, bullroarers & reed pipes fashioned from locally found objects, as well as huge variety of soundscapes from the area, and have fed these into a new body of work over the course of the last 8 months. On a personal level I think it's taken me this long to find a way to get a handle on these - partly because they remind me so vividly of that very intense part of 2020. It was the longest time I have spent back in the Suffolk landscape since I left home, and I think one way of dealing with all the madness was to go out and record and listen as much as possible. This is a condensed version of some of that time, as well as an exploration of ways in which we can choose to both explore and interact with our surroundings." - Tom Fisher (Action Pyramid)
Tom Fisher (Action Pyramid) - recordings, instrumentation & mixing
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Singing Below the Surface – Action Pyramid