srijeda, 28. siječnja 2015.

Alessandro Cortini - Sonno (2014)


Kako se osjeća Ništavilo kad se ujutro probudi iz ružnog sna.

Alessandro Cortini is best known as the lead electronics performer in Nine Inch Nails’ live unit.
His recordings under his own name have gained prominence in recent years and he has become known as one of the pre-eminent Buchla masters in North America. Cortini makes a surprising departure into the 202 on his debut album for Hospital Productions - ‘Sonno’.
‘Sonno’ was recorded in hotel rooms, using a Roland MC 202 through a delay pedal, recorded direct, sometimes into a small portable speaker system.
“I liked to walk around the room with a handheld recorder to hear where the sequence would sound better, turn on faucets, open doors or windows to see how the ambient sounds would interact with the MC 202/delay/speaker sound. It was very relaxing and liberating to make music this way...”
The result is a beautifully restrained yet oddly emotive album that’s quite distinct from the overly academic approach so often undertaken by hardware driven devotees.

Nine Inch Nails’ keyboard fiddler Alessando Cortini arrives on Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions imprint with new album Sonno.
The album is quite a departure for Cortini – while he’s best known for his skill with the complex (and massive) Buchla modular synthesizer, Sonno finds the producer stripping down his setup to the bare minimum: a Roland MC-202 and a delay pedal.
The MC-202, for those that might not remember, was for all intents and purposes a repackaged SH-101 with a more robust sequencer. The synth was considered at the time to be a more deluxe version of the TB-303, but where the 303 excelled in its simplicity, the 202 was incredibly fiddly to patch, and while it had the potential to make some impressive sounds, it has never achieved the widespread notoriety of its smaller, simpler little brother.
It’s an interesting choice for Cortini then, but he manages to work well with the box’s limitations, and apparently used it as a companion in hotel rooms around the world while he was touring with Nine Inch Nails. This gives the selection of tracks a fuzzy, late night haze, something you can hear clearly on the doomy ‘Dell’influenza’ which you can hear in full below. -

Hospital Productions debut from Nine Inch Nails’ Alessandro Cortini, a suite of 9 analogue synth pieces complete with found and ambient sounds* Alessandro Cortini is best known as the lead electronics performer in Nine Inch Nails’, but in recent years his work as ‘Sonoio' and a pair of fine albums for Important Records under his own name have highlighted his own individual productions. Known as one of the pre-eminent Buchla masters in North America, Cortini makes a surprising departure on this debut album for Hospital Productions by making use of little more than a Roland MC 202 fed through a delay pedal and ambient sound recordings taken in various hotel rooms recorded direct, sometimes into a small portable speaker system. “I liked to walk around the room with a handheld recorder to hear where the sequence would sound better, turn on faucets, open doors or windows to see how the ambient sounds would interact with the MC 202/delay/speaker sound…” The result is a beautiful, evocative, highly unusual suite of tracks, quite removed from the Modular/Kosmische revivalism that’s been so preeminent over the last half decade. ‘Sonno' is soaked in atmosphere, those background recordings imbuing proceedings with a fizzing resonance that’s impossible to recreate artificially, making for essential listening for anyone who can’t get enough of classic material from ENO or AFX and bored with cheap imitations. Highly Recommended. - boomkat

A sense of place is becoming increasingly important in these disassociated times, as is lovingly illustrated in Boomkat‘s exceptional 14tracks compilation Psychoacoustic Cartography. These seems to be true of every style and genre, but is triply compounded in the realm of electronic music, which all-too-often never emerges from the claustrophobic confines of motherboards and processors. Electronic musicians seem to be drawing a line in the sand, falling into one of two camps. On one hand, you’ve got the hyper clean and precise alien grime eskibeat sculptures favored by James Ferraro and lashed together into spastic contraptions, via juke and footwork. And on the other hand, you’ve got, what i rather lamentably label “industrial techno“, (there has got to be a better name. Any takers? Industrial techno makes me think of, and often leads me, mid ’90s hardcore/gabber, which is similar, but not the same), with musicians channeling dancefloor miasma from antiquated gear, packed in styrofoam and white noise. Post-industrial techno is more like it, as it definitely often sounds like music made for decrepit warehouses on shitty, broken equipment in a bunker,somewhere between Wim Wenders‘ Berlin in Wings Of Desire, and The Zone, in Tarkovsky‘s Stalker.
stalkerSonno entirely corrects this uncanny dislocation, as a symphony of tones, pulsing drones, fathomless bass, and coruscating echoes were entirely recorded in hotel rooms, with Corsini walking around the room like a water witch with a field recorder, picking up the sine waves, as they weave, dive, and dodge, creating unique, interesting, and lush phasing that is damn near impossible to replicate digitally.
Alessandro Cortini is best known as the live electronics performer in Nine Inch Nails. It shows, as many moments on Sonno bring to mind NIN’s Ghosts I – IV, so for those who have worn out those records’ 8 sides shall rejoice, with a new sound installation to lose yrself in for days, weeks, and months at a time, transforming yr house or office into a version of La Monte Young‘s dream house.
dream house

Cortini is also known as a master of the Buchla synth (did you even know there WAS such a thing), although in this case, Sonno was conceived with a much more rudimentary setup, Roland MC 202 through a delay pedal, recorded direct, sometimes into a small portable speaker system. Yes, that’s right, he even used speakers as microphones, further contributing to Sonno‘s distant, ruined fidelity, something like the sound of a dying star, its light reaching us 230 years after its demise. Or like macroscopic photography of tearing lace.
a dying star
Even though Roland is best known for their beatmaking apparati, Sonno is a beatless affair, as in “devoid of percussion”, as Marc Weidenbaum recently noted in his 33 1/3 Book on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II, every sound has a beat, as they are comprised of sine waves, which rise and fall. This is an apt connection, as Sonno is definitely in the same spirit as SAW II, as well as ambient classics like Music For Airports or Discreet Music by Eno, and is easily as good as any of them, and i don’t say that lightly.
Sonno works as a whole, although each individual track is beautiful and stands up on its own. Some highlights are album opener “Ravina”, with its warm swells of organ-like bass drone, or the lonesome haunted drift of “Voltaggio Solitario” that sounds like Leyland Kirby smearing “1/1″. “Di Passagio”, posted above, is the undisputed champion for this gentle scribe, however, with an intimation of a bassline that makes me think of underwater minimalist techno, watching a meteor shower from the Dead Sea.
There is not a bad moment or bunk note on Sonno; i’ve been hypnotized and mesmerized from hearing the opening strains a week ago, and have become irrevocably obsessed. Cortini has had two successful albums recently on Important Records, Forse 1, and Forse Two, that i can’t wait to hear, so expect to hear more about this.
This is a modern ambient classic, one of the best i’ve heard in a minute, further situation Hospital Productions at the peak of the interesting electronic music pyramid. At this point, you might as well buy anything by them that you can get yr hands on, as its bound to be interesting.
I cannot recommend this album highly enough. -

It’s extremely difficult to articulate exactly what it is about the music that resonates with a listener at the deepest level. This is why providing a review of Sonno proved to be such a challenge for this writer. Before moving onto that task, a brief background about the album. It’s the work of Alessandro Cortini, one of the key members of Nine Inch Nails, and was recorded on a Roland MC 202 in hotel rooms, presumably when he was touring. According to the label, Cortini experimented with the sound of everyday items like taps, windows and doors, as part of the process. This was Cortini claims, a “very relaxing” way to make music.

That’s the practical part out of the way – so what does it sound like? In essence, Cortini has created a remarkable, brooding work out of nothing. There is a sinister, but powerful undercurrent throughout, but despite this, it is surprisingly easy to empathise with his sound scapes and textures. As a former sleep walker, and now an extremely deep sleeper and early riser, Sonno reminds this reviewer of what the first few minutes of being awake feel like. It captures that trance-like state when bleary eyes adjust themselves to the light and the real world, the vestiges of dreams having slipped away.
In places, like the brutal surge of noise and laughing voices as “Rinascimento” fades out or on the churning reverb of ‘Dell’influenza”, it is home to disturbing twists. Elsewhere though, like on the hypnotic drones that comprise “Rovine” or the warbling pulses of “Volaggio Solitario” – which bears a passing resemblance to early 90s ambience – Cortini replicates the sense of blissed out calm that comes after a long state of unconsciousness.
Best of all though is “Passatempo”, where soothing waves of white noise act as a backdrop to gnarly but beautiful electronics that rise like the sun through the grey half-light. Simply put, Sonno connected with this writer on a deeply personal level and hopefully it’ll have the same effect on everyone else who hears it. - Richard Brophy


Mark Van Hoen – The Revenant Diary (2012)

Opasnosti sjećanja, žaljenja i nostalgije.

“Don’t look back”, repeats one of several voices within Mark van Hoen’s The Revenant Diary, his fifth solo album and first release on Editions Mego. Surrounded by weighted beats, analogue synthesizer drones and granular dirt, the unidentified, siren-like female voice’s advice is as much seduction as warning. Tellingly so, for as well as being both Van Hoen’s most ambitious and his most accessible work, The Revenant Diary is an eloquent meditation on the allures and dangers of memory, regret and nostalgia. The album's foundation was shaped by a memory and a chance encounter. While remastering some of his early 90s releases and Peel Session tracks, Van Hoen – a founding member of Seefeel, who also worked as Locust and in Seefeel offshoot Scala and has collaborated with Slowdive, Robert Fripp, Edison Woods & Esben and the Witch amongst others – happened upon a track he had recorded in 1982. Attracted by its simplicity, he was inspired to record the basis of The Revenant Diary on 4-track tape, using a minimal set-up, reminiscent of his first early 80s musical adventures as a young teenager. The recollection of one of these – a 13 year old Van Hoen's experiment in reel-to-reel tape recording of an ineffectual pop song playing on the radio, which spuriously transformed it into a spooky amalgam of backwards church organ and unintelligible voices – provided an evocative inspiration.  The Revenant Diary pivots on this combination of complex reflection and simplified technology. A determinedly analogue affair, it brims over with Van Hoen’s signature sounds: immersively decayed drones, almost broken ambient surfaces and lulling rhythms, with granular crackle providing spectral grit. Fragments of female vocals pepper the album, and notably dominate the 10-minute epic “Holy Me”, one of Van Hoen’s most complex compositions, in which non-verbal sounds rub delicately against each other in an otherworldly choral composition.  Less song-based than his last solo work, the well-received Where Is The Truth [City Centre Offices, 2010], its palette and structure are more descendants of the 1995 album Truth Is Born Of Arguments, which utilised a similar combination of decayed atmosphere against a granular / glitch rhythmic structure. Tracks like “Laughing Stars At Night” and “Unknown Host” exude a powerful emotional undertow, as alluringly woozy as they are intensely contemplative. But this is no exercise in Instagram-style disposable nostalgia. Van Hoen’s adroit juxtapositions of gauzy textures evoke the blurred luminescence of 16mm film and the rich, colour-saturated hues of rediscovered Polaroid photos, as the cover artwork, designed by Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley, acknowledges. The Revenant Diary expertly renders displaced memory daze in lushly melodic, gently delirious electronic sound. -

A very welcome return for Mark Van Hoen, the Seefeel founder member best known his ambient techno work as Locust and under his own name on Apollo and R&S in the mid-90s. The Revenant Diary, his first release on Peter Rehberg's Editions Mego, follows last year's fine City Centre Offices set Where Is The Truth, and explores similarly deep electronic sound-worlds, but it's less obviously song-based, and has different origin: while remastering some of his earliest recordings, Van Hoen was struck by the simplicity of a recording he made in 1982, a reel-to-reel experiment that, through serendipity as much as anything else, achieved a truly spooky, spellbinding result. Freshly inspired and reconnected to his young music-making self, he resolved to make his new record on 4-track using a minimal set-up. The resulting album is recognisable Van Hoen - all decaying drones, star-gazing synths, hypnotic rhythm and richly layered crackle - but there's a directness and an honesty to it that is palpable and refreshing even out of context. It's truly haunting music, with memory as its central theme - particularly powerful is the swirling 'Don't Look Back', and the epic closer 'Holy Me', a layered collage of voices reminiscent of Peter Christopherson's work in Coil and with CoH. Amazing cover art from Stephen O'Malley too. - boomkat

Time is the alarming issue, the aspect of our lives most subject to the social pressures of the day. As average working weeks increase, we’re enjoined ever more to indulge in colour-supplement leisure activities (“get making those memories”, as a recent advertising slogan had it). In the face of systemic crisis, we’re haunted by the vague sense that time’s running out; simultaneously, we seem to have more of it than ever, in abundant archives, in multiplying ephemeral media of memory-inscription (Twitter, Facebook, blogs). Our memories press maddeningly in on the present, bursting into the body of music, at the very moment they threaten to disappear. As archivists carry on their pursuits (witness the hauntological barrel- scraping of the Found Objects blog and the continuing vogue for austerity chic), the quality of that time seems to matter less and less, just so long as it’s passed.
The latest solo album by Mark Van Hoen, an early member of Seefeel who has also worked as Locust, seems to come with the same set of conceptual baggage as all the nostalgia-swollen albums of recent years. But there is immediately a disturbing spark. The story goes: listening back through his archive, Van Hoen came across a track made in 1982 by his adolescent self, setting off memory recall of even earlier recordings; in turn he was encouraged to try a more primitive recording set-up of the kind he started out with, with a four-track recorder and minimal equipment. Potential pitfalls suggest themselves immediately – is this just soft-focus recreation of simpler times, the sonic equivalent of the midlife crisis car? From the first, though, Van Hoen avoids them. The beats are rough and ready, with cutting hi-hats and a loping kick like distant depth-charges, with frayed at the edges synth-strings and a female vocal as if imported from a horror film. Nowhere is the percussion sophisticated – as with his sometimes portentous 1990s work, Van Hoen occupies a corner of electronica untouched by Techno and House’s seductions. The mixing is queasy and out of joint, as if Van Hoen were adopting a deliberately broken language, feeling out the possibilities in stuttering, cracked versions of his familiar gestures. Notably, where Van Hoen sang on last year’s Where Is The Truth, here the voices are borrowed, though whether from vocalist Georgia Belmont or sampled is hard to tell      .
The same kind of primitivist impulse lurks behind much of the last few years’ fetishisation of analogue and modular technology – think of the clunky beats of Ekoplekz, or the laborious, semi-aleatoric methods of Keith Fullerton Whitman’s synth works. It not only evokes the relationship you have with music technology when starting out, and the directness with which you can alter sound, but in addition the physical particularity of analogue – tape recorders with their buttons that clunk and click, synths, drum machines, guitars with knobs for settings and tone, turntables and the motion of needles and record surfaces. All this filled the adolescence of musicians of a certain age. Van Hoen seems fascinated on The Revenant Diary by certain granular qualities of noise, the kind of roughened grain (usually applied by him to the voice) often arrived at by happy accident. This echo of adolescence is far more compelling than the dumbed down version that lies at the core of, say, chillwave, and far truer to the difficulty of teenage years. The perspective on the agonies of adolescence that comes with age is gained at the expense of its sense of possibility, of a meaning that saturates every second, and from which it is in reality inextricable. Van Hoen maintains this desire, this danger – adolescence as a wager, a roll of the dice.
      His position is complicated by one of the narratives hiding behind The Revenant Diary: he was adopted as a child, a fact that became the sort-of subject matter of Where Is The Truth. “Don’t look back” warns the voice at the centre of the eponymous track, not because getting stuck in the past risks our facility to make ideas of the future (the traditional argument against nostalgia), but because its truth content is under question, if not hollowed out. It’s worth noting that Van Hoen, although working with his youthful set-up, doesn’t use particular textural or idiomatic signifiers in the manner of Hypnagogic pop. In this respect, the beatless tracks are what strike you here – “37/3d” is a minimal construction of static burbles, pointillist synth and backward, overlapping voice; “No Distance” is the kind of haunted sequencer architecture explored on Oneohtrix Point Never’s early releases; “Holy Me” is nine and a half minutes of solo multitracked voice, I Am Sitting In A Room as remixed by Oval. There’s a sense of suspension in these tracks, a glittering sadness, but also a refusal of the particularising pathos of meaning, which pins sound to a particular time.
    Diaries seek to organise life; month after month, year after year, experience is recorded. The present nostalgia for analogue media and all its (as often as not, trashy) content is perhaps a longing for a moment when time could be experienced this way – coherent, slowly accumulative, the pseudo-cyclical passage of seasons and festivals. To be suddenly dispossessed of a past, to have what lies at the centre of your self-image disturbed, is something like the condition of Western society today, with the rug pulled from under it by economic and social crises. What is swiftly becoming clear is how useless nostalgia is in getting a grip on our own sense of time, not least because it leaves us with alienated figments of time, emptied of historicity. The Revenant Diary, confronting us with unremembered fragments of Van Hoen’s self, confounds all of that. - Dan Barrow

Sometimes, at night, I sense something, and then I don’t. I don’t know what exists in the dark, although I’m sure something does. A revenant, undoubtedly. A returner from the dark: just as Proust’s narrator finds his childhood through a madeleine dipped in tea or as Sebald’s Austerlitz finds his orphanhood in an abandoned room in an English railway station, a life already lived comes back unexpectedly. What more is a ghost, anyway, than the intimate realization of the past interrupting the present?
The Revenant Diary is Mark Van Hoen’s ghost story. “[The] record was already mostly done before I found out,” he said in a recent interview. The voices were added later. It is now well known that his adoption had been covered up and discovered accidentally during his emigration to the United States. But while his last album, Where Is The Truth, was an explicit attempt at processing what had been discovered, The Revenant Diary, composed in the darkness of unknowing, sounds more like a question weighed down in the unconscious, a sense, something before the words that speak articulate pain — buried deeply. It’s unsurprising, then, that from material already composed in the dark, he adds a voice. First, in “Look Into My Eyes,” a broken, unintelligible voice that drifts from right-to-left through the channels of a headphone. Second, in “Don’t Look Back,” the titular words repeated through the slow walk of the beat: “don’t look back, don’t look back (back).”
In the same interview, Van Hoen says, “I am a firm believer that your musical taste and identity is formed […] in your teenage years. The rest of my musical life will be spent trying to gain the expertise to communicate what’s in my head, or to get closer to the source, as it were.” In 1982, he recorded a song that, when happened upon nearly three decades later, would provide the aesthetic foundation for The Revenant Diary. Composed and recorded and produced, minimally, as though in a memory of his earliest recordings, as a teenager, he put together the album. There is an initial simplicity to the album that morphs, gracefully, into an understatement. The album is expressing a melancholy without sentimentality or histrionics, and a nostalgia without foundation in a gimmicky appropriation of cultural artifacts. The aural texture is a woven assemblage of ambient synth patterns, warm basses, cold arpeggios, and certain Kraut-psych sensibilities into a modest, but rich electronic music. It might be “teenage” in its orientation, but it is an adult album in its serious and mature rumination — and affirmation.
Throughout the final track, the voice sings out, over and over again over nine minutes of spectral praise, “holy me!” One voice becomes two, and then becomes three, and more, while a muddled organ plays sporadically. No narcissistic anthem, this is the subtle hymn of a displaced man, questioning in the dark, declaring himself, orphaned, teenage, all of it, in a singular, mature, and maturing whole. It’s as clear of a statement I can think of about what a good album he’s made. - 

Mark Van Hoen raises the spectre with this slice of Proustian Techno; 2012’s The Revenant Diary.
On this lovely slab, released in 2012 on the ever essential Editions Mego imprint, Seefeel/Scala/Locust member Mark Van Hoen investigates two central questions to the Forestpunk mission:
1. What are ghosts?
2. Why are we so obsessed with them?
In an insightful and poetically written review for Tiny Mix Tapes, album reviewer Max Power asked the question “What more is a ghost, anyway, than the intimate realization of the past interrupting the present?”
On The Revenant Diary, Mark Van Hoen was visited by the ghost of former productions, after finding a recording he made as a teenager, back in 1982. Inspired, Van Hoen resolved to strip back his production process, to rediscover the joy and immediacy of those early sound experiments.
The Revenant Diary is also a psychologically compelling listen, as it was created in the period right before Van Hoen inadvertently discovered that he’d been adopted, a fact which came to light as he was emigrating to the United States.
One can’t help but wonder if this return to the past was compelled by some internal lack, a wormhole where his biological parents should be. All of us find our way into the ghostly realms, drawn to the past, for various and personal reasons, and the artistic results are different for everyone.
These similarities, and the differences, tell us both about the medium itself, as well as the individual making a personal piece of artwork.
The Revenant Diary could definitely be read as hauntological, that is to say, the past living inside the present. Not only is it made with presumably archaic recording practices – in the mode of something recorded in the early ’80s, which it may or may not be, as this record sounds thoroughly contemporary, and not some piece of revisionist electronic music, but it is shot through with horrorscore strings (“Look Into My Eyes”), electronic bleeps that sound like a dream sequence (“I Remember”), and electric harpsichords (“No Distance”), that would not sound out of place on a Ghost Box or a Moon Wiring Club record.
And while MWC sounds like some sickly trap music audio collage, and Ghost Box makes imaginary themes for lost pastoral children’s television, Mark Van Hoen rearranges his memories into 11 tracks of temple techno and dark ambiance.
Consider “Don’t Look Back”, an early stand-out track. The beat leans and swoons, like a lopsided tape recording of a table drummer, as sonar synths pull you beneath the surface, and a voice, (one of the rare instances of vocals on this record), advise you, “Don’t Look Back”. It’s a track that sounds fresh and timely, even two years after it’s release – in line with today’s penchant for live analog electronics.
If we approach this record like an algebra equation, considering the pure threads of hauntology and live techno allows us to peer through the gloom, and see a glimpse of Van Hoen, as a person or an artist. He seems to have an attachment to the modulated human voice, particularly the female. In the same TMT review i referenced above, they quoted MVH as saying:
“I am a firm believer that your musical taste and identity is formed […] in your teenage years. The rest of my musical life will be spent trying to gain the expertise to communicate what’s in my head, or to get closer to the source, as it were.”- Mark Van Hoen
We can’t help but wonder what formative musical experience drew Van Hoen to attach so strongly to the modulated voice? And, mere speculation here, as we’ll never know for sure, perhaps it indicates a longing for the mother? All of this would, of course, be subconscious, as Van Hoen was unaware of his adopted status, at the time this record was made.
The past manifests itself in the present in many ways. And what is Art, but a flowering of the dark unconscious into a material form, which allows us to know ourselves, and theoretically, hopefully, know each other.
This question of ghosts is an ongoing and important one, to my own life. As you know, i’m a lifelong devotee to the horror genre, but i cannot say definitively where this fascination comes from. I have revealed a lot of fascinating insights, over the years of my studies: thoughts about horror as society’s shadow, about the return of the repressed, and the need for a voice from people under-represented in the typical version of history.
The truth of the matter is, however, that i suspect my own obsession with ghosts and the afterlife stems from the fact that my dad died when i was little. The existence of ghosts or an afterlife would be the only way i would ever lay eyes on Joseph Franklin Simpson again in this lifetime. It’s interesting to notice and speculate how this childhood wishful thinking goes on to inform the rest of yr life, yr tastes and aesthetics. I think this longing, combined with a few early, formative memories of male bonding with my dad, watching Friday The 13th movies when i wasn’t supposed to, created a strong and fertile emotional bond to the horror genre, that has basically made me who i am.
And, as i mentioned in the last post on John Foxx, i am also personally touched by the haunting of former creativity. I became obsessed with sound, and the idea of making music, when i was 17 or 18. Being a proper Burroughsian, i carried a tape recorder with me everywhere, and started learning ways to mangle sound. Things came up in my life, that derailed that mission for close to a decade, mostly due to technical limitations. By the time I finally got some gear, i essentially went from having a handheld tape recorder to having an infinite studio, with every synthesizer and effect i ever could’ve dreamed of. On top of this, i’d been working as a sound engineer for years, by that point, and had heard a million records since those early tape recorder experiments, not to mention read a million album reviews.
I didn’t know what was good anymore. I wasn’t sure what i was trying to say. I was stuck, excited but frustrated, and had to dig my way out.
It’s all at our fingertips, the infinite potential to be creative. There’s a billion resources out there, but no one seems to be pulling them into one place, or arranging them in a sensible fashion. I spent over ten years, doing the grueling work of sifting through Google and tutorials and beating my head against the wall, trying to figure out who i am, and what i was trying to say. It all started to come clear, around the time i started Forestpunk. Basically, i am learning, trying to be great at what i do (mostly music and writing), and sharing my experiences along the way.
Mark Van Hoen reminds us to rip it up and start again. To make the art that you want to make, to bring yr own private obsessions to life.
Ghosts, psychological depth, and stately techno? Van Hoen manages to capture many of our obsessions, and writhes and grooves while doing.
Want to know what British spy thrillers have to do with new wave, folk horror, space rock, and dark ambient? Stay tuned, for more invisible threads and currents will be surfacing shortly.
Also take a moment to read a review i wrote of Mark Van Hoen’s most recent album, with his Locust project, After The Rain, also on Editions Mego. -

Former Seefeel member Mark Van Hoen has been releasing solo material under a variety of aliases since the early '90s, but his career apparently began a decade before that. The Revenant Diary is inspired by his rediscovery of recordings he made in 1982 on very rudimentary equipment, and its eleven tracks are meant to pay tribute to the crude, honest quality of that material.
Sure enough, Van Hoen's productions are caked in earthy grit, which gives the distinct feeling that they're in some way relics. In spite of this, there's an underlying sense that the artist's past anxieties have not yet been totally quelled; there's a resigned urgency throughout, as if his need to move forward is at odds with the crippling weight of the past. This is especially apparent on the vocal tracks—the clouded downtempo lurch of "Don't Look Back" meets a lucid intonation of the title phrase, and the result is a kind of foreboding beacon.
But of course, the project is about looking back. Van Hoen doesn't heed the track's advice, and he sinks deeply into his past with fairly high-drama results. On "Where Were You?" a slow, skittery rhythm undercuts a pleading arrangement, and the track is eventually sewn together with an icy synth. The washing machine churn of "Unknown Host" is blanketed by soaring vocal tones, while "Garabndl X" has elegiac, decaying strings, faintly accompanied by industrial rumbles. The crowning piece, though, is the finale, "Holy Me." The track is nine-and-a-half minutes of textured, strangulated vocal drones, sealing the record with a plaintive flourish.
As the title suggests, The Revenant Diary is an extremely personal work, an intense exhumation of Van Hoen's own ghosts. However, many of its sentiments resemble those of a younger generation of artists recording for labels like Tri Angle. Van Hoen may be submerged in his own past, but the melancholic apprehension of the record is thoroughly universal. -

BBC Review
Dukla Prague Away Kit
Sic Magazine
Self Titled MagazineAll Music
Norman Records

Roberto Crippa - Reverse (2014)


Okrutna sanjarenja strojeva koji ne sanjaju.

This impressive debut album of monstrous electroacoustic ooze lurches through the cold mud with a jackbooted miserabilism and a penchant for cruelty. Crippa structures much of his work around crawling rhythms that are gnarled as if through genetic mutation, and he injects the blank spaces with smouldering, mutilated noises imbued with the psychological horror of bloody scratches on a crime scene wall. With the exception of a curiously unwise synth melody on “Still”, Reverse maintains a thousand-yard stare as it trudges zombie-like towards oblivion; an approach exemplified by the relentless slog of distortion, grime and thud on the finale “Helix”. - Jim Haynes, The Wire Magazine,

We Can Elude Control really caught my attention last year with Nocturnal Emissions and the guttural Accumulator. The imprint of Paul Purgas, aka Emptyset, is now introducing a new name to electronics. Roberto Crippa is a London based electronic musician with a penchant for noise and musique concrete. His debut album, Reverse, paints a cityscape of greying facades, wondrous skylines and a somewhat frightening underbelly.
Crippa, originally from Milan, is a pioneers in London’s noise scene. His performances see live recordings, library sounds and outright experimentation blended into an insular and unsettling soundscape. The album seems to remove emotion, instead the focus is on the physicality of sound. Brutalised bass rhythmically punishes in “Order,” a flyblown landscape of cement and pavement painted in broad and haunting sounds. Chords press into skin, the sheer weight of Crippa’s bars forcing air from lungs. A constant tension menaces the surface, an unease and uncertainty permeating all. Silence is the other side of the Italian’s style, pauses and scratched stillness juxtaposing the claustrophobia. An ever present paranoia stalks the LP, tracks like “Matter” carving ever tightening circles around the listener. That unnerving element is never escaped, instead it is consistently amplified. “Helix” closes, the listener being swallowed under ultra-stretched string and mounting interference.
Crippa pulls you into his sepulchral world. The atmosphere is cold, almost debilitating. A sound of late night wakings, wakings brought on by a chilling dream or a shrill distant cry. At times Reverse is difficult to digest, but this is an LP of severe scenarios and almost inhuman environments. Hag-ridden echoes from machines that don’t dream. -

We open with “Reflection” as we begin to peer through the looking glass down into the still but murky waters of what lies beyond. It’s a dark and brooding piece from the outset and it’s determined to get us into an unsettled mood ready for the journey ahead with its wet synth slaps, mysterious and shifting scuttles and scrapes and evocative drone spans. It’s a surprisingly organic piece for something that’s so sparse and menacing, full of little skittering lifeforms. It eventually crawls its way to followup “Order, which is entirely more active and driven right from the get go. A slow and carefully placed drumline sets the slow marching pace of its namesake and becomes something of the axis of the track, the distortion swirling around it and fraying its edges with chaos whilst binding together the light wafts of ethereal backing drone. Piercing shafts of synth light bring some illumination to affairs but its a stark and harsh one, revealing the hard contrast between order and chaos.
As we go on little progress is made with the soundscape; “Still” arrives on a similar platter as the opener did and evolves loosely into a wash of jittering electronic noise and glitches, menacing bells tolling and sending these restless microorganisms of sound skittering in its wake, like tiny fish in a pond. Despite my imagery its a surprisingly lifeless piece to my ears; it’s fairly content to just stay practically motionless and only in the closing moments do we hear something vaguely reminiscent of a delicate synth riff. Metaphysical references continue onwards with “Spectrum” and we’re starting to get into a sound I can get behind. Thick, buried and stilted synth lines throb in the heart of the mix as they try to burst free, encased in that stuttering glitch fuzz, those low and broad wavelengths on the EM spectrum drowned out by the background noise of the small wavelength stuff. Finally it doesn’t feel aimless and it’s got a sense of scale, of progression, clearly and slowly expanding in scope and eeriness with its twisted, inhuman sounds.
“Matter” is probably the finest work of the album, a clear and conscientious mass of lush, ordered drones weaving the fabric of reality, populated by gorgeously gritty pulses of growling guitar and spastic glitch. Much like our expanding universe the piece balloons in volume and scope and ferocity in a dark but most intimate crescendo across its duration. It’s the realisation of the scale of our universe as a child, the overwhelming anxiety of the seemingly infinite black that extends in every direction and our microscopic part in the cosmic dance. It’s a stunner for sure, and “Vector” is not bad itself, skirting “Matter”‘s coattails with a pulsating bassline and repetitive riffs, synonymous with the infinitely scalable and beautifully precise algorithms of its namesake. It’s a little unambitious for sure though, and ends rather abruptly to allow it to shift gears into the cavernous rumbles of “Curved”, whose echoic drone opener slipstreams into a complex plethora of piercing skiffs and juddering bass of epic proportion but in a kind of restrained and reserved sort of way.
Finally “Helix” arrives to close the album for us in perhaps the most alarming way possible. Whilst it’s nothing we havent already heard before, there’s something about the bent and smeared guitars in this final track that make it so much more dangerous and imposing than anything else, the music refreshing and resetting itself on every turn of the circle as it quickly cycles towards its point of origin, curling back upon itself in a dramatic and self-destructive finalé of panicked and oppressive noise. And just like that, just as we find ourselves at the terrifying yet mesmerising peak, it cuts out and we lapse back into silence.
I’m hesitant to conclude because the reality of this album is that I have no idea what it’s trying to convey as a whole. Perhaps nothing; there does seem to be something of a lose metaphysical theme and much of the sonic repertoire is repeated throughout, it’s relatively cohesive in that sense, I just dont get what I’m supposed to get out of it. That being said I’m not Noise’s biggest campaigner and I often dont understand the appeal of those records that dont have the scale and rawness and catharsis of my genre favourites, but there’s some pretty stunning tracks here nonetheless. It took me a while to get into but there’s something in the refined style of “Matter” and the brash “Helix” that I love wholeheartedly, I just wish there were a little more dynamism and progression in some of the other works. -

After a series of superb works, the first 2014 release by English electronic label We Can Elude Control, has been Roberto Crippa’s “Reverse”. The album underlines the talent of this Italian musician and reaffirms the commitment to quality this label, which is managed by Emptyset’s Paul Purgas, has shown for the last few years. Based in London, the Italian has gained both acclamation and support from many in experimental music scene. With “Reverse”, the artist has taken a firm first step into sound creation.
Comparable to other big names in contemporary electronic music scene such as Raime or Kangding Ray, with only one studio album Roberto Crippa is already recognisable as one of the key acts in the world of musical experimentation. In fact, “Reverse”, which is highly influenced by noise, musique concrète and electroacoustic composition, represents one of the most remarkable works in 2014 so far. The album consists of eight tracks that provide potential listeners with a myriad of shadowy but still solid-as-a-rock atmospheres. Due to Crippa’s awesome ability to merge organic natural sounds, such as wood or metal, with profound abrasive layers, this full length manages to transform listeners’ context into a mixture of familiar dystopia and deep hypnagogia. All the eight tracks combine formless structures and state of art distortion, which provides the LP with a highly evocative, immersive and penetrating effect. The constant slow-pace brutalised bass in “Order”, for instance, gets wrapped around a beautiful background atmosphere that increases its presence as minutes go by. “Curved” dives into post-industrial or even dark-ambient, reminding of Emptyset’s 2011 “Demiurge”. Finally, ”Helix” closes the album taking listeners to the very essence of Crippa’s personal offering, i.e., full frequency and raw power.
At first glance, “Reverse” could be seen as a non-emotional and homogenous work, but nothing is further from the truth. Full of contrasts and visceral, every track has its own imprint and should bury potential listener under a compound of drone layers, massive distorted bass sounds and obscure landscapes. Undoubtedly, what he have here is an outstanding debut album. -   

More and more sound artists are using technology to construct otherworldly environments. This is particularly prevalent in the damned and doomed soundscapes of extreme musics like drone and doom metal, who use distortion and power chords to carve out megaliths of sound, for modern pagans to lose themselves in animal abandon.
With electronic music’s inherent ability to create alien atmospheres, with no real-world corollaries, you’d think more electronic producers would take the opportunity to create fresh and strange worlds. Thankfully, there is a rising tide of dark experimentalists who are doing precisely that.
It’s funny, Crippa’s iron oxide bassweight had me thinking of Emptyset before i realized that this came out on that duo’s We Can Elude Control imprint. Reverse features similar amorphous, ominous sound shapes to Emptyset‘s Recur, which used a similar sonic architecture to explore, and recreate, the acoustic properties of a decaying Gothic villa.
Reverse employs similar tactics, and melds them with the spectral sonic psychogeography of The Stranger’s Watching Dead Empires In Decay, and Actress’ Ghettoville, along with the primordial drum machine worship of Stephen O’ Malley‘s recent collaboration with Mika Vainio, as Aanipaa. If Italian psych-metallers Ufomammut were to construct their Snail god worship with disembodied frequencies, instead of downtuned guitars, it would sound something like Reverse.
Reverse is mighty. The bass is crushing, 1000 metric tons per square inch, and will make you feel like you’re under the weight of the ocean. Are we becoming aware of the weight of gravity well? Will this pressure simply becoming too overwhelming, until we’re forced to flee the atmosphere?
Reverse is ominous and full of dread, without ever succumbing to trite tropes, meant to imply savagery. No shrieking, no blastbeats, just an oozing, sucking menace, like on “Order” and “Spectrum”, both stand out tracks, that fit in nicely next to that Emptyset record. At its best, Crippa’s music sounds like a gargantuan, jet-black slug slurping its way out of a radioactive tar pit. It’s positively filthy, in the best possible way. A baptism in the sludge of the world…
Reverse sounds like exploring a mysterious, abandoned city, crawling into its dark heart to find the titan machines that keeps its husk alive. Ghost drones and harmonics weave in and out, sounding like ventilation shafts, over the deep resonance of subterranean chambers. Reverse also sounds like ritualistic hunting music for Morlocks, suggesting you may not be alone, in this space.
Reverse‘s reluctance towards melodies, or other aspects that make this recognizable as “music” means you can play this repetitively, losing yrself in its labyrinthine corridors, again and again, and finding something new each time.
Crippa’s sound design is impeccable, with bass frequencies being sculpted into glistening, frightening new configurations we’ve never seen or heard before. This sound design is captured and refined with flawless mixing, with colossal reverbs, that inherently suggests Giger-esque cavernous chambers.
More and more, i am seeing signs that, as a species, we are becoming interested in exploration. Of course, leaving the familiar is always terrifying proposition, but staying with things, exactly as they are, may be more terrifying still. We must face the blackness of space, the hollowness of void, to inherit our destiny, and discover new horizons.
Reverse is a hell of a dark ambient dancefloor lament configuration. It will open new worlds, in your neural pathways, leading to alien visions of crumbling worlds. Try yr best not to be afraid. But when you hear that might shlurping, oozing crawl, run for your life!
For writers who are working on stories featuring alien worlds or civilizations, seeking to conjure lost and decayed technologies and primordial Gods, this would be an excellent soundtrack for your imaginations. Similarly, this would make a good score for anyone reading Stanislaw Lem, H.P. Lovecraft, or other approximations of mankind’s inability to approach the alien sublime.
Many thanks to Jonathan Lee of Disco Insolence, for the excellent recommendation.
Got something you’d like to see reviewed on Forestpunk? We take requests. You can shoot us mail at, or drop by and leave a comment on the FB page! It might take a while, but we strive to get to everything that comes our way. -

Secret Thirteen Mix 127 - Roberto Crippa

Second Moon Of Winter – One For Sorrow, Two For Joy (2015)

SecondMoonOfWinter_OneForSorrowTwoForJoy album cover

Ambijentalna opera bez opere, elektronika bez elektroničkih instrumenata. Predivno.
"Avant-garde + ambient + dark free jazz + contemporary classical music."

SECOND MOON OF WINTER is a new experimental ensemble from Ireland melting discordant ambiences with luminous soprano. Their first installment, a six track album called “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy”, will be released on Denovali Records in January 2015.
“One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” was written and recorded live in a series of four hour sessions in a basement by the sea in County Cork in the south of Ireland; no computers, no playback of samples, no overdubs, no further processing after the event.
It is three people performing live in an intensely personal collaboration. Knowing each other well and yet having never experimented together before, it felt almost like a necessity to combine their far-flung musical minds. Waves of sound created predominantly on guitar and clarinet, provide a backdrop for singing rarely experienced outside an opera house, and yet with a subtle connection to Irish folk song also.
Inspired by the symbolism of photos, prints and memories, the studio floor was strewn with semi-precious melodies, never knowing which was to be picked up next, to be held and then polished like sea glass in a tidal soundscape.
Tethering themselves to each other’s innate sense of interpretation and improvisation, an idea was never good nor bad, it was instead either in or out, necessary or unnecessary. In making “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” SECOND MOON OF WINTER understood that true musical inspiration and output is free from grasping and clinging.
Their fragmented melodies meet, form and fluctuate in a wave of musical metamorphosis. They strive to sit apart and yet within their soundscapes - melting and moving forward with the momentum of a creeping frost under the waning of the second moon.
SECOND MOON OF WINTER is to be silent, to listen and finally to create a picture out of that listening. It is a meshing together of sounds that touch and clash in their different atmospheres yet bathe together in a tense harmonic understanding.
“One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” is a truly fascinating and deeply persuasive listen for enthusiasts of avant-garde, ambient, dark free jazz and contemporary classical music.

Classical music, metal, electronic, and improv have always been like neighboring galaxies in orbit – revolving around another, occasionally intersecting in bizarre and glistening constellations, yet never fully superimposing, succumbing to each others’ physics.
What comes of this is a certain delineation; an in-built limitation. You get orchestra musicians that don’t know how to improvise, and you have basement dwelling indie rockers that don’t explore that many shades and hues of clarinets and oboes and duduks. You get pirouetting, firebrand free jazz saxophonists treading the floorboards to a ghost audience, while electronics are still pigeonholed as goodtime hedonism, ignoring the latent sci-fi volk vistas that are capable of producing.
The trouble is you get musicians dishing more of the same, as genres concretize and congeal. In the vernacular, there’s really only so many stories you are capable of telling them.
One example of this, which is entirely pertinent to this debut offering from Cork, Ireland’s Second Moon Of Winter, is opera. Opera seems inherently weight with attributions of opulence, of the gentry in their finery gathering for a Saturday evening gala. The setting lends itself to epic-ness and romance; after all, who wants to hear an aria about afternoon, or see a quiet, slice of life pantomime, full of unnerving, discordant strings. It exists, but it will always be, shall we say, marginalized.
Second Moon Of Winter are a group of musicians who have known each other for a while, but this was their first attempt at sonic experimentation together. The music is built around the unique and interesting backbone of clarinet and guitar, which is then overlaid with the even more interesting addition of operatic soprano and slight speckles of vintage analog electronics.
One For Sorrow, Two For Joy was captured in a basement near the sea in Cork, Ireland, over a span of intensive rehearsal sessions. Improv was embraced to exand creativity and bring new ideas. This can be heard most obviously in the libretto, vague, poetic, imagery, in a high, crystal-clear soprano, which transforms into a sonic warble or a banshee wail, with little provocation. The result is as if Haruki Murakami were to supply the text for a Philip Glass ballet, which was then played from an answering machine.
This is just an example of the surreality which can be unleashed from such from such a confluence of musical genomes. Jazz makes its presence known as well, in the clarinets – the specter of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, suspended in time and viewed from faraway, hangs around the proceedings as well, adding another layer of jazz age imagery over the already dense brambles of the opera house and the band shell. Longing, madness, remorse, anxiety – One For Sorrow, Two For Joy sings in a vocabulary of implications and subtle shades, like light through the blinds.
All of this is imbued with a sense of might, as well as muscular longing, from the clouds of electric guitar, which are aligned with the avant-metal mutations of the last decade, but always restrain, never roar and overwhelm and strain the delicate cobweb of music. Clarinets and electric guitars rubbing coarse textures is one of this album’s main joys.
You really get a sense of being in the damp basement with the musicians. They really captured something, let you in on an experience. The band resisted the impulse to endlessly tweak and process the raw audio, instead enhancing the natural resonance and acoustics. It works well, and the production holds up brilliantly to the approach, mellowing out a lot of the shrieking, squeaking high end free improv can contain, while also siphoning the mud that can come along with metal, preventing this from becoming a cavernous drone bath.
Denovali keep up a prolific and prodigious output of a number of adventurous genres. They seem on a mission to submit classicism, in various aspects, back into the world, mostly in the form of jazz and classical mutations.
In Second Moon Of Winter’s own words:
SECOND MOON OF WINTER is to be silent, to listen and finally to create a picture out of that listening. It is a meshing together of sounds that touch and clash in their different atmospheres yet bathe together in a tense harmonic understanding.
- from the press release
That’s one of the things that brings us to this place, bringing disparate threads together, for greater understanding, and ultimately, towards the goal of making the best possible art.
What may follow may be a meandering pathway through eras, genres, moods and mediums. Magazine clippings and answering machine confessionals. There’s no telling.
If there’s something you’d like to see or hear, let us know in the comments, or drop us a line on Facebook.
I am making more time for classic things in my life. I am less interested in keeping up with the clamor, or appearing a certain way, and am seeking the depths. I have found that worrying about what to write prevents me from writing in this space, prevents the Forestpunk tapestry from weaving itself. So, i’m vowing to stop that. -

Second Moon Of Winter – One for Sorrow Two for Joy
Second Moon Of Winter Facebook
Denovali Records Facebook

utorak, 27. siječnja 2015.

Lost Trail - .​.​. à séjourner dans cette chambre toujours (2014)

Čak su i sablasti bile shizofrene.

Lost Trail is the ambient/dronegaze/experimental noise project of husband-and-wife duo Zachary Corsa and Denny Wilkerson Corsa. Based in the mysterious small city of Burlington, North Carolina, The Corsas utilize lo-fi and obsolete recording technology in their music, aiming to capture a sense of atmosphere and landscape in both man-made and wild environments. Working primarily with second-hand analog equipment, their work is a vivid patchwork collage of damaged cassette loops, field recordings, primitive percussion, layers of ethereal guitar drones, wailing feedback and static, and skeletal traces of antique piano and organ. The themes of Lost Trail's work often include a sense of the otherworldly or supernatural, as well as strong ties to nature, human calamity, and a fascination with the concept of passionate belief systems. The songs themselves are raw, broken, minimalist, imperfect, emotionally resounding and chaotically unpredictable, all composed in the spirit of reckless, heedless improvisation.
Lost Trail is often a multimedia endeavor, and both members contribute poetry, photography, visual art and experimental film to their material, all while maintaining a fiercely self-sufficient DIY aesthetic. The Corsas have toured the bulk of the United States, released scores of cassette, vinyl and CD editions on numerous national and international labels, and have had their work acclaimed by publications such as Pitchfork, The Wire, Tiny Mix Tapes, Decoder, Headphone Commute, Ad Hoc, Microphones In The Trees, Impose, Fluid Radio, Flashlight Tag, Textura, Vital Weekly and many more.

"Burlington, NC ambient duo Lost Trail deconstruct source material captured at will from the town and surrounding landscape to form miniature vignettes, highlighting the beauty in nature's imperfect abstractions…The pattern becomes trance-like, akin to watching pylons reflected in frosted windows on a car ride through a particularly peculiar stretch of countryside." - Pitchfork
"If this sounds a tad hauntological, then it's with good reason. Of all the US acts attempting their own equivalent to the memoradelic experimentation of Ghost Box, et. al, Lost Trail are the most honest and convincing. Ranging from roaring fields of fuzz to spectral drone…impresses with its commitment to a singular, haunted vision." - The Wire

"What I think they really do is just progress the sounds that Mono, Godspeed, Yellow Swans, and Explosions in the Sky did: posted rock in the post-sense. Mayyyybe even that one dude who did them tape loops while the twin towers were burning down and just sat and watched. Only Lost Trail goes for the gold…" - Tiny Mix Tapes

"It’s beautiful music, almost serene, and it’s the ethereal aura that makes it beautiful…Lost Trail’s recordings are a passionate documentary as much as they are music, coughing out the past through cassette machines and portable digital recorders." - Fluid Radio

"Lost Trail has stayed relevant by refusing to stay too long in the same sonic space…Serene ambient passages that are nonetheless eerie in their sound lie against the light hiss of nostalgia. ..Lost Trail will haunt you with their beautiful desolation…The timing, frequency and nature of variations throughout the album is something to be marveled at…Every section is masterfully crafted and to think that it was all improvised in the space of one night deserves even more praise…an experience that should be fully appreciated, uninterrupted, listened to and savored then replayed and dissected to come to reach even further appreciation…Lost Trail conceal angels in the gutter, wounded with broken wings and lost opportunities waiting to be found. The gorgeous ambience bleeds a thin trace of musical melancholia, although it is never overt; she breathes quietly, a shushed town in a state of constant flux…A ghost box isn’t required to conjure voices from beyond; the music is more than capable…Ambient drone such as this is a spiritual experience." - A Closer Listen

"Likely the most beautiful drone album of 2013; it is wonderfully haunted, hopeful, and organic…a mysterious venture into springtime rebirth in rural America. - Heathen Harvest

"Recorded in a shed in rural Efland, North Carolina in fall of 2012, Blacked Out Passages threads guitars, piano, field recordings, noise, synths, organs, and percussion into gritty, sometimes hallucinatory dreamscapes within which disembodied voices and alien sounds surface alongside earthbound electric guitar shadings and keyboards. Though the recording, effectively structured and concise, frames two seven-minute pieces with two longer ones, the album really plays like one extended piece, despite the indexing and brief pauses separating the tracks from one another." - Textura

"Eerie and dreamlike, one of those third person shooter POVs where you're watching the back of your head saunter past the wreckage that is the follies of your youth." - Impose

"Some of the compositions remind me a bit of the softer side of Godspeed You! Black Emperor – the tracks where a melody slowly soars over an apocalyptic message heard through an old radio. Additional industrial sounds, noise, breaking dishes, and even some World War II sirens, create a collage of avant-garde patches stitched together into a fuzzy blanket for a restless ghost. These monochrome sounds float in the air like confetti of an abstract painting, until they slowly settle down on the creaking wooden floor, and as if by magic, arrange themselves into one solid piece." - Headphone Commute

"Awesome and perfect for watching and listening to the death of summer and the arrival of the winter…What is different to other ambient drone stuff? These guys somehow intrigue and capture the imagination…Hypnotic and masterful. What heartens me the most is that this is yet another example of artists who are fearless. Not famous, hidden, yet incredibly good." - Sloucher

"Yet another brilliant piece of nighttime ambience…chillingly gorgeous…" - Flashlight Tag

"(Lost Trail) approach music thoughtfully and rather unconventionally, like a writer composing an imagist poem with sound." - SSG

"It can be a thin music, like a sheet hung in a dark, moonlit room. As the wind caresses the fabric, it undulates and dances. You can touch it and it will give, perhaps betraying a hint of what’s on the other side. What is on the other side is part up to you, part out of your hands. Either way it’s worth exploring." - Fabricoh

"Further investigation revealed an outfit whose audiovisual aesthetic, encompassing music, films, writing and photography, was complete, self-contained, and utterly absorbing. We’ve been toying with the term ‘Disembodied Americana’ as a means of describing husband and wife Zachary and Denny Corsa’s spectral tape explorations. In truth, seeking or inventing the ‘correct’ category for this music is considerably less rewarding than surrendering to its distressed drift, tuning in to the disconnected voices beckoning through the fog." - The Outer Church

"Lost Trail is a truly realized idea and an inspirational project…As with any good ambient music, it portrays an epically vibrant atmosphere which is tasty and fulfilling. Not one note or captured moment of this collage sounds tired, bored or uninspired. A truly delicious experience, and a highly recommended album!…I cannot wait to hear more from Lost Trail." - Eternity Tree


The Wire, August 2013 issue

Brannten Schnüre - Aprilnacht

Dezorijentacijski un-pop. Hauntološko-nadrealni zvukovni kolaži njemačkog slikara Christiana Schoppika.
"Dark ambient + folk + obscure Czechoslovakian film samples + pure angst."

Check the words to go with this release:
“But where danger is, also grows the saving power.“ Friedrich Hölderlin’s words are a Mantra to Christian Schoppiks aesthetics. His intimate musical sketches of obscure, forgotten and occult origin are always hinting at something light and joyful. „Aprilnacht“ consists of eleven mesmerizing miniatures that give you the creeps and warm your heart at once."

Brannten Schnüre and German Hauntology

18 Oct 2011 — Henning Lahmann
Although the tendency to fall for trite, romanticist pastiche is always only a step away in Germany, I've felt that hauntology as an artistic concept has never really gained a foothold in the local experimental underground (as opposed to fine art, a point convincingly made by Adam Harper in reference to Neo Rauch). Considering this, I was both very surprised and quite intrigued to come across the latest offering by Frankfurt-based cassette imprint SicSic Tapes, a C-40 split between Johannes Schebler aka Baldruin and Christian Schoppik, who records under the moniker Brannten Schnüre. In fact it was the latter's side of the tape that really grabbed my attention. Brannten Schnüre's six tracks (that can all be streamed over here) deliver a disturbing if not outright frightening séance made up of looped, slowly meandering instrumental sound collages that feature a good deal of crackling and tape hiss (most likely because the snippets were directly taken from an audio or video cassette). However, what struck me most was Schoppik's choice of source material. As it turns out (according to the description given by the label), he derived a lot of (most?) samples from "obscure Czechoslovakian films", a method that in my view deserves a closer look in regard to the condition of possibility of a "genuine" hauntology in the domestic music scene. Brannten Schnüre - Gole Gandom Let's consider how the use of early electronic music taken from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop etc. by Mordant Music and the Ghost Box label led Mark Fisher and Simon Reynolds to first come up with a description of hauntology as a musical concept (I'll leave it that way, others have described it way better), i.e. music that was mainly used to score 60s to 80s educational programmes and the like. And then let's also look at what induced David Keenan to give birth to hypnagogic pop in 2009, a "genre" that's in many ways related and by some regarded as the American counterpart to hauntology, namely the exploitation of the all-American canon of 80s pop culture, from early MTV videos to all kinds of TV series by h-pop's main proponents such as James Ferraro). Considering this, I find it a very interesting question to ask what would be the appropriate source for a likewise inspired compatriot to come up with a similar piece of art (I admit that I haven't asked myself this question before, which probably says more about my personal relationship to the music of this country that about the music scene itself). Now it seems to me that Schoppik might have found a very compelling, indeed intriguing answer. Trying to remember my earliest childhood, it indeed appears that we've been raised on things like Arabela or Tři oříšky pro Popelku (Three Nuts for Cinderella), or briefly, fairly cheesy fairytale movies and TV series that were produced in Prague's famous Barrandov Studios. More precisely, at least this was the main cultural influence druing our 80s childhoods (apart from Astrid Lindgren adaptations perhaps) that was not derived from or exposed to the prevalent Anglo-American culture (needless to say, this observation is non-judgmental). So I'd argue that if there's anything like the possibility of an original hauntology as a musical concept in Germany or other countries of Central Europe, it would be built on such source material that was used by Schoppik for Brannten Schnüre, or anything similar, and this is what makes his release truly noteworthy. The music's hauntological effect gets further reinforced with the accompanying video for "Gole Gandom", in which the artist uses exactly the esthetic these productions were famous for (unfortunately I couldn't confirm that the footage is actually taken from a Czechoslovak movie, but it definitely fits their general esthetic and it appears to match the timeframe as well). Don't know what this film was about, but at least the editing leaves quite a terrifying impression:The (highly recommended) split tape may be ordered directly via SicSic Tapes.
 Schoppik takes the concept further with his work "Zaharia Farâmas Protokoll in sechs Teilen" (protocol in six parts), in fact the only other piece of music I've found by him, and of which "Gole Gandom" actually constitutes the last (i.e. sixth) part. Zaharia Farâmas is the protagonist of the 1967 novella Pe strada Mântuleasa (The Old Man and the Bureaucrats) by the (rather controversial, but we need not elaborate this here) Romanian author Mircea Eliade. Farâmas, an elderly school teacher, gets caught by the Securitate (secret police) and subsequently interrogated. The communist officials (thus being representatives of a regime that at least formally pursues the path of Europe's last true utopian philosophical concept) then get mesmerized by the teacher as he starts telling fabulous, labyrinthine stories from the past. Eliade later stated that he (quite obviously) attempted to "engineer a confrontation between two mythologies: the mythology of folklore, of the people, which is still alive, still welling up in the old man, and the mythology of the modern world, of technocracy". This is of course not only postmodern, post-utopian. Moreover, if we accept that hauntology "doesn't merely show or recall an image of the past, [but] shows the present – or more specifically, (...) the past as it exists and is perceived from inside the present", and that "hauntological art is a present-day construction that illustrates the present’s problems as it approaches the future" (again Harper), then what Schoppik does here by using samples from our faintly remembered childhoods and by establishing a connection between the musical result and Eliade's story is a pronouncedly hauntological project, and one that is not a pale imitation of its British or - provided we accept to include hypnagogic pop - American counterparts but that is distinctly, originally Central European (if not exclusively German). -


Brannten Schnüre/Baldruin Split (sicsic012, C40)