Sunday, March 6, 2016

CoH's new album "Music Vol." & West Coast Tour: Mar 11 - 19 | Raster-Noton's 20th Anniversary installation "White Circle" at Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe: Mar 11

It's been a inspired arc since the Raster-Noton label's inception 20 years ago, over the course of which they've defied the accelerated marginalized and fadishness of electronic music's short 'half life', all the while evolving in their transcendence of simple codification. On this side of the Atlantic they've made sporadic appearances live in cities across the continent over the two decades. From San Francisco and Los Angeles, to Mutek Montreal and beyond, each time the occasion marked by an evolutionary leap present in each artists performance, as well as the larger audio/visual expression of the label's continuance. The second decade of the 21st Century has yielded some of the finest work to be heard from it's roster. The collaborative Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto albums are a high point, as is Carsten Nicolai's ongoing serial solo work, the Xerrox series. It's two most recent installations characterized by the enveloping vocabulary of distortion on "Xerrox Vol.2" and melodic beauty of this year's rapturous "Xerrox Vol.3". A project which when completed, will likely stand as the opus of Nicolai's recorded career. This year was also distinguished by the dou's release of the collaborative soundtrack to Alejandro Iñárritu's award winning film, "The Revenant". The score's complex intermingling of Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto's larger structures detailed in NPR's "Alva Noto on Co-Scoring 'The Revenant'" are interwoven into a larger sonic tapestry constituting the work of Bryce Dessner and a cast of Raster-Noton label contemporaries including Vladislav Delay and Ryoji Ikeda.

Frank Bretschneider's "EXP" was another high water mark for the label, this boundary pushing multi-media set of abstract audiovisual sculptural objects has not seen another peer in his discography. The label's core trio is rounded out by Olaf Bender and his Byetone project, from which 2008's "Death of a Typographer" was an unexpected meeting of energized motoric Krautrock and 80's synth-pop inspired explorations. Outside of the core ensemble that initiated the imprint, Raster-Noton has enfolded a global body of work. Ranging from Japan's urban experimental dancefloor duo Kouhei Matsunaga and Toshio Munehiro, as NHK to the DeStijl inspired dynamic austerity of Emptyset to the pure datamatic audio-visual sensory environments of Ryoji Ikeda and Vladislav Delay's improvisation and jazz-informed rhythmic wanderings. The parameters of the label's scope have expanded with the inclusion of the humor and retro-futurism of Uwe Schmidt's live sets as Atom TM, most recently seen on the media package, "HD+" and the melodic dream-ambulations of the abstract pop of Dasha Rush and this year's excellent, "Sleepstep". Other recent additions to the label's cast include the pointilist digital rhythms and disintegrated melodic textures of David Letellier's Kangding Ray project and the complex theoretical investigations of Grischa Lichtenberger's "LA DEMEURE; il y a péril en la demeure", the first of his proposed five-part explorations on the subject of isolation and privacy.

As one of the label's trio of artistic directors, Olaf Bender spoke with The Quietus "On the label's 20th Anniversary and the Concept Behind the new White Circle Project", their forthcoming showcase at this year's Sonar Festival in Barcelona and the new large-scale touring installation work, "White Circle". Designed for the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie's Klangdom, via Zirkonium control software, an explicit spatial mix is created through precision assigning of compositional aspects over the 47 loudspeakers distributed through the space. The installation will feature new, self-contained compositions by Alva Noto, Byetone, Frank Bretschneider, and Kangding Ray exploring individual interpretations of ambient music unveiled with a launch party featuring performances by Frank Bretschneider, Kangding Ray and Kyoka on the mobile 4DSOUND immersion system. Russian-born sound artist and engineer Ivan Pavlov shares a long established association with the label through his earliest releases under the CoH moniker, beginning as far back as 1998's "Enter Tinnitus", a volume in the millennial cusp series 20 to 2000, and a decade later, with his extended tonal/textural experimentation heard on the double disc set, "Strings". Still a Raster-Noton associate, he has found a new home for his ongoing charged explorations of electronic frisson on Peter Rehberg's Editions Mego, who this month release his wryly-titled, "Music Vol.". The album's final track, "Return to Mechanics" suggested a "slouchy robotic groove, full of eruptions, synthetic pneumatic and rubberised squelches" that were too energetic to be contained on the Editions Mego album. San Francisco's Ge-Stell label become the home for the spillover of these rhythmic gestures, initiating a West Coast tour this month including a Los Angeles performance alongside the haunted nostalgia of Richard Chartier's Pinkcourtesyphone and a lineup of Ge-Stell label founder Cameron Shafii with Brandon Nickell at Seattle's Kremwerk.