Sunday, April 24, 2016

Touch Conference with Philip Jeck, Mark Van Hoen, Simon Scott, Daniel Menche and Bethan Parkes West Coast Tour: Apr 29 - May 10

From it's auspicious beginnings with a meeting with New Order in March 1982, and a following cassette compilation, "Feature Mist" and "Meridians" audio magazine series, John Wozencroft's Touch was inaugurated. Co-produced and curated with the label's other shepherds, Halfer Trio's Andrew McKenzie and Mike Harding, these first volumes with images, graphics and stories from Psychic TV, Neville Brody, Mayakovsky, Robert Wyatt and The Residents' Rozztox Manifesto were a who's who showcase for British post-punk, ambient, concrete and industrial music culture and writing. The label's first series of audio-textual compilations encompassed music from every disparate aspect of these interrelated scenes. New Order, Simple Minds, Tuxedomoon, AC Marias, Graham Lewis, John Foxx, Simon F. Turner, Current 93, Test Department, A Certain Ratio, Nocturnal Emissions and experimental filmmaker Derek Jarman all made contributions within the label's first year. Remaining ahead of the curve for more than three decades, the imprint introduced the world to much of the most groundbreaking electronic, minimalist and post-concrete music of the ensuing years. One of the last of the unbroken lines of progressive experimental music issuing from the British underground in the 1980s, interviews with Wozencroft spanning the following decades of 1992, Surface Magazine in 2000, and FACT in 2008 detail an explicit channel of thought on media, perception and experience, which continues into the new century. Celebrating their 30th Anniversary in 2012 with events around the globe, including New York's Issue Project Room and Seattle's Decibel Festival, Harding and Wozencroft spoke with The Quietus on their ongoing endeavor combining the output of an independent record label with documenting and challenging the flow from analogue to digital work through a context for critique of the wider cultural age. Their conceptual and aesthetic legacy also explored in a 2012 interview with Ghostly International label as part of their "The A to Z of Art & Design Influences".

Since the label's inception in the 1980s, Wozencroft has curated an intersection of sound, text and image coupled to the sublime incidental austerity of his photographic and design eye. Over the years his shared vision with Harding playing home to the sonic ecology of Cabaret Voltaire's Chris Watson, the challenging conceptual explorations of John Duncan, digital abstraction of space and time witnessed in Ryoji Ikeda's audio-visual environments, and the guitar expressionism of Christian Fennesz. The most recent decade has seen the roster expend to include Icelandic neo-classical composers, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir, the analog brutalism of Pan(a)Sonic's Mika Vainio, Oren Ambarchi's reimagining of bass potentiality and American minimalist composer Phill Niblock. Next month Wozencroft returns to the United States with the most recent iteration of his touring Touch Conference, featuring a gallery exhibit of his own photographic work "An Ambivalence Towards Trends" at Aeterna Gallery. The exhibit initiating a four city venture beginning with Los Angeles' Volume Projects and DubLab Productions, a night at San Francisco's new premier experimental media venue, Gray Area Art & Technology and showcase at Aquarius Records. Followed by Portland's Holocene and concluding under the vaulted ceilings of Wayward Music Series' home in Seattle's Chapel Performance Space. A cross-section representation of the label's aesthetic, conceptual and sonic concerns can be heard in the pure concrete of Philip Jeck's phonography manipulations, the video synthesis collage of Seefeel's Mark Van Hoen, the dichotomy of finesse and assault heard in the noise sculpting of Portland's Daniel Menche, the ambisonic field recording mixes of Bethan Parkes, and Simon Scott's explorations of guitar and electronics outside of his groundbreaking shoegaze pop with Slowdive.