Episode 24 – Damp II

The second of two mixes compiling excellent 2016 instrumental music, fashioned for wet weather and a cool state of mind. This one’s got (somewhat) more of a rock bent. Enjoy.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

So Percussion – Drumkit Quartet No. 51 (Chicago Realization)
Thor Harris – 12 Ate
Anna Meredith – Blackfriars
Christopher Tignor – The Will And The Waiting
F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm – Day One Three
Suzanne Kraft – Bank
Raime – Dialling In, Falling Out
Szun Waves – Orb Light
nonkeen – Glow
Daedelus – Hold Sway
BADBADNOTGOOD – Here & Now
Kikagaku Moyo – Melted Crystal
The Eye of Time – I could sleep for thousand years
Billington-Tramposh – Live January 13 2016
Mica Levi & Oliver Coates – Xhill Stepping
Mark Pritchard – Cycles Of 9
Plaid – Wen
Guy Blakeslee – Maja (Queen of The Storm) Movement 3
Oren Ambarchi – Hubris Part 1
Odd Nosdam – Endless 432 (Feat. Teebs)

Episode 23 – Damp I

The first of two mixes compiling excellent 2016 instrumental music, fashioned for wet weather and a cool state of mind.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Mica Levi & Oliver Coates – Mob of Waters
Olof Melander – Travelers
Body-San – Voices 1
Foodman – Waterfall
Barnaby Carter – Cold Weather Warm Soul
You’re Me – Applet W
Don’t DJ – The Grey Shrine
Autechre – spTh
Banabila & Machinefabriek – Stokjes
Suzanne Kraft – Scripted Space
Kane Ikin – Echoic
Jilk – Baby Hannah
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Stratus
Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek – Helio
Andrew Pekler – Theme From Tristes Tropiques/Avian Modulations/Life In The Canopy
Seiho – The Dish
Ian William Craig – Lost On Time, Part 1
Nicolas Jaar – Leaves
Ash Koosha – Ooh Uhh
Burial – Young Death
Pendant – Des Vieux Temples
weeVanStood – black.exe

Episode 20 – Cocoon

Lose yourself in an atmosphere of allied electronic artistry from collaborators in turn-of-the-millennium Japan.

Cocoon (“Maju” in Japanese) features work by artists who played in Audio Sports, Maju, Neina, Hosomi, Kangaroo Paw and Synapse, with particular focus on musicians Aki Onda and Sakana Hosomi. Their overlap outlines a scene that paralleled Nobukazu Takemura and the Childisc label, and resulted in some of the most innovative, glitchy ambient and post-rock music of the time. Listen up below, and let the sonic boundaries break down.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Lineup: Aki Onda (Audio Sports, Maju, Synapse), Sakana Hosomi (Maju, Neina, Hosomi), Kohsuke Nakamura (Kangaroo Paw, Neina, Dill; mastering for Tujiko Noriko and Suppa Micro Pamchopp), Masaki Narita (Maju, Neina, Hosomi) and to a lesser extent Hikaru Sekine (Maju, Neina) and Syunsuke Sakamoto (session musician for Maju and Yoko Kanno).

In 1991, Aki Onda began to collaborate with Eye Yamatsuka and Nobukazu Takemura in the rap/trip-hop/experimental lounge group Audio Sports. On their 1992 debut, Eye manned the mic, Nobukazu scratched records and Aki Onda produced. On following releases the project fell into Onda’s hands completely and became more collage-like in style, which would inform the sound of his next few solo records.

In 1988, Onda had begun to collect field recordings on cassettes from locales as far flung as Morocco. Over the next twenty years Onda would accumulate more and more tapes from around the world and make use of them in the fascinating Cassette Memories trilogy, as well as in live performance. During that time he worked with Tujiko Noriko and Maju on several tracks including Noriko’s “Tablet of Memory” with Lawrence English, and with Japanese avant-garde figures Ikue Mori and Haco as Synapse for John Zorn’s Tzadik label. He now works in NY as an improvisor, sound artist and curator.

In 1999, Maju leader Sakana Hosomi collaborated with Sekine, Narita and Sakamoto on the first of five self-titled releases for Extreme Records. Over time, the project ventured further into atmospheric glitch and digital ambience under Hosomi’s guidance. Maju 2, which features Onda, stands as a benchmark release in Japanese electronic music (and is severely underrated and overlooked). Between Maju albums, the group’s members worked together under the moniker Neina for the Mille Plateaux label. Neina sounds somehow similar to their work as Maju, but glitchier and a tad colder. Other solo projects sprang up, such as Nakamura’s psychedelic pop/gonzo electronica material as Kangaroo Paw, and Hosomi’s works of thick, glacial electronic ambience released eponymously.

Tracklist:

Audio Sports – So, That Was the Beginning
Maju – Eyelids Not Yet Open
Kangaroo Paw – Phlizz
Audio Sports – Banana (Joy Mix)
Aki Onda – Cattleya
Hosomi + Ryo Miyashita – nog
Neina – Quit Elegance
Maju – Within Time, Without Words
Kangaroo Paw – Cat’s Cradle
Audio Sports – Never Personal
Tujiko Noriko – Tablet for Memory
Aki Onda – Fish Don’t Know it’s Raining
Hosomi – sp
Maju – Yawning in an Afternoon’s Monotony
Synapse – Soap Bubble
Maju – Once Again, I Revert to That Perspective
Neina – Symmetry
Aki Onda – Chrysanthemum
Kangaroo Paw – Osusowake
Audio Sports – I Met You On the Street
Maju – Dust it Off and Make Sure Which Way is Up
Aki Onda – It’s Gone
Hosomi – bl-ib
Maju – Chabashira
Audio Sports – Return to 1 More
Aki Onda – Orange
Neina – iris-in
Maju – Facing Backwards
Aki Onda – Mellow
Maju – Meguro
Aki Onda – Eclipse
Aki Onda – I Tell a Story of Bodies That Change
Sakana Hosomi + Chihei Hatakeyama – Collapsing Huge Glaciers and the Sun

Episode 18 – Childisc Outbursts

For the next few episodes, Sound Contours rewinds to Japan’s kaleidoscopic 1990s and early 2000s.

In electronic music at the time, cutting edge meant creative algorithms and visual programming environments where new processes might result in beauty as soon they might produce noise. Nobukazu Takemura led the way: beyond granular synthesis, his output randomizers affected melody, his glitches (the sounds of ordered processes going awry) became pleasant listening, MIDI noise was incorporated into music, and the voices of robots — hidden like kodama in a personal computer — were friendly and cute, rather than isolating and threatening.

Meanwhile, in the realms of alternative and pop, creators like Keigo Oyamada aka Cornelius were navigating the landscape with a combination of influences: psych rock, jangle pop, Latin and Brazilian rhythms, touches of Serge Gainsbourg, and tropes out of cheesy ’60s exotica. References to past forms of cool were being reinterpreted by the late-capitalist hipsters of hyper-boutique Tokyo, specifically in Shibuya, hence the Shibuya-kei genre.

In nearby neighborhoods both literal and figurative, and on labels stylistically adjacent to one another, experimental rock from psych to noise to post would all abound via rock outfits like The Boredoms (and their many many side projects). Along with the work of noise godfather Merzbow (and those like him) and improvisers like vinyl destroyer Otomo Yoshihide, these were the outer bounds of the era.

Up first is the ultimate Childisc retrospective. A small label run by Takemura in Kyoto from 1994 to 2007, Childisc was subtly groundbreaking. Though he deserves his own episode, Takemura put out most of his best work on Childisc and honed a singular aesthetic there, curating the work of lesser known yet likeminded artists from around Japan and pairing it with his own. This aesthetic has been described as Cute Formalism by musician and writer Momus, who has also drawn extensive links to “twee” in the U.S. and other counterparts in Germany.

Before styles and movements like vaporwave would enter the experimental lexicon — before Max/MSP and Max for Live were mainstream instruments in the realms of techno, minimal, EDM and IDM — before artists like D/P/I and Oneohtrix Point Never would cut-up, process and drastically reshape sound, twisting our expectations of what we hear and how we visualize space and music — and before the new age of New Age — Takemura and his cohorts were laying the foundation. It was the start of 21st century music.

Childisc was about mystery and wonder — a pairing of experimentalism and whimsy, where cute or kawaii voices and melodies were peppered with challenging bursts of blips and bloops. Electronic noises were slyly recontextualized as atmospheric music or percussion instruments; trip-hop and breezy, Brazil-inflected beats were joined by cheap Casio keyboards played with childlike playfulness; and ambient landscapes comparable to Markus Popp aka Oval would skitter along without necessarily arriving at a horizon…

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Lullatone – If I Had a Harp I Would Play it Every Day
Asao Kikuchi – What Must They Be Saying?
Yabemilk – Caprice Salad
Slowly Minute – Happy Birth & Sweet Blue
Nobukazu Takemura – Sign
Hyu – Hyper Function
Kiyoshi Izumi – Tengwar
Suppa Micro Pamchopp – A Secret Sense of Panic
Nobukazu Takemura – Cons
Aki Tsuyuko – A Happy Day
Child’s View – grill
Arrow Tour – Fever and Heater
Hirono Nishiyama – ひまわり
Arche Type – Ciao Ciao Bambina
Asao Kikuchi – Fireworks
Nobukazu Takemura – The Cradle of the Light
Slowly Minute – The Song of The Sun In Autumn’s Holiday
Kiyoshi Izumi – Zephyr
Koota Tanimura – Meet Me In The Next Living
Gutevolk – Mizuno Soko (Live Version)
Nobukazu Takemura – Conical Flask
Nobukazu Takemura – Chrysalis Part 2
Eiji Mitomi – Centaurea
Hyu – Egg Plane
Nobukazu Takemura – Mahou No Hiroba
Nobukazu Takemura – Lost Treasure (4th Version)
Kiyoshi Izumi – Graflicker
Slowly Minute – Whisper Magic (2003 Slowly Minute Mix)
Nobukazu Takemura – Anemometer
Eiji Mitomi – Rainbow
Sako – Sheep Negotiation

Episode 15 – High Summer

Ambient heat and luminescent drones from contemporary artists and composers for bathing in the light ecstatic or brooding in the blinding sun. On this episode, tons of 2016 tracks are featured alongside seldom heard classics, all by thinkers who truly know how to focus their (and our) senses.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Shigeto – Deep Breathing
Irezumi – Contemplations
Benoît Pioulard – Of Everything That Rhymes
Maju – Yawning In An Afternoon’s Monotony
Naemi – Propel (Original Mix)
Lucy – A Selfless Act
Guitoo – Snow Noiz
Christina Vantzou – Valley Drone
Sean McCann – Guardian
Ian William Craig – Expanding Hope Into Caverns
Anenon – Panes
Huerco S. – The Sacred Dance
Zomes – Life On The Wheel
Julianna Barwick – Nebula
Tim Hecker – Up Red Bull Creek
Trees – sonm ambient 2
Ben Lukas Boysen – Sleepers Beat Theme
Félicia Atkinson & Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – ME
Harbour – best self
Don’t DJ – Southeast Subterrane
Matthewdavid’s Mindflight – Venusian Sunset
Mark Pritchard – ?
Benoit Pioulard – II
Kane Ikin – Autophasic
Alessandro Cortini – Di Passaggio
Leafar Legov – MX Home
M. Geddes Gengras – Threshold
Grouper – Made of Air

Episode 13 – Building Brains

The Dutch wave breaks.

Holland’s contributions to post-punk were restlessly creative and aesthetically experimental: industrial noise, synthesizers, modern classical, dub and krautrock grooves all made an impact. You might hear an acoustic guitar or a chamber orchestra. You might hear a dreary jam session, driven by a repetitive bassline and ornamented with bleeps and bloops. Or, pleasant ambient tones. A grinding synth instrumental. Sheet metal being cut. An entire factory coming to an abrupt halt. Some obtuse improvised non-music recorded direct to cassette at a squat somewhere in Amsterdam. A piano.

Last in the series, Building Brains is a mix for the open mind.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

De Fabriek – Take Four
Ensemble Pittoresque – Several Sunsets
Flue – Legacy
Mekanik Kommando – Scars – Run Tintintin Run
Bazooka – Rood / Wit
Nasmak – 4 Our Clicks
Edward Ka-Spel – Hotel Rouge
Prof. Einstein – Le Jardin Noir
Van Kaye & Ignit – Chapel
Nexda – ThreeSeventyFive
The Visitor – Tranceparent Whirled
Ensemble Pittoresque – Building Brains
De Div – Pasodoble
Minny Pops – Mono
The Young Lions – Marie and Jane
Störung – Dimensie 4
Mecano – The Mutant Jasz
Kiem – Request to Obtain
Coitus Int. – The Threat
Genetic Factor – Action Spot
Ensemble Pittoresque – Auratorium
Van Kaye & Ignit – Schmerz
Ende Shneafliet – Crusoe’s Roots
Smalts – Werktitel #7
Z’ev – Untitled
The Young Lions – Spade Reverie
S.R. Emmer – Ein Schnellboot am Ganges
Sammie America’s Mam – The Stockhausen Sound
Mekanik Kommando – First Snow
Flue – Refuge
Vice – L’Autostrada
Edward Ka-Spel – Lisa’s Christening
Muziekkamer – Syncopes

Episode 10 – Magic

It’s magic.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

D/P/I – Dead Hearts
Durlin Lurt – Magic
Knxwledge – BuildMyWrld(ArowndJew)
J Dilla – So Far To Go (Instrumental)
Bullion – You Still Believe In Dee
Charles Trees – Memories
Gobby – Immortality
Sharpshooters – Don’t Turn Away
FloFilz – Paramahansa
mieksneak. – Script
Lone – 2 Is 8
TOKiMONSTA – Fool
Sweet Valley – Where Will I Go
Mndsgn – On (Paralysis)
Samiyam – Ronald
Blank Blue – Eyes Closed
Jib Kidder – Recognition
Nobody – Girls Alone (Muzak mix, with Ikey Owens)
Teebs – While You Doooo
Axton Frick – That Moment When Everything Feels Right
Baths – Lovesick Synthetic
Bibio – You
Koushik – Coolin’ (Instrumental)
Grass Mirror – Suunrizer
Knxwledge – Remember Who You Are
oriJanus – Sol Love
Odd Nosdam – Sisters
Animal Collective – What Would I Want? Sky

Episode 7 – Diction

Our second modern classical episode focuses on the dynamic between words, other mouth-made sounds and music. Talking, spoken word, speech as composition, speech in composition, lyrics sung as if meant to be spoken, poetry: It’s all here. Let the language (and lack thereof) wash over you in a wave of modernist beauty.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Bang on a Can All-Stars, Florent Ghys, John Cage – An Open Cage
Philip Glass – Knee 5
Gavin Bryars – A Man in a Room, Gambling: #3
Christopher Tignor, John Ashberry – A Boy
David Lang, Anonymous 4 – Love Fail: Forbidden Subjects
David Byrne – Social Studies
John Cage, Kenneth Patchen – The City Wears a Slouch Hat: Pt. 8
Roberto Cacciapaglia – Sei Note in Logica: Part II
John Cale – Legs Larry at Television Centre
Max Richter – The Blue Notebooks
Laurie Anderson – World Without End
Robert Ashley – Perfect Lives: The Park (Privacy Rules)
Dean Blunt – 8
Bang on a Can All-Stars, Anna Clyne – A Wonderful Day
Mutamassik – Not Having To Choose Between Killing And Being Killed (P.S.A.)
Scott Johnson – John Somebody: Involuntary Song #3
Julia Wolfe – Flowers
Steve Reich – Different Trains: 3. After the War
Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe – Shelter: I. Before I Enter
Frederic Rzewski, Group 180 – Attica
Meredith Monk – Last Song
Moondog – Two Quotations in Dialogue