YokoO’s excellent new release for the Crosstown Rebels offshoot sees the artist fire on all cylinders. There is an innately deep quality to each of these productions that doesn’t undersell either a sense of funk or emotional intensity beginning with the undulating stabs and subtle, teasing synth lines driving Higher State into distraction. The tempting Acid infused collaboration with Bobi Stevkovski then takes shape in the spiritually charged form of Spiritus Sexualem, watch out for the devilish voices, while the liquid grooves of Finis deliver an exercise in inescapabilty vigorous movement. Jivanmuktih completes the release of energy this time working fiery drums together with heavy-duty bass plus an assortment of heady treatments that are little short of magical, while hinting at ecstasy.
The eerie sense of the world outside greets you in an unexpected manner as Austin Leeds atmospheric production pushes and pulls at the nervous system. Underpinned by haunting pads, taught drums and bass soon make their presence equally felt alongside the hot twang of electronics and guitar, with the arrangement gathering pace by expanding its vision and your reaction to it. Paul Nolan’s remix reimagines the theme stretching it out across ten consuming minutes of grainy resolution, adding a defining edge to it all while exceeding expectation.
Is it possible to overanalyse sound? Does that detach yourself from a more pure response to what you are hearing? Casting aside the thought for a moment Simon McCorry’s series of productions for this release each redefine the art of listening as layers of subsequent suggestion build upon, while sometimes tearing apart, what has gone before creating an unknown, uncertain quality. Background Thermal Radiation does precisely that by initially greeting you with warm envelopes of sound which are then pushed aside replaced by a grainier, more caustic resolution. Nature in Nature is perhaps more self-explanatory and again sequences notions of what is beautiful together with a contrasting edge like everything feels unsettled, which after all it is. Prometheus then opens out its reach into cosmic reality unbending, while Entanglement completes with over eight minutes of intense manufacture. Looping shimmering keys, offsetting its own pulse and then correcting it a cascade of otherworldly, spectacular imaginations leave you at the point of no return as you ponder exactly how to think about it all.
Sometimes music talks so loud you don’t need the distraction of thinking about it. It just is. Composed and realised by bassist Shintaro Nakamura this collection of heady, heavenly sounds was originally released in 1984, although it feels odd to place it in any given timeframe breathing with as much energy in any decade. Its fiery combination of fast and slow, contemplative and fiercely independent sees the swirl of uneasy tension replicate the highs and lows of life in a series of smouldering, smoky notes. Recorded in New York you also get the pulse of that city tapping out its own rhythm via its player’s breathing in the surrounding landscape. Now reissued as a double 45rpm 180g LP (as well as digitally) plus with translated sleeve notes alongside an informative essay and interview with band members by Tony Higgins all basses are covered furthering your expectation of this seventh release in the J Jazz Master Class Series.
Celebrating Culprit’s 100th release Lorenzo Dada searches his soul to produce this beautifully evocative piece of music which so readily chimes with the times. The self-explanatory title combines the whir of six string guitar alongside a punchy strum of bass and atmospheric percussion. However, it’s also very much the voice that points towards another location in the mind, feeling almost buried in all the intensity. Clarian then contrasts the original with an interpretation of the elements in typically stylish fashion. Leaving the deeper chimes of the haunting Naturale and organic atmospheres of the excellent Jupiter, which weaves itself into all sorts of temptation, to end on a natural high.
Alexander Wirth grabs at musical freedom with both hands across the five numbers populating this latest EP. Opening with the excitable pulse of 90’s era stabs Everyday Sunday gathers rapid pace in an explosion of fiery drums and rolling basslines. A funky imagination then informs the deeper, more resolute Forever Deep by twisting voices around an evolving rush of pads plus self-defining kicks. The warm ambience of Carmens Rainbow follows with emotions blazing in full swing, with the stripped down expectation of Isolated Nation (Lofi Dub) grasping at the world surrounding its introspective notation. Finalising is the equally powerful Philadelphia Stream which captures all of the previous elements transforming them into an edgy rhythm that feels richly emotional/ proactive while ending on a pulse of synthetic drums seeking out independence.
Combining the eloquence of classical instrumentation together with a passion for contemporary electronic music Tim Engelhardt is the latest in line to offer an interpretation from Poker Flat’s indispensable back catalogue, celebrating twenty years in existence. Despite being recorded back in 2007 this remix adds fresh life to Ane Trolle’s timeless vocals as they drift effortlessly across a sea of poignant yet life affirming sounds which are as evidently 2021 as they are enduring.
Strange the sensation that greets you upon pressing play. Like you’ve already been engaged with this music for some time, like you have already lived it. That passage of minutes and associated memory is just one of the many emotions generated throughout Asher Levitas and Hannah Archambault’s collaborative exploration of sight and sound. Éolienne begins the journey via a grainy resolution searching out the space in-between, pushing at muscular, feeling breathtakingly delicate. The proceeding Sel suggests a warmer embrace in contrast escaping into the serene, with that pulse of beauty likewise igniting Coulissage cumulating in reaching out to wonder. Next, the breathy expanse of Latence offers a lone sense of defining rhythm via throbbing bass, as the final strains of Fièvre return to more picturesque climes via the quiet roar of intensity rearing its head once again. A rich yet startling listen which employs all five senses in their entirety.
Just ahead of next month’s album, A Pegada Agora É Essa comes this retelling of samba standard Luz Negra. It’s a perfectly realised and crafted piece of music which rolls out emotion like waves assaulting the shoreline of your imagination. Succinct yet resolutely transforming the historical spirit of the original into something which is altogether 2021. Fuelled by a hazy breath of horns, punctuated by the sway of percussion alongside hot double-bass and highlighted by the touch of piano this is in a class all of its own. Leaving special mention to Ana Frango Elétrico’s voice as it weaves in and out of the rhythms in perfect motion.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Brueder Selke (Sebastian and Daniel) and Eric. Zero Crossing is formed by a production from each of you. How did that idea for a joint collaboration come about?
BS: Hey there, nice to e-meet you. Well, to be honest we do not exactly remember how this journey started. But we are more than happy about this close encounter with Eric and his music – there is a very special quality to it. A few months ago we did a collaboration with the duo Constant Presence made from songsmith Peter Broderick and Daniel O’Sullivan. It was an intense experience to evolve two 11 minutes drones inspired by the meditative wisdom “Nothing Special“ by Zen master Shunryū Suzuki. We still carried these thoughts with us when we created the first fragments for Eric to let him build his steady floating synths around it. We soon felt in love with his Bladerunner aesthetics. When we met with Eric to talk about the project we were also introduced to his nice family and we noticed their direct and personal access to music and life in general. For us this was an essential element to make all this happen.
EM: I’m also not really clear on how this happened! We admired each other’s music, I went to go see them play as CEEYS, and was really impressed with the show, afterwards we spoke and I think that was when the seed was planted. We took our time with all of this, the whole process had a very natural, human pace, which I really appreciated.
Can each of you talk us through how you produced the music you created for the release? Is there a single piece of equipment (software or hardware) which you couldn’t live without in the recording process?
BS: Readers might know our recent album HAUSMUSIK. It is formally a double LP focussing just on our main instruments; the cello and the piano. But our full setup includes some other, almost forgotten devices from the former Communist-era Eastern hemisphere: tape echos, organic string machines, rhythm boxes, some weird custom stuff…
In contrast to our acoustic full length, our long dream was to contribute our ambient Kocmoc to a pure electronic track. So we recorded some spherical noises straight into 4 restored preamps made by former East German broadcasting company RFZ. And then we let Eric answer with his voices.
EM: I’ve been enjoying this aesthetic idea of a piece of music where nothing happens. How can I make nothing happen for 7 minutes and have it be interesting to listen to? So that was sort of my personal approach, which by pure coincidence, syncs up with this Zen thing Sebastian and Daniel have been dealing with. So in hindsight, it’s the biggest factor as to why Zero Crossing sounds the way it does. None of us knew this about one another going into it, so it’s really quite beautiful. It was effortless, creating this music with the brothers.
Recording process wise, I work really heavily with the laptop. I gather sounds from everywhere, and am writing and recording something new on a daily basis. This is more important than any gear or software, because over time I have developed my own library, my own system of sounds, melodies, ideas, which are ready and waiting for me.
Eric: Flower Myth is a relatively new label. How would you describe its ethos, where does the name originate from and how have you found the experience of running it? How do you see record labels existing in the future in light of streaming etc?
I really just dove into Flower Myth. It’s named after a Paul Klee painting. It means something different to each person, it is like a little poem. Initially I was using the label as a platform to release my own music, but in the process realized that for me, this was quite narrow-minded. Who wants to listen to someone talking to themselves? And if that’s what I’m doing why bother with having a label and all that it implies? So now I am focused on creating a conversation between artists over time. This resulted in the muzine Acoustic Jaguar, whose second issue will be out Spring 2021, and is also leading to collaborations with various artists, recently with Shipibo vocalist Rawa, and now with Brueder Selke.
Running a label like mine is tricky, it’s teaching me to be organized, it needs attention, it’s like a little living being. If I’m not putting energy into it no one else will. Using it to share the work of other artists who I respect and enjoy, it gives the label a sense of purpose for me, a focus, which I truly value.
The streaming question is a tricky one, for example, the Bruder Selke release is streaming on all platforms, but Latigi D. Icaro, my release with Rawa, is only available on Bandcamp. This may seem inconsistent, but it has to do with the respective goals of the releases. In the case of the Rawa collaboration, the goal was to raise money for him and the indigenous Shipibo community in the Peruvian rainforests. So to raise this money, it’s available exclusively on a platform which motivates listeners to invest in the music, in the story, and the people who make it.
In the case of the current Brueder Selke release, we are going for maximum reach, maximum listenership; sales are a secondary consideration. So it’s natural to make it available in all shops and on all platforms, and let the listener approach it how they choose.
I am enjoying the experiment, trying and seeing what works. My heart is telling me to stop using the streaming services, and exclusively use a service like Bandcamp. However before I make such a strong choice, I want to be sure of the decision. So right now we are in the experimental phase.
Brueder Selke: People will also know you as Sebastian and Daniel aka CEEYS. Where did your love of music come from and does being brothers add to the musical bond of how you play together?
We have been making music together for more than two decades now. After Sebastian‘s first trip to sports and ice-skating at an early age, he went to the local music school and decided to learn the cello. Impressed by Sebastian’s first trials and errors, Daniel soon followed with the piano. Since then we trained on our instruments simultaneously, but almost by accident discovered the joy of playing together through the paper thin walls from our Plattenbau, a panel construction building where we grew up. This is how we developed our first tracks and choose CEEYS as an alias to release some reworks from our favourite artists, but kept playing under the radar. After 4 albums that focus on our childhood in the former Communist-era GDR, with HAUSMUSIK we worked to reach the present. The limitations and restrictions in our childhood helped us to learn improvising with the daily lack of material, and since the crisis showed up we felt the need for another mutation. Our performance with Eric is a first walk under a new sigil, our real name: Brueder Selke, and we soon will have even more exciting news for you. For now let us enjoy this liquid trip with Eric…
Eric: Listening to Part 1 of Connecting Home is an involving, immersive experience. Can you explain how you went about recording it? And about the charities you have chosen to donate too from the profits generated? Any plans for Part 2?
This album came about as a result of weekly live streams I performed on Facebook during the first spring lockdown. I felt, along with many other musicians and creative people, the need to do something, and so I set myself up, and played improvised concerts once a week for twelve weeks. And I mean totally improvised, nothing planned, empty mind before the first note is played. It wound up being a beautiful experience, the pressure of performance and the unknown, connecting with friends and family, all of it was very special. The album itself is the raw recordings from the live streams, nothing was multi tracked or edited, so what you hear is what I played. Part 1 was taken from concerts 1-6, so there is plenty of material for the second part.
During this time there was something like 800 people a day dying in my hometown of NYC. It’s an unimaginable number. My heart was breaking. I wanted to help as best I could, and decided to donate all the proceeds from sales to the Food Bank of NYC, a wonderful charitable organization that provides meals and even more to NYC’s most needy.
The next charity I’ve chosen to donate to is local to Berlin, The International Womans Space. They work with migrant/refugee women, fighting against patriarchy, sexism, racism, and violence. To raise money for them I must put together a Part 2! I’d like to think of music as timeless, but after a month or two people move on to the next release. Even as a label you have to promote new releases and let the old ones go! To really do the IWS justice I will do a proper release of a Part 2 in the New Year, with proper promo, and really get it moving.
Sebastian and Daniel: You curate the Q3Ambientfest. Can you tell us more about the event and your current plans for the festival as a result of Covid-19?
BS: Our carefully curated boutique happening is another result of a radical change in our life. After living in East Berlin for nearly 20 years we had the chance to move to Potsdam. Sebastian already worked as sub-principal cello at Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg when Daniel got a job at the local state music school. But this improvement felt not only the right moment to establish our new Klingenthal Studio but the best time to found a platform for contemporary music. We are always looking to create physical stages here and there to share ideas with like-minded music lovers. It is still our deep hope and wish to keep that flag flying despite all dark surroundings in 2020. There will be light and we will be ready to re invite our friends to the beautiful town of Potsdam and its diverse architecture – one more aspect to link with the music.
To all of you: Outside of music, who are your most important influences in terms of artists, writers, painters etc?
BS: Oh, we revere movies, and we really love when our music gets connected to them. As Brueder Selke we will partner with more video artists. The filmmaking from the 1980s has the strongest influence on our work. From legendary sci-fi movies to epic anthologies, we think in that decade the art of making a durable piece of visual art, all by brain and hand, reached its peak point before the technology in form of computer simulations seemed to overcome this craft. That’s why the foundations of our live set are the instruments and its true sounds. We use the computer only in the final process of editing.
EM: I am a voracious reader. Right now I’m re-reading The Language of Saxophones by Kamau Daáood. Actually I just keep going through it over and over, it’s a book of poetry that has affected me on a very deep level. In addition to this I’m also reading The Soundscape by Murray R. Schafer, The Philosopher and the Monk by Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard, Man and His Symbols by Carl G Jung, and Paul Klee’s Diaries (which I feel a little guilty about, they are his diaries after all).
I’m very deeply into the work of artist/healer Emma Kunz, the films of Fellini, Godard and Jodorowsky. I also love James Bond movies, it’s sort of like eating a big bowl of mac and cheese.
(Sebastian and Daniel): Hausmusik is a brilliant, timeless sounding album. Do you feel that playing an instrument live captures something that producing music electronically cannot? How would you describe the process of writing music together, is a piece created from a single idea/ note, or something you may have heard outside, watched or listened to?
BS: Thank you – it feels good to see our music translate well in that way. We think that it should not make a huge difference if you play an acoustic instrument or if you produce a track straight ITB. Everybody is free in the decision what to use and when and how. Today you are able to produce a 3D adventure animation or you can make it a silent movie. The technology is diverse as we are all individuals. There seems to be a natural dynamic that finally will bring us even closer together with this growing electronic universe, and there are a lot of great useful tools we can’t do without – but even with that hybrid philosophy in mind, we will need the stories that make our life.
And finally. What are you all most looking forward to in 2021?
BS: We started planning some shows to share with our friends but you fine readers should also check our new page or sign to our newsletter for exciting upcoming news. Please drop us a line if you want to partner with us. And we promise: there will be even a second waltz with Eric Maltz. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
EM: It’s always difficult to answer a question about the future, I’m very content with where I’m at right now. I have a full length album that I just completed, so if anything I am looking forward to putting that out next year. And as Brueder Selke just said, I’m hopeful we can put another release together in the coming year.