KILLED in CARS

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KILLED in CARS is a 'thank you' to the musicians who enrich my life, and a way to reach people curious about expression through sound.

This site has thrived as a destination for discussion and listening thanks to its disregard for the canon and its dedication to making esoteric genres accessible. I appreciate your readership, and I hope that you choose to participate!

PROMOS: I only accept physical promos, not downloads. If you believe your music fits my site, please send your tapes/CDs/vinyl to:

KILLED in CARS
2644 N 192nd Terrace Ct
Apt #3A
Elkhorn, NE 68022

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Nels Cline & Elliott Sharp “Open The Door” (Public Eyesore 2013)I was understandably excited to hear that Public Eyesore was to release a collaboration by Cline and Sharp — two phenomenal guitarists, one firmly in the avant-garde camp, the other approaching such territory by way of adventurous work in jazz and indie rock and best known of late for his regular gig in Wilco. I had mistakenly assumed at first that this was a new thing for these two, but as it turns out, they have other performances and recordings together in their past. Open The Door, unreleased until last year, is among the earliest, recorded in 1999 or 1997 depending on whether you believe the credits or the liner notes written by the musicians. I’m inclined to favor Sharp’s account with the earlier date.This is ranging free-form acoustic guitar interplay every bit as rewarding as you’d hope from this meeting, maintaining an almost folk vibe in spite of the chromaticism, atonality, and lack of steady pulse. “Blue Particles” dispenses with introductions and tosses us, startled, headlong into a frenetic clatter of muted strings and harmonics before gradually settling into lower-pitched, somewhat droning resonant textures. “Five Tastes of Sour” begins with much more space, evoking for me a calm country morning enjoying the summer sun, breeze, and quiet through the kitchen windows over coffee. Indian or Spanish sounding bends and vibratos cue the energy to pick up, progressing nicely into “Isotropes”, where the cry of a slide brings us out into the fields for a day of work in the heat and dust. Cline opines in the liner notes that “Elliott, in his way, is a bluesman,” and I think this is the point on the album where that is most evident; but don’t expect swingy rhythms and pentatonics so much as barn-wood bends and dust-devil tones. The clarity and nuance of the recording is such that you can even plainly hear the high vibration of the string on the other side of the slide, moving contrary in pitch. Five minutes in it gets more jovial and bubbly with banjo-like picking, a quitting-time stop by the bar downtown for a drink and a dance before settling in for the night.The slide comes buzzing back in for “Let Her In,” but this is more of an atonal, percussive piece, pushing harder on the sonic boundaries of acoustic guitars. There are chiming chords against droning strums, and later some long, aggressively buzzing drones come in which sound almost like amplifier feedback; I have no idea how they are done, perhaps with some sort of sympathetic vibration involving a drum head or vocals, or maybe there are actual amps involved. Then there’s an abrupt, unexpected cutoff — perhaps the tape ran out. The CD wraps up with a later live recording from 2007, “Pietraviva,” a lively, skittering, noticeably more jazz-inflected affair punctuated with harmonics and muted-string raking, that receives a deservedly enthusiastic response from the audience. The rapport evident between these two guitarists as they adventure together makes Shut The Door a joy.-Charles Hoffman
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Nels Cline & Elliott Sharp “Open The Door” (Public Eyesore 2013)I was understandably excited to hear that Public Eyesore was to release a collaboration by Cline and Sharp — two phenomenal guitarists, one firmly in the avant-garde camp, the other approaching such territory by way of adventurous work in jazz and indie rock and best known of late for his regular gig in Wilco. I had mistakenly assumed at first that this was a new thing for these two, but as it turns out, they have other performances and recordings together in their past. Open The Door, unreleased until last year, is among the earliest, recorded in 1999 or 1997 depending on whether you believe the credits or the liner notes written by the musicians. I’m inclined to favor Sharp’s account with the earlier date.This is ranging free-form acoustic guitar interplay every bit as rewarding as you’d hope from this meeting, maintaining an almost folk vibe in spite of the chromaticism, atonality, and lack of steady pulse. “Blue Particles” dispenses with introductions and tosses us, startled, headlong into a frenetic clatter of muted strings and harmonics before gradually settling into lower-pitched, somewhat droning resonant textures. “Five Tastes of Sour” begins with much more space, evoking for me a calm country morning enjoying the summer sun, breeze, and quiet through the kitchen windows over coffee. Indian or Spanish sounding bends and vibratos cue the energy to pick up, progressing nicely into “Isotropes”, where the cry of a slide brings us out into the fields for a day of work in the heat and dust. Cline opines in the liner notes that “Elliott, in his way, is a bluesman,” and I think this is the point on the album where that is most evident; but don’t expect swingy rhythms and pentatonics so much as barn-wood bends and dust-devil tones. The clarity and nuance of the recording is such that you can even plainly hear the high vibration of the string on the other side of the slide, moving contrary in pitch. Five minutes in it gets more jovial and bubbly with banjo-like picking, a quitting-time stop by the bar downtown for a drink and a dance before settling in for the night.The slide comes buzzing back in for “Let Her In,” but this is more of an atonal, percussive piece, pushing harder on the sonic boundaries of acoustic guitars. There are chiming chords against droning strums, and later some long, aggressively buzzing drones come in which sound almost like amplifier feedback; I have no idea how they are done, perhaps with some sort of sympathetic vibration involving a drum head or vocals, or maybe there are actual amps involved. Then there’s an abrupt, unexpected cutoff — perhaps the tape ran out. The CD wraps up with a later live recording from 2007, “Pietraviva,” a lively, skittering, noticeably more jazz-inflected affair punctuated with harmonics and muted-string raking, that receives a deservedly enthusiastic response from the audience. The rapport evident between these two guitarists as they adventure together makes Shut The Door a joy.-Charles Hoffman
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Nels Cline & Elliott Sharp “Open The Door” (Public Eyesore 2013)

I was understandably excited to hear that Public Eyesore was to release a collaboration by Cline and Sharp — two phenomenal guitarists, one firmly in the avant-garde camp, the other approaching such territory by way of adventurous work in jazz and indie rock and best known of late for his regular gig in Wilco. I had mistakenly assumed at first that this was a new thing for these two, but as it turns out, they have other performances and recordings together in their past. Open The Door, unreleased until last year, is among the earliest, recorded in 1999 or 1997 depending on whether you believe the credits or the liner notes written by the musicians. I’m inclined to favor Sharp’s account with the earlier date.

This is ranging free-form acoustic guitar interplay every bit as rewarding as you’d hope from this meeting, maintaining an almost folk vibe in spite of the chromaticism, atonality, and lack of steady pulse. “Blue Particles” dispenses with introductions and tosses us, startled, headlong into a frenetic clatter of muted strings and harmonics before gradually settling into lower-pitched, somewhat droning resonant textures. “Five Tastes of Sour” begins with much more space, evoking for me a calm country morning enjoying the summer sun, breeze, and quiet through the kitchen windows over coffee. Indian or Spanish sounding bends and vibratos cue the energy to pick up, progressing nicely into “Isotropes”, where the cry of a slide brings us out into the fields for a day of work in the heat and dust. Cline opines in the liner notes that “Elliott, in his way, is a bluesman,” and I think this is the point on the album where that is most evident; but don’t expect swingy rhythms and pentatonics so much as barn-wood bends and dust-devil tones. The clarity and nuance of the recording is such that you can even plainly hear the high vibration of the string on the other side of the slide, moving contrary in pitch. Five minutes in it gets more jovial and bubbly with banjo-like picking, a quitting-time stop by the bar downtown for a drink and a dance before settling in for the night.

The slide comes buzzing back in for “Let Her In,” but this is more of an atonal, percussive piece, pushing harder on the sonic boundaries of acoustic guitars. There are chiming chords against droning strums, and later some long, aggressively buzzing drones come in which sound almost like amplifier feedback; I have no idea how they are done, perhaps with some sort of sympathetic vibration involving a drum head or vocals, or maybe there are actual amps involved. Then there’s an abrupt, unexpected cutoff — perhaps the tape ran out. The CD wraps up with a later live recording from 2007, “Pietraviva,” a lively, skittering, noticeably more jazz-inflected affair punctuated with harmonics and muted-string raking, that receives a deservedly enthusiastic response from the audience. The rapport evident between these two guitarists as they adventure together makes Shut The Door a joy.

-Charles Hoffman

Anders Dahl & Skogen – ‘Rows’ (Another Timbre, 2013)

Skogen (Swedish for ‘Forest’ or ‘Woods’) is a medium-size ensemble (starting as a quintet, the group presented here is an octet) founded by pianist-composer Magnus Granberg specialising in minimalist improvisation and composition, this being its second CD for the excellent Sheffield-based Another Timbre label (they have since recorded a third as a nine-piece). The ensemble includes label mainstay Angharad Davies on violin, a renowned minimalist improviser who has worked with Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell (on his own Confront label) and Axel Dorner (on the excellent duo ‘A.D’, also on Another Timbre) among many others.

Leading the ensemble here is Anders Dahl, who provides the overall concept for the record: an exploration of 12-tone composition, the players are provided in each piece with a sequence of notes which they are permitted to play in any register, at any volume and for any duration; only the notes themselves, and the order in which they are played, are fixed. The sensitivity to pitch relationships and dynamics with which the more conventional instrumentalists of Skogen – variously playing clarinet, violins, tuned percussion and piano – realise this concept results in a fragile, dreamy soundworld with elements of Webern (use of space and very wide intervals, delicacy) and Morton Feldman (indeterminacy and low dynamic level) about it, but not completely beholden to either.

Left at that, the record might have been effectively realised by a group of suitably-attuned classical players, but Dahl adds another rule to the game which really plays to the strength of the improvisers involved - the additional freedom of producing any unpitched sound at any point. This gives Petter Wastberg (on objects/contact mics/feedback) and Toshimaru Nakamura (on no-input mixing board) in particular the space to do their respective ‘things’ – there are several points on this disc where Wastberg really runs amok while the players of more conventional instruments hold down pitches from the note rows, with Nakamura tending towards more sustained, supportive textures – as well of course as allowing all the other instrumentalists to leave their rows too and interact on a textural level. A third dimension then arises from these rules when the two are combined – infusing tones from the rows with the degree of timbral flexibility only really available to improvisers.

Dahl’s concept is realised by Skogen with customary restraint, despite (or perhaps because of) the number of players involved, with individuals only occasionally coming to the foreground. The ensemble displays remarkable fluidity, groups-within-a-group constantly flowing in and out of each other, simultaneously a product of the conceptual framework and of group improvisation - and herein lies this project’s strength and originality. The question or problem of composition vs improvisation is one that still exercises a great many musicians and groups working today, and many of the answers, tied into various ideological camps as they are, are well familiar by now: 12-tone composition might be a well-travelled idea, but once carefully refracted through the prism of improvisation a refreshing, illuminating new solution is found in ‘Rows’.
- Mark Hanslip
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Anders Dahl & Skogen – ‘Rows’ (Another Timbre, 2013)

Skogen (Swedish for ‘Forest’ or ‘Woods’) is a medium-size ensemble (starting as a quintet, the group presented here is an octet) founded by pianist-composer Magnus Granberg specialising in minimalist improvisation and composition, this being its second CD for the excellent Sheffield-based Another Timbre label (they have since recorded a third as a nine-piece). The ensemble includes label mainstay Angharad Davies on violin, a renowned minimalist improviser who has worked with Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell (on his own Confront label) and Axel Dorner (on the excellent duo ‘A.D’, also on Another Timbre) among many others.

Leading the ensemble here is Anders Dahl, who provides the overall concept for the record: an exploration of 12-tone composition, the players are provided in each piece with a sequence of notes which they are permitted to play in any register, at any volume and for any duration; only the notes themselves, and the order in which they are played, are fixed. The sensitivity to pitch relationships and dynamics with which the more conventional instrumentalists of Skogen – variously playing clarinet, violins, tuned percussion and piano – realise this concept results in a fragile, dreamy soundworld with elements of Webern (use of space and very wide intervals, delicacy) and Morton Feldman (indeterminacy and low dynamic level) about it, but not completely beholden to either.

Left at that, the record might have been effectively realised by a group of suitably-attuned classical players, but Dahl adds another rule to the game which really plays to the strength of the improvisers involved - the additional freedom of producing any unpitched sound at any point. This gives Petter Wastberg (on objects/contact mics/feedback) and Toshimaru Nakamura (on no-input mixing board) in particular the space to do their respective ‘things’ – there are several points on this disc where Wastberg really runs amok while the players of more conventional instruments hold down pitches from the note rows, with Nakamura tending towards more sustained, supportive textures – as well of course as allowing all the other instrumentalists to leave their rows too and interact on a textural level. A third dimension then arises from these rules when the two are combined – infusing tones from the rows with the degree of timbral flexibility only really available to improvisers.

Dahl’s concept is realised by Skogen with customary restraint, despite (or perhaps because of) the number of players involved, with individuals only occasionally coming to the foreground. The ensemble displays remarkable fluidity, groups-within-a-group constantly flowing in and out of each other, simultaneously a product of the conceptual framework and of group improvisation - and herein lies this project’s strength and originality. The question or problem of composition vs improvisation is one that still exercises a great many musicians and groups working today, and many of the answers, tied into various ideological camps as they are, are well familiar by now: 12-tone composition might be a well-travelled idea, but once carefully refracted through the prism of improvisation a refreshing, illuminating new solution is found in ‘Rows’.
- Mark Hanslip
Zoom Info

Anders Dahl & Skogen – ‘Rows’ (Another Timbre, 2013)

Skogen (Swedish for ‘Forest’ or ‘Woods’) is a medium-size ensemble (starting as a quintet, the group presented here is an octet) founded by pianist-composer Magnus Granberg specialising in minimalist improvisation and composition, this being its second CD for the excellent Sheffield-based Another Timbre label (they have since recorded a third as a nine-piece). The ensemble includes label mainstay Angharad Davies on violin, a renowned minimalist improviser who has worked with Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell (on his own Confront label) and Axel Dorner (on the excellent duo ‘A.D’, also on Another Timbre) among many others.

Leading the ensemble here is Anders Dahl, who provides the overall concept for the record: an exploration of 12-tone composition, the players are provided in each piece with a sequence of notes which they are permitted to play in any register, at any volume and for any duration; only the notes themselves, and the order in which they are played, are fixed. The sensitivity to pitch relationships and dynamics with which the more conventional instrumentalists of Skogen – variously playing clarinet, violins, tuned percussion and piano – realise this concept results in a fragile, dreamy soundworld with elements of Webern (use of space and very wide intervals, delicacy) and Morton Feldman (indeterminacy and low dynamic level) about it, but not completely beholden to either.

Left at that, the record might have been effectively realised by a group of suitably-attuned classical players, but Dahl adds another rule to the game which really plays to the strength of the improvisers involved - the additional freedom of producing any unpitched sound at any point. This gives Petter Wastberg (on objects/contact mics/feedback) and Toshimaru Nakamura (on no-input mixing board) in particular the space to do their respective ‘things’ – there are several points on this disc where Wastberg really runs amok while the players of more conventional instruments hold down pitches from the note rows, with Nakamura tending towards more sustained, supportive textures – as well of course as allowing all the other instrumentalists to leave their rows too and interact on a textural level. A third dimension then arises from these rules when the two are combined – infusing tones from the rows with the degree of timbral flexibility only really available to improvisers.

Dahl’s concept is realised by Skogen with customary restraint, despite (or perhaps because of) the number of players involved, with individuals only occasionally coming to the foreground. The ensemble displays remarkable fluidity, groups-within-a-group constantly flowing in and out of each other, simultaneously a product of the conceptual framework and of group improvisation - and herein lies this project’s strength and originality. The question or problem of composition vs improvisation is one that still exercises a great many musicians and groups working today, and many of the answers, tied into various ideological camps as they are, are well familiar by now: 12-tone composition might be a well-travelled idea, but once carefully refracted through the prism of improvisation a refreshing, illuminating new solution is found in ‘Rows’.

- Mark Hanslip

Blue - Mexican Church (Emissions Audio Output, 1996) NHK - Unununium (Raster-Noton, 2008) Ricardo Villalobos - Thé au Harem d’Archimède (Perlon, 2004) Photek - Modus Operandi (Science, 1997)Child’s View - Funfair (Bubble Core, 1999)
Given the dramatic shift in this blog towards a wide range of electronic music, it’s sort of surprising that the original iteration of the site had, by my estimation, maybe two dozen electronic releases. This post, another in a long line of “multiple posts,” collects a few of those releases along with very temporary uploads. Click the album title to snag each.Each of these is a good record, with two of them (Blue and Child’s View) being contributions from other writers (Doc and Alex, respectively). They’re altogether “lighter” (read: more fun, not dumber) that what gets posted to the site nowadays. They’re either breakbeat songs, more or less, drum & bass and glitch genre exercises (in the case of Photek and NHK), or a slight variation on house (for RV).Anyway, these are the slim pickings that support what’s become almost an electronic subgenre blog (juke, industrial techno, etc.). The links will last about a week, so check them out.
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Blue - Mexican Church (Emissions Audio Output, 1996) NHK - Unununium (Raster-Noton, 2008) Ricardo Villalobos - Thé au Harem d’Archimède (Perlon, 2004) Photek - Modus Operandi (Science, 1997)Child’s View - Funfair (Bubble Core, 1999)
Given the dramatic shift in this blog towards a wide range of electronic music, it’s sort of surprising that the original iteration of the site had, by my estimation, maybe two dozen electronic releases. This post, another in a long line of “multiple posts,” collects a few of those releases along with very temporary uploads. Click the album title to snag each.Each of these is a good record, with two of them (Blue and Child’s View) being contributions from other writers (Doc and Alex, respectively). They’re altogether “lighter” (read: more fun, not dumber) that what gets posted to the site nowadays. They’re either breakbeat songs, more or less, drum & bass and glitch genre exercises (in the case of Photek and NHK), or a slight variation on house (for RV).Anyway, these are the slim pickings that support what’s become almost an electronic subgenre blog (juke, industrial techno, etc.). The links will last about a week, so check them out.
Zoom Info
Blue - Mexican Church (Emissions Audio Output, 1996) NHK - Unununium (Raster-Noton, 2008) Ricardo Villalobos - Thé au Harem d’Archimède (Perlon, 2004) Photek - Modus Operandi (Science, 1997)Child’s View - Funfair (Bubble Core, 1999)
Given the dramatic shift in this blog towards a wide range of electronic music, it’s sort of surprising that the original iteration of the site had, by my estimation, maybe two dozen electronic releases. This post, another in a long line of “multiple posts,” collects a few of those releases along with very temporary uploads. Click the album title to snag each.Each of these is a good record, with two of them (Blue and Child’s View) being contributions from other writers (Doc and Alex, respectively). They’re altogether “lighter” (read: more fun, not dumber) that what gets posted to the site nowadays. They’re either breakbeat songs, more or less, drum & bass and glitch genre exercises (in the case of Photek and NHK), or a slight variation on house (for RV).Anyway, these are the slim pickings that support what’s become almost an electronic subgenre blog (juke, industrial techno, etc.). The links will last about a week, so check them out.
Zoom Info
Blue - Mexican Church (Emissions Audio Output, 1996) NHK - Unununium (Raster-Noton, 2008) Ricardo Villalobos - Thé au Harem d’Archimède (Perlon, 2004) Photek - Modus Operandi (Science, 1997)Child’s View - Funfair (Bubble Core, 1999)
Given the dramatic shift in this blog towards a wide range of electronic music, it’s sort of surprising that the original iteration of the site had, by my estimation, maybe two dozen electronic releases. This post, another in a long line of “multiple posts,” collects a few of those releases along with very temporary uploads. Click the album title to snag each.Each of these is a good record, with two of them (Blue and Child’s View) being contributions from other writers (Doc and Alex, respectively). They’re altogether “lighter” (read: more fun, not dumber) that what gets posted to the site nowadays. They’re either breakbeat songs, more or less, drum & bass and glitch genre exercises (in the case of Photek and NHK), or a slight variation on house (for RV).Anyway, these are the slim pickings that support what’s become almost an electronic subgenre blog (juke, industrial techno, etc.). The links will last about a week, so check them out.
Zoom Info
Blue - Mexican Church (Emissions Audio Output, 1996) NHK - Unununium (Raster-Noton, 2008) Ricardo Villalobos - Thé au Harem d’Archimède (Perlon, 2004) Photek - Modus Operandi (Science, 1997)Child’s View - Funfair (Bubble Core, 1999)
Given the dramatic shift in this blog towards a wide range of electronic music, it’s sort of surprising that the original iteration of the site had, by my estimation, maybe two dozen electronic releases. This post, another in a long line of “multiple posts,” collects a few of those releases along with very temporary uploads. Click the album title to snag each.Each of these is a good record, with two of them (Blue and Child’s View) being contributions from other writers (Doc and Alex, respectively). They’re altogether “lighter” (read: more fun, not dumber) that what gets posted to the site nowadays. They’re either breakbeat songs, more or less, drum & bass and glitch genre exercises (in the case of Photek and NHK), or a slight variation on house (for RV).Anyway, these are the slim pickings that support what’s become almost an electronic subgenre blog (juke, industrial techno, etc.). The links will last about a week, so check them out.
Zoom Info

Blue - Mexican Church (Emissions Audio Output, 1996)
NHK - Unununium (Raster-Noton, 2008)
Ricardo Villalobos - Thé au Harem d’Archimède (Perlon, 2004)
Photek - Modus Operandi (Science, 1997)
Child’s View - Funfair (Bubble Core, 1999)


Given the dramatic shift in this blog towards a wide range of electronic music, it’s sort of surprising that the original iteration of the site had, by my estimation, maybe two dozen electronic releases. This post, another in a long line of “multiple posts,” collects a few of those releases along with very temporary uploads. Click the album title to snag each.

Each of these is a good record, with two of them (Blue and Child’s View) being contributions from other writers (Doc and Alex, respectively). They’re altogether “lighter” (read: more fun, not dumber) that what gets posted to the site nowadays. They’re either breakbeat songs, more or less, drum & bass and glitch genre exercises (in the case of Photek and NHK), or a slight variation on house (for RV).

Anyway, these are the slim pickings that support what’s become almost an electronic subgenre blog (juke, industrial techno, etc.). The links will last about a week, so check them out.

'Archive 2007-2008' represents the activities of the Seoul-based Relay collective, a small but extremely focused group of improvisers active between 2005 and 2008. Initially performing to a very select audience on an entirely DIY, unsupported basis, the liner notes acknowledge Relay member Ryu Hankil's efforts to secure funding from the then South Korean government, after which the collective was able to shift away from its seemingly insular focus towards forging links with kindred spirits from Japan and Europe, including big-hitters such as Otomo Yoshihide and John Butcher. Since disbanding, key members of Relay have broadened their audience further through performances in mainland Europe, New York and London.Relay’s modus operandi was to create new instruments by modifying old pieces of technology – Choi Joonyong’s deconstructed playback devices (old tape players, radios, mobile phones and the like), Jin Sangtae’s manipulated computer hard drives, Ryu Hankil’s clockwork parts and speakers and Hong Chulki’s cartridge-less turntables (along with expat Seoul resident Joe Foster’s trumpet with delay pedal) typify the approach, and are the most prolific contributors here. While the new technology of which South Korea is a renowned hub is also put to some use – obsolete junk sharing the stage with state-of-the-art laptops – the emphasis is more on the analogue sounds rather than their digital treatments.The resulting music has an ostensibly austere aesthetic which could superficially be placed within the ‘minimalist’ or ‘noise’ genres, but on closer listening neither label is adequate. The Relay players have developed an impressive array of improvisational strategies which sets their music apart from any one particular improv camp: significant buildups of layered noise abruptly cut to silence before more spacious material is introduced; soft, sustained tones are juxtaposed against the oscillating whirrs and clicks generated by the hardware; repeated or completely static ideas are allowed to cohabit with irrational gestures; forensic attention to the most minute of sonic detail is off-set by an extreme appreciation of space; there are glitchy, aggressive and highly interactive exchanges here too.Alongside the Relay improvisers there are several guest appearances, from the local through neighbouring Japan to mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Seoul resident Bonnie Jones forms the duo English with Joe Foster, while Iida Katsuaki adds spoken word to the end of one piece with regular collaborator Hankil (check out their ‘Selected Poems with Clockwork’ on the Manual label). Toshimaru Nakamura contributes his ‘no-input mixing board’, a way of producing and manipulating feedback, to a stunning duo with Park Seungjun, one of the most impressive tracks on show. Berlin-based clarinettist Kai Fagaschinski makes a visit, pitting his harsh altissimo squeals and soft multiphonics against the white noise of Joonyong and Chulki’s hardware. Laptopists Dieb13, Klaus Filip and Noid of Vienna-based collective Klingt (www.klingt.org) also appear, fitting so neatly into the Relay aesthetic that their contributions aren’t easily separable from those of the regulars. By contrast, Mats Gustafsson’s appearance on baritone saxophone begins with a 5-minute blast of his trademark overblowing, way on top of the group sound; Sangtae and Joonyong respond in kind, building up the most dense accumulation of noise in the entire set with little assistance from their guest, before the three arrive at a sustained, breathy consensus.While the various duos and trios that constitute the majority of ‘Archive 2007-2008’ demonstrate the full range of Relay’s collective vocabulary, in the two larger ensemble tracks which bookend the collection (a quintet and a 10-piece respectively) reduction is key. The opening quintet piece results in significantly less sound than any of the duos or trios; the concept is then taken to extremes in the large ensemble closer: several minutes pass before any of the 10 participants even make a sound, and even then the interventions last only a few seconds, presumably the outcome of some pre-performance discussion.Aside from the variety of improvisational approaches on show here and the interest generated by how the sounds are actually produced, these recordings are simply really refreshing. They have at least as much to do with the joy of exploring sound as they do with more cerebral concerns, and add up to a fascinating document of a completely unique scene, the key artists of which continue to plough their respective furrows.  Mark Hanslip
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'Archive 2007-2008' represents the activities of the Seoul-based Relay collective, a small but extremely focused group of improvisers active between 2005 and 2008. Initially performing to a very select audience on an entirely DIY, unsupported basis, the liner notes acknowledge Relay member Ryu Hankil's efforts to secure funding from the then South Korean government, after which the collective was able to shift away from its seemingly insular focus towards forging links with kindred spirits from Japan and Europe, including big-hitters such as Otomo Yoshihide and John Butcher. Since disbanding, key members of Relay have broadened their audience further through performances in mainland Europe, New York and London.Relay’s modus operandi was to create new instruments by modifying old pieces of technology – Choi Joonyong’s deconstructed playback devices (old tape players, radios, mobile phones and the like), Jin Sangtae’s manipulated computer hard drives, Ryu Hankil’s clockwork parts and speakers and Hong Chulki’s cartridge-less turntables (along with expat Seoul resident Joe Foster’s trumpet with delay pedal) typify the approach, and are the most prolific contributors here. While the new technology of which South Korea is a renowned hub is also put to some use – obsolete junk sharing the stage with state-of-the-art laptops – the emphasis is more on the analogue sounds rather than their digital treatments.The resulting music has an ostensibly austere aesthetic which could superficially be placed within the ‘minimalist’ or ‘noise’ genres, but on closer listening neither label is adequate. The Relay players have developed an impressive array of improvisational strategies which sets their music apart from any one particular improv camp: significant buildups of layered noise abruptly cut to silence before more spacious material is introduced; soft, sustained tones are juxtaposed against the oscillating whirrs and clicks generated by the hardware; repeated or completely static ideas are allowed to cohabit with irrational gestures; forensic attention to the most minute of sonic detail is off-set by an extreme appreciation of space; there are glitchy, aggressive and highly interactive exchanges here too.Alongside the Relay improvisers there are several guest appearances, from the local through neighbouring Japan to mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Seoul resident Bonnie Jones forms the duo English with Joe Foster, while Iida Katsuaki adds spoken word to the end of one piece with regular collaborator Hankil (check out their ‘Selected Poems with Clockwork’ on the Manual label). Toshimaru Nakamura contributes his ‘no-input mixing board’, a way of producing and manipulating feedback, to a stunning duo with Park Seungjun, one of the most impressive tracks on show. Berlin-based clarinettist Kai Fagaschinski makes a visit, pitting his harsh altissimo squeals and soft multiphonics against the white noise of Joonyong and Chulki’s hardware. Laptopists Dieb13, Klaus Filip and Noid of Vienna-based collective Klingt (www.klingt.org) also appear, fitting so neatly into the Relay aesthetic that their contributions aren’t easily separable from those of the regulars. By contrast, Mats Gustafsson’s appearance on baritone saxophone begins with a 5-minute blast of his trademark overblowing, way on top of the group sound; Sangtae and Joonyong respond in kind, building up the most dense accumulation of noise in the entire set with little assistance from their guest, before the three arrive at a sustained, breathy consensus.While the various duos and trios that constitute the majority of ‘Archive 2007-2008’ demonstrate the full range of Relay’s collective vocabulary, in the two larger ensemble tracks which bookend the collection (a quintet and a 10-piece respectively) reduction is key. The opening quintet piece results in significantly less sound than any of the duos or trios; the concept is then taken to extremes in the large ensemble closer: several minutes pass before any of the 10 participants even make a sound, and even then the interventions last only a few seconds, presumably the outcome of some pre-performance discussion.Aside from the variety of improvisational approaches on show here and the interest generated by how the sounds are actually produced, these recordings are simply really refreshing. They have at least as much to do with the joy of exploring sound as they do with more cerebral concerns, and add up to a fascinating document of a completely unique scene, the key artists of which continue to plough their respective furrows.  Mark Hanslip
Zoom Info
'Archive 2007-2008' represents the activities of the Seoul-based Relay collective, a small but extremely focused group of improvisers active between 2005 and 2008. Initially performing to a very select audience on an entirely DIY, unsupported basis, the liner notes acknowledge Relay member Ryu Hankil's efforts to secure funding from the then South Korean government, after which the collective was able to shift away from its seemingly insular focus towards forging links with kindred spirits from Japan and Europe, including big-hitters such as Otomo Yoshihide and John Butcher. Since disbanding, key members of Relay have broadened their audience further through performances in mainland Europe, New York and London.Relay’s modus operandi was to create new instruments by modifying old pieces of technology – Choi Joonyong’s deconstructed playback devices (old tape players, radios, mobile phones and the like), Jin Sangtae’s manipulated computer hard drives, Ryu Hankil’s clockwork parts and speakers and Hong Chulki’s cartridge-less turntables (along with expat Seoul resident Joe Foster’s trumpet with delay pedal) typify the approach, and are the most prolific contributors here. While the new technology of which South Korea is a renowned hub is also put to some use – obsolete junk sharing the stage with state-of-the-art laptops – the emphasis is more on the analogue sounds rather than their digital treatments.The resulting music has an ostensibly austere aesthetic which could superficially be placed within the ‘minimalist’ or ‘noise’ genres, but on closer listening neither label is adequate. The Relay players have developed an impressive array of improvisational strategies which sets their music apart from any one particular improv camp: significant buildups of layered noise abruptly cut to silence before more spacious material is introduced; soft, sustained tones are juxtaposed against the oscillating whirrs and clicks generated by the hardware; repeated or completely static ideas are allowed to cohabit with irrational gestures; forensic attention to the most minute of sonic detail is off-set by an extreme appreciation of space; there are glitchy, aggressive and highly interactive exchanges here too.Alongside the Relay improvisers there are several guest appearances, from the local through neighbouring Japan to mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Seoul resident Bonnie Jones forms the duo English with Joe Foster, while Iida Katsuaki adds spoken word to the end of one piece with regular collaborator Hankil (check out their ‘Selected Poems with Clockwork’ on the Manual label). Toshimaru Nakamura contributes his ‘no-input mixing board’, a way of producing and manipulating feedback, to a stunning duo with Park Seungjun, one of the most impressive tracks on show. Berlin-based clarinettist Kai Fagaschinski makes a visit, pitting his harsh altissimo squeals and soft multiphonics against the white noise of Joonyong and Chulki’s hardware. Laptopists Dieb13, Klaus Filip and Noid of Vienna-based collective Klingt (www.klingt.org) also appear, fitting so neatly into the Relay aesthetic that their contributions aren’t easily separable from those of the regulars. By contrast, Mats Gustafsson’s appearance on baritone saxophone begins with a 5-minute blast of his trademark overblowing, way on top of the group sound; Sangtae and Joonyong respond in kind, building up the most dense accumulation of noise in the entire set with little assistance from their guest, before the three arrive at a sustained, breathy consensus.While the various duos and trios that constitute the majority of ‘Archive 2007-2008’ demonstrate the full range of Relay’s collective vocabulary, in the two larger ensemble tracks which bookend the collection (a quintet and a 10-piece respectively) reduction is key. The opening quintet piece results in significantly less sound than any of the duos or trios; the concept is then taken to extremes in the large ensemble closer: several minutes pass before any of the 10 participants even make a sound, and even then the interventions last only a few seconds, presumably the outcome of some pre-performance discussion.Aside from the variety of improvisational approaches on show here and the interest generated by how the sounds are actually produced, these recordings are simply really refreshing. They have at least as much to do with the joy of exploring sound as they do with more cerebral concerns, and add up to a fascinating document of a completely unique scene, the key artists of which continue to plough their respective furrows.  Mark Hanslip
Zoom Info

'Archive 2007-2008' represents the activities of the Seoul-based Relay collective, a small but extremely focused group of improvisers active between 2005 and 2008. Initially performing to a very select audience on an entirely DIY, unsupported basis, the liner notes acknowledge Relay member Ryu Hankil's efforts to secure funding from the then South Korean government, after which the collective was able to shift away from its seemingly insular focus towards forging links with kindred spirits from Japan and Europe, including big-hitters such as Otomo Yoshihide and John Butcher. Since disbanding, key members of Relay have broadened their audience further through performances in mainland Europe, New York and London.

Relay’s modus operandi was to create new instruments by modifying old pieces of technology – Choi Joonyong’s deconstructed playback devices (old tape players, radios, mobile phones and the like), Jin Sangtae’s manipulated computer hard drives, Ryu Hankil’s clockwork parts and speakers and Hong Chulki’s cartridge-less turntables (along with expat Seoul resident Joe Foster’s trumpet with delay pedal) typify the approach, and are the most prolific contributors here. While the new technology of which South Korea is a renowned hub is also put to some use – obsolete junk sharing the stage with state-of-the-art laptops – the emphasis is more on the analogue sounds rather than their digital treatments.

The resulting music has an ostensibly austere aesthetic which could superficially be placed within the ‘minimalist’ or ‘noise’ genres, but on closer listening neither label is adequate. The Relay players have developed an impressive array of improvisational strategies which sets their music apart from any one particular improv camp: significant buildups of layered noise abruptly cut to silence before more spacious material is introduced; soft, sustained tones are juxtaposed against the oscillating whirrs and clicks generated by the hardware; repeated or completely static ideas are allowed to cohabit with irrational gestures; forensic attention to the most minute of sonic detail is off-set by an extreme appreciation of space; there are glitchy, aggressive and highly interactive exchanges here too.

Alongside the Relay improvisers there are several guest appearances, from the local through neighbouring Japan to mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Seoul resident Bonnie Jones forms the duo English with Joe Foster, while Iida Katsuaki adds spoken word to the end of one piece with regular collaborator Hankil (check out their ‘Selected Poems with Clockwork’ on the Manual label). Toshimaru Nakamura contributes his ‘no-input mixing board’, a way of producing and manipulating feedback, to a stunning duo with Park Seungjun, one of the most impressive tracks on show. Berlin-based clarinettist Kai Fagaschinski makes a visit, pitting his harsh altissimo squeals and soft multiphonics against the white noise of Joonyong and Chulki’s hardware. Laptopists Dieb13, Klaus Filip and Noid of Vienna-based collective Klingt (www.klingt.org) also appear, fitting so neatly into the Relay aesthetic that their contributions aren’t easily separable from those of the regulars. By contrast, Mats Gustafsson’s appearance on baritone saxophone begins with a 5-minute blast of his trademark overblowing, way on top of the group sound; Sangtae and Joonyong respond in kind, building up the most dense accumulation of noise in the entire set with little assistance from their guest, before the three arrive at a sustained, breathy consensus.

While the various duos and trios that constitute the majority of ‘Archive 2007-2008’ demonstrate the full range of Relay’s collective vocabulary, in the two larger ensemble tracks which bookend the collection (a quintet and a 10-piece respectively) reduction is key. The opening quintet piece results in significantly less sound than any of the duos or trios; the concept is then taken to extremes in the large ensemble closer: several minutes pass before any of the 10 participants even make a sound, and even then the interventions last only a few seconds, presumably the outcome of some pre-performance discussion.

Aside from the variety of improvisational approaches on show here and the interest generated by how the sounds are actually produced, these recordings are simply really refreshing. They have at least as much to do with the joy of exploring sound as they do with more cerebral concerns, and add up to a fascinating document of a completely unique scene, the key artists of which continue to plough their respective furrows.  

Mark Hanslip


True Detective Themes from killedincars on 8tracks Radio.
Here is a mix I made based loosely on moods I felt from True Detective. There are a few tracks in here to help define the mix, but otherwise this is a mix of some favorites that I think work as a replacement to some of the (excellent) scoring in the show. Check the tags for the artists, and enjoy!
Zoom Info

True Detective Themes from killedincars on 8tracks Radio.
Here is a mix I made based loosely on moods I felt from True Detective. There are a few tracks in here to help define the mix, but otherwise this is a mix of some favorites that I think work as a replacement to some of the (excellent) scoring in the show. Check the tags for the artists, and enjoy!
Zoom Info

True Detective Themes from killedincars on 8tracks Radio.


Here is a mix I made based loosely on moods I felt from True Detective. There are a few tracks in here to help define the mix, but otherwise this is a mix of some favorites that I think work as a replacement to some of the (excellent) scoring in the show. Check the tags for the artists, and enjoy!

Matthew Dotson - Sublimation

I suspect that most music reviewers are aficionados of other good reviewers, and a big part of my musical news comes through some of my favorite creative music advocates/writers like “Strauss” at Tiny Mix Tapes/Cerberus. A little less than a year ago, I read his review of Matthew Dotson’s “Excavation,” and was intrigued enough to order the tape, which indeed lives up to its glowing review. Since then, Dotson has released a pair of cassettes through Chicago’s Already Dead Tapes, including the recent “Sublimation.”

Over the course of three tapes, Matthew Dotson’s music has moved increasingly toward the “vaporwave” movement, using fragments of muzak-y pop culture aural effluvium as sound sources, but the way he handles musical materials feels wholly different than most folks associated with vaporwave. At least in my cultural circles, I’ve heard vaporwave dismissed as a product of hastily-prolific hipster fine arts nonsense, and I’ve heard it lauded as a critique of corporate culture constructed from its own remnants. What these seemingly opposite camps have in common is a tendency to dissect the genre through literary, visual art, or sociopolitical lenses—it’s rarely discussed in musical terms. And frankly, a lot of vaporwave strikes my ears as vague, musically lackadaisical, or downright boring on strictly musical merits.

I find Dotson’s approach far more musically interesting than most vaporwavers, and I wasn’t surprised to find that he’s studied composition at the doctoral level. While this music can certainly abide discussion in terms of conceptual transformation or post-capitalist material repurposing, it also works as proficiently-composed music, balanced and varied and dynamic in all of the right places for a pure listening experience that doesn’t require extramusical apologetics.

And Dotson is really good at selecting names for his recordings: “Sublimation” in the Freudian sense is a perfect one-word description of the potential higher-order musical implications of vaporwave, taking vintage musical idioms mostly regarded as untoward or “lame” and re-using their raw materials toward a more transcendent whole. In contrast, the earlier “Excavation” tape really does feel like an excavation, unearthing deep cuts and exotic sources and bringing them into a musical light, and the first recording for Already Dead Tapes, “Revolution/Circumvention,” starts to flirt with the musical materials one associates with vaporwave without going all the way.

"Sublimation" is presented as 2 sides of audio, but the A-side feels like a 2-movement idea to me, while the B-side contains 6 shorter ideas that aren’t necessarily closely related. On the A-side, the first "movement" keeps percussion sounds going throughout, staying in a fairly narrow range of mid-tempo samples. While this kind of production has dance music/mixtape qualities, there’s a formal structure at work here that balances the piece: For example, the first fully-orchestrated set of materials that arise from some clean-sounding 80s guitar at the beginning of the side return around the 10:00 mark to constitute a sort of thematic restatement at its end. In between, my ears were drawn to how voice and guitar samples get recontextualized with a variety of very musical contrasts. There is a very simple guitar part, for example, one simple note that’s picked and followed by a downslide, that first appears atop a "chopped and screwed" (dramatically slowed down) rhythm bed, and it reappears later over a more real-time passage alongside a melodically moving synth line, turning the guitar into more of a harmonic pedal point mechanism than the kind of rhythmic accent role it had earlier. In terms of vocal fragments, Dotson seems to be drawing attention to the kinds of melodic shapes and exaggerated vibrato one finds at climactic moments in upbeat pop tunes while avoiding their original word content.

The shorter piece at the end of the A-side starts with a kind of ominous cinematic flourish and settles into an adagio pulse of synths and vocals for a couple of minutes, and then it becomes an uptempo rhythmic workout racing to the end, with almost industrial textures in the rhythms (though classic early techno synth-handclaps are there to remind you of previous origins). Finally, it settles into some very quieter chopped/screwed 80s balladry, followed by even softer recapitulation of some segments of the earlier cinematic-ish samples at the opening of the “movement.” This piece has an especially wide dynamic range that follows a classic dramatic arc.

I find myself musically more into the variety of ideas that make up the B-side. The first segment is a relatively short passage, taking some wind sounds and sustained synth-bell tones into a wickedly dense fog of distortion for a couple of haunting minutes. That’s followed by an almost 60s-ish section peeking through some phase and distortion effects, eventually settling into a kind of portatone percussion-meets-Art Bell-commercial-break-bassline, where a clavichord eventually steals the bass ostinato line away for itself. Skipping ahead, the last two sections are my favorite, with some reversed sounds, short percussion samples with tight delays, and a gentle synth/string figure that eventually dissolves into solo piano lines that are EQ’ed into a hushed oblivion at the end of the piece.

Already Dead makes very small editions of some tapes (50 in the case of “Sublimation”), so if you want to track this down, hit them up here or here as soon as you can. And be sure to check out Dotson’s Bandcamp page, too, as he still has copies of his self-released “Excavation” cassette available, a much-loved tape at Words on Sounds.

—Scott Scholz
Zoom Info
Matthew Dotson - Sublimation

I suspect that most music reviewers are aficionados of other good reviewers, and a big part of my musical news comes through some of my favorite creative music advocates/writers like “Strauss” at Tiny Mix Tapes/Cerberus. A little less than a year ago, I read his review of Matthew Dotson’s “Excavation,” and was intrigued enough to order the tape, which indeed lives up to its glowing review. Since then, Dotson has released a pair of cassettes through Chicago’s Already Dead Tapes, including the recent “Sublimation.”

Over the course of three tapes, Matthew Dotson’s music has moved increasingly toward the “vaporwave” movement, using fragments of muzak-y pop culture aural effluvium as sound sources, but the way he handles musical materials feels wholly different than most folks associated with vaporwave. At least in my cultural circles, I’ve heard vaporwave dismissed as a product of hastily-prolific hipster fine arts nonsense, and I’ve heard it lauded as a critique of corporate culture constructed from its own remnants. What these seemingly opposite camps have in common is a tendency to dissect the genre through literary, visual art, or sociopolitical lenses—it’s rarely discussed in musical terms. And frankly, a lot of vaporwave strikes my ears as vague, musically lackadaisical, or downright boring on strictly musical merits.

I find Dotson’s approach far more musically interesting than most vaporwavers, and I wasn’t surprised to find that he’s studied composition at the doctoral level. While this music can certainly abide discussion in terms of conceptual transformation or post-capitalist material repurposing, it also works as proficiently-composed music, balanced and varied and dynamic in all of the right places for a pure listening experience that doesn’t require extramusical apologetics.

And Dotson is really good at selecting names for his recordings: “Sublimation” in the Freudian sense is a perfect one-word description of the potential higher-order musical implications of vaporwave, taking vintage musical idioms mostly regarded as untoward or “lame” and re-using their raw materials toward a more transcendent whole. In contrast, the earlier “Excavation” tape really does feel like an excavation, unearthing deep cuts and exotic sources and bringing them into a musical light, and the first recording for Already Dead Tapes, “Revolution/Circumvention,” starts to flirt with the musical materials one associates with vaporwave without going all the way.

"Sublimation" is presented as 2 sides of audio, but the A-side feels like a 2-movement idea to me, while the B-side contains 6 shorter ideas that aren’t necessarily closely related. On the A-side, the first "movement" keeps percussion sounds going throughout, staying in a fairly narrow range of mid-tempo samples. While this kind of production has dance music/mixtape qualities, there’s a formal structure at work here that balances the piece: For example, the first fully-orchestrated set of materials that arise from some clean-sounding 80s guitar at the beginning of the side return around the 10:00 mark to constitute a sort of thematic restatement at its end. In between, my ears were drawn to how voice and guitar samples get recontextualized with a variety of very musical contrasts. There is a very simple guitar part, for example, one simple note that’s picked and followed by a downslide, that first appears atop a "chopped and screwed" (dramatically slowed down) rhythm bed, and it reappears later over a more real-time passage alongside a melodically moving synth line, turning the guitar into more of a harmonic pedal point mechanism than the kind of rhythmic accent role it had earlier. In terms of vocal fragments, Dotson seems to be drawing attention to the kinds of melodic shapes and exaggerated vibrato one finds at climactic moments in upbeat pop tunes while avoiding their original word content.

The shorter piece at the end of the A-side starts with a kind of ominous cinematic flourish and settles into an adagio pulse of synths and vocals for a couple of minutes, and then it becomes an uptempo rhythmic workout racing to the end, with almost industrial textures in the rhythms (though classic early techno synth-handclaps are there to remind you of previous origins). Finally, it settles into some very quieter chopped/screwed 80s balladry, followed by even softer recapitulation of some segments of the earlier cinematic-ish samples at the opening of the “movement.” This piece has an especially wide dynamic range that follows a classic dramatic arc.

I find myself musically more into the variety of ideas that make up the B-side. The first segment is a relatively short passage, taking some wind sounds and sustained synth-bell tones into a wickedly dense fog of distortion for a couple of haunting minutes. That’s followed by an almost 60s-ish section peeking through some phase and distortion effects, eventually settling into a kind of portatone percussion-meets-Art Bell-commercial-break-bassline, where a clavichord eventually steals the bass ostinato line away for itself. Skipping ahead, the last two sections are my favorite, with some reversed sounds, short percussion samples with tight delays, and a gentle synth/string figure that eventually dissolves into solo piano lines that are EQ’ed into a hushed oblivion at the end of the piece.

Already Dead makes very small editions of some tapes (50 in the case of “Sublimation”), so if you want to track this down, hit them up here or here as soon as you can. And be sure to check out Dotson’s Bandcamp page, too, as he still has copies of his self-released “Excavation” cassette available, a much-loved tape at Words on Sounds.

—Scott Scholz
Zoom Info

Matthew Dotson - Sublimation

I suspect that most music reviewers are aficionados of other good reviewers, and a big part of my musical news comes through some of my favorite creative music advocates/writers like “Strauss” at Tiny Mix Tapes/Cerberus. A little less than a year ago, I read his review of Matthew Dotson’s “Excavation,” and was intrigued enough to order the tape, which indeed lives up to its glowing review. Since then, Dotson has released a pair of cassettes through Chicago’s Already Dead Tapes, including the recent “Sublimation.”

Over the course of three tapes, Matthew Dotson’s music has moved increasingly toward the “vaporwave” movement, using fragments of muzak-y pop culture aural effluvium as sound sources, but the way he handles musical materials feels wholly different than most folks associated with vaporwave. At least in my cultural circles, I’ve heard vaporwave dismissed as a product of hastily-prolific hipster fine arts nonsense, and I’ve heard it lauded as a critique of corporate culture constructed from its own remnants. What these seemingly opposite camps have in common is a tendency to dissect the genre through literary, visual art, or sociopolitical lenses—it’s rarely discussed in musical terms. And frankly, a lot of vaporwave strikes my ears as vague, musically lackadaisical, or downright boring on strictly musical merits.

I find Dotson’s approach far more musically interesting than most vaporwavers, and I wasn’t surprised to find that he’s studied composition at the doctoral level. While this music can certainly abide discussion in terms of conceptual transformation or post-capitalist material repurposing, it also works as proficiently-composed music, balanced and varied and dynamic in all of the right places for a pure listening experience that doesn’t require extramusical apologetics.

And Dotson is really good at selecting names for his recordings: “Sublimation” in the Freudian sense is a perfect one-word description of the potential higher-order musical implications of vaporwave, taking vintage musical idioms mostly regarded as untoward or “lame” and re-using their raw materials toward a more transcendent whole. In contrast, the earlier “Excavation” tape really does feel like an excavation, unearthing deep cuts and exotic sources and bringing them into a musical light, and the first recording for Already Dead Tapes, “Revolution/Circumvention,” starts to flirt with the musical materials one associates with vaporwave without going all the way.

"Sublimation" is presented as 2 sides of audio, but the A-side feels like a 2-movement idea to me, while the B-side contains 6 shorter ideas that aren’t necessarily closely related. On the A-side, the first "movement" keeps percussion sounds going throughout, staying in a fairly narrow range of mid-tempo samples. While this kind of production has dance music/mixtape qualities, there’s a formal structure at work here that balances the piece: For example, the first fully-orchestrated set of materials that arise from some clean-sounding 80s guitar at the beginning of the side return around the 10:00 mark to constitute a sort of thematic restatement at its end. In between, my ears were drawn to how voice and guitar samples get recontextualized with a variety of very musical contrasts. There is a very simple guitar part, for example, one simple note that’s picked and followed by a downslide, that first appears atop a "chopped and screwed" (dramatically slowed down) rhythm bed, and it reappears later over a more real-time passage alongside a melodically moving synth line, turning the guitar into more of a harmonic pedal point mechanism than the kind of rhythmic accent role it had earlier. In terms of vocal fragments, Dotson seems to be drawing attention to the kinds of melodic shapes and exaggerated vibrato one finds at climactic moments in upbeat pop tunes while avoiding their original word content.

The shorter piece at the end of the A-side starts with a kind of ominous cinematic flourish and settles into an adagio pulse of synths and vocals for a couple of minutes, and then it becomes an uptempo rhythmic workout racing to the end, with almost industrial textures in the rhythms (though classic early techno synth-handclaps are there to remind you of previous origins). Finally, it settles into some very quieter chopped/screwed 80s balladry, followed by even softer recapitulation of some segments of the earlier cinematic-ish samples at the opening of the “movement.” This piece has an especially wide dynamic range that follows a classic dramatic arc.

I find myself musically more into the variety of ideas that make up the B-side. The first segment is a relatively short passage, taking some wind sounds and sustained synth-bell tones into a wickedly dense fog of distortion for a couple of haunting minutes. That’s followed by an almost 60s-ish section peeking through some phase and distortion effects, eventually settling into a kind of portatone percussion-meets-Art Bell-commercial-break-bassline, where a clavichord eventually steals the bass ostinato line away for itself. Skipping ahead, the last two sections are my favorite, with some reversed sounds, short percussion samples with tight delays, and a gentle synth/string figure that eventually dissolves into solo piano lines that are EQ’ed into a hushed oblivion at the end of the piece.

Already Dead makes very small editions of some tapes (50 in the case of “Sublimation”), so if you want to track this down, hit them up here or here as soon as you can. And be sure to check out Dotson’s Bandcamp page, too, as he still has copies of his self-released “Excavation” cassette available, a much-loved tape at Words on Sounds.

—Scott Scholz

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