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Our new in house label, releasing music recorded in lockdown.
London-based duo Leyden Jars welcome us to their world across a set of 4 breezy improvisations, made during lockdown #1, edited in lockdown #2 and mixed and mastered in lockdown #3 in the UK.
In it oneiric synth washes, kosmische arpeggios and glittering melodies drift softly over an open plain, blending with one another to take the shape of songs and wandering soundscapes. Natalie’s voice floats in and out of the fray as an instrument in itself, breathing heavenly laments like a ghost singing through the floorboards.
Each track was made over a set of different days, and with that unravels a set of new shades and tones; anxiety, uncertainty and hope laid bare. As the duo say, “it appears that within the uncertainty of the first lockdown, we reached for familiar tools; improvised a temporary escape that coincidentally led us back to the unknown and unplanned.” Leyden Jars look inward to spread themselves outward, and with us share us the delectable results.
All music by Leyden Jars: Natalie Williams & Mark Courtney
Mastered by Carim Clasmann at the Fish Tank, Cologne'
Cover by Oli Barrett
Leyden Jars – Too much of not enough
Experimental electronic artist Kirk Barley unveils a split release between his two different monikers. Utilising a similar set of tools and reduced sound palette for each, he bridges the gap between the two approaches, while also allowing room for each to flourish in their own distinct forms.
Under his own name, Kirk embraces floating four world motifs. Juiced-up keys spurt and twinkle in an algorithmic maze, sprouting swirling motifs and melodies before dissolving in a synthetic water bath. On the 'Church Andrews' flip he lets these tools slip out of free motion and lock themselves into distinct percussive patterns. Similar to the approach of the likes of SND, Kirk teases the temporality in house and footwork styles to scribe his own skittering dancefloor style.
Over both sides Kirk's improvised approach to sound energises each note, bass and snare clap and wandering phrase. Listening to his music is like watching plant life blossom, winding itself in and around towering city concrete in real time.
Written & recorded by Kirk Barley / Church Andrews
Cover by Oli Barrett
Kirk Barley / Church Andrews – Parallels
Multi-disciplinary Parisian artist Jean-Luc Guionnet presents us a magnum opus: Totality.
"Why "Totality"? I don’t know. Neither why, nor what, nor how, where, or when... You can be sure that no obvious rational issues drove any of my decisions. There are probably many secrets within this work, but no demonstrations, and not one rebus. There are neither prescriptions nor descriptions, or perhaps both compressed into a pellet, even if that sounds a little gross. Actually, if I now feel sorry for the people who were not included, I also feel sorry for those who were. I once had an old car with no stereo, so I use to sing while driving to keep myself alive, aware, awake, and sometimes I recorded those moments. One day, in 2017, while the machine was recording, I didn't sing but talked... something I never did and never do. My voice sounded like that of a stranger, as well as what I was saying. I nearly forgot about this recording until we started receiving bizarre commands, and for some reason it came back to mind. There are 83 voices, all of whom I know, some of them very well, 4 only friends-of-friends, in 20 or so languages.
I’ll let you imagine the details of the whole process; your images are part of the piece.
All sounds, all music I composed, played, recorded, mixed, commentated, sang, and so on. There are no quotations of any kind.
Parts A, B & C are not to be listened to separately as 3 different pieces: they are like the 3 movements of a single composition.
Knowing that the first part ("incipit cambodgien") is one of the loudest, please listen to "Totality" as loud as possible.
(thanks to Lucas)"
- Jean-Luc Guionnet
Voices in order of appearence:
Daravuth LyNicolas CarrascoElizabeth Saint JalmesJoe ColleyLoty NegartiAda DiaconescuPatrick GuionnetHoussam El BokeiliMattinIngrid SchmolinerSeymour WrightKlaus FilipNaomi VerdonSamo KutinLuke FowlerMarcus SchmicklerVincent BouchotÉric CordierCaroline PouzollesFrantz LoriotCyprien BusoliniSonia FleuranceShaul KohnTimothée QuostTchang YixinSacha AksinChing Ching CheungRay BrassierLaurent PascalYan JunSantiago GardeazabalLaszlo JuhaszYanik MiossecIris PoonXabier ErkiziaChristophe MacéJoel GripPavel TchikovAlexander LauThomas CharmetantAnnette KrebsJeremy KennedyJason KahnClaire BergeraultBertrand DenzlerAndrew ChoateGaudenz BadruttIban RegnierAnna GaïottiNicole KhouriLou Neva ZlatanovaEmma De LauraNatasa SerecLotus Edde KhouriÉric La CasaGael LeveugleTaku UnamiAli RobertsonXperXrFredie DecombeVéronique RusticiBarry EssonMartin MichaudAlessandro BosettiPeter KolovosMarc BaronFrançois DurifWill GuthrieClarence Pouzolles-CatelaNadia Bou AliClayton ThomasSophie DaullNikos VeliotisMarc FèvreRobert BastienRhodri DavisStéphane RivesNeil DavidsonCristian AlvéarLuka ZagoričnikMartin TétreaultMoussa SyPascal BattusSeijiro Murayama& myself
Jean-Luc Guionnet – Totality
Shofar was founded by Raphael Rogiński in 2007. From the very beginning, its program consists of music related to the mystical Jewish tradition. The pieces they perform come from pre-war musicological research from Ukraine, Poland and Moldova. They are most often "niguns", or "magical religious songs that are supposed to introduce into a trance and ecstasy".
By keeping the sound material of the melody unchanged, it is possible to get to know the entire spectrum of Hasidic music and the culture associated with it. The enormity of this tradition is filtered at the end by the personalities of all three musicians. In this band, the music is the music of the present, not a museum specimen.
The latest album was named "Right Before It Started" as it indeed happened to be recorded just the day before the first lockdown, back in March 2020. Out of confusion, anxiety and uncertainty of that moment came the music being quite opposite - meditative, balanced and hopeful.
The record is also available on double vinyl (12"+8") via Gusstaff Records.
Raphael Rogiński / guitarMikołaj Trzaska / saxophone, bass clarinetMacio Moretti / drumsElisabeth Harnik / prepared piano on track 4
right before it started was recorded by Shofar at Zolton/Morton Studios in Warsaw. Mixed by Paweł Krawczyk at Studio im. Kazimierza DeynyMastered by Sebastian Imbierowicz at home.All tunes traditional, except "Zay Zayer (Imperial)" by Shofar.Photos by Artur LądownikDesign by Macio
Shofar – Right Before It Started
Throughout 2020 and continuing in 2021 Supriya Nagarajan and Duncan Chapman have been creating a series of trio online collaborative performances with musicians from across the world. Starting out as a way of staying in touch by inviting existing collaborators to send a 30 minute recording of them playing, singing or recording their environment the project has grown into a regular series of live-streamed events. Combining shared recordings with live Carnatic singing from Supriya and live electronic manipulation / instrumental sounds from Duncan and broadcast on social media with an accompanying movie, slideshow or imagery generated from the sound.
In September 2020 they invited acclaimed harpist Rhodri Davies to send them a recording to work with. What they got from Rhodri was a sublime 30 minutes of bowed harp with occasional gestural moments. This recording is of a live performance which merges this with voice, spectral processing of the harp sound and added electronic parts.
More recordings are available from Manasamitra's Bandcamp here.
and from Rhodri Davies
Duncan Chapman, Supriya Nagarajan & Rhodri Davies – Slowly Drifting
Over a bed of disrobed electronic minimalism, each Pete Um vignette unveils itself like a sardonic commentary over newsreels, or a hidden diary of notes he's typed then deleted before posting on social media. At times taking on resentment towards the specifics of post-Brexit Britain, Pete takes aim at various reactionary targets amongst obscure poetical despondencies, laying these out between and around tongue-in-cheek observations about day to day life.
Pete's own music finds itself nestled between different British pop, autodidact and avante traditions. Mark Perry's diaristic oddities, the spoken-word absurdity of the Bohman Brothers and Bowie's more stripped back numbers come to mind, but Pete is on an island of his own, broadcasting laconic waves of malaise, reminding us that we're not alone in this mess.
--Pete Um - voice and synth
Mastering & artwork by Oliver Barrett
Pete Um – A British Passport
claire rousay is one of the most revelatory young artists to recently emerge from America. Flipping her tools between domestic musique concrete, voice recordings, percussion and multi-instrumentalism, claire has already amassed a wide array of both solo and collaborative works exploring human relationships and self perception.
For this new piece she passes the mic away from herself, allowing a set of friends to respond to the open call of "tell me about someone you love". She also gives space to Twitter personality roche (aka @kvetchkween) to read out a selection of voice tweets. Melding these clips with her own domestic rumblings, oneiric synth washes, Mari Maurice's creeking violin and Derek Baron's wistful flute, claire acts as a documentary maker, an assembler of multitudinous lives, thoughts and feelings shot through her own subjective lens.
With her careful editorial touch, claire reveals the intersection where the domestic and the banal meet the dramatic and near-mythic. An experimental micro documentary that's maybe about the meaning of love and our relationships with one another, lifted from her twitter news feed and shot into the metaphysical world.
claire rousay - field recordings, synth & editing
Derek Baron - flute
Mari Maurice - violin
Voice recordings from Michael Schoeffel, Ryan Walker, sabrina ghieuw and Twitter personality, roche (aka @kvetchkween)
Mastered by Andrew Weathers
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
claire rousay – ilysm
Italian duo Rosso Polare treat us to their 2nd album, following the wonderful 'Lettere Animali' album, which was one of our highlights of 2020.
Cani Lenti is a collection of duels, some may say. As the two minds of Cesare Lopopolo and Annna Vezzosi converge, a dichotomy of harmonious and contrasting sounds ebb, swirl and clatter in and amongst themselves. Using techniques from call and response improvisation, tape manipulation, experimental music and free-form folk, their approach to music making feels both atypical and familiar, organised and free-flowing, rooted and landless. Like the films of fellow Italian film-maker Alice Rohrwacher, Rosso Polare's music feels grounded in the earth, but sprouts and spreads in strange and often anachronistic ways.
The duo describe this album as it’s a struggle – a skirmish – that strives to resemble filmic sonorisations and forgotten sounds. Together they lead us on a journey into the depths of Chthonian Music. Fans of the likes of Sun Araw, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and General Strike - dive in!
Written and performed by Cesare Lopopolo & Anna Vezzosi
Recorded between Milan and Brescia in 2020-2021
Mixed and produced by Cesare Lopopolo
Mastered by Alexander Pustynsky
Album art by Anna Vezzosi
Rosso Polare – Cani Lenti
"Certainly always an enigmatic delicacy, this latest from Josephine Foster throws us further into the sublime. With two tracks that seem to complement and almost respond to each other, this latest from Café Oto’s series is a must listen and an exciting departure into fresh territory for this artist.
On the first track, “Spellbinder”, Josephine takes us on a journey into the cyclical and interpenetrating layers of three humble instruments. Josephine plays them on top of each other, garnering chance encounters and interactions as she improvises in three through-composed layers, each time in partnership with her voice. She describes her instruments as beloved but imperfect, recalling the pump organ as having “a clumpy pump on the right with uneven delivery” and the folk harp as having “its flaws” but also realizing their advantages by embracing and embellishing their lack. This track is an ascent into the spiraling ephemeral state of being, with vocals weaving in and out chanting her setting of “om mani padme hum,” the sacred Buddhist mantra (translated into English as “Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus”) with each of the six Sanskrit syllables representing key aspects of the Buddhist teachings. In this piece, a cycle of chance encounters channeled through imperfect containers reaches some kind of noble truth here.
On the second track “Experiment” Josephine truly goes into unchartered territory in this Cole Porter cover. In true homage to Porter’s lyrics, Foster has never presented a more “experimental” palette of synths and vocals and beats.
“Experiment...Make it your motto day and night.Experiment...And it will lead you to the light.The apple on the top of the treeIs never too high to achieveSo take an example from EveExperiment… “
On Foster’s synth lines we almost think early Laraaji or Emerald Web but with the addition of Josephine’s voice I think more of the complex stylings of Robert Wyatt ‘s songcrafting. I also can’t help but think of Arthur Russell’s disco music experiments as it climaxes into a nice thick beat at the end created by Foster’s organ that seems to tie all the loose ends together.
Both tracks on this record are cyclical in their own ways and their complementary nature to each other demands repeated listening, creating yet another cycle of the most experimental of earworms yet by Josephine Foster."
All music by Josephine Foster
SpellbinderDouble trio for tenor recorder, lever harp, and pump organ and 3 voices
Experiment (from Nymph Errant, by Cole Porter)synth/voice
Recorded, mixed and performed by Josephine Foster
Photo Silvia Camerin
Mastering by Oliver Barrett
Josephine Foster – Spellbinder / Experiment
Nexcyia is an African-American/French sound artist and experimental ambient musician based in London and Paris. Working with found sound, Nexcyia weaves together harsh sound design and swooping soundscapes into works that bridge many moods, emotions and places through noise, granular synthesis, textures and rhythms.
On new release 'Origin' he meditates on place, time and being, using thick brushstrokes of swelling synthesis to come to terms with the past and present. Loss and longing haunts each clouded drone, wandering melody and textural wash, creating dense layers that float around and encircle one another in a weightless space. Each track feels like a memory peered through a fogged window, watching as it slowly fades into the distance, or an orchestra heard playing a mile away, amplified over rivers and hills. Nexcyia takes us on a journey with no set co-ordinates, conjuring otherworldly music rooted somewhere that can't be found.
Nexcyia – Origin
A collaboration at a distance. After a lockdown was imposed, something like a conversation emerged in a to- and fro- of writing and recordings. We were interested in the dynamics of encounter, interaction and (dis)orientation. The process has been marked by the stretches of time that shape this back and forth, by a certain lag, as we catch up with one another—a slowed-down, stretched-out kind of experience that is perhaps characteristic of lockdown itself. Most of the sounds come from close to hand, everyday, tactile objects, accidents, or routines. And from the body as it rubs, carries, plays, waits, dawdles with its surroundings. The voices are chatting, syncopating, trying to change position, getting in a mess.
- Rebecca Wilcox & Hannah Ellul
Rebecca Wilcox & Hannah Ellul - all music & recording
Cover design by Oliver Barrett
Rebecca Wilcox & Hannah Ellul – sweeping, at least
Grubbs and Walker are both guitar-playing former Chicagoans who’ve recorded for the Drag City label and currently live in New York. They’re practically the same person. After digging one another’s recordings for some time, they started playing together—duo, quartet, whatever you got—in 2019. This live recording from a broiling night at a neighborhood bar in Ridgewood, Queens documents their first duo performance.
David Grubbs / electric guitar
Ryley Walker / electric guitar
Recorded by Jack Callahan at The Windjammer, Ridgewood, Queens, June 29, 2019. Mastered by Jack Callahan. Thanks to Alan Courtis, C. Spencer Yeh, and Asha Shehadri, with whom we shared a bill on this lovely evening.
David Grubbs was a member of the groups Gastr del Sol, Bastro, and Squirrel Bait, and has performed with the Red Krayola, Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, Susan Howe, Will Oldham, and many others. His most recent book is The Voice in the Headphones (Duke University Press, 2020).
Ryley Walker is a guitarist and songwriter based in New York City. Multiple releases spanning multiple genres on Dead Oceans, Thrill Jockey, Drag City, American Tapes, and his own imprint—husky pants records.
Cover design by Oli Barrett
David Grubbs & Ryley Walker – Fight or Flight Simulator
Following on from his duo release with Crystabel Riley (as @xcrswx) on Takuroku Seymour Wright unveils two new solo tracks. These are half of a set of four remembering 'Rites' begun earlier this year (the other two have appeared on AMPLIFY and klasika.lsm.) Recorded as part of his live stream in an empty OTO in August 2020,
Seymour explores the traditions, structures, and spaces of OTO, the saxophone, and memory.
1. Natural Rite [angle] (2020, for Carole Finer)
solo for alto saxophone on window, shutters, radiator and wall.
2. Knot Rite (2020, after Frances A. Yates, Jan Kopinski and Tina Brooks)
solo for three alto saxophones and their feedback.
Seymour Wright - saxophone
Recorded 'live-stream' at Cafe OTO by Shaun Crook on August 21st, 2020
Mixed by Seymour Wright.
Seymour Wright – (If) I Remember Rites (2020)
In January 2021, veteran Madrid-based electroacoustic improviser Wade Matthews met with London-based improviser and performer Blanca Regina to record four short improvisations. Now, these short cuts have become Shortcuts, four brief glimpses of how two experienced and creative improvisers understand each other in sonic dialogues as surprising to them as to listeners.
Limited edition print version of the album available here.
Blanca Regina: voice, electronics, objects and toys
Wade Matthews: digital electronics, realtime processing of recordings and amplified objects.
Recorded, mixed and Mastered by Wade Matthews at Smiling Cow Studio in Madrid, January 2021
Cover Photo: Etching by Blanca Regina made at Taller de Grabado Fernando Sandoval, Oaxaca, México 2018.
Blanca Regina & Wade Matthews – Shortcuts
Following on from his preposterous 'MUJZIK MONSTRØSA SPEEDRUN', which was released in 2020 on Takuroku, Goodiepal returns with an all new radio-based experimental sound work.
On 'The Pole Imposter & The Databar' he embraces his ongoing audio-based crypto-academic documentation of the strange sides of European computer music. As ever with Goodiepal's work, it's best for words to pare back and let the piece speak for itself. Dive in - it's free.
Cover design by Oli Barrett
Goodiepal – The Pole Imposter & The Databar
Brighton's Duncan Harrison presents an all new work of bizarre and beautiful junk-concrete, pieced together from unedited phone recordings and spread between two channels (left and right audio).
Like the two channels that unfurl the collection of unedited phone recordings, the sounds Duncan reveals are caught in dualities; the serious and unserious, the sad and ecstatic, the planned and unplanned; the musical and non-musical; the meaningful and meaningless. Whether twanging a guitar, walking into a rock bar, having chats with pals, rattling junk in a sink, making voice notes to himself, burping into the mic or rehearsing wrestling moves from memory, he provides a peep-holes to his inner and outer life, while never revealing a full picture. Through narrative juxtaposition, crude editorial cuts and double exposition, he plays a masked game of sleight of hand, unveiling layers of truth and untruth.
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person" said Oscar Wilde. "Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth."
Duncan Harrison - all voice memos & editing
Duncan Harrison – Two Channels of Unedited Voice Memos
Fragile strength is what i've been
Changing before your very eyes
Though often unseen- (from 'Trilogy')
As Takuroku hits the milestone of 100 releases over the past 6 months, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than a debut solo release (yes, the first ever!) by Maggie Nicols.
Maggie has been a familiar name around OTO over our 13 year history, lending her voice and talents to a series of unforgettable performances, including a session with Joëlle Leandre and Roger Turner, which remains one of our favourite archived live performances to this day. While she might be best known as an improviser, most notably in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Feminist Improvising Group and more recently with the likes of 'Les Diaboliques', her talents stretch into song, dance, poetry, performance and composition.
This release, modestly recorded on her computer after teaching herself how to use Garageband during lock-down, brings forth her doubts, anxieties, loves and desires in a 13-part musical journey. Webbed through piano ballads, playful improvised ditties, stories, poetry and multi-layered vocal arrangements, 'Creative Contradiction' feels like a long-overdue catch up with a close friend. There's reminiscing, there's laughter, there's tears, there's chatter that floats on and off topic, there's things shared you don't feel comfortable sharing with others. When the world around us makes these sorts of relationships difficult or rendered void, intimacy through art can feel like an act of generosity: a hand outstretched in the darkness. Thank you Maggie for gifting us just that.
Maggie Nicols: voice, piano, electric keyboard and ceremonial drum
Recorded at home in 2020Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Photo from a workshop a ‘Learning, Transformation and Technique weekend at ‘Hecate’s Haven'
What needs Nourishing’ guided by Portia Wintersduring
Additional musicians on Track 8:
Katerina Koblizek - voice & Olitar (guitar made out of a Palestinian Olive oil can by cellist and guitarist Steve Moyes)
Ludek Salac - guitar
Maggie Nicols – Creative Contradiction: Poetry, Story, Song & Sound
German artist Tina Jander presents 'Ice Cubes', a durational piece for cello and field recordings. Pieced together from plucked melodic mantras and swelling bowed refrains on cello, Tina gifts each aural gesture space to gradually unfurl over time, elapse in and out of itself, and meet other gestures in a series of iterative phrases. Over the piece's duration new and pre-existing motifs are unveiled, creating patterns that seamlessly appear and disappear.
The piece is peppered with occasional field recordings, providing an open window where these patterns meld into the everyday. Absorbing and sensitive work from an artist we look forward to hearing more from in the future.
I think Tina’s work is brilliant, but what I love so much about ‘Ice Cubes’ is how it hovers around a particular place, detours then returns, without feeling forced or over thought. And this I think is a hard thing to do in a timeline - create a sense of time and pace that doesn’t feel too rushed or too static. There’s some great moments: the placement of an environmental recording, as if offered for our consideration and then just removed. And the underlying undulations of a cello placed outside its musical frame, simultaneously both fragile and grounded, a haunting subaquatic echo, a prelinguistic memory, drawing the listener impossibly close.
- Mark Fell
Tina Jander - Cello & field recordings
Mastered by Oli Barrett
Tina Jander – Ice Cubes