We need your help – please
Our new in house label, releasing music recorded in lockdown.
Zach Rowden is a singular young voice in the American experimental music scene, dealing with the acoustic and performative possibilities of the upright/electric bass, violin and other instrumentation. Whether embracing microtonal fiddle music in his duo Tongue Depressor, contributing as a member and soloist in Iancu Dumitrescu and the late Ana-Maria Avram’s Hyperion Ensemble, collaborating with Tyshawn Sorey, Leila Bordreuil, Michael Foster and many others, Zach lends a distinct focus and sense of adventure to everything he touches.
For this release on Takuroku, Zach uses loops, bass drones and a caustic field recording, letting each element mesh together in a circling broth, like a Tony Conrad jam slowly digging itself a hole in the muck and mud. There's a distinct US tape jam flavour to this, caking the layers of folkloric laments and eerie distant signals in a foggy murk and hiss. At once a sacred dirge and zoned DIY junk experiment, 'We Were Listening to Music' feels like a dimmed apparition - a recurring anomalous vibration from a bubbling underworld.
We were talking about music:
Talk about it to get it or?
The history of histories of histories of people bumping into each other
“Now how many instruments you play?”
People usually describe music to other people with these conjuring looking hand gestures
“when y’all started playin I passed OUT”
“Haha yeah I’ll have to listen to that again”
Is this all we talk about?
“It’s kind of like if you mixed the first ______ record with _______ and slowed down”
- Zach Rowden
Zach Rowden - loops, drone, field recording, strings
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Zach Rowden – We were talking about music
A gorgeous and dexterous saxophone and vibraphone dialogue between two key players in the UK free jazz/improvisation scene.
"We conducted this session over a Zoom meeting and recorded ourselves seperately and then mixed the tracks together. Corey and I had a duo project between 2013-2019 when Corey decided to retire from public performance and choosing instead to focus on recording, radio and academic pursuits. We used to play once a year at the London Jazz Festival, and had an 8 date tour by train (not easy with a vibraphone!) in Germany in February 2015. Suddenly, in lockdown, we had both been plunged into the same form of 'retirement', so took this opportunity to reconnect online. Despite fears around latency and it not feeling the same, it felt pretty close to 'old times'!" - Rachel Musson
Rachel Musson - saxophone
Corey Mwamba - vibraphone
Artwork picture by Rachel Musson
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Rachel Musson & Corey Mwamba – What We Said When We Met
Beautiful, spare and sensitive home recordings by cellist Hannah Marshall, who has treated us to so many special moments as a player at OTO over the years.
"Recordings made in a friends spare room on a half and full size cellos with re-tuned strings, not far from an open window on a quiet row of back gardens.
In some of the gaps you will hear the chair creak, the rain fall, the children at near by child-minders house. The slap and fall of strings, on fingers on wood.
In memory of Beth Hardisty. Rest In Peace."- Hannah Marshall
Hannah Marshall - cello & recording
Artwork by Hannah MarshallArtwork design by Oliver Barrett from a drawing by Hannah Marshall.
Hannah Marshall – Clouds
The 2nd in a series of two new releases by French tape-based experimental artist Jérôme Noetinger, who has treated us to countless unforgettable live sets at OTO. For this he presents two pieces in collaboration with Jean-Philippe Gross based on the idea of the exquisite corpse.
"There is a great tradition of exchange and correspondence work in experimental music. In the 80's, there were a lot of cassettes with musicians who had never met each other but were exchanging sounds by mail. Nowadays it's even simpler and more obvious.
The imposed period of confinement - in France between March 17 and May 11 - was ideal for restarting such projects.With Jean-Philippe Gross, our collaboration is older and we have had the opportunity to play several times as a duo. I have always been impressed by his dexterity, rigour and discipline in the electronic field.
For the first track, a musician created a first sequence lasting between 10 seconds and seven minutes, and sent only the last 10 seconds to the next one who then mixed or pasted his sequence into it, and so on for a total of 16 exchanges.
For the second, the number of exchanges has been limited to 14, with a duration of between 10 seconds and three minutes, but each having a maximum reserve of 10 minutes.
The final result was only filtered and slightly equalized in terms of volume." - Jérôme Noetinger
Jean-Philippe Gross & Jérôme Noetinger – Nos cadavres
"While the Coronavirous lockdown made many things impossible or infinitely more difficult and painful, it also opened up an unprecedented space to think, to reflect and to work in ways that the usual pressures deny.
On March 17th David Toop and Lucie Stepankova were due to play in a trio with Yifeat Ziv at Café Oto; then on April 9th they were also booked to play at Iklectik as a duo. Both gigs were cancelled, of course, because of the virus. In support of Iklectik, Lucie and David agreed to record a track together in the only way possible, by exchanging files and passing mixes back and forth across the aether. The feeling of working on this first track was positive so they decided to make a mini-album. One of the elements from the first track was a reading by Lucie of a passage from Kenya Hara’s book, On White, and this preoccupation with colour became a theme for the whole project. Other tracks were inspired by the writings of Hilma af Klint on mystical blue, Hokusai on shades of black, François Jullien on the six colours of Chinese ink and Cees Noteboom on the yellow/orange hue of a ceramic bowl.
Jullien wrote of a transition from ‘physical concretion to spirit dimension’, according to the dilution of the ink. This is how these tracks felt as they emerged between April and June of extraordinary times. When the album was finished it seemed fitting to offer it to Café Oto in a gesture of support and hopefulness for the future of London’s key venues.
David Toop and Lucie Stepankova have previously played in duos at Café Oto, Iklectik and at the Jhilava documentary film festival. They have also played in trios with Yifeat Ziv at Hundred Years Gallery, Tania Caroline Chen at Iklectik and John Butcher at Hangar Bicocca, Milan." - David & Lucie
David Toop and Lucie Stepankova - composition & mixing
Dave Hunt - mastering
Oliver Barret - artwork design
David Toop & Avsluta – On White, Indigo and Lamp Black
Ute Kanngiesser - cello
Daniel Kordík - field recording
The release is accompanied by a PDF of writing by Evie Ward in response to the release.
Please note that the WAV recording of this release has been recommended by the artists involved.
"At 4AM I slip out of the house to cycle east, towards dawn, with cello on my back and a stool strapped to the rack. The word 'essential' is turning over and around in my head. I am taking the quietest roads, trying to stay invisible, worried that someone might stop me and interfere with our plans. I find Daniel with recording equipment and hand sanitizer and together we walk another distance through dawn and smell of rain. We enter the Marshes, these essential lungs of East London. It is where he had come almost every day of these locked-down weeks to field-record and breathe. And it is where Evie and I met for walks and secret music - carefully bending the laws of the officially ‘essential’. I am wondering about places and times when public music was forbidden and never driven to extinction. This time it is for pandemic reasons and the severity of consequences is unspeakable and has turned into much noise in my head. But the birds, the wind, and the rain offer such relief and I feel so shy in their presence that my music can only become the smallest of offerings to them in the rainless window between 4.48AM and 5.15AM." - (Ute Kanngiesser, June 2020)
Photography by Daniel Kordík
Cover design by Oliver Barrett
Ute Kanngiesser & Daniel Kordík – 5AM
All new work by London-based artist Robbie Judkins (Left Hand Cuts off the Right), created on keyboard, zither, field recordings, synthesizer, khene, electric guitar and effects.
"Being classed as a key worker yet not feeling like one is a strange position to be in. Neither working for the NHS, caring for others, being a shop worker, ensuring safe transport nor providing an essential public service; yet remaining at work during this pandemic has filled me with worry, guilt, anxiety and some stability. These compositions and sketches bring together audio documents created during this time with a yearning for quiet despite a fascination with unavoidable noise." - Robbie Judkins
Left Hand Cuts off the Right - All music & recording
Robbie has very kindly offered for all money from this release to go to Cafe Oto.
Left Hand Cuts off the Right – Worker
An all new collaborative work by exciting new Belgian artists Ben Bertrand & Otto Lindholm:
"The first time we collaborated as a duo was for our interpretation of The Sinking of the Titanic by Gavin Bryars at les Ateliers Claus. At that time, there was an audience surrounding us. Now secluded and on our own, we went back to the same venue and locked ourself for 2 days arranging and recording the music Ben Bertrand wrote while he was in confinement.
We designed a dense and mineral triptych. Digging into this music, we experienced the current and pressure of the passing time. At some point we saw light coming in. The transformation has already been done, reversion to fundamentals is now our single option." - Ben Bertrand and Otto Lindholm
Composition : Ben BertrandArrangement : Otto Lindholm and Ben BertrandBass clarinet and electronics : Ben BertrandDouble bass and electronics : Otto LindholmRecorded and mixed at les ateliers claus by Christophe Albertijn the 29th and the 30th of June 2020.Thanks to : Dad, Mom, Tommy and Keiko.Painting : Pierre Vande PittePicture : Laurent Orseau
Artwork design:Oliver Barrett
Ben Bertrand and Otto Lindholm – Reversion
Ikue was due to perform a 4 night residency at Cafe OTO this September 2020, but due to coronavirus had to be rescheduled to some time next year. In its place she's very kindly put together this selection of new work, all made at home on her own. In it, collected samples and concurrent keyboard lines are projected like aural holograms of dreams shot through crystal. Elapsed drum patterns and gurgling digital electronics emerge and scatter themselves in a haze of tropical music concrete, before wandering into melodic patterns and glimpses of songs. Ikue says "this is where I’m in right now, being home my own" - and its clear she has formed a natural symbiosis with her laptop during this time; conjuring thick synthetic clouds of thoughts, feelings and dreams for listeners to swim through.
Ikue Mori – Invisible
Takuroku has been supporting new work by artists made during lock-down, but now and again we’ll be releasing lost archival gems that we feel need to be heard. This is one of the latter: A fiery session between two key players in OTO’s international community, featuring Denmark’s Julie Kjær (saxophone) and Thurston Moore (guitar), recorded at neighbouring experimental music hub The Hundred Years Gallery.
Fans of Rudolph Grey/Arthur Doyle, Kaoru Abe/Masayuki Takayanagi and Sonny Sharrock/Peter Brötzman's explosive symbiosis will relish here in Julie & Thurstons’ bellied roars, tonal dips and dives and thick sheets of sound. Ecstatic spiritual crescendos emerge and collapse, but during which never lose their sense of focus and imaginative interplay. Here’s hoping this duo can play again once things are back to normal (whenever that maybe be).
50% of OTO’s share of the proceeds of this release will be passed to Hundred Years Gallery. Please support their great work in the experimental music community.
"As I was reviewing music files of live events I had been involved with since moving to London over seven years ago, I came across a duo concert with Julie Kjær and myself from 2018. We had played at an event set up by saxophonist Alan Wilkinson at the Hundred Years Gallery in Dalston, a stone's throw from Cafe Oto, and very much a part of the community of exploratory music venues we're so blessed to have here. Julie and her paramour, the composer Paulo Dias Duarte, had been living in the same London neighborhood as my paramour Eva and myself (as well as Alan W and his paramour Gina - it's paramour wild here, kids!), before they relocated to Julie's native Denmark a couple of years back. I had first heard Julie play at one of Alan's always fabulous Flim Flam series shows in the basement of Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington and was struck by her free playing in the moment of sub/conscious inter/action with her compatriot players. I soon realized her dynamic and long-running breadth of engagement with the London improvisational music scene, as well as the European, primarily Scandinavian, scenes. It was an honor to be asked to play this particular concert, and with eyes, ears and hearts to the past, present and future we created the music presented here. While in a shared quarantine with the world in 2020, it is astounding to see and hear voices rising in collaborative positive energy towards a renewed and consciously just planet. On Saturday June 27 Julie gave birth to her and Paulo's son Hugo, new life, new light, new music and new promise. At a time when creativity is such a significant, and profound, key to our shared consciousness - in regards to the planet and all sentient life - to grace our lives with birth is the hope and truth, the wonder and the spirit, of nature's joy." - Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore & Julie Kjær - Guitar & saxophone
recorded by Graham MacKeachan at Hundred Years Gallery, 19.1.2018
painting by Gene Moore, 2020
Thurston Moore & Julie Kjær – New Life Music
Fergus and Dee have never met in person, but through written correspondence and a shared love of songwriting and music, they have come together and continue to work remotely - writing and sharing. The album, MORNINGHAIRWATER was written under lockdown between May and June 2020. A fervent correspondence of lyrics, ideas and sounds between London and Glasgow, musicians Fergus Lawrie of cult band Urusei Yatsura and Dee Sada of NEUMES/An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump come together as Paper Birch to share their mutual feelings of despair, fragility and hope in this collection of nine songs.
The video was shot on 16mm by Scottish filmmaker Grant McPhee who has directed successful music documentaries, ‘Teenage Superstars’ and ‘Big Gold Dream’.
Fergus Lawrie is a guitarist and songwriter who was a founder member of fondly remembered '90s geek rockers Urusei Yatsura who emerged from the celebrated Glasgow 13th Note scene that also fostered bands such Bis, Delgados, Yummy Fur, Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand. Known for their ferocious live shows and burnt out noise pop songs such as 'Kewpies like Watermelon' and 'Hello Tiger' the band released 3 full albums and toured extensively in Europe and America and were Radio 1 favourites recording sessions for John Peel and the Evening Session. In the 00s he released the album Yoyodyne as the band Projekt A-ko with other former members of Urusei Yatsura. He also released three experimental improvised noise rock albums as Angel of Everyone Murder with fellow members Lea Cummings (Kylie Minoise/Kovorox Sounds) and Sarah Glass (The Fnords). As artist Obscure Desire of the Bourgeoisie he presented several large scale installations featuring guitars and electric fans at Northampton Fishmarket, Dundee School of Art and Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. He also co-produced a documentary about the Glasgow experimental noise scene 'Send/Receive' which was featured at Cardiff Arts Festival.
Multi-instrumentalist Dee Sada has created an eclectic and diverse collection of music over the last 10 years and has worked with a number of international musicians. Whilst in percussive noise band, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, she recorded an album with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago. She has also been in electronic duo, Blue On Blue and performance art band ORAL ORAL, which is an ad-hoc group of improv artists that began performing together after a request by artist Wolfgang Tillmans. Dee also performs in the London-based trio, NEUMES who recently recorded a mini album at 4AD studios and supported composer Colin Stetson at the Round Chapel in 2019. She has curated a range of multimedia events which include screenings, spoken word and performances with Raindance Film Festival, Whitechapel Art Gallery and Cafe OTO.
Paper Birch – MORNINGHAIRWATER
All new file exchange mind-melter from 2nd generation Chinese/Taiwanese-American musician Audrey Chen & British electroacoustic artist Kaffe Matthews:
"Breathing air as dark swallows was made during the three month COVID-19 lockdown period in Berlin 2020. Kaffe and I decided to embark on a music exchange after participating in a chain recording project isolated.connected initiated by Sabine Vogel. The first track of this album is the result of that, our first sonic meeting, inspired by prior recordings by Sabine and Michael Thieke. We then decided to continue the process by taking it in turns to send each other improvised solos to which the other would respond, producing four highly tactile and intimate breathing movements. Kaffe plays digital oscillators through a glu-box, whilst processing through resampling and granulation. Spatialization is via the pink ball Java interface and Touch OSC. I use my voice." - Audrey Chen
Audrey Chen & Kaffe Matthews - voice & live electronics
Recorded and mixed by Kaffe Matthews, Audrey Chen and Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø, April to June 2020.
Mastered by Tara Transitory and Nguyễn Baly at Queer Ear Mastering
Cover image by Götz Rogge - camera obscura art
Audrey Chen & Kaffe Matthews – Breathing air as dark swallows
or a long lens where encounter runs
just above hum-huff
- vert purlieu (tilt)
- oblique cardioid (perspective)
- reactive veils (bias)
- stacks (extension/[false] mirror)
an imaginary journey for double bass
played, recorded, assembled, mixed, mastered by Tom Wheatley
cover rendered by Oliver Barrett from a drawing by Tom Wheatley
Tom Wheatley – Round Trip
A Manchester-London lock-down special by bassist Otto Willberg & guitarist David Birchall, "exploring certain spaces that are out of touch, maybe forgotten, bypassed, existing on the fringes - ’shadowed spaces'". Created by sending each other recordings of themselves playing in spaces near to their respective abodes, they melded the material together by revisiting the spaces and playing each of the recordings back to activate each others' acoustic. The result - like a photo of a murky landscape processed through multiple exposures - is a frothing mudbath of hollers, bellied drones, clattering percussion, creeping voices and caustic vibrations, resonating through streets, tunnels, open spaces and deep into our mind nuggets. David and Otto's work together in junk-rock/no-wave group Historically Fucked and in various free music settings has showcased their taste for bin rattling improv-flex and obscene humour, but we're pretty certain they've never made anything remotely like this. Music that teeters the line between the banal, the deeply weird and the beautiful. Fans of Peter Brötzmann & Han Bennink's 'Schwarzwaldfahrt', Blood Stereo's aural slimeballs and Idea Fire Company's intimate ritualistic melancholia - dig!
Otto Willberg & David Birchall – Murky Sovereignty
“Nostalgia (from nostos – return home, and algia – longing) is a longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed. Nostalgia is a sentiment of loss and displacement, but it is also a romance with one’s own fantasy. Nostalgic love can only survive in a long-distance relationship. A cinematic image of nostalgia is a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images – of home and abroad, past and present, dream and everyday life. The moment we try to force it into a single image, it breaks the frame or burns the surface.”
- Svetlana Boym, “The Future of Nostalgia”
“I’m not deliberately out to antagonise an audience or spite them or anything like that, but if they adopt the attitude of ‘This isn’t what we expected’, then yippee, I’m gonna wallow in that, because you shouldn’t sit back and expect anything at all.”
- John Lydon, “Anger is an Energy”
Spring time. Three period instruments from the turn of the century: Yamaha CS1X, Korg MonoSynth 2000, MicroKorg Synth Vocoder. Fingers fumble, sounds happen - obnoxious, unapologetic, fragile like a wobbly cassette that you’ve listened to a million times on the Walkman you dropped before you could afford a Discman. I’m not playing the instruments, they are playing themselves, they are playing me and there is no forcing or fighting them. Faded-photograph sunshine sounds of ’90s electronica, caramelised sweetened condensed milk, the beach, rage, DIY chamber music for cats. Then, it stops: the end of nostalgia and the end of the world as you know it. We are getting old and the sounds have lost their innocence.
Thank you to Ed (Teddy) Bennett, Michael Keeney and Hannah Peel for the synth love.
Xenia Pestova Bennett - composition / performance / recording / mixing
Ed Bennett, production / creative & artistic concept
Antony Ryan (RedRedPaw), mastering
Oliver Barrett, cover design from a photo by Xenia Pestova Bennett
Xenia Pestova Bennett – Atonal Electronic Chamber Music For Cats
The first in a series of two new releases by French tape-based experimental artist Jérôme Noetinger, who has treated us to countless unforgettable live sets at OTO. In this collaboration with Anthony Laguerre, each musician sent a 15 minutes improvisation to the other. Then each one made his own edit based on these two sequences.
"There is a great tradition of exchange and correspondence work in experimental music. In the 80's, there were a lot of cassettes with musicians who had never met each other but were exchanging sounds by mail. Nowadays it's even simpler and more obvious. The imposed period of confinement - in France between March 17 and May 11 - was ideal for restarting such projects.
Among those I was able to start, I was very happy to continue a new duo with Anthony Laguerre. A CD named "DnT" was released in the shadow of the pandemic on March 5th on the Dutch label Aagoo in the REV.Lab series. Anthony is a drummer, sound engineer, ingenious multi-instrumentalist and we also created together a small workshop to repair Revox tape recorders." - Jérôme Noetinger
Anthony Laguerre & Jérôme Noetinger - all music & recording
"Propagation 1" (15'45") edit by Jérôme Noetinger."Propagation 2" (14'53") edit by Anthony Laguerre.
Recorded March / April 2020.
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
Anthony Laguerre & Jérôme Noetinger – Propagations
All new work from OLAibi, a Japanese percussion-based experimental music project by AI from Osaka, an ex-member of OOIOO who regularly works with Takagi Masakatsu. In her music, OLAibi incorporates ancient Okinawan influences and melds electronics, steel drums, pianica, exotic percussion instruments and her voice into dizzying technicolor dream states. Since her childhood, AI was deeply inspired and mesmerized by Africa, and discovering Western African drums in later years mainly triggered her further musical activities. Using her manifold cross-cultural influences, she's created this deeply personal work, excavating her current feelings and sharing them with the outside world.
Land where the water never dries up. Land where the soil is fertile.
These were the only conditions for me.
The earthquake. That attacked Japan.
I was looking for a place to dwell.
One day I stumbled upon an old estate agent man who gave me an old map.
“I’ve never been there but you go and have a look.”
I went there following the map, I got there but it didn’t seem right. It was a jungle. No space to enter.
I entered into the dark woods clipping the branches in front of me one by one with a nata sword which I had with me.
I had no idea where the borders were. It didn’t seem like there was no infrastructure.
I had no idea this jungle even would fulfil my conditions.
What sort of future had I imagined, I decided to live here to make this place my home.
It's my 9th year since I have lived here.
I can say that I live like a human.
I spend about £7 a month on electricity. It’s for some pendant lights to avoid insects and musical machines to work. And wifi to connect to the outside world.
At first I tried so hard to live harmoniously with nature.
I tried not to chop down trees and stopped cooking meat dishes.
After 8 years you finally realise that you change the organic system inevitably by simply just existing.
Only humans cannot fit in this world.
And I cry from the sadness and helplessness.
We are creatures that sway.
We try to adjust to fit in this world finding the harmonious point swaying.
That made me feel less tearful and got up to live for the next day.
I name all my music of food or flavour.
Not to forget that everything I make is given from nature.
The languages I chose in my music I call them -Fate community language.
I mix up and use the phonetic of all the different foreign languages,
And all I have to do is to follow the word souls and my instinct.
OLAibi - all music & recording
Written & recorded in spring 2020
Artwork design by Oliver Barrett
OLAibi – 「Song of the taste」
Zongamin takes a snapshot of lock-down, like a faded picture of a day at the fun-fair, scrunched-up and torn-up at the edges. Exotica, disco, dub and kosmiche stylings are doused in bleach and tumble in a bath of mud and frothing sea water. Tape loops circle around, conjuring dusty clouds and moments for reflection on times passed. Like the work of General Strike and Hype Williams, Zongamin molds his explorations in multi-genre goo, but bypasses obvious pastiche, instead unearthing a form of latent, submerged funk.
Download includes original artwork by Susumu Mukai
All tracks by Susumu Mukai (Zongamin)
Recorded on 4,5,6 June 2020.Mixed and mastered by Susumu Mukai and Drew Brown.
Artwork by Susumu Mukai / layout by Oliver Barrett
Zongamin – Street Surgery 4