Releases of the Summer

May to September 2023

15 September, 2023 | Kristoffer Cornils

A section in a record stores that says "music to fuck your head"
©Kristoffer Cornils

Summer is drawing to a close and the Month of Contemporary Music is (almost) over, but the music continues to shine. The field notes team is already working on the next issue for November and December and can already disclose that there is a whole series of wonderful events coming up.

Before that, we take a look back with a special edition of the Releases of the Month. While the column had to take a forced break over the summer months after its May issue, a number of great releases and books came out and we would like to briefly introduce at least a few of them.

Marginal Consort マージナル・コンソート – 06 06 16 (St. Elisabeth Kirche, Berlin) (901 Editions, 3CD/digital)

It was nothing less than a sensation when Marginal Consort announced a performance in Berlin's St. Elisabeth-Kirche. Not only does the Japanese improv group, founded in 1997 by Kazuo Imai, Kei Shii, Masami Tada and Tomonao Koshikawa, generally give few concerts, but this was also their very first event in Germany. The performance, organised by Manuela Benetton in cooperation with the label PAN and the platform 33-33 with support by the initiative neue musik, was unique in every respect. It is now being documented via the Italian label 901 Editions in the form of a stunning, beautifully made CD box set with photos and an essay by Lawrence English. »06 06 16 (St. Elisabeth Kirche, Berlin)« is remarkable in many ways, especially because the recording of the three-hour performance captures the full experience just as precisely as its individual nuances. Those who were unable to get hold of a ticket for the concert can now catch up on this actually unique experience as often as they like.

Ehsan Saboohi – Music for Black Sine Wave (Noise à Noise, digital)

The composer and theorist Ehsan Saboohi is the mastermind of a school he himself calls »Post-Orientalism.« His work is regularly documented by the label Noise à Noise, which is based in Berlin these days. »Music for Black Sine Wave« comprises 24 different basslines that Saboohi has composed. This may sound unspectacular at first, but it is only the starting point for a very wide-reaching and potentially infinite project: The pieces can be used as raw material by electronic music artists to create completely new music that is released via Noise à Noise. So far, albums with renditions by Payman AbdaliRDKPL, the jazz duo Claude & OlaKian Hossein and Chem XP have been released, as well as a compilation with pieces by Reza Ahmadian and Hanna Mesgari, among others. More are sure to follow: Further contributions can still be submitted until December.

Theo Nabicht – Circle Line Project 14 Berlin (Moloko+, LP/CD)

When other artists go round in circles, that usually doesn't bode well. Theo Nabicht's musical creativity however is really sparked when he goes round and round—preferably, of course, by public transport. Most recently, during the Month of Contemporary Music, he took his audience on a round trip in Tokyo's Yamanote together with Alexandre Babel, Andre Bartetzki, Johannes Girke and Joke Lanz in the Teilager Fahrbereich. At the same time, »Circle Line Project 14 Berlin,« recordings of the project that stood at the beginning of this continuous exploration of the main traffic arteries of international metropolises, were finally released on vinyl and CD. Beginning with Prenzlauer Allee, the S42 travels in 27 pieces towards Wedding, Westkreuz, Schöneberg, Ostkreuz and finally, for the grand yet short finale, Greifswalder Straße. Nabicht on bass clarinet and soprano saxophone as well as Eric Schäfer on drums, John Eckhardt on bass, Mario Verandi on computer and Seth Josel on guitar were guided by video recordings Nabicht had made during round trips on the Ringbahn. Although the album was recorded in 2014, between heated free-jazz freakouts and atmospheric intermezzi, rush hour frenzy and quiet moments, it paints a timeless musical picture of a city in constant motion and the secret engine that keeps it running.

Aleksandra Słyż ft. Judith Hamann, Gerard Lebik – Softness, Flashes, Floating Rage (Live at CTM 2023) (Warm Winters Ltd., digital)

As part of this year's edition of the CTM Festival, Aleksandra Słyż presented an extended version of the last track from her album »A Vibrant Touch«, released last autumn, at MONOM. While she performed on a modular synthesiser, she was accompanied by Judith Hamann on cello and Gerard Lebik on saxophone. Her label Warm Winters Ltd. has made »Softness, Flashes, Floating Rage (Live at CTM 2023)« available for download. It is a recording of this performance that does full justice to the complex, intricate sound of the venue and the urgency of this fantastic composition. Headphones recommended!

blackbody_radiation – Ultra-Materials (Faitiche, LP/digital)

Andrew Black is a designer and his work with field recordings under the name blackbody_radiation does sound like it is guided by visual and geometric ideas. The album »Ultra-Materials« for Jan Jelinek's Faitiche label documents a constant process of form-finding, for which Black has used methods such as so-called sound masking. In this way, he opens up entirely new spaces with ambient sounds.


Douglas R. Ewart & Ignaz Schick – Now Is Forever (Zarek, CD/digital)

Ignaz Schick stays busy. He recently presented the concert installation »Mechanical Garden« as part of the Month of Contemporary Music and celebrated the tenth anniversary of his workshop ensemble Circuit Training in the course of this year—their work will be documented in the coming months with in the form of an extensive box set. In the meanwhile, he has also put out three new releases through his label Zarek: »Hawking Extended« documents the meeting of the duo of Schick and Ernst Bier with guitarist Gunnar Geisse, and with »ILOG3« he continues his ongoing collaboration with Oliver Steidle. The programmatically titled »Now Is Forever« shows the turntablist and live electronic artist in a real-time exchange with multi-instrumentalist Douglas R. Ewart in 2017.

Esecutori di Metallo su Carta – Black Classical Music (19'40", digital)

With 19'40'', Enrico Gabrielli, Francesco Fusaro and Sebastiano De Gennaro have created an »(anti-)classical recording series,« as per its self-description. With »Black Classical Music,« they now present 13 pieces written between the 18th and 21st centuries, the most recent of which are by Julius Eastman and George Walker. It serves both an important correction of canonical music history and a veritable musical grab bag.

hear now berlin. – MUSIC in CIRCLES (Backlash Music, CD/digital)

hear now berlin. belongs to a new generation of Berlin ensembles that are aesthetically permeable and also wants to overcome conventions beyond the actual music itself. Their debut album »MUSIC in CIRCLES« is therefore both a document of their work so far and a mission statement for the future, featuring their interpretations of pieces by contemporary composers such as Gabriella Smith, Caroline Shaw and Nathan Schram. The seventh and last track is even a piece written by hear now berlin. flutist Kelly Watson Woelffer that demonstrates the musical and stylistic versatility of the chamber music ensemble in a compact form.

KMRU – Dissolution Grip (OFNOT, LP/digital)

Sound artist and ambient producer Joseph Kamaru, who has been living in Berlin for some time now, doesn't seem to ever stand still. The Berlin label VAAGNER has just reissued the EP »Drawing Water,« originally released in 2020, via its imprint A Sunken Mall and supplemented it with an all-new rendition of the source material by Abul Mogard, and now KMRU is already releasing a new album with »Dissolution Grip,« which furthermore marks the starting point of his own label OFNOT. The two (or, in the digital version, three) tracks respectively resulted from his studies at the Universität der Künste and take field recordings as their source material to create dynamic dronescapes.

Lucio Capece, Werner Dafeldecker – Concert Recordings (digital)

Werner Dafeldecker also keeps moving. In June, he released »Neural,« an album with three new recordings, through Room40, and now has followed up on it with two new »Concert Recordings« together with Lucio Capece on his own Bandcamp page. In the two performances recorded last year at Berlin's Liebig14 and Vienna's Alte Schmiede, the two took their time and gave each other space: this interaction of double bass and bass clarinet is characterised by the deep understanding of two musicians for each other and the shared realisation that less is sometimes more.

Sawt Out – Black Current (Al Maslakh, LP/digital)

The Berlin trio Sawt Out was founded in 2015 and consists of Burkhard Beins and Michael Vorfeld on percussion and Mazen Kerbaj on trumpet. When these three improv greats are not turning heads with their acclaimed concerts, they also go into the studio every now and then. »Black Current« for the label Al Maslakh, jointly run by Kerbaj and Sharfi Sehnaoui between Berlin and Beirut, is their second album after their self-titled debut from 2018. The three of them carefully set individual accents in order to create slowly developing dynamics together.

The Pitch & Julia Reidy – Neutral Star (Miasmah, LP/digital)

Erik K. Skodvin is not only very active as a musician, but also as a label owner. His new, wonderfully reduced solo album »Nothing left but silence« for Sonic Pieces coincides with a new release on his own Miasmah. For »Neutral Star,« Julia Reidy teamed up with The Pitch, the Berlin-based ensemble founded in 2009 by Boris Baltschun, Koen Nutters, Michael Thieke and Morten Joh. The two pieces were recorded live in front of an audience at the Morphine Raum and are as dense as they are vivid: Sounds layer on top of each other, loosely arranged rhythmic elements interlock with one another. This is trance music.

Zeitkratzer – Reinhold Friedl: SCARLATTI (zeitkratzer/Karlrecords, LP/digital)

Domenico Scarlatti was an iconoclast, which is why it is only logical that zeitkratzer and its director Reinhold Friedl would take on one of his compositions by taking it apart. Their new interpretation of »Piano Sonata in F Minor, K.466« on »Reinhold Friedl: SCARLATTI« was commissioned by the dance company Rubato and is dedicated to the composer Mario Bertoncini, who died in 2019. They use flute, horn, piano, percussion, violin/viola and two double basses to work out the composition's inherent gestural dynamics and develop them further. Sometimes it booms, sometimes it thunders and in between there are nerve-racking tensions.

Sven Spieker & Mario Asef (Hrsg.) – Akusmatik als Labor. Kultur – Kunst – Medien (Königshausen & Neumann)

Sven Spieker & Mario Asef (Hrsg.) – Akusmatik als Labor. Kultur – Kunst – Medien (Königshausen & Neumann)

The concept of acousmatics has an almost mystical quality and yet the principle it describes—the sound of something hidden from view—has become an integral part of our everyday reality in an age of digital assistants. With »Akusmatik als Labor. Kultur – Kunst – Medien,« Sven Spieker and Mario Asef present a bilingual anthology that explores acousmatics in theoretical, media-historical and aesthetic terms and has its origins in a series of events at Errant Sound entitled Acousmatic Lectures. In addition to contributions by the two editors, it also includes texts and lectures by Holger Schulze, Mladen Dolar and Sabine Sanio as well as many other researchers and theorists. The extensive, multifaceted collection of texts is also framed by wonderfully playful illustrations.

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