A CLOSER LISTEN weekly #11
When in Rome, dispatches from Ukraine, and an interview with Patricia Wolf
Ciao, Listeners! As always, Joseph here. Greetings from the Eternal City. After two+ years of hunkering down at home in Montreal, I’ve been tentatively back on the road in Europe these last few weeks (still masking indoors and on public transit, for what it’s worth). Last time I wrote, I was briefly in Copenhagen. Usually time flys between these missives, but these past two weeks have seemed to crawl. Maybe it’s the overload of activity after so much time spent in the same room everyday. Time is funny that way. Nonetheless, I’m still very much writing this at the last minute. These past two weeks have been the first vacation I’ve had in a long time, as my partner and I were able to lounge a bit in Sicily. Still, I’ve been preparing for my conference presentation here in Rome this week, as well as revising my dissertation, and preparing for a workshop I’ll be giving in rural southern Italy at the end of the month. More about that in two weeks, I’m sure. Let’s call it a working vacation? But for now, suffice to say, it’s been good to be back in Italy. And although I’m still a precariously employed graduate student on the precipice of the worst job market in recent memory, and have honed the art of traveling on a shoestring, I recognize more than ever what a privileged position I’m in to be able to make this work at all, all the more so as the terrible war in Ukraine continues.
UKRAINIAN FIELD NOTES VI & VII
Gianmarco Del Re’s series of dispatches from Ukraine continues with two more installments.
In the sixth episode of Ukrainian Field Notes,
we get a healthy dose of drone, coldwave, electronic and experimental music courtesy of Polje, Monotronique, Dronny Darko, Monoconda, Kurs Valüt and DZ’OB, taking us on a virtual tour of Odesa, Kharkiv, Prylukyin, Kyiv, Dnipro, Uzhhorod and Lviv. Along the way we discuss divided families, volunteering and issues around language and identity. How the war has been affecting women is instead the topic of conversation with the NGO Sphere, the feminist and LGBTQIA+ collective we first encountered in the previous episode, thanks to the fundraising compilation Sestro by система | system. To round things off we get an update from Koloah with a teaser from his new audiovisual project, we add four more titles to our ever growing list of fundraising compilations courtesy of Green Fairy Records, Playneutral and the Colorado Modular Synth Society. And finally, we explore Ukraine in the company of Ukraїner and look at the latest despatch from Anton Somewhere filmed in the Kyiv region and touching on PTSD. Apologies are also due for letting my spellcheck override the intention of many to have “russia” and “russian” in lower case in previous episodes. I am now sticking to the spelling choice of interviewees.
And in the most recent, seventh episode of Ukrainian Field Notes,
Bob Valentyn from Kultura Zvuku, Maiia Renevich and Maksym Merkulov (Sum), Leonid Zhdanov and Nata Hrytsenko (Casa Ukraina), Bohdan Konakov (Alien Body and ШЩЦ), Eazyopoluse, Kichi Kazuko, AXT and Nonsun are our guests for the current episode of Ukrainian Field Notes, taking us from Kharkiv to Odesa and from Lysychansk to Kyiv and Lviv through a mix of DJ sets, minimal techno, experimental music, darkfolk and post-metal. We also feature four more electronic compilations courtesy of Krill Music, Uzavar Sound, Wex and Camera Magmatica, raising funds for a number of local volunteers and charities including Come Back Alive and Dlya Tebe. Plus ANIMA L an all Italian fundraiser in aid of the animals of Ukraine.
But for what must be a first for ACL we open with Eurovision and the Vilnius version of Kalush Orchestra‘s 2022 winner Stefania feat. Monika Liu and Daiva Starinskaitė. And to round things off we look at the most recent episode of The Voice of Mariupol series from Ukraїner after taking a train ride with Anton Somewhere with some sobering stats, since the beginning of the war, 3.8M people have been evacuated by Ukrainian Railways and 161 Ukrainian Railways employees have been killed.
AN INTERVIEW WITH PATRICIA WOLF
David Murrieta Flores of A Closer Listen had a chance to talk with Patricia Wolf, who recently released her second album, See-Through, via Balmat. The exchange took place via email; we present the resulting text, minimally formatted and edited for clarity.
David Murrieta Flores (ACL): Hi Patricia, please talk to us a bit about your background, and how you came to be involved in the kind of music you do.
Patricia Wolf (PW): I am a musician, sound designer and DJ who primarily works with electronics, voice, and field recordings. My first music project was as part of a synth pop duo in which I sang and played synths. I eventually went solo and made music somewhat along the lines of house and techno. It wasn’t until 2017, when I was invited to be part of an event called Fin de Cinema, that I started making music that might be described as ambient. For this event, 3 different artists were asked to take a 30 min segment of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête and write and perform a reimagined score for a live screening. With that project I felt it was more appropriate to slow down and try to focus on the atmosphere and emotions of each scene. I wanted to be careful not to distract too much with my music, but instead reinforce what was happening on screen. I really enjoyed the process of writing for this and how the music came out. It opened up my mind to the type of music that I wanted to make and I’ve tended towards that form of expression ever since.
ACL: Your work is pretty expansive and interdisciplinary – you’ve made sound art pieces (Cellular Chorus), field recording albums (Life on Smoking Mountain) and now something we could call ambient. How do these different sorts of work intersect?
PW: That’s difficult to say. I typically just follow my curiosity and passion and don’t really think about how all of the different things that I do connect to each other. If I had to try to make a connection, I’d say that these different sorts of works intersect through my preferred approach of letting music and sounds unfold naturally or at least without too much control or preconceived intention. I love to just be in the moment and see what happens. That’s definitely the case with field recording. You set up in an environment where you believe the conditions are ideal for an interesting recording, but you don’t actually know what’s going to happen millisecond to millisecond. As you listen and record, you’re in a state of deep listening and it’s quite exciting. Cellular Chorus, an aleatoric composition that is meant to be performed by a group of people, always has unexpected results. Once others are participating it’s out of my hands and I love to see and hear what people are doing with my sounds and melodies. That again just leaves me listening and watching closely as the composition unfolds. The way I usually go about creating music for recordings or live shows, is that I will set up a musical environment with a particular set of instruments/music tools and create some constraints for myself and just play and explore in that environment. I don’t like to go in with a theme or a genre when I write, I just make a musical system that is inspiring to me and play. There are a lot of unexpected things that can happen that way and I love it.
ACL: What kind of audiences do you have in mind when embarking upon a project? Do you picture the audience of your field recordings as different to that of your sound art pieces or your ambient work?
PW: It really depends on the project. In some cases it’s really important to consider the audience – for instance with Life On Smoking Mountain those recordings are meant for a virtual field trip for elementary students about the ecology of Mt. St. Helens after the blast. I need to make sure that I am just documenting what is there so I can give a more accurate representation of the sites being discussed in the field trip. If I’m using field recordings for my own music I give myself permission to manipulate the sounds as I desire. I am honestly not sure what my audience is and I am sure it lays across many different categories on a spectrum. For me it’s important to not feel bound to a particular genre or method of expressing myself. It’s more important for me to follow my curiosity and passion. I prefer to be free to just do what I want to do. The context of where my sounds or music will be heard comes into play with my decision making for sure. For a live event, I do think of the audience and setting and let it inform what songs I play. When I am recording, I just let myself be free to say what I want to say.
Read the rest of the interview here.
As always, reviews are at the heart of what we do at ACL. We receive hundreds of submissions each month, and do our best to share as much music as we can. We receive many more quality releases than we, an all-volunteer operation can hope to over, and perhaps I can find someway to share some of the records that we haven’t had time to cover here in this newsletter in the future. But for now, here are a few of my favorite reviews we posted on the blog in the last two weeks.
cachedmedia ~ Flitr
The internet connects the world, facilitating and storing a vast expanse of human interaction, knowledge, experience, and art. Musically, this means immediate access to thousands of hours of recorded sound, and the ability for anyone with an internet connection to listen to a huge assortment of music almost at will. For cachedmedia, a Colorado-based record label, book publisher, and self-described collaboration-centric intermedia platform, the ubiquity of recorded sound in the twenty-first century complicates the idea that music is an ephemeral medium, something that happens only once before slipping into the past. On Flitr, the imprint takes a radically collaborative approach to this problem, handing a curated set of samples (referred to as a “data set”) to a wide variety of artists and giving them almost total artistic freedom. The result is a compilation album of sorts, a sonic chimera that filters the curatorial and creative impulses of thirty-six artists through the ambiguous cloud of the internet.
Jo Montgomerie ~ from industry home
from industry home begins with a curious story, a blast from the past, the pre-history days before our site was a site. Back then, Boomkat was all the rage, and the young Jo Montgomerie was tasked with creating all those little snippets that shop visitors played as they perused the recordings. Coincidentally, Jim Haynes (now of The Helen Scarsdale Agency) held the same job over at Aquarius Records. Montgomerie started to wonder about the fragments that fell to the floor and were swept up at the end of the day: dust bunnies of sound and debris. One can imagine her smuggling out the pilfered trash, taping the slices back together and threading them through a reel-to-reel recorder, a romantic image. In a spiritual sense, she grew attached to the forlorn and forgotten sounds, such as the ignored or acclimated, the background and the seemingly superfluous. from industry home becomes an inversion, the lead story buried, the back pages promoted to the front.
Max Richter ~ The New Four Seasons
Let’s tackle the obvious question first: if a person already owns Recomposed, why might they want to purchase The New Four Seasons? The question is valid, the answer simple: they sound as different as two versions of the same work can be. Ten years ago, Max Richter unraveled Vivaldi’s work and stitched it back together, feeling that the original had “lost its impact through overexposure.” In doing so, he breathed new life into a classic. Yet after only ten years, Recomposed has begun to settle into the same fate, licensed to multiple media outlets, growing familiar to even peripheral listeners. In contrast, The New Four Seasons sounds like now. This may seem like a curious statement, given that the album was recorded on period instruments (“gut strings”), which the performers had to learn: a Baroque touch that one would guess might make the music sound older. And yet, violinist Elena Uriotse and the majority Black and ethnically diverse Chineke! Orchestra treat The New Four Seasons as a contemporary work, adding energy, exuberance and a sense of fun. The other tonal change stems from Richter’s addition of “vintage” Moog synth, which again might have resulted in an older feel – the 1970s rather than the 1710s. Instead, the synths burst the seams of nostalgia, comfortably nestled in a new setting.
Sally Decker & Briana Marela ~ Small Tremble in Slow Motion
Small Tremble in Slow Motion is an album, an oracle deck and a full length video: a multi-media project born of an artist residency, soon to be unveiled to a wider audience. The subject is the effect of grief as it relates to the human body, reflected through spoken word and electronics, a direct first half giving way to an impressionistic second. Your legs drop down. Subtle. You place yourself. You are here now. The opening words lodge the body in space and time: a guided meditation, little thought of any trauma to come. The feeling of calm evaporates in the attack of the second track, a caustic burst giving way to electronically manipulated voice. The soul is unmoored from the body, thought from touch. As a single voice fractures into multiple narrations, the sense of self is lost. The tongue refracts like splintered light, drifting into the cosmos.
Scanner ~ La Fenêtre Magique
Unlike many artists working in experimental music, Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, has never had a recognizable sonic palette. Although his nom de plume stems from the incorporation of intercepted radio and phone conversations in early compositions, a practice he has never fully left behind, Scanner ranges widely across the landscape of electronic sound. Techno, dub, house, ambient, drone, film music and soundscape are all musical languages present in his recorded oeuvre. La Fenetre Magique, released on Edinburgh’s Werra Foxma label, is comprised of two pieces originally recorded live as a session for Steven Anderson’s “The Magic Window,” a weekly radio show focused on independent electronica. Both works showcase Scanner’s skills as an improviser and have a lot to say about the nature of electronic improvisation and listening.
(complete list with Bandcamp links here)
Aboutface ~ The water that glows like dancing glass cuts crimson (16 June)
3 Electro Knights ~ Red Admiral EP (Post Records, 16 June)
A.D. Luck ~ Wormwood (Submarine Broadcasting Company, 17 June)
Alberto Boccardi ~ Petra (Room40, 17 June)
Alex Oliverio ~ Sad Songs for a Sunny Day (Transitory Tapes, 17 June)
Andrew Tasselmyer ~ Music for Nonexistent Films (Somewherecold, 17 June)
Anteloper ~ Pink Dolphins (International Anthem, 17 June)
Bagaski ~ Praeludlum (See Blue Audio, 17 June)
Bienoise ~ This Meaning Today (Mille Plateaux, 17 June)
Burnt Friedman & João Pais Filipe ~ Automatic Music Vol. 1 (NONPLACE, 17 June)
Chris Weeks ~ Equilibrium (17 June)
Colin Stetson, Elliot Sharp, Billy Martin, Payton MacDonald ~ Void Patrol (Infrequent Seams, 17 June)
Feldermelder & Julian Santorius ~ Bonn Route (~OUS, 17 June)
Giusepe Ielasi ~ The Prospect (12k, 17 June)
Grant Stewart ~ The Lighting of the Lamps (Cellar Music Group, 17 June)
Heroes Are Gang Leaders ~ LeAutoRoiOgraphy (577 Records, 17 June)
High Castle Teleorkestra ~ The Egg That Never Opened (Art as Catharsis, 17 June)
John Stein ~ Lifeline (Whaling City Sound, 17 June)
Loris Cericola ~ Metaphysical Graffiti (Artetetra, 17 June)
Maria Faust ~ MOnuMENT (17 June)
Matthew Ryals ~ impromptus in isolation (Sound as Language, 17 June)
Minamo & Asuna ~ Tail of Diffraction (12k, 17 June)
Otto Lindholm ~ FortyTwo (Totalism, 17 June)
Patrick Jaffe, Aidan Filshie ~ Summit (17 June)
Revelators Sound System ~ S/T (37d03d, 17 June)
V/A ~ String Layers Vol. II (7K!, 17 June)
Wild Up ~ Julias Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy (New Amsterdam, 17 June)
Yenting Hsu ~ Flash (Touch/Ash International, 17 June)
Sermons by the Devil ~ Dope Fiend (19 June)
The Asocial Telepathic Ensemble ~ S/T (Corvo, 20 June)
Stereo Minus One ~ Lodestone (Machine Records, 20 June)
Cole Pulice & Nat Harvie ~ Strawberry Roan (Aural Canyon, 21 June)
Grombira ~ Lunar Dunes (Tonzonen, 21 June)
Peyton Pleninger ~ Post Human Folk Dances (Polyfold Music, 21 June)
overdriven dreams ~ symphony // of // murmurings (Slow Tone Collages, 22 June)
Ametrom ~ Club Balkan (24 June)
CODE ~ Continuum (24 June)
Conrad Praetzel ~ Adventures into Somethingness (Paleo Music, 24 June)
CYRK ~ Freundschaft (Burial Soil, 24 June)
Dream Weapon Ritual ~ STRATA (Dissipatio, 24 June)
Family Ravine ~ Away & Instinct (Round Bale Recordings, 24 June)
Felicia Atkinson ~ Image Language (Shelter Press, 24 June)
FFT ~ Clear (Numbers, 24 June)
Finona Merivale ~ Tús (New Focus, 24 June)
Glenn Jones ~ Vade Mecum (Thrill Jockey, 24 June)
h e r e a f t e r. ~ This Life Is a Beautiful War (24 June)
JB Dunckel ~ Carbon (Proyyp, 24 June)
Larkhall ~ Say You’re With Me (24 June)
pq ~ proprioception (Lapsus, 24 June)
Rolf Hansen ~ Tableau (Karaoke Kalk, 24 June)
syn∙the∙sis ~ still motions (Post.Recordings, 24 June)
Tommy Crane ~ We Are All Improvisers Now (Whirlwind Recordings, 24 June)
V/A ~ Alien Parade Japan (Morr Music, 24 June)
V/A ~ Left Presents Jazz Cats volume 2 (Sdban, 24 June)
V/A ~ TARAXIA (GODDEZZ, 24 June)
Vongoiva ~ Jatuli Observatory (Flaming Pines, 24 June)
Leisure Knots ~ Live at the Structure (Sweet Wreath, 26 June)
Chloe Alexandre Thompson ~ They Can Never Burn the Stars (SIGE, 27 June)
Bruno Duplant ~ Sombres Miroirs (Cronica, 28 June)
Jean D.L. ~ Zenaïde (Esc.rec., 30 June)
Subletvis ~ Not The Whole Truth (Ventil Records, 30 June)
Cub\cub ~ Nothing New Under the Sun (Subexotic, 1 July)
Daniel Carter et al ~ Telepatica (577 Records, 1 July)
François Robin & Mathias Delplanque ~ L’ombre de la bête (Parenthesis Records, 1 July)
Jason Calhoun ~ ben c., this is for you (Lily Tapes, 1 July)
Julian Tenembaum ~ fragmentos (Schole, 1 July)
Mark Ball ~ Amplified Guitar (The Garrote, 1 July)
Matsumoto / Shiroishi / Watanabe ~ Yellow (Dinzu Artefacts, 1 July)
Mike Lazarev ~ When You Are (Slowcraft, 1 July)
Nasim Khushnawaz ~ Songs from the Pearl of Khorasan (Worlds Within Worlds, 1 July)
The National Park Service ~ Rescuers’ Loops (Lily Tapes, 1 July)
String Orchestra of Brooklyn ~ unfolding (New Focus, 1 July)
Yui Onodera ~ Too Ne (Room40, 1 July)
Fantasma do Cerrado ~ Mapeamento de Terras a Noroeste de São Paulo de Piratininga (Municipal K7, 7 July)
Antti Tolvi ~ Spectral Organ / Feedback Gong (Room40, 8 July)
Catarina Barbieri ~ Spirit Exit (Warp, 8 July)
Delay/Aarset ~ Singles (Room40, 8 July)
Glenn Dickson ~ Wider Than The Sky (8 July)
Timewitch ~ S/T (9 July)
Jolanda Moletto ~ Nine Spells (Ambientologist, 13 July)
Amanda Irarrázabal and Miriam Den Boer Salmón ~ Fauces (577 Records, 15 July)
Arp ~ New Pleasures (Mexican Summer, 15 July)
Blurstem & Elijah Bisbee ~ Geneva (Bigo & Twigetti, 15 July)
Caleb Wheeler Curtis ~ Heatmap (Imani, 15 July)
Gimmik ~ Sonic Poetry (n5MD, 15 July)
Helena Celle ~ Music for Counterflows (False Walls, 15 July)
Indian Wells ~ No One Really Listens to Oscillators (Mesh, 15 July)
Madeleine Cocolas ~ Spectral (Room40, 15 July)
M. Geddas Gengras ~ Expressed, I Noticed Silence (Hausu Mountain, 15 July)
Darren McClure ~ Speed Up, Slow Down (Audiobulb, 16 July)
Arthur King ~ Changing Landscapes (Mina Las Pintadas) (AKP Recordings, 22 July)
bvdub ~ Decades on Divided Stars (Affin, 22 July)
Cape Canaveral ~ In the City I Can’t Sing (Machine Records, 22 July)
Galya Bisengalieva ~ Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive (One Little Independent, 22 July)
Gary Collins ~ Skins (Subexotic, 22 July)
Hadi Bastani & Maryam Sirvan ~ trans.placed (Flaming Pines, 22 July)
Lifting Gear Engineer ~ Space Between (Machine Records, 22 July)
Lorna Dune ~ Anattā (Medicine for a Nightmare, 22 July)
Nordvargr ~ Resignation I-II-III (Cyclic Law, 22 July)
Rafael Anton Irisarri ~ Agitas Al Sol (Room40, 22 July)
Sam Prekop and John McEntire ~ Sons of (Thrill Jockey, 22 July)
Glass Horizon ~ Precipitation (100% Silk, 29 July)
Iceberg ~ Final Thaw (Astral Spirits, 29 July)
Jeremy Cunningham / Justin Laurenzi / Paul Bryan ~ A Better Ghost (Northern Spy, 29 July)
Mario Diaz de Leon ~ Heart Thread (Denovali, 29 July)
Black Sky Giant ~ Falling Mothership (Made of Stone, 30 July)
Raven Musen ~ Peppermint Soldier (Werra Forma, 30 July)
BI DA DOOM ~ graceful collision (Astral Spirits, 5 August)
Keefe Jackson / Oscar Jan Hoogland / Joshua Abrams / Mikel Patrick Avery ~
These Things Happen (Astral Spirits, 5 August)
Lunar Lemur ~ Sifting Stars (5 August)
Concussed ~ Electromagnetic Dust (Somewherecold, 12 August)
Susie Ibarra & Tashi Dorji ~ Master of Time (Astral Spirits, 12 August)
Gregor Dys ~ riss (14 August)
Szun Waves ~ Earth Patterns (Leaf, 19 August)
3 Electro Knights ~ Rave One EP (Post Records, 19 August)
XINDL ~ 11 (STRD, 22 September)
Daniel Avery ~ Ultra Truth (Mute, 4 November)