Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
The always astute and eloquent Jesse Goin has posted a nice essay about the Startless release Circulation Decay as well as my Brombron collaboration with Ben Gwilliam entitled Dots. The piece can be found at Goin's Crow With No Mouth blog.
Below is a taste, but be sure to check out the rest of the blog for specifics about the two releases mentioned above. Also, be sure to browse through Goin's other writing. His blog exhibits consistently high quality analysis of both recorded work and live performance. Additionally, through his Crow With No Mouth Productions, Goin curates a really top notch performance series."Jason Zeh has been focused for some years on making intimate, meticulously crafted sound works by every means possible within the medium of cassettes. He has looped, posted, manipulated, burned, frozen and punctured magnetic tape in compositions that, should you give them your close attention, reveal hermetic, muted worlds of endless, super-saturated detail and activity. Zeh's skeins and spools of sound almost always play out around a hushed, submerged column of smokey droneage, Zeh bending, warping and mangling the details as they appear and float away.
Magnetic tape has conveyed musical content for so long, the lineage of musicians who have turned their sights and manipulative hands on the medium itself are really few and far between [Zeh's contemporaries, limiting the field to instrumentation, are most notably Howard Stelzer and Stephen Clover, a.k.a. Seht]. Zeh shares aspects of an overlapping sensibility with Jason Lescalleet and, specifically in his predilection for nearly entombing rich sonic details in tape-murk, Graham Lambkin."
Friday, October 14, 2011
I got a couple of presents in the mail today. The first is a box of Human Quena Orchestra Lps. This is the vinyl version of the A Natural History of Failure CD that was originally released on Utech Records. This Lp version was released by Handmade Birds, a label that is going to release a cassette for me as soon as I can get it together to finish the final edits. ANHOF is a marvelous, post-industrial, doom record that I was fortunate enough to be able to contribute to along with Matthew Reis, Brandon Nickell, Renata Castagna, David Graham, and Ryan Unks. I have 5 copies. If you want one, let me know.
Pictured with those records is the new Joe Panzner CD, Clearing, Polluted, on Copy For Your Records. You can find a write-up by the very eloquent Jesse Goin at the Crow With No Mouth blog.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
I will be playing with Seeded Plain and DBH this Sunday, October 9th.
Here is the info from the Toledo Bellows Blog
Nebraska improvised music duo Seeded Plain performs pieces shaped by the possibilities suggested by the instruments they’ve built, graphic scores, and in response to collaborators. Founded in 2007 by Bryan Day and Jay Kreimer, Seeded Plain has performed throughout the Midwest US and Europe. Their first release ‘Land Tracts’ was released in 2008 to positive critical reviews in North America and Europe. Their upcoming release ’2′ will be available this year on Creative Sources. Seeded Plain is currently working with Nebraska playwright and director Robert Stewart on the soundtrack for his upcoming play Inferno Terra Firma.
Somewhere between broken jazz and drone, DBH is Justin Rhody’s junk-improv act which features him and a revolving cast of characters (who all often play multiple instruments) from Bloomington, IN, its about to get strange (r)
Always poised and deliberately patient with his machines, Zeh’s conceptual take on tape music or musique concrete has evolved into more of a aural ,surgical performance, with a kind of blind map of sounds sources feeding into a heart ,or his mixer. Zeh’s drones and pulses, shift and disintegrate, eventually set off course with a meticulous manipulation of his machines functions.
I am going to be performing the new work that I have been trying out live recently. So, if you have been bored of seeing my sets lately, you can come to this one to be bored in an entirely new way.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
The Human Quena Orchestra: A Natural History of Failure Lp also on Handmade Birds
A Vacant Lot to be In: Solo LP on Hanson Records
Blessed Breath: solo cassette on Ides
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
"Another project born of the will of Frans de Waard and of his Bronbron. Encountering this time in the extrapool studios in Nijmegen, Holland, is the thirtieth prodigy of sound sculpture Ben Gwillam and the master of the art of ...tape recording Jason Zeh. Coaxing sounds from old magnetic tape cassettes is the sound source utilized by two musicians for their improvisations. After five minutes of mechanical noise and silence, a wretched drone takes over and proceeds intermittently creating for a short moment the effect of an incoming storm. Then, still more events: the needle of a turntable; the sound of dust; and other microearthquakes amplified as needed." Translated by Nathan Crook.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
For Dots, part of the collaborative Brombron project, tape composer Jason Zeh and sound artist Ben Gwilliam used sounds from prepared tape, machinery and 'other magnetic sourcing including posting, freezing, and puncturing tape.' Over 45 minutes there is a lot of silence, punctuated by clicks, scrapes and hiss, all muffled and opaque. A bass drone flickers and is disrupted by static, warbles and collapses. At one point a choir holds a note, becoming a gorgeous angelic 'Ahh', and mixes with an industrial cicada-like whine. They conclude with a dense, grey drone, like Thomas Koner or Francisco Lopez. There are moments of attractiveness amid these scenes but little to make sense of, and why they've been put together like this is anyone's guess.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
2564 Robinwood ave. Toledo Ohio
Bran(...)pos is the solo experimental electronic music project of Jake Rodriguez. Given life in 1995, bran(...)pos focuses on real-time sonic plasticization and voice manipulation, achieving these ends with both hardware synthesizers and a custom set of software-based sound grapplers that interface with the real world via tactile control. bran(...)pos' recordings (heavy and heady like Cannibal Corpse doing Xenakis covers) and performances (rounded out with facial interpretations and physical gesture-butoh and Max Fleischer-inspired) are consistently praised for their inventiveness and attention to detail.
Robert Turman- A founding member (along with Boyd Rice) of NON, Turman's industrial bona-fides are beyond question. His early tape releases featured snarling guitar figures over primitive drumbox and throbbing synth -- a dream for fans of early Cabaret Voltaire and DAF. He planted his flag in the sand for keeps with the eleven year-spanning, eight-cassette boxset (!) Chapter Eleven (briefly reissued by Hanson a few years back, and slated for eventual CD treatment). Recently, Dais Records reissued an early Turman tape, Way Down, as an LP in an edition of 500 copies. Turman has seen a spike of activity in recent years, collaborating closely with Hanson Records' Aaron Dilloway (ex-Wolf Eyes) and issuing both new and archival material on various formats.
Jason Soliday is a stalwart member of the Chicago scene, having performed in many groups (Gunshop, Mora, with members of TVPOW, etc.) and on his own (under his own name and as Coeurl). He also runs the excellent show-space Enemy. Live, Soliday presents a dense and detailed sonic stew: heavy noise, but informed by his years of improvising, gigging, recording, building, and programming. Soliday does more than just find an engaging sound and stick with it- he constantly shifts, feints, and dodges, pulling the rug out from under you only to smother you in it later.
Startless is Blake Edwards (turntables, cassettes, shortwave, electronics) and Jason
Zeh (cassettes, tape, cassette players, contact mics); they utilize multiple layers of both processed and raw turntable (including hand altered records and turntable motor mechanics), shortwave, cassette, and cassette player motors to create a engaging balance of thick, complex, streams of sound with delicate, highly structured, singular audio gestures to create an engaging deep listening experience.
My friend Matt Ruzicka, a ceramicist, posted on his blog about a collaboration that we are working on together. Here is his original post.
The end result will be a double cassette. One cassette will be made out ceramics and the other will be a tape composed of sounds derived from clay and the related machinery. I am looking forward to seeing these come together.
The above pictures are the ceramic cassettes as they are now. I think they are looking really nice, but am unsure if Matt has any further plans for them. I am super excited to see how this project comes together.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I felt good about my set. I was able to try out some new stuff in a relatively low risk situation and it turned out well.
Reto Mader, aka RM74, was kind, gracious, and enthusiastic. This was the last stop on a brief, 6 day tour in The States. He originally came out here from Switzerland to play the Utech Records Festival put on by the phenomenal Utech Records label. His set was really strong. It was a sophisticated combination of dark drone metal and high brow improvisation using a bass, kalimba, other devices, and loop pedals. There were three basic kinds of pieces that he played each of which resembled songs in their fairly clear use of a beginning, middle, and end. He began with an interesting percussive piece gently pounding out and looping rhythmic passages using a mallet on the body of the bass. He then layered in some drones and bass riffs on top. In the middle there was a mind bending, multi-layered, polyrhythmic, Kalimba piece that was incredible. The rest of the "songs" were looped and layered bass riffs that sometimes included pre-recorded sounds and/or synthesizer drones. These were really atmospheric, somewhat dark, and very powerful. However, after a while, they became a bit repetitive as each one followed much the same format. Overall, I was really pleased with his set and was very thankful to have been able to see it.
We chatted, traded music, and had a good time.
The only problem is that there were roughly 5 people in attendance including myself and my partner, the woman who was touring with him, and two other friends of mine. The person who had set up the show did not even put up a flyer at the record store, nor did he stick around to see the show. In fact, the amp he brought for Mader to use did not work. Reto thought the promoter had gone to get another amp, but several hours later we began to suspect that he had simply gone home. Luckily Gabe Beam, one of the audience members agreed to bring his amp.
I was really frustrated by the lack of respect that the promoter showed for our guest. I explained to the guys at the shop that, theoretically, we are all on the same team. We are all trying to make life in the area less shitty for ourselves and for others. We do ourselves a disservice when we prove to people that their preconceived notions about the Midwest are accurate.
The promoter called to yell at me. It was a lot of silly drama, but I think I realize now that it is rarely a good idea to contact people who are not musicians to set up a show. A friend, Blake Edwards, has been talking about putting a simple primer on how to set up shows properly and I think we need to do it. Here are my brief guidelines.
If you are setting up a show, at MINIMUM, you owe out of town bands the following.
1) A simple meal.
2) A place to stay, even just a spot on your floor.
3) Promotion including online posts and a flyer.
4) Gas money.
5) The consideration to show up and pay attention.
6) Adequate equipment that meets the performer's needs.
Keep this in mind people. Lets all be friends and help each other out.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The smallest of things. An unforeseeable result of process and movement. A scratch delineates silence from presence. Sections form and fall with the emphasis on placement rather than linear a projection.
From here spills a churning flow; machine wheels spin out tonal harmonics. Tape break. High end tone and a slight undertow to shift the panorama.
Rather than using tape to record, the tape -or the medium- becomes the instrument in itself. Through manipulating, heating and freezing the tape it becomes an active object rather than a passive medium which merely recorded. The magnetic fields altered and warped, fucked and burnt. Process and machinery. The realigning of magnetic fields on tape through these 'other' more physical means are a process worth working with.
Tinnitus and the sound of your room play a part. Another useful release in the immaculate Brombron series. HM
Friday, April 1, 2011
Jason Zeh: Heraclitus
Label: Crippled Intellect Productions
"A man in the quiet of the night
is kindled like a fire soon quenched."
The thought of Heraclitus survives only in rather enigmatic fragments and was a source for speculation and study by many of the leading lights of 20th-century continental philosophy (Heidegger immediately comes to mind). There is something very enticing about his fragments, for even though they are incredibly elusive in terms of meaning, after repeated readings, one feels closer and closer to reaching some kind of deeper, intuitive understanding that ALMOST makes it into language but doesn't quite get there. His images, much like the one encased within the fragment that Jason Zeh included in his new CD on Crippled Intellect Productions, strain against the easy dichotomies within which we often frame and shape our own experiences (i.e. good/bad, hot/cold, white/black, etc.); in this particular image, the second part of the metaphor, working with fire, is where the straining takes place. If a fire is kindled (the obvious read here on kindled would probably be started or begun, as with kindling) yet soon to be quenched, it may seem, at first glance, that the fire is started with the idea that it will soon go out; however, it seems more likely to me that quenched is meant more here as "satisfied", which may mean that the fire goes out, but it has also served its purpose. If we take it back a step further, then, thinking about the first part of the metaphor, if a man sitting quietly is able to be kindled like a fire, one might think of the fire as a sudden epiphany or insight, the spark of inspiration, which can definitely bring satisfaction, but the fire cannot and often does not burn indefinitely; the epiphany occurs and then subsides; there is no persistent dwelling in the epiphany over long measurable periods of time (even though within the space of the epiphany, time may suddenly shift). Of course, even as I construct this reading, I find myself drawn to other equally valid readings which take me off on other intellectual trajectories only loosely related to the one I have just laid out, but, again, this speaks more to the richness of his work than anything else; I can find a kind of satisfaction with one reading for some time and then return to the same deceptively simple fragment moments later and find some other meaning that is equally satisfying.
Losing one's self in such abstract language while attempting to engage with enigmatic text is comparable to my attempt to translate the kind of experience I have with Zeh's newest work, which I think of as a kind of "dwelling-in", inhabiting a sonic space which, as in my reading of Heraclitus' quote, creeps out of the quiet of a night of recording, sparks itself into existence, burns and burns and burns, and then extinguishes itself. I won't overemphasize the context of and mechanisms employed for the construction of this recording (all of which is detailed in Zeh's liner notes). Suffice it to say that most of Zeh's work is cassette-based, and this composition is no exception; fire and water (the potentially quenching force here?) are both employed as manipulation devices or sound reconstructors, and tape is recorded on and rerecorded on, layered and stripped away, dissected and reconnected, stretched and swollen. The recording pushes against genre or sub-genre-defined spaces, finding itself somewhere in between minimalist composition and DIY drone/noise without fully inhabiting either space comfortably, much like Heraclitus' images strain against the dichotomies which we employ to define ourselves and our world. Furthermore, as in Heraclitus' fragments, the end results of these processes and manipulations have a kind of elusiveness to them; you never quite know where he's going or where he will end up. Zeh, in certain respects, bucks the logic established by the majority of folk working in drone environments; most approach it from one of two perspectives: starting with a wide variety of layers and slowly stripping everything away to nothing or starting with one sound or layer and piling up to some brain-melting crescendo that then either melts away or simply ends. Zeh builds multiple narratives within his piece, stories which depend upon each other for cohesion but do not always dovetail each other in the almost mathematical fashion that one sees in a good deal of drone music. There are four or five distinct movements in the piece, each connected to one another by a sound either in the foreground or the background serving as the thread that binds all movements together; in this sense, it reminds me of Boggs-era Aaron Dilloway, less abrasive but equally as abrupt at times in the way Zeh transitions from movement to movement.
The beginning centers around what sounds like a primitive, quiet field recording, with bare glimpses of sound, clicks, clacks and hums. The second part comes out of animalistic squealing that spirals out and around the initial hum, building into a fleshy, fluid, slippery squall which is then itself enveloped in the warbling, thunderous, wider hum of the third section. As the fourth part begins, Zeh employs a transitional device that he often uses when playing live, where all of the raging blaze which has dominated the fire he has generated is suddenly swept away to reveal a quiet smouldering source which, unbeknownst to the listener, was stoking the blaze all along; the contrast can be somewhat disorienting (particularly live) because the relative loudness of sound is so drastically different when moving from one level of sound to the other, and it often has a physical effect as well, like a sudden shift in altitude has taken place without any of the potential nausea that can ensue. Orchestrally-speaking, it would be like moving from a brash horn section to one solo violin; thinking imagistically, it's like transposing the image of a candle behind a mansion on fire, with the picture of the mansion fading quickly into oblivion, leaving only the single flickering flame. On this recording, though, Zeh takes this process a step further, sweeping away the whistles, whispers, and moans of the fourth part to reveal an even deeper source which, sonically, reveals itself as cassettes slowly dying, stretched out over nearly ten minutes of time, as warbles and rumbles are enveloped in silence. It is a captivating piece, one that rewards time and time again on repeated listening, revealing new layers and meanings as one dwells in its flickers, flames, ashes, and remnants.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The cover lists all the instruments used in this collaboration, which is always a nice read, but in this case it also lists the amount of each instrument used. So Jason Zeh uses seven cassette players, twenty-two cassettes, one portable head player, five cassettes cases, one knife, one magnet, one screwdriver, one contact microphone, one Behringer mixer and one glass sheet while Blake Edward also uses one glass sheet, but three contact microphones, one Mackie mixer, one PDS 8000 8 second delay, one shortwave radio, one 4MS custom dual noise swash tweaker, one Neuman turntable, eight records (7", 10", 12") and three hand modified records. Its then interesting to see that the recordings were made in three live sessions, which were then 'extracted, edited, reprocessed, modified and assembled'. This could only lead, I guess, to that heavy layered sound that is presented as 'Circulation Decay'. Its meeting of two men with firm roots in the world of 'noise plus', by which I mean that their prime is not to play an unrelentness mass of distorted sound, but that interesting cross road of noise, musique concrete, electro-acoustic sound and drone music (the latter being a more prime interest in Edwards' own Vertonen project). It all operates on a dynamic level. The extended layeredness of the music makes that it is quite full but also that there is always lots happening on all kinds of levels. On top is the big fat drone, but underneath things burst, bubble and crack. They work their way through the material in a dynamic way. Loud blocks are intercepted with 'softer' toned versions, but it never qualifies as ambient music. A fine work, like pretty much everything Edwards does these days or the small catalogue of Zeh (of whom I know a great solo CD and his collaborative effort with Ben Gwilliam). Excellent. (FdW)
Friday, February 25, 2011
We have heard from the American tape-artist Jason Zeh before, and I seem to recall he was muchly preoccupied with taking cassettes to pieces and obsessively working what sound he could from the discombobulated components, exposing the mechanics of the process and resuscitating sound from near-dead materials. On Dots (BROMBRON 16), he's doing similar process-based actions with a collaborator Ben Gwilliams, and for nearly 50 minutes they offer a collection of aural events produced from tape and "related machinery", which may refer to capstans and other moving parts of tape decks, while the magnetic tape itself is bombarded with nine types of Merry Heck - punctured, heated, frozen and anything else that might tend to damage or degrade the sensitive surface. I'm probably making it sound a bit too violent, because what you actually hear on the disk is mostly very gentle - a muffled and unobtrusive series of non-musical bumps and judders, assembled with no apparent structure or order. That said, there are a couple of eventful noisy squeals in the middle, and the work peters out with a nondescript ambient drone for its final fifteen minutes. I am slow to see the appeal of this work, I must admit, but hard-core fans of minimal process art should find it satisfying on some level.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
BEN GWILLIAM & JASON ZEH - DOTS (CD by Korm Plastics)
Z'EV / KK NULL - EXTRA SPACE, EXTRA TIME (CD by Korm Plastics)
The Brombron project itself is work a true work of art and a good reason to the fact that the Netherlands is one of the world's leading countries in field of sound art. The conceptual idea behind Brombron was originally established as a co-production between legendary Dutch label Staalplaat and the venue for experimental music, Extrapool. Two or more musicians become artists in the residence of Extrapool. Equipped with the recording studio of Extrapool, the artists can work on a collaborative project that will be released in the Brombron-series. Fifteen releases from year 2000 forward is the result of the Brombron project, and now the time has come for the 16th and 17th edition in the series.
16th release is the result of the joint venture between U.S artist Jason Zeh and U.K. artist Ben Gwilliam. Jason Zeh is a magnetic cassette tape specialist from Bowling Green Ohio, who creates music in a combination between drone, electro-accoustics and noise. Ben Gwilliam (b. 1980) is a sound artist active in the fields of sound installation and also working as a curator with a number of interesting art exhibitions around the U.K. During their days in at the Extrapool, the two artists developed the materials for present album titled "Dots". The materials are built of sounds derived from prepared tape, related machinery, and other magnetic sourcing including posting, heating, freezing, and puncturing tape. The expression is first of all subdued approaching the almost inaudible level. Subtle high frequency sound drones winds meanwhile discreet noise patterns buzzes from underneath. The result is quite elegant and very intense. Ambient music pushed to the extremes.
Next and 17th album in the Brombron-series is an interesting collaboration between two legends of the noise and industrial-scene. Z'EV (aka Stefan Joel Weisser) has been around in the experimental music scene for a long time already. His brand of scrap-metal and found object percussion originates back to the early seventies. Creating his own instruments from various metals and plastics, he has placed himself at the forefront of the movement that became known as "industrial". He was among others one of the described forefront industrial pioneers in the legendary "Industrial Culture Handbook" (1983). In the more recent years, he has returned to working with electro-acoustic manipulations. Fellow artist at the extrapool studios is one of the top composer's of Japanese noise scene. Starting his career in the early 80's by performing guitar improvisations in the clubs and streets of Tokyo, Kazuyuki Kishino a.k.a. K.K. Null continued by collaborating with among others Merzbow and others from the extreme noise scene of Tokyo. The two quite different noise artists has come out with a very interesting album as the result of their studio-days at the Extrapool. The expression on the album "Extra space, extra time" seems like a very nice combination of the style of both artists. Percussion patterns derived from metal materials and other sorts of acoustic banging circulates hand in hand with rumbling noises changing between full throttle and subtle. What makes this release certainly interesting is the way that the twosome manage to blend noisy textures with handmade percussive patterns. Hordes of noise drones and pulses moves alongside the intense tribal drum patterns of Z'EV. The main parts of the six works of the album carrying the title "Extra space, extra time", opens slowly with distant sounds that builds over time until powerful drum patterns set in to create a trancelike atmosphere. Thus despite the abrasive nature of the album, the works has a great appeal thanks to the excellent rhythm textures created by one of Industrial music most steady-going percussion artists, Z'EV. A masterful collaboration on this one! (Niels Mark)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Ben Gwilliam/Jason Zeh - Brombron 16: Dots
Korm Plastics kp 3036CD only
Korm Plastics is proud to present the sixteenth release in the Brombron series. Originally a co-production between Staalplaat and Extrapool, it is now hosted by co-curator Frans de Waard. In the year 2000 Frans de Waard and Extrapool started the Brombron project. Two or more musicians become artists in residence in Extrapool, an arts initiative in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, with a fully equipped sound recording studio. These artists can work in a certain amount of time on a collaborative project; a project they always wished to do, but didn't have the time or the equipment to realize.
Jason Zeh, a magnetic cassette tape composer and xerox artist from Bowling Green Ohio, creates music that successfully combines elements of drone, electro-accoustic and noise. Zeh’s work relies on the creation of intimate social encounters through the use of extreme quiet punctuated by steep inclines toward moments of extreme loudness. Live shows combine a mixing of previously recorded source sounds with real time manipulation of cassette tape through the use of modified tape decks and dismantled cassettes. The relationship Zeh has to the cassettes and tape decks used to record and manipulate the sounds is not unlike that of many laptop artists in terms of the meticulous sculpting of sound that is employed in order to create emotionally charged and aesthetically dynamic compositions without the stifled and overly technical feel of some electronic music produced by computers.
Ben Gwilliam (b. 1980) is a sound artist active in the fields of sound installation, curation, improvising new music and performance. He describes his practice as drawing attention to those sounds between things, be it objects, spaces or recordings. It is these sounds and their contexts that reveal visual and musical processes of listening and looking. It is from this curiosity about sound-making/recording/finding and how abstract/descriptive that sounds can be, that he makes parallels and similarities unpicking the relationship between those uncovered sounds and moments of primary experience. In 2004 he was awarded an AHRB Postgraduate Award. In 2007 he was nominated for the Jerwood Artist platform Prize. His work has been featured on Resonance FM, and has work in several CD and Publication Releases. His has performed with artists such as Claus van Bebber, Espen Jensen, Helmut Lemke, Lee Patterson, and Jez Riley French, Rhodri Davies, Phil Durrant, Matt Davis, Hainer Woermann, Chris Heenan, Michael Vorfeld, and Sascha Demand. Since 2004 he has curated several experimental music and sound exhibitions including ‘re:sound’ 2005, UK, ‘Sculpting with Air’ Liverpool Biennial 2006 (co-curated with Lee Patterson), ‘then the silence increased’, 2007 UK (co-curated with Helmut Lemke). In 2008 he was Artist in Residence at Artist Unlimited, Bielefeld, DE.
This CD contains music that was created using sounds 'derived from prepared tape, related machinery and othe magnetic sourcing including posting, freezing and puncturing tape'. Mastering by Jos Smolders.