Friday, February 27, 2009

2562 - Aerial (Tectonic)

Twenty-five sixty-two is not just a postcode in The Netherlands' Den Hague - it is also an alias of its resident who is a prolific producer of dubstep, techno, and broken beat atmospherics. Dave Huismans's first full length release on Tectonic under 2562 moniker is titled Aerial. Tectonic is the same label that previously brought you the 12-inchers from Pinch, Skream, and Cyrus. On Aerial, Huismans layers dubbed out minor chords on top of the blowing wind of white noise and deep sub-bass enriched syncopated beats. The rhythm bounces between a Detroit-meets-Berlin techno sound and reverb heavy dubstep, creating tunes geared more towards home listening then as the fillers on the dance floor [not that hearing these tracks booming on a loud sound system would be unappealing].With his own personal style, Aerial is more of an album then a compilation of singles. The tracks work well together, wrapped around the concept the same way Burial delivered the unmistakable sound of Untrue. One thing for sure - this isn't the sound of London. That is to say, that it seems to have more in common with minimal dub techno then the filthy bass ridden dubstep hooks. Both styles are excellent - just depends what you're in the mood for at the moment. And this very instant, I need to be chilled out and at the same time warmed up, keeping the evil grin away. At the end everything is just a matter of taste. And there's only one way for you to find out.For more music from Huismans, check out his two side projects: a few EPs on Subsolo Records as A Made Up Sound; and earlier released jazzy broken beat EPs on the Dutch Flyin' High Records under Dogdaze alias. Recommended if you want to hear dubstep with some Modern Love and Basic Channel feel.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BLÆRG - Dysphoric Sonorities (Bottle Imp Productions)

Since the good ol' days of Squarepusher's jazzy idm breaks, laced with jungle flavored drill'n'bass, I've been nostalgic for that fading away sound. Even Venetian Snares modern-classical-meets-breakcore masterpiece, Rossz Csillag Alatt Született (Planet Mu, 2005), is now almost four years old. Has the genre put on an angrier mask and turned to gabber-heavy random-triggered mayhem? Where are those melodically driven themes complimented by intelligent macro programmed precision percussion? Or maybe I'm just not looking in the right places. Feel free to turn me in the right direction.Imagine my surprise when I landed on BLÆRG. This Ohio (US) based producer is everything mentioned above and more! [Yes, exclamation point is really necessary at this point]. Scott Wehman is not exactly a newcomer to the scene. Initially playing bass guitar for a few local metal bands, Wehman turned to producing electronica. With a few digital releases and a full length, Sesquipedalia (FromTheGut, 2007), Wehman joined Detroit stationed Bottle Imp Productions' roster, and opened up with a his sophomore album, Dysphoric Sonorities. Following this release he put out a very lovely limited EP [only 50 copies!], Auspices & Vagaries (Bottle Imp, 2008) and a collection of earlier tracks [presumably traded over the slsk network], Soulseek Days (Bottle Imp, 2008).On Dysphoric Sonorities, Wehman cleverly masters all of the beloved elements of intelligent breakcore - from jazzy keys, to bass slaps, to piano chords, to acoustic percussion drilled and glitched out to perfection. And there is enough evil in there to satisfy the angry rats scratching at the surface of the inside of my skull. Oh, and did I mentioned that production is top notch? Highly recommended along with the EP (if you are one of the lucky ones to get your dirty paws on it), if you like above mentioned names, plus Xanopticon, The Flashbulb, Enduser, Igorrr and Wisp.  |  |

Two and a Half Questions with Blaerg

I read that Blaerg is an anagram for 'garble'. How did you come up with this name?
Quite honestly it was a nonsense word i uttered once while yawning. My wife found it to be extremely funny so it became an oft-repeated thing around the house. So the word was drifting around in my head about the time I started toying with the idea of production, and once I started creating tracks and using it as a moniker (It was one certain way to ensure I wouldn't end up with a duplicate name - who would want to use that stupid word?), I was told that "blarg" was onomatopoeia for vomiting in the Norwegian language. It was also an excuse to use the ash grapheme (Æ) for no reason at all, other than it looks cool. After years using this name, a friend pointed out that it was an anagram for "garble" (Pria gets credit in the Dysphoric liner notes). An anagram is a rearrangement, garble means rearrangement, my music is an exercise in rearrangement - perfect!

I found your limited EP, Auspices & Vagaries, to be a lot more musical then the darker Dysphoric Sonorities. Would you agree? And which one of these styles of breakcore do you enjoy making the most?
I would say Auspices is more directly melodious, but not more musical. I always think of certain things I would like to accomplish with my tracks, but I find my attempts usually fail completely and I end up with some other strange result that is equally, if not more, pleasing. I think some people can have a mental conception of a track and then execute it, but this is not something i'm able to do. Instead I merely collect a disparate amount of elements together and see if they pastiche favorably. I trust this process and let the samples tell me where they'd like to go. So, the most enjoyable part of the process is after all the samples have been collected and loaded into the sequencer and the first melodies are constructed. There is a "eureka!" moment where I think "this will work!" and then I proceed to flesh out the tune, which is a very energizing and life-affirming activity for me.

So is that live bass guitar that I'm hearing on some tracks? What about percussion? Where do you get your drum samples from?
Nope! Recording is a whole extra process that I find tedious, so I prefer to glean samples from whatever happens to cross my ear, which is as often music I love as it is music I loathe. I am especially enamored with "clean" drum sounds from dry-sounding jazz recordings, but anything is fair game: sample packs, horrible commercial pop music, death metal, ethnic sounds.

Who are your musical influences, and who would you like to collaborate with in the future if given an opportunity?
I will state for the record that my favorite album of all time is Atheist - Unquestionable Presence. It has energy, technicality, diverse and quick-changing ideas, supremely executed musicianship, incredibly catchy melodies... it is an endlessly inspiring work for me. I also get a lot out of the "big" melodies of Frank Zappa. I wish I could write melodies like that, they just well up a huge emotional reaction every time. I have collaborated in the past with other projects, but for BLÆRG I prefer to control all aspects of the process. I'll likely stick to that method for the foreseeable future.

What are you working on right now?
A bachelor's degree in social work, hahaha. It is strange to take a break from producing, but I have some other areas of life that need attention right now and the remaining time isn't sufficient to work on music properly. If I never complete another BLÆRG track I can feel satisfied about the past work, but I fully intend to continue on with the project at some distant point in the future.  |

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ø - Oleva (Sähkö)

OlevaYou would think that by being one of the prominent sound engineers and pioneers in experimental music since 1993, Mika Vainio would have run out of steam. You would think that numerous copy cats would push his sound design into obscure corner of just another knob tweaking artist. You would think. But Vainio treads on. Currently residing in Berlin, Vainio is a prominent member of the acclaimed Pan Sonic duo (with Ilpo Väisänen). And besides his more established minimalist alias, Ø (pronounced "ohm"), he has also released under Kentolevi, Tekonivel, and Philus monikers - check out the Kolmio EP on Sähkö for the latter. Speaking of the label. Helsinki based Sähkö (which stands for "electricity" in Finnish) has built up a respectable catalog of abstract, minimal, and experimental releases since its launch in 1993 [same year that Detroit's Basic Channel was launched]. These are mostly featuring the output of various projects by Vainio and Väisänen, with an occasional release by Jimi Tenor, and a 12" by Mike Ink (Wolfgang Voigt). It also manages a handful of sub-labels which include Jazzpuu, Keys Of Life, and Puu (means "wood"). But back to Oleva ("The Existing") which features the familiar signature of Vainio's style of digital wire hum, low rumbling saw-tooth distortions, dark industrial stabs, and pounding minimal beats. Although the album features a few purely ambient tracks, as well as a couple of abstract drony explorations, the proliferation of tight rhythmic components make this release a more headphone oriented experience [as opposed to an archive of an experimental audio installations]. Oleva is is an ongoing exploration into noise and silence alike. Yet another excellent addition for the avid minimalist collector. It's delightful to see that Sähkö keeps on printing just the quality stuff. Make sure you are well familiar with Ø's classic Metri (Sähkö, 1994). Recommended if you love Gas, Autechre, anything from Basic Channel, and of course Pan Sonic. | |

Original post on

Friday, February 20, 2009

Label Profile: Tympanik Audio

In 2009, Headphone Commute introduces two new features. First of all there is our new and exciting revamped site with a better layout, navigation, and blah blah blah. And then there is a whole new Label Profile feature! First up is an excellent interview with Paul Nielsen, the head of Chicago based Tympanik Audio, which within only a year and a half has already established itself among the rhythmic noise, experimental downtempo, and dark idm scene. This interview is republished courtesy of Quark of Arrhythmia Sound, who I'm sure will appear as a contributor on Headphone Commute again in the future. Did I mention that we launched a new site? :)

Read Label Profile: Tympanik Audio on

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Christopher Bissonnette - In Between Words (Kranky)

Here's another winner for Kranky, a Chicago based label that has been releasing outstanding material from Pan•American, Deerhunter, Stars Of The Lid, Loscil, Atlas Sound, Benoît Pioulard, and Valet, just to name a few. In Between Words is a sophomore release for Canadian based Christopher Bissonnette. And what a sonic treat it is! The warm layers of sound blanket the microscopic hair cells within my cochlea and gently sway them with precision controlled sound pressure. Half way through the first track an itch develops deep within my auditory canal, but I simply can not scratch that deep. Tiny white-noise artifacts crackle through the thick orchestral pads, like distant lightning in the muggy summer. But the thunder never breaks. Instead it stands still, simply just there, quietly revealing its presence, forcing you to accept. Accept this, and everything else that is currently around you. In Between Words is a collection of Bissonnette's works exploring special acoustics and integration of field recordings. Through six purely ambient and minimalist tracks, Bissonnette experiments with found sound and the empty space found in between. "Inspired by the continuous din, the constant low-level hum of urban background noise, interspersed with all manner of mechanically created sounds, Bissonnette finds in this a near-melodic soundtrack to his daily life." The organic swells are based mostly on symphonic instruments as well as macro synthesized frequency rich sound waves. As such, I find this beautiful composition much plausible to the soul, then the external background sounds of our urban environment. I almost wish that some public transportation authority would publicly broadcast this music during my morning commute. Until then, there are always headphones. If you enjoyed this album, be sure to seek out Bissonnette's debut album, Periphery (Kranky, 2005). Recommended if you follow works by Philip Jeck, Tim Hecker, Machinefabriek and Stephan Mathieu. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Christopher Bissonnette

What are some of the field recordings or sampled material used on In Between Words?
The field recordings come from a few different places. Some were in closed environments where I picked up unexpected noise. I like a few chance elements included into the work. One stretch was taken in a convention center with rather noisy escalators. And a few others were captured in my own yard, where the low level din of city and industry rarely leave any silence.

You have some top notch production sound. What is your studio setup?
Truth be told my set up is rather simple. I use a digital field recorder with a few stereo and binaural mics. In the studio I use a set of Hafler monitors and amp and a fairly modest sixteen channel mixer. I have a decent turntable and a handful of useful software programs for sound design. I wish it was more exciting but I feel I can work with less equipment rather than more. Some credit certainlty needs to go to Taylor Dupree for a great mastering job.

How cold are the winters in Canada? And do you think weather and minimalist ambiance have an inner relationship?
Canada and cold winters go hand in hand. Ironically I live at the southern most region of Canada. So I wouldn’t say that I can embrace the cold like most Canadians in the North. I do believe that there is a kinship between minimalist ambient sounds and frigid temperatures. I think Geir Jenssen’s Biosphere project is testament to that.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a few smaller projects and preparing some material for live performance. In addition to that I have begun some development of new work for a new full length release. I won’t speculate on a time of completion or a release date. |

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Sight Below - Glider (Ghostly)

Following up the free digital teaser, No Place For Us EP (Ghostly, 2008), The Sight Below graces our ears with a full length, Glider. The album picks up right where the EP left off - majestic flowing ambient pads spreading over endless soundscapes complimented with an ongoing four/four beat. This is ambient techno at its finest. The lush acoustic guitars are drenched in layers of reverb and luscious background chords. All the instrumentation on the album [sans the 808 percussion] was done with a guitar, ebow, viola box, loop pedals, reverb units and a delay box. The lack of transition in the rhythm first may seem to sound almost amateurish (as if a simple kick was stretched out throughout the entire track), until you realize how important this explicitly desired minimalism is for creating a hypnotic atmosphere, resembling a pumping heart beat somewhere deep within your throat. The title of the album triggers a distant memory: I jump off a mountain in Rio de Janeiro, silently hand glide through thick humid air, and land on the beach. The music evokes all the experienced feelings. The calmness of the ocean. The simplicity of falling. The excitement of danger. The Glider is the perfect soundtrack for this flashback. It's a pleasure to see this album on Ghostly International which is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a tour of The Sight Below, Lusine, Grouper, and others along the way (see the label's myspace for tour dates). This Seattle based artist prefers to keep out of the spotlight and stay anonymous (hopefully for the time being). And as long as The Sight Below keeps on making that great music, we don't care. You will absolutely fall in love with this album if you follow Yagya, Echospace, Gas, and Christopher Willits. And don't forget to pickup the free EP! | |

Two and a Half Questions with The Sight Below

There is no true definition for ambient techno. Yet, I would claim that your style perfectly defines the genre. How do you feel about this classification and the necessary evil of categorization in general?
Categorizing things is part of human nature - I'm not bothered by it, nor do I really mind any categories. Comes with the turf. I do not view 'Glider" in any other way than a very personal and emotional album. It grew out of a lot of things that were happening at the time I wrote it, so I wasn't really trying to make music to fit a certain genre. It just went that direction naturally - I think living in Seattle had a lot to do with it, as you know, we have quite gloomy weather here, specially in the winter - when I wrote the album.

Are there any specific reasons you prefer to keep a low profile?
Well, I've released music under my birth name, and originally I didn't want people to have a preconception of what TSB is all about. At the same time, I'm not really into the whole cult of personality thing that seems to be so ingrained to the electronic music community (or music in general). I'm a really introverted person in so many ways and I don't like to go around telling people I make music or what I am up to.

Now that your first full length has been out for a while, what kind of feedback has it received? I see that even Thom Yorke picked one of the tracks as his favorite of the week.
Yeah, that was really strange - no idea how Thom Yorke got ahold of the music nor do I know him or have a way to get in touch with him (for some strange reason the MySpace inbox on TSB's page was full of people asking me how to get in touch with Thom, like I would know!). So far so good - I really get a kick out of all the Gas comparisons. I love Gas' music, so it is great! At the same time, I think "Glider" is much more than just a Gas-influenced record. There are only like 3 tracks on Glider that are reminiscent of Gas (mostly because they have a 4/4 kick drum in the background). I think the rest has a lot more in common with late 80's/early 90's "shoegaze" music, than techno. I'm surprised nobody has brought up Seefeel yet!

What can we expect in the future from The Sight Below?
There's a remix EP coming up on Ghostly soon - lots of great artists reconceptualized the tracks! I'm very pleased with the results and can't wait for it to be pressed - the artwork looks incredible too! |

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cardopusher - Mutant Dubstep Vol. 2 (Spectraliquid)

With half a dozen of twelve-inchers under his belt, and a full-length breakcore album Hippie Killers Don't Mind Jah Conversations (Peace Off, 2006), Luis Garbàn, aka Cardopusher, lands a tasteful EP on Spectraliquid, continuing the Athens based label's Mutant Dubstep series with Volume 2. Garbàn's previous output ranged from above mentioned breakcore, to gabber and ragga. Now he's trying his hand at dubstep, and very successfully, may I add. On this three track EP with an additional two remixes by Innasekt (Sneer and Sully) and Pacheko (Francisco Mejia Szilard), you can expect to hear clear influences of Garbàn's edgier side, grinding with those nasty sawtooth riffs through concrete onslaught of deeply resonating dark and dirty bass wobbles. The memory breaching melodies and hooks are screaming to be released onto the dance floor. With a saturation of dubstep tracks on the market, it's very difficult to pick out the standout tracks in the crowd. But you can be sure that Cardopusher's addition to the collection will be permanent. It's no wonder that Thom Yorke (yes, the one of Radiohead) included a remix of Cardopusher's track on his weekly music chart. While grabbing this colorful digipack from Spectraliquid, make sure to pick up the first volume in the series, kicked off by none other than Ebola (Ben Hudson). This is turning out to be a rather nice selection of releases from the predominantly breakcore influenced artists, and I'm looking forward to the volumes to follow. Meanwhile, be sure to pick up Cardopusher's second LP, Unity Means Power, released on brand spanking new Murder Channel Records. | |

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kaya Project - ... And So It Goes (Interchill)

The latest release from Kaya Project titled, ...And So It Goes, is full of spiritual and ethnic elements, multi-lingual vocals, and world infused beats. This is a third full length album from a collaborative duo of Sebastian James Taylor and Natasha Chamberlain. Incorporating digital production design with organic instruments, Taylor and Chamberlain create a beautiful downtempo album with elements of tribal rhythms and dusty dub grooves. This album is full of contributions from many artists, like Deepak Pandit on Indian violin, Susi Evans on clarinet, and excellent vocals by Irina Mikhailova. Some of the above artists have previously worked with Taylor under his other moniker, Hibernation, with the very latest release, Some Things Never Change (Aleph Zero, 2008). Taylor has always been a pretty busy guy. On the side, he manages to put out 12" breakbeat EPs on Sinister Recordings under his Digitalis alias. Meanwhile, some may recall his early psytrance work under Shakta moniker, with the last album being Feed The Flame (Dragonfly, 2004). In this latest work, Taylor and Chamberlain join forces once more, to display their wide artistic range through music that is at once relaxing, groovy, and earthbound. One can picture carefree belly-dancers performing around the fire, circled by musicians connected to their instruments with heart and soul. It is at once a feeling of happiness and unity with the one. Recommended for the likes of Asura, Tripswitch, Solar Fields and Entheogenic.  |

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Aidan Baker And Tim Hecker - Fantasma Parastasie (Alien8)

Toronto based Aidan Baker and Montreal based Tim Hecker pair up to deliver an abstract and experimental ambient piece on a Canadian Alien8 Recordings. Hecker is not a stranger to a noise-prominent label, having previously released Mirages (Alien8, 2004), and a re-issue of Radio Amor (Mille Plateaux, 2003). In addition, his ambient recordings have already graced quality labels like Force Inc, Staalplaat, Fat Cat and Kranky. This is, however, his very first collaboration. Baker, on the other hand, is known for his work with Leah Buckareff, together cooking up ambient drone metal under the Nadja moniker. Baker's discography is immense, and mostly consists of live improvised long pieces. His ability to churn out guitar heavy drone soundscapes can be overwhelming, but together, with Hecker's luscious synth work, they pull out a whole different beast. The overdriven guitars combined with hiss, crackle and static, vibrate feverishly across the frequency spectrum, occasionally revealing a hidden pattern, a loose structure, and a graceful melody. The paced slow-core riffs, rolling at a speed of a sleeping giant, are fed back into themselves and split through a harmonic meat grinder. All this is again mashed up, tweaked out, and faded in through a torrent of bit-crushed digitally violated audio waves that give your speakers (and ears) a massive workout. Fantasma Parastasie is a relaxing fatigue - it cradles you gently by screaming its head off. Thus, together, Backer and Hecker, define an oxymoron of ambient noise or shoegazer metal. This should be a special treat for those with a taste for Belong, Ben Frost, Fennesz, Jasper TX, and Lawrence English. Where as Baker has a bucket of upcoming albums, too many to fit in a paragraph (see my Two and a Half Questions with Aidan Baker for a full list), Hecker is scheduled to release his seventh studio album, An Imaginary Country, in March 2009 on Kranky.  |  |

Two and a Half Questions with Aidan Baker

What is your secret behind the massive volume of work that you are able to produce?

How much of your work is improvised at the time of the actual album recording?
It depends on the nature of the project -- some are entirely improvised (or spontaneously composed, as I sometimes refer to it), some partially (as with most of the Nadja recordings), and a few only minimally.

What was unique about collaborating together with Tim Hecker?
The majority of the collaborations I have done have been via trading files through the mail or online, so it was relatively unique to work with Tim in person. Also, Tim has very strong ideas about what does and does not sound good and isn't hesitant about letting you know that -- which I found refreshing!

Any musicians that you'd like to work with together in the future?
Perhaps unlikely, but: Caspar Brotzmann...Stina Nordenstam...PJ Harvey...Michael Gira...

Tell us about your upcoming releases.
I've got a number of projects in the works, but the following all have release dates over the course of the year:

Liminoid - Alien8 Recordings
Passing Thru (a book/cd release) - Beta-Lactam Ring Records
Noise of Silence (re-issue) - Essence Records
A Picture of a Picture (collab w/ Thisquietarmy) - Killer Pimp Records

When I See The Sun Always Shines On Tv - The End Records (an all covers album)
Primitive North (split w/ A Storm of Light) - Robotic Empire
Under the Jaguar Sun - Beta-Lactam
Autopergamene - Essence Records
White Nights/Drone Fields (dvd) - Beta-Lactam

Whisper Room:
Birch White - Elevation Records

This is a new trio I'm in, the debut album can be previewed here:  |