Posts Tagged ‘Constellation Recordings’

Constellation – 20th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The first collaborative full-length album by Automatisme (the Canadian musician and conceptual artist William Jourdain) and Swiss field recordist, ambient musician, visual artist and writer/academic Stefan Paulus, Gap/Void is nothing if not a deep, immersive sonic experience.

While the origins of many albums are largely unremarkable and barely worthy of reading, let alone comment, Gap/Void is a strong exception, and for that reason, it feels appropriate to quote at length:

Paulus approached Jourdain with a proposal based on his field recordings made during numerous mountain expeditions in the Swiss Alps, the Caucasus, and north of the Arctic Circle—documenting stormy weather, high alpine winds, avalanches, and sounds emanating from glaciers and from the insides of crevices and caves. Paulus created ambient noisescapes from these recordings by splicing and folding them into hundreds of layers of sound: an analog to the geological strata of their geographic sources. The resulting audio mixes, compounding a multiplicity of spatio-temporal excursions, were then further encased in drones using the natural tone series (the traditional zäuerli or wordless yodels of northeastern Switzerland), the monotonic standing drone of Lamonte Young’s Dream Syndicate, and the mass chords of early 1970s Kosmische Musik as points of reference. Paulus sent these extended ambient/noise pieces to Jourdain as source material for the latter’s bespoke Automatisme techniques, where variable tempo and glitch systems forge more overt minimal techno/IDM works.

‘Hey, how about an Arctic trek?’ doesn’t really sound like a pitch for a musical collaboration, and pitched to a TV producer, it would probably have been a series with its own self-made soundtrack – although for TV they’d have probably wanted some celebrities slogging across the barren wastes lugging audio gear or something stupid.

The first of the album’s ten tracks is the twelve-minute ‘Säntis’, where an insistent and overtly synthesised loop thrums against a slow ambient swirl before an insistent uptempo kick drum beat thumps in and for a spell things go techno… before becoming derailed. The tempos are all over, the ebbs and flows run in different times and tempos and before long it becomes quite overwhelming, disorientating as the layers build… and then everything falls away and you’re left with the rumbling sound of the wind scouring the bleak, barren ground. It sounds harsh and inhospitable, it sounds dark and unsettling, and yet it feels less tense and is somehow less agitating than the preceding pulse-quickening sensory overload.

Things do settle a little as the album progresses, and by the arrival of the third track, ‘Uble Schlucht’, we’re into something of a more straightforward Krautrock style, dominated by bubbling synths and motorik grooves. But, at the same time, it’s a soundscape of shifting terrain, of snowdrifts and undulations, crags and cervices.

There’s a restlessness about Gap/Void that means it’s impossible to settle, that keeps you on edge in a way. The compositions – particularly the way the percussion is eternally evolving, in a continual flux, more a series of palpitations and panic attacks than a pulsating heartbeat – are tense, ever-moving, with a flicker-filled urgency that offers little respite.

‘Blau Schnee’ goes all out on the deep bass and low-end murkiness, the beats and bass melting into one another, while ‘Stoos’ goes ultra-sparse and is so minimal it borders on the microtonal, before an off-tempo beat bounds in and trips the wire.

The pieces on the second half of the album are rather shorter, with none over the six-minute mark, but the sound and sensation remain similar, with crackling electronics dominating and beats that poke at the innards – sometimes subtly, others less so. But it never really lets up, and while very little of Gap/Void gives even the vaguest hint of its source and origins, it does convey a certain sense off desolation, of isolation. Soon, we will all live in desert, and it will sound like this.

AA

cover Automatisme Stefan Paulus - Gap Void

Constellation – 11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Kee Avil isn’t an individual, and isn’t really a band, so much as a concept, a collective, a project, the brainchild of Montréal producer and guitarist Vicky Mettler. Debut album, Crease, is pitched as ‘a singular expression of fractured dream logic concretized in chiselled postpunk guitar, sinuous low-end electronics, a panoply of organic and digital micro-samples creating alternately twitchy and propulsive rhythm, and the anxious intimacy of her finely wrought lyricism and vocals’.

It all sounds pretty grand and sets expectations high. Thankfully, Crease doesn’t disappoint. To manage those high expectations, let’s get it established here and now that it’s not a conventional album, with easy songs with obvious or accessible verse/chorus structures.

‘See, my shadow’ starts out with hints of early PJ Harvey but swiftly spins into industrial post-punk with electro/hip-hop beats, more akin to Lydia Lunch fronting Coil remixed by Portishead. It’s a lot to happen in the space of under four minutes, but then, that’s par for the course here: Crease is as jam-packed with ideas as it is sonic strangeness. It’s not an easy album to get a grasp on, and Mettler comes across as quite otherly. Some may say crazy, unhinged, but it’s not that. It’s just apparent she exists on another plane, and Crease shuns conventional structures in favour of exploring avenues of songwriting that more closely reflect an alternative vision and concept of ‘songs’. I certainly don’t mean that as a criticism, but equally, don’t want to sound like a wanker by saying that this is art and therefor superior. I mean, it is superior, but not because of that. To unpack that a bit, Crease is clearly the product of a quite specific mindset, and a determination to find a means of articulating. And sometimes, to articulate is to go beyond language and beyond conventional musical structures. As such, what Crease articulates is a separation from the rest of the world, the turmoil of the mind, the duality of the internal monologue.

‘Drying’ is sparse, glitchy, a clicky clatter and pop of percussion providing an erratic framework for the incidental instrumentation and slowed-down, opiate-haze vocals that are at once sultry and threatening.

‘And I’ is a sparse, scratchy acoustic guitar-based song; the tense picking at times calls to mind early Leonard Cohen, and the atmosphere is muscle-tensingly taut. It’s a masterclass in how less is so much more, and as Mettler’s breathy vocal arcs over the spindly fretwork, a kind of magic happens in the way it draws you in with a hypnotic sensation. ‘Devil’s Sweet Tooth’ lunges and sways, violins teeter on the brink of a breakdown

It’s often difficult to make out the actual lyrics, so you lean in closer in an attempt to get your head and hands around them. You fail, but you’re drawn in closer to the dissonant strangeness that’s more than just music: it’s a world of disconnection and dislocation. It’s unnerving, alien, but likely better than this one right now.

AA

a2394473098_10

Constellation is honoured to welcome Montréal producer Kee Avil to the label. Her hybrid songcraft of postpunk, electroacoustic and electronics gets inside our heads and under our skins in the best way. She’s celebrating by sharing a song and video. Details of her first and phenomenal full-length album to follow in early 2022.

‘See, my shadow’ is a kinetic assemblage of tension and release with chiselled guitar lines, plucked and pounding prepared piano, scraping metal, electroacoustic micro-samples and alternating blasts of crisp drum programming, all galvanised by Kee Avil’s intimate, inscrutable, insistent vocal.

Watch the video here:

AA

Led by Montréal producer Vicky Mettler, Kee Avil combines guitar, voice, electroacoustics and electronic production to create song assemblages that teeter on the edge of collapse while oozing forward, like sticky resin picking up and shedding disparate elements along the way. Kee Avil evolved from playing guitar with broken cymbals and drumsticks to forging askew tempos and templates glued together by samples of screws dropped into crystal bowls. Her self-titled debut EP, released in 2018 on Black Bough Records, harnessed her improvised music and prepared guitar background toward a newfound structural sensibility and arresting vocal / lyrical experimentation; she has been immersed in the exploration of distinctive compositional architectures ever since, expanding her sonic palette with increasing and intensive detail, where twitchy, finely wrought postpunk electro-industrial avant-pop songs are meticulously assembled to resemble disassembly.

Honed through pre-pandemic tours in North America and Europe (sharing stages with Marc Ribot, Pere Ubu, Bill Orcutt and Fly Pan Am, among others), Kee Avil’s emerging body of work signals a vital, viscous, virtuosic new voice in experimental songcraft – where touchstones include Juana Molina, Scott Walker, Fiona Apple, and Eartheater; where PJ Harvey meets Pan Daijing or Grouper melds with Autechre.

Kee Avil will be presenting a new and definitive collection of studio recordings in early 2022.

4de07a03-c59e-2d3c-013a-f686f6c8a644

Automatisme is the electronic music project of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec-based producer William Jourdain. Since 2013 Jourdain has released a brilliant series of albums and tracks under this moniker, exploring various intersections of drone, glitch, dub techno, ambient, electro-acoustic and noise. Starting with site-specific field recordings, Automatisme samples, processes, signal bends and transforms this source material into soundscapes charting a broad spectrum spanning minimalist pulse, methodically additive beat, stacked-tone maximalism, spatial drone and arrhythmic ambient/noise.

This new a/v single "Non-Representation Field" is the 12th entry in Constellation’s Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series, with an accompanying short film by Marilou Lyonnais Archambault. 100% of proceeds go to the artist.

“We follow the alternate and accidental route of non-representation. It is used to signify the outside.” – Achim Szepanski

"This quote by philosopher and Mille Plateaux record label founder Achim Szepanski is the basis for the audiovisual work of “Non-representation Field”. Automatisme explores pathways of Mille Plateaux’s Ultrablack Of Music movement, processing these concepts with an ambient dub track that contains generative and euclidian partitions and modulations. Ableton Live and Max MSP software programming make the pads and bass instruments interpret the same archipelago of signals slightly differently with every temporal activiation. This recording is one instantiation. Parts of the source audio come from recordings made with a Buchla modular synthesizer at Stockholm’s Elektronmusik Studion (EMS) during a residency in 2019." – Automatisme

"Vidéo binaire evoking the iridescence of sounds and images and the dualism of nature and machine, produced using a selection of video samples from the web, which were then projected and filmed on folded paper structures – le froissement (creasing, crumpling; light trauma or injury) as a gesture of resistance. The video portrays the buzzing of natural landscapes, ineffable and transitory physical disturbances, the resonance of appearing and disappearing via the manipulation of creased and wrinkled images, as echoes of an exhausted and worn out territory. This experimental clip eulogizes the non-place as a refuge in post-modern times, in post-internet times." – Marilou Lyonnais Archambault.

Click the image to watch the video and witness ‘Non-Representation Field’ in its multimedia glory, or listen to the audio alone below.

a1856172914_10

Constellation Records share the eighth entry in their Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series. "Je Vois / Non-Dit" by Montreal based avant-electronic artist Joni Void and featuring vocals by poet/singer and frequent collaborator N NAO, with an experimental film by Sonya Stefan.

"Je Vois / Non-Dit" combines live recordings by the duo into a single track longform where N NAO’s vocals are given unearthly yet organic treatments through Void’s warped manipulations, sampling, atmospheric textures and deconstructed beats – joined by Eddie Wagner on flute about halfway through the track’s 21-minute running time.

Listen to ‘Je Vois / Non-Dit’ here:

…and stream the video here.

thumbnail_JoniVoidimagebyThomasBoucherSonyaStefan2018lores

Photo by Thomas Boucher & Sonya Stefan, 2018

Constellation Recordings – 12th November 2012

JOYFULTALK’s new a/v single ‘New Biology’ is the seventh entry in Constellation’s Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series. ‘New Biology’ follows the acclaimed full album, A Separation Of Being released this past March, and includes an experimental film by JOYFULTALK’s Jay Crocker.  ‘New Biology’ is exclusive to Bandcamp and PWYC for the first week of release. JOYFULTALK’s Constellation digital discography is also on sale during this time. Proceeds from all these sales go 100% to the artist, as part of Constellation’s pandemic initiative for immediate artist support.

‘New Biology’ is an extended improvised piece with a focus on the exploration of “free” electronics.  For the past decade my practice has been working towards the construction of a portable electronic music system completely based on the principles of immediacy. I have tried to design a system where I can explore improvisations without ever being “cornered” by the system itself. A system that can be played and manipulated as easily as a guitar, saxophone, drums etc. I wanted to be able to play in time or with the absence of time to perform manipulations of stored sounds or constant recycling and reimagining of new sounds with no dead ends and only the limitation of creativity as an obstacle.

The visual aspect of the piece works along the same lines of improvisation. It is a meditation in  smudging, painting, glitching and pulsing analogue and digital strains into endless video streams of trans-configured consciousness. NEW BIOLOGY follows a loose narrative of moving from this physical manifestation of being to another. Bypassing linear time to be recast as something new.

Check ‘New Biology’ here:

thumbnail_JFTphoto

Constellation Records -5th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

If the title sounds pretentious – and let’s face it, it does – if any act can carry it off without looking daft, it’s probably Montréal’s premier avant-rock band Fly Pan Am, who are well-suited to a release in this series via Constellation.

The ‘Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series’ is a set of sixteen single releases, each of extensive duration and with an audiovisual element. ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ is eleven minutes of squirming, scraping, laser-blitzing ambience pinned to a subtle but insistent mid-tempo bass beat. It’s difficult to pigeonhole, but then, pigeonholing is just lazy journalism, and what matter is that ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ leads the listener on a remarkable journey, a succession of transitions, some unexpected others which naturally flow into one another.

The liner notes outline the track’s evolution, recounting how ‘during lockdown the band has been trading files at a distance, including experiments with remixes of their Frontera live soundtrack recordings. ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ is the first fruit of these efforts and a first for Fly Pan AM in terms of process: each chronological section of the track is a solo work by each individual member, remixed in isolation, then stitched together in mostly linear fashion.’

The track’s success lies as much in its seamless assembly as its slow-spinning atmosphere: as much as there are distinct passages, ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ in no way feel cobbled together or patchworked. And, on the basis of the band’s comments, it seems that there’s more in the pipeline, and on the evidence here, it’s going to be good.

The accompanying experimental film by Charline Dally is quite a trip, too.

AA

a0417275120_10

Jason Sharp has been a fixture of Montréal’s experimental/improv scene for many years, chiefly as a saxophonist exploring eletcro-acoustic and durational music, and in a wide variety of jazz, avant and contemporary music ensembles. “Gates of Heaven” is an 18-minute through-composed acoustic recording and Sharp’s first official new release since Stand Above The Streams (2018). The single accompanies an experimental film by Guillaume Vallée.

Jason reveals, "this recording captures a solo bass saxophone performance in the Gates of Heaven, a small synagogue in Madison, Wisconsin. After an exhaustive recording session elsewhere, I visited the synagogue en route to the airport to quickly record a solo piece. The engineer and I had only a couple of hours to capture something before catching our flight home to Montreal.  Microphones were set up at varying distances throughout the synagogue and I improvised a solo piece using the acoustics of the space. We had just enough time to record what became an 18 minute multi-tracked piece. Each layer was a first take and a response to the previous. It began to rain heavily towards the end of our session audibly rattling the synagogue, we tore down the mics, and hurried to the airport. Taking this fleeting moment for myself to play in this beautiful resonant space was both nourishing and revitalising. I returned to this recording when the pandemic hit in mid-March as a way to focus my attention on something positive and future-driven. Listening back to this acoustic document during this unprecedented time, I once again felt the support this space had provided – and was reminded of the fragility that improvised music can often reveal and the strength it can restore."

Guillaume Vallée adds, "along with the musical beauty of the piece, the context of recording was an inspiration to me. When Jason explained to me that he recorded the piece in a place of worship, I imagined something soft & dark, some sort of suggested figurative visual ambiance. After listening obsessively for days, I began to work on a three-part narrative structure that follows the music’s progression. Everything comes from Super8 images that I shot years ago and got processed and scanned during isolation. Flowers, walls from the Middle Ages, a church – in colour and black & white that have then been heavily processed through analog video tools. I wanted the images to be sculpted by the music, as a pure depiction of the emotional states of mind this piece puts me in."

Watch the video here.

AA

Sharp

Pic: Gwendal le Flem

Joni Void is sharing a new video for the song ‘Non-Dit’ – created, performed, and shot by Jean Cousin (aka Joni Void) alongside frequent collaborator Sonya Stefan, the video draws inspiration from Joni Void’s riveting live show while highlighting Stefan’s beautifully gauzy, dream-like visual aesthetic. In the artists’ own words:

“The visual worlds of video artist Sonya Stefan and Joni Void collide for Mise En Abyme, as her experimental 16mm films meet the glass-effected projections from JV’s live performances, combined here to form a multi-layered “screen in a screen in a screen” music video for ‘Non-Dit’. Naomie de Lorimier (aka N NAO) prepares bouquets in a trance-like state, and performs vocal loops, while Sonya & Joni smudge the digital video with light-works and shots of flowers from two 16mm projectors, with crystals, glass and water placed in front.”

Watch the video here: