Kranky celebrates 25 years of mostly brain massage, announces anniversary shows in Portland, NYC, & LA + Loscil album reissue

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Almost hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Joel Leoschke and Bruce Adams founded Kranky explicitly for the purpose of putting out Labradford’s Prazision LP. Since that time, not only have they (obviously) gone on to release a crap-ton of music from other great artists, but they’ve managed to reach the kind of status wherein most vagabonds of the Western independent music world knows the humble Kranky insignia when they see it. These days, it’s the label of choice for heavy hitters like Tim Hecker, Loscil, Stars of the Lid, Steve Hauschildt, and (recently) Grouper — and Liz Harris herself recently commented on how it’s “rare to find a label that has its heart in the right place and business ethics to match.”

Harris made that remark around the time of Kranky’s 20th anniversary; and now, she and other artists are back to further put their microphone where their appreciating mouth is (because that’s how musicians usually perform). 25 years for Kranky means a series of label shows in partnership with the event series Ambient Church, and that series will involve various Kranky artists performing in select cities around the United States beginning in mid-November. The label’s also reissuing Loscil’s 2002 album Submers, which is part of a deliberate move to release expanded versions of albums that have either been long out of print or not originally sponsored by Kranky.

Submers is coming out November 23 for your meditative pleasure. Hear the track “Argonaut I” below, and see a rundown of the upcoming shows afterwards.

25 and still Kranky:

11.16.18 – Portland, OR – First Cong. United Church of Christ *
11.17.18 – Portland, OR – First Cong. United Church of Christ #
12.01.18 – Los Angeles, CA – First Cong. Church of Los Angeles %
12.08.18 – Chicago, IL – Rockefeller Memorial Chapel @
12.15.18 – New York, NY – St. Ann & The Holy Trinity ^

* Loscil, Valet, Saloli
# Grouper, Benoît Pioulard, Strategy
% Grouper, Brian McBride, Less Bells
@ Windy & Carl, Pan•American, Steve Hauschildt, Justin Walter
^ Christina Vantzou, Forma, Earthen Sea, Saloli

Music Review: CV & JAB — ZIN TAYLOR – Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface

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Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface

[Shelter Press; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett’s interpretation of wall drawings by the artist Zin Taylor, made for his show “Creative Writing” at Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster. In the hands of Vantzou and Bennett, Taylor’s splayed and flattened landscape of natural and almost-natural forms, a black-and-white desert of contorted cacti, becomes something like a landscape of sound, a spacious mixture of droning, buzzing, and beeping things.

Is there such a thing as a non-arbitrary performance of a graphic score, whether that happens in the relatively conservative, formalized space opened up by a solitary composer in the tradition of John Cage or, as is the case for Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface, in public, together, and of a graphic work not strictly presented as a score? Yes and no, probably. I don’t personally think Vantzou and Bennett’s album sounds “like” Zin Taylor’s wall drawing, and I don’t know how it could. Still, the choices made by each in recording it reflect some encounter between their intuitions, their reactions to one another, and their reactions to a space transformed by Taylor. The album verifies that the place made by Taylor could, if only once and for about 43 minutes, sound like this.

Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface by CV & JAB — Zin Taylor

Vantzou and Bennett begin in a more ecological mode, faithfully evoking presences of moving water and trees on the first couple of tracks, before their performance veers in a more abstract direction, returning only once or twice to those representational figures. The breathy, delaying melody of “Large Suess Plant,” the dense low-end and forceful electronics of “Alfred Hitchcock Haze,” the gentlety of “Rock House with Door,” the resonant droning of “Nub with Three Wraps of Fabric,” and the obscure piano of “Fingers of Thought” all hold tones and textures that, even in their diversity, work in a way here that doesn’t feel random. It’s uncalculated, but natural. The result of their combination is, I think, an interesting and important example of music based on graphic material, and a piece of work that relates productively with traditions from New Age, indeterminate composition, and electroacoustic improvisation. At times, it becomes austere, matching Taylor’s drawing in its monochrome; at others, it becomes rich, differentiated, and full.