Throw off your ushankas, peel away your parkas, and un-don the rest of your trashhole snow-wear — because Sean McCann’s Recital label is here to shepherd us from a dead winter into an abundant spring with two new records out in April.
Who’s on first? Well, in this case, it’s “artist and sailor” Rip Hayman with the retrospective Dreams of India & China LP. Featuring tape recordings from 1975–1986 from “installation performances, private experiments, and every ethnographic voyage in between,” the record captures memories in a dream-state at their moment of creation. It arrives April 19 on 500 limited edition LPs that include a 12-page color booklet practically driiiipping with photos and essays.
Who’s on second? Well, in this case, it’s experimental sound artist Matthew Sullivan with the Matthew LP. Featuring sound recordings from “the waters of Italy, the pubs of London, birds of Japan, a phone call in Los Angeles,” the record is a world-weary document of changing shapes and aural contours as they were lived. It arrives on April 19 on 250 limited edition LPs that include a signed insert by the artist on the softest of microfiber cloth.
Pre-order Rip Hayman’s Dreams of India & China here; pre-order Matthew Sullivan’s Matthew here. Enjoy an excerpt and tracklisting for each of the albums below, and pay special attention to the flowing and caroling of the streams and the birds, respectively. They are what will save us from the gray banks of winters hearth.
Rip Hayman – Dreams of India & China tracklisting:
Artists of any stripe would do well to gorge on humble pie — but just in case that isn’t one’s natural inclination when first getting started, a simple exposure to the life of Tom Phillips might easily do the trick. The English artist was born in London in 1937, and if you take a look at his biography, it’s hard not to be struck by both QUANTITIES and variation. He’s been producing works more or less since he was a teenager, and in the decades since that time, he’s not only painted voraciously, but he’s also dabbled in books (see his best known work A Humument), sculpture, and collage; and his lesser-known musical scores arguably follow from the very early days when he played in the school orchestra at grammar school. Phillips was an early influence on Brian Eno (musically and cover art-wise), and they’ve been sharing popcorn at the cinema ever since.
Musically, Phillips doesn’t have many formal releases under his belt, though an LP from 1975 called Words and Music certainly deserves a highlight. The first side contains four magical, and experimental, chamber music pieces that have the nostalgic feel of something that was recorded in 1970s Britain, while side B has Phillips reading passages from A Humument. The disjointed narrative kind of makes it seem like a pleasant man is reading Ulysses out loud!
All in all, another intriguing restoration from the Recital label. Pre-order the reissue of Words and Music ahead of its February 15 release here (there’s also a deluxe edition, if you’re into that), and check out the track “Selected Passages from Life of Toge” and an excerpt from “Literature for Four Pianos” below:
Words and Music tracklisting:
01. Excerpt from the Opera IRMA, Op XII
02. Literature for Four Pianos, Op XI, No 3
03. Lesbia Waltz, Op XV
04. Ornamentik, Op IX
05. Selected Passages from Life of Toge
06. Pages at Random
Sean McCann’s Recital label has had a banner year, dotted as it was with pillar releases from the likes of The Ivytree, Sarah Davachi, Cop Tears, and Karla Borecky — among a handful of others — alongside the stunning centerpiece that is the Simple Affections LP. But we’ve still got something like two months left in this ol’ beater of a year, which means Recital isn’t yet done working its magic. In fact, an entire trifecta of rare and unusual releases have worked out a spot in what remains of Recital’s 2018 McCanon, and as usual, you’ll want to catch ‘em all!
First up is a vinyl reissue of French sound artist François Dufrêne’s “impossible-to-find” album Cri-Rythmes, recorded between 1967–1972 and initially released in 1977 on cassette. Recital is issuing the record in an edition of 250 with a written tribute to Dufrêne by Bernard Heidsieck from 1983, the year after the artist’s death. Enjoy as “Dufrêne swallows the microphone, gargles the capsule, then vomits up the cables,” as any good neo-Dadaist would.
Next is a compilation of works from artist Jean Dupuy recorded from 1969–2017 called All of the Time. Recital’s LP will come in an edition of 220 and include a 20-page insert, but there’s also a special edition of 30 with an original signed drawing from Dupuy. If that’s not enough exclusive incentive for you, the record’s lead track, “Concert of Seconds,” was also recorded just for the LP! Hurry up and stake your claim on art!
Finally, Recital brings Reidemeister Move’s (Christopher Williams and Robin Hayward) sound novella Arcanum 17 to CD. Recorded in 2012 and based on André Breton’s 1945 novel, the composition brings “field recordings, whispered narration, and cloudy bass and tuba streams” together in an atmospheric mold. It’s available in an edition of 200 with a 20-page color pamphlet full of notes and photos.
All three releases arrive tomorrow, November 9. Pre-order one or all of Cri-Rythmes, All of the Time, and Arcanum 17 at the applicable (and a-click-able) links, and check out audio previews of all three alongside their full tracklistings below. Ah, 2018; you really were…something.
François Dufrêne – Cri-Rythmes tracklisting:
01. Pour La Montre, Et Contre
02. Crirythme Des Cocons Cocontractants
03. Stress Man
04. Paris–Stockholm II
05. Crirythme En Rut
Jean Dupuy – All of the Time tracklisting:
01. Concert of Seconds
02. Elle Aimait Bien Les Frites, Marguerite
04. 2 Sound Texts & 14 Songs
05. Telephone Anagrams
Wisconsin is experiencing a “heat wave,” twenty eight degrees
After weeks of double-digit below zero temperatures,
it’s finally warm enough that inside actually feels shut off from nature’s cruel expanse
Cars skid by my bedroom window, through slush and rusty metal ice;
heat vent drips acid techno;
roommate shifts a broken beat in a finicky recliner
(in counterpoint with pages of Atonement flipping in his fingers);
outside, sirens pierce through thawing air and dissipate in triplet
and death is finally melting…
and each expanding particle in my hearing threshold
is performing a part of a sublunary symphony
Each bedspring and lightbulb and door hinge: a harp string, a violin, a clarinet
A motet of mundanity unfolds at my feet and I am is its sole audience
Absent my attention, absent my affection, wind still crawls through cracks and cavities,
but for now I am here and I dictate its curtain call
From where I am (reposed), it’s a Simple Affection, like happy chance in a song without resolve
and just before I remember I have eyelids…
and I softly clap and nod into a room at peace (as long as I have felt it)
In all types of music, the breath is critical. Obviously, breathing is essential to the bodily relationship of singing or playing a wind instrument, but it goes further than that. In high school band, for example, our director would have even the percussionists breathe in time with the winds in anticipation of the first downbeat of a piece. It was a way of getting us all to enter together; simply breathing in sync was a quicker and more natural way of getting all the musicians in the room on the same mental wavelength than having us watch the baton or count in our heads.
Ian Willam Craig’s debut album A Turn of Breath exposes breath’s importance in compositions with a more abstract relation to the idea of performance: throughout the album, the breath-like rhythms of looping tape machines cycle alongside Craig’s classically-schooled singing. Juxtaposing human-produced sound alongside malfunctioning machine sounds — which bring out the “humanity” of human-created gadgets — has been a pretty rich vein of sonic exploration for years, and A Turn of Breath marked a significant contribution to the field.
Initially released way back in 2014, Craig’s now-landmark first album is getting a deluxe reissue on Recital on June 29. The reissue comes in the form of a double-vinyl set (in a limited edition of 1000) containing both the original album and the Short of Breath EP, which was originally released in the form of a limited-edition CD-R at the time of A Turn of Breath’s original release — as well as Fresh Breath, a collection of previously unreleased material recorded during the same period. The whole package will come in a gatefold sleeve featuring new artwork from Craig. Pre-order it here; then inhale, exhale, and check out the special promo video and the previously-unreleased “Heaviness Sketch in Winter” down below.
A Turn Of Breath deluxe tracklisting:
01. Before Meaning Comes
02. On the Reach Of Explanations
03. Red Gate with Starling
05. A Slight Grip, a Gentle Hold (Part 1)
06. Second Lens
07. The Edges
08. New Brighton Park, July 2013
09. TEAC Poem
10. Either Or
11. A Slight Grip, a Gentle Hold (Part 2)
12. A Forgetting Place
13. Reason Simmers Over
14. Red Gate Drifting
15. Erat Hora
16. A Slight Grip, A Gentle Hold, Pt 3
17. Either Or (Darkroom Version)
18. 6 Years, 33 Million (For Bo)
19. Heaviness Sketch in Winter
20. Genesis Device
22. Bon Voyage, Wesbrook 210
This album really deserves a full review. Maybe we’ll get there. A hope to do.
Recital, who is re-issuing Thirteen Harmonies (Cage, 1986), which was originally released by Cop Tears member Derek Baron’s Reading Group imprint back in 2016, who also just released what I found to be a really sad and stunningly affecting 3xLP set of cult figure David Wojnarowicz’s cassette tape journals, which also deserves its own blurb, or its own review—this is and isn’t just me, Thirteen Harmonies… encourages these kinds of diversions and distractions, thoughtful wanderings, quiet interjections, spaces for generous interrogation and poignant conversation. There’s community and trust, a certain romance and a kind of platonic lust for the late morning, the early evening, a folder full of sheet music stuffed full and spilling—describes the release “as regal as bored as humble as confused.” An album of loose drafts so perfectly and circumstantially complete.
I remember when you first sent me this album and I listened to it so much. Still reminds me of you. I remember when someone posted a picture of the original CD-r to their Instagram story and I was jealous that they had it but I can’t remember who. I remember when someone texted me about this album and I replied, “I wish I had this.” Now I do. Thank you.
Buy it here and read more about the release in the wonderful words of Baron below:
Thirteen Harmonies is a selection from John Cage’s 44 Harmonies From Apartment House 1776, written for the American bicentennial, which itself is a selection of pieces in the colonial and early American choral canon. Arranged for double bass, electric guitar, and flute, from the arrangement for keyboard and violin, from the original four-part chorale, Thirteen Harmonies is an arrangement of a reduction of an arrangement of a reduction. The choral composers whose works were the material for Cage’s Apartment House were considered the avant-garde of choral music of the 18th century, and their music became the seed of Sacred Harp music, a radical lay tradition of the rural American south. John Cage composed the harmonies by way of erasure of the Protestant chorales and set them in an “apartment house” among other American voices: Native American ritual music, slave spirituals, and Sephardic incantations. What binds the lay experimentalism of William Billings and his contemporaries (all white American men) to the ‘multiplicity of centers’ of the Apartment House of John Cage (a white American man) is the destruction of a privileged musical space, the making-permeable of the division between the music of the piece and the sound of the people coming together to make the music of the piece. A positive destabilizing from within. Thirteen Harmonies was recorded live on two consecutive mornings in 2016 to a faulty 4-track on bled-through tape in Cameron’s apartment house in Queens, New York.
If you can recall a time before the fresh and oh-so-clean hell of the 2010s, you might remember Jewelled Antler Collective-founder Glenn Donaldson’s project(s) The Ivytree and The Birdtree (circa 2001–2005). If so, you’ll be happy to hear that the project is being revived for an archival LP of unreleased songs recorded between 2001 and 2004 called Unburdened Light, and it’ll be put out on Sean McCann’s Recital label. Together, we can all take solace in an era when Twitter didn’t exist.
The idea for the LP germinated in 2017 when McCann reached out to Donaldson about putting together a potential compilation of The Ivytree’s greatest hits (so to speak). This transformed into an archival project featuring 12 unreleased tracks of Donaldson’s gentle folk bliss (or, to use the adjective in the press release, “tragically honeyed”).
Unburdened Light is out May 4, and you can pre-order it here. The first edition is limited to 300 LPs on black vinyl, and it includes an eight-page art booklet featuring collages by Donaldson himself. If you’re uncertain that your broken, cynical, internet-ified brain can handle such pastoral whimsy (it probably still can), you can check out an embed of album cut “All the White Plumes” below, alongside the full tracklisting. Now go plant a tree or something (perhaps one of the ivy variety?), and let it be a balm for all the garbage-fire evils of the modern world!
Unburdened Light tracklisting:
01. Thistle Beds
02. All the White Plumes
03. In Unison
04. All Your Lights
05. Unburdened Light
06. Evil is Circular
07. She is the Swallow (pt.2)
08. Quartered Sky
10. Weak Hands Can’t Hold the Picture
11. Oh White Heron (Coastal Version)
12. In the Black Air
In Maya Deren’s silent short At Land, a woman — thrown from the waves into a world in which she is thoroughly out of place — reaches above herself with an open grasp of yearning and draws herself upward, traversing disparate dream-shores.
The same gesture is repeated, an open grasp of yearning, in Paul Clipson’s visual accompaniment to Sarah Davachi’s “At Hand,” yet here with closed eyes, submerged behind the same sea out of which Deren emerged bright-eyed and dreaming.
Ensnared behind prisons of light, she wanders, she whirls, entrapped behind all manners of glass darkly, veils, and frames fringed with night. Clipson and Davachi transport us to a realm of shattered selves where glances though plaintive are never returned, where what is at hand is only the faraway, a realm that embraces dissolution and might absolve us our seams and sutures were only the faraway to come near with night.
Something murmurs in the night, but is it music? What is the music in the night, if music could be music in the night? Yet, here I hesitate, for I can even less write “in” the night than “of” or “about” the night, since belonging to night’s darkness is an impossible notion. Music in the night can’t be of the night, if at last music in the night can be music at all. Night is nothing if not the inextinguishable consummation of all that enters it, until there is no belonging, nothing which could belong, and at last no all for which a desire to belong might thunder its extinction. No evocation of the night, no expression, and finally no light with which to see the score. Finally no song, finally no strength with which to sing. Yet, something murmurs in the night.
All night music was written during the day, we might offer. But this nothing of the night is not silence, we must insist. For instance, one could say, “Be silent with me, as all bells are silent.” For instance, there are bells. Not only are there bells, but also there are those bells that ring night’s demarcation from the day, even though night bleeds into day without sharp margins, as my shadow might overtake me when I turn the corner. A gradual enshrouding, then suddenly, then all at once. The silence of the bells in which I entreat you to be with me is the sudden clearing of sound that opens in the dying reverberations of day’s metallic clamor. Something murmurs in the night if only because there remains something of the light. After imagining all beings reverting to nothingness, darkness invades us like a presence. While the simple presence of absence in a night in which we are already enshrouded haunts us like a tremor of nausea or the horror of being, to pray for night to come, to let night come through the passivity of prayer, is a gesture of healing perhaps, for in the day we are already absent, so let night come to cloak our shattered selves.
That Davachi abjured her previous output of patient drones and surveys of sonic continuity with her 2017 release All My Circles Run in favor of finding fragile beginnings for specific sounds (“For Organ,” “For Piano”), evident of a reinvention of her work. The trajectory of drone music in the manner of Éliane Radigue and Tony Conrad, a seam which Davachi continues to sew, is a perfect representation of the murmuring that lingers in the night — an impersonal, anonymous continuity of sound, the deep listening to which unravels one at one’s seams, a confrontation with the deep well of being to which one is irrevocably involved, being without subject or substance. This is the third impersonal singular of “There is something that remains in this darkness…,” “It is dark outside…,” “It is dark…”
Now Davachi finds herself in the mood of the subjunctive and the sublime, of the “Let night come…,” of the “Let there be Night.” This is the sound of the waning of the day, wavering before the silence it announces in its wake. Let me disappear into the night so that the music flowing through me may become perfect in its beauty from the very fact that I’m no longer there to inhibit its flow. A wavering, as on “Mordents,” between the impossible dream of music in the night and the music of performing this impossible dream, as the quivering theme passes slowly into its dormant shadow. A wavering, as in “Buhrstone,” between a music swooning into sleep and the sounds already dissolved therein. A piano iteration out of a Chopin nocturne stripped of ornamentation, bared against a night that is too much to contain, while, as if conjured from the other side of twilight, flute phrases gracefully hover and glide as in the dreams of a sleeping Satie.
What tenderness (or is it patience? detachment? disintegration?) is required to simply let music be, even if that risks trespassing the silence after the last bell has rung. “Hours in the Evening,” the last track and the last hour to be rung, drones on like the sky perishing into pink. A beauty that demands no observer, the sound is that of a dream of unceasing breath, for no one sits at the organ, but the music that shivers before the pipe’s immensity is not simply the wind. The weary hesitance of the other two delicate drones, “Garlands,” and “At Hand,” find at last a cool and a calm in which to resolve.
At the end of the film, we ponder a void in the brush that lures us with night’s invitation of immensity. But the night we can neither see nor even inhabit. Night can only be announced: Let night come, on bells, end the day.
Hey, TMT reader. Say, are you familiar with Canadian avant-garde composer Sarah Davachi and/or Sean McCann’s illustrious Recital imprint?
And…do you happen like…beautiful, thought-provoking DRONES?
Do you happen to like…”slow jets of lapping harmonics”??
Do you happen to like…music composed mainly for “mellotrons and electronic organs,” “compositional architecture” that “re-contextualizes the essence” of artists’ previous outputs, and “careful and shadowed hymns” that serve as “anchors of emotion”???
In other words: ARE YOU A TMT READER?
Hey, great! Then I’ll have no trouble at all selling you on the exciting news that Davachi is getting set to release a new LP — chock FULL of all kinds of sounds like the ones I just described up above — through Recital.
The album is entitled Let Night Come On Bells End The Day, and, in McCann’s words, “is a lovely album to fill an evening living room with. A blanket, a cup of wine, a dim bulb, a wide window.”
What’s more, its five finely considered and carefully crafted constituent tracks will be available to Y-O-U, the TMT reader, on April 13. Pre-orders for the first edition (we’re talkin’ 600 black wax LPs accompanied by “three 9″x 9″ art prints of photographs by the artist” and a “complementary CD-edition” of the album) will be available right here starting March 26.
For now, though, check out a video clip for the mesmerizing track “At Hand” — fleshed out with heartrendingly melancholic visuals by late filmmaker Paul Clipson — down below, followed by the cover art and full tracklisting. And as always: THANKS FOR READING TMT, TMT reader. <3
Let Night Come On Bells End The Day tracklisting:
03. At Hand
05. Hours in the Evening
Lest we forget the existence of talented musicians who don’t regularly spearhead the credits of formal music releases, American composer and conceptual sound artist Charlie Morrow has managed to stay under the radar despite his artistic exposure to borderline uncomfortable numbers of human beings.
Primer time: Born in Newark, NJ, Morrow had formal composition education at Mannes College of Music, and his early career was plagued by arguably traditional ventures of composition that forced his focus on the interiors of various austere concert halls. The precise schematics of those concert halls eventually proved too limiting for the admirer of shamanic traditions, however, which compelled the beginning of Morrow’s ventures outside and with beings regardless of demographic or even species. The convening of massive outdoor “wave” concerts and the international broadcast of radio Solstice celebrations have been two hallmarks of a looong and innovative career.
At this point, you basically have to go back decades to find an album bearing Morrow’s name. Luckily, Sean McCann (a.k.a. “The Morrow Whisperer”) recently established a rapport with the 76-year-old, and that kinship has coincided with a brand new vinyl LP called Toot! Too (presumably after an now-obscure prior Toot! compilation, released on XL back in 2011).
The new effort out March 23 on McCann’s Recital imprint, and those of us seeking a primer on Morrow’s career really couldn’t ask for much more than this new release, as it’s said to be a compilation of performance recordings that took place between 1970 and 2014. The “Wave Music series,” which revolves around the voluminous playing of “like-instruments,” comprises the bulk of Toot! Too. Have a listen to “Wave Music II” down below and pre-order the record from Recital here. Such volume!
Toot! Too tracklisting:
01. Wave Music V – Conch Chorus and Bagpipe (1981)
02. Wave Music II – 100 Musicians with Lights (1978)
03. Wave Music IV – Drums and Bugles (1980)
04. Wave Music X – Trumpets for Dick Higgins (2014)
05. Requiem for the Victims of Kent State (1970)
06. Wave Music III – 60 Clarinets and a Boat (1979)