Author: amyess

Memphis Concrete: An Experimental Electronic Music Fest in the MidSouth

On June 24th and 25th of 2017 an interesting experimental electronic music fest descended upon the MidSouth with artists primarily from Memphis, Mississippi, and the southeast.

20170616_081359“I wanted to take electronic music back to its roots,” said creator Robert Traxler. His inception for the fest came from the experimental spirit of the original electronic music artists like Delia Derbyshire, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Suzanne Ciani, Pierre Schaeffer, and many, many more from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. But musique concrete is not all we found at this festival. Harsh noise, techno, ambient analog improv sets, and a live score of Forbidden Planet were a few of the performances found at Memphis Concrete.

Take a tour through the fest with Robert and some of the talented artists that participated in the Memphis Concrete Festival in the latest episode of Sonosphere.

 

 

 

Thanks to:

Robert Traxler

Dominic Van Horn (Aster, manualcontrol)

Luis Seixas

Ben Bauermeister

Kim Rueger (Belly Full of Stars)

Connor Brown (Cheap Spirits)

Kane Blanchard (Tatras)

Kole Oakes (Pas Moi)

The live Memphis Concrete sets heard here by Belly Full of Stars, Aster, Cheap Spirits, Pas Moi, Ben Bauermeister, Tatras, manualcontrol, and Robert Traxler were captured and edited by Robert Traxler.

 

Two other tracks used by participants in the fest are “#2” by NEPTR and “Viginti Quintuplet” by Ben Ricketts. Thanks to all the artists for sharing their time and work.

 

An Evening with Wu Fei

 

In this special, bonus episode of Sonosphere we present An Evening with Wu Fei in collaboration with Crosstown Arts. This is Fei’s live performance at the Crosstown Arts gallery on Cleveland Street in Memphis, TN on June 30, 2017. Fei CA PosterThe intimate space lent itself to an interactive performance between the audience and Wu Fei as she showcases what the guzheng can do through its thousand-year history.

Wu Fei is a composer and guzheng player. She is a native of Beijing and a current Nashville resident. She is a master of the guzheng, the ancient 21-string Chinese zither. At this performance Fei told stories of her upbringing in Beijing, her relentless practice with the guzheng and how she found improv at Mills College as well as through her time in New York’s improv scene. She mixes her Western and Chinese traditional sensibilities with a contemporary, experimental dialect that only Fei can convey in her “down-to-earth,” personable way. We thank her and Crosstown Arts for an amazing show!

 

 

spirit goth

Sonosphere corresponded over email with Josh Hwang founder of spirit goth and songwriter/producer for the project, Castlebeat about the impetus for the spirit goth label, how he works with artists on the label, latest releases and what’s in store for spirit goth.

He also provided a compilation for us to share with you! Find out more about spirit goth at www.spiritgoth.com

When did you create spirit goth? 

I started spirit goth as a net label in college around the start of 2016 as a way to release my own music and my friends’ music. I always enjoyed discovering new music, and I want to bring that experience to others by exposing smaller/new artists.

The name comes from one of the first lofi garage-rock songs I ever made called ‘downtown spirit goth.’ I just kind of liked the name and stuck with it.

How do you find your artists? 

I used to find a lot of artists through soundcloud, bandcamp, and some small blogs. But now we get a lot of demo submissions. Putting together the HPSTR GEMS playlists every couple months, which are made up of 10 dreampop/shoegaze “hidden gems” that I’m listening to at that time, is another way I find artists.

What do you look for in an artist/band? How do you shape or “feel out” the “sound of spirit goth”? 

Diy diy diy diy diy.

I look for a good melody above anything else. Next thing I look for is the style and how the melodies are presented. I really like when artists do all the recording/producing themselves. It just sounds more natural than a clean-cut studio recording.

We don’t force the artists into any binding contracts. The way we work is very mutual, more like a relationship with the artist to help them get their music out. So it’s very important to me that I can work well with the artist, and also important that the artist wants a diy release versus a corporate release. At the end of the day it’s the artist’s music and I like to let them make the decisions – release date, format, music video, etc.. My role is to just help them get it done.

What is your preferred “genre” or sound to represent on the label? Is it mostly personal taste or does some consumer demand play in?

Some of the genres that spirit goth represents are dreampop, shoegaze, and postpunk. But overall, it’s just lo-fi music that I really love. Each release is selected because I dig the sound and think that other people will dig it too.

Who was the first spirit goth artist/band? 

 My high school lofi surf pop band, Jaded Juice Riders. I recorded an 8-track album called ‘Girlfight’ and decided to release it myself.

Who is the newest addition to the label? 

We just released an EP for a Spanish dream pop band, Terry vs. Tori. One of the reasons why I like this band is because my mom is Spanish and I grew up listening to lot of older Spanish music like Alsaka y los Pegamoides and Hombres G. In general, it’s always exciting for me to find international artists.

But we are currently in the process of releasing a full-length album by a band called Foliage. So far there’s one single out and another one releasing later this month. Full album release will be in mid July.

Has the label evolved since the beginning? If so, how?

Yes, we’ve evolved from a digital net label to hand-making physical merchandise for our artists. However, now I am starting to outsource the merchandise labor because it has become very tedious.

I also no longer run every single aspect of the label by myself anymore. I’ve been getting help from friends and my girlfriend who handles the social media and weighs in on demo decisions.

How important is physical copies of music? I know a lot of folks just stream or download but the cassette and vinyl game is going pretty strong right now.  

We have yet to do vinyl, but I usually will record the cassettes and make the CD’s in my room. I think streaming and downloading is really great but there’s something really special about owning a cassette or CD of a band you like, especially if they are a smaller diy-focused artist. We’re trying to make our cassette tapes more collectible.

Streaming services have been great for finding new music. How is it working through bandcamp/soundcloud? Does that drive the business?

Yeah the spirit goth store is basically just a bandcamp account. I think it’s great because it makes it easy for people to find the music, and it’s very simple and low maintenance for me.

What are you excited about for the next year for your label? What do plan for future?

I’m excited for the releases we have coming up. Also working on making vinyl records available. And we’ve been talking to promoters about possibly putting together a small spirit goth music fest somewhere.

 

Pauline Oliveros

This episode of Sonosphere takes a look at the life and work of composer Pauline Oliveros through the eyes and ears of those who worked with her and learned from her. We spoke with Claire Chase, Wu Fei, Monique Buzzarte, Tara Rodgers, and Kerry O’Brien about how Pauline touched their lives personally and professionally, and how her legacy shaped the musical world of today.
Join us.
Tracks in this episode:
Mnemonics IV – Pauline Oliveros
Ocean State – Tara Rodgers
A Bubble in My Eye – Monique Buzzarte
Dawn – Wu Fei
b_second – Deep Listening Band
Bye Bye Butterfly – Pauline Oliveros
Nike – Deep Listening Band
d_forth – Deep Listening Band
Tribute to Pauline Oliveros Sonic Meditations – Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre
ICE Performs Pauline Oliveros “Concerto for Bass Drum”
ICE Performs Pauline Oliveros “Double X”
Poliveros

Adagio 830

Welcome to Sonosphere’s Press Play. Today we are featuring a DIY, Berlin-based label, Adagio 830.

They’ve put out some great underground punk and hardcore albums like the Flaming Massacres LP, ZANN, and ZARATHRUSTRA in the 1990s, 2015’s Positive Energy by DIAT, this year’s Votive Offerings by Artefact and I’ve especially loved RANK/XEROX ‘s M.y.t.h. out earlier this year.

cover

Adagio 830 began with their first LP release of the emo hardcore band Cole Quintet and grew from a mail order label to record store in 2006 when co-founders Robert Schulze and Stefan von Bis opened their own record stores in Berlin. Bis Aufs Messer is Robert’s store and Stefan runs Vendetta. Now, they are one of the premiere punk/hardcore labels in Germany that offer an array of music in-store. Stop in if you’re in Berlin!

Sonosphere connected with co-founder Robert Schulze over email on some basics about the label. Check out the mix tape by pressing play below.

When did you form the label and where is it located? 

Thats was in 1997 in Berlin, germany

Who presses your vinyl records? 

it depends on our needs, we do a lot via Handle With Care and then also XVINYLX in Czech.

How do you find your artists? 

 

It’s different. It used to be only friends or people I know for a while to document my scenery or help my friends out. Now its also demos we get etc.

What do you look for in an artist/band? 

 

Well – style is not priority. we released various different music in the last 20 years from hardcore over  to goth post-punk, singer / songwriter, kraut, drone etc etc. Important to me is that I feel connected to the band, the music has to do something for me and also the attitude or how the band / people behind operate and their beliefs …

Who was the first Adagio 830 artist/band?

 

That was Cole Quintet LP

Who is the newest addition to the label?

 

We are pretty stoked on Artefact from Cardiff where we just released their debut and Rank/Xerox, Dark Blue and Ruined Families we also just put out. Thats the latest stuff we put out … then we have the currently have the Rememberables LP at the pressing plant which is amazing. Its a band from D.C. that play super catchy shoe gaze feat. peeps from Coke Bust, etc.

What are you excited about for the next year for your label? What do plan for future?

 

there is a couple things. Def keep going, maybe a release a little less. We are pretty excited about the unreleased City Of Caterpillar LP thats coming out soon.

What the Wind has to Say: Marfa Myths

Last year Sonosphere visited the small, Texas town of Marfa for the Marfa Myths music festival created by Mexican Summer and Ballroom Marfa. Now in its fourth year Marfa Myths has grown to a three day fest with hundreds of individuals from around the country in attendance. It’s still a small festival, which allows for intimate conversations.

This year’s festival is upon us, so let’s travel back in time to Marfa Myths 2016 during a two-day wind storm, where I talk with sound artist Maria Chavez about her performance informed by the wind and chards of vinyl; where harpist Mary Lattimore shares insight into her latest album informed by road trips out west.

Head out this year, March 9-12 to Marfa Myths 2017 and you won’t regret it. Tickets at mexicansummer.com

 

 

The World’s First Duets for Mellotron

With the upcoming release of the Duets for Mellotron LP, we decided to share our interview with the people behind this project.  Prior to the April 16, 2016 performance, at Crosstown Arts in Memphis, TN, we sat down with Winston Eggleston, Robby Grant and Johnathan Kirkscey and talked about what brought this show to fruition and their history with this unique instrument.  Check out the interview on this episode of Sonosphere featuring a track from the performance, “Joan Folds Towels” written by Robby Grant and Jonathan Kirkscey.

15826566_203776573418898_2656035400152452806_nPick up your album January 13-18th, 2017 at Crosstown Arts and relive a beautiful night that was a first of its kind.

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 5: Karlheinz Stockhausen

Welcome to Sonosphere the podcast that explores the sounds all around us; in art and music movements through history.  

This is part 5 of our Birth of Modern Music Series on European composers of the early 20th century from the atonal compositions of Austria’s Schoenberg to the realization of total serialism of Olivier Messiaen we continue our coverage with German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and the evolution of electronic music. This episode we’ll hear from Stockhausen scholar Joe Drew; thanks to Ben Siler as the voice of Stockhausen.

 

Stockhausen tracks in order:
Kontra-Punkte
Kreuzspiel
Klavierstuck
Gesang Der Junglinge
Gruppen
Kontakte
Stimmung
Momente
Aus Den Seiben
Fur Kommende
Gesang Der Junglinge

Songs for the Youth: Music of Stockhausen

WWII wreaked havoc in the world, as Schoenberg was fleeing Germany, young soldiers in Italy, Greece, Germany and Great Britain were fighting on all fronts – a few of these soldiers would become the leaders of the musical scene after WWII and they were stained by the tragedies they witnessed in this war, one of which was Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Hardly anyone had a lasting impact on electronic music as did Stockhausen.

This month’s podcast episode features Karlheinz Stockhausen – check out this playlist featuring his work.

 

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 4: Olivier Messiaen

Welcome back to Sonosphere’s Birth of Modern Music series featuring modern European, classical composers that inspired the experimental, avant garde art and music scenes of the 50s, 60s and resonate in music composition today.

In the first episode of the series we highlighted Arnold Schoenberg whose atonal works ushered in a  new school  of composers. Then we moved to Erik Satie whose Vexations and other “sonic experiments” influenced his peers and John Cage who discovered the piece years later.  After that we covered Edgard Varese, a peculiar composer who sculpted sounds in a way never accomplished previously. Today we will delve into the life and works of Olivier Messiaen.

Messiaen escaped the world of composition’s shift to serialism through religion, nature, and birdsong, but he had a profound influence on the evolution of electronic music composition through composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, and Xenakis. 

Join us by subscribing on iTunes and following us on Soundcloud, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks for listening!

Songs in this month’s episode:

  1. Des Canyons Aux Etoiles I: Le Desert
  2. Des Canyons Aux Etoiles II: Les Orioles
  3. Preludes: La Colombe (The Dove)
  4. Quartet for the End of Time
  5. Turangalila – Symphonie
  6. Mode de valeurs et d’intensites
  7. Meditations sur le mystere de la Sainte Trinite

 

photo: Catalogue d’Oiseaux: styriarte.com