Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I wanted to start documenting some of the records that might have been forgotten, underrated, or not heard by as many people as they should be. In this new column called Standards, each week I'll focus on ten records tied together by something and not tied down by genre, comprehensiveness, or time. Here are the first ten, old favorites that have never sounded better.

The scope of the music on this list is the perfection of a certain thing. Broken devices, new sounds from common instruments, damaged and deconstructed media formats, and the silences in between. I can't explain the excitement I felt each time I heard these all for the first time. The origins of these records seem to come from the worlds created by people like Pauline Oliveros, Luc Ferrari, Christian Marclay, AMM, Tony Conrad, Arnold Dreyblatt, Derek Bailey, Toru Takemitsu, Morton Feldman, and Eliane Radigue. I can easily think of ten, twenty+ more to add (Kaffe Matthews, Andrea Neumann, Alva Noto, Philip Jeck, William Basinski, Ami Yoshida, Radian, the list seriously goes on and on). But start here; the options are endless.

AARON DILLOWAY - Heavy (Heavy Tapes, 2005)
Miles and miles of 8-track tape. Endless and pure.

KEVIN DRUMM & TAKU SUGIMOTO - Den (Sonoris, 2000)
Guitar and electronics. As unplugged as this type of stuff gets.

JAN JELINEK - Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records (-scape, 2001)
As its title states, Jan Jelinek created a world of warmth using second-long loops from '60s jazz records. Gentle, low-key, and unnaturally humane.

GREG KELLEY - I Don't Want To Live Forever (Gameboy, 2005)
I can remember reading about this record when it first came out- the acclaim was deafening. Trumpet as you've never quite heard it before: blank and flickering. Unbelievably emotional and austere.

ANNETTE KREBS - Guitar Solo (Fringes, 2002)
Apparently Annette closed herself off from the rest of the world for the better part of a month to create this record. She went looking for silence and a real-life blank canvas, but came back with this astonishing album. Using static, guitar, and a whole lot of disciplined silence, the sounds here are those of everyday living: both overwhelming and affirmative. I remember when this came out, I immediately bought three or four copies to give to friends, because it was simply too good. A constant inspiration.

SACHIKO M / TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA / OTOMO YOSHIHIDE - Good Morning Good Night (Erstwhile, 2004)
Possibly Onkyo's three biggest stars, this meeting (their first as a trio) is a total summation of their prior work and a perfect way in to this sound. The focus and complete mastery of each of their chosen devices here is peerless: Sachiko M's sine waves, Toshimaru Nakamura's no-input mixing board and Otomo Yoshihide's turntables. Quite possibly their finest hour(s).

AKI ONDA - Bon Voyage! Cassette Memories Vol. 2 (Improvised Music From Japan, 2003)
Fourteen years of field recordings, overlapping memories, fuzzy details, and the world in 45 minutes.

OVAL - 94 Diskont (Mille Plateaux, 1995)
I still believe that Madonna's Don't Tell Me would not exist if not for Oval. Markus Popp made symphonies from skipping CDs. The 24+ minute opener Do While, all shimmer and haze, is a stone-cold classic.

PITA - Get Out (Mego, 1999)
Disorienting, digital, and loud, Get Out, is Peter Rehberg's Powerbook at its most romantic. The third track is a killer.

POLE - 1 (Kiff SM, 1998)
Most people remember Stefan Betke and his dubbed out broken Waldorf 4-pole filter, but they may not remember just how striking it all still is. So little, so much.

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