utorak, 19. ožujka 2013.

Brett Naucke - Seed (2014), Visitor (2013)

Seed cover art

Elektronička močvara prožeta melodijama kojima moraš davati antibiotike da prežive.

If previous releases for Nihilist, Arbor and his own Catholic Tapes established Chicago's Brett Naucke as one of the more accomplished practitioners in the American synth underground, "Seed", his debut LP for Spectrum Spools, is a veritable career apex, brimming with sonic ingenuity, detail, and mastery over both instrument and musical form.
It is hard to fathom due to the sheer diversity of sound and affectations of the eight individual pieces on the album, but "Seed" was recorded - almost impossibly - with the same synth patch, slightly modified for the unveiling of each track. This testifies to the intensity of Naucke's macroscopic conceptual vision for "Seed". Each track's complex arc points towards a mind rooted in academic electronic processes, keenly trying to surprise and disarm by prying open new textures, rhythms and structures. But Naucke has struck a perfect balance that unites this avant-garde intuition with a compositional sophistication - bringing each unique molecule of sound into cohesive songs and further still into a supremely listenable and closed album that operates entirely on its own logic.
Recorded at home, as well as an isolated environment in Miami, Florida, and then mixed tediously over a six month period, "Seed" is a record displaying Naucke's instrumental proficiency as much as it points to his painstaking studio dedication. The results are nothing short of startling. Naucke achieves a perfect synchronicity between the intrigue of each shimmering, crystalline sound that seems to exist infinitely within its own micro-habitat, and the larger organic whole to which it contributes. Combining delicate ambient synthscapes, snarled electronic pulses and subtle and beautiful melodic phrasings "Seed" hovers in an emotional sphere very much of its own. Each piece stitches together resplendent widescreen atmosphere with an intricate coldness and mournful elegance. Over the course of this album, Naucke has come as close as any to making the machines he has used sprout from the same soil as the organic landscapes he so perfectly renders on this album.- editionsmego.com/

Exceptional, dazzling modular synth compositions from the boss of Chicago's underground incubator, Catholic Tapes for John Elliott's Spectrum Spools. A filigree mesh of field recordings and "ritual variations of a singular patch for Modular Synthesis", Naucke's 3rd solo LP since his 2010 debut for Arbor is a sophisticated and inquisitive thing of wonder, framing a macroscopic vision equally guided by academic, avant-garde intuition and painstaking studio process. Unlike so many modular pieces that feel as though we're simply being extruded thru a long wormhole, Brett's compositional strategy is far more adroit and complex, drawing us into celestial ambient dimensions with the Global Communications-like 'Up From The Sun', and yoking the wayward, diffuse vectors of plonging bass, fractious pulses and kosmic pads in 'Luau' into something remarkably coherent and other. Deeper in, 'Sorrel & Grays' and 'Lost Inside Your Houses' survey richly detailed 4th worlds of exotic percussion and fluid, lushly harmonised synth contours, before the apex couplet of 'Harp of the Evening Garden' and 'Transmissions from the Evening Garden' assuage any doubts as to this guy's inimitable talent with a beguiling display of dynamic, technoid rhythms and chamber-like harmonics laced with alien synth signals. Taken as a lesson in modular architecture, and as a riveting listening experience, it's clearly worthy of huge recommendation to modular synth and electronic music from Conrad Schnitzler to Bee Mask, Aphex Twin, and far beyond. - boomkat

The explosion in sales of modular synthesizers has created a sentiment of backlash in some experimental music circles. Perhaps the most common (and perhaps the strongest) argument against modular is the price: to achieve complexity beyond basic noisemaker, one could spend thousands of dollars to realize their vision. Many modular enthusiasts also compare their constant search for new modules to the most awful addictions, seemingly never satisfied with the limitations of their current setup. And it doesn’t help that they’ve become so ubiquitous. As a result, it’s inevitable that aspiring musicians would seek fancy gear in the hopes that it will make them more capable. Some musicians even believe gear will solve their creative problems, as if the ability to make a certain sound also includes the ability to place sounds in order. But the most creative musicians see instruments as simply tools for realizing something bigger. In the right hands, a tool like a thoughtfully-curated modular synthesizer is not a provider of specific sounds, but a surface of both possibility and limitation, the keys to usability in any instrument.
Brett Naucke’s Seed exemplifies this dual process in its very conceptual basis. All the sounds on Seed derived from not only the same modular synthesizer, but also the same patch (with slight tweaks and variations). This limitation probably sounds particularly rigid in text, but Naucke uses the restriction the way a painter uses a palette. Having found an appropriate array of colors, a painter creates artwork by blending them, darkening them, or “modulating” their intensity, filling the entire canvas using only a few pigments. This translates into a finite number of sonic elements that Naucke then transposes and shapes into a myriad of sounds, some classically musical, others noumenal and otherworldly.
But, crucially, Naucke succeeds most handily at placing this myriad in order. His careful use of layering and juxtaposition creates concrete relationships between the basic elements of his patch, forming a mutable lattice of intersecting sonic planes in the musical space of each track. From this initial state at the beginning of each of Seed’s movements, Naucke manipulates and morphs these relationships into new forms, sometimes fluidly adjusting the texture or pitch of a plane, sometimes expanding the negative space against them. That is, Seed’s individual tracks develop like shoots from a rhizome, pushing through the soil to the end of their possibility. The restrictions they meet shape their course, bending their routes toward new sources of novelty before eventually exhausting their potential energies and coming to rest.
Although chaos hides deep within Seed, it only rarely makes an appearance at its surface (usually as percussive sounds and rhythmic structures). Much of the album features highly musical, even melodious phrases, and careful use of musical quantizing in order to tame unruly vibrations. As in a living organism, the chaos within is generative, expressing itself through the physical impositions of structure only when, through careful perception, we uncover it. As such, Seed’s combination of the pure possibility of chaos with the limitations of the patch structure meet in a kind of fractal endlessness, its form clear and beautiful but its underlying process deeply complex.
Even the title encodes this duality: Seed could of course refer to the initial patch, the single seed from which the album grows, the genetic limitation Naucke has placed on the work; or it could invoke seed as a collective noun, revealing that though a handful of seeds may all derive from the same species, each individual plant that grows from it will live an irreducibly unique fate despite its heritage. Its possibilities, though limited by its position in space and its botanical ancestry, are impossibly complex by its very existence. Seed bears the fruit of Naucke’s careful gardening, guiding its potentialities through his musical lattice in a powerful symbiosis. - Matthew Phillips

Visitor (2013) streaming

Vinyl debut by Catholic Tapes label head Brett Naucke. Whatever you know about this guy, toss it out the window.
On The Visitor Naucke traipses through an electronic bog filled with subtle seductive melodies and eerie organic abstractions, creating an impressive album that is both strange and beautiful.

Brett Naucke is the head of Catholic Tapes, and The Visitor is his vinyl debut. Brett's output has been limited to a handful of cassettes, so I am unfamiliar with his work. The press release promises "electronic bog filled with subtle seductive melodies and eerie organic abstractions." The lack of hyperbole makes me very hopeful!

The Visitor takes in six tracks clocking in at just over 33 minutes. The number of songs and album length work very well with this style of music. No track drags on for too long and the album doesn't seem forced. The music itself floats between light and airy to bubbly and watery. Both sides seem to follow a similar pattern of a shorter "intro" track and then two longer, atmospheric tracks. Side A gives us "Intro to the Visitor," "Twin Drifts," and "Plague in This Town." "Intro" has soft, warm synths juxtaposed with chaotic, scratchy rubbings in the foreground. "Twin Drifts" adds in a solid, reverbed beat-like pulse that helps to drive along the airy synth drones. "Plague" switches things up a bit. Bubbly synths are soon joined by sweeping, cinematic synths. It really brings the side to a close on a strong note. SIde B follows in a similar vein with "Sun Room," "Cellar Beat," and "Endless Royalty." "Sun Room" is soft and bright with interesting synth noodlings over subtle drones. It reminds me of the 4 part Dignity of Labour by The Human League. "Cellar" sounds like it was recorded in the ocean underneath where "Plague" was recorded. It's lower, slower, and darker. "Endless" rounds out the album by returning to the softer, airy notes. Soft, bell-like drones are topped by synthy animal sounds. It's a nice way to finish up the sonic journey of The Visitor.
Brett Naucke's The Visitor really is an "electronic bog filled with subtle seductive melodies and eerie organic abstractions." With the exception of "Cellar Beat," the album stays light and upbeat. I really enjoyed The Visitor and would seek out more of Brett's work. - Paul Casey

We find with surprise that the songs contained in Brett Naucke’s ‘The Visitor’ have been extracted from separate releases recorded between 2011 and 2012. In spite of this, The Visitor sounds cohesive, purposive and colloidally blended, like a group of themes from moments in a film.
This is one feature of music that appeals to 20Jazzfunkgreats because 20jazzfunkgreats has grown a monstrous visual cortex, and receives an above average dopamine kick from the uses of imagination that music like this, abstract yet functional, facilitates. Or it may be that 20jazzfunkgreats rigidly assorts music using cognitive schema grafted from the DNA of 1975-1985 B-movies, Sci-Fi and avant-garde schlock.
Today, our sense-making apparatus processes the signals broadcasted by Brett Naucke into grainy footage of the rusted geometries of cities abandoned as a consequence of a holocaust of some kind, and that we have survived. Although this could ‘simply’ be deindustrialisation (cities flattened by the lashing of invisible monsters), we place our bets on an exogenous happening (‘The Visitor?’): a mutated virus, the second coming of Nemesis, the validation of the Grey Goo hypothesis, Triffids? Pick your plague. The endgame is desolation, the slow reabsorption of Babylonian infrastructures into Earth like sutures into flesh.
The Visitor reminds us of the soundtrack that Klaus Schulze made for Angst –not in a directly sonic way (the only beats we find in the Visitor are in the wonderfully titled Cellar Beat, and they are not really beats but the echoes of spectres of humans crawling among the rubble) but in its tension: the dark omen of smoke in the sky, the carcass of a deer methodically stripped, & dumped into a stream, voices in the distance or struggling through the curtains of noise of a dead channel, all of the possible and stark manifestations of the trade-off between our need for human contact, and the threat of death in a world that has literally gone to the dogs.
Yet also become blindingly beautiful, something that is most apparent in the ‘Endless Royalty’ that concludes the album – synthetic noises burp and drip away as water is freed from its metal shackles, the drone that summarises ascension engulfs us with its stroboscopic spin, conifer leaves stroke the rays of the sun dawning upon us, we walk out of a forest crashing through the concrete of this big dead city, alien visitors into a world reset. - www.20jazzfunkgreats.co.uk/wordpress/


Home By Now (2012)  streaming

"In an instant Presence wells around you. Naucke (Face Worker, Catholic Tapes) moves deftly through this suite of ambient works, filling the stereo field with dense timbral structures, transcending placid drift through a series of oblique compositional transforms. Resounding polyphony gathers and crests, interrupted by radiophonic counterpoint, reforming, and finally resolving into an alive, dynamic stillness.

 "A refreshingly classic, melodic approach to electronic ambience from Brett Naucke with Home By Now on Field Studies. Bits of shimmering light, steady ringing drones, evolving melody, moments of collective beauty, meant for both introspection, and perhaps observation. A stunning consensus is achieved between each element in the recording. That none should overwhelm the other, and indeed compliment the whole. The side A closer, Rilea, offers a moment of found sound, echoing voices, indiscernible shouts, that while out of context, so easily becomes a part of the experience. It’s a command of the mix that is truly remarkable. That something so foreign to the scope of the recording can become a moving and narrative experience. Sounds like a sky full of clouds nodding together in agreement."

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