četvrtak, 4. travnja 2013.

Andrew Pekler - Cover Versions (2013)

300 romantičnih, bizarnih i blesavo-ispraznih naslovnica albuma prizvalo je vrtložni kolaž jazza, popa, elektronike, egzotike i klasike i njime spalilo svu kosu na glavama stanovnika južne Francuske. Ovaj ruski Amerikanac pokrenuo je mali antiburžujski rat.



Cover Versions - a record shop that sells one record in 300 different covers.
Opens December 7th, at 8 p.m. at Laura Mars Grp. gallery in Berlin, closes December 19th at 7 p.m.
Cover Versions LP available via Senufo Editions and Fantôme Verlag from January 3rd, 2013.
Listen to a preview of the album here.

Andrew Pekler selected 300 different covers from second-hand records and, using colorful geometric elements to cover over all titles, performer’s names, and label logos, removed traces of the covers’ original contexts. The sunsets, couples in silhouette, alpine panoramas, roses on pianos, female faces in close-up, and seascapes no longer serve as the packaging for easy listening and exotica. Instead, the romantic, bizarre and intriguingly bland images of the original covers are free to lend their evocative powers to the record of new music they now house. Likewise, the principle of collage is audible in Andrew Pekler’s compositions. Here, the electronically transformed fragments of audio extracted from the original records take on a new existence as Cover Versions.
Edition of 300 Lps in individual covers, of which only 100 are available from Senufo Editions. Black vinyl (cut at SST). Full color insert. 24 euro + shipping costs.
Cover Versions is a coproduction between Andrew Pekler, Laura Mars Grp., Fantôme Verlag and Senufo Editions.
Andrew Pekler was born in the U.S.S.R. and grew up in the U.S.A. He has resided in Germany since the mid-1990s. Andrew Pekler integrates elements of jazz, electronic music, exotica, pop and modern classical music into his own sampling-based compositions. He has released several highly-regarded albums, played concerts in Europe, N.America, Asia and Australia and composed music for film, dance and theater. For Fantôme Verlag (ex Maas Media), he compiled the CD Ursula Bogner. Sonne = Blackbox and contributed an essay to the accompanying book.- www.senufoeditions.com/

“The intention is to get the viewer drawn into a story that they ultimately have to piece together, to generate their own narratives.” – Alexander Gorlizki

“There were many moods, some inexplicable: a dark-skinned, half-dressed woman wearing a skirt of leaves sitting under a tree in communion with some friendly snakes; an embracing couple sitting in a swing in a downpour; a man with a donkey’s head like Shakespeare’s Bottom listening attentively to someone sitting above him on a throne.” – James Ivory

Upon encountering an Indian miniature for the first time, one’s curiosity is only ever matched by an appreciation for the image itself. Crafted with the aim of slotting into a larger catalogue of work, each Indian miniature painting offers a fragmented window into mythical, religious, and historical realms, while revealing past instances that discern how ancient art forms were re-imagined within emerging cultural contexts. The production of these miniatures induced a replication of sorts, an overlaying of accomplishment that examined pictorial themes with a fresh gaze to retain sense of meaning.
Andrew Pekler’s Cover Versions project explores similar avenues with sound and imagery, in a setting that goes way beyond the confines of any misappropriated Retromania. Here, the material’s source is removed from its intended environment, providing an overhauled frame for the resulting efforts that come in the form of beautifully compacted soundscapes. Pekler goes even further by selecting an assortment of images from exotica and library record covers and then manipulating their authorship in order to erase any symbolic affiliations with the past. Where reproduction and perceived enhancement were intertwined in Indian miniature painting, each track on Cover Versions undergoes alteration as though it were re-imagined time and time again through a concurrent lens. The Mughals epitomized the reinvention of historical artistic matter in the case of the former — the cutting of aged ideas and the editing of fabled incidents, binding them in an adapted setting for redistribution among an audience with different expectations and “enlightened” ideals. The principle is crass, but it continues to this day, and though there are uncountable parallels to be drawn from those Mughal miniatures and the album at hand, both result in works that are positively spellbinding.
Pekler exhibited his efforts over the course of 10 days at a staged record fair/exhibition/performance in Berlin, where every LP came with an altered cover that housed these intricate cover versions. Any accompanying artwork, then, now comes deprived of association, which is justified by the manner in which these pieces have been decontextualized. It is safe to surmise that only traces of original substance could be found here if one were to look hard enough, and even then, they would have been tinkered to the point of no return. The yarn they once spun is pulled through a modish gauze that melts any principle intent and molds it into something abstract and sublime. The key here is not so much in the name, but in the application of a common phrase to deploy a dual meaning: aurally, these versions are covers that assume the content of a prescribed track and remold it, the results of which are distributed on vinyl in 300 recycled album sleeves as a reasserted visual component.
Since original artist and album names have been replaced by colored lines and geometric shapes, there is an air of detachment as opposed to admiration. Like the reinterpretation of miniatures, there exists a desire to revisit these old configurations and recreate them for an intrepid palette, and that is achieved in the form of compact and segregated aural sequences, resplendent vignettes that play on the mood of the covers that once housed them. This is not a project that purposefully draws comparison between alternate art forms, but it does yield similar guiding principles, which are installed with outstanding execution and shape its very essence. Cover Versions invokes that same sense of curiosity and appreciation through its reworking of forgotten melodies before thrusting them into a newfangled context of otherwise unrelated substance.
Ideas of a similar vein were brought to the fore on 2011’s Sentimental Favourites, where Pekler morphed the contents of selected easy-listening records into a panoply of chipped ambiance. The album appeared to be an attack on the principles of the remix, as the source material was rendered unidentifiable. But at the same time, Pekler’s tracks did not pack as much punch as they do here. On that previous effort, it felt like he was still working in a space-dust frequency comparable to Ex Tempo Ra, a project that witnessed collaboration with Giuseppe Ielasi in crafting crackled ambient planes. But even that wasn’t Pekler’s first fling with subverted works; 2005’s Strings + Feedback saw him resurrecting distilled piano segments from Morton Feldman compositions in order to create non-classical depictions of indeterminate music. Where Cover Versions embodies technical enhancement is in the precise nature of arrangement — although these tracks persist in relying heavily on cheeky loops, crossover synth pieces, and pitch-shifted vocals, the results are simply unparalleled. One can stand back and feel the warm pulse of each clip as it radiates in the air for minutes after it finishes, a segment of acoustophilic splendor, refined and impressive, its very own cordial miniature.
As with Sentimental Favourites, the stock content comes from otherwise unknown easy listening and exotica records; music that goes down like brand name liquid honey. Exotica first arose as the jilted score to utopian revelry — melodic tranquility on the veranda, overlooking conquered settlements. It was the soundtrack to gratification in foreign lands, at least for some, and the revisiting of those sounds now plays into the discomfort of the zeitgeist. Attitudes have changed about the environments in which such styles were conceived, and Pekler has shifted that mindset entirely within the context of the electronic age, where the very notion of collectors’ items and Pitt Rivers trinkets is redefined and deciphered to bring about bold testimonial, exotica as exoticism, cover versions that reanimate the past and breathe fresh life into former aesthetic preferences. It’s virtual tourism that forgoes the deftness of subtly manipulated found sound.
But that is only part of the puzzle, a mere fragment of Pekler’s intricate design, for the consumer-friendly library music of work-for-hire composition is also tangled in his artful miniature soap operas. These are scores produced at little expense, bled of authorship by those who benefited from the anonymous play-safe sounds that emphasize such questionable production. They come modified here in distorted forms, as twisted keys on “Seascape / Ship” and a pulsating glitch on “Sunset / Sunrise” that literally causes a tingling sensation in the esophagus. The fact that these tunes were so easy to come by in second-hand stores is an indication of their generic value today outside the confides of specific recognition. Pekler has “covered” music formed within these bizarre fringes and manipulated it to create something utterly transfixing. Not only is he reworking the art forms of yesteryear for inquisitive audiences, but he is redefining the margins, crafting results in the guise of audio miniatures that tell anonymous tales of cultural shift channeled through long-forgotten voices that have never sounded so stirring. - Birkut

Last year, Berlin-based producer Andrew Pekler toured with Jan Jelinek as part of the Kosmischer Pitch band. He's been making music under several names for almost a decade, first gaining notice in 2000 as Sad Rockets, releasing Transition on Matador when the label experimented frequently with electronic releases. Though he's not prolific by the standards of electronic music, Pekler's method reminds me a bit of Atom Heart or Burnt Friedmann: each record is meant to sound different, based on a considered set of aesthetic guidelines. Pekler's time hanging around Jelinek-- after having previously been his labelmate on ~scape-- seems particularly significant here on his latest record.
For Cue, Pekler's M.O. was to assemble music using "library" records as inspiration. These are those weird LPs you now sometimes find in the "Misc." section of record stores, containing music for royalty-free "needle drop" use in commercial applications. Pekler took descriptions of the intended effect for various tracks ("slow, ominous piano motif drifting into swirling atmosphere"), and built new tracks, attempting to arrive at these moods from another angle.
Knowledge of his process is unnecessary for enjoying Cue. Pekler's use of such sterile material certainly contributes to the record's unusually disjointed feel, but these tracks don't seem tied to any particular era and certainly aren't meant for background use. His fondness for dense, overlapping loops as the basic unit of composition does, however, resemble the direction Jelinek has taken on his last two records, Kosmischer Pitch and Tierbeobachtungen. Each of these tracks sounds build from five or six or ten samples that are cut into pieces, set in motion, and allowed to bump into each other.
This approach, while necessarily limited in terms of dynamics, results in a handful of very interesting tracks. "Rockslide" even edges toward brilliant, with a droning tone up front that seems to skim along the surface of the beat like a stone across water, its pitch bent into chord-like shapes that, heard over steady floor toms, even manage to get a pretty funky. Indeed, the sound of drums throughout is striking and weird in a good way-- the extreme aridity of the beats opening "On" is the sort of thing Steve Albini hears in his dreams, and the exceptionally spacious "Pensive Boogie" sounds like a sack of assorted percussion tumbling down the stairs in slow motion, with some of the sounds moving backwards.
"Vertical Gardens" is one of the places where the samples show their age, the cheap synth outlining the chords evoking early electronics nostalgia in a manner reminiscent of the bubbly, bright electro-pop of Schlammpeitziger, but with an additional layer of abstraction. "Mote", one of a few short interludes that take one idea and runs with it for a minute or two, gets a lot of mileage from some cut-up piano bits, sounding like a player piano with a shredded roll that has been left alone in a decaying ballroom.
All in all, Cue is very subtle. Aside from "Rockslide", none of the tracks leaps out and demands to be regarded, despite the widely varying use of textures, tempos, and layering. But it's the sort of record that gets more interesting the deeper you get inside, as its old and strangely disembodied samples assemble into something new and occasionally even fleshy.
From Andrew Pekler: Typically, library music albums were not available to the general public but were marketed directly to film, TV and commercial production companies. Judging by the information provided on the record sleeves, these consumers of library music were assumed to have little interest in the identities of the individuals who actually wrote and played the music, the musicians' names often being relegated to the very small print. Instead, it appears that the functional aspects of the product were of foremost importance; the persistently generic names of the tracks and their descriptions, durations and suggestions for their usage are the ubiquitous features of library album packaging. At the same time, the name of the production studio itself is given the kind of front cover top-billing usually reserved for a performer or composer (or to brand names on boxes of corn flakes).
A picture emerges of near-anonymous composers, musicians and arrangers going to work 9 to 5, producing music according to functional-aesthetic guidelines for a never to be seen customer, further removed than even the session players at Motown or Studio One ever were from the glamour of pop or the pretense of individual artistry. This sort of faceless assembly line production runs counter to the conventional (western) practice of connecting creative works with individuals deemed to be their authors.
On the other hand, this apparent anonymity and subordination to quasi-utilitarian determinants does have its own liberating potential. Freed of the obligations of personal expression, one can simply work with the material at hand, concentrating on discrete aesthetic objectives without being unduly concerned for the overall "meaning" of the work. To paraphrase John Cage, the artist is free to have nothing to say and to say it.
With this in mind Andrew Pekler conceived and produced Cue. Starting from short expository phrases setting forth a track's instrumentation, mood and development (reproduced on the back cover), Pekler attempted to construct pieces to fit these specific criteria. During the process of assembly a track would more often than not evolve beyond its prescribed limits (in these cases, the descriptive blurbs have been updated to reflect the changes). This "dog walking man" method turned out to be a fertile middle ground between the micro-managed jazz miniatures of Nocturnes, False Dawns & Breakdowns (2004) and the expansive improvisations of Strings + Feedback (2005) and may help to explain why Cue sounds very little like its predecessors. On the whole it is a vibrant, playful album with the occasional somber passage providing some contrast to the predominantly ebullient tone. Piano and analog synthesizer sounds abound while percussion (when used) is typically reduced to a minimum of tom toms, bells and unidentified noises. Feedback can be heard in almost every track but taking on more subtle textural roles, guitars get the occasional spotlight and men are wearing pastels again this spring.
It should be noted that Cue is not an attempt to re-create, re-imagine or re-contextualize library music of past eras. It is not a post-modern exercise in citation, juxtaposition or collage. The attempt to re-create the "style" of library music would be pointless anyway as the music found on library records does not adhere to any distinct stylistic or aesthetic formula. Instead, library music can be defined by the formal constraints pertaining to its mode of production and it is the appropriation and application of these same constraints that have enabled and inspired Andrew Pekler to produce the music for this album.
"...rich, strange and occasionally opressive; chamber music from a chamber that couldn't exist. Lovely."BBC Experimental

  1. On - [MP3]
  2. Rockslide - [MP3]
  3. Dim Star - [MP3]

Sentimental Favourites
Sentimental Favourites is Andrew Pekler's first album for Dekorder and his first solo release since 2009's Entanglements In The Orthopedic Sensorium. As is the case with all of his recordings, the music on this album is the result of an investigation into an abandoned genre or aesthetic trope of the past. In this case, the object of Pekler's retro-speculative archaeology is a particular strain of late 60's/early 70's easy listening which melded the sophisticated songwriting pathos of Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb or The Carpenters with a post-psychedelic attention to sonic detail and was exemplified by such ensembles as The Mystic Moods Orchestra, 101 Strings, late-period Santo & Johnny and countless one-off albums recorded by pseudonymous studio ensembles.
On Sentimental Favourites, Andrew Pekler attempts, without irony, to recapture the emotional sweep and sonic grain of these last innocent byways of pop history with his own signature electronic textures, loops and fragments of melody. The individual songs and interludes range in tone from wistful yearning to haunted melancholy and comprise a carefully planned sequence. Enhanced by the sounds of nature between and sometimes during the tracks, the listener is taken through a cycle of mood states which gradually condense into an immersive atmosphere of sentimental reflection. Repeated listening is recommended.

Andrew Pekler selected discography:
Nocturnes, False Dawns And Breakdowns (2004) Scape
Strings + Feedback (2005) Staubgold
Cue (2007) Kranky
Entanglements In The Orthopedic Sensorium (2009) Schoolmap

Groupshow (with Hanno Leichtmann and Jan Jelinek):
The Martyrdom Of Groupshow (2009) Scape
The Science (Behind Shoes)/Pet Ramp And Staircase (2010) Dekorder

The man behind Sad Rockets and a member of Bergheim 34, Andrew Pekler began recording under his own name in the early 2000s. Station to Station, released by Scape in April of 2002, was born due to a culmination of a number of things: Pekler's move from California to Heidelberg, his increased interest in electric jazz, and acquaintances with saxophonist Elliot Levine and bassist Akira Ando (Pekler met Levine at a Bergheim 34 show in Philadelphia). Pekler combined his popping glitch-dub productions with improvised material played by Ando, Levine, and a handful of other musicians, thus pitting ma..

My Favourite Shop

photos courtesy of Stephanie Kloss

Next stops: Dalston Kingsland, Moskva Kurskaya

No gigs for months, then London and Moscow in one week. Droogs, I'll see you there with shades on.

Sentimental Circuits & Exotic Connectors

A mix of favourites old and new, plus some unreleased material.

Sentimental Favourites

A video for the track Close To Strangers.

From the album Sentimental Favourites out on Nov. 28, 2011 on Dekorder.

Sonne = Blackbox

A brief excerpt from a recent live performance of Ursula Bogner material:


I am pleased to announce the release of Sonne=Blackbox (Voice and Tape Music by Ursula Bogner), a collection of the rediscovered composer's previously unheard voice and tape experiments, compiled and assembled by Andrew Pekler.

Sonne=Blackbox is available as a vinyl LP and as a limited edition black card box including CD and book (English/German texts by Momus, Kiwi Menrath, Jürgen Fischer, Bettina Klein, Tim Tetzner, Andrew Pekler & an introduction by Jan Jelinek), 126 pages with numerous photos, drawings and compositional instructions. More information and audio clips may be found here. More details on the book here.

Here is a video collage for the track Trabant:


Vocal /dental /oscillator drone piece utilizing Philips Sonicare, Moog Prodigy and untrained singer.


Processed video feedback combined with stills from Warning From Space (1956). White, pink and brown noise soundtrack.

The North is Empty

1970s postcards from Sweden and Denmark filmed and processed with a Jones MVIP module.

Experiment With Stills

Interlaced stills from Kong Island (1968). More images here.

Towards A Taxonomy Of Screams

Screams, reactions, realizations, dawnings-on, shudders, shocks and starts from approx. 50 B-grade horror and sci-fi films. Compiled, edited and re-soundtracked.

Hazy Shade Of Summer

An unreleased piece of heatwave jazz from the archives.

Funeral For A God

A short clip documenting the tragic discovery and ritual burial of a pterodactyl deity by a group of telepathic sea nymphs. "Waltz For Minor Planets" plays in the background.

Interlaced Video Stills Pt. 3

Pitch Class Spy Glass

Greetings from the Orthopedic Sensorium
Interlaced Video Stills Pt. 2

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