The electronic music calendar makes the shift of seasons readily apparent. It’s not unlike the movies. Gone is summer blockbuster season, sequels and comic book movies, Ibiza and confetti cannons, big-budget special effects. Now, as in the cinemas, it’s date night dinner and a movie, trip-out night, delicious chin scratching, voyages to other worlds. And it’s not that we love this time because it’s smarter and summer is dumber: it’s because this is the season where the festival calendar can bring us deeper pleasures, richer sensations, and more powerful feelings, the shallow popcorn diversions out of the way.
There’s indeed so much – I can count off the top of my head half a dozen notable electronic music festivals just in Europe, just in the next 30 days – that writing a preview is all but impossible.
So let’s take just one act out of October to start. Suzanne Ciani, one of the all-time legends of the synthesizer, has lent the electronic instrument a lot of the voice we know today. She is artist and advocate, keyboard diva and endlessly imaginative composer. She composed transcendent standalone works, but also made sounds for arcades and pinball machines and Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab – yes, arcades and eggheads, alike.
Ciani headlining is a good headline. But we get a bit more.
You see, Andy Votel with his Finders Keepers Records has been unearthing just the sort of Ciani goodness that might otherwise have faded into obscurity. That includes re-issuing her work for Atari. (Commercial gigs and electronic music have, after all, produced some of electronic music’s greatest wonders, from Wendy Carlos’ soaring Tron to the TV ads by Raymond Scott that rivaled anything musique concrete could produce.)
“Liberator,” apart from being the name of an Atari video game, seems an appropriately anarchic call to action for lovers of radical music. I normally despise record album descriptions, but this one rises to the occasion with lovely prose:
For all your discotheque, roller rink and amusement arcade needs Finders Keepers Records in collaboration with synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani bring you the full version edit of her intergalactic vocoder driven TV jingle for Atari’s classic Liberator arcade game. Originally proposed for a possible promotional flexi-disc release this remastered feature length version includes a lost second verse and extra custom-made space age sound designs that hark back to her earlier work on Meco’s Star Wars Galactic Funk cash-in. Housed here in Atari style packaging and pressed on diamond white wax this 45 single comes complete with another Atari jingle Summer taken from her groundbreaking original company portfolio cassettes which were recently, errr, liberated from her original studio archives. This limited release also marks a brand new campaign of further unearthed computer music/synth funk artefacts from Finders Keepers latest trip into the Ciani Musica archive which will coincide with her first-ever Buchla fuelled tour of Europe penned for Autumn 2014.
So, Ciani is hitting the road with her Buchla. But, still, we get more.
Imagine a super band consisting of that same Andy Votel, plus Sean Canty of Demdike Stare, plus the inimitable Jane Weaver (of Kill Laura and, fans of English folktronica, Misty Dixon). If that name dropping means nothing, fret not – just listen to these otherworldly soundscapes and forget what you were previously doing.
NeoTantrik is perhaps an apt description for the way a certain breed of music lovers will respond.
*Excerpts from the album. Available at Experimedia.net.* Intervisions documents select live actions by Andy Votel, Sean Canty of Demdike Stare, Jane Weaver, and N. Racker’s NeoTantrik syzygy over the last 12 months. It breaks down to five parts recorded on location in Bristol, Rotterdam, and Stockport — some previously issued on tape — in mutating alignments of personnel all deeply focused on common goals of abstract sonic transcendence uniting a mind-field of mimetic and sensual references to nu-religious and metaphysical phorms. Three pieces were captured at Bristol’s Cube Gallery, ranging from the pineal dilation of “Parched Effigy (Cube 3)” to their tunneling, 10-minute trip across fragmented free jazz and kosmische “Intervisionary Heretic,” and the overheated machine squall and concrète confusion of “Xian Octagon.” The Rotterdam parts are more concise, potent, travelling great distances during two minutes of astral flight in “Coloursound (Worm1)” and vaporizing into radiant metallic dissonance during the five minutes of “Crolyn Emphasis.” Jane Weaver’s contribution provides a more controlled and somber counterpoint, calcifying their abstract tendencies in the organ meditation, “Sous le même soleil, vie disparu dans le ciel,” recorded at Compstall Mill in Stockport. Mastered and cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy in an edition of 500 copies. Artwork by Andy Votel.
Since their 2013 album debut, there have been rare chances to hear them live, however. So imagine that the superband joins Ciani for a new project together. Unsound presented this collaboration in New York in spring, and now brings it to Kraków, Poland for the flagship fall edition of its festival, the world’s foremost gathering for impassioned sound nerds.
In Kraków, NeoTantrik will open up a richly-programmed week attracting listeners from various corners of the globe.
The Soft Machine – Unsound Monday 13 October
Suzanne Ciani + Neotantrik [Unsound]
Next, the group proceeds to CTM Festival’s 2015 prelude, for another delicious combination – Keith Fullerton Whitman with Mark Fell. But that’s a story for another post.
So, mark those calendars if this is your neighborhood, and stay tuned to CDM if it isn’t. (Unsound is sold out, but individual tickets are available; tickets are on for CTM’s prelude, too.)
Let’s take in more Suzanne Ciani in the meanwhile. Of course, she made an appearance on seminal American children’s science program 3-2-1 Contact – a video widely spread no doubt because so many of my generation got into synthesizers partly through the influence of this film. (Ciani and Steve Horelick I can blame for what I do today.) Her gentle ease and genuine pleasure at these concepts should be added reminder of why we should never tolerate anti-intellectualism, why kids can be generously exposed to science, math, and synths.
Oh – and she dazzled Letterman audiences, too.
More music and process:
More Ciani listening:
By the way, enter the website of Finders Keepers at your own peril – you might start snapping up oddities by Daniela Casa and Emma Tricca and Bruno Nicolai before your credit card had any opportunity to ask who the hell any of those people are.
It’s going to be a great fall.