2013 is rapidly coming to a close and so I figure it’s an appropriate enough time to reflect a bit on the past year of Absence of Wax: aka the odd little website in my life that’s become home to about 50 releases of an otherworldly sonic nature. As i’ve mentioned in previous ramblings, everything related to AoW is/was an off the cuff whim…initially conceived & executed in a couple of hours time on 1.1.11. And so, that i would have reached this point, with this much inspiring music under its umbrella, from an array of utterly genius artists is a bit beyond my comprehension. Truthfully, I tend not to think all that much about it and just allow the thing to propel forward as much as the cosmos will allow. That seems to be the most respectful path.
As always, i simply want to thank…humbly and profoundly…anyone who comes to visit this website and most especially everyone who agrees to contribute a piece of themselves to it. I’m proud of what the site represents and hope it brings some inspiration to others as much as it does to myself. I’m happy for AoW to exist in the shadows, the fringes, the crevices…as a sort of respite from the mundane.
What about 2014, you may ask?
Well, happily, there are already half a years worth of releases sitting on the hard drive waiting to be uploaded and set free. (Literally.)
In addition, over the past several weeks, i have been hard at work on curating a new AoW zine. Art is as profound an influence on my life as music and so it seems only fitting (to me at least) to offer a companion piece in this way. I have approached several artists whose work i admire greatly. While things are still being formalized, i can announce that the following folks are already on board: Tim Biskup, Matt Furie, Will Bryant, Ramsey Dau, Chad Kouri, Rich Jacobs, Michael C. Husing, Daniel Gibson, Nick Guenzler, JT Steiny, Alex Schubert, Jay Howell, Nathaniel Russell, Jeremy Szuder, Britt Randle & Travis Millard. It’s a list of talent that continues to make me smile in amazement. I cannot express how thankful i am for their willingness to participate. As with the 2013 zine, this will likely be limited to 50 copies with all proceeds going toward Creative Commons and Internet Archive. Two organizations that are at the backbone of this net label, and most others as well. I will continue to keep the site (+ Facebook/Twitter) updated with the progress of the zine and its expected release date…so stay tuned!
I hope you enjoy this month’s release from Martin Rach. I hope you will enjoy next month’s release from Lauren Sarah Hayes…and all the other fine music (and art!) that is forthcoming. You all deserve it.
From the composer:
“Rites Of Spring came about on April 30, 2013, when I was sitting down in my bedroom witht the intention to record a very quiet song. May 1 is a much celebrated holiday in Germany, so the night before is always a big night out, especially in my neighborhood. Instead of recording that quiet song I captured some of the yelling and singing down there on the street – and in the end even fireworks. This led to a completely different piece of music than I originally had in mind.”
“It is already six months now since I became general director of Radio Nabu Congul and I am pleased to have kept the station on air for 24 hours a day. We are still greatly understaffed, and finding those interested and willing to present programming especially through the night has been difficult. Since I am already at the station most of the day I have had to say, experiment to find solutions.
One of the artifacts acquired from the previous radio station, which was run by missionaries who were forced to flee with their lives, was an old Hammond B-3 Organ. As customary with most colonial instruments when abandoned and reclaimed, an attempt was made to retune the instrument to our own indigenous scales. Unfortunately while attempting to adapt the instrument to a tuning found on the regional mouth organs of Anaphoria, mistakes were made as the nature of the instrument resisted modification. At the end of the process in which error followed error, even the keyboard became inoperative, and in creative desperation only a single nine-tone chord, one used in a popular song of defiance, was all that could be salvaged.
Every evening as the last program is coming to an end on Radio Nabu Congul, I have been playing with this organ and I adjust the various puller knobs to shape and sculpt the timbre. Sensitive to the fact that it will be sounded for hours, I attempt not only to draw on the energy of the station, but also the energy of the insects and often a parliament of owls who have taken a liking to the station roof and antenna. For fun I have kept recorded samples from each night and found 138 of these especially to my liking. One day I started playing with these tapes and I became inspired to create a few versions of this piece. Already these recordings are kept on hand for when harsh weather delays someone from arriving at the station on time, an event more common than one would hope for. I feel this final version in particular reflects my own emotions in running and directing this station. It is my whole life at the moment.”
Mike Kennedy: Electric Guitar, Voice
Tim Biskup: Analog Synthesizer, Voice, Tapes, Radio
OWLOW is an improvisation sound project created by Barcelona-based composer Juan Rey Romay. “Equinox’” is a piece that perfectly mixes the contrasts he likes: a conversation between ambient Buddha Machine and synth noise, exploring loops and repetition to create halcyon atmospheres with non planned results.
From The Composer:
“Sorrow Within Nebulae” was made with Ableton Live and with various pads and audio effects. The idea for the track (and later EP) came from emotions humans can feel while connected to space – what if stars could feel emotions too when they were born and died?
From the composer:
“I. E. M. (Impromptu Entropy Machine) was an attempt to draw together my practices in improvisation and fixed electronic mediums. As my source material I used recordings of rehearsals and performances of various improvisation projects that I was involved in over a 2 year period 2011-2013 ranging from a project for Jazz Quartet and Live Laptop Performers to live-coded synthesis in SuperCollider.
In the final editing and sequencing process I limited myself to only sample editing, layering and EQing in an attempt to retain the structure and character of the original improvisations.
I. E. M. endeavours to provide some kind of commentary on the running themes and sharp contrasts in my musical activity over a long period and through my engagement with varied styles of music; to experiment with composing with longer forms and pre-structured material; and to impose some compositional structure upon loose threads of ideas.
The resulting piece tends towards chaos. I think it’s some kind of machine, hastily thrown together without purpose or design. It’s probably falling apart, either through technical malfunction or existential crisis, but the piece ends before we find out.”
From the composer:
“Unplaned Oak” is a continuation of my current work attempting to sonify low voltages into aesthetic ambiences. These signals are augmented by short-wave radio input. The process is informed by my ongoing investigation into improvised forms combined with different approaches to sound-making. The work was realised over the winter of 2012/13 in my unheated home studio specifically for Absence of Wax. I like to think the “cold” sound of the recording is a direct result of this hostile working environment.
From the composer:
“field” is an exploration in treating MIDI piano (in the form of a controller + MIDI piano data) as if a real piano: executing human, repetitive strokes as an imperfect, but constant signal on the MIDI keyboard in order to create and coalesce resonances and drones sans the actual, physical acoustic vessel. With its resultant, near-organic textures, “field” re-frames what is real/artificial, and what is human/not.
Recorded live in Max/MSP with a MIDI keyboard controller, with minimal editing in Peak.
From the composer:
“Rufesec started off with some guitar recording I found on an old harddrive. I was drawn to the droney nature of the recordings and wanted to build up a track around the idea of combining sounds based on their distinctive timbral/textural qualities rather than pitch and harmony. Using field recordings as sound sources I was able to create granular and noise textures that I felt worked well with the processed guitar layers. The inherent temporal events of the field recordings are used to dictate the form of the piece.”
Check out this Acts of Silence review of JD Zazie “Naherholung Playtime.”
JD Zazie: turntable, mixer, CD’s.
Excerpt from the live set at Naherholung, Berlin. Recorded on February 5, 2012. Produced by Phonopolis (March 2012.)
Special thanks to: Trophies, Burp Enterprise, Mat Pogo, WJ Meatball, Semerssuaq, Wet ‘n Wild, Penates, Jealousy Party, Sonata Rec, Nicolas Wiese, Letizia Renzini, Tuned City Tallinn, Carsten Stabenow, Felicity Ford, Daniel Allen, Kadi Pilt, Kaisa Sammelselg, Lewis McGuffie, Patrick McGinley, John Grzinich and Olaf Schäfer.
To usher in the New Year we are proud to announce the first edition AoW zine! These have been limited to 50 numbered copies only. There are 5 different colored covers and 20 pages of xeroxed collage art mayhem (including an exclusive illustration from artist Britt Randle). Each zine comes housed in a clear poly bag and some AoW vinyl stickers are thrown in to boot. Get ‘um while they last! A portion of the proceeds will benefit Creative Commons & the Internet Archive.
As year #2 of AoW comes to a close, I thought I would impart a few words of thanks and appreciation for yet another inspiring round of releases and interactions. I started all this in January 2011 on a complete drop-of-a-hat whim and honestly did not expect how truly satisfying the whole process would ultimately become for me. We had 14 amazing releases this year alone, bringing our total to 37. These have come to us from composers that truly span the globe: United States, Canada, UK, Germany, Bahrain, Japan, Switzerland, Mexico, Peru. The support from all of these artists is what makes AoW so unique, and what has propelled me to continue.
For Absence of Wax to continue thriving, we can certainly use any and all word-of-mouth support…sharing our links on Twitter, Facebook, + your own blogs or websites. Spreading the good word will help this network to expand in even more meaningful ways. All the material on AoW is made available for free download or streaming. The intent here has always been to offer an easy platform for exposing people to different forms of experimental/improvised music. Even with 37 releases under our belt, i know this is just the tip of the iceberg. I come across more & more inspiring musicians every week.
It’s exciting to think about what’s ahead in 2013! Until then…thank you all again & Happy Holidays!