Sound Bytes : William Basinski, Oh Yoko, Tape Loop Orchestra, and Good Weather For An Airstrike

William Basinski - Nocturnes
William Basinski
Nocturnes
2062

William Basinski‘s latest release is only two tracks in length, but as any Basinski fan already knows, there is a lot that may [and may not] happen within the span of their slow dissolution. The fourty-minute title track is “dark, suspended and formal early prepared piano and tape composition from San Francisco period c. 1979-80.” This will no doubt appeal to all long-time followers, especially the ones who obtained the amazing 9xLP + 5xCD + DVD boxset collecting all of The Disintegration Loops, released by Temporary Residence Limited in 2012. Here we find a more abstract Basinski, wrapped in endless tape delays of echoing piano chords and detuned wailing notes. The music reverberates from its distant past, like the light of a long dead planet, which for this present moment still shines on. These are blurred fragments of a composition, whose remnants refuse to die off, escaping from these speakers like a perpetually bouncing ray. The second [shorter] 28-minute piece titled “The Trail of Tears” is a more modern composition consisting of tape loop and delay, fragments of which were featured in 2009 opera by Robert Wilson, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. Here we are delighted with deeper tones which slowly trail off into slight short-timed delay until the atmosphere is dense with savory and lush textures. The piece gradually melts away into a frequency-rich ambient broth, one which Basinski fans will happily drink up in more than one sitting. Noctures is released on Basinski’s very own 2062 label, on which you can find all of his past works. Highly recommended for all of your late night listening…
Oh, Yoko - I Love You
Oh, Yoko
I Love You
Normal Cookie

On the surface of this release, we have a Japanese avant-pop slash ambient synth-folk with gentle female vocals, murmuring sweet nothings over lo-fi electronica, vintage synths and gorgeous field recordings. But dig deeper and slowly things begin to unfurl. We first discover that Oh, Yoko is a brand new project by Will Long – the same Will Long of Celer who is now exploring a new territory of sound with his partner, Rie Mitsutake (aka Miko). Releasing the album on their very own new label called Normal Cookie, the first full length gets a mastering hand of Lawrence English and we’re off to a great start! The intro to the project appeared on the very same label back in December of 2012, with Oh, Yoko’s first single, titled Seashore. A favorite piece on the record, “Song with Coyotes” features Mitsutake’s soft voice humming fragile melodies over harmonica, falling rain, and the sound of howling coyotes. The album feels extremely personal emanating that home-made feel, with many acoustic instruments and found sounds. The packaging, of course, is nothing less than elegant, with a three-panel fold out, featuring that precise Japanese touch. This is definitely a slight departure for Long, who has been mostly involved in minimal ambient soundscapes with many [solo] Celer releases on Dragon’s Eye, Experimedia, and Low Point. So die hard fans of Celer may be a bit surprised. Mitsutake, on the other hand, released similar works as Miko which have previously appeared on Japanese label PLOP and Lawrence English’s Someone Good. Recommended for fans of Sawako, Moskitoo, and Piana.
Tape Loop Orchestra - In A Lonely Place
Tape Loop Orchestra
In A Lonely Place
Facture

Having fallen a victim to lo-fi’s gray-scale sonic charm I continue to return to the sounds of the Tape Loop Orchestra. For those unfamiliar with the moniker, TLO is a project by Andrew Hargreaves, also known as Beppu, Kibbee Theodore, and member of The Boats (along with Craig Tattersall and Danny Norbury). In 2009, Hargreaves introduced us to the alias with 1953 Culture Festival released on Cotton Goods. I personally became mesmerized with his 2012 release, In A Lonely Place on Facture, which subsequently landed a spot on Headphone Commute’s Best of 2012, in the newly created [and appropriately titled] Music For Capricious Souls Adrift In Noir-fi category. On the album, over the course of three long tracks, Tape Loop Orchestra explores dusty textures warped with time, which (as the artist name suggests) loop in their seemingly endless iterations. Unlike William Basinski’s celebrated series [also explored in this Sound Bytes installment], the sounds do not disintegrate, but instead build up in new layers which slowly fade into obscurity, drowned by emptiness, limbo and void. Inspired by the dialogue from Humphrey Bogart same-titled 1950 classic, the low-key black-and-white cinematic soundtrack captivates the listener, inviting one to “descent from glittering surface tension to sinister murky depth.” Driven by this visual aesthetic, Hargreaves composed and processed the pieces on a modified 4-track recorder, later to be bounced off of a C90 cassette onto a limited edition 180g vinyl and some incredible packaging by Facture.
Good Weather For An Airstrike - A Sense Of Uncertainty
Good Weather For An Airstrike
A Sense Of Uncertainty
Rural Colours

If you’ve been following my musings, you would have noticed Good Weather For An Airstrike appear on Headphone Commute’s Best of 2012 list, in Music For The Frosty Night When I Miss Your Warm Light category, as well as on the benefit compilation …and darkness came. So it’s about time I covered this artist in more detail. GWFAA is a project by Tom Honey, a Winchester (UK) based ambient musician who derived the alias from the title of Sigur Rós‘ track, “Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása“. And I think that’s where some of the similarities with the Icelandic band end. Honey’s music is a lot more minimal in nature, subdued in watercolor hues and pastel textured tones. Meditative in spirit, the music slowly evolves over moderately paced chords. There are piano keys, bowed strings and strummed guitars, but the instruments themselves do not take center stage, and instead let the melody play out its story, unfolding through tonality and timbre. Again, deconstructing the pieces into their building blocks is futile, as it is the overall mood that is of importance here. And it is the mood with which Tom Honey paints. A Sense Of Uncertainty is GWFAA’s fourth overall EP and second for hibernate‘s offshoot, Rural Colours. Honey, of course, has released full-length albums, and there are about five by my count, the most recent of which, Underneath The Stars, is what landed GWFAA on the best of the year lists. The physical copies seem to rapidly sell out, but you can still get your digital copy via GWFAA’s bandcamp, and hopefully keep your eye and ear on for more great things to come.