The Blank Stare II - Jonáš Gruska, БРАДА, STS
4 days ago, 29 August 2014  ·   4 notes

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The Blank Stare is a “project focused on mapping the Slovak experimental music scene through series of documentary movies”. Technically, the second episode easily beats the first one. While the first episode (starring Urbanfailure, András Cséfalvay, Triple Sun and Jacques Kustod) was drowned in dialogue, this time it follows a simple plot - three live concerts of three experimental music projects, and after each concert a short interview with the musicians follows. All three gigs were shot in one evening in Cvernovka, an industrial hall in Bratislava, formerly a textile factory, now an artist space which hosts artists studios and a gallery, even rehearsal rooms in the past. It is also a historical industrial monument facing a pending demolition.

The first slot of the new edition is dedicated to Jonáš Gruska, a Bratislava-based sound artist, known for making his own electronic instruments (such as the Elektrosluch, a device allowing to listen to electromagnetic fields), site-specific compositions (like his compositions for ventilation pipes or bells in streets of Bratislava) and running his own experimental music label LOM. In this movie, you can see him operating a pair of ventilators dynamically controlled by electronic circuits, or a tape echo made from old reel tape recorder. His concert with all those modular synths, blinking LEDs, cosmic bleeps and half-ambient buzz reminds of operating a spacecraft panel or a science lab.

The second concert is provided by the experimental duo БРАДА (“beard”). The first member of the project is Boris Sirka, born in Snina (east Slovakia), known mainly as a visual artist, also the former member of the audio-visual project BIOS combining noise, black metal and medieval aesthetics. Nenad Branković was born in Serbia, but since he studied visual arts in Bratislava, he now lives in Slovakia, and is mostly known as a visual artist and graphic designer. The two got together because of their common interest in dark music (even black metal, for instance), and their name points to their common orthodox Christian background (beard like symbol of orthodox pop, but also because “the beard never stops, it always grows”). Despite their visual arts background, this time they don’t use any visuals. Their show consists of slow, dark drones with a slight post-metal atmosphere using a tape player, gramophone, bow-played guitar, synths or processed vocals, preferring analogue sounds to digital.

The next concert stands in sharp contrast to БРАДА’s gig, and definitely is the most accessible one for the uninitiated listener - Sky To Speak provides us with steady rhythms, in a more optimistic vein and dreamy atmospherics, a sort of cross between minimal techno, dub and shoegaze with a bit of psychedelia. Sky To Speak is in fact a two-member audio-visual project, but this time we get to see only the “audio” part of the project, personified by Matěj Kotouček concentrating on his laptop and a few synths or controllers. Though he is originally from the Czech Republic, he moved to Bratislava because of his connections with the experimental scene in this town. He has also released an EP on Exitab label, a Slovak label focusing on experimental electronics or experimental rock releases.

by Samčo, brat Dážďoviek

This article was supported by the Intenda Foundation.

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Mirt’s Modern Electronics
1 week ago, 22 August 2014  ·   1 note

There is a science surrounding modular synthesizers, attracting modern alchemysts of sound, eager to tweak something worthwhile out of the cold steel, dreaming of wires.

The Warsaw-based producer Mirt has been making music in various formations for 15 years. He is a musician, graphic designer and also a publisher and journalist aside from running his label cat|sun and being involved in the Monotype imprint. His musical modus operandi is closely tied to analogue electronics, making use of their relative shortcomings in comparison to the endless possibilities of modern software: “It is limited in comparison to computer and DAW and much more demanding, but eventually it works better for me, it makes something straight - for example, you can’t edit a track to death,” he says. His fascination with modular synthesis lead him to building and design of modular equipment as part of the XAOC Devices.

In comparison to the other Polish modular freak Wilhelm Bras, his output is more sedated, in a good way. Mellow and almost gentle, the beat encompassed by swirling melodics. His Modern Electronics is a three track EP, with succinctly named tracks - the eponymous Modern Electronics and its anti-thesis and rejection of the concept Fuck Modern Electronics? “Maybe it is a little provocative. Maybe it is about electronic music eating its tail. How underground/experimental/alternative music is melting in pop and mainstream.”

The gem is hidden in between - Modern Electronics II. Starting off with a sample, a field recording, it veils the listening experience into hazy oriental atmospherics, a gradual build up with subdued percussion in the background, menacing in a very subtle way - in some ways it reminds me of Marina Rosenfeld’s Warrior Queen collaboration. 

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From pop to psytrance: Christian music in Slovakia
2 weeks ago, 18 August 2014  ·   3 notes

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Slovakia may not be the most religious country of EU, but it’s certainly the country, where religious structures, especially the Roman-Catholic Church have exceptional influence. Naturally, there also exists a Christian music scene in Slovakia as a sort of autonomous subculture. It’s quite big, but if you’re not a young Christian, it isn’t likely you will ever notice it. It’s also a sort of secret subculture - not because it’s closed to non-Christians, but because non-Christians are not interested in it - it’s quite hard to find anything interesting musically there. While other contemporary subcultures try to differ from what’s considered normal, the Christian music subculture worldwide, and especially the Slovak one, had been the true normcore long before this term was coined.

Why so? Before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, Christianity itself was sort of an underground movement. In the atheist Czech Republic, musical underground was directly connected with Christian dissidents (that’s why Christian music scene in the Czech Republic is still smaller, but more diverse than in Slovakia). Underground music movements in Slovakia itself started relatively late compared to the Czech Republic - at the beginning of 80’s - and Christian music began to spread this way just about that time on its own, and without any connection to non-Christian underground music scene. One of the notable examples was priest Anton Fabián, who ran an illegal home recording studio in the village of Hýľov near Košice, Slovakia (equipped with a Korg synthetiser and a Japan-made reel tape recorder - machines rarely available in Eastern Bloc at that time), where the music by various Christian bands (“Košičania”, for instance) was recorded and then copied onto MC tapes - at that time, it was the most common way of spreading banned music in socialist Czechoslovakia.

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Laura Luna - Isolarios
2 weeks ago, 13 August 2014  ·   14 notes

Laura Luna de Castillo is a Mexican multimedia artist living in Prague. Composing tracks and working with sound are her means of bringing forth imaginary atmospheres. Laura Luna's debut record Isolarios is Baba Vanga's next release.

“I started experimenting with making sound and music about a year ago, after an experience that made me aware of sound as a powerful enhancement to memories and narratives,” she says. “First I started to pay attention around me and to record with whatever I had available those sounds that where triggering emotions or fragments of memories. Later on when i became more sensitive to the richness, tones and changes in the sounds i began to construct my own sounds to describe what I had in my imagination of certain mental scenes and stories.”

Isolarios is an immersive experience, utilising sound as an emotion activator, inviting the listener into a self-contained world where repressed or half-forgotten memories resurface blurring the border between half-conscious and dream states, a sort of somnambulist soundtrack. “The way I started making each track was always inspired by an imaginary atmosphere, after reading and seeing many kinds of media that triggered certain feelings like longing, memory, melancholy and solitude but always immersed in a foggy fantasy and mellow drowsiness,” she says. Feedback, error and accidental programming come to the forefront here, layers of swirling melodies are scattered with field recordings and voices.

Inspired by science fiction stories about lost cosmonauts and expeditions without return, magic realism and the works of Italo Calvino, Laura’s output is drenched in romanticism, but of a – sublimely - tragic kind.

You can listen to the album, which is out now on Baba Vanga on Monday, 18 August 2014 on cassette, in its entirety here:

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Selectone’s Dead Grooves
3 weeks ago, 5 August 2014  ·   4 notes

More than a year after the EP of the Foma duo, the Czech electronic label Ressonus, which usually does so on a sporadic basis though always accompanied with carefully prepared limited edition CD and download artefacts, announced a new release. Coinciding with the straightforward techno-industrial record of the American project The Agromaniac, which was inspired by Harlan Ellison’s post-apocalyptic novella “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, is also the new material of Selectone, a project of the label head David Rambousek, whose history dates back to 2004 and the Mufonic imprint.

Rhizomatic Sounds came out as a split with Neutrino and together with the following Czech-Slovak anthology Out Of Place Artefacts vol. I could be seen as a statement against the dance scene in favour of dirty and fragmented experimenting. “I prefer working with atmospheres and emotions to stylish sounds. I try to breathe life and an inner dimension into music.(…) I like sonic impurities, lo-fi and wasteland electronics, confronted with subtle moodscapes, created on synths or acoustic instruments. I sample a lot – from purely natural and everyday sounds, to noise, old vinyl records, church organs, chants and random voices of random people.” (as mentioned in an older interview with Nika77 for Techno.cz).

Selectone's 2007 record Unearthed developed in a rhizomatic system, incorporating elements of glitch, click’n’cuts and recyclation. His latest record, Dead Grooves, extolls the circle movement: literally. Shaped by the revolution of the used shellac records and magnetic tapes as well as multiple recollections of his own, shelled recordings created in isolation. “Crucial was that I recorded it at a time when I lived in a haunting small town on the Polish border and spent most of the time being alone, which probably led to some strange mental states…” With his method – let it be, so that something alive would engender from the dead sound – Selectone somehow comes close to Czech turntablists Birds Build Nests Underground. Nevertheless, here focused finishing touches to the material and another thing, the proximity of the “locked” grooves and myths (Automaton, Solaris) with non-cyclical elements, such as guest vocals of Miriam Ingram in Dead Swan or the dub-inflected rhythmics of the space in Positive Einstellung. The fascination with side effects and micro-sonic textures, which accompanies the project from the very beginning, as if veiled the whole record with a constant membrane of rain or crackling of fire – depending on which substance is closer to your consciousness – setting another distance from the focal point of this aural anémic cinema.

by ondrej parus (red for colour blind)

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