Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Wovenhand and Howard Stelzer.
Listed: Wovenhand + Howard Stelzer
Best known as the leader of Denver haunt-rockers 16 Horsepower, David Eugene Edwards has quietly earned himself a whole new legion of fans with his other project, Wovenhand (nee Woven Hand). His first US release as Woven Hand, Woven Hand (Sounds Familyre, 2002), was largely re-recorded versions of his German debut, Blush Music (Glitterhouse, 2002). Both of these cds showcased the reverbed, epic rock found in 16 Horsepower, but with a considerably more subdued, spiritual emphasis. Indeed, Woven Hand was often thought to be Edwards' religious outlet, where 16 Horsepower was his more 'pop' outlet. As it turns out, Edwards' Woven Hand releases also contained songs with considerably greater power and potency, combining pained epics along the lines of Nick Cave with slow-mo frenetic rock. His latest album, Consider The Birds (Soundsfamilyre), finds Edwards bringing his Wovenhand work a bit closer to 16HP, but still maintaining a clear and moving identity as one of the finest of today's songwriters.
A list of 10
1. Einsturzende Neubauten - Perpetuum Mobile
Always in control of their chaos. Making beautiful structure from what is cast out to rust and rot. I prefer a lead pipe upside a rail to a snare drum anyday.
2. In Gowan Ring - Abend The Knurled Stitch
A recording from 1999 by a fella named Beirth from Utah I believe. I am always looking for the medieval drone, from the street not the concert hall. It is very difficult to pull this off without sounding cheesey or as some sort of novelty. This recording is perfect - takes you to the forest to decompose.
3. Smog - most everything he puts out
I try and forget he's part of the Drag City elite and just enjoy his fantastic work with word and delivery. "All Your Women Things" - what a great song.
4. Arvo Part - Te Deum
A great Estonian composer with a heart for his creator. Humility set to song
5. Crime And The City Solution - Paradise Discotheque - I have listened to this recording more than any other. Like a great novel set to equally great music.
As far as straight rock goes, there need be no other attempt made.
7. Leonard Cohen - Songs
I never tire of hearing this one. Even though the songs were most likely written only to woo the ladies, they are truly beautiful in sound and picture.
8. Giant Sand - Chore Of Enchantment
Their finest work in my opinion. True Americana in the best sense of the word. Makes me proud to be an American.
9. Brian Eno / Harold Budd - Plateaux Of Mirror - I've gone to sleep to this record for nearly 20 years. Maybe that's my problem - - - naw.
10. Huun Huur Tu - Where Young Grass Grows
A group from Tuva (an area between Mongolia and China) mostly known for their throat singing but they are much more than that. True horse music - Eveything played on instruments made from horse bone, hair, and hide.
Howard Stelzer has been active as a composer and performer of electronic music since 1992. His music utilizes the qualities inherent to cassette tape and tape players; namely hiss, the roll of tape across play heads, the crackle of dirt caught inside old players, play speed altered manually by pressure from fingers on the tape's reels. Over the years he has performed with folks such as Kevin Drumm, Otomo Yoshihide, Le Quan Ninh, Haco, Martin Tetreault, Gert-Jan Prins, nmperign, Roel Meelkop, Axel Doerner, Andrea Neumann, Jason Lescalleet, Lionel Marchetti, Jerome Noetinger, Brent Gutzeit, Frans De Waard, Phil Durrant, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Alessandro Bosetti, and many other avant-garde types and characters of that persuasion. In addition to performing, Stelzer operates the Intransitive Recordings label and mail-order catalog for electro-acoustic and improvised music.
Some of my favorite new or little-known artists:
1. Alfredo Costa-Monteiro
One day early last year, this Costa-Monteiro guy from Portugal sent me a CDR marked “solo accordian”. It was a demo for Intransitive… I get a lot of these, and rarely have time to listen to them all (in truth, I have so many releases already planned that sending me a demo is unlikely to produce an Intransitive CD… it’s good as a conduit for meeting people, though). What I thought at the time was: why in hell would I want to listen to a solo accordian improv record? Easy answer: I wouldn’t. Onto my (rather large) stack of to-be-listened-to CDRs it went. But several months later, I got a hankering for, of all things, an acoustic solo improv album. This has never happened before or since. I recalled Alfredo’s CDR, decided to pop it into the player, and: BANG!! Digital mayhem like glass shards from my speakers… accordian??! Whoa. Obviously, he pulled a fast one… this is highly processed and as insane as any Mego album (and eventually was published on a Portuguese label called Creative Sources… find it!). I later heard his acoustic accordian work, and it’s just as bizarre.
2. Antony Milton
HOO YES!!! Antony’s music is like nothing else I know. I’m aware of the dangers of hyperbole here, but I’ve heard an awful lot of music, and… well, it’s true. His music conveys a sense of ecstatic joy without losing control or being self-indulgent… deep spiritual soulfulness without falling on any of the easy signifiers of such. It can resemble paint-peeling noise, or late-night heavy-lids fog, or blurry ambience, but it isn’t any of those things. It’s more evocative, raw, and touching than my words can express. Listen to “Yet Marvellous Stasis” and then you’ll agree that it’s criminal that all this guy has out are CDRs. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
3. Brendan Murray
My good friend, from right here in Boston. Brendan’s music is played on three small samplers and a modified Casio, real lo-tech. Sounds like: vast expanses of shimmering sludge, lo-fidelity hover with an emotive/romantic underbelly, deep dronepools that occasionally build into charged anthemic howl. The most exciting composer in Boston, and I can say that because he and his wife watch my rabbits when I go on vacation. Thanks, guys.
4. Richard Francis
The man formerly known as Eso Steel can transform environmental recordings into an ocean without bottom, a super-drone that resembles life inside a vacuum cleaner. Perhaps a vaguely sinister vacuum cleaner. I play his CDs (especially “Galleries 1-3”) on repeat all day long, I sink into them and lose track of time. They might be five hours long apiece… it’s so hard to tell.
Teeny tiny clicks are hard to imbue with personality, but Sawako’s music is both removed/sterile and intimate/alive at the same time. Personality breathes living joy into even her most carefully considered and fragile digital compositions. It’s not technophilic “micro” anything, yet the music seems to acknowledge that style as it passes on toward something more elusive. It’s also no po-faced lesson in graphic design; the human is always smiling behind the music. How does she do it?
6. Valerio Tricoli
This guy sprang seemingly out of nowhere, at least for me. Tricoli is part of the Italian composers/improvisors collective Bowindo, and is a member of 3/4HadBeenEliminated, the group least likely to sell a record based on the cool catchiness of thier name. Valerio made a solo album last year that knocked my socks off. To describe it is tough, but I’ll give it a shot: digital creepiness from fractured voices at the end of a dark hallway… like film noir, but after all the characters leave the frame and you’re left in a black & white office, venetian blinds casting shadows on the desk and an empty bottle of scotch on the floor… it’s evocative, elusive, and implacably strange.
7. Nerve Net Noise
YES!! A Japanese duo who build their own synthesizers and make highly conceptual albums that stubbornly refuse to make sense. There’s the one in which they turned their synths on for an hour and walked away. Or the one which was supposed to describe a day in the life of a college girl by naming the tracks of white-hot synth squelch things like “Shopping” and “Make Up”. What?! This would be merely bizarre if the music wasn’t so… er, profoundly inexplicable. I will publish anythng that these guys want me to, at any time.
8. Kuwayama Kiyoharu/Lethe
An improviser with a dramatic flair, who uses various acoustic environments in which to play cello, electronics, or metal chains. He can play slippery “improv”, or he can bang chains around a reverberant warehouse for an hour. Or he can play unnamed electronic devices and create Voice Crack-like squawk/squiggle. Awesome, solid, everything I want to hear.
9. Peter Wright
Have you heard this guy? Gorgeous, gorgeous processed guitar drift that frequently teeters to the edge of losing control, possibly veering off into peels of distroted feedback. He rarely does, but the threat is always there. Huge, deep drones, very human and magnificent. None of the preciousness of Thomas Koner or Mirror… no, Peter is a real person, down to earth and ready to grab you by the shoulders and shake your bones with sound. Again, he has only CDRs available… so far. Last Visible Dog will correct this hideous injustice with a reissue of one of his albums. When that one comes out, man oh man, get ready…. Peter Wright. Remember that name. Yowza.
And some fantastic record labels:
Last Visible Dog (US)
The second best label in America today. Psych rock from Japan, homemade drone from New Zealand, Jewelled Antler-related hoodoo… this is one of the few labels whose taste I implicitly trust, and whose catalog I will try to listen to in its entirety at least once. If LVD publishes it, then I want to give it a shot. Speaking of which, there are some that sold out before I could get them. If you own a copy of “The Invisible Pyramid” 2CD and you’d like to sell it to me, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Was Soll Das? (Germany)
Insanely limited vinyl reissues of German minimal synth-punk new wave from the early 80s, all reissues of old cassettes. Super-cool DIY bleeping and shouting. I’ve heard a ton of great lost music thanks to this label, all stuff that would fade into the cassette collections of a handful of folks in Germany and remain mostly unheard.
Same as above, but you can buy a membership to get even more exclusive records, and then there’s even more LPs that are pressed one at a time as you order them, until 50 of each title are pressed. You either swallow the bait (like me) or you’re offended by the label’s collector-bait existence. But really… do more than 50 people want LP reissues of Das Synthetische Miscgewebe’s tape-only output from 1980 to 1985? That band is genius, you know… I will sell my car to get them all.
Italian improvised and electronic music collective label. Home of 3/4HadBeenEliminated and Valerio Tricoli, also Giuseppe Ielasi, Alessandro Bosetti, and Domenico Sciajno. If those names mean nothing to you, then I will suggest that you try to correct that. A wonderful project that documents a particular artistic community, self-publishing in a very classy manner.
Celebrate Psi Phenomenon
Again, like Last Visible Dog (and also PSF), I trust that if this label publishes something, then I should listen to it at least once. CDs and CDRs put out by Campbell Kneale, aka Birchville Cat Motel. Shall I talk to you about Birchville Cat Motel? No, I won’t take up any more time or space here… staring at my computer screen is giving me a headache… Good night now.
By Dusted Magazine