Date: September 2010
Cat & Format: AB032 | CD & DD
Autistici is David Newman the label head of Audiobulb Records. Over the last decade he has released music on 12k, KESH, Audiobulb Records and many net labels. His work usually exists within the zone of abstract experimental sound design, sculptured ambience and microsound. This allows his attention to
detail and love of tiny sounds to interplay with melodic and/or abstract resonant textures. Autistici is an active member of the UK electronic community and was recently invited by Lou Reed to perform at VIVID live @ Sydney Opera House.
Resonating Wire started as one vibrating wire from an acoustic guitar, captured, sculptured and morphed into a buzzing pad of noise. Tiny details were added, xylophone, cello, double bass, electronics and the crumpled sound of household objects exploited and manipulated. The original track can be found on the album Complex Tone Test released on KESH.
Resonating Wires sees the process start again. It is an album of remixes by talented artists. It is an album in its own right. That one vibrating wire and all the other elements are open to intense reinterpretation. The countless possibilities are explored and the palette is expanded. From Simon Scott’s minimal beginning, Bluermutt’s electro awaking, Sawako’s gentle and intimate vocalisations, Behan’s resonant and distorted drive, Lopez brings it back to minimal sounds objects, Isan, Hawgood & Norbury expand the original structures, Varis examines his world of disjointed objects, Chartier settles us with minimalism before He Can Jog’s warm electronic retro ending.
Audiobulb has always been about the spirit of exploration. The aim is to stay with the moment and exploit the possibilities of sound. Resonating Wires aims to provide the listener with a journey through the possibilities of sound – at times quiet and minimal with space to breathe. At times loud and complex, building an all encompassing presence. With this wire we are sound.
Image: Design By House
Audiobulb Records continue to blow out the cobwebs accumulated in between the steel girders of Sheffield. Founded by David Newman in 2003, Audiobulb, with their subtitle of ‘exploratory music,’ is the body from which much intriguing work has been emitted over recent years. They don’t just release artist works on CD either, as mentioned on their website.
“Audiobulb Records is an exploratory music label designed to promote creativity in all its forms. Audiobulb releases artist works on CD & download formats as well as multimedia works, VST (virtual instruments), audio hardware and other creative tools. Our aim is to facilitate the development of new artists working within a realm of care, quality and craft. Works supported by Audiobulb often explore the interface between the electronic and natural world. We embrace the complexity of unique electronics, intricate acoustics and detailed microsound.”
Resonating Wires is an enchanting offering; collecting work from ten different sonic artists the result of which is a surprisingly cohesive package. There really doesn’t seem to be a glaring weak point here. Each track is a succinct joy, navigating the often-substantial spaces carved open with a luscious intimacy reminiscent of some of the finest in ambient experimentalism. There is a subtle injection of more beat-based work – Bluermutt’s "Telephone Lullaby," for example – in between the greater number of more plaintive textural examples, Simon Scott’s "Orexis" being a notable standout.
One minor quibble: it would be nice if some of the excursions were longer, the most successful, "Untitled #241" by Francisco López, being particularly engaging for it’s expanded temporal space (11’25”). López’s work here really is quite special. The sounds of "Untitled #241" nibble at your cochlear whilst a distant machine turns phantasmagorically within a backdrop of textured ambience, sporadic interjections of noise opening up a space huge enough for the time-span to seem perfectly formed. This track also seems to epitomize Audiobulb’s statement.
Sonic-explorers and folks interested in music that does not deem it necessary to get up in your face and announce itself should certainly check out Autistici Reworked: Resonating Wires. Sound like this shouldn’t just be for the purists or tech-heads, this is work carefully crafted with an attention to detail needing to be heard by the masses.
First up is a remix album from David Newman himself, comprised of reworks and interpretations by an incredible roster of artists. The contributors include Simon Scott, Sawako, Jimmy Behan, ISAN, Ian Hawgood & Danny Norbury and Richard Chartier, among the many in this 10-track release. This is a glitchy, hissy, lo-fi collection of tracks, drenched in field recordings and electro-acoustic noise. All accomplices on this recording remix Newman’s single track: Resonating Wire, from Autistici‘s 2009 album, Complex Tone Test (KESH) [see our selection in Headphone Commute's Best of 2009 : Music For Bending Light And Stopping Time]. At the center of the album is an 11+minute concoction, ripped and torn by Francisco López, with deep rumbling drones, background synth swirls, and a rhythmic noise checkpoint. Ian Hawgood & Danny Norburry’s piece incorporates soaring strings, double bass plucks, and a confetti of crackles and jitters. And then Richard Chartier rolls up his sleeves. A skillfully executed descent into a place where sound becomes air and noise becomes wind.
Resonating Wires is an excellent compilation of minimal, experimental and electro-acoustic soundscapes that stands high on the shoulders of contemporary reductionist giants.
Recently I reviewed two of his old archive releases (Vital Weekly 720 and 732) and its his turn to deliver a remix album. He has send a recording of 'one vibrating wire from an acoustic guitar, captured, sculptured and morphed into a buzzing pad of noise. Tiny details were added, xylophone, cello, double bass, electronics and the crumpled sound of household objects exploited and manipulated' to ten artists for a further deconstruction. The results are a varied bunch, very varied to my very surprise. The opening pieces by Simon Scott, Bluermutt and Sawako, may hint at the original (which can be found on 'Complex Tone Test' released by Kesh), with sampled rhythms, voices and keyboards making a sort of mild IDM music with lots of ambience, but then Jimmy Behan makes things even more ambient, whereas Francisco Lopez goes in some eleven minutes for the most radical deconstruction of all.
The three pieces to follow (Isan, Justin Varis and Ian Hagwood & Danny Norbury) are all interested to work with the cello parts of the original as leading voice for their remix, whereas Richard Chartier (with nine minutes not much shorter than Lopez) probably does that too, but going in his own line of work with a beautiful extraction of a millisecond expanded, and He Can Jog closes with a nice warm minimalist electro tune, no beats included. A varied compilation indeed, but its in this variation that there is beauty. A great remix compilation: a fine example of possibilities. A rare thing!
Finally, there's Autistici Reworked: Resonating Wires, on which a variety of sonicians, ambient and otherwise electronic, are convened for reworkings of an Autistici track from 2009's Complex Tone Test (Kesh). The original "Resonating Wire" found him taking the eponymous slender strand for a crepitant consitutional, having it captured and raptured in a pointillist forest of fuzz-buzz, cello and xylo, and digitized domestica. Here it gets a further, more extended, outing, in which it is comprehensively unpacked and variously reassembled into a series of tracks exploring time-space (and possibly the-universe-and-everything) relations, etc. It may not achieve transcendence from a collection of disparate interpretations to wholeness, but there are enough interesting landmarks within it.
There's quite a gulf, though, to get between these - from the tenebrous shoeless-gaze of Simon Scott's microsonic DSP-eration to the comforting deep rumbling swirls and rhythmic noise of a ripped and torn tract from a by no means totally atonal Francisco López. In between, less forbidding, almost light-skipping terrain is traversed - through the over-ingratiating melodic IDM-flirting "Telephone Lullaby" of Bluermutt, via the J-pop twee-tronica of Sawako, to the twinkling elegiac overtones of Jimmy Behan, the last mentioned something of a pleasant relief from the preceding flimsiness with its more ambiguous mood. Then, again, between leaving López land and becoming transfixed in the zone of Richard Chartier's "Wire.Re," which executes a customarily artful descent into a place where pitched sound evaporates and the comfort of the harmony-noise polarity is unsettled, there's the more homely territory of ISAN and Ian Hawgood & Danny Norbury; the former's broken toy instrument cupboard is raided once again for a typically happy-sad version, while the latter duo have cello-meister DN breaking out with plangent string saws and bass plucks, to IH's cascade of crackle and tinking keys. After Chartier's more internal odyssey, He Can Jog prefers to close down by opening out into a more direct appeal, his "Chorale Mix" couched cracklingly and crumblingy in a froth of fragmented keyboard dreams. Overall a well-turned assemblage of minimal, experimental and electro-acoustic soundscapes augmenting the savoury primo and secondo of Autistici's early works with a sweet terzo.
Resonating Wires is a very different piece of work, and one which stems from one of the driving ideas behind Audiobulb, that of having a very diverse set of people work on a single project. All the tracks from this record are based on Resonating Wires, originally featured on Complex Tone Test, which was based on the sound made by the vibrating wire from an electric guitar which was processed and layered with other sounds. Taking this idea further, Newman asked ten artists, all evolving within an electronic or experimental field, to give their own interpretation of the piece. The result is, expectedly, very diverse, yet these tracks are made to work as an album in itself rather than a simple collection of remixes, and actually manage that pretty well. Although the interpretations differ greatly, from the microscopic sound and glitch placement of the Simon Scott or Francisco López versions to the autumnal overtones of reworkings by Jimmy Behan or Ian Hawgood & Danny Norbury or the more straightforward approach adopted by Sawako or He Can Jog, both going for a smooth and ethereal form of dreamy electronica close in essence to pop music, or by ISAN who have created a magical sound world, at times evocative of a box full of broken toys, for their typically melancholic version.
Each one of the tracks presented here is totally immersive and takes on some of the qualities of the original to mould them into something so unique that it is difficult to believe that these artists worked from the same set of recordings. Yet, there is something strangely consistent which binds these tracks together as part of a coherent whole, whether they are beautiful melodic pieces or more experimental revisions. What transpires is the fine processing work adopted by Newman on his original, and how malleable it is in the hands of his remixers. In fact, the very notion of remix doesn’t quite apply here, as each of the ten acts involved offer here a personal interpretation of Newman’s sound pool rather than simply rearrange his original composition.
These two releases, focusing on vastly different ideas and points in David Newman’s career, still appear very much linked to each other as they expose his thought process with music and sound and the way he has come to work with them. That both records, while made up of very diversified components, end up sounding like coherent works is a credit to his overall vision and his deep knowledge and understanding of his collaborators.
David Newman, head honcho of Audiobulb, is back as Autistici, this time remixed by a large group of colleagues, all well-known producers in the contemporary experimental electronic scene. From the first sequences Simon Scott (former drummer of Slowdive and collaborator with Brian Eno) gives us a rarefied, cryptic, sensitive and abstract soundscape. Soon the mood turns more airy with the sweetly melodic evolution by Bluermutt and the synthetic resonances of Sawako, a microsound chanteuse with a Venusian charm. Dazed lunar lullabies in "Isan Ice Later", are followed by the delicate juxtapositions of Justin Waris and by the dilated and aesthetic scores of Ian Hawgood and Danny Norbury. The album ends with He Can Jog (Erik Schoster), a digital manipulator who remains delicate and dreamy, poetically ambient and elegiac. Mention must also be made of Richard Chartier and Francisco Lopez, who reiterate their skills at forming avant-garde twists and passages, consumed in reductionist beats, resonant and stylized.
Audiobulb label owner David Newman presents another set of Autistici works, this time remixed by the great and the good of conteporary electronica: contrbutions come from acts like Richard Chartier, Francisco Lopez, Isan, Sawako and Ian Hawgood with Danny Norbury. The album begins with ex-Slowdive drummer Simon Scott, whose 'Orexis' takes on a studious dissection of static and tiny acoustic timbres. From within all this whirring minimalism a backdraft of granular drone rises up and takes the track to its finale. Bluermutt's 'Telephone Library' is a more melodic electronica enterprise, in keeping with Isan's tuneful electroacoustic study 'Isan Ice Later', which beautifully mixes together percussive sounds, crystalline bell tones, xylophone (and very possibly something to do with ice, given the title) plus bowed strings. A similar strategy is adopted by Ian Hawgood and Danny Norbury, whose collaboration yields some arrestingly lovely results, particularly thanks to the addition of Norbury's arcing cello strokes. Bridging a gap between this and the more experimental material is Sawako, whose music is either very experimental electropop or very tuneful microsound, depending on your perspective. Either way, her 'Tide Ride' is a clear-cut album highlight. Richard Chartier and Francisco Lopez fly the flag for the more lowercase end of the experimental music spectrum, fashioning some incredibly detailed, incredibly quiet compositions from the source material, with Chartier's 'Wire.Re' standing out in particular.
Autistici is the musical alter ego of David Newman, who also happens to run the Audiobulb record label. Newman is based in Sheffield, which is a long way away from London, New York, Los Angeles, or even Seattle—where I am writing from. But good music is never confined to geographic locations, as we all know. Even in this global internet world there is a tendency, however, to focus on music from your “local” area. I mention this because the music of Autistici (and that of the Audiobulb label in general) seems practically unknown in the United States. So I am doing my small part to spread the word.
There are three pretty fascinating releases here which I'm addressing. The first two are Autistici recordings titled Detached Metal Voice (Early Works Volume 1) and Slow Temperature (Early Works Volume Two). The third is Autistici Reworked - Resonating Wires. This third entry contains ambient remixes by various artists of some of the later Autistici music.
In all honesty—as those descriptions clearly show—this is music that is a little difficult to describe. To sum things up, though, the most obvious word people would use would probably be “dissonant.” That term is pretty loaded, though, and does not really do justice to the music at hand. Just be ready for something a little less melodic than the “usual” fare.
I remember the first time I heard John Coltrane really “go out there,” and wondering how (or why) anyone would listen to music as disconcerting as that was. Jeez—that was a live version of “My Favorite Things” recorded in 1963! Then I heard Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, and even though all of my friends hated it, I began to understand the ideas behind it all.
As Newman himself says, his appreciation for music was a growth process. It took me a while for me to understand why John Cage’s 4’33” is so cool. Although many people think it is all about silence, the piece is actually all about the audience. The discomfort and rustling of papers for four minutes and thirty-three seconds is the “song.”
The one that kind of threw me for a loop, though, was the first one I actually listened to: the various artists collection Autistici Reworked. I have never been the biggest fan of remixes, but these are pretty impressive. It was a totally bizarre experience for me to hear these pretty, ambient pieces by a number of David Newman’s associates next to the early Autistici discs. Quite a difference indeed.
I commend David Newman for what he is doing with the Audiobulb label, and it seems that the basic description (besides the early Autistici recordings) are what most of us would term “ambient” music. Tired of the “same old same old?” Then try something truly unique. Visit the Audiobulb label site and discover a whole new world of music.
Some regard the remix album as a lazy move on the part of the artist—after all, how much effort can be involved in rounding up a crew of remixers and giving them carte blanche on existing tracks?—while others more charitably see it as an opportunity for previously issued material to be illuminated further when filtered through other producers' interpretive sensibilities. Regardless of one's personal stance on the issue, Resonating Wires remains a fascinating take on the genre. In this case, David Newman, aka Austistici and Audiobulb Records head, first created the track “Resonating Wire” by electronically manipulating a recording of an acoustic guitar's vibrating wire, and then supplementing it with xylophone, cello, double bass, and even the crumpled sounds of household objects, with the result included on the Complex Tone Test album released on Kesh. Resonating Wires advances the concept further by having an impressive cast of contributors—Simon Scott, Isan, Richard Chartier, Sawako, and Francisco López among them—re-interpret the original in strikingly bold manner; that each track is so dramatically unlike the original is signified by the fact that many of the interpretations have been newly titled (in place of the more predictable “Resonating Wire (Remix)”).
Newman sequenced the album so that each track flows into the next, making for a fifty-five-minute travelogue. Scott introduces the album with “Orexis,” a texture-heavy ambient-drone that emphasises atmosphere over melody, whereas chiming melodies and clip-hop beats are the focal points in Bluermutt's densely layered serenade “Telephone Lullaby.” True to form, López recasts the original in “Untitled #241” as an ever-mutating stream of tears, blips, rattles, rumbles, and—slowly surfacing near track's end—sinister string flourishes—a feast for the ears that sounds as if it was recorded in both a NASA control room and at the center of an ant colony. Also memorable are the orchestral-ambient treatment by Ian Hawgood and Danny Norbury, whose ruminative sparkle is elevated by lovely string passages, and Isan's slow-motion meditation “Isan Ice Later,” which emphasizes strings, percussive accents, and electronics. In addition, Sawako bewitches the listener with a twinkly vocal-enhanced treatment (“Tide Ride”), and Jimmy Behan contributes a ponderous electro-acoustic dirge with cello, clarinet, fuzzy electronics, and double bass the prominent front-line. All told, the artists take full advantage of the possibilities offered by Newman's original, and, as a remix project, Resonating Wires is about as diverse an outcome as one could hope for.
Le nouvel ouvrage sonore de l’anglais David Newman (Autistici) fait suite aux archives et recherches exposées sur Detached Metal Voice - Early Works (Vol. I) et Slow Temperature - Early Works (Vol. II). Il y avait déjà là de quoi méditer. Resonating Wires est donc tout sauf un simple album de remixes. C’est un exercice platonien. Résonances sur le fil, formes floues et manipulations électro-acoustiques y forment une ligne d’horizon. Auteurs, interprètes, architectes ? Une dizaine d’artistes s’illustrent et se joignent. La source d’origine est cependant aussi identifiée qu’absente : extrait de l’album Complex Tone Test (Kesh, 2008), Resonating Wires n’est plus un morceau mais un album entier qui brille autant par ses nuances esthétiques et musicales que par sa prise de position générale. Si la réalité n’est qu’affaire de point de vue, le casting en dit long sur l’ensemble des possibles : corde sensible (Ian Hawgood & Danny Norbury), plongée abyssale (Simon Scott) ou remontée céleste (Isan), Resonating Wires est tout à la fois pluriel et indivisible.