It all feels oddly old-fashioned, like one of the forgotten Beats. — The Sound Projector, UK
Taking the form of a sumptuous and exquisite musical nightmare, Ave <w> is Tiari Kese’s first album. Recorded and produced by Michel F Côté, these enigmatic electronic compositions feature as well an array of conventional instruments such as piano, organ, strings, percussion, trumpet and vocals. A sonic treat for insomniacs, Ave <w> can also be experienced along with illicit substances or divine drinks, or both.
CD (ET 10)
- Label: &records
- ET 10
- Total duration: 46:39
- 130 mm × 130 mm × 3 mm
- 25 g
On the web
Some recommended items
In the press
An Aerie Skit
Two more of the items from the & Records label of Montréal which arrived here 20 January 2012. The record Ave W (&10) is credited to Tiari Kese, who apparently plays all the instruments — keyboards, French horn, electronics and samples, but it’s more likely to be all the work of Michel F Côté, who’s a Canadian electro-acoustic composer. A biography of alleged Bulgarian Tiari Kese can be found online, but with its Stockhausen, Beatles and Debord connections it’s all too good to be true and is probably just another internet hoax. The record does have one glorious track title, Dreams of Spartacus’s Spacecraft, but I mostly found it a rather turgid listen, directionless and shapeless digital layers of drone that amount to less and less the more they’re piled up. The instrument-playing has been processed and denormalised to an extreme degree, sucking the humanity out of everything until we’re left with echoed and orphaned horn tones floating aimlessly on a sea of samples, light distortion and glitch.
The City Wears a Furry Hat
Even less enjoyable is Solitary Pleasures (&records &15) by Fortner Anderson. It comprises several short 90-second vocal recits by the poet Anderson while accompanied by electro-acoustic noise played by a non-jazz trio of Alexandre St-Onge, Sam Shalabi, and Michel F Côté again, this time playing the drums. The release accompanies a book of poems published at the same time. We’ve encountered Fortner Anderson before in TSP15 where we noted the baffling Six Silk Purses, recordings of his spoken word exploits provided to sound artists to add their musical interpretations; in fact the same musicians were on that release too. Fortner’s short couplets are expressed here in diary form, each segment beginning with a calendar date announced in solemn tones, before proceeding with his free-form observations such as “I had forgotten the calculus of transcendence…”, alternating with mini-stories about life in the city and the characters he meets. It all feels oddly old-fashioned, like one of the forgotten Beats. Fortner attempts some jazzy syncopation in his delivery, even as the music drags itself along like a three-legged dog on a hot afternoon. Kenneth Patchen it ain’t.
Kese, a Bulgarian piano prodigy, began his career at age seventeen under the tutelage of Stockhausen, the latter composing a set of Klavierstücke just for him — and that’s Kese posing as Stockhausen on the cover of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. He later became a world-class interpreter of Satie and John Cage (Cage also wrote pieces specifically to be performed by Kese). However, he didn’t begin recording his works until meeting Côté who serves as a performer on, producer of Ave.
And he also plays the French horn!
Fittingly, Ave is a murky, organic concrète based on shadows and slight of hand. Kese’s source materials consist of various room ambiences strung together with juxtaposition, piano and trumpet (performed by Ellwood Epps) that come in and out of focus (turn up the music during moments of seemingly inactive sound clouds and track fade-outs or you will miss something) and Côté’s shimmering electronics, his penchant for overdriven microphones and the occasional thump; the percussion is less frantic than some of Côté’s œuvre, but acute and intense like the sounds one would make while trying to claw out of a box. On the fourteen-minute opener (Unit Vector In Vratsa), these elements weave together, Kese’s Debussy-esque planing (sic) and Côté’s mechanical piston sounds serving as signposts to tie the form together. Бойко Борисов is an intricate drone journey from light to bright to dark to midnight; the last word resembles the reverberation of a piano slam, though heard in slow motion. The hints of rudeness from the first work are exploited on Marge Brute Du Ƒ: accompanying each piano note and chord is a slightly delayed, highly screeching burst of feedback to counter Kese’s tender procession; counterpoint ensues, a dry reversed series of notes and a fog you have to squint your ears to enjoy enter the fold, and the ostinato ends carried by the synthetic child of acoustic keyboard and feedback parents. From here, the pieces fold over in a palindromic fashion, culminating with Reichmann Sum For S, a finale that pays homage to the opening theme, then filters it to the background to make room for a string quartet coda, everything eventually unraveling into a sighing, steamy hiss.
From a horoscope blog: “A dream of playing the piano yourself predicts success in all your plans and hopes, unless the instrument was damaged or out of tune, in which case you can expect some difficulties and delays along the way. If you dreamed of hearing piano music beautifully played by someone else, it is a promise of better financial times ahead.”
Difficulties, delays and success: per usual, Côté’s imagination turns out all these things.
Nouveau venu au sein du label québécois créé par Michel F Côté, Tiari Kese est un multi instrumentiste (claviers, cordes, cor…) accordant aussi beaucoup d’importance à l’échantillonnage. A l’exception de la présence — plus ou moins noyée dans le maelstrom sonore — du trompettiste Ellwood Epps et de Côté lui-même (percussion, sons et électroniques), il en est le maître d’œuvre et le résultat sonique, sept compositions entre 4 et 14 minutes, s’apparente un peu aux travaux de John Wall, avec peut-être plus d’emphase, plus d’optimisme. Les nappes sonores sont chaleureusement doublées par la trompette (dans Dream of Spartacus’s Spacecraft par exemple), souvent parcouru de petits craquements électriques opérés tels de discrets ruissellements. Les pièces assez cohérentes les unes par rapport aux autres s’ingénient toutefois à s’individualiser par quelque couleur sonore particulière, rendant l’écoute de l’ensemble agréable.
&records is not just a record label, it’s also what you could think of as an ongoing conceptual art project, managed by two Montréal based artists: Fabrizio Gilardino and Michel F Côté. Both have been active on the Montréal music scene for many years, both releasing work on the Ambiances Magnétiques label and producing the annual “jazz sur mars” series. &records started in 2003, and has been putting out new albums ever since. 2010 proved to be one of their most prolific years, with over seven releases, spanning everything from solo recordings (Jean René’s Fammi), to noise rock (La Part Maudite), from electroacoustic improvisation (Palétuvier (rouge) ) to lush pop extravaganza (Alexis O’Hara’s Ellipsis).
What’s intriguing about the label is the concept behind it: &records is an imprint with a set end date: when Côté and Gilardino reach a total of 24 releases, the label will close its doors. It’s an interesting idea, and one that differs from the usual means of organization for a label, presenting the listener with the feeling that everything has been carefully considered and curated. The care that goes into the project is evident from the discs themselves, with each album featuring graphics by Gilardino silkscreened onto its cover. Packaging is minimal, with only the bare necessities in terms of descriptive text, but the craft and thought behind the project are obvious.
These three albums are among &records’ most recent releases, and despite their striking musical diversity, covering a gamut of musical approaches and techniques, they share a consistent atmospheric and evanescent quality. Whether electroacoustic, sample-based, purely improvised, partly composed, experimental sound art, noise or even indie post-rock style, the music makes you feel like you’ve walked into a fantastical treasure trove of sound. Blink once, and it might all be gone. Often making use of subtle and quiet electronics, these are intimate moments, further reinforced by the rhetorical understatement that seems to be the preference for all three groups / artists.
In Palétuvier (rouge) , the fourth in the Palétuvier series, Diane Labrosse (sampler), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet and saxophones) and Pierre Tanguay (drums) present a hushed yet focused series of four improvisations constructed almost purely from wisps of sound, and playing as much with silence and space as with sound itself. Even when there’s a sense of consistent momentum, or where the music appears busier, as in the opening track Miso Eratu, there’s still plenty of space left in between its pulses and grains. The beats on Dextrus Fitera feel a bit plodding and heavyhanded, but they nonetheless contribute to the impression of this album being one long composition, as opposed to four pieces related only by propinquity. It’s almost as if the musicians were slowly breaking down the component parts of the first track into shorter, quieter, and smaller elements, until, by the time the final Alvarum Macenza is reached, what remains is barely audible, forcing the listener to strain to hear what is going on. It’s as if the music is progressively slipping away, with Lauzier’s gossamer-thin threads of sound the final echoes of a barely remembered dream.
Alexis O’Hara’s Ellipsis provides a similar aesthetic of understatement, but with a quiet fortitude that imparts a greater sense of grounding and permanence, albeit one that still maintains the fundamentally translucent and soft character of her compositions. For this album, she’s joined by a coterie of Mile End/Montréal musicians, including Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la band), Alexandre St-Onge (Shalabi Effect) and Radwan Moumneh (Jerusalem in My Heart).
The first thing to strike you upon listening to Ellipsis is the seductiveness of O’Hara’s voice, whose close, whispered quality makes it seem like she’s standing right beside you, telling you sly secrets no one else knows. At times it’s overdubbed, at times layered under the instrumental accompaniment, in a process of masking and unmasking that makes listening both hard work and something to relish. It’s compelling and intoxicating, the lyrics (in French, English and Spanish) switching from playful to somber in a heartbeat, all the while retaining their mildly acerbic wit. Even when the songs adopt a marginally disturbed character (Inside Joke (love is), Twenty-Three and Bugs), they remain beguiling and enthralling. Ellipsis is a gorgeously and skillfully rendered set of pieces that calls for listening to over and over again.
If Palétuvier (rouge) and Ellipsis are dreams wearing rose-colored glasses, Ave <w> is their distant cousin in slightly nightmarish Technicolor, sonically denser, with harsher, grittier textures, more strident in character but by no means overwhelming. This is a project by one Tiari Kese, who, according to Côté, is “a world-renowned pianist and French horn player, known for his interpretations of John Cage.” In fact, Kese is actually Côté, who also credits himself on percussion and electronics and joins trumpeter Gordon Allen (a.k.a. Ellwood Epps) in a set of pieces originally commissioned by Sylvain Émard Danse. The music is a mix of live recordings and samples featuring a wide range of influences, including (as Kese names them): Satie & Cage, Tétreault & Falaise, Siewert & Brandlmayr, B Günter, Fennesz, Neina and Oval.
Côté’s fondness for noisy, distorted sheets of sound combined with sweeter harmonies penetrating a morass of grainy distortion is evident throughout, as it is on his recent Mecha Fixes Clocks (À l’inattendu les dieux livrent passage). This proclivity of Côté’s for “musical white noise” is particularly clear on Marge brute du ƒ, where “Kese” performs sharply punctuated chords (courtesy Erik Satie) on the piano, their attacks triggering a patch that distorts and augments their overtone material. This and the opening Unit Vector in Vratsa are probably the most forceful of the pieces on offer here, the rest of which returns to the bittersweet atmosphere common to all three of the albums, well in line with the general aesthetic of this fine label.
Tiari Kese suona piano, organo, mellotron, archi, corno francese, elettronica, sampler e voce; con lui appaiono Ellwood Epps alla tromba e Michel F Côté alle percussioni e all’elettronica. La musica contenuta nel suo esordio potrebbe esser pensata, sommariamente e con approssimazione, come una sorta di elettronica-mixing di cut-up (campionamenti da Satie & Cage, Tétreault & Falaise, Siewert & Brandlmayr, Bernhard Günter, Fennesz, Neina, Oval) ricomposti e “suonati” fino a fargli perdere le caratteristiche degli originali con una tecnica che può ricordare quella del purtroppo sempre più latitante John Wall. I risultati sono però abbastanza diversi dai dischi dell’inglese sia nel mood, qui meno unitario e meno pastoso, che nel suono, in questo caso meno esplicitamente apparentato al postjazz/impro e più alle musiche da sonorizzazione/film (o forse meglio da incubo, si ascolti la splendida Landing at 6 (t) + √2, il pezzo migliore del CD). Quindi episodi diversificati tra retrogusti ‘pop’ frutto forse degli interventi della tromba e delle sequenze minimal-percussive (Unit Vector in Vratsa), solenni escrudescenze noise (Marge brute du ƒ), sequenze ambientali (Fonction @ <w>) e jazz-ambientali (Dreams of Spartacus’s Spacecraft). Promettente.
Sagen wir’s mal so: Tiari Kese ist womöglich nicht der Spross eines bulgarischen Hussaren und einer Mezzosopranistin, kein Weggefährte von Guy Debord und auch kein renommierter Interpret von Cage und Satie. Ave <w> (&10) dürfen wir allen Fragwürdigkeiten zum Trotz dennoch diesem Phantom zuschreiben, das mit Unit Vector in Vratsa darauf pocht: da — in Vratsa — bin ich geboren. Electronics & Samples sind die wesentlichen Mittel zu Zwecken, die mit marge brut du ƒ, fonction @ <w> oder Landing at 6 (t) + √2 Titel tragen, denen der Sonic-Fiction-Anspruch quasi auf die Stirn geschrieben ist. Inmitten der phantastischen Noiseströme sind auch perkussive Zutaten von Michel F Côté und die Unanswered Question-Trompete von E Epps, erstere nur mit Mühe, zu erkennen. Keses Einsatz von Organ, Mellotron, Strings, Waldhorn und Stimme kann dagegen nur geglaubt werden als Ingredienzen, die im Kometenschweif dieser schmutzigen Schneebälle von Musik durchs Weltall geblasen werden. Wenn man mit dem Schwebklang der Trompete und, ja, da ist tatsächlich in Dreams of Spartacus’s Spacecraft klagende oder rufende Vokalisation eingemischt, träumend dahin driftet, werden irdische Maßstäbe zunehmend hinfällig. Die Landung erfolgt mit dumpfen Ruck, der Ausstieg mit Gepolter, begleitet von Glockenschlägen per Piano. Die Xeno-Atmosphäre ist mit brodelnd, zischend und rauschend nur unzureichend angedeutet, das Piano darin so irreal wie das Rokoko, in dem schon einmal eine Odyssee im Weltall endete. ‘Reichmann Sum for S’ mischt in den Noise und die erst noch versonnen angeschlagenen, dann diskant pingenden Pianonoten nun doch noch die Strings und noch einmal die saturn-verstrahlte Trompete. Seltsam, seltsam.
Quand j’étais plus jeune et que j’expérimentais avec les drogues, j’avais la manie de les consommer en solitaire plutôt qu’à devoir affronter certaines situations sociales. Je m’enfermais dans ma chambre, le soir, et j’entamais un petit rituel qui plus souvent qu’autrement me confrontait à mes pires peurs. C’est dans ces moments de terreur pétrifiante que je me sentais le plus sensible à mon environnement et à mes pensées enfouies là ou le soleil ne brille jamais. Aujourd’hui je suis trop vieux pour faire de la drogue, alors je trip d’une autre manière. Je pense que cette fois-ci, je vais m’initier à l’acuponcture avec le disque de Tiari Kese à 10 dans mes écouteurs! Au diable le confort bourgeois, je veux de la musique qui dilate mes pupilles et qui me fait suer à grosses gouttes d’angoisse!
Canada’s Et Records are now in full active force: existing since 2003, but only last year they doubled their amount of releases. That’s great, also since they operate on an interesting crossroad of music styles, and these four new releases show that well. The crossroad is where pop music, improvisation, musique concrète and free-jazz meet up. We have to go the website for additional information (which sometimes linked from the Actuelle label — Canada seems well organized in that respect).
Let’s start with the most ‘traditional’ one — or so it sounds like. I have never heard of Alexis O’Hara, who uses a lot of human voice — her own — as well as electronic improvisation and video. She has performed on spoken word festivals all over the world, from “new music symposiums to “women & technology events”, and besides various mini CDRs, Ellipsis is her second full length CD. Now it may sound like that this is all serious sound poetry, but this release is perhaps the most ‘pop’ music based I heard from Et Records. O’Hara samples her voice, adds a bit of electronic backing, rhythm machines, maybe a synth (but then perhaps these are sampled from her own voice, who am I to tell), and she signs a song, not use her voice in some dramatic or abstract poetry-like manner. That adds a distinct pop music like element to her music, along with a cabaret/nightclub like feel in some songs — perhaps due to the fact that she uses besides English also French and Spanish. The CD closes with Twenty-three, which sounds like a pastiche of Twenty Jazz funk Greats and Hot On The Heels from Throbbing Gristle. An excellent release! Very relaxed music, very well made.
From this extreme we bounce to an opposite extreme, the free jazz improvisation of Pink Saliva, a trio from Ellwood Epps (trumpet), Michel F Cote (drums, microphones, lapsteel) and Alexandre St-Onge (electric bass and laptop). A live recording, which is edited down to twelve short ‘songs’ (again?), somewhere between one and four minutes. This music is more traditionally improvised than what I usually like, with a strong sense for jazz. That is not necessarily, of course, a bad thing, but just not so much my cup of tea, although I could envisage myself in a dark cellar smoke filled and pipe in my hand. Perhaps I should say ‘that traditional’, but I have to be careful: maybe this is all done tongue in cheek, but I am not qualified to judge on that.
More improvisation can be found on the trio disc of Diane Labrosse (sampler), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, saxophones) and Pierre Tanguay (drums). With the addition of the sampler, things become straight away more ‘modern’, ‘abstract’ and perhaps also less strictly defined as something like free-jazz. Throughout these four lengthy pieces there is a great sense of controlled playing here, with some quite intense music. This trio keeps things well under control here, with a lot of rumble beneath the surface. Meaning it can be found more in the low end than in the top end of the music, and that is what delivers a certain, great kind of tension to the music. Maybe one could wonder if four such pieces is a bit too much to be taken in at once, but nevertheless its some wonderful music, not be swallowed at once.
From a more musique concrete perspective we have a CD by one Tiare Kese, who was born in 1948 in Bulgaria, son of a resistance hero and soprano mother, who went in 1965 to Paris to study piano and horn. Later on befriended Karl-Heinz Stockhausen and Guy Debord, left the first, and then started to play music by Cage and Satie. Then he met Michel F Cote and ended up playing music on this CD, for which he plays piano, organ, mellotron, strings, French horn, electronics, samples and voices, plundering works by Satie, Cage, Tétreault, Falaise, Siewert, Brandlmayr, B Günter, Fennesz, Neina and Oval. I have no idea if this is all true, but why spoil a good story by looking up the ‘truth’? The music is good, and that is what counts. If the other three are working towards the crossroad of styles, then its perhaps Kese who is in the middle. Bits of pop/rock tunings are used, mainly when it comes to using distortion, samples of an electro-acoustic nature, treated instruments, and occasionally improvised playing on them, all mingled together into some well crafted soundtrack-like music. A bit of drone here and there, field recordings interwoven, desolate French horn, modern classical glissandi, sparse percussive sounds. Altogether this makes an excellent release. Quite intense, sparse and at times dramatic music. The best out of these four.
Electronic music commissioned by Sylvain Émard Danse — but these tracks behave well stripped from their original use. Multiple sound sources (including samples from Fennesz, d’Oval, Tétreault/Falaise, Bernhard Günter, etc.), often lively, with complex arrangements. But it all seems to lack some depth. I need a second listen — the first one went by rather unnoticed, leaving me unsatisfied beyond the opening track Unit Vector in Vratsa, a 14-minute chunk that did catch my attention.