Tracklisted…with Sontag Shogun

News / Special Features / Tracklisted / August 1, 2017

Much like the classic mixtape, Tracklisted presents a collection of songs under a selected theme, which you can check out below. Click on the provided videos and listen to this week’s arrangement while you read a few words about the selections.

Brooklyn label Youngbloods’ newest release is by NYC avant-garde trio Sontag Shogun, titled Patterns For Resonant Space. It’s a wonderful collection of 10 songs, which sees the band exploring new ways of making sounds, utilizing elements as diverse as a music box, sushi rice, and a windmill. Patterns is a gorgeous and fascinating trip, surely enveloping just about any listener. You can stream the record in full below.

The band had the following to say regarding the new album:

Patterns for Resonant Space is a house with 10,000 doors. It’s a place in which we’ve left memories, to be picked up and examined, but that can be entered from anywhere. It’s music that lets the listener in from wherever they find themselves; it’s a collection of unfinished sketches, half-faded polaroids. We didn’t want to create a fully realized, full-spectrum work, and as such, this was a very introspective process, so we took little from other artists we might normally be looking towards for inspiration. But there are tons of artists out there working in sound and music that celebrate flux, infinity, and open-endedness in similar ways, and how their work allows listeners to navigate the sonic territory more personally is something that we constantly find inspiring. So, here’s a list of some of our recent favorite artists who celebrate this path with aplomb.”

The Selections

Luc Ferrari — Presque rien avec filles

Ferrari’s work has had an enormous effect on Sontag’s music. His tape collages and electronic experiments are absolutely essential listening to anyone interested in deepening their engagement with avant-garde fringe field recording practice, along with with some of the philosophical underpinnings of our work as a group. In the following piece, we’re given access to Ferrari’s ability to showcase the voyeuristic side of field recording. He thinks of himself here as a “photographer/composer,” taking covert audio snapshots of a nature scene in which some women are picnicking. He’s hiding in the bushes, literally, and as he hides behind harsh analog electronic processing, each serves to mask the true identity of place, time, space, and self/other. It’s cinéma pour l’oreille, a listening adventure. More than anything, this, and Ferrari’s work at large, help to remind listeners that all recorded sound (documentary sound, field recording included) is a copy, and copies of anything are malleable, manipulable, and in-flux. Actual sound, unrecorded sound, is chaotic and true, truly ephemeral, but with recorded sound there will always be the decisions of a person behind the audio, between the source and the end result.

Also, we just love hearing field recordings that eschew any comprehension of place.

Midori Hirano — By The Window

Midori and Jeremy shared a festival stage in Germany, and this experience really brought her music to life in a way that we hadn’t realized. She’s a pianist, but she’s more interested in creating unstable landscapes in sound than writing music for music itself. When you listen it sounds like a home-recorded upright with digital electronics, and it’s easy to be like, this sounds kind of lo-fi for someone who cares so much about sonic space and fidelity, well… guess what…that’s our entire album! Patterns was made before we heard Midori’s latest record, Minor Planet, but to me it’s the closest thing out there to exactly what we were trying to do with this collection, which is to say relentlessly pushing forward but pulling back on the feeling that the sound world needs to be a room with closed doors, windows shut and contained.

Felicia Atkinson — Adaptation Assez Facile

Felicia’s work as a visual artist, as a sound artist, and as a curator, is all just brilliant. Felicia’s sound world leaves a lot of space open for contemplation and we think, probably, mysticism. She melds throughways from literature and poetry, philosophy and theory (ways of looking, seeing, hearing) in her music, giving it not boundaries but ways in from a variety of angles. Does that make sense? Her music builds roads, not walls. Here she is doing a sort of tai-chi inspired dance in the desert by herself, maybe that speaks for itself.

Hiss Tracts — Shortwave Nights

We can’t not include David Bryant in here, since he was pretty instrumental in providing us with so many reflection points while recording. So here’s a track from his project with Growing’s Kevin Doria and our friend, filmmaker Karl Lemieux, that makes reference to some half-speed and broken tape machine wizardry, all of which you can hear in tracks like “no.10 (£20,000).” While we were in the studio with David, my Heathkit sine wave signal generator went bust so he lent me his Heathkit, everything you hear on our track, “no.16 *(Windmill)” was made using this machine.

Frederic Chopin’s Etude Opus 10 No. 3 (Tristesse) [played in a music box]

Here’s a little nod to both the immense influence Sontag takes from Chopin’s deep well of étude miniatures, and our track on Patterns for Resonant Space that came out of playing with a cheap music box and sampling some of its notes.

Ian William Craig — The Nearness

We’ve often compared Jesse’s vocal collage work in Sontag to that of Ian William Craig. And you can hear this pretty clearly in “no.5 (Melt Canyon).” There’s such a reserve of humanness to Ian’s work, and it’s so fragile, like everything around him is just falling apart all the time. It’d be sad if it wasn’t so pretty. Jeremy loves that he just nails it with analog tape, too. Get’s us all giddy. A lot of moments on our record feel like perhaps somehow subconsciously they were inspired by Ian.

Sarah Davachi — For Piano

Another Western Canadian on the list. Sarah’s been taking over the world lately, and that’s just awesome, she brings something to the world of live listening that feels essential in this noisey, aggressive time. Funny story. When we recorded the humble beginnings of this record at The Pines in Montreal, there was only one other name on the studio’s chalkboard calendar, that of Ms. Davachi herself. Sarah’s work often presents you with stark stillness, contemplation, patience, passivity. It doesn’t want your space, and it doesn’t want to intervene, but it asks for your undivided attention and presence. Is that so much?

Valerio Tricoli — The Hallowed Receiver

Here’s what PAN has to say about Valerio’s work: “Clonic Earth is a perturbing, compelling and eventually mind-expanding work, marked by compositional strategies of exploded narratives, psychological insight and oracular literary references, where questions about the boundaries of spatial perception in the decoding processes of acousmatic music are overturned into existential, metaphysical questions.”

His music sounds like he’s somehow sucked the matter out of 15 different rooms of a giant house party, and compressed it all together to create these charged electrons of time and space, everything happening at once; we can see all of existence in the eyeball of a drugged out teenager.

Hildur Gudnodottir — Floods

Cello and voice. Hildur’s superpower is to make either the shortest moment or longest musical journey equally as dramatic and powerfully emotive. She uses barely more than her cello, her voice and some looping and occasional processing, and with something like a Queen Midas touch she’s able to sculpt icey, Nordic refractions of bent light from nothing, or so it sounds. Untouchable.

Takeshi Nishimoto — Late Summer Early Autumn

Takeshi is really a visionary. We don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does. His work is special because he’s so comfortable leaving it rough around the edges, in between genres that don’t tend to celebrate imprecision, ie: jazz, classical guitar and ambient soundscapes, because he’s got such an improvisational mind. Once the moment has passed, it’s gone, no need to go back and clean it up. It’s a bit wabi-sabi, showing you the beauty of something and it’s earthly flaws in the same viewpoint. A lot of thinking along these lines went into the creation of Patterns for Resonant Space; how can we create these micro-dramas and lush moments, and all the while keeping things in a state of uncertainty, half-broke’d?

Alex Beth

Alex is an artist that works with scent. Her track is your right now. Open your nose and breath in, what do you smell? Are you still here, or are you somewhere else?

You can grab the album now via Bandcamp. It comes on 140-gram black vinyl with an extra soft reverse-board jacket featuring custom, full color, one-of-a-kind analog lenticular artwork that “self-animates” when removed from or inserted into the companion polybag. 

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Nick Spacek
Nick Spacek was once a punk, but realized you can’t be hardcore and use the word “adorable” as often as he does. Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with four cats and usually goes to bed by 9. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online.

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