Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Liz Harris


Liz Harris (Grouper)

Grouper is the solo project of American musician, artist and producer Liz Harris. She has been releasing material on her own label and other independent labels since 2005. Grouper released the critically acclaimed Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill in 2008, followed by five more records, including a two-part album, A I A, and the piano-led album Ruins. Her eleventh album, Grid Of Points was released on April 27, 2018. On March 8, 2018, the song Parking Lot from the forthcoming album was released via her BandCamp.
She has collaborated with a number of other artists, including Xiu Xiu, Jesy Fortino (Mirrorring), Roy Montgomery, The Bug, Lawrence English (Slow Walkers), and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (Raum).

Harris was born in Northern California and grew up around the San Francisco Bay area. She grew up in a Fourth Way commune there which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff. The community was known as "The Group", which would later serve as some inspiration for the moniker Grouper. According to Harris, the kids called each other and the parents 'groupers' sort of as a defiance. She says: "It was us making our own identities inside a pretty controlled environment, and sort of lashing back maybe... When I had to think of a name I felt annoyed at nothing sounding right. I wanted something that referenced me without referencing 'Me.'" According to her, she "felt like the music was at its barest just a grouping of sounds, and I was just the grouper."
After finishing college, Harris briefly moved to Los Angeles, where she worked with Mayo Thompson at Patrick Painter. Harris is now based in Oregon. Harris’ first album was 2005’s Grouper, a self-released full-length CD-R, followed later that year by Way Their Crept on Free Porcupine (re-released in 2007 on Type Records). In 2006 she released a single (He Knows), one album, called Wide, and a collaboration with Xiu Xiu entitled Creepshow. Harris made available new material steadily through the years, and continued to collaborate with various artists such as Roy Montgomery and Xela.

Musical style

During her days as a part of a Fourth Way commune, Harris' primary sources for discovering music were limited. With a little help from her parents, whose musical tastes were eccentric and divergent, she discovered Eastern European folk and the American avant-pop band Talking Heads. Through her father, who himself was a composer, she would later discover contemporary classical and early music. In 2008, when she released Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, Pitchfork compared it to classic ethereal releases from the British label 4AD, drawing comparisons to Cocteau Twins and early His Name Is Alive. The Portland Mercury described some songs from the album, such as "Wind and Snow" and "Stuck", sonically reminiscent of the Renaissance period composers Gesualdo and Monteverdi.

I'm looking for the place the spirit meets the skin
can't figure out why that places feels so hard to be in
we're all of us at this ill-fitting party
busy pretending to relate
and it's getting harder and harder to fake
acting like everything's in its place
[Streaming & Download]


Monday, April 17, 2017

Mayuko Hino

The Queen of Noise: Mayuko Hino Returns
Some of you might not have heard of Mayuko Hino. There are a number of reasons for this. 

Hino was a key player in the noise scene in Japan that became part of a cultural exchange that David Novak, in his book Japanoise, calls ‘Cool Japan’. What ‘Cool Japan’ refers to are all those cultural icons and signifiers, from the kawaii (cute) phenomenon of things like Pikachu to the supernatural terror of Sadako in Hideo Nakata’s ’98 classic Ring, that seeped into our pop-cultural consciousness and left us enchanted by a place both seemingly exotic and hyperreal. Extremity was a huge part of this; our unquenchable thirst for the extreme fuelled the plethora of films released through Tartan Asia Extreme, where a proliferation of Yakuza movies and films with long haired young girls coming back from the dead dominated ‘world cinema’ sections in stores across the West.

Our consumption of what we in the West, like opportunist magpies, chose to include under the umbrella of ‘Cool Japan’ was all part of a transnational mediation that shaped this image. Japanese noise music passed the test but its inclusion was only fragmentary. Somewhere along the way, for some unknown and equally unjust reason, Merzbow (Masami Akita) came to stand alone as a genre to himself. Merzbow became and largely remains the marker of all that was and is noisy in Japan. The likes of Hino and her band C.C.C.C., along with acts like Hijokaidan, Incapacitants and Masonna, were and remain largely overlooked. Particularly in musicology, plenty has been written about Merzbow, but far less about any of these other acts. It’s only because of the geeks and the aficionados that these bands have any discernible presence.

Perhaps this is a matter of production. It’s no secret, even for the casual listener, that Akita’s productivity and output as Merzbow is immeasurable. His collaborative efforts with the likes of Mike Patton and Alec Empire would have went some way to helping this celebrity. And it’s also perhaps a matter of definition. For a genre so disparate, so fleeting, whose vocabulary invites an array of slippery terminologies, having one fixed point of reference helps the conversation. But in spite of whatever reason, and against this lazy historicising and cultural selectivity, it remains that Mayuko Hino, as part of C.C.C.C. and now her first solo project, is one of the most important figures in Japanese noise music.

C.C.C.C. (Cosmic Coincidence Control Centre) have always stood out in my listening to noise music, and not for the reasons typically thrown around in discussions of noise. Their sound doesn’t suffocate me. I’m not bound in a masochistic relationship to it. At no point am I forcing myself to listen through some kind of testosterone-fuelled act. Rather, there is a lushness to their music, or as former member Fumio Kosakai describes, in the linear notes of C.C.C.C. early works a ‘profound psychedelic noise’ that I haven’t quite heard anywhere else. Kosakai attributes this to Ryuichi Nagakubo’s bass playing, which ‘gave members uncontrolled licenses to perform anything they wanted, including physical actions.’ Anyone who has heard founding member Hiroshi Hasegawa’s solo work post-C.C.C.C. will attribute this profundity to him. Hasegawa’s command of noise and the sonic sculptures he constructs and deconstructs in effortless gestures is unparalleled. And then there is Hino, creating wave upon wave of noise through sheets of metal and letting out some of the most exhilarating and terrifying screams that have ever been put to record. The genius of her vocal is how sporadic it is. In the live recording from Donzoko House in Kyoto from 1991, her vocal makes itself known only after about 9 minutes of noise but when it does it comes with ungodly measure. Collectively, they were the most rock and roll of all the noise bands, not overly preoccupied with, as Kosakai’s admits, ‘a political fight in the art named “avant-garde”‘ but instead driven by a raw excess and sexuality with the literal aim to, as Hino puts it, ‘fuck art and fuck music.’

Hino was essential in C.C.C.C.’s raw, animalistic energy. She was more than a noise maker. She was the visual embodiment of Japanese noise music’s early aesthetic. With her background in dance, theatre and her appearances in a number of ‘pink films’ – one of these films, The Rapist of 13 Girls Successively, was directed by one of Japan’s most subversive directors of the ’60s, Koji Wakamatsu – Hino would often recall her erotic past on stage. She would dance naked; she would tie herself in rope in an act of bondage; she would pour hot wax on her naked breasts; she would throw herself around the stage and all the while making sublime noises.

Japanese noise music’s early relationship with eroticism and the philosophical excesses of French thinkers like Marquis de Sade and Georges Bataille is no secret. Merzbow smeared his early analogue recordings in pornographic scraps, he fetishized bondage and even scored and directed a number of harakiri films which showed young uniform clad girls half naked committing seppuku. And since our main interaction with noise, in the West, was through Merzbow, both eroticism and noise seemed indissociable. So Hino may not have pioneered this gesture but what she did was own and control it. 

Part of the revulsion some people felt with this music’s early obsession was its implicit misogyny; women were exploited for the gain of shock and awe. Particularly in Merzbow’s imagining, the domination and brutalization of the female figure was always committed through the male gaze, at no point did Akita put himself in the firing line. But Hino’s relationship to the erotic was always hers, and always on her terms. A dancer and pink film performer first and foremost, Kosakai tells us how she came along to formative practices and simply watched before saying ‘I would like to join as a voice performer now.’ This careful measure she carried into her performance. At no point did any members join her in her onstage eroticism, at no point did the male members interfere in an eroticism that was distinctly hers.

After C.C.C.C. disbanded, Hino disappeared; perhaps another reason why she is not remembered so regularly by enough people. Her last documented noise efforts end around the year 2000. But Hino has returned, not only as a member of DFH-M3 (along with noise legends Junko and Ranko Onishi), but also with her first solo record called Akashic Records which is set to be released on July 30th. A sneak peak at the track ‘Mediator’ on Soundcloud sees Hino toying with some industrial textures before her trademark waves of noise blast through the track like a gust of wind. But it also shows Hino playing with emptiness as the track builds both patiently and steadily, and quietens at unusual junctures. It’s a promising teaser from the return of one of the world’s noise pioneers. And as a noise geek myself, it’s a pleasure to have our queen back.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

F e < M a l e F o u | Interview

Fe<MAle Fou At Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery
Seperti sebuah delay yang datang terlambat, begitupun dengan keterlambatan postingan interview ini. Tapi tidak ada kata terlambat untuk sesuatu yang menurut kita positif. Baiklah, saya akan memperkenalkan sebuah proyek musik eksperimental yang di motori oleh Filomena Rubino, yang di akhir tahun 2014 kemarin merilis full album keduanya bertajuk “Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder” dalam format piringan hitam di bawah naungan Suitcase Recordings. Proyek eksperimental ini dikenal dengan nama Fe<Male Fou, nama yang sangat unik dan mengandung isu gender secara simbolis. Paling tidak simbol tersebut menjadi ketertarikan saya pada sebuah nama, kemudian menjadi pemicu untuk lebih mengenal, dan pada akhirnya kami mulai berteman dan berdiskusi ringan di jejaring sosial sejak dua tahun silam dimana Fe<Male Fou belum lama di bentuk. Sejak saat itu saya melihat bahwa Filomena memiliki karakter yang kuat dengan project musiknya. Dan ekspektasi saya terbayar oleh “Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder”.

Eksperimen adalah kata kunci ketika mendengar, melihat aksi panggung dan imej yang ditampilkan oleh Fe<Male Fou. Instrumentasi seperti gitar, vokal, stompbox dan berbagai objek yang digunakan sebagai media penyampaian bunyi diperlakukan selayaknya, tidak berlebihan dan mampu menghasilkan karakter sound yang tajam, tegas, sekaligus membius. Dengung frekuensi dengan texture kasar dan terus menerus akan kita dengar pada kebanyakan komposisi, namun tidak seperti drone project pada umumnya yang cenderung statis dalam soal komposisi, Fe<Male Fou selalu memunculkan klimaks pada setiap komposisinya.  Fe<Male Fou berimprovisasi di bawah koridor yang telah ditetapkan, kalimat-kalimat absurd membayang-bayang di antara raungan gitar membentuk sound cluster yang pada akhirnya kita maknai sebagai bentuk komposisi atonal.

Terkadang Filomena memetik gitarnya sekaligus memainkan riff-riff sederhana, statis dalam balutan lo-fi sound, namun ini hanyalah buaian mimpi sekejap. Karena pada detik berikutnya nuansa akan berubah getir melalui caranya berimprovisasi untuk menimbulkan noise. Cenderung kasar dengan peralihan yang mengejutkan secara sporadis. Kental dengan nuansa industrial, Fe<Male Fou memberikan sebuah alternatif baru dalam wilayah musik eksperimental dengan karyanya. Membuktikan pada kita semua bahwa Itali selalu melahirkan individu avantgarde yang unik dari masa ke masa dengan karakteristik tersendiri. Mari kita simak beberapa pertanyaan yang saya ajukan di akhir tahun lalu paska rilisnya “Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder”.

Tell me about your project and kind of your musical genre
Fe<Male Fou is a female solo project born in Italy in 2013. Like i always used to say, my musical genre it's difficult to explain.
My sound comes from loud and atonal guitars that create dissonance and large walls of sounds. Ethereal or more coincided. It Depends. It  could called  noise / rock noise / industrial / dark / even pop. The tracks are very different each other but I think there is a sort of thread between them even if it is completely different . Usually when i play l i record guitar loops live and then i  add other line guitar in , electronic effects and some noises.

I saw you release a full-length album in this month, tell me about that. and why in vynil format?
yes. My first full length and my second album came out last month for a american label suitcase recordings.  In the first moment we decided to release it in cassette but than the label told me that that he would like to release  "sucker mules's dreadful murder" in vinyl format. I was really exited for his choice..

Digital or Physical Release. And why?
Absolutely physical release. For me and for what i'm used to do i prefer have with me something that i can touch. Digital releases are something that are destined to fade and to get lost in time. Usually I  buy records and i download somethings but just because I need to put it in my i pod.

What the meaning about label or netlabel for you?
people that manage a label have more money, probably, and maybe they have more faithful than people that  manage a net label, they don' t really " bet" on the artists   because they have nothing to lose , and of course I think they are not intended to last over time, but nowadays it's all ephemeral so this is what it is.

List of instruments do you used, for recorded and live performance.
For recording i use guitars, a couple, some pedal effects, loop station, bow, e bow,audio interface and a  laptop. Sometimes some object like sticks and a dildo.

Digital or Analog?
Definitely analog, but i use digital stuff as well, but old machine get me more satisfied.

Other project or future project you have?
My side project it's called "Geometrical Rape" we released our first album last November for an italian label "diazepam records", It' s a duo project with Urna. Check it out !

What your plan in 2015?
For the future i ve some new idea in mind and very soon  there will be the birth of a new project with A4, an old american noise/experimental project with which we are already working on a video project. The sounds will be a little bit different from what you heard of my past projects. There will be a tape machine, guitars and bass, and probably drums ..We Will See …

Noise is?
Noise is a Phase…. post weeping phase and probably It s a kind of blind war.

Band Recomended
I dunno
Fe<Male Fou - Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder
Limited Edition Black Vinyl
Pagan Revelry
Uthero Vitreous
Furtive Madman
Slaving Flesh Wheel
Slaughterhouse Overdose
i - it grovels
ii - it trudges
iii - it's over
Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder


Picture: Fe<Male Fou

Pandu Hidayat, Feb 22th 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch (German: [hœç]; November 1, 1889 – May 31, 1978) was a German Dada artist. She is best known for her work of the Weimar period, when she was one of the originators of photomontage.

Hannah Höch was born Anna Therese Johanne Höch in Gotha, Germany. In 1912 she began classes at the School of Applied Arts in Berlin under the guidance of glass designer Harold Bergen. She chose the curriculum glass design and graphic arts, rather than fine arts, to please her father. In 1914, at the start of World War I, she left the school and returned home to Gotha to work with the Red Cross. In 1915 she returned to school, entering the graphics class of Emil Orlik at the National Institute of the Museum of Arts and Crafts. Also in 1915, Höch began an influential friendship with Raoul Hausmann, a member of the Berlin Dada movement. Höch's involvement with the Berlin Dadaists began in earnest in 1919. After her schooling, she worked in the handicrafts department for Ullstein Verlag (The Ullstein Press), designing dress and embroidery patterns for Die Dame (The Lady) and Die Praktische Berlinerin (The Practical Berlin Woman). The influence of this early work and training can be seen in her later work involving references to dress patterns and textiles. From 1926 to 1929 she lived and worked in the Netherlands. Höch made many influential friendships over the years, with Kurt Schwitters and Piet Mondrian among others. Höch, along with Hausmann, was one of the first pioneers of the art form that would come to be known as photomontage.

Höch left her seven-year relationship with Raoul Hausmann in 1922. In 1926, she began a relationship with the Dutch writer and linguist Mathilda ('Til') Brugman, whom Höch met through mutual friends Kurt and Helma Schwitters. By autumn of 1926, Höch moved to Hague to live with Brugman, where they lived until 1929, at which time they moved to Berlin. Höch and Brugman's relationship lasted nine years, until 1935. They did not explicitly define their relationship as lesbian (likely because they did not feel it necessary or desirable), instead choosing to refer to it as a private love relationship. In 1935, Höch began a relationship with Kurt Matthies, whom she was married to from 1938 to 1944.

Women In Dada
While the Dadaists "paid lip service to women's emancipation," they were clearly reluctant to include a woman among their ranks. Hans Richter described Höch's contribution to the Dada movement as the "sandwiches, beer and coffee she managed somehow to conjure up despite the shortage of money." Raoul Hausmann even suggested that Höch get a job to support him financially. Höch was the lone woman among the Berlin Dada group, although Sophie Täuber, Beatrice Wood, and Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhoven were also important, if overlooked, Dada figures. Höch references the hypocrisy of the Berlin Dada group and German society as a whole in her photomontage, Da-Dandy.
Höch's time at Verlang working with magazines targeted to women made her acutely aware of the difference between women in media and reality, even as the workplace provided her with many of the images that served as raw material for her own work. She was also critical of marriage, often depicting brides as mannequins and children, reflecting the socially pervasive idea of women as incomplete people with little control over their lives. Höch considered herself a part of the women's movement in the 1920s, as shown in her depiction of herself in Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser DADA durch die letzte weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands (1919–20). Her pieces also commonly combine male and female traits into one unified being. During the era of the Weimar Republic, "mannish women were both celebrated and castigated for breaking down traditional gender roles." Her androgynous characters may also have been related to her bisexuality and attraction to masculinity in women (that is, attraction to the female form paired with stereotypically masculine characteristics).

Höch spent the years of the Third Reich in Berlin, Germany, keeping a low profile. She lived in Berlin-Heiligensee, a remote area in the outskirts of Berlin, hiding in a small garden house. She married businessman and pianist Kurt Matthies in 1938 and divorced him in 1944.Though her work was not acclaimed after the war as it had been before the rise of the Third Reich, she continued to produce her photomontages and exhibit them internationally until her death in 1978, in Berlin. Her house and garden can be visited at the annual Day of the Memorial (Tag des offenen Denkmals). SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA
See Höch Works here [Photomontage/Collage]

Repost: The New Woman: Berlin’s feminist, Dadaist pioneer Hannah Höch

The first major exhibition of Hannah Höch is being held at the Whitechapel Gallery.

The most famous work by German artist Hannah Höch (1889-1978) remains Cut with the Kitchen Knife: Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer Belly Culture Epoch (1919), exhibited at the International Dada Fair in 1920. One of Höch’s largest collages, Cut with the Kitchen Knife showcased both the satirical possibilities and political ambiguities of the form, which she pioneered. Using the titular ‘kitchen knife’ to symbolise her cutting through male-dominated society, Höch incorporated newspaper headlines, animals, industrial landscapes, and political or cultural figures, loosely divided into ‘anti-Dada’ and ‘Dada’ sections, leaving open the question of which represented the most positive force in the new Weimar Republic.

Cut with the Kitchen Knife: Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer Belly Culture Epoch 

Although the Dadaist ‘anti-art’ that arose in Zürich and Berlin during the First World War had opposed militarism, monarchism and conservatism, the movement’s fundamental negativity complicated its relationship with socialism. Dada painter George Grosz was unwilling to lionise the proletariat as a counterpoint to his Pillars of Society, which its ruling class heads full of excrement, and years later, Richard Hülsenbeck explained that when they sought a target for their resentment, the Dadaists asked themselves “What is the bourgeois?” and “made the sad discovery that we were all bourgeois”, which kept the group from the Communist affiliation of their Surrealist successors.
Although it attacked the bloated, beer-fuelled German military after the war and the crushing of the revolution of November 1918, Cut with the Kitchen Knife was not didactic. Rather, it presented an array of images – the deposed Kaiser and new president Friedrich Ebert in the ‘anti-Dada’ section, Marx and Lenin with Grosz and Höch, fellow montage artist John Heartfield and Dada artist Raoul Hausmann, who was Höch’s lover from 1916 to 1922. Sadly, in the Whitechapel Gallery’s retrospective – the first in Britain – we see only a detail of its Dada section, with the fragile original in Berlin’s Neues Nationalgalerie, with the whole appearing in the catalogue.
There are 120 other works from Höch’s life, however, with the downstairs gallery charting her development until the end of the Republic, with a few collages from the mid-1930s, and two upstairs looking at how she worked in private after the Nazis declared her art Degenerate, and how she resumed her career after 1945. The first section is strongest, showing how Höch’s aesthetic and political interests evolved, from her involvement with Dada and Hausmann to her European travels, friendships with Bauhaus and De Stijl artists and relationship with female Dutch poet Til Brugman in the late 1920s.
Höch was one of several women associated with Dada, besides artist Sophie Täuber and performer/poet Emmy Hennings, but she was not given a nickname or included in all of the Berlin group’s activities. The significance of her position in Dada, and in Germany, is highlighted: having worked in the industry, Höch often used images from fashion magazines, pasting male heads on to female bodies or vice versa. Her critique of traditional gender roles and how they upheld a conservative society is often subtle, especially when compared to post-war feminist art, but is most effective when making explicit the role of violence in maintaining them: The Father (1920) is particularly jarring, placing a composite of male authority heads onto a woman’s body in a white dress, her feet in stilettos, with a boxer punching the baby in her arms.
Höch’s engagement with the mid-1920s idea of the ‘New Woman’ also emerges strongly. The ‘New Woman’ had bobbed hair, worked, and had sex – a product of getting the vote, and Article 119 of the Weimar constitution stating that marriage was ‘based on equality of the sexes’. However, many remained in low-status work with unequal pay, and married women were not allowed jobs if able-bodied veterans could take them. Within her circles, Höch was the New Woman, sharing both her style and her frustrations, and her background made her acutely aware of how this figure was a media creation and an advertising target. Portrait of Hannah Höch (1926) and another from 1929 show her looking like the New Woman, with her short hair and androgynous dress, but far from satisfied, let alone liberated.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, Höch stayed near Berlin between 1933 and 1945. Unable to exhibit, she began collating the Album – a change in her method, putting existing images together in a way that, shown here in a book, allows viewers to find meanings in their juxtaposition, rather than cutting fragments together to generate new works. Her interests in the New Woman and ethnography remain constant, but overt visual messages are resisted – unsurprisingly, given the conditions.
The collection of post-war works in Gallery 8 shows how Höch first borrowed elements of Dalí or Magritte’s Surrealism, and then turned towards a more abstract style, in her ‘Fantastic Art’ which explored the ‘tension … between the world of ideas and the real world’. These were often more colourful than her Dadaist montages, but become repetitive, being most successful when Höch revisits her inter-war social concerns. Homage to Riza Abazi (1963) presents a jumble of Orientalist signifiers of female beauty to Western audiences, with Höch’s techniques retaining the power to defamiliarise. Her huge Life Portrait (1972-73) shows Höch from childhood to old age, often with the Dada artists she’d outlived, closes the exhibition, letting her have the final word on a history that has often excluded her, commenting on her times with all the scale and force of Cut with the Kitchen Knife.