Nuno Canavarro – Plux Quba: Música Para 70 Serpentes, 1988

One of the hardest and best parts about writing this blog has been running up against records that feel impossible to write about, avoiding them for months or even years, and then eventually writing about them anyway. This is exactly that kind of record, and fittingly I’ve been putting it off since day one: its influence is too far reaching to properly recount, it’s too elegant and precise to accurately describe, and I feel too gooey about it, too pierced to possibly set my feelings aside and attempt objectivity. I think that’s alright, though, because Plux Quba is too perfect not to share.

The story starts with a familiar format that, coupled with incredibly prescient music, feels like the foregrounding for a hoax. In 1991, Christoph Heemann brought a copy of Plux Quba to (from what I gather was) an informal listening session with Jim O’Rourke, Jan St. Werner, C-Schulz, Frank Dommert, and George Odjik in Köln, Germany. It was music without context, laboriously made with just an Ensoniq Mirage, a Fostex 8-track tape recorder, and an early 8-bit sampler loaded with pre-recorded, highly modified samples of things like television, radio voices, and a melodica. The story goes that everyone present was floored by it; O’Rourke so much so that when he launched Moikai, his label dedicated to minimal and electronic music, Plux Quba was his first (re)release, remixed and remastered by Portuguese guitarist and composer Rafael Toral. Since then it’s been reissued a few times, most recently by Japanese label Inpartmaint Inc, and while it has had incredible bearing on two decades of experimental electronic music, it seems that Plux Quba hasn’t yet received the widespread acclaim it’s due.

Several reviewers have said that Plux Quba takes inspiration from Robert Ashley’s Automatic Writing. I don’t know if that’s directly true, but I like to think of this record as hermetic, like the music of Charanjit Singh or Woo, bearing the kind of brilliance that often does write its own spontaneous language. It’s much too deliberate to be called an accident–Canavarro was already a well-seasoned musician by this time. And yet despite being recorded at home on very dated, simple equipment, it seems to exist outside of time. Having witnessed the subsequent deluge of glitch music and its offspring, this still sounds truly alien and exploratory, a kind of sonic alchemy. It’s more abstract than what I typically post, so if you typically gravitate towards things that are lyrical or poppy, I would absolutely encourage you to start here, preferably in headphones–though, for what it’s worth, Canavarro himself instructs on the back sleeve that this record must be heard “1. through speakers that are as far apart from one another as possible, and 2. starting from A-5, at a low volume (‘Wask’ and side 2).”

It explores similarly incandescent territory as Canavarro’s remarkable split with Carlos Maria Trindade, often employing the same textural palette and manipulations of vocal samples–slicing them up, stacking them precariously, drawing them out into ghost whispers, and running them backwards. But with a longer playtime and no collaborators, Canavarro is able to fully world-build, perhaps to even create something that feels more circular and complete. Comprised of 15 vignettes, mostly between one and two minutes long, not all of this record is unabashedly beautiful. Parts are deliberately jagged (“Alsee”), faltering (“Untitled 1”), or shrill (“O Fundo Escuro De Alsee”), but it’s precisely their inclusion that allow the record to reach sublime, sparkling heights. The stumbling, out-of-tune baroque of “Crimine” comes to mind–even here, after two and a half minutes of uncertainty, the song abruptly shifts to a perfect, crystalline music box lullaby. The record most perfectly exemplifies its own restrained breed of heartbreaking on the final track, Untitled 8. Slowly building, gently pulsing synthetic marimba, a veil of processed, indistinct whispers, a faraway oboe, and a ship’s bell that, when fully faded out, leave you perfectly positioned to restart the record.

If you’re interested in learning more about the recording process, in my Googling I found out that Fond/Sound has lovingly translated a rare interview that Canavarro gave to Fernando Magalhães into English. You can read it here.

buy / download

[Mix for NTS Radio] Getting Warmer Episode 17

Here’s my latest mix for NTS Radio. End-of-summer balearic, Latin textures, 60’s-inspired lounge, a bit of funk, and Bill Nelson doing his best proto-Enya impression. If you like it, you can download an mp3 version here.

Also, I know it’s been quiet around here–I’m knee-deep in a few projects right now but am looking forward to sharing more music soon!

1. Junko Ohashi – テレフォン·ナンバー
2. Ichiko Hashimoto – Le Beau Paysage
3. Quarteto Em Cy – Vida Ruim
4. Il Guardiano del Faro – Lei
5. Yoon Sin Nae – 이 밤을 즐겁게
6. Yukihiro Takahashi & Steve Jansen – Betsu-Ni
7. Sonia Rosa – Te Quero Tanto (I Love You, So)
8. The Slipstream Group – Bygones
9. Zabadak – Butterfly
10. Lena D’Água – Jardim Zoológico
11. Lydia Lunch – Spooky
12. Steely Dan – Do It Again
13. Maryn E. Coote – One Who Cares (Original 82-14)
14. Bill Nelson – Realm Of Dusk
15. Nuno Canavarro – Wask
16. Claire Hamill – Autumn: Leaf Fall

[Mix for Blowing Up The Workshop] #73

Honored to contribute a mix to Blowing Up The Workshop, which is a very useful archive of mixtapes including many from my own musical and curatorial heroes. I was thinking about escapism, cinematic déjà vu, anime soundtracks, hyper-optimistic fantasy about the experience of tourism, courtyards, commercials, and ruins as I put this together. If you like it, you can download it here. Thanks for listening!

1. Jun Miyake – Good Morning Yamanashi
2. Giovanni Venosta – Woman In Late
3. Lena D’Água – Tao
4. Nuno Canavarro – Untitled 8
5. Forrest Fang – The Luminous Crowd
6. Einojuhani Rautavaara – Cantus Arcticus I: Melancholy
7. Kurban – Masto A Iran
8. Maria Marquez & Frank Harris – Canto Del Pilon
9. Iury Lech – Barreras
10. Marcel Pérès & Ensemble Organum – Offertoire “Diffusa Est Gratia In Labiis Tuis” (comp. Machaut)
11. Masami Tsuchiya – Never Mind
12. Pale Cocoon – Sora
13. Connie Francis – Siboney
14. Kenji Kawai – Nightstalker
15. Jansen / Barbieri – Breaking The Silence
16. Hiroko Yakushimaru – Tomeina Churippu

[Mix for NTS Radio] Getting Warmer Episode 6

Listen to my sixth episode of Getting Warmer for NTS Radio below. I thought a lot about musical migration as I was making this: cross-pollination as a result of colonialism; exotic fantasy, escapism, and essentialism; and Brazil, both as a place of origin and as a source of inspiration. If you like it, you can download an mp3 version of it here. Enjoy!

1. Carpenters – Invocation
2. Fé De Sábio – Crepúsculo
3. Isabelle Antena – Otra Bebera
4. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Shadows On The Ground
5. The Beach Boys – Til I Die (Alternate Mix)
6. Caetano Veloso – Gua
7. Mudd – Summer In The Wood
8. Orchestre Raymond Droz Avec Pierre Cavalli Et Son Orchestre – Passarinhos
9. Light House – 南太平洋
10. The Coconuts – If I Only Had A Brain
11. Googoosh – Sahel Va Darya
12. Brenda Ray – Another Dream
13. Miharu Koshi – 逃亡者
14. Nightingales Recorded by Jean C. Roché – In A Waste Ground Beside A Stream In Provence, June
15. Mariko Fuji – 雪
16. Aaliyah – At Your Best
17. Mike Oldfield – Into Wonderland

[Mix for NTS Radio] Listen To This!

We made a two hour mix for NTS Radio. Tracklisting below. If you like it, download it here. Enjoy!
0:00 Richard Burmer – Physics
3:31 Masami Tsuchiya – Nevermind (Excerpt)
6:28 Carlos Maria Trindade – The Truth
9:09 Joe Hisaishi – The Winter Requiem
13:49 Bill Nelson – Pansophia
14:41 Anna Homler & Steve Moshier – Celestial Ash (Excerpt)
20:09 Toshifumi Hinata – Chaconne
24:45 George Wallace – Electric Night
31:23 Danyel Gérard – La Vieux de la Montagne
35:41 Steve Tibbetts – 100 Moons
40:50 Hector Zazou & Dead Can Dance – Youth (Excerpt)
42:26 Codek – Tim Toum
46:22 Şenay – Doy-Doy-Doymadım
51:57 Joan Bibiloni – Sa Fosca
58:45 Jaco Pastorius – Okonkole Y Trompa
1:03:00 Blue Gas – Shadows From Nowhere
1:06:58 Rasta Instantané – Kylyn
1:11:56 Boban Petrović – Zajedno Srećni
1:16:52 Saâda Bonaire – More Women
1:21:51 Christy Essien Igbokwe – You Can’t Change A Man
1:25:34 Hiroshi Sato – Awakening
1:29:06 Love, Peace & Trance – Hush – A Mandala Ni Pali
1:33:15 Asha Bhosle & Ghulam Ali – Roodad-E-Mohabbat Kya Kahiye Kuchh Yaad Rahi Kuchh Bhool Gaye
1:38:52 New Musik – Areas
1:43:00 CFCF – Vermont
1:47:45 Hiroshi Yoshimura – Time After Time
1:56:27 Gervay Briot – Science

Carlos Maria Trindade / Nuno Canavarro – Mr. Wollogallu, 1991

Not really sure how to write about this one. Mr. Wollogallu is pretty slippery and there’s very little information available about it online. It’s split into two sections, with side A made up of songs written by Carlos Maria Trindade and side B of songs written by Nuno Canavarro, both Portuguese musicians, and both of whom contribute instrumentals through both sides. Songs range from the churning, Sakamoto-esque opener “The Truth” (which includes a sample from Network) to fourth-world, densely percussive “Blu Terra” with silvery sparse mood pieces in between, punctuated by spoken word samples. Somebody should make a movie just to have this as the score. Singular, transportive–this feels magical, in the truest sense of the word. Definitely an on-repeat record.