°^SISSI und die Chinesische Wäscherei präsentieren: Thor & Friends (US)/ Black to Comm (Hamburg)/Simon Goff (Berlin)°^
Thor & Friends
Polymath percussionist Thor Harris inaugurated “Thor & Friends” in the autumn of 2015 after five years of touring as the percussionist of iconic avant-rock ensemble Swans. The project is intended as a vehicle for experimentation with the conceptual vocabulary of American Minimalism collaborating with a rotating cast of Austin-based musicians.
A crafter of musical instruments and stylistic polyglot Harris is returning home with Thor & Friends and the resultant music is an elongated greeting and ode to his community, woodworking shop and the instruments his hands shape and bring to life.
The ensemble has three core members, Thor, Peggy Ghorbani and Sarah “Goat” Gautier — with its line-up expanding and contracting with the flux of compositional and improvisational contexts. The range of tonal color depends on what instrumentalists are present or absent from the process at any given time. They can perform purely acoustic or shaded with hues of electronic instrumentation, as a stripped-down trio or a large ensemble.
Thor & Friends draws on classic Minimalist composers, including Terry Riley and Steve Reich, but also amalgamate such diverse influences as Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Moondog and The Necks around a polyrhythmic core of mallet-struck instruments, primarily marimba, xylophone and vibraphone. Circling these core motifs are shifting streams of everything from processed pedal steel and analog synthesizer to violin, viola, stand-up bass, clarinet, duduk and oboe.
The group also builds upon similarities and contrasts with Harris’ past projects and continuing collaborations; these include Swans, Ben Frost, Bill Callahan, Hospital Ships, Shearwater and John Congelton. They embody utopian optimism by rooting their art and operation in both improvisation and the involvement of neighbors and friends in their process, making use of what and who is around at any given moment to make music with.
Black To Comm
is the solo project of German sound artist Marc Richter. Through his output both as an artist and through his eclectic Dekorder label, Richter has established himself as a singular voice of new music. Operating at the fringes of drone and ambient genres, his music is darkly magical and deeply atmospheric, underpinned by a signature surrealism. A relentless sonic explorer, Richter approaches the studio as his instrument, using sampling, analogue production and digital manipulation to offer an almost infinite choice of tones and textures. Audio fragments are liberated from their original context and sculpted into surprising new shapes, creating work that transcends time or genre. Seven Horses For Seven Kings sees Richter reaching out again into the limitless field of sound, summoning forth his darkest and most visceral work to date.
Seven Horses For Seven Kings was completed during a particularly prolific period for Richter. Working on a broad range of commissions since his last album - from writing for film and theatre works to composing for art installations, apps and sleep music - generated a flurry of new ideas and influences. Site-specific residencies in particular let Richter shift his focus from melody and song architecture to more abstract sound art. Extensive touring would equally come to inform a key shift in Richter’s music, simulating the raw, unpredictable energy of live performances on record. Rather than ironing out mistakes in samples or his own playing, he exploits or even forces such imperfections. While rhythm has been largely absent from previous Black To Comm releases, here the music seems totally bound to it, from the fractured techno breaks of ”Fly on You”, to the pounding war drums of “Rameses II” and pulsing Mellotron sounds of “Angel Investor”. The album’s breath-taking pace drives Richter’s music to new levels of intensity.
Richter’s creative practice is informed as much by careful, attentive listening as it is studio experimentation. Pieces often begin life as a single sound that catches his ear, be it a record from his extensive collection, or something in the natural environment. Samples and instrumentation are sometimes presented authentically, a deliberate reference to an era, place or player, and at other times are twisted beyond recognition. Samples from contemporary artists like Nils Frahm are bent and compounded with fragments of early recorded music and medieval song. Richter blurs the lines between organic instrumentation and digital production to the extent that the two become inseparable. Being able to separate sound from context gives Richter complete command of the emotional impact of his music, imbuing pieces with meaning or stripping it back as he sees fit.
While Richter questions whether instrumental music needs to have deeper meaning beyond its sonic qualities, he accepts that the wider world inevitably bleeds into his art. Reflecting the violence and unreality of modern life, Seven Horses For Seven Kings is unashamedly dark, undeniably angry. But rather than be consumed by such emotions, Richter employs them as ecstatic release. Through his mastery of sound, he achieves transcendence through noise, beauty through intensity.
SISSI und die Chinesische Wäscherei: - Bitte geht nicht nach Berlin!