Post Tagged gurdonark

Processes of Other Artists

Sunday, 03 March 2011

The large compilation on Vuzh Music called “The More Unknown C. Reider” has been a very revealing way for me to observe the processes of some of the composers and artists that I count among my peers and comrades in the musical underground. How does a composer approach and utilize a sound? This question is very interesting to me. Each of the artists who contributed their work to the compilation were tasked with selecting sounds that I had authored over the course of my creative life and assembling them into new shapes & forms. Since the original sounds were so familiar to me, I had a unique perspective for attempting to understand how each artist chose which sounds to use and how to use them. This kind of analysis is fascinating to me, and is part of the way I listen to music in general, aside from pure holistic enjoyment.

A few of the contributing composers have made this analysis more accessible by having written some descriptions of their processes and thoughts about their own work. I’ve read each of these with consideration, and I recommend reading them!

Steve Burnett of Subscape Annex talks about working with the entire Drone Forest album .Point, on his cleverly titled “Qutub” which appears on part 3 of the compilation. He includes a screenshot of his multitracker during his working process at his LiveJournal post.

Perennial internet pal LokiLokust of Keziah Mason talks about how he forged that swirling electronic maelstrom that appears on part 3 of the compilation by extracting sounds from the run-in & run-out grooves and physical manipulation of my vinyl release “Amy’s Arms / metacollage” in his tumblr post.

Dave Seidel of Mysterybear described his use of a tiny fragment of Noam Chomsky’s voice from my 2008 release “Linguism” at a CSound forum.

John Ingram from Intelligent Machinery suggests that he secretly and pseudonymously contributed to the comp at his blog.

Comrade & peer Robert Nunnally, a.k.a. Gurdonark provides a thoughtful and accurate analysis of my music before discussing his own music and his piece “Where” on his blog.

A few quotes from that last one:

Perhaps the unifying thread of his varying music is that rather than being “music-as-sound” in the ambient formulation, it is “sound-as-music”. The sounds are interesting, and somehow, a bit improbably, they add up to music. His pieces rarely cause one to float away on a sea of melody, nor do they paste one against the wall in the way of noise. They happen in their own little created universe, aware of but not entombed in anyone else’s universe, and they are their own thing. I listen to C. Reider music for some of the same reasons I read science fiction–it offers me a kind of escape into different ideas, all served up with a kind of unpretentious earnest grace.

From his vantage point as a listener, Robert has gleaned some of my own working processes and goals and summarized them very astutely in this paragraph.

This kind of listening can be very rewarding. Are you listening?

Best of 2010 PLUS: Gurdonark

Thursday, 01 January 2011

My post detailing my favorite netlabel releases of 2010 was quite popular, and led to a lot of people discovering some cool music, which is one of my main goals, aside from promoting my own music. It is my humble opinion that all netlabel artists ought to have the same goal: namely to promote the stuff in the netlabel underground that they think is really great at the same time as they promote their own stuff. That way ALL of us benefit, both listeners and producers. Right? Right.

With this in mind, I am going to be focusing on each artist (hopefully-this will depend on if they want to participate or not) whom I reviewed in the best of 2010 post, re-running the review I originally wrote, but I’m ALSO going to ask each of the artists reviewed to recommend a few completely FREE netlabel albums that THEY have enjoyed recently.

Previously we’ve had recommendations from:
1.) Mystified
2.) Marc Weidenbaum
3.) Christopher McFall
4.) Andreas Brandal
5.) Meteer

Gurdonark’s unassuming little record from 2010 made my best-of list, here was my appraisal:

Gurdonark – Butterflies of North Texas
Gurdonark’s unique brand of sampling-synth musical fancies takes a move into slightly darker territories than last year’s wonderful “Seven Virtues”. Don’t look for scary dark ambient or anything though! Self-described “kid music” with odd modes, interesting sounds and unexpected changes.

Robert Nunnally, a.k.a. Gurdonark has a few things to say, and a few recommendations to make, so let us make haste to LISTEN:

I’m a huge believer in Creative Commons music, and in a sharing culture in general. I find solace in netlabel and other free download music–a musical connection to my imagination and a sense of exploring new lanes on forgotten but welcoming highways. I see the netlabel movement less as a monolithic Tower of Babel, and more as thousands of rivulets of water which will grow into a redefining stream. Here are a few of the albums that inspired me.

Phillip Wilkerson – The Way Home
The releases at Earth Mantra, an ambient label, are quite regular and yet almost always quite inspiring. I’d like to single out one: Phillip Wilkerson’s “The Way Home”. Phillip works in both “dark” and “light” ambient music, often using vintage drones to explore new melodic hallways. “The Way Home” explores his lighter side–not the light of the new age, but the warmth of innovative sound in search of an innovative melodic sonic experience. I listen to this album when I want to find a little serenity. This album is not cheap grace, but costly discipline, in pursuit of an ambient pathway.

I should also give a shout-out, while I am on this topic, to Stillstream, the ambient netradio station which is affiliated with Earth Mantra
whose playlist, shows, live performances and even live chat show what incredible vistas Creative Commons music can achieve, if a dedictated group of listeners believe in it. I offer special thanks to Palancar, the ambient artist who operates both Earth Mantra and

Altus – Black Trees Among Amber Skies
The Canadian artist Altus has released a fine body of work. His 2010 release “Black Trees Among Amber Skies” is meditative without being sterotypic meditation music. When I seek to collect my wits, I find them assorted easily on the spindles of this sound. I like the way his songs subtly shift from sound to sound, creating a whole that is more than the drone of the parts.

I love ambient and chill music, but I am not the captive of those genres. I think that netlabel music is wonderful in a world of niches, and not just two. Here are a few releases in other genres:

Cagey House – B is for Breakfast
I love contemporary classical music and novelty songs. An artist who shares my love for each is Cagey House. His songs tend to run Ramones length, and always show a strong sense of fun. Yet the fun is only the handle on the mirror. The real fun-house is contained within the glassine core of his music, where he explores ideas from modernist music and free jazz like a
serious academic dressed as Pierrot at a costume party. Cagey House’s “B is for Breakfast” is BP 055 on the Bypass netlabel. The Bypass Netlabel wins a special prize for its DOS-style graphical user interface on its website. This album features manic melodies, absurdist spoken word sampling, and contemporary classical nods with a wink from a left eye, a right eye, and a third eye. Cagey House is netlabel music at its best–unconcerned with fashion, unafraid of fun. My music sounds nothing like Cagey House music, yet I consider him a huge influence.

Lucas Gonze – Ghost Solos
Netlabel music seems too young to me to inspire urban legends, but already it has its now small-town myths. One such myth is the notion that only electronica and lo-fi experimental music emanates from the Creative Commons scene. Lucas Gonze approaches music from another place altogether. Using his guitar and a vintage mandolin, he makes recordings of public domain sheet music from the 19th and early 20th Centuries. the vibe here is not “virtuoso”, but “insightful sharer”. Those who, as I do, both completely love and to some extent nonetheless reject pop music, will be delighted to find these melodies neither as safe nor filled with sentimentality as the brochures say. In the same way that John Fahey may have been the first truly ambient artist, Lucas Gonze may define truly experimental music in our era–by way of the time machine.

Adam and Alma – Back to the Sea
When we rush to the ramparts to resist pop music, let’s be sure and lose to the invasions by the
stylish songwriters who are Scandinavian at heart. The wonderful 23 seconds netlabel out of Sweden, provides unapologetic pop electronica.
Adam and Alma’s EP “Back to the Sea” mines pop and electro to create a sound that is buoyant but not drowning in pop sentimentality. The track “Smile for Me, Sun”, an upbeat, seductive flirtation with the star around which our planet orbits, may qualify as the official soundtrack to the brighter sides of 2010. Ellen Arkbro and Johan Graden, who comprise this electro duo, leave me wanting more–more vim, more vigour, and more Adam and Alma.

These are but a few of the wonderful releases that caught my eye this year–and space permits only the merest mention of German artist Entertainment for the Braindead’s
banjo madness on her EP “Roadkill” on, or Josh Woodward’s continued conquest of American pop modes on his “Ashes” release on his site I cannot let the moment go by without a mention of Mark Stolk (Mystahr’s) amazing experimental label, Just Not Normal. There are so many fun releases available. I could go on, but I’ve gone on and on.

I agree with you, C. Reider–one way we can help spread the word about Creative Commons music is to discuss the music we love. My own tastes run a wide gamut-and I am delighted that Creative Commons music fulfills so many of my hopes and daydreams for what a new music culture will be.

Thanks Robert!

Best of Netlabel Releases 2010

Sunday, 12 December 2010

It was a good year for netlabel releases, and that is for certain!
I mean it: download everything on this page. You had better.

We’ll start with a brief roundup of my releases this year and then move on to my favorite releases by other artists.

It was a bit of a sparse go-round for Vuzh Music this year, but I did put out a really great remix of a split tape from 1991 by PBK and Vidna Obmana which I hope you didn’t miss:

C. Reider – Fragment Three Re-Works

Dark Winter netlabel also put out a collaboration between me & Desohll of a longform guitar darkambient piece. Quite dark, somewhat ambient as well.

C. Reider / Desohll – Falling into Disrepair

I’m pretty sure 2011 is going to see a whole lot more activity at Vuzh Music, so watch out!

Now on to my favorite netreleases this year. All but one are free to download. They are presented here in alphabetical order, because I could not rate them, they’re all too good.

Andreas Brandal – Breaking a Mirror
Calm cinematic soundtrack-ish atmospheres and scenarios. It is constructed like a kind of collage music, but breaks into intimate little musical themes with real instruments. Quite lovely. I will need some more of this composer’s work.

Das, Jeph Jerman, John Hudak, PBK – Chain Mail Collab June 28, 1988
Old school looping industrial noise. This sound never gets old for me.

Christian Doil – Eis
A chilly collection of pinging synth tones, plucky percussives and arctic belltones working through fluctuating musical themes while accompanied by icy, ghostly drones. The crystal cathedral, indeed.

The Euphoric Hum – A Circle of Equal Altitude
Churning noisy ambience that intensifies and dissipates in dramatic ways. New sounds continually enter the mix, keeping things interesting. A sort of diffuse industrial/minimal techno throb emerges from the ambient noise.

Fosel – Problem of Universals (C. Reider Remixes)
Is it bad form to nominate this as a best of 2010 when it’s a remix of my own music? Well, for me it honestly is a great album. Ambient beat music done beautifully.

Gurdonark – Butterflies of North Texas
Gurdonark’s unique brand of sampling-synth musical fancies takes a move into slightly darker territories than last year’s wonderful “Seven Virtues”. Don’t look for scary dark ambient or anything though! Self-described “kid music” with odd modes, interesting sounds and unexpected changes.

The Implicit Order – s/t
I’ve been a full-throated advocate for the music of Anthony Washburn for years. This new effort does not disappoint. His haunting blend of looping samples alternate between creepy and jarring, and is always intriguing. “Dumb Generation” = great song title!

Miquel Parera Jaques – nx004_Automatic
Tinnitus drones moving along algorithmic flight paths. Computer music for hypnotizing organic life forms.

John Kannenberg – Oculus
The basis of this album is a set of site recordings of various video projection mechanisms in art museums. High strength of concept and execution. Those gorgeous ultra high frequencies in “Television Monitor”, jeez, how did he do that so beautifully?

Christopher McFall – A Long Time Running for the Suicide Strays
Sepia loops of tones & textures clustering and spreading apart. Unmissable.

Meteer – Unless
Blocks of odd samples move in rhythmic patterns a la Biosphere or Taylor Deupree. Somehow, even with all the ring modulation and lo-fidelity and occasional distortion, (not to mention lack of overt beats) it still feels like a lush ambient techno piece.

Mutamassik – That Which Death Cannot Destroy
Messed up hip-hop instrumental music with middle Eastern samples, the beats start off totally mutant and then they go and mutate some more. Fans of Muslimgauze will enjoy this.

Mystified – A Pale But Lasting Hope
Mystified puts out a lot of good stuff, and then he puts out some fucking great stuff. This release falls into the latter category. Rattling percussion elements and zigzagging synthetics form imaginary sonic structures. Loops that fall out of sync. Among my top favorite things I’ve ever heard from this artist. Please note that this release is on Magnatune, and so it streams freely, but you need to pay a $15 fee before you can download (but then you can also download everything else in their catalog).

Kurt Nimmo (Fosel) – Complex Silence 8
No fair, Mr. Fosel made it to the list twice this year! This guy puts out some great damned percussive ambient music. Includes a remix of Phillip Wilkerson and two remixes of C. Reider. Bonus points for the Kurt Vonnegut reference. Not sure whom to credit, because the cover says Fosel and the ID3 tags say Kurt Nimmo. Ah well.

Olifaunt – Innocent of the Smoke and Noise
Olifaunt just keeps improving and improving. I think this is the best outing yet from this composer. Extremely minimal, quiet, calming string work with elements of drone/trance and musical progression. Very pretty ambient album.

PBK – Appeal
A newly remastered digital re-release of a cassette from 1989. Early PBK tapes were pretty heavily loved by me, so it’s great to hear them again all cleaned up! Industrial quality machine noise that accumulates a calmed atmosphere better than most ambient music… pricks at your imagination.

V/A – Despite the Downturn: An Answer Album
Marc Weidenbaum’s sonic activism compilation reacting to an article by Megan McArdle in the Atlantic Monthly, in which artists used the article’s accompanying illustration as a graphic score. Nice concept, and lots of cool music on here, including one piece by yours truly.

V/A – No-R-Mal II
The only person that can out-do Mark Stolk, it appears, is Mark Motherfucking Stolk! His five hour long compilation of netlabel artists from last year was followed up by a SEVEN hour long compilation this year… seven fucking hours of cool underground music, as good an overview of the netlabel underground as you can get, period.

Compilation Appearances

Saturday, 08 August 2010

C. Reider has submitted a few tracks for some freely downloadable compilations:

Gone in 60 Seconds
— This is a collection of tracks, all of which are only one minute long. Brevity is good. I haven’t had a chance to play through all the tracks yet, but there are many good names, such as PBK, Pavonine, Big City Orchestra, ENE… I submitted a one minute long track by Drone Forest.

No-R-Mal II
— The follow up to the incredible compilation of a few years ago is longer and more incredible. This is SEVEN HOURS of underground goodness, right here. Burn this to an mp3 CDr and you’ve got enough underground goodness to last through an entire work-day. It could be argued that in the underground, there is a quantitative glut of musicians, but this compilation proves that while there is a high quantity, there is plenty of QUALITY out there too. I recommend this and its predecessor as perfect starters for the new fan of obscure music. I contributed an exclusive track called “Will Fall”. Many friends of mine, and artists that I respect populate this stellar comp.

Favorite Net Releases 2009.

Tuesday, 01 January 2010

You know how you’re like a netlabel and stuff, and you release some new recording, and you can see from your stats that only one guy listened to it? I might have been that guy!

Here were my favorite netlabel releases of 2009, all are freely downloadable, so maybe YOU can be hit number TWO on someone’s statcounter!

1. Gurdonark – Seven Virtues
At a time when it would have been much more fashionable to put out an album dedicated to the seven deadly sins featuring dark and gloomy doom sounds, this charming collection of light musical fancies celebrates what’s to be admired about the human spirit. (some of Gurdonark’s thoughts on making this album)

2. Hannah M.G. Shapero (a.k.a. Altocumulus)My Name is Marietta Cashman
Not many of us can claim to have recorded experimental music on a Buchla modular synthesizer in the late sixties when merely an adventurous teenager, but Hannah Shapero can. Culled from forgotten tape reels, unheard for 40 years, this treasure of naive noodling sounds fresh and innocent, a stark contrast to modern noodles by hipster cognoscenti. At the moment the accompanying photo of Hannah was taken in 1970, in her futuristic silver jumpsuit and glasses in front of the synth modules, she looks like she may have been the coolest nerdy girl in the universe. Modern Noodles by Hipster Cognoscenti would make a damned fine band name.

3. Mystified – Collusion (with PBK, the Implicit Order, KR-Ohm & Kwalijk) – A collection of guys I admire working with sound sources provided by another guy I admire. This is a collection of the kinds of sounds I love, loopy and squiggly and gritty and crunchy. Quietnoise of the highest order!

4. Various Artists – No-R-Mal
Oh, hullo! What’s this? FIVE FUCKING HOURS of top notch weirdness from 50 underground artists? I keep coming back to this and finding new gems all the time. Stunning.

5. Chubby Wolf – Meandering Pupa
A brief collection of smooth ambience, dancing slowly, exactly in-between light and dark. The prolific artist behind Chubby Wolf, Dani Baquet-Long, (also one half of celebrated ambient artists Celer) passed away in July, suddenly, at the age of 26. The entire underground network was saddened by the loss.

6. Pavonine – Pavonine
Dark, vaporous, mysterious, alluring? Sure, all that and more.

7. Dexp Lab – Sectors LP
A fine collision of rhythm and noise.

8. PBK – Asmus Sources (plus pretty much everything else on soundgenetic)
I have to admit, somewhat embarrassedly, that when I bought the Asmus Tietchens / PBK collaboration from Realization way back in the early nineties, it didn’t entirely gel for me. I loved both artists apart, but this album just didn’t quite get there. This year, PBK released the sound source files that he originally sent to Asmus for their collaboration, and upon hearing these imagination-pricking sounds, I decided a re-evaluation of the actual collaboration was in order, and now I find that it all makes sense. I’m not at all sure what I was thinking back in the 90s. I may simply not have been mature enough to get it! Now, I love both the collab, and these raw, stripped down sources equally. This is a rare chance to compare and contrast the working methods of two great minds in abstract music.

9. Olifaunt – Three Crows Become Four
Slow growing drone ambient with stringy textures and melancholy tones.

10. Zondagmorgen – La Fin du Monde
So apparently the end of the world is slow, blurred and extremely melancholy. The world ends with us gazing at our shoes. Alright then.

Don’t forget to also check out my blog post about all the stuff I did this decade, including my own big project for 2009, the Electret Quintet.

The White Cube Experience

Saturday, 12 December 2009

My friend Robert, a.k.a. Gurdonark has written in his blog about the experience of a teleconference with the artists and attendees of the White Cube art installation, for which he curated a collection of music from the ccMixter community (here’s the website of the music collection portion of the show). (I contributed a White Cube Drone to the mix, even though I’m not involved with ccMixter)

Here’s the money quote from his blog post:

You see one man sit back against a wall and just take in the sound—and you realize that in all your life, all you ever wanted, was for one person to listen, really listen.

Here’s a link to the rest of it:

White Cube Drone

Thursday, 12 December 2009

Embedded in this post is new track hosted by SoundCloud called “White Cube Drone” It was recorded for the White Cube project, and for it I used sound sources from my friend and peer Gurdonark, who is one half of the team curating the sound portion of an art installation at the RAM Gallery in Wisconsin. Enjoy!

White cube drone by vuzhmusic

Gurdonark and I

Sunday, 08 August 2009

I had a chance to meet the underground musician Gurdonark in person last weekend. Here’s a photo of us hanging out at night in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado!

Gurdonark, in case you’ve forgotten, was a contributor to the popular Vuzh Music ambient release by C. Reider and Friends Long Defeat Variations.

You should also check out his really great solo release “Seven Virtues“, which I reviewed on this blog in January.

Seven Virtues

Wednesday, 01 January 2009

My friend Robert, a.k.a. Gurdonark has just put out a crackerjack little mini album. He found a nice piece of crystal ware and recorded the sound of it as he struck it with a mallet, and took that sound an loaded it into a sampler, and then recorded seven simple, melancholy melodies. Listening to this was the nicest twenty minutes of my day. It will probably be a nice twenty minutes of many days to come. Well done!

“Seven Virtues” by Gurdonark.

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