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EE003 - Failed Celestial Creatures by David Grubbs & Taku Unami

Empty Editions is pleased to present Failed Celestial Creatures, the unanticipated debut collaboration between composer and writer David Grubbs and musician and sound engineer Taku Unami. Recorded at the Kyoto underground performance space Soto, the album takes inspiration from a reading list which Grubbs refers to as something like an “assignment” exchanged in emails between the two artists before the recording sessions.

The 12" vinyl (180g) includes a liner notes edited by David Grubbs
Release : May 11th, 2018

About

Empty Editions is a Berlin-based publishing platform initiated by Hong Kong's Empty Gallery releasing vinyl records, artist books, multiples, and other ephemera with a special focus on the fertile intersection between the visual and sonic arts. We present speculative documents that posit options for synthesis between the sounds of today and the historical avant-garde.
Forthcoming releases include the second full-length album by London-based duo XT (Seymour Wright and Paul Abbott), and an archival release of Catherine Christer Hennix’s Early Keyboard Works in collaboration with Blank Forms.

Releases

EE001
[2016]
Eli Keszler

Last Signs of Speed

Release: 2nd December 2016
2 x LP 12” ( 180g)
Insert on Japanese Washi Paper with a text by David Grubbs

Tracklist

A1
sudden laughter
A2
corresponding probably to quanta
A3
streaming down. streaming down.
B1
the immense endless belt of faces
B2
no iodine, no breeze
C1
breaches breaches
C2
the next day, in the afternoon
C3
is strategist
D1
is stage director
D2
holes, parts missing
D3
willing to be open
D4
fusillade of colors

About this release

Empty Editions is proud to present Eli Keszler’s Last Signs of Speed as our inaugural release. This release, our first vinyl record, has represented a labor of love for both Eli and ourselves.

Last Signs is Eli’s first solo release since 2012’s Catching Net (PAN Records) and explores a very different side of his unique acoustic universe. One in which the macrocosmic percussive collisions of his earlier work give way to a gradual unfolding of dub-influenced rhythmic constellations. Eli has described Last Signs as his response to playing in club environments over the last few years; an attempt to negotiate a delicate balance between the materiality of his acoustic instrument and the hyper-mediated sonic ecosystem of the club sound system. Coming off like an inspired synthesis between Scientist and Xenakis, Last Signs of Speed is a truly unique work by an artist at the height of his powers.

About Eli Keszler

Eli Keszler is a New York-based artist, composer and percussionist. His compositions and visual works examine the limits of instrumentation, notation, and space in its institutional, musical and public form.

Eli has released solo records on ESP-Disk and PAN and toured extensively throughout Europe and the US, performing solo and in collaboration with artists such as Tony Conrad, Oren Ambarchi, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Aki Onda, and Rashad Becker. His upcoming projects include a duo recording with Rashad Becker at The Empty Gallery and a collaborative project with Laurel Halo.

Keszler's sound installations, music and visual work have appeared at Lincoln Center, MIT List Center, Victoria & Albert Museum, Sculpture Center, The Kitchen, South London Gallery, Carpenter Center for The Visual Arts (Harvard), Luma-Foundation, Tectonics Festival (Harpa Hall) Reykjavik, Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Boston Center for the Arts, Barbican-St. Lukes and 3S Arts and Greater New York at MoMA PS1.

Eli Keszler plays drums, percussion, fender rhodes, piano, mellotron, celeste, vibraceleste, glockenspiel, rocks, gravel
String Orchestra of Brooklyn (a4, d1)
Leila Bordreuil - cello (c2)
Geoff Mullen - glass, metal, wood fragments (d3, d4)
Recorded at Bunker Studio, Seaside Lounge, and Ohio, NY, 2014-2016
Engineered by Nolan Thies and Mitch Rakin
Mastered by Rashad Becker
Cover Illustration by Eli Keszler
Liner Notes by David Grubbs
Sleeve Design by Trilingua (HK) in collaboration with Die Lettertypen (DE)
Production by Handle With Care (DE)

EE002
[2018]
Jean-Luc Guionnet & Daichi Yoshikawa

Intervivos

1 x 12" vinyl ( 180g)
incl. a 12 page booklet edited by Seymour Wright

Release: February 9th, 2018

Tracklist

About this release

Empty Editions is pleased to present Jean–Luc Guionnet and Daichi Yoshikawa’s collaborative debut, Intervivos, to be released February 9th, 2018 . Recorded during a week-long residency at Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery, Intervivos (Latin for “between the living”), refers to the vital and unexpected acoustic synergy that developed between Guionnet’s extended alto saxophone techniques and Yoshikawa’s feedback systems during these sessions.

Although Guionnet and Yoshikawa both come from prolific backgrounds in free jazz and electroacoustic improvisation -- Guionnet plays in The Ames Room with Will Guthrie and Clayton Thomas and Yoshikawa studied with AMM’s Eddie Prevost -- Intervivos sees them developing an approach to improvising which seeks to escape the increasingly narrow stylistic confines of these musical provinces. The album is characterized by a brutal foregrounding of process and material lacking from the experimental music of so many of their contemporaries. Rather than seeking refinement or resolution through existing structures, Guionnet and Yoshikawa prioritize a sort of collaborative musical searching in which the aural entanglement, layering and folding of their scorched intonations creates an emergent musical form -- a non-linear music which sounds both ancient and futuristic.

Corruscating alto saxophone riffs appear suddenly, before disintegrating amidst slabs of feedback and flurries of metallic percussion. Other times, Yoshikawa and Guionnet conjure shifting clouds of sustained tones from the timbral meshing of their instruments - yielding a sound somewhere between the dense textures of Iancu Dumitrescu and the floating harmonics of Gagaku. Far from improvisation as we know it, this album instead gestures towards a speculative “electronic” music created through the ritualistic misuse of acoustic instruments. Intervivos is a fierce, undecorated triumph in the ruinous expression of instruments -- exalted in both its turbulence, and in its extreme testing of improvisational reality. Put summarily by Seymour Wright in the album’s liner notes: “You don’t need me to tell you how it sounds, or how to listen [...] this record begins when you play it.”

The release is mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M, featuring artwork by Jean-Luc Guionnet and 12- page liner notes by saxophonist Seymour Wright. The LP is produced in an edition of 500 on 180 gram vinyl in a letterpress on Foldkraft paper sleeve.

Jean-Luc Guionnet is a Parisian artist whose practice encompasses composition, improvisation, filmmaking, and philosophy. He has toured extensively as a solo saxophonist, and has spent the past 15 years performing on on historic church organs around the world. For him, music is one of many methods by which to test reality. Having studied musique concrète under Iannis Xenakis, his acousmatic sensitivities reveal themselves through the reverence that guides these interrogations. Approaching his instruments as imperfect vehicles of artificial intelligence, his attentive engagement applies speculative pressure to the expressive limits of their material properties. In his hands, design flaws and repressed qualities transform into catalysts for novel sonic emanations, and the simplest of processes are mobilized to extract infinitesimal acoustic detail. Although a formidable solo performer, Guionnet is no stranger to collaboration. In addition to his ongoing relationship to the seminal French improvisation group Hubbub, he has worked extensively with artists such as Taku Unami, Eric La Casa, Toshimaru Nakamura, Will Guthrie, and Mattin.

Daichi Yoshikawa is a Japanese sound artist based in London and Berlin.
A former student of AMM co-founder Eddie Prevost and sound artist David Toop, Yoshikawa's distinct sound comes from feedback systems generated between homemade assemblages of speakers, contact microphones, and various found objects. Developing his ability as an improviser through years of attendance at Prevost’s weekly workshops, Yoshikawa is singularly unique in his facility to wield electronic feedback as an instrument capable of both dialogic potential and genuine musicality in a group setting. Combining the collaborative sensitivity of a player like Toshimaru Nakamura with a techno and noise-derived penchant for enamel-peeling feedback tones and lurching metallic rhythms, Yoshikawa’s electroacoustic practice creates brutalist landscapes of sound from the space between noise and silence. Yoshikawa is also part of the ensemble lll人, a London-based group with Seymour Wright and Paul Abbott, and has collaborated with Joel Grip, Antonin Gerbal, Samo Kutin, Lee Patterson and Rie Nakajima.

RIYL : Rashad Becker, AMM, David Tudor, Seymour Wright, Incapacitants, Crys Cole.
Cover art by Jean-Luc Guionnet
Production by Handle With Care
Designed by Typical

EE003
[2018]
David Grubbs and Taku Unami

Failed Celestial Creatures

1 x 12" with a liner notes edited by David Grubbs.
The LP is produced in an edition of 500 on 180 gram vinyl.
Release: May 11th, 2018

Tracklist

About this release

Before becoming disciple to the Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang in the novel Journey to the West, Shā Wùjìng was cast out of heaven, exiled to earth, and transformed into the river monster Wujing, one of the thirteen thousand monsters in the River of Flowing Sand, plagued by philosophical questions and doubts: “I am a fool.” “Why am I like this?” “I am a failed celestial being.”

Empty Editions is pleased to present Failed Celestial Creatures, an unexpected collaboration between composer-guitarist David Grubbs (Gastr Del Sol, The Red Krayola) and Tokyo-based musician Taku Unami. Primarily recorded in Kyoto, the album takes inspiration from the duo’s shared musical and literary influences, emerging just as much from their improvisatory explorations as from an eclectic reading list exchanged prior to the recording sessions. The album’s narrative inclinations are rooted in both artists’ previous experiments with the complex reciprocity between sound and text, including Grubbs' work with the poet Susan Howe and Unami’s collaborations with writers such as Eugene Thacker and Evan Calder Williams. Failed Celestial Creatures draws in particular upon a group of short stories by the short-lived Japanese author Atsushi Nakajima (1909-42) - perhaps best known for inflecting Classical Chinese folktales with a modernist vein of absurdist and existential foreboding - as the imaginary backdrop for its set of guitar-based instrumental explorations.

In Nakajima’s “The Moon Over The Mountain,” a mad-poet metamorphosed into a hybrid-tiger recites poetry with an obscure defect, while “The Rebirth of Wujing” sees the titular river monster self-identifying as a “failed celestial being” [堕天使]. The cryptic collapse read in both of these episodes resonates with Unami’s research into the etymology of the chinese character “堕,” meaning “to fail” in modern usage, but historically understood as referencing “sacred meat from the altar fallen on the ground.” Such a primordial scene evokes the violation of the sacred as a tacit aspect of ritual.. This failure of ritual, always a condition (and perhaps even a technique) for musicians of Grubbs’ and Unami’s ilk, can be broadly understood as the primary point of departure for Failed Celestial Creatures. Situated within this affective terrain, the album’s title-track consists of a side-long progression of dirge-like riffs enveloped by clouds of vaporous electronics - eventually erupting into unruly squalls of feedback as Unami joins Grubbs on electric guitar. The B-side features a cluster of luminous guitar duets which are beguiling in their seeming effortlessness and simplicity. Threadbare and fallen, Grubbs and Unami invoke the failed ritual, the spilling at the altar, always suggested at the precipice of sonic emergence.

The release was recorded by Taku Unami at Soto, Kyoto, August 7th and 9th, 2017 and mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M. All music by David Grubbs and Taku Unami, published by Gastr Virgo Music (BMI). The LP is produced in an edition of 500 on 180 gram vinyl.

David Grubbs is Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. At Brooklyn College he also teaches in the MFA programs in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) and Creative Writing. Grubbs has released fourteen solo albums and appeared on more than 190 releases, the most recent of which is Creep Mission (Blue Chopsticks, 2017). He is the author of Now that the audience is assembled and Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (both Duke University Press). Grubbs was a member of the groups Gastr del Sol, Bastro, and Squirrel Bait, and has performed with the Red Krayola, Will Oldham, Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, and Loren Connors, and many others. His ongoing collaborations include projects with visual artists Anthony McCall and Angela Bulloch as well as with poet Susan Howe. Grubbs is a grant recipient in music/sound from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and director of the Blue Chopsticks record label.

Taku Unami is a performer of multi-instrumental, improvised, and unclassifiable (non-)music. Influenced by cosmic-pessimism, science-fiction, supernatural-horror, and weird-fiction, his work involves the myriad playing of string instruments, piano, synthesizers, recording hardware and software, and “obfuscated everyday, non-musical objects.” He was bandleader and guitarist of depressive easy-listening group HOSE (discontinued), is a member of HONTATEDORI (with Moé Kamura and Tetuzi Akiyama), and has active collaborations with Klaus Filip, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Kazushige Kinoshita, Eric La Casa, Radu Malfatti, Norimizu Ameya, amongst others. Unami has composed for film, including 'Lost My Way' (directed by Takeshi Furusawa) and 'In 1,000,000 years' (directed by Isao Okishima). He has performed in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States and has released more than 30 records, both solo and in numerous groups and collaborations, for labels such as Erstwhile Records, Enban, map, and others. Recent publications include Species Pluralis with Jarrod Fowler (No Schools Recordings 2016), The Whistler with Graham Lambkin (Erstwhile Records 2017), zymology with Sam Sfirri (Hibari Music 2017), cloud of unknowing (Tenseless Music 2018). Unami also runs the influential experimental music record label and distributor Hibari Music.

The release was recorded by Taku Unami at Soto, Kyoto, August 7th and 9th, 2017 and mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M. All music by David Grubbs and Taku Unami, published by Gastr Virgo Music (BMI). The LP is produced in an edition of 500 on 180 gram vinyl.
Designed by Takamitsu Ohta, Kyoto
Production by Handle With Care, Berlin
Printed by Die Lettertypen, Berlin

Contact

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10117 Berlin

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Press Contact: Nick Scavo
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