MT006 - Maurizio Bianchi 'Technology-X' C47 cassette

From 1981, a forgotten album from the archives of Maurizio Bianchi had been retrieved to be remastered by Edward Sol of Quasi Pop Records / Garna Studios. Inlay vortography is credited to Alvin Langdon Coburn long-deceased. 

Normal Edition

Professionally duplicated & factory sealed C47 cassette tape 
with tape inlay professionally offset printed in full-colour + silver. 
Plus : An MB 'Technology-X' badge.  

Limited Edition : 218 copies

Special Edition 

Professionally duplicated & factory sealed C47 cassette tape 
with tape inlay professionally offset printed in full-colour + silver. 
Plus : an MB 'Technology-X' badge.  
And : an abstract film negative strip by MB, each different from the other

Limited Edition : 32 copies  

David Keenan - Volcanic Tongue

Great archival exhumation of a previously unreleased album from Italian Industrial/electronics legend Maurizio Bianchi recorded in 1981. Technology X has a parallel relationship to the 1981 double cassette Technology with a similar palette but with a completely different track listing. It catches MB on the cusp of a bunch of different approaches, with conveyor belt rhythms and miasmic/organic electronics giving way to triumphal single note keyboard solos that are as epic as Fushitsusha circa Pathetique. Some of the keyboard work has the wonky appeal of the early Asmus Tietchens/Conrad Schnitzler sides but the fidelity is so rusty and destroyed, with serrated beams of electro-violence threaded between sad gothic keyboard-isms, that it feels more related to terrestrial apocalypse than cosmo-fantasy. Edition of 218 copies with MB badge, fully remastered and highly recommended. 

Jim Haynes - Aquarius Records

The entire MB back catalogue is a daunting encyclopedia of industrial noise, bleak abstraction, and internalized struggles with abjection and salvation. Bianchi has been known to recycle titles for considerably different compositions, with Symphony For A Genocide being truncated for a different work called SFAG. The same goes for Technology, as this was the name of a double cassette originally released in 1981 with several bootlegs to follow until an official 2cd set was made available through At War With False Noise in 2009. Technology X is an entirely different composition, although much of the same electronic gear was obviously used in both sets of recordings (and throughout all of the MB recordings in the early '80s for that matter). Similarly, the track titles are slightly different ("Techno-X" vs. "Techno" and "Logy-X" vs. "Logy"); at the same time, the tracks on Technology X are considerably more caustic than those tracks on the original Technology.

Bianchi has long been an obsessive composer and documentarian of his work, which emerged in birth pangs of Industrial Culture in 1980 through the first of many self-released cassettes. His neurotic drones, turgid noises, and bleak electronics recognized influences from the Kraut-electron-magicians of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream; but Bianchi was far more interested in revealing his own theories on the disintegration of the human mind, body, and soul through the encroachment of technological and informational warfare. Technology X, like the aforementioned SFAG album, is a very bleak undertaking of abstracted blorping electronics distorted and mangled through a number of effects giving the impression of a scorched battlefield rumbling with numerous panzer divisions, raked machine-gun fire, and various experimental weapons decimating whoever might be unfortunate enough not to have died in the first wave of dive-bombs and ballistic missiles. His compositions are known for their many turns and twists, moving from mind-wiping lazer shots to engine-revving accelerations of noise and into weirdly militant musical moments of atonal stabs on his synthesizer. It's altogether an exhilarating and claustrophobic recording; and one that's limited to a little over 200 copies. The cassette also comes with an MB / Technology X button! 

MT005 - Michael Northam 'Solar Night' C40 cassette

Notes by Michael Northam :

Solar Night consists of recordings gathered during one week of intense geographical movement, where sounds were developed over one midsummer’s night in Lapland with golden foil, shakuhachi, chance objects and pitch pipe followed by live performances in Cazalla, Spain and Berlin. These recordings are layered into an immersive four-part sound journey, which is at once subtle and dense in construction. The external world is woven through with elemental sounds from Lake Saskam in Northern Sweden, yet there is an inward dimension based on Northam's two decade research inspired by the French metaphysical explorer René Daumal. All that is apparent is only but a mask hiding layers of illuminated fascination pull open the ear-holes and dive in.

"Je suis le voyant de la nuit l'auditeur du silence car le silence aussi s'habille d'une peau sonore et chaque sens a sa nuit comme moi-même je suis ma nuit et suis le penseur du non-être et sa splendeur je suis le père de la mort." - René Daumal

Pro-duplicated C40 with offset-printed inlay

Limited Edition : 250 copies 

Massimo Ricci - Touching Extremes 

Northam inhabits sonic highlands where apparently ordinary actions are informed by a portion of just anything in the intersecting areas of exploitation of concrete substance, field recordings, deconsecrated ritualism and tactile entrancement. He applies an individual discernment of the “beyond” to a series of gathered materials which turn out to be, with the passage of time, the means to a connection with certain dimensions of the psyche which not everybody is ready or willing to experience, despite the evident traces of environmental life and human tampering. The alteration of the mechanisms of insight elicited by some parts of this tape – most notably, the splendid consecutiveness of “A Tunnel” and “Sonorous Skin” – is obtained through the adjustment of raw components that – although somewhat fathomable – collectively form a milieu of morphing shapes and translucent threads whose layering defines bulking masses of acoustic muscle. The spellbinding factors become essential, gradually unconcealed intensities summing to generate scorching rays of unexplained information. In these agglomerations, the single elements may be completely diverse – wooden flutes, insects, bells, crumbling ground, gurgling liquid, mysterious voices – but the glue that keeps everything together is our own reaction to the unusual combinations. A palliative against the ruinous effects of instrumental gluttony, Solar Night is an important release – on cassette – from an interesting Malaysian imprint.

Caleb Deupree - Classical-Drone

Sound toward the light

René Daumal was a mystic and writer in interwar France, a fertile time for the imagination even if it was highly unstable economically and politically for most of Europe. Born in 1908, his early years most famously included a bit of drug experimentation, specifically inhaling carbon tetrachloride, which gave him a glimpse of a higher reality. Although he later renounced external stimulants, he spent the rest of his life searching for the spirit that he glimpsed in his trances. In the late 1920s, he and a few friends created a literary group, Le Grand Jeu, parallel to the surrealists but eventually diverging over Daumal's more spiritual aspirations versus Breton and surrealism's engagement with Marxist politics. After exploring several religious traditions, Daumal found a home with Hinduism, learning Sanskrit well enough to translate some of the sacred texts into French. His spiritual work eventually led him into the circle around G. I. Gurdjieff, whose disciples were Daumal's teachers until his death from tuberculosis in 1944. In addition to many poems and essays, Daumal also published a novel in 1938 entitled A Night of Serious Drinking and left a second novel, Mount Analogue, unfinished. Published posthumously, it later became one of the sources for Alejandro Jodorowsky's allegorical film The Holy Mountain.

Sound artist Michael Northam's most recent release, Solar Night on C40 cassette from the Malaysian label Mirror Tapes, is directly and overtly inspired by Daumal. This isn't the first time Northam has cited Daumal for his music. More than ten years ago, Northam's collaboration with John Grzinich The Absurd Evidence was named after a book of Daumal's essays. The album included as an epigraph "tem gwef tem gwef dr rr rr," the unpronounceable word that Daumal heard in his mystical trances immediately preceding the recognition of eternal truths. On Solar Night the significant quotation is from one of Daumal's early prose poems, given in French on Mirror Tapes' site and recited in English in the music. The texts are set in a passage describing the reversal of the speaker's perceptive faculties, which enables him to see the true world that lies hidden behind the encircling daylight existence.

In many works Northam's primary source material is field recordings, and so with Solar Night. In addition, some of the sound sources are from Northam's live performances during the summer of 2010. I imagine Northam's performances to be similar to Jeph Jerman, who performed in Tucson last winter, and years ago with Northam, and — small, natural objects, rattling and rustling into intricate environmental textures. Remarkably, when I listen to Solar Night, I hear the spontaneous performances, rooted in active and direct communication, quite clearly amidst the various layers. In fact, I thought that there was less processing of the individual layers here than on most previous Northam works. The field recordings, such as the ferocious weather in Bathing in the Golden Wrapper, were detailed and crisp. Other layers seemed to have a more human agency behind them, so I could imagine that it was produced live, in real time. Inevitably, some layers resisted such anthropomorphic fantasies, but I listened to them all the more attentively for the ambiguities.

Solar Night is released only on cassette, with two tracks making up the episodes that comprise each side. Episode A opens with the aforementioned Bathing in the Golden Wrapper, the stormy field recordings subsiding into a watery swamp, getting its complexity from the layering. The first Daumal quotation leads into the second piece, Mask of the Sun, a gentle resonant drone, full of delicate bells and flutes, boundaries between natural and processed completelly blurred. But there's a fire crackling away in the background, more or less audible throughout the whole piece — here we are, sitting around the campfire in the woods, enveloped in Northam's unearthly performance.

Episode B opens with a walk through a Tunnel passing through environments both natural and perhaps not so much. Accompanied by birds and insects, flutes and bells, the walker's steps parallel Daumal's spiritual journey, toward the light. Insect sounds are especially prominent, dancing through the field that needs to be heard on headphones to be truly appreciated. The last piece, Sonorous Skin, sets up a watery nocturnal environment that provides the background for an intense electronic loop, the most alien sound on the tape so far. The album closes with a second Daumal reading, "i am the seer of the night an auditor of silence a silence dressed in a sonorous skin."

Although all four pieces work with shimmering, continuous textures, Northam ends them fairly abruptly, with little twists that open the pieces outwards rather than simply drifting back into nothingness. These endings give the pieces a lift, leaving the listener more suspended and aware. Like Daumal, Northam is embarked on a spiritual journey, for which Solar Night is not only a demonstration, an immersive invitation to find the light behind the natural world.

Classical-Drone Website

Jim Haynes - Aquarius Records

The peripatetic sound artist Michael Northam built these psychedelically tinged compositions for liquid drone, field recordings, and hypnotic instrumentation via his longstanding affinity for the work of Rene Daumal. A mystic who ventured in and out of the Surrealist circles in the early 20th centuries, Daumal had done much in the way of metaphysical introspection, with only a few written works published. Mount Analogue would have been his second novel, had he not died before it was finished; this allegorical travel narrative, even in its unfinished state, became the template for Jodorowsky's film The Holy Mountain. Northam in his investigations of found sounds, activated spaces, crackled minimalism, and recent studies in Indian raga has put forward an earth-bound transcendence, not far removed from Daumal's mystical visions. Out of masses of bowed metals and small flutes, Northam constructs haunting elongations of harmonic tones that flicker throughout streams of textural noises, which sound like leaves rustling through through a wind-swept house perched somewhere up in the Himalayas. Northam's work is far from static, as tones subtly shift and burblings of those textural abrasions slip between a variety of monochromatic variations. Here, Northam offers something not too far from the classic sounds of Zoviet France mingled with those of Small Cruel Party and one-time collaborator Loren Chasse. More gritty, tape machinations speak throughout Northam's work, providing a post-industrial touch to all of the floating flute loops and bell tones suspended in meditation and harkening back to one of his early masterpieces The Absurd Evidence (with John Grzinich). This is an excellent recording, and limited to 250 copies through the Malaysian label Mirror Tapes.

Elise Florenty

"Composée en 4 temps, Solar night est une sorte de plongée intérieure extra sidérale. Macrocosme et microcosme se mêlent dans un délire cosmique, où l'on ressent à la fois les vibrations d'un monde "subréel" et celles du monde bien concret - terrestre - où se trouve celui qui part sur d'autres rives ou galaxies. Et une chambre. Et un être dans cette chambre. Et son voyage. Inspiré des expériences de mort imminente de René Daumal, Solar night est une petite constellation de traversées d'un monde à un autre : tout est trouée, tunnel, passage, et même "le masque du soleil ne peut se cacher de lui". Mais aussi intenses que les départs et les parcours eux-mêmes, sont les moments de pauses, de retours ou mieux de "réveils" : des voix, des silences, ou une voix à la fin qui appelle le silence. Est-ce ma voix dans ce désert?"

MT004 - Conrad Schnitzler '10.10.84' C42 cassette

A documentation of the 10th October 1984 performance of a kassetten konzert, this particular mode of performance being the brainchild of the legendary Conrad Schnitzler mixing and layering pre-recorded synthesised sounds from separate tapes through adjustments of volume and EQ into broader amalgams of improvisation.

Pro-duplicated C42 with offset-printed inlay

Limited Edition : 250 copies

David Keenan - Wire Magazine - Jan 2011

Conrad Schnitzler, once of Tangerine Dream, Eruption and Kluster, remains one of the loneliest and most uncompromising figures on the fringes of Industrial Krautrock. 10.10.84 is a cassette release of one of his rare ‘kassetten konzerts’ where Schnitzler would mix simultaneous cassette playbacks of pre-recorded works to create an even more confusing multi-layered soundworld. For much of his career Schnitzler has dedicated himself to removing or reducing aspects of traditional performance and musicianship from his art, pioneering a form of musical ‘automating’ that predates Steve Stapleton of Nurse With Wound. But like Stapleton, Schnitzler is paradoxically unable to escape his own preferences which make his music as ‘expressive’ as any singer-songwriter. 10.10.84 is instantly recognisable as prime-Schnitzler, with a crucial umbilical to the colour-coded series of albums he released between 1973-1981. His synth work is characterised by a specifically portentous sleight of hand, subverting doomy melodies with flat or oddly placed notes played in Frankenstein rhythms and always with a hint of gothic camp. The loneliness of Schnitzler’s universe is as personal as an Ed Wood set and as awkwardly revealing. Beautifully packaged by Mirror Tapes, the cassette has the feel of the kind of lonely early-80s Industrial postcard you might once have traded through the mail. And despite Schnitzler’s antipathy towards performance, it’s a hell of a show. 

Jim Haynes - Aquarius Records

Once a member of Tangerine Dream and Kluster, Conrad Schnitzler evolved into one of the most distinctive artists within the Krautrock scene. Through such seminal albums as Ballet Statique and Con, Schnitzler developed an uncompromising aesthetic that blossomed beyond the cosmic expansiveness of his fellow psychedelic journeymen and into oblique experiments whose bleak results were the templates that inspired post-industrial expressionists such as MB, Giancarlo Toniutti, Arcane Device, and Cranioclast, not to forget about his impact on the works of Emeralds, Omit, and Oneohtrix Point Never.

10.10.84 is a document of one of Schnitzler's 'kassetten konzert', during which he played back a number of pre-recorded cassettes through upwards of six decks that he would sometimes suspend from a belt around his waste and broadcast through a megaphone wired to a metal helmet that he wore on his head. Given his studies with Joseph Beuys in the '60s, one could postulate that these performances might also warrant some theatrical gestures given the mobility of this set-up. For this konzert recorded in Berlin, Schnitzler overlays sweeping oscillations, clouds of static, and nervous electronic percolations, all of which hold a metallic sheen as if each of these sounds could sharpen knives intent on scraping out the collective inner ear canal of the audience. While the step sequencing of his more accessible works isn't all that present, scattershot firings of horror-laden synth notes burst throughout Schnitzler's signature use of heavily filtered electrical tones. 

 Frans de Waard - Vital Weekly - Jan 2011

No doubt I wrote this before, but I have great, utmost respect for Conrad Schnitzler. His music fits no genre, no scene and the man is, even at the respectable age he has now (73!), he continues to work on his own sound matter. Having said that, I must admit I didn't hear all of his work, nor do I believe that is necessary for my appreciation. But when possible, I like to hear it. I must assume that this particular release is made on the date it was named after (and my mother's birthday), which would be a typical Schnitzler thing to do. Record a brand new work in one day. In 1984 he was still heavily involved in 'non-keyboard electronics', which means that he would have all of his synthesizers connected and 'just' fiddle about with all the knobs, leaving the keys to rest. The result is some highly abstract electronic music, which owes more to Cologne/Stockhausen in the fifties then to cosmic music of the seventies. Yet Schnitzler's work is more free than Stockhausen c.s. and 

 seem to obey any formal composition techniques. This free-ness is also from an improvisational side of things and is probably the reason why Schnitzler has always been so productive. Yet this work is not an easy thing, conceived on the spot, but sounds like planned out, and then taped. A particularly great work actually.