A dossier of illuminations and orientations relating to the work of Daniel O'Sullivan.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Liminal hymn

Kind words from the Liminal.

Previous Æthenor albums have featured symbols on the front, pyramids and crosses and that sort of thing, which could quite reasonably lead you to infer an interest in the occult. When combined with the fact that the group includes members of Sunn O))) and Ulver, you’d be forgiven for divining some black metal tendencies; however, as their last release Faking Gold And Murder also featured David Tibet, you might equally expect the mystical folk influence that he brings to Current 93. But musically, you’d be hard placed to put the records in this context. It’s perhaps for the best then that Æthenor’s new album for VHF Records, En Form for Blå, dispenses with much of the symbolic baggage I’ve mentioned. The album’s graphic design is markedly different, with a woman’s face picked out of from a stark blue background: as well as being the name of the famous Oslo venue where the album was recorded (and recorded very crisply, it has to be said), Blå translates from the Norwegian as “blue”. If it weren’t for the font, you could mistake it for a Kim Hiorthøy work. And that name, along with that venue, perhaps give better clues to what this sounds like.

En Form for Blå is another superb genre-defying suite of experimentalism from four free-thinking musicians: Stephen O’Malley, Daniel O’Sullivan, Kristoffer Rygg, and Steve Noble. Both in terms of instrumentation and approach, it recalls those more regular Blå residents and Hiorthøy acquaintances Supersilent. Like them, Æthenor utilise Fender Rhodes, improvised drumming, and deep bass drones, with live processing keeping the sound mix varied and unpredictable, the individual instruments surfacing briefly before being dragged back down into the dense sonic stew. The playing is restrained and responsive, maintaining a palpable sense of tension throughout; much like last year when I saw Stephen O’Malley and Steve Noble playing together at Cafe Oto, when Noble strained at the tether of the guitarist’s intense textural focus.

And if you do want a drummer to focus on texture as opposed to rhythm, the esteemed UK improviser Noble is indeed your man – as you’d expect from someone who’s played with the likes of Derek Bailey, his repertoire extends far, far beyond just shaping the beat, enabling him to engage in more meaningful dialogue in such a setting. The first track ‘Jocasta’ begins with electrical whine, and he meets it with long, ringing cymbal tones, before staccato bursts of static necessitates some dampened metallic sounds, like he’s engaging it in swordplay. His waves of cymbals add sparkling, shimmering overtones to the twinkling Rhodes melodies of ‘One Number Of Destiny In Ninety Nine’ (as you can see, Æthenor have also dispensed with their enigmatic refusal to give tracks titles).

Like at the aforementioned Oto gig, Malley is playing against type for much of this set, though he doesn’t so much sit in the shadows, as actually create the shadows. His deep bass rumble and amp hum on “Vyomgami Plume” are malevolently portentous, like the tremors which prefigure major seismic activity. When those earthquakes finally arrive they appear with shattering force, and just at the point when you begin to think the danger has passed. The ambient, electric-era Miles exploration that is “Laudanum Tusk” is cleaved in two by a section of hideous distortion, as if hit by the twisted metal force of a speeding train that has been shaken from the tracks, collecting all four band members as it goes. Aftershocks become increasingly infrequent, and “Something To Sleep Is Still” sees the landscape slowly re-emerging through dust-clouds. It becomes increasingly clear that while Æthenor may appear to have changed, they have in fact lost none of their magic.

Scott McMillan

Æ in the outside

Wire Review February 2011
Uncut Review February 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Laid To Rest

I am currently composing music for the next visual colossus by Serena Korda. It's sounding a bit like the Omen.

The band will be as follows:

Daniel O'Sullivan: Piano & Voice
Alex Ward: Clarinet
Chloe Herington: Bassoon
Matthew Parry: Trombone
Steve Noble: Percussion
Katharine Blake: Voice
Bev Lee Harling: Voice
Esther Dee: Voice
Sarah Kayte Foster: Voice
Melpomeni Kermanidou: Voice

Korda's work is inspired by the commercialisation of waste in Victorian London, in particular the vast dust heaps which dominated the skylines at the top of Gray’s Inn Road.  Immortalised by Charles Dickens in 'Our Mutual Friend', the dust heaps supported a wide range of industries including the making of bricks.  Mud from the brick fields of Somers Town was mixed with the ash, cinders and rubbish from the dust heaps, recycling the discarded detritus and dirt of London into the material from which the expanding city was built.

The piece has been commissioned by the Wellcome Collection and is entitled "Laid To Rest". Serena has been collecting dust from various sources (from the organ at the Royal Albert Hall to Neapolitan catacombs). The dust is then poured into a clay mixture and fired into bricks, each brick is independently letter-pressed with a number and place of origin. The bricks will be the centre of a live ritual involving musick (courtesy of yours truly) and dance. There will be two performances at the Wellcome Collection (dates to be published soon) and a funeral procession through London concluding in the burial of these 500 bricks in Regents Park.

Serena's blog is here.

A miscellaneous list of contents:

Cow fur cuttings
Cheddar from Iceland
Moon dust
Two Ladybirds
Bobby hair grip
Almost like soot
Old leather
Matchstick used ends that smell nice
Red carpet fibers
Fly carcass
Persian wool, (from Shiraz)
Saw dust made by children cutting wood to make moving toys
Lace wings
Orangutan hair
Anaconda skeleton
Flakes of bone
Bent rusty nail
Daddy long legs and cobwebs
Biscotti crumbs
Cinema ticket
Coffee grinds
Decaying titles to slides
Rose petals from Cinderella
Cake crumbs
Human remains from the Fontanelle Cemetery
Whippet hair
Pickled skin
Nostril trimmings
Jigsaw pieces
Finger nails
Gold Dust
Tailors chalk
Dust Bunny
Pigeon faeces
4500 upholstered chairs
Fake nails
Bits of ribbon
Iron filings
Woofle dust

Monday, January 24, 2011

DOS vs Steve Davis

I've been invited to play records on Steve Davis' 'Interesting Alternative Show' on Phoenix FM tonight. I'll be playing a mixture of music I've been working on and music I've been listening to. You can stream it here. From 10 to midnight.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Miracle moves

"Fluid Window", the first record by myself and Steve Moore will be out on House Anxiety Records on February 28th. You'll be able to pick it up here.

Miracle - The Visitor by steve moore

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Adeptus vs Miracle

Adeptus remixes The Visitor by Miracle.

He makes videos for his remixes... Deeply disturbing. Don't know how he got James Spader involved.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ulver: Critical Geography Tour Part I

22.03.11 Koko, London (UK) w/Virus
26.03.11 Trabendo, Paris (France)
27.03.11 Incorso, Rotterdam (Netherlands)
28.03.11 Uebel & Gefaehrlich, Hamburg (Germany)
29.03.11 Matrix, Bochum-Langendreer (Germany)
30.03.11 Substage, Karlsruhe (Germany)
31.03.11 Z7, Basel (Switzerland)
01.04.11 Backstage Hall, Munich (Germany)
02.04.11 Madonna dell'Albero, Ravenna (Italy)
03.04.11 Szene, Vienna (Austria)
05.04.11 Eskulap, Poznan (Poland)
06.04.11 K17, Berlin (Germany)
07.04.11 Majestic, Bratislava (Slovakia)
08.04.11 Beatpol, Dresden (Germany)
09.04.11 Biebob, Antwerp (Belgium)
10.04.11 Colosaal, Asschaffenburg (Germany)
21.04.11 Nosturi, Helsinki (Finland)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In Orgone

Photos taken in Orgone Studios, London to accompany a feature in Ritual (some Italian music rag).

Credits here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dave Cooley on Mastering

Did a fine job of the Miracle record. Coming out in Febraury.

Æ review in AQ

Latest record from this ever shifting sonic collective, still comprised of the core duo of Stephen O'Malley (SUNNO))), KTL, etc.) and Daniel O'Sullivan (Guapo, Mothlite), although this time the group is rounded out by Kristoffer Rygg, aka Garm from Ulver, plus percussionist Steve Noble.

En Form For Bla is the result of several performances in Norway earlier this year, and finds the group shedding much of their previous heaviness in favor of a sound much more haunting and abstract, spaced out and introspective, the guitars less murky and muddy and massive, and more spidery and ethereal and minimal, laying out deep low end thrum and keening upper register shimmer. Rygg operates like a dub producer, electronically treating the sounds, while adding some of his own, the result is a constantly shifting landscape of drift and doom and pulsing heaviness and whirling almost free jazz sounding sonic exploration.

The big surprise here is Noble, who is all over the record, without overplaying, letting the record remain unstructured and abstract, while still moving it beyond mere static ambient improv, whether it's scattered bits of subtle skitter, thick clouds of shimmery cymbal or pulsing rhythmic pound, the band tend to creep and crawl, but when they do let loose it borders on Bitches Brew style jazz psychedelia, albeit a bit more blackened.

The overall sound is quite atmospheric and soundtracky, the melodies subtle, but the feelings they evoke not so much, stirring up dark clouds of sinister brood, and epic soaring cinematic mesmer, occasionally slipping into some minimal krautrock throb, like on the mesmerizing "Vivarium", and sounding a bit like a more low end heavy Necks (or maybe Supersilent), and then lurching into some giallo style mood music, on "Vyomagami Plume" and sounding like a deconstructed Goblin, a gently chaotic assemblage of heaving bass and twisted keyboards, of clattery percussion, and spaced out electronics, but all deftly woven into something moving and emotional and darkly compelling. Fantastic stuff.