We’re back this week with a selection of temporarily marked down items from the 12k label — regularly priced at $9.99-$10.99, right now they’re just $7.99 each through September 12th or while supplies last!
“Between You And The Shapes You Take is the second collaborative album by Richmond based musician/sound artists Stephen Vitiello and Molly Berg. As with the duo’s previous release, The Gorilla Variations (12k2013, 2009), tracks are created out of improvisations and sculpted through editing. Molly Berg’s clarinet and vocalizations tend to cover the CD’s lyrical content while Vitiello’s guitar and processing covers a good deal of the textures. Two of the tracks on the CD feature violin by the multi-talented Hahn Rowe, once a member of the group Hugo Largo.
There’s an immediate air of melancholy and longing to a number of the tracks. An initial demo recording for the album was remarked on by a listener who said “I’ve fallen face first into a machine that erases the memories of an ended relationship as if it were a sound instead of a real life that fell in love with the girl again in the end.” A strange amount of truth exists in that statement and the entirety of it was momentarily considered as the album title. Instead, Between You And The Shapes You Take is a borrowed quote from Wallace Stevens’ poem The Blue Guitar.” –12k.bandcamp.com (Follow link to read more about this release.)
“2007 saw the album debut of Moskitoo with 12k’s Drape (12k1041). Since then, Moskitoo (Tokyo’s Sanae Yamasaki) has been busy performing live, recording and releasing new work (including sound/voice for Japanese media/television and iOS apps) and expanding her talents as a visual artist in Japan. After six years of growth as an artist she presents her sophomore album, Mitosis.
Mitosis begins with “Wonder Particle,” a track that very much sums up Moskitoo’s intentions: to embrace the digital with not only a human, but a distinctly feminine touch. Wispy, layered vocals swim around rhythmic fragments and warm insect-like noises. The music is strange and otherwordly, perhaps the soundtrack to an evening stroll on a warm night in a bustling alien city. There are lights, swarms of sound, a myriad of conversations blended by a thousand different stories of passers-by always on the move.
The inspirations behind this second album are not far away from these ideas. Moskitoo herself was thinking of journeys, even ones on the cellular level. Mitosis, or the division of a cell into two identical sets of chromosomes, was a point of departure for Moskitoo as she explored the ideas of division, expansion, the human body, and small particles of matter. One can draw a correlation between these ideas and her music as it nervously wiggles it way through sounds both liquid and electronic.
Mitosis is a dreamy, playful and serious album that shows Moskitoo’s talents as a sound explorer and songwriter. It is at once both catchy and curious, a question that doesn’t always need an answer.” –12k.bandcamp.com
“12k presents Every Action, the 3rd full-length release from the UK’s Motion (Chris Coode) and the follow-up to 2002’s critically acclaimed Dust (12k1019). In addition to his work with 12k (Dust, as well as a collaboration with Doron Sadja on 12k’s recent Two Point Two compilation, and an MP3 only release on 12k’s term. series) Coode has worked with Fat Cat and also released the debut Motion cd Pictures (now out of print) on his own imprint.
The work on Every ActionPictures was produced, sharing that release’s more obvioius tonal and melodic content. Using a stipped-down setup of studio equipment Coode crafts his sound by sampling, processing, resmapling, reprocessing.. back and forth, like generations of tape transfers or photocpies of photocopies, until the final results are smeared and distorted ghosts of the original: detuned, groaning, fragmented. Despite the digital sources, Coode’s music is highly organic, utilizing randomness, openess and dysfunction to create an oddly ambient and quieting sound made from stressed melodic flickering and skittering, tones, drones, and overprocssed textures.
Motion is important in Coode’s work, too; slow motion formed in grainy timestretches punctuated by dynamics that swell and disappear creating odd suggestions of performance, structure, and deconstruction built from his always live mixdowns.” –12k.bandcamp.com
“In 1995 Steve Peters and Steve Roden toured as a trio with singer Anna Homler; sometimes they would vocalize behind her, and they liked the way their voices blended together. They then spent about 15 years saying that “someday” they should record a voice-based project together. Aside from the physical distance between them, the problem was always: What would we sing? Neither wanted to write or sing lyrics.
Inspiration came in the form of a book of Japanese jisei – poems allegedly written by monks on their death bed – printed in both English translation and Romanized Japanese. Phonetically pronouncing the Japanese reminded Peters of the technique Roden has used of systematically chopping up the syllables in English texts to transform them into sound poems. Since neither of them speaks Japanese, it seemed like a good place to begin.
The two of them applied for a residency at Jack Straw, a non-profit recording facility in Seattle that gives grants of studio time. They had no exact plans other than they intended to avoid electronic instruments, or directly referencing the poems’ literal meaning, or imitating any Japanese musical idioms or “Zen” stereotypes. Culling some of the poems that made references to sound and noting them on 3×5 cards, Peters and Roden sorted the cards into four groups according to the seasons of the year that the poems represented, divided the cards between them, and taped them to their music stands. They then sang random fragments from the various cards – a word here, a line there, maybe backwards, maybe the English translation. They made no effort to keep the poems intact or retain any of their meaning, instead treating the material simply as phonemes to put in their mouths.” –12k.bandcamp.com (Follow link to read more about this release.)
“Akari is the third album from Tokyo duo Illuha. Following 2011’s debut Shizuku (12k1067) and 2013’s Interstices (12k2028), Akari takes the next artistic step for the band. While Shizuku was recorded in the US and completed separately by the artists, Interstices captured the duo creating their exceptionally detailed music together live during a Japaneses tour. Akari, in turn, is the first studio album where Illuha recorded and mixed together, throughout the entire process. The beautiful st-robo studio in Tokyo put a collection of amazing equipment at their fingertips, from vintage mics and outboard gear to a vast collection of instruments, both acoustic and electronic. Their writing sessions were numerous and long with details meticulously obsessed over for nearly a year. The result is the most bewildering music Illuha have created to date. An album swimming with the most delicately tactile sounds and instrumentation that draws the listener in with hushed, motionless attention.
While Illuha’s Corey Fuller and Tomoyoshi Date are often drawn to the most sparse notes of Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, acoustic grand piano and guitar, the breadth of instrumentation is partially what makes Akari so abosrbing. They have succeeded in creating their own universe of sound, so beautifully recorded, where each element not only has its own space but connects and interacts so fluidly with the other sounds. It is as if they are placed perfectly by nature, the compositions are fluid and organic, a far cry from anything calculated or structured. It is this open space that the music exists in which in turn defines the music itself. There is ample room to breathe within this forest of gentle tines, bubbling analogue synthesizers, clicking percussion and quiet field recordings. This is subtlety at its most refined; hushed without being saccharine, distant without being morose.” –12k.bandcamp.com (Follow link to read more about this release.)
“Shape Memory is the first full-length recording made through a collaboration between 12k label mates and friends Marcus Fischer and Simon Scott. In the fall of 2017, on a free day between US tour dates for Slowdive (for which Simon is the drummer), the pair managed to conceptualize and record an album at S1/Synth Library in Portland, OR.
In advance of their meet up, the pair shared sounds and recordings and then dubbed them on to cassette tape loops. Field recordings, processed acoustic sounds and synthesizer found their way to these tapes. In person, once they had a system of looping tapes playing back, they layered additional live elements: a bed of cymbals and scattered percussion, contact mic’d objects, live sampling, guitar and modular synths.
Shape Memory unfolds as a 36-minute piece (divided into three movements) rich in texture and deep connections. Fans of both artists’ solo works will recognize shadows of their unique aesthetics but the beauty lies in the new direction they chose to take it together. There’s a captivating density to the sound with plenty of atonal moments highlighted by the metallic resonances of the cymbals. Floating drones underpin granular guitar scattering while tape loops, lost in noise, provide a rhythm that’s not quite there. By the end, deep tones, mysterious and murky, take over, darker than each artist often goes.
Collaborations are all about creating a new entity beyond the expected from the members. Shape Memory is an album that’s not simply the sum of its parts, but a new creation from two talented explorers and friends.” –12k.com
“Michael Grigoni is a multi-instrumentalist who specializes in dobro, lap steel and pedal steel guitar living in Durham, North Carolina. His songs are beautiful, slow, wistful and lonely. The hazy, sliding sound of the guitars steep the music in nostalgia and mystery. Mount Carmel is his debut release on 12k”
FROM THE ARTIST:
“I’ve always been curious in my listening, searching for something in music and sound. I grew up playing the piano, and in college I took up the uilleann pipes, spending a summer in Ireland taking lessons. I traded the pipes for the dobro toward the end of my undergraduate years and discovered lap steel and pedal steel guitar a few years after that.
I studied ethnomusicology at the University of Washington where I learned about ethnography. Ethnography is a method for field-based research developed by anthropologists. The method involves spending time with people and learning about different ways of being in the world, and taking notes while one does so—jotting impressions, observations, feelings, snippets of speech, social landscapes. Ethnographers put experience to paper over and over again, over a lengthy period of time—for months, sometimes years.
This sensibility colors my music—this layering of textures, feelings, and ideas. Through this process, something emerges or is discovered or revealed. Blending and enfolding sounds made with an instrument, with sounds recorded in the field, is deeply satisfying and grounding for me. Making and recording music in this way is somehow like ethnography.
I wrote Mount Carmel with the place of my childhood in mind. The neighborhood in which I grew up had only two streets, both of which wound into cul-de-sacs between an interwoven set of barren, gentle hills in Rancho Peñasquitos, California. Growing up, my mother, who immigrated from Mexico to the United States to marry my father, told me that “los peñasquitos” means “the hills with white rocks on them.” Today I am told by the internet that it means “little cliffs.” I spent a lot of time on those little cliffs, kicking through dust as I explored them, watching for rattlesnakes.
I grew up between these hills, under the sun. Feelings anchored to material things constitute my memory of that place: the ice plant in our front yard that we would step on to crush out its juice; the lava rock beneath the pine trees; the Santa Anas – hot, dry winds that would suddenly manifest in our backyard; the dry hills without trees, only brush – chaparral and sage – that I constantly climbed. This particular landscape permeates and orients the record for me.
I named the album Mount Carmel because there was a church at the bottom of our neighborhood that I attended growing up called Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I used to think of that entire landscape – the neighborhood, the church, the hills – as Mount Carmel. In my mind, I lived at the base of Mount Carmel.”–12k.com
“Corey Fuller is one half of the duo Illuha on 12k and Break is his first solo recording for 12k. A crashing wave, the breaking dawn, an impact, the crushing of emotional spirit… the breaking of a storm. These are all relevant ideas behind his choice of a title for this highly emotional abum. Fuller has addressed the universality of human struggle without going into specifics of his own personal waves. The ideas that we as humans all share many of the same difficulties is both a launching point and a message he wishes to share with Break — the catharsis.
While Illuha’s music is known for its attention to small sounds and light textures, Break, while equally as fragile, sees Fuller working with much heavier elements. Still highly melodic, the work pulls and churns between harmony and tension, weight and air, the crash of a wave, the pull of the undertoe. The album is focused intensely on melody and harmony, progressions more carefully composed than the serendipitous found sound of his work with Illuha.
The piano is often at the center of these songs, an instrument (his own) that has become much an extension of his own body. His own voice plays an important role as well, sometimes lyrically ethereal and sometimes just a breath signifying the ever-fragile thread of life. Beautifully recorded in his Tokyo studio, the sounds are captured with all of their inherent physical flaws. As Fuller himself states about the piano being “Recorded in a way that you can hear the bones, like an open ribcage, moving contorting…” Everything on Break is there for a reason, not just the sound and soul of the piano but the electronic elements as well, rattling bass tones and dramatic, emotional waves of synthesizer rising and dissolving.
If a single word can be used to describe Break it is physical. From the instruments and techniques used to produce the album to the concepts of vulnerability of the human body. Break is an emotional riptide where violence and rest struggle to be the last voice.” –12k.com
“Taylor Deupree and Federico Durand share simple sounds with complex stories. Their music balances an edge between translucency and exploration, focusing on obscurity, repetition and a shared fascination of the mountains between them.” –12k.com
“Gareth Dickson is ghostlike. From the dark outskirts of Glasgow he has sent three studio studio albums in to the world – Collected Recordings (2009), The Dance (2010) and Quite A Way Away (2012). These albums have bewitched a growing inner circle, including some of the most innovative musicians around today – Juana Molina and Vashti Bunyan to name just two. Gareth has been the only constant member of Vashti’s touring outfit over the past ten years and latterly they have stripped down to a duet on their worldwide travels. Vashti indeed makes a spectral apparition on the first track of Gareth’s new album Orwell Court.
Gareth Dickson’s music is both beautiful and dark. A quiet Scottish melancholy underpinned by a grace and ethereal purity paired with a unique impression where the delicacy of Nick Drake mixes with the openness and space Brian Eno. Gareth’s music is often stripped down to the spare elements of voice and acoustic guitar, but a complex and mysterious music hides beneath the surface, demanding but generous and surprising. Clearly picking up where his previous albums left off, Gareth throws in a few surprises. Gleaned from his time spent touring and experimenting between albums the addition of a drum kit, some keyboards and guest vocalists enrich the palette. But fear not, these elements, while previously unheard of in his music, are approached with the subtlety that his listeners expect. They are a texture that adds dimension throughout the album. The hush is still there in its most genuine form.
His music is a form of modern classicism, by a man constantly aware that perfection lies shrouded in mists of uncertainty and ambiguity. It is above all a question of obsession and atmosphere. And it is a unwaveringly sublime cover of this Joy Division title that closes Orwell Court. Past revisited, and behind that, transcendence.” –12k.com
“Five Wooden Frames marks the return of Italian artist Giueppe Ielasi to 12k after his captivating polyrhythmic explorations on Aix (12k1051, 2009). He completely abandoned the guitar in the mid 2000’s to explore minimal electro-acoustic abstractions (see his releases on his own Senufo Editions) or rhythmic and groove-based music (see his Stunt series, the Inventing Masks project, and Aix and Tools on 12k).
Once again, however, the guitar has become his main focus, both as an instrument in the traditional sense and as source of sound material. The sections on Five Wooden Frames were produced using continuously shifting and modulating loops of acoustic guitar glissandos resulting in pitches that slide around in a haunting, yet spirited juxtaposition of delicate and strangely playful textures.” –12k.com