Uli Federwisch & Chip Perkins – Visiting Places

Visiting Places is the fifth release in Strategic Tape Reserve’s Learning By Listening series, which has so far brought us volumes by Orca, Attack!, Goodparley & Poppy Jennings and bleed Air. The premise, as stated boldly by the label, is a “educational, instructive cassette series designed to bring the information of the world into your home, and your brain”.

No risk warning is attached, but it’s best to approach the series with a degree of casual circumspection. That includes, in this case, whether the artists themselves – Ulrich ‘Uli’ Federwisch (Secretary-General of the Prüm-Eupen Partnership For Success, previously CEO of an Euskirchen producer of parts used in industrial heat exchangers) and Chip Perkins (voice actor) – are even real. Googling their names yields nothing but nondescript corporate types and a litany of previous Strategic Tape Reserve releases, the cover for one of which (One Dazzling Moment) really needs to be seen to be believed.

Caution aside, with the Nordrhein-Westfalen duo at the helm, we find ourselves journeying across Central Europe courtesy of Federwisch’s synths and Perkins’ narration. Well, sort of. The topography may be representative of Central Europe, but what we encounter isn’t. Thanks to Perkins’ engaging, genial but slightly detached and occasionally trippy observations, we find ourselves on a fantastical voyage through strange and weird places, customs and events. A tricycle with one back wheel bigger than the other so that it can only move in a circle and the generous, congenial offer of pea soup by villagers (“They are just being polite; there is no pea soup.”) are just two of the oddest stories told. There is something vaguely reminiscent of the Welcome To Night Vale podcast here, of unfathomable practices, events and people that seem to exist sequestered away from the mundanity of homogenised real life and monoculture.

Federwisch’s synth accompaniments are full of Moog-y melodic wonder and immersive, intricate detail, evolving episodically depending on where we find ourselves on the journey. A section to accompany a section about a dangerous model railway museum exhibit might have been taken from a Radiophonic Workshop soundtrack for a radio play, all tiny sounds and details that eddy and spin around your ears. Other sections rely on crisp, unswerving but minimalist rhythms and brittle high-end tones, occasionally slipping into psychedelic ephemerality. A section at the start of ‘Part 2’ has the casual motorik pulse of vintage electronic pop, while the accompaniment to the aforementioned tricycle story has a breezy, lolloping, wonky circularity.

Five volumes in, it would appear that the key lesson emerging from the tongue-in-cheek Learning By Listening series and its skewed, surrealist sounds is that we should collectively challenge the excruciating seriousness normally attached to most electronic music.

Words: Mat Smith

Visiting Places by Uli Federwisch and Chip Perkins was released January 7 2022 by Strategic Tape Reserve.

(c) 2022 Further.

The Tapeworm: Evan Lindorff-Ellery / Bill Thompson / Ken Hollings / Opal X

A batch of winter missives from the forever-wriggling Tapeworm label begins with Evan Lindorff-Ellery’s No Water Recordings 2011, taken from an extensive collection of field recordings for hydrophone and contact mics made in Ravenswood, Chicago. On ‘Fringes And Singing’, with a hydrophone placed under a bridge rather than in open water, the sounds are relentlessly squalling, tearing, violent and oppressively over-amped, as if made during a storm. In contrast, on the B-side (‘Meditation’), made with a contact mic, ceramic insulator and brick, we hear a comparative serenity, with undulating currents and the distant, calming sound of estuarine birds atop the water, but to this pessimistic listener it seems to embody the constant threat that unsettled waters could return at any moment.

Bill Thompson’s Black Earth Tongue originates from recordings made for dance unit In The Making Collective’s Edinburgh Fringe performance, Mushroom! (2016), created using laptop, field recordings, found objects and live electronics. With titles named after Japanese misspellings of fungi, Black Earth Tongue is an immediately absorbing listen, with ringing drones, gently oscillating tones, clangs, sepulchral non-rhythms, controlled distortion and earthy bass seeming to evoke the notion of persistent growth and spread. How you’d choreograph for this work of mycological genius I really don’t know.

Bill Thompson performing music for Mushroom! (Edinburgh Fringe, 2016). Photo: Ian Cameron.

Recorded in the summer of 2001 at Brighton’s Festival Radio Studios, Destroy All Monsters finds author and The Wire music journalist Ken Hollings reading from his book of the same name. His engaging, if dystopian, vision of a alternative / futuristic Los Angeles ravaged by actual monsters and abused technology is accompanied by sound design and production from Brighton-based Further. favourite Simon James, an electronic musician and Buchla enthusiast. James’s accompaniment to Hollings’ bleak, detached narration of principal protagonist Sprite’s movements emerges as a low, grubby rumble full of sparse sparks of electronic noise, delicately brushed cymbals and subtly wafting, bubbling tones that remain unswervingly tense and pensive, regardless of what horrors Hollings is detailing in intricate and vivid detail. A section involving a leatherette-seated car suddenly being brutally crushed reverentially evokes Ballard’s Crash, while a simultaneously spiralling arc of M&Ms around a stray puppy carries a sinister, psychedelic effusiveness.

“Goth ASMR Hardcore” is the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin description of Twister by London’s anonymous Opal X, consisting of sixteen tracks of extreme incongruity – quiet spoken instructions about moving toward the light reminiscent of a thousand guided meditation podcasts, only where you might expect soft pads and ethereal new age-y textural accompaniment what you get instead are dark, brooding synths, insistent detuned Autechre-y rhythms, arrays of sci-fi bleeps and bloops, faded rave beats, euphoric vocal stabs, fragments of suspenseful horror film noise and occasional moments of serene clarity. The muddled outlook should be distressing – panic-inducing, almost – and yet somehow its quintessentially delicate character is ultimately what stays with you.

Words: Mat Smith

All four albums released December 3 2021 via the-tapeworm.bandcamp.com With thanks to Philip.

(c) 2021 Further.

Shots: Jay Glass Dubs x Laura Agnusdei / Mücha / Jess Brett / Dan Berkson / Carbon Fields / frostlake / Sofia Kirwan-Baez


Released across three highly limited coloured white label 12-inch singles, each one emblazoned with a different slogan, here we find Jay Glass Dubs tackling ‘Jungle Shuffle’ from Laura Agnusdei’s 2019 album Laurisilva. Two versions are presented – one with beats and one without. The original track was one of the many highlights on Laurisilva, finding Agnusdei taking traditional jazz reference points set to razor-sharp found rhythms. In Jay Glass Dubs’ hands, the assembled horns swirl and cascade like spiralling wraiths, a thick, omniscient drone occupying an earthy lower layer though which the horns are threaded like organic, unpredictable sonic foliage. Released November 19 2021.


MÜCHA – FALL (Frequency Domain)

Mücha is the alias of producer / DJ Amanda Butterworth. The seven tracks on latest album Fall unfold upon spindly, fragile electronics, over which Butterworth’s voice textures, occupying a territory somewhere between melancholy reflection and languid warmth. On the title track, Butterworth reprises Photek’s scissor-sharp approach to deconstructed drum ‘n’ bass, with splintered high-octane rhythms held in check by a slow-motion jazz keyboard riff. The album was inspired by a certain British monochromatic stereotype; in my head I think Burton grey suits, grey Autumn days, greying British Rail seat fabric, but I can also imagine this being how Martin Hannett might have embraced skeletal electronics if he’d still been alive today. Released November 5 2021.



Eyeline is the debut EP from Kidderminster’s Jess Brett. Possessing a voice of rare and arresting, earthy power, the lyrics here address everything from outdated perceptions of women, to cynicism about police power, to sexual dominance, while always retaining a healthy, impenetrable ambiguity. Brett’s five track release is carried forward on musical frameworks that nod to post-punk, with jangly guitars, inchoate synth structures and tentative melodies. The title track imagines The Smiths with keyboards, while the mournful ‘Ceiling And Freezer’ is a grim story of love and admiration for what appears to be a serial killer, its fixations glued in place by a mesmerising suite of slowly-evolving keyboard layers. Closing track ‘Xenomorph’ is like a personal, confidence-boosting mantra delivered over a turgid bed of prowling synths and whistling melodies that remains unresolved as the track winds down toward a tentative silence. Undoubtedly one to watch. Released October 14 2021.



Dialogues is an unashamedly classic jazz album, centred on a trio of Dan Berkson (piano), Andrea di Biase (bass) and Jon Scott (drums). Now based in California, Berkson is an emigré from London’s house music scene, and it’s rare to find someone so adept at switching freely between the regimentation of dance music’s grid and the complete freedom of jazz. For the most part, this is an energetic, effervescent collection, with ‘Unity’ carrying a firm expressiveness thanks to the addition of Magnus Pickering (trumpet, flugelhorn), Alan Nathoo (tenor sax) and Daniel Sadownick (percussion). ‘Sketches’ is the album’s contemplative, questing number, Berkson’s emotive piano lines resting atop a languid, casual rhythm from di Biase and Scott. With these impressive Dialogues, Berkson shows his detailed knowledge of jazz from 1950s cool tropes through to 1970s fusion. Released September 17 2021.



Carbon Fields is the alias of multi-instrumentalist Arran Poole. Petrichor, named after the smell that occurs after rainfall, finds Poole layering his post-rock guitar, bass, drums and an instrument called the bow chime over field recordings made in Saffron Walden, Falmouth and North Norfolk. The instrumentation is blurred and smudged while the background recordings, tape static and all manner of sounds rarely reveal their provenance. This is music of a quiet and considered power, perfectly evoking the complexities of nature and an inquisitive optimism reflecting back the rainfall so essential for renewal. Understated and outstanding. Released September 10 2021.



frostlake is the project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jan Todd. For her third album The Weight Of Clouds, Todd constructed sixteen pieces using percussion, guitars and electronics, each one freighted with a sheen of ice-covered mystery and a folky naturalism. The key to tracks like ‘Always There’ and ‘Blue Into Gold’ is Todd’s vocal, operating with a stirring capacity to move you without ever rising above quiet and reflective ruminations, seamlessly augmented by tightly-packed sonic layers drenched in obfuscating, mist-like reverb. ‘Moth People’ is the album’s oblique highlight, finding Todd reflecting on human mistakes and failures over a fragile backdrop of wobbly synths and string sounds. Music for cold mornings and contemplation. Released August 22 2021.



Sofia Kirwan-Baez is a London-based opera student and talented lounge singer, often to be found hosting evenings at Barnes’s OSO Arts Centre. Her debut album was released in February and finds Kirwan-Baez at the piano, delivering eight original songs showcasing a singular approach to lyric writing that is refreshingly complex, reflecting back modern concerns and the fallibility of people and relationships. Jazz and blues influences colour songs like ‘Guess Who’, dealing with an inscrutable man who refuses to betray his true thoughts and feelings, and ‘Only If I Want To’ takes a deft and necessary swipe at male dominance. ‘Old Song’ has the feel of an unearthed standard, simultaneously heart-wrenching, humour-inflected and self-deprecating, while ‘Wasting Time’ describes a parting of ways with a sense of realism and hope. Music for low lights, late nights and a healthy pour of vintage single malt. Released February 7 2021.


Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2021 Further.

Yova – Nine Lives

One positive thing to arise out of two years of myriad uncertainties was the music of Yova, the duo of vocalist Jova Radevska and multi-instrumentalist / producer Mark Vernon. The singles they delivered since arriving in November 2019 with ‘Moondog’ have highlighted a pairing that thrives on a certain mutability, showcasing a writing style and sound that isn’t so much restless as fully unprepared to settle in one place. 

At the heart of these songs is Radevska. Hers is a voice of quiet and persistent gravity, outwardly carrying an innocence and lightness but able to move from subtle anguish to delicate euphoria. Whether matched to strings (‘Togetherness’) or electronics-inflected funk (‘You’re The Mirror’) or emphatic low-slung blues rock (‘Would I Change It? (If I Could)’ Radevska writes emotional, gently soulful pop music full of worldly observation, relationship trauma and oblique, diaristic gestures. In Vernon she has found a well-connected collaborator with an ability to augment her words with rich sonic layers, drawing in collaborators as diverse as Daniel O’Sullivan (Grumbling Fur), BJ Cole, David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush) and PJ Harvey multi-instrumentalist Rob Ellis to frame these songs. 

Nine Lives, then, brings together all the disparate strands of Yova’s music into one whole. The effect is not an album that feels incoherent as Radevska and Vernon view the structure of each song through its own distinct lens. Instead, what emerges is a solid, refreshingly diverse collection of songs focussed on Radevska’s appealing storytelling. ‘Make It Better’ is one of the highlights of the new songs, a plaintive, sawing violin allowing Radevska’s insistent vocal to fluctuate sweetly between desperation and hope. 

Closing track ‘Haunted’ perhaps sums up the character of Nine Lives. The songs carries a beatific optimism, Radevska’s voice framed by evocative strings and delicate piano as it soars gracefully skyward – its ultimate destination wherever Radevska and Vernon feel compelled to journey to next. 

Nine Lives by Yova was released November 12 2021 by Quartertone Recordings. 

Words: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further.  

Take Five: Rupert Lally

“I find lists like this extremely difficult,” says prolific Brighton-born, Switzerland-based electronic musician Rupert Lally. “Somehow the first couple of choices are always simple but then the last one or two, inevitably, end up being a compromise as to which albums make the cut and which don’t.” 

A year in the release schedule of Lally is an intense one. 2021 has been no different, his output culminating in the career high of Beyond The Night (SubExotic), a thrilling, noir journey into the shadows and fears of the night. Never one to rest on his laurels, Lally has no less than two albums scheduled for release on October 1, both imaginary soundtracks for Ray Bradbury novels – Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles – continuing an approach that has seen him produce scores for Frank Herbert’s Dune, J.G. Ballard’s High Rise and Lally’s own novella, Solid State Memories


Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters 

I spent three years learning classical guitar making almost no progress whatsoever, with a teacher who refused to teach us chords. A friend encouraged me to switch to playing bass guitar around the same time as my musical interest began to shift from hard rock towards jazz and funk. More by accident than design I ended up playing bass in my school’s newly formed jazz band. One of the tunes we would regularly play was ‘Chameleon’ by Herbie Hancock and I became so synonymous with playing the (synth) bassline at school concerts that when I began playing the bass again after many years absence, a lot of school friends asked if I could still play the piece – I can!  

At the time the album was hard to obtain on any other format than CD, so it became the first ever CD that I bought, before I even owned a CD player, so I made a tape copy at my step sister’s house, which I played over and over. 

It’s difficult to overstate the effect that hearing this had on me. Not just the music itself but also the arrangements, the analogue synth sounds, Harvey Mason’s drum grooves, the cornucopia of percussion sounds and instruments used by Bill Summers on the album – many of which I needed to look up to find out what they were, thereby igniting my interest in percussion at the same time. 

A friend that I played the album to described it as sounding like the soundtrack to the 70s animations in episodes of Sesame Street. He didn’t mean as a compliment, but it’s actually a very apt comparison. Many years later, I realised how much those wonderful psychedelic cartoons affected me as a small child and it’s another reason why I felt immediately at home with this album. 

Peter Gabriel – Passion 

Peter Gabriel’s music from his early work with Genesis to his early solo albums, with their pioneering use of the Fairlight CMI, had already had a huge impact on me as a teenager, and I’ve already mentioned my burgeoning interest in percussion from around that time, so in retrospect it’s surprising that I didn’t listen to this, Gabriel’s soundtrack to Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ, until I was in my first year at university.  

When I did, it blew my mind – the fusion of traditional rhythms and instrumentation from the Middle East with synths, samplers and David Rhodes’ understated guitar work was incredibly influential. For a while, I would listen to a cassette of this whilst I drifted off to sleep, with the music seeping into my dreams. 

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing…..

My introduction to DJ Shadow’s music was the inclusion of the track ‘Changeling’ on Bleeping With The NME, a free tape compilation given away with the NME in 1996. As fate would have it, another student in my university halls of residence was a massive Mo’ Wax fan and he kindly made me a tape of this album, plus Shadow’s early singles. I was completely hooked. Not just with the music itself but how it had been made using already outdated Akai samplers like the MPC-60 and S612 

A year or so later I would get hold of an old E-mu Emax sampler and discover first hand just how difficult it must have been to make tracks like these on old equipment with limited sampling time. Shadow’s drum programming continues to influence me today, not only how I program my own beats but also how I play drums live. 

Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children 

When I went to drama school after university, I had a lot friends, who were heavily into Warp Records stuff, so I’d already heard a lot of (and subsequently bought) quite a few Aphex Twin and Autechre records. Somehow, while I’d definitely heard both Boards Of Canada and Squarepusher’s music during that time, I didn’t start to listen to them properly until the publication of Rob Young’s book on the label in 2005.  

Boards Of Canada’s debut album, in particular, with its deliberate lo-fi sound quality that harked back to the public information films of my youth, struck a particular chord with me and would provide a massive amount of inspiration for my own solo work which I was then taking my first tentative steps towards. In many ways this album seemed to articulate a feeling that I had been groping towards for some time without really understanding what it was. I’d been using YouTube to research old TV shows and adverts that I remembered from childhood, to try to gain musical inspiration. 

A few months after I heard this album, The Wire magazine published an article about hauntology, mentioning Boards Of Canada. It was the first time I’d ever heard the term used. 

Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself 

I first heard Imogen Heap’s music in the film, The Holiday and immediately bought both this and the album she did with Guy Sigsworth as Frou Frou. There’s so much I love about this album: her voice, the lyrics which often remind me more of poems put to music and, of course, her amazing arrangements, programming and sound design. While she’s done lots of interesting stuff since, somehow nothing else has come close to this record for me. It’s the perfect example of intelligent pop electronica and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it. 

Interview: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

Stephen Vitiello – World Trade Center Recordings, 1999

Stephen Vitiello recording in the World Trade Center, 1999. Photograph by Johnna MacArthur

Formed with the goal of improving the quality of life in New York’s Financial District, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council was formed in 1973. The idea was that there should to be more to the area than the trading and leverage upon which the southernmost tip of Manhattan rested; that a cultural exchange was as important to the area’s vitality as the stock exchange. 

Between 1997 and 2001, the LMCC invited a group of artists to take up residency in unused office space on the 91st floor of Tower One in New York’s World Trade Center, the construction of which was completed the year before the LMCC began its activities. The LMCC’s programme was, appropriately, called World Views, and over 150 artists would participate in the residency until the destruction of the towers curtailed the project. The artists would occupy a coveted piece of lucrative, unused office space on the 91st floor of Tower One for half a year in order to produce a specific piece of art, while also having relatively free reign of the 110-storey tower and its inner workings – basements, car parks, stairwells, abandoned Subway tunnels deep beneath street level – and a discrete space in which to create art, high above the streets of New York. 

The result was a series of site-specific creations, very often inspired by the imposing, divisive form of Minoru Yamasaki’s twin towers, structures described by Olu Oguibe (a World Views resident in 2000) as having an “unmistakable authority”. These pieces reflected the towers’ physical properties as often as their metaphysical, cultural and psychological impact. Distinctive New Formalist architectural features – the narrow windows; the clean, infinitely repeated mullions stretching to the heavens; the resolute, boxy post-modernist silhouette – feature heavily in the works of many artists; still more were inspired by the views across New York and the pinch-yourself unreality of having dedicated studio space in a section of expensive real estate usually reserved for the late capitalist elite. 

One artist whose residency in the World Views programme was directly linked to the physicality and environments of the World Trade Center was New York-born Sound artist Stephen Vitiello, who occupied areas of the 91st floor from the summer of 1999 through to the early winter, making use of office space abandoned following the collapse of a Japanese bank. His residency resulted in three published works – Bright And Dusty Things (New Albion CD, 2001), Winds After Hurricane Floyd (installation of a sound recording and photograph, 1999/2002) and Sounds Building In The Fading Light (Creamgardens 10-inch, 2001). 

For Bright And Dusty Things (featuring collaborations with Pauline Oliveros), Vitiello used an amplified photocell device placed in the lens of a telescope to translate frequencies from the light streaming through the 91st floor windows into audible sound. The process had first been used for a piece, ‘World Trade Center Recordings’, that would appear five years after his residency, on Nicolas Collins’ A Call For Silence

Winds After Hurricane Floyd and Sounds Building In The Fading Light both arose out of recordings of the building and the sounds that could be heard from immediately outside the widows of the 91st floor, using two cheap contact microphones to feed atmospheric sounds into a mixer and DAT recorder. The anarchic Viennese group Gelitin (then known as Gelatin), residents on the 91st for the period after Vitiello was there, wrote of the World Trade Center towers: “Very amazing building outside; very depressing building inside.” Vitiello’s works broke down the barrier between the exterior – the powerful building itself; the world visible through the windows; life beyond the building – and its derivative interior; he literally brought the outside inside. 

Like any field recording, there is an element of chance and unpredictability in the sounds that Vitiello captured. What emerges are documents of the towers and their symbiotic-symbolic place in New York’s ever-mutable skyline and the memories of the city’s residents and its visitors; of sounds heard from a unique position high above the ground; of sounds frozen in sonic aspic at the very end of the century, two years before the world changed forever. 


Wires above the Hudson River and World Financial Center. Photograph by Stephen Vitiello.

“After the first bombing attempt on the World Trade Center in 1993, there was suddenly a lot of real estate available in the towers. The thinking behind World Views was, I guess, something that happens often with artists: they put artists where there’s vacant space until that vacant space becomes valuable, and sometimes it becomes valuable because the artists have made it cool. 

“It was a really important programme for a lot of people. People used it differently, but the idea was that you should at least partially be doing something unique to that space. It certainly wasn’t just, ‘I am an artist, I need studio space and I can’t afford it.’ It’s more, ‘Here is a space that holds an opportunity for me to do something that I could imagine doing, but that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do anywhere else.’  

“At that time, I thought of myself mostly as experimental musician who created soundtracks for other artists, for video and dance. My introduction to spatialisation was through a festival in Cologne 1998 called Per/Son, a festival organised by Anthony Moore, who set up this idea of playing with the space itself. It was four people – me, Scanner, Pauline Oliveros, and Frances-Marie Uitti. All of us were playing with a 64-channel sound system, designed by Andres Bosshard. That opened a door to the world of installations for me, and from installations I ended up getting invited to do the residency in the World Trade Center. At that point, I had an interest in field recording, but I had done very, very little, except for a little bit of sound work for a film soundtrack with Jem Cohen. 

“When you were applying for the World Views residency, you had to make a note of something that you might do for the open studio, which would happen at the very end of the residency. I had just read an article in The Wire about Maryanne Amacher, and a piece that she had made where she had microphones pointing out of her studio window to the New England fisheries. Those sounds were constantly streaming into her studio and into her mixing board. I basically copied that idea, and I even said that at a public talk a few years later when Maryanne was in the audience. I said to myself, ‘Well, I’ll be up at the top of the World Trade Center, if I’m given a place on the residency. I’ll open the windows, put microphones outside, and I’ll always have the sound streaming into my mixing board.’ 

“There were about 15 artists there on the 91st floor at a time, in these six-month cycles. Most of the artists were in one big open office with wooden barriers. It looked like grade school to me: a lot of artists, with cheap barriers giving them some sort of privacy. I was part of the same residency as the artists Kevin and Jennifer McCoy. Between us we had a lot of technology, so we were granted a separate suite of offices where we could each lock our doors.  

“So I had this idea which I copied from Maryanne, but when I got up to the studio I realised that you couldn’t actually open the windows. They actually did everything they could to block the outside sound, and to protect the person using this very expensive real estate from the sound outside. I started asking friends for advice. At some point, an engineer suggested contact mics, which I hadn’t used before, and told me to go to a drum shop. You could get store-bought contact mics to put on drums as MIDI triggers for about $20. I put those on the window and ran those through the mixing board. Lo and behold, the first sound I ever heard was church bells. I’ve had a couple of my career major works related to bells, as many sound artists do. But that moment was chilling, especially as I never heard them again after that. 

Stephen Vitiello recording in the World Trade Center, 1999. Photograph by Johnna MacArthur

“I suddenly heard the world outside. I could hear traffic. I could hear ships on the Hudson River. At one point I heard a car crash, but it all started with with church bells. And as the six months went on, I went from thinking about trying to add the sound to other things to realising that the sound was way more interesting than anything I could add to it. Every day was different. There were days that I could hear the building moving in the wind. I could hear the steel creaking and cracking. I could hear airplanes. I could hear helicopters. 

“Those contact mics became like a stethoscope: I was listening to the body of the building. In the end, it wasn’t exactly like Maryanne’s work. It wasn’t like having a microphone outside: it was a mic that listened through the glass and steel of the building. A contact mic is very focused, but it’s very limited. You don’t get a lot of high frequency. You don’t get a lot of low frequency. But things like airplanes would cut right through, so I would work with that, or with the wind. I had 24-hour access to the studio, and if I heard something interesting, I would turn on the DAT recorder and record what was happening. 

“Through the mixing board and pre-amplification certain kinds of strong sounds carry. Bells are a perfect example of a sound that cuts through city din, but I’m sure there’s a lot that I didn’t hear. It was the right technology for what I needed, and, miraculously, it was the only technology that would work. 

“One thing I regret is that there were days where I’d go up and think, ‘Oh, I’ve already got this kind of sound, so I’m going to tape over that’. In the end, I didn’t end up with a lot. But the recordings that I ended up with that are the most critical were made the day after Hurricane Floyd hit New York in September 1999, and the 10-inch record, Sounds Building In The Fading Light. The B-side of that – the Dense Mix – ends with an airplane passing. All the sound cuts out and I filtered everything out but the plane. That was done before 9/11, and it wasn’t meant to scare anybody. It was just meant to focus in on a specific detail.”


“The night before 9/11, I was giving a talk at Brooklyn College, in a in a class taught by Jennifer McCoy. 

“I think most of us took the World Trade Center for granted. They were these big, ugly buildings, but there was something quite unique about being above the world, and there was something very distinctive about their architecture. I read an interview with Robert Ashley where he said that one original design of the World Trade Center was to make the buildings parallel, which would have turned them into a giant tuning fork. That’s why they were offset a little bit. Even these things that we take for granted, if you just stop, look, and listen, you can appreciate things in a different way. Everything has an opportunity. Whether you want it or not, or whether you can make something whether it’s true to your own interests, is to be determined.  

“At the class Jennifer invited me to, I remember talking about having gone from thinking of myself as a musician to now being a sound artist, and how much being up in the World Trade Center made me aware of listening in a new way. And even the vulnerability. You didn’t really feel like you were up on the 91st floor. When you were looking out the window it felt flat, and kind of artificial. But once the sound came up, you felt the presence of the building. And once you could hear it moving in there, or you heard the winds, your whole perception of space and a sense of self or the architecture – everything – everything changed. 

“But then the next morning happened, and the buildings were destroyed. And I felt almost embarrassed, almost foolish when people started to reach out to me about those recordings. I lived very close to the World Trade Center when it fell. I saw the smoke. An artist’s perception of vulnerability is one thing: thousands of people dying is something totally different. My initial reaction was to shelve the project, and not ever talk about it again. 

“A month or so later, there was a gathering at The Kitchen, the performing arts centre in New York where I later worked. It was a gathering of artists who had gone through the residency and who were talking about their projects after 9/11. I played a little bit of the sound. I mentioned that I felt truly conflicted and the feedback that I got from the audience and the other artists was, ‘You can’t shelve this. You can’t hide it. But you also shouldn’t exploit it.’ None of us wanted to exploit the situation. 

“I didn’t want to see it as a 9/11 piece, because it wasn’t a 9/11 piece. But it was also something that was now changed, because I couldn’t deny that 9/11 changed how people would read it. It was the sound of a building that no longer existed, and that could never exist in the same way. It was a sound that people who worked in the World Trade Center were attuned to. You couldn’t always hear that sound without microphones, but there were times when you could. And so I decided that it should remain a thing, but something that should be treated with sensitivity. 

“I called the 10-inch of those sound recordings, Sounds Building In The Fading Light. I loved – and still love – mystery books by James Lee Burke. Burke’s main book set of books are set in Louisiana. He writes about the landscape with this really rich sense of light and smell. With the title of the 10-inch, I think I was probably trying to emulate the kind of poetry that Burke uses when he speaks. Lou Reed once stopped me in an elevator because I had a James Lee Burke book sticking out my pocket, and I was totally embarrassed. He’s like, ‘Oh, that’s one of my favourite writers,’ and I sort of blushed and spoke to him for the rest of the ride down about the best of them (he recommended Black Cherry Blues, which I bought the next day).  

Winds After Hurricane Floyd was a sound installation, which was presented around the world and went into a few museum collections. When the Whitney Museum purchased it, they acquired a six-channel sound piece and a large photo. When I went down to the archive, they said, ‘The photo is the artwork, and the sound is the document, right?’ It’s not – I see the sound work as the artwork, and the photo is a document. A lot of my work toes that line, especially where documentation has been part of it, and especially the works that relate to field recording.”


“I guess what I did became one of the signature World Views projects that people remember, and it also established me in a different way as an artist, as well as leading me to become established with site-specific projects. It completely changed my whole career path and my whole creative approach to listening. 

“In some ways, I think the fact that it was audio, or primarily audio, allowed it to be evocative in a different way to photographs or video or sculpture. Each thing has its own power, and I’m not pretending that sound is better. But, at least to me, just listening with your eyes closed allows you to picture something and place yourself differently than the more intellectual process that happens when you look at a photograph.”

Photograph by Johnna MacArthur.

Interview: Mat Smith, August 2021 

Stephen Vitiello website
Winds After Hurricane Floyd at the Whitney Museum collection
A Call For Silence
The September 11 Digital Archive – Winds After Hurricane Floyd and Sounds Building In The Fading Light 

(c) 2021 Further.  

Goodparley & Poppy Jennings – Enjoying Nature

Enjoying Nature is the third album in Strategic Tape Reserve’s Learning By Listening series, “an educational, instructive cassette series designed to bring the information of the world into your home, and your brain.” Previous volumes have focussed on obscure, un-Googleable, audaciously false topics: Orca, Attack! delivered an album about Course Management System Optimization and Simon Proffitt’s Instituto Bangara-Rossa Internacional offered up a sonic handbook for a purportedly widely-played card game.

If Learning By Listening has generally operated with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek, the pairing of Goodparley (Cardiff’s Oli Richards) and Poppy Jennings seems to avoid this, at least musically anyway. The album’s narrative describes it playfully as a “mystical guide to the art of experiencing nature… for both those comfortable with outdoor environments as well as beginners,” and Richards readily admits it was started in jest before eventually becoming more sincere.

Taking the form of a series of delicate and quietly uplifting pieces, Enjoying Nature operates authentically in resonance with the spiritual music oeuvre. Both Richards and Jennings offer ruminative spoken word passages that float on top of the music like guided meditation texts or naturalistic poetic reflections, while Richards’ choice of textures carry a questing, transcendent fluidity. On ‘Walking Each Other Home’, cascading zither melodies wrap themselves around the listener with tenderness, evoking spiritual music landmarks like Laraaji’s Day Of Radiance. The opening track acts as a tribute to the work of Ernest Hood, whose obscure 1975 album Neighborhoods evoked a pastoral quietude that has now been all but drowned-out by the clamour of the modern world.


Learning By Listening albums are puzzling affairs. They are meant to be enjoyed primarily through a suspension of belief; once you acknowledge the joke, they can be approached as intelligent, artistic collections. Enjoying Nature is, I think, different.

Heard with an open mind, its pieces can be soothing, helpful and restorative. I’ll readily admit that my mind has all too often been closed to spiritual music, and if you’d handed me this tape two years ago I would have found it a difficult listen. Things changed as the pandemic settled in. With the benefit of hindsight, I now see that I experienced a breakdown that I never would have expected. In the hollow void that it left, I found myself urgently in need of something to help me get myself back on track.

The books that I’d tried to read but couldn’t find a way into (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind being the most obvious) and the meditation practice I’d always been too closed-minded and uptight to surrender to – these things suddenly became essential, necessary aspects of my recovery. I found myself in a message exchange with Richards where he recommended Be Here Now by Ram Dass, which I quickly bought and digested far quicker than any other book that I’ve bought in the last ten years. I found myself working with my good friends Gareth Jones and Christopher Bono, first on their Nous Alpha album A Walk In The Woods and then with Christopher on his monumental Circle Of Celebration album with Arji OceAnanda and Laraaji. I found myself open-minded for the first time in my life; more accepting; more understanding of my mind’s wants and needs; more prepared to find ways to heal myself outside of the coping strategies I’d used before.

I see Enjoying Nature as part of my toolkit of recovery. A greater personal compliment to what Richards and Jennings have created with this release I’m not sure I could find.

Enjoying Nature by Goodparley and Poppy Jennings was released by Strategic Tape Reserve on September 24 2021.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2021 Further.

Bethan Kellough – The Underlying / venoztks – light breaker

California Dreaming: The Underlying, by sound artist Bethan Kellough and light breaker, by the anonymous venoztks, offer two very different sonic impressions of California. 

For Kellough’s contribution to Touch’s Displacing subscription service, that impression was informed by field recordings made at the edge of Salton Sea, not far from the Joshua Tree National Park and the Mexico border. We hear birds, insects and a gently unfolding natural ambience, but we also hear an undercurrent of something darker – the drones and white noise from a nearby geothermal power station. The power source, heralded as one of several sustainable alternatives to traditional oil and gas, is nevertheless obtrusive and impactful on the environment that surrounds the power plant. 

Kellough’s sleight of hand is to take those two sets of sounds – the delicate vibrancy of nature and the omnipresent hum of the power station as she approaches it – and augment them with a sensitive arrangement of sounds that somehow resonate much closer to the choruses of birds and insects than the mechanical interjections of the power stations. 

light breaker is the latest missive from venoztks, an artist who doesn’t so much operate at the margins but within the interstitial frequencies of shortwave radio. The fifty-minute piece that light breaker consists of (‘Indent’) is structured from captured radio recordings – voices overheard as fragmentary mid-conversation non sequiturs, howling white noise, brittle static and resonant bass sounds that ebb and flow as menacing slow-motion pulses. The effect is like listening to an intense analogue synthesiser improvisation, but everything you hear came from the radio and the manipulation of its dials. 

As well as being an intriguing, absorbing listen from the outer edges of found sound, the album also acts as a highly effective sonic screen. I found myself listening to this while undertaking an array of tedious domestic chores, where the barrage of abrasive, sculpted sounds and found drones also provided a useful means of drowning out the tedious mumbly hip-hop music that my wife was playing far too loudly elsewhere in the house. 

The Underlying by Bethan Kellough was released August 27 2021 by Touch. light breaker by venoztks was released August 26 2021. 

Words: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

Vacation Playlist: Edinburgh, August 2021

On Sunday August 22 2021 I flew for the first time since before the pandemic. A short flight to Edinburgh was something that I’d have done, before, fairly often, usually accompanied by things to review. It occurred to me a few days before that I’d need to plan what to listen to in the air, an active decision over what to listen offline after spending most of the pandemic period constantly online, with access to anything. It felt a lot like travelling as a teenager, where I’d pack my Walkman and choose a bunch of tapes to haul around with me.

I decided to trawl through recent Bandcamp additions – purchases I’d made or promos I’d been sent – and that formed the basis of my in-flight entertainment. While in Edinburgh I visited Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh’s Song Of The Union at the Robert Burns Memorial near Calton Hill. 


Carl Stone’s contribution to Touch’s brilliant Displacing subscription series translates roughly as Bridge Of Tears and was recorded for Radio Free Nakano in his Tokyo base. The 15-minute piece is one of fragile momentum, seeming to rush forth and build into a sort of suppressed motorik groove while retaining an effortless, dreamy levity. Released May 28 2021 by Touch.



Two 2021 releases from Dan Davies, both recorded using the sounds of the river Derwent in Derbyshire. Both illustrate Davies’ approach to taking field recordings and responding to them with additional composition for a diverse array of instruments, or leaving them poignantly unadorned. As such, these releases straddle the tranquility of listening to water and wind sounds (River Derwent Soundscapes) with delicately composed accompaniments (on LL#1) that are both mournful, vibrant and often noisy. Released March 28 2021 / May 6 2021.



In-flight / landing: CARNEDD AUR – BEETLES 

Simon Proffitt’s work under the Carnedd Aur alias differs from his usual solo output as Cahn Ingold Prelog and The Master Musicians Of Dyffryn Moor by opting for more of an intentionally accessible output. Originally intended to be a body of work that his parents might recognise as something vaguely adjacent to electronic pop, the project instead became an engaging leftfield project whose titles were all inspired by different sub-species of beetles, with a sound that’s pure insectoid minimal acid-inflected techno. Released August 6 2021 by superpolar Taïps.



Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh’s contribution to Edinburgh’s Art Festival is a thought-provoking seven-channel sound art work installed in the Robert Burns Monument near Calton Hill. For the piece, Ogboh recorded versions of Burns’ poignant ‘Auld Lang Syne’ sung by twenty-seven Europeans living in Scotland, one from each of the member states of the European Union that the UK left in January 2021. His work has a subtle power as you sit in the Burns Monument and listen to the interwoven voices singing atop one another; being of Scottish descent, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ has always had subtle, stirring poignancy for me; heard in the context of a political work swirling and echoing around the circular space, its maudlin outlook is deeply unsettling. The day after I visited, I found myself walking past the building again. I could hear the plaintive voices wafting sadly into the aether, like ephemeral vapours of what once was. Song Of The Union runs to August 29 2021.


Take-off / in-flight: JAMES MAINWARING – MYCORRHIZA 

Saxophonist James Mainwaring occupies a sort of indeterminate zone between improvisation and composition. His latest album for Discus is titled after the symbiotic relationship between plants and fungi and its 13 pieces carry a similar sense of integration between the instrumentation. The signature piece is ‘Komorebi’, which features Mainwaring’s sax alongside mournful strings and field recordings of birds made near the house where he grew up, an extra level of significance when you learn that the house is scheduled to be demolished as part of the HS2 construction project. On ‘Statues’, which begins as an understated ballad and ends as a free and urgent piece, Mainwaring’s playing nods reverentially in the direction of Paul Desmond; ‘Globe’, on the other hand, makes an unexpected left-turn into synthesiser minimalism and insistent post-rock, angular musings. Released Juy 13 2021 by Discus Music.



Bumps Per Minute was Somerset House resident composer Anna Meredith’s contribution to the London venue’s entertaining DODGE experience, which closed on August 22 2021. Though most people just went for the nostalgia of riding an old fairground ride after a few cocktails, every hour, Meredith and sound artist Nick Ryan would subvert the traditional dodgem ride so that every bump or collision would trigger a different one of her specially-written compositions. The companion album includes those 18 compositions played all the way through; it might lack the chaotic randomness of the ride experience, but it nevertheless carries a decent approximation of what it was like to laugh uproariously, half-cut on over-priced cocktails, as you careered around the track accompanied by a skipping soundtrack that felt like a malfunctioning player piano tackling Don Dorsey’s Main Street Electrical Parade music through an 8-bit computer. Released July 15 2021.


Words: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

Rupert Lally – Solid State Memories (novella)

Brighton-born, Switzerland-based electronic musician Rupert Lally originally issued his debut novella, Solid State Memories, in 2018. The story was initially packaged up as a PDF with the download of the soundtrack he’d created to accompany the text, but Lally always felt that it needed its own oxygen away from the music; to coincide with a planned vinyl reissue of the album, Solid State Memories now exists as a stand-alone paperback, giving it the focus that it perhaps always deserved.

The creative impulse for Solid State Memories was the cover illustration, gifted by Italian graphic designer Hannes Pasqualini to Lally on his fortieth birthday. The image shows a woman standing on a rooftop overlooking a futuristic landscape, surrounded by broken technology, her identity card being cast to the floor. The most striking quality is not the mournful, pensive way the character is looking out toward the city and the monorail slicing its way through the landscape, but the way her hair appears to be a figurative device for the ephemerality of memories, here uncoiling out of her brain to join the dust and rubble of her rooftop perch, along with her discarded identity.

With that image as his inspiration along with a documentary about memory, Lally’s story emerges as science fiction grounded in worrying plausibility; namely, being able to implant chips inside the brain to suppress, change and create new memories and behaviours. The novella’s protagonist and pioneer of the new technology, Dr. Alex Wells, awakes into the fog of displaced recollections: initially focussed solely on trying to explain the absence of her lover, who we learned died in a car crash several years before, the story unfolds to reveal that Wells herself has one of her own chips implanted in her brain and that the whole project was bankrolled by shadier quarters of the government for use by the military.

Overtones of J.G. Ballard abound here: Dr. Wells’ girlfriend was called Rachel Ballard, the orchestrated means of her fatal collision recalls Crash, and a lengthy section where Wells is pursued by government agents through a forest but blurred with inexplicable phenomena echoes his short story The Crystal World. The story is laced with as much scientific detail as it is emotional revelations from Wells’ personal life, the same enmeshed narrative between the two facets being allegorical for what’s symbiotically happening inside her brain with the chip.

Ultimately, Solid State Memories reveals itself as a thriller, where, true to the form, the odds seem perpetually stacked against Wells. It is only through encounters with benevolent characters that the gaps in her memory and her awareness begin to close themselves, in so doing revealing her motives and plans. Lally’s sleight of hand here is to pace his ambitious novella to reflect those memories returning, while also maintaining a level of acute tension through the endless chase, leading to a conclusion that is both harrowing and worryingly prescient.

Solid State Memories by Rupert Lally is available through Amazon.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2021 Further.