A brief visit into the realms of Elektronmusikstudion


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Few places has had such an impact on the exploration of electronic music and sound manipulation as Elektronmusikstudion in Sweden. One may think that this is more a place of the past but as you soon will find out this is a most relevant institution also in today´s music scene. One recent visitor to Elektronmusikstudion is for example the talented experimentalist Kyoka.

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Kyoka is a musician and a sound artist based in Japan and Berlin respectively. As a child she played several instruments, including the Japanese syamisen, before moving into the world of electronic instruments and Ableton Live. Most recently she was the first woman signed to the highly influential raster-noton label. Music wise she is known for her chaotic and direct musical approach and a heavy-rough sound, resulting in a broken pop-beat with experimental yet danceable rhythms.

Elektronmusikstudion (EMS), formerly known as Electroacoustic Music in Sweden, is the Swedish national centre for electronic music and sound art. The research organisation started in 1964 and is based in Stockholm. EMS was raised in 1964 by the Swedish composer Karl Birger Blomdahl, when he started working for the Swedish Radio. In addition to this job he requested for a special studio to allow him to produce electronic music. The Norwegian composer Knut Wiggen became the director of this studio called klangverkstan (sound workshop) at first.

Kyoka: For example, artists who start making music using hardware have a better understanding of how the whole system of synthesizers works. So for them, it’s all clear when they make music in software later on. But I’ve started with making computer music using software, so sometimes I’m not sure whether what I’m doing would actually work in real life. Because even when you make a wrong connection in software, it still does create a sound, whereas when you’d do the same thing with real synthesizers, they wouldn’t make a sound anymore, so I would have to figure out the reason why. I used to carry many misunderstandings in my head, but after spending time at EMS, many things about electricity or sine waves are much clearer now.

Here are two nice vintage movies of the time, and if you listen to the sounds created we´re not far off today´s creative artists in the minimal techno scene, and similar:

Returning to the present Samuel Hertz is an interesting composer/performer currently based in Oakland, California. His works have recently been seen at ACUD MACHT NEU (Berlin, Germany), Bains::Connective (Brussels, Belgium), Apiary Studios (London, UK), Center for New Music (San Francisco, CA), and many more places.

His current research interests are in artificial acoustic ecologies, embodied sound/perception, and logic feedback systems as compositional methods. Inspired by old and modern theories of sound transmission, energetics, and vibration, at EMS he will work to create synthesized environments which can have various degrees of responsiveness and flexibility while still maintaining unique identities as unique sonic (eco)logical environments.

Samuel Hertz´’Other Options’ is an installation environment composed using custom-built standalone software (developed in Max/MSP) which continually and infinitely re-composes audio and video environments according to generative algorithms. Both audio and video processors work from a repository of pre-recorded material, and the program may choose to perform and combine any of them in any sequence. Additionally, the audio component generates new material which can be added to the repository for later use.

Both video and audio processing environments are programmed in Max/MSP and use a finite set of pre-recorded material to continually re-compose choreographed dance-for-camera sequences and field/studio recordings. The processing programs embellish and re-mix material, and (in the case of the audio processor) contain the ability to spontaneously create new material to be added into the repository.

Other Options — as a physical installation — is optimized for 6 – 12 discrete channels of spatialized audio, including a Doppler effect simulator which can be mapped to specific performance spaces. The video projections (3+ screens) works in tandem with live performers, simultaneously following a score of specific gestures and timings that correspond to the basic structure of the filmed sequences (pre-generative processing). The version presented here is comprised of recorded output of real-time video and audio generation from the processors.

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Another interesting artist currently present at EMS is Eleonora Oreggia (xname). She´s an interdisciplinary artist born in Milan and based in London. She makes interactive installations and live performances.

Made of self built electronics, lines of code, and other inert matter (noise, dust), her alchemic constructions often contain a live element, something that has to happen, yet unpredictable. Her live compositions transform light and other electromagnetic frequencies in sound waves through self built synthetisers and complex semi chaotic machines. The result is an hypnotic spectacle dominated by industrial and noise-techno frequencies.

Raster-Noton celebrating 20 years in business

Since mentioning Kyoka being signed to raster-noton and the fact that they are celebrating this year we of course had to throw some details on it, into this article

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The label is the brainchild of Olaf Bender, Frank Bretschneider and Carsten Nicolai, better know to Rasterfarians as Byetone, Komet and Alva Noto. The three of them grew up in Chemnitz, an East German town known as Karl-Marx-Stadt until the dissolution of the GDR in 1990, where they began releasing music in 1996 on their respective labels – Bender and Bretschneider’s Rastermusic and Nicolai’s noton.archiv. In 1999, a team consisting of Finnish artists Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen (aka Pan Sonic), Russian producer CoH, Kompakt founder Wolfgang Voigt and UK sound artist Scanner – lent their expertise to an epic 12-CD compilation-cum-sculpture called 20′ to 2000, and with it Raster-Noton was born. The release won the label a prestigious Prix Ars Electronica award for digital music and was even selected for the collections of New York’s MoMA and Paris’ Pompidou Centre.

20-2000-eg-1With a strong adherence to reductionism and taking raw materials down to their base elements, from packaging to the all-important sounds within, Raster-Noton is often referred to as genre in its own right. Describing what this genre-of-sorts entails as the number of releases has expanded beyond the 150 mark, normally resorts to the knee jerk labels of “glitch”, “academic” and “minimal techno”.

The label is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a series of events around Europe, including a recent exhibition at Berghain and showcases at Sou Festival, Sónar, Dekmantel, Ruhrtriennale and electric campfire in Rome.

More info here http://www.raster-noton.net/