NTS Sessions 4

NTS Sessions 4, second half, by Autechre.

Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4

Number 8 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

The second half of NTS Sessions 4 is a single hour long track called, “all end”.

I had skimmed a review in the wire magazine, so I sort of knew what to expect.

I am somewhat obsessed by the idea of the physicality of sound.

When I think of “all end” it reminds me of an opaque block of ice.

From a distance, it looks solid and homogeneous. But, as you listen closer, you realize that there are little things happening in the background underneath the veneer of homogeneity.

It has texture and color and expresses something.

It may be melting as we look at it, changing phase, from solid to liquid to gas.

Anyway, to get back to the idea of autechre’s music as music that could be made by algorithms, I really do think that is unfair. You can hear them touching this music as it is being made.

I mean, unlike most music, when you see a performer on a late night show, and all there is is a laptop, some actors pretending to be musicians, and a vocalist singing backup to their pre-recorded and pitch corrected vocal track.

Now that, whether it is country pop, punk pop, or urban pop, is the real sound of algorithms.

#Autechre #NTSSessions #todayscommutesoundtrack #wiremagazine #wiremagazinetop50 #wiremagazinetop502018

NTS Sessions 4

NTS Sessions 4, first half, by Autechre.

Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4

Number 8 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Several shorter songs and one longer one, mark the beginning of the end of the NTS Sessions.

Primarily, so far, Disk 4 is marked by a floatier, ambient feel. Washes of keyboard synth and reverb-ed echoing percussion fade in and out through the space of the pieces.

Several parts feel as if they were recorded underwater or in a storm.

If there was any hope that this would morph into a commercially saleable dance album, they have now been dashed.

#Autechre #NTSSessions #todayscommutesoundtrack #wiremagazine #wiremagazinetop50 #wiremagazinetop502018

NTS Sessions 3

NTS Sessions 3, second half, by Autechre.

Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4

Number 8 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

One nice thing about Autechre, is, while they can be abrasive, they never seem to lose their sense of humor. There’s always a light touch to their sound choices, whether it’s a squelchy synth or an amusing sample.

Thus, even 6 hours into this massive pile of abstract electronic music, it doesn’t really feel oppressive.

If anything, the second half of NTS Sessions 3 reminds me a bit of the goofy-abrasive work of the Moebius/Plank albums like Rastakraut Pasta and En Route. It has that loping, goofy feel to it.

A couple songs seem to utilize samples from acoustic guitars (flH) in this section and another seems to use a very badly out of tune or prepared piano (g1e1).

“nineFly” is a lumpy wah (sub) bass thing which squiggles along, surrounded by junkyard percussion. “icari” is a surprisingly moving and detailed soundscape piece. Other songs in this section briefly evoke David Lynch’s Eraserhead soundtrack, with its wind swept distortion, and others stumble along, lurching drunkenly from start to finish.

#Autechre #NTSSessions #todayscommutesoundtrack #wiremagazine #wiremagazinetop50 #wiremagazinetop502018

NTS Sessions 3

NTS Sessions 3, first half, by Autechre.

Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4

Number 8 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

A couple shorter songs featuring rude noises lead up to the centerpiece of the first half of NTS Sessions 3, called “tt1pd”. On the Industrial side of Ambient, “tt1pd” builds and builds, squidgy synth washes panning left and right, a driving wah bass, and what I believe may be those long lost ping pong balls, but sped up until they are more like machine gun bursts.

About half way through, the whole thing collapses and sounds like it is turning itself inside out. It tries to get up several more times, each time collapsing into various states of dub chaos; inside out, upside down, struggling like a puppet whose strings have been cut, finally giving in to the inevitable entropy, and stumbling to a stop.

#Autechre #NTSSessions #todayscommutesoundtrack #wiremagazine #wiremagazinetop50 #wiremagazinetop502018

NTS Sessions 2

NTS Session 2 by Autechre, second half; Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4.

Number 8 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

Along with esoterically, and possibly hilariously, named tracks like, “wetgelis casual interval”, most of the second half of NTS Sessions 2 is taken up by two longer pieces, “e0” and “9 chr0”.

“e0” luxuriates in quasi Asian melodies, electronic percussion, and what sound like Tubular Bells. The end effect is something like a parody of a Jean Michelle Jarre. Or maybe Autechre are serious. Who knows.

“9chr0” is the highlight of the NTS Sessions for me, so far.

First, because the rhythms indulged in are somewhat syncopated. One could almost say, “funky”. Or, at least, as funky as Autechre get.

Second, because the melodic component, such that there is one, is so blissfully and obscenely mangled. Some of the sounds are just massively distorted, that, if you are of a certain mind, you can’t help but cheer their audaciousness.

Finally, and perhaps most amusingly, with the melodic component on this track, Autechre actually use something like chord changes.

The sort of chord changes you would hear in a blues tune or rock anthem.

Yet, they, like the rhythms are so mangled, it’s like listening to blues which have been put in a blender.

I like to turn it up until the suspension shakes.

#Autechre #NTSSessions #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

NTS Sessions 2

NTS Session 2 by Autechre, first half; Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4.

Number 8 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

NTS Session 2 starts by revisiting one of the oldest tropes in, how shall we say, “eclectic” electronic dance music, the ping pong rhythm. You know, ping-pong….ping. Of course, it would be too easy to use the actual sound, so different sound palettes stand in for the hoary ping pong ball and paddle, but it is unmistakeable, and the theme and variation is multitudinous. And energetic.

About an hour in, the rhythmic onslaught retreats slightly, making way for more of the, more or less, plodding rhythms of the start of NTS Session 1, but on top of this is something that I’m pretty sure is a massively pitch shifted mouth harp.

An hour and a half in, and I still don’t think we’ve gotten to anything you could, generously speaking, “dance” to.

#Autechre #NTSSessions #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Yunnan “Pine Needles” Green Tea from Mengku, Spring 2018

Yunnan “Pine Needles” Green Tea from Mengku, Spring 2018 from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

I sort of thought yesterday’s “Jade Dragon” would be the highlight of the Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler, but this tea is even more interesting.

First, due to the name of the village it is grown in. “This lovely tea is grown in Mengku County of Lincang in a village called “Dofu Zhai” (aka Tofu Village).” Tofu Village!

Second, it is a special varietal local to “Tofu Village” that is a hybrid of pure Camellia sinensis var. assamica and another varietal called “Change Ye Bai Hao”.

The name, “Song Zhen,” (or “Pine Needles,”) of course, comes from the appearance of the processed tea. After the “kill green” step, they are rolled super tightly along the rib to have the appearance, for all anyone knows, of being a pile of pine needles.

But, mostly, the tea is amazing due to its flavor. It comes out of the gate with a buttery caramel-esque flavor. Seriously. Which gives way to a mild stonefruit core. Finishes with sweetness, a touch of astringency, a very pleasant buzz, and a camphor/menthol sensation that seems to evaporate from your tongue.

What a wild ride!

#Tea #Cha #GreenTea #YunnanTea #YunnanSourcing

NTS Sessions 1

NTS Session 1, second half, by Autechre; Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4.

Number 8 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

The second half of the first NTS Session builds in tempo from the first, going from the rather plodding 60-ish bpm of “t1a1” to a pretty blazing high point on “gonk steady one”.

“gonk steady one” sort of sounds like what might happen if The Art of Noise had attempted to cover Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”. That is, if they also decided to use a bent, spindled, and mutilated version of George Clinton’s Atomic Dog as the vocal component.

After the heady tempos of “gonk steady one”, things move to a more mellow ambient groove for the remaining tracks, “four of seven” and “32a_reflected”, and then fade out.

#Autechre #NTSSessions #NTSSessions1 #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Feng Qing “Jade Dragon” White Pekoe Green Tea, Spring 2018

Feng Quing “Jade Dragon” White Pekoe Green Tea, Spring 2018, from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

The term “Pekoe” in the name of this tea is a bit confusing for me. Usually, “Pekoe” refers, when combined with the word “Orange”, to a non-tippy type of broken black tea, from an obscure British/Dutch tea classification system.

The Yunnan Sourcing website says this tea is, “A robust white pekoe varietal green tea from Feng Qing area of Lincang.”

That implies that there is a Chinese tea varietal called “pekoe”?

Color me confused.

However, as soon as I taste this tea, I am far less confused. While it isn’t quite the green powerhouse that the Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai was, nor is it the mild mannered tea of either the Green Snail or the Cui Ming.

It charts a nice path right down the upper middle of the green teas I’ve tried, with very good vegetal pea/bean flavor, nice re-steepability, and a lengthy sweet after-taste. And a pleasantly zippy caffeine buzz. I could defintely drink the heck out of this one, whatever its pedigree.

#GreenTea #YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

NTS Session 1

NTS Session 1 by Autechre; Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4.

Number 8 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

Number 8 takes a bit of explaining, and will take all of this week’s commutes (and most of next week’s) to listen to.

Earlier this year the band Autechre had a residency of sorts on the online “radio” platform, “NTS.Live“. They performed 4 sessions live in the studio.

This album is the result, and clocks in at around 8 hours of pure, unadulterated, Autechre fun.

Autechre, if you are not familiar, are a fairly experimental electronic music duo, who, perhaps, are most often excoritated as being music which could be generated by algorithms or the easy listening soundtrack of a race of androids.

I think that is a bit harsh.

Their music is primarily percussive. And they do tend to use synths, rather than samples. Still, it is easy to hear the master’s voice in the mix.

Even being about only half way through the first recording of the NTS Sessions, there is enough light hearted squelchy fun, that I am looking forward to a couple week’s of suspension rattling ambient electronic danse muzak.

The first track, in particular, is an enjoyable side trip down a parti-colored mutant version of Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk.

Sqwalck!

#Autechre #NTSSessions #WireMagazineBestOf2018 #WireMagazine