Various Artists {A Simple Procedure}

KFJC - September 2019
KFJC DJs are masters of the “superimposition,” Cy Thoth’s term for a live mix of multiple records at once. So here’s an advanced challenge:

Choose 42 records. Cue up eight at a time. For each record, using a chart inspired by the I Ching, determine whether to press play, press pause, change its playback volume, or switch it out for another record.

Follow this simple procedure, and you’ll have performed John Cage’s 1952 work Imaginary Landscape No. 5. For this 2015 release from Estuary Ltd., label founder Mark Cetilia (of Mem1, recently added to our library), commissioned fellow artists to create 42 original works to be used as source material for a new imagining of Cage’s piece, here spread over two CDs.

In contrast to the jazz records Cage used to create the original version, Cetilia’s source material is far more abstract. Overall, the tracks on CD1 have a subtler feel – icy drones (T5), ocean waves (T6), glacier caves (T15), electronic birds (T10) and insects (T14), treated piano and guitar, organ (T20), and some serious ASMR mouths sounds (T3) – while the tracks on CD2 are propelled by livelier rhythms, from dance beats to dogs’ barks to noise textures.

At the end of each CD is an instance of Imaginary Landscape No. 5. For the first, Cetilia uses the 42 tracks each pressed onto a 7" record to create an analog version of the piece (CD1-T22). For the second, Cetilia used software to edit the original files to make a digital version (CD2-T22). Each landscape matches the material on its disc, with CD1’s analog version softened by a sea of surface noise, while CD2’s digital version cuts abruptly from one sonic idea to the next. -Lexi Glass

Neural - June 2016
A Simple Procedure is a celebration of the legacy that comes to us from Cageian experimentalism and is a re-imagining of a seminal piece by the master &emdash; ‘Imaginary Landscape No. 5’, viewed through the lens of contemporary musical practice. Cage’s 1952 work was made for a solo dance performance by Jean Erdman entitled Portrait of a Lady and essentially constitutes an information series: a block-graph timeline score that uses as its source any 42 phonograph records from which fragments are selected and played with several changes in intensity from “soft” to “loud”. Originally the result depended on a series of chance operations made using the I Ching as a guide. The composition is at times frenetic, with as many as eight records playing within the span of a couple of seconds, and at other times sparse, with only one or no records whatsoever playing (Cage had also specified that there should be eight performers). The Estuary Ltd label decided to commission 42 new works for this project featuring a broad spectrum of acclaimed performers and composers of experimental music. Among the many contributors artists we find Blevin Blectum & Ed Osborn, Gilles Aubry, Robert Donne & Stephen Vitiello, Yann Novak & Robert Crouch, Davey Harms, Ren Schofield, Ernst Karel, Donna Parker and Attila Faravelli, all experimenters who willingly offered materials to Mark Cetilia to follow Cage’s process, giving rise to two separate versions, one digital and one analogue: a procedure that ultimately proved to be not-so-simple, but one that certainly served its purpose.

Textura - December 2015
Founded in 2010 and overseen by Mem1 duo Mark and Laura Cetilia, Estuary Ltd. has a reputation for releasing provocative experimental works, and its latest release, the double-CD compilation A Simple Procedure, certainly upholds that tradition. In form and structure, it reminds me a little bit of the Modulation & Transformation and Electric Ladyland compilations Mille Plateaux released in the ’90s: in listening to each collection, you never knew what exactly you were going to get, but you knew your musical understanding would be profoundly altered by the time it was over. Forty-four pieces are presented on A Simple Procedure, and joining artists who’ve previously appeared on the Estuary Ltd. label (Blevin Blectum, Ed Osborn, Mem1) are familiar names such as Stephen Vitiello, Daniel Menche, Yann Novak, Robert Crouch, Steve Roden, Kraig Grady, Geoff Mullen, Keith Fullerton Whitman, and so on.

The release isn’t just an unrelated grab-bag of experimental pieces, however, but one rooted in the work of John Cage, specifically his 1952 Imaginary Landscape No. 5. Using the I Ching as a guide, he conceived of the piece, rooted in chance operations and equipped with instructions, as a blueprint of sorts for the production of any possible work — even if it was formally created for a solo dance performance by Jean Erdman called Portrait of a Lady (in Cage’s own words, “This is a score for making a recording on tape, using as material any 42 phonograph records”). In the spirit of his piece, the forty-two new works on A Simple Procedure were cut onto seven-inch vinyl discs using a Presto 6N lathe recorder from the 1940s, and Estuary Ltd. has issued each of the forty-two recordings as singles, with Mark Cetilia’s woozy realization of the Cage work (generated using custom software and the A sides of the forty-two records) included on the B side. Both analog and digital versions of Cetilia’s realization appear on the two-CD set (issued in an edition of 200 copies).

The limitless range of possibilities afforded by Cage’s instructions translates into a compilation that includes all manner of artistic expression. Some of these three-minute pieces are voice- or field recordings-based (Ido Govrin’s “French Beach,” Geoff Mullen’s “Spring Walk in Karlsruhe”); others feature acoustic, synthetic, and electronic sounds. Indicative of its stylistic sprawl, feedback studies, guitar and synthesizer experiments, piano deconstructions, noise explorations, spacey ambient-drones, mutant drum workouts, and gamelan miniatures all find their way into the release.

The open-ended quality of the material invites personalized projections, such that Area C’s “Porous,” for example, reminds me of the tense closing sequence in Full Metal Jacket. Elsewhere, Amnon Wolman’s “Untitled (For M&L)” glassily shimmers like some sci-fi soundtrack proposal, and Kraig Grady’s clangorous “The Skirmish of Birds in Cat Museum” lives up to its title. Rare is the piece that conforms to something resembling conventional song structure, though Val Martino’s acidy electro-funk cut “Nice Vice” does exactly that. Isolated moments aside, A Simple Procedure honours Cage’s spirit and sensibility in a way that would no doubt delight the game-changer were he still with us, and the release also impresses as a document of contemporary experimental practice.

The Wire - November 2015
John Cage’s 1952 piece Imaginary Landscape No. 5 was his first composition for magnetic tape, made with 42 phonograph records, a graphical score and a number of chance operations using the I Ching as a guide. Providence, Rhode Island label Estuary have chosen to revive Cage’s piece via the long route, commissioning 42 new works from artists including Blevin Blectum, Dalglish and Keith Fullerton Whitman, and pressing them to 7" records on a 1940s Presto lathe. This limited edition two CD set holds all 42 tracks, as well as two realisations of the piece by Mark Cetilia, one made with records and one made with digital files. Much good work here, from the granular noise of Daniel Menche’s “Vashon Ice” to the watery meditation suites of Christine Ödlund’s “Kvarken”... -Louis Pattison

Loop - November 2015
This work is based on a piece written by John Cage called ‘Imaginary Landscape No. 5’ for ’any 42 phonograph records. For this project 42 new works were made by a broad spectrum of performers and composers of experimental music.

This compilation was released in 2 CD set, in an edition of 200 copies featuring letterpress printed, die cut and hand numbered sleeves. The combination is analog and digital pieces in which electro-acoustic and software sound design are tools for the composition and improvisations, using field recordings, found objects, electronic devices, among others.

On the CD1 Blevin Blectum & Ed Osborn support digital parts, while Giles Aubry generates an atmosphere based on recordings of the environment and percussion on metal objects. Ken Ueno works with the voice to an almost imperceptible level. Andrea Pensado proposes a minimalist piece with synthetic sounds. Amnon Wolman with minimal resources create gloomy Wagnerian atmospheres. Ido Gavrin proposes a work sound sea recordings. Daniel Menche involved us with drones and noise. Geoff Mullen recorded a hike of a walker in the German city of Karlsruhe. The minimalist work of Yann Novak (Dragon’s Eye Recordings) and sound artist Robert Crouch unfold a drone with subtle melodic ambience. Norwegian Maia Urstad electronically manipulates the strings convening an area that captivates with its silence and reverberation. Kraig Grady offers a piece in which predominate different types of objects. Completing this first CD Mark Cetilia works John Cage’s ‘Imaginary Landscape No. 5’ piece in analog version.

CD2 starts with an electro piece of the eighties. Ren Schofield manipulated voices with analog devices generating a series of unconnected noises as well as Matt Underwood. Ernst Karel combines synthetic sounds and field recordings. Keith Fullerton Whitman and his analog manipulations offer a wide palette of abstract sounds. Extreme noise is deploying by [Power Monster]. Mark Cetilla finally closes this CD2 with ‘Imaginary Landscape No. 5’ of John Cage in a digital version. -Guillermo Escudero

Steve Roden + Mem1 {A Floating Wave of Air}

Neural - Winter 2016
Mem1 are an experienced electroacoustic ensemble, heard here in collaboration with Steve Roden. The album, released on Estuary, seamlessly blends their respective contributions, drawing together the sounds of a modulated cello with gentle electronica, marrying analogue developments with digital effects obtained from small percussion and resonant found objects. The underlying logic is driven by an improvisational approach, also using instruments and vocals by Laura Cetilia. The tracks are free form, but in constant flux, moving through many emotional states and dimensions like a swarm of insects. The compositions are structures into six tracks, all intriguing and enjoyable. There is a consistency to the selected works; while each piece is permeated by surprising actions, these are still internally resonant, appropriate and well thought out.

Textura - September 2015
A Floating Wave of Air reveals sound artist Steve Roden and electro-acoustic outfit Mem1 (Mark and Laura Cetilia) to be natural collaborators, especially in the way the seventy-six-minute recording seamlessly blends the respective contributions of the those involved. Having operated as a cello-and-electronics duo for many years now, the Cetilias infuse their improv-based performances with the kind of telepathy one might expect from a married couple, and consequently the material they produce presents itself as an indissoluble whole. Certainly her cello sound is so distinct, it can't help but separate itself out from the total sound mass. Having said that, the two purposefully sidestep an approach that would see the cello treated as the solo instrument and electronics the backdrop; instead, the cello is exploited less for its melodic potential than its textural richness.

Roden works comfortably across many platforms and disciplines, among them painting, drawing, film/video, and sound installation, and would thus seem to be a perfect partner for the Cetilias. The three first collaborated in 2007 when he participated in Mem1's Ctrl+Alt+Repeat series, after which the collaborators recorded material a year later at the Bubble House, his painting studio, in Pasadena, California. Five years on from that session, the three recorded again, this time at Studio 205 in the Cetilias' adopted hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. With A Floating Wave of Air sequenced so that the three 2008 settings alternate with the three from 2012, the recording's six-part “The Uncertainties of Movement” makes for an interesting study in comparison and contrast. The surprise, however, is not how dramatically unlike but rather how complementary the material from the two sessions is. Of course there are differences from one piece to the next, yet the six sound as if they could have all originated out of a single session, not two five years apart.

Though Roden (acoustic objects and electronics), Mark (analog modular and electronics), and Laura (cello, voice, and electronics) contribute different instrument sounds, the results, as mentioned before, are heard less as conglomerations of individual bits and more as collective sum-totals produced by micro-organisms. The pieces, which range from seven minutes to twenty-two, are predictably explorative and receptive to the improvisatory impulses of each participant, all of who are clearly comfortable with shaping material as it develops in real time. The insistent “II” receives unexpected thrust from a metronomic bass pulse, alongside of which the three distribute cello plucks, ripples, tears, and various other textural elements, while “VI” emits a controlled howl of plucks, rumbles, smears, and mewlings for fourteen alien minutes. Striking too is the longest piece, “IV,” which begins as a rippling swarm of querulous voices whose supplications are gradually extinguished by a swelling mass of grime and static; humming insistently, the material undergoes constant changes in shape as it advances, with Laura's cello advancing to the forefront at one point as an aquatic gurgle. At various moments on the recording, her soft voice surfaces, its wordless murmur a humanizing presence and effective complement to the other elements.

A natural analogue to the incessant flow of these recordings is the insect colony, where it's the collective activity that dazzles as opposed to the movements of any one creature. As interesting as it would be to see a video document of Roden and Mem1 in action, it's ultimately better that we're deprived of knowing who's doing what at any given moment so that “The Uncertainties of Movement” can be experienced at the level of pure sound.

Bad Alchemy 87 - September 2015
Mit 'The Opening of the Field', 'Airforms' und 'Possible Landscapes' deutet Roden die lauschige Unbestimmtheit an, in die er, allein oder in Gesellschaft von Wanderfreunden wie Brandon LaBelle, Toy Bizarre, Bernhard Günter, Francisco López oder Machinefabriek, eindringt. Wobei Wandern schon zu viel gesagt ist, die Felder, die sich da auftun, sind, unfassbarer als Luft und Wasser, viel zu vage für grobe Füße. Auch 'The Uncertainties of Movement', die sechs Streifzüge, die er 2008 und 2013 unternommen hat zusammen mit dem Mem1-Couple Laura & Mark Cetilia, folgen lediglich krakeligen Linien oder Strichen in skizzenhaften Koordinatengittern als kryptischen 'Wanderkarten'. Mit psychogeo-graphischem Dèrive ist das allenfalls um drei Ecken verwandt. Es ist das eher das allmähliche Verfertigen weiterer Dimensionen um einen dünnen Faden herum, an dem sich Cello & Stimme, ein analoger Modularsynthesizer, Rodens acoustic objects und allgemein Electronics entlang tasten. Die Cetilias, die sich übrigens 2003 bei Roden in L.A. kennengelernt haben, sind inzwischen in Rhode Island mit Estuary Ltd. in Providence und der Konzertreihe Ctrl+Alt+Repeat in Pawtucket profilierte Verfechter grenzverletzender Elektroakustik. So auch mit hier. ('I') Rubbelige und hechelnde Verschleifungen und spitzes Pizzikato lösen kakophone ebenso wie sonore Dröhnwellen aus. Und kläfft da nicht ein kleiner Hund? ('II') Zu einem wummrigen Zitterpuls kommen ein heller und ein furzeliger dazu, dazu pumpt schneller Herzschlag, akzentuiert mit einem metallioden Plonken, zarter Vokalisation und zartem Flöten. ('III') Zu wie geblasenen, tröpfeligen, rostigen und knarzigen Lauten ertönen Rufe, aber wie von Vinyl gescratcht, wobei das nun auch von schnarchenden Cellostrichen und gesummtem Singsang durchsetzte Ganze sich anhört wie aus Loops gefügt und in Traumflüssigkeit getaucht. ('IV') In knurschendes Vinyl mischt sich Wolfs- oder Windgeheul, mit einer dröhnenden, pfeifenden Bewegung, die sich zu einer Flatterwelle verdichtet und wieder entspannt zu einem pfeifenden Pulsieren mit Cellobeiklang und zuletzt auch wieder Singsang. Pulsierend, sich drehend, atmend, driftend verlieren Menschliches, Naturhaftes und Maschinelles die Konturen. Besonders schön gelingt das bei 'V', wenn sich aus Krimskramerei harmonische Cellowellen und -pizzikato herausschälen, erneut zu vokalisiertem Lullaby. Bei 'VI' erschallen tutende Hörner über knarrenden Fröschen und Harmonikaklang, der im Wind bibbert. Wieder knurscht Vinyl wie Harsch, wieder spielen imaginäre Wölfchen Flöte, spielt der Regen Cello. Aber wohin führt das, wenn man Wölfe mit Flöten, Frauen mit Hüten und Ruß mit Schnee verwechselt? -Rigobert Dittman

Loop - October 2015
Steve Roden is a sound and visual artist from Los Angeles. His works include painting, drawing, sculpture, film and video, sound installations and live performances. Between 1979 and 1982 Roden was the lead singer of the punk band Seditionaries and in 1997 began his career in sound art. He has released over thirty albums and EP's as solo artist and in collaboration with other artists.

Mem1 composed by Mark and Laura Cetilia combine electronics and cello started in the world of sonic exploration in Los Angeles in 2003. Both are curators of experimental music series Ctrl+Alt+Repeat and the record label Estuary Ltd. Steve Roden on acoustic objects and electronics, Mark Cetilia analog modular and electronics and Laura Cetilia on cello, voice and electronics collaborated for the first in 2008 and in 2013, both are included in this CD.

'A Floating Wave of Air' display tracks in which unfolds microscopic sound waves, ripples, cello plucks and found objects which are electronically manipulated. The unnerving atmospheres as on 'IV' combine voices that emit howls that come together with dense cosmic dust and a cello producing sustained drones.

Certain harmony hovers in cello plucks and Laura’s whispering voice on 'V' suggest a melancholic and hesitant piece which appears to be the epilogue of a story. Amazing album that provide subtle textures and environments. 5 / 5 -Guillermo Escudero

Blevin Blectum {Irradiance}

The Wire - September 2014
The ambiguity of what Bevin Kelley’s work evokes — whether its palette of sounds comes from the squish and churn of bodily and computerised interiors, or from the colder spaces of the stars — has long been disquietingly productive. This limited edition release on a contemporary classical [sic] label comprises installation pieces designed to mirror the invisible spaces and forces of cosmic space, but a lingering doubt remains. The mineral glisten of its quiet drones recalls Kevin Drumm's Imperial Distortion, but they lack the casual, backgrounding drift of the drone form in ambient. When a loud, choppy gust pours through “Warm Machines”, pulling a wheezing metallic pulse in its wake, it could equally be a dying starship or an evacuating bowel. - Dan Barrow

Textura - July 2014
Electronic music aficionados likely will be familiar with Blevin Blectum (real name Bevin Kelley) for the collaborative work she's done with Kristin Grace Erickson as Blectum from Blechdom and for her solo productions, too. Having released material since 1998 on labels such as Tigerbeat6, Orthlorng Musork, and Aagoo, Kelley, a veterinary nurse as well as violinist, multimedia composer, and sound designer, brings a substantial prehistory to this forty-six-minute set on Estuary Ltd.

Created at Studio Sinopterus in Providence, Rhode Island and issued in a letterpress-printed edition of 200, Irradiance layers synthesized, acoustic, and hand-held electro-acoustic material into five immersive and detail-intensive settings. Originally generated for a ten-channel installation-and-performance space, the project features analog and digital sounds that Kelley transformed, dissolved, and recombined into their ultimate multi-layered form. There's an hermetic and uncompromising quality to the project reminiscent of the kind of explorative sound research associated with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and its early pioneers of electronic music and computer design such as Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire.

Though Kelley's released material on Tigerbeat6, Irradiance possesses little of the anarchistic playfulness sometimes heard on its recordings—which is not to suggest that the album isn't playful, too. Stated otherwise, Irradiance wears a serious mask, but underneath it one finds an explorative sensibility that's playful in its own way. “Enfolded Embers” presents a sound portrait seething with alien or insect interactions magnified so as to render every possible detail with clarity. “Warm Machines” would seem to be an ironic title, given the severe vortex of sound on offer, though the title could be interpreted as referring to overheating machines on the verge of collapse. The recording's longest piece is the penultimate “Incinerating Zeros,” whose micro-sound textures ripple through ghostly, heavily reverberant spaces with a clinically controlled deliberation for seventeen minutes. In the tightly wound sub-universe Kelley fashions, tension slowly mounts until it reaches an almost unbearable degree, and the abstract elements mired within it seem to want to break free from the state of suffocation entrapping them.

Irradiance's universe generally feels so self-contained, the mere presence of field-recorded crowd noises in the closing “Presages of Woe” arrives as some kind of relief—even if the human sounds do quickly transform into ghoulish shrieks. Even so, one will reap the greatest benefit from the recording if experienced as a headphones listen or on a high-end system capable of bringing forth the subtleties of its sound design.

Loop - July 2014
Bevin Kelley is an electronic music multimedia composer and sound designer, violinist and veterinary nurse. Under the moniker of Blevin Blectum she started his carreer in 1998 and alongwith Kristin Grace work as Blectum and Blechdom have released several records on labels such as Tigerbeat6, Orthlorng, Phthalo and Aagoo.

'Irradiance' was released in a limited run of 200 copies on Estuary and consist on five songs.

We walked into the complex musical world of Blectum in both digital and analog devices weave the various intricacies and sometimes dark passages that connect these five pieces. Processed voices, compressed sounds and thick layers of sound, scraps of percussion, objects of different materials are manipulated and drones propose a meandering and abstract collage. 5 / 5. -Guillermo Escudero

Bad Alchemy 82 - July 2014
Bevin Kelley promoviert gerade an der Brown University, kein Zufall also, dass ihre neueste Musik bei einem New-Music-Label in Providence, RI, herauskommt. In der für Estuary ltd. typischen, schönheitspreisverdächtigen Aufmachung werden unter dem Stichwort 'Strahlungsstärke' fünf Werke präsentiert, die für eine Installation entstanden sind, bei der sonnenmagnetische Kraftlinien und Dampf die Sinne berührten, während die Musik auf zehn Kanälen die Synapsen bestrahlte. Bloß in Stereo und bei Tageslicht fühle ich mich nicht so recht in den Fokus genommen von den Dröhnwellen und ihren metallisch perkussiven Begleiterscheinungen. Pumpende Bewegungsabläufe werden von furzelndem Dopplereffekt durchquert, es wallt und schwallt auf mehreren Ebenen, grollende Wooshes branden über einen hinweg. Aber so richtig warm werde ich mit den 'Warm Machines' nicht. Von zündenden Ideen ist allenfalls etwas zu ahnen, während man im Klangbad darauf wartet, von einer Null zu einer Eins wachgeküsst zu werden. Zumindest legen die Titel 'Entombed Zeros' und 'Incinerated Zeros' etwas Ähnliches nahe. Oder das Gegenteil. Flügelschläge, die einen in der dröhnenden Finsternis umflattern, reichen zur Belebung, zum Bewusstwerden nicht aus. Zumal die Wooshes rückwärts abrutschen, das Bewegungsmoment wolkig in die Breite quillt, statt irgendwohin Tritt zu fassen. Vielleicht ginge das auch über die Verhältnisse eingesargter Nullen hinaus. Zuletzt dennoch Jubel, Beifall, kindliches Kirren, allerdings unter der ominösen Überschrift 'Presages of Woe' (Vorahnungen von Kummer, Vorzeichen von Leid). Will heißen: Leben heißt Leiden? Nur... -Rigobert Dittman

Metamkine - April 2014
Irradiance est basée sur des matières initialement créées pour une installation immersive sur 10 canaux prenant le système solaire comme modèle. La version stéréo de ce disque conserve cette plongée dans un univers cosmique où les éléments semblent se dissoudre et se transformer au fur et à mesure de l'écoute. Limité à 200 copies.

Laura Cetilia {Used, Broken & Unwanted}

Sequenza 21 - December 2015
A live recording from 2013 made in Providence, Rhode Island, Used, Broken, and Unwanted demonstrates to good effect the wide-ranging timbral palette and drone-based structures that artist Laura Cetilia explores. The title track makes use of repetition, not in the symmetrical fashion of process-driven minimalism, but to create an undulating undergirding for the wisps of vocal and cello melodies that sporadically emerge. This elegantly segues into the exquisitely fragile ”Thrum/Pin.“

”Plucked from Obscurity“ makes efficacious use of pizzicato; the electronics with which it contends range from the bell-like to the percussive. Particularly lovely is the delicate album closer ”Tears of Things,“ in which the main, initially pizzicato-driven, ostinato is gradually supplanted by sweeping guttural electronics and an accumulation of upper register sustained notes.

In the surprisingly burgeoning field of cellists who sing, Cetilia is a distinctive one. Alternately penetrating and atmospheric, Used, Broken, and Unwanted is a stimulating listen throughout.

Metamkine - April 2014
Laura Cetilia, violoncelle, autoharp, voix & électroniques. Moitié du groupe Mem1, Laura Cetilia distille ici une musique d'ambiances nocturnes et mystérieuses, des entrelacements de miniatures électroniques desquels surgissent chuchotement et cordes pincées. Et parfois la nuit remue fortement et l'agitation grandit. Une musique raffinée déconseillée pour les impatients.

Textura - April 2014
One tends to think of Laura Cetilia as the classically trained cello half of Mem1, with her partner Mark Cetilia responsible for the electronics side, but Laura's solo outing Used, Broken & Unwanted reveals that such a characterization is oversimplified. Yes, cello does play a significant part on the recording, but it would be more accurate to describe it as an electro-acoustic as opposed to cello-based set, especially when the recording's seven live-recorded pieces are fleshed out with autoharp, voice, and electronics sounds in addition to her signature instrument. When not involved in solo work or Mem1 productions, Laura, a graduate of the School of Music at Indiana University and Wichita State University, also partners with violist Robin Streb in Suna No Onna and is a member of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and New Bedford Symphony.

There are many striking things about the recording. One notices first of all that Laura's soundworld is relatively quiet, the aptly titled reverie "Endless Bliss" a clear case in point, with nary a Merzbow-like blast in sight—though "Plucked from Obscurity," it must be said, does screech and howl lustily for seven cataclysmic minutes. But generally speaking, her strategy is to seduce the listener with unusual arrays of sounds (bells and woozy tinklings colliding with rippling combustion during "Plucked from Obscurity," for example) and an always adventurous compositional sensibility. Another memorable detail is her soft wordless vocalizing, which surfaces throughout (it's, in fact, the first sound on the fifty-three-minute recording) and lends a humanizing quality to the material's at times abstract character.

In the immersive title track, Cetilia's real-time material develops unhurriedly as a dense, open-ended mass packed with string textures, hushed vocal musings, granular static, and controlled eruptions. The album also includes an insectoid, wavering drone ("Thrum / Pin") and another that presents a controlled swarm of high-pitched micro-sounds ("Blinding Light"). The album's key track is arguably "Tears of Things," an encompassing setting of cello-generated creaks and bowed tones that slowly swells in size and density over the course of fourteen hyper-tense minutes. Though Laura apparently got the album title from after a pawn shop sign she once saw, the recording is—or at least should be—anything but unwanted, even if some of its sounds might be called broken in a particular sense of the word.

Bad Alchemy 81 - April 2014
Diese aus Los Angeles stammende Cellistin spielt zwar auch in Symphonieorchestern, lieber aber macht sie Neue Musik, etwa im elektro-akustischen Ensemble Mem1. Im Duo Suna No Onna führte sie Werke in Wandelweiser-Ästhetik auf, solo präsentierte sie sich schon im Kontext mit Ryoji Ikeda. Das schicke ich als Hinweise voraus, bevor ich meine Sinne den 7 Kompositionen aussetze, die Cetilia für sich selber entworfen hat, für Cello, Autoharp, Stimme & Electronics. Gleich das Titelstück, benannt nach einem Secondhandlädchen, bestätigt meine Erwartung an eine Musikerin mit einem Faible für Jürg Frey und Antoine Beuger. Fieldrecordings als gischtige und knarrende Kulisse bilden eine maritime Folie für zartesten, tagträumerisch selbstvergessenen Singsang. Eine Seejungfrau mag sich so die imaginären Zehennägel lackieren und sie vom Atem Gottes trocknen lassen. Dass sie gestandene Seebären dabei um den Verstand bringt, bemerkt sie garnicht. 'Thrum / Pin' ist mit einem nadelig steppenden Puls unterlegt, die Stimme ist noch vager und eigentlich nur ein körperloses Gurren. Elektronische Wellen und ein Hauch von Harmonik bilden einen fadenscheinigen Horizont, eine metalloide Halluzination. 'Endless Bliss' variiert diesen Eindruck erneut mit einem Pulsieren, einem Hauch von Stimme, einem zarten Blinken. 'Plucked from Obscurity' taucht einen dagegen bis über beide Ohren in eine Störfront aus prasselndem Noise, durchhallt von glockigem Gedonge, gedämpft und zuletzt seltsam verbogen. Dazu erklingt ein silberdrahtiges Beinahenichts. 'Palpitations' entsteht offenbar durch das monotone Strumming von Autoharpstrings, durchsetzt mit schnarrenden Lauten, einem hohen Pfeifton und kurz auch dem paranormalen Hey-Ho einer 3-jährigen. 'Blinding Light' pulsiert in Mikropixeln, ein Pfeifen und ein noch feineres Sirren beginnen zu leuchten, gelegentlich gestört von platzenden Bläschen oder einem Flirren wie von Insektenflügeln gegen Glas. Ein Cello kann ich erst ganz zuletzt erkennen, erst als das Pizzikato zum knarrigen 'Tears of Things', dann doch auch als elegische Häufung von Bogenstrichen. -Rigobert Dittman

Ed Osborn {Stone North}

The Sound Projector - December 2014
Three pieces spanning twenty years from this Providence, Rhode Island-based recipient of a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Stipendium and a Guggenheim Fellowship. I’ve gleaned little useful information from the biography on his website, as it is full of deliberately facetious and extremely dubious “facts”. Osborn, I am assuming, would describe himself as a sound artist. The first piece on this collection, ‘In Memoriam Elisha Blakeman & Tabitha Babbitt’ (1992) holds a surprise — and this is a new one on me; a piece of music performed on “electric skis” (no gimmick this, surely?). You can practically hear Osborn sniggering up his sleeve at this point. Presumably [deep breath] a pair of skis liberated from the slopes of Chamonix or some such top-flight winter sports destination, strung possibly, and then contact-mic’ed so that Ed Osborn and partner in crime on this piece, Brenda Hutchinson, can wreak havoc upon our senses. We are told that back in the 1980s, Osborn played in an ensemble of some notoriety (perhaps in Osborn’s own head): Ski-A-Delics, who troubled Boston gig-goers with performances on multiple single-string-equipped skis. These days, he exists in a more sober position pursuing a teaching career; currently he is a tutor at the Visual Arts department at Brown University in Providence, having previously taught at institutions in Boston, Oakland and Santa Cruz.

Tabitha Babbitt, of the Shaker faith, is the probable inventor of the circular saw in 1810 (along with other inventions credited to her), and Elisha D. Blakeman wrote The youth’s guide in Zion: And Holy Mother’s promises, given by inspiration at New Lebanon, N.Y., January 5, 1842. But where skis fit into the scheme here is beyond me. Wikipedia throws a small patch of light on the proceedings: “Isaac Newton Youngs (July 4, 1793 — August 7, 1865) was a member of the religious organisation Shakers. He was a prolific scribe, correspondent, and diarist who documented the history of the New Lebanon, New York Church Family of Shakers from 1815 to 1865. Two members of his society described him as a genius. One of his students, Elisha Blakeman, wrote that Youngs’ mechanical genius was remarkable. He could turn machinist, mason or anything that promoted the general good. Many conveniences, which added so much to Shakers’ domestic happiness, Blakeman concluded, owed their origin to Youngs”. So, it’s clear that in referencing Tabitha Babbitt, Osborn is attempting to make an observation on how prevalent gender prejudice still is, although I have yet to ascertain the significance of Blakeman — there’s no further information forthcoming from Osborn himself.

The sounds on ‘In Memoriam&elips;’, although unremarkable, are nonetheless extremely pleasant to relax to. The range of the instrument is wide — keening high pitched and almost cymbal-like splashes of colour reside alongside powerful bass tones like the depth charge let loose to begin the track. Those expecting a lot of filigree detail might be disappointed however. There then follows a sadly predictable five minutes of unsurprising bowed sounds which are followed swiftly by the next piece.
‘Guitar Mechanical’ (1989-92), a composition for guitar, which is a collection of tics, jitters and fluffs, culminating in a process of agitation which ends with the guitar flapping about on the floor on its back in its death throes. It all goes very quiet here, mastering wise. The sleeve states “guitar and pickups” as the instrumentation but I’m not sure if the guitar in question is acoustic, electro acoustic or electric or if the pickups mentioned are the instrument’s own or additional units and if so how many, and so forth. Apologies if I’m boring you now but I’m quietly interested in this sort of thing. The track increases in volume with no small amount of stereo agitation which makes it sound to me like being in a flight/passel/kit of woodpigeons at the moment of take-off and road-testing some exotic new type of dynamic gate processor simultaneously. In the unlikely event that this may actually be true, I’d recommend the manufacturer call this new product a “Flim-Flammerer” in case they are stuck for a name. ‘Guitar Mechanical’ (1989-92) continues in a distinctly metallic / magnetic way, the stereo playfulness outstaying its welcome somewhat.

The third offering from Osborn’s personal archive is ‘Stone North’ (2009) which is like a fan with worn bearings or a bladeless circular saw (Tabitha Babbitt’s influence again?) attempting to engage with a concrete lintel. Alternately, you could consider it as a moving tone experiment. The guitar appears to be activated by a rotary device of some kind, maybe a second hand Wankel petrol engine out of an old Mazda, and its resulting output amplified and processed by unspecified electronics.
These pieces all suggest this question; there’s a lot of people who’ve seen Keith Rowe at some lavish European festival recently now making their own records with detourned guitar, but who is actually buying them? Its sounds like as the years have rolled by Osborn’ s ideas have become more and more compressed and specific, which is all well and good, but I found that it was all diminished slightly by his own over-use of mockery, which could be seen as somewhat juvenile, in his online presence. However, his achievements are many and varied and can be investigated here, so perhaps his biography is intentionally specious, reflecting its superfluousness.

Nice cream and blue letterpress and embossed image on card sleeve, limited to 300 units. -Paul Khimasia Morgan

Chain D.L.K. - June 2014
I was unfamiliar with Ed Osborn's work, but he is currently on the faculty of the Visual Arts Department at Brown University and has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Creative Work Fund, and Arts International. He uses modified electric guitar, bowed 'electric skis' (yeah ' I'll bet you haven't heard of that one), ebow, and real-time processing. Sounds promising. We kick off with 'In Memoriam Elisha Blakeman & Tabitha Babbitt,' with just over five minutes of guitar improvisation and heavy drone. Here is where we get to hear electric skis; 'monochords built from skis are laid flat and bowed using another pair of skis.' I found this to be interesting, but a bit slow moving for my tastes. Next, the album takes a turn or the better with 'Guitar Mechanical,' which is some serious guitar abuse. My wife thought that something was wrong with the player, which is always a good sign. But this is someone who is actually playing the guitar, so there is skill on display here, not just destruction. Still, everything is cut up and overdriven for maximum distortion. Osborn continues his assault on your ears with 'Stone North,' which is really heavy on the dissonance, making it a bit hard to listen to at times. The squalling guitar drones slowly shift between different levels of coherence and dissonance, keeping it interesting and engaging but always unrelenting. Make no mistake about it ' this is music that refuses to blend in to the background. It will have your complete, undivided attention. File this with some of Fear Falls Burning's noisier outings. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes and limited to 300 copies. -Eskaton

Neural - April 2014
Live electronics and tabletop guitar: these are the main elements of Stone North by Ed Osborn, a 2009 production now released by Estuary Ltd, a label focused on experimental fields that stands out for its approach toward the contemporary: moveable and open, but rigorous at the same time. From the first cuts the signals generated and released by the guitar are developed and delayed to create an effective background for layering other sounds. The album keep attention focused on the solidity and definition of the treatments, and the distinct audio emergencies move in concentric patterns. "Guitar Mechanical" (1989-92) weaves together finely constructed guitar manipulations and other sound elaborations in a free-form electroacoustic setting that is based on unusual evolutions and highly variegated and sometimes fragile loops. The first track is performed in memory of Elisha Blakeman and Tabitha Babbitt (two seminal inspirational leaders for Osborn): the combination of sequences paying homage to the inventor of "piano violin", a chordal table instrument (Blakeman), and to the designer of the first model of circular saw (Babbitt). Both were members of the Shaker community, a branch of Quaker puritan Protestantism at the beginning of the 18th century. This is the first Ed Osborn album since 1989: as a result it is dense with "sensitive connections", idealized and gathered together giving life to a listening experience that is perhaps not immediately gratifying, but has an undeniable charm, depth and pleasure. This is absolutely a release not to be missed.

Metamkine - April 2014
Trois pièces de cet artiste sonore d'origine finlandaise instalé sur la cote ouest des États-Unis, centrées autour de la guitare électrique plus ou moins modifiée. Un travail de rythmiques percussives avec des micros pickups extérieurs, une accumulation de résonances réinjectées et une pièce d'intro réalisée sur des skis transformés en monocorde !!! Puissant et captivant donc fortement recommandé ! Limité à 300 copies.

Loop - February 2014
Ed Osborn is a Finnish sound artist who is based in Philadelphia and his works include installation, sculpture, radio, video, performance and public projects. Osborn has performed in various educational centers, art galleries and open spaces in the U.S. and Europe. He has a permanent collection at the MOMA in San Francisco, works at the School of Visual Arts at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and has taught at several American universities.

'Stone North' consist in three pieces and is his first album since 1989, which is released by Estuary label in a limited run of 300 copies comprising over twenty years of sound activity.

For this album Osborn plays several custom instruments manipulated by himself as the modified electric guitar, 'skis electric' concave and real-time processing.

'In Memoriam Elisha Blakeman & Tabitha Babbitt' is a track performed live in studio by Osborn and Brenda Hutchinson and is dedicated to who invented a single-stringed tabletop instrument called the 'piano violin' (patented in 1871) and the circular saw in 1810. Both use a pair of electric skis laid flat producing expansive drones in a minimalist environment, where silence and noise have a common place.

Osborn on 'Guitar Mechanical' use pickups encapsulated in a cylindrical metal in each hand and play them over the modified guitar layed flat. The result is a spiral of scrapes that produce countless reverberations.

'Stone North' was created in 2009 and is a piece of electroacoustic improvisation and prepared guitar. The metal timbre is permanent in this issue and is changing the frequency, from the highest to the lowest sounds bursting hypnotic generating sound waves. 5 / 5 -Guillermo Escudero

Textura - January 2014
Estuary Ltd. follows up its recent {Impact + Aftermath} release by Mem1 member Mark Cetilia with another bold collection, this one the first first full-length album from Ed Osborn since 1989. Presented in a distinctive letterpress-printed sleeve and issued in a numbered edition of 300, the forty-three-minute release {Stone North} presents three live recordings, each piece different in character, instrumentation, and length, with the shortest five minutes and the longest twenty-six. They are, to be sure, challenging experimental works and not always easy listening either. They're also fascinating explorations of the range of sounds that conventional and unconventional instruments are capable of producing.

Fittingly titled after Shaker community members Elisha D'Alembert Blakeman and Tabitha Babbitt, who respectively invented a single-stringed tabletop instrument called the “piano violin” (patented in 1871) and the circular saw in 1810, “In Memoriam Elisha Blakeman & Tabitha Babbitt” (1989-92) was realized live in the studio by Osborn and Brenda Hutchinson. In keeping with Blakeman's creation, the two used skis to bow across a pair of electric skis laid flat, resulting in five minutes of monstrous scrapes whose reverberant residue dissipates into the extended pauses following each pass. As daunting as such a description might sound, the piece itself is generally easy on the ears, especially when it's performed in such a way that it grows progressively quieter and more peaceful as it unfolds.

Osborn realized 1992's “Guitar Mechanical” by laying the guitar flat and playing it from above with pickups in each hand, pickups in this case encased in cylindrical metal containers so that they also could serve as slides. The result is eleven minutes of prickly, spider-like thrum and shudder whose waves sometimes crash aggressively ashore, in a manner of speaking. Dispersed across the stereo field into separable halves, the sound masses charge, their attack sometimes delivered in a hocketing formation and their speed of attack modulating between slow and fast.

Composed in 2009, the long-form title track was performed by Osborn in one take using live electronics and tabletop guitar, with the latter's tones produced by E-bow and slide and the tones processed and delayed in evolving manner. The creaking sound mass in this case crawls, its arc rising and falling in seeming slow-motion and its metallic timbres metamorphosizing as they writhe. While the pitch-shifting at times calls Ligeti to mind, the rather creepy result could pass for a recording of the amplified communications within an insect colony far below ground. If the soundtrack for Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey ever went missing, Osborn's piece would be an especially good choice to accompany the colour-saturated sequence where Dave Bowman hurtles across the vast expanses of space.

KFJC On-Line Reviews - January 2014
Three pieces (5, 11 and 26 minutes) by mysterious sound artist Osborn, who seems to be affiliated with Mills College and various other institutions of creative music. He uses extended techniques and electronic processing on electric guitars and, on the first piece, amplified skis as a sound source. The ski piece is full of deep roaring sounds, which is evidently what you get if you take skis, amplify them, and coax sounds out of them. The second piece is the most percussive as Osborn bangs on his guitar and its pickups—it's probably the noisiest track. The third piece is the most electronic sounding with its fractured layers of droning feedback emanating from Osborn's tabletop guitar. Attractively active ambient works here. The compositions are from 1989, 1992, and 2009. -Max Level

Bad Alchemy 80 - January 2014
Dass Osborn in Helsinki geboren ist, will ich etwas weniger in Zweifel ziehen wie die Behauptung, dass er 1985 das 24-Stunden-Rennen von Le Mans gewonnen hätte. Es sei denn, er wäre 'John Winter' (und nicht tot). Aber das wäre dann eine andere Geschichte als die, dass Studien bei Alvin Lucier und Ron Kuivila und die Erfahrungen mit den Ski-A-Delics einen für eine akademische Karriere als Klangkünstler qualifizieren, der zur Zeit an der Brown University (Providence, RI) lehrt. Das mit dem Ski erklärt sich gleich bei 'In Memoriam Elisha Blakeman & Tabitha Babbitt' (1992). Diese Hommage an zwei erfinderische Shaker - Babbitt erfand 1813 die Kreissäge, der Tischler Elisha Blakeman ließ 1871 eine 'piano violin' patentieren - wird nämlich von Osborn (zusammen mit Brenda Hutchinson) auf electric skis intoniert. Das sind zu Monochords umgebaute Skier, die wiederum mit Skiern gestrichen werden. Das Erfinderische wurde Osborn durch seine Quäker-Eltern - die Shaker sind aus den Quäkern hervorgegangen - offenbar mit in die Wiege gelegt. Er nutzt seinen Einfallsreichtum auch für 'Guitar Mechanical' (1989-92), wo er mit zwei in Metallzylinder eingefassten Tonabnehmern eine flach gelegte Gitarre slide bespielt. Und auch 'Stone North' (2009) entstand nach diesem Prinzip, wiederum mit einer Tabletop und mit Slideglissandos, diesmal aber mit Ebow, Processing und Delay. Alle drei Arbeiten entfalten Saitenklang in außerordentlicher Weise. Vom Dröhnklang der Skier, mit erstaunlich sonoren Resonanzen wie aus dem Innenklavier gescharrt. Über die prickelnd tremolierte, flackrig bebende und detonierende Gitarrendramatik. Bis hin zum titelgebenden Prachtstück mit seinem herrlichen Sirren und Schillern in Schmeißfliegen- und Ölschlierfarbtönen. Das Ganze kommt in einem ganz feinen Hockdruckcover dazu auch noch als Augenschmaus daher. Fürwahr, when true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed! -Rigobert Dittman

Mark Cetilia {Impact + Aftermath}

EtherReal - September 2015
C’est la première fois que l’on parle d’une production de Mark Cetilia en solo, mais c’est en 2011 que l’on découvrait Mem1, le projet qu’il mène en parallèle avec son épouse. Ensemble, ils gèrent également le label Estuary Ltd. sur lequel ils ont notamment sorti en 2014 un album de Blevin Blectum.

Quatre ans après Mem1, on ne savait plus vraiment à quoi s’attendre avec cet album, ne faisant pas vraiment de distinction entre les deux protagonistes de cette formation. Or Mark est celui qui œuvre aux machines, l’expérimentateur qui fait de la recherche sonore alors que Laura, de formation classique, se produit principalement au violoncelle. Ce petit rappel / cette petite présentation effectué(e), on s’étonnera moins de l’approche particulièrement expérimentale de ce disque, composé de deux pièces de 23 et 35mn.

Dès le début, l’écoute de cet album est un peu rude puisque même au casque, il nous faudra bien attendre une trentaine de secondes avant de deviner un léger bruit sourd, une sorte de ronronnement de machine qui s’élève très progressivement. On peut penser à ce moment à un avion qui traverse le ciel mais bientôt des souffles, fins grésillements, sifflements suraigus et autres textures rugueuses et arides viennent s’en mêler. De part la nature des sonorités invitées, on frôle déjà le bruitisme, mais le volume sonore ne cesse lui aussi de monter, atteignant son apogée au bout de 22-23mn. D’une ambient quasi inaudible, ce Pulse Shape 22 évolue donc vers une bruitisme minimal au sein duquel on perçoit à peine quelques variations et oscillations de tonalités.

Plus courte, la seconde pièce emprunte un schéma similaire, tout en restant plus apaisée. On démarre cette fois par un souffle clair et cette clarté est la principale caractéristique qui distingue les deux pièces. Les souffles se superposent, quelques sifflements stridents se mettent à osciller et tous ces éléments varient en intensité, tonalité et tempo. Au bout d’un moment on se laisse bercer par ce chant de machines qui nous évoque presque une nuit d’été à la campagne, au bord d’une rivière, l’espace sonore étant habité par les chants et les cris d’une multitude d’insectes.

Bien avant la fin de ce Palinopsia, on perd le contact. à force de décliner, le son devient inaudible, terminant l’album un peu comme il a commencé, abandonnant l’auditeur avec un disque particulièrement expérimental et minimaliste. -Fabrice Allard

The Sound Projector - November 2014
God, that's quiet. I've heard some quiet albums, but that's brave how quiet this disc starts. It builds from nothing to distant rumbling, or the sound of a thousand subterranean hard drives in standby mode. The source of this curious sonic disturbance is “software defined radio + electronics”. Software defined radio, eh? I'll have to look that up. Ok; it means radio generated by or by the use of components that have been typically implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, and so forth) are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer. Does that mean Mark Cetilia has a piece of bespoke software which is monitoring internet radio streams and choosing stations of its own accord? If so, Cetilia then processes the heck out of it to obscure any traces of Gangnam Style, Lady Gaga or Pharrell Williams. The title of the piece suggests that what the software might be looking for is {PULSE DEFINITION} raw radio information, which could be incoming extra-terrestrial incoming picked up by SETI, the broadcasts on the emergency services channels, covert operations, the sound of wireless routers, numbers stations etc., etc. As the piece increases in volume it certainly begins to sound more and more like abstracted radio transmissions, so hung with hums and static is it that, again, it could equally be a fleet of servers boiling away in an air-conditioned bunker that we are listening to.

A filter opens that could be a sweep across shortwave frequencies at two in the morning. It is not known if Cetilia has used multiple sources or a single one. Whatever, the result is ecstatic, creeping dread. I suspect multiples. What had begun as quietly airless becomes more pneumatic as it goes on – decisive stereo events push the claustrophobic fuzz out into all corners of the room. Whines enter the previously high frequency-less aural environment. Kinda like being gassed with plasma-fied candy floss by a grinning toothless ape in a sealed concrete bunker in Spain. Volume rise is intended to take over your senses by stealth. A huge suction is vortex produced. Jet engines at take-off. Sawmill surge. Nothing can withstand its awful power. An impressive performance – I would like to have been there – having seen Tim Blechmann perform live recently, I can vouch for the power of transformative coding live. Ends bloody loud.

Cetilia runs Estuary Ltd as far as I can ascertain, and this disc appears to be only the second title on his release schedule. It's a good start – I hope to hear more from this interesting new Providence, RI label. Edition of 200. -Paul Khimasia Morgan

Neural - September 2014
Mark Cetilia is a media artist who often focuses on designing and implementing complex generative art and sound creations systems. This latest release, only 200 copies of which were printed, presents two suites both recorded live in Providence, Rhode Island at two different locations. The straining climax of the first track, “Impact”, is characterized by a hissing continuum of signals, which are used as source material and a hypnotic source of ambient diffusion. In the second track the sound is almost imperceptible: after turning up the volume of our stereo to the maximum we could only perceive a dull hum, barely recognizable by human ears during the first five minutes of listening. The subsequent five minutes are almost as quiet, so it is only after ten minutes that it is possible to discern some liquid, almost natural sounding audio emergencies, along with some synthetic frequencies. Finally, the work returns to an almost absolute silence. Here is a return to the popular theme of remodeling our perception of “hearing”, a real obsession in some experimental groups – a game that may get out of hand if taken too far. This work, however, manages to generate a cohesive and distinct style, situating itself amid a balance of digital and analogue techniques. Cetilia is a versatile personality: he is a member of the electroacoustic ensemble Mem1, a member of Redux (with Joe Cantrell) and a PhD student in music and multimedia IT at Brown University. His repeated alternation between deconstruction and recombination, absences and presences is not the result of a superficial work. This level of intensity is not a one-off either; it is typical of all his live performances in Europe and North America.

Chain D.L.K. - August 2014
I was unfamiliar with Mark Cetilia's work, but he has had a considerable output. He is one of the seemingly many academics who are engaged in experimental music; he received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2008, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in computer music and multimedia at Brown University. This disc consists of two long tracks, so let's look at each of them individually. The album kicks off with 'Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma)' which is a slow burn that starts as a quiet rumbling and becomes a deafening wall of noise over the course of a slow crescendo that takes 20 minutes! A whining feedback crescendo ends this piece. If you like noise, this is excellent stuff, and at almost 35 minutes there is plenty of time to sink into the music. The liner notes state that this was recorded live at Third Mind, Granoff Center for the Arts, in Providence, RI. The second track is 'Palinopsia,' which also features a long fade in and consists of a live recording… Cicaida-like electronics and a quiet undercurrent of noise reign on this track… This is limited to 200 copies and nicely packaged. This album weighs in at around 58 minutes.

Metamkine - April 2014
Trois pièces de cet artiste sonore d'origine finlandaise instalé sur la cote ouest des États-Unis, centrées autour de la guitare électrique plus ou moins modifiée. Un travail de rythmiques percussives avec des micros pickups extérieurs, une accumulation de résonances réinjectées et une pièce d'intro réalisée sur des skis transformés en monocorde !!! Puissant et captivant donc fortement recommandé ! Limité à 300 copies.

Textura - December 2013
{Impact + Aftermath}, Mark Cetilia's solo outing (available in a letterpress-printed edition of 200 copies) features two pieces, both of them recorded live in Providence, Rhode Island but on different dates in different locations, that manipulate inaudible signals within the electromagnetic spectrum as source material.

Recorded at Third Mind, Granoff Center for the Arts on April 5, 2012, “Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma)” is a thirty-five-minute setting that, if not listened to via headphones, will only start to become audible after about three minutes. That nearly silent beginning is an integral part of the overall design, however, as Cetilia uses software-defined radio and electronics to generate a mass of sound that builds incrementally in size, volume, and intensity over the course of its half-hour-plus duration. In simplest terms, the material hews to the standard narrative arc of rising action, climax, and denouement. Gradually the elements flood the aural space with a combustible, rippling mass of carefully controlled chaos that crests at the twenty-seven-minute mark. At that juncture, tension-and-release comes into play, as subsequent, rather industrial-like surges follow the seeming climax, though they turn out to be teasing gestures, after which a well-managed decompression follows to bring the piece to a ringing close.

The second piece, “Palinopsia,” begins as quietly as the first though there are significant differences between them. Produced using analog modular, shortwave radio, and electronics and recorded at R.K. Projects, “Palinopsia” situates itself within a higher register of warbly, high-frequency sounds; there's also a programmatic dimension to the piece, as it was created in response to a silent screening of New York-based video artist Naho Taruishi's Corner Projection No. 2. Soundwise, the ghostly material eschews the dramatic trajectory of “Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma),” opting instead to remain at a generally low-level volume and activity level throughout its twenty-three minutes.

Loop - December 2013
Mark Cetilia is a sound and media artist who explores the possibilities of sound, art and design through analog and digital technologies. Cetilia is a member of the electroacoustic ensemble Men 1 and belongs to the experimental media art group Redux. His sound works have been published by Lynges, Quiet Design and Anarchymoon. His Men 1 group has collaborated with renown artists such as Stephen Vitiello, Frank Bretschneider and Jan Jelinek among others.

'Impact + Aftermath' is a limited run of 200 CD's released on Estuary label and consists of two live tracks where Cetilia works inaudible signals found in the electromagnetic spectrum in real time.

'Pulse Shape 22', recorded live at the Third Mind, Granoff Center for the Arts in Providence, Rhode Island, is a piece of 34 minutes ranging from silence to in crescendo frequencies shaping thick layers of sharp and intense noises sustained by a drone.

'Palinopsia'. recorded live at R.K. Projects, Providence, Rhode Island is the background sound to silent projection 'Taruishi's Corner Projection No. 2' by videoartist Naho Taruishi based in New York in the context of several performances curated by Laura Cetilia at RK Projects in 2011. The music of this piece is minimal and contains fewer layers of noise in relation to the first track and slowly fades into silence. 5 / 5 -Guillermo Escudero

Mem1 {Tetra}

Aquarius - January 2012
A while back we reviewed two cds from the LA based duo of Mark And Laura Cetilla, one a collaboration with bigger avant music names (Steve Roden, Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider), the other the duo's own dark sonic concoction, and while the guests on the collaborative record definitely made for interesting listening, we much preferred the Cetillas' work unadorned, a hushed minimal darkness, brooding, and softly caustic, ominous and strangely menacing. The sounds here on their first proper full length LP, seem to be a continuation from the music presented on that CD.

Three longform compositions, of smoldering lowercase sound, what sounds like bowed strings, and reverberating metal, blurred into a murky concoction of shimmering grey thrum and dense softly undulating swells, the vibe is definitely cinematic, conjuring up all manner of bleak and abject imagery, evoking decay, and distance, the drones alive with overtones and constantly shifting layers, noisy in places, but the noise blunted and smoothed out into rough expanses of warm buzz and softly prickly hum. There are moments of pure unfettered speaker shredding noise, but even within these blown out squalls, lurk all manner of rich texture and subtle shading. That said, most of the record is spent in hushed drift mode, the final track the most fully fleshed out, with the original instruments still recognizable, the tones organic and only lightly effected, drifting on a sea of distant blackened shimmer, and softly roiling whir and hiss, before finally smoothing out, into a final coda of warm, dreamy (and still slightly ominous tranquility). Dark abstract loveliness for sure, the sort of thing that folks into Jasper TX, Machinefabriek and Type Records might dig quite a bit.

Limited to 300 copies, each one hand numbered, packaged in super swank matte finish jackets, and includes a download coupon as well.

The Sound Projector - September 2011
Excellent LP of cello and electronics minimalism from this Los Angeles duo. Mark and Laura Cetilia pride themselves on the “seamless blend” of their respective sound contributions, so there are few sharp edges on this record, but it’s certainly not empty, vacuous droning. Rather, what characterises Mem’s music is a very focussed approach to performance which requires coninual concentration, listening to the other player, and close attention to detail. On this very warm and human LP, Mem1 are striking a good balance between composed / improvised and electronic / analogue musics, and their personalities are completely in synch.

I say “warm and human,” realising that both the tracks on Side A may at frist convey the exact opposite sensations on early spins. Part of their project is aiming for an alien, distanced effect, and overall they would be happy to convey the feeling of being alone and lost in a small dark place (or a wide open alien desert). Mem1 would like to encourage interpretations framed in geographic and topographical terms (see their own sleeve notes), and seem drawn to extreme and desolate situations. Along with this, they play in a rather solemn (but not pretentious) fashion. ‘Trieste’ is extremely forlorn, emotional, and melancholy, and your bio-rhythms will slow down in sympathy with its attenuated progressions. ‘Caldera’ is even more abstracted, offering mysterious and slow sensations fit for a ninth-level mind to ponder in isolation. Solid yet nebulous blocks of sound collide and shift, and the playing becomes extremely intense towards the end. These two cuts studiously avoid turning into “gothic’ drone, yet remain quite lugubrious in tone.

The B side is a single long track called ‘Hræsvelgr.’ Right away we notice the playing is not quite as urgent or busy as the first side (if anything so pale and wan can be said to be propelled by urgency). The ambiguous long tones are spacey and deep, and everything appears to be happening in slow motion. This is very much the hoped-for effect of being suspended in a warm and very deep ocean. While not as intense as the A side, this is a more welcome place to exist. Very nicely presented-art object (the creators call it “hand-crafted”) with clear vinyl pressing housed in a screenprinted cover lush with metallic inks; first release on the label, limited to 300 copies. -Ed Pinsent.

EtherReal - June 2011
Mem1 est un couple formé par Laura et Mark Cetilia. Nous les découvrons avec cette production qui sort sur leur label nouvellement créé, mais Mem1 a été fondé à Los Angeles en 2003. Ils ont déjà trois albums à leur actif et de nombreuses collaborations avec Steve Roden, Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider ou encore Stephen Vitiello pour un nouvel album qui vient tout juste de sortir chez Dragon’s Eye Recordings. Tetra est sorti en édition limitée à 300 exemplaires numérotés, uniquement en vinyle.

Laura est au violoncelle, Mark est aux synthés modulaires, et tous les deux se servent d’outils électroniques afin de manipuler leur matière première. étrangement, on a tendance à confondre les sonorités produites par la jeune femme avec celle de cuivres. Le frottement de l’archet qui ne produit aucune tonalité, rien qu’un souffle, fait penser à une timide improvisation de saxophone. Petit à petit le son monte et les grincements de cordes finissent par apparaître, lents et inquiétants, menaçants. La musique de Mem1 s’apparente à une longue plage en mouvement perpétuel, d’une douceur teintée d’amertume, à la fois feutrée et accidentée dans la mesure où les instruments sont toujours retenus, où les notes restent à mi-chemin, entre la tonalité pure et le simple bruit qui permet d’obtenir la note (ici le glissement d’un archet).

Avec Caldera, le duo opte pour un style pour affirmé. Une véritable rivalité s’installe entre les grincements lointains et traités du violoncelle et les souffles grésillants provenant des machines. Quand la fusion opère, c’est dans une puissante montée bruitiste qui s’achève cut up.

Si la musique de Mem1 paraît généralement abstraite, l’auditeur attentif appréciera les ébauches, les suggestions mélodiques qui apparaissent avec parcimonie mais qui permettent de ne pas "sombrer" dans le bruitisme gratuit. Ici ce sont quelques graves accords de violoncelle qui jouent ce rôle, et on se rapproche de drones sur Hræsvelgr, toujours très lent et sombre, apaisé et dérangé, à la manière du murmure d’une voix cassée, éraillée, exténuée.

D’abord surprenant par son traitement sonore, par cette volonté de salir le son de leurs instruments, Tetra finit par révéler sa véritable beauté pour séduire les amateurs de drones flottants. -Fabrice Allard

Paris Transatlantic - March 2011
Laura and Mark Cetilia (on cello, analog modular and electronics) have been quietly producing a body of work in which consistency of purpose and spiritual strength seem to proceed in tandem. Recorded in a short time span during spring last year, Tetra represents their effort to create pieces "evocative of an extreme environment", and this limited edition (300 copies in transparent vinyl) will definitely satisfy geared-up audiences through its morphological fusion of an acoustic (if heavily processed) instrument and its relative synthetic cumulus into a lone voice. It's difficult to separate the components in this music whose droning gravity dissolves into steamy miasma and ruthless dissonance in compositions frequently steeped in inescapable brutality. Not only because of the near-identicalness of the album title with Roland Kayn's Tektra, it occasionally recalls some of the late cyber-genius's Pindaric flights in its most intangible figurations, particularly the imposing darkness of "Hræsvelgr". Through speakers (highly recommended), clouds of distorted pitches and capricious upper partials will transform your room into a trap for ominous codes. -Massimo Ricci

Foxy Digitalis - March 2011
The best albums always seem to have something new to show you every time you play them, even years after the first listen. Buried sounds and ideas emerge as layers of music work their way into your psyche. Mem1 is a duo that seems especially primed for this phenomenon, given the deceptive simplicity of their music. Their bare-bones manifesto, if you will, is to "create a single voice rather than a duet between two individuals." I don't normally buy into press releases, but in this case, the description is especially apt as Laura Cetilia's effects-laden cello joins seamlessly with Mark Cetilia's electronics and synthesizer to form something reaching far beyond its base elements. For "Tetra," the duo has crafted an amazing album that not only showcases their powerful collaborative chemistry, but also stands out as an amazing bit of experimental drone music.

While Mem1's sound could certainly be labeled as dark and ominous, there is an underlying beauty that renders this album far more complex than it may seem on first impression. Really, the best way to navigate this intoxicating haze is to turn it way up and dive right in. The first track, "Trieste," lays the groundwork for the rest of the album. Immediately, the core of the group's sound is introduced, as cello and electronics begin to build and intertwine. Part of what makes this music so interesting is that it remains grounded in the familiar, thanks to the cello (even when it's highly distorted), while it simultaneously flies into uncharted territory. When fully assembled, the track melds the electronic and the earthy to become a thick stew of drones, tones, pulses, and squall.

As if to prove that they're no one-trick pony, Mem1 offers up the next piece, "Caldera," which pushes their sound into extremely noisy territory. The most striking part of the song is the Tibetan horn-like buzz that comes from the manipulated cello, yet even this wouldn't be half as interesting without everything else that happens in this sonic space. As it progresses, the track becomes a massive wall of sound, churning and breathing with a range of high and low noises.

The album ends with the massive, side-long closer "Hræsvelgr," which mixes things up further and demonstrates how the duo maintains their power even when creating softer sounds. Here, the cello sound is the most naked and you really get a sense of what is going on behind the cloak of electronic noise present elsewhere. Even though things are much quieter, the track still seethes with lots of subdued energy and benefits from the same powerful instrumental alchemy heard previously on the album.

To put it simply, this is definitely one of the best drone records I've heard in some time. I'm excited to have heard this, but as I mentioned before, I'm really looking forward to seeing what this album will reveal to me months and even years from now. There's a lot of magic hidden in these grooves and I can't wait to find more of it. Mem1 seems to have known what they had on their hands, as well. Every effort went into the physical presentation of their work, as they crafted handmade sleeves to hold their clear, 150-gram vinyl gems. Did I mention that this is a limited edition, too? Don't snooze on this one, or you'll regret it. -Matt Blackall (10/10)

Metamkine - March 2011
Laura Cetilia, violoncelle et électroniques. Mark Cetilia, synthétiseur analogique et électroniques. Troisième album de ce duo au catalogue qui continue sa recherche acoustique - électronique dans une quête de la vibration étendue. Archet continu et bourdonnement de fréquences basses. Bel objet et bonne gravure. Tirage limité et numéroté à 300 exemplaires.

Fluid Radio - February 2011
Distressed notes run asunder on Tetra, a vinyl-only offering from the duo, Mem1. A current, quivering along these three fine works, creates a unique yet indistinct mass that, as we follow along in its icy wake, degrades and renders the listener inert, as we wait to meet the ghosts.

On "Trieste", a protracted mist invites us into the abyss. A hypnotic, dream-like state ensues and I go beyond the reality of the sounds, finding a hidden universe to wallow and wade in. In this state, I am reminded of images of events that seem part of my life but may never have happened. Instead, remembrances of half-forgotten dreams that congeal to form tangible memories, of walking through a torrential downpour on a sunny day and finding a broken teacup in the middle of the sidewalk, the paint faded on one side and the leftover tea grains create a muddy mixture of water when mixed and churned with the raindrops. It seems fitting that each of these tracks is an exploration of an extreme environment. The water imagery runs rampant with "Trieste". Stranded on the ocean floor, I imagine the pressure becomes unbearable. Likewise, the finely tuned discordant noises design striations in the sand; the stillness and soft darkness allow for the pressure to languish, recede, and a massive cloud of upturned sand and soot gradually moves over the whole piece, coaxing the particulars out through the sallow abyss.

"Caldera" is by far the most forceful of the tracks. I was on the edge of my seat, clutching my headphones and my pen as I thought about ghosts. I dove into the music and began: Do we go to the ghosts or do the ghosts meet us? Must we be receptive to them? The rising din of sound allowed a presence to take shape in my mind, a feeling of connection to something other. I was reminded of stories a friend of mine told me, who grew up with a presence at his house. His family grew accustomed to the strange activity and disruptive noise, which would start off in a barely audible way and gradually increase as if the presence wanted the attention, or a connection to reality was getting stronger. I remember asking him whether they've taken measures to rid the house of this presence and he said that they all live together and that they've learned to accept the fact that the ghosts have as much a right to be there as they do. "Caldera" moves in similar way, ambling from inaudible squelches to a force that announces its presence at the top of its lungs. Similarly, after listening I feel as though I've experienced an encounter with a ghostly apparition, but it's hard to distinguish between what I thought happened or was merely a dream.

On side B, "Hraesvelgr" begins its slow, studied journey through a barren wasteland. The drifting wind perambulates through as a desolate horn clamors for air; assorted pangs of sound crop up, tingling far too far away. Stillness is revisited then abandoned. A charge of current levies a sustained drone. The sounds harkens back to this memory of sticking my finger in a light socket. While its likely this never happened to me, I imagine the feeling one has and the sound associated with this action, is not unlike what one hears on this track. For eighteen minutes, there's so much to explore and discover along the way. I revisit the striations in the sand to see if anything tangible can be discerned. I'm reminded of ghosts that never bothered to meet me. Certain dreams have become foundations of my memory; the teacup prevails and endures.

The measured brush strokes on Tetra are a triumph for Mem1. Each moment is significant to the next as these three profound pieces move beyond the reality of the sounds to create an ongoing expedition into the uncanny. -Michael Vitrano

Static Sound - February 2011
Tetra, the fourth full length album by Los Angeles-based duo Mem1 (Laura and Mark Cetilia) is a very puzzling sonic proposition. Abrasive and abstract on the surface, this mixture of analogue modular and processed cello improvisations seems quite opaque and aimlessly noisy at first. But upon immersion in sound, whilst turning off the outside world, Tetra's drones and electronics slowly emerge from an ocean of haze to reveal their surreal and majestic beauty. Made of three long forms, Tetra is neither ambient nor noise-music but aims to conjure up extreme and foreboding environments.

Opener Trieste starts with chthonic undercurrent of bass drones augmented with high-pitched hiss and echoes of cello, slowly disintegrating as they come to the fore. The multilayering created here give the awkward impression of swimming into sound, completely enveloping the listener with vivid harmonics. Very subtle melodic movements within the piece are just enough to add some subdued emotional layers and gently prepare the listener for the volcanic eruption to follow.

Caldera is indeed a slow and masterfully controlled crescendo of raw sonic lava. Starting with what sounds like an far-away aeroplane's engine resonating in the dark, the piece proceeds at the steady pace towards its final explosion, releasing analog flares from the speakers cones. Laura Cetilia's cello can be heard in the background, adding sombre yet tactile overtones to this doom-laden piece of very strong physical impact.

The album ends on a much quieter note with Hræsvelgr, named after a giant who takes eagle form, according to Norse Mythology. This 18-minute piece is probably the most delicate of the album and tells a aching story of sorrow and surrender to nature. The drones, carved out of Mark Cetilia's deep bass machines, are transformed and modulated so they echo the breathing of a wounded creature, trapped and unable to escape its fate – Hræsvelgr is a beautiful existential exploration that slowly return the music to silence, with abandon and grace.

The sound world created by Laura and Mark Cetilia is dark and otherwordly but very human nonetheless. Far from exploring desolated isolationist realms, Tetra displays an astonishing primal energy that transcend the duo's intentions, and turns this album into something rather unique and beautiful.

Tetra is available through Estuary ltd, in a numbered edition of 300 carefully crafted releases, on 150 gram clear vinyl with silkscreened artwork, designed and hand-printed by Mark Cetilia using metallic inks. -Pascal Savy

Future Sequence - February 2011
Duo Mark and Laura Cetilia's work as 'Mem1' defines a relationship where both members are acutely tuned to each other; this is evident in the resulting sound they have produced in the three tracks that form their forth album 'Tetra'. Whilst their sound is mostly linear in structure, Mark's electronics - effects and custom made patches - provide layers of microsounds and affect Laura's cello which in turn seems to pre-empt her partners interpretations. Together they extract every nuance of vibration, imperfection, and harmonics to produce a very subtle depth of sound, through an improvised process.

'Trieste' is a quiet opener, providing a contrast to the tracks that follow. The cello is most recognisable, as it is stretched, warped and effected over the 12 minute piece. Central track 'Caldera' shares its name with a volcanic feature that forms when there is a collapse of land after an eruption into a crater-like shape. As with 'Trieste', it arrives quietly, but then builds; through dense reverberating string noise to a maelstrom of static and high pitched tense affected cello.

Hræsvelgr, last track in this set, weighs in at over 18 minutes long but somehow, becoming lost in the cold barren landscape it describes, this is suddenly not long enough. Hræsvelgr, from Norse mythology, is a giant who takes eagle form, this Scandinavian reference may well be homage to Deaf Center, or similar, as there are similarities to be found in this track. Mem1 however, expand the noises to produce a wider soundscape less concerned with melody and more with texture and describing an extreme environment.

This triptych of constructed stories, full of beautiful harmonics, raw noise and sonic impurities is certainly affecting. There is something about 'Tetra' that really resonates; there feels like an exploration going on, a fervency to finding new sounds, and a need to align them in new ways. A highly rewarding listen, one that allows the listener to embed themselves within, become lost in and suspend time for the album's duration. -Michael Waring

Dusted - February 2011
Ice-cold drone rumble from a duo of Mark Cetilia on synth and partner Laura Cetilia on cello, both using electronics to achieve these means. This is how you do underwater drone: you lay it on thick, in waves the listener can't anticipate, and push all of the air out of the space in an attempt at sonic totality. All three tracks on this LP reverberate with a lifeforce too large to be seen. A beautiful, carefully designed product in form and construction. 350 copies, clear vinyl. -Doug Mosurock

Norman Records - February 2011
Time for some electro-acoustic action...This is the fourth album from the duo of Mark Cetilia (analogue modular + electronics) and Laura Cetilia, (cello + electronics) and this is the first release on their new label. The set begins with some gentle hums and drones and gradually builds with hovering frequencies and static. The Cello is pretty much unrecognizable in its original form so there's a fair amount of processing happening. Eventually things build into dense wall of chaotic sound which really hits the spot for me. A pleasure to listen to this evolve and grow. Check it out... On clear vinyl and hand numbered of 300 copies. -Clint

Textura - January 2011
Mem1's Tetra is a bona fide labour of love in more ways than one. It's the group's first release on its own newly formed experimental imprint Estuary Ltd., and even the artwork was produced by band member Mark Cetilia, who prepared 300 numbered editions that include clear vinyl discs and silkscreened artwork hand-printed with metallic inks. Having performed together under the Mem1 name since 2003, Mark (analogue modular and electronics) and Laura Cetilia (cello and electronics) have developed a symbiotic and highly personalized approach to experimental music-making that's commendably uncompromising, and ample evidence of their approach is captured on the duo's fourth full-length album, which was recorded during the spring months of 2010. Using custom hardware and software, the pair manipulates the cello's natural timbre using real-time modular synthesis patching, a process that results in a sound that's unique and immediately identifiable as Mem1.

During the twelve-minute opener “Trieste,” the sawing cello crawls like a primal entity gnashing its malformed teeth and scouring the ruined landscape as it drags itself across the incinerated terrain the duo conjures from electronics. Here and elsewhere, Laura's approach to the cello focuses less on its its conventional treatment as a melodic voice and more on the exploration of its textural and atmospheric possibilities. “Caldera” rises slowly from its own mist before mutating into a writhing behemoth whose violent wail grows into a humongous screech that's so lethal it feels like it could rip your head off. The second side's eighteen-minute “Hræsvelgr” opts for a more restrained excursion into spectral atmospherics with Laura and Mark allowing the collective sound to unfold patiently, almost as if in slow motion. In this case, the material moves like a marauding mass but does so less fiercely than the two pieces on side one. The future looks bright indeed for the Cetilias, given that 2011 will also see the fall release of Age of Insects, a full-length collaboration with Vitiello, on Dragon's Eye Recordings. Until then, Tetra will do just fine as a kind of representative portrait of Mem1 and its distinctive artistry.

c + p 2009 – 2024 Estuary Ltd. |