Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre
“I’m not sure if a glass of bourbon is the best way to relax after a run. But I’ll give it a shot. The simplicity of sitting on a chair… the company to slow burn and astringency of charred oak. The ice is melting delicately, and it’s muggy as hell outside right now. I haven’t been hearing as many roman candles and Black Cats as I had hoped this time of year. Madison is too fucking polite sometimes, locked up in a fixed gear land of hippie fuzz tone and good vibrations, mang. Where’s the cordite blooms, the rivers of frat boy blood, the roving bands of date rape thugs in Sponge Bob Square Pants costumes? Oh, yeah, they’re back home with ma and pa, drinking Bud lite, and reading the back of Clean and Clear bottles. And instead I’m listening to Loris’s “The Cat from Cat Hill,” another disc from the UK based Another Timbre records… and it’s polite too, but in a good way, like that ingratiating new friend that never out stays his welcome and never drinks all of your beer but still tells good jokes anyway… even if this friend at first sounds like carpenter ants eating through raw bone, pincers flashing in the dark. Loris has been a highlight for me lately, sitting uneasily amongst less subtle recordings by bands with pentagrams featured in their logos. Loris is made up of Patrick Farmer, Sarah Hughes and Daniel Jones on assorted electronic and acoustic instruments too lengthy to list in polite company, but here’s some anyway: zither, piano, natural objects, turntable, and tapes. I don’t know any of them but they seem like cool people (actually I have no idea), and they create some very interesting music. Sustained tones spring up after the initial thorax heave of the first track, and glitches trip up then disappear, while a ringing is heard then cut off unceremoniously. God, it reminds me of why I started to get into this electro acoustic junk in the first place – that sublime encounter of disparate elements, of sounds you can practically touch in the dark like walking through great walls of smoke or fog, seeing bats wheel drunkenly in the air so daringly close to your head. It’s warmer than most EAI, thoroughly book smart on the fundamentals of the genre it seems. . . it’s not as austere as Filament, not as noisy as Cremaster, not drearily emotive as Schnee, but I can sense an acknowledgment of all of those things here, if not directly than somehow subliminally. I love how the second track opens with those piano notes, completely unexpected after the electronic pinch of the first track. It lends a certain nostalgic thrust to thing, even as the locked grooves (Jones here?) appear behind the notes, and that moment becomes fleeting, and sinks away to an extended tone, only for the piano to reassert itself once again, this time more abstracted, and less full of gravitas. Lovely really. I can’t think of a better word for it, achingly lovely. There’s this great juxtaposition of sounds here that the best of this music has, the sliding up of common but hard to place sounds next to one another, clicks and burrs, low volume field recordings of trains, or engine rattle or sizzling eggs (who the fuck knows). Nothing is overt and thus it doesn’t make you play the guess what sound that is game – what the hell was that? A mumbled half curse? A masticating answering machine? A feed backing tickle me Elmo? Nah, don’t bother, it’s for the birds. At this point the language of this style has been established, and the shock of sine tones, noisy rumbles and the assorted electronic dark alley dealings has worn off (for me at least, can’t speak for anyone else, I guess). And what’s left here is simply the music, how these sounds stand up as part of a composition (instant or not)… the obscure has become the recognized pallet, and you have to be able to actually use those colors well, blend and shade and create a picture whether it be Rothko or Rembrandt or . The acoustic instruments used here by Sarah Hughes are a boon, as they lend a solid grip to the music, a balancing weight that without it it might simply disappear into the 21st century art-fuck music (thanks Kennan) – music created as intellectual process rather than tired ol’ feelings. And I like feelings. If I want truth and commentary on audience expectation I’ll search youtube for Nick Nolte off his shit.
The more I listen to this the more I enjoy it, which speaks volumes for Loris. And it’s not all fun and games easy listening EAI as I’ve heard the work of those Swiss guys referred to. This stuff still annoys my girl friend, and would probably riddle most of my friends with anxiety (although many of them dig AMM). But we have enough Jerry Garcia’s. Enough Wolf Parades. And Loris should be as popular, or at least as well known, because as it stands, they do what they do so well, so picturesque in a sense. No, it’s not at this point where the art makes you shudder in awe or reconfirm your own proclivities, but it could approach those areas in the future. At this point, it defies expectations, defies boring mastubatory capital A art, and becomes something actually, well, moving and purposeful to listen to, something great to drink bourbon to as the night creeps in and my cat stares at me from afar, which is quaint, considering the title. Anyway, stop spending money on lattes and buy this:.” Tanner Servoss, Aphidhair
“The slow loris, of course, is a notably sluggish primate hailing from southeast Asia. Loris, here, is Patrick Farmer (natural objects, e-bow snare, tapes, wood), Sarah Hughes (chorded zither, piano, e-bow) and Daniel Jones (turntable, e-bow, piezo discs, electronics) and if they move slow (they don't really) they're thinking fast, pace Wolff, and the results are gorgeous. Enormous range of sounds, very open feel. How to quantify except to say that the choices made, subtle to brutal (and there's a surprising amount of fierceness in play here) seem utterly apt. The various flutterings and spare piano that begin the second cut, "Sophie", for example; the way the e-bow (?) intersects them. Each piece unfurls at its own pace, each telling a lovely, sometimes harsh story. Beautiful work, highly recommended.”
- Brian Olewnick, Just Outside
“Despite that feline title, and as any skoolboy noes, lorises are slow-moving nocturnal primates that inhabit dense vegetation in South Asia. And Loris - Patrick Farmer, Sarah Hughes and Daniel Jones - improvise sounds that inch forwards so gradually, almost reluctantly in fact, that your brain can’t properly compute the totality of their creeping sonic forestation at any given moment. These improvisations, to borrow Evan Parker’s famous catchphrase, are instinctively laminal as sustained tones from Hughes’s zither (the only element that vaguely harks back to ‘music’) dovetail against crackling feedback and the more feral terrain of Framer’s crunched twigs and arrythmic earth. Shifts of texture occur sporadically and without seismic structural earthquakes; the music just seems to know, and goes there.”
- Philip Clark, The Wire
“Patrick Farmer, Sarah Hughes, and Daniel Jones are young London-based improvisers
who are just starting to get some visibility. As with many releases like this, a
look at the instrumentation (natural objects, e bow, tapes, chorded zither, piano,
turntable, piezo discs, electronics) gives no clue as to what this music might sound
like, though knowing that a loris is a slow-moving tree-dwelling primate might give
you an idea. Farmer, Hughes, and Jones weave together collectively improvised striations
of texture and activity that gather density and form with slow deliberation. The
pieces unfold from a palette of hyper-amplified vibrating surfaces, electronic hum,
and resonant strings. What's striking here is how each sound, each thread of activity,
is placed within the context of the whole.
The improvisations have an almost sculptural presence, offsetting engulfing low-end rumble by sputtering crinkles, luminous sinewaves, and the judicious use of string vibrations from zither and piano. Semaphores of flickering activity float across fields of resonant drone. There's an organic warmth to the sound of electro-mechanical pulses and clicks melded together with the ringing tone of a hammered piano note or the rustle of amplified objects. Across the three collectively improvised pieces, the trio purposefully parse out pace and momentum, density of sound, and dynamic arc, creating a absorbing intensity. That sense of arc is acutely evident in the final piece, "Newts Under Concrete," where coursing loops of static emerge after a lead-in of 90 seconds of inky silence. The volume gradually mounts as crackles and squawks build into a forceful, enveloping wall of sound shot through with wafting details. With The Cat from Cat Hill, Another Timbre delivers yet another gem.” - Michael Rosenstein, Paris Transatlantic
“This is one of those CDs that, if I just tried to describe the music literally, will sound very much like so many other CDs. There are sine-like tones, contact mic crackles, turntable hisses and scratches, extended fuzzy sections and a continual sense of brooding calm, but then that could describe a couple of dozen CDs I have mentioned here this year. What makes The Cat from Cat Hill such a pleasure for me personally though is in the subtlety of the sounds chosen. This is a difficult thing to describe in a way that makes sense to anyone but myself. Generally speaking, each musician contributes one sound at a time, which they let slip in and out of proceedings at a slow, slow pace. So Hughes will let an eBowed zither note hang in the air, as Farmer rubs dry twigs against a contact mic and Jones will later introduce a gentle feedback hum, but each of these sounds will be very carefully picked out as being the ideal fit for those around it. So we don’t just hear a musician add a whine or a series of scrapes, we hear them carefully craft them to either blend perfectly, or on occasion dramatically alter the sounds already there. This might just sound like a description of what every musician tries to do, but here there is a feeling to me of great care taken over the quality of individual sounds chosen, and of when and how they are introduced into or removed from the music. This just sounds very considered music to me.
If I am to criticise the album at all it may be just to say that there aren’t enough surprises, and that on the whole it does exactly what I expect it to, though maybe this is just the result of my familiarity with these musicians’ work. When Jones adds a tiny repeatedly chirruping electronic signal to proceedings (the result of capturing the electromagnetic output of an iPod’s hard drive I believe) I know it will run for a while as a kind of slow, primitive clicktrack. When Hughes plays a single low note on a piano and then lets it decay slowly I fully expect an identical one a few seconds later. As I say, on paper the music of Loris is somewhat predictable, but listened to carefully under the right conditions this album is very beautiful and thoroughly rewarding.
Like the group’s namesake (the name Loris comes from Hughes and Farmer’s huge love of animals, and in particular here the rennowned shy, slow loris) the music moves at a very gradual pace and slides out of your speaker into hidden corners of the room rather than leaping out and throttling you. It isn’t entirely polite though, and on occasion will make the cones of your speakers vibrate wildly, so turning the volume up high, which at times feels the right thing to do is later rewarded by a sudden lunge for the dial to bring it back down. The overall sensation though is one of a calm but invigorating massage of the eardums, a very lovingly crafted and finely detailed wander through some beautifully interconnected sounds. Yet more fine stuff from Another Timbre.” - Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear
“Loris is Patrick Farmer playing natural objects/E bow snare/tapes/wood, Sarah Hughes on chorded zither/piano/E bow and Daniel Jones supplying turntable/E bow/piezo discs and electronics. Their music is constructed of minimal gestures that seem at times borrowed directly from nature-witness the fuzzy crackling and odd insectile sounds at the start of the first track, "A Heron and a Terrapin", which has a very natural sounding sway from quiet activity to near silence and back. The electric hums seem to enter at just the right moment, nothing is out of place, and if I tried hard I could probably identify the sound sources, but I'd rather just listen.
A single repeated piano note begins "Sophie", encased in room reverb and shape-shifting slightly, with more crackling and circular dragging-type sounds that slowly take on a metallic edge. A building hum and some feedback, rustling and the piano note again. Sounds like someone cleaning up next to an elevator or air-shaft. Until the feedback changes pitch and subtle ratcheting joins in. The piano is still there, but becoming blurrier, losing focus. The whole builds to a quiet roar which sounds like many more than three people. Reminds me a bit of AMM at times, and at others a room full of old tin toys.
"Newts Under Concrete" is quietest yet, until the electric storm starts spinning around two minutes in. A worn-out gramophone needle on the lead-out of a worn-out record, scraping the label. It gradually becomes apparent that there are a group of sounds here, as the components separate and develop individually in a unique reverse dove-tail. More feedback and some steam congeal together and one section seems an odd distorted mirroring of the previous track.
The thing I enjoy most about "The Cat From Cat Hill" is the way this music fills up my room. Even at relatively low volume levels I can stand up and actually walk around in it. Whether this is due to the nature of the sounds themselves, or the beautiful recording I know not. At just under 45 minutes playing time though, it seems all too short.” - Jeph Jerman, The Squid’s Ear
“Patrick Farmer, Sarah Hughes and Daniel Jones share an interesting timbral palette that, in addition to recognized colours and devices (the omnipresent eBow, tapes, piano, turntable and electronics) reveals items that I couldn’t accurately envisage – what is a “chorded zither”? – and a couple of semi-biological sources (“wood”, “natural objects”). Even more attractive to these ears is the aural outcome, to the point that there’s a good possibility, as of now, that The Cat From The Cat Hill might represent my pick if someone forced me to choose a single title in this batch of gorgeously nonconforming albums. This music gathers all incidents under an umbrella of worried reflection, mixing rustling/liquid noises, humming power, vinyl-related imperfections, remote human activity and a discrete scent of solitude. Picture an August afternoon spent standing in front of a solitary industrial plant and trying to identify its mechanically generated voices rather than getting compulsorily tanned on a beach together with thousands of other unlucky individuals. Barely noticeable details become, as the time slips away, cardinal elements of important transitions between dull materiality and painful transcendence; the sense of estrangement from the surrounding reality is enhanced by our concentration on the repetitive quality of a passage, before being instantly awakened by analytical juxtapositions achieving the maximum extent of psychosomatic impact thanks to their uncongested heteromorphy. As the trio manages to combine motorized and organic, stasis and progression, composure and anguish – suddenly opening things up with magnificent rays of hope, as it happens around the tenth minute in “Sophie” – we’re appreciative of being a part of the course of action, mere observers of this strange world of domesticated interference and influential signals.”
- Massimo Ricci, Temporary Fault
“.... Another theory here is that when musicians from the field of improvisation get together on a regular basis they might want to use a band name. I guess that's the idea here with Loris, a trio of Patrick Farmer (natural objects, e-bow snare, tapes, wood), Sarah Hughes (chorded zither, piano, e-bow) and Daniel Jones (turntable, e-bow, piezo discs, electronics). Their music is largely based on drones from the zither, snares and on the other hand each members supplies a sufficient amount of crackling sounds, from those objects and the turntable. They make an excellent combination. The overall sound being quite densely layered, quite deep, with lots of the bass end, but with those high end crackles every now and then. Seeing this mastered by Robert Curgenven might give you a clue as to what Loris is about as there are quite some similarities between Loris and Curvengen. Great release.” - Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
"The trio Loris is formed by the sound creators Patrick Farmer, Sarah Hughes and Daniel Jones, who play on various possible instruments from natural objects to a special zither, a piano and, of course, turntables, tapes and electronics. The result is a beautiful kaleidoscopic collage that proves that any chosen means are able to create a truly meaningful, or a beautifully organic, non meaningful amalgam. 'A Cat from Cat Hill" may even resemble some abstract computer game which brings us to the infinity of imagination without the shooting scenes or business transactions. If there ever is a "strategy", it is one of discovering beauty in sometimes partially tuneless tones and crackles. Actually, I think that this would make an amazing CD for children who are not yet affected by the pressure from commercial recordings or by musical idioms and influences. Sure, they would be little fidgeting every now and, but they would probably find those playful places and would then be better equipped for perception of this sort of musical substance in the future. I think doing a special children's remix would be a good idea – a version for those one-year or two-year little ones. A little bit crazy idea, you may think, but perhaps not that bad, on the other hand." - Petr Slaby, Raw
at21 the cat from cat hill
Patrick Farmer natural objects, e-bow snare, tapes, wood
Sarah Hughes chorded zither, piano, e-bow
Daniel Jones turntable, e-bow, piezo discs, electronics
1. A heron and a terrapin 18:17
2. Sophie 15:21
3. Newts under concrete 11:14
recorded at the University of Middlesex, 2009