Selections: Lawrence English
In this series, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their Bandcamp collections. This week, Room40 label boss Lawrence English highlights electroacoustic gems, classic UK hardcore, electronic rhythm experiments, and archival music from around the world
In this series, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their Bandcamp collections. While hearing new music played out by your favourite selectors has been put on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s never been easier, or more important, to support the artists and imprints releasing tracks, albums, EPs and comps in the midst of all the madness. In lieu of opportunities to discover new records on the dancefloor, Selections will give you the chance to nab sounds from the crates of tastemakers, and support the people behind them while you’re at it. Win-win, right?
This week, Australian composer, artist, curator and Room40 label founder, Lawrence English, highlights electroacoustic gems, classic UK hardcore, electronic rhythm experiments, and archival music from around the world. The variety on display in English’s Selections match that of Room40, which turned 20 last year. Since 2000, the Brisbane-based label has been a vital hub for experimental electronic music, musique concréte, ambient and avant-garde sound art. To date, it has released over 300 albums, EPs, reissues and compilations, including works from the likes of Tim Hecker, Liz Harris aka Grouper, David Toop, Beatriz Ferreyra, Ai Yamamoto and English himself. It’s a daunting catalogue to dig through, but it’s one that turns up gold at every turn. From the ultra-minimalist recording ‘From Audience’ by Yan Jun and the off-kilter pop instrumentals of Filfla’s ‘Fliptap’, to the lush ambience of Chihei Hatakeyama’s ‘Mirage’ and enveloping noise of English’s ‘Cruel Optimism’, Room40’s discography is one you can find yourself getting totally lost in.
Room40 had a lot of projects planned for its 20th anniversary last year, most of which were inevitably put on hold due to the pandemic. One of those projects is kicking off now: a year-long series of tape releases which, as English explains will “reflect on cassette as medium”. Each release will come in a soft polycarbonate case, and will include a matte laminate outer sleeve and the triple panel monochrome insert. The series kicks off this month with releases from New York’s Alan Licht and Sydney’s Alexandra Spence, and will continue over the course of the next 12 months with some very exciting works in the schedule.
In the meantime, you can dig through the Room40 catalogue here, and check out Lawrence English’s Selections below.
“Heather is a good damn force of nature. She is an incredibly dynamic and lyrical player and can turn a thing of utter beauty into a devastating passage of noise with seemingly the smallest of gestures….and the reverse. This record is just a complete pleasure.”
“The lead piece on this record, ‘Chainsaw’, is so intensely brutal and it captures the visceral sense of hatred for what is the toxicity of male entitlement. The rest of the record is equally as cutting and powerful. Heather, HIDE’s vocalist, is an utter force and their work as a visual artist is something I also admire greatly. They have been doing some amazing fundraising work for trans-women, homelessness and around other pressing causes throughout the pandemic.”
“I had the pleasure to spend a few days with Lea in Brazil before the old-world ended. We were both there for a lovely festival, Novas Frequências, and ended up performing back to back on a small island in the middle of a park in Rio. A pretty stellar undertaking and her set was really wonderful. Lea is making some beautiful work and this latest edition is just that.”
“I have a huge amount of admiration for both Eiko Ishibashi and Masami Akita. I’ve had the pleasure to present both of them as part of the curatorial work I do here in Australia. What I love about this meeting is you can feel them both finding common interest in each other’s approaches, united through an improvisational paradigm, and a genuine curiosity for how music can be forged from dynamic and unexpected interplays.”
“This is the kind of alternate history we can all live by. Hatoma-Bushi I find particularly affecting, I have a real soft spot for Okinawa’s music.”
“Claire has been on a total binge of releases lately. It’s equally thrilling and bewildering. This particular release I have a huge fondness for. Being a lapsed drummer, I really admire the use of the drums in this piece. It’s a very sensual approach, one that is both uncertain, and directed. I feel rhythm is an intensely fraught part of music making, but here Claire opens it right out.”
“Yeah, well this kinda speaks for itself. When I was in my late teens and early 20s I had a couple of mixtapes made by friends that went from this type of work through to digital hardcore and back. I like the attenuation of the serotonin supply on those tapes. This work here represents the early elation, the ecstasy and the release… eventually though, everything that burns bright is ash.”
“DeForrest is making some amazing work and for my tastes he successfully weaves in a critical and theoretical reading of sound cultures into his actual music. I think this is a rare and commendable quality to his work. His Make Techno Black Again project I feel is a vital consideration of how music becomes colonised and histories can become cloudy with completing narratives. The idea recognises these occurrences set the stage for how economic, political and social pressures shape what stories are told and by whom.”
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“This has recently been re-issued and it’s such a welcome record to return to. Weird, out of time and utterly inspirational. Nuno’s work here inspired a generation of folks working at the fringes of electronics and deconstructed music.”
“God I feel like a dope having only connected to Ruth’s work in the past while. This collection is just brilliant. I’ve had the great fortune to come to know Annea Lockwood, her partner, in recent years and she has just completed a lovely new tribute piece to Ruth, which I believe will be released in a few months. The pair of them represent an utter powerhouse of creative, generous energy.”