Listen to the new EP by M.E.S.H.

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James Whipple a.k.a. M.E.S.H.  – resident of Berlin club night Janus and SHAPE artist of 2016 – has just published his new EP Damaged Merc via Bill Kouligas’ label PAN. Have a listen to it below.

In the words of our media partner Tiny Mix Tapes, “Marking a stylistic shift from his revered debut, last year’s Piteous Gate, these four blistering tracks are more overtly club-oriented than his abstract-leaning early work, spiking electro beats with frantically-chopped vocals and roiling industrial percussion.”

You can see M.E.S.H. live at MeetFactory as part of Prague’s Museum Night (June 11). The program of the evening also includes fellow Janus affiliates KABLAM and TOLE. He is also going to perform at Skaņu Mežs festival in Riga on October 15.

Photo – J’Kerian Morgan


Spatial mix for NTS Live

Ahead of his upcoming performance at the SHAPE showcase of MUTEK Montréal (June 4), English producer Spatial has prepared a mix for radio station NTS Live. The mix features some pieces by Spatial as well as tracks by the likes of Foodman, Nomine and Lakker.

An unconventional artist in the turbulent realm of bass music, Spatial approaches low frequency vibrations with a minimalist’s scalpel, carving out space for snare grooves and tech house glitches.

As the UK dubstep scene raged on in the late 2000s, Spatial offered a welcome subversion: a minimalist techno aesthetic that invoked mutated ravey synths and garage drum patterns. In 2012, Spatial moved outside the club realm with his home coded opti-sonic performance and installation Primitives, a project he’s continued to alter and present at festivals. He followed that with last year’s Breaching Transmissions, an audiovisual collaboration with expanded cinema artist Sally Golding. The influence of his A/V explorations into repetition and chaos is obvious on his latest releases, the Emergence series of 12”s: conceptual and detailed minimalist drone-and-bass tracks augmented by generative visual designs online.

Spatial’s live set at MUTEK will span purely abstract material to lead into rhythmic elements shaded by an industrial heaviness and techno eccentricities.

Track list:

Spatial vs Makenoise Cartesian – Live Intro
Foodman – Dddance
v1984 – Birth of Venus
Nomine – Nomine’s Path
Lakker – Maeslantkering Gating
Jammz – Keep It Simple
Cevdet Erek – Abluka Final
Ross Manning – Led Vert
Gage – Turbulence
Atlas – Calm
Lamont – Titanic
Spatial – Reanimator
Etch – Yo Yo Riddim (Gantz Remix)
Kamikaze Space Programme – Clickers
Sculpture – Side Effect
Spatial vs Makenoise Cartesian – Live outro

For previous collaborations between SHAPE and NTS, click here.

New Laura Luna track for The Wire

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Ahead of her performance at the SHAPE showcase of MUTEK Montréal, Mexican-born and Prague-residing sound artist and musician Laura Luna has shared an exclusive new track with our media partners The Wire Magazine.

The name of the piece is “Atlas Machine”, and you can listen to it here.

About “Atlas Machine”, Luna says, “I was inspired by the sounds of hydraulic pistons and the machines that use these mechanisms. When I sampled the sounds they started to have a very soft quality that is totally inverse with the machine’s visual qualities. These looped sounds started to give me a sense of ‘personality’ developing and coming from the mechanisms as the composition developed.”

Klara Lewis discusses emotions, limitations, and her second album on Editions Mego

01 Klara Lewis Press-photo 2016 by Hampus Högberg

Klara Lewis is a Swedish composer born in 1993. Her critically acclaimed debut album Ett was released by Viennese record label Editions Mego in 2014 and was followed shortly thereafter by the Msuic EP, published on fellow SHAPE-supported artist Peder Mannerfelt’s eponymous label. We spoke with Lewis ahead of her sophomore album release on Editions Mego, titled Too, and her upcoming CTM Festival-organised show with Matmos at Berghain. 

Are you at home in Sweden now?

Yes, I just got back last night, I was playing at Click Festival in Denmark.

Was it an audiovisual show?

Yes, I use my own video projections that I mostly make myself and sometimes I collaborate with my boyfriend Hampus Högberg.

You mentioned that you started making music after a school task where you used the sound from footage that you had been filming. My friends had an exercise at film school where they had to “film” their environment with a camera that had its shutters off, only capturing the sound.

I guess I work in a similar way. I behave the same way around sounds as I do around visuals. I just always try to keep my eyes and ears open. I always have my phone and portable recorder with me. Most of the visual material was filmed with my phone – things I notice in everyday life or while traveling, etc. I film it and start manipulating it, heavily editing and processing, and working with a lot of layers. It’s basically exactly the same process with the sounds.

Your music is immersive. The field recordings are not referential, you forget they are even there. There is an overall flow to your music.

That’s definitely important for me. I collect tons of material and when I start to work on a track I go through my library which is getting pretty huge. I select sounds and start chopping them up and manipulating them. I never plan what kind of track I’m going to make. It’s basically about following the sounds and where they lead me and building a world from all of these small pieces. My main goal is to create something that feels immersive or like being in some other kind of state or place.

The emotional aspect is also important, I guess.

Yes, definitely. That’s often what leads me. I hear something in a sound and it makes me feel something. Then I try to capture that emotion.

Is it a momentary emotion that you have when you make a certain track rather than something you’d like the audience to feel?

I always work from my own perspective. When I started working I wasn’t sure what people would react to and whether it would work, but it seems like people are getting it. People seem to have very different feelings and reactions to my tracks. Some could find a certain track really beautiful while others could find it disturbing or playful. That kind of ambiguity is also fun to work with.

A lot of the music of similar genres ends up being suggestive, playing with emotions and manipulating them to an extent. Your stuff is more adaptable and doesn’t try to predict people’s emotional responses.

That’s what I want to do. There’s a lot of stuff within these genres that’s trying to be super dark or disturbing. That’s the easiest music to make. It’s much harder to make something that has a mix of all these emotions: it could be angry, violent, melancholic, but also hopeful and happy. Maybe that’s why a lot of people say that my music is very filmic because there’s tons of stuff going on and it depends on what your own emotions are at the time and how you read into things and associate.

Do you work with musical themes?

I’ve never thought about themes in that way. Sometimes when I work on a track I think it would be fun to make something that’s inspired by a certain musician or a genre…For example, on my new album on the last track I felt like I wanted to make a pop song. But most of the time I don’t have a plan, it’s about letting things grow organically and not steering them too much.

The names of your albums and tracks are whimsical. There’s “Ett”, “Msuic”,“Too” as the homonym of number 2, the second album…

I really like to keep it simple, but also have some ambiguity to it. With the new album, of course it’s the second one but it’s also about the word “too” – when something is too much, or too little, or too loud. In music journalism and criticism it’s about having to fit into boxes and when somebody is mixing things too much, people don’t like it.

Did you feel pressure after the success of your debut album?

A lot of people asked me about it, but honestly I didn’t think that much about it. When I was done with it, I thought, ‘Oh, this is it, maybe you should be more nervous’. But I just kept making stuff. I was curious to see where I’d end up with the material. Of course with the first album that really was the first stuff that I’d made. It’s not like I had been making music for many years. It was the only material that I’d made so far. The EP and now the second album was me keeping at it and continuing the development of the technique and the process.

Is the album a continuation of the first album in a way?

It’s a continuation, but obviously it sounds different because my technique has changed and I have more experience and confidence. When the first album came out, I hadn’t been part of the music scene at all. Now I’ve been touring and meeting people who I really look up to, playing in front of large audiences. And that has changed my perspective of my own music. When I made my first album I was sitting at home with small headphones, doing it for myself.

Would you say that the second album is more outgoing?

I guess so in a way, but at the same time I always just make music for myself. But there’s also a different kind of confidence and letting the tracks be longer with larger blocks, and letting things take more time and space. The sound is perhaps also bigger somehow. Traveling around and hearing my own music on good sound systems in big venues has maybe changed how I work with sound.

How do you actually make your music? Is it like weaving a carpet of sound from these various snippets and soundscapes?

It’s this organic thing growing from itself, with a lot of different layers. I think a lot of people would say that I do things incorrectly technically, but I think that’s also my strength. It’s not like I’ve tried to become the best at this and this software. I’ve found my own way of working and that also adds to the sound becoming something different. Sometimes it can become a problematic when people get stuck getting obsessed with becoming the best at different programs. If you know the right way to do stuff, you can get limited by that. Limitations can often be great. Handling random things happening, accidents and things that you’ve done wrong, is where interesting things can happen. The same goes for the sound. It’s really difficult to work with sounds that are sterile. It’s good if there’s some dirt in them.

How did your family react to your success?

I had a lot of support from my family, but they were also asking me if I was sure about getting into this industry. I’ve seen the tough side of this job because of my parents. They were surprised but I was too, I still am by being received so positively. There are very few people that can live off their music and I’m one of them and I’ve only been doing this for two years.

But I guess it’s something that had probably been brewing inside of you for quite some time. The music sounds mature.

Because of growing up in a family where there’s always been strange and interesting music, film, art and books around. I’ve grown up with the perspective that it’s something natural and that I can also take part in it. My father would often play me his new projects and ask me what I thought of them. I learned from a really early age how to communicate about music and trust my own judgement. That was a really important thing for me. It made me more prepared once I started making my own music because I’d have already thought about a lot of things, what I liked and disliked. I found my own aesthetics and taste when it came to sound.

What about your friends, how do they react to your music?

Most friends my own age that I know from school don’t listen to this type of music. They think it’s quite strange but they are very happy for me!

Are you also into some of the music they listen to?

I listen to all kinds of things. Smart pop music can be some of the most interesting, it’s not like I only listen to weird experimental music.

What are you up to in the nearest future?

My album is released on the 27th of May and my next upcoming gig is on June 1 at Berghain with Matmos. That’s going to be exciting.

I guess they also work with recontextualising sound a lot.

For this show, they are building the music entirely from their washing machine that they brought from the States. Really looking forward to seeing that!

Photo: Hampus Högberg

Resonance FM show on MUTEK & SHAPE


Stream an hour-long Resonance FM show on the upcoming edition of MUTEK Montréal (June 1 – 5), where SHAPE will be having its first showcase beyond Europe.

In this show, MUTEK organizers Alain Mongeau, Patti Schmidt and Vincent Lemieux discuss the program of the festival, including the SHAPE showcase, as well as its history and evolution, both from an artistic and a technological perspective.

All tracks, played in the show, are by SHAPE acts of MUTEK 2016 – Peder Mannerfelt, Lorenzo Senni, Aïsha Devi and Lawrence Le Doux.

The SHAPE showcase will also include performances by Spatial, Nonotak, Jackson, Laura Luna and T’ien Lai.

Click here to find out more about the program of the festival.

Two live sets by Sillyconductor on Resonance Extra


Listen to a SHAPE Artists’ Hour show on Resonance Extra, devoted to Sillyconductor. The extended two-hour broadcast consists of two live sets performed by the artist in 2011 and 2012 – they have never been published before.

Sillyconductor and Rochite are two monikers of the same Romanian artist living in Bucharest. Sillyconductor excels at the more classical/mathematical side of the imaginary duo: projects such as Ventichitara (a self­made improvisation instrument built out of USB fans), 100 Catronomes (a golden rendition of Ligeti’s Poeme Symphonique employing 100 Maneki­Neko cats), Symphonic Cowboy (collages of symphonic music played on the Akai MPC sampler) or the Pianosaurus, his latest project, the reinforce the liaison between technology, classical music and humour.

Meanwhile Rochite, the emotional alter­ego, performs a weird juxtaposition of field recordings, classical music sampling, pop structures, polyrhythmic beatmaking, unsuccessful beatboxing, absurd children’s lyrics or nonsensical series of vowels and traditional Romanian folk metaphors.

Sillyconductor is a 2015 alumnus of the SHAPE platform, the artist was nominated to this project by Bucharest’s Rokolectiv festival.

News and upcoming showcases

Summer sees SHAPE showcasing artists at various cities throughout the continent and beyond. Read more about these events, new mixes and small changes to this year’s artist roster in our monthly news update.

BowToEachOther 1 (Photo by Stian Andersen)

The SHAPE artist list of 2016 has been amended slightly – due to personal reasons that keep her from traveling and performing in the second part of the year, singer Mari Kvien Brunvoll has unfortunately cancelled her participation in the project. SHAPE is looking forward to resume the collaboration with Marie Kvien in the future! Meanwhile, she has been replaced by the Norwegian-Canadian indie pop duo Bow To Each Other, who have been nominated to SHAPE by Tromsø’s Insomnia festival.

Also, let us remind you of SHAPE platform’s showcase at MUTEK Montréal (1-5 June), one of North America’s largest festivals for electronic music and digital arts, featuring Spatial, Nonotak, Laura Luna, Peder Mannerfelt, Lawrence Le Doux, Jackson with his new performative installation project “Light Machine Music” and T’ien Lai as well as 2015 alumni Lorenzo Senni and Aisha Devi.

After presenting We Will Fail alongside experimental music superstars Tim Hecker and Wolf Eyes in the beginning of May, CTM will return to Berghain on June 1, when American experimentalists Matmos will present their new album “Ultimate Care II”, supported by SHAPE platform’s Klara Lewis, whose new album “Too” is also coming up on Editions Mego (May 27).

Klara Lewis Press Pic 1 - Photo by Hampus Hogberg - Copy

Skaņu Mežs, one of the two coordinating organizations of SHAPE, will have its first SHAPE showcase this year at Riga’s club Aristīds – collaborating with Norway’s All Ears festival, this evening of improvised music will feature Paal Nilssen-Love and Frode Gjerstad, while Stine Janvin Motland will represent SHAPE with a solo vocal set.

Prague’s art center MeetFactory – the other coordinating initiative of SHAPE – will present three Janus affiliates (and SHAPE acts) – M.E.S.H., KABLAM and TOLE – at a free-entry experimental bass music event as part of Prague’s Museum Night.

French festival Les Siestes Electroqniues has announced the dates of its Toulouse (June 23-26) and Paris (June 26, July 3, 10 and 17) editions, but – just like the last year, made the bold decision to keep the line-up of their Toulouse edition a secret. The SHAPE acts of the Paris edition are L’Ocelle Mare and Voiski.

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L’Ocelle Mare, the solo project of guitarist Thomas Bonvalet, will also play at Austria’s musikprotokoll festival on September 29.

Finally, the Netherlands based SHAPE member festival TodaysArt has announced its dates – September 22-25.

The latest episode of SHAPE platform’s monthly radio show is streaming online, and features interviews with Elektro Guzzi’s Jakob Schneidewind, IVVVO, Lawrence Le Doux and Voiski:

Also, don’t forget to check out our “listen” section for new mixes by We Will Fail, L’Ocelle Mare, Stine Janvin Motland, Lawrence Le Doux and Voiski, presented in collaboration with our partners Resonance FM, NTS Live and POSTmatter.

The SHAPE platform is a three-year initiative, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

To find out more details and full line-ups of the aforementioned events, please visit our event section.

Photos: #1 – Bow To Each Other (by Stian Andersen); #2 – Klara Lewis (by Hampus Hogberg); #3 – Voiski.

L’Ocelle Mare mix for Resonance FM

To go with the announcement of his performances at the Paris edition of Les Siestes Electroniques (July 17) and Austria’s Musikprotokoll festival on September 29, multi-instrumentalist Thomas Bonvalet a.k.a. L’Ocelle Mare has prepared a rather eclectic mix of his favorite music, featuring artists as diverse as Thelonious Monk, Godflesh and Giacinto Scelsi. It was broadcast by Resonance FM as part of the series SHAPE Artists’ Hour.

The solo project of Thomas Bonvalet (guitarist of the band Cheval de frise between 1998 and 2004), since 2005 L’Ocelle Mare has focused on the nylon string guitar, taking short, dynamic and abrupt forms and limiting himself exclusively to the acoustic possibilities of the instrument. At its periphery the guitar absorbs the sound of objects (metronome, tuning forks etc), deviating from their common usage, integrating and splitting up their sounds to reveal fleeting new forms.

Track list:

Josef Matthias Hauer-Klavierstücke 1922
Musiques du Vanuatu-Rhombe
The time of bells-Skyros Greece Carnival bells
Jeux vocaux des Inuit-Immpijuutuq
Thelonious Monk-Evidence
Craw-Cobray to the north
Musiques du Vanuatu-jeux d’eau
the time of bells -Nauvo Finland rural church bells
Mohammed Abdul Wahab-?
Toru Takemitsu-In an autumn garden Pigeon Ramier-chants
Revenge-Blood annihilation
Musiques et chants polyphoniques de la sylve-Percussion contemporaine pokè
Giacinto Scelsi – Krishna e radha
Charles Trenet-je chante

Photo by Susana Velasco

Tea with TOLE: An interview with Martin Kohout


TOLE aims to create compositions rather than tracks, force rather than melody, and shifting details rather than clear patterns. The music project of Berlin and Prague-based visual artist Martin Kohout, TOLE combines ideas from his artistic practice and research with his own recordings and production. He will play at MeetFactory‘s Museum Night event alongside SHAPE’s KABLAM and M.E.S.H. on 11 June 2016. 

You claim to make compositions rather than tracks. Can you explain?

TOLE is focused on experience rather than on a song as a unit. I like longer durations and wider space for music where some of its segments can be considered tracks, but are released as a part of the narrative of the whole piece. I want it to be a sonic environment you immerse yourself into.

You work with a number of media, can you briefly describe your artistic activities and where does music tie into it?

My artistic work as Martin Kohout and TOLE don’t necessarily intersect from the outside, and I enjoy the difference between the creative approaches that come from shared starting points. For example, in the piece called Thirst, I included a lot of audio from videos recorded with action cameras, which I had been collecting for about a year for a lecture with the same name. These videos are specific because they mostly contain some sort of adrenaline action, while the waterproof housing of many of the cameras gives the sound a unique characteristic.

I’d say there are two main interests for TOLE: on the one hand I handle TOLE with a similar way of thinking I have as an artist, where genres or mediums are available as a structure and reference with respect to their context and history. There the focus is on narration, editing, and collage, where I relate to the music both bodily and intellectually through its context. On the other hand I’m super interested in sound design and in what I understand as force and volume of sound as something physical, almost like a sculpture, which is a direction that can lead to a very abstract output.

Your compositions are very synaesthetic, depicting a certain situation or a moment. Are they created from a concrete impulse, or rather something abstract or conceptual?

What originally brought me to making music is its ability to be more free from a linear idea, when compared to visual work. Nowadays I really enjoy the mixture of combining concepts with a lot of experimentation and intuition when working on a piece. This way it’s both composing and exploring at the same time.

Does that mean that the work is also improvisational?

It is in the time of its making, but live it’s way more controlled.

You have collaborated with musician and artist Lars Holdhus aka TCF. Can you describe the project?

We are making pottery for our own take on the tea ceremony, which ideally materializes as an installation with our own stage for the serving and with an original soundtrack. During the ceremony, we wear costumes that artist Sandra Mujinga made for us, hang around, talk with people and enjoy the teas. The whole thing is called DungeonTT and it’s definitely going to evolve with time.

You come from Prague, but live a very international existence. Do you think the local contexts are irrelevant these days, replaced by this global-nomadic ephemeral modus operandi.

Wherever I go I accumulate experiences and they are all relevant in some local context. I think that the question is more about what this “local” stands for since sometimes it can be a concrete event in a physical space, or at a cross-section of physical and virtual, and other times an almost completely virtual event. However, most of the time it’s a mixture and this localisation quality is a temporal process. So, the point where you would place it on the scale from physical to virtual can change with time. This way it sometimes feels like not leaving a place even when you travel, or always being at more places simultaneously.

Photos: Kablam & Ideal Corpus

Our French partner, RIAM Festival, organised a one-off event as part of Printemps de l’Art Contemporain 2016 in Marseille last week with SHAPE alumni Ideal Corpus and 2016 SHAPE artist KABLAM. DJ and producer KABLAM (aka Kajsa Blom) started her career as a DJ, as one of the residents of Berlin’s Janus party alongside co-residents Lotic and M.E.S.H and later moved into production. Ideal Corpus is a French duo formed by Ciel and Fructify. Stemming from the net generation, their musical universe is a hybrid of tropical-future-bass-ghetto-jersey-footwork-EDM-happy-hardcore-pop. Check out the photos from the aforementioned event:

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© Sigrun Sauerzapfe – RIAM