Stine Janvin and Morten Olsen (N.M.O.) at Cashmere Radio

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Listen to experimental vocalist Stine Janvin and drummer/producer/member of N.M.O. Morten J. Olsen‘s 90 minute visit to Berlin’s Cashmere Radio. The studio described the result of their visit as electronic soundscapes that span needling electro-acoustic tones to broad, pensive ambient palettes of sound.

Morten J. Olsen (b. 1981, Stavanger) is a musician, composer and artist. He studied in Amsterdam, but has been living and working in Berlin and Stavanger since 2006. Olsen mainly plays percussion, usually within selected forms of experimental music. He works with a sound palette which includes orchestral, electronic, improvised music and rock. He has performed throughout Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia with MoHa!, Ultralyd The Pitch and his latest collaboration N.M.O. with Rubén Patiño. Olsen is also a member of Splitter Orchester, a 25-piece improvising collective based in Berlin. He has released more than 40 records on approximately 10 different labels and recently adapted a new hobby as techno DJ.

Stavanger-born, Berlin-based vocalist Stine Janvin has a special interest in the ambiguous and unrecognizable qualities of the voice. Her recent work is focused on imitation, acoustics and the physicality of sound. Through a diversity of projects such as Fake Synthetic Music (PAN), the performative installation The Subjective Frequency Transducer,  the live radio play In Labour (Pica Disk), alter ego Stine II (Laura Lies In) and as the second half of field recording adaptations duo Native Instrument (Shelter Press), she explores and challenges the physical features of the voice, the acoustics of her external/internal surroundings, and new performance strategies.

Stine Janvin and Morten J. Olsen (as part of N.M.O.) are alumni of SHAPE platform from the artist selections of 2016 and 2017 respectively.

SHAPE platform announces showcase at Nyege Nyege festival in Uganda

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SHAPE platform will have a showcase at the Nyege Nyege festival in Jinja, Uganda on 6 – 9 September 2018. After visiting North America (MUTEK Montréal) and Latin America (Novas Frequências in Rio de Janeiro), the EU’s „Creative Europe”-supported platform for innovative music will bring 13 artists to Uganda.

Whilst primarily an opportunity to showcase underground talent from across East Africa together with the opportunity to present cutting edge producers from Europe and the US to an East African audience, Nyege Nyege festival will explore more than just music, also presenting carefully curated film programs as well as provide local cuisine and organize artistic workshops.

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As previously with MUTEK and Novas Frequências, the festival will become a meeting place for all 16 founding festivals of the SHAPE platform: the organization will have one of its two annual meetings in Jinja, therefore the curators and artistic directors from all SHAPE festivals will be in the city, looking for interchange, cooperation and new collaborations with the local scene.

About Nyege Nyege 2018:

2018 promises to be a breakthrough year for Uganda’s MTN Nyege Nyege Festival.  After being voted best event of 2017 by the Ugandan media, the 2018 edition will double the size of the festival ground, with a whole new dedicated river side camping area to give revelers a festival experience that is more comfortable and more fun. The 4-day music and arts extravaganza will feature over 300 artists from more than 30 countries on 5 stages, including the new “Dark Star” stage that will feature a world class line up of electronic music DJs and the “Spirit of Uganda” stage that will feature the best of traditional troupes in an idyllic acoustic setting. 2018 will also see a complete site transformation by some of East Africa’s most exciting visual artists and installation experts.  The festival will kick off on Thursday September 6th and finish Monday morning when the last DJ pulls the plug. The extensive line up will feature some of the continent’s most cutting edge musicians, DJs and producers, including artists under Nyege Nyege Tapes, the festival’s critically acclaimed associated label.

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The SHAPE line-up of Nyege Nyege 2018:

Tesa (LV)
Latvian experimental metal band, that avoids attributing their music to a specific genre, all the while abstracting themselves from mainstream standards of heavy music. Their most recent full-length album has been mastered by James Plotkin.

DJ Morgiana (PL)
Polish DJ with a strong performative aspect to her work. Ze describes her creative activity as „Alchemy of vibration constantly fusing into new states of matters”. Ze is interested in abstract turntablism, experiments with voice using extended vocal techniques, and this brings feeling of ancient spells and atmosphere of tribal ritual.

Bonaventure (PT)
Soraya Lutangu’s nom de guerre. Under this alias, she has been developing sonic weaponry designed to confront oppressive power structures, to tell the story of violence, indifference and abuse fuelled by racism. Her debut release „Complexion” was released on NON Worldwide.

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Uriel Barthélémi  (FR)
Drummer, composer and electro-acoustic musician. Following his studies at the conservatories of Reims, La Courneuve, Montreuil, and Ircam, he embarked upon electro-acoustic compositional work. Performs audiovisual shows.

Nkisi (BE)
Co-founder of NON Worldwide, whose raison d’etre is described as “a collective of African artists and of the diaspora, using sound as their primary media, to articulate the visible and invisible structures that create binaries in society, and in turn distribute power”. Her ethos and music is imbued with a certain punk sensibility along with a political push back against conformity.

JASSS (ES)
Sound artist and producer raised on the Northern coast of Spain, focused on the experimentation of sound and spaces, working on several projects including electro-acoustic pieces, live, and audiovisual performances. Debut album „Weightless” published on iDeal records.

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Yamaneko (UK)
Producer, combining club music with ambient aesthetics – with a sound equally inspired by grime, new age ambient, video game OST’s and techno.

Sarah Farina (DE)
Berlin-based DJ with connections to crews worldwide including Teklife, Hyperdub, Deep Medi, Buraka Som Sistema and Exit Records. Her sets are seamlessly blended bass-heavy footwork and futuristic beats, with fearless forays through R&B and UK Funky.

Tutu (ES)
Spanish DJ with an interest in abstract storytelling. With a spectrum of sounds that range from bass house to cosmic trance, abstract grime, schizophrenic tribalism and acid techno, Tutu on the decks can go from underground dance to the most experimental sounds.

Mika Oki (FR)
French-Japanese visual and sound artist, living and working in Brussels. With a background in sculpture and electro-acoustic music, she has  also developed an interest in DJing in clubs and radio shows where she translates her atmospherical experimentations, blurring the boundaries between techno and ambient/narrative sounds.

Kimyan Law (AT)
A trained drummer and electronic music producer who incorporates elements of pan-African culture into a form of music that he considers his creative roots – drum’n’bass.

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Tomoko Sauvage (FR)
Japanese musician and artist who investigates the sculpturality of sound and improvisation in relation to the environment, mainly known for playing a „natural synthesizer’ of her invention, composed with diverse fluid, bowls, ceramic, light and underwater amplification.

Giant Swan (UK)
British experimental rhythmic music duo, nurturing industrial techno and passages of heavy, blissed out drone through their seemingly improvised shows.

Click here for the festival homepage and here for the Facebook event page.

Mika Oki’s altered states

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Mika Oki is a French-Japanese visual and sound artist, living and working in Brussels. With a background in sculpture and electro-acoustic music, she explores the notion of intangible spaces and emotional landscapes through video and sound installations, using abstract sound textures and kinetic mental images. Mika Oki has also developed an interest in DJing in clubs and for radio shows where she translates her atmospheric experimentations, blurring the boundaries between techno and ambient/narrative sounds. During the CYNETART Festival in 2017, she collaborated with dancers, performers and poets, creating over 24 hours an evolutive environment in which all landmarks of space and temporality disappeared.

What is the first sound that you remember, and what are the memories connected to it?

I wish I could remember and describe with precision the foetal sound experience while in my mum’s belly. Must have been crazy down there! Indeed, Basses Terres (BFDM) and I imagined precisely these very first pre-natal senses and the awakening of perceptions for our Tuxuci project – how we would perceive the outside world from that immersive, liquid environment. We had a live and visual performance last September with hydrophones, muffled and distant voices, low frequencies and light variations. It was part of a residency in the south of France, in a 20m-high silo opened once a year by the SILO collective.

My strongest sonic memory/experience was during a Phill Niblock live show five years ago. He used a multi-layered “drone” sound in Workers. It’s like a glowing sound-object sent into an imperceptible chain of overarching transformations. The sound experience was combined with scenes of manual labour and its movements, consistently treated abstractly without any explicit anthropological or sociological meanings attached. I remember I had my first powerful experience of strong kinetic visuals: I could see varied textures moving on different layers of surface and forms of body in motion, rhythmic in the microscopic evolution of tones. These images are still imprinted in my mind and are strongly present in some of my later installations. I also had a very strong physical sensation of these micro-tonal sounds traveling through my body.

Previous to this moment, I’d always assumed that I could only find sensations in “intense conditions”, like heavy techno sounds being pounded into my brain through club sound systems. I now know and have become more interested in the potential and richness of psychoacoustic music. These sounds have the capacity to create fully immersive experiences, because they communicate with the space, your body in that particular space, and your mental space spiritually. I’m particularly attracted to Éliane Radigue’s music, which, compared to some electro-acoustic pieces that I find inaccessible, explores music with a great deal of sensibility and mastery. There’s a certain absence of pretence and a strong presence of spirituality related to her Tibetan Buddhist faith.

Your background is in sculpture and electro-acoustic music. Can you talk about these two disciplines – sound art and sound-creation is often perceived as aural sculpting. What is the interconnection between the two in your work, and what led you to pursue this direction in the first place?

I studied sculpture, but quickly got frustrated by the static state of sculptures in their conventional form. So I turned towards the video medium, using it as a light projector. Light and sound are the best elements for moving and inhabiting a space, changing its form – that’s why my work is always set up in in-situ installations. The link between my music and art became more tenuous when I started taking electro-acoustic courses. Here, the acousmatic refers to a sound which is heard without seeing the originating cause, allowing for infinite interpretations. This is something that can also be done visually – forgetting the origin of an element perceived.

A few days ago, I was lying on the grass under a clear blue sky. An airplane flew above, and because of the hot weather, it was blurred and its white contrail seemed to move like a liquid substance, like a whale swimming in the sea. So for a moment it was as if I could perceive the world upside down. Like magic. The possibility of transforming sound into a tangible substance, a texture that we feel we can visualise is something that interests me a great deal in electro-acoustic music. This possibility embraces the quest which lies at the heart of my art practice as I question the immaterial and intangible.

Texture and narrativity seem to play an important part in your work, the creation of a certain ambience, a space for the listener to immerse themselves in. Can you talk about how you structure your sonic-visual work?

My works are often based on unconscious and altered states. I try to open spaces which immerse the viewer in my installations, and lingering soundscapes in my radio show, Waking Life. I also often work on deconstructed narration, like that in our dreams – this allows me to enter many different music genres and rhythms without logic or coherence. The construction of my mixes is also often based on false awakenings: continuously waking up in your dreams without knowing when you will finally awaken for real. My music and installations are always related to dreamy atmospheres – both good and bad – because I’m an eternal dreamer. But I’m also conscious of the necessity of staying in touch with reality.

We live in a time when people often simplify real complexities of the world, rather than face them head on. Simplicity is reassuring, and politicians, scientists and technological utopians rely on it. Adam Curtis’s HyperNormalisation is a great documentary on this phenomenon. It’s necessary to stay rooted in reality. My installations always link back to concrete elements, like Fukushima in my Kiokubu installation. Even in an increasingly unstable world, you can’t just construct a fake reality to escape and stay disconnected. It’s also very important to quantify the different variations of states of life; how to intensify the presence of things.

You are also involved with radio, The Word Radio to be specific. Can you talk about your radio work, and the importance of these new, online radio communities in your opinion?

The Word Radio is a new Brussels-based online community radio, founded by The Word Magazine. Launched last December, it broadcasts a large group of producers and music lovers 24/7. We already have more than a hundred residents sharing their productions and their discoveries of Belgian underground pioneers, legendary independent labels (Aguirre, SubRosa…), strong experimental event actors like the schiev and Meakusma festivals, and plenty of SHAPE regulars like Hiele, Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Lawrence Le Doux and Ignatz. I manage the studio, take care of the radio platform, coordinate with our residents and constantly feed the radio with often overlooked Belgian talent. Community radio is a great way of creating a strong and flourishing music environment, constantly nourishing a common field where all the actors can tangibly meet, exchange and create new collaborations on a more human scale. We’ve also featured a number of international artists passing through the city, such as O Yuki Conjugate and Abstrakce Records.

Can you describe your usual day? Is music and art your full-time activity?

At the moment, my time is divided between the two – but I devote most of my daytime to the radio. At night, I work on my personal projects. I’ve actually started building modular synthesisers – that’s been taking up quite some time! I’m also working on an audio-visual performance with Ulf Langheinrich which will take place at the SHAPE- affiliated Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda.

Mika Oki mix for NTS Live

Listen to a new SHAPE mix by French-Japanese visual artist and DJ Mika Oki, produced for the London-based radio station NTS Live.

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Mika Oki is a French-Japanese visual and sound artist, living and working in Brussels. With a background in sculpture and electro-acoustic music, she explores the notion of intangible spaces and emotional landscapes through video and sound installations, using abstract sound textures, and kinetic mental images.

Mika Oki also developed an interest in DJing in clubs and radio shows where she translates her atmospherical experimentations, blurring the boundaries between techno and ambient/narrative sounds. During the CYNETART Festival in 2017, she collaborated with dancers, performers and poets, creating during 24 hours an evolutive environment where all landmarks of space and temporality disappear.

Track list:

AGF- Feedback
Patricia B McGarry – Between the Valleys
Valerio Tricoli – La Distanza –
NN – 07 LEARNN – Cerebral 4Play _ 彼⼥を作る⽅法 愛液
O Yuki Conjugate – Ba-Makala
DSCRD – L’Envers Des Clefs I
Immersion – No Answers
PSO J318.5-22 – GBBVT1337052
Eiger Drums Propaganda B1. Part 2 – Summit : Universe
Koxbox – A Major Problem in Australia
Wheel – Tricycle
Lostsoundbytes – Unreleased
Objekt – One Fell Swoop
Tucuxi – Paradisa
Astralasia – Strange Celestial Dream
Robert Ashley – Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon
Basses Terres – Unreleased

Mika Oki was nominated to SHAPE platform by Cynetart festival.

Click here for previous collaborations between SHAPE and NTS.

Resonance FM show on RED Trio

Listen to an hour-long selection of improvisations by Portugese SHAPE platform participants RED Trio, an ensemble of Hernani Faustino (bass), Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano) and Gabriel Ferrandini (drums). Featuring contributions by such guest players as John Butcher, Nate Wooley and Mattias Stahl. The show has been aired by Resonance FM.

Jazz em Agosto 2010, Gulbenkian, Lisboa

Formed in 2007 by three musicians from the Portuguese free improvised scene, RED trio is Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, Hernani Faustino on double bass and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums. Founded by Hernani Faustino, RED trio is a group that presents a multiple approach to music and its creation through improvisation. RED trio explores one of the most prolific Jazz formations: piano + double-bass + drums. Instead of having the piano in a privileged position supported by a rhythm section, RED trio to explore a symbiotic and interactive improvisation between the three players, all of them having an equal voice. The trio’s sound is then characterized by its timbre and rhythm coherence, functioning as a whole.

Track list:

“1.1″ from album “Summer Skyshift” with John Butcher
“Carne” from “Rebento”
“North” from album “North and the RED Stream”with Mattias Stahl
“Phase” from “Stem” with Nate Wooley
“Pachiderm” from album “Empire” with John Butcher

RED Trio were nominated to SHAPE platform by Skaņu Mežs festival, and will play at the festival’s 2018 edition on October 13.

Listen to a new track from soundscape enthusiast Lišaj

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Following up from his 2015 EP Szara, the Czech musician returns with Mezina, released on 20 May via Prague’s Genot Centre imprint. On his new release, he takes his dynamic formations and suspended blocks of stasis to an even further extreme. The ever-present thick sound hovers somewhere between a hum, a breeze, an insect choir or a rocky shelter beneath a waterfall.

Lišaj is a Czech musician – and a 2017 SHAPE artist – whose sound is based on droning mixtures of field recordings infected with slow beats, lo-fi sampling, and liquid genre motion. His open passion for different kinds of music on a misty axis between ambient and concrete music aesthetics falls into a slow abstract stream of diverse sound masses. Lišaj’s first release, called Szara, was built as a construction of field recordings gathered on the Hel peninsula, with an attempt to “dig a tunnel between noise and voice”. It was released via the Prague-based Genot Centre label.

Listen to the track “Roudno” from Lišaj’s new release below.

Malibu: I used to hate music

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Malibu is a musician whose research and sound work are focused on fantasized story telling. With a quiet, gauzy intensity that finds emotional power in angel choirs, rushing winds, and Auto-tuned vertigo, Malibu’s productions bask in an otherworldly sincerity that sidesteps nostalgic irony, while also sneaking towards the borders of a mainstream teen pop, video games soundtracks, cinematic cellos, and experimental ambient.

Can you talk about your background and how you got into music?

I grew up surrounded by music because my father is a jazz pianist, so I would go to his shows and fall asleep next to the drum kit. Apart from that, I used to « hate » music for a long time because of the authority of the conservatory, where I would only have theory courses. A few years ago, I met an amazing person who wrote music as an outlet and at that time it was exactly what I needed. That’s how I started using music as a medium of expression.

Your music is soothing, relaxing. Can you talk about some of the moods and atmospheres that are connected to your music and music making?

I rarely write music, because I have to feel a certain way, feel as if music is the only way; I’ll usually have an intense/interesting dream that confuses me and that I have to put down on paper so that I make its memory physical. I’ll use words that could describe anything really, so there is room for interpretation, but only I know what it is about. And from these words, I’ll build the sonic atmosphere that feels right. I have the dream’s images in mind: blurry, dark, colourful, bright, distant,.. everything at the same time. I like to think that my whole process is like making a scene in a film, or in a video game; there is something very graphic to it.

Can you talk about some of the sonic influences that you incorporate into your music?

I use a lot of strings, resonating pianos, fragile, reverbed, and repeating vocals, spoken words. I love string progressions in general, it really turns me on. I LOVE high steady vocals, soft piano pieces, very low guitar,… and I LOVE reverb. But overall, it depends, I could like a song just because of one tiny sound in the background, how one word is sung, or because of how one kick sounds, ignoring all the rest. Anything that I could loop forever is important, anything that just resonates in my soul (I know it sounds cheesy), anything that sounds focused. If I had to compile my influences in a few names, I would say Low, SHM, Hope Sandoval, Love Spirals Downwards, Deadmau5, Alice Deejay, Mylène Farmer, Thomas Newman…

You mention nostalgia and irony in your bio, what is your relationship to the past in terms of music?

I think if I were to be nostalgic, it would be over things I’ve never seen, places I’ve never been to. So I think melancholia would be more suited as it isn’t bound to the past, but to an indefinite state.

What are you currently working on & planning?

I’m working on a split release with Torus from the Netherlands, for my other alias, Dj Lostboi. It will be out in August with amazing artwork from illustrator, Acacio Ortas. Also a split-hour tape with musician Debit that will be released this year by NYC-based label Quiet Time. And hopefully I’ll start working on my first release very soon (I’m fkn slow and a perfectionist). Oh, and every month I do my mix show, United in Flames!

Stephen Grew live at Skaņu Mežs – Resonance FM

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Listen to a special Resonance FM broadcast of improvising pianist Stephen Grew playing live at the opening evening of Skaņu Mežs festival 2017. The final moments of the programme also include more recent solo recordings, made in January 2018.

Stephen Grew has been playing totally improvised piano and electronic keyboard music for over 30 years. His music works with the life forces of the instrument, their sounds and a multiplicity of rhythmic patterns, dynamic extremes and whatever an improviser conjures in the creative moment. He has played in many European countries, toured relentlessly in his native country the UK and collaborated with many musicians, including the great British improvisers of our time. He also has countless recordings released on a variety of labels.

Stephen Grew has collaborated with Trevor Watts, Evan Parker, Pat Thomas, Keith Jarrett, Phil Marks and many others.

The concert was recorded on October 6, 2017, at art museum Riga Bourse.

Photo by Alens Līdaks.