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Coppice | compound form
TRB.038 | 2013/05/13 | CDR

order : 5 EUR (includes shipping costs)

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Coppice (Noé Cuéllar & Joseph Kramer)
January 2013

total duration  29:51

composed by Noé Cuéllar & Joseph Kramer in Chicago
for prepared pump organ, tape processes, transmitters and acoustic filters

recorded live on October 26, 2012 at Studio Z, in Minneapolis
during the crow with no nouth concert, curated by Jesse Goin

mastering & graphic layout by Themistoklis Pantelopoulos
cover photo by Coppice


    I am, for the first time, inclined to offer a mild disclaimer about a release I recommend wholeheartedly; that is, Coppice's Compound Form was recorded in performance in my 2012 crow with no mouth concert series (on an amazing evening shared with Jeph Jerman). I received four Coppice releases in the mail this year, as fecund and fertile a year for them as it was for Nick Hennies. I can say I respect and enjoy aspects of the other releases, but return most frequently to this one. I recall the evening Coppice's bellows and sundry sound-sources lapped throughout the Studio Z space - at the completion of their set another regular attendee and I agreed it was a highlight of the crow series. I am pleased this will be heard beyond that evening.

    I once saw Coppice (duo consisting of Joseph Kramer and Noé Cuéllar) perform a great piece utilizing a pump organ and analog electronics at the typically laptop-heavy Spark Music Festival in Minneapolis. The striking parts about Coppice's set was how they didn't make their electronics the focal point of the piece or transform the pump organ into something alien, but instead naturally expanded the acoustics of their instruments.

    On Compound Form, the duo continues to explore the possibilities of expanding acoustic sonorities through the use of subtly placed electronics, and the results are stunning. The sole 30-minute composition that makes up this release ebbs and flows through rich drones, fractured melodies, and airy moments of near-negative space. Throughout, it's often hard to tell when the natural sounds of the duo's prepared pump organ end and when the electronic alterations begin. Despite this seemingly limited palette of sounds, Coppice excel at creating a surprisingly diverse tapestry out of their tools of choice in a manner that resembles the instrumental expansion of Pauline Oliveros' accordion works Jason Kahn's percussion recordings.

    With this new material from the Chicago based duo of Noé Cuéllar & Joseph Kramer, together forming Coppice, I came to the realization that there are really a lot of interesting things going on, almost epiphanic. Together with contemporary musicians like Tim Olive, Pascal Battus and Eli Keszler Coppice are constructing a unique sound in this new found blue ocean. I'd like to call them the elite of the new avant-garde; their brand is that of anonymity and their artistic use of images, the minimalism and intimate sounds might support the idea that only if we come closer, when we get a more detailed look at the surrealistic scenery seen through a miniature hole in a box, to the realization all is a set up. As soon as the listener gets too close, the image darkens and changes. Their approach is to distract, to always camouflage a deeper intention, pure, shallow and transparent. And all though it feels electronic, innovative with much attention for high resolution uncovering a lot of detail, the Cagean approach of doing more with less works in their advantage, chance leading.

    The CD-r has only 1 track and acts as a 30 minute nonstop trip through older work from the duo, recorded live on October 26, 2012 in Studio Z, in Minneapolis. These are organic abstractions, wood that gets knocked on, sounds from shruti box bellows and craftsmanship from a pump organ I believe. Imagine instruments exploring austerity further and further, sourcing drones from everywhere delivering ecstatic moments when analogue tones blend with electronically generated sound. This shruti box, for which this piece was written originally is a wooden box that uses bellows to breathe air through intentionally opened holes to create a drone that, when the right combination of tones is set, creates very analogue sounding humming that allows Compound Form to continuously infest new directions, like a virus spreading, with its typical phases embedded, exponential growth alternating phases of relative calm, taking over the control, sublime and secretly almost.

    Their recent output even got better when compared to their previous release (Tract/Holes on Consumer Waste). One of the reasons why I specifically treasure these works is that it reminds me often of Coil, and the 'sister' releases to Compound Form are no different; Pied (on Notice Recordings) and Epoxy (on Pilgrim Talk), both cassette releases using different instruments and recording techniques but in essence with the same sort of compelling intense drowsiness.

Spoiler alert.

    The Chicago duo of Joseph Kramer and Noé Cuéllar (Coppice) were responsible for one of the really interesting releases of 2012 'Holes/Tract' on British label Consumer Waste. This time they return with 'Compound Form' published by Greek label Triple Bath managed by Themistoklis Pantelopoulos.

    In the beginning 'Compound Form' seems to be about details and subtleness, about a slow emotional narrative that progresses; about moments of profound depth and careful formal construction where a beautiful and sinister tension start to build up.

    After a quiet and delicate start the sinister tension builds up this sinister moment of strong and dark beauty. This haunting fragment is for me the emotional peak of this composition establishing a dramatic and anticipating moment that completely immersed me in a mood of anxiety and astonishment.

...then the work goes from sinister to chaotic: sounds of different and contrasting forms begin to overlap and interrupt each other creating this acoustic confusion that eventually fades out... This chaotic moment helps me to reflect about the series of events I have witnessed while listening to 'Compound Form' perceiving a story with a very organic and entropic narrative that went from creation to destruction, and in some way, from a certain sense of order to a sense of chaos.

    The confusion is followed by a very intense fragment where annoyance and beauty blend into a vast and arid mood. Finally the piece fades out and closes by depicting this sad and lonely place, which builds an emotional atmosphere of despair where we can foresee the end approaching...

...and then it's all gone.

    'Compound Form' is a very strong composition, this is musical narrative at its highest potency; these are human emotions and thoughts effectively activated by sound, building an intimate, personal story where the only character is the listener and his subjective view.

Go and listen.

    Of more interest, I thought, was the release by Coppice, which is a duo of Noe Cuellar and Joseph Kramer (both of whom I am not sure I heard before), who recorded their thirty minute 'Compound Form' live in the studio in October last year. They use 'prepared pump organ, tape process, transmitters and acoustic filters'. This is an odd piece of acoustic sounds, played manually I should think, of drone like sounds, but at one point also getting a bit more rhythmical, with sounds derived from the body of the organ - I imagine. It moves you from something that is very soft to something that is very loud, and very present. A vibrant collage of sound, improvised, acoustic and yet somehow it also reminded me of electro-acoustic music, with an odd, strange, little melodic touch to it. A totally fascinating sound work. Perhaps in a way also highly conceptual, but also highly musical. Excellent.