Jan 25, 2015

Sundaze 1504


Today some very atmospheric Sundaze with ambient and techno influences....DeepChord, for the neophyte, is Rod Modell (assisted by Mike von Schommer), synthesizing an amalgam of Detroit (Modell’s techno base) and Berlin, back-channelling (basically) Detroit and, from beyond, Kingston, Jamaica. Echospace is… well, largely more of the same, only with Soultek’s Steve Hitchell as Modell’s co-pilot. ......N'joy

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Rod Modell is best known as DeepChord, the creative force behind popular dub techno records such as Vantage Isle and The Coldest Season, but that moniker is just the tip of the iceberg. Modell’s back catalogue is enormous, encompassing ambient and sound-art releases on obscure labels which even the Discogs radar doesn't pick up: imprints such as Silentes, Hypnos, Amplexus, Linear Logic and Silver to name a few.

Rod was in Detroit during the birth of techno in the mid-to-late ‘80s. Charles Johnson’s Mothership landings (10 pm) and his Midnight Funk Association were rarely ever missed. I experienced the Music Institute first-hand, and was buying tons of vinyl at Buy Rite Music years before Record Time sold a single techno record. I was there. Ditto for Steve in regards to Chicago. He personally knows many of the original purveyors of the Chicago house and acid sound. I think it would be impossible to ignore the obvious fact that there is some definite significance to this allegory. We are all a product of our experiences whether we want to be or not. The things that we’ve seen are part of our fabric. Chicago House is part of Steve’s makeup, as is Detroit Techno for me. Add in the Berlin element, and you have the holy trinity of underground dance music represented.

Rod & Steve like analog because it’s alive. Rod" I used to love putting my old Korg MS-20 outside in the cold garage for a few hours during the winter months. I would then bring it inside the warm house, power it up, and program something simple with a SQ-10 sequencer, and that little twelve-step sequence would mutate for two hours. Constantly changing. It was amazing to me. You would leave the room, and come back and it would sound totally different. So organic and so alive. Its personality would change as it warmed up and became more comfortable, just like a human being’s would.A lso, this old gear generates amazing harmonics and overtones that I’ve never heard from a computer. Even algorithms designed to emulate this analog side-effect fail miserably. These elements add up to a sound quality that’s impossible to achieve without this old gear and, as this sound is an integral part of Echospace, we don’t have an option: it’s either use the old stuff, or don’t make music."

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the fellows in Berlin's Rhythm & Sound camp will have no problem endorsing Detroit-based Deepchord as their dub-techno heir apparent. Already an established ambient producer, Rod Modell partnered with Mike Schommer, quietly releasing their first 12" together in the late '90s. Like Rhythm & Sound, Deepchord based their compositions around minimal arrangements: repetitive rhythms inspired by dub, faint traces of white noise, and warm synth stabs. The group retained a loyal cult following, releasing several more singles in the early 2000s as well as a limited-run CD version of their first six releases (originally pressed up in extremely limited quantities). The duo's production went from prolific to a screeching halt around 2002, making a remarkable and rare live performance at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival and releasing singles in a scarce fashion (the group's 2006 single was only pressed to 100 copies). A retrospective of the group's work, Vibrasound, was issued under Modell's name and released on the Silentes label in 2005. Later that year, Modell teamed with Kevin Hanton to release Illuminati Audio Science and used a generous portion of the group's output, looped and sliced into small segments (much like Richie Hawtin's DE9 experiments), for a continuous 70-minute mix CD.

In 2007, Modell teamed with Stephen Hitchell, aka Soultek, for what would go on to be one of his most commercially successful projects, Echospace (also the name of a new label he started at the same time). Its debut album, The Coldest Season, was released on cult British label Modern Love and featured one of the most deconstructed interpretations of the Basic Channel sound ever released, its dubby, decayed textures swathed in shrouds of tape hiss. The 2010 follow-up Liumin (a Chinese personal name) was a greater success still, even as it played up this "destroyed" sound yet more, turning hundreds of hours of field recordings made in China into an unrecognizable murk. In 2011 Modell, now piloting Deepchord solo, signed to legendary Glasgow label Soma, which issued what was actually the first ever "proper" Deepchord album, Hash-Bar Loops. A period of intense creativity followed and 2012 saw the release both of another Echospace album, Silent World -- the soundtrack to an experimental film produced by Modell himself -- and the Deepchord follow-up Sommer. In 2013 20 Electrostatic Soundfields which features recordings made from 2008-2012 in cities such as Amsterdam and Barcelona saw the light. Very hypnotic and hazy sounds which are perfect for when you just want to listen to ambient soundscapes DC style. I'm not really a fan of the extra short (minute) tracks but it shows that Rod is experimenting with different outcomes in order to create a very succinct record. The latest release Laterns delivered more deep spaced out grooves from Mr Modell, very washed out percussion and woozy hypnotic, tripped out atmospheres.

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Original produced by Rod Modell for the 2002 Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Remixed / Reshaped by Stephen Hitchell & Rod Modell (cv313 & Echospace) and Gerard Hanson (Convextion). Restored from original multitrack reel-to-reel master tapes in 2007. It's an absolute journey through the abyss of sheer deepness, its almost freighting, its hard to believe there all the same track remixed as each has its own distinct sound. It’s true that DC has always cultivated a strong hardware sound, distinguishing it from the digital plug-in ethos of mainstream mnml production. But, though much is made of vintage analogue keyboards, it’s the godlike Roland Space Echo (SE) and attending angel, Korg Tape Delay (TD), that are central to DeepChord’s archaeology. More than mere tools, without their excavations all this would be but a prosaic thumpy pedestrain precinct thinly inhabited by a few mealy-mouthed synth phrases, the odd dry-hack studio wheeze and fuzzy outdoors fragment. Fortunately, with the agency of mighty SE and trusty sidekick TD, a teeming viscous soundfield is drawn out from scant sources, conjuring up vast expanses of ice-floe dancefloor, gushing geysers of hiss’n’quake, and reverberant tracts of oceanism.

Vantage Isle Sessions is in fact thirteen different takes of the one track, various aliases (Deepchord, Echospace, Spacecho, cv313) being adopted to tweak it into differently vibrant forms. The opener, “DC Mix I,” is in mellowest mode, centred around insistent mid-tempo 4/4 kicks and the merest hint of chord-depth, soft-imploding snareshots, the ghost in Maurizio’s M-achine sprinkling it with echo-shards. The blasted and beatless (like “Spacecho Dub”) paves the way for soft-techno workouts (try “Echospace Reshape”), stopping off to dip into warm vapor-baths (visit “Echospace Spatial Dub”). The album centrepiece sees a windswept ambient-dub-techno peak reached in “Spacecho Dub II – Extended Mix,” maintained and even furthered in sonorous intensity by special guest, Convextion. His “Convextion Remix” is a twisted and compressed version stretched out into a throbbing jerking burbling beast, over which a massive sky-gaze gauze of post-Detroit chords is stratospherically trailed. It’s arguably the most radical transformation of the ‘original,’ against which the likes of DC mixes II and III seem almost plodding, somehow short of alterations of state, all ho-hum drums and just-so soft-pedalled chord drops – the minimal modern dance. Better is “Echospace Spatial Dub,” all veils and streamers over a spectral sub-metronome. Different again is the “CV313 mix I,” possessed of a more explicitly stated tech-house jack-dynamic, and the final “CV313 Reduction II,” three minutes of air rolled back and forth like waves on a still day over a fragment of ambient keyboard chord, the whole presided over by the ever-present SE-TD team.

Ultimately, though, Vantage Isle Sessions might be summed up as a restatement of the proposal already put forward on Echospace’s The Coldest Season – that of DeepChord/Echospace as carriers of the dub-techno torch for those that missed the original Detroit-Berlin bus. And, looking at their output in 2007/8, a sense of same-furrow ploughing is setting in, and one wonders how much more mileage there is in remakes and remodels, however well-crafted, of a design classic. Time for new prototypes?

DeepChord - Vantage Isle Sessions  (flac 453mb)

01 Vantage Isle (DC Mix I) 8:39
02 Vantage Isle (Echospace Glacial) 3:08
03 Vantage Isle (Echospace Reshape) 8:47
04 Vantage Isle (Spacecho Dub) 2:54
05 Vantage Isle (DC Mix II) 7:20
06 Vantage Isle (Spacecho Dub II - Extended Mix) 10:39
07 Vantage Isle (Convextion Remix) 7:49
08 Vantage Isle (Echospace Reform) 3:36
09 Vantage Isle (Echospace Spatial Dub) 6:01
10 Vantage Isle (DC Mix III) 5:45
11 Vantage Isle (CV313 Reduction) 5:16
12 Vantage Isle (Echospace Excursion) 6:09
13 Vantage Isle (CV313 Reduction II) 3:00

DeepChord - Vantage Isle Sessions   (ogg  178mb)

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From the liner notes:

Sonic Theory:
“Silence is where enlightenment exists. Doing nothing, thinking nothing, resisting nothing, we are expressing pure self to self. It is in solitude that we are able to understand our own enlightenment. Only in silence, we can acknowledge and release modules of our consciousness that lead to unhappiness. In these mystical quiet-zones, we become whole. Transformation is possible only in the sacred realm of silence. Atmospheric elements composed with snapshots of normally unheard sonic worlds.

Captured with hydrophones, piezo-electric transducers, wind harps, and binaural dummy-head microphones, these phonographs were further accentuated with proprietary processing to reveal even deeper layers, then blended with care to retain the full mystical element of the source recordings.” Recorded in echospace 2007/12.

Silent World was a project comprised primarily of unprocessed material used in the creation of their controversial second album Liumin, released by Modern Love back in 2008, so rather than this being essentially a remix album it would probably be more accurate to describe it as Liumin (Original Version). There are tracks here that are clearly different mixes of those found on Liumin, as well as the original versions of both “In Echospace” and “BCN Dub,” but as most dub techno fans will know, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less distinctive an experience.

If anything, Silent World sits somewhere between the heavy duty thump of the cityscape describing Liumin and the gaseous, distant, drone-tone adorned field-recordings-fest that is Liumin Reduced (which came with initial copies of the original CD), a sort of middle-tier version that occupies that all-important “sweet-spot.” It combines the duo’s trademark ultra-deep atmospherics with rhythms and wells of bass, then infuses every element with a sort of radiance and soft glow that blurs the lines between them to create what is probably their most immersive, hazy and intoxicating album experience to date.

“Lisbon” is to Silent World what the titanic “Burnt Sage” was to Liumin, the pinnacle of deep-focus, atmospheric beauty in perfect balance with heady, relentless rhythms and softly pounding bass that – like all the best dub-techno out there—almost has the power to invoke a transcendent out of body experience. In actual fact, this continues right into the very next track, as “Rippling” floats through the ether on gossamer wings, whilst “BCN Dub (Original Version)” is destined I’m sure to become recognised as one of their all time classics, asserting it’s superiority over the Liumin version in almost every respect. The migraine-inducing bass drum has gone, replaced by a more muted, vague, far off and skitterish pulse and the flicker and strobe of the horn section has never sounded better. It might be outrageous hyperbole, but honestly, these three tracks represent one of the most seminal moments in Modell and Hitchell’s careers to date, a literally faultless thirty minutes of dub techno nirvana.

Interestingly, the compact disc version seems to get the best deal on the exclusive track front as the blissful six minutes of “Orbiting” bridges the gap between “BCN Dub (Original Version)” and the CD-only “Hydrodynamics,” an expansive and richly layered fourteen minutes of soft but frenetic, bass pulses, scuffed hi-hats and synapse-flaring synths. The vinyl version gets lumped with the thudding of “Ghost Theory,” which compared to the rest of the material here sounds like a Liumin reject: it’s noisy, repetitive, lacking progression and sticks out like a weird distant relative at a wedding. Finally, Silent World closes on another high with “Theme From Silent World” which is essentially a beatless version of the superlative “Burnt Sage” from Liumin.

Regardless, Silent World is a beautiful DeepChord presents Echospace record, arguably Liumin‘s superior in any number of ways and should be an essential purchase for dub techno fans.

DeepChord Presents Echospace - Silent World (O.S.T.)  (flac  642mb)

01 In Echospace (Original Version) 10:40
02 Lisbon 11:43
03 Rippling 9:20
04 BCN Dub (Original) 13:19
05 Orbiting 7:04
06 Hydrodynamics 14:37
07 Theme For Silent World 11:15
08 Ghost Theory 10:54
Digital bonus
09 Lisbon (Live Version) 10:52
10 Rippling (Live Version) 12:16

DeepChord Presents Echospace - Silent World (O.S.T.)  (ogg 253mb)


DeepChord Presents Echospace - Live Silent World (O.S.T.)  (flac  442mb)

11 Silent World (OST Live In Gent, Belgium) 71:12

DeepChord Presents Echospace - Live Silent World (O.S.T.)  (ogg 169mb)

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RhoDeo Beats 1238 re-upped
DeepChord Presents Echospace - Liumin   (flac  487mb)
DeepChord Presents Echospace - Liumin Reduced   (flac  491mb)
Sundaze 1239 updated
Rod Modell&Chris Troy (W T) - V 1.0-1.9 (flac 230mb)
Rod Modell & Michael Mantra - Sonic Continuum (flac 333mb)
Rod Modell - Autonomous Music Project (flac 271mb)


Nubban Lama Mipham Chögyal said...

aloha rho,
dunno how i never skipped into here for the past some years of looking for this kinda stuff. but here it is. incredible stash--the bits w/the bg stories are excellent. esp. re: these deep enigmatix RJM & SH. really great resource here. big thanks! would u mind re-upping rjm's early wrx again so i can get'm? much appreciated. mahalo nui loa...

Rho said...

Aloha Nubban, RJM & SH no idea what you want here, please be more clear and post the request at the page where the posting is...