May 2010 Touch Newsletter #2

Welcome to the 44th Touch Newsletter. Presenting "Substrata 2.1" by Biosphere & Jon Wozencroft - a hand numbered, hand signed (by Jon Wozencroft) gallery-quality A3 archival print + digital download (MP3 or FLAC) of three previously unreleased exclusive Substrata-era tracks. Edition of 100.

The Spire series reaches its third release with a new download-only edition by Daniel Menche. "Hover" features Menche's recordings of a 30 piece teenage choir and organ, and is a TouchShop download exclusive.

Touch Radio 52 is now broadcasting. Richard Crow's "Imaginary Hospital Radio" mimics and subverts conventional hospital radio and its aim to relieve its listeners/patients through the collaging and dissecting of the visceral and surgical sounds associated with illness and dis-ease.

Chris Watson is to perform twice in London in the next month. He will be presenting his work for BBC2's Springwatch live at Kew Gardens on May 29th. He will also be appearing live at Gresham College in London on June 22nd. Details below.

It's not often we highlight a feature and review, but this one is spot on and worth bringing to your attention. Jana Winderen's extraordinary album, Energy Field, reviewed by Tokafi. Read it below...

Available again in the TouchShop - the digipak edition of Fennesz's "plus forty seven degrees 56' 37 minus sixteen degrees 51' 08", and the new, re-repackaged reissue of "Endless Summer" on Editions Mego. Also new to the TouchShop: "Echoes from the Foreshore Vol. 1" - a new collection "entre-deux / à deux" (in between / two of us) organized by the French embassy of the Elgaland-Vargaland Kingdoms, a co-production between the Editions Cactus and Optical Sound, featuring Leif Elggren & Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Graham Lewis and BJNilsen & Hildur Gudnadóttir

And finally - free with all TouchShop orders from now on - Matt 1: a Touch matt vinyl sticker.


Touch now has an official Twitter account. From there, we will be updating you with info on new editions in the TouchShop, TouchRadio broadcasts, and more... Follow us @touchmusic.
The Tapeworm tweets too! Follow the Wyrm's wormy words @the_tapeworm.

TO:50DL | Biosphere & Jon Wozencroft "Substrata 2.1"

A3 archival print edition + exclusive digital download (MP3 or FLAC)

Image printed on 225gsm Somerset Photo Satin - this has the feel of watercolour paper, but captures the colour and detail extremely well. Hand numbered and signed (by Jon Wozencroft), limited to 100 copies.

Nb: free Registered Postage worldwide on this item. Prints to be shipped from Tuesday 1st June.

A3 archival print | Jon Wozencroft "The Planet is Blue"
The picture was taken from a vantage point in Taormina, Sicily, in April 2001. 1000s of people must have taken a photograph from this spot, so it surprises me that many people single this out as one of their favourite Touch covers and I don't disagree - how can one take heed of the other versions that will never be seen?

There were no postcards on sale. So instead of playing on the idea of "the photographic moment", possibly this is a place that conjures up "the photographic universal".

Giardini Naxos, a railway hub beneath Mount Etna, as seen from Taormina which has amazing food, a Roman amphitheatre and a film festival. I liked the idea of people swimming next to a railway station.

I was overjoyed to get the chance to do a cover for "Substrata". It is one of my favourite recordings of its time (the progressive year, 1997) and I'd observed how it had such a climatic effect... I'd listened to it, amazed, on holiday in Crete that summer, it became a hot record for me, whilst supposedly being from a cold environment.

Maybe Biosphere was the answer to dub reggae, especially the music of Augustus Pablo. One of the best compliments I was ever paid, came from a friend when she said the Newcastle concert on the 2001 tour was mixed like a Pablo version... Now I'm glad that these versions bear this out, vividly. King Tubby Meets the Rockers in a Coldhouse?

Instinctively, I shot this on 35mm tungsten film which gives it a blue cast, which was an attempt to get a "Day for Night" ambience, (referring to the film by Truffaut). What I didn't realise was how difficult this would be to print. We scanned it as RGB to get the detail and colour saturation, then we had to work out how to satisfy the CMYK format. There was hardly anything in the black channel.

Taormina features a lot in the film "Le Grand Bleu" (The Big Blue) by Luc Besson. It's about deep sea diving. It seemed to me an interesting counterpoint to Geir's love of the mountains, to think of the equivalent below the waterline. [Jon Wozencroft, May 2010]

Audio | Biosphere "Substrata 2.1"
1. Double Exposure 6:38
2. Infinium 7:07
3. The Things I Tell You 8:06

Track Notes:
Double Exposure
File saved: 16.May 2000, 14:08, Lunheim, Tromsdalen
A rebuild of an old track with none of the original elements left.

File saved: 8. June 1995, 18:17, Varden, Tromsø
A track that later split into "Hyperborea" and a remix for James.

The Things I Tell You v.4
File saved: 13. September 1995, 21:04, Alarmveien, Tromsdalen
Almost there. Version 5 ended up on the Substrata album.

Buy "Substrata 2.1" - A3 archival print edition + FLAC audio download
Buy "Substrata 2.1" - A3 archival print edition + 320kbps MP3 audio download

Spire 3 | Daniel Menche "Hover"

320kbps MP3 - 2 tracks - 27:36

Track Listing
1. Hover 19:29
2. As Is 8:07

As part of the Spire project, Touch is pleased to announce this download-only release by Daniel Menche.

"I work at a high school library here in Portland, Oregon. Once a week there's a choir class and occasionally I will poke my head in to hear the fantastic sounds of the kids singing. The singing can be a bit rusty mainly due to the shyness factor in their young voices and the reluctant learning of the music notation from the choir teacher. I really liked hearing that rough-awkward singing from the kids and it remind me of myself being in a choir as a little kid and remembering how much I HATED IT! Mainly because I didn't understand music notation... nor did I want to and also I was incredibly shy just like these kids.

Well anyways I'm always thinking of ways to get young folks to have fun with sound and such and also I had an idea to use these fine choir students for a recording utilizing their awkward singing sounds. My strategy for the kids was vowels because every kid knows vowels! A-E-I-O-U and just sing those letters as long as possible is what I will instruct the kids to do. I mentioned to the choir teacher that I will be coming in and taking ten minutes of the student's time to record them for a recorded composition and the teacher approved with this idea but she was also very confused. How can I be a known recording musician and not know about music notation such as 'flat C or sharp D' or whatever that jargon is. I told them... "Don't worry... kids will have fun and it'll sound fantastic." And so I barged into the classroom and hit record on my little recorder and began the vowel singing game with the kids. The sheer state of confusion on their young faces was rather beautiful and the singing was fantastic to my ears. I noticed immediately that they couldn't get the low sounds very well because well... they're kids and baritone sounds just aren't in the picture yet for them. So I utilized a Hammond organ for the bass sounds for the final piece of music titled "HOVER".

Included is the raw unedited "as is" recording document of myself having fun with the kids and getting sounds out of them for this "HOVER" recording. This raw recording has a charm to it of the kids being confused and having some fun. Teenage cathartic-ism to say the least. The look on the choir teacher's face when I had everyone screaming in different vowels was priceless. I can see her facial expression screaming at me "Music notation blasphemy!!!"... I respond back "Yep, sure is and now look at all the smiles on our kids faces."

You can preview an extract from this release in the TouchShop.

Buy Daniel Menche "Hover" in the TouchShop

Touch Radio 52 | Richard Crow

26.05.10 - Imaginary Hospital Radio - 1:00:38 - 192 kbps

Imaginary Hospital Radio mimics and subverts conventional hospital radio and its aim to relieve its listeners/patients through the collaging and dissecting of the visceral and surgical sounds associated with illness and dis-ease. The hospital's unwanted sounds and noise provide an unexpected artistic source, as a kind of sonic tableau - an invisible operating theatre in which the sonic/audio auscultation/surgery occurs 'live to ear'.

Richard Crow is an inter-disciplinary artist with a strong background in experimental audio work, photo based media, live performance and site-specific installation. He utilises sound and noise in a performative way, for its spatial and subjective qualities and above all for its psycho-physical implications for the listener. Over the past two decades his solo and collaborative site-specific installations and performances have consisted of highly conceptualized interventions into base materiality, investigations of alternative systems of organisation and research into a certain material decadence, most notably with the project The Institution of Rot.

Crow has collaborated, performed, and recorded with many leading musicians and sonic artists including Joe Banks, Adam Bohman, The Hafler Trio, Clive Graham, Michael Prime, Dean Roberts, Kaffe Matthews, Michael Morley, Sandoz Lab Techinicians, & dy'na:mo.

Subscribe to the TouchPod podcast of TouchRadio via the iTunes Music Store
Play "Imaginary Hospital Radio"

Chris Watson | Live in London

On 29 May 2010, 1-1.20pm, Chris Watson will give a live audio performance at Kew Garden's Palm House, to accompany his Whispering in the Leaves installation. The performance is a live sound mix in which audio recording of a three-hour period across late afternoon, sunset and into the night will be compressed into around twenty minutes. Featuring recordings of a tropical thunderstorm and ending with the deep, lush sounds of the nocturnal insect chorus, the performance will create an intense auditory narrative for the audience.

On 22 June 2010, 6pm, Chris will be performing at Barnard's Inn Hall, Gresham College. Throughout May and June the British Isles resonate to some of the strangest and most beautiful sounds on earth; the voices; rhythms and music of our wildlife.  In an acoustic journey from the vast seabird cliffs in the far north to nocturnal soloists hidden in deep cover within Home Counties woodlands Chris Watson celebrates the sonic biodiversity found across our unique landscapes. This is a part of the series of events which are to be held in collaboration with the 2010 City of London Festival.

Jana Winderen | Tokafi review & interview

It's not often we highlight a feature and review, but this one is spot on and worth bringing to your attention. Jana Winderen's extraordinary album, Energy Field, received this review... she has just been in Istanbul with The Morning Line and is now working on her ten-year installation for the Hamsun Centre in northern Norway...

Tokafi (Germany):
Icy audio sculptures: Plunges you into the depths of Arctic waters.

For her new album Energy Field, sound artist Jana Winderen crafted icy audio sculptures from field recordings taken in Greenland, Norway, and the Barents Sea north of Greenland and Russia. Using a portable recording setup, the Norwegian artist and curator collected glacier, fjord, and ocean sounds ranging from ambient wind textures to cracking ice, lulling rhythms of lapping waves, and the low-end frequencies of ominous thunder. She then layered and edited those sounds into three compositions that collectively constitute nearly an hour of surprisingly musical sound art. Constantly churning textures, hypnotic long-tone oscillations, and a powerful sense of compositional arc make Energy Field a captivating and highly listenable experience that plunges you into the haunting depths of Arctic waters.

In her artist statement, Winderen writes that "in the depths of the oceans there are invisible but audible soundscapes, about which we are largely ignorant, even though oceans cover 70% of our planet." This certainly is apparent on Energy Field, which documents an alien world of sounds that could as easily be generated from dated synthesizers as from the natural sounds of the ocean. It's amazing just how evocative some of these sounds are. In the final minutes of the album, the high-pitched mating calls of fish weave over sustained dissonances constructed from a combination of wind and underwater hum. The result is a spine-chilling amalgamation at least as strange as anything conjurable by modern electronic music. In "Isolation Measurement," creaking and cracking glaciers create a fizzing stereo effect from which one seemingly perceives moments of rhythmic regularity. As underlying bass currents seep beneath the texture and the sounds of birds and crashing waves become increasingly apparent, the composition hints at a climax before disintegrating into quiet gurgling.

A compositional arc of tension and relief pervades the entire album. And while it's difficult (and perhaps unimportant) to discern how much of it is intentional versus circumstantial, it makes for a highly musical result that's far more engaging than your typical "field-recordings as sound art" gallery installations. Sustained oceanic chords with an endless array of overtones ebb and swell over ominous low-end rumblings to generate harmonic movement and stasis. Polyrhythms emerge from the juxtaposition of churning waves and trickling water. And despite constantly changing textures, environmental consistencies of sounds, chords, and rhythms establish thematic unity to create cohesive compositions as opposed to collage-like layerings of field recordings.

Energy Field is as powerful musically as it is impressive conceptually. Winderen's unique sonic space of naturally alien sounds and juxtapositions draws you into the depths of an unknown underwater world and holds you there. [Hannis Brown]

You can read an interview with Jana Winderen in Tokafi here (in English). For further information, her website is and you can buy "Energy Field" in the TouchShop.


Available in the TouchShop - two key editions from the Fennesz back catalogue, Mika Vainio's latest, and a new Elgaland-Vargaland CD featuring Leif Elggren & Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Graham Lewis and BJNilsen & Hildur Gudnadóttir

Illuminations on Fennesz's "plus forty seven degrees 56'37 minus sixteen degrees 51' 08": "A pure and profound release that sticks a new definition to naturalism." The Wire and Time Out on "Venice": "It burns.", "Somehow expressing both the pain of the detached soul and the ecstacy of love, it should find a welcome home with fans of My Bloody Valentine, Bowie's 'Low' and Sylvian (who guests on 'Transit')." Boomkat on Mika Vainio's "Black Telephone of Matter": "Nobody else comes close to this man's sonic imagination or level of execution, this is another essential purchase for fans of cutting edge sonics and good music everywhere. Immense...."

Fennesz - plus forty seven degrees 56'37 minus sixteen degrees 51' 08 [CD, 3rd Edition]

Fennesz - Venice [CD]

Fennesz - Venice [CD]

Mika Vainio - Black Telephone of Matter [CD]

Mika Vainio - Black Telephone of Matter [CD]

Echoes from the Foreshore Vol. 1 [CD]

Echoes from the Foreshore Vol. 1 [CD]

The previous Touch NewsLetter can be found here.