Releases Archive

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Ben Luca Robertson, co-founder of Aphonia Recs with New Ensemble Release

Natricinae is the first official release by Aphonia Recordings co-founder, Ben Luca Robertson’s microtonal chamber group, Dancing for the Flesh. The group is composed of a revolving lineup of musicians & multi-disciplinary collaborators. The roster for this recording features vocalist & multi-instrumentalist, Amy Denio, Emily Pothast (voice) & Timm Mason (aka Mood Organ; bass) of Midday Veil, Riding the Slow Wave of Death’s Jackie An (violin), Ian Ackerman (violin) & Gabriel Will (viola) of Problems, Emma Mortensen (violin), Derek M. Johnson (cello), & Nathan Westlund (cello), as well as Ben Luca Robertson performing on an array of homemade instruments, electronics, & interactive software; which he designed and built for these pieces.

A collection of three chamber-drone pieces (recorded over the last five years), Natricinae merges the composer’s interest in spectral music, ‘just’ tuning systems, & autonomous processes with distinctly biological themes, such as taxonomy & regional herpetofauna (A glance through an Auduban field guide sheds immediate light to the track titles: Thamnophis sirtalis, elegans, & natricinae). As is the case in much of his work, Robertson addresses these subjects by supplanting narrative structure with an emphasis on the physicality of sound, the use of extended durations, & musical structures that occupy the cusp between algorithm and improvisation.

Perhaps just short of channeling the cantankerous specter of Harry Partch – all be it, by way of transducer & algorithm – Robertson’s obsession with charting the upper reaches of the harmonic series necessitates the creation of new instruments and approaches to performance. Consequently, instruments constructed from re-purposed aluminum channeling (i.e. The Alumi-tone), steel strings & rods, electromagnets, digital projections, and resonant spaces make their way on to this recording.

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Kelli’s Starlight Wishes Is No More…

Kelli Frances Corrado is a relatively new addition to the Aphonia Recordings family but she had already made a name for herself when she released “Diamond Matter” in 2012. Incidentally, the name she made for herself was not Kelli’s Starlight Wishes; it was always just Kelli Frances Corrado. Names like can perhaps be a conceit based on the notion that, as artists, we may sometimes feel the need to conceptualize, or otherwise make more abstract, something that is very personal and intimate: our music. Or it could just be a jokey name to illustrate how culturally irreverent we think we are, or how crass, political, whatever – you name it.

For my own sake, I have always just settled on my name being sufficient as a title for my work. It could possibly be the most boring name in the world but I think it is the simplest and most honest. Having the obscure project name or pseudonym reminds me of people who have relatively silly email addresses like “tigglypoo85″ or “huneygrrrlboop.” If you cannot name yourself, your musical altar ego, something without feeling stupid saying it aloud, than maybe you really ought to just stick to your given name or come up with something better. On the other hand, maybe your name is something like Dick Johnson or Madonna Tortelli.

I realize I am editorializing here but how else am I supposed to expand on the reasons why Kelli’s Starlight Wishes has gone by the wayside. Nonetheless, I get why Corrado switched her name back. It’s honest, it is the moniker everyone knows her by and it’s has a nice ring to it as well. Don’t you think?

PS – Look out for Tiggypoo’s first record in mid-2013. It’s entitled: Diggity Don’t Dop. They are a classically trained string quartet from Lithuania.

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New Release! Miguel Baptista Benedict of Divorce Party with Second Solo Record of 2012

If there is a computer simulation of the universe going on, Miguel Baptista Benedict is an anomaly, a glitch and a welcome one at that.  He  manages to create massive rifts in time and spoil your attention span. I would not recommend ingesting any psychedelic substances before gorging on this bizarre collection of sounds, if only because it seems like it would be overkill. I mean, sure, you might freak out and go insane but you would also not have the best shot at decoding just what is actually happening in this second digital only release by Benedict entitled: “Solidary Bathing Techniques.”

Some of you may be familiar with Benedict’s work with Divorce Party and may not be terribly startled by this sonic outing. I will posit though that this is a completely different animal. In fact, the only thing that seems intact from 2012′s earlier release by Benedict called: “Sa​[​i​]​l​[​e​]​s,” is the frayed and demented logic. “Solidary” has ripping guitar riffs, intermittent explosions of drums and and viola meandering through gigantic monolithic walls of sound. There is a reason, after all, why Benedict bandies about “Life Threatening” as a genre, if only tongue and cheek.

I challenge those of you who have curious ears, are bored of indie rock schtick and in need of an audio revival give this record a listen. It is difficult, it is abrasive and is completely different than anything in his current collection of releases. (Sa[i]l[e]s, Astrocongertion Opporium). There are those that commit to experimentation to the detriment of the aesthetic result. Not here. This is a curated, carefully thought out, yet improvisational record. At once giving the impression of all out in-the-moment creation but also inhabiting an ornate architecture, full of echoing spaces, quiet gardens, whispering rooms and strictly placed colonnades, alternating in guitar riffs, sparse drum patterns, and muted viola motifs.

I recommend playing at the highest volume available.

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Mangled Bohemians New Release! Cerebral Cathedral

The output of James Lee is prodigious and prolific. Lee has consistently transmitted his dark, spacey atmospheres directly from his mind’s ear on a total of four full length records. “Cerebral Cathedral” is a departure as much as a growth spurt. It manages to present the sheen of Lee’s folk space-time with a more crystalline lens. Past releases were often submerged, with one’s head awash in swirls of texture, voice and guitar. We find Lee now (with the production help of Mike Lastra of Smegma Studios) with a new gloss. There are still familiar themes at play and indeed, the folk base and textural elements are here too but unlike in past releases, it is Lee’s voice that takes the central focus.

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Kelli’s Starlight Wishes Tour Dates!

Diamond Matter by Kelli's Starlight Wishes

July 12- Seattle Occultural Festival (Our Release show) at the Josephine with Swahili, Hair and Space Muesum and Honey.Moon. Die., Seattle, WA

July 13 – Redlight with The Ames, Bellingham, WA

July 14- Inspace Art Co-Operative, Seattle, WA

July 15- Mandy Mgee’s Music Moment Webshow

July 20- The Northern with Cohosh, Jabi Shriki, and Nancy Drew Pentagrams, Olympia, WA

July 21- The Business- in store at 5pm free , Anacortes, WA

I trace the ancient wood of a great door, noticing the bronze hinges that are as large as my head I realize I have entered a strange and wonderful dream, one that I do not want to wake up from. Down cavernous hallways and through beaded doors and cushioned by walls of intricate tapestries, I submerge deeper into an altogether subterranean and enveloping space. The sound around me is that of “Diamond Matter” from Seattle, Washington musician, Kelli Francis Corrado.

From the initial bursts of harps and strings on the first track “The Bell” to tightly arranged vocals laced and woven together with electric beats on “Honeycomb” make this a strangely concocted brew. It is music that is hard to describe without decrying words as completely inadequate to describe the space that this collection of songs inhabits. “Diamond Matter” is both primal and rarefied.

Corrado comes to Aphonia Recordings a fully formed force of her own. All the tracks are her own but her arrangements boast an impressive line up of very talented performers. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you have Scott Colburn on your record as a co-producer. Colburn has worked with Animal Collective, Nurses and Arcade Fire. With a similar tightness and sheen Corrado’s work here is supported and her compositions are in no way overwhelmed by the production but fully fledged.

Local music scavengers Ball of Wax have already been making noises about the immanent release of this record and you will know why from the first 10 seconds that leap into your ears. She has also been infiltrating earholes across the pond and as Jane Bradley of UK music blog The Girls Are says Corrado is “dark, atmospheric and enchanting.” Her live performances have been described as melancholy and nearly always her short bio includes her past as a wife of a member of the armed forces, clearly her music defines her now far beyond this association. Yes, here music at times mournful, but it also tastes sweet and complex.

Corrado is planning a string of short tours around the west coast this Summer for it is one thing to enter her world at home, it is quite another to walk into her home, her show and allow her to open the door for you. We couldn’t be more excited for her debut with Aphonia Recordings.

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New Releases! Miguel Baptista Benedict (of Divorce Party) & Kelli Frances Corrado

These are exciting times. I really love it when two disparate artists, who live so far apart both come out with two astounding records with near synchronicity. Deviation from expected norms from Aphonia Recordings has become commonplace in the last two years. We have released rock, folk, electroacoustic, experimental, electronic dance, ambient – you name it. Which is why I love these upcoming releases from Miguel Baptista Benedict and Kelli Frances Corrado. They are genre creating, uncovering territory for Aphonia Recordings and for their audiences.

Diamond Matter by Kelli's Starlight Wishes

First, there is Kelli’s Starlight Wishes, the project title of well established folk-tronic singer-songwriter Kelli Frances Corrado. She brings lilting melodies, broadly painted string arrangements and  just-on-the-gloopy side of cracked open drum machine sequences. “Diamond Matter” is a narrative of sorts, the threads coursing through one track develop in the next. By the end, it is as if the Earth stopped turning and only then heard its heart beat. This all might seem like quaint embellishment and huffery, but this record deserves a listening from start to finish.

Now, Divorce Party is an incredible group and few play with such tightness – a skill with which the band takes as a given – but Divorce Party has a strange glue in it, one that isn’t apparent until you start to peel away any member of the group. One such glue constituent is Miguel Baptista Benedict. He is the source of the oft cringed death knell, scream or menacing textures that roam around the few complete breaks between speedy guitar, bass and drums. Credited as “Vocal Manipulation” on their debut EP with Aphonia Recordings entitled “Astrocongertion Opporium,” here with “Sa[i]l[e]s” Benedict has head bobbing throbs, languid strings and familiarly outlandish soundscapes.

Sailes by Miguel Baptista Benedict

This, indeed, couldn’t be more true for a band that without him, would not have the shrill whine,  robotic seances, much less the space to take a breath in their all too frenetic pace. Benedict’s debut solo release is something entirely surprising given this context.

This new record, entitled “Sa[i]l[e]s,” is in fact, a roving collection of poems. Not verbal ones mind you but aural poems. Here, as in Corrado’s “Diamond Matter,” strings languish and sneak around oblique arrangements of bass tones and bursts of synaethesic fizzes and thick drizzles. This record demands acute attention. It’s  subtlety is apparent both in it’s penchant for head bobbing distraction, to viewing near death precipices. Yes, again, grandiose. Why shouldn’t it be? Benedict carves new sinews into what a song structure could be. He is a futurist of pop, although his music carries non of the trappings and tired commercial linguistics of an already dead language.

The beautiful coincidence here is that Benedict and Corrado share something. They share an aesthetic reality, one that once immersed you will not want to leave.

More on Kelli Frances Corrado:

Kelli Frances Corrado is Kelli’s Starlight Wishes. She comes to Aphonia Recordings a fully formed force of her own. All the tracks are her own but her arrangements boast an impressive line up of very talented performers. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you have Scott Colburn on your record as a co-producer. Colburn has worked with Animal Collective, Nurses and Arcade Fire. With a similar tightness and sheen Corrado’s work here is supported and her compositions are in no way overwhelmed by the production but fully fledged.

Local music scavengers Ball of Wax have already been making noises about the immanent release of this record and you will know why from the first 10 seconds that leap into your ears. She has also been infiltrating earholes across the pond and as Jane Bradley of UK music blog The Girls Are says Corrado is “dark, atmospheric and enchanting.” Her live performances have been described as melancholy and nearly always her short bio includes her past as a wife of a member of the armed forces, clearly her music defines her now far beyond this association. Yes, her music at times mournful, but it also tastes sweet and complex.

Corrado is planning a string of short tours around the west coast the Summer of 2012 and we will be sending updates as shows are announced for it is one thing to enter her world at home, it is quite another to walk into her home, her show and allow her to open the door for you. We couldn’t be more excited for Kelli’s Starlight Wishes on Aphonia Recordings.

More on Miguel Baptista Benedict:

A Michiganer,  noise artist, vocalist and singularly talented musician and composer, Benedict first made an appearance in the Aphonia Recordings catalog with last year’s “Astrocongertion Oporium” by Divorce Party. After a recent stint living in Los Angeles he produced perhaps his most accessible compositions to date.

Formerly, of noise duo Puberty, and collaborative project with Craig Johnson of Laserbeams of Boredom, Benedict originally began his music career learning the trumpet and quickly transitioned into experimental and noise music. Benedict is a singular talent and source of energy as a musician, composer and friend of Aphonia Recordings.

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Russian Invasion! Garage Rockers SONIC DEATH Land in US

SONIC DEATH - GOTHIC SESSION

Nikita Krikunov & Arsenij Morozov on the cover of GOTHIC SESSION

Formerly Padla Bear Outfit, this St. Petersburg, Russia based duo is composed of Arsenij Morozov and Nikita Krikunov. They now call themselves SONIC DEATH. They have carved a distinct garage-y, moody niche out of a retro 60s psychedelic pastiche. I am not even sure what I just wrote. In any event, in rare form, these gentlemen found Aphonia Recordings and sent in a demo. We get quite a few demos and certainly we try to give some attention to ones that catch our ears. Luckily for me, I still do have my ear holes open. Listen below!

Morozov describes the process of recording “GOTHIC SESSION” thus:

After a little break we started work on a new session. Seven fresh songs were recorded on a Tascam cassette Portastudio, sitting in the already known bathroom. At this time we used a clean slightly reverbed guitar sound, the drum section was shaded with maracas. The sound is soft, psychedelic vibrating, like The Cannanes meet Vivian Girls on The Seeds cover party. The lyrics are all about dark love emotions and solitude. All of this has been called GOTHIC SESSION. The first track with the western spirit and refrain “I take off all of me/ You will not get pleasure” is entitled ‘Pleasure’ and is like a roll call with Stones ‘Satisfaction’. The second called ‘Now(Son Of A Bitch)’ and has at the end the converted quotation from Misfits “I am goddamn son of a bitch/ you better think about it baby”. Third song named ‘Marzipan’, and has a sample from an amateur slap porn video, whose plot is about pining for the attention from a girlfriend. The fourth acoustic-postpunk song ‘Streets’ laments the loneliness in the city. Fifth ‘To Me’ is classic garage-y amateur guitar rock. The sixth track ‘Huuuh-uuh-uuuh’ is an acoustic ballad for two voices. The last one ‘Floor’ is a confluence of The Jesus and the Mary Chain with Buddy Holly and back again. On the cover, we photographed against a background of the crucifix as Bible sellers in East European chic.
Dat shit cray!

This music is decidedly lo-fi. That’s OK. I don’t really see that as being all that important in terms of the songs. The songwriting is incredible. Even though it is grimy, gritty, loud and rambunctious, the songwriting doesn’t suffer. In fact, the whole record has a posture of being relaxed and effortless, which I find particularly charming. Folks, this is garage-psyche at its best. It embodies everything you want it to be. If they weren’t singing in Russian I would think they were from late 1960s Los Angeles. Seriously, it is that level of fidelity to the roots of that scene that these two obviously take very (un)seriously. As their Bandcamp page states: “We are two horrible motherfuckers with problems.”

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Paint, Print, Glue and Burn: The Process of Making Handmade CDs

1. Blank chipboard 2. Coated chipboard 3. Printed flat 4. Glued, assembled and wrapped

The packaging of music has fascinated me for years. I have always had a fetish for CDs, cassettes and LPs. When CDs were packaged in larger rectangular cardboard boxes (probably to be more like a rectangular record) I used to keep the front and backs of the boxes and hang them on my wall. I lamented the record companies going the way of just shrink wrapping and stickering the cases closed. Those stickers still piss me off.

When I decide on what packaging I am going to use for a particular release it typically comes down to whether I am going to make the packaging myself or if I am going to find outside help. Every release Aphonia produces has a specific design goal and this usually stems from the art and cover design itself. In years past both Ben and I would design some artwork ourselves (with input from the artists) and we still do from time to time. Lately we have preferred the input of artists and designers. A lot of whom, do this very incredibly beautiful work without pay or only by trade.

When I end up with a proof for artwork it is at that point I figure out exactly what it will take to have the artwork translate to a hard copy. Over the years I have whittled down what kind of packaging and process seems to work the best. In recent years, I have come up with a unique process to creating physical releases with real impact… and it hasn’t been an easy process. For instance, it has taken a great deal of wasted paper and ink to transform a rather drab, yet sturdy, chipboard blank into one of our more recent releases L.A. Lungs Letting It All Bunch Up shown below.

This past week I have been assembling this release and it is the result of several years of refining the do-it-yourself look but with the challenge of making it look polished. The process involves many steps and personalizes each and every copy that is purchased. First, we have raw ingredients, purchased from several vendors. I have found what chipboard, paint and inkjet printable CD-Rs work best for our limited means. Yes, I use CD-Rs. We have had professionally pressed CDs and vinyl done for us, but not everyone needs 300 or 500 copies to sell. Ultimately, the argument about whether a professionally pressed CD is better than a CD-R will persist no matter what arguments I offer here. That is what the “Comments” section is for!

After printing directly on the brown flats with my large Canon Pixma Pro for so long, it was always apparent that colors just did not pop. Most of the time this hasn’t mattered so much. Having so many releases based on black and white designs makes the end translation, from PDF to paper, quite simple and predictable. Even so, black on brown doesn’t have enough contrast. After experimenting with different coating inks, I found one white water soluble ink that works well to provide a white base on the chipboard. The effect of which can be seen below.

Why do this to brown chipboard? Why not buy white pre-coated blanks or bleached chipboard? Well, for whatever reason the brown chipboard always made the inkjet printing appear sharp, while the coated ones would smear and the bleached ones would bleed. This just isn’t an issue with the brown chipboard.

I then print the inkjet color on top of the dried white chipboard surface and get varying results based on thickness of the white ink on each blank. Since I coat each blank by hand, this lends each piece a hand painted/crafted look. No single piece is quite alike as you can see more clearly by a group of these blanks lined up below.

So obviously, they are still flats and must be glued together and this is when the assembly line begins. I glue the flats together and stamp the serial numbers on each one.Simultaneously, I am burning each silver coated, silver bottomed CD-R. I often have two computers burning at once, at a low burn speed. Once I have completed the printing and gluing of the jackets and the burning of the CDs I move on to create the design and print the disc art – that is, actual imagery on the face of the physical disc.

Just as the outer cases have been given serial numbers, the actual CD-Rs themselves all have sequential serial numbers. Each disc is prepared in the disc printing software with the serial number and then printed. This process can take a great deal of time as this is a product that is made from the ground up.

The first five completed pieces with serial numbers hand stamped on.

So this was brief but it might beg the question: why bother telling the world what this process is? To me, I find a certain satisfaction from producing these releases, from taking simple ingredients and making something that is ultimately worth more than the sum of its parts. The other part of it for me is that it embodies the intention of the artists who spend years of their lives cultivating and refining their process, their composition, their sound. Although not many of our artists elucidate their process or intention, as art is left more for interpretation and we would prefer to leave it that way. After all the art isn’t for the artists alone – it is for the audience.

This is where I part ways with the artists on our label. Yes, ultimately, these discs are for an audience as well. We call them customers or distributors but that is not really who they are for, that is their function. The CDs true purpose is create an artifact, a fetishized product for the artist to profit from and for the audience to desire.

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Myello Electronics With Trio of New/Unreleased Recordings

In May of 2007 our record label kicked off with a showcase of artists who have continued to release great music nearly 5 years later. Daniel Farrell of Olympia, Washington was there and indeed was at many of our showcases held for those first three years of our existence. We are extremely happy to present three unreleased records simultaneously of our old friend and very talented electronic musician Daniel Farrell (aka Myello Electronics & Adger Bacid).

The first of these is “Gravitational Collapse.” Those of you who are familiar with Myello Electronic’s first release “Composites and Variations on Forms” would recognize “Gravitational Collapse” as gloopy and trippy as ever. I mention this one first because between all three releases there is a palpable growth pattern that one can track through time.

Myello Electronics - Gravitational Collapse

The second in this trio of unreleased gems is “Amour Fou.” We reported back in late 2007 on Mr. Farrell’s participation in Gabriel Bacon and Paul Schrag’s “Environmental Aesthetics.” Myello Electronics was commissioned to create on-site recordings of Cooling Tower No. 5 from an uncompleted nuclear reactor. The original blog post goes on to say:

Today, massive remnants of the project remain, including Cooling Tower No. 5, which was selected as the site of the Environmental Aesthetics residency program. The concrete tower rests beside the Chehalis River, rising nearly 500 feet in the air, its 15-foot-thick concrete wall encircling four acres of grass covered soil. To date, the structure has remained gated and largely unused. The Satsop Residency aims to reinterpret this epic monument as a sublime environment with the potential to function as an all encompassing artistic medium, emphasizing the interplay between site-specific sonic art, seemingly obsolete industrial architecture and the natural environment.

Read the entire post from December 2007, here. “Amour Fou” is a swirling, gliding, abstract and obscure ambient tribute to Cooling Tower No. 5.

Myello Electronics - Amour Fou

In the intervening years we have not only a change in tone and sonic inclination but a change in name as well. Farrell began to produce more dance-able, techno-y, tunes under the moniker Adger Bacid. This toe tapping, house-y and tribute-like record comes as a breath of fresh air and truly shows Farrell coming out the other side of Cooling Tower No. 5 with some freshness.

Adger Bacid - Post Rave Nostalgia

Myello Adger Bacid Electronics

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L.A. Lungs & Mangled Bohemians

The long awaited L.A. Lungs record is now on sale for download and pre-sale on CD! Although a departure from their earlier material, this record is still brimming with the textures and washes of ambiance we have come to expect from these Tacoma based adventurers. Also going on sale today is Mangled Bohemians second release in a year’s time and also the third on the label.

L.A. Lungs - Letting It All Bunch Up

With “Nights in Hedonia” (Mangled Bohemians second release within a year’s time) we find ourselves tuning into a bizarre radio station. A transmission from an AM radio, from some basement of mid 60s folk psychedelia. Enjoy!

Mangled Bohemians - Nights in Hedonia