Label Overview – Spotlight on AFE Records

Rarely do I wax lyrical about the merits of a record label in print, other than the occasional acknowledgement of the continuing success of some of the more established, most prolific, or perhaps the “elder statesmen” of the scene..however in the case of AFE Records, I have been enchanted and re-educated, assuming on first sight that this little label was in its first fledgling years. On receipt of a clutch of exquisitely packaged CDR’s, and a cursory tour of the label’s website, I learn that in actuality, AFE have just celebrated their 10th year of recording activity, taking in some of the most interesting and diverse artists in the experimental scene. AFE, short for Another Friendly Edition effortlessly manage to breach a selection of genre boundaries with their releases, and have perhaps been responsible for giving a home to the more marginalised representatives of the scene – releasing obscure but worthy artists in small collector editions of 100 copies. Occasionally, the label releases full editions with greater publishing runs, but in the main, they seem content to focus energy on their editions.

Amongst the collection of CD’s currently inhabiting my players, is the now more familiar presence of John Hudak, whose work I last encountered on Japan’s Spekk label, and later in NVO’s EXTRACT book. Hudak turns in a classic and delightful series of recording s of doves on the aptly named “Miss Dove, Mr Dove”. Hudak’s keen artistic ear picked up the sound of cooing doves whilst on a break in the Czech Republic, and realising the auditory potential of the birdsong, combined with a natural echo between two buildings, took recordings and then subjected them to various treatments back at his studio. The overall sound is at once slightly haunting and spiritually uplifting, as the birdsong undergoes all manner of transformations, and quietly subtle transitions.

Tiziano Milani’s “Im Innersten” consists of three long-form pieces, elegantly fusing organic minimalism with something that approaches clicks ‘n’ cuts territory. Milani capably splices delicate textural glockenspiel with a rangy pallette of bleeps and blips, field recordings, and subtle harmonics. The overall feel is sedately paced, crisp and beautifully executed..perhaps one of my favourites of this handful of releases. Fine stuff indeed.

Luca Bergero works under the project name of Fhievel , and his curiously entitled “Pipe Smoking On A Balloon” almost transcends categorisation. With a background in microsonics, and a penchant for capitalising on his more leftfield leanings, Bergero’s instrumentation bears the patina of decay, each sequence being infused with granular layerings, and as with Tiziano Milani, he deploys various bleeps and oblique tonalities. Pipe Smoking On A Balloon shifts and shimmers quietly, crackling and popping like waves over shingle, a hugely engaging and captivating release, and well worth checking out if, like me you are still a worshipper of the glitch.

Horchata is the operating name of one Michael Palace, a research scientist at the University of New Hampshire’s Complex Systems Research Centre in the USA. His “Acytota” collection activates fragments of samples sourced from field recordings, computer programs, computer code and effects packages, and fuses them into an emergent, striated, genteel series of pieces, that could easily be described as minimalism, but represent so much more than that. Palace’s sound world has evolved from the language of minimalism, but bears resemblances to modern composition, and leftfield electronica, not to mention that dreaded “A” word..ambience. However, those world weary ambient acolytes amongst you will be glad to know that Palace neatly side-steps most ambient cliches by peppering his ambiences with curious distortions and deformations, time stretching and elasticising sounds, and reconfiguring their originating co-ordinates, leaving us with a very strange and compelling collection of works indeed. This I can highly recommend just for its explicit originality, and blistering creativity.

Lastly, but by no means least amongst this crop of very fine releases is the work of Mirko Uhlig, whose works I have previously encountered on the exceptional Mystery Sea, and France’s Taalem Records. Uhlig’s works are informed by some of the pioneers of drone music, citing such diverse and deviant sources as David Lynch, La Monte Young, and The Hafler Trio as major influencers. “Supper” is no clear cut drone work, however, as Uhlig adds texture to the drone with layered miniaturised soundscapes weaving in and out of the central drones, or overlays of pure sine-tone, adding further substance to a highly resonant textural field. Uhlig doesn’t actively re-invent the wheel here, though his work is infused with streaks and smears of orginality, taking drone into hitherto unexplored territories, with minute diversions into microsonics and glitch. Uhlig’s work is up close and personal, as never does he resort to the overblown, amped-up reverb excursions exhibited by so many of today’s drone practitioners..a great collection



About whiteline1

WHITE_LINE was set up three years ago, in order to play and promote the work of artists and musicians working under the banner of "minimalism", in all its many guises. This has led to a regular and highly successful mix slot on the Garden of Earthly Delights radio show in the UK, and guest appearances on Resonance FM (frequenzen show). We now aim to extend the remit of the mix slots by reviewing (as often as possible) material that encapsulates and crystallises the minimalist ethic, and hopefully we'll be leading artists and audiences alike towards a deeper appreciation of this and other marginalised genres. I welcome your comments, and criticisms, and would love to hear from labels and artists who would like their work showcased on the show, or reviewed here. We regret that due to time constraints, we cannot review everything that is sent to us, but will endeavour to give exceptional work an "honourable mention" at the very least, and links to quality sites that we think worthy of mentioning. I am trying to support labels and artists as much as possible by promoting their work, not least because I am a stereotypical "struggling artist" myself, but also because there are so few younger artists entering this particular scene, and there is a danger of it becoming the sole domain of a handful of forty somethings who really ought to be doing something better with their time! Having worked for most of the more reputable underground magazines in the early 90's, I was never afforded the luxury of taking time and care over reviews, as deadlines and column space were always hanging like the sword of Damocles over me. With WHITE_LINE, I have the luxury of being able to review when I have time, and I am receptive to a particular mood, and hopefully this will reflect in the quality and length of some of the reviews. If you like what you see, please link to me to encourage more traffic through the site, and cross promote whatever is happening out there. Address for promotional material: 45 Drovers Walk Spring Park, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 8BB UK

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