|02.13||Aurora||Providence, RI||w/ D. Wyche, C. Allin, House Red|
|11.26||Random Gear Fest||Providence, RI||w/ Casserole, Moldof + Simmons et al.|
|09.16||Waterworks Museum||Boston, MA||w/ B. Murray, AgX Filmmakers Collective|
|08.07||DOT AIR 2016||Pawtucket, RI||w/ A. Young, S. Hennies, L. Amat et al.|
|07.28||Volume / NPU||Los Angeles, CA||w/ R. Menzies, S. Davachi + P. Clipson|
|06.25||Re:Sound||Vallejo, CA||w/ D. Menche, C. Duncan, Z.J. Watkins|
|05.16||Aurora||Providence, RI||w/ Svarte Greiner, V. Sinclair, Scarpa|
|03.10||186 Carpenter||Providence, RI||Mem1, Vitiello + Leonard, Moldof|
|11.08||Aurora||Providence, RI||w/ B Belleure/Pod Blotz/Amat+Reveneau|
|07.17||SASSAS at MorYork||Los Angeles, CA||Mem1, Robert Schwarz|
|07.12||Museum of CA Art||Pasadena, CA||Steve Roden + Mem1|
|06.21||Machines w Magnets||Pawtucket, RI||w/ T Dorji, Schofield/Moldof, K Whitman|
|04.03||186 Carpenter||Providence, RI||Mem1, Benny Nelson, Park & Tamirisa|
|03.01||Proxy||Providence, RI||w/ Deleuzer/Parker/Schofield/Frey/Moldof|
|12.29||Psychic Readings||Providence, RI||w/ Phurnne/Blue Shift/MU/Sunk Heaven|
|11.24||Machines w Magnets||Pawtucket, RI||Mem1 + Faravelli, M E-W, S/H, Moldof|
|11.20||Washington St. Arts||Boston, MA||Mem1, SULT, Jesse Summers|
|07.26||AS220||Providence, RI||w/ Mori + Moldof, Sondheim + Carter, InC|
|07.12||Soundwave Biennial||San Francisco, CA||w/ C Leonard + O Stern, E Vargas|
|06.05||Machines w Magnets||Pawtucket, RI||w/ Braveyoung, High Aura'd, House Red|
|03.27||O'||Milan, IT||Mem1 presentation / performance|
|03.21||Psychic Readings||Providence, RI||w/ Schematics, W/D, Hernandez & Ruin|
|12.12||MIT Bartos Theatre||Cabridge, MA||Mem1, Cloud Ludum Ensemble|
|10.09||Machines w Magnets||Pawtucket, RI||w/ Clay Rendering, HB, Pool, MM&W|
|09.15||186 Carpenter||Providence, RI||Mem1, Ed Osborn|
|08.08||Galerie Sans Nom||Moncton, NB||Mem1: LeHum vol. 1 no. 5|
|05.16||Grant Hall||Providence, RI||w/ Steve Roden, Caroline Park|
|04.07||A.I.R. Gallery||Brooklyn, NY||Mem1: Andrei Rublev – 60 minutes|
|03.08||Granoff Center||Providence, RI||Mem1 + S Vitiello, E Osborn, P Bussigel|
|02.16||Ctrl+Alt+Repeat||Providence, RI||w/ C Park, L Moldof, Mullen + Whitman|
|06.09||Wave Energy Series||San Diego, CA||No Fancy, Cloudseeder|
|05.29||Re:Flux Festival||Moncton, NB||w/ Bill Orcutt, Paranerd, André Cormier|
|01.16||Cafe OTO||London, UK||w/ Attila Faravelli, D Thomas Freeman|
|10.01||Equinoxygen Festival||Teaneck, NJ||Mem1 + Vitiello, Hudak, Honig, Deupree|
|09.23||Pixilerations||Providence, RI||w/ B Rovan + L Leone, J Moses et al.|
|08.27||UVM 2011||Montreal, QC||w/ Salvail, Saint-Denis, Kapuscinski|
|05.29||AS220||Providence, RI||w/ Mark Lord,Pregnant Spore, Yellow...|
|05.12||Firehouse 13||Providence, RI||w/ E Karel, L Goeringer, CMW Players|
|05.07||BCA / Mills Gallery||Boston, MA||w/ Nonce Ensemble|
|03.31||Non-Event||Boston, MA||w/ Frank Bretschneider|
|02.05||186 Carpenter||Providence, RI||w/ Area C, Joe Cantrell|
|01.27||RK Projects||Olneyville, RI||w/ Area C, Animal Hospital, et al.|
|10.01||Pixilerations||Providence, RI||w/ Freida Abtan, Rovan/Leone et al.|
|07.31||Le Cagibi||Montreal, QC||w/ R Henke, F Abtan, S Turner|
|07.29||Issue Project Room||Brooklyn, NY||w/ J Narveson, Fefferman/Welch|
|06.26||Volume at TAM||Torrance, CA||w/ Kadet, Y Novak, J Boyd et al.|
|05.31||Synchronicity Space||Los Angeles, CA||w/ Svarte Greiner, Yann Novak et al.|
|05.20||Resbox||Los Angeles, CA||w/ Nakatani/Tiner/Drake, L Escude|
|01.31||Pacific Design Ctr||Los Angeles, CA||w/ Jen Boyd, Adam Overton, Julia Holter|
|12.04||Yerba Buena Arts||San Francisco, CA||w/ Kadet Kuhne, Elise Baldwin|
|11.22||Redcat Lounge||Los Angeles, CA||w/ qqq, Spastic Colon|
|11.12||Luggage Store||San Francisco, CA||w/ 15 Degrees Below Zero|
|11.07||Blim||Vancouver, BC||w/ J Allport, A Young, J Drouin|
|11.05||Jewelbox Theater||Seattle, WA||w/ Wyndel Hunt, S Barsotti, Tiflin|
|11.04||Dunes||Portland, OR||w/ Pulse Emitter, Daniel Menche|
|10.02||LACE||Los Angeles, CA||w/ S Roden, Domizil + ICST Zurich|
|09.26||Pehrspace||Los Angeles, CA||w/ Novak/Long, Sublamp, Help [...]|
|09.24||Slow Sound||Long Beach, CA||w/ Aaron Ximm, Missincinnati|
|08.13||Natsoulas Gallery||Davis, CA||w/ Jen Boyd, K Corcoran|
|07.22||Echo Curio||Echo Park, CA||w/ A Paul, E Keszler, Monsturo|
|07.21||Psychotechnics||Los Angeles. CA||w/ A Paul, E Keszler, D Romero|
|05.09||5 Traverse Gallery||Providence, RI||w/ Area C, Ashley Paul|
|05.07||Outpost 186||Boston, MA||w/ Area C, Courtney Brown|
|05.02||King Street Manor||Northampton, MA||w/ Area C|
|05.01||L'Envers||Montreal, QC||w/ Area C, La Part Maudite|
|04.30||Monkeyhouse||Burlington, VT||w/ Area C|
|04.25||Listen / Space||Brooklyn, NY||w/ Area C, Ben Owen + Tom Mulligan|
|04.24||Brickbat Books||Philadelphia, PA||w/ Area C|
|04.23||Pyramid Atlantic||Silver Spring, MD||w/ Area C, Fast Forty|
|04.22||Ghost Print Gallery||Richmond, VA||w/ Area C, S Vitiello + M Berg|
|03.27||Borealis Festival||Bergen, Norway||w/ Whistle Pig Saloon, Faust, et al.|
|03.16||Landmark Kunsthall||Bergen, Norway||w/ Lovecult, Nesbø, Røkland+ Skog|
|03.06||Transplant||Dale in Sunnfjord||w/ Maia Urstad, Are Hauffen|
|03.02||HKS||Bergen, Norway||w/ Liora Belford|
|02.15||Sound of Mu||Oslo, Norway||w/ Liondaler, Miasmah DJs|
|01.05||Laptopia #5||Tel-Aviv, Israel||w/ G Aubry, M Schmickler, H Koch||
||A Simple Procedure (Neural)
A Simple Procedure is a celebration of the legacy that comes to us from Cageian experimentalism and is a re-imagining of a seminal piece by the master &emdash; ‘Imaginary Landscape No. 5’, viewed through the lens of contemporary musical practice. Cage’s 1952 work was made for a solo dance performance by Jean Erdman entitled Portrait of a Lady and essentially constitutes an information series: a block-graph timeline score that uses as its source any 42 phonograph records from which fragments are selected and played with several changes in intensity from “soft” to “loud”. Originally the result depended on a series of chance operations made using the I Ching as a guide. The composition is at times frenetic, with as many as eight records playing within the span of a couple of seconds, and at other times sparse, with only one or no records whatsoever playing (Cage had also specified that there should be eight performers). The Estuary Ltd label decided to commission 42 new works for this project featuring a broad spectrum of acclaimed performers and composers of experimental music. Among the many contributors artists we find Blevin Blectum & Ed Osborn, Gilles Aubry, Robert Donne & Stephen Vitiello, Yann Novak & Robert Crouch, Davey Harms, Ren Schofield, Ernst Karel, Donna Parker and Attila Faravelli, all experimenters who willingly offered materials to Mark Cetilia to follow Cage’s process, giving rise to two separate versions, one digital and one analogue: a procedure that ultimately proved to be not-so-simple, but one that certainly served its purpose.
A Floating Wave of Air (Neural)
Mem1 are an experienced electroacoustic ensemble, heard here in collaboration with Steve Roden. The album, released on Estuary, seamlessly blends their respective contributions, drawing together the sounds of a modulated cello with gentle electronica, marrying analogue developments with digital effects obtained from small percussion and resonant found objects. The underlying logic is driven by an improvisational approach, also using instruments and vocals by Laura Cetilia. The tracks are free form, but in constant flux, moving through many emotional states and dimensions like a swarm of insects. The compositions are structures into six tracks, all intriguing and enjoyable. There is a consistency to the selected works; while each piece is permeated by surprising actions, these are still internally resonant, appropriate and well thought out.
A Simple Procedure (Textura)
Founded in 2010 and overseen by Mem1 duo Mark and Laura Cetilia, Estuary Ltd. has a reputation for releasing provocative experimental works, and its latest release, the double-CD compilation A Simple Procedure, certainly upholds that tradition. In form and structure, it reminds me a little bit of the Modulation & Transformation and Electric Ladyland compilations Mille Plateaux released in the â€˜90s: in listening to each collection, you never knew what exactly you were going to get, but you knew your musical understanding would be profoundly altered by the time it was over. Forty-four pieces are presented on A Simple Procedure, and joining artists who've previously appeared on the Estuary Ltd. label (Blevin Blectum, Ed Osborn, Mem1) are familiar names such as Stephen Vitiello, Daniel Menche, Yann Novak, Robert Crouch, Steve Roden, Kraig Grady, Geoff Mullen, Keith Fullerton Whitman, and so on.
The release isn't just an unrelated grab-bag of experimental pieces, however, but one rooted in the work of John Cage, specifically his 1952 Imaginary Landscape No. 5. Using the I Ching as a guide, he conceived of the piece, rooted in chance operations and equipped with instructions, as a blueprint of sorts for the production of any possible workâ€”even if it was formally created for a solo dance performance by Jean Erdman called Portrait of a Lady (in Cage's own words, “This is a score for making a recording on tape, using as material any 42 phonograph records”). In the spirit of his piece, the forty-two new works on A Simple Procedure were cut onto seven-inch vinyl discs using a Presto 6N lathe recorder from the 1940s, and Estuary Ltd. has issued each of the forty-two recordings as singles, with Mark Cetilia's woozy realization of the Cage work (generated using custom software and the A sides of the forty-two records) included on the B side. Both analog and digital versions of Cetilia's realization appear on the two-CD set (issued in an edition of 200 copies).
The limitless range of possibilities afforded by Cage's instructions translates into a compilation that includes all manner of artistic expression. Some of these three-minute pieces are voice- or field recordings-based (Ido Govrin's “French Beach,” Geoff Mullen's “Spring Walk in Karlsruhe”); others feature acoustic, synthetic, and electronic sounds. Indicative of its stylistic sprawl, feedback studies, guitar and synthesizer experiments, piano deconstructions, noise explorations, spacey ambient-drones, mutant drum workouts, and gamelan miniatures all find their way into the release.
The open-ended quality of the material invites personalized projections, such that Area C's “Porous,” for example, reminds me of the tense closing sequence in Full Metal Jacket. Elsewhere, Amnon Wolman's “Untitled (For M&L)” glassily shimmers like some sci-fi soundtrack proposal, and Kraig Grady's clangorous “The Skirmish of Birds in Cat Museum” lives up to its title. Rare is the piece that conforms to something resembling conventional song structure, though Val Martino's acidy electro-funk cut “Nice Vice” does exactly that. Isolated moments aside, A Simple Procedure honours Cage's spirit and sensibility in a way that would no doubt delight the game-changer were he still with us, and the release also impresses as a document of contemporary experimental practice.
A Floating Wave of Air (Loop)
Steve Roden is a sound and visual artist from Los Angeles. His works include painting, drawing, sculpture, film and video, sound installations and live performances. Between 1979 and 1982 Roden was the lead singer of the punk band Seditionaries and in 1997 began his career in sound art. He has released over thirty albums and EP's as solo artist and in collaboration with other artists.
Mem1 composed by Mark and Laura Cetilia combine electronics and cello started in the world of sonic exploration in Los Angeles in 2003. Both are curators of experimental music series Ctrl+Alt+Repeat and the record label Estuary Ltd.
Steve Roden on acoustic objects and electronics, Mark Cetilia analog modular and electronics and Laura Cetilia on cello, voice and electronics collaborated for the first in 2008 and in 2013, both are included in this CD.
'A Floating Wave of Air' display tracks in which unfolds microscopic sound waves, ripples, cello plucks and found objects which are electronically manipulated. The unnerving atmospheres as on 'IV' combine voices that emit howls that come together with dense cosmic dust and a cello producing sustained drones.
Certain harmony hovers in cello plucks and Laura’s whispering voice on 'V' suggest a melancholic and hesitant piece which appears to be the epilogue of a story. Amazing album that provide subtle textures and environments. 5 / 5 -Guillermo Escudero
A Floating Wave of Air (Bad Alchemy)
Mit 'The Opening of the Field', 'Airforms' und 'Possible Landscapes' deutet Roden die lauschige Unbestimmtheit an, in die er, allein oder in Gesellschaft von Wanderfreunden wie Brandon LaBelle, Toy Bizarre, Bernhard Günter, Francisco López oder Machinefabriek, eindringt. Wobei Wandern schon zu viel gesagt ist, die Felder, die sich da auftun, sind, unfassbarer als Luft und Wasser, viel zu vage für grobe Füße. Auch 'The Uncertainties of Movement', die sechs Streifzüge, die er 2008 und 2013 unternommen hat zusammen mit dem Mem1-Couple Laura & Mark Cetilia, folgen lediglich krakeligen Linien oder Strichen in skizzenhaften Koordinatengittern als kryptischen 'Wanderkarten'. Mit psychogeo-graphischem Dèrive ist das allenfalls um drei Ecken verwandt. Es ist das eher das allmähliche Verfertigen weiterer Dimensionen um einen dünnen Faden herum, an dem sich Cello & Stimme, ein analoger Modularsynthesizer, Rodens acoustic objects und allgemein Electronics entlang tasten. Die Cetilias, die sich übrigens 2003 bei Roden in L.A. kennengelernt haben, sind inzwischen in Rhode Island mit Estuary Ltd. in Providence und der Konzertreihe Ctrl+Alt+Repeat in Pawtucket profilierte Verfechter grenzverletzender Elektroakustik. So auch mit hier. ('I') Rubbelige und hechelnde Verschleifungen und spitzes Pizzikato lösen kakophone ebenso wie sonore Dröhnwellen aus. Und kläfft da nicht ein kleiner Hund? ('II') Zu einem wummrigen Zitterpuls kommen ein heller und ein furzeliger dazu, dazu pumpt schneller Herzschlag, akzentuiert mit einem metallioden Plonken, zarter Vokalisation und zartem Flöten. ('III') Zu wie geblasenen, tröpfeligen, rostigen und knarzigen Lauten ertönen Rufe, aber wie von Vinyl gescratcht, wobei das nun auch von schnarchenden Cellostrichen und gesummtem Singsang durchsetzte Ganze sich anhört wie aus Loops gefügt und in Traumflüssigkeit getaucht. ('IV') In knurschendes Vinyl mischt sich Wolfs- oder Windgeheul, mit einer dröhnenden, pfeifenden Bewegung, die sich zu einer Flatterwelle verdichtet und wieder entspannt zu einem pfeifenden Pulsieren mit Cellobeiklang und zuletzt auch wieder Singsang. Pulsierend, sich drehend, atmend, driftend verlieren Menschliches, Naturhaftes und Maschinelles die Konturen. Besonders schön gelingt das bei 'V', wenn sich aus Krimskramerei harmonische Cellowellen und -pizzikato herausschälen, erneut zu vokalisiertem Lullaby. Bei 'VI' erschallen tutende Hörner über knarrenden Fröschen und Harmonikaklang, der im Wind bibbert. Wieder knurscht Vinyl wie Harsch, wieder spielen imaginäre Wölfchen Flöte, spielt der Regen Cello. Aber wohin führt das, wenn man Wölfe mit Flöten, Frauen mit Hüten und Ruß mit Schnee verwechselt? -Rigobert Dittman
+1 (Monk Mink Pink Punk)
The +1 of the title refers to the nine guest musicians who join the cello & electronics duo of Laura Cetilia and Mark Cetilia on each of the nine tracks. Steve Roden and Ido Govrin are the recognizable names to me. Jan Jelinek’s collaboration evokes a harbor setting, with recordings of wire creakings and clangings, and the gentle electronic ebb and flow. Ido Govrin’s track similarly mines a creaky waterfront setting, with electronic sounds simulating the bubbling of water before an intense string drone takes us far out to the deepness of the sea. In fact, most of the collaborations provide a pleasantly similar watery feel, making an extended exploration for the ears and mind. Not a sinker in the bunch, which includes Jen Boyd, Area C, Rs-232, Frank Bretschneider, Kadet Kuhne and Jeremy Drake, and the work as a whole has a unifying feel to it, not at all feeling like a set of nine separate collaborations.
A Floating Wave of Air (Textura)
A Floating Wave of Air reveals sound artist Steve Roden and electro-acoustic outfit Mem1 (Mark and Laura Cetilia) to be natural collaborators, especially in the way the seventy-six-minute recording seamlessly blends the respective contributions of the those involved. Having operated as a cello-and-electronics duo for many years now, the Cetilias infuse their improv-based performances with the kind of telepathy one might expect from a married couple, and consequently the material they produce presents itself as an indissoluble whole. Certainly her cello sound is so distinct, it can't help but separate itself out from the total sound mass. Having said that, the two purposefully sidestep an approach that would see the cello treated as the solo instrument and electronics the backdrop; instead, the cello is exploited less for its melodic potential than its textural richness.
Roden works comfortably across many platforms and disciplines, among them painting, drawing, film/video, and sound installation, and would thus seem to be a perfect partner for the Cetilias. The three first collaborated in 2007 when he participated in Mem1's Ctrl+Alt+Repeat series, after which the collaborators recorded material a year later at the Bubble House, his painting studio, in Pasadena, California. Five years on from that session, the three recorded again, this time at Studio 205 in the Cetilias' adopted hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. With A Floating Wave of Air sequenced so that the three 2008 settings alternate with the three from 2012, the recording's six-part “The Uncertainties of Movement” makes for an interesting study in comparison and contrast. The surprise, however, is not how dramatically unlike but rather how complementary the material from the two sessions is. Of course there are differences from one piece to the next, yet the six sound as if they could have all originated out of a single session, not two five years apart.
Though Roden (acoustic objects and electronics), Mark (analog modular and electronics), and Laura (cello, voice, and electronics) contribute different instrument sounds, the results, as mentioned before, are heard less as conglomerations of individual bits and more as collective sum-totals produced by micro-organisms. The pieces, which range from seven minutes to twenty-two, are predictably explorative and receptive to the improvisatory impulses of each participant, all of who are clearly comfortable with shaping material as it develops in real time. The insistent “II” receives unexpected thrust from a metronomic bass pulse, alongside of which the three distribute cello plucks, ripples, tears, and various other textural elements, while “VI” emits a controlled howl of plucks, rumbles, smears, and mewlings for fourteen alien minutes. Striking too is the longest piece, “IV,” which begins as a rippling swarm of querulous voices whose supplications are gradually extinguished by a swelling mass of grime and static; humming insistently, the material undergoes constant changes in shape as it advances, with Laura's cello advancing to the forefront at one point as an aquatic gurgle. At various moments on the recording, her soft voice surfaces, its wordless murmur a humanizing presence and effective complement to the other elements.
A natural analogue to the incessant flow of these recordings is the insect colony, where it's the collective activity that dazzles as opposed to the movements of any one creature. As interesting as it would be to see a video document of Roden and Mem1 in action, it's ultimately better that we're deprived of knowing who's doing what at any given moment so that “The Uncertainties of Movement” can be experienced at the level of pure sound.
Anticipations + Suspensions (Textura)
Notwithstanding the 2011 release of Age of Insects, a collaborative effort with Stephen Vitiello (issued on Dragon's Eye Recordings), the last formal Mem1 recording issued by Mark and Laura Cetilia, Tetra, appeared in 2010, which the married couple released on their own Estuary Ltd. imprint. So the 2013 release of two companion Mem1 sets on the Radical Matters Editions label and a solo outing by Mark on Estuary Ltd amounts to a seeming deluge of new material from the Cetilias. As on previous recordings, the Mem1 sets blend Laura's cello playing (and electronics) with the real-time sound sculpting Mark generates using analog modular and electronics, while Mark's solo outing understandably presents a comparatively purer sound design.
Scant clarifying information accompanies the two Radical Matters recordings, but that's hardly a crippling concern when the material speaks for itself so handily. The releases present four long-form electro-acoustic tracks, three of them in the half-hour vicinity and the fourth a wee fourteen minutes by comparison. The settings give the impression of being live improvs, though whether they were laid down in the studio or in a live setting isn't clear (if the latter, all traces of crowd noise have been stripped away). Eschewing melody in the conventional sense, the Cetilias' focus is on immersive, long-form dronescaping in these four settings.
Luxurious length in this case is no minor detail as it enables the pair to develop the material patiently and organically. At the outset of a piece, the two fashion a quiet yet restlessly percolating bed of electronic activity to which the cello's bowed tones are conjoined, and thereafter allow the material to build in natural manner, with the electronic burbling intensifying and the cello tones multiplying. Other details creep in at judicious moments: muffled voices, distortion rendering their words indecipherable, emerge halfway through “Suspensions I” as the sound mass takes on an increasingly industrial and then electrical quality. In this particular setting, the omnipresent creak of the cello gives the material a ghostly, even haunted character, as it works towards a strings-heavy climax that while claustrophobic in tone is beautifully paced, too. In similar manner, “Suspensions II” breathes like a living organism, its instrument sounds rising and falling as the piece evolves through a series of mutating episodes. Once again, the activity level intensifies as it moves into its final third, with the cavernous rumble of electronics an accompaniment to the cello's groan.
Real-world noises (perhaps field recordings-derived) seep into the opening moments of “Anticipations I” before they're smothered by the sputter and crackle of electronics and the guttural see-saw of the cello. A sense of drift shadows the middle section as the duo ponders where to go next until a series of ominous cello tones imposes direction and guides the piece to a dark, unsettling close. It's a haunted quality that carries over into “Anticipations II,” which rumbles quietly with an undercurrent of modest threat for an unsettling ten minutes until a seething coda introduces a marked change in disposition. Despite the prominent role played by electronics, the duo's music exudes an elemental quality, as if it's material that having long gestated below ground is only now oozing to the earth's surface. The releases' titles are apt, too, given that the listener attends with anticipation to where the material will venture as it undertakes its long journeys and experiences some degree of time suspension during the unfolding of a half-hour setting.
Tetra (Aquarius Records)
A while back we reviewed two cds from the LA based duo of Mark And Laura Cetilla, one a collaboration with bigger avant music names (Steve Roden, Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider), the other the duo's own dark sonic concoction, and while the guests on the collaborative record definitely made for interesting listening, we much preferred the Cetillas' work unadorned, a hushed minimal darkness, brooding, and softly caustic, ominous and strangely menacing. The sounds here on their first proper full length LP, seem to be a continuation from the music presented on that CD.
Three longform compositions, of smoldering lowercase sound, what sounds like bowed strings, and reverberating metal, blurred into a murky concoction of shimmering grey thrum and dense softly undulating swells, the vibe is definitely cinematic, conjuring up all manner of bleak and abject imagery, evoking decay, and distance, the drones alive with overtones and constantly shifting layers, noisy in places, but the noise blunted and smoothed out into rough expanses of warm buzz and softly prickly hum. There are moments of pure unfettered speaker shredding noise, but even within these blown out squalls, lurk all manner of rich texture and subtle shading. That said, most of the record is spent in hushed drift mode, the final track the most fully fleshed out, with the original instruments still recognizable, the tones organic and only lightly effected, drifting on a sea of distant blackened shimmer, and softly roiling whir and hiss, before finally smoothing out, into a final coda of warm, dreamy (and still slightly ominous tranquility). Dark abstract loveliness for sure, the sort of thing that folks into Jasper TX, Machinefabriek and Type Records might dig quite a bit.
Limited to 300 copies, each one hand numbered, packaged in super swank matte finish jackets, and includes a download coupon as well.
Age of Insects (Foxy Digitalis)
It’s always great to hear musicians expand on sounds and ideas that worked well in the past. And truly, I was blown away by Mem1’s 2010 album “Tetra,” a colossal and intricate drone album. If “Age of Insects” is any indication, the duo is showing no signs of slowing down. For this release, Mem1’s Mark (electronics) and Laura Cetilia (cello) team up with electronic musician Stephen Vitiello, who brings his own brand of technical sound magic to the proceedings. From what I can tell, Vitiello seems to add an array of electronic punctuation to the mix with beats, pulses, and sound effects. Mem1’s music seems to dwell in more deep and dense territories than Vitiello’s, so this is yet another layer to an already complex mix. This album is a collaboration in the truest sense, as everyone seems to have come together to create something truly special.
“Age of Insects” is something of a concept album as each of the seven pieces are named for ancient extinct insects and the music is meant to evoke “the imagined hum and flutter of their calls, flight and communication.” With this in mind, it’s not hard to envision a primordial landscape buzzing with any number of bizarre creatures when listening to this. There’s something almost menacing about the music, but at the same time, it’s also deeply beautiful and enveloping.
Some of the pieces seem to take the whole ancient bug idea very literally, such as the track “Monura.” Consisting of a series of slow cello tones among electronic hums and buzzes, it really gives the feeling of being set down in the middle of some ancient forest. Still, it’s the closing piece “Electrinocellia” that best creates this environment, probably because its seems the most minimal in its construction, with only a few light drones and a series of odd croaks and blips to set the mood. Still, even when things are at their most buggy, as it were, there is an overwhelming sense that you are listening to well-crafted music, which really makes this album succeed outside of its stated concept.
Other pieces are far more abstract. The opening track “Cascoplecia,” for example, is a swirling mix of pulsing electronics and drones along with ghostly breathy noises. Eventually, this all gives way to a nearly volcanic rumble punctuated by errant notes. It’s almost like an abstract, dark new age piece (this is a compliment, by the way), full of deep atmosphere and sinister beauty. “Paleophaedron” is another instance where the overall theme seems less overt, as staccato electronic pulses rise and fall over a background of subdued, oceanic drones.
All conceptualization and analysis aside, the music on “Age of Insects” is really powerful stuff. When something is this well-executed and beautifully complex, it’s hard to listen and not get fully enveloped in it. With its swirling darkness and mysterious sounds, this will be a great album for the coming winter months. Definitely pick this one up. -Matt Blackall
Age of Insects (Igloo Magazine)
...the teeming Age of Insects, which finds Mem1 with electronicist Stephen Vitiello communing in dialogue analogue and digital, converging field recordings and instrumental performance. Fuelled by sound-visions of extinct insects, cello-electronics fusers Mark and Laura Cetilia propose a post-production pact with Vitiello, skimping on afters to savour some of the real-time flavours from the studio session mains. The album’s sonic habit seems to stem as much from this decision to lay off as much as to intervene; earth and air, organic, as if a semiotic of imagined mandible chatter. These electro-acoustic microsound sculptures are given their head, cast in textures of oil and grit, a caustic scrim of sinetone sputter, tenebrous hum and thrum. “Cascoplecia” and “Ektatotricha” set the tone with zoom-ins and pans across an insectoid microcosmos, in which all manner of flute’n’flutter and creepy crawl’n’scuttle range through woozy mid-range drone wormholes, tumbling into fetid chambers of alien unquiet. “Vosila” takes a different turn, a felicitous encounter of natural and electronic that tosses the cello’s throaty bowings and keening scrapes in a crepitating sweet and sour soup. “Paleophaedon” takes some sci-fi blips and whirrs for a walk in the black Kosmische forest at the edge of the twilight zone to a remote headachey feedback and pulse backdrop. Low-frequency detail is especially engaging in the final “Monura” and “Electrinocellia,” both possessed of an appealing strangeness with a touch of something almost plangent, perhaps signifying an elegy for the extinction of these invertebrate ancients. Sonorities may lose individuality, especially when cello states are altered to buzz-tone and fuzz-drone; generally, though, Age of Insects retains a certain resonant character through its mix of electroacoustic, acoustic and concrète with transient melodic and rhythmic detail, ensuring a satisfying sonic envisioning of concept.
Age of Insects (Neural)
This latest project — which combines field recordings with both analog and digital electronic instruments — spawned from a series of meetings between Mark and Laura Cetyl in Stephen Vitiello's Viginia studio between May 2009 and January 2010. The sound pieces in question, organized into seven separate tracks, are carefully prepared but show only minimal editing and post-production calibrations, since the primary aim of the authors was to capture the very act of giving life and "substance" to the "pieces" themselves. The mix of spacey frequencies and teeming organic glitches are unraveled among insectoid creaks and mixed with flickers, sprays, signal variations, and gritty, immaterial sounds. Drones and volume jumps dominate, with white noise, a cavernous bass and hums interspersed with metallic soundbites and tremulous passages. This isn't all; in the plethora of materials and techniques used, gurgles, feedback, vintage sounds and futuristic digressions also emerge. Here are uncomfortable alien soundscapes, totally engaging in their bright stellar aplomb. –Aurelio Cianciotta
Age of Insects (The Field Reporter)
Age of insects is the first published collaborative work by electroacoustic duo Mem1 (Mark and Laura Cetilla) and NY artist Stephen Vitiello where they recorded a series of improvisations and released them without major editing or post-production treatment.
The first piece of the release is Cascoplecia which starts with sonorities reminiscent of ambient music but through the middle the piece takes an interesting turn into a more concrete sonority where drones and field recordings build this gigantic sound object that would later disappear to bring back the melodic elements that started the piece to have them interacting with a series of harsh sounds evoking the sonority of insects.
Ektatotricha, the second piece, works like some sort of progression where this deaf low sounds goes through the whole piece finally merging with different sounds that again remind of insects but that now make emphasis on the textural and percussive element. The piece successfully deals with temporality through a strong organic sense of progression and repetition.
Vosila ,piece number three, takes the listener through droning rusty metallic sonorities depicting a combination of strings and junk that slowly surrounds the listener taking him across textural and objectual sounds that on a subjective observation reminds me of gigantic insects flying around waiving their wings. This piece is a good example of the physical character of this release in terms of establishing a believable and sensible acoustic universe rendered through very well depicted forms and shapes of abstract nature.
Prothoplasma is one of the strongest pieces of the release. It starts through a depicted dark environment that builds up to a harsh noisy sound that gets louder and louder until it suddenly fades out at the end. There is a powerful “element” through this piece that I have a hard time articulating through words which brings to my mind the problem of writing about sound works: the problem of being aware of something through the sensible experience but not being able to break it down into anything else than what it is: a sound object.
Paleophaedon is a short piece where different elements work together such as slow melodic patters and repetitive machine-like sounds. The piece goes deeper as time lapses until it reaches a fading depth.
Piece number five, Monura, features a strongest presence of electroacoustic formal elements where droning sounds and sine waves take the listener through this 8’33” experience that is explored across dreamlike images and bizarre sonorities full of mystery and uncertainty.
Electrinocellia is the final piece of the release, which has this beautiful strangeness that is successfully developed through the proven capacity of the artists to build sounds with a tangible physical presence and where every object appears real and purposely dealing with its environment. Electrinocellia potentates the narrative character of the release through the use of concrete sounds juxtaposed melodic and rhythmic elements full of intention and meaning.
Age of Insects is an effective example of the strengths of improvised music in terms of dealing with time and temporality in part because the artists constantly deal with the right here right now using the timeline as one of the key formal elements. The aesthetic acoustic considerations present in Age of Insects are very successful in terms of how they build this universe (conceptually and formally) and establish this object-space-time relation that works on a perceptual level building up images of wires, insects, metallic surfaces and bizarrely depicted temporalities and spatialities.
Tetra (The Sound Projector)
Excellent LP of cello and electronics minimalism from this Los Angeles duo. Mark and Laura Cetilia pride themselves on the “seamless blend” of their respective sound contributions, so there are few sharp edges on this record, but it’s certainly not empty, vacuous droning. Rather, what characterises Mem’s music is a very focussed approach to performance which requires coninual concentration, listening to the other player, and close attention to detail. On this very warm and human LP, Mem1 are striking a good balance between composed / improvised and electronic / analogue musics, and their personalities are completely in synch.
I say “warm and human,” realising that both the tracks on Side A may at frist convey the exact opposite sensations on early spins. Part of their project is aiming for an alien, distanced effect, and overall they would be happy to convey the feeling of being alone and lost in a small dark place (or a wide open alien desert). Mem1 would like to encourage interpretations framed in geographic and topographical terms (see their own sleeve notes), and seem drawn to extreme and desolate situations. Along with this, they play in a rather solemn (but not pretentious) fashion. ‘Trieste’ is extremely forlorn, emotional, and melancholy, and your bio-rhythms will slow down in sympathy with its attenuated progressions. ‘Caldera’ is even more abstracted, offering mysterious and slow sensations fit for a ninth-level mind to ponder in isolation. Solid yet nebulous blocks of sound collide and shift, and the playing becomes extremely intense towards the end. These two cuts studiously avoid turning into “gothic’ drone, yet remain quite lugubrious in tone.
The B side is a single long track called ‘Hræsvelgr.’ Right away we notice the playing is not quite as urgent or busy as the first side (if anything so pale and wan can be said to be propelled by urgency). The ambiguous long tones are spacey and deep, and everything appears to be happening in slow motion. This is very much the hoped-for effect of being suspended in a warm and very deep ocean. While not as intense as the A side, this is a more welcome place to exist. Very nicely presented-art object (the creators call it “hand-crafted”) with clear vinyl pressing housed in a screenprinted cover lush with metallic inks; first release on the label, limited to 300 copies. -Ed Pinsent.
Age of Insects (The Silent Ballet)
Age of Insects is all harsh static whirrs, guttural bass croaks and phased white noise, the imaginary calls and conversations of extinct insects created via electro-acoustic improvisation. In crafting these sounds, the collaborators threaded the concept through a backdrop of drone and minimal ambient. In fact, the album’s affiliation with its concept rises more out of its production than the timbre of the sounds themselves. Age of Insects feels warm and organic, as though granting insight into the meticulous scientific processes behind this insect resurrection, incorporating the hum of standby machinery and the throb of harsh laboratory lights. While a more explicit exploration of its concept may have encouraged a more inventive use of sound experimentation, Age of Insects could have easily descended into a tiresome gimmick. The artists were wise enough to stick to their strengths, and this album has fared better for it.
Age of Insects (Le Son du Grisli)
J‘imagine Mark & Laura Cetilia (Mem1) faire la route de chez eux au studio de Stephen Vitiello. J‘imagine le trio réfléchir à cet Age of Insects, aux moyens de concilier électronique, acoustique et field recordings. Après quoi, j‘écoute ce qui est ressorti de leur collaboration.
Mis à part le violoncelle de Laura Cetilia, on ne sait quels sont les instruments utilisés ici – la pochette du disque ne le dit pas. Un souffle chaud vibre, mais provient-il d‘un orgue ou d‘une flûte de cristal ? Des craquements dans l‘atmosphère font que tout l‘univers sonore vibre à son tour. Son arborescence est indescriptible, ce qui fait beaucoup de mystères. Beaucoup de mystères et beaucoup de beauté dont les conséquences sont indescriptibles. -Pierre Cécile
Age of Insects (The Silent Ballet)
Age of Insects is all harsh static whirrs, guttural bass croaks and phased white noise, the imaginary calls and conversations of extinct insects created via electro-acoustic improvisation. In crafting these sounds, the collaborators threaded the concept through a backdrop of drone and minimal ambient. In fact, the album’s affiliation with its concept rises more out of its production than the timbre of the sounds themselves. Age of Insects feels warm and organic, as though granting insight into the meticulous scientific processes behind this insect resurrection, incorporating the hum of standby machinery and the throb of harsh laboratory lights. While a more explicit exploration of its concept may have encouraged a more inventive use of sound experimentation, Age of Insects could have easily descended into a tiresome gimmick. The artists were wise enough to stick to their strengths, and this album has fared better for it.
Age of Insects (Touching Extremes)
A record featuring elements of improvisation suitable to the coincidence and management of a multitude of electroacoustic sources, Age Of Insects represents the crop of repeated meetings between the duo of Laura and Mark Cetilia – recent engenderers of the excellent Tetra on their own label Estuary Ltd. – and Stephen Vitiello, a quiet wire-puller in the zone where the condensation of concrete and abstract sounds produces innovative aural suggestions. The seven tracks – recorded at Vitiello’s studio in Richmond – are symbolically connected to an unreal, yet vivid impression of “extinct insects – the imagined hum and flutter of their calls, flight and communication”. While some of the sonorities might indeed recall comparable milieus, especially when the tones of Laura Cetilia’s cello get mercilessly modified to bionic buzzing by the processing strategies applied by her partner, the inherent organic qualities of the music are striking regardless of speculative inspirations and references. Obviously, the droning traits of the trio’s work in the low-frequency area are quite engrossing, primarily in the final episodes “Monura” and “Electrinocellia”, the latter closing the album with a touch of genuine poignancy bathed in tremulous angst. The artists arrive at that point following maps containing nonfigurative sketches and beautifully resonant noises, occasionally bearing a vague resemblance to the extraterrestrial junctions typical of celebrated electronic champions from the 70s. Far from cheerfulness, loaded with unrevealed secrets, this resilient creature needs recurring attempts before breaking into its sonic shell. After that, it’s uncontaminated bliss for the large part of the time that you’ll devote to it. –Massimo Ricci
Age of Insects (Cyclic Defrost)
The premise behind Age of Insects is to imagine and replicate, through electro-acoustic improvisation, the sounds made by extinct insects. The result, tellingly, more closely evokes the noise and world of industry, the cause of these creatures destruction.
It’s a welcomely unsympathetic and abnormally restrained exploration of this world, avoiding the frenzied chatter usually associated with magnified visions of insect life, such as those heard buzzing madly around Jeffrey Beaumont’s stroke-struck father in the opening scene of Blue Velvet, or the deafening whine of cicadas in countless field recordings. Mem1, the husband-wife cello-electronics duo of Mark and Laura Cetilia, are no strangers to collaboration and their microsound approach fits well with Stephen Vitiello’s electronics, creating fluid layers of grit, subdued scrapes, flickering sine tones and amorphous hum.
‘Protophasma’ employs a buzzing oscillation and a dull industrial growl which builds, gradually, in intensity until it sounds like the revving engines of an airplane. In ‘Paleophaedon’ the blips and whirrs of vintage sci-fi flit between walls of grey fluff and a looped bass pulse. ‘Electrinocellia’ introduces aquatic gurgles, controlled feedback, and a low-end thwack made from colliding rocks. Age of Insects most closely evokes an industrious world of ants, contentedly committed to their subterranean assembly line labour. –Joshua Meggitt
Age of Insects (Loop)
Bowed sound objects, a deep breath, field recordings that seem to be taken in the country side, plus a heavy processing, opens “Age of Insects”, a work that comprised the collaboration between Mark and Laura Cetilia, -cello-electronics duo who founded Mem1 in Los Angeles in 2003-, and renown composer and media artist Stephen Vitiello. The buzzing noises of insects made with analog devices and software design interact with the sound of metal objects oscillations like, flickering sine tones that create a disturbing atmosphere.
Tetra (Foxy Digitalis)
The best albums always seem to have something new to show you every time you play them, even years after the first listen. Buried sounds and ideas emerge as layers of music work their way into your psyche. Mem1 is a duo that seems especially primed for this phenomenon, given the deceptive simplicity of their music. Their bare-bones manifesto, if you will, is to "create a single voice rather than a duet between two individuals." I don't normally buy into press releases, but in this case, the description is especially apt as Laura Cetilia's effects-laden cello joins seamlessly with Mark Cetilia's electronics and synthesizer to form something reaching far beyond its base elements. For "Tetra," the duo has crafted an amazing album that not only showcases their powerful collaborative chemistry, but also stands out as an amazing bit of experimental drone music.
While Mem1's sound could certainly be labeled as dark and ominous, there is an underlying beauty that renders this album far more complex than it may seem on first impression. Really, the best way to navigate this intoxicating haze is to turn it way up and dive right in. The first track, "Trieste," lays the groundwork for the rest of the album. Immediately, the core of the group's sound is introduced, as cello and electronics begin to build and intertwine. Part of what makes this music so interesting is that it remains grounded in the familiar, thanks to the cello (even when it's highly distorted), while it simultaneously flies into uncharted territory. When fully assembled, the track melds the electronic and the earthy to become a thick stew of drones, tones, pulses, and squall.
As if to prove that they're no one-trick pony, Mem1 offers up the next piece, "Caldera," which pushes their sound into extremely noisy territory. The most striking part of the song is the Tibetan horn-like buzz that comes from the manipulated cello, yet even this wouldn't be half as interesting without everything else that happens in this sonic space. As it progresses, the track becomes a massive wall of sound, churning and breathing with a range of high and low noises.
The album ends with the massive, side-long closer "Hræsvelgr," which mixes things up further and demonstrates how the duo maintains their power even when creating softer sounds. Here, the cello sound is the most naked and you really get a sense of what is going on behind the cloak of electronic noise present elsewhere. Even though things are much quieter, the track still seethes with lots of subdued energy and benefits from the same powerful instrumental alchemy heard previously on the album.
To put it simply, this is definitely one of the best drone records I've heard in some time. I'm excited to have heard this, but as I mentioned before, I'm really looking forward to seeing what this album will reveal to me months and even years from now. There's a lot of magic hidden in these grooves and I can't wait to find more of it. Mem1 seems to have known what they had on their hands, as well. Every effort went into the physical presentation of their work, as they crafted handmade sleeves to hold their clear, 150-gram vinyl gems. Did I mention that this is a limited edition, too? Don't snooze on this one, or you'll regret it. -Matt Blackall (10/10)
Laura Cetilia, violoncelle et électroniques. Mark Cetilia, synthétiseur analogique et électroniques. Troisième album de ce duo au catalogue qui continue sa recherche acoustique - électronique dans une quête de la vibration étendue. Archet continu et bourdonnement de fréquences basses. Bel objet et bonne gravure. Tirage limité et numéroté à 300 exemplaires.
Tetra (Fluid Radio)
Distressed notes run asunder on Tetra, a vinyl-only offering from the duo, Mem1. A current, quivering along these three fine works, creates a unique yet indistinct mass that, as we follow along in its icy wake, degrades and renders the listener inert, as we wait to meet the ghosts.
On "Trieste", a protracted mist invites us into the abyss. A hypnotic, dream-like state ensues and I go beyond the reality of the sounds, finding a hidden universe to wallow and wade in. In this state, I am reminded of images of events that seem part of my life but may never have happened. Instead, remembrances of half-forgotten dreams that congeal to form tangible memories, of walking through a torrential downpour on a sunny day and finding a broken teacup in the middle of the sidewalk, the paint faded on one side and the leftover tea grains create a muddy mixture of water when mixed and churned with the raindrops. It seems fitting that each of these tracks is an exploration of an extreme environment. The water imagery runs rampant with "Trieste". Stranded on the ocean floor, I imagine the pressure becomes unbearable. Likewise, the finely tuned discordant noises design striations in the sand; the stillness and soft darkness allow for the pressure to languish, recede, and a massive cloud of upturned sand and soot gradually moves over the whole piece, coaxing the particulars out through the sallow abyss.
"Caldera" is by far the most forceful of the tracks. I was on the edge of my seat, clutching my headphones and my pen as I thought about ghosts. I dove into the music and began: Do we go to the ghosts or do the ghosts meet us? Must we be receptive to them? The rising din of sound allowed a presence to take shape in my mind, a feeling of connection to something other. I was reminded of stories a friend of mine told me, who grew up with a presence at his house. His family grew accustomed to the strange activity and disruptive noise, which would start off in a barely audible way and gradually increase as if the presence wanted the attention, or a connection to reality was getting stronger. I remember asking him whether they've taken measures to rid the house of this presence and he said that they all live together and that they've learned to accept the fact that the ghosts have as much a right to be there as they do. "Caldera" moves in similar way, ambling from inaudible squelches to a force that announces its presence at the top of its lungs. Similarly, after listening I feel as though I've experienced an encounter with a ghostly apparition, but it's hard to distinguish between what I thought happened or was merely a dream.
On side B, "Hraesvelgr" begins its slow, studied journey through a barren wasteland. The drifting wind perambulates through as a desolate horn clamors for air; assorted pangs of sound crop up, tingling far too far away. Stillness is revisited then abandoned. A charge of current levies a sustained drone. The sounds harkens back to this memory of sticking my finger in a light socket. While its likely this never happened to me, I imagine the feeling one has and the sound associated with this action, is not unlike what one hears on this track. For eighteen minutes, there's so much to explore and discover along the way. I revisit the striations in the sand to see if anything tangible can be discerned. I'm reminded of ghosts that never bothered to meet me. Certain dreams have become foundations of my memory; the teacup prevails and endures.
The measured brush strokes on Tetra are a triumph for Mem1. Each moment is significant to the next as these three profound pieces move beyond the reality of the sounds to create an ongoing expedition into the uncanny. -Michael Vitrano
Tetra (Static Sound)
Tetra, the fourth full length album by Los Angeles-based duo Mem1 (Laura and Mark Cetilia) is a very puzzling sonic proposition. Abrasive and abstract on the surface, this mixture of analogue modular and processed cello improvisations seems quite opaque and aimlessly noisy at first. But upon immersion in sound, whilst turning off the outside world, Tetra's drones and electronics slowly emerge from an ocean of haze to reveal their surreal and majestic beauty. Made of three long forms, Tetra is neither ambient nor noise-music but aims to conjure up extreme and foreboding environments.
Opener Trieste starts with chthonic undercurrent of bass drones augmented with high-pitched hiss and echoes of cello, slowly disintegrating as they come to the fore. The multilayering created here give the awkward impression of swimming into sound, completely enveloping the listener with vivid harmonics. Very subtle melodic movements within the piece are just enough to add some subdued emotional layers and gently prepare the listener for the volcanic eruption to follow.
Caldera is indeed a slow and masterfully controlled crescendo of raw sonic lava. Starting with what sounds like an far-away aeroplane's engine resonating in the dark, the piece proceeds at the steady pace towards its final explosion, releasing analog flares from the speakers cones. Laura Cetilia's cello can be heard in the background, adding sombre yet tactile overtones to this doom-laden piece of very strong physical impact.
The album ends on a much quieter note with Hræsvelgr, named after a giant who takes eagle form, according to Norse Mythology. This 18-minute piece is probably the most delicate of the album and tells a aching story of sorrow and surrender to nature. The drones, carved out of Mark Cetilia's deep bass machines, are transformed and modulated so they echo the breathing of a wounded creature, trapped and unable to escape its fate – Hræsvelgr is a beautiful existential exploration that slowly return the music to silence, with abandon and grace.
The sound world created by Laura and Mark Cetilia is dark and otherwordly but very human nonetheless. Far from exploring desolated isolationist realms, Tetra displays an astonishing primal energy that transcend the duo's intentions, and turns this album into something rather unique and beautiful.
Tetra is available through Estuary ltd, in a numbered edition of 300 carefully crafted releases, on 150 gram clear vinyl with silkscreened artwork, designed and hand-printed by Mark Cetilia using metallic inks. -Pascal Savy
Tetra (Future Sequence)
Duo Mark and Laura Cetilia's work as 'Mem1' defines a relationship where both members are acutely tuned to each other; this is evident in the resulting sound they have produced in the three tracks that form their forth album 'Tetra'. Whilst their sound is mostly linear in structure, Mark's electronics - effects and custom made patches - provide layers of microsounds and affect Laura's cello which in turn seems to pre-empt her partners interpretations. Together they extract every nuance of vibration, imperfection, and harmonics to produce a very subtle depth of sound, through an improvised process.
'Trieste' is a quiet opener, providing a contrast to the tracks that follow. The cello is most recognisable, as it is stretched, warped and effected over the 12 minute piece. Central track 'Caldera' shares its name with a volcanic feature that forms when there is a collapse of land after an eruption into a crater-like shape. As with 'Trieste', it arrives quietly, but then builds; through dense reverberating string noise to a maelstrom of static and high pitched tense affected cello.
Hræsvelgr, last track in this set, weighs in at over 18 minutes long but somehow, becoming lost in the cold barren landscape it describes, this is suddenly not long enough. Hræsvelgr, from Norse mythology, is a giant who takes eagle form, this Scandinavian reference may well be homage to Deaf Center, or similar, as there are similarities to be found in this track. Mem1 however, expand the noises to produce a wider soundscape less concerned with melody and more with texture and describing an extreme environment.
This triptych of constructed stories, full of beautiful harmonics, raw noise and sonic impurities is certainly affecting. There is something about 'Tetra' that really resonates; there feels like an exploration going on, a fervency to finding new sounds, and a need to align them in new ways. A highly rewarding listen, one that allows the listener to embed themselves within, become lost in and suspend time for the album's duration. -Michael Waring
Tetra (Dusted Magazine)
Ice-cold drone rumble from a duo of Mark Cetilia on synth and partner Laura Cetilia on cello, both using electronics to achieve these means. This is how you do underwater drone: you lay it on thick, in waves the listener can't anticipate, and push all of the air out of the space in an attempt at sonic totality. All three tracks on this LP reverberate with a lifeforce too large to be seen. A beautiful, carefully designed product in form and construction. 350 copies, clear vinyl. -Doug Mosurock
Tetra (Norman Records)
Time for some electro-acoustic action...This is the fourth album from the duo of Mark Cetilia (analogue modular + electronics) and Laura Cetilia, (cello + electronics) and this is the first release on their new label. The set begins with some gentle hums and drones and gradually builds with hovering frequencies and static. The Cello is pretty much unrecognizable in its original form so there's a fair amount of processing happening. Eventually things build into dense wall of chaotic sound which really hits the spot for me. A pleasure to listen to this evolve and grow. Check it out... On clear vinyl and hand numbered of 300 copies. -Clint
Mem1's Tetra is a bona fide labour of love in more ways than one. It's the group's first release on its own newly formed experimental imprint Estuary Ltd., and even the artwork was produced by band member Mark Cetilia, who prepared 300 numbered editions that include clear vinyl discs and silkscreened artwork hand-printed with metallic inks. Having performed together under the Mem1 name since 2003, Mark (analogue modular and electronics) and Laura Cetilia (cello and electronics) have developed a symbiotic and highly personalized approach to experimental music-making that's commendably uncompromising, and ample evidence of their approach is captured on the duo's fourth full-length album, which was recorded during the spring months of 2010. Using custom hardware and software, the pair manipulates the cello's natural timbre using real-time modular synthesis patching, a process that results in a sound that's unique and immediately identifiable as Mem1.
During the twelve-minute opener “Trieste,” the sawing cello crawls like a primal entity gnashing its malformed teeth and scouring the ruined landscape as it drags itself across the incinerated terrain the duo conjures from electronics. Here and elsewhere, Laura's approach to the cello focuses less on its its conventional treatment as a melodic voice and more on the exploration of its textural and atmospheric possibilities. “Caldera” rises slowly from its own mist before mutating into a writhing behemoth whose violent wail grows into a humongous screech that's so lethal it feels like it could rip your head off. The second side's eighteen-minute “Hræsvelgr” opts for a more restrained excursion into spectral atmospherics with Laura and Mark allowing the collective sound to unfold patiently, almost as if in slow motion. In this case, the material moves like a marauding mass but does so less fiercely than the two pieces on side one. The future looks bright indeed for the Cetilias, given that 2011 will also see the fall release of Age of Insects, a full-length collaboration with Vitiello, on Dragon's Eye Recordings. Until then, Tetra will do just fine as a kind of representative portrait of Mem1 and its distinctive artistry.
+1 (Ampersand Etc.)
Mem1 is Mark Cetilia on electronics and Laura Cetilia on cello and electronics (home site here with free downloads). They have an album on Interval which came to me by way of Steve Roden - it is a series of collaborations, one of which is with him.
Overall the album plays with variations of scritchy electronics/processing and cello (plucked, bowed, scratched) and also some dronetones from the instrument, which is also evident from the material on the website. The Cetilia's create delicate and intriguing soundscapes that are attractive and engaging in their own right. Each of the tracks on the album develops from this general mood into distinct pieces but it is the ones which moved in unexpected directions which really caught my attention: but I'll mention each to give you some idea of the collaborators.
Jan Jelinek has some deep long tones which form the bed for shimmering cello: the piece with Ido Govrin is beautiful as delicate long tones are introduced over more processing and microloops. The addition of some field recordings by Area C is subtly moving.
There is a dark intensity to the brooding track with RS-232, with deep throbbing electronics. Frank Bretschneider adds beats and percussive effects to a ringing exciting piece. Edgy and then bubbly, Kadet Kuhne; long tones under clattery, scraping with Jen Boyd: neither of these two display a distinct personality.
Jeremy Drake has bird like calls in a mysterious work that is threatening and builds quite noisily. And finally a work by Roden which adds a tentative tone to the crackling scrape, a buzz which is quite moanlike and some percussive plucking: and then about half way through a pounding chanting sample which is looped and the whole thing is speeding before easing to a crackling and then a voice-loop that is like a vinyl run off: despite my bias, this struck me as the most interesting track.
When I first got this album I didn't really pay it much attention - but listening through it a few times now I am impressed and attracted to its subtlety and beauty. It is not a disk that throws itself in your face but one which offers a lot of pleasure and depth with repeat listening.
Ctrl+Alt+Repeat (L.A. Weekly)
For six years, the CTRL+ALT+REPEAT series has been bringing excellent experimental music to L.A., largely focusing on the areas in which electronic forms intersect contemporary classical. Founders Mark and Laura Cetilia are the real deal — the former is a programming genius and the latter an accomplished cellist, and the married couple not only curates together, but performs as the improvisatory duo Mem1. As a headliner for this event, they've wrangled Norway's darkly ambient Svarte Greiner (also a member of Deaf Center), whose work has been embraced by fans of the greater "doom" genre, those inspired by the stark and crushing soundscapes of aural pioneers like Sunn O))). Seattle's Crystal Hell Pool, despite the name, isn't quite as dark, though bleakness is his M.O., while L.A.'s own Yann Novak uses digital manipulation to generate tones and textures that veer toward the bright and meditative. Filling out the classical side of the bill are sibling viola and violin players Robin and Cassia Streb, performing a piece by composer Cat Lamb. (Chris Martins)
The dreamily ambient sequences of "+1", a project by Laura and Mark Cetilia, constitute a fruitful and challenging colloborative work. The precision with which the duo compose has never been greater. Laptops and cello combine to produce a painstakingly thorough acoustic and digital confluence of emotions. Each of the nine songs - in fact - is the result of a collaboration with a different composer, among whom are various celebrities of the experimental audio art scene, such as : Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider, Jen Boyd and Steve Roden, to name a few. Even given the exclusivity of each contribution there still remains a certain homogeniety of inspiration, a seemingly deliberate contiuum of ethereal atmospheres, space-like and imaginitive -- never redundant. Among liquid digressions, seething frequencies, drones and machinic reverbs, the contribution of Ido Govrin, Aera C, Kadet Kuhne and Jeremy Drake stand out, as well as RS-232, a Californian artist who delivers a very meaningful interpretation. -Aurelio Cianciotta
+1 (Junk Media)
Mem1 is the duo of Mark and Laura Cetilla. Each track on this album is a collaboration with a different artist-- the plus-ones to whom the title refers. It's a collection of abstract, unnatural sounds, but the feeling is markedly soft and intimate. There's a palpable interplay between the musicians, each collaborator bringing his own style to the fold, and it shows beautifully, or even romantically.
The collaboration with Area C is the most effective, as the odd embrace of the rest of the song slowly envelops his furtively plucked guitar. Subtle touches are the album's greatest strength, showcasing a sensitivity that allows for surprises like the slight melody on the track with Kadet Kuhne, which is revealed tentatively, like a secret admission.
The less successful songs are those that feature prominent beats, the bothersome insistence of the rhythm wedges distance into the collaborations. It can at times produce something more trance-like, but overall it prevents closer listening and blocks the gentle touches evident on other tracks.
Yet despite all the different approaches the album feels consistent due to the duo's warm haze, the rustling rhythmic ambivalence that they wrap around each song. Their contributions are often more atmospheric than those of their guests, but it is clearly their house they live in when it comes to collaborations. They contribute the setting in which the entire album operates and, in the end, evokes a very welcoming feeling. -Pat Dahn
+1 (The Wire)
You tend to assume that you're venturing into the outer reaches of abstract experimentalism when artist names and album titles start to resemble lines of machine code. But while you wouldn't exactly describe Mem1's third CD as populist, it does demonstrate that rigorous methodology needn't always produce militant austerity. Mem1's recorded works can be characterised as a series of dialogues between the cello explorations of Laura Cetilia and the electronic manipulations of her husband Mark, and +1 opens up their conversation to a series of third parties. The music is unquestionably enriched as a result. Collaborators include Jan Jelinek and Erik Carlson (aka Area C), whose guitar creeps and probes with tremulous delicacy. But although the mood is largely meditative, there's no shortage of variety — Jeremy Drake's massed, layered scrapings and Frank Bretschneider's splintered pulse both add welcome measures of astringency. -Chris Sharp
Stationary Drift (Touching Extremes)
Mark and Laura Cetilia, from Los Angeles, are Mem1. They have been working in the field of sound installation and electronica in recent years, but this 27-minute chapter of their career – which is downloadable for free at the label’s website – has enough merits to stand alone as an outstanding release, full as it is of delicate poetry, dejected desolation and frail tones that repeatedly touch our heart. Starting from a single source - a cello - the duo builds an amassment of layered uncertainties through the use of electronics, which complement and enhance the acoustic qualities of the instruments while generating a string of rather uncommon soundscapes, whose peculiar beauty is especially exalted by its pallid colours.
The sounds tremble, attempt to learn to fly without success, then lay tired on a stratum of digital oxidation and slight distortion, only to be finally captured in a processing network which steals their essence and retransmits it across the room, altered yet still poignant. The hypnotic allure of certain segments is what attributes humanity to this music, the sudden turns towards unfriendly zones is what renders it less predictable. The magnificent blending of these intense feelings and the not excessive duration of the sequence seal Stationary Drift with a stamp of near perfection, placing it among the best episodes heard in 2009 relatively to this artistic area. One looks forward to hear more from such extra sensitive, deeply insightful musicians. -Massimo Ricci
+1 (The Sound Projector)
Mem1 is the duo of Mark and Laura Cetilia from Los Angeles, working with processed cello and electroacoustic methods; and on the full-length album +1 (INTERVAL RECORDINGS IL03), we hear nine collaborations with various sound artists including Area C and Steve Roden. This album struck me as extremely minimal at first, but in fact I have the impression there’s a lot of very subtle activity taking place in the fuzzy slow-moving clouds of gentle ambient driftery, and never once do I have the impression that either Mem1 or their collaborators were working on auto-pilot. In other words, the whole project seems genuinely performed and taking place in real time, and studio processing effects are kept to a minimum. The vague cover images create suggestions of extra-terrestrial phenomena and strange lights in the sky, yet appear to have been created from normal suburban scenes of homes and garages illuminated by strip lighting.
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A. Weekly)
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions is hosting a rare night of even rarer musical experiments in electronics and ambiance. The headlining artists hail from a small Swiss label with a 10-year history of subversive sounds, Domizil. Marcus Maeder, Bernd Schurer and Jasch, each making his L.A. debut, specialize in digital forms that range from the divine (glassy aural pools with no foreseeable terminus) to the harsh (wild jags of squelchy feedback that shocks the senses), but each is a master of his domain. A highlight of the night will be local husband-and-wife duo Mem1, who improvise their way to a perfect marriage of live cello and real-time electronic manipulation using Mark Cetilia’s own custom-made software. L.A. audio/visual artist Steven Roden also performs, and members of Switzerland’s Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology will open the night with a series of “four-channel tape compositions,” which is a fancy way of saying they’ll be providing a warm analog counterpoint to the evening’s chilly digital finale. -Chris Martins
+1, the third full-length album by Los Angeles-based electro-acoustic outfit Mem1 (Mark Cetilia on electronics and Laura Cetilia on electronics and cello) , presents nine collaborations involving the duo and Jan Jelinek, Ido Govrin, AREA C, RS-232, Frank Bretschneider, Kadet Kuhne, Jen Boyd, Jeremy Drake, and Steve Roden. Regardless of the collaborator involved, what distinguishes Mem1's approach is its concentration on the textural mass. In others' hands, the cello might be exploited as a lead melodic voice, something to be separated out from its context; in the case of Mem1, Laura's cello functions as an element within the whole—an integral and prominent element, certainly, yet still one purposefully integrated to operate as part of the textural mass. Suggesting a parallel (as the accompanying press notes do) between Mem1's approach and the rhizome concept (as characterized in Deleuze & Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus) isn't misguided, as the group's sound is founded upon the idea of multi-linked tendrils and connecting threads.
Organic and improvisation-based, the typical Mem1 piece unfolds patiently, mutating through various episodes in a way that disregards conventional notions of compositional structure and melody; bar-based rhythms also are rejected in favour of natural flow and meander. Jan Jelinek helps the duo generate a uniform, slow-motion textural mass of insect chirps, cello plucks, and vaporous textures, while, in the Ido Govrin setting, natural sounds such as crashing waves inhabit the periphery of a low-level and skeletal meditation largely devoted to layered of creaking and sawing sounds. Elsewhere, a pulsating percussive pattern lends Frank Bretschneider's piece a rhythmic thrust largely absent elsewhere, and Jeremy Drake's haunted industrial setting impresses as one of the album's most powerfully evocative pieces. Even with the contributions of the collaborators factored in, the bold chamber music pieces documented on +1 strongly retain the Mem1 imprint and end up sounding like variations on shared conceptual and production schemes.
+1 (Exclaim / Destination Out)
Harmony is what makes a relationship tick. This is especially true when the couple ? here, Mark and Laura Cetilia ? are an electronics and cello duo that stretch translucent strands across their improvisations. For their third full-length, they've spiced things up with nine invitees for some inspired threesomes. For starters, Jan Jelinek underscores Laura's plangent picking and scraping with a muted, oblate wave that cycles until collapsing. Controlled feedback drones and either digital or field recorded birds punctuate a wide-open space created by Mark and Area C (Erik Carlson), simulating the plains at dusk. Frank Bretschneider is one of the few invited artists that truly take over a track, inserting a minimal but dense circuitry of pulses and echoes into the mix. The loveliest moments come from Kadet Kuhne's haunted digital hooting and the responses of trembling strings and upper-frequency tones. Like its ghost world cover art by Erik Skodvin, +1 opens a door into a world of half-light and mirage.
+1 (Foxy Digitalis)
Mem1 is Los Angeles based duo Mark & Laura Cetilia. They utilize custom hardware and software, electronics and cello in an electroacoustic improvisation environment. What I find always draws me to the electroacoustic stuff when it’s done well is the joining of dissonance between the acoustic instruments, in this case, the scraping of cello, with the warmth and bed of sounds you get in synthesizers.
On "+1", we get that rich sound from Mem1, but with an additional guest on each track, some collaborations done live, others produced through the magic of the internet. Opening track "+ Jan Jelinek" was an instant grabber, playing off the cello with the electronics in a highly enjoyable manner. Following that "+Ido Govrin" goes for straight Cluster sustain that leaves you dizzy waiting for the note to stop, but that good kind of feeling at the top of your head when you let the cosmic take over.
There are other trips with other collaborators, featuring field recordings, some that stick more to acoustic instruments than synths, but mostly there is a very solid balance. There is hardly any trace of "Oh, here’s where that guy came in." Although you can tell where some people are stronger in their approach to a song than others, this seems to rely on the group. -Andrew Murdock Livingston
+1 (Dark Entries)
Na het aanhoren van talloze CD's in het experimentele genre moeten ze al eens met goede argumenten afkomen om ondertekende écht te boeien. Daar is Mem1 met zijn electro-akoestische kamermuziek duidelijk in geslaagd. Met hun muziek weten ze ook de basisvisie van het israelische Interval Recordings samen te vatten: de ruimte opzoeken tussen twee verschillende uitgangspunten. De interval proberen te definiëren. Aan de ene zijde van de ring electronica; een cello aan de andere kant. Wat ze samen doen is uniek. Het duo Mark en Laura Cetilia nodigde 9 verschillende muzikanten en componisten uit om met hen in muzikale dialoog te gaan. Van de subtiliteit van Jan Jelinek tot de spanning van RS-232 en van de spookcornet (denk Carter&Tutti) van Jeremy Drake tot de tribal loops van Steve Roden; allen weten ze perfect te versmelten met de cello en manipulaties van Mem1. Onvervalste klasse!
+1 (Cyclic Defrost)
Los Angeles' Mem1 are Laura and Mark Cetilia, cellist and media artist respectively, who produce improv-based electroacoustic music of the itchy Max/MSP variety. As the album and track titles suggest, '+1' finds them collaborating with nine individual artists over as many tracks, an impressive roster from the vanguard of minimalist digitalia. Mem1 are at their finest when their collaborations foster a chameleon-like metamorphosis in both their own sound and approach. Of course, with a team such as this the variants are slight, but the Cetilias digest their partners' influences, attitudes and styles with considerable appetite, and this works both ways. Jan Jelinek's work is unrecognisable to those who grew up on his springy microhouse, and just as difficult to categorise, and the treated scrapes, tics and low-end rumbles that comprise his contribution here are as pleasingly elusive as Machinefabriek. '+Ido Govrin' pairs aquatic drips with snails-pace cello bows, splitting these into multiple dialogues; '+RS-232' gets lost in the woods, cicadas competing with a heavy bass thud, while '+Jeremy Drake' brings birdcalls into a lower-case improv session, creaking along like Polwechsel. Frank Bretschneider's piece is a highlight, which centres on a rich, flickering drone which evokes both live field recording and internal machine noise, a muffled bassline like the undersea dub of Raster Noton labelmate Senking; as is Steve Roden's: minute activity so close as to cause claustrophobia, slowly building into an almost frantic level of activity, complete with surprise bass loop. -Joshua Meggitt
+1 (Le Son du Grisli)
Alter ego de la doublette Mark et Laura Cetilia, le premier à l’électronique, la seconde au violoncelle, Mem1 invite neuf amis – un(e) par track – sur ce +1, des plus familiers (Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider) aux moins fréquentés (Kadet Kuhne, anyone ?). Traitées au travers d’un prisme digitalisé, les sonorités du violoncelle épousent, malgré les apparentes similitudes, des contours très différents de ceux imaginés par Machinefabriek et Aaron Martin. Là où nous avions laissé l’électronicien néerlandais splendidement manipuler une vision néo-classique de l’instrument, le duo américain s’inscrit davantage dans une lignée ambient, heureusement toute personnelle.
Tel un Wolfgang Voigt grinçant expérimentant le minimalisme, Jan Jelinek attire l’attention par une discrète présence qui, paradoxalement, donne tout son sel au morceau qui porte son nom (comme celui de chaque collaborateur, du reste). Ailleurs, quelques sons épars détalés de chez Colleen inspirent un glissando stridant sur un Ido Govrin qui prend une belle ampleur lento, seconde après seconde, tandis que les atmosphères quasi-mystiques du trio Area C s’intègrent tout naturellement au projet. Moins convaincante, voire franchement ennuyeuse (tout comme Jen Boyd) est le mariage Mem1 - RS-232, encore que sa conclusion dark ambient finit par embaumer le cadavre de Svarte Greiner (par ailleurs, auteur de la pochette). Toujours classe et impeccable, la techno minimale, beats ultra-discrets included, de Frank Bretschneider s’impègne d’une humeur à la croisée de l’aéronautique et du cardiaque, elle est subtilement en contraste avec les chiffonnages numérisés de Kadet Kuhne dont émerge un violoncelle davantage présent. Pleinement dans l’envie d’une lenteur captivante au fil du temps et des écoutes, l’album se conclut sur deux titres (Jeremy Drake et Steve Roden) en plein dans le ton du projet, mélange d’instincts où l’harmonie remporte une victoire nette et sans bavures sur le chaos et la soumission. -Fabrice Vanoverberg
In 2007 the debut album Alexipharmaca by Los Angeles (US) based electro-acoustic duo Mem1 was released on the label Interval Recordings. On this album the duo searches for a modern combination of electronic and classical music. Now with their second album +1 they explore this sometimes thin line further with the help from befriended guest musicians.
Collaborations with musicians like Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider and Steven Roden (to name the more well known musicians) recorded on several places like a painter's studio, near a lake or through the internet. The influences from the several guest musicians do ring through in some of the pieces, while others clearly show Mem1 as being the main ingredient.
While on Alexipharmaca the electro-acoustic compositions had a major melodic and rhythmic element, here most pieces find their way into minimalism and drones. The warm tones of the cello find their way into computers and effects to develop long sustaining tones, while in the background soft digital glitches crackle and plop along. Only in the pieces with Frank Bretschneider and Steve Roden a twist is brought to the sound. Bretschneider pushes his pulsating beats in, exactly those as we know from his own work. And Steve Roden surprises us with some unexpected broken beats, turning the whole piece upside down... -Sietse van Erve
The cover looks like a scene from "The X-Files: A house can be seen only dimly, it is not submerged by a light source to be defined in a warm, almost garish colors. The other motive of this well-designed Digipaks enhance the first impression: It's about something elusive, Transgression. What is real, what an illusion? Or transfer your music: Create What in the living organism, the MEM1 is acoustically and 'real', which synthetic?
INTERVAL RECORDINGS is a small Israeli label and artist collective, which deals exactly with this mixture, with electro-acoustics. The main task is indeed to be the implementation of "Laptopia", an Israeli festival of experimental art, with varying venue, which is now already in the sixth edition. Nevertheless, it seems, since 2005, one CD per year. With MEM1 INTERVAL has worked together from the start, and the latest CD "+1" in the U.S. is now the former couple's audio output of the current year.
Detailed biographies of Laura and MARK CETILIA are on the homepage MEM1 or be read their own respective sides of the partner, but actually it is quite simple: LAURA plays cello, and MARK unfamiliar sounds using software and hardware. This time, the outcome per track still involved another, friendly sound tinkerer, whose name is also the titling. From the USA, for example, alias JOE CANTRELL RS-232 and see the multimedia artist KADET Kuhne, out of Germany JAN JELINEK and the currently ubiquitous Frank Bretschneider, a former member of the VIOLIN AG and co-founder of the Chemnitz label RASTER NOTON.
It is striking that during the 56 minutes it actually moves the ear, almost nothing. There are mainly stretched Drones - yes what? Sometimes emerges a cello, which may be gone, but over long distances again. The sharp, organic and lively sound that is constantly in the room is oddly touching, in the truest sense of the word. It feels as if he tentatively stroking the skin, while in the background crackling and crunching sounds. Within a song - the do not really call it that, is it normal structures such as melody or chorus are almost completely - often changes the mood. By threatening to An-soothing relaxation and vice versa. Similarly, an expectant, slightly nervous mood is - with traces of minimal percussion - about a peaceful, liberated atmosphere. Often these changes will be through more acoustic - warm and friendly - or synthetic - fearful and dark - produced items. Emerge as a surprise just before the end sounds of real animals, an idea of birdsong, also crystallizes a rhythm. The ratios for MEM1 almost ecstatic, though quiet percussion loop could mean many things: the transition to another dimension, the final of this strange trance, bans on CD creation.
For words, there is the concept of 'tag cloud', a cloud of keywords. For notes a similar concept would be introduced, for MEM1 have created aesthetic clouds of various hues. Contemporary chamber music in slow motion, with minimal resources covering a wide range of emotions. Recommendation for those who are able to slow and enter a few, and to hear concentrated. –Michael We.
+1 (Sentire Ascoltare)
Due le anime dietro al progetto dei Mem1, Laura e Mark Cetilia e una miscela tutt'altro che accademica di manipolazine digitali e d'improvvisazione intelligente. La loro è un'elettroacustica sinfonica e introversa per laptop e violoncello, quella raccontata già ai tempi di Alexipharmaca (Interval,2007) ed ora pronta a rimettersi in gioco per questa seconda occasione con l'Interval Recordings.
Un cast d'eccezzione per 1, nove luminari nell'ambito dei microsuoni chiamati dai Mem1 a contribuire alle loro fonti e ad esplorare le inflessioni più austere dello strumento. Nessuna rigida impostazione di stile ma semplici intuizioni, capaci prima di captare e di identificarsi nei differenti stimoli creativi, contribuendo poi al suono con mutevoli dialettiche in riverberi, campionamenti, loop e droni.
Il benvenuto quindi: all'ambient plumbea per abrasioni ed occasionali field recordings di Jan Jelinek, alle architetture liquide per Ido Govrin od abissali per RS-232, al culto dub di Frank Bretschneid, all'elettronica fluttuante e di segnale di Kadet Kuhne ed infine alle frenetiche dinamiche di collage del maestro Steve Roden.
Ne rimarrete stregati e coinvolti da capo a coda, per il numero infinto di forme che ogni traccia assume, per la malleabilità ed infine per il continuo. -Sara Bracco
+1 (Aquarius Records)
The L.A. sound art duo Mem1 gathered together a great line-up of collaborators for this, their second album released earlier in 2009. Steve Roden, Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider, and Area C are the heavy-hitters from our perspective, although those contributions from the those we've not heard of - Jen Boyd, Ido Govrin, RS-232 - seem to more than pull their weight. Mem1 works from an electro-acoustic context reworking cello through an interconnected series of electronics, most of which are probably driven through Max/MSP patches. The results typically settle into a slumbering drone sensibility, as noted in the Jan Jelinek collaboration which interweaves dark plucks from the cello with fizzing Tim Hecker-esque digital washes. The RS-232 pairing is a creepy, nocturnal track of sci-fi sound design for deep industrial hummings scorched with slow burning arcs. Frank Bretschneider offers an exception to this rule through his pulsing post-techno rhythms which gyrate in pools of reverb beneath looping sustained patterns of resampled cello. Beautiful stuff!
All dressed up with artwork from Svarte Greiner's Erik Skodvin, this album from Mem1 and friends looks as good as it sounds. The central Mem1 duo (Mark and Laura Cetilia) team up with a roster of microsound luminaroes for this release, working with Steve Roden, Frank Bretschneider and Jan Jelinek among others. Jelinek is up first, helping cast Mem1's electronics and cello in an understatedly abstract gloss. The piece flows across the stereo field with a warmth and major-key serenity that brings together artificial timbres, filtered bowed strings and what sounds like a variety of nocturnal environmental recordings. Next, Ido Govrin assists with some gorgeous slowcore drones, while Area C limbers up for five minutes of immersive, dusky field recording and submerged electronic sustain. Taking a different angle, Rs-232 conspires on a bass assault, humming ominously into Frank Bretschneider's typically rhythmic contribution, imposing a welcome rigidity to Mem1's weightless sonic environments. Particularly given that this is a compilation of sorts, there's an uncommonly high standard sustained right to the death, and arguably the most dynamic track of the bunch (with assistance from Steve Roden) closes the album in fine style. Highly recommended.
+1 (Sound Proector)
Very interesting project Mem1 consists of Laura Cetilia (cello) and Mark Cetilia (electronics). They make experiments with cello and various electronical devices and software getting in the result dark, gloomy, abstract sound design with accurate vector to the side of clever improvisation. Their first album Alexipharmaca released in 2007 made good impressions on me. Among all electroacoustics I had listened to Mem1 is notable thanks to the characteristic for their creativity "organic" sounding. As if their musical compositions are lively organisms, slowly and slightly noticeably developing on cellular level.
This spring label Interval Recordings released the second full-value album of the duet, which extremely gracefully develop the theme started earlier in Alexipharmaca. +1 is the collection of their collaborations with other musicians, among them are Jan Jelinek, Ido Govrin, Area C, RS-232, Frank Bretschneider, Kadet Kuhne, Jen Boyd, Jeremy Drake and Steve Roden. Each track is a performance with a character from this list which shows that very interesting people worked at this music. Each of them made his own contribution into Mem1's creative work – and the album is at the same time very integral, here one can find experiments with field records and striking microsound, and even some hint at rhythm (of course played by Frank Bretschneider). Design of +1's cover tells for itself – it's the entrance into the world of low frequencies, drone and slowly developing sound carpets, to the dark side of the planet.
Featuring, as it does, the likes of Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider, Ido Govrin and Steve Roden, you'd be forgiven for thinking this album selves hugely into the world of minimalism. And to a degree it does. But it's a collaborative work of incredible substance and each track has its own style and feel. Stripped back, processed textures and tones form the main meat of the works and there's an experimental lilt to some of the pieces. But, it's cohesive, deep, crammed full of imaginative soundscapes and, best of all, just a damn fine album all round. Whether you're digging Govrin's almost choral drift of chords, Area C's delicious 12k-esque pastoral lushness, Bretschneider's rhythmic, puslating pseudo-techno or Steve Roden's dramatic and eerie composition, there's a little something here for any fans of contemporary electronic music. Beautiful, dramatic, dark and mood-driven - this is an album that works on many levels. Quite superb.
Mem1 at Borealis 2009 (STEIMBLOG)
Mem1 (Laura & Mark Cetilia) created a beautiful soundworld of subtly processed cello and an analog synth, building up from barely audible via high pitched screetching to waves of noise, moving between the 4 speakers with grand gestures. At the end, after 40 minutes, I wasn't sure if the chill on my back was from the music or someone opening the outside door to let the Bergen air come in.
Live at OCMA (Synesthetech)
The second release on Glenn Bach’s new netlabel MPRNTBL has just been announced: Live at OCMA by Mem1, the husband-and-wife duo of Mark + Laura Cetilia. This 22-minute live set of (as the liner notes describe it) structured improvisation features a blend of Laura’s cello and Mark’s electronics, as the pair follow their own predetermined instructions to create a bold sonic morass seemingly from nothing; the piece begins on the far frontiers of silence, gradually developing into a gurgling slather of textures which eventually break off into a glisteningly quiet denouement. Gorgeous stuff, definitely check it out!
Mem1 at Sound of Mu, Oslo (Soundscaping)
Mem1 is Mark and Laura Cetilia, is a duo in musical terms as well as in life, and their live performance this Sunday evening at Sound of Mu was one of great interplay; Mark’s electronic, glitchy sound palettes laying out the backing sounds – like a sonic scenography – in which Laura’s carefully deliberated cello-playing provided the protagonist of the scene – conjuring up light, airy strings with the hoarse cello qualities sounding both noisy and harmonious. The whole performance proceeded in a slow and steady pace, nice and soothing rhythms flowing out with lulling qualities and the coordination between the two musicians coming off well concerted. Due to the use of strings, associations were immediately drawn to works of their peers like Richard Skelton, Julien Neto, Deaf Center and Svarte Greiner, and like a more modern classically-sounding Celer.
Alexipharmaca (Forced Exposure)
With their sophomore release, Israel's Interval Recordings redefine the term 'post-classical' with Mem1, mixing micro-processing and digital manipulation with the haunting wistfulness of the age-old cello. Mem1 are an electroacoustic hybrid that seamlessly blend the sounds of cello and electronics to create an original and cohesive performance, focusing on a constant yet subtle evolution of textures ranging from sparse to dense, ambient to rhythmic, tranquil to volatile. Rather than a duet between two individuals, listeners experience a single voice, exploring a limitless palette of sonic possibilities, submerging the listener in layers of distinctive and complex patterns, creating an aural experience which moves beyond melody, lyricism, and traditional structural confines to arrive at a new sense of organically-revealed narrative. Alexipharmaca, Mem1's second full-length album, is a collection of improvised works that capture the allure of the unknown and unexpected. Curious to explore the modern fascination with all things ancient and shrouded in mystery, the album's title is taken from a set of poems written by Nicander of Colophon, a Greek pharmacologist whose texts deal with plant and animal poisons and their antidotes. Comparisons can be drawn between Alexipharmaca and Nicander's writings; their diverse hordes of sounds intoxicating the listener with lavish beauty, but like a beautiful yet deadly flower, something ominous inevitably lurks beneath the surface. A perfect blend of harmony and cacophony, Mem1 show a level of intuitiveness that can only come from years of experience improvising -- experiences that include collaborating with the esteemed Penderecki Quartet (one of the most established string quartets in the world) and curating quarterly nights of contemporary classical and experimental music in Rhode Island, USA, where half of Mem1 resides and studies. Comparable to the criminally overlooked collaboration between Eavesdropper and Waterman on Belgium's Knob Sounds label, or artists as diverse as Murcof, John Cage or Alva Noto, Alexipharmaca is bound to appeal to all those interested in the recent renewed interest in modern, forward-thinking classical music and is bound to have a profound effect on anyone who enjoys their lucid soundscapes with equal shades of darkness and light. Interval Recordings established themselves as fine purveyors of home listening treats with their first release by Israeli sound designer, Amnon Wolman, but with Mem1 they truly take their output to the next level of timely importance. Turn off the lights, put on some comfortable headphones, and after careful listening, Alexipharmaca is bound to never move far from your heart and mind.
Israel's Interval Recordings is a label you may not have heard from before, but it's one that certainly looks the part, with absolutely stunning artwork coming from none other than Deaf Center/Svarte Greiner/Miasmah man Erik Skodvin. The connections don't stop there either as this album (the second release on the label) is very much in line with Skodvin's well championed 'acoustic doom' sound, albiet with a slight leaning towards 12k or Ritornell levels of engrossing digital minimalism. Mem1 is a collaboration between laptop sound-designer M. Cera and cellist Laura Thomas-Merino, so as you can imagine the collision of digital manipulation and expertly played cello is incredibly haunting and at times devastatingly beautiful. To my mind the mixture of sounds reminds me almost of Kim Cascone's shockingly good Bluecube trilogy (if you haven't heard these records before you should really seek them out by the way!) crossed with Greg Haines' cello-driven 'Slumber Tides' - there is an ear towards minimalism and sound-design at all times, but the cello parts lift it out of the grey academic world into something far more accessible and definitely more enjoyable. In this it feels like the perfect step forward from the minimal sounds we all fell in love with a few years ago (and for the most part lost interest in), like Alva.Noto's recent 'Xerrox Vol.1' 'Alexipharmaca' brings in sounds that we can really relate to, really sink in to and sets them against the glitches, scratches and bleeps to create music that really is the sum of it's parts. This album is a soundtrack to a midnight forest expedition, something scientific yet moonlit and deeply mysterious - hardly surprising that the album is balancing on a scientific theme then. A concept of sorts, the title and ideas on the record come from the Greek pharmacologist Nicander of Colophon and the album's title is taken from a set of poems which deal in depth with animal and plant poisons and their antidotes. Pretty heavy subject matter - but it is without a doubt in line with the incredibly detailed and at times magnified scientific sounds on offer throughout the record. If you're in search of an album to sit snug in your growing collection of acoustic doom (maybe next to this week's similarly spooky album from Elegi...) then look no further, Mem1 will take you where you need to go - deep, deep into the dark woods. Huge recommendation....
Alexipharmaca (Cyclic Defrost Magazine)
Mem1 is an intriguing electroacoustic duo who blend cello and electronics in strange low key seemingly improvised compositions. Whilst the cello alternates between scraping out its thin scratchy dissonance, and more traditionally musical gestures such as gentle little plucked flecks, the electronics are much more subtle and lo fi. Unlike the work of say Robin Fox who processes live instrumentation, though very much announces his digital intervention, initially the electronics tend to hide more in the shadow of the cello. Often the electronics appear to consist of a low hum or meld with the cello to construct a some kind of strange field recording from an alternate universe. Then of course the duo go and do the exact opposite, creating a highly electronic, highly processed sound with the cello squealing away in the background. And this is the joy of Mem1, they reinvent their process with each piece, so you never really know what's around the next corner. It's quite non musical, yet it seems to be existing on the fringes, with some of the sound combinations absolutely inspired. –Bob Baker Fish
Alexipharmaca (Touching Extremes)
Described as "an electroacoustic hybrid" by the press release, Mem1 are Laura Thomas-Merino (cello, electronics) and M.Cera (electronics), "Alexipharmaca" being their second full-length release, inspired by poems written by Nicander of Colophon (a Greek pharmacologist) about "plant and animal poisons and their antidotes". Not that one could guess this influence from the music, a fascinating mixture of cello loops and real-time manipulation that possesses dissonant angularity and beguiling ambient charm in equal doses, and which I haven't been able to compare to anything else - a major plus for my judgement's criteria. Twelve improvised tracks show the full extent of this duo's capabilities, mostly based on a gentle materialism in which modified sources and virtual environments constitute a sort of parallel world that, when listened at "slightly-more-than-a-whisper" volume in a quiet setting, appears populated of microscopic creatures and alimented by faintly warming energies that establish a direct connection with our nervous system, helping it to discard extraneous disturbances. An elusive, instantly captivating album that I strongly recommend to be enjoyed without headphones, "Alexipharmaca" is a positive surprise on all accounts and the demonstration that, no matter how many records we listen to, an everlasting curiosity is the key to welcome discoveries. –Massimo Ricci
Cello and electronica, a very delicate electroacoustic hybrid by Mem1, a duo composed of M. Cera, a media artist and sound manipulator, and Laura Thomas-Merino, a cello player from Los Angeles. This is their second extended release (their first one, 'Improvisations + Edits', released in 2004, isn't sold anymore), with tenuous dissonances and measured clicks and glitches, peeking out of the grooves and dilated with alien gentleness in rarefied sequences, hinting at abstract landscapes from another galaxy. Embracing monotony full of narcotic appeal, that unravels through elaborations such as 'Sonniferum', 'Atropa' and 'Ipomea', names reminiscent of the plant realm and of alchemy, where the combination of minimal elements can have lethal or healing effects. –Aurelio Cianciotti
Alexipharmaca (Aquarius Records)
With artwork by the man behind Svarte Greiner and a conceptual framework dealing with "plant and animal poisons and their antidotes," Alexipharmaca is an album that wouldn't be out of place on Type. The Los Angeles based Mem1 is a duo comprised of Mark & Laura Cetilia, employing plenty of high-tech gadgets to abstract, obfuscate, and accompany the languid sounds from Laura's cello. Softened drones and delicate atmospheres are the dominant structures for Alexipharmaca, certainly casting a long gaze back to Erik Satie's idea of wallpaper music through the lens of Brian Eno's ambient and Akira Rabelais' esoteric digital abstractions. The movements of the bow across the strings of the cello are sometimes all that remains, as the rest of the sounds have been rarified, pitch-shifted, softly mulched, and recast as a ghostly undulation of sound crosshatched with digital ephemera and microsonic pin-pricks of glitchiness. While many of the quietly rendered sounds enjoy a jewel-like preciousness, Mem1 infuse these passages with a ghostly bleakness that occasionally grows ominous.
Alexipharmaca presents a dozen electro-acoustic settings by Mem1, a collaborative venture that combines the explorative cello playing of Laura Thomas-Merino with the electronic microsound atmospheres of laptop artist M. Cera. true to its improvised form, the pieces unfold in a perpetual, restless state of evolution, with the instruments advancing in tandem through multi-layered textures. The duo eschews ostentation for understated development in meditative and mysterious soundscapes that teem with M. Cera's simmering pulses, windswept creaks, and gravelly textures and Thomas-Merino's plucks, shudders, and guttural tones; the two similarly bypass conventional melody-based structures for mutating, organically-driven forms. Though unified in spirit, individual pieces exude differences in character, such as the remarkable insectoid setting "Lamarcai" and the ghostly "Aristolochia." the title of Mem1's second full-length comes from a collection of poems about plant and animal poisons and their antidotes that was composed by ancient Greek pharmacologist Nicander of Colophon — a fitting choice, given the tension between surface beauty and underlying toxicity that often characterizes the material.
The second release from Israel's Interval Recordings is a sublime piece of work that will haunt you and stay with you long after it's finished playing. The Duo of M. Cera and Laura Thomas-Merino have combined their talents (Cera on electronics and Thomas-Merino on cello) to produce a simply beautiful set of tracks that really take you on a journey. Dark, cinematic strings and wonderfully realised processing give it such a filmic quality it's hard to believe you're not listening to a soundtrack. Bordering on modern classical at times, it melds experimental composition with freeform manipulation and processing to such a fine degree that they seem to form a natural partnership. Fans of the work of Svarte Greiner and other such soundtrack-inspired music should do themselves a favour and check this stunning CD out immediately. Highly recommended indeed.
Deuxième référence pour ce label, la première étant un superbe disque d'Amnon Wolman (voir catalogue). Enregistrés à Los Angeles, Laura Thomas-Merino (violoncelle, électronique) et M. Cera (électronique) proposent là douze plages, une toute jolie suite, genre poésie, d'improvisations évanescentes ouatées perlées façon électro-bio pour dimanche pluvieux. Spleen et posthumanité. L'équivalent pharmaceutique serait le subutex. Objet soigné.
Alexipharmaca (Vital Weekly)
The title of this, their second CD, comes from a set of poems written by Nicander of Colophon from Greece, who wrote about plants and animal poisons and their antidotes. For Mem1 the relationship is clear: they want their music to be richly textured but with a certain menace. As such I may say they succeeded quite nicely. The cello is bowed, plucked and strummed, while the laptop gently weeps and sweeps the sound. Indeed richly textured... –Frans de Waard
Improvisations + Edits (Tokafi)
You can't return a fried egg into its shell.
We often think of improvisational music as a dialogue: One instruments offers a statement, a second receives and transforms it, only to ask new questions waiting to be answered. As if decades of technological development had gone by unnoticed, this model has almost exclusively been the domain of Jazz — bringing with it a multitude of exciting possibilities and breathtaking surprises. And some indisputable limitations as well. So let's, just for the sake of covering new ground, forget about Jazz for a second and leave the realms of this basic model. What would happen, for instance, if it would allow for feedback loops, for game-theoretical extensions, for a continuous mutual stream of ideas? Quite possibly, we would end up with an album like "Improvisations + Edits."
For sure, we would end up with an album as far away from any given genre as possible. Despite its improvisational nature, this record has absolutely nothing to do with Coltrane and Miles and doesn't even come close to comparing to some more contemporary colleagues such as Nils Petter Molvaer. It's no friend of l'art pour l'art either. And even though a Cello is involved, Classical and New Music are not waiting around the bend. Best if you try to forget about all references and just listen to the music for one second: There's translucent structures, vitreous and almost see-through ramifications, minuscule movement in the most unlikely places and a lot of empty space, waiting to be filled by your own imagination – this album is white and spacious. Mem1 are a duo consisting of cellist Laura Thomas-Merino and media artist M. Cera, operating with self-made hardware, and their intent lies not in carefully combining the sounds of their respective instruments, but rather in creating a new entity. Sounds from the cello are treated in real-time and fused with electronic noise, which yields a new basis for cello-improvisation. What emerges from this neverending interaction has nothing to do with what went in and can not be recycled into its original state – just like you can't return a fried egg into its shell. As you would expect, there's a high degree of processing, but strangely the result is neither rigid nor formulaic, but organic and open. Tiny themes take on a life of their own, seamlessly detached from preimposed meaning, motives flow like babbling brooks, delicate drones come up like the morning sun on a muted horizon and there's always a twinkle in the air.
There's not a single traditional melody on "Improvisations + Edits" and merely hints at harmony. And still, there's an overwhelming sense of familiarity and intimacy. As foreign as these pieces may be, they behave and evolve in a very natural way – and our mind, looking for ledgers and references, will always associate them with our every-day existence. Maybe this comes pretty close to a sundown on Mars, to what the jungle on Pluto sounds like, to the workings of an alien botanic garden. Whatever it is, it is never just a dialogue, it's the formulation of something new. And, just for a second, all limitations have gone. –Tobias Fischer