RVNG Intl. presents: Oliver Coates & Visible Cloaks
7pm doors • 8pm show
The Brooklyn-based record label RVNG Intl., a home for forward-reaching artists, is curating a series of concerts at the nexus of classic sensibility and contemporary sentimentality.
Oliver Coates made critical contributions to Jonny Greenwood’s score to Phantom Thread and has most recently collaborated with Mica Levi, Dean Blunt, and Laurel Halo, but he’s a ferocious talent in his own right, using elaborate signal processing effects to take sounds from his cello and transform them in radical ways. The results are “playful and exploratory… music where pleasure seems to be at least as crucial as process” and include songs that are “almost unspeakably beautiful” (Pitchfork).
Co-headlining the evening is Visible Cloaks, the ambient duo from Portland who build worlds out of fragmented snatches of distorted speech, among other arresting raw materials. Their albums feature beguiling landscapes “where machines talk and muted light suffuses even the remotest of places”, landscapes that conjure “exhilaration, weightlessness, a feeling that one is flying through clouds spitting bursts of lightning that pose no threat and offer amazing spectacles of light” (PopMatters).
This rare live set will be Oliver Coates’s only solo performance in the United States this year, as well as Visible Cloaks’s only show in NYC in 2018, so don’t miss your chance to hear them in our intimate space!
Shelley’s on Zenn-La was made between the Elephant and Castle neighborhood of London and a future dreamscape. In this realm, outside of time and space, Shelley’s Laserdome — a once–legendary late–80s/early–90s nightclub in the industrial town of Stoke-on-Trent in the north of England — can simultaneously exist on the fictional planet of Zenn-La, and can house a devotional, alien ritual of early UK rave culture, pioneering IDM, and deep minimalism.
Much of the album’s construction extends from specific, self-imposed ambitions: particular palettes applied to individual creative ideas. These limitations become limitless manifestations of theme: two bass lines running in parallel (one cello, one synth), synthesized waveforms phasing with bowed acoustic drones and chords, synth sequences in nonstandard tuning sitting against folk melodies in standard tuning. Coates made a lot of the music for Shelley’s in Renoise, composing drum sequences in hexadecimal numbers and pencil–drawn waveforms, and cementing specificity in the intricate, intelligent dance machinations.
Some of Shelley’s tracks veer into and across FM synthesis. “I like hearing how one tone is enriched by another tone modulating the first, resulting in gleaming sets of new harmonics”, says Coates. “I started thinking about placing live cello playing into a chain of antagonism resulting in sounds I found beautiful.” This instinct to poetically process sounds in real life (“I’d sit on the tube, thinking ‘I’d remove the low end on that, compress that, add reverb to that.’”) gives Shelley’s an exploratory feel, both guided and unbound, autodidactic by undoing.
Shelley’s opens with “Faraday Monument”, which matches the enigmatic precedent of the Brutalist box in London that the track is named after. Chrysanthemum Bear’s vocals oscillate over “A Church”, singing lyrics to melt metal and minds. Large spaces adjacent to small enclosed ones house the voice of Malibu, who reads poetry within “Norrin Radd Dreaming”. “Cello Renoise” is built upon the image of two drummers playing to one click track as if in different booths. The great flautist Kathryn Williams recreated MIDI parts to end Shelley’s as a “Perfect Apple With Silver Mark”.
Cellist, composer, and producer Oliver Coates has been an artist in residency at London’s Southbank Centre and received the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award. Coates has contributed to the recordings of Radiohead and collaborated with Laurie Spiegel and John Luther Adams. He has also been commissioned for string and electronic arrangements by visual artist Lawrence Lek, recorded with composer Jonny Greenwood on the scores for The Master and Phantom Thread, and collaborated with musician Mica Levi on the 2016 album Remain Calm.
Oliver Coates’s Shelley’s on Zenn-La is available on LP, CD, and digital formats.
Visible Cloaks are the Portland–based musicians Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile. Using software–based composition rooted in randomization, MIDI-translation, and chance operations, the duo has established an improbable humanist mode of music from esoteric processes.
Following their self–titled debut album, Visible Cloaks offered Reassemblage, an album simultaneously honoring the post-Yellow Magic Orchestra school of avant musical adventure and diverging from it. Veering from the paths cleared by Japanese and Italian electronic pop and ambient artists of the mid 80s and early 90s, Reassemblage established Visible Cloaks’s own camp in a forest of deep sound canopied by trees grown from synthetic seeds.
The sound represented on Lex is webbed with sculptural arrangements and interpolated by the sounds of alien speech. These strange and serene utterances were created by Doran feeding a chain of multiple dialects and accents through a language translation software to create an auditory poetry of an evolved place and time. Lex features both the final version of this process and earlier, simplified experiments with it (“Keys”).
“The idea — building on ‘fourth world’ or ‘global village’ type concepts — was to create a projected language that was a fusion of many”, Doran explains. “The result was a very disorienting form of non-language that amplifies the lapses in meaning that occur with the inaccuracy of auto-translation software.”
Permutate Lex, a companion short film to Lex made by Visible Cloaks in collaboration with artist Brenna Murphy (who also created the artwork for Reassemblage and several virtualist videos for the album), is an integral counterpart, both visualizing an aesthetic alive with human form and guiding the sonic experience of the first five pieces: “Wheel”, “Frame”, “Transient”, “Keys”, and title track “Lex”.
“World”, the longest piece presented on Lex, is redrawn from a generative composition originally produced for an installation Doran made with Murphy. The original work incorporates LFOs and randomized MIDI-information, and was intended to variate indefinitely. In this fixed version, “World” provides a more conclusive view into the impossible musical environments Visible Cloaks make real. Longer than any track on Reassemblage, “World” expresses the deepening, patient intimations suggested by Lex.
Doran says Lex “attempts to communicate the essence of a world distant enough that it can’t be captured or comprehended from the present, appearing only surreal and inscrutable”. The statement reveals a broader musical philosophy fueling this new moment; an awakened voice woven through complex melodic shapes and phrases establishes communication between listeners and the unknown, here presented by Visible Cloaks as sounds coloring the very edge of the envisionable.
Visible Cloaks’s Lex is available December 8 in LP and digital formats. An exclusive import CD version of Lex featuring the audio of Permutate Lex — made specially for Visible Cloaks’s recent Japanese tour with Sugai Ken — is now available in limited quantities via RVNG.