Press Release by David Stubbs
In a sense, “Miss Slipper/Lewes”, the new double sided 7” by Jono Podmore (Kumo, metamono, co-producer of Can’s “The Lost Tapes”) and Düsseldorf-based sound writer and performance artist Swantje Lichtenstein is as much a literary work as it is a musical release, a piece of sound art which charts the grey and still largely unexplored area between speech and studio as musical instrument, between poetry and the audio format. There’s a high-end visual dimension also – the cover is designed by sought after artist Michaela Eichwald.
There are just a handful of distant antecedents for the cosmological adventure in words-in-freedom this single represents, the first to be released on the reactivated Psychomat label in 20 years. Italian composer Luciano Berio’s “Theme (Ommagio A Joyce)”, for example, in which his then-wife Cathy Berberian reads a passage from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, which Berio then strategically scatters into a million electroacoustic fragments. Or Alvin Lucier’s “I Am Sitting In A Room”, in which the composer tape records a text explaining the task he has set himself, then plays it back into the room, re-recording it, then re-recording the re-recording, over and over, until only the resonant frequencies of the room are audible. Or there is the notorious Vimeo recording made of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” which preserves only the sonic elements cut out when the original track was compressed to fit the mp3 format.
“Miss Slipper/Lewes”, however, is something else again. Recorded at Jono’s in an emotional session in 2014, the day of the funeral of his friend the publisher Felix Hines (he receives a thanks in the artwork), it sees Swantje in neo-Dadaist spirit scan the room, grabbing any pieces of text lying around to create a whirlwind of spontaneous free verse which seeks to exceed the formality of poetry. “Miss Slipper” is taken from a piece of school text brought home by Jono’s daughter about her school art teacher, while “Lewes” is based on an annotated map of the English town containing directions from when metamono played there. Swantje speaks of “performative words, trying to write with sounds and words, not to mean anything in particular, yet it meant a lot . . . me and the mic, me-mic-cry or something like this.” These performances were then subject to what Jono describes as the “psychotropic mynde hexpansion of contemporary studio practice.” He subjected Swantje’s recorded speech to ring modulator and filter, then processed the resultant sonic multiplications further in the studio.
The results are a truly transporting resonance experience, one which takes you to the edge of verbal meaning, to the very meaning of meaning; a new form of dissemination, akin to alien chatter, the studio resonances and reverberations yielding Hubble telescopic beauty, a rich, electric galaxy of audio matter. Faintly intelligible chunks of sentence rear, than are atomised, regrouping in flying, atomic clusters, borne by the energy that’s liberated when you make more than just mere sense. These brief tracks take you to the edge of electronica’s orbit, the point where blue turns to black and gravity ceases to pull. Remixes will follow, from Pete Hope, Hairy Kipper, Jono’s colleague Professor Michael Beil (Professor of Elektronische Komposition, creating his first ever remix), Inky Blackness, Bastard Status, as well as Jono himself as Kumo. There’ll also be a digital release accompanying the 200 limited edition vinyl issue. For now, however, touch down the needle and experience something the like of which you have scarcely heard before. Be blasted into space.
Miss Slipper/Lewes is available from 6/3/2017 in 7” vinyl and download formats.
German distribution and mail order via A-musik in Cologne
Download and Mail Order available via Bandcamp