2013 Top 10s & 20s
The Knells' The Knells
Spotlight 11

John Luther Adams
Astro Sonic
Mark Cetilia
Ulises Conti
Stephen Cornford
Exercise One
Stavros Gasparatos
Rael Jones
The Knells
Lord Echo
Selaxon Lutberg
Martin & Berg
Josh Mason
Ron Morelli
One Far West
Orange Yellow Red
Piano Interrupted
Oleg Poliakov
Saffronkeira + Massa
Scarlet Youth
Burkhard Stangl
Peter Van Hoesen
Vatican Shadow

Compilations / Mixes
EPM Selected Vol. 2
My Love For You Is Analog.
OFF To ADE 2013
Tempo Dreams Vol. 2
Transit 2

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Fighting Lion
Kyle Fosburgh
Fre4knc / Nuage
Rezo Glonti
Ishan Sound
Pennygiles & Phil Tangent
Dominic Petrie
Sontag Shogun
Thrash Pilot

Mark Cetilia: {Impact + Aftermath}
Estuary Ltd.

Mem1: Anticipations
Radical Matters Editions

Mem1: Suspensions
Radical Matters Editions

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 electroacoustic 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.

{Impact + Aftermath}, Mark Cetilia's solo outing (available in a letterpress-printed edition of 200 copies) features two pieces, both of them recorded live in Providence, Rhode Island but on different dates in different locations, that manipulate inaudible signals within the electromagnetic spectrum as source material.

Recorded at Third Mind, Granoff Center for the Arts on April 5, 2012, “Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma)” is a thirty-five-minute setting that, if not listened to via headphones, will only start to become audible after about three minutes. That nearly silent beginning is an integral part of the overall design, however, as Cetilia uses software-defined radio and electronics to generate a mass of sound that builds incrementally in size, volume, and intensity over the course of its half-hour-plus duration. In simplest terms, the material hews to the standard narrative arc of rising action, climax, and denouement. Gradually the elements flood the aural space with a combustible, rippling mass of carefully controlled chaos that crests at the twenty-seven-minute mark. At that juncture, tension-and-release comes into play, as subsequent, rather industrial-like surges follow the seeming climax, though they turn out to be teasing gestures, after which a well-managed decompression follows to bring the piece to a ringing close.

The second piece, “Palinopsia,” begins as quietly as the first though there are significant differences between them. Produced using analog modular, shortwave radio, and electronics and recorded at R.K. Projects, “Palinopsia” situates itself within a higher register of warbly, high-frequency sounds; there's also a programmatic dimension to the piece, as it was created in response to a silent screening of New York-based video artist Naho Taruishi's Corner Projection No. 2. Soundwise, the ghostly material eschews the dramatic trajectory of “Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma),” opting instead to remain at a generally low-level volume and activity level throughout its twenty-three minutes.

Obviously Mark's release, though satisfying on its own terms, doesn't benefit from the instrumental richness and contrast that Laura's cello brings to the Mem1 material and is thus a purer work by comparison. In place of the drifting quality that's at times present during Suspensions and Anticipations, {Impact + Aftermath} unfolds with severe focus and deliberation as its material hews unwaveringly to its predetermined pathways.

December 2013