2013 Artist Picks
Jane Ira Bloom

Wataru Abe
Benoît Pioulard
Jane Ira Bloom
Blu Mar Ten
Matti Bye
Maile Colbert
Viv Corringham
Ensemble Economique
Karlheinz Essl
Farthest South
Ghost Bike
Rafael Anton Irisarri
The Jaydes
Tristan Louth-Robins
Chloë March
Lubomyr Melnyk
Mental Overdrive
Ed Osborn
Xenia Pestova
Sicker Man
Thee Silver Mt. Zion M. O.
Ken Thomson
Otto A Totland
Vitiello + Berg

Compilations / Mixes
Best of Poker Flat 2013
Evolution of the Giraffe
Danny Howells
Missing Fragments

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Richard J. Birkin
DJ Bone
Akira Kosemura
Fabrice Lig
Lilies on Mars
Nian Dub
Snoqualmie Falls
Strong Souls

Ed Osborn: Stone North
Estuary Ltd.

Estuary Ltd. follows up its recent {Impact + Aftermath} release by Mem1 member Mark Cetilia with another bold collection, this one the first first full-length album from Ed Osborn since 1989. Presented in a distinctive letterpress-printed sleeve and issued in a numbered edition of 300, the forty-three-minute release {Stone North} presents three live recordings, each piece different in character, instrumentation, and length, with the shortest five minutes and the longest twenty-six. They are, to be sure, challenging experimental works and not always easy listening either. They're also fascinating explorations of the range of sounds that conventional and unconventional instruments are capable of producing.

Fittingly titled after Shaker community members Elisha D'Alembert Blakeman and Tabitha Babbitt, who respectively invented a single-stringed tabletop instrument called the “piano violin” (patented in 1871) and the circular saw in 1810, “In Memoriam Elisha Blakeman & Tabitha Babbitt” (1989-92) was realized live in the studio by Osborn and Brenda Hutchinson. In keeping with Blakeman's creation, the two used skis to bow across a pair of electric skis laid flat, resulting in five minutes of monstrous scrapes whose reverberant residue dissipates into the extended pauses following each pass. As daunting as such a description might sound, the piece itself is generally easy on the ears, especially when it's performed in such a way that it grows progressively quieter and more peaceful as it unfolds.

Osborn realized 1992's “Guitar Mechanical” by laying the guitar flat and playing it from above with pickups in each hand, pickups in this case encased in cylindrical metal containers so that they also could serve as slides. The result is eleven minutes of prickly, spider-like thrum and shudder whose waves sometimes crash aggressively ashore, in a manner of speaking. Dispersed across the stereo field into separable halves, the sound masses charge, their attack sometimes delivered in a hocketing formation and their speed of attack modulating between slow and fast.

Composed in 2009, the long-form title track was performed by Osborn in one take using live electronics and tabletop guitar, with the latter's tones produced by E-bow and slide and the tones processed and delayed in evolving manner. The creaking sound mass in this case crawls, its arc rising and falling in seeming slow-motion and its metallic timbres metamorphosizing as they writhe. While the pitch-shifting at times calls Ligeti to mind, the rather creepy result could pass for a recording of the amplified communications within an insect colony far below ground. If the soundtrack for Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey ever went missing, Osborn's piece would be an especially good choice to accompany the colour-saturated sequence where Dave Bowman hurtles across the vast expanses of space.

January 2014