Miki Yui
Boundless solar oscillations in exquisite cycle; this new record from Miki Yui is as playful as it is mesmerizing.
Mills by Miki Yui on Cusp Editions
Mills by Miki Yui on Cusp Editions

Cuspeditions warmly welcomes Japanese artist Miki Yui to the label, with a work delicately crafted from field recordings, synthesizer, solar oscillator and sampler. Yui is known for the unique nature of her music (apparent also in past collaborations with Rolf Julius, Rie Nakajima and Klaus Dinger), and whilst Mills retains the subtlety and sensuousness of her earlier works, these new coherent and lucid compositions are charged with a narrative tension we’ve not heard before.

Dial Sun opens the album as an early morning call. Sounds flicker and flop, not a care in the world, amidst scraping and intimate electronics, escalating toward a frenzied outro.

The subdued unwind of Granite follows on in a laminose exploration of metallic samples upon fragmented melody, fleeting and windswept as a lost memory. The hollow-sounding language of sputtering synthesizer and warped samples creates a rhythmic strangeness in the album’s shortest piece, Salute.

Otherworldly overtones with a cooler feel characterize Mica where long elegant feedback slides between dissonant swells, thick and granular as though emerging from electronic canyons.

Solareo is the album’s major work at 13 minutes long, and invites the listener to meander through dense almost reggae like chord-beds, slow pulses and a raucous of bizarre synthetic glitches.

The cyclic reprise of Dial Moon returns to the playfulness of the opening track with dancing rhythms and turbulent hooks. Tones like whispers fade into quietude, toward a silence warm and balsam.

Miki Yui’s harnessing of solar energy, both materially and symbolically, feels like a joyous salute to the sun in all its manifestations. We couldn’t be happier releasing it into the spring!

released May 1, 2018 on LP / CD / DL
music by miki yui 2016 – 2017
mastering by rashad becker
front cover: hebarium from kenya by stefan schneider
many thanks to all of you for supporting my music!
all rights reserved © miki yui 2018

Stochastic Moods
David Ross
Unpredictable micro-rhythms awkwardly roaming across an electronic wasteland.
Stochastic Moods by David Ross on Cusp Editions
Stochastic Moods by David Ross on Cusp Editions
Stochastic Moods by David Ross on Cusp Editions
Stochastic Moods by David Ross on Cusp Editions

In ‘A Conceptual Framework for Consciousness’, Dr. Joachim Keppler elaborates on Quantum Stochastic Electrodynamic (SED) theoryto suggest that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe rather than a material creation of the human brain.

Functioning as a resonant stochastic oscillator, the brain modulates with an all-pervasive radiation field of infinite energy and potential, termed the zero- point field (ZPF). The brain selectively filters resonant frequencies from the field’s spectrum into states of relative stability or balance situations that come to comprise our experience of consciousness.

Keppler compares the ZPF to Prana, the omnipresent ‘vital principle’ or life-force described in Hindu philosophy. It is believed that all forces of the human mind, (indeed the universe), are modifications of the life-force Prana. Ancient Indian philosophy and SED consciousness theory seem to share the notion that mind and matter are based on the same universal substrate and that their interdependence causes matter to shape consciousness and vice-versa.

I started thinking of improvising with control-voltage electronics as a parallel to these processes, regarding the electrical field as a metaphor for the zero- point field or vital principle.

Composing with volatile analogue systems now seemed an endeavour to distil stable voltage-states from the infinitely random potential of the electrical field, to determine audible balance situations for musical contemplation. Stochastic Moods is a paean to the joy of experiencing a pleasantly unexpected thought or feeling as it enters into consciousness.

D. Ross 6/03/2017

Composed and Performed by David Ross
Instruments: Davestation / Drosscillator
Mastering: Rashad Becker
Photography: Judith Goodman
Art Direction: Ecka Mordecai
Graphic Design: Lewis McLean

Asakusa Follies
Clive Bell
Asakusa Follies is a luminous scene of interplay between melody, breath, and the shakuhachi flute.
Asakusa Follies by Clive Bell on Cusp Editions
Asakusa Follies by Clive Bell on Cusp Editions
Asakusa Follies by Clive Bell on Cusp Editions

Following on from the initial triptych of electro-acoustic releases on the Cuspeditions imprint, Clive Bell’s Asakusa Follies shifts the listener away from the studio and toward the player himself. Breath is a central theme in the album where a punctuation of purring, spitting, flicking and gasping intersects the tones, overtones and noise of the shakuhachi.

The opening composition Ultramodern Variety makes it immediately apparent that this is no traditional exploration of the Japanese bamboo flute but something altogether unique. Bell’s personal shakuhachi technique is highlighted in the four solo pieces of the album, and reveals a revisionist approach to the instrument which still honours it’s traditional elements. The distant low of the album opener flutters with multiphonics, deep in tone and subdued. Golden Bat Cigarettes celebrates the meeting of breath and bamboo where the mouth and hands on wood buzz then snaps in exhale before drifting toward eerie overtones hanging amidst silence.

The two closing pieces, Five Story Pagoda and Idle Reminiscence, explore the shrill upper registers of the flute that keen in and out of silence, melody and breath-noise shifting the ears from inside Clive Bell’s mouth, to hearing from somewhere afar. A trio of shakuhachi flutes interweave to create Silk Factories, which float gently in and out of unison. Pi-Saw is double tracked on The Red Sash Society where chords abruptly drop into one another, wavering in modulation.

The Scarlet Gang is a resting point and site of contemplation. Hmong Khene is here warm and melancholic and gives the listener a moment to bask in a sensitive cycling sequence of chords. Erotic Grotesque weaves more overdubbed shakuhachi, overblown and textural with two distinct melodies intertwining as lovers in dark and empty space.

The album takes inspiration from Yasunari Kawabata’s 1930 novel The Scarlet Gang of
Asakusa. In Kawabata’s novel, the reader is lead through the vibrant and hedonistic Tokyo district by a wandering narrator, and this sense of wandering is captured in Bell’s improvisations :the shakuhachi is a restless and shifting path to follow toward contemplative calm in the bulbous swelling of reeds.

released June 14, 2017

Clive Bell: shakuhachi flutes, pi-saw free reed flutes & hmong khene
Recorded November 2015 by Grant Showbiz at Street-Level III Produced by Sylvia Hallett and Clive Bell
Shibori textiles and art direction by Ecka Mordecai
Photographs by Jamie Robinson
Graphic design by Lewis Mclean
Mastered by Rashad Becker

Titles inspired by the 1930 novel, The Scarlet Gang Of Asakusa, Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972).

Several Circles
Richard Scott
Richard Scott’s ‘Several Circles’ is a seamless blend of improvised performances and forensically detailed electronic music that bristles, writhes and grows like some mutated living organism.
Several Circles by Richard Scott on Cusp Editions
Several Circles by Richard Scott on Cusp Editions

Recorded between 2013 and 2015 in both Manchester and Berlin, this vital new album is a combination of instant, improvised performances and highly structured acousmatic compositions that have been, in Richard’s own words, “microscopically edited, constructed, layered and mixed over many hours in the studio.” Far from being a dry, academic exercise, Richard’s music shower the ears with delicious and incessantly changing sound pools.

Tracks like ‘Song for Ghosts’, ‘Noodles’ and ‘Remains’ showcase Scott’s pure improvisational skill (full of squiggling saw waves, sputtering sine tones & gritty feedback loops) & although the music is far removed from the Techno community of Berlin, some sort of deranged, uncanny version has penetrated the out-rhythmic freewheeling of tracks like ‘Softgrid’ and ‘Grinder’. At the other end of the spectrum pieces like ‘Surface Music’ and the titular ‘Several Circles’ are cavernously composed, echoing the depth and drama of his emphatic accompaniment and production on Twinkle3 album previously issued by Cusp.

In recent years, music created using Modular Synthesizers has come to dominate much of the landscape of experimental electronic music, with a glut of archival material from institutes like GRM being reissued and the popularity and accessibility of the instrumentation drawing a new generation of fanatical upstarts all releasing albums entirely crafted on their chosen kit. In this revitalized, arguably over populated scene, Richard Scott’s ‘Several Circles’ arrives as a stark and distinct anomaly, speaking volumes of his mastery of this customized analogue equipment.

The album is a vibrant and exceptional portrait of Richard’s voice as a musician, unencumbered by restrictive themes or fixed compositional techniques, instead offering an all-encompassing view of his practices that, through their very intuition, sound cohesive. It’s an entry in to the already auteristic cannon of Cusp Editions that will surely be held in a pride of place.

released June 4, 2016

Mastered and Cut by Rashad Becker at D&M
Design by John Powell-Jones
Photography by Asmayani Kusrini

Debris In Lower Earth Orbit
Twinkle3 feat. Sidsel Endresen
Twinkle3 have teamed up with Sidsel Endresen, Norwegian singer, avantgarde pioneer and ECM recording artist. The result is Debris In Lower Earth Orbit, a graceful, yet precarious dance through the weightless slipstream of orbital flotsam and jetsam.
Debris In Lower Earth Orbit by Twinkle3 feat. Sidsel Endresen on Cusp Editions
Debris In Lower Earth Orbit by Twinkle3 feat. Sidsel Endresen on Cusp Editions
Debris In Lower Earth Orbit by Twinkle3 feat. Sidsel Endresen on Cusp Editions
Debris In Lower Earth Orbit by Twinkle3 feat. Sidsel Endresen on Cusp Editions

The core trio of Richard Scott (analogue synthesizer and electronics), David Ross (Drosscillator, kantele, mbira) and Clive Bell (shakuhachi and other woodwind) conjured 7 distinct sonic landscapes through an intuitive and delicate interplay first honed on their debut for ini.itu ‘Let’s Make A Solar System’. Sidsel’s singular interpretation of this material narrates a melancholy, stream of consciousness style wordplay. It was David Sylvian who brought the trio into contact with Sidsel and driving alone across the lonesome northwest recalls the first instance the album poured into his ears from the car:

“As the first buzz of static and the strains of wind instruments, whose cultural heritage belonged to another continent entirely, filled the vehicle, as Sidsel sang with a soulful melodiousness, an ancient lament for lost souls like myself, hungry ghosts, and those found in remote gas stations, featureless structures illuminated white against a reddening sky, the otherworldliness of the landscape was returned to me. No longer blind or indifferent to the ancient rock formations, the bulky mass, the scale, the striations of stone, gradations of colour changing by degrees animated by the irrepressible sun. The black cactus with yellow plumage, the voluminous boulders, isolated, stranded, graffitied rocks and stones. The coarse granular sands, gritty, unrefined, populated by a stubborn stubble of shrubbery, an almost colour, not quite, failing to pick up on the improbability of their being present at all as an excuse for absence. I traversed a world in which both ancient and modern co-exist and there was beauty and sorrow at every turn. A similar journey will be undertaken by any listener of this remarkable recording.”

As Sylvian rightly states, an absorbing awe and cloaking strangeness both ancient and present permeates each of the small rituals Twinkle3 evoke, with Sidsel voicing a bewitching pre-language that ruminates deeply in each of the pieces. One can expect to have their senses hushed, yet amplified, their imagination ignited, yet warmed by nostalgia and throughout its duration enriched by a magical and wondrous aura.

Sidsel Endresen (voice)
Richard Scott (electronics)
David Ross (Drosscillator, kantele, mbira)
Clive Bell (shakuhachi and other woodwind)

Lu Katavist

The striking first entry into the CUSP label’s discography comes from Cologne-based sound artist Lu Katavist, employing a variety of synthesizer modules controlled with the Haken Continuum Fingerboard to create a cavernous tapestry of deeply spatial and spectral soundscapes.

Lu Katavist (real name Luka Höfler) approach to the material derived on ‘Inburst’ has been wholly improvisational, but not in any sense traditional. Rather than acquiring any sort of mastery of the equipment chosen to build the sounds heard, Höfler has opted to adopt an almost automatic writing approach to sculpting the material, which he describes as ‘blurring the lines between creating and listening’. The aesthetic goals behind ‘Inburst’ are two fold; to introduce the Western ear to timbres and melodies more associated with lesser heard xenharmonic scales and to inspire a minds eye landscape for the listener to populate with their own experiences, focusing on scattered and layered frequency bands and melody to create a vibrant and evolving mise-en-scene to paint with.

‘Drop Zerdehnung’ is the first of two long form pieces. Its 11-minute journey beginning with disquieting bell chimes and blocks of stillness, that throughout its crawl slowly begin to amass darkened slabs of fizzling menace, hazed by an insect like chirping. In this mass of bass and texture, Höfler weaves multiple frequency bands in and out of pitch that sound uncannily like moans, that mask the buried melody, hidden under these shimmering textures.

Sandwiched by two vastly different atmospheres, opener ‘Slaft Inburst’ morphs warped electronic brass with tangled webs of static, and ‘Needle Sandwich’ searing the listener’s ears with shafts of coruscating sine tones that shriek like violins. ‘Drop Zerdehnung’ is comparatively subdued and reveals Höfler more in his role as observer that provocateur.

The second side is largely formed of a triptych of works mining a similar vein, containing raucous bursts of stinging white noise that punctuate the icy stillness in a hair raising fashion. All three instances anchored by bubbling submarinal tones that evoke Höfler’s bass music roots with his Elfish Echo IDM project. ‘Fingerzeugung – The Coagulated Sea’ is the second long form excursion and a fittingly grandiose closer to a mesmeric record. ‘Undult’ acts as a precursor to the piece, beginning with spidery chimes of manipulated zithers that wink like sparkles of light on a rolling wave. The final tracks bleed together, a tide that blooms and crashes in around ghosted, gravely electronics and built of a swathe of serene yet emotive waveforms redemptive in colour.

Like all of the pieces that make up the record, Höfler lets his machines voice their strange beauty in an organic manner where the delicacies of the sonics are richly revealed. It marks an assured start to a label that aims to explore the outer limits and in Lu Katavist one of its finest navigators.

Released September 10, 2015
Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M Pressed at Pallas
Design by John Powell-Jones