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FACT mix 276: snd

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  • The uncompromising digital minimalists educate and illuminate, with the help of Urban Tribe, Morton Feldman, Eleh and Carl Craig
  • published
    22 Aug 2011
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FACT mix 276 is by snd.

It’s difficult to adequately convey our excitement about this. Mat Steel and Mark Fell began their collaboration as snd in 1998, and over the last 13 years they’ve cultivated one of the most singular and compelling bodies of work in the history of post-rave electronic music. Their most arresting works have invariably been their self-released 12″s and EPs, the first of which was ’98′s ‘Tplay’, the most recent 2008′s 4, 5, 6, but they’ve also released four albums to date, all quite remarkable: Cassette (1999), Stdio (2000) and Tenderlove (2002) on Mille Plateaux, Atavism (2009) on Raster-Noton. Digital minimalists of the most exacting and uncompromising kind, the duo don’t make dance music by any stretch of the imagination, though their records often reveal an awareness of, and an abstract engagement with, the imperatives of the club: behold the spidery avant-garage rhythms that characterise 4, 5, 6, or the opalescent techno synth shapes found all over Atavism.

The duo formed in Sheffield after meeting at art school, bonding over their shared love of house, techno and experimental music, and moreover their appreciation of the “highly focussed” label aesthetics of Wolfgang Voigt’s Studio 1 and Thomas Brinkmann’s Max Ernst. Determined to create a similarly steely, unyielding context for their own work, they began releasing 12″s on their own eponymous imprint, beginning with the aforementioned ‘Tplay’, which was packaged in the most opaque fashion imaginable, with no information on it save for a contact telephone number. After hearing Baby Ford play the 12″ out, Mille Plateaux owner Achim Szepanski called the number, beginning a relationship which would lead to the release of the aforementioned trilogy of LPs.

Following the release of Tenderlove, they began to spread their wings, making incursions into the art world as curators and artists both, instigating their Blir side project, remixing Ryuichi Sakamoto, fulfilling sound design commissions and playing live around the world, including a tour in support of Autechre (they reprised this relationship again in 2008). In their own words, their live performances “can be alienating, engaging, dynamic and engaging; each event a unique exploration of the relationship between performer, audience, software and context.”

When they returned in 2008 with the limited edition triple-pack 4,5,6, it sold out virtually overnight; Atavism followed soon a year later. Over the past two years the duo have been concentrating largely on solo ventures. Fell has been the most visible of the two, releasing the audio-visual work Attack On Silence (Line, 2008) and three albums in quick succession: UL8 (Editions Mego, 2010), Multistability (Raster-Noton, 2010) and Manitutshu, the latter composed from sounds that Fell had developed for use as presets in Errorsmith‘s recently unveiled synth for Native Instruments (they were rejected by NI at the last minute). ‘Kubu’/'Zikir’, a 12″ collaboration with Mego boss Peter Rehberg, was released just last week.

Their FACT mix is as authoritative and illuminating as you’d expect, exploring the full gamut of minimalism: from the work of such august artists as Morton Feldman and Catherine Christer Hennix through to the post-punk textures of Dome (Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis), via the ascetic drones of Eleh, the digital cut-ups of Oval, and Detroit techno both soaring (Carl Craig‘s Psyche track ‘Andromeda’) and punishing (Robert Hood‘s ‘Minus’) – that’s to speak only of the stuff that’s immediately familiar to us (be sure to click on the links in the tracklist for more information on each release). For those of you interested in electronic music at its most radical and reduced, Christmas has come early.






Tracklist:
Albert S. Bregman & Pierre A. Ahad - Demonstratio 27 (from Auditory Scene Analysis)
Catherine Christer Hennix – Central – Palace – Music (from Concertzender 06/06/05)
Mohammad Reza Mortazavi -  Liberation (from Green Hands)
EVOL – Three hundred grams of latex and steel in one day (from Three hundred grams of latex and steel in one day)
Einstürzende Neubauten – Vanadium-I-Ching (from Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T.)
General Magic – Nachbugzerlo (from Rechenkonig)
Morton Feldman – Rothko Chapel 4 (from Rothko Chapel – Why Patterns?)
Erkki Kurenniemi – Improvisation (from Äänityksiä: Recordings 1963-1973)
Eleh – Linear To Circular / Vertical Axis (from Location Momentum)
Dome – Airmail (from Dome)
Urban Tribe – T Cell (from Authorized Clinical Trials)
Nganasan – Shamanic Bear Session (from Siberia 1: Shamanic And Narrative Songs Of Siberian Arctic)
Robert Hood – Minus (from Internal Empire)
Martin Tétreault – Matériaux 2-2-2-2 A (from Le quatuor de tourne-disques)
Willem De Ridder – GOD (Grote Oto Derby) Part I (from GOD – Grote Oto Derby)
Gary Wilson – 6.4 = Make Out (from You Think You Really Know Me )
Hecker – Speculative Solution 2 (from Speculative Solution)
Tim Perkis & John Bischoff - Next Tone, Please (from Artificial Horizon: Music For New Software Instruments)
T.A.G.C. – E.P.M.D. (Eroto-Psycho Motor Disturbances) (from Meontological Research Record 2 Teste Tones)
Darren McClure – Thaw (from Unmoored)
Oval – Drift (from O – Disc 2)
Psyche - Andromeda (from Crackdown)

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