CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

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CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby Blemished on Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:02 am

Germany's Groenland records - who handle Holger Czukay's solo material and have just released a great 5 CD career retrospective of Holger's work called Cinema - are re-releasing Plight & Premonition and Flux & Mutability on a double CD and vinyl. Due out on June 22.

Spotted this via Norman Records in the UK. Link for the this and pre-order is https://www.normanrecords.com/records/170580-holger-czukay-david-sylvian-plight-premonition-flux-mutability

Don't know anything yet about whether this has been re-mastered or re-mixed in any way.

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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby Blemished on Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:07 pm

David has tweeted the official news release from Greenland about this re-release.

Confirms that the version of P&P is a 2002 remix by DS and that all tracks have been re-mastered. Packaging by Chris Biggs/DS and with new, unseen photos by Yuka Fukii. David Toop has contributed an essay too.

Still no idea whether any of the music recorded in recent years will emerge - and I wonder whether his recent time in Berlin for example was linked to Hildur Guðnadóttir being there? But glad to see that he is keeping his work in the public eye and offering up new vinyl/remastered editions.


Instruments abandoned to the earth and woods
David Toop

A spiralling winter ghost, translucent fabric, muddied and twisted, discarded net curtain perhaps, lies among leaf tangle and the crocodilian forms of tree fragments, reminiscent of antique spirit photographs of ectoplasm. In 1988, the year that Plight & Premonition was first released, I recorded a conversation with David Sylvian. He spoke of his ability to create atmospheres: “I like photographs that capture a moment. The mood that they create changes with your mood – with the mood of the viewer. They are static but they can create different kinds of emotion within you. That’s a good description of an Auerbach painting. It’s like movement frozen within a framework. That’s what is visible.” He also spoke of fishing in the dark, searching within fluid movement, the frame ambiguous, nothing visible.

“But all the same,” wrote Andrey Tarkovsky, “I have a feeling that there must be other ways of working with sound, ways which would allow one to be more accurate, more true to the inner world which we try to reproduce on screen; not just the author’s inner world, but what lies within the world itself, what is essential to it and does not depend on us.”

This speculative thought is taken from the ‘Music and noises’ section of Sculpting In Time, Tarkovsky’s collected notes on cinema first published in 1986. A few paragraphs earlier in the same section, the sense of a radical quest, a rethinking of sound, is established with the following passage: “It may be that in order to make the cinematic image sound authentically, in its full diapason, music has to be abandoned. For strictly speaking the world as transformed by cinema and the world as transformed by music are parallel, and conflict with each other. Properly organised in a film, the resonant world is musical in its essence – and that is the true music of cinema.”

There were no thoughts of cinema, screens or abandoning music in the winter of early 1986 as David Sylvian arrived in Köln, ostensibly to contribute (though never to record) a vocal for “Music In the Air”, the final track on Holger Czukay’s Rome Remains Rome LP. Bare trees lined the route from Köln airport to Can’s studio, a mattress-lined converted cinema in Weilerswist. Outside: the “cake-layered earth, patches of dirtied snow, trickles of water, the dried, dusty remains of autumn.” An Anselm Kiefer landscape, bitter cold defying the studio heaters. 1986 was the beginning of glasnost but as I listen again to “Premonition (giant empty iron vessel)” I divine in its shortwave chatter, ominous ground bass and rolling mist of cycling chords the Cold War slipping away – an elegiac urgency flexing between hope and dread.

This is one way to hear it, the hindsight strategy. On its release in 1988, delayed by record company recalcitrance, the emotional effect was, as I recall, more personal, more wrapped up in the floating bliss of it, its yearning and searching. Then there was the history that might give it context, a brief history comprised only of approximations: Jon Gibson’s Visitations, Basil Kirchin’s two Worlds Within Worlds LPs, Alvin Curran’s Songs and Views From the Magnetic Garden, Brian Eno’s On Land and from 1969, Canaxis 5 by Technical Space Composer’s Crew (actually Holger Czukay with Rolf Dammers). All of these records were beatless, atmospheric, using techniques that we would now describe as sampling, all uncertain of a place within established categories of music unless they claimed new territory for themselves, as with Eno and ambient. As records, they opened windows to the sounds outside and the sounds inside, rendering the distinction meaningless.

Plight & Premonition, Flux & Mutability, both titles are predicated on instability. Meanings are equally mutable, perhaps the beginning of a spiritual journey, a climate of uncertainty, the experience of improvisation, a door opening (that may quickly close again). That first nocturnal session in the Can studio began unconsciously, or at least without initial awareness that music was being made, Sylvian enjoying the opportunity to play a pump organ, then growing aware of a slippage in the room as Czukay played orchestral samples through the fold back system: “I fell into a trance.” Ethereal sounds looped through the space. He moved to the piano, searching for something concrete. After ten or fifteen minutes he found it, only to hear Czukay tell him to move on: “He’d only wanted the process, the uncertainty, the ambiguity of the searching out of ideas.” The night wore on; as soon as fixity or some compositional motif crept in, so the machines would be taken out of record, as if establishing an equilibrium between the transience of making and the indelibility of recording.

They stopped shortly before dawn. Later the following day they listened, feeling they had touched on something: “A form of music that seemed to have been created while we were absent by instruments abandoned to the earth and the woods, sounded by the coarse winter elements.” Another evening’s work ensued, this time they were acutely aware that awareness had to be treated with caution. The presence of the ‘musicians’ needed to flicker at the edge of absence; the imperative of the method being evocation rather than composition. Working alone, Czukay made headway with “Plight”, adding more material, a minor piano motif, flute samples, transitioning between sections with audible cuts, those trademark edits of his which jolted new worlds into being. “Premonition”, on the other hand, is heard as it was played, layered and spontaneous with no edits.

Flux & Mutability was recorded in the same studio after what Sylvian describes as his dispiriting solo tour of 1988. The setting had changed: a new mixing console, a recording engineer, new lighting: “Everything was brighter.” Jaki Liebezeit played a high-pitched, handheld drum (harmonized down in pitch), Michael Karoli added his guitar to the numerous guitar overdubs played by Sylvian and Czukay. Faced with instructions to reduce harmonic variations and expression, Marcus Stockhausen played incisive, poised flugelhorn. The feeling is clearer, more ‘musical’, perhaps more satisfying for those who like to have a road to follow.

But Plight & Premonition, Sylvian says, is one of the few works that he could actively return to and objectively enjoy as a listener. From the influence of film, musique concrète, and his admiration for Foley artists he was able to build a sense of non-linear narrative. The legacy can be heard in more recent recordings, such as When Loud Weather Buffeted Naoshima and Playing the Schoolhouse. “These are direct descendants of what was unearthed over a period of two nights,” he says, “animated by a primal spirit, in a converted cinema on the outskirts of Köln, over thirty odd years ago.”

All quotes from David Sylvian unless otherwise indicated.

TRACK LISTING
A1. Plight (The Spiralling Of Winter Ghosts)
B1. Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel)
C1. Flux (A Big, Bright, Colourful World)
D1. Mutability (A New Beginning Is In The Offing)
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby javier on Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:58 am

I assume the new mix of P&P is the tracks found on the second disc of Camphor.

A nice reinterpretation, I felt a little more lush and immersive than the original, although the absence of the spirally whirling sounds on Plight was surprising.
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby Kev in P.B. on Thu May 03, 2018 12:34 pm

Just want to mention that this is a 2 cd re-master combining both albums, and when I went to Norman Records to order it was sold-out. I wrote them and this lovely individual at their site told me they expected a few more and advised me to set-up an alert w/their site to be notified if they got more copies from the distributor. THEN (just a few minutes later) she wrote me again to tell me she'd contacted the distributor and that they would have additional copies available for pre-order (a double cd and expected to be out on June 22nd). I ordered one, and I don't know if Norman Records is the exclusive outlet for this album/cd release or if the "big boys" (Amazon, Wally World) are involved, but I'd like to politely suggest pre-ordering it through Norman Records (UK). For about $21including postage/handling (from UK to US, which is cheap) it should be in my Massive & Strong hands (catch that reference?) by mid-summer. After today I know where I'll be going for future purchases.
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby Quiet Visitor on Fri May 11, 2018 7:14 am

The music is now available from Burning Shed too: https://burningshed.com/tag/david%20sylvian?utm
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby Blemished on Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:30 am

David has an interview in the forthcoming issue (number 42) of Electronic Sound magazine discussing this re-release.

Not sure if it will cover any other ground, but this is the first interview in some years as far as I am aware.

The link is for the full monty version (with a vinyl record), but they will also have the magazine only and PDF version on sale soon.

https://electronicsound.co.uk/product/issue-42-vinyl-bundle/
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby silentwings on Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:11 pm

Thanks for that information Blemished - this will be a ‘must read’.
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby javier on Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:05 am

Looking forward to people's reviews of this release - please share.
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby Haldeman Gracie on Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:36 pm

Got this today.

Erm, I welcome the release, but personally it did nothing for me. I already have all of the material, save perhaps for a remastering of F + M. But, very minor sonic upgrade aside, it feels hard to get excited about a remaster of a 38 minute piece when (imho) we've already heard a 5 1/2 minute remix of it, which blew the original away. And I misread the press announcment, thinking this would be the Camphor remix in full for F + M. Alas...

It's also in the only thing worse than a digipack - a double digipack. They are about as durable as a prawn cracker.
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby javier on Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:55 am

Haldeman Gracie wrote:But, very minor sonic upgrade aside, it feels hard to get excited about a remaster of a 38 minute piece when (imho) we've already heard a 5 1/2 minute remix of it, which blew the original away. And I misread the press announcment, thinking this would be the Camphor remix in full for F + M. Alas...


So to clarify, this new remaster contains the same mixes of Plight and Premonition as Camphor, but the original mixes of Flux and Mutability, right?

I thought that on Camphor, the 5 1/2 minute version of Mutability was simply a remastered version of the original, as it sounds much clearer/crisper but essentially the same mix. Have I missed something? Is there a different mix of Mutability?
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Re: CD/Vinyl re-release of Sylvian/Czukay P&P/F&M

Postby Haldeman Gracie on Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:48 am

javier wrote:So to clarify, this new remaster contains the same mixes of Plight and Premonition as Camphor, but the original mixes of Flux and Mutability, right?


Yes. Files for P & P are of identical size, and sound the same to me as the Camphor versions. Files for F + M are about 5% larger on this release than on the original CD, which is the 'remastering' I would think. A remastering that, imho, is almost practically pointless. It's a miniscule upgrade in 2018 from 1988, but to a place far far behind where we were already in 2002.

javier wrote:I thought that on Camphor, the 5 1/2 minute version of Mutability was simply a remastered version of the original, as it sounds much clearer/crisper but essentially the same mix. Have I missed something? Is there a different mix of Mutability?


No, the Camphor liner notes state that Mutability was a remix (not that quality control on Camphor was great!). And the five and a half minute 'detail' of Mutability on Camphor was not only remixed, but so much so that I personally have a completely different opinion of it. Night and day. A textbook lesson on what differences a remix can make to (what should be) a fairly uncomplicated piece of music.

It was obvious from about three seconds in on the new disc that this was sadly the old version. Not only was the Camphor detail 'crisper', it brought out details completely buried in the original. And not only brought them out, but put them out front. The melody line that plays out the 'detail' into the fade can only faintly be heard at all in the original. It's full of new detail right from the beginning. And the piece in remixed form seems so much more propulsive, a moving piece compared to a static original. Here, of course, we are in the realm of taste, and as I feel the effect is so different on both, it's entirely reasonable that many would prefer the original, especially if they played it a lot between 1988 - 2002.

For the example above, listen to both versions from 4:27 on. The piece, as remixed, lurches to some sort of finale here. The African Flute is buried in the original mix, but it's very much the lead solo instrument on Camphor.

Such a shame we don't have the whole thing in the later Sylvian remix. Although for all I know, DS may have felt only the opening needed fixing. Whatever your preference on the mix, the 2002 detail still sounds far crisper than the 2018 remaster.

I should add that this new release mentions nothing in the notes or the discs themselves about any remixing or remastering. The latter could be assumed these days for anything pre-1991, but the former really needed mentioning.
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