Fight Test EP
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Review: Ed Howard
Black Cherry
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Review: Tyler Martin
lowercase-sound 2002
The finest compilation of its kind...

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Shot of Love
Never was such ridiculous cover art so completely appropriate...

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May 2, 2003

Sonic Youth

May 1, 2003

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Soft Pink Truth
The Wind-Up Bird

April 30, 2003

Pale Horse and Rider
Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers

April 29, 2003

Set Fire to Flames
Various Artists

tobias c. van Veen


tobias c. van Veen is a sound and net artist, DJ, and writer. >>[He has been] enmeshed with musikal resistance culture since 1993, organising events in Vancouver from TAZ occupations to electronic gatherings, including audio curation of the 2002 Video-In Signal & Noise Festival, directing the 2001 Refrains: Music Politics Aesthetics UBC conference & curating the 'glitch &granular' evening of the 2002 New Forms Festival [] >>founder of the [ST] Collective,, and co-founder of >> Montreal correspondant for Butter magazine [], Literature Editor of Capital magazine [], Panarticon columnist @ Discorder [], and a resident critic for &; writes & >>net-art can be found on,, +, including 'Document 9-1-1' with ssiess;>>creates with work on Chronoplastics NYC, Austria's Kunstradio and CBC Outfront >>currently a researcher on the "Culture of Cities" Project at McGill University, where he is completing his MA in Communications & writing a book on the politics of anarcho-rave culture + plosive breath, [which] >> lives in Montreal, works at the Remote booking agency [] and likes pain >>"Mixing a passion for music, politics, and writing through his research as an academic and his musical-visual explorations, tobias works as a freelance multimedia photojournalist and plays as a conceptual artist." >>performing across the globe as a 3-deck techno DJ + the infusion of tricks, cut-ups, and experimental techniques – which has trans-migrated into conceptual scores for turntable experimentalism / current:

Top Ten Caveats, Or, Why I Write the Way I Do:

When I was asked to do a final, overall, this-is-it Top 10 I immediately posed a series of caveats. How could I possibly assemble a Top 10 Of All Time? I own thousands of records and CDs, and my musical tastes survey electronic music to punk, New Music to gamelan, avant-garde to jazz. Not only do I enjoy ambient, Detroit techno, house, electro, some trance, IDM, hardcore, and breaks, but I also have a personal relation to their developments: minimalisms of various kinds, clicks n' cuts, retro-revivals (electroclash, neo-Disco), hard techno of the one-bar looped variety, glitch and its ambient conjunctions, minimal and experimental drum n' bass... But then there's everything else: a real soft-spot for early psychedelic rock, including most of Pink Floyd's work (their studio techniques are the understated foundation for post-rock), the Beatles even, of course the Doors, out the other side to the Alan Parsons Project and Led Zeppelin. Then there's early metal—Black Sabbath—and early rock itself: Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis; and the experimental tradition all the way to the New York school: Terry Riley's synthesizer dervishes, Philip Glass, Steve Reich's tapeloop experiments, everything going on around Musique Concrete; early new age and ambient (Kitaro, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream), of course tying into the roots of electronic music itself: Kraftwerk, Can, industrial and New Wave. And the whole U2, The Cure thing (I still have to write something proving my conviction that U2's Zooropa is the foundation for everything Radiohead is doing today. It also destroyed the group's fragile collective ego as they reversed directions immediately. This is too bad; give a few years, and their audience would have been there, a newer, invigorating, and informed audience). And that's just touching it; we haven't even approached jazz or funk yet, nevermind the wealth of house and techno albums and 12"s or hip-hop (Public Enemy is perhaps still my favourite, although clouDdead is ranking high).

So, hell. What of the Top 10?

Here's the context, as I laid it out:

I think the top 10 would have to be limited by a context (such as a desert island with the prospect of surfing, like I was exiled to Maui with no chance to leave) or in a specific genre ... such as ambient: I'd for sure supply you with a top 10 of my favourite ambient albums of all time for a desert island with surfing. Let me know if that suffices.

Well, it doesn't suffice though. Because as soon as I started to pull out albums, I realised they worked better in other locales. Like Tim Hecker's Haunt Me Haunt Me Do it Again—it's for tundra and forests and waters. And Biosphere's Substrata, which will be #1 at the top of any ambient list, is for arctic contemplation yet also mist. Perhaps the only surfing one was The Orb's Orbvs Terrervm, with all the deep bombastic beats, but that was another Sunday-spliff favourite back in Vancouver on a misty, rainy day watching the city towers disappear behind banks of grey fog. So I realised my caveat wasn't going to work. It dawned on me, again; it's impossible, in some ways, to rank music, as I had realised, but beyond that, it's impossible to even contextualise music to any one locality, one geography, one psychogeography. Music drifts through not only localities but the psycholocalities drift through sound, each one imaginary yet just as real as the next, and, although perhaps determinate, never determined. Ie, if you first heard Substrata in Australia—over and over hearing it at the pale edge of dawn in the Outback—it will resonate with those spinning stars and the heat, despite its avowed attachment to the arctic by the artist and in what I perceive to be the sonic references to Tibetan horns and long, cold distances. This isn't a Top 10 insofar as it immediately shifts to become a Bottom 10, those that fell through to my mind, whose objects are grasped as such and whose sonic complexities forgotten, shifting, Left and Right 10, Matrix 10...Line 10...

It's like Stephen Mathieu's Gigue, Live @ A-Musik on Fällt—it's surpassed every attempt at words because of its incredible complexity of contextualities and emotional ranges strung through a live man's fingertips and a machine, all points not so much interacting as transacting an act of translation, each acting the other's soul and robotic inert innards—and not in the way we would normally compose the duality. And does this paragraph help you to understand the music? Perhaps only insofar as it allows words to come out of me, and even these words are not my own—they are only pulled out as sonic resonance, as the echo of the music, its last strands—and how far I dare language in even saying "music;" but to say sounds over and over again is to constrain beyond possibility any understanding on the part of the reader—flooding as lost and lonely rivers, out my fingertips, and at night, where the edge falls off, Stephen and I our fingertips meet.

PAUSE—It is usually at this point here that I feel all the emails coming. The emails to me, I mean. The emails I get of frustation, of anger, of insults and so on and so forth, of people asking me to simply review, tell me what the music is simply, quit the language, quit the "philosophizing"—as if I could know what any of that is, this "music," the "language," and of course the stance of "philosophy"; and as if I could quit, and above all, as if I could tell them what music is, what nay, sound is, like I am some telematic totaliser, ie, a TV show: THIS IS THE ALBUM, as if I am an advertisement, here to sell you something, for indeed, be wary, suspicious, of anyone who claims clarity; it's the second danger of Don Juan and the first trick of public relations. I don't write on music, I write around sound, a-r-ound-s-ound, I write with it, but also sometimes against its withness, in the shape of its absence, sometimes I write around something else, even another artist or album, while streaming an echo, a memory, through me, my "subject" of torrential writing at that moment irrevocably in me, And...—AND—it's as if I must—something drives me, perhaps something has already constructed this drive, writing-desire—must something with the words at least in a pitiful attempt, nay servitude !, in the face of the inexpressible sonic, something spurning, a burning, that reaches, at least extends, a finger, so even if it is the incessant repetition of these keystrokes you hear, you begin to hear and the (h)ears open, a little, a tu(r)ning,

I—leave it open, that last paragraph, there, to gesture a direction and also its blockage, its arrest, here, at the level of how I can see the limit and its extension, and where I must go, one hundred thousand words from now or more, to approach an exhaustion, for it is only at exhaustion that sometimes I feel compelled to stop, and to stop attempting to exhaust myself.

But I only wish to stop, here, and even though I promised in the title an explanation of why?, it really doesn't amount to much more than this, unless, that is, we enter into the contract stated above, which will require a patience and attention on both of our parts that will suck much more than a lazy surfer's afternoon or a misty, Vancouver, bud-filled morning. It's not enough to state this, perhaps, but it becomes enough now to say that it is only out of a sense of awkward justice, of the approach, of an attempt to grasp the other in a sonic sentence, that writing happens as it is, and becomes. En-devenir; but there still remains no good English translation for that: such is the neverending problematic of "sound," right there, and the ultimate failure of not only every "review," but of every gesture itself, every musical gesture, every sonic gesture. It's an "aesthetics of failure," but not in the way Kim Cascone envisions—no oops! There's a glitch mistake-making here, it's a failure in every way to watch the technology and the words run away enframing, enframing, relentlessly, drifting towards other buildings: prisonhouses, courthouses, penitentiaries, reserves. And so, at every moment, catch the train the other way, outta here, writing-way, flowing stark right notta—here's my responsibility in madness, always in madness it seems and—a failure, beautiful, in every gesture a becoming

And so: enough. Here's the Desert Island Surfing Top 10 Ambient Albums of All Time (So Far & caveats on "surfing," "desert," "island," "top," "album," and "ambient"—the last especially, although "10" seems to be a truism):

1. Biosphere - Substrata
2. The Orb - Orbvs Terrervm
3. Fennesz - Endless Summer
4. Tim Hecker - Haunt Me Haunt Me Do It Again
5. Susumu Yokota - The Boy and the Tree
6. Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
7. Vangelis - Bladerunner Soundtrack
8. Kitaro - Silk Road Vol. 1 & 2
9. Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem - Dub Voyage
10. Pole - 2

Year End Thoughts:


Music Reviews:

Alak Stark- Highway to Disco

Alejandra and Aeron- Bousha Blue Blazes

Bangkok Impakt- Traveller

Frank Bretschneider and Taylor Deupree- Balance

Corker Conboy- In Light of that Learnt Later

Deadbeat- Wild Life Documentaries

Thomas Dimuzio- Mono::Poly

DJ Spooky- Under The Influence

Richard Dorfmeister Presents...-...A Decade in Dub

EINOIMA- Undir, Feilnotum

Fennesz- Field Recordings: 1995-2002

Fullswing- Edits

Jan Jelinek- La Nouvelle Pauvrete

Jan Jelinek and Computer Soup- Improvisations and Edits

Tomas Jirku- Entropy

Minikon- Let's Enjoy Minikon

Moonbuggy- Planet Lupo

naw- gibberish

nikakoi- sestrichka

Saafi Brothers- Liquid Beach

si-cut.db- Enthusiast

Supersilent- 6

John Thomas and Various Artists- Blackstage and Reworks

Andreas Tillander- Elit

Twine- Recorder

Various Artists- Bip Hop Volume 5

Various Artists- Digital Disco

Various Artists- Idol Tryouts: Ghostly International, Volume I

Various Artists- Post Office

Various Artists- Star Switch On

Veer- Lideskape

Stewart Walker- Reclamation: 1997-1999

Woobly- Playlist

Susumu Yokota- The Boy and the Tree

Top Twenty of 2002:

Fennesz – Field Recordings
Susumu Yokota – The Boy And The Tree
Murcof – Martres
Sutekh – Fell
agf – head slash bauch
Desormais – Climate Variations
Fullswing – Edits
V/A – Star Switch On
snd – Tender Love
Frank Bretschneider & Taylor Deupree – Balance
Jan Jelinek avec The Exposures – la nouvelle pauvreté
V/A – Digital Disco
William Kleinsasser – Available Instruments
Thomas Fehlman – Visions of Blah
coin gutter – the promise of Lomonosov
Domenico De Clario – shaker road
Multiplex & V/A – mixt
Andreas Tilliander – Elit
Deadbeat – Wildlife Documentaries
Akufen – My Way

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