Elevator Bath is absolutely thrilled to present Proscenium, Tom Recchion's eagerly awaited new LP and his first solo album in six years.
Proscenium is a subtle and remarkably controlled collection of atmospheres. The air of mystery, deliberate pacing, the deep tones and unidentified sounds of Recchion's 2006 album Sweetly Doing Nothing have been explored even further here. It's a logical development but the results are unexpected and strikingly original, sounding wholly unfamiliar and yet like no one's but Tom Recchion's.
Proscenium's six pieces mostly began life as music for filmmaker/puppeteer Janie Geiser's play "Invisible Glass," an adaptation of Poe's "William Wilson." The play's intricate beauty and the story's moody confusion have been perfectly mirrored and expanded on by Recchion who used that inspiration as a leaping off point for Proscenium's rich and surprising compositions. "It was an attempt to create a sound world for the viewer that started as they entered the theater and drenched them until they left in an ongoing series of atmospheres."
Tom Recchion has been a sound and visual artist/composer/art director and graphic designer in California since the 1970s. He is the co-creator of the legendary Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) and has collaborated with David Toop, Christian Marclay, Oren Ambarchi, Keiji Haino, and Max Eastley, among many others. Though Proscenium is only his sixth album as a solo artist, Recchion has had many recordings released by labels such as Birdman, Touch, PSF, RRR, Idea, Staubgold, and the Cortical Foundation. He has also written for The Wire magazine. Tom Recchion lives in California.
Proscenium consists of one 180-gram virgin vinyl LP inside a black poly-lined sleeve, plus 7" record, each with five-color labels, housed in a full-color gatefold jacket. Included with each copy of this set is a full-color download card featuring access to high-quality MP3s of the complete contents of the vinyl records. Package imagery was created by artist Pae White and photographed by Recchion’s long time music and visual collaborator, noted photographer Fredrik Nilsen and was designed by Colin Andrew Sheffield and Tom Recchion. This package has been issued in an edition of 500 copies.
Total running time: 64 minutes
- the mesmerized chair
- entrance music no. 2
- entrance music no. 1
- exit music no. 1
- the haunted laboratory
- lean your eye into the picture
If attention-grabbing sounds are the quintessence of our living as sympathetic listeners, there are 67 minutes of legitimate bliss waiting for the 500 fortunate owners of this stunning limited edition, which contains four tracks on a LP, two on a 7-inch and a card to download a high-quality mp3 version of the album. The latter is what was used for the writeup, given the chance of listening without breaks and my ever-mounting hate for vinyl noise ruining the enthrallment brought forth by superb electronica.
Proscenium takes its origin from a commission by filmmaker and puppeteer Janie Geiser: Recchion conceived these soundscapes for a play called Invisible Glass, defining them a “sound world for the viewer” centered around a set of shifting atmospheres.
“The Mesmerized Chair” and “Entrance Music No.2” comprise perhaps the work’s more introvert shades. Adjectives like “sub-aqueous” and “stifled” instantly spring to mind, the frequencies oscillating between “swelling” and “chubby”. Trying to understand the derivation of the acoustic materials becomes a case of pitiable anal-retentiveness, though one can get a vague impression of what will be revealed (so to speak) later on. Deliberate melodic movement and buried forms of life are detectable underneath the droning undercurrents and the malleable substances: those who utter “ambient” are going to be hit on the palms with a stick.
Then we have a sort of slow-as-molasses “orchestral” gradualness in the suggestively declining “Entrance Music No.1”, and an episode of disjointedly rambla-sampladelia in “Exit Music No.1”, whose vocal fragmentariness is enriched by those very typical crackles and pops I was willing to escape from at the beginning, and that here represent a fundamental ingredient instead. The additional shorter pieces “The Haunted Laboratory” and “Lean Your Eye Into The Picture” are not mere fillers. Both broaden and improve the sensation of misshapen other-worldliness and pregnant inscrutability transmitted by the entire program.
Tom Recchion’s universe is not made of easy smiles and low-budget Buddhas. But the strange creatures we seem to perceive as the real animators behind this accumulation of bubbling grief are so nice-looking that a friendship should not be difficult to start.
- Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
Tom Recchion has been making weird and wonderful sounds since the 1970s as one of the leading figures in the Los Angeles Free Music Society. In a constant rotation of projects and bands, he cranked out ear-damaging skree, zonked tape collages, anti-musical comedies, and all sorts of other illogical strategies for making fucked-up sound. Compared to pretty much everything he's done previously, Proscenium - his first record in nearly seven years - is downright sensible; and one that fits neatly alongside all of the other releases from Elevator Bath, a label which specializes in rarefied dronemuzik and oblique ambience (e.g. Keith Berry, Matt Shoemaker, Rick Reed and even our own Jim Haynes). The album began as the musical accompaniment to Janie Geiser's play "Invisible Glass" itself an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe short story, with Recchion attempting to craft a moody atmosphere that slowly creeps into the audience's unconsciousness. Strange melodies emerge through a shimmering hum at the onset of the record, sounding like an underwater version of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Recchion smudges everything beyond recognition, although the thrumming of a piano does seem to peek from behind the veil of his aqueous mystery. Dense applications of reverb are common throughout, as is a strange echoing ripple that has a funhouse, helter-skelter vibe - probably the only commonality with anything from LAFMS! Whatever melodic phrases Recchion might have started out with have blurred into oceanic swells of nocturnal droning that by the end of side two morphs into an algae bloom of dread. The tracks on the seven inch are somewhat different from what's found on the LP, with a Dada-inspired splatter of haptic rhythms on one side; and a slow-crawling calliope slashed with sporadic gasps of noise on the other. While the seven inch follows Recchion anti-aesthetic through LAFMS, the ambient horror of the lp tracks are the true prize of the set. Think Basinski. Think Koner. Think Nurse With Wound. And, then you're getting close to where Recchion might be coming from.
- Jim Haynes, Aquarius Records
Elevator Bath is one of those labels, like Helen Scarsdale for example, whose curatorial diligence I never fail to appreciate and to which I consistently find myself drawn. "Proscenium" marks Tom Recchion's first new solo output in six years (!) and is a subtle and immersive listening experience recommended for fans of Keith Berry, Christoph Heemann and Nurse with Wound. Recchion must be admired for his acute sense of pace and atmosphere. Indeed, the sonics contained on this album are every bit as refined as one would expect from a composer with such a distinguished and longstanding resume. Chiming, filtered tones and deep low end make up the majority of the palette here, coiling, ebbing and weaving in and out, augmented occasionally by lulling static and what sound like meticulously obfuscated field recordings. The closer, "Lean Your Eye Into the Picture," provides a stark contrast to the rest of the six pieces on the album, with stuttering, alien sounds forming a web of surreal sound collage. It's a beautiful and strange track and perhaps the album's strongest. Ultimately, "Proscenium" is indeed a focused and refined affair, and listeners fond of the aforementioned labels/artists would do well to give it a thorough listen.
- Alex Cobb, Experimedia
The first time I heard the name Tom Recchion it was in a different capacity and one I never see mentioned in his biographical notes with releases: he once came to Staalplaat, told them how much he loved our artwork which he was never able to do in his work for Prince and REM. Maybe its not something he wishes to see mentioned - oops - but rather sees his work with the Los Angeles Free Music Society, or with David Toop, Christian Marclay, Oren Ambarchi etc. Its hard to say what Recchion actually does. He is a composer for sure, and of music, but what does he do? Does he play instruments, and if so, which? Or does he collage sound material together in some way? I must admit I haven't heard his previous release, 'Sweetly Doing Nothing' from 2006 and the cover doesn't present us with many hard facts either. Let's say Recchion is a composer of electronic music, that should cover about it. There are six pieces to be found in this package of a rather dark and moody nature - not fitting exactly the first summer day of sunshine, but more a record for the ghostly hour later on, when all is dark and quiet. Somehow somewhere inspired by a piece from Edgar Allen Poe, and indeed this seems like a nightmare trip, music for the haunted as well as the haunting. Like I said, I am totally clueless what it is that Recchion is doing here. Slowing down a bunch of tapes, some elaborate process to transform music in a digital way, or is it perhaps an analogue way? Maybe its the heat that makes it hard for me to think about such matters, or maybe I just don't care that much about it. Maybe I just like the music as it is, spooky and hunting me down. Maybe I am doomed and lost. Or maybe I need a smoke after looking at what I think is the greatest cover of all year, so far.
- Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
Once there was this shitty writer for Pitchfork, who described experimental composer, visual artist, and multi-instrumentalist Tom Recchion as “generally out of the loop” and as composing oblivious to “trends and times.” While this clumsy chump didn’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, his perspective is still skewed and inaccurate, so fuck him. The truth is that Recchion has always been in the real loop since the 70s, and all of you bullshit yolo-fuckers are out of it. The irony is that P4k is the new Rolling Stone, which means it’s about as relevant as the Old Testament (just going to put this in here and see if it makes it past the editors).
But I’m a sympathetic asshole, so I’ll gladly invite you into the loop. Here’s the deets. Tom Recchion has released his first album in six years, entitled Proscenium, on Elevator Bath. The album consists of six pieces that mostly began as music for film maker and puppeteer Janie Geiser’s play Invisible Glass, an adaptation of Poe’s “William Wilson.” The music has been explained as “an attempt to create a sound world for the viewer that started as they entered the theatre and drenched them till they left in an ongoing series of atmospheres.”
The LP + 7-inch is issued in an edition of 500 copies. If you want to stay in the loop because you’re insecure or have some sort of serotonin deficiency, I suggest you get on it.
- Jared Micah, Tiny Mixtapes