Tag Archives: C. Spencer Yeh



Number 1253

Week 41

JOHN WIESE — MAGNETIC STENCIL 1 (CD by Helicopter/Troniks)
JOHN WIESE — MAGNETIC STENCIL 2 (CD by Helicopter/Troniks)

Here are three new titles featuring the ever-restless John Wiese in-studio and live collaboration. Dude must never sleep, holy moly. The first two volumes of “Magnetic Stencil” are shades/variations of an idea he’s approached from different angles before: large-scale collaboration. With his group Sissy Spacek, he’s brought in large groups of artists for studio and live projects like “13-tet Oakland”, “15-tet Oakland” and “Duration Groups”. For the “Magnetic Stencil” project, which is slated to extend to five volumes, Wiese asked an assortment of composers/performers to send him long tracks of sound with space it, which he intended to layer and compose exquisite-corpse style. The first volume incorporates sonic material from Charmaine Lee, Aaron Dilloway, James Fella, Masaya Nakahara (aka Hair Stylistics), C. Lavender, Lasse Marhaug, Katsura Mouri (of DOOG, formerly of Busratch), Aaron Hemphill (ex-Liars) and C. Spencer Yeh. The second has a smaller cast: Aaron Dilloway, Toshiji Mikawa (of Incapacitants), Joe Potts (LAFMS, Airway) and Robert Turman.

Remarkably, “Magnetic Stencil 1” more closely resembles a live performance document than the studio creation it actually is. Wiese is careful to let each sonic element of his ensemble breathe and resonate off the others. Despite the sheer number of contributors, the music is never cluttered or diffuse. Both untitled pieces coalesce into phrasings and events that players might organically have gravitated towards if they were improvising together in real-time. The first track opens with Charmaine Lee’s voice is centre stage, bracketed by synthetic stuttering and record-skipping in vibrant stereo. As Lee’s voice retreats from recognizably human utterances into tiny pops and breath, the music morphs into a swirl of loopy tapes, rhythmic clomp and flurries of turntable scramble. A resonant bell-like tone surfaces on occasion to function as a sober, centring motif amid the electro-acoustic activity. The second track seems like a continuation of the first, sharing with it openness and deliberate pacing. The track starts with thunderous percussion, abrasive scrape and sombre piano upfront. The electronics are secondary to scraped cymbals and crashing piano keys, all of it seems to exist in the same acoustic space as if the players can hear and respond to one another… which is remarkable because, by design, they can’t. Volume two of “Magnetic Stencil” features fewer contributors, but it’s a denser piece of music. Unlike the episodic ebb and flow of “Magnetic Stencil 1”, “Magnetic Stencil 2” establishes a continuous, more vertical sound, a unified whooomph of soaring tones and clatter… which disintegrates after about six minutes, the drone replaced by convulsive tape-rewind stabs. Wiese takes his time here, passing through sections of instability while slowly building back to the piece’s initial heft. The second track leans on tape effects, voices elongated and pulverized but still (mostly) recognizably human-sourced. Towards the piece’s conclusion, musical fragments (from pop radio?) hiccup from inside a haze of dismal crawl.

“Electronic Extension” features three of the artists from “Magnetic Stencil 2” in live performance: first is a duo of just Wiese and Dilloway, then they’re joined by Turman for the second piece. If Wiese’s “Magnetic Stencil” albums impress for sounding as if they’re live when they are actually not, “Electronic Extension” is the opposite. The confident deployment of materials and textures unfolded in real-time in front of an audience but sounds as if it was carefully built in a studio. A section of resonant gong punctuated by slurred tapes and metal junk tumble is particularly effective; each element has sonic depth, each interjection purposefully sustaining the mood without seeming (as live improvised music often can) to impatiently search for the next zone. Wiese and Dilloway’s 25-minute duo track is atmospheric, the steady accumulation of breaking glass holding tension in place for long enough to let listeners notice how much is actually happening. On my third listen through, I could make out the slow-tape melodic fragment that pulls through the piece’s middle section. On my fourth listen, I’ll bet more details and complementary lines will jump out for me. The trio with Robert Turman is looser, more exploratory. Tape warble is the prominent sound component here (as it should be), slowly creeping along with the lower layers with controlled bursts of noise commentary, metallic scrape and haunted tones floating above a magnetic skeleton. (HS)

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Sissy Spacek
H 98, TRO-303
Release date: June 5, 2020

1. Peak Everything/ 1
2. Peak Everything/ 2
3. Peak Everything/ 3
4. Peak Everything/ 4
5. Peak Everything/ 5
6. Peak Everything/ 6
7. Spirant (Mix)
8. Air Horn
9. Comic Mirror
10. Unnecessary Conversation
11. Disintegrating
12. Konkret/ 1
13. Konkret/ 2
14. Konkret/ 3
15. Konkret/ 4
16. Konkret/ 5
17. Konkret/ 6
18. Konkret/ 7
19. Konkret/ 8
20. Konkret/ 9
21. Konkret/ 0

Including: Sarah Bernat, Phil Blankenship, Ted Byrnes, Martín Escalante, Jon Lorenz, Lasse, Marhaug, Sean Matzus, Charlie Mumma, Richard Ramirez, John Rich, John Wiese, C. Spencer Yeh


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BOMB Magazine — Artists in Conversation
John Wiese by C. Spencer Yeh

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REM Festival, Bremen, Germany

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John Wiese & C. Spencer Yeh – Compound 7-inch, Von Archives, Italy

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C. Spencer Yeh, Bill Orcutt, John Wiese at The Lab, San Francisco, August 6, 2011. Photo by Suzy Poling

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Triad Towers

John Wiese & C. Spencer Yeh
Bill Orcutt
Pod Blotz

with art by
Suzy Poling
Lisa Rybovich Crallé

at The Lab
2948 16th Street
San Francisco, California

August 6th, 9pm

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Sissy Spacek – Gore Jet CD (Sweat Lung, Australia)

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Recording session 2009.

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Smegma live at The Smell, March 16, 2009. Line-up: Ju Suk Reet Meate, Oblivia, Cody Brant, Aaron Dilloway, Dennis Duck, Ace Farren Ford, Nour Mobarak, Rhian Thompson, John Wiese, C. Spencer Yeh.

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Smegma setlist, March 14, 2009, The Smell, Los Angeles

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Vital Weekly 666

We may know both of them as noise makers and perhaps best to forward to Jliat, but since meeting both artists, on different occasions I think, the curious me thought it would be good to check ‘what they are doing now’. It was nice to keep and investigate further. Wiese plays here ‘electronics, objects, msp, voice, synthesizer’ and Yeh plays ‘voice, synthesizer, electronics, tabletop bass guitar, objects’. The first thing that can be noticed is that there are fourteen tracks here, which range somewhere between one and half minute and six minutes. That’s perhaps I wouldn’t expect. Maybe I assumed three fifteen minutes of straight forward noise. That also doesn’t happen. Surely things are noisy around ‘Cincinnati’, but the two take their inspiration more from the world of musique concrete than from the true noise world. They cut the sounds to pieces, play around with acoustic objects, amplified and recorded with contact microphones, take back in volume when needed and push things up when necessary. Each of the fourteen pieces has its own character, sounding different from the previous or the next, making this a highly varied but also highly interesting CD. This is the kind of the noise thing that gives me a great smile on my face, certainly some of the more funnier pieces using voices and the the nice cover art. (FdW)

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