album reviews + press

Campsites — Doug Haire

Doug Haire is a experienced sound artist with 30 years as a recording engineer and producer. He has credits in something like 400 albums and 8 albums of his authorship.

He’s member of Seattle’s Phonographer’s Union, a collective of sound artists, composers, and recordists who improvise live in real time with unprocessed field recordings.

He founded the Sonarchy radio show in Seattle 22 years back and he has produced hour-long live broadcasts that provide avant-garde musicians with a space to perform, experiment, and develop their ideas.

“Campsite” collects field recordings such as the sounds of a train horn, a campfire, a barking of a dog, while thick layers of drones are the backdrop for this environment which is in the outskirts of the city. Silence is also an element in this album because behind those minimalist processed sounds, there is a pristine, pure space on which our listening is focused. As an example, on “Campsite # 16 River Donner und Blitzen” a subtle heavenly choir hovers in the environment as birdsongs and streams of water complete this bucolic image. The flip side of this album are the haunting atmospheres of “Jackblock Campsite” as well as the track that opens this album, “Campsite Nocturne # 3”. This album displays a soundscape rich in nuances and atmospheres.

Guillermo Escudero, Loop, Santiago, Chile


This collection of sound-pieces is the work of a very experienced recording engineer—Doug Haire from Seattle, USA. He has dedicated many years to supporting experimental musicians with the radio show “Sonarchy” and recording exclusives for it. He is also a member of the Seattle Phonographers Union—a collective working and performing  with unprocessed field-recordings since 2002. Campsites is his first solo release since 2012’s Removed And Haunted.

I imagine him now retired from session work, sitting by the campfire and capturing the moods. It is really incredible how he transmits the atmospheres with his field recordings which are later supplied with resonant drones. This reflecting on the reflection is executed with true mastery.

The overall calm sounds aided by the underlying subliminal drones lead inescapably to a loss of the sense of time.
The seven tracks are all subtle individual works, but a coherent whole. None are too lengthy and all mixing, mastering and production was done solely by Doug Haire himself.

I’ve found myself sitting suddenly in the last fading light of the day, mentally completely caught up in the moment – just like a campfire meditation – with engaged senses fully aware of the never ending surroundings. Campsites is as pictorial as a sound-work can be and leaves a lasting impression of an artists vision, offering his experiences to any open-minded listeners.

Carston S., Chain D.L.K., Germany

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Bile Noire — Strotter Inst. & Peter Vukmirovic Stevens

“[This] work here really stirs the fireplace and stokes the mental boilers…”

— The Sound Projector, UK, Feb. 2020


(Translated from the German review)
“It is likely this album could only be realized given the range and depth of these artists’ musical experience. The Swiss turntable artist Christoph Hess aka Strotter Inst., who is well respected in experimental music circles, joined up with concert pianist and composer Peter Vukmirovic Stevens to create a truly amazing product. This music is dramatic, organic and tense. For us, the second piece of the A-side, (all the tracks have monstrously long French names) best characterizes their efforts in which dark-melodious, rolling piano tones and pulsing bass notes are mixed together with scratchy-roughened sounds. Because the tone of the piano is easier for the ear to follow, it would be easy to assume the sounds are arranged as foreground and background – but it is not that simple. The pulsing and processed oscillations created by the turntables sound in unison with the piano and combine with the piano keystrokes on the hammers. Ergo: the sound layers combine with each other in a natural and balanced way and create a great musical experience. Terrific!”
— Zipo, Aufabwegen, Germany
“Coming in from Switzerland [is] BILE NOIRE, a limited to 300 copies vinyl pressing produced by Christoph Hess a.k.a. Strotter Inst. and pianist Peter Vukmirovic Stevens. Combining Hess’ trademark use of prepared turntables with Vukmirovic Stevens’ approach to his instrument results in a total of six compositions to be found on this album which can be described best as dark’ish, score’esque and dramatic in its overall approach, bringing forth a captivating amalgamation of layered, partly stumbling experimental loops and scraping, manipulated sounds as a foundation and an expressive, moody take on piano noir which both reminds us of catastrophic winter thunderstorms and intense, early experimental movies shot in grainy black and white putting the entire range of human emotion and expression on vintage display. Interestingly, the unprocessed solo piano and the electronic backing interact and complement each other perfectly instead of providing a harsh disturbing contrast of sorts which makes BILE NOIRE a perfect conceptual addition to the collection for both fans of electronic experimentalisms as well as followers of contemporary classical music, but will also sit well with collectors of scores and other dramatic music.”
— Baze.djunkIII, nitestylez, Germany
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Postcard from Heaven by Victoria Jordanova

“It is impossible to describe what 20 highly electronically manipulated harps sound like, but it certainly confounded my expectations…there is much delicacy here, fantastic detail, and sound combinations that are unique.”

— Peter Burwasser, Fanfare Magazine


“I hear polyphonic texture of various melodic parts, often in different rhythms, while other times I hear cascades of complex, ravishing chords. Jordanova performs with a wide range of sound quality and with the greatest devotion to the music’s profound absence of dramatic rhetoric. She also adds Cage’s ossia vocal part…beautifully performed by Pamela Z.”

— Haskins, American Record Guide


“I rarely get the sense of sheer beauty or spacious spiritual or physical realms when I listen to John Cage’s music…It’s often more of a witty practicality that comes to mind, or an auditive intellectualism with a quirky smile added in the corner of the mouth….but not this soaring beauty. That’s why this music is so surprising, as it approaches in some kind of free fall, totally relaxed and yet powerful, like the orbit of the International Space Station as it keeps on falling and falling around the Earth…” 

— Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Reviews


“Cage’s prophetically-titled Postcard from Heaven, a mesmerizing, roughly 40-minute 1982 composition scored for 20 harpists, receives its world premiere recording on this new disc from ArpaViva…Jordanova’s approach has given the work new life and, in fact, the work does sound like a postcard from heaven written by John Cage.”

— Frank J. Otery, NewMusicBox


“The “heaven” connection, with visions of spaced harpists playing without a coffee break for eternity, is half tongue-in-cheek. But only half. Victoria Jordanova does the harp honors, oscillating between a solo setting to rippling overdubs of 20 harps. Pamela Z supplies sustained and delayed sung tones, in what is a strangely cool and cooling listening experience.”

— Josef Woodard, Notes on Film 


In A Landscape — Victoria Jordanova

“I guess I always thought of harp as a delicate instrument suited for Debussy and played by long-haired pretty women. I had no idea it could be souped-up, amplified and multi-tracked, producing a blow-your-socks-off new sound—indeed a whole new realm of sound. Victoria Jordanova, originally from Yugoslavia, lives in America now and we are the richer for it, as she has single-handedly revised the script for harp and harp music. As performer, composer and curator, as well as producer of her own CD label, Jordanova is breaking new ground not only with the harp but with performance, improvisation and concert programming to boot.”

— David Wolman, Fanfare Magazine


“Very strange and fascinating, very personal and delicate, full of great imagination is what Jordanova sounds [like].”

— Jan de Kruijff, Musicalifeiten, Netherlands


“Jordanova uses a variety of harps and swings their lofty properties through technologies of her choice, always shaping new realms of audio; never playing it safe, never retorting to clichés or down-home formulas or principles. She never lets tradition wear her down. On the contrary, she shakes all those gluey, sticky memories off. This is a rare quality, not least among contemporary and avant-garde artists, who oftentimes are the most traditional ones, sticking to and canonizing an avant-gardism that was in swing a few decades earlier, in the 1960s or -70s.”

— Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Revews

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Innerland — Stéphane Furic-Leibovici

“This is an incredible album…unlike anything you’ve probably heard. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a long while, and well worth discovering.”

— David Toub, Sequenza21


“An atmosphere achieved through research and conscious use of electro acoustic techniques in order to create sound spaces and dimensions yet unexplored.”

— Fred Audin, Classique Info Disque


“Innerland highlights fascinating [and] unusual idioms.”

— Jan de Kruijff, Musicalifeiten, Netherlands

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Panacea — Peter Vukmirovic Stevens

“Three crystalline works that bring a lot of light to our ears..”

— Marçal Borotau, Sonograma, Spain

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Phantasmagoria — Michael ZT Rose

“Immerse yourself into the mercilessly driven robotic-minimalism, with the lighting flashes of piano runs and the relentlessly flowing cascades of music in which the makeup of each song becomes the blueprint for the album as a whole. It is the most succulent feast for the ears!”

– Jan Hocek, His Voice Magazine 


“It is immediately clear that composer [Michael ZT Rose] has something special and individual to offer.”