|C. Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee, Lasse Marhaug
|Wake Up Awesome
C. Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee, Lasse Marhaug — Wake Up Awesome ♠ Inspired by the historical intersections of live performance and studio post–production, Wake Up Awesome is a modern kind of fusion in technique as well as genre. At its core are three artists highly experienced with both instant and labored composition. Together, they found the studio generated improvisations were iteratively developed by each on their own.
♠ Passages of real–time improvisation duck and swerve into electro–concrete tangles of samples, edits and juxtaposition — all you’d want out of a world of mechanical possibility. If it sounds intentional on the record, it was. If Yeh and Marhaug’s more electronic affinities in their respective practices place them as the “producers,” then Lee’s cello often leads the drive as a sort of soloist.
Location: New York, NY, U.S.
Album release: November 18, 2013
Record Label: Software Records | Kemado Records | SFT021
Genre: Electronic / Jazz / Experimental / Avant–Garde Jazz
01 Wake Up Awesome
03 The Mermen of Poetry
04 Ophelia Gimme Shelter
05 The Mermaids of Extended Technique
06 Magic Seagull Lamp
07 Mission Lazy
08 Mission Nothing
09 Throw Down the Fishcake
10 Neutrons Whatever
11 Serious Cat's Milk
12 Anise Tongue and Durian Wet Dream
13 Mission Possible
14 RSVP Skunk
15 Tonight We Sleep Like Empty Hard Drives
♠ Al Carlson Engineer, Mixing
♠ Rob Carmichael Design
♠ Okkyung Lee Cello
♠ Daniel Lopatin Executive Producer
♠ Lasse Marhaug Electronics, Percussion, Piano, Turntables, Vocals
♠ James Plotkin Mastering
♠ C. Spencer Yeh Editing, Electronics, Mixing, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Violin, Vocals
♠ Recorded April and May 2012 at Garyґs Electric, Brooklyn, New York // Description: ** Stunning suite of far–out, psychedelic collaborations between three virtuosic players. Really sounds like little else out there. Intrepid listeners need to check this** "Wake Up Awesome, by C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core), Okkyung Lee, and Lasse Marhaug (Jazzkamer), is the second chapter of SSTUDIOS (Software Studios Series). SSTUDIOS is a new venture in the Software Recording Co.‘s expanding catalog that invites artists in the field of electronic music to create collaborative works of quality and vision. Inspired by the historical intersections of live performance and studio post–production, Wake Up Awesome is a modern kind of fusion in technique as well as genre. At its core are three artists highly experienced with both instant and labored composition. Together, they found the studio generated improvisations were iteratively developed by each on their own. Passages of real–time improvisation duck and swerve into electro–concrete tangles of samples, edits and juxtaposition — all you’d want out of a world of mechanical possibility. If it sounds intentional on the record, it was. If Yeh and Marhaug’s more electronic affinities in their respective practices place them as the “producers,” then Lee’s cello often leads the drive as a sort of soloist. The resulting conversation is genuinely both serious and iconoclastic. All three artists have a history of dialogue, but this is the first time they’ve hung out for the record — we’re very happy that they did." :: http://boomkat.com/
Review by Fred Thomas; Score: ***½
♠ Wake Up Awesome is the second volume of SSTUDIOS, a series of recordings that situates different experimental, avant–garde, and noise artists in new combinations of collaboration and spontaneous creativity. The album includes the trio of long–running Norwegian noise artist and Jazzkamer member Lasse Marhaug, experimental cellist Okkyung Lee, and New York–based sound collector C. Spencer Yeh, joining forces to create 15 tracks of collective improvisation and composed experimental sounds.
♠ The results of a fruitful 2012 studio session between the players were later meticulously edited and reassembled into Wake Up Awesome, resulting in a concise patchwork of Lee's organic but twisted cello squeals and webs of grizzly electronics, piecemeal percussion, and garbled vocalizations from Yeh and Marhaug. No piece outlives its welcome, with many tracks floating by at well under three minutes, and the album culminates in an abruptly ended stew of electronic drones, cut–up vocal samples, and churning hand drums on menacing closing track "Tonight We Sleep Like Empty Hard Drives."
By Marc Masters; November 22, 2013; Score: 7.2
♠ Most experimental music is at least a little absurd. Unlike conventional songwriting, whose intentions are usually pretty clear, the any–sound–goes approach often provokes the question “why are you doing this?” For some artists, seriousness of intent and dedication to craft are self–evident answers. But others also see the question as a chance to play, to be humorous or ridiculous or twisted or confusing. In other words, to laugh and make you ask again. At its most absurd, that kind of experimental music is like a trippy cartoon, dizzyingly unpredictable and fearlessly free. ♠ That’s why John Zorn found so much inspiration in Carl Stalling, whose zany mash–up compositions scored many Warner Brothers cartoons.
♠ Absurdity has shown up in the individual work of experimenters C. Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee, and Lasse Marhaug, so their collaboration as part of Software’s SSTUDIOS series seemed likely to spark humorous fireworks. It did: Wake Up Awesome is a bubbling, restless sonic fun house, filled with comic samples, oddball turns, surreal transitions, and enough activity to power a jet engine. It’s not novelty music — many moments, especially those involving Lee’s expressive cello improvisations, are as compelling as the gravest experimental music. But the trio is unafraid to sound novel, silly, or absurd — and that’s what makes listening to them so much fun.
♠ Their attitude is evident right on the surface, in tongue–in–cheek song titles like “Serious Cat’s Milk”, “The Mermaids of Extended Technique”, and “Tonight We Sleep Like Empty Hard Drives”. Those recall the goofy monikers of early Boredoms songs, and in fact some of the music evokes Boredoms too, minus the psycho shrieks of Yamataka Eye. Both groups create a sense that anything could happen, and that the participants are always eager to surprise. In the case of Yeh, Lee, and Marhaug, that eagerness creates moments that might make you laugh out loud. On “Anise Tongue and Durian Wet Dream”, a sample that sounds torn from a rickety player–piano loops around drools and gargling, while synth squiggles in “Mission: Possible” sound like Pac Man dying. Perhaps funniest is “Throw Down the Fishcake”, whose messy percussion is like a pile of overlapping punch lines.
♠ What makes Wake Up Awesome more than just a joke is the way the trio mixes laughs with tension and drama, sometimes simultaneously. That’s most evident in Lee’s cello, which seems able to emit any tone and convey any emotion imaginable. On the aforementioned “Mermaids,” she scrapes out chilly notes that match the grind of Ghil, her excellent solo album from earlier this year (which Marhaug helped conceive and record). On “Ophelia Gimme Shelter,” her slow lines are mournful, while on “Mission: Nothing” similar figures are majestically stoic. Cut those moments with Yeh and Marhaug’s punchy interruptions and jarring juxtapositions, and you get a record that can sound like multiple albums playing at once.
♠ That effect was one of the promises of sample–heavy experiments like turntablism, which seemed capable of smashing hundreds of styles into seconds of music. But outside of the hyper–cut "plunderphonics" of John Oswald, much of it stuck to a narrow sonic range, and got predictable pretty quick. Yeh, Marhaug, and Lee avoid that fate by leaning on their well–honed improvisational skills, injecting gravity into Wake Up Awesome’s airy playfulness. Thus an album spilling with ideas still manages some containment — though when the final track cuts off abruptly, you get the sense that, like kids at recess, this trio stopped playing only because they had to.
|C. Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee, Lasse Marhaug
|Wake Up Awesome