NUENI #003 - 'THE BORNHOLMER SUITE' - Bryan Eubanks.

' (Caveat: I have played on the same bill as Bryan Eubanks and briefly have spoken with him. However, I don’t believe this has an effect on my review).

Fifty tracks, one minute and three seconds long each, of open circuit electronics miniatures. Although perhaps I should say one minute long with about three seconds of silence at the end of each track. My first thoughts: Are these short tracks just a catalog of novel sounds? Or is this work meant to be taken as a whole? Do the parts relate to one another? Depending on your vantage point, it could be either, but after a brief setting-in time I began to see these works as making up an effective whole that is more than the sum of its parts. That’s not to say I didn’t have a bit of a challenge making sense of it. Once I began to think of The Bornholmer Suite more as a set of variations without a theme, things began to make sense (or, I suppose if there is a theme, it’s the open circuit electronics themselves). If that sounds cliched, I’ll explain more what I mean later.

The general area of the sounds themselves should be familiar to anyone who has seen someone fiddling around with the inside of a digital delay pedal. However, the sounds Eubanks gets are detailed, subtle, and devoid of any corny gestures that can sometimes accompany this instrument. (I have a special sensitivity to this as it is an instrument I have often used as well, inspired by people like Eubanks, Bonnie Jones, and Joe Foster, when I first saw this technique at an excellent concert at Wesleyan in the mid-00’s. I know one of them, I forget who, was inspired by Vic Rawlings, so I don’t feel *as* guilty about that).

::cough:: Back to that statement about a cliche: Eubanks seems to be letting the instrument speak for itself here with seemingly minimal intervention on his part. He will often start with a pattern or a very specific sound area and he’ll subtly let that sound live out its course over a given minute. If his hand is on a circuit (is it?) or if he’s holding a cable to something, it still must have required an intense amount of restraint on Eubanks’ part. If I’m understanding his definition of open circuit electronics here, any motion or hand movement will have a dramatic effect on the sound. It’s so remarkably clean and sophisticated sounding for the instrument, and it really doesn’t sound like there are overdubs or edits beyond cutting the track off at the one minute mark. However, I can’t say that for sure as it doesn’t say it anywhere on the packaging.

The sequencing here works very nicely, with the silences in between each track punctuating the short pieces and acting as a bit of a palette cleanser. Each track does seem to relate to the previous one, and it all seems like quite a bit of thought went into the order of everything here (although I have to be honest that I enjoyed listening to it on shuffle as well). But again, I can’t say for sure. That’s definitely my impression, though.

So back to my original question: how does it flow as one piece of music? It’s difficult, that’s for sure. One visual idea that helped me accept and wrap my head around The Bornholmer Suite was that of looking at a wall of many small paintings that all use the same medium and general technique.

Overall, a really unique way of framing this instrument, and essential to anyone interested in a fresh take on open circuit electronics. '

Steve Flato

' Американец Брайан Юбэнкс (Bryan Eubanks) живёт в Берлине последние несколько лет, где вполне себе обжился и сотрудничает со многими музыкантами, не забывая о сольной работе. Его интересны простираются от тихой музыки и, соответственно, работы с тусовкой Wandelweiser до почти фри-джаза в дуэте с Джейсоном Каном (Jason Kahn) и почти нойза в представленной работе. В этом “почти” самая суть и заключается.

50 треков по одной минуте. Каждый почти композиция, которую можно слушать в отдельности. Но за минуту она не успевает раскрыться полностью, потому можно её, например, зациклить. Можно же просто слушать диск как он есть, можно в случайном порядке попробовать. Концептуальная работа? Возможно. Но почему-то это не чувствуется. Треки идут один за другим, ты их слушаешь и можешь слушать, а можешь просто изредка (или раз в минуту) обращать внимание на переход. Если сильно увлекаешься, то можно такому резкому переходу и разочароваться. А можно следовать за мыслью Брайана.

Да, я совсем забыл сказать: в этой работе он играет на синтезаторе собственного производства, который он сам определяет как open-circuit feedback. Звучит как модулярный синтезатор, например. Юбэнкс очень хорошо работает со звуком. Казалось бы, сколько уже можно слушать все эти эксерзисы на модулярниках? Что-то где-то отваливается, шумит, трещит и так далее и тому подобное. Звук Брайана ненавязчив, мягок и притягателен.

Треке на двадцатом начинают посещать мысли, что вроде как уже и поднадоедать начинает, но вместе с этим ловишь себя на мысли, что композиционная работа отнюдь не так проста, как казалось первоначально. Потому как именно в этом порядке треков есть движение. Вот уже и саунд стал менее беспорядочным, вот уже начинают проявляться тягучие почти дроновые полотна. Но всё лишь вновь почти.

А дальше становится всё равно. Сколько ещё слушать, сколько ещё таких этюдов в альбоме. Звук есть и хорошо. А после и повторить можно, если не хватило. И хочется переслушать потом, наверняка найдутся новые грани.

Почти сюита. '

Илья Белоруков (Cmmag)

' OK, this is a tough one for me. Let's start with the structure: 50 one-minute tracks (or close enough, 60 or 61 seconds). From the beginning, I'm looking for reasons. By nature, I'm not so fond of this "type" of agglomeration, from Otomo's "The Night Before The Death Of The Sampling Virus" to Rowe/Lehn/Schmickler's "Rabbit Run" and many more, I tend to find this approach wanting, difficult to disconnect with a feeling of a catalogue. I can imagine it working, can imagine a subject, if you will, that requires this sort of arrangement, though I can't say I can think of an example that strikes me as successful off the top of my head. I can understand a kind of perverse idea of cutting off the listeners pleasure (or, at least, interest) just as it's really gelling though, again, I'd need some other justification than impish glee. That said, Eubanks is using "open circuit feedback" here and the sounds themselves...well, they vary, of course, but by and large there's a thinness to them that only occasionally draws me in, even for that minute (exceptions are there, to be sure). There's often a rhythmic component, I'm guessing in the nature of the electronics cycling through phases on it's own, not initiated by Eubanks. This, oddly, renders them a bit less engaging for me than if they were in more ragged form. In most cases, I experience the initial sounds and, almost automatically, wait to hear them decay, be joined by others, expand--any enhancement at all. But, as a rule, this doesn't happen, they're simply presented, allowed to live for a minute, cut off. I think momentarily of Richter's color block paintings, something else I have some degree of trouble with. As with those works, I try to "stand back", apprehend the relationship (or lack of same) between the samples but, for me, it's more difficult with audio images than visual ones. I still find it more opaque than anything else, though it's likely I'm missing something. Steve Flato has written a nice appreciation, posted on the Nueni site, which readers here should check out. I'll try to return to this over time but for now, I'm pretty much stymied. '

Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

' Malgré le signal (aigu, très aigu même) envoyé par Bryan Eubanks au début de cette suite tout en « open circuit feedback », on ne s’en remettra pas… mais on tiendra le coup, vu que le CD recèle de surprises, aussi perçantes soient-elles !

C’est ici ou là ou un peu plus loin un module rythmique qui fore et/ou qui crachote, là ou ici un exercice de déformation sonore, ailleurs ou là une loop à parfaire (ce sont mes pièces préférées), là ou ici encore un cristal, une cavalcade, un suraigu en contrechant, etc.

En tout, c’est cinquante plages (là-dessus, pas plus d’une dizaine à qui chipoter de l’intérêt) et au final une fantasia bruitiste (ou un noise épique) dont la diversité est la première qualité. Maintenant, si nous voilà rassasiés de convulsions électroniques des questions se posent encore sur les circuits ouverts et cette façon qu’ils ont de s’autoalimenter ! '

Pierre Cécile (Le son du grisli)

' Bryan Eubanks legújabb szólómunkája a berlini Nueni kiadó negyedik, már-már feltörhetetlen keménységű diója. Mi tagadás, legjobb szándékom ellenére sem könnyű azonosulnom ezzel az ötven darab, egyenként egyperces hangszegmenssel, amiknek a forrását megszakított áramkörök túlvezérelt összegerjedései adják. Mintha egy haladó áramkör-hekker workshop vagy egy elektronikus, „csináld magad”-hangszerbemutató tanúja lennék, a technika impozáns, a mögötte lévő lelket, az embert, az akciót viszont hiányolom. Elöljáróban: provokatívan merész zene a The Bornholmer Suite, bár kétségtelen, ez is volt a művész célja.

A jelenleg Berlinben élő Eubanks az új amerikai kíséreti elektronika egyik legradikálisabb hangja; Catherine Lamb és Andrew Lafkas társaságában tagja a Sacred Realism kollektívának és lemezkiadónak. Bár eredeti hangszerével, a szoprán szaxofonnal máig nem szakította meg teljesen a kapcsolatát, egyre inkább már mint hangszobrász és zeneszerző tekint magára, aki kis létszámú együttesekre, szólistákra és saját fejlesztésű generatív szoftverekre komponál darabokat. Előadóként számtalan improvizatív kollaboráció résztvevője, akit az egy térben lévő hangszeresek kölcsönhatása ugyanúgy foglalkoztat, mint az akusztikus holográfiával, a diffúziós technikával és a sztereofonikus hangrögzítéssel való kísérletek. Az elmúlt néhány évben a Sacred Realism csoport másik két tagja mellett Jason Kahnnal, Bob Marsh-sal, Theresa Wonggal, Ryu Hankillal és Hong Chulkival rögzített lemezeket; sajátos esztétikájú szólóalbumokat 2003 óta készít, a The Bornholmer Suite a tizedik munkája.

A lemez Bryan Eubanks hangművész oldalát dokumentálja. Ezúttal nem játékosként, sokkal inkább egy mérnöki pontossággal rendelkező, végtelen precizitású konstruktőrként van jelen. Ötven blokkot hallunk, amiket leginkább egymás mellé vagy egymásra helyezett építőtéglákhoz lehetne hasonlítani. Ha nagyítóval megnézzük kívül-belül ezeket a téglákat, tökéletességük azonnal szembetűnik. Hasonlóak, homogének, perfektül méretre vágottak (játékidő), tömörek, darabonként részletgazdagok, bonyolultak, és leginkább önmagukban, külön-külön méltóak a csodálatunkra. Nyúlfarknyi variációk, amik – bármennyire is ezt várnánk – összekapcsolódva nem alkotnak ívet, nem adnak ki egy témát, nincs sztori, nincs egész, csak részek, darabok, kifogástalan építőelemek gondosan felsorakoztatott halmaza. A történet itt maga a mechanizmus, a technika, az eszköz. A miniatűr szegmensek megbontott áramkörök körbe-körbe cirkuláló, önmagukat gerjesztő hangjaiból állnak, amiket Eubanks az egyperces játékidő során szenvtelenül magukra hagy, és engedi, hogy az instrumentum (úgy is mint hangszer) önálló életet éljen, magáért beszéljen. Minimális beavatkozással megy minden a maga útján, majd amikor ismerőssé, barátságosabbá válnak az ide-oda futkározó, többnyire magas frekvenciájú digitális pircegések és zúgások, vágás, és már indul is valami nagyon hasonló, ami után megint vágás, és már indul is valami nagyon hasonló, ami után megint vágás, és már indul is valami nagyon hasonló…

A hiányérzetemmel – és talán némi csalódottságommal – együtt két dolog miatt azért elvitathatatlanul érdekes munka a The Bornholmer Suite. Egyrészt, nem találkoztam még lemezzel, ahol nem maguk a felvételek, hanem az azok közötti villanásnyi szünetek határozzák meg a produkció egészét. Általában azt szoktuk meg, hogy a zeneszámokat elválasztó pauzák között helyet foglaló hangok láncolatára figyelünk, itt viszont furcsa módon, minden esetben a hangszegmensek közötti, váratlanul érkező csendekre kapjuk fel a fejünket. Ezek az elidegenítő megakasztások akaratlagosak lennének? Talán. Másrészt, az ötven rövidke darab szabadon választott sorrendben is lejátszható, így mindenki tetszőlegesen összeállíthatja a saját szvitjét, vagy akár minden alkalommal más formában – csakúgy, mint Otomo Yoshihide The Night Before The Death Of The Sampling Virus-a, vagy éppen Keith Rowe, Thomas Lehn és Marcus Schmickler Rubbit Run-ja esetében -, véletlenszerű sorrendben játszhatja le a lemez tételeit. Ugyanis úgy is működik. Ráadásul nem is rosszul.

Nehéz lemez; kihívó, felforgató, olykor pedig, mondjuk ki, egészen irritáló. Egy biztos, Bryan Eubanks zenéje nem adja könnyen magát. Egyelőre annyit tudok mondani: okos, taktikus, de idő kell hozzá. '

László Juhász (

' Eubanks’ The Bornholmer Suite is an album of “open circuit feedback recorded in berlin in the winter of 2013” according to the only sleevenote on the minimalist digipak sleeve. The sleeve itself features some very beautiful yet somehow almost unsettling images by Francisca Pageo of a pony grazing and some tropical plants at night. The results of Eubanks’ concentrated efforts generating and manipulating feedback are very unlike the noises made by other known exponents of this technique, of which two high profile examples I could mention, for the sake of context, are Henrik Rylander and Toshimaru Nakamura. Somehow Eubanks’ work is more organic or natural-sounding than either Rylander’s abrasive brittle shards or Nakamura’s often barely-there wafts of sound.

There are just over fifty minutes of pristinely recorded sound on this disc, taking the form of fifty minute-long tracks. Eubanks coaxes a huge range of sounds from his equipment; some percussive, some rhythmic, others less so; some speaker-threatening, others more refined, but on the whole, sounds you would probably instantly recognise as mixing console feedback. Contrary to what you may expect, there is a warm, welcoming nature to this music and personally, I’ve found its company to be extremely tranquil, rather than tranquillising. That is not to say it is in any way torpid – there’s a challenging, albeit brief, section halfway that kick-started my nervous system for its minute duration.

His decision to truncate his source material into 60 second chunks is a fine one – it gives the material a chance to develop and change quickly and certainly keep the attention of the listener over its whole duration. One wonders how long it took Eubanks to collect his source material and whether he might have engaged in a rigorous, regular “feedback session” every day for two months. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the truth was that he did this every day for two years. Eubanks has worked with like-minded artists such as Mattin, Jason Kahn, and Ryu Hankil in the past, and this recording certainly displays a rigour of the stripe you would expect from those individuals.

The Bornholmer Suite is only the fourth release on Hector Rey’s Nueni Recs label. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that its catalogue number is #003, but Nueni started with #000. The three previous offerings on Nueni are a cd-r involving Ilia Belorukov, Harpakahylo, Patryk Lichota and Kim Nasung; and two cds, one by Lali Barrière and Miguel A. García, and the other by Angle, aka Jean-Luc Guionnet and Jean-Phillipe Gross. At the time of writing, I notice that there are an additional two new titles from Agnes Pe & Niebla Fascista and Oier Iruretagoiena, all of whom are new names to me. So, an intriguing start to this imprint. I hope they go from strength to strength. '

Paul Khimasia Morgan (The Sound Projector)

' Looking very Goth, something else I received in the swag from Nueni Records. I’ve only heard a couple of pieces by Bryan Eubanks before, both at last year’s Cut And Splice festival. Both were kind of reminiscent of Alvin Lucier. This is not.
The Bornholmer Suite is a set of 50 pieces, each one minute long. The music is made from electronic feedback on a circuit board. According to Eubanks, each configuration of the circuit is left alone to sound for one minute, with “slight changes” made between each piece. As a composer who has worked a lot with feedback circuits of different types over the years, the types of sound were immediately familiar. I’m too close to this type of music so I can’t review it dispassionately; it just flags up all sorts of problems I have when working with this medium.

Feedback can produce a wealth of detailed sounds, but it’s hard to figure out what to do with them. It gets too easy to turn out sound and become too absorbed in the process of making it, or just get caught up in a bunch of different timbres without considering them as part of a coherent musical experience for the listener. With The Bornholmer Suite Eubanks seems to be attempting a way out of this dilemma by presenting the set of pieces as an objective, experimental process. Each configuration gets one minute, with no privileging of material. Each piece is presumably a modification of the preceding circuit. It carries a type of logic, but it does feel a bit like Eubanks is dodging the whole question of how the Suite may be considered as music.

Most of the feedback circuits produce a sound that remains fairly constant, with little sense that they would show any greater variation, instability or mutability if left for a longer period of time. This kills any feeling of momentum as the number of pieces rack up. My personal prejudices kicked in a few times when certain sounds cropped up that I’d produced in the past and instinctively rejected. I’d like to know more about how simple the circuit is. The CD really presents a dilemma. Do you hear it as a disconnected catalogue of technical exercises, or as a suite of etudes elaborating on a common theme? '

Ben Harper (Boring Like A Drill)

' There’s an interesting discussion by the composer Ben Harper about this release from Spain’s Nueni Records. Eubanks’ album, released a year or so ago, is 50 one-minute feedback circuit pieces, presented unadorned and without fanfare. “It carries a type of logic, but it does feel a bit like Eubanks is dodging the whole question of how the Suite may be considered as music”, says Harper, which kind of hits the nail on the head. He concludes:

“The CD really presents a dilemma. Do you hear it as a disconnected catalogue of technical exercises, or as a suite of etudes elaborating on a common theme?”

I sense a certain frustration here. And he has a point. The bare-bones presentation of these pieces really doesn’t give us much to hang onto as listeners as we navigate the sounds that buzz and crackle out of the speakers and into our brain-boxes.

But, you know what? Despite that I like it. Maybe it’s the many years I’ve spent listening to various punk bands, those grumpy urchins gleefully pissing everyone off with their lo-fi, hamfisted antics that makes me think that, yeah, this is pretty awesomely grouchy too. Eubanks lays out as it comes, and we can take it or leave it, adding our own stories and metaphors to it or just digging the whazzed out sounds. Open circuit, open work, as Umberto Eco would probably never have said, even if he was into minimal electroacoustic music.

There’s a little of the deadpan cheekiness of the VA AA LR crew here, too, which is also appealing, in a kind of poke-your-finger-in-the-socket-and-see-what-happens way, although the spitting, fizzing sounds that Eubanks generates are a bit livelier than that trio’s crackle raves. The album is pacey, too, which I quite like, all those one-minute pieces barrelling past (although number 26 is a bit moody). I have a rather soft spot for number 37, whose double-time yowl reminds me of some lost early Oneohtrix point never cut. In fact, one feels positively breathless after the first few tracks, before you modulate your own internal rhythms to get with the fizz and enjoy the ride. And the fact that you could probably do everything Eubanks is doing at home with some very basic kit matters not one jot. Me and Harper are going to have to differ on the enjoyability of this record. But that’s ok. I’m a lover, not a fighter. '

Paul Margree (We Need No Swords)