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date | Janurary.2005
reviewed | j.frede:unprepared piano [cd]
label | current recordings
publication | Cut Up Magazine
writer | tobias c. van veen

“unprepared piano explores the sound created during a piano tuning. Working with professional piano tuner David Nereson, j.frede recorded a tuning session. The source recordings were then edited, sampled, cut up and arranged into compositions using a variety of music software. The completed album consists both of composed tracks and dry tunings. The original recordings were made for the project on June 13th 2001. The piano used was a –1902- Hardman Upright.”

j.frede’s resampling piano piece displays a structural affinity to the Sub Rosa releases we have begun with. By working with a sound-machine only of recent antiquity, the piano (not from orchestral tradition but nonetheless incorporated; part of the church organ and thus religious history but also of popular music since its invention, and whose form—the keyboard—is used to control all manner of devices today), j.frede bridges a similar concern with historicism. Approaching the unsettling tuning pitches with reverence, j.frede produces distinct elaborations upon tones, sinking into each low pressure, as if slowly drifting through atmospheric, rather than geologic, layers, tasting the different manifestations of cloud, wind and sun, as their balance remains eerily quiet, approaching silence. Parallels to Murcof yet also to Subotnick are evident, which is not to say j.frede is influenced by either but that various techniques are becoming redeployed today via an ethic of sampling rather than wave construction, and that j.frede has displayed unusual dedication by defining and executing the parameters of the source (the tuning session), and this, performed in collaboration with Nereson (who receives credit).

Unprepared piano is a closing piece for the above collections that bookends contemporary attempts to understand the past, and the differences between the acoustic and the electronic, via microphone and software, circuits and strings. Its strength lies in its ability to do so patiently and with pause that approaches the language of poetry, especially, of the koan. It is a language that j.frede weaves, one that slowly moves into its subject, seeping through skin like water, and whose temporality is one of osmosis. As j.frede moves deeper into the piano’s untapped and unexpected sounds, its spaces between strings and hammers, its knocks and taps as well as plucks and turns, he crosses subtle threshholds between software and recording, the actual tuning and music, repetition and particularity.

h date | December.2004
reviewed | j.frede rewrites scanners diary[cd]
label | current recordings
publication | Phosphor Magazine [116]
writer | JR

This is an exciting collaboration between sound voyeur Scanner (aka Robin Rimbaud) and sound composer J. Frede. Scanner released an album entitled Diary in 2004 and J. Frede reworked all the tracks.

The tracks on this CD were inspired by some personal diary writings of the London based Scanner whose name is taken from his compositional tool of choice the cellphone scanner. He has recorded a number of albums and done remixes for the likes of Oval, Scorn and others. His work is essentially experimental electronics.

J. Frede originates from New Mexico and works as a composer, sound designer and installation artist. His live performances involve the arranging of sonic atmospheres focusing on dynamics and clarity.

The opening track on this CD is quite a wild entanglement of different layered loops analogous to a busy street full of people going their separate ways. This leads into a more ambient dreamlike atmosphere with a drone-like loop leading us through this new landscape. It finishes with what sounds like various animals and birds in a forest giving a very sombre feeling from the mood that began the track.

The longest track on the album begins with a looped beat which provides the background to various other samples. A piano creeps into this scene with a contrasting but pleasantly looped melody. The foreground fluctuates in dynamic over the beat and piano line creating a certain chaotic texture before retreating into the background.

There are a couple of delicate interludes that are very beautifully done. In the tracks following these, a number of different moods and atmospheres are developed from the eerie/surreal to the aggressive and back again. The last track is so quiet that you would almost miss it. It mixes well when heard with the sounds that are generally happening all around.

This album reflects the variety of moods and feelings that would be written about in a personal diary giving and interesting incite into the complex minds of both composers.

h h date | September.2003
reviewed | live documents [cd]
label | doctsect media
publication | The Wire [issue 235]
writer | Jim Haynes

During an infamous performance at the now defunct Chernobyl Tone Gallery in Denver Colorado, the Los Angeles based j.frede locked the audience in a warehouse and proceeded to construct a pipebomb, which threatened to detonate if he made any wrong moves. Fortunately for all in attendance, he succeeded in his task and the bomb never exploded. Nowadays, frede's performing manner is far removed from that of the aggro-terrorist as he calmly situates himself behind the computer and clicks his way through lowercase manipulations of field recordings and electroacoustics. He may have disavowed his actionist past, but a threat of something ominous and unknowable lurking just beneath the surface prevails within this collection of live recordings. With these three extended pieces culled from 2000-01, frede gradually introduces textural abrasions that quietly overwhelm his initial palette of tonal digital flutterings. The subtle intrusions from electroshock pinpricks, psychoacoustic drone play and anxiously skittering gestures activate frede's sound constructions to create disquieting atmospheres.

h date | October.2003
reviewed | unprepared piano [cd]
label | current recordings
publication | Ampersand Etcetera - Volume 6 Number M
location | Mount Macedon, Australia,
writer | Jeremy Keens

Last hear in 303, J.Frede returns at last with a new recording on a new label (there is also a nice live work on Stasisfield) – the Crest Series from current comes in a hand stamped and assembled envelope with a postcard insert with details and a fine photograph, all 'inspired by vintage mail that has seen the wear and tear of travel' – it looks great.

The concept is similarly intriguing – taking recordings of David Nereson tuning a piano, and then selecting, editing and arranging the results. 'Uncut' seems to be just that, a repeated note, sometimes changing as the tuning spanner turns, sometimes secondary/reference notes, a little of the banging and tapping in the box – sounding surprisingly like an improv. With 'Low pres non' there is a soft really deep pulse and knocking, simple with some minor changes, and few associated notes – subterranean, almost the harmonic vibrations. There is a slow progression and some overlapping notes, slight burrings. The tapping loops and changes, shifting to a more sampled sound, stretching and then a final decay. The deep ambience slips into some bass end stepping in the brief 'Untreated bass'. Full processing in the long

'Unpre n' – deep notes roll, a pair of clacks loop left and right, a light whistling behind. Very minimal, rolls - some tapping develops, ringing reverby almost singing, notes echoed and looped. With 'Untitled' there is more rapid movement around the keys, some notes tuned, improv. Soft long notes, wavering, with the sound of the stops in 'Treated 1 (revised)', ringing loops, minimal
variation again, some playing with the notes. Picks up tempo and gets groovy (in this context) collecting chitters clicks and twangys. Another improv of notes played and tuned, mainly low but some high in ''Treated bass 10 (revised)'

'Random movements in A minor' is a waterfall of notes, fuller, ringing, playfully processed – a deep pulse and higher twinkles: is there a
relationship between pitch and tempo in the processing? As it progresses the filter eases back and single notes emerge. The final track 'Uncut (revised)' revisits the first track, unchanged, but then shifting into looping and quicker note repeats, a metallic buzzing, developing complexity with an almost industrial underscore that become more prominent, whooshing then fading through a rumble to click crickets, end. Concepts can sometimes sound like a good idea but then don't sound so good. This is not one of those – j.frede has
carefully selected and sampled, cleverly processed and artfully constructed an absorbing album. It is good to hear from him again.

h date | September.2003
reviewed | unprepared piano [cd]
label | current recordings
publication | Vitual Weekly
writer | TJ.Norris

New ventures usually take time to warm up to and j.frede’s latest 'Unprepared Piano' is one of them. At first, this sounded like a piano being tuned, and the liner notes confirmed this to be a true professional tune-up of a 1902 Hardman Upright. However, this being the first recording on the newly founded Current Recordings, also acts as the inaugural issue in their Crest Series which will include hand-made, recycled packaging designed to resemble old fashioned mail. Attention to detail is part of frede’s overall concentration and this LA resident blatantly mocks his immediate sunshine-filled, heavy gloss external environment to bring a sense of the intimacy lost in the crevices of what some would call nowhere. 'Low Pres Non' moves like a snail creeping toward finality. To know this is an old piano being tinkered with and compositionally deconstructed is an aside to its embedded cinema verité. 'Unpre N' is a great post-Dadaist expression that will puzzle the casual listener. And so goes throughout, as a universal tension is faintly implied. 'Treated 1 (revised)' is a gauzy experiment in perfect timing or a dead man walking so to speak. Frede paints a gray canvas, over and over until the layers change color and the density becomes its base value. 'Random Movements in A Minor' sounds like drunken keys, tripping and skipping and still landing back in a row. Ending with 'Uncut (revised)' the cyclical nature of this recording is complete. Things shift and sway as the piano appears more faded and hollow, like the end of a real long day of practice.

h date | May.2002
reviewed | eremiophobia [cd]
label | ritual document release
publication | Ambientrance : overviews
writer | David J Opdyke

If you've a fear of too much brightness in your listening tastes, the mysterious drones of eremiophobia may be up your darkened alley... somber soundscenes are painted in dirty grays eaten with neo-organic decay. Woozy rays waver through I,seeping into II where wirey squiggles and robotone bleats begin to encroach with ever-more-abrasive forces. IV churns in steady cycles which may be liquid or electric currents or most likely some purely synthetic semblance thereof. The rumbling/steaming voids of VI (16:58) spread unknown activities across uncrowded expanses of murk, generally with an deserted-industrial feel.

Something like faint, faint faraway train-horn-ambiance sifts into VIII, with closer sheens lighting, though not necessarily illuminating; sporadic disturbances add shades of potential menace to the shrouds of drear. Inexplicable intermission IX (0:05) exists just before X rings into being, a stark glare dominates the unnatural proceedings of the final 14 minutes, replaced by noisier curtains of unknowable distortions. An overall B for effective moodiness (+ I've been surfing another photo gallery of "abandoned places" with j. frede's sounds adding perfectly bleak accompaniment.)

h h date | January.2001
reviewed | eremiophobia [cd]
label | ritual document release
publication | Outburn Magazine [issue # 14]
writers | John Griffin/Scott Townsend

This ritualistic ambience features shifting washes of primordial sounds. The first few tracks meld organic droning with almost laptop blips, burps, and squelches to excellent effect. Truly techno shamanic. The rest of the album turns manipulations of sources into slow somber waves. The ambiences become murkier and less active as the album unfolds which is frustration since the tiels of the release means "fear of stillness". The highlights were the first few pieces, but one defintely gets lost in thought listening to this release.

h h date | January.2001
reviewed | eremiophobia [cd]
label | ritual document release
publication | XLR8R magizine [issue # 45]
writer | Kathleen Maloney

Hollowed and spatial ambient noise construction abound on j.frede's latest amazing full-length. Similar to the lighter drones of fellow artist Radiosonde. j.frede slyly intensifies his noisy augmentations, creating ploddingly destructive sonic crashing or brief minimalist cessations of audibility. Dark foghorn-esque moans and metallic footsteps are indicative of ability to puncture the ear with the intricacies of of sound while building a large wall of lo-fi noise. With execllent transparent packaging in the bargain, this is one of my favorite releases in experimental sound this year.

h h h date | October.2000
reviewed | eremiophobia [cd]
reviewed | isolate [ep]
reviewed | arctic movments [lp]
label | ritual document release
publication | Flux Europa

An apologist for terrorists and an affiliate of the Guerrilla Artwarfare movement, who has been known to get involved in scuffles with hecklers at his gigs and who used to run a gallery called "Chernobyl" in the seediest street he could find, you might expect Denver based, New Mexico raised, j frede to have a musical output resembling the splendid excesses of Macronympha, Knurl or Richard Ramirez.

Instead what you get (here at least) is a gorgeous drifting ambiance: swirling drones, rain sheeting down on glass, noisy bubbles and squelches, half-heard voices, the hum of passing traffic. This is music to dream to, the ten tracks running together to form a shifting, floating hour long journey of aural bliss. This is the first time I have encountered j frede or the Ritual Document label, but I shall certainly seek them out in future. My copy of Eremiophobia came in alongside two other j frede releases. The Isolate EP comes in a beautiful hand made sleeve, and offers an "audio journal" of j.frede's 1998 USA/European tour. The Arctic Movments (sic) LP is a formidable forty-two-minute soundscape of white hiss andelectronic skitter, limited to a hundred copies, which has me in mind of Entarte's Fusion. Decent stuff, the lot of it

h h h

date | September.2000
reviewed | eremiophobia [cd]
reviewed | isolate [ep]
reviewed | arctic movments [lp]
label | ritual document release
publication | Ampersand Etcetera - Vol 3 Num 3
location | Mount Macedon, Australia,
writer | Jeremy Keens


I looked up 'Eremiophobia' and found a very appropriate word - morbid fear of silence. While for most of us it isn't perhaps to the level of a phobia, but I know I like to have something on all the time. While the album is divided into X tracks, these do not really seem to correlate to individual pieces - two tracks are minimal fragments, others flow seemlessly and at times there is more change within a track than at its ends. So perhaps more a suite. Parts I through V form one piece. It opens with long slowly pulsing tonal waves that layer different pitches to form an enfolding presence.The harmonies lead to bell tones emerging from the sustains and seeming playfulness in the highertones. Near the end of 'I' some chittering noises emerge, a few at first but gathering in number as we slide into 'II'. This is a balance between the pulsing bass from 'I' and a growing barrage of skittering noises, some like analog noises from computer games, some almost voices and hints of a melody, overwhelming it all and creating an sense of uncertainty through its seeming randomness. They continue a glitchy irregular surface into 'III' underwhich a pulse is beginning to return. In a somewhat dubby manner the noises start to echo and phase creating a tonal ambience which shifts into a drifting, soft atmosphere. An electrowind eventuates, the pulse becoming a long loop which rises and falls regularly. Into 'IV' and the pulse is slowly fading away and we focus on the wind, noting the subtle micro-structures and changes in it. As the track nears its end, parts drop out, leaving an attenuated whoosh which stretches into the 8 seconds of 'V'. A proper pause introduces 'VI', which presents a new direction. The track opens with a ticking and deep rumbles, accompanied by a noise like running water. For the next 8 minutes these elements interweave, scrapes and crackles sounding sometimes like chimes and at others like submerged philipglass vocals.

In the middle of the track things become quite active as high tones and other noises join the fray and a windnoise develops. Within these sounds various rumbles and activity are occurring, and the slowly changing main game is very listenable. The dynamics change as the wind becomes more dominant until at the 14 minute mark it modulates into a hum with voices and knocking deep within. This runs into 'VII' where a low foghorn sounds soon after the start, indicating a very liquid flavour to this section. At first it sounds like we are at sea, listening to waves of sound and something hitting the hull, strangely orchestral, but then it switches to a rushing waterpipe whooshing through, developing bangings and high tones which modulate through 'VIII' in conjunction with rumbles, the tone becoming dominant and developing overtones and with quieter passages, before a long blowingtone fade which includes the 5 seconds of 'IX'. Into 'X' which is the most active track on the album. Long ringing high tones, complex synth chords, crackling buzzing, deep speaker shaking tones, layer on layer creating a dense web of sound. And as with all the tracks, there is a continuous change as elements are modulated, new ones enter (like the matchcrackling that just has), the balance varies, creating something very listenable. Towards the end of 'X' a hornlike tone plays, the deep resonance becomes dominant and then a crackling noise which is echoed and dubbed into the fade.

The images on the cover and label of 'isolate' are overlaid and drawn over maps - among the few names visible is Los Alamos. This dark, almost mythical, place is apporpiate for the isolationist ambient on this single. The two short tracks are very strong - side a 'live @7hz' builds from a deep rumbling wind like noise through a period with subterranean banging and clatters which emerges and grows to a noisy crackling climax that fades into a pulsing jet engine. Which just seems to go on and on, until you realise that there is a lock groove. 'Plainscape' on side b is simpler, though with a more immediate impact. Two loops are set running - one a high tone metallic chord that could come from a soundtrack and whose complexity becomes apparent as it cycles on, the other a deeper, slow pulse. These run through most of the track, sometimes joined by distortion, changing phase. In the latter part a clicking sequence appears which is echoed and phased, eventually taking centre stage and caught in the final groove. The vinyl clicks add a random glitchy surface - making this an interesting way to get some dark ambience.

arctic movments:
'Arctic Movments' is a suite of four, roughly equal length pieces which move from an appropriately glacial stasis to a complex, almost musical finale. 'Part 1' is slow and drifting, putting one in mind of both images of the Arctic wastes and one of their prime musical interpretations, Koner on 'Permafrost'. Long drones sweep across, while chill deep tones and subdued pulses play as the rocks shift to some natural rhythm. Some more active beats are applied in 'Part 2' where a dense cloud of clicks shimmer between the speakers, a wind storm of out-of-phase particles. More regular clickloops appear, phased and echoed and played around with - one sounds like a camera shutter - and a rhythm gradually coalesces.

To be lost in a long Arctic wind fade. Turn the vinyl over (metaphorically on my cd-r) and 'Part 3' is almost inaudible: a suggestion of a pulse from some squirrly electronica/machinery combined with a whitenoise sussuration of air blowing from a nossle. The white noise is the ground for this piece; the pulsing builds, becoming a soft cluttering machine and deep tone about halfway. From here these elements ebb and flow - the machines rising and falling, the balance between them and across the speakers twisting, until the white noise wins and blows to the end. Another quiet but dense start, pulsing signals and crackling atmosphere, enjoined by a click, opens 'Part 4' before a vibrating triple tone sequence - it sounds like a guitar but is probably tone generated. This becomes very active, increasing and changing in volume, frequency and pitch, played about with by echoing, phasing, cutting and pasting, becoming the sole focus. Some hissing noise is associated with it which occassionally becomes dominant, but the two weave in and out, sometimes shifting to almost silence, before a fade out which cycles a return to the mood of 'Part 1'.


date | October.2000
reviewed | At the threshold moment [cd]
(coil tribute compilation)
label | else
publication | FREQ Magazine
writer | Antron S. Meister

"The negative thing about tribute albums is that they can be an outlet for a bunch of otherwise unknownbands and artists to get some attention by producing variable-quality interpretations of their influences' music. This seems for some reason to be a particular problem with dodgy Goth cover bands taking apart their Eighties heroes, with all the panache of a pub-rock band in full boozy flight. Fortunately, this is not the case with At TheThreshold Moment, in that the contributors, drawn from members of the Coil email list, have chosen largely to make their pieces resemble remixes more often than not, or to produce tracks in the spirit of Coil instead of straight covers. A case in point are the two versions of "Absolute Elsewhere", the joke for the uninitiated being that the original track was a blank B-side to the "How To Destroy Angels" single. This could easily have led to some "covers" as interesting as those which have appeared of John Cage's "4'33" - and to a point, Steven Stapleton already did that schtick a few years back on the official How To Destroy Angels remix album. J. Frede's "Elphswhere Mix" opts for what sounds like the ungrooved disc played through various delay and mixer effects to make a wash of glitches and screes, while COH sneaks out what might possibly be considered an extended mix/cover of the track as a suitable closing moment of the CD...."