Charlemagne Palestine & Janek Schaefer
"Day of the Demons" LP



In 1995 my flatmate Miles Champion was introducing me to the world of
Avant Garde music.
We went along to a church near Waterloo Station in London
to an evening with Charelmagne Palestine. This turned out to be a formative experience
for me, as experimental music was new to me, and I learnt a lot that night. Charlemagne is
an individual with great presence of character. The things I remember were waiting for 20mins
for the Bass to arrive in his durational organ piece. This seemed a long time, and I take a lot from
people who expand my horizons. I liked it, sitting there in a swarm of sound, inhabiting it. Studying
architecture at the time it struck a chord! The next piece was a very simple field recording of Brooklyn
where Charlemagne grew up. Nothing clever or fancy about it. Played from four speakers surrounding us,
he began simply describing the context of the recording to us, and then walking around the outside of the
audience in the pews. Circling us, and getting faster on each circuit, until he was running full pelt around us.
It struck me that I could not do that, but it totally suited his personality. Direct and straightforward. I usually
feel the need to make ideas complicated or clever to give them value. But I learnt that one should always try
to expand the boundaries of what you yourself are capable of. That's something I have tried to develop since
Keep it simple stupid
He inspired me

Many years later in 2008 I found myself at his home beginning an album collaboration together.
We talked and dined and drank and played and worked together on a few occassions over the next year,
using his new enormous Charleworld Studios in Brussels as a base. I found the Cariillon bells in the far corner,
we improvised with the shruti box, pedals, electronics, mixed instruments and vocals etc. We then took walks to
the local street carnival making location recordings where we took an octave of delightful desk bells and asked the
public to play them. We were open to exploring whatever took our interest. The results were then composed
for a luxurious LP format. A two slided slab of sound named after a far away island where once a year
they all stay indoors to let the Demons have the run of the streets for a day.

 

Deluxe flame-red clear LP with mask by Desire Path Recordings US

May 2012

Buy It Here



A1
Raga de l’aprés midi pour Aude
Shruti Box, Our Voices, Harmonica, Carillon Bells
[20 mins]

B2
Fables from a far away future

Location Recordings, Desk Bells, Prayer Bear, Sine Waves, Melodica, Chimes
[20 mins]



Recorded on location at Charleworld Studios, Evere, Brussels.

Artwork & Design by Chris Koelle

Mastered by James Plotkin

HERE is a 70min interview with Charlemagne discussing his origins and memories and histories.
Great interview HERE

 


We'd like to thank Denis Boyer from Fear Drop for introducing us.

 


Reviews

100% astounding new collab of evil bliss drone from Charlemagne Palestine & Janek Schaefer [anti-gravity bunny]

New Charlemagne Palestine/Janek Schaefer thing is strange. Strange and great. [Matt Poacher]

A Closer Listen
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At the crossroads between creepy and beautiful lies Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer’s Day of the Demons. The kind of music that captivates and repulses all at once, invites one to delve be drawn into a trance-like state and punishes him for doing so. It is heavy, emotionally and conceptually, well thought out and masterfully executed, sounding as improvised as it is clinical, allowed to breathe yet choked whenever both artists feel like it. An album of contrasts that attacks its listener from the get go and doesn’t let go for hours after the last drone is drawn out. In short, this is one of the most interesting albums of 2012. The bell keeps tempo and the Sufi like chants dance around them, the drones are thick and full making sure there are no gaps in sight. Remnants of ancient cultures spring to life with “Raga de L’apres Midi Pour Aude” allowing them to exorcise their demons and in turn bringing the listeners’ own to life. It is a testament to the power of music and sound, to their abilities of dusting off old fears and bringing them front and center. In a word, scary…in two, downright terrifying!

‘Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…’

Sleep, our daily minor death. Playground to our subconscious and to many of us, the most intense time of our day. Fiction becomes reality, and with the right catalyst, monsters will creep up from under the bed and into our heads. Talking from personal experience, playing the second track “Fables From a Far Away Future” with shut eyes, full volume and a pitch black room gave me one of the most nerve wracking attempts at falling asleep. It was never to be had. I found myself recalling a similar situation while attempting the same with Bass Communion’s Ghosts on Magnetic Tape playing. On both occasions, insomnia ruled over and I was to blame. Children’s prayers disappear into an infinity of scathing drones that make way to women yelling and chatting in what can only be estimated as some North African Bedouin Arabic, then bells and more people talking; it’s intense, visual and engaging.

The question begging itself now is this: would one have expected any less from a collaboration of this stature? With Palestine’s extensive discography and seemingly endless exercises in the world of all things avant garde and Schaefer’s consistently superb output all signs pointed to a big fat NO! That said, with the fickleness of making a collaborative project sound like a melting pot of ideas rather than a cut and paste job of each artist’s input, collaborations with high prospects for success can end up failing. Thankfully, that’s far from being the case when it comes to Day of the Demons, which should stand as a landmark release in experimental music for this year and probably for some more years to follow. Let’s only hope that this is not the last time we hear from those two together. (Mohammed Ashraf)

Anti-Gravity Bunny
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This right here is a seriously epic collaboration. Yes. These two dudes work insanely well together, and just look at the list of sounds here: shruti box, harmonica, carillon & desk bells/chimes, prayer bear (um, what?), sine waves, melodica, and, best of all, lots of voices. Two side long tracks that bring the fuckin drone. The A side starts out with an incredibly rich drone, warm & inviting, mostly blissful, that soon has Palestine’s vocals bleeding into it, groaning & howling, turning into some ceremonial Eyes Wide Shut shit, dark and creepy as fuck, layers and layers of voice, some conjuring good spirits, others warding off the evil ones. The other side starts out with some location recordings, people talking at a festival or something, then the drone comes in, this time the most unsettling harmonium/sine wave drone imaginable, a dense disharmonic wall of unintelligible fear and dark swells of demonic scum, more voices come in, speaking a foreign language, exorcising the evil, and the drone fades, turning into bells & pleasantries, eventually ending on a bright note with euphoric harmoniums and bright pure bliss. This is the fucking best. Honestly, Desire Path is literally the most potently awesome label right now. This is only their fourth release and the other three have been absolutely untouchable. Slow and steady wins the race, and Desire Path is miles ahead. As if you needed any more incentive to pick this up, it comes on flame red vinyl and is accompanied by a motherfucking demon mask.

Textura
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Perfectly conceived for the LP vinyl format, Day of the Demons spreads two twenty-minute settings across two flame-red vinyl sides (500 copies produced). In keeping with the title, collaborators Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer, who began work on the project in 2008, have brought into being cryptic meditations designed to ward off evil spirits (the vinyl package purportedly includes a wearable mask for the listener to help keep them at bay). Of course, their respective reputations precede any project they might undertake, with Palestine a composer of many-decades standing known for piano performances that sometimes grow into multi-hour epics and Schaefer a highly regarded sound artist whose many honours include British Composer of the Year (Sonic Art 2008). No clarification is provided as to exactly how the two settings were produced, whether the two worked side-by-side in full collaborator mode, for example, or created the material more independently, but such concerns ultimately are footnotes to the recording itself.

Side one's “Raga de l'aprés midi pour Aude” (obviously evoking Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune) overlays its underlying drone with high-pitched voices whose desperate ululations give the piece a diseased, raga-like feel. The sense of foreboding is heightened by Carillon bells (the kind typically found in a bell tower or church belfry) that toll insistently over a dense mass generated by shruti box and harmonica. On this imagined day of reckoning, a sense of impending doom builds in tandem with the feared arrival of some horrific spectre. Less hermetic by comparison, the second piece, “Fables from a Far Away Future” begins by threading field recordings of crowd noise and speaking voices into a dense fabric assembled from desk bells, sine waves, melodica, and chimes. The voices then fall away, leaving a wavering, organ-styled mass of chords to drone, its volume level fluctuating unpredictably, before the clamour of voices and chimes returns us to the land of the living. If the opening half plays like a gradual descent into the underworld, the second feels like a return to open air, with the earlier trial having been survived. It's this unusual thematic dimension that gives the project an individuating character that helps distinguish it from other recordings in the drone genre.

Experimedia, [Alex Cobb]
>
This latest release from Desire Path proves to be an auspicious one indeed, a collaborative outing between stalwart American minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine and London-based sound artist Janek Schaefer. Those expecting experiments in turntablism or bombastic, rippling piano machinations will be stymied by the brooding, single-minded nature of "Day of Demons." The sonics of this recording remind me more of Michael Stearns classic BARAKA soundtrack or Philip Glass's score for Koyaanisqatsi than anything I've heard by either Palestine or Schaefer. This is supremely deep, meditative stuff, with shruti box drones, chanted vocals and decaying bells providing a womblike atmosphere for the listener to get lost in. As redundant as it is at this point to point out the quality of James Plotkin's mastering, one would be remiss not to, as the production quality and richness of sound is just superb. An immense record with beautiful jacket art by Chris Koelle.

Fluid Radio [Fred Nolan]
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Charlemagne Palestine’s biography would be better served by a full-length book than a quick album preview: born Charles Martin in 1945, he performed with his synagogue choir as boy tenor. “We would sing for six hours on the Sabbath with only a short break. They used to give us a tot of whiskey beforehand.” Trained to perform the carillon, he was a bell ringer at St Thomas Church in New York in the 1960s. He says, “I lived near the bells, played them right next to my body. The sound became physical, visceral, each crack of the clapper was like a small earthquake.”

In time he would play percussion alongside beat generation pioneer Allen Ginsberg, and built up a massive catalog. Closely associated with the minimalist movement, Palestine is said to prefer the term “maximalist,” for his efforts in securing the full gravity out of any instrument or arrangement.

He practically abandoned music during the age of disco. In an interview with Alan Licht, he said, “Around 1977 I became very negative, I began to do things unconsciously that I didn’t understand…. I was doing whatever I could to destroy whatever world I had created ten years before, without knowing, really, why.” Eventually Palestine “was practically destitute – I even went to live in a former leper colony in Hawaii because I felt like a leper.” By any measure his current acclaim constitutes a revival, although you could make the case that this is his second, at least as far as key reissues are concerned. Pascal Savy’s lively review of Palestine’s recent Cafe OTO performance with Oren Ambachi set the stage very well: the rituals, the cognac, the unconventional way the concert began, and the family of stuffed animals. Palestine says his soft toy entourage must “travel in the (airplane) cabin with me. I would never put them in the hold.”

His revival continues: May 1 will bring the release of some new material, Palestine’s collaboration with architecture student and sound artist Janek Schaefer, the four-year simmer Day of the Demons, courtesy of Desire Path Recordings.

The format is LP 33-rpm vinyl. There is scarcely enough room for one track on each side, roughly 40 minutes in all. Side A features “Raga de l’aprés midi pour Aude,” a brewing storm of shruti box and harmonica, every long measure answered with a faint, two-note carillion response. As hoped, the composers draw luxurious arrangements from a few instruments, a few notes, so the room is thick with an almost cinematic tension when the incantations start at four minutes in. Palestine’s endurance is not just copy: most other tracks would be wrapping up by now.

The composers chose the name “Raga” for accuracy, not just charm. A distinctly Central Asian ethic drives both the instrumentation and the vocals. The discernible chants are unsettling, are stark contrasts to the recycled breathing and exaggerated slowness of the shruti box. Measures turn to minutes as the quivering and abstract vocals lapse from anguished to optimistic and back again. Nor should we turn to Side B for any clear answers. “Fables from a far away future” begins with sparse and dissonant melodica, distracted chime improvisation, and field recordings of every stripe: an interview, a crowd, the sound of children playing, answering machine recordings of a girl reciting her nightly prayers. The mad carnival disharmony more agrees with the almost Caribbean voodoo implied by the album title. Swells of old synthesizer (the one-sheet offers only the tantalizing reference “sine waves”) close off the first act, after which the composers strip the canvas down to its dissonant core. A clip of one of Palestine’s long concerts demonstrates the performer engaging carillon keys with shims and then stepping away from the instrument, mugging for the camera as the thing drones away in discordant contentment. This way we can think of the fiery, nine-minute midsection here as a primer for some of those live marathon performances.

The track returns to its bedlam chimes now, its nonlinear melodica and field recordings: admonitions, slight commotion, the general haze of conversation. So while it is not a terrifying end, it not exactly network TV-decisive, either. Palestine once said, “It’s been a 50-year search to find a place in the world for an avant-garde, soft toy worshipping Quasimodo.”

We should feel fortunate for his wanderings.


Tiny Mix Tapes
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The incomparable Charlemagne Palestine: a man whose image is wild and eccentric, but whose music is achingly soft-spoken and minimal. A man who sincerely loves his stuffed animals and cognac. But really, this guy has made so much music in his life it’s incredible. His ability to completely skew everything we understand about rhythm and musical structure is remarkable, and is an undeniable forefather to so much of the minimal and experimental worlds we know now. He has paved the way for totally-bonkers minimal artists since 1974 with the mindfucking Four Manifestations On Six Elements, and he’s still going.

His latest achievement is a collaboration with the equally creative-as-fuck sound artist Janek Schaefer. (If you don’t know about his Recorded Delivery piece, then click here). They have come together to produce a haunting and uneasy LP with Desire Path Recordings. The record is called Day Of The Demons and has a flame face on the cover, so you can see what they’re getting at without me trying to explain it. You really should just hear the album teaser and see what Desire Path says about it on the SoundCloud page; then you’ll really get freaked out.

 

Cyclic Defrost
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A match made in heaven, or perhaps hell, Day of the Demons brings maximalist visionary Charlemagne Palestine and conceptual sound artist Janek Schaefer together for two side-long drones of bells, organs, howls and untraceable miscellany. The premise is in the title and outstanding cover art — the duo presented as brave adventurers into the dark, mysterious and unknown; the recording, both an account of how they defended themselves and of the horrors they witnessed.

In ‘Raga de l’aprés midi pour Aude’, slowly-unfurled buzz wavers and grows, bells toll, and sine tones whine, before Palestine’s unmistakable wail enters to lead the throng. There’s an urgency to the vocals, but they remain in control, and he passes through the storm victorious, with a weary call of triumph. ‘Fables from a Far Away Future’ explores broader thematic stages. Processed accordion and sleigh bells jangling over children’s voices in a schoolyard add a hint of uncertainty to otherwise bucolic sounds. We then hear children reciting prayers and a twanging with vocoder hum, before the electricity takes over in waves of soothing pop ambient and less-soothing organ drones.

The excitement of both pieces comes from the balance between fraught tension and sheltered solace. These dichotomies are placed side by side and in perfect harmony, creating music that is both menacing and menaced, cushioned and assuring. The limited blood red vinyl edition includes a mask to ward off the evil spirits, if you need any further incentive.

 

Touching Extremes [MASSIMO RICCI]
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Janek Schaefer, who came to know Charlemagne Palestine’s art and human traits relatively late, narrates that their collaboration – which began in 2008 – was a way for him to bear the “keep it simple, stupid” concept in mind, as opposed to feeling “the need to make ideas complicated or clever to give them value”.

The same principle could be applied to Palestine himself as far as his famous vocal chanting is concerned: while, for example, in the overhyped Karenina he had produced two hours of unendurable falsetto howling that test the patience of anyone unwilling to pretend an appreciation, the invocations in “Raga De L’Aprés Midi Pour Aude”– first side of this magnificent vinyl LP – are delightfully suggestive and permeated with the right dose of spirituality, enhanced by a static mantle created with the aid of a sruti box, bells, various effects and unspecified “other instruments” that most probably comprise synthesizers and/or keyboards of some kind. Schaefer also vocalizes in a balanced yet floating prayer, a straightforwardly profound artistic gesture.

The second track “Fables From A Far Away Future” is opened and closed by location recordings and found sounds that the pair assembled in Brussels during the record’s groundwork, underlined at the outset by a classic ebb-and-flow wash à la Schaefer and by shrilling harmonium clusters. However the piece’s core lies in a massive organ drone – vaguely reminiscent of Palestine’s Schlingen-Blängen – that reveals its psychoactive might at sustained high volume, dynamic intensity and conflicting upper partials producing the anticipated result as everything around seems to lose materiality and definition. The voices heard at the end, just before the last pulse, appear as a reminder of the fact that – despite one’s ability of transcending states through sheer brainpower – there’s always someone near us who will bring things back to everyday normality, thus making those episodes of bodily desertion all the more memorable and precious in our memory.


The Linimal
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Moody, muted tolls of a remote bell creepily welcome you into Day of the Demons, accompanied by circular synth drones that seep out of the speakers like aural slime, coating every surface around you with their grim, insistent repetition. From out of the murk comes Charlemagne Palestine with a mewling, overwrought chant, his voice so distant amidst the omnipresent buzz of the synth as to seemingly be recorded at the bottom of the well in Hideo Nakata’s Ring. This is the malevolent atmosphere that presides over Day of the Demons, and it doesn’t relent at any moment across its 40-odd minutes.
Thing is though, the opening track I’m writing about is called ‘Raga de L’apres-midi pour Aude’, and suddenly the massed, sonically pungent tones and the intertwined vocal laments on show don’t seem quite so creepy. There is a fashion at the moment for music that supposedly trawls the darkest depths of human history, resurrecting old gods and violent rituals via drones, noises and overt nods to the traditions of “Eastern” musics, as if the combination of all these factors somehow automatically confers a mixture of spiritual gravitas and horror movie atmosphere. It’s something Desire Path Recordings were obviously keen to capitalise on with Day of the Demons, but it would seem Janek Schaefer and Charlemagne Palestine are far too intelligent and cheeky for such simplifications, and the latter’s lopsided sense of humour shines out of a title like ‘Raga de L’apres-midi pour Aude’, which then reflects it into the man’s unsettling ululations, so that even as the music seems unsettling, and Desire Path try to advocate the album’s terrors, one can’t help but break into a smile. The patient, hypnotic drones coupled with Palestine’s pained voice may be simple, in a way, but the undertones of humour and even aggression lend the piece a certain uncertainty, elevating above the platitudes the label describes.
‘Fables from a Far Away Future’ is less immediate, but perhaps altogether more potent. As what sounds like the world’s most decrepit accordion wheezes away consumptively, Palestine and Schaefer drop mysterious field recordings from around the globe into the mix, like dollops of mud decanted into a grimy mojito. Voices in English, Japanese, Arabic, even a pair of French people woozily trying to tune a xylophone, stagger and stumble out of the persistent, elegiac drones, like recordings from a black box retrieved amongst the ruins of the Tower of Babel. Talking in voices? Are Schaefer and Palestine thinking of The Exorcist? Part of the sinister appeal of Day of the Demons is its mystery. It doesn’t feel like the duo is channeling coherent nightmares, but rather that they’re probing at, laughing with, and deliberately standing back from the intrinsic demons of human nature. The album’s greatest strength, contrary to what the blurb may try to suggest, is its elusiveness. These two are far too canny, world-weary and musically adept to simply dump a load of evident sinisteria on their listeners. Instead, especially on ‘Fables from a Far Away Future’, they hint, tease and cast sly glances at whatever lies just over the horizon and behind our shoulders.


Foxy Digitalis
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This is in many ways an excellent album, but in many ways a vague one; while it expresses something moving, it seems to never go deeply beneath the emotional surface to express something profound, the album producing few indelible moments in the listener’s consciousness – although it does occasionally have such moments, for example in album’s the last several minutes, which are strikingly beautiful.
A collaboration between Charlemagne Palestine – who will be known to Foxy Digitalis readers as a brilliant composer whose use of drone as a way of producing a meditative state in the listener is masterful – and Janek Schaefer – who readers will also be familiar with as a prolific collagist of field recordings and composer of music concrete – the two long pieces here each play to both of the artists’ styles in a unique way.
The first of the two, “Raga de L’apres midi pour Aude,” sounds more in the style of Palestine’s work, incorporating long-form drones; the second leans more toward Schaefer’s, with the use of field recordings coming to the foreground before retreating into an organ drone, and then emerging in an open, airy musical space of chiming bells, rustling trees and cinematic glimpses of an overheard conversation that shift into quiet melodica chords (by far one of the best sections of the album).
The collaboration between Palestine and Schaefer is a brilliant one because of the nature of each composer’s vision; from an artistic viewpoint, drone and musique concrete are some of the absolutely most interesting forms of art, in that both combine a cerbrality and sense of intellectuality that takes place within the overarching structure of unconsciousness and emotional expression of sound and harmony that is a central facet of music. In this way the instrumentation and the feeling produced by the musicians is remarkably expressive: on the first of the two 20-minute pieces, droning harmonium and tolling bells and wavering harmonies produce a feeling of broken-heartedness in one’s chest; building vocals that glide along the single organ note; on the second, field recordings and eerie, close-harmony organ notes in jarring discord build on one another, and are effortlessly placed together.
The strength of this album is in its artistic wholeness, in the harmony of Palestine’s and Schaefer’s ideas – it is executed with a strong emotional parallel between form and content. The criticisms that can be given to the album are all relative to the excellence of both artists’ work here (the best use of drone I’ve personally heard is on Palestine’s Four Manifestations on Six Elements, for example, an album that of course gained wider attention through its inclusion on Alan Licht’s Minimal Top Ten list, and which manages as a work of art to seamlessly weld Eastern and Western classical musical elements into utterly beautiful pieces of music – in a foremost sense by using a grand piano to create linear repetitions of certain harmonies).
In this way the pieces mix very well and are both moving works of art, but again, the transcendent moments here are few, and while this is an impressive and moving record, it still in sum seems to lack an emotional breakthrough. [Jordan Anderson]


ATTN:magazine [Jack Chuter]
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My initiation into the world of Charlemagne Palestine has pushed my tolerance in more ways than one. Strumming Music was an instant love: timbre and harmony churned into sound mush in the relentless rapid-fire of their execution, stretched out over an hour that pushes listener endurance for all its worth (let alone that of its performer). Meanwhile, my recent visit to his live collaboration with Oren Ambarchi was something of a catastrophe. Palestine outright ignored Ambarchi’s input, drunkenly drowning him beneath an assortment orgasm samples, electronic drones and reckless piano abuse – incredibly entertaining stuff for sure, but mighty difficult to stomach.
Either Day Of The Demons enlightens me to an aspect of Palestine’s palette that already exists and I had yet to discover, or the sedative drones Janek Schaefer have managed to lull his collaborative partner into a much gentler meditative state that previously seen. Palestine’s uncompromised charisma still spills into every part of this release, yet unlike the Ambarchi collaboration I witnessed last month, the record is one of intimate connection and attentive response – the sound of two artists entwined, emanating in absolute unison but with their own distinctive tones still very much distinguishable within the chorus.
“Raga de L’apres midi pour Aude” is the first of these two 20-minute pieces: ascending gradually upward through a haze of overlapping organ drone and Palestine’s encircling vocal wails, which quiver awkwardly out from between strained jaws. Various other instruments become audible from within the fog – accordion, strings, piano – but only momentarily, and soon enough they drift back within the vaporous mass of sound, with only Palestine’s vocal harmonies permitted to ascend spiralling above the drones.
In many respects, “Fables From A Far Away Future” is the polar opposite. Where “Raga…” bleeds into itself and becomes a solitary entity, “Fables…” keeps its seams very much on show. An eclectic array of samples are hauled together (bitcrushed children’s prayers, street carnival chatter and the mutterings of various different languages) and slotted in amongst relentless accordion dissonance, clumsy chimes and beautiful rushes of synthesised strings. It’s haphazard, full of contrasting atmospheres that react discordantly to eachother’s company, with voices and field recordings misplaced with dream-like incohesion.
The whole record feels as much of a withholding as it does a creative release. Palestine and Schaefer seem to be on telepathic parallel throughout – effortlessly tuning into eachother’s eerie ambient abstraction – but there’s a sense of imminence throughout, as though Day Of The Demons is a forewarning for something terrible about to occur. The nature of this impending disaster is never disclosed, kept as a shared secret between Palestine and Schaefer: an intimate souvenir of the collaborative experience to be treasured by them and them alone.


Upstate Soundscape [Patrick Hosken]
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Charlemagne Palestine (Charles Martin by birth name) originally studied as a cantor, though his early compositions dealt in drones and belfry-booming carillon bells. Throughout his storied career as a minimalist, the Brooklyn-born Palestine has crafted works that sound miles away from anything typically “American.” Out on Buffalo’s Desire Path Recordings, his latest, Day of the Demons, a joint effort with sound artist and composer Janek Schaefer, continues that trend.

Beginning with a simple drone, Day of the Demons slowly blooms into a blustery composition populated with delicately pronounced vowels and subtle bell chimes. Vocal chants linger above, sporadically dipping below the drone, redoubling as a ghostly chorus. It’s a series of slow-motion atomic blasts, each new shockwave mushrooming and settling in on itself like a collapsed blanket. It’s peering into another dimension to view a choir of flaggy wraiths as the staunch mourning bell tolls of fire nips at their bottoms. All this in the twenty-minute “Raga de L’pres midi pour Aude,” which comprises Side A of the release.

Day of the Demons Eastern-influenced sounds are alive and roaming here as the beehive of melting sound never settles into the parameters of “major” or “minor” tonality. Instead, we get a slow burn of mystic rhythm and spirit, garnished with an airy vocal sheen. The voices on the recording are both Palestine’s and Schaefer’s which, when combined with a shruti box and bits of harmonica sounds, create the contemplative, meditative first side of Day of the Demons.

After those sounds rumble away, a piercing melodica enters with shaky chimes rattling all around it. This is Side B , “Fables From a Far Away Future,” which features field recordings from a street carnival nearby the Brussels studio where the pair completed the album. The jam-packed “Fables” features intermittent desk bells that keep the atmosphere playful while still mysterious — a must. The track’s full, yet not overcrowded, and its twenty minutes enable it to become a journey, a travelogue of sorts for an avant-garde mind.

People’s voices cut in and vanish quickly. Words are unimportant; sounds are everything. Spots of ominous crunch dab the song in black, then tiny bells rescue it (and us) before total cataclysm. It’s big-top sound exploration, a detour from the ornate, decorative frontispiece of life’s carousel to the gritty, anxious back alley where piles of unwon giant teddy bears fill the dumpsters. And at the end, after all the bulbs burn out and wet newspapers line the street, you stroll through the deserted tents in dawn’s purple glow, acutely aware of the pleasant peculiarity of it all.

This is what Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer have accomplished on Day of the Demons. It’s a trip, a grand shuffle and a gratifying listen. Serve with wine or, as Palestine likes to imbibe on stage, cognac and cloves. Headphones or bulbous speakers a must. Eyes closed. Enjoy.


The Skeleton Crew Quarterly
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In a narrative explaining the creative process of their challenging but wholly one-of-a-kind Day Of the Demons, Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer were “howling through the void” and making “a cocoon for the listener to hide in”, respectively. The goal behind these efforts, that being “to ward off the demons for the sake of the listener”, can be better understood through any of the following three investigative tasks: (1) Buy the 12” vinyl and, if you’re within the first 500 to do so, marvel at the Demon Mask included, (2) Download Day Of the Demons onto your iTunes or what-have-you and note that the full-length’s genre is listed as “Ritual”, or (3) Just listen to it.

Even if the back-story feels weighed down in supernatural hocus-pocus, be warned: the music sounds frighteningly on-point. These two, twenty-minute drone-pieces that form the collaboration between Charlemagne & Janek Schaefer don’t score the solace of being ‘demon-free’, so to speak, and instead capture an intense and disturbing struggle to survive unscathed. The lead-up to this battle for the soul, “Raga de L’apres Midi Pour Aude”, works as a sort of establishing shot, instilling a buzzing drone with patient bell tolls and old-world voices singing and chanting over one another. Although certainly eerie, Side A encompasses not only a world away from our listening spot – one that sounds ancient, everlasting and is therefore thought-provoking – but also a cultural and religious hotbed of unknown origin and doctrine.

So when “Fables From a Far Away Future” takes us into the streets – replete with outdoor field-recordings and chatter drifting in and out – the ritual feels pretty well wrapped up. But what happens next? I can’t be sure but Side B of Day Of the Demons sounds very much like an exorcism from within. Layers of tense synths overwhelm, consolidating and descending upon the listener in swarms, before a child-like toy-box melody – yeah, nothing creepy about that – brings relief to the feverish climax.

Day Of the Demons is more convincing in its ability to construct dream-space than it is as a practical listening experience, which is a compliment because I’m basically saying the record should be felt more than it should be heard. I don’t expect many drone fans to be jamming to Day Of the Demons in the grocery aisles because its intensity weighs more appropriate for a sit-down event than for routine errand running. Like a quality scary movie night, Day Of the Demons should be saved for special, um, ritualistic occasions.


Tiny Mix Tapes
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The ideal occult music (and perhaps ideal music in general) totally immerses its audience. Its ultimate goal is the trance state, a headspace of deep suggestibility where the calcified forms of thought can melt and reshape. This new goal carries with it a new set of values; instead of asking “What do I like about this?” or “What makes this interesting?” (or any other aesthetic/critical questions), we may simply ask, “Does this work?” Of course, we can analyze how and why it works (and maybe that’s part of what makes it interesting), and we might not find immersion if we hate what we hear, but this is all in service of the specific goal of the trance. At its most powerful, Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer’s Day of the Demons works, though certain moments on the album disrupt this focused state.

Palestine and Schaefer accomplish the album’s most immersive passages by way of tonal instabilities. Here, the drones threaten never to resolve, and the initial discomfort that these pure oscillations provoke gives way to a powerful but alien emotional state. On “Raga de L’apres midi pour Aude,” the duo tempers that state by subtly shifting chords and introducing chilling bell tones and vocal glossolalia to keep attention. The reference to afternoon ragas in the title is apt; there is a similar drowsiness present here, as if evoking a space at the edge of dream consciousness. The raga will evoke many resonances with La Monte Young, particularly his work with the rest of the Theatre of Eternal Music.

It’s at the beginning of “Fables From a Far Away Future” when the meditative state dissolves, though the unhinging atmosphere remains as they layer children’s bedtime prayers in loops. It’s a strange incantation, but perhaps it serves to protect participants from demonic influences waiting in the wings. Samples return later in the piece, but they seem to have less sense there and largely arrest the mood the duo has taken so long to develop. Perhaps then we arrive back in waking consciousness (apparently the samples come from field recordings of a nearby festival), but it feels as if Palestine and Schaefer were just getting started down the rabbit hole.

The most crucial contribution to this album’s affects are the purity of its production and the fullness of its frequency range. Listen to it loudly on a system with good bass response, and you will feel your chest vibrate. The bells sound so full that you’d almost believe you were in a temple. This purity enables the tonal instabilities to manifest in full force, which deepens the wrenching sensation of the drones. For all of Palestine and Schaefer’s past conceptual work, Day of the Demons strikes an almost purely visceral layer. It’s not a comfortable feeling, but it’s a powerful tool for whatever magic you’re working. [MATTHEW PHILLIPS]

 

JANEK SCHAEFER LIVE AT 'FREE RANGE', CANTERBURY
Posted On: September 29, 2012
Janek Schaefer Live at Free Range, Nathan Thomas

It began with a story — a tale of how, as a young architecture student in London, our narrator Janek Schaefer first got an inkling of what could be done with sound. A friend had persuaded him to attend a concert given in a church by a middle-aged eccentric from Brooklyn, who played field recordings made in his home district while first walking, then jogging, then sprinting in a square around a bemused seated audience. That eccentric was Charlemagne Palestine, and Schaefer was blown away. Much later, having established himself as a successful composer and sound artist in his own right, Schaefer would have the opportunity to collaborate with Palestine on the album “Day of the Demons” (reviewed favourably by Fluid Radio’s Fred Nolan here.

After recounting this story (and how nice it is to hear experimental musicians and artists talk to their audiences, as the recent Quiet Design podcasts also highlight), Schaefer put on a record for us — in fact, the very LP he had made with Palestine. As the album’s foreboding drones and nasal chants began to unfurl, like smoke from an incense burner, he slowly began to add other sounds from a range of sources. Through being tweaked with effects, or simply taken out of context and juxtaposed, the character of these sounds was transformed: the whine of passing traffic became the swoosh of a whirling dervish’s cloak, an everyday conversation in French became an exotic ethnographic study, and the nasal singing, in turn, moved closer towards everyday conversation. All washed in gorgeous, yet powerful, mind-altering drone, with radio static and tape hiss from a boombox (a birthday gift, authentic 1982 model, so we were told).

The reason why Schaefer opened his performance with a story, he said, is that this is what his work does: it tells stories. This comment could be interpreted in several ways, and here’s one: we often speak of literary narratives transporting us to another place, one that may or may not resemble a location reachable by train or plane, or be named on official maps and records, but in either case one that must be at least to some extent ‘real’ because we occupy it in some way, even if only imaginatively. And Schaefer’s performance too created this kind of place, one that sounded at times like France or India or Brooklyn or London without being any one of them, one that certainly wasn’t ‘here’, in this room, upstairs in the wonderful and cosy Veg Box café in Canterbury, and yet somewhere that by the end of the performance I could attest to having been. A kind of stationary travel, a time that couldn’t be measured in minutes and seconds.

Perhaps this is all whimsical nonsense, but there’s no doubt that the performance was highly appreciated by the audience laid flat out on beanbags or curled up on sofas, fellow-travellers at least for a moment. This was the first of a new season of weekly events at the Veg Box under the banner ‘Free Range’, aiming to incorporate experiments in music, poetry, improvisation, and the like. If Schaefer’s contribution was anything to go by, the series will do much to enrich the cultural life of the city.

- Nathan Thomas for Fluid Radio

 

Free Range
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dark, funny, ecstatic and moving. [Sam Bailey]


 

 

[A little Quicktime movie lies below which I made in my shed using a long lost 'Prayer Bear' teddy from the attic]

 

 

 

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"Uleybeast Herd"

To coincide with the release of Day of the Demons LP
A highly limited edition of the original hand made Uleybeast are now available at £33.33 each


For a little more info & to Buy One of the herd Click Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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