What Light there is tells us nothing LP/CD
Janek Schaefer released by Temporary Residence Oct 2018

"A musical wonderland that only Janek Schaefer can create…"

Transparent Gold virgin vinyl LP

1. What light there is tells us nothing [for Robert Wyatt] 21:04
2. Tree at the end of the world 07:15
3. Round in circles 03:33
4. Corah I 01:49
5. Corah II 01:19
6. Battlestar Kaempfert. 04:50
7. Corah III 00:44
8. To row against the tide 01:26

LP £19.99 CD £12,99 + p&p - only here from the audiOh! Kiosk
[+ once you have bought the vinyl and listened/experienced the grooves... email me and I will send you MP3's if you want them]

For over 20 years, British sound artist, Janek Schaefer, has earned significant international acclaim & awards for transforming the power of half-forgotten memories into otherworldly works, that are often as ambiguous as they are evocative. Previous collaborators include Charlemagne Palestine, Philip Jeck, Stephan Mathieu, and a work-in- progress with William Basinski. Schaefer’s compositions primarily occupy and inhabit the spaces between sadness and joy, and relish in the unpredictability of emotional gravity. It is this transience that makes his new album, What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing, so resonant.

In 2014, with Robert Wyatt’s blessing [in the year of announcing his retirement], Janek Schaefer was commissioned by the Sounds New Festival in Canterbury, England to compose a new, original piece of music created entirely from elements of
Wyatt’s Cuckooland album. The composition was crafted using Schaefer’s custom two tone-arm ‘Twin’ turntable with effects pedals and digital collage. Originally presented at the festival as an immersive, multi-channel radio installation, his cloud of sound is a sublime meditation on the profundity of Wyatt’s work, and its transporting idiosyncrasies. Schaefer presents that piece as the title track of this new full-length opus, which is complimented with seven original compositions that not only exist in the same wondrous space, but echo its playfully poignant resonance, well after the album has ended . . .

Packaged with breathtaking monotone and multi-color artwork by Bas Mantel in an old-style tip-on gatefold jacket with spot gloss varnish and Soft TouchTM satin coating, the first 1,000 copies of this audiophile-quality 100% virgin vinyl record are pressed onto Transparent Gold colored vinyl. Not to be outdone, the CD package is an exquisite 6- panel gatefold monotone and multi-color design, replete with spot gloss varnish and Soft TouchTM satin coating. 




LP and CD on display in Rough Trade New York christmas week 2018

chart chart

Climbing up to the top of the charts



BBC Radio
Tracks were featured on several national stations eg BBC 3 & 6 featureson twice on Mary Anne Hobbs shows etc


‘What Light There Is’ finds Janek Schaefer feeding off and disassembling Robert Wyatt’s ‘Cuckooland’ [2003] album in his sublime style, paired with seven new, original pieces that share a captivating eldritch aura. Huge recommendation if you're into work by The Caretaker, Philip Jeck, WIlliam Basinski.

Continuing a series of releases reverential of significant British composers, writers and artists such as J.G. Ballard and John Tavener, Janek treats Robert Wyatt’s material with the same poetic license. What follows is an immersive, hypnagogic episode from the mental realm between waking life and dreamspace, gently teasing the pastoral loveliness of Wyatt’s music into a woozy, heavy-lidded parallel dimension. 

As always with Schaefer’s work, the idea of nostalgia and the fidelity of memory is also key to the appeal of ‘What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing’. In the 21 minute title piece, commissioned by the Sounds New Festival in Canterbury and presented as a multi-channel radio installation, Schaefer revels in the profundity of Wyatt’s work with poignant slivers filtered into gaseous shapes suggesting a fleeting mix of pastoral glory and somnambulant melancholy comparable with the most striking Philip Jeck works, or the trace echoes of memory supplied by The Caretaker.

The other seven pieces follow with a more cinematic appeal, as though we’ve dozed off during a midday matinee programme in middle England and slipped into a silvery phantasy of medieval gallantry and posh English gentry, before nods to Schaefer’s Polish ancestry flicker into his nostalgic reverie via the bobbling loops and glitching chorales of his three ‘Corah’ pieces. 

The Wire
Dec 2018

wire wire


Headphone Commute
A musical wonderland that only Janek Schaefer can create…

The slow crackle in the intro, the vocal drone and the Robert Wyatt sample that gave this album its name… Janek Schaefer manages to set the atmosphere right from the very start. And once you start the ride, you do not want to get off before it stops… simply enjoying the trip, wondering what surprising turn is in store in the next moments…

“What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing”, the title track of Schaefer‘s new album, is created entirely from elements of Robert Wyatt’s Cuckooland album. The 21-minute piece, created with his custom-made two tone-arm turntable, effect pedals and ‘digital collage’, was originally created as a multi-channel composition for 2014’s Sounds New Festival in Canterbury (with Robert Wyatt’s blessing, of course). The atmosphere is defined by a steady background drone, over which the different samples and fragment are layered. The collage-like structure and use of different musical fragments have the same mesmerizing effect as KLF’s Chill Out (1990), which over time has become one of the classics of the ‘ambient’ genre. It’s a wonderland ride, “transforming the power of half-forgotten memories into otherworldly works, that are ambiguous as they are evocative”.

The B-side on the (transparent gold virgin vinyl) album offers seven shorter tracks. These tracks are not based on Wyatt samples, but they still ‘exist in the same wondrous space’, radiating the feeling that Alice must have felt while walking in Wonderland. This is music that “inhabits the spaces between sadness and joy, and relish in the unpredictability of emotional gravity“.

Fluid Radio
Back in 2014, British sound artist Janek Schaefer was commissioned by Canterbury’s Sounds New Festival to craft an original piece of music made entirely out of Robert Wyatt’s Cuckooland. There’s no jazz-fusion here. Instead, the original record has been deconstructed. What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing constantly changes over its twenty-one minute lifespan, its differing structures melting pleasantly and its cut & pasted outtakes wedging themselves into a light and chapel-sized drone. You can hear the track segueing as a light, gaseous sound emerges, billowing into the track and then taking it over, throwing smoke over the old drone and replacing it with a darker sound.

Regular dimensions are abandoned as the music transmits from an alternate world, its decontextualized sound rebounding across unknowable airwaves. Vocals ghost in and out, and the tin-like breaths of an alien species fall upon familiar piano melodies. Drums invert, collapsing in on themselves. Schaefer is having fun, and the darker, spliced experimentation is candy for the ears. Discordant tones occupy the same space as a full-bodied and calming drone, gelling together but also feeling quite isolated and disembodied, somehow appearing to be both contemporary and ageless.

Schaefer creates a fascinating sound world where a surprise or three is always around the corner. His musical playground includes seven other new compositions, although the title piece is worth the price of admission alone. ‘Tree at the End of the World’ sounds like an old English fairy-tale as it lightly skips through the woods. There’s a sinister tint to its evolving atmosphere, as to get to grandma’s house, the ever-innocent Little Red Riding Hood must tread lightly over old sampled sounds. Brooks are covered in strange moss, and snapping twigs reveal a wolf lurking behind the trees.

Schaefer’s plunderphonics are playful, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, and vintage English in the use of vocal snippets and classic actors, but there are strong messages of morality behind its light ornamentation. The unfurling drone lives at the centre of an eternal forest. ‘Round in Circles’ goes in circles, prancing through fields of wheat like a certain Prime Minister, strolling cheerfully (or insanely) around a joyous (or deranged) loop, its flowery melody turning like a Victorian music-box. Schaefer playfully explores the sonic canvas, melding musique concrète with Lovecraftian dreams and tales from Scarfolk, where queasy and uneasy vibes sleep among the bright flowers and the greenery of the rolling hills, drunk on the last of its Summer wine.

Touching Extremes
By Massimo Ricci October 9, 2018

Janek Schaefer’s aural macrocosm projects a quintessential hybrid of profound idealism and diligent engineering within the innumerable realms of mnemonic retrieval, a body of work causing a perceptive listener to seesaw between nostalgic reminiscence and compositional sensitivity. In spite of a systematic association of his name to those of other turntable manipulators and installation moguls thriving in related ambits, in this writer’s personal book of excruciating reflection Schaefer has represented a primary character since the very outset.

This is probably due to the crucial role he attributes to vinyl, an element I’ve been surrounded by across my entire existence. Or perhaps to his unique ability in selecting that enlightening snippet every time. As Schaefer cuts, pastes and loops segments of old music – more often than not picked from an apparently bottomless furrow replete with unusual little seeds – we choke on the fragmented remnants of our internal hard disk that no cleaning software will ever be able to remove. Nobody knows where one’s pneuma is hovering as fleeting imageries from a remote past and poignant reiterations gradually take control of the systems of apprehension.

A commission from Canterbury’s Sounds New Festival dating back to 2014, the 21-minute title track was mainly built upon slices of Robert Wyatt’s Cuckooland. The risk of focusing only on that half does exist, and it would be nearly justified: the piece is indeed splendid in its juxtaposition of Wyatt shades and competent merging of sonic traits from that album and elsewhere. Slowly surfacing chords dematerializing a moment later, stirring combinations of frequencies, ineffable voices and analog residues have existed forever in our life. Starting from the womb, that is.

The shorter chapters defining the record’s second part are equally affecting, the three “Corah” morsels depicting the extreme synthesis of a general impression. Revolving around similar coordinates of pathos while conveying sepia-tinged snapshots, all the tracks draw a line dividing different typologies of daydreaming. It’s absorbing stuff throughout, still rich in unimaginable details, ghostly suggestions and lights that can be faint or glowing, but never blinding. At the start of “Battlestar Kaempfert.” yours truly mentally reaffirmed the uselessness of words. Yet again.

What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing is another essential statement from the bespectacled specialist of regretfulness: Janek Schaefer, visionary of timeworn tenderness.