joe colley

Psychic Stress Soundtracks (CD) June 2005 Antifrost |afro 2029|


THE WIRE (UK) Failure, self-loathing and abject monstrosity continue unabated as the primary themes for Joe Colley's electro-shock minimalism. as with his previous, equally impressive Desperate Attempts At Beauty, he shifts through a seemingly endless supply of antiquated electric gear and forces these dilapidated machines to grind, crush, whirl and twist under conditions they were not originally designed for. On Psychic Stress Soundtracks, Colley astutely transcribes the machines' smouldering march to oblivion, granting them the emphatic capacity for pain and the recognition of existential despair. The ozone smell of melting circuity lingers above the nervous Geiger counter clicks and toxic hums of his eelectric dynamos. Colley is a gifted, if sometimes under-appreciated composer whose successes rely upon hte manifestation of the paradox of building something extraordinary out of junk. Jim Haynes

VITAL.(NL) 'For those who gave up too soon', it says on the cover, and I wonder who they are, as Joe Colley doesn't tell us. Over the years, Colley came from a background in industrial music under the banner of Crawl Unit and his own Povertech label, but since more recent times, he solely uses his own name. Maybe those who gave up too soon as those who couldn't stand his 'Psychic Stress Soundtracks'? Music made to work on the senses aren't a new thing since John Duncan's 'Stress Chamber' or Mark Bain's similar container. But on a CD one might be a bit lost as to the psychic effects. Colley offers five pieces of extreme sound frequencies, with very high end and low end sounds, chopped up into small rhythms and argumented with larger chunks of more ongoing sounds and crackles of toys being smashed with a contactmicrophone. It's a very physical soundtrack, as the music goes from soft to quite loud all the time. Maybe Colley's soundtrack is meant to be used at Guatanamo Bay (which, as I recently saw on TV uses 'Subhuman' by Throbbing Gristle in their training program - that wouldn't crack me)? Played through headphones on a loud volume and on repeat for a couple of hours, this would maybe crack the faint at heart. Maybe Colley makes a comment on that? His music is definitely the missing link between die-hard noise and a much more intelligent approach to sound and that alone makes this into a well-enjoyable release. Excellent noise - especially when not played under duress. (FdW)

TOUCHING EXTREMES.(IT) If you make the mistake of remaining trapped in a corner, Joe Colley's diffusions of poisoning vapors will remorselessly peel your skin. A tangible tension permeates the air during the territorial predominance of concentrated drones which make an instant impression on the brain, facilitated by an enormous power of propagation that's often comparable to some of the intense nerve-shattering pulses of Daniel Menche. From time to time we are surprised by a violent discharge that constitutes just a link to more engrossing segments in which emerging from the background of the unconscious becomes a pretty uneasy task. Hypnotic waves of hammering spirals destroy every point of reference, leaving an indelible trace upon the overall sonic complexion; this interaction with space brings the sounds to transform their structure incessantly, reassessing their dynamics and reconstructing their broken shells. (Massimo Ricci)

BLASTITUDE (US) The newest CD by Joe Colley, and to give you the summation in Nabakovian style: it's elegant and should be purchased at your earliest convenience. Now, how I reached that assessment. Describing Joe's work has never been a simple task for me; on one level, this disc has works which overall might loosely be classified as drones, but there's consistently a handful of elements permeating fore- and background, giving each piece a direction that 1) frees it from stark genre delineation and 2) gives each piece greater individual life. Both factors contribute to his works being intriguing and engaging. I would prefer, for this review, to steer clear of “it sounds like…” because that cheapens the excitement of experiencing the sound and moreover reduces his sound to something that can be described by slapping together some adjectives and nouns, which simply is not fair. Anyway. Although my overall impression is the pieces on this disc have a more composed feel -- as opposed to rawer research documents -- it's also inaccurate to say this disc is a “return to form.” Both styles (research vs. composed, and he has more than these two, fear not) have their place, but the former is probably the one I enjoy more. This is because while I find Joe's goals / intentions -- communicating with sound / translating a state or idea into an aural experience -- a constant thread in each release, my sense is he’s also aiming to reach those goals in a different manner with each release. And I'm speaking of more than a thorough examination of “technique,” for lack of a better word. I envision Joe with a small notepad full of notes on various sound observations he's made and then thinking -- real, qualitative thinking here, not merely noodling (although noodling has its place) -- about how each sound not only conveys or captures an idea but how sounds working together -- either sliding smooth like glass or grating like rusted barbed wire -- convey a (sometime different) idea than the separate elements. Moreover, I find these are not ideas needing explanation; Joe's work often has an extremely personal feel (something perhaps difficult to even want to attempt transmitting live [hence, in my speculation, his infrequent live performances]), ideas that are perhaps best developed when he's able to explore them in a controlled environment (studio conditions). The delicacy and directness of his audio output (not to mention the more “obvious” aspects of the titles of the recordings) gives me the sense that he’s working for something greater than the sum of his audio output, but his sound works is as close as he’s going to get to breakthrough -- or as comfortable as he feels like getting through a public exercise / exorcising as an audio release. To jump back to Joe’s “styles,” though, I'm simultaneously not convinced of this "need" for studio works; the often analytical sterility of some of his conceptual pieces (field recordings, a DAT machine dying, static from a TV, a record player being used to play another object, the sound of clay absorbing water) works fantastic as well.
It's this unification of opposing ideas -- and many more, as I've alluded to before, which make Joe's work stand out among the myriad sound artists in existence today. On this disc, I would describe the overall sound of any given piece in the following way (which I believe will not contradict my earlier desire to not “describe” the sounds): take several layers of thin ice, the topmost being the thinnest and the bottom-most the thickest, and place them a few inches from each other suspended by thin wires. In each piece of ice embed a few objects, running on batteries. Each object makes a sound, affected by 1) the batteries as they slowly die, 2) the vibration of the ice, 3) the vibration of the wires, 4) the vibration and vibration frequency of the other object(s) in the ice. Eventually the thinnest ice melts away and the objects fall to the next level below. The process and interaction of sounds begins anew, yet permutated; the ice continues to melt until all objects have collapsed through the last piece of ice and all batteries have expired. Joe's work is beautifully complex, beautifully simple; it is determined both by chance and by a highly discerning ear. Often, seemingly divergent elements are brought together in Joe's works to resolve ideas -- the resolution of which is only of concern to him. As a listener, you are fortunate enough to hear the fruit of his labor and peek aurally into an amazing place. Blake Edwards



knowing when to not know (3" CD) November 2001 Antifrost |afro 2009|


SOUND PROJECTOR (UK) A short and perplexing minidisc here, resulting from what may have been a fleeting encounter between the roaming Spaniard and California-based sound artist Joe Colley. In spite of its extrme abstraction, the work of Lopez never sounds like the product of a man who lives in his studio. Rather, there is always this "outdoor" quality to the music everything reflecting the glories of breathing, waliking and living en plain air. This may be down to the source material he uses (often field recordings), but it also tends to reflect the semi mythical role that is starting to accrue around him: Lopez the voyager like a young Odysseus, flying from coast to coast across a restless ocean, as he ministers to his record label that has three international headquarters. Creating music out of his meetings with people, turning the journeys and the places into acoustic art. But importantly, he always takes the sounds back out into the world, so they become a part of it again. I like the story about this composition having its own "adventures" before it ends up in Lopez's traveller bag. Silence, emptiness, dead air.. the void of nothingness. Water. Then added layers of treated white noise. "Knowing when to not know" becomes impossibly intense, loud and impenetrable - acquiring an aura of menace. Everything fades away quickly leaving a lonely dissipated sound to blow away helplessly across an empty wasteland. We're stranded in another tract of silence, emptiness and dead air. Then, inexplicably a quiet muffled sound hovers in the air - we can barely hear them but there are instruments, guitars, drums and organ, a fourth rate funk band are playing throught the wrong end of the telescope, dancing like tiny red ants on the antihill. The futility of man's endeavours starts to weigh upon your shoulders. The CD ends abruptly. Finis. The brevity of this composition has not prevented Lopez from realising yet another powerful statement. Ed Pinsent

ANGBASE (US) Two minutes of almost complete silence begin this track before a slight electrical hum grows into a dense insect-like buzz accompanied by what sounds like a steady rainfall. The density continues to grow into a claustrophobic drone full of blurred masses of sound - a very carefully assembled collage of noises and frequencies, mixing the field recorded sounds of rain and insects with long sustained tones and digitally stretched sounds. The track falls back into almost (but not quite) complete silence again at the 12 minute mark as it coasts to the ending with a perplexing six minutes of silence. Extremely good, and very listenable.

DE BUG (DE) So konnten Alphawellen auch klingen.Klange die nichts wollen, damit aber sehr beschaftig sind. Das konkrete escheint abstrakt und umgekehrt. Dabei schwillt das stuck im verlauf der 18 min. an und wieder ab, wie ein Regen, um sich zum Ende wie ein Sender im Kabel zu verfangen. Am besten laut horen.Francisco Lopez hat sich fur dieses projekt mit dem Kalifornier Colley zusammengetan, um die Nummer 3 in der Antifrost Serie "extreme sound souvenirs" zu gestalten die alle im 3"-Format kommen.

VITAL.(NL) Francisco Lopez, who is besides an active solo composer, also somebody who collaborates a lot, among others with John Duncan and Zbigniew Karkowski. Joe Colley might not be a well-known name, but he's the man behind Crawl Unit, and that might ring a few bells. The one piece here started out as a Lopez original which was completed with Joe in California. About the first few minutes and the last few minutes dabble around in Lopezian silence but the large chunk in the middle is much more audible, and au contraire much of the Lopez music, more electronic in nature. There is a lot of electronic sound processing going on over the original set of environmental recordings. Quite a powerful result, which is a bit too short for me.... A fine small disc. . frans de waard

PROSPECTIVE (SF) Here’s a nice little disc with a collaboration between two great sound manipulators, Francisco Lopez and Joe Colley, who might be more familiar to some as Crawl Unit. This one track disc starts with the traditional Lopez -style silence with some very minimal sounds in the background, slowly starting to develop and grow into some stronger sound collage, often used by Crawl Unit. The sound collage slowly builds up with some really low rumbling and high pitched frequencies filling the soundscape. After a few minutes, the strong and louder passage returns to where it originally came from and the piece ends with more of that Lopez -style minimalism. This 3"CD is worth getting for the middle part of the track alone, but still I’d like to hear more collaborations between these two. Jukka Mattila [9 / 10]

BLOW UP (IT) Suoni creati da Lopez e manipolati dal californiano Joe Colley in un operazione di trattamento di file audio altrui che sembra ormai essere diventata usuale nell ambito delle musiche digitali di confine.In questo caso il risultato e abbastanza piacevole, non fosse altro per la sintesi in meno di venti minuti di un percorso che dal silenzio passa per diversi stadi di elaborazione, contorsione e ripiegamento, e per la qualita "miossa" e vivace di questo suoni i quali, a confronto con le ultime produzioni di Lopez, appaiono quanto mai sfaccettati, transformati da Colley in un impasto che riesce a coinvolgere per compattezza e vivacita. Daniela Cascella

DEEP LISTENINGS (IT) Mini Cd del solito rumorismo di Lopez, stavolta piu ermatico e silenzioso che mai: ci sono microsuoni, correnti improvvise, ma sopratutto silenzi. E una sequenza nova a tutti quelli che seguono l'artisra spagnolo, in passato capace di far vagare la fantasia in completa assenza di suono. Stavolta la composizione di Lopez e stata manipolata dall americano Colley, ma la quota del suo intervento non e dimostrabile. Spesso si deve avvincare l orecchio ai diffusori per capire cosa sta succedendo, col solito rischio: il volume che repentinamente si alza, assordandoci all istante. Il trionfo dell antimusica. Gianluigi Gasparetti

TIJD (BE) Meer musique concrète brengen Francisco López & Joe Colley. Voor het werkje "Knowing When To Not Know" trokken de heren de Studio For Regenerative Cosmetics (Sacramento, Ca) in. Alle informatie ontbreekt, alsook een hoes. Francisco López gaat er immers prat op dat zijn releases ? meer dan 120 in totaal ? ‘naakt’, dus zonder voorkennis, beluisterd moeten worden. Dit schijfje bevat een soundscape van goed twintig minuten. Geluiden als kletterend water en
de verenigde metallurgie passeren, de stroom van associaties moet u zelf bedenken.

GROOVE (DE)Stille. Erst nach zweieinhalb Minuten beginnt sich was zu regen auf dieser mini-cd, und dann wird sehr schnell deutlich, wie sich wohl eine extreme Zeitrafferaufnahme aus dem Inneren einer dicken Wand anhort, wo sich Deton und Metalltrager in einer grobklotzigen Unterhaltung,bei der es nicht un Wissen, sondern um Prasenz geht, ihre jeweilige Standfestigkeit mit einer satten Bandbreite kraftiger akustischer Argumente um die Ohren schmirgeln FG

BAD ALCHEMY Nummer 3 in der Antifrost-Serie "Extreme Sound Souvenirs" startet bei 2.28 mit einem Mahinstrom naturbelassener Sounds, die mit Turbinengewalt konstant
vorwarts getrieben werden. Schragen werden eingezogen Bohrungen vorgenommen, und wer hatte nochmal gesagt, dass schreiben uber Musik so anhlich ist wie Tanzen zu Architektur? Bei 11.20 versickert dieser Fluss, im wieder in absolute Stille abzutauchen bis sich ab ca.15.40 noch ein paar liegengebliebene Radiowellen zum Aisklangeinfinden

ESCULPIENDO MILAGROS (ARG)El mini Cd "Knowing When Not To Know" en el sello griego Antifrost es una colaboración junto a uno de los más interesantes manipuladores sonoros que brindó la reputada escena experimental de California. Con su sello Povertech Industries y su alias Crawl Unit, Joe Colley abraza un creciente obra ignorada como incomprendida en los más variados sellos de música extrema. Mayormente concentrado en la creación de eventos abstractos no directamente referidos a su fuente de orígen a través del trabajo con cintas, favorece las coloraturas opacas y el noise texturado cercano a los zumbidos. Un certero complemento para la estética de López, quien va al encuentro con sus drones electrónicos oscuros, mientras Colley introduce corrientes de agua y crujidos durante 10 de los 18:30 que dura la pieza, que luego irá a perderse en esa nada inmensa.El proyecto no descansa en la novedad, sino en lo original de la combinación. Marcelo Aguirre

JADE (FR) Faisant suite à des productions locales (AS11), le label grec Antifrost, a peu à peu entrouvert les persiennes de son catalogue aux rayons rasants et lumineux de la musique internationale électroacoustique à filiation minimaliste. Un nouveau filtre vient ainsi enrichir la gamme large d’artistes présents (Sachiko M…) en la présence de Francisco Lopez et Joe Coley.
Si on ne présente plus le premier, maître de conférence à l’université de Madrid et chercheur ès-musiques environementales-minimales, voyageur insatiable, photo-reporter du son… le second, Joe Colley, californien, reste moins porté à l’avant-scène. Knowing when to not know, savoir quand on ne sait pas, est un journal de bord dont certaines pages auraient été enrichies le long des berges du pacifique (Sacramento). Travail original de Francisco Lopez, ce petit document sonore a connu les remaniements personnels de Colley.
Prenant des détours plus minimalistes (ça commence comme du Bernhard Günter aphone), la composition devient plus aventureuse au fur et à mesure (on a l’impression d’avancer dans un marécage de la selva), même si elle suit un balisage référencé, qui évite les impromptus et les surprises. Une collaboration étroite qui se conjugue avec l’absence de rythmique et qui fait suite aux conversations sonores et épistolaires de Francisco Lopez (sur Geometrik rec) avec David Myers, Illusion of safety, John Hudak, Minoy, Zan Hoffman ou Steeve Peters Une musique nocturne et immergée qui nous mène doucement au centre de la terre.Julien Jaffre

L'ENTREPOT (BE) Third part in the Antifrost series lextreme sound souvenirs?. The recordings from Lopez are worked out by both of them to very intense soundscapes.18 minutes long where longs pieces of silences contrasted with a carefullybuilt up climax. After 2 minutes 13 seconds we hear the first sound fragments. Surrounding sounds from nature, dashing water, rain, windy soundsetc. escalated to a deafening storm that lay down after 11 minutes. On 15minutes 30 seconds start we back but with samples from snare instrumentswhere East and West seems to meet each other.Intense strong soundscapes this 3" CD.

NEEDLEDROPS (US) Spain's Francisco Lopez is best known for his early work exploring the limits of perception and the grey area between audibility and silence. Of late, though, he's climbed the wall of sound to gain a better vantage point over a sprawling landscape of full-spectrum noise, both on his solo CDs (such as the sublime Untitled #104 for Alien8) and in collaboration with Zbigniew Karkowski, John Duncan, Amy Denio and others. On this 3" CD, Sacramento's Joe Colley contributes to an 18-minute piece that crawls out of silence to ascend to a buzzing, dizzying peak before it quickly fades back into nothingness. At its high point, a squall of white noise is rent by arrows of feedback and threaded with ribbons of glistening tone, until the air around you feels as though it bristled with light. Five minutes before it ends, silence imposes a curfew, but a rebel faction breaks loose,brandishing rattling percussion and snatches of radio fuzz in a soft cacophony of bebop, lounge music and Hawaiian guitar, and the anonymous revelers carouse their way through the darkness ? until they're shot dead with the abrupt end of the CD. Philip Sherburne

ULTRAHANG (HU) Nagy divatja van a miniCDnek az elektronikus zenei periférián, és valahogy úgy tunik, hogy a mainstream zeneipar erre még nem kapott rá. 2001-ben még az ír Fallt indított egy hasonló kislemezekbol álló sorozatot, elotte pedig ugye ott volt a Raster-Noton szériája. Biztos receptet követ tehát a görög Antifrost is, ahol az Extreme Sound Souvenires címu sorozatának harmadik darabja ez a spanyol-amerikai kooprodukcióban készült lemez.A kis koronghoz egy egyszeru nylon boríték tartozik, semmi más. Az összes info a lemezen olvasható, de grafikai elem ott sem jelenik meg.Lopez tanár úr (és ez nem jópofizás, hiszen Lopez valóban tanít, igaz nem zenét, egy madridi egyetemen) neve talán még azoknak is ismeros, akik még egy lemezét sem hallották. És talán Joe Colley is beugrik, ha azt mondom, hogy o áll a Crawl Unit mögött. A Tudni azt, hogy mikor kell nem tudni címu 2o perces zenemu egy Lopezre jellemzo több perces csenddel indul, amiben én nem tudok nem beleprojektálni egy mindent átfogó urmorajlást, ezek után már nem is különösebb változás a vízcsobogásból kiinduló, pusztító, olykor pedig teremto monoton zsongás. Rendes hangeron hallgatva a masszatöménységu, földcsuszamlás-szeru szivaj komoly félelmeket és heves szívdobogást keltett bennem. Az áradó, a vége felé már egyé sodort, itt-ott sípolások és metszo hangok által kísért gyönyör körülbelül nyolc perc után elhalkul és újabb jéghideg csendes percek után egy dzsessz klubb hangjait halljuk távolról, folyottott tónusokban.Eroteljes, szupernova intenzitású zajkompozíció, és a kamuzós, beszüremkedo dzsessz. Az értelemzési skála széles, már ha ilyesmivel akarunk foglalkozni, a hallgatáson túl. Nem akarunk, én legalábbis nem.Minden bizonnyal érdemes a sorozat többi darabjára is rástartolni, valószínuleg azok sem okoznak csalódást.András

INCURSION (CA) This is the third installment in Antifrost's series of "extreme sound souvenirs" on 3 inch disc (the first two in the series were by Sachiko M and as11, respectively). This disc features an original composition by absolute sound artist Francisco López which has been reworked in collaboration with California based sound artist Joe Colley (aka Crawl Unit). Just under 20 minutes in length, the piece undergoes a series of dramatic, yet well paced transitions. From the silence and near silence of what is so typical of López, the sounds steadily begin to build on that foundation. The sounds of running water are probably the only recognizable sounds here, as everything else seems to be the result of some very heavy and multilayered processing. The sounds intensify and swirl in motions that become increasingly more loud, and then things slowly tailor off. leaving about five minutes in the piece. Subsequently, a few more minutes of silence is followed by field recordings and found sounds of some sort (some music playing in the background, movements and room ambience), ending abruptly and processed at a very low volume so that the sounds are only marginally recognizable. If not entirely engaging, it's a nice short record, although it doesn't seem to tread much ground not already covered by López in his solo work. Probably the least interesting in an otherwise excellent series of 3 inch discs. Richard di Santo

FRIEND OF THE DEVIL [UK] This is part of Antifrost's 'Extreme Sound Souvenirs' 3" series and finds the prolific Lopez allowing his track 'Knowing...' to be transformed into much more by the sound artist Joe Colley. The familiar Lopez trademark of silence gradually becoming loudness is an invigorating exercise in noise dynamics as an electronic drone become submerged in the sound of creaking timbers and bass rumble before minimalist static then silence once again enshrouds the violence. At only 18 minutes, this does a lot by doing very little if you see what I mean.

GUTSOFDARKNESS [FR] Ca commence dans le silence, à vrai dire vous vous en doutiez ; heureusement Joe Colley (Crawl Unit) est passé par là, a retouché la composition originale pour lui injecter un niveau d’écoute supplémentaire, si bien que tout au long de ce mini on se retrouve tour à tour dans le silence absolu, dans des marécages bruitistes intoxicants de fumées noires, pour revenir finalement dans le micro-environnement de Francisco Lopez, soucieux de pousser notre amplificateur à ses possibilités maximales pour entendre tour à tour le son de notre électronique, ou si l’on est chanceux (et attentif) ce qui semble être une fiesta chez les procaryotes. Inégal donc, pas inintéressant non plus vu l’attention porté aux différentes couches superposées ; reste qu’il faut aimer Francisco Lopez et ses facéties, et ça, je vous l’accorde, ça n’est pas donné à tout le monde. 3,5/6