SOFT EYESJohn Duncan
LP released by iDEAL with cover image by Gary Jo Gardenhire and design by Philip Marshall.
Quietly stunning, sensitive songcraft by boundary-pushing avant gardist John Duncan on a starkly haunting and timelessly beautiful new album of observations on society and intimacy, featuring Eiko Ishibashi, Stefano Pilia and friends, and highly recommended if yr feeling Scott Walker, Keiji Haino, Jandek, Tom Waits, Mark Lanegan, David Thomas & Two Pale Boys.
In pursuit of the haunted muse that's informed Duncan's boundary-pushing work since the late '70s, and which has lit up the iDEAL catalogue over the past half decade, 'Soft Eyes' renders Duncan's oblique reading of the psychic zeitgeist in subtly contrasting sides of furtively rhythm-driven and richly atmospheric songcraft. In keeping with his reputation as a sort of avant garde shaman or psychopomp, there's something unfathomably timeless and ineffably eternal about his work on 'Soft Eyes', which follows the course of his modern classics such as the songbook of wizened covers 'Bitter Earth' (2016), and last year's 'Red Sky' 2CD, without feeling like he's retreading old ground, and still sounding vitally unusual.
The record's first half centres on Duncan's thoughts on social energy and failure, from crowds to tribal gatherings, in a low-key but extraordinary style. Chamber wind meets a metallic pulse somewhere between dembow and Yemeni folk to underline his achingly hoarse vocals on 'The Rabid Position', while the lurking vox of 'Say No' smartly reaffirms his counter-cultural cache, and the queered ambience of 'Homecoming' sees him slip into a sort of curdled tribal reverie.
On the other hand, the B-side dwells in a starker, more intimate half light, with songs stripped to a spectral quintessence between the petal-fall keys and prickly sax of 'Foreplay', a face freezing, ASMR-triggering beauty titled 'Frenzy' (featuring synth and mixing from Eiko Ishibashi), and an unmissable, abyss-hovering vision 'Resolve', and pooling into the miasmic folk strings and stygian glyde of 'The Beautiful Attempt.'
BACKFIRE OF JOYPhew, John Duncan, Kondo Tatsuo recorded live at Hosei University, Tokyo.
LP released by Black Truffle with cover photo and design by Lasse Marhaug.
Black Truffle is thrilled to announce Backfire of Joy, a previously unheard recording from Phew, John Duncan and Kondo Tatsuo, documenting a concert at Tokyo's Hosei University in 1982. Though the fertile exchange of 'zines, tapes and records between the Japanese underground and the Los Angeles Free Music Society meant the artists were familiar with each other's work, this performance (occurring on Duncan's first visit to Japan) was their first meeting and only performance as a trio.
Duncan is heard on his signature shortwave radio set-up, while Kondo performs on synth, tape loops and echo-drenched piano, providing a spacious backdrop for Phew's astonishing performance of spontaneous, free-associative song moving between Japanese and English. A testament to the unhinged exploration of the 1980s experimental underground, the trio careen wildly between crashing percussive tape loops, deluges of shortwave noise, insistent piano figures and playful synth melodies. On the B side, we are treated to a remarkable ten minute sequence moving organically from spaced-out synth and radio textures to a stunning finale of improvised balladry centred on piano and voice, unexpectedly broken up by electronic interjections. Beautifully recorded in crunchy vintage fidelity, Backfire of Joy arrives accompanied by archival photographs and newly authored liner notes from all three participants.
Try AgainJohn Duncan and Stefano Pilia
LP released by Maple Death
Photos and text by Matilde Piazzi
400 copies in black vinyl
100 copies in purple vinyl
20 copies with unique artwork by Duncan
US podcast: CvltNation
Distorted classical choral recordings, synths, processed guitar… The exquisitely complex human-machine interface experiments conducted by Stefano Pilia are kept in a delicate balance by John Duncan's lyrics and the soulful quality of his vocals, for an album of electroacoustic songs that are a unique blend for both artists. Seeds and memories from the past are re-actualized in the present through a machine electroacoustic compositional process creating a dark, gloomy and terrifying image of the future. Duncan's lyrics offer a counterpointing liberation to the machine processes in action here, poetically revealing the dark and intimate struggle between the human soul and its rapport with the machine.
These recordings are a point of departure for Matilde Piazzi's inspired liner notes and photos, that take this release to another level entirely, becoming a metaphor for contemporary efforts to reach the limits of knowledge and discovery, their heroic nature and their inevitable failure.
Both artists worked on their respective sections in isolation, Pilia in an industrial area of central Bologna, Duncan in the wilderness several kilometers south of the urban sprawl. Together, their recordings developed an almost magnetic attraction that seemed to meld effortlessly.
The experience of listening quickly takes on a cinematic quality, exquisitely moving from an oceanic uplifting (Try Again) to the depths of apocalyptic, unsettling vocals (Fare Forward), constantly maintaining a lush, richly complex tapestry. The linear understanding of time is suddenly gone, dominated by a crushing machine-defined present, with Duncan's lyrics and vocals becoming a shamanic portal to a possible future.
Try Again è il risultato della forte attrazione tra il carisma e le visioni di John Duncan e la purezza e la profondità dei suoni di Stefano Pilia. I cinque pezzi pubblicati dalla londinese Maple Death rappresentano un trait d'union tra l'avanguardia di un tempo e quella che verrà, per perfetta interazione tra uomo e macchina. Try Again, traccia d'apertura, è una minisuite in cui le declamazioni ecolaliche di Duncan, e cori quasi angelici, fluttuano sulla texture elettroacustica di Pilia. The Reprisal, The Sellout e Obsolete + Comeback si odono in lontananza all'interno di una navicella sperduta nello Spazio, tra lamenti liberatori e sculture sonore futuristiche. Chiude l'album Fare Forward, cavalcata oscura e abrasiva dai contorni onirici e cinematografici. Sciamanesimo sperimentale senza tempo.
Try Again is the result of the strong attraction between John Duncan's charisma and visions and Stefano Pilia's purity and depth of sounds. The five pieces published by the London-based Maple Death represent a trait d'union between the avant-garde of the past and the one to come, for perfect interaction between man and machine. Try Again, the opening track, is a minisuite in which Duncan's ecolal declamations, and almost angelic choirs, float on Pilia's electro-acoustic texture. The Reprisal, The Sellout and Obsolete + Comeback can be heard in the distance inside a spacecraft lost in Space, amidst liberating laments and futuristic sound sculptures. The album Fare Forward closes, a dark and abrasive ride with dreamlike and cinematic contours. Timeless experimental shamanism.
-- Antonio Briozzo, Rumori
SHOW YOUR LOVELimited edition C45 cassette of solo shortwave tracks by Duncan released in 20 numbered copies including hardcover book with 2-color printed pages by Duncan and Jonathan Canady.
Side A: The Shape of Minds to Come 4
Side B: The Shape of Minds to Come 5
The RUSELimited edition C60 cassette of mixes by Duncan and Nicola Vinciguerra released in 50 numbered copies with original artwork by Nicola Vinciguerra.
ChimeratoriumLimited edition 10" released in 100 numbered copies by Silentes.
"Chimeratorium" is based on an audio dream that Deison had. He dreamt about making a new piece together with John Duncan: they were in a large room, in an old church, sculpting frequencies repeatedly for hours. Sounds and frequencies have been then recreated in the studio according to that particular event, becoming the long beautiful suites "Theta Waves" and "Portal", the latter being a collaboration track by both artists.
John Duncan, one of the most consistently confrontational, powerful, and compelling masters of experimentation of the last forty years, is also presenting an unreleased number entitled "Everyone", which is an alternate mix of a track that is going to appear on his upcoming album called "Soft Eyes", a project that was born directly from the experiences and inspirations that Duncan collected during the "Red Sky tour" in Japan with Eiko Ishibashi, Jim O'Rourke and Joe Talia.
Packed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve with images created by Stefano Gentile, "Chimeratorium" comes in a limited 10" black vinyl in the 13/Private Sounds series.
Limited Edition Cassette #146 minute cassette released in limited edition of 20 copies, signed and numbered, each copy unique.
John Duncan: shortwave
The Shape of Minds to Come 6
The Shape of Minds to Come 7
Artwork by John Duncan and Rosa Lavita
Produced with generous support from NEUREC
PANIC @ 11,000 FEETSingle side LP release by Matiere Memoire
John Duncan: shortwave
RED SKYiDEAL 181
Limited numbered edition 2xCD release by iDEAL
John Duncan: vocals
Eiko Ishibashi: flute, effects, keyboards
Jim O'Rourke: bass, synth, shortwave, effects
Joe Talia: drums, percussion
Jim O'Rourke, Eiko Ishibashi, and Joe Talia aid avant-garde enigma John Duncan unpackage songs from his remarkable grimoir 'Bitter Earth' on recordings made in Club Metro, Kyoto, 2017 while a Typhoon raged outside the venue. This is really quite the stunning set...
'Red Sky' offers documentary evidence of Duncan cementing his transition from wildly unpredictable experimentalist to a doomy troubadour with a mean line of cover versions during a set lasting just over 90 minutes. While Duncan takes centre stage on vocals, the highly attuned trio of O'Rourke, Ishibashi and Talia reliably supply backdrops that range from ritualistic ambience threaded with Duncan's favoured FM radio signals, to swooning midnight jazz, passages of driving mixes of kraut- and psych-rock, uneasy exotica and carmine-stained, Italian library soundtrack vibes.
The pair of CDs capture the essence of the band's last date on a three week tour of Japan. Because of the typhoon outside, the band expected it to be less than busy inside, but a packed audience - replete with steam from their wet clothes - greeted the band, including some coming for their 3rd show of the tour. Given it was their last chance to perform together, and for Duncan to "bask in Eiko's, Jim's and Joe's consistently masterful creativity", they all put on a mesmerising show that harnessed everything they'd experienced and learned together on the road one final time.
Kicking off with some 18 minutes of utterly haunting dark jazz scaping by his band, Duncan hovers in over a stark piano refrain with a devastating take on Dinah Washington's 1960 evergreen, 'This Bitter Earth', the vocal and keys going toe-to-toe up your spine, and five minutes later they've seamlessly locked into a grizzled garage rock cover of 'Wild Is The Wind' by Nina Simone, and soon enough an achingly sleazy spin on Steely Dan's 'Do It Again' almost worth the admission alone. CD 2 picks up at the set's mid-way with a possessed take on Iggy Pop's darkest moment, 'Mass Production', before steering down a dim-lit dark ambient ginnel to the set's other peak, a spellbindingly tense but shatterproof cover of Four Tops' 'Reach Out', before setting fire to The Zombie's 'She's Not There', and coming to rest in his quieter element with his barely-there cover of 'Dark' by Pere Ubu, and Duncan's hollerin', clappin' bluesy spiritual 'Red Sky' to close. --Boomkat
Limited edition LP release on black vinyl by Des Astres D'or
Cover design by John Duncan: original handdrawn self-portrait on 300g paper, in a UV luminous sprayed gatefold record cover that Duncan set on fire
40 copies numbered and signed, each copy unique
CONVENTIONAL WISDOMJohn Duncan and Joachim Nordwall
LP release on black vinyl by iDEAL
Songs written and sung by Duncan, mixed by Nordwall
Cover image by John Duncan
Conventional Wisdom 04:02
Hard Swallow 3:56
Soft Eyes 04:54
Say No 3:01
The Joke 12:05
The Beautiful Attempt 5:17
The Red Hot Alternative 3:22
Watch the video for Soft Eyes
LP release by Black Truffle of Duncan's epic early work for voice, shortwave and field recordings made in Amsterdam
Cover design by Stephen O'Malley
Rogue Pulse - Granite CollapseSHE'S NOT THERE with James Hamilton on Hammond organ included in 13 hour limited edition 10 CD box set release to support self-defense courses for members of Black Lives Matter, Oakland Fire Relief and St James Infirmary
Released by Ratskin Records
AVAILABLE NOW ON BANDCAMP
TENTACLES and HUMAN CYLINDERSAlbum based on field recordings of nuclear attack warning sirens with vocals by Duncan and Nayantara Bhattacharya Reed including texts by Antonin Artaud and Mina Loy
MANTRA / UR SONATE LiveDuncan's choral arrangement of Kurt Schwitters' dada epic for voice, performed by Duncan and participants attending the closing of Narkissos Gallery exhibition JOHN DUNCAN: HEAVY, USELESS, NO SENSE OF HUMOR
EMS SESSIONS VOL. 1John Duncan, James Hamilton, Joachim Nordwall, Jeremiah Runnels
Recorded at EMS Stockholm
The BLACK ALBUMJohn Duncan and Masami Akita
The GRATEFULPerformed live at Performa 2008 curated by Mike Kelley
KREV National AnthemComposed with Zbigniew Karkowski
PHANTOM BROADCAST AcousticEnsemble Phoenix Basel conducted by John Duncan recorded live at Teatro San Leonardo for AngelicA 2008
PALACE of MINDJohn Duncan and Giuliana Stefani
THERE MUST BE A WAY ACROSS THIS RIVER
Performed live on 14 February 2008 at Sant'Andrea degli Amplificatori, Bologna
A Valentine's Day dedication
JOHN SEE SOUNDTRACKSClear vinyl LP released by Geräuschmanufaktur
LP release on clear vinyl by Superior Viaduct of Duncan's first LP release of the live performance with Michael LeDonne Bhennet for Sound curated by Robert Wilhite at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (LAICA).
Cover design by John Duncan
Sold out in preorder
LP released by iDEAL
Duncan's shortwave classic recorded in Tokyo, long out of print, here remixed and remastered from original 8-track sources
Sold out in preorder
BLACK CARDLimited Edition 16 GB USB drive in black brushed aluminum card, website address laser-etched
Produced by Nayantara Battacharya Reed for Antumnbrae Intermedia
Released in a limited edition of 90
Special Edition set in fired black ceramic box with wooden lid handcrafted by Mattia Bonafè, released in a limited edition of 10
OUT, Intransitive Verbs, PRAYER, PHANTOM, Zbigniew Karkowsky Interview, MAZE, The ERROR, The GARDEN, RAGE ROOM, The GLISTENING, WINTER POLAR CIRCLE, ANOTHER USELESS PRAYER, DOWNHILL, HOPE GONE LOVE GONE, ROOT, CAGED, UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF TORTURE, MY MALE HEART, TERRA AMARA
KLAAR, RIVER IN FLAMES, INCOMING, The CRACKLING, CRUCIBLE, Mort Aux Vaches - SEEK, PALACE of MIND, TAP INTERNAL, INFRASOUND-TIDAL, PHANTOM BROADCAST, The NAZCA TRANSMISSIONS
AGAINST ALL EVENS Catalogue collages (full layouts)
JOHN DUNCAN MONOGRAPH (full layouts)
BITTER EARTHLP + EP released by iDEAL
Solo voice with Oren Ambarchi, Joe Talia, Eiko Ishibashi, Jim O'Rourke, Leif Elggren, Marja-leena Sillanpää, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, France Jobin, Tom Recchion, Elán Garfias, Christopher James, Eve Muller, Liane Schirmer, Vetza, Danny Gromfin, Ace Farren Ford, Chris Abrahams, James Hamilton, Giori Politi, Nisi Jacobs, Domenico Sciajno
Listen to RED SKY from BITTER EARTH
YEAHJohn Duncan, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi, Joe Talia
Black vinyl LP released by iDEAL