Alva Noto

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Spin , 5/10
Mikro Makro , 5/10
Kerne , 5/10
Prototypes , 6/10
Wohltemperiert , 5/10
Cyclo , 5/10
Transform (2001), 6/10
Vrioon (2003), 6/10
Insen (2005), 5/10
Revep (2006), 5/10
Xerrox (2007), 6.5/10
Unitxt (2008), 6/10
Xerrox Vol.2 (2009), 5/10
For 2 (2010), 5/10
Univrs (2011), 6.5/10

Alva Noto is the code name for Carsten Nicolai's recordings. Nicolai is a German installation artist whose installations are influenced by both cybernetics and John Cage. His audio installations employ "music" of a special kind, music which is not meant to be music in the traditional sense of the word. Rather than a musician, Carsten views himself as a "manufacturer of sounds", his main (and sometimes only) instrument being a computer.

Carsten was the instigator behind the audio journal "20' to 2000": a series of CDs designed by a team of design artist and performed by artists of Carsten choice to provide a snapshot of the state of the art at the end of the millennium, including his own contribution, the EP (Noton, 1999).

His early musical recordings include Spin (Noton, 1996), Mikro Makro (Noton, 1997), which is a collaboration with Mika Vainio, and the flexidisc track Polyfoto (Noton, 1998).

His mature season began with Kerne (Plate Lunch, 1998) and peaked with the EP Empty Garden (Noton, 1999) and the album Prototypes (Mille Plateaux, 2000). The music employs techniques as diverse as minimalistic repetition, a musical form of abstract painting, musical pointillism, industrial music (the early Throbbing Gristle variety), quantum mechanics (the idea that the vacuum is alive and that reality hides in the interstices of the spacetime grid), glitch music (Oval, or, better, Pan Sonic) and dissonant electronic music (Stockhausen, Subotnick).

Wohltemperiert (Noton, 2000) is another collaboration with Pansonic. Cyclo (Noton, 2001) is a collaboration with Japanese noise-master Ryoji Ikeda. Transform (Mille Plateaux, 2001) is another demonstration of his audio construction techniques, a sort of summary of his entire career up to that point, from deconstruction of techno (4) to LaMonte Young-ian wandering ambient drones (2).

The EP Telefunken (Raster, 2000) is an attempt to replicate his installations by plugging the stereo into the tv set and letting the sounds create the images. The limited-edition EP Uniform (SFMOMA) documents a fragment of a three-hour collaborative exhibition by Nicolai and Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) in San Francisco.

Carsten Nicolai returned to his Noto moniker for the double EP Endless Loop (e, f, g, h) (Raster Noton, 2002).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Margherita)

Alva Noto e' il nome in codice per le incisioni di Carsten Nicolai. Nicolai e' un artista Tedesco, le cui installazioni risentono delle influenze sia della cibernetica , sia di John Cage. Le sue audioinstallazioni utilizzano una "musica" di tipo speciale, una musica che non intende essere tale nel senso tradizionale della parola. Piuttosto che come un musicista, Carsten si vede come un "fabbricante di suoni", poiche' il suo strumento principale (e talora unico) e'un computer. Carsten e' stato colui che ha istigato affinche' si realizzasse la rivista audio "20' to 2000": una serie di CD progettati da un team di designers, in cui hanno suonato musicisti scelti da Carsten per offrire un'immagine dello stato dell'arte alla fine del millennio, includendo il suo personale contributo, l'EP (Noton, 1999). Le sue prime incisioni musicali comprendono Spin (Noton, 1996), Mikro Makro (Noton, 1997), che Š una collaborazione con Mika Vainio, e la traccia su flexidisc Polyfoto (Noton, 1998).

Il suo periodo maturo comincia con Kerne (Plate Lunch, 1998) e raggiunge l'apice con l' EP Empty Garden (Noton, 1999) e l'album Prototypes (Mille Plateaux, 2000). La musica si serve di tecniche del tutto differenti, come la ripetizione minimalista, una forma musicale di pittura astratta, il puntinismo musicale, la musica industriale (sul genere dei primi Throbbing Gristle), la meccanica quantistica (l'idea che il vuoto sia vivo e che la realt… sia nascosta tra gli interstizi della griglia spaziotemporale), la glitch music (Oval, o meglio, Pan Sonic) e la musica elettronica dissonante (Stockhausen, Subotnick).

Wohltemperiert (Noton, 2000) e'un'altra collaborazione con i Pansonic. Cyclo (Noton, 2001) e' una collaborazione con il signore del noise giapponese Ikeda. Transform (Mille Plateaux, 2001) e' un'altra dimostrazione delle sue tecniche di costruzione di audio, una sorta di sommario della sua intera carriera, a partire dalla decostruzione della techno (4), per arrivare a farneticanti drones ambientali alla LaMonte Young (2).

L' EP Telefunken (Raster, 2000) e' un tentativo di replicare le sue installazioni collegando lo stereo alla tv e lasciando che siano i suoni a creare le immagini. L'EP in edizione limitata Uniform (SFMOMA) documenta un frammento di un'esposizione di tre ore, in collaborazione tra Nicolai e Robin Rimbaud (Scanner), a San Francisco.

Carsten Nicolai e' tornato al suo soprannome Noto in occasione del doppio EP Endless Loop (e, f, g, h) (Raster Noton, 2002).

The EPs Transall Cycle Part One: Transrapid (Raster-Noton, 2005), Transall Cycle Part Two: Transvision (Raster-Noton, 2005) and Transall Cycle Part Three: Transspray (Raster-Noton, 2005) form a trilogy of music for the age of digital globalization, restless and chaotic.

The marriage of Alva Noto's alien electronic soundscapes and Ryuichi Sakamoto's ambient piano vignettes yielded Vrioon (Raster Noton, 2003), Insen (Asphodel, 2005) and Revep (Raster-Noton, 2006). The austere combination of piano improvisation and improvised noisescape of the first collaboration redefines the meaming of "cold".

For (Line, 2006) collected recordings of the 200s dedicated to various composers.

The ambient glitch music of Xerrox Vol 1 (Raster-Norton, 2007) explores both calm and turbulent soundscapes, from the cryptic galactic signals of Haliod Xerrox Copy 4 to to the disjointed geyser eruptions of Haliod Xerrox Copy 2 and to the slow-burning depths of Haliod Xerrox Copy 11.
Noto's music has rarely been so eloquent. A waterfall-like rustle makes love to a majestic cello drone in the nine-minute Haliod Xerrox Copy 1. The eleven-minute Haliod Xerrox Copy 3 is a tidal wave of romantic chords that has to battle a mysterious supernatural hiss. The eleven-minute Haliod Xerrox Copy 9 modulates its white noise emission and mixes a bit of melody with it achieving an ecstasy of sorts that borders on Klaus Schulze's cosmic music. His most accessible work yet, it toyed with melody at the expense of rhythm.

Xerrox Vol.2 (Raster-Noton, 2009) continued the program but with a more detached attitude. The twelve-minute Xerrox Phaser Acat 1 begins with a terrifying crescendo of machine music, but then settles down in a serene contemplation of gliding chords and hissing noises. Xerrox Monophaser 2 paints a desolate soundscape that is probed by alien spacecrafts. Xerrox Teion Acat injects glitches of humanity in the obscure symphony of the universe, trying to replicate the magic of Haliod Xerrox Copy 9. But too many pieces are rather monotonous displays of aimless drones: the thick clusters of the seven-minute Xerrox Soma, the harrowing distortions of Xerrox Meta Phaser, the floating oscillating waves of Xerrox Monophaser 1, the thin vibrating filaments of Xerrox Tek Part 1.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Nicola Mecca)

Gli EP Transall Cycle Part One: Transrapid (Raster-Noton, 2005), Transall Cycle Part Two: Transvision (Raster-Noton, 2005) e Transall Cycle Part Three: Transspray (Raster-Noton, 2005) formano una trilogia di musica per l’era della globalizzazione digitale, inquieta e caotica.


Il connubio dei paesaggi elettronici alieni di Alva Noto e delle vignette per pianoforte di Ryuichi Sakamoto produssero i mediocri Vrioon (Raster Noton, 2003), Insen (Asphodel, 2005) e Revep (Raster-Noton, 2006).

For (Line, 2006) mise insieme registrazioni dei 2000 dedicati a vari compositori.

L’ ambient glitch music di Xerrox Vol 1 (Raster-Norton, 2007) esplora paesaggi sonori calmi ma anche turbolenti. Haliod Xerrox Copy 3 Paris trovò il giusto equilibrio tra I due estremi, e l’escursione raggiunge un picco emozionale con il delicate melodramma Haliod Xerrox Copy 9. Il suo lavoro più accessibile a tutt’oggi, giocava con la melodia a scapito del ritmo.

Unitxt (Raster-Noton, 2008) marked a return to rhythm-based music but via "aleatory" procedures that would make John Cage proud. This is actually two albums in one. There is an album of microscopic compositions (some of them only a few seconds long) that are basically just sound effects, and many of them quite abrasive. Then there is an album of compositions that toy with dance music: U_08, a robotic Caribbean dance, U_09-0, a "transform" that turns a cricket-like beat into a syncopated industrial funk groove, and U_04, a mini-concerto for drilling and hissing. Finally there are two pieces that belong to another album. They both employ a voice that coldly recites random French words. U_08-1 is a trio for beatbox, reciting voice and electronic effects, and U_07 only juxtaposes voice and beatbox but the latter is subjected to some sort of disjointed stuttering.

Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld collaborated on the 18-minute EP Ret Marut Handshake (2009) and the full-length Mimikry (2010).

Summvs (Raster-Noton, 2011) is a collaboration between Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

For 2 (12K, 2010), the second part of his tribute to favorite composers, wasted Noto's talent in glacial and concise epigrams while rarely achieving the touching absence of Stalker.

Univrs (2011), a follow-up of sorts to Unitxt, was Noto's (skeletal, nuclear, post-mortem) version of dance music, ranging from the distorted, pounding industrial dance of Uni Deform to the almost romantic robotic ballet of Uni Dia, from the frenzied breakcore of Uni Mode to the hypnotic machine music of Uni C, and peaking (as far as subtlety goes) with the smooth glitchy brainwave-like sonata of Uni Red.

ANBB was a "pop" collaboration between Alva Noto and Einsturzende Neubauten's guitarist Blixa Bargeld that debuted with the drones, glitches and noises of Mimikry (Raster-Noton, 2011) over chopped beats and at the service of Bargeld's shrieks, croons and wails; their idea of a program of lieder.

Ryoji Ikeda and Alva Noto composed "music" by manipulating a visual representation of sounds on Cyclo's Id (Raster-Noton, 2011).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Matteo Gentile)

Unitxt (Raster-Noton, 2008) segnò un ritorno alla musica basata sul ritmo ma attraverso procedure "aleatorie" che avrebbero reso orgoglioso John Cage. In realtà si tratta di due album in uno. Esiste un album di microscopiche composizioni (alcune delle quali durano solo pochi secondi) che sono fondamentalmente solo effetti sonori e molte sono piuttosto abrasive. Poi c'è un album di composizioni che giocano con la musica dance: U_08 , una danza robotica caraibica, U_09-0 , una mutazione che trasforma un ritmo da Cricket in un groove di funk industriale sincopato, e U_04 , un mini-concerto per trapano e sibilo. Infine ci sono due pezzi che appartengono a un altro album. Entrambi impiegano una voce che recita freddamente parole francesi casuali. U_08-1 è un trio per beatbox, voce recitante ed effetti elettronici, e U_07 giustappone solo voce e beatbox, ma quest'ultimo è soggetto a una specie di balbuzie sconnessa.

Alva Noto e Blixa Bargeld hanno collaborato all'EP Ret Marut Handshake di 18 minuti (2009) e al lungometraggio Mimikry (2010). Summvs (Raster-Noton, 2011) è una collaborazione tra Alva Noto e Ryuichi Sakamoto. For 2 (12K, 2010), la seconda parte del suo omaggio ai compositori preferiti, ha sprecato il talento di Noto in epigrammi glaciali e concisi, tanto da far rimpiangere Stalker .

Univrs (2011), una sorta di seguito di Unitxt , era la versione della musica dance di Noto (scheletrica, nucleare, post mortem), che andava dalla dance industriale distorta e martellante di Uni Deform al balletto robotico e quasi romantico di Uni Dia , dal frenetico breakcore di Uni Mode all'ipnotica machine music di Uni C , e all'acme (per quanto riguarda la sottigliezza) della sonata fluida e ondulata simile a un'onda cerebrale di Uni Red . ANBB è stato una collaborazione "pop" tra Alva Noto e il chitarrista degli Einsturzende Neubauten Blixa Bargeld, che ha debuttato con le sonorità drone , glitch e rumoriste di Mimikry (Raster-Noton, 2011) su beats spezzettati e al servizio di strilli, cantilene e lamenti di Bargeld; la loro idea di un ciclo liederistico. Ryoji Ikeda e Alva Noto hanno composto "musica" manipolando una rappresentazione visiva di suoni in Cyclo's Id (Raster-Noton, 2011).

The "Xerrox" series was continued on Xerrox Vol.3 (2015) and Xerrox Vol.4 (2020). The "Uni" series continued on Unieqav (2018). Alphabet (2019) was a collaboration with French sound artist Anne-James Chaton. Gaia125 (2019) documents Alva Noto's background music for a spoken-word album by German author Kai Grehn. HYbr:ID Vol 1 (Noton, 2021) collects Noto's score for a ballet of the Staatsballett Berlin, Oval.

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