Touch Sampler Reviews


Your Flesh (US):

For those unfamiliar, the London based Touch label may be the finest progressive music label in the world. Their releases range from ethereal pop to abstract electronica, from field recordings to ambient drum 'n' bass. Each release is designed by inhouse photographer and artist jon Wozencroft, and often the packages are in oversized cardboard - an utterly unique and compelling combination of music and art. Touch 00 is their 4th combination and running just shy of 80 minutes, contains all previously unreleased tracks. Stand out pieces include Thomas Brinkmann's "Olga 1", a spooky, beat-based breathing atmosphere, Chris Watson's field recordings in Ethiopia of young boys chanting while herding goats, Scala's |Breaking Point", which begins in rather benign symphonic grandeur only to collapse in a vortex of crunching rhythm and voice, the brooding heavy ambience of Hazard's "Flood Gate", and the list goes on. The recordings are uniformly excellent, and headphones take it all to another level. I've heard a good deal of these artists CDs, and I've yet to be let down. Exceptional. [Wade Iverson]

The Wire (UK):

Touch samplers recalibrate your listening habits by stretching you in new directions while reintroducing past interests. On T_Zero_0 (Touch 00 CD), unlikely juxtapositions such as Locust's crystalline pop next to Chris Watson's anthropological field recordings, are utterly refreshing, even if these pieces could possibly be annoying to hear on their own. AER's "As You Wander round" is local anthropology; Richard H. Kirk's "Entering Valhalla Without A Laptop" is surrealist homage' Mika Vainio and philip Jeck complement Ryoji Ikeda's hard-edged formalist abstraction; and Scala's "Breaking Point" shifts from oceanic strings through extreme sun Ra chaos to a heaving trance beat and spatial guitars. The breadth of approaches here exemplifies the deftness of Touch. [Ben Borthwick]

Incursion (Web):

The latest Touch sampler presents a mixed bag of exclusive tracks from various artists on the current Touch roster. The diverse soundworld that is the Touch label is always wonderfully represented on their samplers, and this latest edition is no exception, and is perhaps their most successful sampler to date. Ryoji Ikeda opens up with some smooth ikedian frequencies, and Daniel Menche follows with an exceptional piece of low rumblings, breathing in deep subterranean dimensions. Chris Watson provides the punctuations on this compilation with 3 pieces spread at various points on the record, each of which is quite unlike the usual nature recordings he is known for: each piece presents hypnotic chants from around the world (Morocco, North Ethiopia...). Thomas Brinkmann is also here, with a nice, crisp and minimal rhythm construction: totally unlike the Soul Center series, this track is one of my favourites on this disc. Mark Van Hoen returns as Locust here with his own take on more experimental forms of pop music, with absolutely stunning results which build on the styles found in 1998's Morning Light. Van Hoen is curiously missing from the Scala lineup for their track "Breaking Point", however, and it shows: the piece has very little in common with the miraculous density and compositional integrity of Compass Heart. The trouble with the Scala track is its lack of direction: it begins in 4AD mode, with light and dark synths and timpani, then shifts suddenly to a flurry of jazz percussion and noise, which then finally subdues into a driving rhythm and the processed vocal stylings of Sarah Peacock, then shifts again for a final high-frequency shriek which doesn't seem to fit at all into the piece. Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere contributes a short piece in the vein of his incredible full-length Cirque, released earlier this year on Touch. Philip Jeck presents a 10-minute piece of quiet loops for the turntable (his instrument of choice), and AER present two tracks of mysterious ambience and bizarre broadcast messages. Excellent contributions from Mika Vainio, Hazard, Richard H. Kirk, Tobias Frere-Jones and others make this a diverse and rewarding listening experience, the promise of great things to come from Touch. [Richard di Santo]

Weekly Dig (USA):
The avant-garde record label Touch has put out a sampler surprisingly titled Touch Sampler. The sounds on this CD are experimental and daring, but unlike so much music in the experimental genre, they don't tend to exhaust an idea by pushing it to the point where the listener is filled with an uncontrollable and irrational compulsion to bludgeon innocent passerbys with heavy glass ash trays, which is quite a plus.Listening to this CD is a little like thumbing through an exotic textile catalogue where each page seduces your fingertips into feeling the samples. Touch Sampler is an aural textile experience that contains pure sonic textuality as does Ryoji Ikeda's 'Matrix', an exquisite four-minute exploration of pure tonality and the effects of pitch. So compelling is the piece that it seems to induce a form of sonic vertigo in me with each listen.
Touch Sampler also does nice work with found sounds such as the crackly static anxiety-ridden 'Mach.853', which contains found sounds from Moscow Air Traffic control over Turukhansk, Siberia, October 1990. The same effect can be heard on AER's 'As You Wander Round', which uses a snippet from a walking self-tour audiotape in Salisbury Cathedral. That being said, there are dramatic soundtrack-y-moments that are more musical, such as Scala's 'Breaking Point', which sounds like a remix of Keijo Heino's 'Clubbed to Death'. Also of interest is Richard H. Kirk's 'Entering Valhalla', which is dark and enticing.
While not for the faint of heart, this CD could provide much honey for your otherwise deprived imagination. (Doug McDonald)
Muzik (UK):
Pure tones from sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, field recordings and soundtracked paranoia from ex-Cabaret Voltaire bods Chris Watson and Richard H Kirk respectively, taut steel wires of techno minimalism from Thomas Brinkmann. While many experimental / noise labels are like sprouts - hard to digest and best served only once a year (if that), Touch is like asparagus - a refined taste well worth acquiring. [Tom Mugridge]
The South End (USA):
Let's step into the lab and get experimental.
Warning: there will be no taking it to the bridge.
Step by step, let us begin at the beginning, with Ryoji Ikeda's 'Matrix (for an anechoic room)'. Ah, I see. Made for a room with no echoes. The hoverings/hums vibrate quite well on their own. Step two. Daniel Menche's 'Down'. Write this down: it is sparks, crackles & crunch. Do I smell a fire, or just an old microphone?
Get out the tape recorder. Real life makes the best samples. Chris watson takes it to Morocco and Ethiopia to record chants of 'Friday the 13th', 'A Celebration', and 'A Blessing'. And AER records voices and clacking heels in Salisbury Cathedral in England, and the drips of a Frenchman's bath in 'As You Wander Round' and 'Bread Upon the Water'. Yes, and the news, the news. Richard H. Kirk makes 'Entering Valhalla without a laptop (but with an umbrella, a sewing machine and an operating table - dig it)' with what souns to be a news report and a keyboard. Eerie. But interesting.
Hypothesis: the atmosphere will be heady. An airplane roars in your space on Hazard's 'Flood Gate'. Feel the pressure in the cabin pushing in on your brain. Track 15: 'Mach .853 [Moscow air traffic control over Turukhansk, Siberia, October 1990'. More crackles and static accompanied by musical notes turn into a distorted echo of a voice and millions of singing evening frogs, and then back to the familiar distortions in Philip Jeck's 'As My Shadow Passes...'. Strange. Yet compelling.
Here are the beakers, for making potions with many perfectly measured ingredients. Milky are Thomas Brinkmann's repetitive beats and pops in 'Olga A 1'. I want to say "deliciously spacey" to Locust and 'Wrong'. Take three parts beeps and jangles to two parts wailing cat/screeching baby, add melody and mix for the japanese pop-like People Like Us/The Jet Black Hair People/Wobbly track. Scala will swell and swoop the strings, add a drum beat and then freak it all out with crazy guitar and pounding piano for 'Breaking Point'. Biosphere's 'Sun-Baked' is all sweetness and light.
The study of natural phenomena, such as the weather, can bring forth a study in sound. Where is the thermometer? Tobias Frere-Jones has made the following examination in 'F-Hz (#190736, 1996)'"The high and low temperature for each day in 1996, as recorded at Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts, is converted to audible form. For each of the seven hundred and thirty-two readings, the unit of measure is switched, Fahrenheit to Hertz. With one-tenth of a second for each reading, F-Hz (#190736, 1996) recounts an entire year of climate in a sequence of sine waves. Aside from the one-tenth second interval, every aspect of the composition is 'found', written by the natural world". Ah, science.
The definition of a circle. Mika Vainio's 'Ilmaantuva [Airing/Appearance]' brings us back to where we began, explosion of static turns to a humming hover.
Note: lesson learned. "The world is bigger than you." It's certainly bigger than America.
[Doctor Experimenting Robot]
Label-showcase compilations often fail to live up as the sum of their parts, but for Touch, the compilation is more like a carefully curated exhibition, a dialog within the catalog. Touch - the audiovisual label curated by designer Jon Wozencroft and Mike Harding - has, over the past two decades, quietly built a reputation as one of experimental music's strongest venues, a home as much as an enterprise, and its fourth compilation draws the label's identity as a set of Venn diagrams, overlapping, swapping space, resisting unification and separation alike. Mere description won't suffice but to suggest the range conveyed here: the pristine undulations of Ryoji Ikeda, the uncannily lucid field recordings by Chris Watson, the radiant and enveloping pop of Locust, like Kate Bush blown ecstatic and offworld. At the edge of it all, the single, rotating column of light that Philip Jeck extracts from vinyl in its final, dead spin. Repeat after me: this is not ambient music. And it simply has to be heard. [Philip Sherburne]
Grooves (Web):
Label samplers are often very hit and miss, the odd gem amongst several inconsequential tracks, not so with Touch. Touch is a label that has been in existence for two decades and has been gradually but quietly building a reputation for consistently high quality experimental electronic music. This sampler is evidence of that and covers a range of artists, all with their own respective styles and interpretations, collectively forming a cohesive consistency. This CD is a journey through sound and features almost 80 minutes
of exclusive tracks never released on CD.
Ryoji Ikeda opens proceedings with an experiment in tonality and pitch, created for a sound as art exhibition in Tokyo. Daniel Menche expands on this idea by combining a low mechanical rumble with ghostly vocal samples in a quite unnerving way. Thomas Brinkmanns Olga A1 sees its first release on CD with Brinkmann taking gentle mechanical rhythms and metronome like ticks and slowly building on them, creating an excellently soothing track. Then comes Locusts track, which is a kind of dubbier more digital interpretation of Brinkmann's track (yet totally unrelated to it), but with added female vocals that sound like a deranged Kate Bush. This leads into Scalas track, which is almost like three tracks in one. Starting out with a medieval and then classical feel, mutating into rapid junglistic beats combined with manic piano and electric guitar madness. This then gives way to the main section of the track with fast low-key beats and electric guitar drones combined with cool My Bloody Valentine/Sonic Youth style female vocals. Philip Jeck then experiments with various forms of distortion, echoing vocal effects and assorted cut-ups to form a nine and half minute stream of dream-like strangeness. People Like Us (and friends) take to looping a skipping CD and manipulating radio shows samples almost beyond recognition.
At this point, the mood subtly shifts to one of atmospheric beauty. Hazard combines a number of mechanically based samples; a deep rumbling drone is joined by a running motor, a small propeller-driven aeroplane and a pounding industrial machine. As usual with Hazard, these sounds are combined and layered in such a way as to make them captivating. Then to Richard H Kirks Entering Valhalla, a track that takes gentle strings, a heartbeat and a repeated TV news sample and combines them with radiating keyboard sounds to great effect. A steady atmospheric track with peculiar similarities to Jean-Michel Jarre. Biosphere follows with a track based around the layering of various string samples to form a completely new piece of music with occasional static hiss for emphasis. Like Hazard, Biosphere never ceases to create atmosphere, this time gentle and soothing. Next up is a concept piece by Tobias Frere-Jones that is created from a whole years high/low temperature readings from a weather station in Massachusetts and converted into sound, with each reading given just a tenth of a second. The CD closes with Mika Vainio bringing the compilation full circle by combining a low tone-switching drone with the occasional deep bass rumble.
Each piece of music is further enhanced by the inclusion of a number of short segues, ranging from segments of conversation to static buzzes. Added to this are longer field recordings by AER and Chris Watson, the most interesting of which is Watsons curiously fascinating combination of a tourist guide tape from and recording of visitors to Salisbury Cathedral in England.
As a representation of a labels output, a compilation such as this serves as a testament to the consistent quality of output produced. A cohesive collection of both artistic and truly experimental pieces that shouldnt be missed. Look out for more samplers from Touch soon. Excellent stuff. [Paul Lloyd]
Fluctuat [France, web]:
Passage à lan 2000 pour le moins dépaysant à lécoute de cette compilation inédite assemblée par le label Londonien Touch. Fondé en 1982 il fut un modèle pour beaucoup, débuta avec des compilations K7 ou lon croisait, entre autres, New Order... Continua par des projets avec dex-Cabaret voltaire ou Wire, et surtout imposa en son pays bon nombre de créateurs de génie, dont ceux empruntés au label Autrichinen Mego : Fennesz, Farmers Manual, Rehberg & Bauer. Touch a toujours privilégié les musiques qui vont de lavant, et les sons digitaux mais sans jamais négliger les richesses traditionnelles, éthniques ou contemporaines. Ce sampler, leur quatrième, offre une musique dapproche difficile, riche et généreuse. Qui sadresse plus aux sens et à lintellect quau corps. Des sons qui exigent une constante attention. Ryoji Ikeda, Japonais de Tokyo qui a trois albums chez Touch, joue ici de la fréquence... Le prolifique Allemand Thomas Brinkmann impose son rythme minimaliste millésimé : excellent... Mika Vainio (Pan*Sonic) fait un peu office de second rôle et je lui préfére largement les fugues solo de son compère Ilpo Väisänen... Les anciens de Cabaret Voltaire : Chris Watson -ici pour trois morceaux- ou Richard H. Kirk sont bel et bien toujours à la pointe... Scala revient à ses premiers amours avec un killer percutant et attachant qui nous remémore que son meilleur disque est sorti chez Touch, avant quil ne rejoigne la trop polie écurie Too Pure... Locust place ses ambiences étherées et jai du mal avec le timbre de voix... Les titres senchainent bien et démontrent lunité du label, les autres membres de la famille ont pour nom Aer, Thomas, Philip Jeck, People Like Us, Hazard... 21 titres inédits et exclusifs qui raffermissent lillustre réputation dun incontournable de la musique cérébrale. [philippe petit]


Touch [and Leaf] have long been two of the top UK labels worth checking out with cutting-edge stances that have forfeited more hits than misses. 00 highlights Touch's radical leftfield leanings with a 21 track platter of tasty sound sculptures. The colorless buzztone science of artists like Hazard, Mika Vainio, Daniel Menche and Ryoji Ikeda fill one end of the spectrum with storms of studied disquiet and satisfying slices of sonic nihilism, while Thomas Brinkmann and Tobias Frere-Jones pick up the baton and add some rhythmic devices built on throbbing patterns and clickity-tapping mayhem, respectively. The concrete collage work of AER and the contextual field recordings of Chris Watson squeeze listening pleasure from captured moments, while downplaying the circuit-based archery of their 00 counterparts. Meanwhile the lush and inviting melodica of artists Locust, Scala and Biosphere pepper the release with relatively accessible respite, just about rounding out the spectrum. Except...I can't forget to mention a collaboration among People Like Us, The Jet Black People [sic] and Wobbly, whose track boxes up a Takemura-style, skippy texture, adding meowing samples and arriving at a weird interpretation of DJ aesthetic [sic]. This track, while a deconstruction of - I think - hiphop, is the closest this compilation gets to acknowledging any music genre, at least overtly. And even here, that reference is oblique. Overall, a good, challenging collection of some of the brightest sound painters. [Maveriq]


Illuminations, [Turkey]:

Right after being welcomed by two unnamed recordings, coded as tracks 1 and 2; partially naked, partially droney minimalistic ambience of Panasonic opens the real show of Touch Sampler 3. The marvelous natural-ambience of Chris Watson is also here with two pieces ( on tracks 5 and 25 ), from his new CD "Outside The Circle Of Fire" .In both, sounds are flowing so vigorous and nearly-breathing that by multiple listenings you can feel yourself like a real piece of the puzzle, or an unidentified protagonist of these rituals of environment, more than just a silent witness. AER is presented with 3 recordings in one track. Actually, the third is the most interesting of them, an atmosphere recording of a reading room in the British Library. You can either forget the description and hear how even locked mouths can humanize the air, or activate your dada and listen to he crescendo of dozens of voices, each reading a different line from a different story, loudly...Biosphere's "Knives in Hens" is made of heartbeats veiled in randomly drifting noises, while a string harmony is slowly appearing on the soundstage of the song. After the ethereal show of Philip Jeck's feedback-washed semi-metallic sonorities, a series of African Music demonstrations from African Music Village take the turn. These 8 tracks are only solo pieces played with such instruments like the guitar sounding Iseze, the odd Marimba and drums... Rehberg & Bauer's magnetic picture of looped frequencies, thin signals and waterphoney background follows Disinformation's long audio-torture. The buzzing sound miniatures of Farmer's Manual gets more consecutive in every passing second of dspKILL while they become more straching and disturbing at the same time...The funny human voice collage of Bruce Gilbert, already reserved place of Chris Watson's second song and a wonderful final of Scala's Fusion/Wave Dynamics "Fuser", icy words into inebriating mantras, mechanical beats married to soft harmonies... [O.S.]

VITAL (The Netherlands):
"This label and it's amazing catalogue requires (?) no introduction to those who regularly scan this screensheet. So now that I've got that over with I'll just carry on with my imaginary review again. This is the third in a series of compilations which do not always contain material which has been (or has yet to be) included on other releases. This makes them items in themselves and this particular one struck me as being the strangest yet. Recordings of Temple Gamelans and demonstrations of African instruments are sandwiched between short audio photographs and longer pieces by some of the regular composers whose work appears on Touch and it's various related labels.The latter are, for me, the most interesting, 'cos I'm not too keen on Gamelans, me. (Maybe it has something to do with Paul Schutze slowing them down all the time ?) There are two pieces from 'the legendary' Chris Watson, who achieved some success with his previous full-length CD 'Stepping Into The Dark', a collection of field recordings from around the planet. This time he considerably closed the distance between himself and his unwitting subjects capturing hyperreal, very, very close recordings of selected natural environments and most especially the creatures that inhabit them. I did review 'Stepping Into The Dark' when it came out and was perhaps a little too dismissive and cynical about it. Despite this, however, I use it continually on radio and at gigs, especially the beastly track with the rooks. Then there's the spooky piece 'Knives In Hens' by the very Biosperical Geir Jenssen, as we don't normally hear him. Was this recorded from transducers implanted into an extraterrestrial, I wonder ? Rehberg & Bauer (the Twins of Digihurt), Farmers Manual, Bruce Gilbert and Philip Jeck all provide sound structures which many used to think harsh, but which now, thanks to the efforts of labels like Touch, Mego and Sahko,
have become almost easy listening. Disinformation aka Joe Banks has created a simulation of a live gallery event which proved to difficult to record on location... there's a new sound object coming out very soon (on vinyl, I fink) on the late label ASH. This inclusion really rocks ! And the whole thing ends with a piece by Scala (a group which includes Darren Seymour - Seefeel, and Mark Van Hoen - Locust, both who I think can - and do - make far better music elsewhere), a band I simply cannot get to grips with. Release date of this compilation is 23 February. Get it. Got it ?" (MP)
Dddd (UK):
"[This CD will be]...cursed with the description of being "fascinating". Some of the awkward squad don't want fascinating food, they want delicious food - even if it makes them fat and turns them into an Ocean Colour Scene fan. This album passes the test of "needing-the-repeat-button" because of the final track - it's called Fuser, it's by Scala, it starts with the familiar drum machines doing the things that immediately tell you this track is going to be delicious, the familiar gentle keyboards, the x-gasmic little tweety riffy things, a woman casually saying that she doesn't have an original thought in her head. Nice, isn't it. Relax. Don't think there's a written exam before we get into heaven. Kinives in Hens by Biosphere is one of the best things I've ever heard from them - a train-going-thru-a-tunnel echoey rhythmic thing that makes your ears feel brittle. There's some Gamelan stuff here. DspKill by Farmers Manual is very, that's me trying to to be clever and saying that they sound like Oval. Panasonic are here too, Otaksuma, is more minimal than ever and I hope this is the direction they continue to travel. Elsewhere there are deposits by Philip Jeck, Disinformation, and Rehberg & Bauer. Chris Watson records a nightjar on the Zambesi, and some jays in a jungle. There's the Bagamoyo Group of Tanzania playing some fine/funny/joyful tracks in Holland Park. There's a tv. There's AER's recording of the domed/doomed reading room in the Old British Library (RIP).......and yes, oh lordy me yes yes yes (and I wish it was "no"), there's dear old Bruce Gilbert, and you know exactly what his track is gonna be like even before you know the title - "Voices". Yep. This is an album that intrigues and tells us many things - it tells us that Scala are stars, that Biosphere and Panasonic are getting even better, and it tells us that it really is time Bruce Gilbert bought a tweed jacket and took up Fell-walking."
The Wire:
"AER, who also turns out to be designer Jon Wozencroft, also crops up on Touch Sampler 3 (Touch TZERO3CD), with a piece that resurrects the lost ambience of the British Library dome. He's in the company of professional location recording recordist Chris Watson here, plus an engaging variety of tape segments: Philip Jeck, a Tanzanian group featuring Hukwe Zawose, and a Bali gamelan ensemble all captured during rehearsals; an unrecordable Disinformation installation; a piece for theatre by Norway's Biosphere; and unquantifiable sundries from Farmers Manual, Rehberg & Bauer and Panasonic."
fused (net):
"As Bruce himself would say (Bruce Lee, that is): "It's like a finger pointing at the moon, don't look at the finger, or you'll miss all that heavenly glory". That's why I avoid using genre terms as much as I possibly can, and with labels like Touch that's a doubly good idea.
Here they compile an extraordinary range of sounds: from up to the minute electronic experimentation via the superb Farmers Manual, Rehberg & Bauer,
Disinformation and the icy Panasonic and Biosphere, to "on location" recordings from the banks of the Zambezi, weird dialogue, the obligatory gamelan bashers, disorienting overtones, and a recording of the Reading Room at the British Library as it was - an unrepeatable gem for the archives. Chill out to those page-turning vibes!
Without a doubt this will be lost on a lot of people but hardcore ambient heads (ambient as in musique concrete, not tie-dye acid blarps) will recognise the chilly but quality choice, and the electronica is suitably alien. Anything can happen in the next 30 seconds." [Jonny]
REMIX (Japan):
" It's a compilation of TOUCH, which is a Electro-accoustic, post-rock label in U.K. Including 27 tracks. Among them Panasonic and Biosphere are well known and we are glad when we can listen to such an artists' track in this compilation. Moreover, almost all tracks are unreleased one so not only beginners but also fan of such musicians cannot ignore this CD. From natural sound to machine noise - from feedback to soft sounds - I'd like you to enjoy various sounds in this CD to your heart content." [Hidetosi Tatsumi]
Michael C. Lund, Last Sigh (net):
"Touch has released another CD in their series of "Samplers." This is the third, and it contains 27 tracks that are best described as explorations or investigations of sound. Sampler.3 includes very brief samples and snippets of voices and atmospheres, field recordings, demonstrations of indiginous instruments, as well as songs and compositions that generally fall at the more extreme end of the experimental musical spectrum. The short moments of speech and incidental recordings -- most of them untitled and no more than 10-20 seconds in length -- that separate many of the pieces on the CD, are curious little aural sketches. The sound of a creaking door with city noises audible in the distance; the ambiance of a kitchen; the workings of machinery; the static whispers of a television set; and, strange little bulletins from unidentified voices. At first seemingly pointless, these scraps of sound jolt the listener's attention, and nicely accentuate what seems to be the underlying theme of this compilation as a whole -- the wonder and beauty of the aural world.
The longer field recordings by Chris Watson and AER find 'music' in such unlikely places as a domed reading room in the British library, and amongst the songs and chirps of exotic birds. The echoes of shuffling feet, pages turned and chairs being restlessly moved, at first appear arbitrary, but by the end of AER's "Brightness Contrast Volume" these commonplace, and apparently random sounds and noises, assume the qualities of an orchestre, and the ambiance of the British Library becomes a subtle and unpredictable symphony. Likewise with Watson's recordings of birds. The serene voices of the birds that serve as the focal points of each of his field recordings, become arias within the greater operatic environments of cicadas, other birds' voices and general sorrounding atmospheres that the recordings also contain.  The series of demonstations of Tanzanian indiginous instruments serve as a contrast to the various field and incidental recordings. The warm, compelling sounds of the various drums, marimbas and isezes naturally register as musical, however, played solo in the context of this sampler, the pure aural qualities of the instruments become apparent. Just as the combined sounds of given environments carry musical qualities when listened to intensely, the individual elements of musical arrangements, when listened to separately become recognizable as nothing more or less than sound.
Sampler.3 also features a number of more structured musical pieces. Bruce Gilbert (of Wire fame) presents a short piece composed intirely of cut-up and rearranged fragments of speech. Rehberg & Bauer deliver a similarly brief, and rather noisy segment of manipulated electronic sound pulses. Farmers Manual is represented with a piece entitled "dspKILL," which is likewise composed of extremely manipulated and treated sounds and noises of unknown origin. Panasonic's "Otaksuma" also utilizes brief fragments and snippets of static and noise to create rhythm and melody; it is an amazingly rich piece composed of the most minimal means. Biosphere's contribution is possibly the most enthralling piece on the CD, featuring the hypnotic rhythm of a train travelling over railroad tracks as the foundation for "Knives in Hens." The closing track by Scala (including members of Seefeel and Locust) is by far the most conventional song on the CD. It is a compelling little pop tune with strong harmonic flow, and endearing female vocals. The song returns the listener to the more commonly known world of music, after a program of sounds and music of an originality and imaginativeness that I have rarely heard the equal of."
"Installation number three for the Touch gallery presents 27 new 'tracks' of everything from various (listed and unlisted) field recordings to odd 'sounds' to historical and scientific content channeled from Touch Radio to various instrumental percussive samples (can you say marimba?) to band rehearsals to birds chirping to exclusive full-length 'songs' by the likes of Biosphere, Farmers Manual, Panasonic, Rehberg & Bauer and Scala. In essence, a motley array of sound -- be it music or not. Even Geir Jenssen, the (one and only) mastermind behind the cool, ambient waves of the Biosphere machine, provides one of his most experimental pieces to date with a track called Knives in Hens -- a stuttery, rough slurry of grey noise, rainy waves and deep-sea pulsation that eventually give in (but not entirely) to the soothing sounds of beautiful strings. While it may have found a home on Substrata (Geir's latest work of pure brilliance and one of 97's finest ambient moments), Knives serves a perfect interlude amongst the bizarre field recordings and other head-scratchingly twisted snippets of sound. Exclusive tracks from the other artists listed seem to follow form as the robotic bass throbbing of Panasonic (who now call themselves Pan Sonic after 4+ years of using the popular electronic manufacturer's name and logo) pumps and circulates to a destination unknown much like anything from Vakio or Kulma. And, of course, that zany Austrian contingent (Rehberg & Bauer, Farmers Manual) are up to their usual tricks of time-manipulated sampling and regurgitated sound frequencies. Wrapping up one of the wildest collections of the year 98 (thus far) is a lovely vocal track by Scala (entitled Fuser) -- a spacey, string-laden, hypnotic tune with some truly incorrigible lyrics, namely "It's nice to be objectified / You never know, you might like it." Without question, a compilation that will change every time you listen to it. " (Review by: Aaron)
David Cunningham (Piano Records):
"That Touch Sampler - it really takes the biscuit! It's ridiculous!"
The Sound Projector (UK):
Terrific compilation of aural exotica-philes and sonic scientists associated with Mr. Mike Harding's Touch Label, here's a stimulating combination of musical and environmental recordings, all spliced together with strange and interesting fragments in between. It's a library of exotic and unusual documents, a species of aural voyeurism. Quite simply, these sounds are amazing; they could reawaken even the most entropic braindead moron to the wonders and mysteries of the world - so many things which we simply take for granted or overlook, capable of producing such astonishing sound events. One of my personal favourites is the environmental taping here of the British Library round reading room, a document that comes with an added dimension of sadness since this particular feature of British life, history and heritage is now a thing of the past. So it is meet that someone had the foresight to add this to our collective archive of memories. This is the end piece from a tripartite collage
by Jon Wozencroft, starting with the old man in his attic finding a 'convertor', leading to the found poetry of a language school lesson from the airwaves.
The unassuming Chris Watson is here with three minutes of atmospheric recording from Zambesi, filled with sunlight and recommended listening to start the day with; he later resurfaces with 'Demonic Laughter' courtesy of a lively magpie jay. Chris has travelled extensively on account of his career in cinema production; the unadulterated recordings he fetches back from his adventures are, strictly speaking, almost peripheral to his purpose, yet they amount to more than a taped diary - their utter vividness makes the listener into a traveller too. Likewise, the two central segments of ethnic music on this disc - one heavenly episode of Temple Gamelan music (recorded in 1983), and six tracks of African music from the Bagamoyo Group of Tanzania, recorded (at Holland Park in London) in 1984. Given the currently hep status of this strain of 'World Music' just now, you'd be foolish to pass up a listen to these irresistible rhythms, and the deeply pleasing sound of the 9-string iseze here.
After the African solace the CD goes wild - entering a noisy, dirty chaos zone as embodied by the near-incoherence of Rehberg and Bauer, Farmers Manual and Bruce Gilbert's horrifying 'Voice' cut-ups. Truly, these are manifestations of electronic glossolalia from possessed spirits. These are spliced either side
of Joe Banks performing Disinformation 'live' from an event at the Museum of of Installation, a heavy bass drone in all probability generated by a National Grid.
Linking fragments are possibly taken from domestic objects, familiar everyday items going mad before our very ears. The TV set (obviously) beams out strange messages; the refrigerator hums ominously or comfortingly. This latter sound phenomenon has been noticed by Masami Akita as 'interesting' that people have recently
discovered to be music, and by Robert Crumb as a potent reminder of one's mortality in his Existentialist one-page comic strip. I'd be disappointed to learn its not a fridge at all, so let me cherish my illusions. This domesticity-subverted factor extends to the old retired couple clearing out the attic (see above), a similar document not heard since Alvaro recorded his German wife Hildegard reciting her recipe while baking brown bread, as a filler for side two of his second LP.
Unofficial title for this comp has to be 'Teleform' - analysed to mean something new, Tele = 'recording at a distance' and Form = 'having the shape of'. These pieces were all recorded from the margins of life, by quiet and unassuming artists observing the miracles of life from the borderlines. This mix carefully selects items that display the most worrisome and alarming emotions alongside the most reassuring and relaxing, with very little in between. Touch releases are among the gentlest and least aggressive in the world, surely a welcome balm to the torrent of banal MTV-styled youth culture that is increasingly becoming inescapable."
The World is so full of a number of things...I'm sure we ahould all be happy as Kings.
Ptuch (Russia):
"TOUCH has issued a third in the series of samplers, inventively named "SAMPLER 3". Names such as FARMER`S MANUAL (, PANASONIC, CHRIS WATSON, PHILIP JECK, BRUÛE GILBERT and SKALA are found in the section "site recording at the banks of Zambezi River, with required sounds of gamelan, bizarre dialogues, disorienting overtones and recordings from the British Library". Relax at the sound of the pages turned over! No doubt, this sampler will be a true gift for those interested in "ambient music" (ambient in a sense of particular sound, not of circle-painted T-shirts). They will immediately recognize this cold alien electronics. Anything can happen within the next 30 seconds... They call themselves sound-explorers, which is, basically, the meaning of the release. Surely, it is not a pop music, and much of what you hear is not music in the common sense. Yet, it could serve as a perfect soundtrack, as well as a good starting point to further exploration on the capabilities of sound."


Illuminations [Turkey]:

The second volume of the TOUCH sampler comes from back 1997. Here, the collection of songs is often broken up by small speech samples which were used as breaks. ( answering machine messages, air traffic conversations etc., the most interesting one is titled "Runaway Train" which's a black box recording of a runaway train ) Also a little catalogue of TOUCH & ASH Int. (R.I.P.) is printed on the 2 pages of the CD booklet. The featured artists of this volume are: Polyphony Group Of Lapharda > Cold Warrior: warm rhythmic collages by the ambient electro project of Richard H. Kirk, from the album "Step Write Run" , one of the Alphaphone series' releases. The Hafler Trio: A short monologue for the answering machine. Philip Jeck: looped sparkles of a minimal synth melody hovering on the disquieting layer of reverberated noisy percussions. The freewing waves of music wash your ears as barren routin sounds, but evokes an audio-fanfare in your mind. New Order: The missing middle section of the 23 minutes song of this well-known band. Recorded in 1982 in Manchester. Igusti Ngurah Togog & His Son: A little piece performed with the eccentric instrument "Genggong", whose sound is reminding the typical frog sound. Mark Van Hoen: ambiance of highly resonant synths and steady beats. Rjoyi Ikeda: Structurally amalgamated extreme frequencies, sounds and holes on the layer of plus and minus infinites. As TOUCH says "an exploration at the edge of one's perception" ... or beyond minimalism . From the previous album of the Japanese artist. Mother Tongue > Scala : a nice echoed female voice; cold , throbbing percussions, and an experiment on the reverberativity, recoilles and decadence of sound. Brilliant sound, brilliant track... John Duncan > Disinformation: both tracks are manipulations and convertions of S/L wave radio frequencies. Antony Philips: an emotional etude on classic guitar. Chris Watson: contributes 2 tracks of beautiful natural ambiance, recorded in Costa Rica and Kenya. Folk Orchestra Of Albania: Again a traditional tune of Albania. Daren Seymour & Mark Van Hoen: elegant and melodious ambiance mixed with natural sound samples. Later begins to vapour a sorrowful air by the joining of the whispering vocals.. [ O.S. ]


"CONCEPT: All-out bid to out-eclecticise the rest of electronica by letting everyone - and we mean everyone - from New Order to the Folk Orchestra of Albania join the 22-track sonic shindig. Oh, and a black box recording from a runaway train for some reason.

HIGHPOINT: The runaway train of course, at least it is if your appetite for the macabre matches ours.

SPOTTER'S CHOICE: Lo-fi New Order oddity "Video 5863" - half Blue Monday, half mean experimental funking.

GOOD/BAD TRACK RATING: 17/5 - and even the baddies are, at least, a laugh." (Ben Wilmot)

Melody Maker (UK):

"FROM the detritus of the Touch catalogue, then, all manner of esoterica: "Sampler" collates public domain recordings, unusual electronica and shortwave radio manipulation. And, actually, I prefer hearing much of the compilation's material in this bite-sized context - much of it is too demanding (of patience, of time) in its original full-length form. Highlights: New Order's "Video 586", originally recorded for the opening of the Hacienda and a precurser to "Blue Monday"; Seefeel splinter-projects, Scala and Daren Seymour/Mark Van Hoen; Anthony Phillips' Vini Reilly-esque "Danza Cuccaracha"; and the inner sleeve, an incredible photograph of the sky over London, on the 23/10/96. Worth Investigation." (David Hemingway)

Muzik (UK):

"CONCEPT: The top sonic explorationist imprint unearths a whole host of treats for all sinewave trainspotters and ambient envelope-pushers.

KEY PLAYERS: Lost New Order (yes, that New Order!) recording from 1982, "Video 586". And who could possibly live without The Folk Orchestra of Albania, The Polyphony Group Of Lapharda or the on-board tapes from the control booth of a runaway train?

USEFUL SUBS: Myriad other forms of pure strangeness, including the bizarre sound experiments with interference and feedback, and original recordings from all around the globe.

VIEW FROM THE TOUCHLINE: See it, feel it, Touch it. (CB) 8/10"

TOP Magazine (UK):

"Albanian folk music, fragments of speech, ANTHONY PHILLIPS plucking his trusty acoustic, Balinese "frog music" and a long-lost experiment by NEW ORDER are just some of the highlights of this months star CD, Sampler (Touch, distributed by Semaphore/ Pinnacle)*****. This eclectic disc also takes in the ascetic HAFLER TRIO, sparse electronics from COLD WARRIOR (aka RICHARD H. KIRK), and a 1948 recording of railway controllers in New Brunswick, Canada, trying to prevent a runaway train from causing a catastrophe. Many buyers will of course want the disc for the New Order track 'Video 586/3', a previously unreleased "missing segment" of an avant-garde piece written in 1981 on an Apple ll computer. It gives an intriguing hint of the direction the group might have taken." Kevin Whitlock

VITAL (The Netherlands):

"Starts with an astounding track by the Polyphony Group of Lapharda (Albania) taken from an as yet unreleased CD titled 'Where The Avalanche Stops' (hurry up !). The there is a track by Richard H.Kirk from the recent Touch release Alphaphone Vol.1 Step.Write.Run. This is followed by unconvincing self-indulgent twaddle by Andy MacKenzie. Layers of loops are gradually dropped out by Philip Jeck in 'Nelson Surfs' - good track this ! Then there's just under four minutes of The Runaway Train (in my opinion, one of the best etc, etc on Ash International/Touch). Something with historic value, perhaps, by New Order...all bleeding 7'00 of it (hurry up!). Then, a wonderful recording of two men imitating frogs of the Balinese gonggong, an oral device. Mark Van Hoen rasps up against oddness on his way through a dropchord Channel Of Light and then there's an item from Ryoji Ikeda's recent Headphonics CD (the first 15 or 20 minutes of which are more than effective at inducing strange hysteria). Stereo madness from Scala off their vinyl-now-CD (which I'm going to listen to again...under headphones, dammit!). The something off the wonderful R & D CD by Disinformation, aka Joe Banks, champion surfer in the extreme sea of radio waves (of waves of waves of waves etc) crashing down on the sandy beaches of FAR. An excellent insertion regarding lengthy therapy is follwed by Anthony Phillips in a plucky mood, who slowly twirls his way through a 'Danza Cuccaracha'. Chris Watson, now a 'legendary' (!) sound recordist, has documented two very weird places. The first is surely one of the best vocals by a beast ever. And some of the second something is going to live in my sampler for a while. What sounds like Nusrat's back-up is really more Albanians ululating. From penultimate to 'Omnipotent' - the title of the last track on this CD, which is by Mark Van Locust and Daren Seefeel circa Aurobindo (one of the best etc, etc on Ash International/ Touch) An unusually buoyant track and far too cheerful to have been included on the original full length release. Makes for a happy ending here tho'!" (MP)


"Touch Sampler", como o nome indicia, é uma compilaçao de apresentaçao do catálogo da editora inglesa Touch (responsável por ediçoes de, entre outros, The Hafler Trio e Sandoz). Editora caracterizada pelas suas preferências experimentalistas, nao é propriamente uma surpresa o facto de nao estarmos perante uma vulgar compilaçao. Por um lado, a editora nao se limita a escolher uma meiadúzia de faixas de maior apelo comercial e, por outro lado, metade das faixas sao inéditas. Ainda a contribuir para a mais-valia deste trabalho encontram-se a continuidade sonora (nao há espaços em branco a separar os temas) e a excentricidade estética no seu todo, onde se pode destacar o esboço para "Blue Monday", dos New Order(em "Video 5863"), o folclore xamanista do Polyphony Group of Lacerda (Albânia), o minuto e meio de conversa para atendedor de chamadas dos HaflerTrio, a pop ambiental de Daren Seymour (dos Seefeel) e Mark Van Hoen(dos Locust) ou a gravaçao de Igusti Ngurah Togog & Son, onde estes interpretam o som de ras com uma folha de palmeira (o genggong balinês). Ao todo, sao 75 minutos de ecletismo sonoro-musical, onde o factor surpresa está sempre presente. Epistemologicamente, antifonia tem dois significados: a) o canto antifonário de uma composiçaomusical por dois coros; b) qualquer efeito musical ou sonoro que responde ou ecoa a outro. O termo inclui o conceito de espaço e a relaçao pergunta-resposta. Neste duplo CD (126 minutos, carteira de plástico com postais ilustrados) editado pela Ash International (uma editora-irma da Touch), "Antiphony" surge como um conjunto de interpretaçoes e remisturas de gravaçoes psicoacústicas realizadas pelo projecto hertziano de Joe Banks, Disinformation. Dado o mote, refiram-se alguns dos nomes aqui envolvidos: Bruce Gilbert (Wire), Chris Carter e Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle), Mark Van Hoen (Locust), S.E.T.I., Zbigniew Karkowski (The Hafler Trio) e John Duncan, entre outros. Apesar da revista norte-americana Wired ter descrito este projecto como "música ambiental para verdadeiros homens" e da MTV lhe chamar "heavy metal para o século XXII", parece-me ser mais descritivo algo como frequências alternativas, ora em estado de frenética excitaçao ora em estado de revigorante repouso, ou modulaçoes de pressoes atmosféricas que exploram as fronteiras entre arte e ciência. Esoterismo sonoro, onde a instrumentaçao utilizada é tao importante quanto o próprio músico, na verdade, o que aqui se ouve deve ser preferencial mente encarado como "gravaçoes" do que propriamente como "peças musicais". O seu propósito é mais informativo que de entretenimento, onde o ruído, nos seus múltiplos significados, nao é encarado como um virus a eliminar mas antes como motivo sonoro exótico a explorar. Se "Antiphony" pode ser ouvido como um disco ambiental, entao o conceito de ambiente nao deve ser lido como um transmissor de informaçao passivo mas, ainda mais que activo, interactivo.

Magic Feet (UK):

Much like David Toop's 'Ocean of Sound', this second Touch sampler stalks many unexpected and unexplored avenues for its pan-global take on what we're listening to as the twentieth century wheezes to an asthmatic close. Thus alongside trax from New Order (a portion of a 23 minute track written for the opening of the Hacienda in 1982), Richard H. Kirk (as Cold Warrior) and Mark Van Hoen you get the Polyphony Group of Lapharda or Igusti Hgurah and his son from Bali, producing the 'Gengong Frog Sound', the Folk Orchestra of Albania or a recording from Canada involving the effrts to stop a runaway train. Such breadth of vision and inclusive tendencies can only be applauded - long may labels such as Touch continue to buck the reductivist nature of the music industry where homogeneity is prized above all, and the dollar sign is the loudest thing you're likely to hear... (Cal Gibson)

Immerse (UK):

" Yet another superlative compilation from the Touch stable. Biggest suprise this time out is the unreleased New Order track, Video 586, recorded in 1982 as part of a 23 minute piece for the opening of the Hacienda in Manchester. As the inlay points out, it was a dry run blueprint for Blue Monday and this is evident from the first few seconds. Many of my personal favourites are featured on this disc which makes it an absolute joy; witness Scala's godlike Hold Me Down, Mark Van Hoen's hybrid hard ambience, Ryoji Ikeda's always precise minimalism, John Duncan's short wave transmissions, Chris Watson's startling field recordings and a previously unreleased Aurobindo track from Van Hoen and Seefeel's Daren Seymour. Touch have scored big time with this release, one of the strongest compilations I've come across in the past year." LN

mécano (UK):

"This thoroughly excellent compilation contains 22 tracks, covering the bulk of styles associated with touch and its Ash International susidiary. Amongst the better known contributors (including the Hafler Trio, John Duncan, Chris Watson and New Order) the latter's "Video 5863" is a fascinating early version of the classic 'Blue Monday'. Other highlights include 'Channel of Light' by Locust's Mark Van Hoen (a fine example of minimal, yet powerful, dance music), Ryoji Ikeda's subliminal frequencies on 'Headphonics 0/0' and 'Air Traffic Control', 'Runaway Train' and Disinformation's 'Loran - C VLF', all selected from recent Ash International releases. This album is an essential collection of top-notch experimental music from this constantly evolving label." [AK]

Calmant (Lithuania):

"Intentionally, this sampler is a collection of tracks of the highest efficiency - where the mother wit and creative power are the key words within. Definitely experimental should be a rather proper, yet too narrow rank to group and determine the whole. While the prominent artists as HAFLER TRIO, NEW ORDER, MARK VAN HOEN, RYOJI IKEDA, SCALA (and others as well) are unleashing their musical versions, the listener is being chained for 75 min approximately with omnipresent universal sounds. isn't this tested on animals?"


immerse (UK):

"Touch are probably one of the most interesting labels going. Sometimes releasing atmospherics or noise, even contemporary classical, nothing seems beyond the reach of Touch and Ash International. This becomes apparent when you play the sampler. There is no war of favourites, it's a simple resumé of what has been released. There are no biographies, discographies or other frivolous pieces of pointless information about the artists, just 16 tracks and the lable's own discography. Listen to this and witness a variety which is sadly lacking in many labels. AS"

Muzik (UK):

"An example to all. Bridging everything from the avant-garde and the post-electronic to the intensely ambient, Touch leave no stone of the experimental world unturned. From Soliman Gamil's sublime Egypto-folklore and S.E.T.I.'s Arctic ambience to Richard Kirk's Sweet Exorcist, Sandoz 's techno-punk and Hafler Trio's abrasive vacuums of sound, this is quite possibly the broadest compilation youshould treat yourself to all year."

insight (USA):

"Forgive me Lord, I confess that I have never heard of any of these folks except The Hafler Trio, but I'm into it like we've known each other for years. Briefly, the list of players: Philip Jeck, Soliman Gamil, Sandoz, Hilmar orn Hilmarsson, Hafler Trio, Chris Watson,Daren Seymour and Mark Van Hoen, El Far and Luiza Mica, Sweet Exorcist, Drome, Raxwerx, Z'ev, S.E.T.I., Koji Marutani. There. Does that mean anything to you? I saw the trio and snagged this and three stages later (dormancy, excitement, apogee) I'm sending thank you cards to everyone involved. Largely percussion, little vocal, ambient at times (Watson's recording/creation of "Mara River at Night"), sometimes abrasive (Rax werx is almost painful), the entire disc is nicely understated, like latent feelings that boil surface. Once again, the best things received in the service of this small punk rock magazine have nothing to do with punk rock and everything to do with timeless, boundless noises and rhythms that are simultaneously innate and exotic. Nicely composed in silences and sentences pregnant with mystery and promise. Highly recommended." (John Livingstone)

Jarvis (Internet review, April 1996):

"In short, this is an excellent compilation. Laid-back, introspective, soothing, sometimes disturbing, and always captivating. For the most part this is ambient listening which sounds best late in the evening. The most striking feature of this record for me, apart from its overall high quality, is the sheer variety of musical styles it encompasses. Remarkably, all these diverse artists are, or have been, signed to the small, presumably independent, label Touch, or its subsidiary Ash International. "Touch Sampler" veers from intelligent techno to neo-classical, Eno-esque wallpaper ambient to Aphex-style drones, and even incorporates some world music along the way.

H3OH (an alternative guise for The Hafler Trio) kick things off with what turns out to be something of an epic. An unusual, medieval-sounding chant ("Ooh-what-a-won-derful-world...") intros, before complex tribal rhythms slowly emerge to claim the attention. The percussion builds, then fades, and then builds again giving the piece an expectant intensity. A climax is never reached but the anticipation is probably better. Philip Jeck's "PS One" is similarly outstanding and even more intense. Simplicity and unrefined power are its main characteristics. Loud, menacing hum/buzz/drone sounds (think swarm of bees meets electric guitar distortion) form the basis of the piece, remaining largely unchanged throughout, while a raw, pounding bass drum (someone banging at a closed door) occupies the foreground. Changes in the pace and volume of the beat provide "PS One" with its third and final dimension. Soliman Gamil's middle eastern folk freshens the palate and provides a nice interlude before the full-on techno pop of Sandoz's "Orgasmatron." Another outstanding piece but this time for different reasons: frantic rhythms, bass you could cut with a knife, and the gorgeous looped rifs and melodies which characterise so much of Richard H. Kirk's work. The next track, by Hilmar Orn Himarsson, is perhaps the best piece on the record. Modern classical music which literally oozes melancholic emotion and knocks most electronic ambient for six. The Hafler Trio's second offering, "I Remain...," sounds like part of the soundtrack for a low-budget, seventies sci-fi movie, does little for me and is the first track to let the side down. Chris Watson's "Mara River at Night," on the other hand, is rather good. It apparently amounts to nothing more than the recorded sounds of frogs and crickets around a tropical river at night, but it does the trick. Daren Seymour (of Seefeel) and Mark Van Hoen (of Autocreation) combine forces to produce a spooky little number (I can't get "If you go down to the woods today..." out of my head) which is very nice but all to short. More eastern promise from Eli Fara and Luiza Mica, before Richard H. Kirk returns, this time as Sweet Exorcist. "Ghettoes of the Mind" is unmistakably Kirk's creation but is quite different from the Sandoz track, the emphasis being on soothing the mind rather han moving the feet. The jazzy funk of Drome's "Mesmerized" is low-slung, laid-back and loose, and takes "Touch Sampler" into yet another field of music. The following two pieces (Rax Werx and Z'EV) join The Hafler Trio's "I Remain...." in the waste basket, but these are the only three poor tracks. The offering from S.E.T.I. is deep, surging Orb-esque ambience of the beatless variety: a powerful piece which starts to bring us down before the close. Soliman Gamil returns, this time with a solo cello, before Koji Marutani finally wraps things up with "Calcutta." Indian street babblings gradually fade as a soft, repeating guitar melody emerges. The guitar is underlain with glorious, sweeping cello before the music ends abruptly and we return to the Calcutta street scene."

Illuminations [Turkey]:

Dated back to 1995, this is the first volume of the sampler series, we've been sent by the English label TOUCH the home of 3E (extreme, experimental, extraordinary) art. It seems that my sweet suffering in reviewing compilation releases will be doubled here due to the superb diversity of these collections. Ranging from ethno/traditional tunes to the obscure edges of digital experimentalism, from neo-classical rituals to World Music pieces , all three volumes offer a rich menu of musical forms, still addressing the faithful researchers of the obscure area. Here's the contributor index of the first volume: H3OH: An impressive opening track with solid tribal rhythms & deep male choruses and exotic animal sound samples on the background. Philip Jeck: Taken from the "Loopholes" album, first TOUCH labelled CD of Philip Jeck, this track sounds like a duel between the soft and swarming machinery beats & harder and echoing ones. During the war, deep waves of synths wash the wall of the ongoing clamor. Soliman Gamil: Ancient Egyptian Music with traditional instruments. Sandoz: The same Sandoz essence of dance poetry with different elements and less complexive percussions. Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson: a short neo-classical suite of string instruments and synths, drenched in a pastorale insence. The Hafler Trio: A 5 minutes spot of deep electro-magnetic sonorities from these legendary sound researchers. Chris Watson: Taken from the 1996 dated CD ,"Stepping into the Dark" of Chris Watson, the experimental artist utilizing with close-up recordings of sounds of nature, this piece evokes a more spacious air of wild environment, in comparison with his new piece "Outside the Circle of Fire" , of which's selected songs featured in the 3rd volume of the sampler series. Daren Seymour & Mark Van Hoen: a couple of cold and swarming melodies, spread on various different exhaling points of voice with snarling moisture or fiery noises that pump the tension. Eli Fara & Luiza MiŤa: A folk hymn ( probably of Balkans), sang by a duo of vocals in native language. Sweet Exorcist: Electro Rock with looped sound samples. One of the projects of Richard H. Kirk. Drome: Experimental jazz embelished by miniature electro-noises and treated vocals. Rax Werx: harsh noise assault... Z'EV: a structured composition of bells and gongs that used as alarms before the radio announcements. S.E.T.I.: Taking on more open and sensual sound emissions, the sametitled track of the previous S.E.T.I. album "Knowledge" differs from the lucid experiments of "Above Black" noticeably. Still enveloping the listener with the intense feeling of desolation and being lost, the experiment contains a deep floating synth harmony (which we can even call a melody), instead of the nearly-motionless picture of the background, sailing along the mysterious speech samples and murmuring & droning of deep space. Very fitting music for the odd scenes of a science fiction movie. Koji Marutani: a short guitar piece moving along the sonic- photo of Calcutta's streets [O.S ]