News of two returns/relaunches caught my attention this week.
First, Neuma Records has announced the rare release of a new album by Pamela Z, only her third ever (a fact I always found surprising for such a media-oriented artist), and her first since A Delay is Better in 2004. A Secret Code features studies and excerpts from larger works (including Baggage Allowance, Occupy, Echo and her piece for Kronos Quartet, And the Movement of the Tongue) and remixes and new recordings of favourites from her solo performances, including Typewriter, Quatre Couches, and Flare Stains. Adding to the excitement, Annea Lockwood has contributed sleeve notes:
I have long treasured Pamela Z’s work for its vigor, inexhaustible ideas, fluid intricacy of texture, and for its sheer joyousness. An infectious, often surreal humor runs through the whole album, brilliantly upending everyday experience. The letter she is typing disintegrates, flare stains on a road become animate, and in Unknown Person even the TSA’s mundane but weighted questions are subverted, and disintegrate in the hilarious list of packed garments and hopes which follows. Voice, the most intimate of instruments, is a shape-shifter in her hands, transformed by gestural control and electronics in her performances and mutating, time-stretched and compressed as Timepiece Triptych, and throughout her work, with a dazzling compositional virtuosity.
Second, word comes of a forthcoming relaunch on 16 July of Toronto’s Rat-drifting, the legendary Toronto label founded in 2002 by Eric Chenaux and Martin Arnold and home to many of Canada’s loveliest esoteric sounds. In 2016 the label lent its name to the working title – ‘Drifting off the radar’ – of a feature I wrote for The Wire on new Canadian experimental music. In that article I wrote:
Through the 2000s it was a focal point for a woozy, intoxicating brand of psychedelic folk that drew notated music composers like Arnold and Allison Cameron into the same orbit as post-rockers like Chenaux, Ryan Driver and Doug Tielli … The label’s credo can stand in for a lot of the aesthetic preoccupations of the current wave of Canadian experimental music … This is slack writ large.
There’s a great listening primer to the Rat-drifting sound here. If you prefer disorientation to certainty, getting lost to being on time and wandering over journeying, you’re sure to find something here to enjoy. July’s label relaunch will see Rat-drifting’s entire catalogue move to Bandcamp, as well as two releases not previously available online – The Guayaveras’s (Eric Chenaux, Ryan Drive) In the Market and Nightjars’ (Chenaux, Jason Benoit) The Natural Playmate – and three new albums by the Draperies (Chenaux, Driver, Doug Tielli), Golden Melody Awards (Driver, Kurt Newman) and eldritch Priest.