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735 xanopticon. liminal space. cd. oct2k3



these days
into the dark
the slow walk down


download pressrelease.pdf

also available: liminal space. lp. hymen records ¥042

battle music for nano-samurai. that’s xanopticon.

not really, but it’s not too far-fetched, either. liminal space, xanopticon’s debut album for hymen records, centers around nanometer-sized sound snippets placed one-by-one in perfect order, creating a mesmerizing fight scene between clangs and clacks, snaps and pops, noise and thunder. like microscopic swords locking in a martial ballet of darkstep rhythms, liminal space unleashes a bevy of cunning musical forms meant to be as much art as it is confrontation.

“in some sense it’s a snapshot of my life, in that writing tracks is always sort of like purging yourself and whatever ideas have been floating about in your mind,” says xanopticon’s ryan friedrich of liminal space. comparisons run the break/dark/techcore gamut from panacea to venetian snares to black mass plastics, but the trait that sets xanopticon’s brand of power breaks apart from his peers is the degree to which dead silence plays a pivotal role in conveying his musical ideas.

“i’ve always thought that dynamics are extremely important,” says ryan. “i try to make the tracks sort of narrative, albeit abstractly, so there’s always an attempt to place moments of calm and different moods amongst the chaos. the spaces between add weight to harder parts and vice versa - a track is sort of like an animal when its done and it needs room to breathe.”

ryan, a pittsburgh, pennsylvania native who recently completed studies in film and philosophy, likens this breathing room to the film noir-related term “liminal space,” whence the album name derives. ryan remarks there’s a quote from his film studies that best sums up “’the paradox of liminal space’:” “’the moment when borders become porous, structures disintegrate, commonplaces collide and stability is subverted by the occult drive of change.’”

what that means for xanopticon is a little more concrete. liminal space functions on a premise of silent veneers punctuated by a panoply of different sounds. “symphwrak”’s accelerated industrial bass toms pierce a wavering metallized plane like so much grenade shrapnel through an aluminum shed; “constant,” on the other hand, with its finely isolated and matte tonality, suggests a manic industrial chopping machine, where everything from snaps to croinks to breaks fall julienned in uniform fashion. the more dramatic synth overtones and delicate beat structures of “drunxpla” connote the sense of a grand sword battle between seasoned warlords, an orchestration of tight percussion quanta clashing with violence, yet tempered with strategy.

the music of xanopticon began to fester inside ryan in 2000 for a few reasons: his passion for messing around with electronics and other technology until it did something interesting, which goes back to his teenage years; and an inability to find the kind of music he wanted to hear. today, what with the midwestern hardcore scene taking off, the latter’s less of a problem, making it easier for xanopticon to find outlets on hymen’s masonic compilation, sss’s circuits of steel, a 7-inch on mirex, azif, and a forthcoming 7-inch on kid606’s tigerbeat6 imprint.

“the motivation for me,” he says, “is always sort of the same - i just want to write tracks that i want to hear and that get me excited, physically and mentally. partially it’s an attempt to write tracks that click in a certain way and break through to something else, some other space.” exactly: xanopticon breaks through to liminal space.


signal zero

on pourrait à la rigueur présenter le travail actuel de ryan friedrich comme une hybridation réussie de vsnares et des somatics. raccourci foireux mais pas totalement à coté. imaginez les structures hyper-cinétiques du premier (celles de "winter in the belly of a snake" surtout) venues corrompre les marécages de métal liquide, textures cryogéniques et brumeux sounscapes des seconds : vous n'êtes pas si loins du compte. xanopticon est perché (mais alors bien) sur la branche du breakcore qui se perd dans une auto-fascination pour sa propre complexité, au risque de souvent déboucher sur de la branlette stérile. mais pas ici. le maître de maison travaille trop les nappes limite symphoniques d'arrière plan, le contraste calme/chaos, pour ça. au point que " liminal space " raconte au final quelque chose de captivant. sur le vinyle : six infocalypses de sons surédités, d'autant plus dynamiques qu'ils sont brefs (les sons), voire submicroscopiques. des giclées de fucked up beats qui sont autant de messages aliens encryptés, n'en doutons pas. lors, ce n'est plus l'ennui mortel de nombreuses pièces laptops, fussent-elles hards, qui jaillit du magma. juste une énergie vorace définitivement hardcore. (dr.venkman)


if you heard that xanopticon is the new venetian snares well, that's bullshit. if i had to compare his sound to someone else's, that would probably be the sci-fi electronics of somatic responses. liminal space contains that gloomy and cold hi-tech sounding of many hymen releases, but it has a fundamental feature that will make you love it or hate it. take the idea behind autechre's 'flutter', the non-repetitive nature of beats, and extend it over every micro sound xanopticon puts in his music. layers and layers of gabberoid beats, rattling snares, heavy processed percussions and shrieking glitches that constantly change every few seconds. the rhythms are fast and do nothing but accelerate, like the textures are complex and do nothing but becoming more and more intricate. it's hard to say this is breakcore, because there's scarcely any resemblance of a proper break in it. when you listen to it you have mainly two choices: either it sounds like a total random mess or you'll be fascinated by the absurd architectures of xanopticon.i choose the latter, and i'll tell you this is one of my favourite releases of 2003 along with ae's draft '7.30', but i won't dare to recommend it as an absolute masterpiece, because nowadays many people who listen to electronic music probably think that this breakcore thing is gone too far. and i won't blame them. but for the fans of the genre, this is definitely a must-have. (luca m.)


xanopticon steht beständig auf der scheide von breakcore zu geschichteter electronica. während der groove beflissen zertrümmert wird und die beats aneinander gekettet wie galeerensklaven in reihen an dir vorüberrattern, unterlegt der amerikaner alles mit sphärischen soundflächen, wie sie gridlock nicht behutsamer zaubern könnte. hektisches bruchgebrösel wird von schwebenden synthies abgelenkt. wenn es dann auch mal kurzzeitig zu abruptem verweilen kommt, bauen sich dynamiken in den tracks auf, die dem ganzen album erheblich mehr charakter verleihen, als andere breakcore künstler, die immer nur gnadenlos durchbollern. "liminal space" offenbart ein tolles gefühl für melodien, die trotz der immensen heftigkeit und geschwindigeit der zusammengefriemelten beats und sounds einen roten faden für den hörer darstellen. drones, synthieschwaden und filmische momente bauen klangräume auf, in denen die beats hin und her flitzen können, von den wänden abprallen und weiterpurzeln. hört nur mal in "these days" rein und erschaudert mit ehrfurcht. ein sehr starkes debüt, das auf noch viel mehr schönes hoffen lassen kann, denn nach einer 7" für mirex, dem debütalbum für hymen, hat nun auch kid606 ein auge auf den mann aus pittsburgh geworfen und folglich gibt's demnächst auch eine 7" für tigerbeat6. freu. (till)


chi mi conosce sa che negli ultimi mesi sono stato in fissa su quest'omino e che non aspettavo altro che il suo album. la prima impressione, phase sulla compilation masonic, era stata buona e confermata da vari mp3 fluttuanti per la rete. ad essere sincero pero' non mi aspettavo un cd cosi' grandioso, mi ha ammaliato dal primo all'ultimo secondo. non posso parlare di capolavoro in termini assoluti ma solo su scala personale, perche' lo stile di xanopticon e' troppo particolare perche' possa trovare largo consenso. breakcore non basta a definire quello che produce, perche' se e' vero che su breaks e beats pesta come un maledetto, e' altrettando vero che ha poco da spartire con vsnares, doormouse e men che meno con hellfish o scud. innanzitutto non troverete l'ombra di un loop jungle, mentre nei breakcorers della planet-mu i riferimenti alla hardcore jungle abbondano (amen breaks eccetera): tutte le casse, rullanti e percussioni sono technoidi e ultra processati. la differenza sostanziale fra xano e tutti gli altri, e' che difficilmente troverete traccia di un loop. punto. e' come se avesse esteso il concetto che stava dietro a flutter degli autechre ad ogni microsecondo dei suoi pezzi. non troverete una frazione di uno qualunque dei suoi pezzi uguale ad un'altra. nessuna sequenza si ripete mai identica, l'idea di bpm e' abbastanza inutile, perche' continuano a susseguirsi scariche di beats che vanno dal pesante al pesantissimo, molto spesso gabber, le rullate vengono giu' a grappoli, percussioni ultra processate esplodono con uguale intensita' fra gli alti e i bassi, mentre microsuoni abrasivi e stridenti inaspriscono l'ambientazione sci-fi disegnata in sottofondo da archi sintetici. non e' come gridlock che magari parte piano e poi si intensifica, qui si comincia veloce e non si fa altro che accelerare, dal complicato si passa al marasma organizzato. avete due opzioni: o vi affascina nella sua complessita', o vi sembra unicamente un groviglio di suoni buttati a caso. se pensate che vsnares sia troppo intricato, lasciate stare. se pensate che gli autechre manchino di melodia, lasciate stare. vi conviene tentare se volete spingervi ai limiti della tecnologia applicata alla musica. (luca)

les acteurs de l'ombre
je sais bien qu'il n'est pas coutume en ces lignes de chroniquer des ouvres entièrement électroniques, mais lorsqu'il s'agit de la frange la plus extrême de la musique synthétique, à savoir le breakcore, nécessité fait loi, à forciori lorsqu'il s'agit d'une ouvre aussi inspirée, sombre et subtile, que ce premier album de xanopticon. le breakcore est sans doute le sous-genre de l'électro qui se nourrit le plus d'influences métal, bien que celles-ci soient systématiquement passées au rouleau compresseur d'une machinerie implacable. prêtez une oreille aux diatribes rotoscopiques d'un dev/null ou d'un otto von schirach, écoutez avec attention les boucles anxiogènes du canadien schizophrène qui évolue dans l'ombre de venetian snares, projet polyphonique torturé qui renvoit aphex twin à ses joujoux syncopés, et vous verrez de quoi je parle : la plupart des artistes breakcore ont été nourri au biberon tumescent du death metal dès leur plus tendre enfance, et leur musique n'a de cess e de redigérer ce postulat bruitiste, de l'évaluer à travers la loupe accusatrice de la rythmique inhérente au breakcore, cet espèce de monstrueuse échauffourée des sens qui répercute ses échos, malaxe le tempo, malmène jusqu'à ses propres dissonances et atomise le concept de « musique binaire ». le cas de xanopticon, est quelque peu différent, puisque le maître mot de cet album semble êtrte la cohérence. là où les artistes suscités procèdent par collages, recoupements et sutures, officient dans une hétérogénéité des sons et des influences, le chef d'orchestre de xanopticon compose un breakcore lisible, presque narratif, qui suscite immédiatement un panel d'émotions et d'images, un univers à part entière. son « espace liminal » est une chambre d'écho constituée autour de deux caisses de résonance, de deux micro-univers qui cohabitent et tissent entre eux des liens invisibles : d'un côté, une nappe presque hermétique de synthé qui tirent les composition vers un feeling dark- ambient, sorte de notes longues contemplatives d'un monde ruiné par ses artefacts technologiques, touches subtiles, parfois interrogatives, qui laissent planer un mystère, alvéolé de mercure liquide qu'on jurerait hermétiquement closes tant elles semblent renfermer une vie autistique et confinée. de l'autre côté, intervient la rythmique breakcore, avec son double-rôle de parasite et de ciment harmonique, sorte de programme détraqué qui vampirise constamment les nappes de synthé. le décalage est violent, mais toujours harmonieux, et la brutalité est étouffée par cette nature foncièrement dichotomique des compositions, qui laisse planer un recul idéal, la sensation que cette musique s'entend comme voilée, à travers les hexagones transparents d'un futur qui ne vient jamais, à travers une brume intemporelle, une oxydation légère mais totale. la rythmique a beau s'emballer, comme sur le deuxième morceau « these days », qui est une véritable tuerie et qui voit les beats s'enchevê trer et s'accumuler de façon chaotique, elle est toujours contenue par le travail d'orfèvre des synthé et autres autres sons parasitaires, micro-organismes bio-mécaniques qui évoluent en périphérie et distillent leurs grésillements précis, leurs ciselures infimes. musique profondément imagée et imageante, bande-son hallucinée et pourtant diablement calculée d'un blade-runner des années 2020, ce « liminal space » est un album à posséder pour tout fan de musique sombre et expérimentale. (das irrlicht)

yip's fun depot
i try not to write reviews that make direct comparisons to other musicians, because it's not really a direct comparison: it's a comparison to the reviewer's perception of the other musician. if the reviewer hasn't already written a review of the music they're comparing it to, it's a waste of text at best, and can mislead at worst. that being said, it's really tempting in this case to say "this cd is like a softer version of [other musician]" as a lot of people might think the same. this music would be quite difficult to dance to; i would highly recommend wearing headphones when listening to this. if you're going to listen to only one song off of this, track 6 (symphwrak) is probably not a bad choice (but do listen to the whole thing before passing judgement). there's a lot of extremely frantic rhythms overlaying ambient textures; separating each element onto its own cd could also be interesting to hear, which might give you an idea as to how complex some of this is. the cd cover has the symbol for a chemical irritant (an x) in the corner - this seems wholly appropriate, as the ambient textures reduce the discordia created by the rhythmic noise. occasionally the chaos shapes itself into an identifiable pattern, but soon consumes itself; at other times, the ambient segments take over, giving one's brain some time to heal before the next onslaught. conversely, the noisy bits dispel any melancholy feelings that the ambient segments might create, resulting in a surprisingly bright atmosphere. i suspect i'm going to keep hearing new things in this cd for a long time to come. (bob)


xanopticon discography 10.2k3:
meme magic. 12". mutant sniper msdv001
azif. 7" mirex 08.
liminal space. cd / 12". hymen records ¥735 / ¥042

xanopticon on the web: