CRWTH (Chorus Redux)
LINE_043 | CD + 17 TRACK MP3 DOWNLOAD | Edition of 500 (sold out/out pf print) | March 2010
“Through their use of low tech means and focusing on the blending of guitar noise and electronic voice processing, Lovesliescrushing can be seen as the early ‘missing link’ between the likes of Slowdive and Fennesz. Their output has been consistently and beautifully crafted… works that contain an element of sonic mystery and still sound timeless. Lovesliescrushing is an important, if perhaps overlooked, point in the timeline of contemporary electronic music.”
– Richard Chartier
Lovesliescrushing, a seminal group formed in 1991 by Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Duimstra, defies simple categorization by fusing elements of shoegaze, post-rock, ambient, classical, noise, dream pop, and experimental music. Achieving a diverse tonal palette utilizing only guitar and voice, 4 track cassette recorders and classic stomp boxes, they push the boundries of noise and melody by employing a simple formula which blends swathes of deconstructed guitarwash and glossolalic vocals into densely layered soundscapes.
Their compositions range from full on distorted noise blasts, reverb-soaked atmospherics, droning veils of sound, and ambient instrumental passages, that defy traditional song structures. With their penchant for warping the guitar and voice into new timbres, one could make the case that lovesliecrushing predates the current wake of ‘new-gazey, lo-fi, and glitchy set’ by more than a decade.
Ostensibly a ‘shoegaze’ band, lovesliescrushing quickly set themselves apart in the early 1990s by eschewing drums, bass, and keyboards to concentrate solely on the barest remnants of song. By placing emphasis on minimalist textures through the use of effects pedals, they decidedly departed from standard rock forms and the standard instrumentation of shoegaze music.
ABOUT CRWTH / CHORUS:
The original release of CHORUS itself was inspired by a challenge… to make a Lovesliescrushing album abandoning Scott Cortez’ trademark guitar work and use only the voice. CHORUS was created by taking vocal tracks, deconstructing them via minimal processing, and turning them into new compositions.
Cortez spliced the voice at the phoneme level using a tedious cut/paste method, creating a phonetic dust. These particles were treated to create a diverse tonal palette of looped rhythms, low bass registers, warm drones, clicks, siren whoops, birdlike whistles and then arranged to form new delicate figures. The voice becomes indecipherable glossolalia, divorced from meaning and morph into abstract lush tones that envelop the song like a droning, luminous cloud.
The “voice as an instrument” was never truer than on CHORUS, because it is the sonic material for the music itself, exploding the songs into ghostly remnants of their origin, the human voice.
The original very limited edition was released only in Peru and highly sought after. In the process of trying to obtain a copy of this recording Richard Chartier contacted Cortez directly. After long discussions of the work of Lovesliescrushing, Cortez was asked by Richard Chartier to do something special for a LINE release and came up with an idea to revisit the tracks that comprise CHORUS. the concept behind CRWTH was to abstract even further upon an abstraction. CRWTH is a completely re-edited take on the material, not merely a remix album, but an alternate version of CHORUS, a redux.
The CRWTH cd contains a special coupon for a free download of CHORUS + 3 (LINE_043b), the full original 14-track CHORUS release plus 3 additional new reworks.
Melissa Arpin-Duimstra: voice
Scott Cortez: voice. fx processing
all music composed, arranged and performed by lovesliescrushing.
voices and voice loops recorded between 1994 and 2001, arranged by Cortez in 2004.
tracks redrawn by Cortez, Summer 2009. remastered by Taylor Deupree, Fall 2009.
Photos: Scott Cortez
This is an album that has leapt immediately into my favourite releases of all time. I don’t say that lightly as you can imagine, but this is just so incredibly wonderful that I’ve been obsessing over it for a few weeks now. The original version of Chorus was released in 2007 in a very limited edition and this redux version is simply one of the very finest pieces of work I’ve heard for some time. Lovesliescrushing are a shoegaze band at heart and they were invited to produce a version of Chorus minus the guitars and using the breathy vocal elements of their sound. Scott Cortez went about reducing these elements in to a drifting, beautifully realised series of tracks that bring to mind a delicious combination of My Bloody Valentine, Seefeel and Celer. It doesn’t sound like any one of those though as it’s more about the feeling of haunting introspection than anything else. Incredible textures and reduced layers of sheer beauty meet hazy and shimmering melodic sounds that drift through your mind leaving an imprint so strong that I for one have been unable to stop thinking about it. This is subtle, refined and wonderfully elegant music that’s as emotional as it is powerful. I can’t say much more because it really is indescribable in many ways. All I’ll say is that if you love ambient music in any way at all you simply have to check this out. A stunning release in every way. Recommended? More than you can possibly imagine. And as a bonus each CD comes with a coupon allowing you to download the original album for free. How good is that?
Two absolutely brilliant releases on the Richard Chartier-curated LINE imprint, a label that seems to usually focus on the more process/conceptual end of modern electronic music, but here releasing a pair of albums that pack an enormous emotional wallop. First up is Loveliescrushing, a (new to me) shoegaze duo from Michigan who's apparently been active since the early '90s. In 2007 they released Chorus, a simply gor geous ambient recording utilizing only the sounds of singer Melissa Arpin-Duimstra's voice. Unfortunately, it was only released in Peru in a miniscule edition, and in the course of trying to get a copy, Richard Chartier proposed to member Scott Cortez that he further rework it for a domestic release. While the original album is great (we have it available as a digital release), this is pure bliss. Gauzy in the extreme, with tantalizing remnants of melody left to hold on to, clouds of sounds are comprised only of the human voice, with untold textures residing in an infinite haze. The record bears more than a passing resemblance to Grouper's 2008 release, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, and if you love that album, as I'm sure many of you do, you won't fail to be moved by this as well.
The music business always come up with small mysteries. I remember Loveliescrushing - it was one of those bands the shop I worked in sold, but never liked by the shopworkers. Gothic it was called. Heavenly voices by their label Hyperium. It all seems so long ago, but imagine my face when I opened a new parcel by 12K and find a new release by them on LINE. What happened? Apparently Richard Chartier (honcho here) is a big fan of the band and was looking for a pretty obscure release from them, made only in Peru of all places, and contacted the band's Scott Cortez. He decided to go back to the original material of Chorus and rework that. This is the redux version on this release. The original can be downloaded with an unique code inside the package. Curious indeed. How would be perceive this music now, almost fifteen years later? Would I still be calling this gothic? Well, not really. Perhaps we weren't paying enough attention back then, but Loveliescrushing here are much more ambient than I would expect. The music is generated largely through the voice of Melissa Arpin-Duimstra, with low humming bass sound, drones and maybe even some kind of field recording. Actually I thought this was pretty good! The etheric kind of vocalization might not be entirely my cup of tea, but it works well here. Its perhaps not the sort of thing you would expect on a label like LINE, but it so highly reduced that it well along the ranks of other artists on LINE. Great late night humming going on. Ethereal alright, but never gothic. I apologize.
(Vital Weekly, NL)
I've not heard of these folks before. They formed in 1991 and released this album Chorus which was only released in Peru. Apparently Richard Chartier was well into it and he was pretty keen to get his hands on a copy and eventually after a number of conversations with Lovesliescrushing he persuaded them to go back to the original album and re do it. So it's not a remix album... it's a redux. Am I right in thinking the word redux has only been used in the last few years? I'm sure I never heard the word before the Pavement Slanted & Enchanted Redux album.... There's people out there making up words for you to inadvertently use tomorrow without realising.... Anyway the music on here is well lush.... The original album was only made using vocals... the redux version also just uses vocals. You'll listen to it and wonder how they did it as it's possibly one of the most remarkable things I've heard being that it just consists of manipulated voices and processing. It really does sit in somewhere between Seefeel and Fennesz... that's totally spot on... beautiful drifting melodies with some delicate fuzz and occasional heavenly female vocals make it all seem almost spiritual and ethereal. It's just incredible it's all been made with the human voice! Not just that but they've managed to create something as good as this with minimal resources! It's like a lost album which Infraction should have released! Also includes a download code to get the original album a 3 bonus tracks. A steal!
Met de release van CRWTH (Chorus Redux) brengt Richard Chartier de bezieler van het Linelabel een curiosum uit. De originele van CHORUS dateert van 1991 en verscheen op een erg gelimiteerde versie in Peru, het thuisland van Scott Cortez en Melissa Arpin-Duimstra. De debuutplaat van Lovesliescrushing sloeg de brug tussen ambient, shoegazing en postrock en was een verbluffend, klein meesterwerk dat uitblonk door het unieke atmosferische karakter. Vroege Biosphere, Laurie Anderson en Slowdive zijn de voor de handliggende referenties. Chartier zocht Cortez op en samen besloten ze om de originele plaat niet opnieuw uit te brengen maar volledig te herwerken. Cortez vertrok vanuit de stem van Arpin-Duimstra en maakte van de originele opname, kopers van de plaat krijgen een code om het origineel te downloaden, een totale nieuwe versie. CRWTH (Chorus Redux) een remixplaat noemen doet Cortez oneer aan. Daarvoor is dit kleinood te uniek. CRWTH (Chorus Redux) is een gloedvolle aanrader voor iedereen die houdt van zachte soundscapes en ijle stemmenpracht. Vijf sterren.
(Gonzo Circus Magazine, Belgium/NL)
I would be ready to bet that Mr. Cortez been in Heaven, learnt how to make ecstatic bliss-out Music, then He kidnapped an angel (Melissa Arpin-Duimstra), and then started recording His albums: here it is Chorus, a couple of years ago, - remastered last Fall, - now re-released by Line rec. Tracks like Vrhhu, Laujl Vfx, Rhvr, not only They are sung in the unintelligible seraphic glossolalia, but they are the purest and harmonic form of glossolia Music, a mon avis. Recorded on analog tape, Scott and Melissa made a Lovesliescrushing album abandoning Their typical (prepared) guitar-driven trademark (there are just a few in comparison with Their former records) and just used Her voices, filtered and shaped for what they merely are: pure sound. Sound able to breath. A deconstructing processing turning everything into a series of minimal celestial compositions, - a precise spiritual writing that drives You into a permanent hypnosis.. Nauv is the sound-experience of abandoning Your body through an astral dream. Like if Seefeel and Fennesz woke up suddenly at night and discovered They had had the same dream about Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine dreaming of Lovesliescrushing. Flrm is about dying and be reincarnated as an innocent baby or a humpback whale (You can hear the hisses here and there the track). Viaux is the vehicle for the ascension. I found this record highly pedagogical, besides being hypnagogic. And Ethereal has got a new synonymous, Lovesliescrushing.
Chorus was a record by the post-shoegazing duo Lovesliescrushing that was released via an obscure Peruvian imprint called Automatic Entertainment sometime in 2007. Needless to say, it's an album that practically nobody has heard, barring a download from a blog or something. Despite the novelty of this incredibly rare record, Chorus was also a major departure for the duo in that voice was the only source material for all of the blissed out driftscapes, with Scott Cortez eschewing the fizzed, opiated, and blurred guitar in favor of effects-heavy treatments upon the wordless vocals of Mellisa Arpin-Duimstra. Crwth is a re-edit of the raw material used for Chorus, emerging with a very similar muted hue of softed loops and delicate drones that hang gently upon the backdrop of digital dust blown upon a velvet surface. For those of you who had gotten a hold of the limited 2cd boxset on Projekt (or had been familiar with the last couple of Lovesliescrushing albums for that matter), this sole use of voice isn't all that much of a stretch, as Lovesliescrushing has been pushing a trajectory away from the beautiful noises of their MBV-inspired Bloweyelashwish and toward an angelic, slightly melancholy ambience with only the flicker of a song structure hovering at the bottom of their echo chamber. It's been said that Lovesliescrushing finds themselves between Slowdive and Fennesz; yes, that's true, but the reductionism down to an essential beautiful sound is taken even further than that imagined hybrid. Really, this is quite fantastic.
early 20 years on from inception, lovesliescrushing's Scott Cortez, and sidekick Melissa Arpin-Duimstra, belatedly receive recognition from the more rarefied realms of contemporary music. Long ignored, even dismissed as MBV-wannabes, their artful lo-fi recontextualising of shoegaze and dreampop with ambient and experimental noise is revealed with hindsight as not so much copycat as prescient. Their predilection for warping guitar+vox into new timbres presaged a late-breaking wave of shoegaze-inflected ambience, as pointed by Chartier: "...the early 'missing link' between the likes of Slowdive and Fennesz. ...an important, if perhaps overlooked, point in the timeline of contemporary electronic music". A compelling rationale, if needed, to account for what is, on the face of it, a shabby chic interloper in this experimental boutique. In fact, CRWTH (Chorus Redux) is entirely in Line, the original itself being inspired by experiment - to find an alternative means of transport to Cortez's signature guitar wooze. Chartier's patronage has led to the conception of this special Line release involving a total retool - a 'redux' abstracting from the already abstracted. Chorus was composed of vocal tracks captured and deconstructed via minimal processing and laboriously cut-paste into phonemic particles, emergent fragments treated into transformed tonalities - bass thrum, drone-hum, clicks, looped kinetics, sirenics, even bird whistles - configured into newly vibrant forms. On this redux the voice's musique is rendered more concrete, unmoored and mutated into tone-blur and glossolalic haze, dissolved in luminous solutions of Cortez's astro-brite string-melt. Exhibits "Dzai" and "Shemerr" show the effect of polish and fine-tuning effected over the original, winsomely beckoning you into their hazy embrace.
A recording by a pioneering shoegaze outfit isn't the first thing that comes to mind when pondering LINE's discography. But Lovesliescrushing is no ordinary shoegaze band and Crwth (Chorus Redux) is no ordinary shoegaze collection. First of all, though the group, founded in 1991 by Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Duimstra, does blend elements of shoegaze, post-rock, ambient soundscaping, and experimental music into a heady, low-tech mix, it does so by limiting the focus to guitar and voice and omitting drums, bass, and keyboards from its songs. In doing so, the group distances itself from shoegaze standbearers such as Ride and Slowdive who built their respective walls of sound using conventional ‘rock' instrumentation and song forms. What distances Crwth (Chorus Redux) even more from other genre albums of its kind is that all twelve of the recording's tracks feature voice only, with Cortez's guitar playing removed in its entirety.
A bit of background is needed first, however. As the title indicates, Crwth (Chorus Redux) was preceded by the Lovesliescrushing release Chorus, which also, like its successor, features vocals only. On that 2007 recording, the group manipulates vocal tracks and uses processing to transform them into lush settings of floating character. As the limited edition release was issued only in Peru and therefore difficult to find, LINE head Richard Chartier contacted Cortez in order to obtain a copy of the recording, which eventually led to the idea of Lovesliescrushing revisiting the album's tracks for a LINE recording, the idea being that Crwth would become an even further abstraction upon the original material. The results are ethereal, naturally, but also strikingly beautiful, to say the least. In some tracks, angelic voices intone softly to produce celestial moods; in other cases, the voices are processed so radically they become little more than minimal tones that throb and drone as relaxedly as a sleeping baby. "RHVR" offers a particular lovely example of the album's style when its voices circle around one another, and when lone voices separate themselves out of the mass and then blend back into it. Murmuring ambient settings like "SHEMERR" and "FLRM," on the other hand, billow as entrancingly as clouds moving almost imperceptibly across the summer sky. Many of the pieces whisper so peacefully, they're like the deepest sleep state given aural form. Crwth (Chorus Redux) amounts to seventy minutes of minimal vocal-based landscapes where the voices of Arpin-Duimstra and Cortez, altered by fx processing, drift beatifically.
When Lovesliescrushing released their first album in 1994, they were already proposing an alternate course for the shoegazing aesthetic. That album Bloweyelashwish stripped away the rhythm section, leaving behind an amniotic impressionism for voice, guitar and almost every effects pedal imaginable. The resulting wash of distortion, reverb and echo carried the lilting melodies of guitarist Scott Cortez and vocalist Melissa Arpin-Henry from melancholy haze and toward radioluminescent rapture. Since then, Cortez and Arpin-Henry have furthered the ethereal deconstruction by smoothing out the edges and abstracting those melodies into languid Ambient passages. In 2007, the duo completed Chorus, an album sourced entirely from the voice, having done away with the guitar (but not the effects). It was published by the Peruvian label Automatic Entertainment and disappeared before most even knew about it. Richard Chartier’s Line imprint had remedied that by commissioning CRWTH, a new album of re-edits and re-compositions from Chorus material, and by offering a free download of the 2007 album with every purchase of the new disc.
By sampling and re-sampling Arpin-Henry’s voice (as well as his own), Cortez works breathy drifts and wordless tone-floats into soft-focused Ambient constructions. Compared to the earlier edits, the 2010 recordings are considerably more fleshed out through a recurring use of low-end melodic loops that serve to ground the airy vocalisations. “Dzai” renders a clipped vocal hiss as the click track for Arpin-Henry’s spiralling voice; “Sohl” further pixellates the source into a slow current of data signals gently decaying amid ghostly echos and delay patterns; and “Nauv” pitchshifts the voice into a call that is more cetacean than human. Through these digital mannerisms, sonic filigree and rarefied atmosphere, Lovesliescrushing seek to coo their audience into an intimate dream state.
(The Wire, UK)
The notion that voice alone is enough to carry music is by no means a new one. The almost ominous hums of Gregorian chants and Anaasheed have already haunted our ears for centuries, yet the a capella approach has, in more recent years, also been adopted by a plethora of other artists working in a variety of genres.
Barbershop is a well-known, though hopelessly kitsch and minimally enjoyable, example, but the art has also been adopted into genres like hip hop, where rappers may be supported by beat boxers alone, and pop (Bjork’s 2004 album Medúlla, consisting nearly entirely of voice samples, is a prime example). In avant-garde, the approach is neither new, yet there especially the possibilities are manifold, since the end result need not sound, by any traditional sense of the word, musical. At one end of the spectrum we find a compilation such as Mouth Noise, released through XV Parówek’s label XVP in 2008, for which artists used the mouth alone to construct deafening noise bursts. At the other end, we find Lovesliescrushing's CRWTH (Chorus Redux).
Back in 2007 Lovesliescrushing, an ambient/shoegaze outfit hailing from Tucson, Arizona, released their album Chorus through Peruvian label Automatic Entertainment. Chorus, as the name already seems to imply somewhat, was constructed entirely of voice samples, which Scott Cortez – also of the decidedly noisier shoegaze outfit Astrobrite – spliced at the phoneme level, after which the phonemes were reworked, treated, looped, layered to create entirely new compositions in which the voice became a stream of sound your ears couldn’t decipher as speech, or in which you couldn’t even recognize specific phonemes, a stream of unrecognizable, ethereal vowels framed and portioned by as unrecognizable consonantal clicks.
CRWTH (Chorus Redux) is a reworking of the criminally limited Chorus (which was released in an edition of 500, as is CRWTH, by the way), and the goal of the reworking was, as per the (spot-on, I have to say) liner notes, "to abstract even further upon an abstraction". And indeed, Cortez, deconstructing and reconstructing meticulously voice samples from band mate Melissa Aprin-Duimstra and himself, seems to have succeeded at that very well – and, in the process, has created a redux album that easily outshines the original. Whoever is familiar with the original Chorus knows that that album was filled to the brim with layers of voice piled upon another to create a particularly shoegazy type of ambient, certainly beautiful but also confrontational, in a sense – ambient crashing into you with full force, sooner bringing to mind the ethereally noisy aesthetics of My Bloody Valentine than the soft-spoken dreaminess of Loscil.
CRWTH is a decidedly more soft-spoken album, though; silent, calm, precious. The walls of voice as they were found on Chorus are a thing of the past, and instead we find hushed compositions, sometimes bordering on the inaudible, pushing slowly forward and working toward no particular climax, instead staying subdued and intangible. It seems to betray some influence of Richard Chartier, who commissioned CRWTH; Chartier's works, of course, are probably the prime example of ambient music's effective use of silence. That hushed quality, exactly, is what makes CRWTH so beautiful – whereas its mother album was something to enjoy, this is something to love. Whereas Chorus was an album that was superficially pretty, CRWTH is one that is haunting and engulfing in every single way. Not entirely surprisingly, the tracks now and then bear some resemblance to Gregorian chants. To tracks like DZAI and FLRM, there’s an almost religious feel, a sense that whatever is communicated through the reconstructed fragments of voice is something superhuman, sounding of age, wisdom and divine beauty.
CRWTH (Chorus Redux) is singularly amazing, with the new material surpassing the original material in every which way. Seeing as Chorus, however, was already excellent, it should tell you something about how astonishing this album is. A truly, highly recommended album, which furthermore comes with a free download link to Chorus, for us listeners to contrast, compare, adore. Another excellent release on LINE... that should simply not be missed.