SOUND STORING MACHINES review in POPMATTERS

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“A veritable rainstorm of temporal noise…”

“A worthwhile and extraordinary journey…”

Full review can be read HERE.

Sound Storing Machines: The First 78rpm Records from Japan

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My LP about the first Japanese recordings is available at SUBLIME FREQUENCIES

Here’s a REVIEW

The first commercial recordings from Asia were made in Japan in 1903 by Fred Gaisberg, the legendary producer and recording engineer who traveled the world making recordings for the Gramophone Company (later His Masters Voice). The recording industry barely existed at this time. Man’s ability to record and reproduce sound had only existed since 1877 (with the invention of Edison’s cylinder phonograph) and flat disc records, what we all collect and obsess over today, had only come into being in the late 1890s.

It is a miracle what these fragile discs have survived: wars with Russia and China, the fire bombings (and worse) of World War II, modernization, the onslaught of Western media. They document, through a dreamlike haze of surface noise, a Japan that had just barely begun to open its doors to the rest of the world.

Including gagaku, shakuhachi, shamisen, storytelling, folksong and more. these recordings are a unique glimpse into an ancient culture and an important document of the beginnings of the recording industry. Simple and complex. Alien and familiar. Featuring important artists and those who only appeared to sing before the strange Western recording horn and then vanished.

Sound Storing Machines spans only 9 years of recording—-from 1903 and the first commercial recordings made by Fred Gaisberg to 1912, the beginning of Japan’s homegrown record industry, including a few sides taken from Japan’s notorious bootleg 78rpm industry.

Collected on various trips to Japan and compiled by sound artist Robert Millis (Indian Talking Machine, Victrola Favorites, Climax Golden Twins, Phi Ta Khon: Ghosts of Isan, This World is Unreal Like a Snake in a Rope, etc). This is part three in a series (all produced by Millis) of early recording from Asia—including Sublime Frequencies’ The Crying Princess: 78rpm Records from Burma and Scattered Melodies: Korean Kayagum Sanjo.

Radio is a Foreign Country

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Mix of 78rpm and vinyl from Japan.

You can listen HERE

The surface noise pulls me back through time: Tsugaru samisen, Buddhist chants, gagaku, flutes, folk song, popular tunes, street music, and more…mostly from scratchy noisy Japanese 78rpm records (with some vinyl thrown in for good measure) that managed to survived the turbulent 20th century for your listening pleasure here in the 21st. If 78rpm surface noise interests you, I recently finished an LP for SUBLIME FREQUENCIES called Sound Storing Machines: The First 78rpm Records from Japan (1903-12). Out in April 2021. The first records made in East Asia at the dawn of man’s ability to record and the beginnings of what would become one of the largest physical record industries in the world—Japan.

Impossible without the fantastic work done by Riyo Mountains:
www.mixcloud.com/riyomountains/
www.facebook.com/riyomountains/
Not to mention DJ Pallaksch, Soi48, Yuichi Kishino and many others. Look their work up.

Tracklist:
I love the sound of these tracks, outside of context or translations and I have imposed on my Japanese speaking friends more than enough lately and the labels are in Japanese kanji—old Japanese kanji at that. So write to me with specific questions and I’ll see what I can trace down for you.

Mix for Radio Panik, Belgium

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Mix for Belgian radio.

https://www.radiopanik.org/emissions/soundtrack-de-minuit/soundtrack-du-01-02-2/embed/10703/

DISTANT DUO

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Distant Duo with Geologist from Animal Collective.

Listen HERE

Glasgow 5/31/​2014

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I played a show in Glasgow in 2014 that involved tambura drones and field recordings from India…

It can be heard HERE

Wayward in Limbo

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Piece commissioned by Nonsequitiur for the Wayward in Limbo series, featuring feedback tones generated through cylinder and gramophone talking machines, collage, found sounds and more.

Full piece can be heard HERE

Related Ephemera–new LP

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rmillis-related-800

more info HERE

and a REVIEW

and another REVIEW

A Slightly Curving Place at Berlin’s HKW

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slightly curving

Contributed a 25 channel ambisonic surround piece to this massive and fascinating installation at Berlin’s HKW.

More information is HERE

John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship 2020

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Awarded a Guggenheim 2020 fellowship!

millis cylinder copy

Telescoping

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quartet

Telescoping

On BANDCAMP

Here is a REVIEW

Carl Stone/Robert Millis Seattle performance 2/20/2020

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stone millis chapel

More info HERE