The product of a decade of work, Light Breaks Focus marks the debut full-length from artist/producer PJ Norman, a collection that began life in his native London, UK, in 2006.
During the record's creation, in 2008, he moved from London's east end to the Bowery in New York City. His apartment hallway was painted with the phrase, "Art is Action, Object is Artefact", the words of artist Arleen Schloss that would come to be a mantra summarizing how he felt about the possibility of music.
Growing up in Staines, UK, Norman's love for music was intense and he studied from a young age. After achieving grade 8 from the Royal College of Music in oboe he moved to central London to enrol at City University London in music science. There, under the tutorledge of Denis Smalley, himself a protégé of Olivier Messiaen, he discovered his passion for sound-concrète, North Indian classical and West African music, peppered with influences of Brecht, Artaud, Dada, and James Joyce.
Due to this immersion in various platforms of sound and thought, Norman was able to find his voice collaborating with a myriad of other musicians in the London indie scene. He became a founding member of bands Relapse Lucy, Manalishi, and Death By Sadie. During this time, fortuitous, chance meetings with producer Graham Sutton (Bark Psychosis) and guitar-noise improvisor Gary Smith encouraged him to become absorbed in the world of music production.
This first showing of songs from Norman is released through the 100m Records collective, of which he was a co-founder in 2005. Through the label he has curated and released full lengths by tKatKa, Relations, Soccer Mom and Glass Rifle, and the electronic improvisation band Fates. An active collaborator, he has been involved in many of the label's projects as both a producer and musician.
Light Breaks Focus was recorded in Brooklyn, NY, London, and Zurich, Switzerland, by Kris O'Connor and PJ Norman. All instruments and location recordings by PJ Norman,
with guest drums by Claudio Strueby and Dan Colby. Produced, mixed and mastered by PJ Norman.
Glass Rifle are Americans Dan Colby, Ryan Francini, and British-born PJ Norman. The roots of the group lie in the Boston DIY punk scene where Colby and Francini first met. After serving in Hydrahead stalwarts The Huguenots and The Never Never, and Jade Tree Records' The Explosion, Colby formed The Cignal with Francini. In the mid '00s, after a well-received 7", The Cignal disbanded and both Francini and Colby moved to New York City. It was here, in 2009, that they met Norman and Italian, Filippo Strang.
After a spell of performances throughout New York, Strang returned to Rome to found the recording/mastering studio VDSS, leaving the band to regroup in a power trio format that pushed Norman's striking guitar work to the forefront. The departure also allowed for the intense Colby/Francini rhythm section to expand on the pair's longstanding musical connection with more vehemence.
In early 2010 tracking began on the first Glass Rifle recordings. The Foebic/Cutters single was recorded at Melody Lanes Recording Company in Brooklyn, New York. It was recorded and mixed as a joint effort between the band and producer Jay Braun (Elliot Smith, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cat Power). The results were then mastered at The Magic Shop, NYC, by Grammy award winning mastering engineer Warren Russell-Smith (Rolling Stones, Tim Buckley). The single was released digitally through 100m Records and was accompanied in true DIY style by a limited-edition run of 300 exquisitely letter-pressed, hand-numbered CDs, designed and printed by Letter From Brooklyn. Consequence of Sound labelled it, "Impossible to ignore", and Glasswerk, "Fiercely independent".
The following year, the song Foebic was used in the soundtrack of the film Love American Skin, directed by photographer Diana Scheunemann. Later in the year, Foebic was also included on the music sampler supporting Glass Rifle's appearance at the CMJ New Music conference. The group then reunited with the Foebic/Cutters production team in 2012 to produce a follow-up single, Castles/Blinking Glitter. Initially only a very limited physical release, it was re-released by 100m Records in 2014 with an accompanying music video directed by Diana Scheunemann.
2015 sees the release of the band's first full-length LP, the self-titled Glass Rifle, a collection that shows a maturing of the group's songwriting. Focusing more on melodic interplay and vocal delivery, and less on the full-force magnitude of their singles, this collection of songs still retain the impact and immediacy of their earlier works while exploring more subtle arrangements of their trademark velocity. Norman adds:
"We wanted to write ideas that were less adrenalin fuelled and a little more rock n roll… something that people could sing along with yet still gets their hearts pumping."
Aiming to really capture their sound as they heard it, and pushing their DIY ethic to the fullest, they brought the production process entirely in-house. The tracks were written, recorded and produced over a year by the trio in their Brooklyn studio, and then mixed by Norman. The final mixes were then sent to Strang for mastering at VDSS in Rome. The result is an entirely independent and self-produced collection of songs, representative of the band's potency and spontaneity.
tKatKa (pronounced 'Te-Kat-Ker') is the collaboration between artists PJ Norman and Carlsson, co-founders of 100m Records. The group formed officially in London, UK, 2004, with their first single appearing on a compilation for the Glass Shrimp show on Resonance FM in early 2005. Later that year a white label of their track "Lazerslab" was broadcast by the influential BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale,leading to an independent London label deal for their next two singles.
With these releases, tKatKa garnered radio-play from John Kennedy, James Zabiela and Nick Luscombe, as well as BBC Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs, who affectionately characterizes tKatKa's sound as "Absolutely gorgeous".
Soon after, the duo created their own imprint, 100m Records, to release their well received debut album "tKatKa". This was closely followed by sophomore effort, "TerrorKnowledgeAction", featuring a re-interpretation of the Tom Hickox song "Grief Hijackers", of which Bearded Magazine said:
"Expect it to soundtrack a spooky art flick, but it won't because it's better than the film would be."
Fittingly, the 10th anniversary of 100m Records this year (2015) sees the release of tKatKa's third long player. Since their second album, the pair have both departed London; Carlsson to Copenhagen and Norman to New York. Despite the distance, they continued to work on compositions towards this third collection remotely, in rare occasions meeting to reconnect and refine. The resulting effort, "Tomorrow Knows Another" is a vast collage of ideas, some originating from their earliest demos and others completed entirely by email.
This distance afforded the luxury of recording samples and performances in a wide variety of locations; the forests of Sweden, the subways of New York, the streets of Copenhagen, warehouses in East London, the Royal Festival Hall, the lake in Zurich and the beach on Long Island. Utilizing this eclectic array of influences and soundscapes, the tracks were then finished, mixed and mastered at the 100m Records studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
SUGARCUBE, a singular venue, inflatable pop-up art structure, and heated lounge in the South Street Seaport, will launch on December 12th with a limited schedule of programming, curated by 100m Records. The interior design installation from acclaimed artist Mark Gagnon will serve as the backdrop to an unparalleled series of cultural events that will include film screenings, rock concerts, record label showcases, DJ parties, workshops, classes and more.
As a world-renowned destination known for its iconic location, South Street Seaport will be the extraordinary site for this cutting-edge art space and compelling event series. The programming will continue in January with an expanded schedule of events and activities. Catch it while it lasts!
100M RECORDS is an independent record label founded in 2005 in London, UK. The label has been based in NYC since 2009 and is run by artist/producer PJ Norman. In the nine years that the label has been in operation it has put out over 30 releases to broad acclaim, including acts that have been regulars on the New York scene such as Django Voris, Fates, Glass Rifle and Relations. Its bands have played festivals and venues across the US and Europe, including New York's own, CMJ, and its catalog has been used in advertising and broadcast on national radio stations the world over.
SUGARCUBE is made possible with the generous support of the Howard Hughes Corporation.
Glass Rifle are Americans Dan Colby, Ryan Francini, and British-born PJ Norman. The roots of the group lie in the Boston DIY punk scene where Colby and Francini first met. After stints on drums for Hydrahead stalwarts The Huguenots, and Jade Tree Record’s The Explosion, Colby formed The Cignal with Francini. In the mid ‘00s, after a well-received 7”, The Cignal disbanded and both Francini and Colby moved to New York City. It was here, several years later, that they met PJ Norman.
Norman, whose reputation as an electronic producer with the 100m Records Collective is well established (tKatKa, Fates), relished the opportunity to develop the guitar style he had with North London underground act Death By Sadie. Where Death By Sadie was a two guitar four-piece, the power trio format of Glass Rifle really pushes Norman’s striking guitar work to the forefront, enhanced by the intense Colby/Francini rhythm section that clearly displays the pair’s longstanding musical connection.
In early 2010 tracking began on the first Glass Rifle recordings. The Foebic/Cutters single was recorded at Melody Lanes Recording Company in Brooklyn, New York. It was recorded and mixed as a joint effort between the band and Melody Lanes producer Jay Braun (Elliot Smith, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cat Power). The stunning results were then mastered at The Magic Shop, NYC, by Grammy award winning mastering engineer Warren Russell-Smith (Rolling Stones, Tim Buckley).
The Castles/Blinking Glitter single was produced with the same team as the Foebic/Cutters single. Initially only a very limited physical release in 2012, the single is now available digitally July 4, 2014, through 100m Records. The accompanying video for Castles was directed by photographer Diana Scheunemann.
"A degree of genuine punch and something feels fiercely independent about it." - Glasswerk
"Like a Hold Steady raised on London punk and based in Brooklyn, Glass Rifle's delivery stays true to the varied roots of all its members by distorting the relentless energy of British rock with a Williamsburg flair." - Baeble Music
"Impossible to ignore." - Consequence Of Sound
"Glass Rifle are a sonic battering of dischordant power pop, with killer guitar licks offsetting fierce beats that literally pummel you into submission." - Lost At E Minor
"It's tight, incredibly crafted and stands alongside any classic American underground sound… Both of these tracks are pushing that complex hardcore formula to it's limits, it's just an impressive contemporary take on a genre that remains relevant thanks to Glass Rifle." - 7Inches
"A singular sound that gets you tight to your chair... Awesome." - Vents Magazine
"Early Mission of Burma filtered through the earliest releases on Invisible Records. Somehow it feels very familiar, yet completely new at the same time… For anyone who longs for the heyday when Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go weren't just labels, but institutions, this is as inviting as it gets." - Brainwashed
Django Voris - Constantopolis
"Voris joins a collection of artists so idiosyncratic they single handedly create their own genre. Musicians like Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire or Marshall Crenshaw, who explored pop sounds in ways far ahead of their time."Jason Dean, QRO mag
"Django Voris captivates, entrances and takes the audience on a soaring auditory journey."Emerging Indie Bands
Following his debut album and his notable collaborations with electronic improvisation group Fates, composer Django Voris releases this, his second full-length, Constantopolis.
Born and raised in the deserts of Arizona, Voris found himself adept at learning new instruments from a young age. After acquiring skills in a handful of wind and brass (trumpet, trombone, flute, saxophone), and adding the guitar to his repertoire, he finally settled on piano as his instrument of choice.
On his debut album, The Strange Particle, released in 2010, Voris combined his multi-instrumental abilities with a longtime passion for computing (he learned CBASIC as a child on his grandfather's old portable Osborne 1). By utilizing samples and field recordings through his own computed processes he achieved a very modern multiple-format approach to music, where any sound source was an instrument. Ink 19 described it like this:
"As I'm listening to this saucer full of electronic secrets, one thought sticks in my head: "This sounds like some sort of avant-garde soundtrack" ...odd noises and children's toys take us on an amazing journey."
The album gained Voris critical acclaim for his composition and recording methods, and won him erudite radio support in the US and the UK.
"Sounds so cool..."Nick Luscombe, BBC Radio 3, Late Junction
On Constantopolis, Voris has changed tack, working almost exclusively with acoustic instruments and live arrangements. Pinned on the rhythm section of bassist Jason Connelly and drummer Kelly Burns (Band Of Susans), the songs bloomed into near orchestral arrangements in the vein of artists like Rufus Wainwright and Sebastian Tellier.
Voris takes credit for recruiting a line-up of exemplary collaborators. Foremost is Seth Garrison (The Fancy, Night Cadet) who contibuted his exquisite voice and synths to the project. Garrison assisted with arrangements and production duties along with Voris and 100m Records' PJ Norman, who also added his distinctive lead guitar to the track 'X'.
Strings were provided by composer Barret Anspach (viola) and violinist Erica Dicker (Till By Turning, I'm In You, Anthony Braxton Quartet). Brass was performed by trumpeter Veronica Gonzalez and trombonist Gordon Barlow, and the stunning bassoon parts were laid down by Katherine Young (The Fancy, Anthony Braxton Quartet).
Where the focus of The Strange Particle was more on experimental programming, the structured approach of his latest effort draws a greater attention to Voris' considerable song-writing skils. The songs elaborate on the catchy, ironic humor only hinted at on his debut, and cement his position as an artist of note and a songwriter of significant depth.
Fates are American composer Django Voris and British-born artist PJ Norman. They met in New York City in early 2009. Their shared passion for electronic experimentation led to a set of improvisation sessions with Swiss electronic artist Moritz Wettstein. The sessions were recorded at Harvestworks, the foundation co-founded by Bob Moog to support experimental music. The recordings led to "Murky Circuits", an LP release on 100m Records in 2010 which met enthusiastic reviews from the electronic music press, describing it a "post-glitch triumph" (Cyclic Defrost) and "one of the most original electronic records of the year" (The Milk Factory).
The departure of Wettstein in late 2010 back to his hometown of Zurich, Switzerland, meant that Voris and Norman were free to explore more tonal pastures. Norman elaborates:
“On “Murky Circuits” Moritz was handling a lot of the beat work, he’s a glitch-maestro. When he left, Django and I were challenged to fill the space. We didn’t want to impersonate Moritz (I’m not even sure that would have been possible), so we decided to explore more tonal and harmonic ideas, working in multiple keys simultaneously over simple loops. Then, when we wanted more rhythmic ideas we brought in a live drumkit. That’s where Claudio came in.”
Recorded over a series of sessions at the group’s studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn, between 2010 and 2012, ”Serious German Polka” continues the strict electronic improvisation ethic that Voris and Norman established with Wettstein on “Murky Circuits”, culminating in the epic, 15-minute title track, featuring Swiss drummer Claudio Strüby on drums. Voris describes the process of working with Strüby:
“Before we brought Claudio in PJ had been laying down the drums, on Morning USA for example. But then we had this long fifteen-minute improvisation that just required something more complex, more bombastic. PJ had met Claudio back in Zurich and invited him to sit in. It was incredible to watch, Claudio listened once through what we had laid down and then improvised two takes over it start to finish. He’s a serious professional... I mean, we were working in multiple, overlayed time signatures.”
Norman explains how they came up with the title:
“After Claudio had finished tracking, Django and I were both dumbfounded. He looks at us and says,”That was some serious german polka”. We knew right away that was the title.”
"Nebulous post-industrial soundscapes constantly tweaked and realigned to create one of the most original electronic records of the year to date. 4.5/5" - The Milk Factory
"Literally one in a million; tweaking and meshing uncommon sounds to create one of the most original electronic pieces I have heard all year. Abstract art for the ears most certainly." - AW Music
"A post-glitch triumph that goes by quickly but not without making one’s head spin." - Cyclic Defrost
"When you listen to this material with headphones it really takes on a life of its own as all of the various textures come together to create lush soundscapes." - Cosmos Gaming
"Murky Circuits sounds like a highly caffeinated robot took over a decrepit Radio Shack and had its way with anything it could grab." - Chubby Jones
"Experimental, rampant and very energetic." - Radio Onde Furlane
"Dizzying and compelling." - Brainwashed
Fates At Glasshouse
In Fall, 2012, Fates were invited to bring their improvised electronics to a residency at the Glasshouse gallery, Brooklyn, in a series of events, including two 24-hour audio/visual performances, utilizing the gallery, project space and apartment space as an open system to source, disseminate and interpret the electronic performance. The series, titled "Play Me", used the space as an open access recording studio; and found the pair orchestrating installed sound sculptures using motion sensors and ball bearings, live ambient location recordings and re-projected visual sources throughout the building turning the space into an audio/visual instrument and dynamic canvas simultaneously.
Glasshouse is a versatile art-space dedicated to the community at large which functions in tandem with the actual home of artist-duo Lital Dotan & Eyal Perry. First realized in Tel-Aviv in 2007, Glasshouse was founded on the basic concept that "Art should be experienced in a place that allows staying". The aim is to promote artistic experiments that encourage participation and collaboration in performance and installation art within the domestic sphere.
Recently re-located to a 2,500 square foot multi-level space in Brooklyn, the newly acquired space in Williamsburg is comprised of a street-level storefront and basement, which also includes direct access to the residential unit next door and vice versa. This arrangement allows for the further expansion of programs and activities of Glasshouse by providing a physical link between these public and otherwise typically private spaces.
The Glasshouse can now encompass cross-disciplinary performance events, residency programs open to artists and the public, and a flexible rotating schedule of lectures, workshops, shows and much more. Visitors are welcome during all posted gallery hours and also by appointment.
Lital Dotan & Eyal Perry (a.k.a: Glasshouse) have been a collaborative team since 2001. Their work is best described as interdisciplinary performative art, integrating elements of video, photography and installation into performance; challenging ideas pertaining to the role of art in society, the role of the audience in art and the very nature of art itself.
In their performative pieces they often involve the public, seriously examining public morality and the deeper, more hidden motivations behind social interactions. In 2010 the Glasshouse project was hosted by seminal performance artist Marina Abramovic at her institute in San Francisco.
In addition to their work as Glasshouse, Lital & Eyal's works have been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries (the Israel Museum, the San Francisco Jewish Modern and the National Museum in Cracow among others) and can be found in public and private collections worldwide.
Relations is the musical brainchild of Terence Murren and Michael Sanders. They first joined forces in a New England high school more than a decade ago, as part of a Modern Lovers cover band. Through their subsequent musical and geographical journeys the two have remained the closest of friends, corresponding throughout on their musical comings and goings. In 2011 the two decided it was time to compose and record.
Sanders descibes how they set about writing the EP:
“The creative process happens in a number of ways. Each song is a journey. Some start as beats and grow into parts that become songs... some are snippets of hours and hours of jamming... and others are fully formed ideas that I bring in to be arranged by T and myself.”
They built on their disparate musical journeys, ranging from screaming loud indie rock to traditional jazz, in an attempt to create something eclectic and push each other out of their comfort zones. This created a sonic narrative of where they have been, and where their ears have begun to pull them. The result is strange, gritty, and somehow nostalgic.
“At an early stage in the project we decided to only program drums and play all the keyboards live. This, coupled with vintage amps and verb, keeps everything living and breathing on top of the electronic drums.”
On Relations, their self titled EP recorded and produced in Brooklyn by Glass Rifle's PJ Norman, you hear their decade long, musical correspondence. Through a rush of noisy guitar and synths, detailed drum sequences, and riding bass lines, they present the polaroids of their musical journey. Spanning across decades of influences, you are likely to hear a little Blur, Kraftwerk, New Order, The Lemonheads, The Knife and Pavement.
"There’s a coolness that runs deep, all the way back to the revolt against messy, apathetic, no-future punk, and borrows from the bleak factory landscape. It’s a nostalgic vision of the possibilities of technology and the warning shot. 8.6/10" - Jason Dean, QRO Mag
"Reminiscent of the early, dark and tense post punk days, when bands like Joy Division and Wire ruled the rock world." - The Deli Magazine
"Hits you like a punch from the opening, beginning with a screen door like squeak of noise before becoming a noise guitar duel of Daydream Nations vein...with one of the best songs I’ve heard all year." - The Creative Intersection
"The synth-punk songbirds finally take flight on this masterful EP" - ExclusiveMagazine.com
"Love the EP from Relations, great stuff!" - John Rose, Host, "Hidden Treasures Of Rock'n'Roll", UIC Radio
"These four tracks get that precarious balance of pop hooks, odd electronic sounds, and dissonant outbursts right to create memorable songs." - Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed
"The guitars on this are fiercely savage in the way Wire or Wedding Present drive you with subtle use of feedback. They got good tone. The bass peddles you around the bases of this EP with somewhat of Joy Division factory influence here which we think you should check out being there is a drum machine employed as part of the backing band. This EP is over before it begins and we're already looking forward to more." - Review Stalker
Love American Skin
100m Records announce the soundtrack to photographer Diana Scheunemann’s feature-length documentary film Love American Skin. The soundtrack was provided by the label to support Scheunemann’s stunning debut as a filmmaker and is arranged into a thirteen-song, thirteen artist compilation release including new tracks from PJ Norman's tKatKa, Fates, and Iamprimate projects..
In the summer of 2010, Scheunemann undertook an eight-week road trip clockwise around the USA, starting and ending in New York City. The aim of the trip was to photograph, film and explore the multiple facets of the American identity. Fueled by a curiosity for the stereotype of the Mid-West, she was convinced that New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Las Vegas are not an accurate portrayal of the USA. With her boyfriend, PJ Norman, and their dog they drove 10,128 miles, and through 21 states to attain a more accurate understanding.
“Over 60 days we filmed, photographed and explored over 60 people. We experienced temperatures between 35 and 118 degrees Fahrenheit, my boyfriend became my husband, and the car’s engine was used as a cooking stove. Love American Skin replicates our journey’s spontaneity, freedom, eccentricity and discoveries.”
Love American Skin is about the American people and their landscape; a surface which invites curiosity, lustfulness, tragedy and love. A single American skin encompassing much history and various points of origin. Peeling back the surface exposes the unique, miniature stories of individual cells in the corpus, and the collective story of a country’s complexion.
The 80-minute feature is accompanied by thirteen superb compositions by 100m artists and friends. Ranging through wonderfully organic electronic soundscapes, thoughtful acoustic singer-songwriters, catchy pop tunes and urgent, driven rock the soundtrack perfectly captures the variety of American cultures and landscapes depicted in the film.