Optic Echo Records

 
 

Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (The OO-Ray) have been playing and performing together for a number of years. Laderas was drafted recently by Fischer's duo, Unrecognizable Now, to add his unique take on cello to their live performances and recordings.


In 2011, Optic Echo commissioned Fischer and Laderas to create an album together. Seeking to bridge Marcus’ delicate multi-instrumental sonics with Ted’s orchestrated chamber-drone, they started with a number of long-form improvisations and shaped them into the wide-ranging pieces on the album. All sounds have been given space to unfold and blossom in a timeline full of contrasts and quiet moments of beauty. Marcus and Ted's separate and unsynchronized loops evolve and coalesce into transitory patterns that are both breathtaking and imperfect.  Within this process of overlapping sounds, larger patterns, or tessellations are revealed to the listener.


Tessellations features cello, lap harp, tuning forks, synthesizers, guitar, percussion and analog and digital processing.


Copies are hand numbered in a limited edition of 250, silkscreened on recycled cardboard sleeves, and contain individual high quality download coupon cards including an additional track. Art by Marcus Fisher, mastered by Taylor Deupree at 12k and cut by Rashad at Dubplates & Mastering.


You can find copies of this album at our store, experimedia (US), norman records (UK), and stashed goods (UK).  Digital copies available at our bandcamp page.


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All audio below are 1-2 minute samples of the tracks on the 12”.














Reviews:

Textura: “Simpatico partners Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (The OO-Ray) bring out the best in one another on this excellent collaborative outing for Optic Echo. That shouldn't be a total surprise as the two have, in fact, played and performed together a number of times prior to the 2011 recording of this twelve-inch vinyl set (available in a hand-numbered limited edition of 250 copies), plus Laderas has also contributed cello to live performances and recordings by Fischer's duo Unrecognizable Now. Using cello, lap harp, tuning forks, synthesizers, guitar, and percussion as sound sources and analog and digital processing as production means, the two first generated long-form improvisations and then shaped them into the album's seven settings. In their final form, however, the pieces unfold in a patient and natural manner that makes them seem more like meditative drones delicately shaped in real-time.


Fischer's participation guarantees that the recording exudes a pastoral electro-acoustic sound of the kind familiar to 12k devotees; Laderas's presence, on the other hand, ensures that the material possesses an immediacy and highly personalized quality that his cello playing naturally communicates (something clearly heard, for example, in the bowing that introduces “Unfold”). Characteristic of the recording's luscious sound, the opening piece “Belong” augments placid droning fields of acoustic guitar and electronics with the plaintive cry of the cello's bowed tones. The pairing of cello and guitar makes for a sensual result that is perhaps most palpably felt during “Bokeh” when Laderas's tones blend gracefully into a dense surround of electric guitar textures and cymbal shadings.

The melancholy slow-burn of “Ghost Lights” makes it one of the album's stand-outs, while the lilting title track is perhaps Tessellations' most beautiful and emotionally affecting, especially when it works its magic for ten graceful minutes. As a word, tessellate refers to how precisely things fit together—triangles, for instance, will tesselate whereas octagons will not—and as such it's a fitting title for the project given how fluidly the sounds and strategies deployed by Fischer and Laderas complement one another.”



Fluid Radio: “Collaboration: the theory goes that two people working together can achieve much more than they could on their own, but often this turns out not to be the case, not entirely. The working methods of one collaborator imposes limits on the other, shutting down some potential avenues of development while leaving others open. At the same time, collaboration can free participants to explore new directions without worrying so much about how it may be compared to their previous solo efforts, diffused agency blunting the edges of self-consciousness, however slightly. And so the end result is no more or less substantial than work done alone, though always inevitably different.


“Tessellations” is a new collaborative release from Marcus Fischer and The OO-Ray, otherwise known as Ted Laderas. Somewhat sleepy and languid in feel, the album leaves impressions as strongly emotive and yet intangible as a dream. “Coldspring” has a moody, late-night atmosphere to it, the hush both warmly lulling and potentially sinister; “Bokeh” makes use of a plodding cello bassline to carry the listener on a walk through a resonant percussion-inflected memoryscape. Much of the dreaminess is due to Laderas’ sonorous cello, doused with a generous dose of reverb, waves rolling somewhere between surge and drift. Mostly absent is the sharpness of perception, the here-now-hear that characterised previous Fischer ventures and made me like them so much, but such an approach wouldn’t have fitted the collaboration well at all, and Fischer wisely sticks to lighter touches that embellish or merge with the cello washes rather than disrupt them.

The loops used by the artists were apparently allowed to run unsynchronised, creating patterns that weave in and out of each other, multiple layered temporalities that no doubt also contribute to the dreamlike effect. “Tessellations” is a record that is probably best enjoyed late at night, not because it is gloomy in its tone, but because it seems to mirror that state of drifting in and out of sleep, even as the loops drift in and out of time with each other. And by ‘record’, I mean the real deal – the album is released as a 12” vinyl LP limited to 250 copies, with a recycled cardboard sleeve and artwork by Fischer. I’m officially format agnostic, but with this release I can see the attraction of physically putting the record on, sometime in the wee hours, and watching it spin on the plate like the reel of an old 16mm projector, lights flickering.


Derives: “Sometimes collaborations between two artists you enjoy as seen as happy events you'll discover full of expectations. But the hopes are rarely met, and if it turns good it is sometimes by chance or by concessions.  Very rarely you can find complementarity and even less ofter symbiosis.  But as soon as I read that Ted Laderas (The OO-Ray) and Marcus Fischer were working on a record together it was bingo, I had the intuition it could be only very very good.   And it is.


There is a lot of spontaneity in Ted Laderas's expression, like a flow of feelings and sensations coming directly with the heart, lacking sometimes of filtration and directions. On the other side, Marcus Fisher is highly selective and methodic, using just a few elements in a highly subtle manner, often focussing more on the process than on the solution ...”



Norman Records: “... Electro acoustic multi-instrumentalists Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (The OO-Ray) have collaborated to make a sensuous LP, limited to 250 in screenprinted sleeves, of light chamber drone with layered washes of bowed strings carving out slowly developing melodies with all sorts of delicate, subtle textures and ornamentations from various instruments for a relaxing therapeutic odyssey full of neoclambient peace vibes, but with an undercurrent of sweeping cinematic drama.


Apparently these pieces began life as long-form improvisations by the pair before being shaped into the studio pieces you hear on the record, which feature cello, lap harp, tuning forks, synthesizers, guitar, percussion and analog and digital processing, all blended together in a drifty milkshake of warm, sensuous tones with a blurry, shimmering nostalgic cherry on top to make a sound-beverage fit for a robot.

The improvised nature of the source material means it meanders from concordant free-droning ambience that’s reminding me of the beautiful recent Pleq & Hakobune collaboration to more neoclassical chamber-minimal lushness, such as the closing title track that’s almost like Rachel’s at their most brittle and restrained, but these delicate melodic drones are detailed and soothing and I’m happy to report that my circuits are now cooled. Many thanks for that, human men M-Fish and T-Lad.”



Electroacoustic Tales: “It might take a while until one realizes that it is that Marcus Fischer that we got to know through his beautiful ‘Monocoastal’ album on 12k or the ‘Collected Dust’ release that appeared earlier this year on the Tench imprint. Be it the fact that he is not solely responsible for the ‘Tessellations’ album on the Portland-based Optic Echo label or maybe that he has to leave his familiar “genre” to collaborate with Ted Laderas a.k.a. The OO-Ray – the album unveils a sound that is completely different to what he’s done before (at least regarding the works that have been released so far). That being said I want to put it clear that it isn’t negative in every sense but nevertheless noticeable nearly throughout the complete album. Anyway, the ‘Tessellations’ project is also very different from what I expected after “predicting” last year that Fischer and Laderas would come up with a collaborative album. So being officially released next week the album is somewhat surprising and with it definitely worth some attention.


Well, how do I mean all that? Shouldn’t it be clear that a collaborative album doesn’t sound exactly like former works of one (or both) of the contributing artists? Yes and no, I tend to say. Especially regarding the production and the overall sound it’s sometimes easily possible to find parallels or even recognition features. In ‘Tessellations’ they aren’t obvious, neither regarding Marcus Fischer nor The OO-Ray. This could mean that both artists interact with each other and their musical approach very well so that they could leave their familiar sound surrounding without feeling out of place or at least uncomfortable. As it just took a year roughly to get this album released after starting the collaborative work, this could be the main reason for it indeed. Fischer put away a good portion of his clearly filtered tones, drones and strums and Laderas for his part had to create less uneven cello drones so that they had to meet somewhere halfway. Believe it or not, for me this search for a common way develops steadily throughout the complete album and seems to result in its final piece. ‘Fourier’ sounds exactly like that halfway meeting point that I mentioned before. From here the album seems to take a new direction, a more detailed vision of what this collaborative project could achieve. ‘Unfold’ sounds like a wonderful interlude before ‘Ghost Lights’ seems to be lost in reverie a bit. But it perfectly prepares the listener for their masterpiece: ‘Tessellation’ is a wonderfully balanced composition that perfectly merges the filtered and processed instruments, percussive texturing and harmonic structure. Also the complete album structure philosophically somehow fits to the collaboration, growing step by step (the tesserae in the figurative sense) and slowly forming a cohesive picture which seems to be finished with the final piece, the ‘Tessellate’. From my point of view this isn’t just the eponymous and the central piece of the album, it actually should give direction to the collaborative project for some further works.”


WAJOBU: “Improvisation is about taking risks, experimenting and responding to the immediate results.  It is the outcome of the instantaneous transition from thought to motion, and then to sound.  It sometimes takes practice, and it requires chemistry between the artists; the kind of vibe evident between Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (aka The-OO-Ray).  Music can yield a far timelier reward compared to other slower [art] forms, like in architecture or science, where the results of research and collaboration can often take years to behold.


This has been a busy year for Marcus Fischer with at least five published recordings, touring, and new projects in the works.  I’ve certainly enjoyed all of them, solo and collaborative.  It is thanks to Fischer’s work that I have become familiar with Ted Laderas (The OO-Ray: self-professed on his Twitter bio “Half Scientist, Half Cellist, All Shoegazer”) and his electro-acoustic chamber-drones.

Tessellations is the result of a series of long-form improvisations between the Fischer and Laderas.  It was commissioned by the Optic Echo label in 2011.  The instrumentation is largely stringed (acoustic and electric guitars, cello, lap harp) with percussion, loops, processing and minimal synthesizers.  The album has a dynamic richness with a combination of soothing observation and introspection.  I also appreciate that this is an album of largely non-electronic instrumentation, not necessarily a rejection of sequenced analog or digital electronics, but a return to earlier tangible instrumental roots, and a sense of the ageless.  It kind of takes me back to some of Kraftwerk’s oft-forgotten earlier works from Kraftwerk 1 and 2, and Ralf and Florian; like the guitar portions of Tongebirge (Mountain of Sound) from 1973.

The album opens with belong, rising like the sun on a dewy morn; crisp and hopeful with a gentleness that avoids any sense of melancholy.  Stark and mysterious is the ambience of cold spring with OO-Ray’s cello seeking the edges, and hints of Harold Budd’s Boy About 10 from the album By The Dawn’s Early Light.  The largo metronomic of the bass line maintains the focus of bokeh as cello, keyboards and other instrumentation blurs the musical depth of field.

The shifting of sounds, interlocking, matching and then contrasting (much like a moiré pattern) is the sense presented in fourier, which is perhaps the most densely packed and expansive of the tracks.  By contrast, unfold is perhaps the most peaceful track on the album, a private [waterside] contemplation with gently flowing cello, meandering lap harp layered and a soft droning veil.  Then, the mystical and shimmering reverb of ghost lights emerges, and is reminiscent of the recent Unrecognizable Now album (Fischer’s collaboration with Matt Jones, KESH018) Two Rooms, with shifting chords and bowed strings (and has some of the sound I noted earlier in Tongebirge).

Tessellate is the longest (about 10 minutes) and most subtle of the tracks on the album (titled tessellation on the download).  It has the most nuanced transitions, with Fischer and Laderas trading themes and responses, and weaving phrases back into the fabric of the piece.  It brings the LP to a placid close.  *music for caverns is the bonus track with the digital download, and is a warm postlude to the day that started with belong, and in some respects is similar to the closing tracks of Eno, Lanois & Eno’s album,  Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks—one of my favorite of Eno’s collaborative works.

Marcus Fischer + The OO-Ray have deftly assembled in their collaborative improvisational work both a cohesive sonic realism, and impressionistic vision with a timeless authenticity.”

Marcus Fischer + The OO-Ray

Tessellations, oe010, 12” vinyl