We've Met Before, When We Were... | Claudia
 Cat: AB012 
 Time: August 06
 Media: Digital Download

 Info: Deeply personal and extraordinarily intimate, 
 We've Met Before, When We Were… gently unfolds 
 layers of nostalgic minimalism.

 Artist website: http://www.sheisaway.com/

 01. The Introduction Song 
 02. Holding Hands/Arm In Arm (MP3 Preview)
 03. To Build Buildings 
 04. Me & My Tornado (Part A) 
 05. Me & My Tornado (Part B) (MP3 Preview)
 06. Me & My Tornado (Part C) 
 07. Things Getting Better Here, Miss You Dearly
 08. Just Ask Me (MP3 Preview)
 09. I'm Ready Now (When Do We Leave) 
 Claudia - We've Met Before, When We Were... download download 
 Who are you?
Justin Varis, Los Angeles, CA. Why do you write music? I have thought about this quite a bit over the last few years. I have come to a few conclusions. One: I think I am trying to give something back to an art form that has given me so much. It would be incredibly selfish to not contribute, to not participate. I imagine it being similar to the debt you feel towards someone who stuck by you during a difficult time. You pay that sort of thing back. Two: I do not really have a choice. I have to write. It balances me. It challenges me. It keeps me focused on the positive instead of the negative. But most importantly, I write because I love to write. How would you describe your music? I really cannot and hopefully no one can. That is my only goal. To be as singular as possible. What does this album mean to you? To me, it was written specially for one person. It is a very personal record. Each project ends up being for someone. It is my way of commemorating a person/ relationship that I would like to keep close to me for the rest of my life. Can you elaborate on some of your creative processes? Notes, recording, editing, sequencing, mixing. I am starting to play more instruments for starting points as opposed to sequencing sketches. I love the physicality of playing an instrument. So many little mistakes that become the best parts. But really my work revolves around editing and how those edits interact with each other. What are your future plans? Produce as much material as I possibly can, plain and simple. Art installations. Sound for film. Live performance. I have ideas for collaborative projects with varying artists around the world. I hope to continue to grow as much as I possibly can with my work. I also plan on traveling a whole lot more. And finally getting a dog.

REVIEWS | We've Met Before, When We Were...

 With his debut album, Justin Varis, the Los Angeles-based musician behind Claudia, inaugurates a new musical 
 direction for Sheffield's Audiobulb Records. Claudia showcases minimal ambient electronica that makes 
 exemplary use of musique concrète techniques.

We've Met Before, When We Were... interlaces out of tune piano filigree, low voltage electronics, somnolent tonal smears, the repetitive sequence of domestic appliances and household articles (sewing machines, tooth brushes, tennis balls, cutlery), faint streaks of noise and a merry menagerie of acoustic instruments. With this record the listener is allowed a privileged glimpse of the shape of things to come from Audiobulb.

 Claudia's We've Met Before, When We Were … represents a dramatic departure from past Audiobulb 
 releases. On his debut album, LA-based Justin Varis largely frees himself from conventional time structures 
 and rhythms, opting instead to sculpt eccentric sound settings from found sounds and acoustic instruments. 
 The resultant audio narratives meander dramatically, especially when he gives three of them extended 
 running times, the longest 17 minutes in duration. Varis builds upon musique concrete traditions to create an 
 album of deeply idiosyncratic and explorative sound studies.

 The album sometimes approximates a visit to Claudia's workshop with Varis delightedly demonstrating the 
 myriad sounds his noise-making objects and toys produce. In “Holding Hands/Arm In Arm,” he electronically 
 processes piano note repetitions and incorporates scissors sounds, the swishing noises of a toothbrush, a 
 woman's lecturing voice, hammering, and tinkling melodies. “Me & My Tornado (Part B)” could even be the audio 
 record of a technician's audition with the candidate showcasing his entire catalogue of sounds: percussive pops, 
 poured liquids, squeals, horns, whirrs, et al.

 Such playfulness is interesting but only for so long and Varis wisely shifts the focus during the album's later 
 pieces. He radically stretches and warps piano playing throughout “Things Getting Better Here, Miss You 
 Dearly” in a way that recalls Institutional Collaborative, Terre Thaemlitz's collaboration with Jane Dowe. To his 
 credit, Varis never bludgeons the listener with noise but rather quietly and patiently shapes his narratives, 
 confident that the listener will be engrossed enough by the material to stay focused. Varis generally succeeds 
 though the journey can be wearying when the ever-changing scenery demands one's constant attention for a 
 full 74 minutes. Still, just when one expects fatigue to set in, specifically with the arrival of the penultimate 
 15-minute epic “Just Ask Me,” Varis entrances the listener with the album's most becalmed setting, a lovely 
 paradisiacal evocation where time feels wholly suspended. 

 Critiquing a musician's work is as subjective as looking at a piece of art and doing the same. Personal taste, 
 preference, and tolerance all play a role in whether or not the sounds you take a listen to are appealing. 

 That said, I guess I'm never going to jump on the bandwagon of music like Claudia's. Whatever you'd call it
 sub Glitch or scratch Glitch, or some other term for the electronic subgenre… it's not for me.

 We've met before, when we were… is the debut release of Justin Varis on Audiobulb Records. It's nine 
 tracks of disjointed bleeps, astringent clicks and harsh non-sequiturs. And while I'm sure there are plenty 
 of electronica-philes out there who will enjoy this CD, it just lacks the soul and the flavor that I'm partial to.

 This is not music for those who need a hook, a beat, a groove, or a pleasant background soundtrack. It's 
 a mish-mash of noise, a collage of samples put together with no apparent rhyme or reason. Hey, I appreciate 
 a musician's artistic license to experiment and do whatever moves them. I just can't appreciate this particular 
 effort. My ears demand something less harsh and experimental. But that's just a matter of personal taste. 

 This CD from 2006 offers 74 minutes of experimental weirdness.

 Claudia is Justin Varis, a young composer from Los Angeles who pursues a highly eccentric sonic vision.

 Instrumentation varies, and the uses are never predictable or conventional. Piano notes may be jammed 
 between metallic tapping. Vocal snippets float in a sea of low voltage electronics, contrasting found sound 
 with cybernetic aggression. Fragmentary plucked guitar notes are sliced into an atmospheric milieu of halting 
 inconsistency. Chittering diodes are coaxed to provide sporadic tempos.

 There is little cohesion or flow involved here. Varis' intentions seem dedicated to random structure with an 
 accent on incarnate strangeness. Melodic elements coexist with atonal aspects. Single tracks jump all over 
 the place, as if refusing to restrain themselves to any one focus. Although jarring, the result is very symbolic 
 of modern life.

 Behind Claudia is not a girl but a boy: Justin Varis from Los Angeles. I have no idea about what else he done 
 in his life, but 'We've Met Before, When We Were' is his debut album and even when it's in realms of computer 
 music, and perhaps even a bit ambient and atmospheric at times, this is quite an unusual album for Audiobulb 
 Records. It's not the usual rhythm machines and ambient textures, but sounds culled from daily life, like tooth 
 brushing, tennis balls or sewing machines, along with some real instruments, such as piano and guitar and a 
 bit of computer processing, make this more like an audio diary than a piece of music. Sometimes the 'experiments' 
 are a bit too simple and the sound drops in and out, like there has been some kind of recording mistake, but no 
 doubt this is deliberate. It's all a bit too long free form for me, with not much idea of sense or direction. Just 
 what is the idea behind all of this, other than showing some skill with the microphone and basic computer 
 operation. But towards the end, the final two tracks, Claudia starts to make music, to compose and that is 
 quite nice, it's something he should do more. Perhaps next time..

 Justin Varis, også kalt Claudia, er en lavmælt mann. Hans første utgivelse inneholder i stor grad små, simple 
 motiv spilt på piano eller gitar, som manipuleres av elektroniske effekter. Med en amatørs begeistring kan han 
 gjenta et knippe toner i nærmere 20 minutter på «Holding Hand/Arm in Arm». Fremdriften skapes ved hjelp av 
 elektronikk og kollasjer av radiostøy og kjøkkenutstyr brukt som perkusjon. Det er noe beundringsverdig over 
 artistens ønske om å fullstendig frigjøre seg fra konvensjonelle strukturerer, og konstrastere instrumentetenes 
 klang opp mot konkrete hverdagslyder. Allikevel kunne jeg ønske at han i større grad unnlot de tilfeldige 
 forvridningene på tonene, eller den overdrevne oppkuttingen, som i motsetning til den naive spillemåten, virker 
 noe påtatt og overdrevet.

 Claudia har en noe surrealistisk tilnærming til musikk. I beskrivelsen på Audiobulbs internettside nevner Varis 
 blant annet «a nice seewing machine», som får meg til å tenke på førsurrealisten Comte de Lautréamont (som 
 egentlig het Isidore Lucien Ducasse). Han er berømt for setningen: «Like vakkert som det tilfeldige møtet mellom 
 en symaskin og en paraply på et operasjonsbord». Den blir sjelden presentert i den opprinnelige konteksten, 
 der sammenstillingen av mostridene element ble brukt til å beskrive en ung gutt som den ultimate antihelten 
 Maldoror var ute etter. Sitatet er i stedet blitt et slags epos for den surrealistiske bevegelsen. Ved begynnelsen 
 av 1900-tallet malte de bilder med objekter og skikkelser som hadde lite med hverandre å gjøre, eller skrev dikt 
 der ordene som fulgte hverandre ikke skapte meningsbærende setninger. På samme måte kan Claudia på sporet 
 «Holding Hands, Arm in Arm» la den repeterende pianotonen avløses av fragmenterte setninger om paralelle 
 linjer og lyden av noen som pusser tennene.

 Jeg har aldri vært så nær en annen person at jeg har kunnet høre han eller henne puste gjennom nesen mens 
 vedkommende børstet tennene med tannkosten, og det er heller ikke uten grunn. Vi har alle intimgrenser, og selv 
 om dette er en ganske ubetydelig ting, så ville de fleste reagert negativt om man la øret helt inntil nesen deres 
 mens de pusset tennene. Når jeg lytter til Claudia får jeg innimellom følelsen av at jeg trenger meg inn i noe privat, 
 som egentlig ikke var ment for allmenheten. Store deler av We've Met Before, When We Were styres av en intern 
 logikk som jeg ikke helt klarer å tyde.

 Ikke alt føles derimot som å kike inn i et fotoalbum med bilder av en familie du ikke kjenner. «Things Getting Better 
 Here, Miss You Dearly» er en potensiell sonate som i stedet blir skåret opp og satt sammen igjen på en 
 fragmentert måte. Men som med beskrivelsen til Lautreamonte så gir det på en eller annen merkelig måte mening. 
 «Just Ask Me» er det vakreste sporet på hele platen, der pianotonene er gnidd utover til hammerens slag mot 
 strengene forsvinner fullstendig. Tilbake flyter bare ressonansene forbi, som regntunge skyer, og man kan ikke 
 annet enn la seg bevege.

 Med denne utgivelsen viser plateselskapet Audiobulb en vilje til å la de virkelig eksperimentelle artistene få slippe 
 til. Musikken er vanskelig, men ikke ugjennomtrengelig. Varis er kanskje lavmælt, men han har funnet sin egen 
 stemme. Han roper ikke høyt nok til å hevde seg i toppsjiktet, men materialet, og da spesielt de siste 25 minuttene 
 lover godt. Jeg ser definitivt fram til vårt neste møte på disseksjonsbordet.
 Audiobulb Is an exploratory music label designed to support the work of innovative artists. 

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