C. Spencer Yeh / Okkyung Lee / Lasse Marhaug – ‘Wake Up Awesome’ LP / CD [Software]

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? No doubt Software / Mexican Summer label bosses are basking in that feeling when listening back to Wake Up Awesome. Bringing together three of the leaders of improvised music, the sum of what comes out far outweighs their individual parts, something that doesn’t happen as often as it should.

Not going to lie, it was Okkyung Lee who’s name on the sleeve made this ‘buy on site’. The New York based Korean national continues to be at the forefront of interesting experimental music, attacking tracks with her cello, creating new music in ways that no one else is. Earlier this year, under Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ imprint (a parented by Editions Mego) she released her finest work to date, the amazing Ghil LP. In the way that Bill Orcutt stands out as a composer with only the loosest ties to his original training, Lee’s techniques are her own. Hard to understand at times and even harder to dissect in retrospect, the music that pours of her just works on it’s own incredible plain.

For their own part Lasse Marhaug and Chih-Fu Spencer Yeh (generally referred to as C. Spencer, aka the force behind Burning Store Core) are names synonymous with experimental electronics (often generated acoustically) and noise composition. In the case of C. Spencer his vocals become distorted and resynthesised to become as much a digital instrument as anything else the pair have created.

Whether Marhaug’s built his own instruments or Yeh’s pulled out his violin is irrelevant, as it’s the effects and distortion mixed in with the improvisational nature of the project that characterises their offering. As a group the respective artists sound like they’re having fun in the sessions, Lee’s bass given the role as solo dramatist with an almost playful existence going on around it.

For whatever reason Wake Up Awesome is not only brilliant for fans but also surprisingly accessible to those who like their music more structured. When these collaborations occur we rarely get a full album, and even rarer is it split in to tracks, so big ups to the label for making this a perfect all round record. Check out an album sample below, press release underneath that.

via Mexican Summer / Software
Wake Up Awesome, by C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core), Okkyung Lee, and Lasse Marhaug (Jazzkamer), is the second chapter of SSTUDIOS (Software Studios Series). SSTUDIOS is a new venture in the Software Recording Co.‘s expanding catalog that invites artists in the field of electronic music to create collaborative works of quality and vision.

Inspired by the historical intersections of live performance and studio post-production, Wake Up Awesome is a modern kind of fusion in technique as well as genre. At its core are three artists highly experienced with both instant and labored composition. Together, they found the studio generated improvisations were iteratively developed by each on their own.

Passages of real-time improvisation duck and swerve into electro-concrete tangles of samples, edits and juxtaposition – all you’d want out of a world of mechanical possibility. If it sounds intentional on the record, it was. If Yeh and Marhaug’s more electronic affinities in their respective practices place them as the “producers,” then Lee’s cello often leads the drive as a sort of soloist.

The resulting conversation is genuinely both serious and iconoclastic. All three artists have a history of dialogue, but this is the first time they’ve hung out for the record — we’re very happy that they did.