Marc Richter aka Black To Comm released his debut record 20 years ago. In 2023 he is still busy releasing music under various disguises and is currently signed to the Thrill Jockey label. To celebrate this anniversary his own Cellule 75 label is re-releasing some classic out-of-print vinyl albums that originally came out on the defunct Type and De Stijl labels. The LP will feature a full-colour lyric sheet / poster exclusive to this edition.
After releasing the critically acclaimed Alphabet 1968 on the seminal Type label (Grouper, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yellow Swans), Richter chose De Stijl for this 2012 album, an American label that had just put out future classics by the likes of Circuit Des Yeux, Hype Williams and Wolf Eyes.
EARTH is a 2009 silent film by Ho Tzu Nyen, one of Singapore's foremost visual artists. After hearing Black To Comm's Alphabet 1968 Ho Tzu Nyen invited Richter to accompany the film at Berlin's Asian Film Festival, Unsound in Krakow and several other art biennals and music festivals around the world.
In his own words: "Most of the music was composed under the influence of heavy pain killers while recovering from a broken leg (the recordings literally took place in bed). The music (like the film) is about slowness and decay, states of unconsciousness, sleeping and waking up, dying and being reborn. The film is a post-apocalyptic collage based on paintings by classical European painters (Caravaggio, Delacroix, Rembrandt, Gericault) -- the music translates this concept employing corresponding collage-based sampling techniques using loops made from vintage vinyl and shellac records combined with acoustic and electronic instrumentation and voice."
From the original De Stijl one-sheet:
"Richter’s already formidable expressive power stretches over all of EARTH. Reflecting the countless cyclical forces that make up, oh, more or less everything we know and are, the music on EARTH is bracing, lovely, bustling and still, and at times bittersweet, a commingling of sensations and emotions that can’t be neatly separated from one another. (EARTH is complex, as you know.) Guests on EARTH include David Aird, a.k.a Vindicatrix (on the Mordant Music label), contributing startling vocal work; Renate Nikolaus on an array of instruments and noise devices; Rutger Zuydervelt (singing bowls); and Christopher Kline (singing saw). EARTH is Black to Comm’s seventh album and his debut for De Stijl, following the acclaimed Alphabet 1968 (on Type) and last year’s vinyl-only collaboration with Mike Kelley of Destroy All Monsters (on the En/Of label)."
Alex Neilson in The Wire:
"The most marked aspect of Earth is the voice of David Aird, aka Vindicatrix. Imperious and dolorous, he has the gravity of post-Climate Of Hunter Scott Walker, David Sylvain or Klaus Nomi stripped of the pathetic ritz. This is something that's easy to do badly, but Aird pulls it off with aplomb. On "The Children" he breaks into a morose yodel, rolling the words around his palate and colouring each syllable black before gifting them to the air. The meaning isn't understood verbally as much as viscerally. Beneath Aird's ululations, Richter casts handfuls of angelic debris from keyboards and digital devices, generating a celestial electronic tapestry reminiscent of Japanese musician Nobukazu Takemura. Sounds vie and twist at frequencies you can't so much hear as feel in the bridge of your nose, and the variety and full-bloodedness of the accompaniment is what prevents Aird's vocal from occassionally lapsing into shtick."