Vital Weekly


MIKROKNYTES – KAVERNA (CD by Kavekavity Records)

Music by the US duo Mikroknytes, being Derek Morton (electronics, effects, mind control) and John Coursey (violin, electronics, idea manufacturing), has been reviewed before in these pages, although sometimes the band name was misspelled as Mikronytes. On ‘Kaverna’, a super limited CDR release on their own Kavekavity Records, they seem to be moving away from the previous encounters in the world of industrial music meeting up with improvised sound and moves towards a more pure minimal, drone and still highly improvised sound. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that ‘Kaverna’ was recorded live in the studio and lead up to their show with Phill Niblock. Some of his influence is surely there, through minimalist humming, yet Mikroknytes also throw in elements of surprise, a bit of rhythm or irregular scrapings of the violin. Still this music is pretty raw and untamed, but if these are the proceedings that will lead up to a new, more refined studio work, I am all ears. (FdW)



Fearless Frequencies
Top 10 of ’05

The Lappetites-Before The Libretto (Quecksilber)
Peter Cusack- Baikal Ice (Spring 2003) (ReR)
Maja S.K. Ratkje/Lasse Marhaug – Music For Faking (C3R)
APSCI-Thanks For Asking (Quannum Projects)
Greg Davis/Steven Hess-Decisions (Longbox Recordings)
» Mikroknytes-Sess-Supastreng (Kavekavity)
Edan-Beauty And The Beat (Lewis)
Jon Mueller- What’s Lost Is Something Important, What’s Found Is Something Not Revealed (Crouton Music)
Mecha Fixes Clocks-Orbiting With Screwdrivers (Alien 8)
Morceaux De Machines (A Dontigny/Erick D’Orion+Diane Labrosse/Martin Tetreault/Otomo Yoshihide)—Estrapade (No Type)


Featured Noisemakers – Mikroknytes (Sess-Supastreng)

Knytes of the realm of drone by Washington DC’s Mikroknytes. Released on this occasion through Commie 64′s new label Kavekaveti it bares all the hallmarks of the sound they have honed over the years which is both gentle one minute and terrifying the next. Drone on an industrial scale one might say but sublimely beautiful. Sculpting their material from studio improvisations you really get a sense of sounds in continual composition. Interestingly they have also gone for a greater use of field recordings, which combined is what gives this album the coherence of a whole that is a sonic journey ‘par excellence’.

Tracks such as ‘Lissy Bleed & Avereeder’ (where do they get these track titles?) are a diverse mixture of processed, moody at times musique concrete and static granular synth undulations with portamento slips and gauges that pick you up and drop you off sonic cliffs in a whirlpool of frequencies. On track 2, ‘Avereeder’ a solo plucked violin reverberates into fed-back rhythms filtered and transformed through the Knytes trademark processing with increasing and decreasing cardiac like LFO rates to match the intensity. ‘Alvino Linter’ and ‘Oviotros’ would have to be my favourites and on the first listen I actually thought they were one track. They certainly compliment each other. ‘Alvino Linter’ starts with a combination of gentle bowed violin reverberating in pools of grainy modular synth drones accompanied by faint conversational vocal snatch’s segwaying into ‘Oviotros’ with curious spiky plucks and high ethereal vocalisations that cushion you in a loved up web of sonic wool. Again as throughout, their signature of gentle to hard and soft to spiky delivers a wide spectrum of dynamics that never makes this EP feel too long which is sometimes the case with drone based recordings.

Mormunizer finishes the album with multi layered contrapuntal violin phrases giving way to dissonant high pitched tones over driven with mechanised field recordings and synth drones. There is a distinct whiff of 80′s industrial here as synths hint of circling aircraft and the metallic shearing of blades. Enter a final foreboding drone underpinned by a sombre background field recording in a salutary wave to melancholy and the knowledge that it is all is not well with the world. A perfect soundtrack to our current state of uncertainty. This track is also featured on our new net release Explorations in Sound, Selection 2.

Review by Roger Mills



Grooves Magazine
Mikroknytes – Sess-Supastreng – Kavekavity

2003’s Live_src from this Washington, D.C. electro-acoustic improv duo was a superb cross-hatching of high-tension drone sculptures, flickering glitch sparks, and melting ground-zero noise sprays. This follow-up continues these timbre and tonal permutations with electronic wizard Derek Morton processing and re-processing John Coursey’s violin while dropping in his own audio crunches and mulches. But the two also toss in some new twists.

The first is not to obliterate the natural resonance of Coursey’s violin completely, but instead to explore the sonorities from the whole of his hollow wooden sound generator—the strings as well as the body. Still, Morton still gives Coursey’s violin the manipulation treatment, sometimes transforming it into the sound of all together different instrument. Amid the ping-pong oscillations, astringent watery flutters, and aggressive drones of the lead off track, “Lissybleed,” are Coursey’s pizzicato plucks, morphed into metallic rhythms akin to those from an mbira/thumb piano or gamelan. These percussive gestures are carried forward on “Avereeder,” grappling with Morton’s wow-and-flutter bass tones and analog hissing showers until the twisted undulations break out in a wall of looped power drones, imploding into a noisy collapse. The effect is like Konono No.1 refashioned by Autechre.

“Alvino Linter” is a graceful respite from the signal processing with its mournful, chromatic string lines, frosty glitch crystals, sine waves, and crowd of voices—like skating across a lake at midnight and then arriving back to the warmth of a full house. “Oviotros” kicks off with a orchestra of plings only to venture into a swell of multi-track violins and then into a thicket of Derek Bailey-like bent notes, which establish the rhythm for Morton’s pitch shifts and delays. It’s the perfect soundtrack for sloshing blindly through an underground cistern.

Like great film directors, Mikroknytes loves to construct detailed, busy mise-en-scenes, but it also knows when to make a long pan across a wide open vista. It’s this balance that makes Sess-Supastreng one of the best releases in recent memory.

Richard Moule




Mikroknytes – Sess-Supastreng – Kavekavity

Though they formed in 1998, New York duo Mikroknytes have only four full-length albums to their name, certainly not a paltry total, but a bit of an aberration in a time when, especially for improvisers, even a rate of one disc per year is a light load. Sess-Supastreng, their latest release, self-released on the Kavekavity label, is their first output of any sort since 2003, and, unless its live origins were left uncharacteristically absent by the duo, it’s the first full-length recorded in-studio by Mikroknytes. The switch from live sound as source material doesn’t seem to have had an obvious effect on Mikroknytes sound, however, which remains a blanket of analog electronics interspersed with oft-disguised doses of heavily effected violin.

Don’t let the chess pieces on the cover fool you, Sess-Supastreng doesn’t seem to rely on premeditated moves, or rigorous systems practice. Instead, Derek Mourton and John Coursey opt for improvisations that strike out on more textural tangents, more sonic environments than they are listening objects, per se. Given this, it’s often a far more rewarding endeavor to consider some of Sess-Supastreng ‘s tracks as a whole, rather than concentrating on singular sounds or fragments. “Avereeder” can seem jumbled an indistinct if one focuses too intently on exactly what’s happening, but feels more enjoyable and fluid during a less intense listen. “Alvino Litner” is representative of the approach that seems best suited to Mikroknytes instrumentation and techniques, the elongated tones and textural drones that the duo elicit coexist very comfortably, and as the album shifts gears in its second half, and Mikroknytes move further in this direction, Sess-Supastreng is all the better for it.

The live Mikroknytes experience is often an audio/visual one, as aspect that’s never been communicated through their audio-only releases. The visual aspect of their performance is a valuable addition to their improvisations, and can act as a cohesive force during the music’s more fragmented or crowded moments. A future release by the band that captures the true multimedia effects of the group would be a welcome addition to their discography, and one that might be the best representation of what Mikroknytes have to offer.



Vital Weekly
number 496

Since 1998, Derek Morton (electronics, effects, mind control) and John Coursey (violin, electronics, idea manufacturing) are Mikroknytes, and they have released a small number of works ever since. ‘Sess-Supastreng’ is their fourth excursion into the world of ‘massive drones through a barbed-wire filter of cracked electronics and random codes’. In the five lengthy pieces this works out as a semi-improvised, semi-composed work of many layers of sound – a massive sound indeed. Sounds are stapled onto each-other until a dense, vast, thick layer of sound arises from the mass. It’s never too drone to be ambient, nor is it too noise to be industrial. In a way Mikroknytes have a very retro 80s sound. P Children or old Illusion Of Safety spring to mind. Music that is too smooth to be industrial and to harsh to be ambient, and was is too analogue to be truly modern. That is no problem at all, me thinks, as it’s music that not many people create these days, so it might easily pass for something new. That, and the fact that Mikroknytes play some really fine tunes in this particular musical niche, makes this a most enjoyable album. (FdW)



Dusted Magazine Review of live_src

Intense electronic drone, Live_SRC subjects the listener through a kaleidoscope of emotions with a wide variety of textures both calamitous and subtle in settings both interstellar and subterranean. Live_SRC is about as linear as a painting by Jackson Pollock and as comforting as a 5-year-old lost overnight in a theme park. This recording is best experienced on a good sound system with the volume turned up as loud as the listener can handle to appreciate the undulations and cosmic sweeps.

The Mikroknytes are duo Derek Morton and John Coursey, who both process electronic sounds to the nth degree while the latter drags violin notes through effects pedals to add an organic element to what otherwise might be a pure electronic cosmos. Each track instills a strong emotional mood as well a distinct sense of setting to impress the listener with vivid mental pictures.

“Valentia” leaves an interstellar impression with vast, comet-like rushes piercing through a white noise vacuum as if documenting a cosmic cataclysm. This continues into “Hex” which morphs into purer drone with oscillating currents that grow ecstatic; a rosary uttered by machines in reverence to its maker.

On “W.E.K.” and “Artstace” the setting takes a more subterranean and unsettling turn. The electronics are reduced to a murmur accompanied by a mechanical chatter submerged in a dense reverb haze. These effects lend a cavernous impression, accompanied by dismal violin drones. A disconcerting air ensues, as if the Mikroknytes were wandering through a network of dimly lit bomb shelter tunnels while atomic war raged above. “Xeh” provides the most distinct industrial textures with its automated assembly line repetitions and mechanical movements.

“Capesound” flees the bleak surroundings, reasserting smoother drone textures that bear similarities to fluttering Middle Eastern wind instruments, almost in celebratory gesture. This occurs amidst a billowing rush of layered electric violin tones.

The closing tracks, “Amelioride” and “ec” take a more sonorous turn with breathtakingly beautiful, yet mournful violin that lends a nice contrast to the electronic vacuum. “ec” dissolves the contents of the CD into a void of ambience with glimmering electronic murmurs that are like particles form a ruined world sucked into an ever-growing vortex.

One of the wonderful qualities of the Mikroknytes is their ability to convey emotion as varied as the textures they exude, from brooding to euphoric along with the vast territory in between. It is mystifying how such jumbled and cluttered sounds can have such pleasing overtones no matter how shadowy the emotions become.

By I Khider



Left of the Dial Review of live_src


is the Mikroknytes second album on DC area record label Crank Automotive.  Like
their last self-titled album, Live_src is compiled of live improv
sessions that have been given an after-the-fact studio treatment.  The format
works as well on this disc as it has in the past, and it is apparent that the
boys in the Mikroknytes have been improving their system, as their compositions
are simultaneously more complex and more natural.  With they’re developing
compositional skills, it is also apparent that the Mikroknytes are taking full
advantage of the onward march of technology, as the sound of Live_src
seems to be leaps and bounds beyond their last release in terms of the quality
of the electronic sound sources and the intricacy of the mix.  The Mikroknytes
are clearly not intimidated or lost with the new technology; on their new disc
they stick to what made their last album succeed and move away from some of the
moments that seemed out of place.  Less time is spent with odd and out of place
stuttering beats, while even more attention is paid to crafting rich, cavernous
sonic environments.  Live_src is full of wonderfully textured ambient
sweeps, with backgrounds that are lush, and full of detailed sounds that skip in
and out of focus.  Once again, Redknyte’s violin performance takes an important
role in these works, and adds a living, if seemingly otherworldly, timbre to the
tracks.  To me, the standout piece, the one that both translates best to the
recorded format while still capturing the essence of a Mikroknytes live
performance, is the seventh track, Amelioride. It begins, as much of the
album does, with a gradual build of ambient textures composed of various
inconspicuously pulsing soft tones.  The violin drifts in and out of the track,
occasionally sharing the lead with some of the ambient detail that occasionally
drifts forward in the mix.  Finally everything fades away and the track ends
with stuttering insect-like scraping.  The effect of the whole thing is a
haunting openness that creates a feeling of loss and loneliness through
well-crafted particular sound qualities, rather than through the cheap coldness
of untreated digital sound.  Live_src is great.  The Mikroknytes have
recaptured and improved upon all the qualities that sold me on their last album
and added some sophisticated new ideas that really elevate their style and
sound.  I am impressed.

-Justin Rude



Grooves Magazine’s Richard Moule votes MIKROKNYTES live_src – Top Ten Pick of 2003

The Bohman Brothers — Searching Souls – Rossbin
Curseovdailect — Lost in the Real Sky – Mush
Matmos — The Civil War – Matador
**Mikroknytes — live_src – Crank Automotive
Gunter Muller & Otomo Yoshide — Time Travel – Erstwhile
Carsten Nicolai & Ryuichi Sakamoto — Vrioon – Raster-Noton
Polmo Polpo — Like Hearts Swelling – Constellation
Dean Roberts — Be Mine Tonight – Kranky
Sam Shalabi — Osama – Alien8
The Straggler — Torches, Etc. – Triller


Rarely do live recordings deliver the fidelity of studio mixes particularly when acoustic instruments are involved but not so with Mikroknytes Live @Sonic Circuits 2003 CD. This epic 20 minute set at Baltimore’s Sonic Circuits Festival takes you on a sonic journey of drones, laptop manipulations, fx pedals and violin that is truly transcendental. The grainy sound of the violin effected sometimes out of all recognition, entwines with electronic drones, filtered acoustic rhythms and field recordings in multiple textured layers that breath and pulse. An ethereal & dreamy sound piece that is electronic improvising at it’s best, the only complaint being it’s format of a single 20 minute CD audio-file without ID points. Still if you pause and lose your place you’ll just have to enjoy it all over again.



Pulp Magazine, Feb. 5-12, 2004

MIKROKNYTES – Saturday, February 7 @ THE EYE, Pittsburgh

Anything goes in the world of free improvisation when electronic instruments are utilized. Specific instrumental identities get blurred, as one texture blends with another until the instrument being played doesn’t matter as much as the sound it produces. Derek “Commie 64″ Morton and John “Redknyte” Coursey started improvising together under the name Mikroknytes in 1998, producing sounds that they describe as tripped-out power drone. Coursey plays violin, feeding it through numerous effects, which broaden the sound that only occasionally sounds like a bow being pulled across strings. His partner started with a Casio keyboard that he augmented with samplers. They’ve since upgraded their setup by using a laptop and Nord Modular keyboards, which both allow for more outré samples. While anyone can doodle with a sampler or an effects pedal, it takes a certain amount of skill to shape them into soundscapes. Mikroknytes’ music moves slowly but with a sense of direction; simple passages of notes join with sheets of static, and both evolve into another, more soothing, passage. Their live_src disc consists of eight tracks that evoke various images, from sandstorms to the scene — in my mind at least — of the various environmental sounds echoing down a street at four in the morning. The duo has realized the cinematic quality of the work and once staged a performance that integrated a video projection along with simultaneous performances by two other groups. Mikroknytes worked double-duty that night, playing and doing a live remix of the other acts. This weekend just the two of them come to town, but that’s enough to trip listeners with their power drone.



Manifold Records catalog listing

MIKRONYTES – “Live At Sonic Circuits 2003 “3″CDR
Somewhere in this piece, at about the third-way mark, the sound has ascended up into this vast, beautiful sky-space, increasing in emotion and color, a rising sorrow made real with a distant violin, some plucked strings, a steady, rich drone placed beneath it all. How understated I think to myself then; the cover, the artwork, the titling. When i hear this, when I sit through its changes and development into a newer creaure each few minutes I reach for the sleeve and find little to further my immersion in whats happening. Micronytes know just when to begin to change the piece, just when to through the old pictures out and paint the walls new. Turbulent, emotional lo-fi ambient. Simply excellent.



[Michael Heumann] – Stylus Magazine

MIKROKNYTES – Live@Sonic Circuits 2003 3″ {7.3}

Yes, it’s a live 3″ CDR, but can you dance to it? Well, no, but that’s not really the point, is it? This is a 20 minute live recording from Washington D.C. It features all varieties of noise and some varieties of coherent beats. The beats layer the noise, giving the work a sort of structure, so you know it’s not just a bunch of dissonant shit. The tone here ranges from ear-piercing rage to strung out nausea to melancholy flab to bouncing noodles. It’s jumps around a lot, and not every stop along the way is worth the time, but it is an interesting, engaging performance that fans of Pan Sonic would definitely appreciate.



number 395
week 44

MIKROKNYTES – LIVE_SRC (CD by Crank Automotive)
This is my first encounter with Mikroknytes, a duo from Washington, DC, the duo being Derek Morton (electronics, effects, computer) and John Coursey (violin, electronics, ‘skull massage’). They released two CDs in the past which I didn’t hear (I think). Here they present a live album of some kind. I say of some kind, because I understand this is a collection of various concert recordings, which are edited with great care, including new overdubs and further processings. Although their press blurb mentions several influences (from Can, Cluster, via Pole, Microstoria to Labradford and Stars Of The Lid), I found the whole much more inspired by late eighties, early nineties drone and industrial music. There are more traces from bands like Zoviet France or Illusion Of Safety then a click by Pole or a rock wave by Cluster. As you can imagine, the music on this release is not something surprisingely new or earth shaking. But it’s not a bad release either. The eight pieces are well cr
afted, heavily layered of psychedelic but noisy waves of guitars and synths and drenched in sound effects. It’s hard to think that I am maybe listening to a couple of live concert at the same time, because they all sound like they fit together very well. It proofs that indeed much time went into editing this CD and it should definetely appeal to lovers of the aforementioned bands.
(FdW) Vital Weekly



Aquarius Records
MIKROKNYTES s/t (Crank Automotive)
Analog synths galore! This Washington DC duo mix electronics and violin to make some kraut-friendly (Conrad Schnitzler comes to mind) electro drones, with moments of melody and beats…very nice!