Diagram & Moliné
CD (E125)

1. Improg
2. Chord
3. Magnus
4. Leytonstone Ricochet
5. Trace
6. Aquatronique
7. Streetsounds Electro Vol.23

This music is the product of
two improvised sessions:

Session One
Andy Diagram: trumpet, tubing, bowl of water
Keith Moliné: acoustic guitar, sundries
Recorded in Diagram’s garden, Leytonstone.

Session Two
Data derived from Session One, as well as sound
material sourced from photographs and texts
relating to the performance location, controlling
digital instruments and processing. Recorded on
Moliné’s computer, Crystal Palace.

“So there we were in Leytonstone, talking about
identity, how the Self imprints itself on musical
performance, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Which, arguably, is what we mean when we talk
about Style. Would circumventing Style be possible,
and if so desirable? Would a new identity impose
itself in the absence of the Self, perhaps the identity
of the Moment, or the Place? So we went out into
the garden with a stereo mic, a bunch of junk
shop guitars, and a trumpet ‘plugged in’ to a bowl
of water via rubber tubing. Now, normally we’re
hooked up to a bunch of tech, trumpet looped and
harmonised, guitar synth’d, all cranked through
amps. This time, attempting to give our Selves
and their attendant Styles the slip, we played un-
plugged. An hour passed in that Leytonstone
garden; it felt like minutes, one of us said, no, no,
it felt like days came the reply. So we listened back,
hoping to hear Leytonstone, but we could still hear
our Selves. We volte-faced, booted up the computer,
spent months, months searching for ways to feed
the garden recording into the software, treating the
soundfile as if it were a punchcard on an old main-
frame machine, hoping that technology would
efface us, to reveal something elemental about the
Place itself, at the Moment of creation. Once we’d
finished developing a series of patches designed to
interface with the source recording, we pressed
Return, sat back, and listened. Ley is what we

— Diagram & Moliné, London, 2012

Keith Moliné has been smuggling leftfield praxis
into garage rock for over fifteen years in his
capacity as guitarist with Pere Ubu and David
Thomas. Recently he has been focusing on
developing an idiosyncratic approach to computer
composition, in particular by exploring ways in
which the contradictions and absurdities of his
role as a music journalist might be made integral
to the process of music-making.

Andy Diagram is a trumpet player who has
developed a sound based around live looping
and harmonisers since the early 1980s. Aside
from playing with Indie legends James, he has
worked with David Thomas since 1996 as one
of the Two Pale Boys (the other Pale Boy being
Moliné). His long-running trumpet/drums duo
Spaceheads emerged in the early 90s from
Improv heroes The Honkies. 

Excerpt from Magnus [YouTube]

Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi

See also
Keith Moliné (E162)

Edition of 200 copies
Out of print


The album is a stitched-together jumble bag of rags
and oddments, and has a foreboding complexity and
denseness you wouldn’t believe. They started with
recordings of their own improvisations performed
with trumpet and guitar (and tubes, bowls of water
and other miscellaneous items) which were pretty
idiosyncratic to begin with — they did it in the back
garden with no amplification, and tried to enact that
form of disconnect that is so valuable to creators,
to get away from self-consciously ‘creating art’ or
evade the over-familiar patterns of playing. Then the
recordings were subjected to further malarkey from
programmes running on Moliné’s computer. Along
with the original recording data, he threw some ‘wild’
data into the mix, apparently derived from digital
image files and text files. This practice, by which I
mean the repurposing of JPGS, TXT and other non-
audio file formats into something which an audio
editing suite can process or play, seems to be
cropping up quite a few times lately, so maybe it’s
starting to enter the lingua franca of experimental
music. On Ley, the process may not be directly used
to generate sounds, but it has been used to trigger
certain digital instruments and contribute to the over-
all process. This has resulted in a listening experience
that is extremely chaotic and unpredictable. I do like
the fact that Moliné’s method has blurred the edges
almost completely between real-time improvising
and post-hoc computer mayhem, and there are sound
events taking place in the fabric of this music that
are almost shockingly unfamiliar and strange. At the
same time, I’m hard pushed to find any logical train
of thought in these compositions; it’s as if the ‘wild’
elements have taken over for 90% of the time, and
the computer’s errant patterns of behaviour are
guiding everything, making sonic mincemeat of the
material. Put a madman behind the wheel of a very
fast big truck, and wait for the fun to start. With this
two-pronged approach to randomness, this pair are
certainly trying to take aleatory composition to a
new level, even at the expense of creating a rather
indigestible music.

Ed Pinsent at The Sound Projector

In an attempt to circumvent a case of musicians’
block, trumpeter Andy Diagram and guitarist (and
Wire contributor) Keith Moliné resolved to produce
a work devoid of all traces of self or individual style.
Easier said than done, as generations of free impro-
visors and musicians deploying ostensibly random
triggers have found. With admirable anti-logic, the
duo left their effects in the studio and decamped to
Diagram’s garden, where they only played untreated
acoustic instruments. Feeling that they could still
hear themselves in the resulting recordings, they
attempted to bring the feel of the original site to
the fore by running the sound files through custom
software patches. When the smoke cleared, “Ley is
what we heard”.

And what we hear on Ley is an of-its-time mix
of computer-generated sound slivers, laptop-sourced
percussives and beats, deep analogue synth drones
and electroacoustic clashes. The pieces range from
the clangorous electronic battles of Leytonstone
Ricochet to gentle synthetic beats á la Matmos or
French toy music composers Pascal Comelade and
Pierre Bastien in Trace.

The cheapo rhythm box and cavalcade of primitive
synthesizer on Improg conjure images of the dark-
bordering-on-sinister work of the DIY cassette scene
in the 1980s, or perhaps early Chris & Cosey record-
ings. On Magnus, tentative, fractured beats are over-
laid with trumpet, synthetic accordion and glocken-
spiel, and crunchy laptop accents; Aquatronique is
a drifting noise collage apparently incorporating every
sound the duo could muster. The completed version
of Ley doesn’t sound remotely like anything in Andy
Diagram’s garden — and shows many signs of an
abandonment of its initial purist goal — but the
tracks succeed, intentionally or not, in creating a
series of vivid virtual spaces or environments, and
that is the recording’s great strength.

Dave Mandl in The Wire