Todd Carter, Boris Hauf, Michael Hartman, Ernst Karel, and Toshimaru Nakamura. Members of TV Pow, EKG, EFZEG, and Tokyo's "Onkyo" scene join for electronic improvisations remixed by Brent Gutzeit and Michael Hartman in the spirit of 1999's first Television Power Electric release. Real and virtual synthesizers, no-input mixing boards, empty and full samplers emit a distant field recording, an oscillating oscillator, pulsing crystal highs, deep solid lows, and a lone bass drum hit. The musicians' egoless multi-individualism and symbiotic aesthetic help to further explore the recently developed genre of future-electronics. Wrapped in the finest tree-safe elephant and giraffe dung papers.
Television Power Electric is the big-band alter ego of the Chicago electronics wizards (sic...although our wizardy as been mentioned by several reviewers the members of TV Pow do not practice magic, black or otherwise -ed) in TV Pow, who appear this time minus multi-instrumentalist Brent Gutzeit and plus Boris Hauf, Ernst Karel, and ubiquitous mixer-feedback guru Toshimaru Nakamura. As with the disc's 1999 predecessor, several lengthy live performances by the international ensemble have been diced and stitched back together by Gutzeit and Michael Hartman, both of whom inject ample doses of TV Pow's impish quirkiness. Whereas the previous self-titled record represented a gentle warming of the core trio's prickly sound, this outing finds the collaborators snaking slender sound-wires and icy crackles into the exceptionally cool TV Pow nervous center, setting off tiny sparks and nervous tics as they explore.
The proceedings are, as one might expect, exceptionally subtle and marked by a resolute democratic streak - save for a lone electrostatic flare-up, it's all about the menacing undercurrent of restraint generated by bottlenecking small, coarse sounds into narrow sonic straits. Nakamura is particularly insistent in this environment, and he matches the quiet intensity of his peers by knitting fiberglass canopies over out itchy feedback strands. On the Hartman-remixed "The Freshman," his no-input mixing desk scratches feverishly at the upper atmosphere while the others herd thrumming bass tones and ultra-thin shivers into an icy-lush digital terrarium.
Gutzeit's remixes demonstrate a little more brainy perversity, as they subvert the quintet's instinctual ebb-flow logic with rude punctuation points and fidgety edits. The epic "Title Track" trains the microscope on little hives of activity only to switch the slides at each potential narrative junction, opening tantalizing zones of indeterminacy between each tension-soaked episode. "Storks International, Chicago Chapter" delivers an effective sucker-punch dynamic shift that sets the scene for the rickety digital synth purrs and crackly climax of the lovely coda, "Seguro y Pasajes." The latter's clipped final tone delivers a suitable odd closure to this well-curated collection of jittery delights. (Joe Panzner)
from Signal to Noise Magazine
The expanded TV Pow lineup featured on 2 - including electronicians Todd Carter, Hartman, Boris Hauf, Ernst Karel, and Toshi Nakamura - brings together improvisers form a number of different scenes. Their instrumentation - no-input mixing board, sampler, synthesizer, tapes, and so forth - is familiar to followers of "eai" music. Yet this is a summit meeting between players who, on the basis of this recording's strengths, ought to get together more often. While the live quintet session generated these four tracks, Hartmann and his TV Pow bandmate Brent Gutzeit remixed the tracks later. "The Freshman" quickly defines the space and dimensions of the room, with high sine tones slicing through the cracks and rumbles that shuttle from the walls. There are many listeners who bemoan the apparent lack of complexity in music such as this, since it doesn't always slap you about the face with its rapid shifts, declamations, or changes of mood; yet below the surface level there is a wealth of activity, like what goes on in insect colonies below the ground. Just listen to the 23-minute sizzle of "Title Track" for evidence: resonant soundings, cathedral bell clangs, jarring interruptions, and slow percolations ebb and flow compellingly. Or listen to the relatively demonstrative, clangorous "Storks International: Chicago Chapter." What's even more pleasing than its successful musical development is the way this quintet, despite its very occasional status, melds convincingly into a synergetic unit. (Jason Bivens)
From Lumpen Issue 93
So it took five people to make these sounds? This overgrown supergroup version of Chicago's favorite stoner-droner click trio TV Pow adds Germany's (sic) Boris Hauf, Chicago's Ernst Karel, and requisite Asian dude Toshimaru Nakamura to the usual lineup. 2, a glacially paced epic of subtle clicks and whirrs in the traditional Chicago electro-acoustic style, includes lots (sic) of near-silence populated sparsely by unassuming flat lines, electric farts, and high-pitched tones to punish your disobedient mutt. Given the tendency large improv groups have to devolve over time into a noisy train wreck, with all of the passengers fighting over the conductor's hat, 2 is a testament to its participants' patience and ability to listen to on another.
From Chicago Reader 10/28/04 (press for 10/31 concert at link's hall)
Local experimental electronic trio TV Pow takes the name Television Power Electric when it performs and records with an expanded lineup; for this show, local collaborator Ernst Karel and Tokyo-based musician Toshimaru Nakamura join in to help celebrate the recent release of the group's 2 (Kuro Neko Music). The music is so spare and quiet that at first it's hard to believe it took five people to make it (the album was recorded live in late 2002 and later mixed by TV Pow's Brent Gutzeit and Michael Hartman). But in fact it requires real discipline and listening skills to make electronic music this pure and uncluttered. If you anticipate big gestures or wild noises you'll be disappointed, but close listeners will be rewarded with a bounty of subtly shifting textures and microscopic phrases within the album's hear-a-pin-drop context. Opening the show is a duo of bass clarinetist Gene Coleman and Japanese guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi; Uchihashi may sit in with Television Power Electric as well.
From The Chicago Reader 8/20/04
Eight members strong on its self-titled 1999 debut, this group of electronic imporvisers - an extension of local trio TV Pow - is down to five for the sequel. In November 2002 laptop jockeys Todd Carter and Michael Hartman of TV Pow joined local analog synth player Ernst Karel, sometime Chicagoan Boris Hauf, and Japan's Toshimaru Nakamura, whose instrument of choice is a mixing board plugged into itself, for a live session that provided the album's raw material; Hartman and TV Pow's Brent Gutzeit remixed the tracks into their final form. This is a record for people who know that "Onkyo" is more than just a brand of stereo equipment; it's not so much music as sonic experimentation, and its waves of digital hum, clouds of static, clusters of beeps and ticks, and blurts of noise are broken by stretches of near silence. Not easy listening by any definition, but well worth the effort if you've got the patience for it.
From Vital Weekly
TELEVISION POWER ELECTRIC - 2 (CD by Kuro Neko Music) I am a bit puzzled why TV Pow are called Television Power Electric here, but I think it has to do with the fact that there is an extended line up here. Besides core members Todd Carter, Micheal Hartman and Brent Gutzeit, we also find Boris Hauf, Ernst Karel and Toshimaru Nakamura. TV Pow, as I prefer to call them, are a laptop band with strong ties in improvised music. They are also a bunch of sturdy minimalists. 'Title Track' consists of twenty three minutes of miniature crackling of radiophonic static. In 'Storks International: Chicago Chapter' things are overtly more dark, but still likewise minimal. TV Pow are rightly so a microsound band - rather than so many others microsound solo. In their playing together they really feel how to add and adjust their individual sound to that of the whole group. That makes this into a really interesting CD and sets TV Pow apart from so many others in the same field. (FdW)
released September 1, 2004
Todd A. Carter
TV Pow is a trio of composers and free improvisers. They employ samplers, percussion, invented instruments, synthesizers,
turntables, tape manipulation, computers and multi-speaker surround-sound systems in a constantly evolving soundscape of sparkling electronics, ambient drones, minimalist techno, and cinematic field recordings....more