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The lights of 2013

img  Tobias Fischer

The more things change, the more they stay the same? At least for tokafi, the old wisdom could prove to be true. Even though, over the course of 2013, there will be a few notable changes to the site, we are also returning to our roots in many respects. After a short stint as a PDF-magazine on classical music in 2004/2005, tokafi (which was still, somewhat pretentiously, called 'mouvement nouveau' at the time) would initially focus on the intersections between classical music, contemporary composition, improvisation and sound art. After the relaunch in 2006 and driven by curiosity, the mag has branched out into anything from metal to techno and from jazz to singer/songwriter. While steering clear of genre borders definitely has its appeal, we may have tried to be too many things at once, which a both colorful and confusing image. Taking a few steps back to focus on (as business analysts would put it) our core competencies now feels liberating, rather than confining.

One of the most successful item on mouvement noveau was a free download compilation called Première Étape, which featured interpretations of Beethoven, Purcell and Ravel alongside drone tracks and experimental electronica. The underlying concept of combining articles and a selection of free music will most likely regain prominence in 2013, as we're planning a series of audio releases and -features. Another idea from the past, which we've never really managed to follow up on, are the tokafi specials, which were supposed to appear regularly, but which eventually faltered after the second installment. They're now making a comeback, albeit in a slightly different format. Over the course of 2013, there will be two big topical areas, which we'll focus on with particular intensity. These are:

  • A look into the work and life of New York based composer and sound artist Kenneth Kirschner, who's been a favourite of ours almost since the earliest days of the website. Over the course of the year, we'll publish extracts from expansive interviews with him, essays on his oeuvre by a variety of journalists and writers as well as remixes and re-interpretations of his pieces by an international and diverse line-up of audio- and video-artists. The project will culminate in an e-book release packed to the brim with multimedia.
  • A journey through the discography of English saxophonist John Butcher. For the past three decades, Butcher's oeuvre has had a decisive impact on the development of the international scene for improvisation, from experiments with electronica to site-specific work. Throughout 2012, we've spoken with Butcher himself as well as dozens of musicians, friends, label bosses and companions who have played and recorded with him over the course of his career. The result is a living history not just of one of the most interesting musicians out there, but also of the improv scene in general.

Other spotlights will include improvisers Burkhard Beins and Thomas Ankersmit, drone builders Taylor Deupree and Dirk Serries, the composers of the mysterious Wandelweiser collective as well as a string of regional reports.

In one way, meanwhile, 2013 will also mark a fundamental change, which will bring something entirely new to the table. After spending almost fifteen years reading and editing music magazines, I've become extremely bored with its all too recognisable blend of standard features. Most of all, I've become exasperated with the typical formula of conceptualising magazines as 'mixed bags' of content, only a tiny percentage of which will be of interest to each individual reader. Instead, tokafi will constitute an experiment in creating an ongoing narrative, which will connect the different features in a subtle, but noticeable way.

Ultimately, however, the main goal of the site for this year will be to document the scenes for contemporary composition and experimental sound art and to get personal with artists you may know little about beyond their musical output. Reports from performances will become more important than ever before, as will be in-person interviews and portraits. Over the past decade, a new generation of musicians and aficionados has created a world-wide network proving all those wrong who thought this music was too nichy or noncommercial to ever appeal to more than a handful of people. It's been all but impossible not to notice their restless activity, passion and unfaltering dedication and staying up to date on the latest releases has never been easier. Due to the geographical dispersion of the scene, however, what's  been missing so far has been a publication showing you who these people really are and what their creative mission is. That, above all, is what tokafi will focus on in this new stage.

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