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[ The Audible Still-Life : Sonic Planar Analysis 02 ]

[ Stasisfield : Year 01 mp3 archive CD ]

[ Sonic Planar Analysis :: 01 ]


from ParisTransatlantic Magazine, February 2004

Stasisfield SF-CD201

by Dan Warburton

Released as a companion document to the online exhibition Stasis_Space, The Audible Still-Life is what it bills itself to be, a powerful document of early 21st century cross-disciplinary art. Released in a limited edition of 250 (move fast!), the CDR features contributions from 17 sound artists - the longest clocking in at 4'45", the shortest 2'10" - including Stasisfield founder and curator John Kannenberg. "Still-life" probably conjures up images of rotting apples and half-empty wine carafes in dark, musty Victorian parlours, and while some of the tracks are suitably claustrophobic (the sound-producing material itself becoming the object of attention on Jeremy Boyle's "White Noise Generator Circuit", Neil Jendon's "VT-37" preamp, and Ethan Koehler's "Stella Remembers", sourced from an old Atari 2600 VCS..), many use field recordings to open up the listening space. Sometimes the sound sources are recognisable ("Okuru" by Koura, aka Chicago's Brian Labycz, was partially recorded in a Japanese post office; Glenn Bach's "Phye", a sound picture - both interior and exterior - of the artist's home base in Long Beach, CA, comes complete with traffic noise and seagulls; Milwaukee's Jon Mueller finds much to wonder at in his domestic furnace and Germany's Malte Steiner has as much fun with his radiator) - others remain tantalisingly mysterious, notably the track by Plank (whose title I won't attempt to type out), and Hal Rammel's "Highway Construction (in action)", which certainly sounds nothing like what its title would lead you to expect. For his own still-life, Kannenberg set up a Heath Robinson-like experiment in which water dripped onto three different surfaces, a bowl of sand, a heated pan, and a bowl of Pop-Rocks candy, though if he didn't tell you you'd never guess. Cavernous reverb is orchestrated into almost technoid volleys of activity, which sadly fade out all too quickly at the 4'14" mark. Funkier still is Trace Reddell's "Eliot's Magic Lantern", which orchestrates a reading of poet T.S. Eliot and a MIDI-transformed text culled from De Quincey's "Confessions of an Opium Eater" (it says here). Several pieces not surprisingly zoom in on the microscopic world of sound: James Schoenecker submits a grainy drop-by-drop dissolution of a sugar cube, and John Hudak concentrates his attention on a patch of grass in his garden (though, like Morphogenesis' Michael Prime he processes sounds beyond all recognition), and much of the music is hauntingly evocative: the found film soundtrack of i+o's "The Dead Air Spaces", Sawako's "DD (Dream of the Dog)" and Emanuela de Angelis and Andrea Gabriele (aka Mou, lips!)'s "5 Arance su Tavolo da Gioco", which is apparently based on the theme of food but sounds more like Rosicrutian-period Satie as remixed by Pimmon. Steve Roden, something of a past master when it comes to audible still-life, closes the set with a mysterious intonation of titles from his bookshelf, and processed recordings of the ambient sound surrounding it. It's a mysterious and beautiful conclusion to a superb and highly recommended compilation. —DW

from Vital Weekly number 395, 29 October 2003


(CDR by Stasisfield)

by Frans DeWaard

Stasisfield is one of things that we have in which we can see the importance of internet: a webgallery, a record label and the possibility to download music. Their first year is documented through a CDR that holds no less then ten hours of music in MP3 format. There is also a new compilation, which is the audio companion to an online exhibition at Stasisfield, dealing with still-life's. A still-life is usually not a very interesting painting, but it's not Stasisfield's idea to ridicule that, but 'this project serves rather as the beginning of an exploration of still-life's relationship to today's artists who work in a manner beyond simple two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional objects". The audio-works on this release (seventeen artists in total) are all made with manipulated samples of field recordings. Real, rather than still-life, but captured as it were, frozen in time and altered, reproduced, like a real still-life. Nice short pieces of manipulated sound, in fact it's hard to detect any sort of field recording in most of these pieces. Processing has done it's work to quite some extent. Included are well-known names - well, to some, I guess - like John Hudak, Steve Roden, Sawako, Mou Lips! but also some I never heard of like Koura, i+o, Trace Reddell, Schoenecker and Ethan Koehler. What I liked about this compilation was the relative shortness of the tracks. The longest is 4:44, so all these people keep their pieces precise and to the point. A relief, compared with some other overlong compilations... (FdW)

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from Ampersand Etc. June 2003

Various Artists :

by Jeremy Keens

This issue is a label overview – with a bit of a difference: only one cd is reviewed. But, there is over 10 hours of music on it – which represents everything the net-label released in 2002.

Which raises the question – why buy it when it is all available free on the web? To which I can suggest a few answers:

First of all, it isn't any more – Stasisfield have archived the files.

If you have a slow (or no) modem, it gives you access to the music (though ordering is on-line, so we assume access at least).

You can catch up in one go.

You will value it more – one group I have had contact with are averse to releasing via a web-label as they feel people have more respect (is probably the word) for real things they have paid for. As the amount of web material increases and the use of MP3 players grows this is probably changing – but I know that I listen to things in different ways. I have collected hours (days actually) of web-music, but can only really listen on my work computer, so haven't given most of it the attention it deserves. (For this review I decoded and burnt the releases so that I could listen in more places).

Speaking of that, where possible the bit-rate has been improved.

You get the full web-site, so you have the covers and details.

There is an un-released piece.

Plus you are supporting the label – and $10 is next to nothing.

A good site that was pointed to me by M K Krebs is which lists all the labels I have come across and more. This density is the main reason that I have eschewed reviewing web-labels recently: getting things in real-form like this Stasisfield set (or the Slapart compilation last issue, or the fal.sch collections) is different, and I would recommend it to web labels.

As an overview, this will be somewhat more concise I hope!

J3: Audioreliquary

The opening piece, by three Js, including John Kannenberg the label maestro (with Ethan Koehler, James Schoenecker, James Warchol), is from an installation about life and memory. The main track, an excerpt of 30+ minutes, is a shifting space of fast voices, children crying and laughing (musically modified), buzzing, thumps, snatches of music, other sounds. It drifts and flows, building to more active phases (a choral industrial site, for example, that is briefly remembered) then relaxing. An almost sub-aquatic feel, you are immersed in its hypnotic depths.

What is especially interesting are the five short pieces – birth, childhood, adulthood, death, haunting – which are samples from the basic files that aleatorically create the longer work.

Capricorn One: Panopticon

This is described as 'an ode to Dr Who' – but as someone who remembers seeing the first episode, set in the junk yard, who has fainter memories of being frightened by Quatermass, and definitely remembers queuing to see Dr Who and The Daleks which gave us the opportunity to see them in colour, I must say that other than track titles like 'Castrovalva' I was not reminded of the series or the wondrous Radiophonic Workshop. BUT what we do get is a tasty album of fairly beated melodic techno.
'Time and the relative dimension of space' opens with some musico-soudeffects with analog tones underneath, dominating the second half. Fast pattering beats in 'Eye of harmony' has a slow futzy synth melody, with a light tone joining later. In 'Mandragora helix' there is a pulsey twangy loop that echoes shifting left and right, echoed in other tracks, tones creating melody snatches – the rhythm returning in 'Auton' with analog blurts and echoed fragments. Throughout the rest of the album there is an ongoing mix of beats of various types, analog synth, echoes and melodies, occasionally getting edgy as in 'Androzani major'. 'Skaro' has lots of metallic tapping and strange whooshing music, easing and rebuilding while 'Panopticon' closes with lovely harmonising languid loops.

As we work through the label, it will be obvious that this is more rhythmic than most of the works, which allows Kannenberg to provide us with a fine range of music.

John Kannenberg: Aero

This is a suite of 12 pieces – connected in a variety of loose ways. A number of them feature a washing sound of cars passing in the rain, and other samples appear throughout (thunder in 'Ascent', a beach in 'Pteron', breathin 'Aether II') and there is an overall mood which struck me as wistful nostalgia or melancholy. They also reminded me of Eno's 'Music For Films 1 and 2' in construction – a collection of short pieces each exploring a theme – and musically on occasions.

The 'Prelude' introduces the wash sound and adds a processed guitar, pulses and site sounds and the 'Ascent' which is more abstract, like most of these images, where a rhythm/bed is established – a deep scrape rumble – little echoed ticks and then a varying four note extended tone sequence, thunder rolling over. A bouncy sample loop runs through 'Pteron' building speed in steps with the crunchy sand and gull sample with some synth squiggles.

In the 'Aviary' a percussive shimmer loop jumps from speaker to speaker as various bird sounds (warbling, squeaky and ringing) ply through together with a sine tone. 'Aether I' pulses percussion and popping chitters with soft long tones which really brought Eno to mind, as a keyboard melody wanders through. There seems less structure to 'Scope' as high tones noodle, a deep echoed rhythm pulses and other sounds intrude, and then we get the powerful movement of 'Airship' with jumpy keys and swirls.

Insects chitter lightly in 'Contrail', a tone moves through, then a scrape/hiss loop and hollow reverb, all spaced out, the tone gathering, slowly. More space in 'Front' tooas echoed keyboards, crackling and hollow scrape build. Big washes jumping and clicks form a 'Torrent' before a variation in 'Aether II' which is more languid and finally the title track. A machine rumble, the wash and then a return of instruments, a piano-keyboard to the fore, the car wash, and the fade.

A strongly gathered group.

Phluidbox: The Muse And The Product

Another more rhythmic work. In 'Pillow' rhythm skitters across the sound space with some notes. A tock added, ripples and light tones; a pause and then back fuller before the fade. An extended silence opens 'Adapr' before poppy rhythm with echoed key chords. About half way through a deep soft phut and eventually a melody and some electro shapes before a long silence ends.

'The muse and the product' abstracts angular rhythms against an Asian-influenced melody, joined by a rhythm box midway and some fast tuned percussion before easing back to the odd angularity. Long wind-ish tones and a hollow bamboo percussion in 'Whent' with a rubber rhythm and guitar sample suggesting the Caribbean. Again a hollow melody that floats along the shaker percussion and bass of 'Nupercs' gaining a boppy rhythm and becoming looser and almost feral at the end. There is a groovy Hammond melody line in 'Barter' along with squiggles squelches and a bop-bop rhythm, perhaps some talking in the background. And then 'Ice sands of carpet' a lovely Asian influenced cycling percussion ending a very satisfying set.

Loam: Meditations (on ashKroft)

24 minutes of manipulated samples from Attorney General Ashkroft who is described as 'the most frightening songsmiths of our time' (as an non-US citizen I missed the references first time round). The results are an extended droning rumble, that builds, has choppy periods, echoes and stuck edges. A noisier metallic middle before a softer release in the expanded and stretched ending – all very dark and brooding: and astoundingly harsh-ambient-musical given the putative sound source. Comes with a short version.

Takuji Tokiwa: Four Tears

Electroacoustics inspired by the suikinkutsu, a sound device buried in a Kyoto style garden.

The first movement opens with a schlobbledobble of swirling scrapes and clunks, a buzzing grows and semi-string-synths take over in tunelike note progressions that overlap, somewhat chimish. A shuddering builds in waves with single tones in, longer ones emerging over a watery base. The second movement is 'provisional' (as is the fourth) and is a gradually softening of layered high squealing ringing with a lower hornlike tone, with a constant forward action.

A ringing Buddhist bell opens the third part, modulated gently (sped up, slowed down) but with more and more intensity until it becomes a buzzing, then slows to a rumble-whoosh. More ringing to a more strident end, shimmering with more layers of bells until a resonant organ develops, enveloping. A carillion overwhelms it, becomes a drone but with notes through. The final layers rich vibratos, pierced deeper chordal notes, some a cleaner, and there is a great use of sound space (as throughout). It falls away to a few notes, rebuilds with some whooshing effects as a watery rumble develops under, building, a twanging buzz swells, climax and light fade.

Jonas Olesen: Dis_published

Ten short pieces (all less than 3 minutes) selected for this release by Kannenberg, provide a sequence of varied miniatures.

A delicate musicality to 'Winters morning' as clicks birds and insect (though probably electronic) over waves of soft tones. On a boat drifting we hear strings, paddles in the water, soft horns peeps and ratchets of lines in 'e-ror'. Very choppy pulsing tones and organs bouncing echoed coming and going in 'on_hold', to a flight of bees in rain as crackles with stretched tones under, beeps from 'clan_clan'.

A dreamy string wash, buzzing chitters over, pulsing smoothly through 'exhibit room', then a musique concrete of machines phones drills tones buzzes after a crack wakes you for 'klartone'. Slow deliberate looping of clicks and other rhythms, high tones over are 'shell' before the fast puttering tone samples at various pitches that jump randomly through 'file conversion #3'. Shimmering layered tones sing in 'dispublished' as faster tone pops and puttering emerge and finally a distorted calliope from 'homemedia overlay'.

The ninth track suggests where some may have come from, but this is like a small auditory gallery we can wander through and imagine with the short pieces we hear.

Carlo Genetti: Grain

A single short piece – a female voice, looped phonemes that can be deciphered, and develops into a sentence that just about makes sense, painfully stuttered looped and strained over. A haunting Dadaist piece

Koura: Seto

Musique concrete created from recordings in Seto, Japan. In the first a brushing, wind and pebbles come in bouts, a scrape bowl, reverberation, animals and people – chopped and shifting but becoming more stable.

A darker mixture in 'ii' that starts with wind and whispering, little echoed noises and birds – a high ringing tones pulses notes with water or motors below – the noises diminish and the garden returns. A noisey motor in 'iii' with the natural sounds under, at times purring becomes very quiet then a buzzing and we emerge into a busy city.

The urban sounds continue with people in a shop, noises around, crack and pops, a deep rumble develops and continues when the people fade, in the distance music, light crackles. Finally traffic whooshes, loops, door sounds – rhythmic layering. Train rattle, voices, white noise pulse-loops rhythms, drops and fade.
A complex vision of Seto, which the recommended earphone listening would extract even more from.

OK Suitcase: Minus One

The first track is a shifting piece of synthesis, moving from organic crackling dits, a humming drone, tocks and pulses, echoed with a deep throb; the crackle drops and tings and the deep tones ply with an increased cycling ringing, swirling and tonal play dor a period; before splashing whooshes and fast beat enter and the other fades, water bubbles with little music behind, again for some time this plays around then a pulsing beat and brief metallic scrabble and the music makes its way back; it futzes, then crashing and shimmers to echo fade.

The second track is more static as glass or string-like loops and delicate sounds are lightly modulated, phase shifting and deftly touched with some very soft under-rumbles, to hypnotic effect.

Reliable Sound Products: Uh-oh Machine

Three quite different directions from this duo. 'A list of things not worth doing' opens with putters and swirls, possibly some voice, and then adds tinny strings (Chinese or guitars), chopping and degenerating decreasing speed and density of clicks and tones. There is a suggestion of speech in the structure of some of the pops; scrapes and twangy wind, a pulsing tone that slides and swirls. The track starts to wind down to a soft tone and chitter, rebuilds with various putters and tones to become quite active, incorporating some weird voice-squirls as it climaxes..

After that more complex piece, a couple that are more minimalist (and are by each member of the duo). Neil Jendon's 'Evaporated' starts with a fuzzybuzz and a growing drone which seems to contain notes. There is a rattling, rather like a train, and a high tone emerges. Crackling buzz takes over and then a new warm sine tone with harmonies builds, popping and then some pulses. The train flapping is back before a long tone fade. Then David McKenzie gives us the deceptively simple 'Simoon' where a steel guitar (it could be a sitar or some folk instrument) that picks out a melody, while drones (a wavering high one and a more constant one) ply behind, quite captivating: a strange clicking gives a slightly divergent end.

Ian Simpson: Seite

Described as a 'soundtrack of exquisitely crafted drones for an installation' this set of three tracks are and beyond – they are more active than the drone moniker suggests.
'Seite 1' plies febrile tones with deeper and hollow more sustained notes, long and layered. A pulsing and subtle crackling develops, then slow spirals, putters, radio whips congregate. It has become busy, a high ringing, active and swirling the high drones surround you, a flock of birds, softer tones return before winding up again to a high tone and ringing fade. Perhaps a little less active in 'Seite 2' when a soft fuzzy ringing gets pulsing and the intertwined components vary in their intensity and volume, weaving through each other. A spacey feel as high whoosh ringing slides in, voice tones, long rising and falling drones becoming quite intense before moving back to a more hollow chuffing into the phade.

'Seite 3' is then gentler and more restrained as a soft ringing whoosh and gentle voices layer. An organ bounces through, then some gongs and bells, and there is a ringingness. It almost disappears but recovers a couple of times, almost as if the voices in there were breathing it in and out, but tones eventually take it out.

Sawako: 3 Stories

Due to contractual obligations, a single short track of delicate drone, piano and site sounds

Josh Russell: ub_cus

Three tracks on this full length album, each a varied and shifting work. 'I can fly but I can't breathe' opens with the dramatic quiet of high tones, sine pops, crackles shifting and weaving, then a new crackle, longer tones, layered honking visceral, then finally slow contemplative, pulses with chimey music. Just over 20 minutes of slowly plying delights.

Movement through 'Various remote controlled…' with warm tones, clicks, rhythmic, a brief scraping, easing to a light dancing. A judder joins and deep tones – lovely drift dance. Noise and volume start to build, pulsey edge distortion, dropping rapidly to a soft humm, then reconstructs with complex of clicks, horns to a rhythmic crackling fizz pulse. This continues in 'For mike mccurdy' as a new tome plays over the crackle, metal scrabbles and spacey pulses. Big organ tone, scrapes, a shop bell, a hollowness. A tonal buzz takes over, drops as cycling patter, tones and putters cycle. Insect flutter and chirrup as light harmonies build, peeps and pings build with a humm, scissors cut paper, parts fade as a xylophone enters (some resonant notes, other dead). There are water sounds under, and they lead the fade with other sounds floating over.

The descriptions may not suggest it, but this is an intricate and controlled set, that draws you with it.

George de Decker: Le citta invisibili

In a series of releases which are all impressive, this one is the most surprising and startling – a manipulated chamber piece (with broad orchestration including piaon, strings, trumpet, clarinet) based on Italo Calvino's book about the many faces of Venice. It combines classical sounds with modern techniques.

The first view has an echoed hollow drum, drones and strings, horn pulses. Appropriately for the city it pulses and waves, word in a soft clatter, piano and a rolling tone as a Gregorian soloist sings in loops, solemn and doomy. A world comes to Venice in the second part as a Native chant (possibly Amerindian) is accompanied by horns and a parallel choral chant.

We hear empty streets in the wind and slow woodwind tones of the third part, building but restrained, percussive as tones build as strings enter before a full liturgical singing over water sounds. Which continue in a swirling site-suggestion of four, clarinet and strings while a woman sings – either crying or laughing – the clarinet puttering out over the water.

A lute, which has been prominent throughout as a classical Italian instrument, plays with long organ tones. A doom rumble, while a singer performs in the rain, with strange rhythmic/melodic voice loops and guitar strikes. Boatmen call, crackle and scraping, soft melodic choral and older female singer. Layered clicking ending on a voice drone.

A mad dance in 6 of fast voice loops, jingly percussion, scrapes and clattering sites, strings. Our final view of Venice is a more dignified Carnivale building over distant horns, calls, voices, a dancing violin, deep chants. Fading to a gentle strum, deep tones and an Enya-ish voice, drones and horn into the night.

Strikingly different and worth the entrance fee alone.

Jon Mueller: A Wooden Bicycle

Percussionist heard on Crouton releases, here gives us five minutes of a building pulse of twangy clicks that deepen, there are squelches. Bells start ringing – like door or bicycle – at different pitches, coming in bursts that increase frequency till it becomes quite sustained with clashing cymbals.

Schoenecker: Live In NYC/open air/19.05.02

The auxillary label is for live pieces (there is a J.Frede one and a Loam EP already for 2003). This is a three part laptop session, though the parts are a little arbitrary. It starts with phuts clicks little-high-tingles (varied) that build and create a nice moving rhythm. There is a spaciousness and great use of the sound space. Fast patter and squiggles lead to an increased density and volume, rhythms within rhythms.

It gets faster, with a deep rumble, easing back and then rebuilding with a purr. Putters and high pinglings with a futzy pulse and some almost-chimes, somewhat noisey before the third part builds again, with some quite piercing tones, some deeper aspects but driving along before suddenly dropping right off.

Glenn Bach: Incidental Music

A twenty minute piece that moves through various states – moods and methods linked together. From buzzy ringing layers with clicks to soft rumbles and pulses, analog blurts, machine cycling with rumbles, minimalist scrapes, very quiet whooshing high pings to a fade.

A diverting incidental music – changing tableaux that shift and interest.

Palimpsest project V.1

One 'danger' of MP3 availability is people sampling and using your material. A number of sites have got around this by promoting an exchange/manipulation project (Foton Osaka, Microsound Bufferfuct and more). Stasisfield does it with Palimpsest.
This is an on-going exhibition of visual (still and moving) images and sounds. Version 1 (most of which is on this disk) was the base from which the series is to develop, with material derived in a number of ways. (Version 2 is already on-line).

Glen Bach's 'Round length of the room' is a woobly bubbling synth piece, with deeper rumbles under, that slowly eases to a modulating and moving tone, with a whooshing wind behind.

Two short pieces of noise from David Brady accompany his art – crash screens from nintendo games (the sounds are the audio interpretation of the files)
The recording and transfer of a guitar piece by Loam results in 'Cassette hiss guitar' with crackling cable interference, buzzing futz, blurting, rhythmic metal crackling and occasional touches of guitar.

Em.Chia creates swirling and changing metallic/industrial electro background from the web (apparently) that is laid down for samples in 'Metaxological mourning methods'. The pieces start with a Buddhist explanation that you cannot try to persuade someone to Buddhism, range through a variety of preachers doing that for Christianity, then an extended speech at the repaired Pentagon before a final preacher. I am not sure what the piece is trying to say – it doesn't seem as random as suggested!
Koura provides 30 brief sonic postcards from across Japan – industrial, meditative, city life.

Finally, Trace Reddell with 'Machinery for dreaming' a lush layering of tones (some seemingly voice, including possibly slowed) that comes and goes, swirls, develops clicks and buzzes fascinatingly.

Two movies: 'Sinking ship' is a electropiece that develops to sounds like a sax solo as images shift and pulse – video games, block, a couple and more by Cosmic Locksmith– while tAaron Hull's 'Clock'd' is a black and white work reminiscent of the Bunel/Dali work or the video in 'Ring' with a softly pulsing soundtrack.

J3: Industrial evolution: [sound + steel]

The unreleased track is a live performance, based on samples of a sculptor (Gary Kandziora) at work in his studio. This piece builds layers of sounds from clicks, echoed deep thuds, rumbles and scrapes in a lovely organic looping. The artists voice was also sampled for the process, so vocal loops and fragments also pass through. The work ebbs and flows beautifully, with a beaty locked groove section and some deep flowing, and ends with an extended swirling slide.

A conclusion? An impressive first year – there is much here that is beautiful, striking, thoughtful, provocative, sublime. The range of material is undeniable, as is the quality; and I think that this sort of venture will become a major way for installation/site works to become more widely available. It is wonderful to have such subtle and varied works available.

Already this year there are the live ones mentioned, material by Formatt, Mou Lips! as well as some label-stables that continues the quality. Definitely a site to keep revisiting – and supporting.


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from Splendid E-Zine, 31 August 2002

Various Artists : Sonic Planar Analysis :: 01

by Kevin White

Stasisfield is a fledgling record label that, until this release, has focused exclusively on digital music in mp3 format. Their website attempts to provide exposure to young ambient and experimental electronic artists, as well as housing an interesting and rather futuristic art gallery. The bottom line is, even though Sonic Planar Analysis is the label's first physical recording, Stasisfield is already quite established and experienced with presenting and producing music.

Think of the tracks on Sonic Planar Analysis as the future of background music. The pieces here range from subtle and whispery, like John Kannenberg's "Contrail", to loud and grating, like the previously unreleased "Echoes of Madges Kitchen" by Psychiatric Challenge. But whether it's flowing and aimless or sharp and explosive, each of these ten tracks is an adventure to listen to.

Experimental or not, some of these selections are simply dull, like Jon Irving's "Ariadne". I mean, come on, at least Yanni plays the piano. But for the most part, the pieces are at least interesting, as with the cut and re-cut version of "Mediations (on AshKroft)" by Loam. This is hypnotic, pulsating, mechanical outer space music, best suited to more experimental tastes.


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