The Squid's Ear Magazine

Haptic (Adam Sonderberg / Steven Hess / Joseph Clayton Mills): Weird Undying Annihilation [CASSETTE] (Notice Recordings)

Formed in 2005, the Chicago trio Haptic of sound artists and composers Steven Hess, Joseph Clayton Mills, and Adam Sonderberg, release their 2nd album on Notice Recordings, a cinematic set of four compositions that use tense ambiance to introduce both visceral and observational sound, intense journeys of unpredictable movement, insinuation and curious culminations.

product information:

Label: Notice Recordings
Catalog ID: NTR062
Squidco Product Code: 30060

Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Cassette
Recorded at Lincoln Tower on July 1st, 2019.


Steven Hess-composer, performer

Joseph Clayton Mills-composer, performer

Adam Sonderberg-composer, performer

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Chicago trio Haptic (Steven Hess, Joseph Clayton Mills, and Adam Sonderberg) return for their second Notice release, a densely evocative quartet of pieces that continue to reflect a deeply specific sense of place and purpose, recorded using a "steadicam" approach: probing, passive, multidimensional; a voyeuristic yet highly intentional form of documentation.

Although Haptic was initially formed (in 2005) for the purpose of live performance, the rigor of their process continues to be well-suited to recording; these tracks suggest film sound design in their precise, evocative choices and creative blending of sounds, and in the way they unspool as if moving through physical or visual environments.

"BTWN 65, 52" whips a pounding backbone into a blinding gale with richly odd electro-percussive tics, while "Lost My Shape" churns with the mysteriously foreboding chorus of activity of a multi-use former factory: the mechanized effort of conjuring precise forms."-Notice Recordings

Artist Biographies

"Steven Hess (b. 1969); Drums, Percussion, Electronics/

Steven Hess currently resides in Chicago where he probably best known as the drummer for the experimental/industrial metal band, LOCRIAN (Relapse Records), and the instrumental trio, RLYR (Magic Bullet Records), percussionist for the ultra-minimal electro-acoustic group, HAPTIC, as well as a member of, CLEARED (Immune Recordings), the Vienna/Chicago trio, INNODE (Editions Mego), and the monster jazz sextet NEXT DELUSION (Clean Feed/Shameless) fronted by the Berlin reedsman, Boris Hauf. He is as equally comfortable performing in the improvised / experimental community as he his playing in the vibrant metal/noise scene happening in Chicago (and worldwide). He can be heard on many recordings, which include releases on labels such as, Relapse Records, Profound Lore, Kranky, Utech Records, Type, Thrill Jockey, Immune Recordings, Clean Feed, and many others. He has performed live in quite a few places throughout North America, Europe and Japan.

He has collaborated/recorded/performed with the likes of:

Fennesz, Pan•American, Anjou, Sylvain Chauveau, Stefan Németh, Mamiffer, Robert Hampson, David Daniell, Helge Sten (aka Deathprod), Martin Seiwert, Frank Rosaly, Machinefabriek, Jon Mueller, Dave Rempis, Christopher McFall, Jason Stein, Jenks Miller, Tony Buck, Boris Hauf, Glenn Kotche, Reto Mäder, and Michel "Away" Langevin, amongst numerous others.

He's performed internationally at Skaņu Mežs (LV), Roadburn (NL), Transmissions Festival (IT), Mutek Festival (CAN), Adventures In Modern Music - Presented by the WIRE (US), TodaysArt Festival (NL), Unsound (POL), DudeFest (BE), Interpenetrations Festival (AT), Dis-Patch (Serbia), Decibel Festival (US), Kontracom 06 (AT), Musikprotokoll (AT), CTM Berlin (DE), Musique Action Festival (FR), NXNW (US), SXSW (US), DNA Festival (US), Chicago Sound Maps 2010 (US), Hopscotch Festival (US), Interzone Festival (Serbia), Framework Festival (DE), Substrata (US), Denton 35 (US), Utech Records Music Festival (US), Boomslang (US), and has toured throughout North America, Europe and Japan."

-Steven Hess Tumblr Website (

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"Joseph Clayton Mills is an artist, composer, and performer working at the intersection of language, composition, and archival practice. His text-based paintings, assemblages, and sound installations have been exhibited in the United States and Europe, including at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker. A former Chicagoan, he remains an active participant in the improvised and experimental music community there, where his collaborators have included Adam Sonderberg and Steven Hess (as Haptic), Michael Vallera (as Maar), Noé Cuéllar (as Parital), Marvin Tate, Michael Pisaro, and Olivia Block, among many others. His recordings have appeared on numerous labels, including Another Timbre, FSS, and Entr'acte, and in 2013 in he launched Suppedaneum, a label focused on releasing scores and their realizations. He has received commissions and grants from the Chicago Film Archive, Black Cinema House (Rebuild Foundation), the Illinois Arts Council, the Experimental Sound Studio, and, in 2016, was artist in residence at the Sonic Arts Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University, UK."

-Joseph Clayton Mills Website (

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"The story of Adam Sonderberg is one of a youngster Chicagoan exploring all kinds of music in his basement, releasing many albums on his own cassette label, and how a couple of up-and-coming improvisers picked up on him and encouraged him to perform live and stop hiding. Mainly interested in the assembly of sounds from a concrete music perspective, his music draws from the sound art of Francisco López, the extended guitar technique of Derek Bailey, and the sparseness and quietness of the Morton Feldman-inspired microsound esthetics of the late '90s (composers like Bernhard Günter, improvisers like Taku Sugimoto). He also performs occasionally on tabletop guitar with Fred Lonberg-Holm, Boris Hauf, and TV Pow.

Sonderberg was born in 1978 in Chicago, IL. Precocious in talent and in tastes, he is self-taught on piano, guitar, and drums. He started playing guitar in garage bands (Anonymous, the Unknown Band) at age 14 and creating tape music a year later. In 1993, he started the cassette label Longbox Recordings (a CD-R label since 1998) and since then has been outpouring many albums per year, most in ultra-limited editions. After going to an AMM concert in 1997 and getting to talk to guitarist Keith Rowe afterwards, he shifted his focus on the tabletop guitar and electro-acoustic improv. Regular partners at the time included Sam Dellaria, A.P. O'Brien, and Greg Hamilton. Monikers under which he recorded with them (and others) have included the James Joyce Memorial Orchestra, the New Music Workshop, and Sac Trio.

In 1998, Sonderberg met Fred Lonberg-Holm. The cellist, who was already becoming a key figure on the Chicago new music scene, pushed him to perform live and helped him network with the free improv community, inviting him to join the Lightbox Orchestra briefly. The two recorded Music of the Late Romantics for Longbox (1999), which helped introduce the label to a slightly wider public. At the same time, Sonderberg struck a musical relationship with Austrian saxophonist Boris Hauf. They perform and record whenever he visits the U.S. The two toured the Midwest in the spring of 2002, occasionally with guests like TV Pow and Jon Mueller. The 2001 solo EP Say No was the artist's first album to gather attention from the international specialized press."

-All Music (

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Track Listing:


1. Some Gravity 11:26

2. BTWN 65, 52 08:01


1. Lost My Shape 09:19

2. Surrogates 10:57

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Electroacoustic Composition
Trio Recordings
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
New in Experimental & Electronic Music

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