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Enrico Coniglio – Salicornie


Most ambient music deals with more or less imaginary landscapes -like, for example, the two compilations recently reviewed: “Hidden Landscapes” and “Underwater Noises“.

This is definitely not the case for both Topofonie albums by Enrico Coniglio (who also contributed to the Underwater Noises compilation), that are inspired by Venice and its lagoon.

“A polymorphic portrait of what Venice is today, one moment decadent and melancholy, then romantic, rowdy, colourful and chaotic. Postcard of a thousand postcards, photos of a thousand photos…”

But, just as Venice is not like any other city in the world, Salicornie (and its predecessor: Areavirus ) is not like any other ‘ambient’ album.

“Enrico Coniglio (1975) is a musician with an interest in the aesthetic aspects of the landscape. Starting from his curiosity in experimenting within tonal variation of ambient and atmosphere music, with a particular referral to the soundscape of the Venetian lagoon, his music aims at investigating the loss of identity of places and the uncertainty on the evolution of the territory.”

Triggered by his track on “Underwater Noises“, I noticed some of the artists Coniglio has worked with. An impressive list, with names like Joachim Roedelius, Emanuele Erante, Oophoi, Janek Schaefer and Arve Henriksen. 

Arve Henriksen‘s heart-melting trumpet marks the opening title track of the album, quietly introducing the rhythm pattern sampled from Ravel‘s Bolero. Using this emphatic rhythm on an album that can (partially) be classified as an ‘ambient’ album is of course a remarkable statement in itself. 

Apart from ‘ambient’ music, this album also includes ‘jazz’ music (‘Usaghi Blues‘), and quite a lot of ‘environmental’ recordings (‘Angels of San Marco’ ). Some of the tracks, like“The Girl from Murania” would do very well in a movie soundtrack (*).

Coniglio’s instrumentation,which defines the overall sound, is considerably different from most recent ambient-electronic albums: “Farfisa MircOrgan, clavietta, harmonica, psalterian and a plenty of other little stuff.

Like the city it is dedicated to, Salicornie is definitely worth multiple visits. 

By the way: of course it’s best to check it out together with its 2007 predecessor “Areavirus – Topofonie Vol.1”  

Enrico Coniglio – The Girl from Murania

(*) – for those looking for trivia details: I may be wrong but I seem to recognise the saddening girls’ sniff in this track from the sample that is also used in some tracks on Kreng’s L’Autopsie Phénomenale de Dieu, and maybe also in Julien Mier’s Breathe with Me.
Can anyone confirm this? And, if so, what exactly is this sample used?

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Jan Bang – …And Poppies from Kandahar

Jan Bang

The Samadhisound label, founded and curated by David Sylvian, simultaneously released three impressive titles. Together they present a landmark of the current experimental/electronic/ improv scene.
Be prepared: none of these albums are ‘easy listening’ music – in fact, a lot of this music wouldn’t even be considered ‘ambient’.

Jan Bang‘s album “…And Poppies from Kandahar” is a good start, because it contains the most ‘accessible’ music of these titles.

Any album including contributions of Jon Hassell, Arve Henriksen and Nils Petter Molvaer would get my immediate and unreserved attention! It’s no real surprise that Bang can bring these names together: he has worked with them on their respective albums, as ‘samplist’ and/or as producer.

There are a few more impressive contributors here (such as Sidsel Endresen, Peter Freeman, Eivind Aarset and Lars Danielsson), as well as a range of credited samples, including Kammerflimmer KollektiefRichard Wagner and Robert Schumann.

Jan Bang has a distinct, very personal way of using these samples in his music. He is not afraid to stop/start them (in such a way that even the backgound hiss drops out for a second), and to combine them with alienating found sounds (‘exhaust fan‘) or cut-up vocal fragments (Sidsel Endresen).
The result is remarkably coherent, unearthly and alienated, but also warm and personal.

Bang seems to draw from thousands of sources, though all sources are hard to identify. But all fragments perfectly fit together and sound as if they were meant to fit this samplist’s puzzle.

And Poppies from Kandahar (David Sylvian is credited for the titles) is one of the more impressive albums I have heard in a long time.
It proves that there are alway new roads to travel, that there is still a lot of new music to explore.

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Arve Henriksen – Strjon

On this third solo project Arve Henriksen is accompanied by two fellow Supersilent members: Helge Sten (a.k.a. DeathProd) and Ståle Storløkken. Unlike most of the Supersilent albums Strjon breathes a natural, Zen-like balance and peacefulness.
Henriksen’s trumpet-playing is perfectly balanced with the almost chilling sound sculptures accompanying it.

This music is in fact totally unclassifiable. It is NOT ambient, it is NOT jazz, and it CERTAINLY is not New Age. It is quietly peaceful and adventurous at the same time (and those two hardly ever go hand in hand), and it has that typical open Nordic sound. The best reference may be the ‘Fourth World’ sound of Jon Hassell.
But in fact it’s best not to compare this music to anything else…just enjoy it.

Arve Henriksen – Ascent

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