site info


Ian William Craig * Serein (Various) * 130701 (Various)

Orbital Planes

Ian William Craig - Centres

IAN WILLIAM CRAIG – CENTRES

Ever since William Basinski transformed the sound of deterioration into sonic art, it has become part of the experimental mainstream – along with distortion and carefully arranged clicks and cuts.
Although I am old enough to recognize the nostalgia of analog hiss and vinyl crackle, I often get confused hearing intentional sounds that I have tried to avoid for a large part of my life (and for a large part of my budget). Too often, the result is that too obvious presentation of imperfection simply becomes irritating.

But, like Basinski, there are also artists that take things to a completely different level. Ian William Craig is one of them.
He’s a trained operatic vocalist with a beautiful voice, an orchestral composer capable of writing heartfelt arrangements that could easily become anthems for a whole generation. If only …
Play his music for an unprepared audience and eyebrows will definitely be raised!

“(Centres) was created using a mixture of sources – synthesizer, Hammond organ, guitar, accordion, wire recorder, loop station, Craig’s array of re-purposed tape decks and “cassette choir”. The songs were created manipulating tape loops through two or three decks at once to create strange deteriorating delays with different colors.
“Everything was manipulated through my customized tape decks,” explains Ian. “The most common hack is putting attenuators on the heads to keep them from functioning properly, and then running a loop of tape through so the sound builds and builds and spills over. Sometimes the same tape loop goes through two or three decks at once to create strange deteriorating delays with different colours.”
Continually honing and pushing this process, the album shows a quite brilliant attention to textural detail. Morphing, swirling, scouring, shimmering, it continually expands and contracts around you.”

Centres is Ian William Craig‘s ninth album (!), his third official release (and his first on the 130701 label). Compared to his earlier work, there is a bit more emphasis on song structures – the vocal arrangements (like in Purpose (Is No Country) and Arrive, Arrive) are moments of rest in the sonic sea of decaying sentimentality.

To demonstrate the impact, compare the albums opener Contain (Astoria Version) – a 10 minute piece with an anthemic instrumental second half that most artists would’ve probably placed as a climactic album closer – with its introvert counterpart closing the album: the ‘campfire arrangement’ (solo vocals and acoustic guitar) of Contain (Cedar Version).
Same song – different parallel universe.

Craig pushes ‘the beauty within degradation and deterioration’ to an extreme level. Só extreme that it becomes the aesthetic of the fundamentally distressed. It’s not an easy listen, because it requires full attention. The listener cannot simply ‘consume’, but has to work to uncover the beauty underneath.

Ian William Craig would probably be capable to write and perform the near perfect pop song. But why would he? Perfection is boring – true beauty is found in imperfect details.

Also on Spotify


Orbital Planes

VARIOUS ARTISTS – ORBITAL PLANES & PASSENGER TRAINS VOL. I

Some of you may remember that the Serein label started out as a netlabel way back in  2005, giving away a lot of music for free. (Check this Folio Broadcast if you’re interested in a mix of Serein music from 2005-2007).
After the label founder Huw Roberts teamed up with (Deaf Center’s) Otto Totland to form the near-legendary Nest, things got serious and Serein re-emerged as a ‘real’ label. (I don’t mean to imply that netlabels aren’t serious, of course: what I mean to say is that with the Nest release, Serein must’ve realised that they were giving away gold for free. )
The label “predominantly focusses on crossover ambient styles”, but refuses to limit itself to any one genre.

This is perfectly demonstrated in this compilation, presenting 75 minutes (16 tracks) of “the finest Serein selections”. It’s a wide range of ‘crossover ambient’ styles, that somehow perfectly match together.
Intended to soothe you during your daily commute – “making your journeys as pleasurable as can be” – but of course it can also be enjoyed from the comfort (and relative safety) of your home.

A beautiful selection of (all new?) tracks from artists that have worked with Serein before but also some names that are new to the label: Otto A. Totland, Brambles, Ametsub, Benoît Pioulard, Strië, Donato Wharton, Yui Onodera & Chihei Hatakeyama, Olan Mill (and this is not the complete list!).
It will make you look forward to the upcoming Serein releases.
Ánd to Volume II of this series!

Release date: August 19, but can be pre-ordered here.



STRIË – 87 BILLION SUNS


 

11into15

VARIOUS ARTISTS – ELEVEN INTO FIFTEEN

130701 started as a Fat Cat sublabel 15 years ago: the label name is in fact the date it came to life with the first Set Fire To Flames album.
Since then, it has become one of the most influential labels in various areas of modern classical music – home to many influential and, by now, well-known artists.

After a three year hiatus the label re-emerged at the end of 2015, and now it celebrates its 15th anniversary with this impressive compilation of unreleased work by some of their familiar artists while at the same time introducing some new names.
Eleven tracks – as you might have guessed from the title – that prove the power of the label curators: there’s a range of modern classical styles – from melancholic piano compositions to abstract string drones – but also some tracks that fall outside of this categorisation yet perfectly blend in.

All tracks are exclusive and previously unreleased, which instantly turns this into a not-to-be-missed release for fans of Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, Set Fire to Flames, Sylvain Chauveau. Ánd for the ‘early adopters’ that are already familiar with Ian William Craig, Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Dmitry Evgrafov, Resina and Olivier Alary.

The album title might as well have been Sixteen into Fifteen, since it comes with an added bonus called “New Blood” – presenting 5 extra tracks by artists that have recently published music on 130701 or will do so in the near future: Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Dmitry Evgrafov, Olivier Alary, Ian William Craig and Resina.

The limited CD version of this bonus were distributed in UK indie stores but quickly sold out but is now a free download with every purchase of Eleven Into FifteenIt can also be obtained separately – but in fact I cannot think of a good reason why you’d want to do that when you get it for free with the Eleven…  compilation.



OLIVIER ALARY – YANGTZE

Tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

site info


Nest – Body Pilot


http://www.archive.org/details/ser013

Starting out as a netlabel, distributing free releases such as the original Nest EPSerein took an unexpected sudden turn and resurfaced as a ‘standard’ label. 
Re-Told”  – a remastered version (with additional tracks) of the original Nest EP – was their incredible “initial”release and immediately set themselves a difficult high standard.

Re-Told was immediately and widely recognised as a classic release and got sort of legendary status for all those that found it. (To modestly illustrate this: the short review from 2009 has been on top of the ‘most read’ ambientblog list ever since).

(Only) Three other releases have followed since this initial masterpiece – and then, finally, a new Nest release calledBody Pilot”  was announced.

For those that did not know yet: Nest is Huw Roberts (Wales, Serein label owner) and Otto Totland (Norway, of Deaf Center fame). They have crafted a unique combination of acoustic piano and electronic ‘sample manipulation’ with additional field recordings. 

There are quite a lot of releases in this musical area, crossing over electronic sound art with acoustic post-classical romanticism – but what distinguishes Nest from a lot of other contemporary artist is their ability to create a delicate balance. Their music is sweet – but never too sweet.

To illustrate this: the opening track ‘Stillness’, with its quiet introvert piano theme, is quite different from Koretz’s Meteor, which is mainly electronic and starts with a a SF-like tension that is almost threatening. 

Roberts and Totland are not only mastering delicate balance, but also ‘restraint’: the piano parts are effective but modest, and the release only clocks 20 minutes (four tracks).

This may be the only downlside if this release: however fine they are, these delicate 20 minutes only leave us wanting for more.
So let’s hope that it won’t take another five years to see the next Nest release! 

Body Pilot” is released as a 10″ EP, as part of the Serein Seasons 10″ vinyl series. Limited to 500 worldwide – only a few copies left so hurry if you want the physical copy. For those that prefer digital, the music is also available in digital download format (MP3 as well as lossless FLAC). 


Nest – The Ultimate Horizon

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

site info


Olan Mill – Pine

olanmill

Olan Mill is the name of the duo (Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko) presenting Pine, the long-awaited second release of the british Serein label.

Serein started out as a net-label a few years ago. Following the succes of their Nest-release they reformed completely, and re-released their greatest succes as “Retold” – one of the most praised (re-)releases of 2009/2010. (BTW – the Serein website does not mention it, but most of their netlabel releases – including the original NEST EP – can still be found on archive.org.)

Following up a release like that is not an easy task. But Olan Mill lives up to the expectations, without simply ‘copying’ the Nest success formula.


Olan Mill “A Heavy Leg Cycle” from Pine (2010)

Pine” is a relatively short album (10 tracks, 35 minutes – which nowadays seems to become a new sort of standard for CD length).
Few instruments were used in this recording: piano, violin, pipe organ and guitar. The sounds are not always easily recognisable as such, because of the reverb of the church they were recorded in (or maybe because of the post-processing).
Most of the tracks are somewhat more ‘abstract ambient’, which makes “Pine” stand out from the flood of recent post-classical ‘chamber music’ releases.
Still, the compositions are clearly romantic by nature, and the moments the piano (or violin) part takes its place in the foreground, it is immediately clear that Olan Mill are Nest “label-mates”.

If you favoured Nest‘s Retold, or if you enjoy anything from Olafur Arnalds to Stars of the Lid, Olan Mill‘s Pine should take a prominent place on your want-list.

Tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

site info


Nest – Retold

Serein

The Serein netlabel was founded in 2005 and released quite an impressing batch of quality ambient and electronic music. In 2007, Serein released it’s ‘flagship title’: the Nest EP.

Nest is the collaborative project of Otto Totland (Deaf Center; Type Records) and Huw Roberts (Serein Label owner).

The beauty of their music was quickly recognised, the blogosphere caught on and the EP was features in a lot of favourites-lists that year.

Then, early 2009, the Serein site closed down.

With the response to the Nest EP (and the other releases too, by the way, let’s not forget those!), Serein decided ‘to explore some commercial avenues’.

So here’s the good news: Serein’s rebirth will be a fact when Retold will be officially released on january 31, 2010.

Retold is a full cd completing the six tracks from the original EP (including a revised version of Cad Goddeu) with five new tracks of equal extraordinary beauty. Wheatstone , the track previewed here, is one of the new tracks.

Nest’s purpose is “to produce beautiful music free of pretense“.
In doing so, they have created a CD of impressively pure art.

You may be wondering what has happened to all the other great music Serein made available between 2005 and 2008? Well, in fact all music is still downloadable from archive.org. This includes the original Nest EP so if you can’t wait till januari you can have your preview here.

But be sure to make Nest your starting point for exploring Serein by downloading some of the other titles too.

Tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

site info


The Inventors of Aircraft – Unknown Language

Inventors

The Serein netlabel once again lives up to their expectations. With their latest release, ‘Unknown Language’ by The Inventors of Aircraft, the label now offers 17 free album downloads. All of which are quality ambient music, albeit in different styles.
The latest one (#17) is “Unknown Language” by “The Inventors of Aircraft”.

As you may notice, that’s ‘Aircraft’…not ‘Aircrafts’. In fact, there’s only one ‘Inventor of Aircraft’ called Phil Tomsett.

The artwork of this release does not provide very much information, but checking out www.theioa.com reveals some of the binay code displayed.

“These obscure symbols lend themselves well to the music, for ‘Unknown Language’ has very definite leanings towards the world of science and indeed science fiction. The album has a vast, almost monolithic sound that builds relentlessy. On the track ‘Passing’ it is not difficult to imagine that the title may be a reference to some gargantuan satellite, a slow paced yet immovable object casting a shadow over some desolate alien landscape far below.
The pieces meld into one another flitting between earthy and organic soundscapes to more overtly electronic and droney pieces.”

(release info)

Compared to the NEST release, this music is more electronic, although the occasional clicks and pops definitely give it a “natural” feeling.

I can heartily recommend downloading it. As I do for all other Serein releases.

Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

site info


Nest – Nest

nest

Ambient music collectors no longer visit the local record shop to find the latest releases. Most of the times, the titles are not even stocked. Still, the genre is lively and growing bigger than it ever was. Not through the ‘old’ distribution channels and brick and mortar shops, but through the internet mostly. This weblog only covers a small tip of the iceberg of the music available.

There are quite a lot specialised webshops online (if you got any tips for readers to share, please use the react link below and share it with us), and there are a lot netlabels that release the music – purely out of passion for it.
Sometimes for a small fee (a direct support of the artists), but often for free. And if you think that ‘free’ music must be inferior hobbyist music, here’s the proof that it isn’t:
try the Serein netlabel. And especially try their NEST release.

Nest is the collaborative project of Otto Totland (Deaf Center / Type Records) and Huw Roberts (Serein). If you want names to compare: their music sounds like music from people like Harold Budd, Goldmund/Helios, Murcof and even Biosphere (on this track featured here: Cad Goddeu).

It’s beautiful atmospheric and it’s feel is more organic than electronic.
With netlabels offering music like this, who needs record companies??


Nest – Cad Goddeu

Tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.