In the Shortlist sections, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for. Still, I think they deserve your attention: use the links to find more info and hear previews.
Joe Evans – Ecliptic Plane
The liner notes to the tracks are almost scientifical, combining details from mathematics, astronomy, musical theory and sound design. Interesting information for those who want to know about this music’s background, but maybe somewhat overwhelming for the casual listener.
But then: this is not intended as ‘casual’ music!
“While this work deals with some of this familiar subject (space, and more specifically, the sun and planets), it does so with the emphasis on time and particularly by how it is marked by movement within the solar system. The tracks “Ecliptic Plane” and “Resonant TNOs” extensively use the data from the planets, their moons and other objects to create their rhythms and harmonies. In the case of “Resonant TNOs” the musical scale was derived directly from the frequency ratios of the orbits of the titular objects themselves.
Whilst “Approaching/Receding Sun” and “Oort Cloud” are essentially impressionistic in nature, they are the results of mathematical experiments that have links with their subjects through mood and metaphor.“
The result is a fascinating showcase of contemporary electronic music, some of which (especially the opening and closing track “Receding/Approaching Sun” ) would have perfectly fitted the “2001 – A Space Odyssey” soundtrack.
Orphax – Confused
This 30 minute EP took me some time to get used to, because I could not really decide what to think about the loud and rather intrusive opening drone: the sound of the first five-six minutes somehow reminded me of a sustained vuvuzela or bagpipe drone.
So yes, it got me confused indeed. As intended, obviously.
In these first minutes, Amsterdam-based musician Sietse van Erve defines his aural territory, but once the sound has pulled you in the track starts evolving slowly, getting deeper and more fascinating with every introduction of a new layer of sound, created improvising with “guitar, electric toothbrush, razor, vocals and audiomulch”.
Akumu – Transmissions
“‘Transmissions’ is a series of short, abstract pieces that delve into Akumu’s interest in messages hidden within messages, of sounds between sounds, of communications that are slightly beyond our perception… beyond our reach.
Built upon recordings of radio static, electrical interference and guitar-based ephemera, “Transmissions” creates a world of tones, clicks, squelches and pulses – a space that lies between calm drones and arrhythmical noise. A place where lost transmissions reside.” [Free download]
Alex Durlak – Seconds
Another relatively short track (20’30”) – guitar improvisations processed in realtime “using granular synthesis techniques.”
“‘Seconds’ is an ever changing narrative through a dark and open space, perhaps a walking tour through an abandoned factory with it’s machinery left running or the soundtrack to a time lapse video of steel being cut under an electron microscope.”
The track is offered as a free digital download, but is also physically released on a single-sided 12″ on white vinyl (with a story excerpt printed on the non-music side: check the images).
Swartz et – Respire
Instrumentation-wise, this album is quite different from the others, because it is “built around recordings of rhythmic and meditative breathing made by Steve (Swartz) and some close friends in a quiet room.
From there, even the instruments recorded in the aftermath were treated as breathing entities. Inhaling and exhaling. Washing in and out. Everything moving in, through and around the sounds of friends sitting silently in each other’s presence, just being.
All of these elements are knit together – guitars, piano, breathing and heartbeats – to create a work that is delicate, intimate and, at times, visceral in nature.”
Please note: although this description may indicate otherwise, this album should definitely nót be filed under “New Age”!