TETHERDOWN – FIRST FLIGHT
Tetherdown is a new trio formed by Anne Garner, James Murray and Mark Beazley (Rothko), and this is their … ehhh … First Flight.
Anne and James created one of my favourite albums from 2015, so I was somewhat surprised to hear them taking quite a different direction with Tetherdown. Not very different, though: it’s just that First Flight contains no ‘vocal songs’ like Be Life, but there’s the same subtle, dreamy treatment of sounds… Four pieces – each around the 10 minute mark – of unprepared improvisations that “emerged unforcedly in a single setting and is presented here exactly as played without edits of overdubs.”
In a way, the interplay of Mark (electric bass), James (processed guitars) and Anne (Flute, Keyboards and vocals) remind me of the very early ‘Cosmic’ improvisations of Tangerine Dream (Zeit and Atem era) – though that comparision clearly fails when you listen to them both. (I don’t really know why – I guess it’s the use of the flute and some of the guitar sounds that triggered my memories).
It’s a true Flight indeed… and if this is what this trio is capable of producing without preparations or expectations, I really hope that more of these flights will follow!
CYRIL SECQ / ORLA WREN – BRANCHES
Strikingly bright recordings of acoustic strings played by Cyril Secq (member of Astrïd), backed by subtle electro-acoustic processings by Orla Wren (Tui). That is the setting of this unique setting: “a duet between acoustic strings and processing, field recordings, edits and organic arrangements. The tunes woven together and untwine again as branches shaken by the wind”.
Cyril Secq‘s guitar parts were recorded earlier, for a solo project that was never released. Orla Wren took them as a starting point for his processed electronics which remain modest and calm, strictly serving the purpose of the bright atmosphere of the guitar pieces.
Although they never played together in real life, the music sounds as if they are really interacting with each other.
GAMARDAH FUNGUS – HERBS AND POTIONS
Artemisia, Bryophyta, Beladonna, Mandragora, Hypericum – “each track is named for a herb which can both heal and harm”.
Ukrainian duo Gamardah Fungus (sound designer Igor Yalivec and guitarist Segey Yagoda) delve deep into their grandparents’ folkore and wisdom of herbal healing practices to find the inspiration for this soothing (I almost wrote ‘healing’, but I guess that’s a word better avoided) album:
“Using herbal concoctions our grandfathers were able to treat any disease and even bring up a dying man on its feet. Also, they were able to do the opposite – bring anyone to dementia, injury or another disease.”
Listening to the peaceful improvisations, there’s no need to fear for the latter. After all, the duo’s name Gamardah Fungus “refers to a substance made according to ancient recipes of natural herbs and minerals to help you open your mind to the universe. Not a drug, but an elixir of wisdom.”
Maybe because they’re from Ukraïne (with, in Igor’s own words, “an experimental music scene that is still poorly understoond and remains something unusual for the most listeners over the world”), or maybe it’s the setting of the guitar improvisations with the field recordings background, but their music sure has a unusal pleasing atmosphere.
LUKE HOWARD – FORGOTTEN POSTCARDS
Luke Howard is a composer/pianist from Melbourne, Australia, whose debut solo album ‘Sun, Cloud’ was nominated for the 2013 Australian Music Prize that year.
Forgotten Postcards is his fifth solo album.
The opening track, Homeless, and the closing title Shift are noteworthy for the way he transposes short repetitive themes using the full range of the keyboard. From the lower register to the upper, and back again, and before you realise it the slightly melancholic theme has anchored itself in your subconscious.
It is the perfect soundtrack for shifting through a box of forgotten postcards, which will bring back forgotten memories.
I guess it will also do so even if you do not have a box of forgotten postcards yourself.