AROVANE & MIKE LAZAREV – AEON
I still don’t know how he does it: combining a full-time job with keeping up with one of the biggest ambient/electronic/experimental music blogs around ánd playing piano and cello.
One of the advantages of running his blog Headphone Commute is that he knows a lot of musicians around. Which has probably led to this collaboration of Mike Lazarev playing the piano (and ‘acoustics’) and Arovane (Uwe Zahn) adding electronics, sound processing and field recordings.
Arovane is, of course, a well-known artist with over 20 releases since 2000. For Mike it’s his third album since 2016, following up Unhinged and Dislodged (both released on 1631 Recordings).
With this collaboration with Arovane, the music takes a different turn. There’s an abundance of solo piano recordings at the moment, up to the point of becoming boring. Aeon cleverly avoids the pitfalls by combining the piano sound with more abstract electronics, and beautiful melancholic melodies with deconstructed broken down sounds: “Fewer melodies and more spacial pianism”.
“In my London studio, I would record minimal piano pieces, often late at night, sometimes with the windows open, to capture every sound resonating from the instrument. Uwe would deconstruct these compositions even further, extracting the brush of my fingers, the fall of the hammers, the breath of the strings.”
This is exactly what gives this album its depth and why it is such a pleasure to listen to. A deserved (and prominent) spot on the map of Eilean Records releases.
MICHAEL CUTTING – LUFT
Also on Eilean Records, but music of quite a different nature, is Luft by Michael Cutting, from Salford (near Manchester). It’s different in the choice of instruments, but at the same time what connects these albums (apart from their label) is the search for the inner sounds of instruments at work.
For Michael Cutting, the instruments of choice are his reel-to-reel recorders (with degrading tape and roughly spliced loops), a 19th-century organ (with ‘the clicking of its rusty bellows’), complemented by an e-bowed violin, Fender Rhodes, clarinet, trumpet, sine tone generator and voice. On one track, Seeking Safe Harbour, he is accompanied by Robbie Gardiner on clarinet and the voice of Vitalija Glovackyte.
Cutting’s soundscapes are relatively abstract – hardly a melancholic melody found here – but at the same time they are also relatively quiet and introspective, combining fascinating sounds in an unexpected way.