M. GRIG – MOUNT CARMEL
With the massive amount of new music that is released every month, there’s the risk that many of them start to sound alike. Which is not necessarily a problem, of course, but it is always a refreshing surprise when an album stands out because of something the others don’t have. That can be many things: a creative approach, an unordinary sound, or a different choice of instruments.
Mount Carmel is such an album. M. Grig (Mike Grigoni, from Durham, North Carolina) specializes in dobro, lap steel and pedal steel guitar to create his ‘hazy, sliding sound steeped in nostalgia and mystery.’
‘While he seeks to display the personality of the steel guitar in ways both familiar and strange, he also creates sonic landscapes in which the personality of the instrument is buried, at times to the point of erasure.’
‘Combing sounds made with an instrument with sounds recorded in the field, blending and enfolding these sources, is deeply satisfying and grounding for me. Making and recording music in this way is somehow like ethnography.’ (M. Grig studied ethnomusicology at the University of Washington).
On Mount Carmel, Grig returns to the places of his childhood in Los Peñasquito, California, where he spent a lot of time ‘kicking dust and watching for rattlesnakes‘.
A deeply personal album for himself, probably a recognizable atmosphere for anyone that grew up in the same area, and a fascinating and inspiring trip into another world for anyone who didn’t.
AIHIO – OUTLANDS
Composer and instrument maker Petteri Mäkiniemi and music producer/sound artists Ilpo Jauhiainen formed Aihio, and Outlands is their debut release. It is a collection of tracks that were improvised and recorded live in the studio (no overdubs), when rehearsing for the Musica Nova 2019 festival’s Tribute To Pan Sonic concert.
Pan Sonic is one of their main inspirations, alongside icons like Arvo Pärt, Cluster, Fela Kuti and Jon Hassell. Fela Kuti is the odd one out in this list: Ilpo Jauhiainen (whose interests are combining music and sound art, new global musical styles, contemporary composition and generative music) claims he plays “afrorithmic electronics”: afrobeat + algorithmic composition.
A strange and unusual instrument is prominent here: it’s the Ginette, created by Petteri himself. It’s an electronic instrument based on (and sounding somewhat like) the Ondes Martinot, developed in 1928.
“The Ginette has a delicate character in which a gentle touch of the hand is audible in the sound of the instrument.”
It sounds otherworldly in a nice way (indeed like the Ondes Martinot), and the otherworldliness is enhanced even more by Jauhianen’s rhythmic structures (BTW – I doubt Fela would have recognised them as African rhythms – but in the end, everything comes from Africa so that is hardly relevant).
Outlands is a highly original album, in sound as well as in its background concept. Even in the ‘experimental’ electronic genre, many sounds and processes are alike. Aihio manages to step outside the box and create their own unique sound. Literally!