ANDREW HEATH & ANNE CHRIS BAKKER – HOW TO BREATHE LIKE A STONE
The third collaboration of likeminded musicians Andrew Heath (‘minimal pianist’, but also contributing electronics, treatments, field recordings) and Anne Chris Bakker (‘experimental guitarist’, but also adding electronics, tape manipulations, and field recordings) is released on the Whitelabrecs label in a beautiful LP-style foldout cover, with the vinyl-printed CD housed in an inner sleeve. But it’s not only a feast for the eye: with its exceptional sound production, balanced instrumentation, and natural flow it’s a balm for the soul, too.
There was no initial concept to begin with: both Heath and Bakker base their work on their love for improvisation and minimalism. “We are both very much process-led artists and follow ideas and techniques that manipulate what we create.”
Large parts of this music were recorded at Bakker’s home studio in Noordlaren, Holland. This is reflected in some of the Dutch track titles, such as Dit Voorbijgaan (This Passing by), Verdolen (a somewhat anachronistic word meaning getting lost), and Kröller Müller (a famous modern art museum). The sound of this museum itself, creaking from the sun outside, is featured in this particular track: “it was as if the weather had its own improvised response to the collaboration”.
Additional piano recordings, placed prominently in the front of the mix, were recorded in two churches: one in Noordlaren and one in Cotswold, near where Andrew lives.
The field recordings, subtly woven throughout the tracks, seem to link the music directly to its environment – either real or imaginary.
If I had to describe the message this music conveys, I’d say it tells us to ‘be aware and take care of our surroundings’.
LANDTITLES – YOUR VOICE IN PIECES
Until now, the releases in the Lifelines series (a subdivision of James Murray’s Slowcraft Records) were digital-only releases. This latest release, Landtitles‘ Your Voice In Pieces is the first one to be released on CD too, in a beautiful hand-assembled package
Landtitles is the alias of Grant Gard. I don’t know anything about his background, apart from the fact that he is a composer and photographer from Vancouver Island. This seems to be his debut CD album, apart from a mention on Discogs of a 2015 cassette release called Hold On To Where Your Heart Is – but I’m not even sure if that is the same artist we’re talking about here.
Grant ‘Landtitles Gard creates his music using “cassette and reel-to-reel loops of synthesizer, organelle, guitar, melodica, dulcimer, piano, contact microphone, and field recordings”. That may not sound like an unusual setup for this genre of music (though I had to look up the organelle), but there’s definitely a somewhat unusual sound to the (11) tracks. Something lively, as if the music has a life of its own regardless of what the composer may have intended.
I assume that that is the result of using the Argeïphontes Lyre as a compositional tool: the inexplicable composing software created by Akira Rabelais. A tool that comes without a manual, one that is probably hard to master – íf it can be mastered at all.
Maybe it’s better to say that it is a tool the composer submits himself to. This brings a level of generativeness to the compositions that feels very natural.
“The perfect soundtrack to stopping the clocks and watching plants grow”. Indeed.