Modern Institute – Excellent Swimmer

modern institute

Ambient electronic music sometimes seems to lack self-relativism and humour. That’s why track-titles like “ECM Haircuts” or “Sign Everyone in Iceland” call for immediate attention.

“Excellent Swimmer” – the latest Modern Institute Album on Expanding Records – has just the right mix of relativism and seriousness, and a perfect blend of electronic and acoustic sounds too..

It’s Martina Bertoni (on cello) and Teho Teardo (on everything else) – with a little help from Mark Beazley (Rothko) on the track you can listen here (called “post.ino”). 

“Excellent Swimmer” defies standard genres; there’s quite a lot of references found in it…sometimes it even reminded me of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

Nice. Or more than nice – Great!

Kerbaj’s Environment

Environmental ambient music. Peace & Quiet, Whales, Birds. The reassuring sounds of the city. The dreamlike landscapes of your subconscious mind.
Most of us hardly have any serious worries.

Mazen Kerbaj is a musician playing improvised music using his trumpet in a sort of Arve Henriksen style.
He is living in Beirut. Hís environmental sound at this very moment is the sound of the Israeli airplanes bombing his city.

On the night of 15/16 july 2006 he recorded this track (“Starry Night”) on the balcony of his flat in Beirut.
This is where environmental music gets very, very frightening.

Burial – Burial

Burial

We already enjoyed Pole, of course, and Deadbeat, and don’t forget Rhythm & Sound. And now from London comes Burial with this self-titled CD.
The genre is called ‘DubStep’ – and there are quite a lot of new electronic DJ’s exploring it. Lot of times it sounds flat, one-dimensional, analogue and not very inspiring. But every genre has it’s geniuses.
Burial is a very good example of how adventurous this new music can be. Neither Dance(-able) nor Reggae, neither ambient nor classic dub. Yet all of these at the same time, and very heavily electronic. A bit like Adrian Sherwood mixes from another dimension…??On the ‘Hyperdub’ label, which describes it as “Burial’s parallel dimension sounds set in a near future South London underwater. You can never tell if the crackle is the burning static off pirate radio transmissions, or the tropical downpour of the submerged city outside the window. In their sometimes suffocating melancholy, most of these tracks seem to yearn for drowned lovers.”

‘The tropical downpour of the submerged city’ …(well it wás quite hot in London, that’s true)….’yearn for drowned lovers’…Just top thát for a description!

Whitney Music Box

Whitney Music Box

'Krazydad' Jim Bumgardner created quite a few amazing projects (involving Flickr photographs, for example, such as a caleidoscopic screensaver based on flickr photos). 
This particular one is based on the musical theories of John Whitney, as described in his book "Digital Harmony". While the theory may be for diehards only, most people will simply just enjoy the harmonic aesthetics. Play and enjoy!!

Your Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Eno-Byrne-cover

Those of us that bought the original album back in 1981, would never have dreamt anything like this would ever be possible…:
To celebrate the re-release of Brian Eno & David Byrne’s “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” there’s an opportunity to remix two of the tracks yourself.
From the special remix website, you can download track-packs for “Help me Somebody” and “A Secret Life” and start working on them yourself.
Re-upload your mix, and you’re in..!

The Beethoven Time Warp

9BeetStretch cover

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is part of mankind’s collective memory – everyone knows and recognises it (or at least parts of it).
Can you possibly imagine how this 74 minute symphony would sound, if it was stretched to 24 full hours? I bet not. Still, it’s worth a try. Leif Inge is the man who actually did this, and the resulting 9BeetStretch is unforgettable. If there’s a sound of infinity, this must be it.

Uncertain Music Corps – Wheely Down

Wheely Down

The musical worlds seem far apart, but still there’s is a firm connection between (English) folk music roots and ambient drone music. (Just think of the drone of the bagpipe..)

This track is a beautiful reworking of the original Richard Thompson song (from “Henry the Human Fly, 1972“). Mark ‘Uncertain Music Corps’ Harrop revives this old time original and provides it with an ambient background that emotionally enhances the song and brings it back to life in a very contemporary way.

Nguyen Le – Duos

cover

I had a bit of trouble acccustomizing to this cd, because it is so diverse and has some rather fierce improvisational material on it. But after a few spins it finally got me hooked. The ‘duos’ (Lê alternately plays and improvises with trumpeteer Paolo Fresu and Oud-player Dhafer Youssef) are described as ‘musical dialogues in an electronic laboratory’, and that’s a well-fitting description. There’s very beautiful, inspired and adventurous music here. Sometimes resembling the sound of Nils Petter Molvaer, but with the focus more on jazz than dance. This is not ‘easy’ music, but you’ll be rewarded for your persistence. The sample track presented here – Thang Long – is a good example of the blend of world music roots, improvisational jazz end modern electronics.

Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

Although this is a Jason ‘Bong-Ra’ Kohnen side project, there’s none of his usual mind-blowing breakcore to be heard here. It’s ‘dark jazz’ instead – inspired by and meant as a soundtrack for films like Metropolis and Nosferatu.
There’s a lot of beautiful atmospheric moments to be found: highlights are tracks like The Nothing Changes, Solomon’s Curse, Amyghdala, Guernican Perspective. These are, as you may have guessed, the more quiet tracks. At other times the music is nicely running off the rails for your more experimental experiences…

LUCHTKASTELEN – Castles of Air

The ‘Luchtkastelen’ (Castles of Air) Festival focuses on new music for church organ. |The festival will feature organ performances, improvisation performances, as wel as performers ‘remixing’ classical organ recordings.
This follow up to the 2000 edition of this festival can be enjoyed on three days on different locations: April 22 in Utrecht, may 13 in Amsterdam and may 20 in Rotterdam.

Apart from all live performances, traditional church organ music will be remixed by Matthew Florianz, Arno Peeters and myself.
Asma Morgana” is my deconstructed version “Andante Cantabile“, played by famous dutch musician Feike Asma. Mixed by … yours truly !! (Click ‘Read More’ to listen)

Check the website link for more information and program details in English.
[The remaining post is written in Dutch.]


luchtkastelen poster

Anouar Brahem – Le Voyage De Sahar

Le Voyage de Sahar

Anyone that has experienced the magnificent ‘Le Pas Du Chat Noir’ (2002), will know what to expect from this follow-up. It’s the same line-up: Anouar Brahem (Oud), Francois Couturier (Piano) and Jean-Louis Matinier (Accordion). It’s also the same beauty. Stylish, introspective lyrical compositions that have their root in French melancholy as well as in Tunisian passion. This is not just for the jazz- or ethno-purist audience, it’s simply too beautiful for that. Try it.

Nine Horses – Snow Borne Sorrow

If you’re one of the people that cannot stand the voice of David Sylvian, you’re not gonna like this record, because he is one of the main performers in this one-off group. But if you can, you’re gonna love this project!
Nine Horses’ ‘Snow Borne Sorrow’ sounds just a like slick sounding coffee-table album — when you don’t give it enough attention. But in fact the music is very subtle, probably because Sylvian and Jansen chose interesting performing partners like Burnt Friedman (adding his unrivalled adventurous and ever-surprising arrangements and sample wizardry), Arve Henriksen (haunting Jon Hassell-like trumpet whispering), and a host of others like Stina Nordenstamm (voice), and good old Ryuichi Sakamoto – to name just a few.
But beware: these beautiful sounds ultimately reveal a very dark, maybe even depressing atmosphere, which may hit hard when the days start to turn darker:

'its a wonderful world / and she doesn't knows why
she wakes up each day / and continues to cry'

If this were a David Sylvian project, it’d be the best he has done in many, many years.
But this is not a David Sylvian project. This is Nine Horses – one of the unexpected musical pleasures of this year. Perfect release for the closing days of 2005.

Michel Banabila – Hilarious Expedition

Michel Banabila must be one of Hollands best kept secrets. He has released numerous albums, some ambient, some world, some jazz, some experimental, all worth the listen.

Hilarious Expedition is a double album with movie- and theatre music, which he has released himself in a limited independent edition. Because it probably would be too ‘difficult’ for official release.

I regret this album is a bit overlooked – due to it’s independent release – because it should attract a wider, adventurous, audience.

Nils Petter Molvaer – ER

For the ‘pop’ listener, ER is a far more complex album than Molvaer’s earlier work. The arrangements sound like studio improvisations, and the result is more ‘jazz’, less ‘dance. The accompanying background is created with delicate electronic sounds, which make the record very modern.
‘Sober’ is one of the best tracks, in my opinion. And that may very well be because it’s so ….er…..sober.