Beautiful Companions: Dakota Suite

The End of Trying

‘The End of Trying’ is not a ‘typical’ Dakota Suite Release. Unlike most Dakota Suite albums (except 1999’s Navigators Yard) it is fully instrumental, with Chris Hooson, David Buxton and Colin Dunkley playing piano and David Darling playing cello.
The latter fact may indicate the mood of the music on this album: it is extremely delicate, heartbreaking melancholic music.
A ‘classic’ release that immediately struck me when I first heard it in the beginning of this year.

The track titles indicate the overall mood of this music: How Could You Let Me Go, Things We Lost Along The Way, All The Love I Had Was Not Enough, A Quietly Gathering Tragedy, and not forgetting “Een Langzaam Lekkende Wond‘ (A Slow Leaking Wound) which reminds us of the fact that Chris Hooson lived in Holland for quite a few years.
This beautiful sad music is clearly not meant to brighten up your day. But it might soothe your sadness with rays of hope shining through empathic, understanding themes and fabulous cello sounds. 

‘The End of Trying’ is one of the most beautiful albums I have heard this year, and it even gains strength with the companion CD that was released shortly after the release of the original: “The Night Keeps Coming In”.

"Friederich Remixed" by Banabila


radiolines

In december 2008, dutch musicians Frans Friederich and Michel Banabila met each other performing on the ‘RadioLines’ performance, organised by the (now almost deceased) radio programs Folio and Supplement.

Three musicians performing simultaneously, while live-mixed by one of the radio-makers. The musicians had no influence on the resulting mix in any way (there even was a possibility they were playing their parts without it being heard at all).
(The musicians brave enough to take this risk were Michel Banabila, Frans Friederich and Floris van Bergeijk – the resulting music can be found and downloaded [here].)

For edition “P” of Frans Friederich‘s Recyclopedia, a series of 26 multi-styled CD’s (one for every single letter of the alphabet), Michel Banabila created a beautiful remix, inviting dutch trumpet player Eric Vloeimans to play the additional trumpet part.
This track is unclassifiable: it’s jazz, pop, electronic, fourth world and maybe even more.
It is also a perfect example of what can happen when open-minded musicians work together for the sake of music, not caring about whatever expectations there may be!

Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto: UTP_


UTP cover

The short ‘Bartók pizzicato‘ string punches from the opening track, Attack, may give the impression that this is gonna be one of those uncomprehensible and almost unlistenable (to my ears, anyway) retro-avant-garde string compositions. But ‘Attack’ is an appropriate title: it brings the listener off-balance and thus make him more perceptible for the well-balanced, ‘Utopian’ music directly following this opening piece.

UTP_ (short for Utopia) was commissioned by the city of Mannheim (Germany) for it’s 400th birthday in 2007. Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten ‘Alva Noto‘ Nicolai (who partnered on Vrioon and Insen before – both highly recommendable albums) team up with Ensemble Modern.
Ensemble Modern is a chamber ensemble specialising in playing modern compositions. They performed work by Frank Zappa, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve reich, Olivier Messiaen, and many more.

The Notwist – Sturm O.S.T.

Although The Notwist generated a storm of hyped attention when releasing their Neon Golden album in 2002, that was never the music for me. And neither for this weblog, since it’s nowhere near ‘ambient music’.

My local record shop retailer recently insisted I’d listen to their recently released “Sturm” (Storm) soundtrack.
And right he was (Thanks Willem!)

Olafur Arnalds – Found Songs

Found Songs initially was conceived as a download-for-free internet-only project: 7-songs in 7-days.
But obviously the response was such that these songs, covering just over 20 minutes, are now releases in physical form too.
“From Twitter via Flickr to Traditional Record Stores”.

In fact, that feels a bit like if these songs did not really exist until they were released in the form of a 10″ vinyl limited edition, or as a Digisleeve limited CD edition.
Hey, we’re the online digital generation, aren’t we? Why bother with physical releases?

Wrong!

Machinefabriek – Dauw (videoclip)

What do you see when listening to ambient music?
I guess most answers would be something like: landscapes.
Desolate, comforting or alien, depending on the kind of ambient music.

I guess some of the images will be triggered by the track title.
So – what would a videoclip for Machinefabriek’s “Dauw” (“Dew”) look like?

when clicking the YouTube link to the video by Joost Meijer for this track, I was prepared for some abstract impressionist landscape shots. But I was not prepared for a heartbreaking story of an elderly couple growing apart.

Beautiful Companions: Balmorhea

Balmorhea remixes

Excuse me for being ignorant, but until recently Balmorhea was unknown to me.
Which is sort of remarkable, since they mention Claude Debussy, Beethoven, Rachel’s, Max Richter, Arvo Pärt and John Cage as their influences, and, according to their Discogs Profile, they shared stages with Stars of the Lid, Eluvium, Helios, and many others.
Their latest album is titled ‘All is Wild, All is Silent”  

All is Wild, All is Silent‘ is far from ‘ambient electronic’. It may best be described as ‘jazzy instrumental folk-prog-rock’, if that is of any use. Touching themes in cleverly dynamic compositions that I’d enjoy but would not normally present on this weblog, simply because it doesn’t really fit the style..(there’s quite a lot of music that I thoroughly enjoy but not present here).

Richart Lainhart: ‘Oraison’ (Messiaen)

richard lainhart plays

Oraison, written in 1937 by Olivier Messiaen for an ensemble of Ondes Martenots (an early electronic keyboard instrument using a ribbon and a ring to change pitch), was one of the first compositions written for electronic instruments exclusively.
But that historical fact is not the only thing that makes this music so special.
There’s a very special timeless, otherworldly, alienating feeling in this composition… even after 70+ year of technological advances.
It’s the perfect blend of a strange, previously unheard instrument, and the composition especially written to use it. 

Recently, Richard Lainhart transcribed Oraison for his Buchla 200e synthesizer and Haken Continuum Fingerboard controller, and has shared this performance on YouTube and Vimeo. Because of the ‘tactile’ way of playing the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, the piece retains its original, almost human voice-like feeling.

Atom TM – Liedgut

 

If there is a link between Kraftwerk and Latin Music, it can be pin-pointed down to one man: Uwe Schmidt, aka Senor Coconut.
His CD ‘El Baile Aleman’ (2003) was full of a stunning arrangements of Kraftwerk tunes in a latin big band fashion – gotta hear it to believe it.

The music and sounds on Liedgut, recorded under the Atom TM monniker, is the complete musical opposite of this hot-blooded latin Senor Coconut sound.