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.

Biosphere – Wireless

 

Biosphere - Wireless

There are not too may live-recordings in ambient music. With obvious reason: most of it is recorded in (home) studios and is optimized for use in private spaces and/or exhibition rooms.
The noisy live club environment is not the best place to consume ambient music.
Apart from that, ambient gigs and laptop concerts are not noted for their intense live experience. At most gigs, the performing musician might as well be checking his mail after starting the pre-recorded sequence.…the public wouldn’t really notice.

I remember watching a Biosphere live gig in Amsterdam Paradiso, way back in 2002.
Paradiso, like any club in Holland, is noted for it’s noisy crowd, chatting and twittering all through the concert. That’s the effect of having a bar INSIDE the concert hall (and of people coming to a Festival instead of devotees coming to a single concert).

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.

Consemble Project

Consemble 

Quite some time ago, I wrote some entries about the fascinating concept of Generative Music: music that is different every time you play it – the missing link between recorded and live music.
SSeyo Music introduced their fascinating concept as KOAN software – a brilliant package that was released about fifteen years ahead of it’s time.
Brian Eno was on of the first to pick up on this concepts, because it fitted perfectly to his multi-CD installations.
Read more about this here and here, but be sure to get back to read on.

(Side Note: this software still exists: it’s called Noatikl now. )

So the concept of Generative Music is as fascinating as ever. Enter Parallel Music, or PMusic – (as opposed to RMusic: Recorded Music).

The Sounds of Spellborn

Logo

There are quite a few ways to listen to ambient / environmental sounds. Apart from buying CD’s and finding new musical releases, you can listen to the sound of your own environment. Take a walk and open your ears to the sounds you don’t normally hear.
Or: play a computer game.

A few years ago, the creators of Myst were praised for the use of sound in their game. They hád to pay attention to detail, because the game was a sequence of beautiful but non-moving images (can you imagine that nowadays?).
Currently, games tend to be almost lifelike experiences. Not only in graphic detail, but also in sound.

There may be quite a lot more people listening to ‘ambient music’ on daily bases, maybe even without realising it.

The MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) The Chronicles of Spellborn comes with almost 20 hours of sound.
About one hour of that is ‘composed’ soundtrack music (written by Jesper Kyd), the rest is environmental sound enhanced with ambient musical effects (created by Matthew Florianz).

Wixel’s 2009 Project

clouds cover

Wixel sometimes refers to the small group of musicians surrounding the Belgian artist Wim Maesschalk. When I recently saw them performing at a dutch festival (CrossLinx), I felt they sounded like Sigur Rós but without the vocals. Which is meant as a compliment, because when listening to most of Sigur Rós’s music I always wonder if I would like it better without the odd vocals. 

‘Wixel’ is also used as Wim Maesschalk’s artist nickname.
Wim ‘Wixel’ Maesschalk is a prolific artist, working very hard to find ways to get his music exposed to the world. (not unlike Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt, though their musical angles are different).

Slowly, the world starts to find Wixel’s music too.

Mark Tamea – Tessellation

Mark Tamea, an english composer/sound artist living in Nijmegen, Holland, has released some quite adventurous work in the past (of which a lot of information and some free downloads can be found on his website: www.tamea.org).
His latest work, Tessellation, is one of the most intriguing recordings I have heard in the past year.

It combines a lot of different styles: ambient electronic soundscapes, field recordings, musique concrête, post-classical – but still feels organic and complete.

Ambrose Field & John Potter – Being Dufay

Being Dufay

Celebrating their 25th birthday, ECM Records released a recording of the unusual musical combination of saxophone player Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble performing ancient vocal music (‘Officium‘, 1994).
An album so stunning it proved to be one of ECM’s biggest “hits”.
I was lucky enough to attend a live performance of this album in a church in my hometown that year, and amidst all of the concerts I have seen in my life this one especially is one I will never forget.
In 2009, ECM celebrates it’s 40th birthday. Could this be the reason they have searched for a musical combination as unusual and maybe even as unheard as on Officium? Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But to me, ‘Being Dufay’ has about the same effect ‘Officium’ had.

Hilary Jeffery & Lysn – Katendrecht Spaceport

Katendrecht is a typical area in Rotterdam where you can expect to find a lot of things.
But the last thing to expect to find there is a spaceport where you can take a direct flight to Jupiter.

Still, a small venue called De Player created the exciting opportunity to embark on a spectacular journey to outer (inner) space on march 22, 2008. The journey was guided by Lysn, consisting of Hilary Jeffery (on trombone and tromboscillator), Chris Long (accordion and electronics), and Anne Wellmer (analogue electronics and harmonium).

This evening was presented as part # 3 in a series called Com.Post (‘Prancing around on the post-digital compost heap of contemporary music’).

I wasn’t there, that evening. And hearing the recording of this event that was recently released, that’s something to regret!

Machinefabriek – IJspret & Gris Gris

IJspret 

Some albums, particularly those by major artists, take a few years to complete. The many recordings of Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’  Zuydervelt are not among those.

This particular little gem, IJspret (‘Ice/Skating Fun’) was released within a few weeks after the short period that Holland enjoyed skating on natural ice (last days of december 2008 + some in january 2009). It had been a few years ago since the last time that had been possible, and may take a few years to happen again.

After noticing the strange sounds of ice crackling and the sounds of skates skating, Rutger used a contact microphone to record it. Those  field recordings were combine with some other (ducks, coots, and people playing) and completed with some improvised acoustic guitar sounds.

Robert Henke – Atom/Document

Robert Henke - Atom 

Robert Henke’s previous works (Layering Buddha / Signal to Noise / Piercing Music / Floating Point – not to mention Monolake’s music) almost makes “Atom/Document” a blind buy.
However, the music on this new album is quite different from the previous releases. So be prepared!

The album opens with […flicker] spreading a massively deep drone. But the drone only returns in [convex], and in the closing track [_exit]…and there’s quite a lot of beating, pounding and clanking inbetween.

Arve Henriksen – Cartography

Cartography

Albums released near or in december tend to fall through the cracks of the end-of-year-list frenzy. They are not noticed in the year they are released and will not get through next year’s selection because they are released the year before.
Some of these albums deserve special attention to help them get noticed.
(Especially since a lot of music addicts strongly tend to focus on their peer-group’s lists which – in the end-  makes every one of them buy the same album collection..).

One of these titles is Arve Henriksen’s Cartography.
Trumpet player Arve Henriksen already gained some attention with precious albums on Rune Grammofon (Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro and Strjon) and as a member of Supersilent (operating on the other side of the musical spectre, where ‘silent’ isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind ).

His latest, Cartography, released on ECM, is an amazing collection of thoughtful sounds. His trumpet playing sounds like Jon Hassell, the overall musical sound sounds like that of Nils Petter Molvaer (who’s trumpet playing, in turn, sounds like Jon Hassell).

Machinefabriek & Soccer Committee – Drawn

Drawn

‘Opposites attract’. That’s quite appropriate when talking about Machinefabriek and Soccer Committee working together.

Their music seems quite incompatible at first: intimate acoustic folk vs. gritty electronics.
But Mariska Baars (Soccer Committee) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) have been playing together more often in the past.

Jacob Kirkegaard – Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis

You can trust Jacob Kirkegaard to come up with fascinating concepts. After recording the sounds of deep earth in Iceland and those of the deserted rooms of Tchernobyl, he now turns inward to record the sound of his own inner ear, using a medical technique used to diagnose hearing problems on young children. The recorded tones of his cochlea were used to create a fascinating installation for the Medical Museion in Copenhagen – which, judging by the photos of it – was visually as attractive as it was aurally.



Banabila – Precious Images

precious images 

The music of Michel Banabila has been on the top of my personal playlist favourites for years (check my last.fm account if you want the details).
Considering the strength of his versatile output, it really is a shame he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves (in terms of sales, that is).
In the past few years, his music has found its way into theatre productions (by well-known Dutch company Orkater, for example) and television documentaries. Some of this work has been compiled earlier on the self-released double-CD ‘Hilarious Expedition‘ and on ‘Traces‘.

Dutch record label Steamin’ Soundworks released a new compilation, fully titled “Precious Images – Datafiles 1999 – 2008“. The two CD’s are hand-picked and remastered by Michel Banabila himself and show an interesting duality in his work.

Hector Zazou & Swara – In the House of Mirrors

swara

When you listen to this album you hear quiet (Indian) Music – tambur, oud, violin, slide guitar, flute – with an occasionally added non-indian touch (like the trumpet of Nils Petter Molvaer, or (REM’s) Bill Rieflin’s percussion).
But when you listen closely you will hear all kinds of things are happening behind this music.
Fragments and splinters bounce around like light in a house of mirrors (hence the title, of course).

Janek Schaefer – Extended Play

extended Play

At first listen, the ‘post-classical’ music on Janek Schaefer’s new CD “Extended Play (Triptych For The Child Survivors Of War And Conflict)” resembles the quiet peacefulness of the compositions of Arvo Pärt – especially in the beautiful 24 minute piece “acoustic ensemble”.
But there are some disturbing details: most artist would go a long way to avoid the vinyl crackle-and-pops for a CD release like this. The parts of the acoustic ensemble piece are also represented as solo piano, cello and violin piece, which contain some  stops and re-starts breaking the flow of the composition quite unexpected.
Janek Shaefer is, after all, not primarily know as a post-classical composer but as a ‘turntablist‘…. 

The installation picture on the cover explains the performance we hear:

"The 17"

The 17 is an interesting concept created by Bill Drummond (hence the ambient link – remember KLF’s Chillout album?). Though the composition seems to be quite new, the method seems to refer to the sound practices of Pauline Oliveros.The scores represented on the 17 website seem to use the same…