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Various Artists: We Stayed The Path … * Gavin Miller

Meander Scars

VARIOUS ARTISTS – WE STAYED THE PATH THAT FELL TO SHADOW / WE STAYED THE PATH… (SUBSCRIPTION SERIES)

We Stayed The Path That Fell To Shadow is a Lost Tribe Sound compilation album, a benefit album supporting environmental and mental health charities:  We hold the belief that as our surroundings improve so does our mental health.” It also marks the start of a new subscription series with the same name which will run until the summer of 2019.

As a compilation album, We Stayed The Path… is a perfect introduction to the sound of the Lost Tribe Sound label. A unique sound, merging the use of (mostly) acoustic instruments into a hard-to-define style – experimental yet also firmly rooted in (folk) music tradition. “A rustic, brooding mix of classical, folk and otherwise indescribable sound.”

Some of the artists are new to the LTS roster, like The Phonometrician, Gavin Miller and Spheruleus (Harry Towell). Others were presented by the label before: Alder & Ash, William Ryan Fritch, KJ, The Green Kingdom, Mute Forest, From The Mouth Of The Sun, Seabuckthorn and more.
Each of these artist have their very own style and approach, yet it is remarkable how their choices come together in a clearly recognisable and unique Lost Tribe Sound trademark.

We Stayed The Path… kicks off the subscription series of the same name. If you want to hear a good introduction to the sound of the Lost Tribe Sound artists this is a very good start – especially since you’re also supporting a fine cause!

The full subscription series will include seven titles: four of them on CD (the compilation album, Gavin Miller‘s Meander Scars (2CD) , William Ryan Fritch’s Music for Film Vol. I & II (also 2CD’s) and The Phonometrician), and the other four on Vinyl (Spheruleus, 2 titles by Skyphone and again the Phonometrician album). Because the Phonometrician album is included in CD as well as Vinyl, the download option has seven titles, not eight.

So beware and note: the CD and Vinyl versions are nót the same; they contain different titles (only the Phonometrician album is released on both). If you want the complete series you will have to sign up for the CD+Vinyl package, or choose the digital download edition. Be sure to check the series website for further details.

To subscribe to a series of releases requires dedication and faith in a label’s quality selection. Those who follow the Lost Tribe Sound label, and especially subscribers to their earlier Prelude To The Decline series will probably know what to expect. But for those still in doubt (even after listening to the above compilation), there’s an introduction with example tracks  from the albums that will be released. This introduction sampler cannot be bought or downloaded: it is a is a streaming-only ‘teaser’ for the series.

And if, after hearing this, you still do not want to commit yourself to the full series, it’s good to know that the releases may also be available separately. But it’s a risk: only if copies are left, and you’ll miss the subscription discount.


Meander Scars

GAVIN MILLER – MEANDER SCARS

Together with the compilation, Meander Scars is the first release in the We Stayed The Path… series. Gavin Miller is known as one half of the duo Worriedaboutsatan. He also curates the This Is It Forever label.

Meander Scars are geological features that are “formed  by the remnants of winding or meandering water channels. They are caused by the varying velocities of current within the river channel. Due to higher velocity current on the outer banks of the river through the bend, more erosion occurs causing the characteristic steep outer slopes.” 

Meander Scars is a more ‘acoustic’ album than usual for Gavin Miller.
On the four parts of Upper Course, Miller teams up with cellist Aaron Martin. The second half of the album presents  Lower Course: different renditions of the same pieces but without Aaron Martin. All tracks are relatively long (8-10 minutes) and take their time to unfold and create a beautiful, almost unreal atmosphere.

“The long-form compositions were constructed from a series of slow churning rhythmic guitar loops, warm noise, soft synths and distant choirs which build over time into colliding patterns of pastoral bliss. The restraint used to give the listener just the right amount of interest and to keep the music’s progression moving forward is perhaps Gavin’s greatest accomplishment”


Shimmer

GAVIN MILLER – SHIMMER

While mentioning Gavin Miller‘s music, it’s also very much worth mentioning his recent (september) release Shimmer.
It is released on ’boutique’ record label Sound In Silence, from Athens, Greece. Which means the hand-made limited (150) edition is packed in hand-stamped cardboard envelope with a polaroid style photo attached to the front.

The photo perfectly captures the mood of the album, a short, shimmering 23 minute instrumental piece in six parts.
“Dreamy soundscapes and soothing atmospheres, blending gentle strumming guitar melodies, eerie synths, sparse bass lines, dark piano chords, hazy background drones, cinematic strings and indistinct vocal samples.” 

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Ian Hawgood/Danny Norbury * Aaron Martin

Faintly Recollected

Faintly Recollected

IAN HAWGOOD, DANNY NORBURY –FAINTLY RECOLLECTED

Ian Hawgood, owner/curator of the Home Normal label, starts off 2018 with a collaborative release with Danny Norbury. Hawgood is providing the ‘decayed tones’ to accompany Norbury’s ‘swirling cello’. It is not the first time the played together, but it is the first ‘official’ full length collaborative album.

Faintly Recollected should be heard as one single uninterrupted 33 minute track, even if on the album it is divided in seven parts. It is a very calm and subdued piece, with the soft processed Hokema Sansula kalimba tones and ambient loops colouring the background for the melancholic cello themes. Even with this relatively short length, the album creates a feeling of timelessness, a moment of introspection.

“This is the music for everyone who wants to enjoy the quietness and calm of hidden moments.”


Aaron Martin Room Now Empty

AARON MARTIN – A ROOM NOW EMPTY

Ian Hawgood also did the mastering for Aaron Martin‘s new solo album on the Preserved Sound label. A ‘memory-based’ recording, where Martin “tried to layer meanings in the music and titles, so that a single clear-cut reading of the music isn’t possible.”

There are definitely some effects used on this recording but still the album sounds like it’s completely acoustic.
The cello is the main instrument in most tracks, giving the album its characteristic melancholic atmosphere. But apart from cello, Martin also plays electric and acoustic guitar, bass, roll up piano, concertina, ukulele, singing bowls, lap steel and voice.
The (eleven) tracks are recorded in a detailed yet unpolished way which gives the feeling that they are performed right next to you, in your own room, just for you yourself alone.

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Manos Milonakis * From The Mouth Of The Sun * Jason van Wyk

Hymn Binding

Milonakis - Festen

MANOS MILONAKIS – FESTEN  Also on Spotify

If the first thing you associate with this title is Thomas Vinterberg’s film, you’re close.  This is Manos Milonakis‘ score for a theatrical adaptation of that film by the National Theater of Northern Greece, directed by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos.  Festen was the first movie from the Dogme (Dogma) 95 movement, one with a confronting theme:

“A family celebration disrupts the superficial peace of the Hansen family household. The family patriarch and businessman Helge celebrates his 60th birthday, surrounded by relatives and close friends. The buried secrets of the family come to light. Nobody is really shocked, though. The feast goes on as if nothing happened. The well-oiled bourgeois machine still holds.”

Milonakis‘ soundtrack stands firm with the multitude of  current ‘modern classical’ soundtracks releases. With the addition of a string section and George Papadopoulos on guitar, he plays a multitude of instruments himself: piano, synthesizers, glockenspiel, beat programming, loop processing.
The relatively short soundtrack (32″) introduces some strong and appealing musical themes which – according to the storyline – do not stress the tension, but seemingly try to cover it by its loveliness: …as if nothing happened…
I can only imagine how the combination of this music works out with the story of the disrupted family piece on stage.

But most of us have to do with the soundtrack only. And you definitely don’t have to know anything about the story it was written for to enjoy this fine album!


Hymn Binding

FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SUN – HYMN BINDING  Also on Spotify

On their third full album From The Mouth Of The Sun (or FTMOTS: Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist) further explore the possibilities of their sound based on the use -and manipulation – of acoustic instruments. The duo has created their own orchestral sound, using cello, piano, acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, ukulele and pump organ to create ‘a musical landscape full of contrasts, where melodies and ominous textures intertwine.’

Recording acoustic instruments is a challenge in itself, as Rosenqvist mentions:
” You never know what you’re going get, and you can never repeat it exactly the same way. The wood in the instrument changes from air pressure and with different temperatures. You change your sitting position from one take to another and all of a sudden it sounds slightly different. You move the microphone or you move something in the room and it sounds slightly different. Acoustic sound sources allow for chaos to be a part of the creative process, allowing for something you can never fully control.”

Instead of trying to record each instrument as perfect as possible, FTMOTS makes use of this phenomena, ‘to bring out new layers from already existing timbres’. 

Of course, both musicians bring in a lot more experience than ‘just’ the three albums they released as this duo. Rosenqvist (Gothenburg, Sweden) has released more than forty titles as a solo artist and in collaborations, has written music for dance performances and movies. Martin (Topeka, Kansas) has played music since he was 11 before chosing to study the cello at the age of 17. He has worked on his impressive discography since 2006.


Jason van Wyk - Attachment   Jason van Wyk - Opacity

JASON VAN WYK – ATTACHMENT  Also on Spotify / OPACITY  Also on Spotify

Home Normal  celebrates their release of Jason van Wyk‘s newest album (Opacitywith the re-release of Attachment, which was originally released on the Eilean label early 2016, which sold out quickly.
Considering the amount of piano-based albums that were released in the earlier years, releasing yet another sounds almost risky.
But label owner/mastering engineer Ian Hawgood immediately recognised the special talent of van Wyk, a South-African composer who is releasing (electronic) music since he was just 14:

“Quite apart from being a breath of fresh air with its flowing and soulful piano elements, the sound design and lush melodious pads just had me absolutely hooked. I felt there was another layer to be told in the work, with its close recording techniques, dusty piano tones, and overall warmth.”

Attachment is van Wyk‘s ‘first foray into an ambient/post-classical piano cross-over: beautiful piano playing, intertwined with his subtle sound design and wide open soundscapes’

On Opacityvan Wyk further explores his combination of calm, serene piano music – sometimes solo, sometimes embedded in soft synth pads. The two albums match together perfectly, in fact these two releases could easily be considered two parts of a double-album full of ‘piano-focused tenderness’.

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Christoph Berg * Jeffrey Roden

Conversations

Conversations

CHRISTOPH BERGCONVERSATIONS  Also on Spotify

Christoph Berg, the man formerly known as Field Rotationhas released music under his own name for quite some time now. The change is also reflected in his music: a slow drift from atmospheric ambient into more contemporary classical music, putting the string arrangements in the foreground (Berg plays the violin, double bass, organ and piano on this album).
It’s not a radical change, however: the music is still very atmospheric, with ‘ambient’ backgrounds, drones and subtle effects. It’s still recognisable as genuine Christoph Berg: subtle, withheld arrangements in a perfect production. Music that feels very ‘personal’ and intimate.

Conversations is released by Sonic Pieces – the ’boutique record label’ from Berlin. If you know the label, you know that’s a quality guarantee for musical content, production standard as well as for a stylish physical (limited) edition.

The tracks ‘essentially express contemplation, consciousness and the urge for retreat from the sometimes overwhelming present times’. It is fragile, comforting  and intimate music, but also heartbreaking sad at times. Apart from referring to Conversations, Monologue and Dialogue, the titles refer to Memories, Grief and Farewell. But it’s a beautiful melancholic kind of sad, not a really sad kind of sad…

The title track of the album has a somewhat disruptive effect: the amplified sound of the piano and organ’s mechanic pedals and the wood that the instruments are built with. Including the mechanical sounds of an instrument while playing is not new, of course, we’re used to it ever since Nils Frahm (among others) introduced this way of recording his piano. But here, Christoph Berg puts the sound in the foreground, amplifying it more than usual, until it feels like a strange, out-of-place sound. Even more so because the sound is not clearly related to the piano or organ: the string instruments play the lead part. It’s a confusing effect, sounding like clockwork, as if to remind us we only have limited time to have the important conversations before it’s time to say farewell…

Sidenote:
For those that can appreciate a more classical sounding approach it may be interesting to know that Christoph Berg also released Bei, a collaboration album with pianist Henning Schmiedt: “a collection of instant compositions based on first takes that have been recorded in several improvisation sessions, intentionally opposing the habits of classical music by praising the beauty of imperfection.. 


Jeffrey Roden Threads of a Prayer 2

JEFFREY RODEN – THREADS OF A PRAYER Vol. 2

This is, of course, the follow-up to Threads of a Prayer Vol. 1.

Volume 1 presented two different kinds of instrumentation: one CD with compositions for piano and another with compositions for string ensemble. In this respect, Volume 2 seamlessly continues this concept, but this time on one single CD that “takes the listener even deeper into Roden’s mind – towards a space he refers to as ‘the other place'”.

The album opens with two pieces for string ensemble (The Field and As We Rise Up) and then continues with two pieces for solo piano (Threads of a Prayer and 6 Pieces for the Unknown).
The music is taken from the same sessions as Volume 1: “the same mood of introspection. Fragility and immediacy also prevails here”.
The album breathes the same ‘intensely quiet’ atmosphere, the same mindful calm. But it also introduces new instrumental aspects such as the drone organ in As We Rise Up (performed by Tobias Fischer).

All of these compositions radiate an immersive calm that may be unsettling to some.  In the second half of the album, the piano solo compositions (performed by Sandro Ivo Bartoli) the silence-between-the-notes become more important than they ever were.

Jeffrey Roden‘s music has been compared to that of Arvo Pärt and Morton Feldman for obvious reasons. But to be honest Arvo Pärt feels like a speedfreak when you’re listening to Threads of Prayer and 6 Pieces for the Unknown.
In these hectic times, it may take some getting used to music that feels “monumentally long and almost outside of time”… which is exactly what Jeffrey Roden is aiming at.
Moments of reflection and mindfulness like this might be one important thing the world needs today.

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Resina * Tamar Halperin * Murcof/Wagner

Murcof Vanessa Wagner

Resina

RESINA – RESINA

The New Blood compilation offered a sneak preview of Resina, one of the 130701 label’s new artists. Resina, referring to the Latin Resin – ‘the blood of the tree’, is the alias of Karolina Rec from Warsaw. She’s a cello player that has been active in the Polish independent music scene since the late ’00’s, featured on many albums and soundtracks (that are probably unknown to the non-Polish audience). She also played in the Polisch Chamber Choir, familiarizing herself with the works of Penderecki, Górecki and Lutoslawski. After finally sending in a demo, 130701 eagerly invited her to release her debut album.

There are a lot of cello-centered artists and albums in the experimental/improv/modern classical scene, but Resina definitely adds her own personal style, referring to ‘the landscape-rooted drone of English composer Richard Skelton’ as well as ‘Werner Herzog’s musician of choice, Ernst Reijsiger’.
Her music is the result of experimenting with the instruments and electronic tools, and often conveys ‘a simultaneous feeling of beauty and enxiety (at nature’s power and unpredictability)’:

“I try to take people to some places – but where particularly depends on them, their needs and experiences”

Resina‘s purpose was to ‘cross beyond comfort zones, break free from academic instructions and challenge herself to find other ways of expression in the instrument’.  She clearly succeeded!


Also on Spotify


Tamar Halperin

TAMAR HALPERIN – SATIE

Most of the music by Erik Satie, and especially his piano works, have become a part of our collective consciousness. So, if one wants to release an album with his music, one faces the challenge of finding a different angle in the performance, or present a new vision on his work.
As Tamar HalperinIsraeli pianist and harpsichordist, explains:

“In 1925, after Satie’s death, his friends entered his apartment and were amazed to find there, in addition to a large number of umbrellas ans an astounding scene of chaos, two grand pianos, stacked one on top of the other. The musical equivalent of this image, it seemed to me, would be the overdubbing of one piano recording over another. Many of the pieces in this album were recorded this way: first the bass part, then the melody, and often – on top of the “two pianos” – I added harpsichord or glockenspiel, a Hammond organ or a Wurlitzer, and of course a computer. Imagine the mess in old Satie’s apartment had he been living today!”

A humoristic approach that Satie probably would have approved, I guess. But it’s not just ‘funny’, because it works very well and perfectly fits the music. After all, Satie himself was one of the first to blur the lines between ‘classical, art music’ and non-classical, popular styles.
Apart from that, the added layers are well-dosed: sometimes exuberant, at other moments (like in Gymnopedie 1) more restrained.

The (respectfully packed) CD-version of the album contains a booklet with Halperin’ annotations for every track.

Also on Spotify

TAMAR HALPERIN – PETITS CHORALS (12), FOR PIANO: CHORAL #1


Murcof Vanessa Wagner

MURCOF & VANESSA WAGNER – STATEA

And while we are on the subject of classical music in different contexts, we definitely need to mention this release. A surprising duo: (MurcofFernando Corona teaming up with award winning classical pianist Vanessa Wagner to present an impressive playlist of contemporary classical compositions, each reworked in a jaw-dropping instrumental dialogue of piano and electronics.
Maybe the duo’s not as surprising as they seem: both have classically trained musical background so they know exactly what they’re doing here.

The selection features works by  Arvo Pärt, György Ligeti, Erik Satie, Morton Feldman, Valentyn Silvestrov, John Adams, Philip Glass, and -somewhat surprising- Aphex Twin. 
There definitely will be classical music purists that shudder when they hear the instrumentation, but even they will have to admit that all of these compositions are treated with the greatest respect. And ‘treated’ they are: Murcof paints the surrounding environment with all kinds of electronic textures, while Wagner‘s subtle piano remains the main link to the originals, and prevents the album from drifting of too far into the unknown. They do not aim to shock, the original beauty remains preserved, yet in a certain way, these are very radical interpretations.

At some moments (especially the vocoder section in Silvestrov’s ‘Farewell, O World, O Earth’) I was warped back to 1968 when Walter Carlosrevolutionary album ‘Switched on Bach‘ album went straight up to #1 in the classical charts. Times were different then: no-one had heard those strange synthetic sounds of the Moog synthesizer before. It was a ‘gotspe‘ and a revolution at the same time.
Almost 50 years later, Statea cannot hit thát hard any more, because today everyone is familiar with the sounds of synthesizers and a lot of music and experiments have passed since 1968.
But still, this album takes classical reinterpretations to a whole different level because of its daring instrumentation, its selection of works, and the careful balance of ‘electronic’ music with acoustic piano.

Also on Spotify

MURCOF & VANESSA WAGNER – VARIATIONS FOR THE HEALING OF ARINUSHKA (ARVO PÄRT)

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Unland; Elderbranch Campaign; Wouter van Veldhoven

Wouter van Veldhoven - A Head Stuck In Tapes

Unland - Die Ruhe

UNLAND – DIE RUHE NACH DEM STORM
The quiet before the storm can be frightening, because you don’t know what’s to come. The quiet áfter the storm can be reassuring – depending on the fierceness of the storm – because you know the storm has passed.
Unland is a german trio consisting of Jonas Meyer (piano, effects), Christian Grothe (guitar, effects, sampler) and Shabnam Parvesh (clarinet). They create “improvised soundscapes between conventional composition and digital abstraction”.   Not too digital, since their core instruments are acoustic, and their sound is, too, although the instruments are manipulated in real-time.
This relatively short album (29 minutes) demonstrates their sound, which “defies any definition and is influenced by jazz, classical music, kraut-rock and ambient-meditations.”



Unland – Die Ruhe Nach Dem Sturm


Elderbranch Campaign

THE ELDERBRANCH CAMPAIGN – SACRED SONGS OF THE FIELD
I must admit that I had not heard of The Elderbranch Campaign before, but it turns out this duo (G.M. Slater and Stephen Robert Rook Thompson) have already released quite a few titles since 2012: Sacred Songs of the Field is their 11th album.
It’s an homage to other albums dedicated to animals, such as The Residents’ “Animal Lover” and Pink Floyd‘s “Animals”.  It contains three long tracks that, in their own words ‘showcase their interpretation of how animals (in this case sheep, pigs and dogs) would express themselves musically’.
That was not exactly what I thought of when listening to The Lamentations of Sheep, The Sacrifice of Pigs and The Passion of Dogs, but it’s an interesting thought anyway. Not the happiest animals, apparently, because these dark ambient soundscapes are quite haunting and hardly leave room for light to enter.
But they are a fascinating set of sculptures created from synths, guitars, found objects, voices and processed field recordings.
‘Absolutely best experiences over headphones’.

Also on Spotify


Wouter van Veldhoven - A Head Stuck In Tapes

WOUTER VAN VELDHOVEN A HEAD STUCK IN TAPES
This is simply presented as a collection of unreleased works. The reason why they remained unreleased, even when there were enough labels interested in releasing his work, is Wouter Van Veldhoven‘s personal insecurity about the musical results:
“[I] have often delayed releases to a point where I didn’t want to release the material at all anymore. For now I am not going to release anything until I might accidentally might create something I would really like to release.”

His insecurity may be somewhat understandable if you’re familiar with his audio-visual performances, the complex contraptions of his reel-to-reel tape recorder performances. There is as much to see as there is to hear – there is definitely much more going on than “just” audio. But still, I think he underestimates the power of his music!
The proof of that is in this collection of almost 2 hours of unreleased material, which demonstrates Van Veldhoven’s unique (deteriorated) sound created by interplaying vintage (and often worn-out) tape-recorders.
Because he considers this as ‘unfinished’ music, not intended for official releases, this collection is presented as a Free/Name Your Price download!

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CEEYS; Poppy Nogood; Joe Frawley

CEEYS - GrunewaldCEEYS – THE GRUNEWALD SESSIONS
Two brothers from Berlin, Sebastian and Daniel Selke recorded this intimate live performance in a church. They are both classically trained, but their music has many different influences – jazz, minimal, ambient and pop – and transcends all of them. Cello and piano are their primary instruments, but their music is different from the overwhelming stream of ‘post-classical’ music released recently, because of their use of electronics, synth pads and field recordings. Not just the ordinary contemporary electronics, but the use of some original, restored electronic instruments by East-German company Vermona back in the 70’s and 80’s like this one: the ER 9 rhythm box.

This combination of sound, combined with the duo’s skills and experience, the jam-session live setting and the well-recorded acoustics of the Grünewald church – all these details result in an outstanding album. Which, by the way, is presented as a ‘sketchbook’ for their upcoming studio album Concrete Fields, to be released later this year.
Talk about setting a high standard….!

Also on Spotify


Music for Mourning

POPPY NOGOOD – MUSIC FOR MOURNING
It is to remain unclear for now who is hiding behind the Poppy Nogood alias, but it’s an easy guess that he (or she) is inspired by the Terry Riley composition Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band (from the 1969 album A Rainbow in Curved Air – a piece for heavily dubbed soprano sax and electric organ – and reel-to-reel tape loops knows as the time lag accumulator).

For Music for Mourning, this anonymous Poppy Nogood plays the violin as the main instrument, and Steve Reich, Max Richter and Bing & Ruth are credited as other major (and recognisable) influences.
Similar to Kreng’s impressive album The Summoner, this album represents various stages of mourning: it starts calm and mournful (Max Richter style), but gradually the mood changes and in the second half of this short album other (more intense emotions) kick in. This is narrative ‘program music’, even though the compositions are created from improvising: “I really don’t know where I’m going until I start recording”.

Though this is the first album on Preserved Sound, I’m sure that Poppy Nogood has released other work before (I seem to recognise the violin sound and playing style but cannot really attach a name to it). But in the end that doesn’t really matter: it’s the music that speaks for itself!


Cartomancer

JOE FRAWLEY – CARTOMANCER
With his combination of acoustic instruments (piano, violin, glass xylophone), background electronics, found sounds and vocal samples, Joe Frawley has developed a unique (and immediately recognisable) personal style.
Dreamy, somewhat psychedelic in nature, a bit confusing too: it’s not always clear if the dreams are pleasant or nightmarish.

Cartomancer refers to Olney H. Richmond, author of The Mystic Test Book(1893), outlining ‘a complex system for using a standard deck of playing cards for divinatory purposes’. He was the founder of the Order of the Magi, one of the many astrological religions founded in 19th century America.

There’s a fascinating story behind this album, but it’s not necessary to know about all of this the slightly occult undertones of this music. And that’s because Joe Frawley is perfectly capable to capture the enigmatic atmosphere in his music.

Also on Spotify


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Man Watching the Stars – Dusk

Dusk

Dusk is the beginning of the night… ”
But it’s not only that: this is is also the album title of the collected beginning of Man Watching the Stars.”

Dusk” is not really a debut album, however,  since it was preceded by a collaboration release with OfftheSky in 2012 (called Afar, Farewell)and a solo recording of live violin improvisations (“Qoheleth“) in the same year.

But in a certain way, this album may indeed prove to be a new beginning: a beginning of Man Watching the Stars  wider recognition.
Well-deserved that would be, since Dusk” is -simply put- stunningly beautiful album!

Apart from the field recordings in the opening track (aptly called ‘Fields’), all sounds on this album originate from Brendan Paxton playing his acoustic violin.
There are some shorter tracks, ‘interludes’ of around two minutes, but most of the tracks are considerably longer, ranging from around 9 up to 18 minutes.
The sound(s) of the violin are transformed into unhurried yet complex drones, taking their time to develop. At times beautiful melodies are layered on top of them, which subtly balances the album to hold your attention for its full 73 minutes.

All music deserves to be judged on its own merits, and that is why comparisions with other artists often fail and sometimes are even unfair.
But for Man Watching the Stars  I’ll make an exception to the rule: Dusk” reminds me of the best work from the now-legendary Stars of the Lid.
It’s a hell of a comparision, I know, but it may trigger your attention and hopefully makes you check out this album.
You’ll not regret that, I’m sure!


Also on Spotify

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Poppy Ackroyd – Feathers

Poppy Ackroyd Feathers

Barely one month after the DVD (re-)release of “Escapement”Poppy Ackroyd pops up again with her newest full album release Feathers” .
Time for a quick update, an ‘addendum’ to the previous post.

While Escapement” featured piano and violin mainly, Feathers” also introduces other instruments: harmonium, clavichord, harpsichord, spinet (and cello). But the piano and its percussive possibilities are still at the heart of the album.
Apart from playing her own (Blüthner) grand piano, she was given the possibility to select different instruments from the Russell/Mirrey Collection of keyboard instruments in Edinburgh.

“Recordings of unfamiliar sounds, which include brushing/plucking the strings and tapping/stroking the frames or soundboards, are combined with accidental ‘imperfect’ sounds that come from playing the instrument, such as pedal noise or the sound of harpsichord shutters opening and closing”. 

When an artists starts “dismantling different pianos to understand how their mechanisms work and make sound”, this often indicates you’ll be listening to ‘difficult music’, but not in Poppy Ackroyd‘s case!

With her experience (studying contemporary classical piano, collaborating with the Hidden Orchestra, and creating film and theatre soundtracks), Poppy Ackroyd manages to create music that is ‘interesting’ as well as ‘accessible’, balancing her ‘sonic experiments’ with delicate, often light-hearted,  melodies – thus creating her own personal (and recognisable) style.

Also on Spotify


Poppy Ackroyd – Roads

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VLNA – Turquoise Threads

VLNA

Before you start listening, answer this: what associations do you have with a band name like VLNA?

Personally, I prepared for somewhat ‘unpersonal’ and possibly even ‘harsh’ sounds when I started listening.

But I was in for a surprise:Turquoise Threads is an ‘impressionist vocal’ album – an album with spoken words fragments, humming, whistling, intertwining with ‘a thick veil of atmospheric noir from threads of adapted violins, guitar’ (and electronic treatments).

VLNA are an unknown duo: two anonymous artists (at least one of them female) that have been recording music since 2008 via online file transfer (and haven’t met until years later).

“The concept behind this work is sound-exchange and a record that could be made by any two people who had never met before in person, but communicating through different channels and producing sound as pieces of information sent back and forth. It sounds like a stream, a flux of sounds going from one end to another.”

In this day and age, the on-line exchange is a well-known way of collaborative music-making. But I doubt if this album really could have been made by ANY two people who had never met before’: these two unknown (?) artists clearly share their vision on what their music should sound like.

Apart from the opening track on the Earthtones” compilation, this is VLNA‘s debut.
With a playing time of 25 minutes, it’s relatively short, but it’s impressive enough to hope there will be more like this in the future.

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