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Aidan Baker/Gareth Davis * James Osland/Finn Kelvin

Invisible Cities

Invisible Cities

AIDAN BAKER & GARETH DAVIS – INVISIBLE CITIES

This is the very first time they release a collaboration album, but Aidan Baker and Gareth Davis are such familiar names in the experimental/improv/ambient field that you can probably imagine how they sound when working together.

On these four tracks, Aidan Baker builds the basic fundament over which bass clarinettist Gareth Davis improvises. The atmosphere is calm, meditative… there are no disruptive explosions, but there is restrained tension too.
Occasional inclusion of subtle field recordings complete these auditive paintings of vast, empty, desolate landscapes.

Baker and Davis are experienced musicians, performing solo as well as in various constellations. Aidan Baker as part of Nadja and B/B/S (with Andrea Belfi and Erik Skodvin/Svarte Greiner), and Gareth Davis as a member of Oiseaux-Tempête and A-Sun Amissa and collaboration projects with Machinefabriek, Elliott Sharp, Merzbow and Scanner. 

These sessions were recorded in Muziekhuis, Utrecht (my hometown! Why did I miss this?!) in november 2016. A dark month of winter – some of its coldness resounds in this album.
But not éverything is cold and desolate: Signs is filled with the promising sounds of children playing.


Colourless     Even If Only Temporarily

JAMES OSLAND/FINN KELVIN – COLOURLESS / EVEN IF ONLY TEMPORARILY

Another duo focusing on live improvisation, but less familiar names (for me).
Colourless is the duo’s first full-length debut, according to the Flaming Pines label releasing it. Strictly spoken it is not their first release: the (4-track mini-album) Even If Only Temporarily was released on Audio Gourmet  only a few months before. I assume that the music on both titles come from the same sessions.

James Osland is a multimedia artist from Devon, UK. He has previously released a few solo albums (such as Departures which was featured in August) and runs the Elm Records (net-)label on which Finn Kelvin (Devon, UK) released on various occasions and under different names.

Both titles present well-balanced and intimate live-improvisations.
Colourless “aims to explore the unforgiving locations we conjure in our minds during periods of disconnection and isolation.”
Even If Only Temporarily” was the realisation that everything in life is temporary, but “understanding this intensified all the experiences that were happening”.

Their collaboration  finally resulted in something that is now no longer temporary: a physical CD/Download ánd a Name Your Price download for all to enjoy!


 

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Baker/Goff/Harris * Ze-Ka

Noplace

Noplace

AIDAN BAKER, SIMON GOFF, THOR HARRIS – NOPLACE   Also on Spotify

Aidan Baker (guitar)Simon Goff (drums) and Thor Harris (violin) worked together on various occasions and decided to get together in may 2017 in Berlin for some recordings. In a few hours, they recorded their improvised sessions which were then edited and re-worked (but NO overdubs) into Noplace.

It is almost incredible to believe these sessions were improvised, since the trio sounds so tight and balanced. Guitar, violin and (especially) drums are an unusual combination for this kind of atmospheric music, but here the instruments are fully equal: they match and complement each other.

“Kinetic rhythms pulsate throughout whilst the guitar and violin jostle and weave around the metronomic beats, creating a cathartic and all-encompassing experience.”

With the pulsing beat and hypnotic rhythm this cannot really be filed under ‘ambient’ (Gizeh suggests Avant/Krautrock/Improv/Experimental), but with the  sustained drones there definitely is an ‘ambient’ atmosphere within the compelling rhythms.. a bit in the way Bill Laswell managed to combine ambient drones with fat funk beats.

Baker, Goff & Harris present a sound that is seldom heard – and probably quite overwhelming when experienced live!


Ze-Ka Ghost Planet

ZE-KA – GHOST PLANET  Also on Spotify

Ghost Planet starts with a deep modular kind of pulsating electronic hum (Fission) so it will take a while before realising that Jean-Philippe Feiss (Ze-Ka) is a french cellist, and that the cello is his main instrument on this album.
But Feiss is also heavily interested in electronic music, which means an album full of interesting explorations of both sounds.
And especially the combination of the two. Check, for instance, the way the cello drone from Gold River transforms into the analog synth sound of (what I assume is) the vintage Korg M10.
Or the other way around: the way the pulsating drone from Landscape morphs into a continuous cello chord. Two different sound worlds, from opposite origins, but a perfect match.
The result clearly more than the sum of its parts!

In the past, Feiss has worked with artists like Richard Bona and Patrick Watson as well as with many artists from the French jazz scene. But this is his first solo release, full of “minimalistic drones, made for thinking and retrospection”.
The environment is his musical inspiration – in a broad sense: which means positive connotations (Gold River, which expands over 24 minutes) as well as negative (Fission and Red Forest were inspired by the Tchernobyl disaster).

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The [N]-Word

Birkam

Maennerfreundschaft

SANKT OTTEN + N – MÄNNERFREUNDSCHAFT UND METAPHYSIK

If this had been a solo album by it would’ve been N(47)the [N] name alias changes with every release (which results in somewhat chaotic Discogs discography). But for some reason, it’s just N this time (at least on the outside cover). is shorthand for experimental guitarist  Hellmut Neidhart, known from many noise, ambient and drone releases. Sankt Otten is the duo Stephan Otten and Oliver Klemmwho have been releasing albums on Denovali since 2009.

Though they come from somewhat different musical areas, the three individuals share more than just their birthground (Germany) and the Denovali label. Their sense of humor, to begin with, as demonstrated in the album title and track titles like  Machmal schmeckt nichtmal der Kaffee or Milchmädchen und Herrenschokolade.
They are obviously not afraid to think outside of their musical boxes, too: these eight pieces are based on freely improvised studio sessions and have been recorded live, with only a few overdubs later.

“The aim of this collaboration was to combine the perspectives of the genres of both partners, with N adding a grave and menacing mood to Sankt Otten’s electronica and Krautrock and Sankt Otten providing the sound walls of N with an unusual dynamics”.

The result is not a collision of different worlds but a seamless merging of musical visions – an album reminiscing the most adventurous Krautrock era, especially where Stephan Otten’s drumming kicks in, such as in the 13 minute Massiere die Maschine.
But with a much better recording quality!

Also on Spotify


Birkam

N(43) – ANKLAM
N(49) + SIMULACRA – BIRKA

Denovali further showcases the work of Hellmut Neidhart with the simultaneous release of two full-lengthalbums: a N(43) solo performance Anklamand Birka, a N(49) collaboration with Simulacra (Miguel Boriau from Belgium).
The first is a direct-two track recording without any post-processing, with Neidhardt just using his guitar/FX/amp setup: “deeply melancholic, coarse-graines waves of sound, buried under tons of beside-noises”.
Birka,
 on the other hand, is quite different from this, mainly because of the deep soundwalls created by Simulacra (almost) covering N‘s guitar.
“For this reason it was very difficult for the two collaborators to figure out a corporate sounds; they only knew they found it after it had happened at last”
It definitely was worth the digging. Be prepared for some dark cavernous sounds!

Also on Spotify

N(49) + SIMULACRA – KUGGHAMN


Enomeni

AIDAN BAKER, N(38), DIRK SERRIES – ENOMENI

As if the Denovali showcase wasn’t enough, Midira Records have also released an album featuring N performing a live set with Aidan Baker and Dirk Serries.  It is the recording of an hour-long liveset, divided into a 4-part Ritual, presented on a double vinyl album release only (no download-only).
The album set is available in two editions: one black vinyl and the other milky/khaki/cream coloured.

It was a special occasion for this performance, since Baker, Serries and were the wedding band for label curators Cosima & Dimi. Hence the title: Enomeni means ‘connected’.
The three artist performed together for the first time, playing an improvised live session that starts quietly but slowly builds up to inescapable Sunn O))) proportions.

The power-drone dream team definitely is not the average wedding party trio performing all time favourite covers to dance to…. I can’t help to wonder how the family members may have reacted to this drone-ritual.


AIDAN BAKER, N, DIRK SERRIES – RITUAL III

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Autistici; Aidan Baker; David Cordero; Markus Guentner

El Rumor Del Oleaje

AUTISTICI – TEMPORAL ENHANCEMENT
David Newman – also label owner of Audiobulb is a composer from Sheffield, UK, releasing his own work as Autistici – the name ‘represents this fascination with tiny sounds and the power they have to overwhelm the central sensory experience’.
Temporal Enhancement
, his eighth full CD release, presents six tracks with a wealthy variation of ‘broken sounds’ assembled into abstract ambient soundscapes.
‘A sonic exploration of the perception of time’.

“Temporal space in between each sound populates the narrative of present and past. The brain relies on memory to bring order and meaning to the sequence and to notice changes across the passage of time. […]
Autistici works on the premise that the true and final experience of any sound belongs in the mind’s ear of the listener.”


Also on Spotify


Aidan Baker - Ecliptic Plane

AIDAN BAKER – ECLIPTIC PLANE
“As a solo artists, Aidan Baker explores the deconstructive sonic possibilities of the electric guitar as a primary sound source.”
Ecliptic Plane – the title referring to ‘the Sun’s apparent path or orbit around the Earth, as seen from a terrestrial perspective’ – is a live-to-2-track recording of ‘multi-layered guitar loops slowly evolving and gradually changing through the course of their repetition’.
There are six segments, all different in nature and expression – but they are sequenced seamlessly and so are best listened in one continuous session.
I was quite surprised to learn that this was a direct recording of a live-performance! It’s an impressive and beautiful set, exploring different ranges of sounds between subtle and massive – from calm to (almost) frightening.


El Rumor Del Oleaje

DAVID CORDERO – EL RUMOR DEL OLEAJE [release date: 15-01-16]
For El Rumor Del Oleaje (‘the rumor of the seas’), David Cordero travelled to the beaches between Bizkaia and Cadiz (from the North to the South of Spain), to record the different sounds of water. These sounds became the starting point of this album:
‘All of us confront the sea in different ways, being that not all of the waves are the same.’
Seas can be dangerous and frightening, but Cordero focuses on its healing effect: ‘the feeling of being at peace with myself and isolation. to render through these songs the healing impact the waves have on me when I face them.’
As a result, this is a very peaceful and ‘sunny’ album.

The sound of waves and water are the inspiration to subtle musical compositions, most for a full ensemble acoustic setting featuring piano, bass clarinet, french horn, double bass, (like La Caseriá – San Fernando) others (near the end of the album) for more synth oriented textures and loops (Gaztelugatze – Bermeo).
‘This album is an invitation to travel to the seashores and start the adventure of looking at the sea as if it were for the first time, surrendered to a lonely and magical fascination’


Theia

MARKUS GUENTNER – THEIA
Theia is the name of the (hypothetical) planet that supposedly collided with Earth around 4.533 billion years ago – one assumption is that the debris gathered together around Earth to form the moon.
That’s a beautiful thematic starting point for Markus Guentner‘s newest album: a double (opaque) vinyl release on A Strangely Isolated Place.
“Drones build upon swathes of light, cut by an ever-present sense of fear. The distant shine of stars puncture a pitch-black canvas, as a force gathers momentum and intensifies”.
There are more than enough quiet moments, but as the album progresses the atmosphere gets darker and more ominous. But the sound palette remains subtle: it never becomes the ear-shattering noise you might have expected with a theme like that.
Rafael Anton Irisarri mastered the album, and also appears (as The Sight Below) on one track (Baryon). 

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