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Stephan Mathieu/Akira Rabelais/Kassel Jaeger; Kevin Verwijmeren; Tobias Hellkvist; Tomonari Nozaki



The idea of this trio collaborating simply was enough for me to decide to order it blindly. The unique unprecedented format (digital download + 2.5 cm Debussy pin) also helped. But with or without pin, digital or vinyl edition… in the end it’s the music that counts. And with the likes of Jaeger, Mathieu and Rabelaisit’s no surprise that it’s a big surprise.

From Jaeger‘s notes we learn that Zauberberg is inspired by Thomas Mann’s ‘The Magic Mountain‘:
“…an idea not driven by the narrativity of the book, but by the traces and the aura invoked in it. That was it: an audible auratic journey trough the memories of a place lost in the heights of the swiss mountains.
A century after the events depicted in the book, we went where the story took place, trying to capture the remaining sounds that could have been heard at the time, and the ghosts who might have still wandered around. Zauberberg is based on these captures, on recordings of the music played by Hans Castorp (the novel’s main character), on acoustic/electronic instrumentation and digital processing.

The result is a magical, almost psychedelic, journey into spheres, evoked by worn-out classical recordings (from Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune’, played on a a mechanichal gramophone), slowly taken over by environmental sounds recorded at Davos, Switzerland, merged with soundscapes and sparse piano notes.

A meditative, ethereal ambient symphony!
Also on Spotify

Kevin Verwijmeren - Those Glorious Heights

Kevin Verwijmerena 24 year old science student living in Delft, Holland, has been creating music since 2013. Since then his name keeps popping up, his work received positive reactions, and American movie director Maazin Kamal asked him to write the score for The Wolf and the Wayfarer‘.

His new album Those Glorious Heights establishes his reputation. There are eight tracks but they are continuously mixed so this feels like one single composition (or maybe two if you play the vinyl). The music was recorded in Reykjavik, Brussels and Delft

There is a beautiful storytelling flow in this ‘landscape of sound’, ‘musical cocoon’ in which to dwell a while ‘to break the daily routine and accept the dark side of life.’

The album, which was mastered by Stephan Mathieu, is a available in dark green or black edition vinyl, including a download code. Of course there is also a digital-only version.


A lot of the previously released albums of Tobias Hellkvist were relatively short drone pieces. Vesterhavet is his first full length album (51 minutes) since his Home Normal releases from 2010 and 2012.
I’m not sure what the title refers to. In the Danish language it is used to refer to the North Sea, but  Hellkvist is a Swedish composer… Still I guess we can safely assume it’s about the North Sea (if not: please comment).
And it’s a pleasant and boat trip indeed! Parts 1 – 6 are seamlessly sequenced so this album can best be enjoyed in one single run.
Vesterhavet is released as a digital only release, so there’s no physical counterpart this time.

Also on Spotify

Credence  Nozaki - Decadence  Concession

A set of three EP’s by Tomonori Nozakiformerly UNKNOWNjp. Together the music would’ve easily fitted on a single CD but this is clearly aimed ad the vinyl-loving audience that can appreciate great artwork when they see it (created by Jakob Brondum and Hannes Jentsch)
Six abstract drones (around 12 minutes each for Credence, and 9 minutes for Decadence, 7/11 minutes on Concession) that slowly build to a noisy climax before slowly retreating again to a final closing chord.

“Dense layers of sound, morphing acoustics and chugging industrial rhythms, all while keeping his distinctive and much loved tape recorded sonics hissing and gestating away.”

Mastered by Denis Blackman, using his experience with Merzbow, Philip Jeck, Coil, Cocteau Twins and Zoviet France “to ensure the analogue epics sound their most powerful without resorting to the overly compressed ear wearing aproach that makes so many modern listens a tiring experience”.
Tomonori Nozaki uses old analog reel-to-reel gear and cherishes its imperfections and slow degradation: so the dropouts you hear at some moments are intentional (no need to check your system).


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Akira Rabelais – The Little Glass (+Spelle… reissue)

The Little Glass

And suddenly, without any warning, there’s good news from the ever-enigmatic Akira Rabelais:
His entire back-catalogue is now available on Bandcamp – which is good news because most of these title were unavailable for a long time now.
And at the same time a new album is released: The Little Glass (available in digital as well as in physical format).

More news on the re-issues below, but let’s start with the new release first.

The Little Glass is a 5-part (2CD) album presenting collaborative pieces created with Harold Budd It’s not the first time they worked together: Rabelais’ 70 minutes remix of As Long As I Can Hold My Breath was included on Budd’s Avalon Sutra cd (2004).
The first 4 pieces on CD1 all focus on the sound of the grand piano and Budd’s distinctive playing – with lots (lots!) of room for the spaces in between. Opening with a very short (19 seconds) fragment, the second part immediately alters your perception of time stretching up to 42 minutes. The remaining two pieces are relatively short with their 7 and 10 minutes.
The entire second CD is filled with the Part V (70 minutes), which presents a mirrorred sound palette: no longer the piano is up front, it is hidden somewhere in the background, triggering light, bell-like synth sounds that create a peaceful atmosphere of generative eternity.
(Christmas seems to be the perfect time for this release, but this doesn’t mean you can’t play it at other times of the year)

As usual, there’s not much information about the creative process involved, apart that both Rabelais and Budd play the piano.
The sections sound as if they were (partly) improvised, with parts and fragments later edited edited and re-shuffled, sometimes using random algorithms, and adding extra breathing space between the notes. In Part II  especially, you can hear (if you listen closely) the software choosing fragments and thus generating cuts in the prolonged background reverb.
This is intentional, of course – I assume that Rabelais‘ self-developed Argeïphontes Lyre software is the third artists here (if you like a challenge: just try to find some background information on this A.L. software on his website).

“I just let it take me along to wherever it needs to go. It’s really is like having a garden growing…letting the weeds take over and do what they want.. ”
(Akira Rabelais about his Argeïphontes Lyre software)

The result is a strange, ethereal kind of music that is neither 100% human nor strictly artificial. It is both, at the same time.
You won’t be able to hum along, because there’s no recognisable melody – and yet it feels remotely familiar.
The kind of music you can ‘set and forget’ and play in the background for a very long time.


SPELLEWAUERYNSHERDE (Re-release + radio show)
Ever since I first heard this release from 2004 (on David Sylvian‘s Samadhisound Label) it has been on my all-time favourite list. (It was, in fact, one of the earliest favourites mentioned on this blog).

Akira Rabelais’ re-workings of 1960/70 Ampex tapes with found voices from Icelandic a capella lament songs may be somewhat too haunting for some: it’s ‘as if a voice coming from the middles ages haunts you in your deepest sleep’.

This album became somewhat of a cult classic but remained unknown to many.
That is why I am very pleased that Rabelais decided to make it available as a digital download: if you missed it before, here’s your chance to catch up!

In 2005, Trans>Parent Radiation (a sublabel of Bremsstrahlung) released a compilation called Spellewauerynsherde, Interpretations Various & Sundry  with Spelle-remixes by artists like Christian Fennesz, Kit Clayton, Taylor Deupree, Stephan Mathieu and more.

Some of these tracks were included in the Spelle radiobroadcast I compiled for a dutch radio program (Supplement, NPS/VPRO, 4FM) in 2006.
This radioshow also included some (still unreleased!!) fragments submitted by Akira Rabelais especially for this occasion.
This is the tracklist:

  • 1559 W. Cunningham Cosmogr. Glasse 125, Within which drawn another Circle, a finger breadth distant (*)
  • 1390 Glower Conf. II 20, I can nought thanne unethes spelle that I wende altherbest have rad (*)
  • 1440 Promp. Parv. 518/20, Wawyn, or waueryn, yn a myry totyr, oscillo (*)
  • 1559 W. Cunningham Cosmogr. Glasse 125, Within which drawn another Circle, a finger breadth distant (*)
  • I8U – 1570-1 in Willis & Clark Cambridge (1886) III. 594, For vppyng ye Swannes and wynteryng them..xxiijs. (**)
  • Steve Roden – 1480 Robt. Devyll 32, Hys mother gave hym to the feende of hell In the houre of hys fyrst contemplacyon (**)
  • Kit Clayton – 1250 Owl & Night. 314, Ich singe..Mid fulle dreme and lude stefne (**)
  • 1483 Caxton Golden Leg. 208b/2, He put not away the wodeness of his fleshwith a shrede or shelle (*)
  • 1671 Milton Samson 1122, Add thy spear, a weaveers beam, and seven-times-folded-shield (*)
  • 1559 W. Cunningham Cosmogr. Glasse 125, Within which drawn another Circle, a finger breadth distant (*)
  • (throughout:) Intermission Tracks 12,50,27,76,70, 21,14,34,6 (***)

(*) – from Spellewauerynsherde, Samadhisound, 2004
(**) – from Spellewauerynsherde, Interpretations Various & Sundry, Trans>Parent Radiation, 2005
(***) – unreleased fragments, from Akira Rabelais private collection

On occasion of the renewed availability of Spellewauerynsherde (and with special permission by Akira), you can play this radio show below.
(The program has a short introduction in dutch, presented by Hans Mantel, and also contains short interview fragments. Note: the links mentioned are no longer active).

Akira Rabelais a.o. – Spellewauerynsherde 4FM Radio Special, 2006

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Akira Rabelais – Spellewauerynsherde


Maybe it’s because of this unpronounceable title, but I have completely missed this (2004!) release. I never have heard about it until recently. Better late than never, because this is easily one of the strangest and the most compelling albums I ever heard!

Upon hearing only the first track of this haunting album I realised that this is a sound completely different from all I heard before.
It’s as if a voice coming from the middle ages haunts you in your deepest sleep. It’s beautiful, heavenlike. But at the same time it’s distorted and confusing, scary even.

“Spellewauerynsherde” is built up from found sounds, field recordings of traditional Icelandic accapella lament songs recorded in the late 1960s or early 1970s on Ampex tapes and then forgotten about. After discovering the neglected tapes, cleaning them up and digitizing them for a library, Rabelais became fascinated with the heartbreaking sadness of the voices and began to think of them as source material for a series of compositions.

As the title (Spelle, Wavering, Sharde) suggests, you will not understand a word of what is sung. But somehow the message will come through.

This incredible record is available through samadhisound (David Sylvian’s label)

A Boomkat (recommended online store specialised in recordings like this) quote: “Not many album’s will move you in quite the way that this album does. Believe. ”
Believe, indeed!

Dutch NPS/Radio 4 will host a full one hour special to present Spellewauerynsherde.
It will be presented in April 2006 (so that leaves some time for good preparation), as the first in a series that also will feature some new ambient collages and remixes from myself.
Akira Rabelais himself has already promised to contribute some special unreleased related material.

[Note]: this radio show, including unreleased material from Spellewauerynsherde, is posted [Here


*** edit aug 2017***
A vinyl version of the album has been released

***edit dec 2015***
Since Akira Rabelais finally decided to maken this legendary album available through BandCamp, here’s the preview link.
If you’ve missed it before, here’s your chance to catch up:

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