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DreamScenes – December 2018 (#50!)

DreamScenes CZ

DreamScenes is a Concertzender radioshow since july 2017, so as far as the Concertzender editions go this is the 18th edition. But befóre it became a radio show, there it was a monthly feature on Ambientblog ever since  October 2014. This means that this months show is the 50th edition!!

I tried to make this edition an example what I want DreamScenes to be. ‘Dreamlike’ is the only constant, which means you can doze away comfortably while listening. But  be prepared: like in your dreams the journey may take some unexpected turns. Some parts may get a bit weird, scary perhaps, but overall it’s peacefully floating.
Musically it’s a combination of ambient, electronic, atmospheric acoustic, or modern classical music…. mostly recents, sometimes older. To be honest, there’s no fixed format – except whatever sounds ‘dreamlike’. Basically, it’s just whatever fits the (or: my?) mood of the moment.

I am VERY proud that Concertzender Nederland broadcasts these compilations (on the second sunday of every month) and makes them available for a worldwide audience to explore. Because that is ultimately what this is all about: exploring. Finding new music that perhaps you hadn’t heard about before, a starting point to dig deeper into the works of all these awesome artists.
Thanks for joining me in this journey – and if you can: please spread the word…

You can listen to all previous and future DreamScenes editions on DreamScenes.nl,  or on the Mixcloud channel. The Concertzender editions can also be streamed from their website.

DreamScenes

Tracklist: 

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:44 Eraldo Bernocchi – Like I Wasn’t There
    Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It, 2018, self-released (Bandcamp)
  • 05:04 Steven M. Halliday – Hears Wishing
    Unreleased, 2018, private collection
  • 09:24 Monty Adkins – Still Juniper Snow; I. Still Hollow
    Bozzini+, 2018, Huddersfield Contemporary Records
  • 16:36 Machinefabriek – III (With Peter Broderick)
    With Voices, 2019, Western Vinyl
  • 21:03 Bjarni Gunnarsson – Aperture
    Lueur, 2018, Tartaruga Records
  • 25:53 Barry Adamson + Pan Sonic + Hafler Trio – The Hymn Of The 7th Illusion (BBC Mix)
    Earthen – A Cold Spring Sampler, 2018, Cold Spring
  • 31:13 Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch – Frank 2000 Prelude
    Thought Gang, 2018, Sacred Bones Records
  • 32:18 Radboud Mens & 1605Munro – Layers
    Layers, 2018, Self-released (Bandcamp)
  • 40:06 Akira Rabelais – Se Tourner Et Tourner
    Scale, 2018, Schwebung
  • 47:07 Monty Adkins – Empire (Excerpt)
    Empire, 2018, Line
  • 52:30 Alea Saxophone Quartet – Arvo Pärt: My Heart’s In The Highland
    Arvo Pärt: Anima, 2018
  • 59:00 DreamScenes – Outro (Dean Hurley)

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

OR:
stream it from Mixcloud:

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Radboud Mens * & 1605Munro * & Mathijs Kouw

Upper Partial Tones

Radboud Mens is a dutch composer and sound designer that seems to be operating somewhat below the radar. ‘Seems to’, because over time he has released an impressive body of work – solo releases as well as collaborations with artists like Stephan Mathieu, Janek Schaefer, voice artist Jaap Blonk, Michel Banabila and more recently with Matthijs Kouw.
His first album was released in 1999 and since then many interesting albums have appeared in a more or less steady flow. 2018 looks like an especially productive year, with the release of two solo albums, a collaboration with 1605Munro (and two successors of his drone work together with Matthijs Kouw). 

 

Upper Partial Tones

RADBOUD MENS – THREE PIECES FOR UPPER PARTIAL TONES

I’m afraid I was not sure what upper partial tones are, and there is no explanation on the release page on this albums background. So, usually that’s where Wikipedia comes to the rescue:
“An overtone is a partial (a “partial wave” or “constituent frequency”) that can be either a harmonic partial (a harmonic) other than the fundamental, or an inharmonic partial. A harmonic frequency is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. An inharmonic frequency is a non-integer multiple of a fundamental frequency.”
OK. So I’ll probably have to read that article more closely later.
But for now: better let the music do the talking.

It’s easy to hear that this album is about but I could simply hear that this album was about composing with overtonesRadboud Mens opens the album with a relatively short – and very relaxed – Polyrhythmic Ambient Drone, which sets the mind for the two longer Pieces for Oboe and Electronics (in C and in G, respectively). In these pieces (23 and 32 minutes respectively), the true magic happens ‘above’ the drone created by the stretched oboe sample.
By carefully manipulating this ‘fundamental’ electronically, Mens creates a melody of floating overtones which become the true centerpiece of this music. When listened on speakers, it is as if these notes float through the listening space looking for their place in the room, its emphasis changing with every move of the listener’s head.
It may need some dedicated listening, but once it grabs you there’s magic in the air.


Radboud Mens - Ambiguity

RADBOUD MENS – THE AMBIGUITY OF AN APPARENTLY STATIC PHENOMENON

The Ambiguity Of An Apparently Static Phenomenon was originally released as a limited (100) cassette edition on No Rent Records, but can be downloaded for free from their Bandcamp page now since the cassette has sold out (a few signed copies are still available directly from Radboud Mens himself).
The No Rent Records Bandcamp page lazily mentions Side A and Side B as track names, but from Mens’ page we learn that there are different track titles: Sequence, Tongue, A Temporary State of Relative Positions and the three part title track.

The Ambiguity …investigates how ‘apparently static’ (drone) music can still be an interesting listen. In this case Radboud Mens is not primarily focusing on using overtones, but creates soundscapes using bass guitar, electronics, organ, synthesizer, a Granulator II sampler and electric guitar.
The question is what exactly is ‘ambigue’ about the ‘apparently static phenomenon’, because this is a very pleasant listening experience – at least for anyone who can appreciate ‘apparently static’ drone music.


 

Layers

RADBOUD MENS & 1605MUNRO – LAYERS

After this healthy dose of drones it can be good to return to somewhat more ‘down-to-earth’ music (with the emphasis on ‘somewhat’ of course).
This collaboration with 1605Munro sheds some light on a different aspect of Radboud Mens‘ music: ‘warm intelligent soundscapes that feel brilliantly open, thoughtful and oh so quiet. A contemplative and entertaining study in the art of skipping unnecessary notes.’ (Roel Kruize in the liner notes).

1605Munro is a somewhat weird-sounding alias of Andrés G. Jankowski – born in Buenos Aires, but ‘radicated’ in Berlin. And there’s a definite Berlin touch in this 10-track collection of electronic paintings, from  frivolous rhythmic tracks to dead-serious soundscapes. Each track treasuring an original Krautrocky touch – a slightly lighter touch perhaps than the drone-recordings, but adventurous in their own personal way!


Mens - Kouw - 3/4RADBOUD MENS & MATTHIJS KOUW – 3/4

If you want to dive even deeper into Radboud Mens‘ drone experiments: the collaboration with Matthijs Kouw (1, from 2017) gets no less than two follow-up editions: and 3/4 – the latter being a 2-CD album. Due to production complexities the release order got unintentionally mixed up: is now scheduled to be released early next year, while 3/4 is already available now.
Be prepared for the more extreme minimalist drones, Eliane Radigue style, with Radboud playing long magnetic strings and analog filters and Matthijs playing modulars.

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Janek Schaefer * Erik Griswold

Schaefer - What Light

Schaefer - What Light

JANEK SCHAEFER – WHAT LIGHT THERE IS TELLS US NOTHING  Also on Spotify

The slow crackle in the intro, the vocal drone and the Robert Wyatt sample that gave this album its name… Janek Schaefer manages to set the atmosphere right from the very start.  And once you start the ride, you do not want to get off before it stops… simply enjoying the trip, wondering what surprising turn is in store in the next moments…

What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing,
 the title track of Schaefer‘s new album, is created entirely from elements of Robert Wyatts Cuckooland album (Also on Spotify). The 21 minute piece, created with his custom-made two tone-arm turntable, effect pedals and ‘digital collage’, was originally created as a multi-channel composition for 2014’s Sounds New Festival in Canterbury. With Robert Wyatt’s blessing, of course.
The atmosphere is defined by a steady background drone, over which the different samples and fragment are layered. The collage-like structure and use of different musical fragments have the same mesmerizing effect as KLF’s ‘Chill Out’ (1990) – which over time has become one of the classics of the ‘ambient’ genre. It’s a wonderland ride, ‘transforming the power of half-forgotten memories into otherworldly works, that are ambiguous as they are evocative’.

The B-side on the (transparent gold virgin vinyl) album offers seven shorter tracks. These tracks are not based on Wyatt samples, but they still ‘exist in the same wondrous space’ – radiating the feeling that Alice must have felt while walking in Wonderland.
This is music that ‘inhabits the spaces between sadness and joy, and relish in the unpredictability of emotional gravity’.
A musical wonderland that only Janek Schaefer can create …

BTW –  It’s also available on CD but for unknown reasons this is not offered on the Bandcamp page which only mentions the vinyl and the download version. Try Boomkat if you’re looking for the CD-version.


Griswold

ERIK GRISWOLD – YOKOHAMA FLOWERS  Also on Spotify

At first listen I thought that Alone Time (the opening track) was performed by a gamelan orchestra. It sounded like that, but it did not have the specific tuning. From the liner notes I learned what I probably should have heard: this is nothing like a gamelan orchestra, but a collection of works for prepared piano. My first association was not thát strange it seems: one of the tracks is called Wind-Up Gamelan. 

Erik Griswold has perfected playing the prepared piano in such a way that it does sound like a completely new instrument, and not just like a piano with beer caps between the strings.

“Griswold’s compositions remind us that the piano is never truly knowable, or known. Each composition collected here reveals another detail or way of knowing the piano. The preparations release something in excess of the instrument itself.”

At moments the piano sounds like a piano, but more often it sounds like an unknown plucked string instrument, or bells, or something unknown. Or like a gamelan orchestra. But preparing the piano is not the  goal in itself: it is the means to create a playful kind of music that is a pleasure to listen to. Music in which ‘the language of the piano is born and reborn.’

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Benjamin Finger * Lee Yi

Into Light

Into Light

BENJAMIN FINGER – INTO LIGHT

Apart from his filmmaking (he is a director at the Film and TV Academy NISS in Oslo), Benjamin Finger is also a multi-instrumentalist ‘with a healthy disregard for genres.’
Some of this ‘respectful disregard’ is exposed on Into Light, merging ambient with electro-acoustic and modern-classical elements, a ‘classy meld of analogue synths, guitar and field recordings’.

There are four tracks: two short ones of about 3 minutes, and two long pieces about eighteen minutes each. Perfect lengths for the limited vinyl edition.

Gravity’s Jest 
starts with a haunting cinematic cello part (performed by Elling Finnanger Snøfugl) that slowly seems to fall apart and is gradually taken over by sweeping atmospherics, until in the last third of the piece the mood suddenly changes with the introduction of Inga-Lill Farstad’s voice. 
Paradox Route, the dreamlike ‘a hazy weave of voice, instrumentation and analog colours that feel like a warm embrace from your headphones’, somehow mirrors Gravity’s Jest: it starts with Farstad’s voice, slowly submerges into more abstract electronics fragments, to end with a (more distorted) cello.  The circle is complete.


Dissimilar Lake Pigments Eslandtika   

LEE YI – DISSIMILAR LAKE PIGMENTS  Also on Spotify * ESLANDTIKA  Also on Spotify 

I’m afraid I’m  a bit late to the show: these albums were both released in July this year. But better late than never, and after all: the music is still available, so…

Dissimilar Lake Pigments  is a cassette (or download) released by Rottenman Editions from Spain. The gentle music is inspired by Lee Yi’s ‘fascination with natural pigments and the many sensations
that the impact of seeing its wide range of intense colors produced.”
Seven songs, spanning 30 minutes, ‘composed with organic dyes and a pink aura.’

The cassette is available in two editions: the Deluxe edition has a special wool fabric sheath, manuafactured and dyed by hand with natural pigments from Marocco. But that one is limited to only ten copies (only 2 available at the time of writing).

Eslandtika, released by Shimmering Moods, is available as a CD, a cassette and as a download. It is a collection of improvisations ‘recorded entirely on micro-cassettes’ – hence in this case the cassette is an appropriate medium for this album.
There is no detailed information about the album, but I guess the artist statement tells enough:
“Eslandtika is a bunch of small memories that I would like to keep forever. Ordinary people, without any pretention; who have shared an instant of their lives and who have left. 
It is a tribute to a simple & beautiful past.”

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Monty Adkins * Eliane Radigue

Empire

Empire

MONTY ADKINS – EMPIRE

It is easy to listen to this piece of music without considering its background: just sit back, relax and enjoy. Empire may remind you of some of the best of Brian Eno’s generative music works.
And that’s quite enough for a recommendation in itself, isn’t it?

But then – consider the cover.
If you see a black square, zoom in – notice the subtle shading at the sides. It seems to tell us that there’s more to this than you may initially think. And indeed there is.

In fact, this composition is everything BUT generative. It is carefully structured, using a bell ringing pattern from NY Littleport Caters. The bell ringing sequence (and I’ll simply quote the liner notes here) ‘is an example of change-ringing technique – in which the nine bells are permuted continuously for several hours. From this Adkins created a nine-chord harmonic sequence each with nine layers of sonic material including old instruments and other ambient sounds recorded in large architectural structures.”

It’s even getting more complex knowing that this piece is created as an alternate soundtrack for Andy Warhol’s movie Empire‘ (1964) – an 8 hour long seemingly static (and originally silent) movie of the Empire State Building, showing the building during sunset into the night – the last part of this movie showing only complete darkness.

Being from 1964, this film is stored on 10 film-reels of 48 minutes each. In Adkin’s piece, nine permutations of the bell-patterns occur every 48 minutes, ‘the combination of layers being unique in each occurence. The final reel, of the Empire State Building in almost total darkness, is accompanied by extended filtered materials from previous sections.’
However, this album is not the full 8 hour alternative  soundtrack. The 51 minute version ‘presents the prime sequence of materials with the nine harmonic sections in their original order (1 to 9) and concluding with a section of the sound for the tenth reel.”
It is near this dark end sequence where the sounds start to drift off somewhat and some layers of distortion are added to the bright sounds – emphasizing the increasing sense of being lost in total darkness.

It’s fascinating to realise that there’s such a complex, thought-out pattern behind music that sounds so ‘natural’. I never really realised that there could be a deliberately chosen complex sequence in the ringing of bells. Things can obviously more complex than they seem to be. But when this underlying concept seems a bit too hard to grasp, you can of course still simply sit back, relax and intensely enjoy the beautiful, mindful, immersive sounds of Empire

By way of a bonus:
Three gorgeous Monty Adkins tracks, Still Juniper Snow 1-3 are included on a 2CD-set called Bozzini+ on Huddersfield Contemporary RecordsThese pieces are reworkings of original acoustic pieces performed by Sarah-Jane Summer and the Bozzini Quartet. With their 21 minute playing time, Adkins‘ reconstructions are only a minor part of this CD-set; the rest of the album presents new music pieces for string quartet and piano quite different in style. So be sure to check out the full album first, or just enjoy Monty Adkins’ contribution to this album on Spotify  Also on Spotify


Eliane Radigue - Oeuvre Electronique

ELIANE RADIGUE – OEUVRES ÉLECTRONIQUES

To anyone even remotely interested in drone music I usually recommend to check out ‘s Trilogie De La Mort. Inspired by the root text of the Bardo Thödol (the Tibetan Book Of The Dead), this work (for me) symbolises the abscence of time and the infinity of space better than any other composition I know. For me, this 3CD (3+ hour) album (Also on Spotify) almost makes all other drone recordings seem superfluous. If you’d have to choose one single album of drone music, choose this one!

The ‘mother of this mother’ is Eliane Radique, a French electronic music composer, born in 1932, who singlehandedly set the standard for time-defying electronic music.
She chose her path when she first heard musique concrête, and studied and worked with Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry in the late 60’s.

In the early 70’s, she developed her electronic music using the legendary ARP 2500 which she bought in New York and shipped to Paris.
“It arrived without a keyboard. Eliane had deliberately left it with the New York seller, as she had already sensed the machine needed to be taken over per sé, in what it could produce without resorting to the classic play of keys, which easily changes the sounds and whose attraction would be to immediate, too obvious.”  

From then, her attention focuses on creating electronic music.
“Once the frequency of the oscillators which produce the sound are set, Eliane’s play consists in gradually modifying anything in the machine that can modulate its ‘voice’. She does so with such a degree of subtlety and slowness that her pieces often wrongly appear as static. Then they move and evolve like an ocean, whose motions are slow, quasi-imperceptible when looked at from a distance. To feel it’s flow, one must be right beside it.”

She continues to create electronic music, all of her work created in her Paris apartment until 2002, when she moved on to create acoustic works, often to be performed by a single performer who understands her work and what she aims to achieve.

INA-GRM (Groupe De Recherches Musicales) now honours her work by releasing a box set containing 14 CD’s (!!!) and a 80 page booklet. The box set is a 15+ hour trip into sonic eternity. It is not intended as the definitive overview of all of Radigue’s work: there is no early musique concrête and no acoustic compositions from after 2002 either. This set is dedicated to her electronic works. And since these works are so very consistent, it can almost be enjoyed as one continuous of work of 15+ hours! That, of course, was not the original intention, so luckily the works are presented in their original form so they can also be enjoyed in shorter sessions.

Included are Chry-ptus (in 2 versions), Geelriandre, Biogenesis, Arthesis, ψ 847, Adnos I-III, Les Chants de Milarepa (featuring the voice of Robert Ashley and chanting by Lama Kunga Rinpoche), Jetsun Mila (2 parts), Trilogie De La Mort (Kyema, Kailasha and Koumé) and finally L’Ile Re-sonante. 

The best news, especially for those who may be hesitating to buy such a massive body of work, is the pricing of this box set. INA-GRM offers this massive set for  a friendly price of 60 euro (without shipping that is), obtainable via Metamkine. That is €4.29 per CD, actually – almost free for this glimpse into sonic eternity.

Wait… you’re still here reading this???


Understandably, Metamkine does not offer any preview options for this set.
It’s no use either to publish a short excerpt from her work.
So – by way of as an exception – here’s a link to a Youtube post of Kyema (from Trilogie Des Morts)
 

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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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DreamScenes – November 2018

DreamScenes CZ

“Child, your roots are strong enough to grow through concrete and steel”

Tracklist:

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

OR:
stream it from Mixcloud:

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Sound and Stone * Dialog Tapes II

Sound And Stone

Sound And Stone

VARIOUS ARTISTS – SOUND AND STONE  Also on Spotify

With the release of Sound And StoneSteven M. Halliday concludes a two years research project of the Fessman Sound Stones for his thesis submitted to the Huddersfield University.|
Hannes (and his father Klaus) Fessman‘s ‘Klangsteine’ are fascinating sculptures that are not only very beautiful to watch but also to listen to. They produce an incredible deep resonating sound seemingly connected to thousands of years of the Earth’s history, and which seem to have therapeutic effect too: since 2009 the effects on Alzheimer memory treatment, micro circulation, increased white blood cells muscle relaxation and depression are investigated. The stones definitely produce a ‘mindful’ sound…
The stones of Hannes and Klaus Fessman were a continuation and further exploration of the research of Elmar Daucher in the 70’s and 80’s (more on this later).

Sound speaks louder than words, so instead of spending more words on how beautiful these stone sculptures can sound, it’s probably better to watch this introduction video by Hannes Fessman himself. It’s 11 minutes long but definitely worth watching (and listening) to the end:

 

For this compilation album, the sounds of these stone sculptures were sampled and then the ‘virtual sound stones’ were given to some of the world’s most forward-thinking music producers’ to work with. And that’s an impressive array of artists indeed: Jasmine Guffond, Paul Jebanasam, Tomonari Nozaki, Leyland Kirby, Machinefabriek, Monty Adkins, Yves de Mey, Farwarmth, and of course Steven M Halliday himself.

The result is an intriguing collection…. of electronic music.
And exactly this is what intrigued me: I’m sure the original deep, organic, resonating sounds of the stones are used throughout, bit still this feels like electronic music in the first place. Understandable, of course, since they worked with samples as their basic material, they do not play the stones themselves. On second thought this isn’t a real surprise: “unfortunately, the logistics of getting the Hannes stones around Europe became impossible. Not only do you need a flatbed truck and crane to transport them, but there is also a considerable cost involved too.”
So the samples would have to do as the base material – and so the original sounds are manipulated and reconstructed into these new pieces, with each artist’ own sound characteristics.

As much as I love listening to this album, I still think it would’ve been great if some of the original sounds were more prominently included in this album (like demonstrated in the video above) too. The sound of the stones is so ‘complete’ that one may wonder if further treatments of these sound can really add anything to that.
This is perhaps why the download of this album also contains a sample pack of the original sounds. If you have a sampler, DAW of can process samples in any other way, you can create your own version of the Sound Of Stones. (The cassette version does not contain these samples for obvious reasons, but if you buy the cassette version it is included with the digital download. Problem solved…)

As an extra, it might be interesting to mention Stephan Micus’ album The Music of Stones‘ from 1989. On this album Micus uses Elmar Daucher‘s resonating stones, and with ECM’s immaculate recording they can be heard in full effect. Being Stephan Micus, this music is more eastern-oriented in style (adding shakuhachi and tin whistle) and not as ‘experimental’ as Steven Halliday’s collection, but if you’re interested in musical stones you should definitely check it out too.


Dialog II Eilean Dialog Tapes II Dauw

VARIOUS ARTISTS – DIALOG TAPES II: EILÉAN / DAUW

Three years ago, the labels Dauw and Eiléan released the first Dialog Tapes‘: a collection of tracks working together in various combinations, collaborating to create the music they love with like-minded souls. According to the labels’ release policy, the Dauw edition was released on tape and the Eiléan edition on CD. A great concept, demonstrating that many artists share a musical vision and can work together regardless of geological borders.

The same applies to Dialog Tapes II, released after the same concept. Ánd on the same physical editions – but if this is the first time you read about this you can forget about physical that because those already sold out.
Don’t worry too much about that: the digital downloads remain available and it’s all about the music isn’t it?

Like Dialog Tapes I this release-pair should be considered as a single unity: a double album release on two different labels/media. The one is not complete without its other half.
Almost all of the artists are performing on both albums with a different partner. With a few remarkable exceptions: Autistici (only on Eiléan) and Yadayn (only on Dauw). And Monolyth & Cobalt and Dudal break the ‘change partner’ rule by re-appearing as Dudal & Monolyth & Cobalt. 

I’ll simply namedrop the other performing artists here, in order of appearance: Olan Mill, Øjerum, Humble Bee, Toàn, Stijn Hüwels, Offthesky, Benoît Pioulard, Josh Mason, Machinefabriek, Emmanuel Witzthum, R. Beny, Omar El Abd, Steve Pacheco. I’m assuming that these names are enough to get an idea of the resulting sounds.

The remarkable result of this shared musical vision is that these two albums also sound as if it was one single group of artists performing: there are variations in details, other accents, but generally speaking the music is all in the same vein – a coherent compilations without unexpected extremes.
All of these artists have been releasing their music on these labels so if you’re familiar with the labels you know what to expect. An ‘attempt to connect a musical field through its own creative forces. It’s about connectivity and making new unexpected musical ties between individual actors’. 

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Siavash Amini * Amini & Umchunga

Amini - Umchunga

Foras

SIAVASH AMINI – FORAS  Also on Spotify

Foras (meaning ‘Outside’ in Latin) is Siavash Amini‘s sixth solo album in six years, and his second release for Hallow Ground. With four track covering 38 minutes it is a relatively short album, but Amini does not need more than that to express what he wants to.

The opener First Came Their Shadows warns us for what’s to come, with sonic outbursts as well as foreboding calm. The track titles reveal that the atmosphere will not get much ‘lighter’: Aporia (‘the expression of doubt’, definitely the noisiest track of the set), The Beclouding, Shadow of their Shadows.

Foras want to explore ‘how individual sorrow relates to and is triggered by space’, focusing on ‘how landscapes and buildings connect to and transform the inside world and thus the psychological experience’.
Using field recordings he made ‘in places over which a deep sense of darkness looms’, he blends ‘harsh electronic noise with lush granular synthesis and classical composition techniques.’ With four intense, deep soundscapes as a result, a ‘complex sound world that is haunted also by hope and compassion’.


Amini - Umchunga

SIAVASH AMINI & UMCHUNGA – THE BRIGHTEST WINTER SUN

The Brightest Winter Sun was released almost simultaneously with Foras, but on a different label (Flaming Pines). Here, Siavash Amini teams up with Umchunga (Nima Pourkarimi, also from Iran) who released his debut album Should Have Been Done By Now  on Hibernate in 2015.
The depth and emotional impact of these soundscapes are similar to those on Foras, but the ‘tone of voice’ is quite different: widely cinematic, more open perhaps, more optimistic even?

This may have something to do with the fact that this is a collaboration. But it may also have originated from the underlying concept: the ‘disoriented drunken drones’  are ‘drawn from the work of long dead composers.’
Amini and Umchunga reinterpret (piano) compositions of late 18th and 19th century composers in a way that renders them completely unrecognisable – ‘by depriving these compositions of one their most prominent characteristics namely thematic and tonal development and progression’.

For most tracks, you will have a hard time recognising the composers and their compositions. But the titles are a clue: each track points to the year in which the composer in question passed away. So Google is your friend here. You’ll probably be surprised (I was).

The Brightest Winter Sun is released on cassette and as a digital download.

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Giulio Aldinucci * Murcof

Disappearing in a Mirror

Disappearing in a Mirror

GIULIO ALDINUCCI – DISAPPEARING IN A MIRROR  Also on Spotify

Apart from his various collaboration and split releases, Disappearing In A Mirror is Giulio Aldinucci‘s follow-up to 2017’s Borders and Ruins; it’s his second release for Karl Records. If you thought Borders And Ruins depicted a rather dark view on the state of the world, you’d better be ready for this new album.

“Where “Borders …” was a reflection on the instability of borders and their impact on the relationship between people and territory, “Disappearing In A Mirror” raises the very personal question of identity.”

Aldinucci manages to create a sonic version of a hall of mirrors, where you can get completely disoriented from the images of yourself trying to find a way out.
In a striking combination of gritty distorted sounds and distant orchestral/choral arrangements that sound like a stretched Beethoven symphony, the first two tracks present a frightening dystopic view. But from there, Aldinucci restores the balance (somewhat) with Notturno Toscano – as if he doesn’t want to scare the listener too much. But even in this track the intensity slowly increases again. There’s no way out of the mirror maze, it seems…

In the words of Giulio Aldinucci himself:
Disappearing In A Mirror focuses on the fluidity of the identity concept, highlighting the harmonious coexistence of contradictory elements and the transitional features that characterize every transformation. It is a reflection on the current situation of change and disruption and at the same time it is a gaze into the human timeless soul and its inner soundscapes.”

A ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ is an entertaining maze as long as you realise you will find the way out at some point. But what if there’s no way out but to disappear completely?

If the sweat in the palms of my hand is an indicator of emotional intensity, this album definitely belongs on the top the list!


Murcof Lost In Time

MURCOF – LOST IN TIME  Also on Spotify

It took me some time to find out this was actually a re-release. I don’t usually cover re-releases but this one is an exception, since the original 2014 release on Casino Luxembourg was vinyl-only and destined to virtually disappear from the radar into cult territories. (Fun fact: the original release still seems to be for sale from Casino Luxembourg).

Lost In Time is Murcof‘s soundtrack for a video by Patrick Bernatchez, which in turn was a sound project that was part of explorations around Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. The choral aria of the Goldberg Variations, as performed by Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal is merged by the – rather ominous – Murcof soundscapes.

 

The result is quite different from most earlier Murcof releases. Much, much darker and more suspenseful than you would have expected based on his earlier work.
The choir arrangements sound otherworldly, alienated – I wouldn’t have guessed that they are based on a Bach aria, because it sounds more contemporary in this context.
The combination with the (mostly electronic) soundscapes is downright chilling. Which is why Glacial Movements is the designated label for this fascinating (re-)release!
So praise to the label for re-releasing this album and making it available again on CD and digital download!

This particular edition features a bonus track available with the download, Chapitre N, which was especially composed for this Glacial Movements release.

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