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Andrew Heath * Erland Cooper/William Doyle

Evenfall

Evenfall

ANDREW HEATH – EVENFALL  Also on Spotify

Evenfall, Andrew Heath‘s new album – following up 2017’s Lichtzin (with Anne Chris Bakker) and Soundings – celebrates the time of dusk – ‘the dimming of daylight and the coming of night from one particular moment.’

The album ‘continues [Andrew Heath’s] fascination of, and experimentation with, found sounds and treated field recordings, around which he weaves shimmering electronics and delicately phrased piano’, as well as additional manipulated tape loops and guitar.

The 15 minute opener Flow State (Mirror Sea) is a beautiful example of the incredibly rich sound production on this album. Recorded in Cotswold, England late 2017 and this spring, the album radiates the clear atmosphere of the remote woodland surroundings.

In addition to the tracks on which Andrew Heath performs all instruments himself, there are also two collaborations:
The Garden Reveals Itself features the Romanian poet Maria Stadnicka reciting her poem, in a somewhat detached, almost hesitating voice, while Heath‘s instrumentation illustrates  a garden that is … ehh … revealing itself.
On the other collaboration track Heath is playing modestly in the background, leaving all room for award winning saxophonist Lydia Kenny to impress, subtly following her movements with small details and the recorded sounds of a garden (at dusk). With its (15 minutes length), the way it slowly moves forward yet seems to stop time, and Kenny‘s heartbreakingly beautiful performance, The Still Of Evenfall (to me) feels akin to Harold Budd’s Bismilla Rrahmani Rrahim on his 1978 Obscure album The Pavillion Of Dreams.

Whether you actually are in a garden or not, your imagination will take over … just lie back, relax and enjoy.

The full album contains eight tracks, almost 80 minutes of soothing calm soundscapes. The last two of these are not on CD, but are included with the download that comes with it. Which, by the way, is also available in a limited (25) special edition.


Migration

ERLAND COOPER & WILLIAM DOYLE – MURMURATION   Also on Spotify

Earlier this year, Erland Cooper released his album Solan Goose, inspired by the Scottish landscape of Orkney. The tracks for that album were all named after local birds, but in Orcadian dialect. The album ‘evokes themes of migration, restoration and childhood memory.’ Murmuration is further exploring this theme, with each of the three parts of an ambient symphony titled Migration, perfectly merging stretched droney electronics with string and choir arrangements. 

Murmuration, often associated with a flock of starlings, actually refers to ‘the sonics of a flock of birds’:
“The theme of this record fits with a particular group of sea birds that, unlike many other birds, spend the first 5-10 years of their lives travelling far and wide out to sea in solitude, before settling down to find a partner and lay a single egg.”

Erland Cooper partly recycles some of the material of Solan Goose, created in collaboration with William Doyle (previously known as East India Youth), but the result is a quite a different experience. The tracks on Solan Goose could be described as modern classical music (the opening track Whitemaa reminded me of parts of Max Richter’s Sleep), but Murmuration is very much ambient – a session in three parts that can best listened to as one.
It’s fascinating to compare the themes on both albums (like the choir and string arrangements) and hear how the different context completely changes them.
Murmuration, in this way, might very well also refer to the way familiar themes you have heard before return to you in your quietest sleep.

Murmuration can be found on various digital platforms – there’s an overview [Here]



ERLAND COOPER & WILLIAM DOYLE – MIGRATION II
 

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Andrew Heath * Sonmi451 * Sven Laux

Soundings

Soundings

ANDREW HEATH – SOUNDINGS  Also on Spotify

Soundings is released almost simultaneously with Lichtzinhis collaboration with Anne Chris Bakker, who also makes his appearance on a few tracks (Winter on Noorderhaven and Happenstance).
So it is no coincidence these two albums are alike in their contemplative atmosphere.

Soundings is a remarkably long album (9 tracks, 95 minutes – the last two tracks are bonus tracks that not on the CD-version but are included in the download that comes with it) for which Andrew Heath is inspired by ‘the quiet sounds of people within interior spaces – footsteps, talking, even whispering – the sound of voices that are often rendered so faint and that are buried so deep that they become unintelligible, simply leaving a trace of speech.’
The found sounds and field recordings are embedded in soothing musical textures, ‘set against quiet piano phrases and shimmering electronic treatments.’

The soft piano sounds and patterns on some tracks (Speedwell Blue, Happenstance) more than once reminded me of those on Brian Eno’s 1-1 (on Music for Airports). Quiet, contemplative, generative motifs that perfectly fit the surroundings.
But, unlike Eno’s generative projects, Heath‘s music is not intended to be ‘ignorable’ (‘… as well as interesting’). Each track has a different instrumentation, and solo instruments (like the cello played by Stéphane Marlot, and the clarinet played by Bill Howgego) are clearly placed in the foreground. Some details are presented much louder than the accompanying sounds, giving extra dynamics to the soundscapes.

Together with Lichtzin, this album is definitely one of this year’s personal favorites. Sometimes described as lower-case music, but I clearly prefer to use capitals for releases like this!


Panta Rei

SONMI451 – PANTA REI

The prestigious Eilean Rec label’s releases are referring to a map with 100 points – ‘each point is associated to a number. Each number to a release. Each release will fill an area on the map around one point, giving it colors, relief & details. Once 100 releases are done, the map will be full, the label will end.’
Eilean have released a continuous string of great releases, so seeing that this Sonmi451 release was numbered #99 scared me a bit. Are we close to completeness?
But fortunately the release numbers are not sequential; they refer to a specific point on the map. If I’m correct this is the 63rd release so we can expect some more before it’s over… phew!

The Eilean map is an imaginary one, but Bernard ‘Sonmi451‘ Zwijzen’s (tenth) album is also dedicated to  ‘the rivers and streams, crossing the exquisite mountain-landscape of the Alps and Dolomites in the beautiful region of Southern Tirol.’
Like these rivers and streams, Zwijzen’s music is refreshing and bright – ‘exploring the inner aspects of sound and stillness, the cracks and loopholes that exist between sounds.’
His unique choice of instruments and sounds (like the harp and the whispered vocals) have become his trademark sound, a sound unrivalled.

Another pearl in the collection of the label as well as in Sonmi451‘s discography!

Sonmi451 – Brenta
 

(Oh… and to avoid disappointment: with this particular concept the label has become very popular among collectors, so the sad news is that the physical editions sell out in no-time. As did this one: sold out even before the release date. But the digital download remains).

 


Sven Laux

SVEN LAUX – PAPER STREETS  Also on Spotify

Berlin-based Sven Laux is an ‘artist, composer, sound designer, musician, DJ and film addict’ and all of this  skills can be heard on his latest Dronarivm release Paper Streets.

The ‘organic, neo-classical journey heard through a cinematic lens’ presents a large-scale symphonic sound that, on close listening, seems to be performed by an artificial orchestra. Which is no surprise of course, since Laux has created electronic music since 1998 ‘after discovering a talent for meticulously sampling and looping audio.’
The string arrangements seem to reach you from within a dream – that alienated feeling even strengthened by the subtle sound details in which the virtual orchestra is embedded.

‘The artist’s work bares a sense of detachment & reflection that usually occurs with the passing of time.’
In this I feel this music is related to that of Field Rotation, Bersarin Quartett and maybe A Winged Victory For The Sullen. It’ll definitely appeal to the same audience. But in fact Sven Laux does not need comparisons like that at all: he claims his very own spot – one that will become a reference point for others probably soon.

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Anne Chris Bakker/Andrew Heath * Lee Yi

Lee Yi - An Instant for a Momentary Desolation

Lichtzin

ANNE CHRIS BAKKER & ANDREW HEATH – LICHTZIN

Regular readers will know Anne Chris Bakker‘s name from his contributions to the various Kleefstra brothers album, ánd of course from his solo albums. Titles that may unfortunately have reached only a small cult audience but are among the best of introvert, unhurried (semi-)acoustic ambient music.
After meeting Andrew Heath when playing live at the Resound festival in the UK, the two decided to work together. After a week of inspired improvisation in the north of the Netherlands – ‘gathering field recordings, composing and cycling’, the recordings were edited into the four tracks of Lichtzin (a difficult word to translate, but I guess sense of light comes close) – which is now released as a CDR on Chihei Hatakeyama’s White Paddy Mountain label

It’s easy to hear why these two musicians get along so very well. Their music develops in such an unhurried way that they help you loose your sense of time.
‘Half-glimpsed melodies’ are embedded in the immersive drones. This combination is what makes this music stand out: like the best of Brian Eno’s soundscapes this music avoids to impose obvious emotions on the listener. It is neither dark nor light – it just is, it is what it is. I guess that must’ve been influenced by the cycling tours through the Frysian landscapes: it is music that feels like a natural environment.

Mindful music.

‘Pause and contemplate’- a much needed advice for the hectic and hurried times we live in.


Lee Yi - An Instant for a Momentary Desolation

LEE YI – AN INSTANT FOR A MOMENTARY DESOLATION

His name may suggest otherwise, but Lee Yi comes from Málaga, Spain. He is a jazz musician (guitarist) also focusing on composing ambient/electronic music. A somewhat obscure artist perhaps: no mention of him at Discogs, however his Bandcamp page offers six previous titles since 2013.

The title prepares the listener for some desolate sounds. This album deals with a topic many will recognise – not a political issue but environmental disasters: it ‘describes a place devastated by the natural reactions of these days… how beauty can corrupt us by desecrating what we love… Nature can be as cruel as beautiful. Immense and tenacious!’
With all the hurricanes, floodings and raging fires going on this clearly is a present-day topic.

This definitely sets the mood for listening. And sometimes, the desolation is inescapable (like in Incertae). But at other moments, what this music tells you is entirely up to your own mood. Imagine yourself a different concept and probably the music will wrap itself around it. It can be desolate, but it can also be soothing.
It all is in the Ear of the Beholder, I guess.

The physical edition of this album is available in two editions: Litography + Interior Engraving Deluxe (only 20 copies, so probably sold out on pre-orders) and Lithography Standard edition. Digital download also available.

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