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Bas van Huizen * Wouter Veldhuis

Kulverzuchter

Kulverzuchter

BAS VAN HUIZEN – KULVERZUCHTER  Also on Spotify

Is there such a thing as Single Word Poetry? I guess there is, though Bas van Huizen may be the only one writing them. (*)
And he is using his one word poems as track and album titles: Huichelfluit, Geestontschemer, Verstijversei, Torrewolk… Each of those are words that do not exist at all yet convey a range of emotions from the meaning of its parts. It will not be understood by non-dutch speakers, and they are also untranslatable as they are inexplicable.
I could try to translate the album title to something like Nonsensemumbler, but it immediately loses its strength. Oh well, you get the idea.

 

Kulverzuchter is Bas Van Huizen‘s third album on the Moving Furniture label, after Kluwekracht and Waanzintraan, and it’s his tenth full album since 2008.
Compared to the two earlier releases, Kulverzuchter is quite a step away from the noise approach on those albums, while still clearly recognisable in style: ‘the textures are toned down and the sound less layered – keeping things subtle and implicit resulting in plenty of vaguely shifting moods”. Yet still he creates soundworlds ‘exploring contrasts and contradictions’ …. music that is as enigmatic as its titles.

Be sure to check out the video too for a taste of Van Huizen‘s otherworldly absurdism.

(*) – About one word poems: I only found a few online references to one word poetry. And only very few examples, such as this one from David R. Slavitt (1935):

Motherless.

So, based on my short (and unscientific) Google research on the subject, I dare to say that Bas van Huizen has taken this poetic genre to a whole different level!


Wouter Veldhuis

WOUTER VELDHUIS – THE CENTER OF THE STORY  Also on Spotify

As far as I know, Wouter Veldhuis has released four albums since 2008: Satuuma (now also on Bandcamp), The Endless Now and Blue Forest (both on Organic Industries), and, recently, The Center Of The Story.
With its 74 minutes (for twelve tracks), it has the length of a full CD, but there is no physical edition available: the album is only available as a digital edition on various platforms like iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Bandcamp.

Veldhuis presents his music without any further introduction, so the only information we have are the track titles. Most of the tracks are relatively short atmospheric sketches, ranging from about two to seven minutes, with the exception of the closing track There May Be No Center (Oops – spoiler alert!) which unfolds in 15 minutes.

There’s no information about the instruments and setup he used either.. and in fact there’s no need to know about that because the music speaks for itself.
Veldhuis paints with simple but effective strokes – spacey synth sounds creating calm, floating, atmospheric ‘classic’ ambient.

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Western Skies Motel; Andrew Tuttle; Star Pillow; Jakob Lindhagen

Fantasy League

WSM - Settlers
WESTERN SKIES MOTELS – SETTLERS
Title and cover tells us this is not what we call ‘ambient’ music. The opening tracks are acoustic guitar folktunes that reminded me of the music that was released through the Windham Hill label years ago. But gradually, atmosphere kicks in and the melodic arrangements move to the background.
Somewhat.

‘There’s a timeworn, arid, and almost badlands quality to René Gonzàlez Schelbeck‘s hypnotic, cyclical guitar style. It seems to perfectly capture the lonely, barren landscape of the American West.”

This is especially remarkable, considering the fact that René ‘WSM’ Schelbeck comes from Denmark – “far removed from any upbringing in the rough-hewn Americana style of folk guitar.”
His music crosses geographical border, to appeal to all of us that are not familiar with the American West: “Regardless of our conceived themes or geographic locations, it tells a story that is lasting and instantly familiar.”

“Settlers” is available as a digital download and in 180 gram vinyl (including download). The limited physical edition (170) also includes a free bonus EP: “Generations” (first 50 only)


Fantasy League

ANDREW TUTTLE – FANTASY LEAGUE
It’s Andrew. Not Harry! I’m sorry, but everytime I hear the name Tuttle I immediately connect it to Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil‘ – and as a result the music is immediately framed into a retro-futurist Sci-fi setting..

But, in fact, that comparision may not even be that far off.

The weird contradiction between (broken) retro technique in a future society in Gilliam’s Brazil is, in a way, also reflected in (Andrew) Tuttle‘s blend of acoustic and electronic instruments: the banjo and electric guitar somewhat out of place in an environment of synthesizers and computers.
The question remains: is Andrew Tuttle‘s fantasy environment utopian or dystopian?
Or both?

For those that want to know: Andrew Tuttle (Brisbane, Australie) decided to use his own name in 2013. Before that, he was known as Anonymeye



ANDREW TUTTLE – FORGOTTEN PASSWORD


Star Pillow

STAR PILLOW – ABOVE
Time Released Sound have done it again: releasing an insanely packed album that you cannot buy because it’s already sold out. So you can look at the special edition that you’ve missed, but we’ll simply talk about the music and the standard CD release (which also has a great cover by the way).

Star Pillow is Paolo Monti (Italy), a name hitherto unfamiliar to me but a glance at his bio learns that he has an impressive track record. And that is something this album shows, too.
Above was recorded live, ‘in a solitary afternoon concert with closed doors and an empty club’. However: it sounds like a carefully crafted and well balanced studio recording.
The music is reflected by the image on the cover: it takes you on a weightless voyage, ‘a soothing, slow-motion floatation sensory trip into the atmospheres of your own mind..’


Fragility


JAKOB LINDHAGEN – SKÖRHETEN (FRAGILITY) OST  Also on Spotify
Skörheten is a Swedish documentary by Ahang Bashi about ‘mental fragility’, and this is its short but beautiful soundtrack created by Jakob Lindhagen.
Not the happiest music, as expected from the documentary’s subject, but not the saddest either.
It ‘is fragile and poetic but with a large dose of warmth and compassion, constantly pending between hope and despair.’

There are some delicately melancholic piano melodies, some ambient atmospheres and, remarkably, some soft jazzy pieces inspired by and reminiscing Swedish folk-jazz artist Jan Johansson (not to be confused with Johann from Iceland!).
Judged by the music on this short soundtrack album (which is available as a ‘Name your Price’ download), I guess that we will find the name Jakob Lindhagen on a lot more soundtracks in the future. And that is definitely something to look forward to.

Edit June 2017:
Skörheten (the documentary) has done quite well: it has been nominated in the “Best film” category at the Swedish Academy Awards, and was also awarded “Newcomer of the year”. But even more good news is that the soundtrack will be re-released by 
1631 Recordings, fully remastered and with three additional bonus tracks. I’ve updated the links in this post to the new locations.

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From The Mouth of the Sun; Christina Vantzou; Lyken / Dove; Olafsson / Futuregrapher

No. 3

From the Mouth of the Sun - Into The Well

FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SUN – INTO THE WELL
I won’t go into detail about the exuberant packaging of this Fluid Audio release, because it’s one of those releases that are probably sold out by the time you read this. If you want to know what is (or: was) included in the 2×3″CD package, you’ll find the details here.
Into the Well is the second album from From The Mouth Of The Sun(FTMOTS) – the follow-up to their 2012 debut Woven Tide.
FTMOTS is Dag Rosenqvist and Aaron Martin performing most instruments, but with the additional horn section and vocal assistance this album has the sound of a full chamber orchestra setting. Some of the music has been compared to that of Sigur Rós, a comparison most obvious in the track called Bodies in Fog.
But for me personally, this music has more impact because it avoids the obligatory ‘post-rock climatic eruptions’. Which – paradoxically – enhances their impact.
And, talking about paradox: the cover art, plotted maps and photo’s included bear strong war-time references: ‘an uncompromising and evocative tribute to sacrifice’. But to my ears, it is peaceful and consolatory music – music beyond fear.


Christina Vantzou - No. 3

CHRISTINA VANTZOU – NO. 3
When listening to Christina Vantzou‘s albums (No. 1 in 2011, No. 2 in 2014, and now: No. 3)  in sequence, you can almost feel her grow as a composer. She’s still connected to her roots (linking her to Stars of the Lid/A Winged Victory for the Sullen since working with Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie in The Dead Texan), but working with a 15-piece ensemble of strings, horns, woodwinds and choir clearly opened up new possibilities.

‘Whereas 100% of the music of No. 1 and No. 2 was composed without time structure or steady click, the pillars on No. 3 adhere to a solid mathematical scheme.”

But, instead of venturing into more ‘modern classical’ compositions, Vantzou directs the ensemble straight back into performing otherworldly drones. Which proves to be the very right choice!
The ensemble’s arrangements are a perfect accompaniment to Vantzou’s synth parts, performed on DX7, Yamaha CS20, Roland Juno-6, and a selection of Eurorack modular synths.

There’s an eerie atmosphere to the cover, which is even multiplied by the mesmerizing movements on the Official 16 mm film accompanying the release.  But if you strip away the eerie overlay, there is a profound beauty underneath.
It’s the synths that show (and honour) some of Vantzou’s sources of inspiration. Most clearly in the track Laurie Spiegel, but on other moments I even imagined hearing Tomita’s ghost tucked away in the background (or is that just my mind playing tricks? Check the second half of Cynthia..).
But in the end, this is a Christina Vantzou album, not just a collection of references. An album that easily meets the expectations set by its two predecessors.
If Christina continues her own traditions, I guess we can look forward to the No.3 Remixes, too. 


Also on Spotify


NO.3 – OFFICIAL 16 MM FILM

Christina Vantzou – Robert Earl
 


Mirror Lands

MARK LYKEN / EMMA DOVE – MIRROR LANDS
Scotland-based artists Mark Lyken and Emma Dove worked together on this soundtrack – ‘a lovely combination of minimal pastoral piano infused arrangements, industrial and natural field recordings, voice overs and evocative electronics’.
As usual for Time Released Sound releases, this comes in two editions: a standard digipak version as well as a Deluxe Edition. The latter is packed in a vintage 7″ square reel-to-reel tape box, filled with vintage prints of the Scottish Highlands, antique fold out maps and pages from 100 years old travel books.
Also included is a printed link to a private viewing of the award-winning Mirror Lands film in which ‘preconceived ideas of Highland life are challenged and the complex interactions between nature and culture are brought to the fore.’
With the soundtrack performed by six speakers forming a circular sonic space from the screen, I guess viewing Mirror Lands must be an impressive experience. Since the Deluxe Edition will probably sell out soon, I do hope the film can still be viewed in some way or another.
But even without its accompanying images the soundtrack stands firmly on its own, perfectly balancing electronics with field recordings and ‘natural’ instruments.


Also on Spotify


Eitt

JÓN ÓLAFSSON & FUTUREGRAPHER – EITT
Take two musicians from Iceland, combining piano with electronics and field recordings, and you knów you’re in for a treat!
Jón Ólafsson (piano) is an experienced keyboard player: he has played with numerous artists (Emiliana Torrini and Björk among them), and received the Icelandic Music Awards as ‘best keyboard player’ twice.
Árni ‘Futuregrapher‘ Grétar weaves a sonic tapestry with synthesizer, effects, and field recordings.
This is their first release together, and hopefully it won’t be their last: their contemplatice music sounds ‘fresh’ (- nót ‘cold’! – ), with a bright – ECM-like – production.
A bit like sunny days in spring. (In Iceland, that is).


Also on Spotify

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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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Boozoo Bajou – 4

BoozooBajou

The music of Boozoo Bajou (German duo Florian Seyberth and Peter Heider) has always been quite atmospheric.
The three full albums (and numerous 12-inches) they have released since 2001 contained the low-tempo dubby trip-hop often called ‘Lounge’ – the lush kind of sounds that German musicians seemed to master exclusively.

Their latest album, 4, manages to build on all they did before, and use it as a foundation to create an album that ‘transcends basic categories and expectations’.

Which does not mean that 4 contains ‘classic’ ambient and drone-tracks – far from that. It’s an album that contains a lot of different styles, blending them to a sound that is undeniably Boozoo Bajou’s, yet also contains hints of music like Brian Eno, John Hassell or Basic Channel.

“We had that ambient spirit at the back of our mind for a long time. […] Blues, Jazz, Dub and all those roots were the spark, as on all our work, but we used them more as a basis – an original vibe from which we could find our own handwriting.”

It is a clear step away from the mid-90’s Lounge-scene:
“We never felt based in that [Chillout] scene, but we fell right in those ‘golden times’ of chillout-lounge stuff. We like laid back music, yes, but […] if there is no deep perception, concept and sincerity implied to the music, it just becomes empty easy listening.”

While 4 is not exactly ‘difficult’ music to listen to (“Doing abstract-noise soundscapes is easy too, but not a very interesting challenge for our project.”), it is exactly this musical sincerity and curiosity that makes this such a multi-faceted album.

For this project, Seyberth and Heider brought in some remarkable musicians to help them create their sound, such as Markus Stockhausen (fluegelhorn), Frank Freitag (duduk), Max Loderbauer (synth), Frank Zeidler (guitar) and Stefan Pötzsch (violin, viola and thumb piano).

4 brings together a lot of different details.
Boozoo Bajou proves that when all ingredients are carefully chosen and fit together, the whole cán be far more than the sum of its parts.


Boozoo Bajou – Hirta

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Kyle Bobby Dunn – Bring Me The Head of KBD

KBD

Like his previous release on the same Low Point label (A Young Persons Guide to KBD from 2010), Kyle Bobby Dunn‘s latest release is a 2 hour double album set with a title suggesting a somewhat bombastic “grandeur”.

But the sound on Bring Me The Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn offers the opposite of what the title suggests.  “Drawing upon a love for emotional detailing and cinematically charged grandeur, these suites offer an apex in romantic, haunting and lonely bliss”. 

The album’s title is taken from Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia“, a 1974 Sam Peckinpah movie – obviously a KBD favourite. I do not know that movie so I can’t tell how it relates to the calm and peaceful music presented here. There is no ‘bombast’ in this music, and there certainly is not a trace of violence in the “quietly unfolding loops and waves of strings and electric guitar” presented.

There are 15 tracks on “Bring Me The Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn”,varying in length from 1’59” to 14’36”. Together, they have a coherent sound yet seem to present slightly different worlds. In this respect, the work of Andrei Tarkovsky might be a better fitting comparision.

KBD has defined his own style, his ‘trademark’ being cool, calm, and sometimes somewhat slighty unsettling atmospherics. His music’s charateristics are defining the genre, rather than just following it.

Judging KBD by his work, I’d prefer to leave his head where it is and bring him in alive!


Kyle Bobby Dunn – Innisfal (Rivers of my Fathers)



Spotify– (Also on Spotify)

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