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René Aquarius * Atom TM

Transmutation

Transmutation

RENÉ AQUARIUS – TRANSMUTATION  Also on Spotify

Norwegian artist Ajla R. Steinvåg‘s inspiration comes from ‘the process of metal partical accumulation in the human body’, which ‘can drive cells to activate inflammatory pathways, programmed cell death and subsequent encapsulation of dead tissue’.
René Aquarius 
also has a medical background: he is a medical scientist ‘with a focus on bone and blood vessel pathology’. But of course for us he is primarily known as the drummer of Dead Neanderthals (who were recently featured here because of their surprising Life album), and for his collaboration with Rutger Zuydervelt.
Their shared interests has culminated in a multimedia installation in eindhoven in September 2018 – so now only the soundtrack remains for us to enjoy.

Transmutation presents two tracks (the title tracks and Flesh Sarcophagus) – immersive deep and dark drones that move slowly, illustrating the medical process described above. Dark and as scary as it is beautiful. Aquarius is a drummer and from the sound of it I guess that these sounds are mainly creating using his cymbals and low drums, of course post-processed with a lot of effects yet still recognisable.

Unfortunately there are no impressions online of the installation in Eindhoven, and Steinvag‘s site has not yet been updated. But looking at images of his earlier work while listening to this dark soundscapes I assume it must have been an impressive event. (If anyone has been there please tell about it).
What is left now is the soundscape: a dark and alienating journey, slowly moving like the thick blood in your veins. Make no mistake: this is definitely a recommendation!


 

Texturen III

ATOM TM – TEXTUREN III

I don’t think I need to go in detail (again) about Uwe Schmidt‘s countless aliases and incredibly versatile musical output ranging from ecstatic cumbia to deep minimalism. I don’t know how he does it but Uwe Schmidt seems to have a musical Midas’ touch…

As Atom™, one of his ongoing series is Texturen (Textures) – long-form (50+ minutes) drone pieces that focus on microscopic details of sound. Texturen III ‘picks up where he left off with Texturen II‘, and simply starts as if a machine is turned on.
But from there, quite a lot is happening. Details float in and disappear again, the overall context remains constant but within that everything constantly changes and floats.
It ‘weaves and winds through landscapes of the mind that touch on all points of an emotional spectrum from caustic to convivial – Designed to inhabit the infinite space of your mind’. 

Each part can of course be enjoyed separately, but the project may take on massive proportions if the collection is listened to as one single journey.  It’s unclear how many editions this series is gonna get in the future, but I assume Schmidt will simply add a new edition when he feels the time is right. But when he decides it is finished, I really hope it will be released as a box-set (or maybe even a continuous digital or Blu-Ray edition).
From his website I learn that a live performance of Texturen can take on virtually any length – it took 4 hours at Berghain on New Year’s Day 2018! So obviously there’s more to come… I expect at least 8 hours so a full Texturen series can accompany you during a good night’s sleep.

But for now, just simply engage in the first three parts!

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Atom TM; Pinkcourtesyphone & Gwyneth Wentink; Chihei Hatakeyama & Corey Fuller; Hakobune

Apsidal Motion

texturenii

ATOM TM – TEXTUREN II
Uwe Schmidt, alias Atom™ (not to mention the hundreds of different aliases he operates under) releases the second of the Texturen (Textures) series. At least I hope it’s gonna be a series, because Texturen I was a great work, and Texturen II is as good – if not even better.
This second part of Atom™‘s “minimalist, ambient magnum opus, airdrops you into a void of undulating sonic modulation with nothing but the dream of silent huskies for company”.  The “maestro of harnessing non-repetitive repetition takes that to a psychedelic extreme, constructing a smooth, digital crystal within the stereo field.

With a relatively simple setup (using only a Roland D-50 and a Quantec Yardstick), Schmidt proves again that he’s a true wizard of sound.
The piece starts with a drone based on sub-low frequencies so thick that you can almost lie down on it (so be sure to listen on a set with some serious speakers!), a minimalist drone with subtle shifting patterns to concentrate upon. Later in the piece (from around 22 minutes) the music breaks away from the drone and modulates into different textures, some of them humming – and pulsating – like large industrial machines. Before closing, the low frequencies almost make your ears feel like in an aeroplane rapidly descending. And then, at 54 minutes, it suddenly stops. Too soon.

It is hard to believe that this soundscape is created by the same guy that released the unforgettable albums of Senor Coconut, but it is…. you simply cannot underestimate the genius of Uwe Schmidt.


elision

PINKCOURTESYPHONE & GWYNETH WENTINK – ELISION
I only recently found out about this album, which was released in january of this year. Which means that – no surprise – the physical edition has sold out by now. I still want to mention it because the digital version remains available, ánd because of the rather unusual combination of ambient drones and harp.

Richard ‘Pinkcourtesyphone‘ Chartier teams up with Dutch harpist Gwyneth Wentink for this EP-length (19 minutes) piece called Elision. Wentink is an internationally acclaimed harpist, who performed audio-visual versions of Terry Riley’s In C and Simeon Ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato (one of the greatest and most performed Dutch modern classical/minimal compositions) – among many other activities.

Elision means ‘the omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable in a verse to achieve a uniform metrical pattern’, so this particular piece is not only about what is played, but also about what is left out. Her harp sounds different – sharper? brighter? – than usual, because she is playing a triple harp: a replica of a harp from around 1600 made of 3 rows of strings instead of the commong single row.
Her (improvisation) is craftfully manipulated and merged with Pinkcourtesy‘s drones ‘under and over a hazy sonic shroud of worn romance and phobophobia.”


Euphotic

CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA & COREY FULLER – EUPHOTIC
More minimal drones from the prolific Chihei Hatakeyama, this time in collaboration with Corey Fuller (one half of Illuha).
Fuller
plays pipe organ on three of the four tracks, and an analog MS20 synth on the fourth. His droes are wrapped in Chihei’s soft guitar drones and together they weave a very – very – relaxing sonic blanket.
Euphotic, by the way, refers to the uppermost layer of a body of water that receives sufficient light for photosynthesis and the growth of green plants.’


Apsidal Motion

HAKOBUNE – APSIDAL MOTION
Also released on Chihei Hatakeyama’s White Paddy Mountain label is Apsidal Motion: Hakobune‘s latest title in his extensive discography.
It is a single 42 minute minimalist drone, ‘inspired from such beauty of a starlit sky of Nigata (country side of Japan)’, created (as usual) with electric guitar sounds transformed to unrecognisable floating drones.
There’s not much happening, but that is intentional: the music intends to pull the listener ‘into some sort of long dreamtime’.
Physical orders also include a bonus CDR with a 21 minute liveset from Nishiwaki.

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Atom TM, Jacob Kirkegaard, Asmus Tietchens, Tobias Hellkvist

Texturen

ATOM TM – TEXTUREN I
It is impossible to summarize Uwe Schmidt‘s biography in a few simple lines. So if you want to know about his background, best read his biography.
His versatile output and his multitude of aliases are legendary, and his music covers the full range of electronic music and beyond. Each alias reflecting a different style – from the serious side of deep ambient as Atom Heart or Atom™ to the fascinating Señor Coconut outfit presenting pop covers (Kraftwerk!) in jaw-dropping latin big-band style.
Texturen I is a venture into the deepest of ambient. It is a digital-only release on the NO. label run by Uwe Schmidt together with Material Object.
As its title suggests it is a 53 minute venture into minimalist drone textures.
“Due to its obvious minimalism and perhaps because it lacks tension, darkness or the habitual psychedelic twists, ‘Texturen I’ feels like a positive slow motion zoom into a limitless white void.”
Not much that I can add to that, apart from the fact that I don’t think this album ‘lacks tension’ at all. On the contrary: it’s a drone album indeed, but the sound evolves constantly in such a way that it easily holds your full attention for its full 53 minutes.


Kirkegaard - Arc

JACOB KIRKEGAARD – ARC
ARC is a commissioned score for Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent film The Passion of Joan of ArcIt is re-edited for this LP-only release containing 2 tracks around 18 minutes each.
This time the source material does not originate from natural phenomena: the ‘prolonged choral-like harmonies’ are built from stretched fragments of music from Joan’s time (the exact sources remain uncredited), ‘aiming to expose the mystically charged atmosphere that could simultaneously declare Joan of Arc a visionary and a heretic [….] Arc is an unfolding of nebulous sound that emerges to the surface when time is suspended.’



Jacob Kirkegaard – Arc (fragments)
 


Ornamente

ASMUS TIETCHENS – ORNAMENTE (zwischen Null und Eins)
Asmus Tietchens (b. 1947) has experimented since 1965, when he started working with tapes machines, concrete sounds en electronic sound generators. He is currently teaching sound design at the Hamburger Hochschule für bildende Künste – yet in his own biography he claims ‘no studies, no academic education, no scholarships, just pure learning by doing – “I am my own Tonmeister”‘.
And Ornamente – released on the Line label – once again proves what a giant Tonmeister he is!

The electronics aren’t clustered into one immersive cloud of sound, they are extremely detailed – as if magnified using an audio equivalent of a microscope.
Some parts feel as if you’re listening to the extremely amplified sounds of a colony of (previously undiscovered) insects.  Or a soundtrack to the microcosm of protozoans… Or, if you prefer a less organic association – the sound of slowed down data streams made audible.
You can simply hear what you want to hear: Ornamente does not come with a pre-defined concept. The association is up to the listener.
But clearly there’s more between [0] and [1] than we imagined.


Also on Spotify


Tobias Hellkvist - Pause

TOBIAS HELLKVIST – PAUSE
With its 25 minutes this drone is much shorter than average. But still it’s a nice length to drift away to.
Tobias Hellkvist (Sweden) dug up this work from his archives and reworked it for this release.
The “sonorous melody that stretches ever so slowly into a gentle river of sound, like the peal of a bell that echoes indefinitely” is a perfect companion for a short power nap (or any other moment of quiet).
Or just to listen and enjoy of course.

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