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Keith Berry * Pink Fluid * Ben McElroy

Simulacra

Viable Systems 1    Simulacra    Elixir

KEITH BERRY – VIABLE SYSTEMS 1 / SIMULACRA / ELIXIR

Viable Systems 1 is a true ‘Generative Music’ album: a system that is ‘put in place and let run to produce music’. This means that the selections in these thirteen tracks are captured moments of music that could theoretically last forever. No one plays music forever, so it’s good to document the result on musical algorithms on album.

There’s no further info on which exact system he uses, but the result is definitely a pleasurable listen.
The music resembles the generative experiments of Brian Eno, in concept more than in sound: the synth sounds are somewhat sharper (less rounded) and have a nice analog feel. Overall, the atmosphere is light: these are obviously good-natured musical system.

Keith Berry
describes this as follows:
“I like to think what I do is akin to a small seed that, given the right conditions, can grow into something far bigger than the work itself, a “trigger” which though does not contain enough information in itself to impart enlightenment, may possibly be sufficient to unlock the mechanisms inside one’s mind that leads to enlightenment”, it is something that can only exist in the most important of places – the mind of the listener.

Viable Systems 1 is Keith Berry’s 11th album since 2003, and his third title released in 2017. It was preceded by two titles that are also very much worth checking out: the (beautifully packed) 2CD album Simulacra (on the Infraction label) and Elixir (on Invisible Birds). Other than on Viable Systems 1 these are not Generative Music pieces but carefully crafted ambient soundscapes.
The two albums are closely related to each other: Elixir is created with “heavily granular processed sound”  that stems from Simulacra.
“Not so much a remix album but a different take on material that had a strong pull on me, wanting me to return to it and explore the permutations that
digital editing software allows.”




Pink Fluid

PINK FLUID – PIPE DREAMS Also on Spotify

Serious? A band called Pink Fluid releasing an album on the Norwegian label Horisontal Mambo – with the catalogue number MAMBO005??? That must be a joke, right?

Not really, though there ís a lot of fun involved. Pink Fluid is the new band of Jon Tye and Pete Fowler who were the core of Seahawks… And Pipe Dreams is the first release under this peculiar name.
(Note: on Discogs they’re referred to as Pink Fluid (2) to avoid confusion with an italian duo with the same name).

Jokes aside, this is a very nice mini album (8 tracks, 32 minutes) that perfectly fits the current preference for old school retro/vintage synth sounds. Lighthearted but not lightweight.

‘Fuelled by a passion for vintage music-making machines, and given a name after a weekend spent in sailors outfits at Bestival.’

Careful with that axe, Jon & Pete!



1.000 Sewing Machines

BEN MCELROY – 1,000 SEWING MACHINES

Nottingham-based Ben McElroy describes himself as an ambient/drone/folk music maker, and that is exactly what he is. The combination is not as strange as it may seem, because drones have always been important in folk music. McElroy may always push the boundaries somewhat, but the folk roots are always present – which is best demonstrated in the first half of the opening track The First Wave Crashes Into The Mountain.
So, this is folk music as well as drone music, and it gets somewhat more experimental as the album progresses (especially in the title track).

Ben cites Pauline Oliveros, Sharron Kraus and Ralph Vaughn Williams as his main inspirations – I guess this is a bit of a clue about his sound. There may be a bit of computer processing involved, but basically this is mostly acoustic music, with violin, guitar and voice as the main instruments.

 

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Claire M. Singer * Ben McElroy

Songs Of Iceland

Fairge

CLAIRE M. SINGER – FAIRGE  Also on Spotify

Fairge (meaning ‘ocean’ or ‘sea’ in Scottish Gaelic) is a 21 minute composition for organ, cello and electronics written and performed by Claire M. Singer.
The piece is commissioned by the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam (the city’s oldest building, now a museum), and was written especially for its remarkable Ahrend and Brunzema organ. “As every organ is unique, the piece will differ on other organs but that’s what makes writing and working with the organ so fascinating.”

Fairge builds up slowly, starting from the sounds of the breathing organ pipes, then introducing an almost shy cello accompaniment gradually gaining confidence and moving to the foreground. Getting stronger and louder (like ocean waves in a storm) – a massive and impermeable sound dominated by the sound of the church organ – ‘a lush harmonic backdrop against the harmonics and melody of the haunting cello’.
The sound of a church organ in full power can make man feel humble and small, and so does this ‘expansive soundscape full of intricate textures, rich overtones and powerful swells.’

The wind through the pipes of this organ can be precisely controlled using mechanical stop action. When the piece ends – the ocean storm retreats – one can hear the last breaths of air leaving the church pipes: the powerful dominance gone and replaced by a feeling of uncertainty that creeps back in together with the surrounding silence.


Songs Of Iceland

BEN MCELROY – SONGS OF ICELAND

Ben McElroy has never visited Iceland himself – the inspiration came from the stunning photography by Natasha Edmondson.
‘He hasn’t laid out a clear concept for this short EP. Instead, he’d prefer this to be open to interpretation as you draw your own conclusions.’

It may not be Icelandic folk music, but still the stripped-down minimal folk presented here, on this 15 minute free (Name-Your-Pice) download from Audio Gourmetconjures images of desolate but beautiful landscapes like the one on the cover image.
Sometimes close to traditional instrumental folk music, at other times drifting away into more abstract minimalism: Ben McElroy cites Pauline Oliveiros, Sharron Kraus and Ralph Vaughn Williams as some of his influences and all these can somehow be traced back to this music.

It’s a refreshing step away from the ordinary, a new sound with deep historical roots.
After these 15 minutes I just wanted to hear more like this.

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