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High Plains * Ceeys

High Plains - Cinderland

High Plains - Cinderland

HIGH PLAINS – CINDERLAND Also on Spotify

High Plains is the name of a duo of classically trained cellist Mark Bridges and Scott Morgan (who is also known as Loscil).
Their collaboration started with Bridges playing cello to Morgan‘s generative music app Adrift (which according to the press release notes should be available for iOS as well as Android, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it in the Play Store so I guess it’s iOS only… please correct me if I’m wrong).

The nine tracks of Cinderland were recorded in two weeks, in a refurbished school in Saratoga, Wyoming, culminating in “a collection of recordings that evoke a shadowy introspective and dizzying winter journey”, and “takes cues from classical, electronic and cinematic musical traditions but is mostly a product of the rugged, mythic landscape; vast and sprawling with a wild, uncertain edge.”

It’s a highly adventurous collection, with tracks taking different approaches: sometimes focussing on the modern classical sound above all, sometimes leaving out the cello and focussing on electronic and synth sounds (Ten Sleep, Rushlight), sometimes tense (A White Truck) or haunting (Hypoxia) and sometimes very relaxed and sleepy (Black Shimmer).
The closing track Song For A Last Night combines it all: Morgan‘s unobtrusive electronics and Bridges’ cello part reminiscent of Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel Im Spiegel. 

There are many albums presenting the cello combined with performing with piano and/or electronics, but the Kranky label once again managed to hand-pick one of the best of the crop!


CEEYS - Concrete Fields

CEEYS – CONCRETE FIELDS Also on Spotify

CEEYS are the Berlin-based brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke, subtly merging their chamber music arrangements of piano (Daniel) and cello (Sebastian) with electronics and field recordings.
Concrete Fields is the follow-up to their debut album The Grünewald Sessionswhich was recorded live in a small church.

Concrete Fields (Betonfelder in German) is the first part of a trilogy. The title refers to the area they grew up in the 80’s: Europe’s largest prefab estate Marzahn-Hellershof, Berlin, East Germany.  “A state established in the Soviet Occupation Zone during the Cold War Period, and now the endless grey blocks of cold concrete, steel, and glass communicate only anonymity and oppression.”

Think ‘Berlin-inspired music’ and David Bowie’s ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes’ probably jumps to mind immediately. But Concrete Fields sounds nothing like that kind of Berlin. For the Selke‘s, “the region always kept a blend of an edgy feeling of departure and a vague melancholy. [Here] we had our daily lives, with school and friends and holidays”.

To capture the atmosphere of the area CEEYS are referring to, the album is completed with photos from Anne Krauszand a set of visualizations on Youtube. But you may very well have other associations with this music… possibly about your own childhood area.

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CEEYS; Poppy Nogood; Joe Frawley

CEEYS - GrunewaldCEEYS – THE GRUNEWALD SESSIONS
Two brothers from Berlin, Sebastian and Daniel Selke recorded this intimate live performance in a church. They are both classically trained, but their music has many different influences – jazz, minimal, ambient and pop – and transcends all of them. Cello and piano are their primary instruments, but their music is different from the overwhelming stream of ‘post-classical’ music released recently, because of their use of electronics, synth pads and field recordings. Not just the ordinary contemporary electronics, but the use of some original, restored electronic instruments by East-German company Vermona back in the 70’s and 80’s like this one: the ER 9 rhythm box.

This combination of sound, combined with the duo’s skills and experience, the jam-session live setting and the well-recorded acoustics of the Grünewald church – all these details result in an outstanding album. Which, by the way, is presented as a ‘sketchbook’ for their upcoming studio album Concrete Fields, to be released later this year.
Talk about setting a high standard….!

Also on Spotify


Music for Mourning

POPPY NOGOOD – MUSIC FOR MOURNING
It is to remain unclear for now who is hiding behind the Poppy Nogood alias, but it’s an easy guess that he (or she) is inspired by the Terry Riley composition Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band (from the 1969 album A Rainbow in Curved Air – a piece for heavily dubbed soprano sax and electric organ – and reel-to-reel tape loops knows as the time lag accumulator).

For Music for Mourning, this anonymous Poppy Nogood plays the violin as the main instrument, and Steve Reich, Max Richter and Bing & Ruth are credited as other major (and recognisable) influences.
Similar to Kreng’s impressive album The Summoner, this album represents various stages of mourning: it starts calm and mournful (Max Richter style), but gradually the mood changes and in the second half of this short album other (more intense emotions) kick in. This is narrative ‘program music’, even though the compositions are created from improvising: “I really don’t know where I’m going until I start recording”.

Though this is the first album on Preserved Sound, I’m sure that Poppy Nogood has released other work before (I seem to recognise the violin sound and playing style but cannot really attach a name to it). But in the end that doesn’t really matter: it’s the music that speaks for itself!


Cartomancer

JOE FRAWLEY – CARTOMANCER
With his combination of acoustic instruments (piano, violin, glass xylophone), background electronics, found sounds and vocal samples, Joe Frawley has developed a unique (and immediately recognisable) personal style.
Dreamy, somewhat psychedelic in nature, a bit confusing too: it’s not always clear if the dreams are pleasant or nightmarish.

Cartomancer refers to Olney H. Richmond, author of The Mystic Test Book(1893), outlining ‘a complex system for using a standard deck of playing cards for divinatory purposes’. He was the founder of the Order of the Magi, one of the many astrological religions founded in 19th century America.

There’s a fascinating story behind this album, but it’s not necessary to know about all of this the slightly occult undertones of this music. And that’s because Joe Frawley is perfectly capable to capture the enigmatic atmosphere in his music.

Also on Spotify


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