Monty Adkins – Borderlands

‘Borderlands’ is an extended meditation for multitracked cellos recorded by cellist William Mace. The composition ‘comprises of six interludes and six extended panels, each comprising twenty-eight short melodic fragments. Each panel uses the same fragments to form new melodies and harmonies.” – but for the listener it feels – and can be enjoyed – as one single uninterrupted piece.
A piece in which every single detail has its place, a piece that conveys that everything is as it should be. A very, very comforting piece.

Black Elk – Sketches I -V

With core members Ian Hawgood (electronics), Danny Norbury(cello), Clem Leek (piano), and Tim Martin (Maps and Diagrams, electronics), Black Elk could be regarded as a post-classical/ambient “Supergroup”.

In 2012, their first albumSparks was released, a beautiful collection of atmospheric tracks in various styles.

For their recent Japan tour (december 2013) a collection of “Sketches” was assembled on five different (CDR) albums, containing outtakes, unfinished tracks, live performances and … sketches!

Aaron Martin + Christoph Berg – Day Has Ended

With only a few releases, the relatively new Moscow-based label Dronarivm found its status as one of contemporary ambient music’s most important labels.

With the release of Day Has Ended“, with Aaron Martin and Christoph Berg contributing four tracks each, that status is definitely confirmed – if not enhanced.

Ian Hawgood & Friends – Wolven (A Modern Reinterpretation)


Wolven

In its relatively short existence (almost 4 years), the Hibernate label has presented us with many beautiful releases and positioned themselves as one of the most important independent labels at the very centre of the ‘ambient’ music scene. Or – since it’s increasingly difficult to use the word ‘ambient’ as a genre definition: music “both abstract and melodic but always with a hint of melancholy.”

The Hibernate label kicked off in 2009 with a release that set a high standard immediately: Wolfskin“, by Ian Hawgood – well-known for his own music as well as from the labels he curates: Home Normal and Koen Music.

Hibernate and Koen Music (KoMu) now present a 2-CD set revisiting the original “Wolfskin” release, called Wolven – A Modern Reinterpretation”.

Cello + Laptop – Parallel Paths


Parallel Paths

Cello + Laptop first got my attention with their beautiful track, “The Hunt”, featured on the Escala 2.3compilation.

This Spanish duo, consisting of Sara Galán (Cello) and Edu Comelles (Laptop) have now released their full debut album on the Envelope Collective label (“The label that is always slipping in the fold of the wave”).

Parallel Paths easily exceeds the (high!) expectation I had based on the single track I knew from Escala 2.3.

Hildur Gudnadottir – Leyfdu Ljosinu

Hildur Gudnadóttir ‘s latest release on the Touch label features two tracks:  the 4 minute introduction (“Prelude”) and the 35 minute title track: Leyfdu Ljósinu” . 

The track division seems is somewhat artificial, since the “Prelude closing chord seamlessly introduces the start of the main title track. 
This recording is in fact a “live” recording (with no audience present. which means no distractive audience sounds).
It’s “just” Hildur performing over her multi-track recordings – no “post tampering” was applied afterwards.

Various Artists – Herfsttonen

As the musical part of the “Landtonen” festival in november 2009, “Herfsttonen(Autumn Sounds) celebrated the local district of “Okkenbroek“, near Deventer (in Holland).

This may sound as if it is interesting to local citizens only.
Not true! – That would mean the large part of the world would miss this great project!

The three compositions presented here are very different from each other, but they are linked by the theme, and by the environmental sounds of Okkenbroek. This album deserves to be heard out of the local context, too, because it is dedicated to preserving the kind of rural life that may disappear all too quickly.

Beautiful Companions: Dakota Suite

The End of Trying

‘The End of Trying’ is not a ‘typical’ Dakota Suite Release. Unlike most Dakota Suite albums (except 1999’s Navigators Yard) it is fully instrumental, with Chris Hooson, David Buxton and Colin Dunkley playing piano and David Darling playing cello.
The latter fact may indicate the mood of the music on this album: it is extremely delicate, heartbreaking melancholic music.
A ‘classic’ release that immediately struck me when I first heard it in the beginning of this year.

The track titles indicate the overall mood of this music: How Could You Let Me Go, Things We Lost Along The Way, All The Love I Had Was Not Enough, A Quietly Gathering Tragedy, and not forgetting “Een Langzaam Lekkende Wond‘ (A Slow Leaking Wound) which reminds us of the fact that Chris Hooson lived in Holland for quite a few years.
This beautiful sad music is clearly not meant to brighten up your day. But it might soothe your sadness with rays of hope shining through empathic, understanding themes and fabulous cello sounds. 

‘The End of Trying’ is one of the most beautiful albums I have heard this year, and it even gains strength with the companion CD that was released shortly after the release of the original: “The Night Keeps Coming In”.