site info


Christina Vantzou * Gray Acres

Vantzou No.4

Vantzou No.4CHRISTINA VANTZOU – NO. 4   Also on Spotify

No. 4 continues Christina Vantzou‘s exploration of ‘ambient classical minimalism’ that started in 2011. Three years have passed since the release of No. 3, taking her time to determine the direction she wanted to take with this album: ‘focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space”‘.
Working with artists like Steve Hauschildt, John Also Bennett, Clarice Jensen (among others), Vantzou does not simply act as the center-stage composer and performer, but channels her ideas into a process of ‘prepared sponteneity’: “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.”
It definitely must take self-assurance to be able to loosen control and let other musicians (and technicians) add or delete elements in the end result, which becomes more of a collaborative effort than a personal solo album.

Still, No. 4 bears all the marks of Christina Vantzou‘s signature: ‘a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance.’ At the same time it is not simply a continuation of the previous No. 1, 2 and 3. It’s as if the music drifts deeper and deeper into the subconscious, slowly becoming more and more ‘immersive and immaterial’, gradually ‘loosening time’ until nothing else exists but ‘hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix’.

Like with her previous releases, there will probably be a No. 4 Remixes in the (near) future. Definitely a pleasure to look forward to, but no need to anticipate this too much: for now we can simply enjoy what is here and what is now.
For now, No. 4 deserves our undivided attention.


Gray Acres

GRAY ACRES – GRAY ACRES  Also on Spotify

Gray Acres is the self-titled debut album of the new musical project of Andrew and Michael Tasselmeyeralso known as core members of Hotel Neon and The Sound Of Rescue. With this new project, they seek “beauty and stillness”, which results in a sound that is even softer and more dreamlike than their work as Hotel Neon.

Layering “emotional textures of immersive drones, walls of effected guitar swells, subtle piano and field recordings”, their album is a textbook example of ‘contemporary’ ambient music: it’s a pleasure to drift away in its beautiful landscapes, while at the same time there’s enough happening for dedicated listening.
Or, to quote the Godfather of Ambient music Brian Eno: “as ignorable as it is interesting”.

The CD-version comes in two different editions: the deluxe edition includes three extra tracks that are not on the standard CD edition and in the digital download.

Tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

site info


Lockwood & Kubisch * Vantzou & Bennett (CV & JAB)

Vantzou - Bennett

Inaudible

ANNEA LOCKWOOD & CHRISTINA KUBISCH – THE SECRET LIFE OF THE INAUDIBLE

Gruenrekorder is a German label “promoting soundworks and phonography. Phonography considers nature/the environment as an acoustic experience, loaden with musical sounds”.
I don’t think a more fitting label could be found for the release of The Secret Life Of The Inaudible, the double CD set by Annea Lockwood and Christina Kubisch. The recordings can be categorized as ‘field recordings’ but it’s not as easy as going ‘into the field’ and ‘press record’ (most good field recordings aren’t, by the way). And both these artists have been around since the beginning of these kind of sonic explorations (Annea Lockwood was born in 1939, Christina Kubisch  in 1948). Both are legends in their own fields, the true first generation of sound artists.

The pieces on this album are soundscapes created using these recordings of the (usually) inaudible. Lockwood and Kubisch “decided to exchange sound materials and left it open to the other what to choose and how to mix it into a new composition”.

“Annea’s sound material was coming from sonic ultra and infra ranges and was speeded up or shifted down in order to become audible, my [Christina’s] recordings are analog and were made directly on site in different cities. The sounds we use are all strange and powerful and they go together as if they were especially made for this collaboration.”

For the listener, the soundscapes open up a completely new world. A world you didn’t know you were part of, and sounds that you normally would never be able to hear. As an example, Wild Energy begins with a recording made by the SOHO spacecraft: 40 days of solar oscillations (acoustical pressure waves) sped up 42.000 times, and ends with ultrasound recorded from the interior of a Scots pine tree.
Other sound sources include volcano tremors and gas vents, earthquakes, VLF chorus waves and whistlers, bat sounds, etc (Annea Lockwood‘s input) kinds of electromagnetic waves (subway station, server room, power station, shopping centers in various cities, seismic research centers,  the countryside during a thunderstorm after electricity had broken down, etc (Christina Kubisch‘s specialism).

The result is a fantastic journey into uncharted aural territories.  Hearing the sound of all these frequencies also raises the question what effects they might cause on the environment, and on ourselves:
“Until now what kind of influence the sources of these normally hidden waves have on us is not much explored. It is up to the listener to find out more about it.”


ANNEA LOCKWOOD – WILD ENERGY (with BOB BIELECKI) (excerpt)
 


CHRISTINA KUBISCH – BELOW BEHIND ABOVE (excerpt)


Vantzou - Bennett

CHRISTINA VANTZOU & JOHN ALSO BENNETT (CV & JAB) – ZIN TAYLOR’S THOUGHTS OF A DOT AS IT TRAVELS A SURFACE  Also on Spotify

Christina Vantzou‘s new album No. 4 has just been released (more on that later this week), but this collaboration with John Also Bennett is very well worth checking out also.

The ten tracks on the album were created from material that was recorded on occasion of the completion of one of the black and white wall drawings by Zin Taylor.
Each track corresponds to a specific section of the “particularly ambitious 90-meter panoramic wall drawing”, but the tracks are seamlessly sequenced to form one single 42 minute composition in 10 parts. Each of these parts has a somewhat different atmosphere and energy, “rarely lingering too long in a fixed formation, like Taylor’s nuanced mini-murals”, yet the album is strikingly coherent.
There’s a beautiful interplay of the synthesized sounds versus the more naturalistic – the sounds may come from different sources but behave like friends, not counterparts.

The music is “played with an air of otherworldly detachment, as though such beauty was materializing purely of its own accord.” The resulting album demonstrates how engaging electro-acoustical music can be.

Tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

site info


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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.