What better way to start a new year than with a fresh edition of the monthly DreamScenes – presenting new music from Ben Lukas Boysen/Pleq, Jóhann Jóhannsson/Hildur Gudnadottir/Robert Lowe, Lee Chapman, Ambiq, Frédéric D. Oberland, David Cordero, Olga Wojciechowska, Markus Guentner, Understated Theory, Aidan Baker and Janek Schaefer?
Different kinds of “Landscape Music” from three duo’s and one ensemble.
With releases from From The Mouth Of The Sun (Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist), Christina Vantzou, Mark Lyken & Emma Dove, and Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher.
Mike Cooper’s Fratello Mare is a journey you’d better not begin unprepared: it’s exploring the beauty of the Pacific yet somehow also resembles Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas…!?
Furthermore: some music to calm down to: guitar pedal soundscapes by J. Butler, and two short neo-classical EP’s by Tambour and Lunae Lumen
This mix is built around mysterious vocals. Vocals that may guide you, or lure you, into distances unknown.
Often, but not exclusively, female, and some of them not even human – like the beautiful flute-playing by Jean-Christophe Bonnafous, or the mysterious singing sound of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that was recently discovered during the Rosetta space missions.
With just a little fantasy you can imagine the Philae Space Lander being attracted by the comet’s song – ultimately leading it to an untimely death.
A Winged Victory for the Sullen (AWVftS) is often referred to as a duo consisting of Adam Wiltzie (core member of the legendary Stars of the Lid – guess there’s no further introduction needed) and pianist/composer Dustin O’Halloran. But AWVftS would not be AWVftS without the (now 7-member) string section and the additional modular synth sounds created by Francesco Donadello. Together they present a full orchestral sound with a fascinating balance of string arrangements, melancholic piano melodies and (somewhat unsettling) synth embeddings.
BRUNO SANFILIPPO – CLAROSCURO
Classically trained musician and composer Bruno Sanfilippo (Spain) presents a beautiful romantic and somewhat melancholic set of modern classical compositions for piano, violin (Pere Bardagi) and violincello (Manuel del Fresno).
“With the fragility and beauty of some Arvo Pärt compositions and a high cinematic touch, “ClarOscuro” brings the perfect soundtrack for an imaginary movie.”
In the Shortlist sections, I will mention the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for.
Still, I definitely think they deserve your attention, with or without extra words!
STRAY THEORIES – THOSE WHO REMAIN
With his latest release Stray Theories (Micah Templeton-Wolfe) adds another level of refinement to his already impressive (and independently produced) discography.
Micah is a master of widely cinematic arrangements and melancholic compositions, seemingly evolving out of nothing into a melodic hook that sticks with you for a long time.
In the mid-90’s the multi-talented genius Bill Laswell proved that ambient soundscapes and low basslines can match together perfectly.
Still, it was some surprise for me to find Jah Wobble’s trademark low rumbling basslines merging with the cinematic ambient sounds of Marconi Union (Richard Talbot and Jamie Crossley) on their recent collaboration album “Anomic“.
His past catalogue and (maybe even more) his live performances have shown that Greg Haines manages to combine artistic consistency with surprising changes of directions.
One never knows what to expect, but one can always rest assured it will be good..
On a first listen, “Where We Were“, Haines’ new release on Denovali Records, sounds surprisingly different from what he has done before.
“Vostok“ is a three-part project (2 parts are released now, part 3 will follow later this year), which is introduced with a modest “I’m not sure anyone has heard this material yet, aside from my wife and my cat, and maybe a poor roommate or two- tortured by my endless tape loops.”
I really hope that is not really true. But if it is, this certainly has to change soon, because this music deserves to be heard by you, your cat, and your roommates, too!
When you realise that Kreng translates to ‘Carrion’ (or ‘Cadaver‘) and Abattoir Fermé means ‘closed down slaughterhouse’ , you know that you’re obviously not going to get a gentle new age treatment with this release.
Following his two widely acclaimed previously releases L’Autopsie Phénomenale de Dieu (2009) and Grimoire (2011), Miasmah has now released a massive 4×12″ LP (+ 1×10″ that is not included in the digital download) boxset featuring music that Pepijn ‘Kreng’ Caudron created for various Abattoir Fermé theatre productions.
The set contains more than 3 hours of music (and that’s not even counting the 10″ containing music for the “Monster” TV-series!).
This music is “not for the faint of heart”. Definitely not. These sounds, in fact, may very well haunt you in your most frightening nightmares.
But as for cinematic (dark) ambient music, this is about the best, and most impressive, you will be able to find.
This must be one of the darkest mixes I have created until now.
I recommend headphone listening for this mix, but also recommend to avoid late night listening – unless, of course, you know what to expect.
The atmosphere is immediately set with the first notes, with a threatening (Boduf Songs) howl , and may even get downright frightening in the end climax.
Yet, not all is dark and gloomy.
In the middle section, there are also more optimistic sounds to enjoy, some more comfortable moments.
So: just let the Machinefabriek track (‘Stroomtoon Eén’- about 4 minutes from the start) guide you downward to a lower consciousness level – “Inception” style – and from there let your imagination do the rest….
“Paths” is the follow-up to Olan Mill‘s debut release “Pine” (released in 2010 on the Serein label).
Their second release (now on Facture) continues to explore their “unashamedly romantic music”, with a well-merged blend of violin, pipe organ and processed guitar.
Olan Mill‘s sound is somewhat comparable to the sound of the Stars of the Lid and A Winged Victory for the Sullen and will definitely appeal to the same audience.
In 2008, no-one knew what to expect from this “Bersarin Quartett” and, although it received unmatched critical acclaim, it has always been somewhat below the radar – a “cult” release that still deserves to find a much larger audience.
(Don’t worry: it is still available as CD or digital download. A special limited 2 x 12″ vinyl picture disc edition can also be pre-ordered!)
Four years later, suddenly there’s the follow up, the ‘difficult second album’ – simply named “II“.
The big difference: this time we’re prepared!
image by imago2007
This mix obviously found its name from the lovely intro (and outtro) track by Nest.
Inbetween, there are many moments of ‘stillness’, too… Moments you may slowly drift off into the drones, letting your mind wander … to be pulled back again by some of the post-classical ‘anchors’ in this mix by Winged Victory For the Sullen, Human Greed, Vladimír Gódar, and Maya Beiser (member of Bang on a Can, with a stunning cello performance of the Djivan Gasparyan composition ‘Memories’).
Most of the tracks featured in this were released in 2011. But this mix is nót intended as a “Best of..” overview. That would result in a mix with an entirely different atmosphere (- and much longer, because one hour would not be enough to cover all the great releases I have enjoyed in 2011).
Maybe it’s a good way to start a new year with a small opportunity to retreat from current society’s turmoil, and to find some time to ‘cocoon’ to the sounds (and the sometimes fascinating depths) of ‘Stillness’.
Some word of warning, however: if this suggests this mix only contains warm, comfortable and pleasurable sounds, be prepared for some suprises.
I never said that “Stillness” always means “Comforting”…
Best wishes for 2012 to all of you!