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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

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Dag Rosenqvist; Tiny Vipers; Artificial Memory Trace; Ken Camden

Ambience 3

Dag Rosenqvist - Forest Diaries

DAG ROSENQVIST – THE FOREST DIARIES
A forest can be many different things, changing completely with every season. But here, the album cover sets the mood: an extremely desolate atmosphere of an open space in the middle of a forest, covered in mist, just two rather bare trees in sight, and a human silhouette looking into the distance standing on (what seems to be) a half-sunken tombstone.
Which, for me, is not necessarily a negative connotation: the isolation of walking in a thick fog can be a comforting experience too!

The Forest Diaries was created for a project by choreographer Jenny Larson, dealing with “roots, ancestry and identity”. For 30 different forest sites in Sweden, she will create a site specific dance piece. This album is the soundtrack for the resulting video and multimedia presentation.


Rosenqvist‘s instrumentation is minimalist but very effective: (mainly) acoustic instruments like piano and pump organ, focussing on different aspects of the theme, at times combining all details to the beautiful main theme (which, by the way, is based on the track Summer from the 2007 In a Cool Monsoon album by Jasper TX .
I can easily imagine the striking effect this music will have as the soundtrack of the multimedia event – but even without the visuals this album works very well on its own.


Ambience 3

TINY VIPERS – AMBIENCE 3
The word ‘Multimedia’ gets a completely different meaning when looking at the releases from the Box Bedroom Rebels label: the Ambience 3 package contains a 2-track vinyl 7″, a full length (76″) CD, additional remix tracks on the download that goes with the physical purchase, an art insert and artist portrait. Now thát’s a neat little (or not-so-little) package!

The title and cover images of this BBR series is a direct homage to the 1972-82 Ambient 1-4 series of Brian Eno: ‘a conceptual homage’. The  7″ sleeves pictures the area where Jesy ‘Tiny Vipers’ Fortino lives, while the CD sleeve shows where she was born and raised.
The full packages features over 2 hours of music, most of it (Tape I-V and Guitar) performed by Jesy Fortino “recorded directly to tape in her own defining style that echos William Basinski’s own recording technique of crumbling destroyed tapes and Groupers distant muffled simplicity.”
On the CD there are also additional remixes from Shaun Blezard and Xela (under the name of Alexander Johnson), and if that’s not enough the download features another two extra remixes (15 minutes each) by Brittle Stars.

Together, it’s a varied collection of (sometimes rather extremely) lo-fi ambient – the ‘Alexander Johnson’ track being the exception to the rule with a thick and throbbing beat.


Amfibion

ARTIFICIAL MEMORY TRACE – AMFIBION
“Comprised of treated field recordings of frogs taken during excursions in the Brazilian Amazon, Amfibion is lagely based on mating songs, and treats them in a manner which underlines the humid fecundity of this ecological wonderland.”
Artificial Memory Trace is Czech/Irish experimental sound artist Slavek Kwiwhose discography boasts over 55 album releases since 1994. With his extensive experience he manages to treat and manipulate the environmental recordings to a whole different level, where they can be enjoyed much more as a fascinating piece of electronic music than as a sonic documentation of a specific environment.
“An unforgettable journey into a rich, bizarre and disorienting world.”
The download that comes with the CD has an additional 23 minute bonus track called “Epilok”.


Ken Camden Dream Memory

KEN CAMDEN – DREAM MEMORY
On his third full length release for Kranky Ken Camden explores many different styles of electronic experimental music: from spacey vocal dreamscapes to sequencer-driven krautrock, and many things in-between. Though the album sounds electronic, Camden‘s main instrument is the guitar: “by utilizing both a steel slide and e-bow technique, Camden has moved into micro-tonal territory to bridge the textural gap between guitar and synthesizer while examining their inherent differences.”
For the vocal part in the tracks, the Vocaltron is introduced: an ‘organic vocal sampling machine’ which retains the original characterictics of the singer that contributed the vocal samples (in this case Emily Elhaj and Angel Olsen).


Also on Spotify


KEN CAMDEN – RENEWAL

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A Zoharum Quartet

Forrest Drones

Zoharum is a Polish label founded in 2007, specialising in experimental music. Their catalogue, close to 100 releases, is often dedicated to the promotion of Polish artists, new as well as renowned, but they are also releasing works from other artists. New albums as well as re-releases: a wealth of albums to explore if you’re into ambient, industrial, experimental, electroacoustic, IDM, or all other kinds of music adventurous and unpredictable. 


Forrest Drones

FORRRESTDRONES – NAJA FLEXILIS EXEQUIAE
A 60 minute drone piece, or (better maybe) a collection of drones glued together by the comforting familiar sound of crackling vinyl (or a burning fireplace, if you insist).
“Is the melody you hear soothing or sinister?” I’d say: it is both – it is as enigmatic as the owl on the cover.
ForrrestDrones (mind the third R!), is Robert Skrzynski, also known as Micromelancolie.


Vintermusik

DAG ROSENQVIST & RUTGER ZUYDERVELT – VINTERMUSIK
Re-issue of two collaboration projects by Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek). The original releases from 2007 were easy to miss: “Vintermusik” was limited CDR self-release, and the 24-minute auditive fever dream “Feberdrøm” was released as (also limited) 3″ CDR on Odradek.
Seven years later, this music still sounds remarkably fresh: “contemplative music full of shimmering guitar drones, delicate piano melodies and a bit of field recordings. They sound cold, yet warm at the same time.” A well-deserved re-release!


Tunguska Event

JARL | ENVENOMIST – TUNGUSKA EVENT
The Tunguska Event was “a large explosion which occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River at 07:14 on June 30, 1908. It flattened 2.000 km2 of the forest and caused glowing sunsets on the horizon. Some scientists claim it was connected with an asteroid or comet that burst into the air above the region, others claim that it might have been a small black hole passing the earth. The mystery is still unsolved.”
Erik Jarl and David Reed (Envenomist) create a ‘sonic reenactment’ of this event, “full of oily drones and industrial blasts intertwined with unsettling ambient textures”, yet avoid trying to re-create the sound of the explosion itself (which obviously cannot be recreated at all). What remains is the mystery that still surrounds the Tunguska Event.


Machine River

RAPOON & PROMUTE – MACHINE RIVER
One of the most prolific artists on the Zoharum label, Robin “Rapoon” Storeyteams up with Shaun Sandor a.k.a. Promute. Inspired by “the swirling mist of sound conjured by Rapoon” on his 2011 tour, Promute started creating tracks with various homemade instruments, prepared guitar, bass and sitar, and sent this to Rapoon to manipulate further. Des Kashyap contributed some vocal improvisations and the result is some out-of this world weirdness which is definitely not meant for the faint of heart.

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