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Max Ananyev * Danny Clay

Water Atlas

Water Atlas

MAX ANANYEV – WATER ATLAS

Serein may not be the most prolific label in the field (this is their second title for 2018), but when they release a new title you can be sure it is worth checking out. They combine quality control with a broad-minded view which means that each release bears new surprises and spans different genres.

Water AtlasMax Ananyev‘s first full album for Serein (his earlier two albums Communication and The Way To The Ocean were released by Preserved Sound) – for instance, can be labelled as an ‘ambient’ album for most part of it. But it breaks away from the usual constrictions of the genre by using acoustic instruments in a somewhat more ‘jazzy’ setting. A refreshing sound, different without breaking the atmosphere.

In his liner notes, St. Petersburg based Max Ananyev refers to the two words in the title:
“Water is always something mysterious, detached. Water has stirred the imagination of people. It erases civilisations from the face of the earth, is a panacea for mortal wounds and a portal to another world.”
An Atlas “awakens fantasy, lures you with the unusual landscapes of distant countries, invites you on a certain journey”. Places “you will never see in your life. Be you even the most fearless traveler or richest traveler. But these places can always find life in a person’s imagination.”

On Water AtlasMax Ananyev aims to take you to mysterious places hidden deep in your own imagination.


Danny Clay - Periphery

DANNY CLAY – PERIPHERY

Periphery is the fourteenth release in the Slaapwel Records series, a now near-legendary Belgian label that is dedicated to‘music to fall asleep to’ and presents it releases in endearing hand-stitched covers. The label is now curated by Stijn Hüwels, who previously collaborated with Danny Clay on An Unintended Space– so it’s no big surprise that Clay is the next artist to this series.

What ís somewhat of a surprise, however, is the musical content of this edition.
Due to its conceptual nature, previous editions in the Slaapwel series were mostly of the soothing ambient / droney kind; electronic as well as acoustic. I simply expected Clay would continue this tradition set by previous contributors like Machinefabriek, Steinbrüchel, Greg Haines, Peter Broderick, Sonmi451, Simon Scott, The Boats and Gareth Davis (among others).
The four versions of Periphery (each one a different realization of the same score), however, present soft modern-classical chamber music scored for flute, cello and piano, with Danny Clay adding the ‘tones’.

It still perfectly fits the Slaapwel concept, especially since the score is repeated in slightly different versions. It is ‘sleepy’ music, based on unraveling “a simple tune Clay heard at his grandparents’ church as a child, leaving remnants to drift among each other and the original to loom as a kind of vague feeling at the edge of the senses”.

Periphery is not intended for active listening, it’s most rewarding if you just relax and let it flow. You might fall asleep in the process – never mind. But perhaps you won’t: like most of the other Slaapwel releases the music is a bit too beautiful to waste it by falling asleep…

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Orphax & Machinefabriek * Hüwels & Clay * Federico Mosconi

Weerkaatsing

Weerkaatsing

ORPHAX & MACHINEFABRIEK – WEERKAATSING

The dutch title isn’t easily translated. Reflection comes close but doesn’t quite cover it.
But the cover image reveals what this album is about: two artists interacting on each others work, bouncing the ball back to each other and creating new pieces along the process.

The starting point for this album was their mutual respect. To call it a collaboration album would not be entirely true: two (of the three) tracks on this album are a remixes of each other’s music.
Orphax (Sietse van Erve, Amsterdam) remixed Machinefabriek‘s Stofstuk into Reflectie.
Spiegeling, 
on the other hand, is Machinefabriek‘s remix of Orphax’ De Eerste Dag.
Completing this album is the title track Weerkaatsing, which is a completely new piece. Not a remix, but a ‘real’ collaborative work.

Drone-based electronics, but not the static kind of drones… there’s a lot happening in these 43 minutes. The original sound is enriched with many tweaks and twitches, adding details that weren’t there in the first place (such as the string section in Spiegeling).

Ever-changing –  yet with a consistent overall atmosphere…  Weerkaatsing is one of those collaboration projects where the whole is absolutely a lot more than the sum of its parts.
1 + 1 = 3.


Unintended Space

STIJN HÜWELS & DANNY CLAY – AN UNINTENDED SPACE

Stijn Hüwels is a Belgian musician that is not only known for his own minimalist music (created using processed guitar, loops and field recordings), but also as curator of the famous Slaapwel Records label – promoters of Sleep Music with a critically acclaimed discography of handmade CD(r)-releases.

Danny Clay (from San Francisco), on the other hand, describes himself as a Composer/General Noise Maker who’s projects “often incorporate musical games, open forms, found objects, archival media, toy instruments, classrooms of elementary schoolers, graphic notation, digital errata, cross-disciplinary research, and the everything-in-between”.

So there you are: merge Stijn’s quiet and introspective guitar and voice with Danny’s interacting (but also introspective) turntables, sine waves and celesta, and you’re in for a sonic treat.
A very calming and undisturbed treat, for most parts.
The slow-paced (14 minute) 3.25.2016 (I), for example, has a background loop that could come from a William Basinski album (but without the degradation), and is covered in warm guitar layers and gentle glockenspiel-like bell sounds.

An Unintended Space is the duo’s first collaborative project, on which they worked for a year. The tracks are titled by the dates they were considered finished (I assume): between february 2016 and march 2017.


Federico Mosconi - Colonne Di Fumo

FEDERICO MOSCONI – COLONNE DI FUMO  Also on Spotify

Eight ‘smoke columns’ created by Federico Mosconi from Verona, Italy: “undefined and changing soundscapes as the figures drawn by smoke”. 
The opening track Notturno introduces sounds of distant thunder, while the album merges field recordings with Mosconi‘s guitar playing and live recordings into a beautiful dreamy set of lush ambient soundscapes.

Creating ambient music is not the only thing Federico Mosconi does: he graduated in guitar and multimedia composition at the Conservatory of Verona and has played solo as well as in orchestras, chamber ensembles and the electroacoustic improvisation sextet Cardew Ensemble.
Colonne Di Fumo is his second full album, following Acquatinta from 2014.

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