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The [N]-Word

Birkam

Maennerfreundschaft

SANKT OTTEN + N – MÄNNERFREUNDSCHAFT UND METAPHYSIK

If this had been a solo album by it would’ve been N(47)the [N] name alias changes with every release (which results in somewhat chaotic Discogs discography). But for some reason, it’s just N this time (at least on the outside cover). is shorthand for experimental guitarist  Hellmut Neidhart, known from many noise, ambient and drone releases. Sankt Otten is the duo Stephan Otten and Oliver Klemmwho have been releasing albums on Denovali since 2009.

Though they come from somewhat different musical areas, the three individuals share more than just their birthground (Germany) and the Denovali label. Their sense of humor, to begin with, as demonstrated in the album title and track titles like  Machmal schmeckt nichtmal der Kaffee or Milchmädchen und Herrenschokolade.
They are obviously not afraid to think outside of their musical boxes, too: these eight pieces are based on freely improvised studio sessions and have been recorded live, with only a few overdubs later.

“The aim of this collaboration was to combine the perspectives of the genres of both partners, with N adding a grave and menacing mood to Sankt Otten’s electronica and Krautrock and Sankt Otten providing the sound walls of N with an unusual dynamics”.

The result is not a collision of different worlds but a seamless merging of musical visions – an album reminiscing the most adventurous Krautrock era, especially where Stephan Otten’s drumming kicks in, such as in the 13 minute Massiere die Maschine.
But with a much better recording quality!

Also on Spotify


Birkam

N(43) – ANKLAM
N(49) + SIMULACRA – BIRKA

Denovali further showcases the work of Hellmut Neidhart with the simultaneous release of two full-lengthalbums: a N(43) solo performance Anklamand Birka, a N(49) collaboration with Simulacra (Miguel Boriau from Belgium).
The first is a direct-two track recording without any post-processing, with Neidhardt just using his guitar/FX/amp setup: “deeply melancholic, coarse-graines waves of sound, buried under tons of beside-noises”.
Birka,
 on the other hand, is quite different from this, mainly because of the deep soundwalls created by Simulacra (almost) covering N‘s guitar.
“For this reason it was very difficult for the two collaborators to figure out a corporate sounds; they only knew they found it after it had happened at last”
It definitely was worth the digging. Be prepared for some dark cavernous sounds!

Also on Spotify

N(49) + SIMULACRA – KUGGHAMN


Enomeni

AIDAN BAKER, N(38), DIRK SERRIES – ENOMENI

As if the Denovali showcase wasn’t enough, Midira Records have also released an album featuring N performing a live set with Aidan Baker and Dirk Serries.  It is the recording of an hour-long liveset, divided into a 4-part Ritual, presented on a double vinyl album release only (no download-only).
The album set is available in two editions: one black vinyl and the other milky/khaki/cream coloured.

It was a special occasion for this performance, since Baker, Serries and were the wedding band for label curators Cosima & Dimi. Hence the title: Enomeni means ‘connected’.
The three artist performed together for the first time, playing an improvised live session that starts quietly but slowly builds up to inescapable Sunn O))) proportions.

The power-drone dream team definitely is not the average wedding party trio performing all time favourite covers to dance to…. I can’t help to wonder how the family members may have reacted to this drone-ritual.


AIDAN BAKER, N, DIRK SERRIES – RITUAL III

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Bas van Huizen, Orphax, Chihei Hatakeyama, Dirk Serries

Kluwekracht

BAS VAN HUIZEN KLUWEKRACHT
You only need one short look at the (A5-sized) cover to know that you’re in for something different. The title is – as usual for Van Huizen‘s releases – untranslatable: a nonexistent dutch word which could mean something like ‘entangled force’.

‘Van Huizen searches for music that can speak for itself’.
And so it does – but once you watched the fantastic teaser video (check below) there’s no escaping the striking surrealistic images conjured by this combination of sound and images!

Kluwekracht is created from voice, guitars and singing bowls – but the resulting power ambient is never far from noise and may not be anything like what you would expect from this combination!


Dream Sequence

ORPHAX – DREAM SEQUENCE 1
For this short 3″ EP-release – the first of a series ‘with a dreamy touch’ – Orphax (Sietse van Erve) used a 40 year old Digisizer DIY synth to create the basic drone material.
‘A weird machine that has a high random factor and many errors’.
The result is a nice meandering, adventurous – yet dreamy – drone piece with enough variation to keep your attention for its full 21 minutes length.


Five Dreams

CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA – FIVE DREAMS
Once you’ve heard a few of his releases, you’ll immediately recognise the soothing sounds of Chihei Hatakeyama.
The calm, slow and peaceful meditations on Five Dreams are no exception.

Inspired by Ten Nights of Dreams‘ by Soseki Natsume, which were each set in different time periods, Hatakeyma presents his interpretations of five dreams, each one from a different month.
The basic sound files were recorded in 2008 using an electric guitar, but Hatakeyama took all the time he needed to edit them until they were ready to be released.


Storm of Silence

CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA & DIRK SERRIES – STORM OF SILENCE
The Glacial Movements releases are all related to winter, and cold desolate icy landscapes.  So is this collaboration of Chihei Hatakeyama with Belgian ambient music veteran Dirk Serries:

“My work with Chihei is one for the winter. Amidst the icy landscapes, the isolation and the desolate space. When nature becomes almost super linear, less expressive in colour but with equal strength and severity. […] Chihei’s approach to my sources were different, more isolated, perhaps colder and distant. Almost like something you witnessed in the distance on the horizon, something less concrete and hard to define.”

A perfect description of the seasonal ‘isolationism’ in these recordings, but at the same time I never really feel any ‘coldness’… I feel nothing but ‘warmth’ when listening to this music.
Not the kind of tropical, festive summer heat of course, but the kind of warmth you feel when you decide the weather’s too bad to to go out an so you stay at your comfortably heated home to surrender to the dark and sleepy winter days.
So: perfect winter music indeed.

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Veroníque Vaka; Dirk Serries; Robert Scott Thompson; Damián Anache

Erlendis

VERONÍQUE VAKA – ERLENDIS
Originally from Montréal, Canada, Veroníque Vaka moved to Iceland to become infected with whatever creative virus it is that the geysirs breathe into the air.
Erlendis (the word translates to ‘a place that is foreign to you’) is her relatively short debut EP (released on Moderna Records), – on which she presents the beautiful music she created with some gifted –sons and –dottirs.
It has all the classic qualities, we’ve come to know of music from Iceland: an intriguing combination of string ensemble, piano, wind instruments, field recording and voice: all with in mind ‘the purity and breathing of acoustic instruments and their sensibility’.
Ánd of course a strange, somewhat alienated atmosphere. 
The album is co-produced and mixed by Alex Somers, known for his work with Jónsi & Alex, Sigur Ross and Damien Rice. 

 


Dirk Serries - Disorientation FlowDIRK SERRIES – DISORIENTATION FLOW
If you limit your search to just Dirk Serries you’ll find only a handful of album releases, but add one of his many aliases (Fear Falls Burning, VidnaObmana, Continuum, Microphonics, Stream of Consciousness, Yodok III) and his discography expands to frightening proportions.
Disorientation Flow presents Serries in his most basic form: fully improvised and recorded in real-time with an electric guitar and just a handful of effects. It “touches upon the introspective character of  Serries’ musical language. String-like chords, subtle waves and dynamic warm drones are the sonic ingredients, playing with notation of extended time and isolation.”


Palimpsest

ROBERT SCOTT THOMPSON – PALIMPSEST
In his extensive discography that goes all the way back to 1991, Robert Scott Thompson has explored many different facets of electronic music. His sound can sometimes reflect ‘old-school’ ambient artists like Klaus Schulze, Brian Eno or Steve Roachbut it can also choose a direction to reflect the more experimental music by musique concrête artists like Francis Dhomont or Todd Dockstader.
His latest album is a good example of his musical versatility: starting out with the acousmatic sounds of small rocks and pebbles, but slowly drifting into more ethereal ambient textures (and back again).
It’s exactly that combination of choices that makes Thompson stand out from the contemporary electronic music mainstream.
He “manages to refrain from the harsher electroacoustic sounds, while still capturing the tension inherent in that school. Combined with a modern ambient approach, his recordings often take on pleasant overtones, albeit with darkness on the horizon.”
The album title Palimpsest refers to the fact that this new material is created using material that has been developed for previous Robert Scott Thompson projects.


Capturas del Unico Camino

DAMIÁN ANACHE – CAPTURAS DEL ÚNICO CAMINO
The deluxe edition of Damián Anache‘s debut CD Capturas del Único Camino… comes in a hand-cut carton box, also including art prints dedicated to Damián Anache‘s creative influences: John Cage, Brian Eno, Erik Satie and Alan Watts. This includes extensive information about the score, unfortunately (for me) all written in Spanish (Anache comes from Argentina).
There’s also a more moderate standard CD release – but for those that don’t need a physical copy the digital download release is available as a free (!) high resolution (48/24 FLAC) download!
The soundscape (recorded in Ambisonic-UHJoffers a natural kind of Generative Music –  the ‘chance music’ generated by computer algorithm which is constantly changing and slightly different at every occasion.
Generative Music was extensively explored by Brian Eno and has since then become a computer music genre in itself (remember Sseyo Koan software? That was over 20 years ago!!)
Capturas… may be ‘computer music’ because of its use of complex software algorhythms, but Anache uses the software to control acoustic sounds of instruments, voice and recordings of water.
The result is a bright natural, ever-changing yet also constant sound painting – a pleasure to have it playing in the background. Or, of course, for ‘accompanying a lull or relaxation, offering a beautiful object for passive contemplation.’

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