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Sound and Stone * Dialog Tapes II

Sound And Stone

Sound And Stone

VARIOUS ARTISTS – SOUND AND STONE  Also on Spotify

With the release of Sound And StoneSteven M. Halliday concludes a two years research project of the Fessman Sound Stones for his thesis submitted to the Huddersfield University.|
Hannes (and his father Klaus) Fessman‘s ‘Klangsteine’ are fascinating sculptures that are not only very beautiful to watch but also to listen to. They produce an incredible deep resonating sound seemingly connected to thousands of years of the Earth’s history, and which seem to have therapeutic effect too: since 2009 the effects on Alzheimer memory treatment, micro circulation, increased white blood cells muscle relaxation and depression are investigated. The stones definitely produce a ‘mindful’ sound…
The stones of Hannes and Klaus Fessman were a continuation and further exploration of the research of Elmar Daucher in the 70’s and 80’s (more on this later).

Sound speaks louder than words, so instead of spending more words on how beautiful these stone sculptures can sound, it’s probably better to watch this introduction video by Hannes Fessman himself. It’s 11 minutes long but definitely worth watching (and listening) to the end:

 

For this compilation album, the sounds of these stone sculptures were sampled and then the ‘virtual sound stones’ were given to some of the world’s most forward-thinking music producers’ to work with. And that’s an impressive array of artists indeed: Jasmine Guffond, Paul Jebanasam, Tomonari Nozaki, Leyland Kirby, Machinefabriek, Monty Adkins, Yves de Mey, Farwarmth, and of course Steven M Halliday himself.

The result is an intriguing collection…. of electronic music.
And exactly this is what intrigued me: I’m sure the original deep, organic, resonating sounds of the stones are used throughout, bit still this feels like electronic music in the first place. Understandable, of course, since they worked with samples as their basic material, they do not play the stones themselves. On second thought this isn’t a real surprise: “unfortunately, the logistics of getting the Hannes stones around Europe became impossible. Not only do you need a flatbed truck and crane to transport them, but there is also a considerable cost involved too.”
So the samples would have to do as the base material – and so the original sounds are manipulated and reconstructed into these new pieces, with each artist’ own sound characteristics.

As much as I love listening to this album, I still think it would’ve been great if some of the original sounds were more prominently included in this album (like demonstrated in the video above) too. The sound of the stones is so ‘complete’ that one may wonder if further treatments of these sound can really add anything to that.
This is perhaps why the download of this album also contains a sample pack of the original sounds. If you have a sampler, DAW of can process samples in any other way, you can create your own version of the Sound Of Stones. (The cassette version does not contain these samples for obvious reasons, but if you buy the cassette version it is included with the digital download. Problem solved…)

As an extra, it might be interesting to mention Stephan Micus’ album The Music of Stones‘ from 1989. On this album Micus uses Elmar Daucher‘s resonating stones, and with ECM’s immaculate recording they can be heard in full effect. Being Stephan Micus, this music is more eastern-oriented in style (adding shakuhachi and tin whistle) and not as ‘experimental’ as Steven Halliday’s collection, but if you’re interested in musical stones you should definitely check it out too.


Dialog II Eilean Dialog Tapes II Dauw

VARIOUS ARTISTS – DIALOG TAPES II: EILÉAN / DAUW

Three years ago, the labels Dauw and Eiléan released the first Dialog Tapes‘: a collection of tracks working together in various combinations, collaborating to create the music they love with like-minded souls. According to the labels’ release policy, the Dauw edition was released on tape and the Eiléan edition on CD. A great concept, demonstrating that many artists share a musical vision and can work together regardless of geological borders.

The same applies to Dialog Tapes II, released after the same concept. Ánd on the same physical editions – but if this is the first time you read about this you can forget about physical that because those already sold out.
Don’t worry too much about that: the digital downloads remain available and it’s all about the music isn’t it?

Like Dialog Tapes I this release-pair should be considered as a single unity: a double album release on two different labels/media. The one is not complete without its other half.
Almost all of the artists are performing on both albums with a different partner. With a few remarkable exceptions: Autistici (only on Eiléan) and Yadayn (only on Dauw). And Monolyth & Cobalt and Dudal break the ‘change partner’ rule by re-appearing as Dudal & Monolyth & Cobalt. 

I’ll simply namedrop the other performing artists here, in order of appearance: Olan Mill, Øjerum, Humble Bee, Toàn, Stijn Hüwels, Offthesky, Benoît Pioulard, Josh Mason, Machinefabriek, Emmanuel Witzthum, R. Beny, Omar El Abd, Steve Pacheco. I’m assuming that these names are enough to get an idea of the resulting sounds.

The remarkable result of this shared musical vision is that these two albums also sound as if it was one single group of artists performing: there are variations in details, other accents, but generally speaking the music is all in the same vein – a coherent compilations without unexpected extremes.
All of these artists have been releasing their music on these labels so if you’re familiar with the labels you know what to expect. An ‘attempt to connect a musical field through its own creative forces. It’s about connectivity and making new unexpected musical ties between individual actors’. 

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Gail Priest * Cicely Irvine * Eilean 58

Gail Priest

Gail Priest

GAIL PRIEST – HERACLITUS IN ICELAND  Also on Spotify

This is my first encounter with Gail Priest, a Sydney based experimental sound artist. But it is not her first work: she has released solo albums on Flaming Pines, Metal Bitch (what’s in a name…) – a split LP with Kate Carr among these.

Heraclitus in Iceland is the result of a 2016 residency in Olafsfjordur, Iceland, where ‘the ubiquity of water (melted ice) got Gail thinking about the adage “you cannot step twice into the same river”, attributed to the 5th Centurt BC philosopher Heraclitus the Obscure‘.

Each track on the album is equipped with a Heraclitus quote – thought with many layers that sometimes also refer to the music itself: ‘the hidden harmony is better than the obvious’, ‘it is in changing that things find repose’.

 

All compositions are based on field recordings from around the small and remote fishing village (click the link to see where the basic sounds for the different tracks were recorded), but by combining them with vocal and instrumental improvisations this is clearly a musical album with the environmental recordings as one of the instruments.

Carefully balanced, original instrumentation and beautiful vocalisations: this album is a refreshing surprise and another proof that Iceland is a huge source of creativity and inspiration for those open to it.


Cicely Irvine

CICELY IRVINE – EXCAVATION

OK. Here’s the obligatory disclaimer: Eilean Records release + released in september 2017 (while I was on holiday) + waiting on my desk for too long = Sold Out.
(Or maybe not completely: Experimedia (US) or Stashed Goods (UK) still seem to have some in stock!)
But there’s still the digital download release (and who knows about possible future re-releases).

So:
Take note of Cicely Irvine‘s debut album. 44 Minutes of beautifully varied soundscapes recorded between 2007 and 2017 in ‘bedroom studios’ in Gothenburg and Stockholm.
Created on a rich array of instruments like piano, pump organ (sounds like a church organ – must’ve been some bedroom!), guitar, glockenspiel, musical box, sansula (= kalimba), saw, melodica, violin, bass, flute, bells, etc. etc.

From engaging musical miniatures to more abstract sketches,  all radiating the kind of warmth and intimacy that somehow is connected to the cold countries of the northern hemisphere.


Eilean 58

VARIOUS ARTISTSEILEAN 58

Apart from their stream of quality releases throughout the year, Eilean Records has a great habit to close the year with a compilation filled with all the artists that were featured that year. That in itself is not uncommon, but what makes these compilations so special is that all artists are featured with an exclusive track not on the earlier releases.

The 2017 end-of-year compilation features 21 artists on 16 tracks (70 minutes).
The performing artists this year: Cicely Irvine, Ben Rath, Stijn Hüwels/Danny Clay, Francesco Giannoco/Giulio Aldinucci, Sonmi451, Toàn, Bill Seaman, Monolyth & Cobalt, Daniel W J Mackenzie, Josko/Spheruleus, Monty Adkins, Tatsuro Kojima, 9T Antilope, Sound Meccano/Jura Laiva, Jacek Doroszenko/Josh Mason/Nathan McLaughlin.

To top it off, the CD version (which will probably also be sold out before the release date… we’re getting used to that) is packed in a nice metal box and includes a poster and cover art stickers. (Of course (also as usual) there’s also a digital download available for those that missed or don’t want a physical copy).

Like any compilation album should, this is a good sample of what Eilean Records has to offer. The album presents different musical approaches, but because the label has a  clear aesthetic vision the tracks fit together on the album nicely without becoming too uniform.

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