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Lawrence English * Monolog & Subheim * Pinkcourtesyphone

Monologue & Subheim - Conviction

Cruel Optimism

LAWRENCE ENGLISH – CRUEL OPTIMISM

Can ambient music be politically or socially engaged? Raising the question is answering it: yes, of course.
But if you’re in doubt consult Lawrence English – and his latest album release in particular.
Cruel Optimism could hardly have been released at another time-frame than the current, I think.
And although English tries all he can to focus on the ‘optimism’, things are not looking too good. ‘Cruel’ has taken over – almost.

Cruel Optimism is a confronting, hard-hitting album, and not exactly easy listening. But, contrary to some others in the ‘power-ambient’ scene who enjoy turning up all amps up to eleven and leave it there or even try to stretch it up to twelve, Lawrence English never forgets that a real story needs dynamics.
Tension and release.
Suspense can be a lot more frightening than horror.

Cruel Optimism “meditates on how power consumes, augments and ultimately shapes two subsequent human conditions: obsession and fragility.[…] A meditation on the challenges [of current times] and an encouragement to press forward towards more profound futures. This record is one of protest against the immediate threat of abhorrent possible futures.”

Unlike many of his previous projects, this album is a result of interchanging ideas and perspectives of many other artists. Among the many collaborators on this album are Norman Westberg (guitar), Tony Buck (drums), Brodie McAllister (trombone), Heinz Riegler (guitar), Chris Abrahams (piano), Mats Gustafsson (saxophone), a choir of Australian Voices, and many others. But you’ll probably have a hard time to distinguish their particular contributions, because they all have been subjected to English’ musical vision.
A vision that tells us that the future may look grim and dark, but it’s our own inescapable responsibility to make the best of it.

Also on Spotify


Monologue & Subheim - Conviction

MONOLOG & SUBHEIM – CONVICTION

That last sentence above is also a seamless introduction to Conviction, a collaborative work from Monolog (Mads Lindgren) and Subheim (Kostas Katsikas).

Conviction is dark and heavy yet full of light and hope, expressing the closing of important chapters and the beginning of new ones”

Monolog and Subheim are both Berlin residents. The atmosphere of the city has been a source of inspiration: “Berlin’s night sky, the urban scenery, faces and places, action and reaction, the calm before the storm as well as the storm itself.”

The ‘ambience’ of this relatively short album (5 tracks, 24 minutes) is provided by Subheim mainly, Monolog‘s drum rhythms and slow basslines make sure that we don’t lose connection with earth and the Berlin cityscapes. The thundering rhythms from the first tracks slowly dissolve until, in the closing track Colorful Flight we finally drift away into more etheric dimensions.

Also on Spotify

MONOLOG + SUBHEIM – MAKE STONES CRY


Taking into account ....

PINKCOURTESYPHONE – TAKING INTO ACCOUNT ONLY A PORTION OF YOUR EMOTIONS

The music of Richard Chartier in his Pinkcourtesyphone disguise is usually rather dark, but never without humor. But that does not mean the music is to be taken lightly… humor can be a serious matter!

The music bears reference to music from The Caretaker, Angelo Badalementi, William Basinski and stuff like that. But this namedropping like this is a bit offensive, since it could also be the other way round: Richard Chartier himself is a reference artist… top shelf when it comes to experimental electronic music. 

Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Richard Chartier and Pinkcourtesyphone show different aspects of the same personality.
Pinkcourtesyphone is a more emotional, dare one say musical side of his work. Dark but not arch, with a slight hint of humor. Amorphous, changing, and slipping in and out of consciousness.”
There have been many collaborations with diverse artists like Cosey Fanni Tutti, Kid Congo Powers, William Basinski and dutch harpist Gwyneth Wentink. 

Taking Into Account… is a solo project, a set of “new coded messages of sumptuous distant drones and glacial orchestral heartrendings” are “poised and polished slow motion pulsations tug at your emotions (but only a portion of them)”.
One that comes with slightly ominous instructions: “Please don’t hang up. This call is important. You’re coming with Pinkcourtesyphone… leave everything… it’s getting late.”
Unnecessary instructions, by the way, because once you start listening it’s impossible to hang up.

(Trivia detail: dedicated readers/listeners may recognise the samples in Reference Point Intermission 1 and 2: the original Reference Point was generously submitted as one of the track for last year’s Ambientblog Anniversary Collection)

Also on Spotify

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Joshua Sabin * Christian Bouchard * Blessed Initative

Christian Bouchard - Broken Ground

Joshua Sabin - Terminus Drift

JOSHUA SABIN – TERMINUS DRIFT

Terminus Drift is released on the Subtext Recording label, which is also the home of Paul Jebanasam. That’s is no coincidence: both sound artists use the same kind of methods to create their overwhelming and ineluctable soundscapes.
Played at the appropriate level (which means ‘loud’), it feels as if you’re witnessing something larger-than-life..

Jebanasam’s ‘Continuum’ feels as if you’ve become a part of  the Big Bang (especially in a live setting, with visuals by Tarik Barri). But Joshua Sabin‘s focus is the universe close by: he exclusively uses field-recordings captured in transit through Kyoto, Tokyo and Berlin, in addition to electromagnetic field recordings captured in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“Sirens reverberating through station tunnels, fluctuating harmonics of subway engines, echoing tannoy systems, piercing screams of electromagnetic fields.”

However, this does not mean the sound will be more familiar to you everyday life. It’s a disruptive and unpredictable trip that feels like you’re exploring outer space (or inner space, if you prefer).
Sabin reveals details that you never thought were here, and most of them are not exactly comforting.
So it’s a good thing that the closing track, Eki, ends relatively calm, carefully returning the listener back to where he started.

Also on Spotify


Christian Bouchard - Broken Ground

CHRISTIAN BOUCHARD – BROKEN GROUND

If you just listened to the Joshua Sabin album, I recommend you to keep your seatbelt fastened for this new album on Empreintes Digitales,  home of electroacoustic and acousmatic music, musique concrète, soundscapes, audio art and art sonore. 

Broken Ground was commissioned for the Broken Ground exhibition by Derek Besantthat has been presented on various locations since 2012 (in 2017 in Madrid, in 2018 in Tokyo). The exhibition “looks at seven cities over ten years, and how redevelopment infrastructure changes our perception of cityscapes. The collision of the imaging with Christian Bouchard’s electronic soundtrack builds the exhibition installation into a hypothetical representation of the constant change cities are in over time, and how components leave traces or clues to the ones that might have existed here… Even in destruction, there lies the possibility for beauty and reinterpretation.” 

The relation with cities, cityscapes and redevelopment infrastructure may suggest that the basic material for these soundscapes might be taken from environmental and location recordings. In fact there are no recorded sounds in Broken Ground – all sound sources are electronic. The sound samples were completely dissected and augmented to create a new sound environment to accompany the exhibition completing “a hypothetical representation of the constant change cities are in over time, and how components leave traces or clues to the ones that might have existed here…”.
In 2016, the music was remixed to prepare it for this release.


Christian Bouchard – Resistant Materials


Blessed Initiative

BLESSED INITIATIVE – BLESSED INITIATIVE

The bright white cover pictures a stylish, immaculate white car that is about to be hit by a wave of blue paint. This image, from Josephine Pryde‘s series ‘Relax (blue)’ was chosen ‘as a materialization of tension’.
And tension is what is delivered on this album by electro-acoustic composer Yair Elazar Glotmanfrom the first to the very last minute.
It’s as if a giant unknown creature is trying to break through the ground below your feet (… maybe better use your imagination to conjure your own fitting images).

“Blessed Initiative suggests a dissonant, coexistent state of extreme highs and lows. Opposite states coincide, contrast and reflect, creating moments of uncertainty and insecurity. Absurdity and at times even bliss are possible results.”

Not an album to quietly fall asleep with… but of course it wasn’t intended to do so. These intensely energetic compositions will probably raise your adrenalin level and that can be satisfying in its own special way. But I would definitely discourage listening to this album unprepared.

Also on Spotify

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Marconi Union * Steve Hauschildt * Orchestramaxfieldparrish

Instant Light

Tokyo +

MARCONI UNION – TOKYO +

Strictly spoken, this is not exactly a new album. Tokyo was originally released in 2009, but it was exclusively available in Germany in a very limited edition. For this re-release, the original music was revisited and some tracks (the ones with the ‘+’) were completely ‘reconfigured’ – which is not the same as ‘remixed’: new loops and parts were taken from the original stems and combined with improvised live playing, together with their live drummer Phil Hurst.

The newly added ‘plus’ versions are a welcome addition to the original album, offering some nice alternative views. But the original tracks also sound as if they were created recently: the pulsating techno beats, rhythmic pop-ambient may be more ‘pop’ than ‘ambient’, perhaps, but it’s definitely atmospheric .

The music on this album is inspired by images of Tokyo but has no intention to represent the reality or include “authentic” Japanese music:
“Neither of us had ever been to Tokyo and we realised that our entire conception of the city originated from films, TV and books. We liked this idea of creating music for a place that only existed in our minds”

Also on Spotify


Steve Hauschildt

STEVE HAUSCHILDT – STRANDS

“I wanted to try and capture that moment in nature and society where life slowly re-emerges through desolation, so it has a layer op optimism looming underneath. The music represents this by seemingly decaying at times but then reforms and morphs in a fluid way back into its original state.”

Steve Hauschildt describes the music of his latest album, Strandshis fourth title for the Kranky label.
Like strands from a rope, the (eight) different tracks are separate units, but together they form a new organic whole. Hauschildt‘s spacey electronics meander from ambient soundscapes to modular sequencing and back again, shifting between soft sounds and harsher noises in a way that is symbolically depicted on the album’s cover.

Also on Spotify


Instant Light  Midsummer's Night

ORCHESTRAMAXFIELDPARRISH – INSTANT LIGHT / A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT

There has been quite a long gap between Mike ‘Orchestramaxfieldparrish’ Fazio’s  last release in 2010 (Crossing Of Shadows, which was in fact a remix from the 2007 release), but 2016 suddenly saw the simultaneous release of two titles.

One is called A Midsummer’s Night and features four abstract soundscapes created on a ‘rare 1936 Gibson L7 archtop with an antique mellophone’, a german lute guitar and a treated baby grand piano. Three string instruments ‘that sound nothing like you can possibly imagine them to sound after recording them through a series of unconventional effects.”

The other, Instant Light, is every bit as abstract, but its sound is very different. Here, the sound of processed treated electric guitars is mixes with field recordings, the bright sound of singing bowls and metals, and modular synthesis and electronics. Due to the instrumentation, it has a somewhat ‘brighter’ overall sound.
But in the end, both releases explore the same puzzling kind of landscapes.


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DreamScenes 2017-2

DreamScenes Logo

Music for the last days of Winter….

The february DreamScenes edition may feel darker than usual.
Possibly due to the dark winter days or, perhaps,  the general darkness of current times.
But don’t worry: there’s a sweet surprise at the end. So keep listening!

Tracklist:

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Yann Novak * Triac * Mytrip

Mytrip Filament

Ornamentation

YANN NOVAK – ORNAMENTATION

On his very first physical release on the Touch label, Yann Novak “continues his investigations of presence, stillness and mindfulness through the construction of immersive spaces, both literal and figurative.”

The title of this 49 minute soundscape refers to a 1913 manifesto of Adolf Loosarguing that “the proper and moral evolution of Western culture depends in part upon the removal of ornamentation from daily life”,  because “the desire to adorn architecture, the body, objects etc. is a primitive impulse.”
Loos 
equated ornamentation with the degenerate – an interesting viewpoint to ignite a heated conversation in a contemporary tattoo-shop on a saturday afternoon, I guess.

For this composition, Novak carefully selected poor quality field recordings from his archive. “Difficult sounds”, low fidelity smartphone recordings, full of awkward interruptions and problematic frequencies.
This selection forced him to approach the material in an entirely different way: “the familiar, reductive approaches would fail to be useful and ultimately abandoned in favor of more dynamic, additive and laborious processes.”
The result is ‘an adornment of time itself: a meditation on beauty, labor and aesthetics’. 

Is this an ‘ornamented’ drone? Or are the original recordings stripped of their inherent ornamentations?
It’s impossible to say. One wonders what Adolf Loos would have to say about a recording like this .

Also on Spotify


Triac Here

TRIAC – HERE

Third Triac album by the trio consisting of Rossano Polidoro (ex Tu’M, laptop), Marco Seracini (piano, synth) and Augustus Tatone (electric bass), and their second release for Richard Chartier’s Line label: the follow-up of last year’s Days.

Though their music is constructed in an entirely different process, the result is reminiscent of that of William Basinski in its repetitive use of short melodic fragments with an almost hypnotic result.
Mysterious clouds of drifting sounds, where  the sound of piano and bass is hardly distinguishable but definitely add to the complete sound palette.


Mytrip Filament

MYTRIP – FILAMENT

There’s a remarkable lot of experimental electronic music coming from the Eastern part of Europe. Most of these albums were hard to find in the old days, but with Bandcamp becoming the main distribution channel for independent artists finding this music has become much easier.
While I’ve seen many acts from – for instance – Poland, there are no names from Bulgaria that I know of. With this exception: Angel Simitchiev aka Mytrip.

Filament is physically released as vinyl and cassette, and there’s a download version, but no CD release.
The album features six multi-layered, dubby soundscapes (and three additional remixes by Ivan Shopov, Evitceles and Conjecture on the cassette version only which is 20 minutes longer than the vinyl album release).

The music can be classified as “breathing on the thin borderline of ambient, drone and dub”, but with a discerning sound palette because Simitchiev is careful to keep some harshness in his sound palette to accentuate the ‘live’ feel of the album.

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Various Various

Homework Year 1

A selection from the many label compilations that were recently released – looking ahead at 2017, looking back at 2016, or maybe even looking back at the last 15 years:

anticipation of an uncertain future

ANTICIPATION OF AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

The near future of 2017 may be unpredictable on a worldwide political scale, but fortunately this 40 minute (9 track) compilation of recent and upcoming Preserved Sound releases is reassuring: there will always be great music to take a break from everyday absurdity!

Artists include Visionary Hours, Aaron Martin, Richard Youngs, Max Ananyev, Endless Melancholy, Poppy Nogood, Adrian Lane, Ales Tsurko and CovarinoIncorvaia.
A wide range of instrumental genres show all kinds of beauty this label has to offer. There’s influences from ambient, folk, improv,  jazz, post-rock, neo-classical and experimental electronics (the Ales Tsurko track [Grusha] uses regular expressions to generate music from random Wikipedia articles!)

Generously offered as a Name Your Price download.


Illuminations

ILLUMINATIONS

I am not sure if all tracks from this massive Dronarivm compilation are previously unreleased, but the subtitle “The New Year 2017 Free Compilation” suggests so.
But even if they were previously released, only the most dedicated label addict would recognise all of the 28 tracks on this two-and-a-half hour compilation.
The collection is presented without any notes but a quote from Arthur Rimbaud’s ‘Illuminations VI‘:
“… The colours proper to life deepen, dance and detach themselves around this Vision in the making…. .

Currently, Dronarivm is one of the experimental ambient genre’s most important labels, and the line-up of this collection shows why: Olan Mill, Giulio Aldinucci, Autistici, Spheruleus, The Green Kingdom, Offthesky, Aaron Martin, Dag Rosenqvist, Elegi, Legiac, Maps and Diagrams, Strom Noir, Wil Bolton, Enrico Coniglio, Christopher Bissonnette, Porzellan and Bartosz Dziadosz  – and that is only about two-third of the contributors!

Generously offered as a Name Your Price download.


Home To Wander

HOME TO WANDER

Home Normal looks back to 2016 with this 11-track (58 minute) overview featuring tracks they ‘were lucky enough to release in 2016’.
It’s a kaleidoscopic overview of the versatility of this quality label that cannot be pinned down to one style but always guarantees a journey into adventurous new paths.

Artists include David Cordero, Altars Altars, Giulio Aldinucci, M. Ostermeier, Ian Hawgood, Stefano Guzetti Ensemble, Isan, Asuna, Stijn Hüwels/Dudal and A New Line Related.

Generously offered as a Name Your Price download.


Homework Year 1

HOMEWORK, YEAR 1

In an ascending order of track count and playing time, this compilation comes last.
52 tracks that fill up seven (7!) hours and 40 minutes! And, apart from that, áll of the tracks are new and previously unreleased.

The concept of this overview is a bit different: is doesn’t look back to 2016 only, or looks ahead at 2017, but it celebrates the 15 years of existence of the Taâlem label. And they do so in a special way: asking every artist that ever had a release on Taâlem to contribute an unreleased track that was recorded or finalised in 2016 – so it’s all brand new music, not a retrospective!
The list of contributing artists is not complete: some of the artists could not be retraced, others have stopped making music, etc. But the result is imposing enough as it is!

Due to the label’s nature, the music is more abstract and experimental than usual, presenting a lot of sound experiments, field recordings, musiqe concrête and industrial soundscapes – so it’s also the most ‘hardcore experimental’ compilation in this short list. But the tracks are thoughtfully arranged: playing the collection feels like complete overview of all corners of experimental electronics and ambient music.

I cannot mention all of the 52 contributing artists here, so I’ll randomly pick a few familiar names: Aidan Baker, Mathieu Ruhlmann, Emerge, Yui Onodera, Tobias Hellkvist, Encomiast, Simon Whetham, Fabio Orsi, Strom Noir, Pleq/Lauki, Philippe Lamy, Enrico Coniglio, Yannick Franck and Jeff Stonehouse.

And the best news, once again: generously offered as a Name Your Price download.

 

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Drone Cinema * Kenneth Kirschner * Johannes Malfatti * Kirk Kadish

Drone Cinema Vol. 1

Drone Cinema Vol. 1

VARIOUS ARTISTS – DRONE CINEMA FILM FESTIVAL – SELECTED WORKS Vol. 1

Apart from curating the recently re-launched Silent Records label and online stream (don’t forget to check the recent releases of the From Here To Tranquility compilations vol. 6 and 7), Kim Cascone is also the dedicated curator of the Drone Cinema Film Festival. A low-key festival that has taken place in Seattle, Washington as well as in Leiden, Holland (the intimate little theatre that is shown on the cover).

It is essential to point out that in this case the drone refers to the  visual aspect of the (musical) concept of drone, not -or not necessarily- to the technical use of ‘drone’ cameras.
“Drone Cinema is the flotation tank of cinema”, as someone pointed out. Or, in the words of Kim Cascone himself: transcendigital media:
“Transcendigital media is conjured through active imagination instead of software templates and presets.”

Don’t let the ‘floatation tank’ idea make you think that this is one of those new-age kind of things. Because it definitely isn’t.
While some of the tracks máy feel like a warm immersive bath, there are also some tracks that are downright scary and/or industrial and/or culminate in an almost deafening noise.
Unless you’re a seasoned connoisseur of the genre, most of the artists names will probably be unknown. But you can leave it to Kim Cascone to curate a selection that is a must-listen for anyone interested in experimental drone music, a sampler of what the most minimalist of music genres has to offer.

Selected Works, Vol. 1” is not, as you might have expected, a DVD featuring the visual works. It is a selection of the audio tracks without their cinematic equivalents, and thus focuses on audio drones only. It is, by choice, only half of the concept. But that need not be a real problem because you can let your ‘active imagination’ serve the visual aspect, too.. I suggest staring into a bright light for at least five minutes, then close your eyes and start the compilation.

Most of the drones need their time to develop, and this collection is no exception. The fourteen tracks fill up two hours and sixteen minutes, which is why this collection is only available as a digital download and not in a physical form.

Also on Spotify


Datsuzoku

KENNETH KIRSCHNER – DATSUZOKU

To describe the music of Kenneth Kirschner and its impact, you’ll need many words.
Or maybe not.
It’s probably best to use the Yugen Art description of the meaning of the word Datsuzoku:

“One of the seven principles of Japanese Zen aesthetic. Freedom from habit or formula. Escape from the ordinary. Unwordly. Transcending the conventional.
The Feeling of surprise and a bit of amazement when one realizes they can have freedom from the formal.”

And – if this description is still not convincing enough for you: it is a free download! (Like much of Kenneth Kirschner‘s music)



Kenneth Kirschner – October 13, 2001
 


Malfatti Surge

JOHANNES MALFATTI – SURGE

It starts almost unnoticed, with a barely audible white noise reminiscing the sound of a distant beach. But slowly the intensity increases and the waves become a surge. Pushed up and forward by the drone sounds that gradually take over, sometimes with a thundering mass of sub-low bass, at other moments sounding like a distant choir. A drone in constant movement.

The 58 minute Surge “is based on textural developments that evolve very slowly over time.”
“Most processes in nature are too slow to be perceived by the human senses. We merely experience the ripples on the surface, like the passing of hours, days, of changing weather or trends in fashion. The all underlying stream of geological change, like the flow of glaciers or the drifting of continents, is outside our field of experience. However, some events bring these streams closer to the surface. In a glacial surge, the flow velocity of a glacier suddenly increases up to tens of meters per day, making the otherwise imperceptibly slow movement tangible.”

These liner notes are not only a description of what inspired Johannes Malfatti, but also link the album to its label: Surge is appropriately released on the Glacial Movements label, celebrating their tenth anniversary of releasing ‘glacial’ music.

The Berlin-based Malfatti  graduated as a Tonmeister for audio-visual media and has collaborated with many musicians, choreographers and film directors for numerous film, television, theatre and music productions. This is his very first solo album release, and it’s overwhelming and irresistible.
And glacial, too: you may better pull on an extra sweater or winter coat before you start listening.


Still Bill

KIRK KADISH – STILL BILL

Four tracks with a total playing time of two hours and twenty minutes. The shortest 13 minutes, the longest 63. You might want to sit or lie down before enjoying this collection by Kirk Kadish from Sante Fe, New Mexico.
Kadish performs in many different styles (jazz, improv, electronica) , but for this ambient project he chose an original starting point: the music of Bill Evans.

“Three of the four pieces are based on his compositions but completely reimagined from a minimalist/ambient/meditational perspective”.

I’m not familiar enough with the music of Bill Evans to name the compositions that this music is reimagining, and probably it is meant as ‘inspired by’ more than direct musical quotes. But the lush, unhurried and bright piano harmonies are a very refreshing approach to ambient soundscapes.
Add the warm  (Eno-esque) generative background synths, or a Terry Riley-like organ loop (in Some Other Time), and the result is a refreshingly fresh  – and literally timeless – ambient album …
A misty haze in daylight, instead of a thick foggy darkness..

Kirk Kadish is “happy to be free of any commercial restraints that would hinder his freedom in exploring the boundaries of our musical world”.
Which means that he is offering these tracks to download for free, or the full album for $ 0,19.
Or More. My advise would be to pay some more.



Kirk Kadish – Blue In Green

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Svarte Greiner * Franz Kirmann * Loren Nerell

Moss Garden

Moss Garden

SVARTE GREINER – MOSS GARDEN

Svarte Greiner is the solo project of (Deaf Center’s) Erik K. Skodvin. The music on his latest release was originally composed for an installation by Marit Følstadand is presented in two tracks: The Marble and Garden. With 21:53 and 19:20, the tracks have the perfect length for a vinyl release (there is no CD release planned, only vinyl and download) – but for those of us more digitally inclined some of the nostalgic crackles and pops are included in the mix.

The two slow-paced soundscapes are rather gloomy and dark.
In The Marble “a feeling of weightlessness covers the ground while empty space surrounds you in an embracing yet uneasy way. Time gradually illuminates several stages of light and dark before revealing a desolate wasteland filled with electric organisms”.
The suspense is intensified in the first half of Garden, with its increasingly loud metallic blows. When the drone of undertones slowly decays and morphs into its overtones, the nightmarish feeling retreats and peace returns. Somewhat.

This is soundscaping at its very best and perhaps even most intense.
Or, as the Miasmah promo text states so beautifully: Svarte Greiner‘s approach is ‘like the word Teriffic’s amelioration: developing from Terrifying over Intense to its modern understanding in a little more than two centuries – a metamorphosis re-enacted within a single recording.”


Franz Kirmann Elysian Park

FRANZ KIRMANN – ELYSIAN PARK

For his third album (and second title for Denovali), Franz Kirmann (one half of Piano Interrupted) uses sonic material that was created for his soundtrack of “Hyper Trophies” – a 2012 multimedia installation by Berlin art studio Zeitguised.
Using all kinds of sound sources (‘fragments from YouTube recuperated advertising, mangled pop samples, speech synthesis programs or digitally recreated ethnic instruments’), Kirmann creates an environment that is “made of ‘sonic junk’ that may feel abstract or alienating but also vaguely familiar”.

While all the pieces are rather abstract, without any traditional structures, ‘forcing the listener’s attention to focus on the physicality of the sound rather than any melodic, harmonic or rhythmical content’, there are two balancing extremes: calm on one side, harsh on the other. But all are crossing the line between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’.
Ultimately, Elysian Park reflects the search for a better, more peaceful place.

Also on Spotify

FRANZ KIRMANN – SCAVENGER


Venerable Dark Cloud

LOREN NERELL – THE VENERABLE DARK CLOUD

To protect myself from overload, this blog focuses on new and recent releases, and skips re-issues (sometimes with pain in my heart).
But there are exceptions, and this is one.
On the other hand, one could argue that this is a NEW release, since the original 1999 release with the same title only featured 4 tracks with a total length of 22 minutes. AND it has been long out of print!
This 2016 edition, however, is 69 minutes long and is extended to eight tracks. AND it’s available!

What may be even more important is that none of these tracks show any sign of age. This is classic fourth world ambient music, merging Indonesian Gamelan sounds with electronic soundscapes.
Loren Nerell, who has a master’s degree in ethnomusicology, reveals that the album titles comes from the translation of Kyai Mendung, the name of the UCLA Javanese gamelan ensemble. In the belief of Animism, everything has a soul. It is thought that the spirit of the gamelan ensemble resides in its largest gongs. 

“What would it be like to be a soul or spirit inside a gong? You would not think in human ways but maybe in gamelan tones. This album is how I imagine it would be to be that gong.”

If you ever experienced the sound of a full gamelan orchestra you will probably not find this a strange thought at all. The sounds of the gongs, as well as their specific scales and tuning awakens a mysterious awareness on a subconscious level. It is beautiful to listen to, but for western ears it also seems to come from a different, incomprehensible world.

Loren Nerell is capable of connecting these worlds, crossing different cultures and opening the mysteries of the gamelan orchestra for western listeners without denying the culture it originally came from.

Also on Spotify

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Sonmi451 * Machinefabriek /+ Banabila * Legiac

Crumble

Alice

SONMI451 – ALICE

From Belgium comes Bernard Zwijzen‘s Sonmi451named after one of the main characters in David Mitchell’s novel “Cloud Atlas“.
Ever since 2005 Sonmi451 produced a steady stream of albums (some of which you may already know from this blog).
Alice is his 11th full album, this time self-released and available from Bandcamp only.

With a title like this the association is obvious and that is confirmed by titles like I Didn’t Know That Cats Could Grin or How Queer Is Everyting Today. Step into the wondrous world of Lewis Carrol’s Alice In Wonderland to enjoy a beautiful and colourful world where not everything is what it seems.

The tones are soft and warm, the music is adventurous yet without threats. A place you will want to dwell in, especially with the Japanese ‘Alice’ (soft whispered fragments from works of Haruki Murakami) guiding you through the enigmatic and colourful landscape to make sure you don’t accidentally step on something delicate and vulnerable.


Macrocosms

MICHEL BANABILA & MACHINEFABRIEK – MACROCOSMS

Their fourth collaborative album shows Michel Banabila and Machinefabriek in a playful mood, somewhat less abstract than on their previous album Error Log.
Macrocosms radiates the joy of swapping sound files and surprising each other in turn with an unexpected twist of the material: field recordings from the Biala Woda nature reserve in Poland, musique concrête, noise, ambient, ‘fourth world’ samples, ‘Holger Czukay style’ sped up guitars, and whatnot…

“The overall theme deals with the macro and micro – how incredibly tiny and insiginificant we become when zooming out, and how wondrous small worlds can be found within ours when zooming in.” 

Michel and Rutger are a perfect pair: two giants of Dutch experimental music, combining the best of many worlds. Abstract experimentalism, cinematic romanticism, impressionistic environmentalism… it’s all in the details that merge into a recognisable trademark style and manages to surprise with every new release.
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CrumbleMACHINEFABRIEK with ANNE BAKKER and EDITH KARKOSCHKA – CRUMBLE

The first few minutes of soft strings and electronic are a misleading introduction. After three minutes the music suddenly turns into a frightening bombardment of noise particles that lasts for more than 10 minutes. Only if you brace yourself you will hear the details within that sonic storm.
At the end of that sequence – almost unheard from the back of the noise wall – a new theme is introduced. The storm dies down, and is followed by a calm section featuring spoken words and poetry by Edita Karkoscha. The piece ends with an even calmer part where violinist Anne Bakker takes the lead.

Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt has worked with Anne Bakker before (memorable releases like Deining and Halfslaap), but Crumble is quite different in nature and concept.
This is not an ‘easy’ piece to listen to; it requires full attention before it releases its rewarding secrets.
I have been wondering what Machinefabriek was actually trying to achieve here, with the dramatic turns and the enormous contradictions within one single piece.
I thought of the (unintentional) conceptual resemblance with Irreversible, Gaspar Noé‘s unforgettable movie that starts with a shocking climax and from there tells its story in backwards, reverse-chronological, order.
The movie’s tagline: “Time destroys everything” –  ultimately, everything will start to crumble.


Legiac

LEGIAC – THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT

Roel Funcken (core member of Funckarma and prolific Dutch musician, producer and DJ) has teamed up with Cor Bolten (member of the legendary Dutch art-wave band Mecano) to form Legiac.
This their third release: preceded by Mings Feaner (2007) and The Faex Has Decimated (2015, parts of which were recently remixed on this album).
The Voynich Manuscript has found a home on the Dronarivm label – a quality indication in itself.

Legiac‘s soundscapes are described as ‘mildly glitch-infused, modular explored sounds, weaving in ambient textures, field recordings and vast soundscapes.’
The title(s) are taken from a 15th century hand-written and illustrated codex – a mysterious text that raises a lot of unanswered questions about its content. You’ll have to use your imagination to link the music to tis 15th century mystery, because it’s not exactly mediaeval music you’re listening to. But they are mysterious in their own way.
The Voynich Manuscript combines 21st century soundscapes with subtle retro analogue sequencer sounds, merging the skills and experience of two prolific and experienced experimental artists.

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DreamScenes 2016-09/10

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I have enjoyed a holiday in September, so I had to skip last month’s DreamScenes edition.
To compensate for the immeasurable grief this must have caused, ánd to celebrate the start of autumn, this edition is a twice as long as usual.

So I hope you’ll enjoy these two hours of new (and relatively new) music to make you float away into your daydream…

Tracklist:

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