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Kajsa Lindgren * Manja Ristic

Womb - 1

Womb

KAJSA LINDGREN – WOMB  Also on Spotify

Swedish composer and sound artist Kajsa Lindgren presents “a musical narration for abstracted ears and bodies – engulfing a listener in subaquatic sonic environments”.
Womb
 is the perfect title for this collection of sounds that are somehow familiar yet also seem to come from a still unknown outside world. 

The original sound material – recordings of nature and body sounds, interviews and compositions – have been “re-recorded and re-amped underwater in a swimming pool”, and were “re-arranged partly by way of the impulse responses of the pool”.
While that sounds immensely intriguing to me, I cannot imagine how exactly this works (can you?).
So it’s best to I leave that up to the imagination. And thát is not too difficult with this “phonopoetic fiction that conjures its own surreal virtual ecology”. 

Kajsa Lindgren has studied electro-acoustic composition in Stockholm; this is her first full length record. Its release was celebrated in a fitting way with an underwater concert, with  the audience swimming and floating in the pool to experience the piece (!).
As a follow-up to this remarkable release there will also be a virtual reality online installation (haven’t found a link to that yet but will add it as soon as I find it), as well as a set of remixes of the original material. But that is about what is yet to come. For now, it’s best to enjoy what is here and now… enjoy the subaquatic retreat of Womb.

[Edit:]
There’s a beautiful Womb web installation to be enjoyed at https://inanimate.world/ – headphones recommended!
This site also features much more detailed background information on the project (on the About page).


MANJA RISTIC – THE NIGHTFALL  Also on Spotify

On The Nightfall, Serbo-Croatian sound artist Manja Ristic presents four compositions, each one representing a year’s season and inspired by a seasonal haiku.
The combination of haiku poetry and music – or more generally speaking the intersection of different art forms – is something Naviar Records specialises in, and this album is a perfect example of the power of the combinations.

Summer, for instance, opens with soft “guitar drops in suspended time”, illustrating the haiku by Peggy Willis Lyles:

city heat
a boy stirs oily rainbows
with his pocket knife

The other haikus are also written by different haiku poets: Inahata Teiko, Jean-Louis Kérouac and Michael Dylan Welch.

For each track, Manja Ristic chooses a different instrumentation, merging “instrumental improvisation with field recordings and electronics, developing concepts of creative listening”, focusing on “the exploration of synesthesia in AV performance, intuitive composition and sound ecology”.
She’s not afraid of including some confusing elements into the mix (such as the recording of a vocal Toru Takemitsu fragment from 1956) – after all there is beauty in random discoveries.

The Nightfall is released as a cassette (limited edition of 50) and also as a digital download from Naviar.
And there’s more good news: for about the price of one LP or CD you will get the full Naviar digital back catalogue, including this one (31 releases!).
Like I said: there’s beauty in random discoveries! (However, if that is too much for you, Amazon or iTunes do offer the single album download).

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Jeroen Diepenmaat (& Friends) * Derek Piotr (& Friends)

Derek Piotr

Off Track

JEROEN DIEPENMAAT & VARIOUS ARTISTS – OFF TRACK (+ KEIZERSRANDE SOUND WALKS)

Esc.Rec (best pronounced loud) is a highly conceptual label. A ‘platform for adventurous music’, where many releases take the form of a cross-media art project – sometimes even in editions of ONE (in which case the price reflects its status of an art object instead of a simple CD-release).

Tak, a Jeroen Diepenmaat project released earlier this year, is a great example: different vinyl releases (Deuter, greek folk music, Mormon Tabernacle Choir) recorded when played with wooden (bamboo and reed) ‘needles’ that slowly damage the original records and thus produce a deteriorating repetitive pattern. That, in itself is conceptual enough, but on top of that the recordings of this art installation was offered as a USB stick fitted in a branch (with an additional 4 hour bonus track). Try storing thát somewhere in your vinyl or CD collection!!

Off Track – a new Jeroen Diepenmaat and Esc.Rec project – is part of a 4CD-collection of (four) soundwalks that were conducted by Jeroen Diepenmaat in and around Keizersrande, just outside Deventer (NL). Walks were organised in different seasons (march, june, october 2017, and january 2018), and a composition from the location-recordings was created in real-time. The lucky few attending the soundwalks received a recording of it afterwards. These four walks are now collected in this limited-edition (74) handmade box. Each of the CD’s titled with the date of the soundwalk: 26032017, 25062017, 29102017 and 28012018.

As you’d expect, these are purely environmental recordings, documenting the Keizersrande area in Holland (sometimes also demonstrating that it is hard to find a spot in Holland where you can nót hear human impact).

But this  collection gets a completely different dimension from the additional bonus compilation download called Off Track (not on CD and – unfortunately – not available separately), on which the soundwalk recordings are used to create remixes by different artists. Artists include some more or less familiar names such as Machinefabriek, Francisco López, Teleferick, Gluid, BMB con., podL, Michael Ridge, Nlus, Vehikel and Staplerfahrer, and Les Horribles Travailleur contributing 4 tracks, one for each different walk.

By re-arranging and filtering the source material and adding electronics, the new tracks become an alternate reality of electro-acoustic sounds. Changing the original recordings in this way teaches us never to take any environmental sound for granted. It also guarantees that you will probably hear something completely different the next time you’ll visit Keizersrande, near Deventer.

 


Derek PiotrDEREK PIOTR – UNDERLINED  Also on Spotify

Poland born Derek Piotr has released music since 2011, his work primarily focused on the voice (he has been intern to Meredith Monk). Which does not necessarily mean the voice is recognisable as such, of course: it is merely the source with which the electro-acoustic music is created.
On this album, tracks from various previous albums (Agora, Tempatempat, Drono, Airing, Forest People) are remixed by artists from Richard Chartier’s Line label.

Underlined opens with a remix of Value System by Piotr himself, followed by re-works created by giants of the genre like Simon Whetham, Stephan Mathieu (delivering a 20 minute version of Wash), Pinkcourtesyphone, Steinbrüchel, Steve Roden, AGF and France Jobin.

In most tracks, you’ll have to dig deep to retrace the original (vocal) sources in these remixes: “though Piotr often warps the human voice into unrecognizable terrain, at the hands and desks of certain producers, the artist’s voice loses even more of its discernable quality.”

The album slowly but inevitably increases in intensity: from the almost inaudible deep sounds from the opener and Simon Whetham‘s Bhadrakali to the pulse-driven closing track by France Jobin.
This entrancing collection demonstrates why these artists (and the Line label itself) represent the cream of the crop of electronic experimental music.

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Cinema Perdu * Pod Tune

Pod Tune

Amsterdam CS

CINEMA PERDU – AMSTERDAM CS

There is definitely something ironic in the fact that I listen to this album when commuting from home to work and back, listening with a noise-cancelling headphone that shuts out the background sound of the train, the people and the station…. to listen to music featuring sound of trains, people and (Amsterdam Central) Station.
On the other hand, it is good not to be distracted too much, and thus be able to hear how subtle Cinema Perdu (forgotten cinema – Martijn Pieck) has incorporated these everyday environmental sounds into his (six) drone pieces.

Everyone that travels by train will immediately connect to these sounds, while at the same time they are unique for the specific acoustics of Amsterdam Central Station: the different roofs, the three tunnels with access to the platform, the ‘IJ-passage’.
Still, it is not “a pure registration of the sounds. It are not literal compositions of the rooms. It is my (Martijn Pieck’s) interpretation of the atmospheres the spaces create with the recorded sounds. I walked around with my recorder in the hand slowly from space to space through Amsterdam CS, sometimes standing still, observing and recording the experiences at this specific moment in time.”

Amsterdam CS is primarily a musical album, not an environmental aural documentary. The recorded sounds help create the atmosphere for the drones they go with.
Overall, it is a relatively quiet atmosphere: definitely not the hectic noisy rush hour unrest I know from my own commuting experience. That is probably why at first I thought the titles of the tracks referred to the time of day the sounds were recorded. Which oddly seemed to be (very) early in the morning or even in the middle of the night.
Looking again, I noticed that the titles are simply stating the duration of the tracks.

Amsterdam CS is a beautifully cinematic drone album. As could be expected from an act called Cinema Perdu.


Pod Tune

VARIOUS ARTISTS – POD TUNE  Also on Spotify

Please take a moment to think about “a musical collaboration between humpback whales and ambient composers.”
[…]

I think many of you now have associated this with new age recordings by anonymous artists, the kind of CD’s often found in rotating displays in souvenir shops in nature parks. Didn’t you? I know Í did.
But in this particular case, that framing is wrong.
Yes, there are sounds of humpback whales singing. The whole purpose of this album is to support organisations the work on behalf of whales and preservation of the ocean: net proceeds from the sale of this (digital) album go to Ocean Alliance and Blue Mind.

But one always has to look beyond one’s preconceptions and prejudices… As I learned myself when looking at the contributing artists on Pod Tune. I didn’t expect to find music from highly esteemed artists like Loscil, Roly Porter, Christina Vantzou, Jacob Kirkegaard, Eric Holm and William Basinski on this album (along with some artists I am not familiar with).
Not exactly the average ‘anonymous new age composers’, indeed, and consequently (in the words of the accompanying text with this release) the music is “expansive, otherworldly-yet-accessible, soothing, and inquisitive (and never new age-y or eco-schmaltzy).” (I definitely like that last word!)

By the way: I found out that this album was already released in november 2016 and so it has been around for some time. I don’t usually post recommendations of older albums but I decided to make an exception for this one. Because of my surprise about the line-up, but also because the oceans are rapidly detoriating and need to be cleaned from plastic. Not only for the whales but for all creatures that live in it (and for creatures like is that don’t live in it too).



ERIC HOLM – MY JAW WAS MADE OF ANCIENT WHALE’S BONE

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Paul Schütze * Freiband * Dead Neanderthals

Dead Neanderthals - Life

Paul Schütze The Sky Torn Apart

PAUL SCHÜTZE – THE SKY TORN APART

Paul Schütze‘s discography dates back to the late 80’s. His work is not restricted to sound/music but also covers photography, video and installations. And if that is not enough he also launched a perfume, introduced olfactory elements into his artwork, and runs the ‘online sensory archive’ Dressing the Air – an ‘open resource that aims to enrich creative thinking by encouraging a multi-sensory approach’.
He has released many interesting solo albums, but also collaborated with well-known artists like Bill Laswell, Lol Coxhill, Toshinori Kondo, Max Eastley, Jah Wobble and David Toop (just to name a few).

It is good to see a release by such a veteran artist on the relatively new Glacial Movements label. As with all of their releases, the music is heavily ‘Nordic’ and ‘Glacial’. It is a direct comment on climate change, dealing with “our anthropogenic environmental transformation”, a reflection on the Nordic myths of Ragnarök – “in which the earth is subsumed by water as a consequence of divine conflict.”
A haunting environmental 57 minute drone, ever-changing surroundings, with the sound of water omnipresent.

Dark, foreboding, but not without hope. After all, “In the myth, the world emerges from the waters reborn and purged.”
Near the end of the record, the atmosphere is refreshed and you can hear the sound of new and refreshed life emerging. Whether the human race may still be a part of that environment remains a mystery for now.


Emanate

FREIBAND – EMANATE  Also on Spotify

Not many introductory notes accompany this release on Kim Cascone’s Silent Records:
“A wonderful drone based ambient album by this Dutch master. Guaranteed to transport you via headphones to wondrous realms.”
Well, what could I possibly add to that?

Freiband is one of the many aliases of the ‘Dutch Master’ Frans de Waard, also known from his Vital Weekly reviews of experimental electronic music (‘the oldest online source for music reviews’) and involvement in the Staalplaat label.
Although Emanate is a digital-download only release, the piece is presented in two parts, of 35″ and 25″ respectively. The drone piece is started without any introduction, as if it is simply ‘switched on’. But from there, many things happen – the sound environment constantly changes, swells, softens, introduces new elements. Perhaps that’s the relation to the title: every new sound seems to emanate from the previous moment.

The subtleties of Emanate are probably best experienced when listened on headphones, but when played on speakers the pieces have a profound influence on the listening environment too.


Dead Neanderthals - Life

DEAD NEANDERTHALS – LIFE

Dead Neanderthals present themselves as the “New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz”. The duo (Otto Kokke– saxophone and René Aquarius drums) combine “elements of grindcore, noise, jazz, and other genres”, and thus create a unique and confrontational sound.
A sound that is not always easy to digest – intentionally. There are many great examples but one good way to hear what they are able to do  is their latest collaboration with Machinefabriek, as DNMF. I guarantee Smelterwill catch you off-guard with its hard-hitting “highly dynamic amalgam of metal, drone and dark ambient.”

But in fact that is not the release I wanted to present here on Ambientblog, even though I recommend checking it out if you are into the combination of  heavy noise experiments and free jazz.
Lifeis something quite different. It’s a 36 minute drone, no more no less. No drums, no sax (at least not recognisable).
The sound starts suddenly, without introduction, as if someone simply hits the Play button. And from there the sound continues until the end of the album, with hardly any changes in it unless you listen with a microscopical attention to details. And after 36 minutes it simply stops, as if the machine is turned off. It is like the hum of a hundred generators, directed by a ‘machine that goes ping’. An industrial drone, nothing organic, but still it seems to refer to a life-pulse. The machines we need to keep us going, the cyborgs that we have become?

Well, whatever you make of it, I guess: there is no explanation or interpretation included. Nor is any needed. This is a sound to be enjoyed while it lasts. And in that kind of ‘enduring mindfulness’ it somehow feels like the opposite of what the Dead Neanderthals usually present. But those who know them also know that surprises can be expected at any time.

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Dan Powell * Kate Carr * Abby Lee Tee

Kate Carr Wind Turbine

Cuckmere

DAN POWELL – AT CUCKMERE  Also on Spotify

In february 2017, Dan Powell took a walk to the sea at Cuckmere Haven – ‘the only undeveloped river mouth on the Sussex coast’. He recorded the audio and collected objects along the way, which he used as a source material to combine with the original recordings of the environment.
The result is the 16 minute electro-acoustic work A Walk To The Sea: Exceat To The Coastguard Cottages: a somewhat unsettling combination of environmental recordings and musique concrête.

There is no further information about the second track, Cable Hut 14, but the title leads us to the former cable station for telegraph lines to France at the same location: ‘one of the most intriguing secrets of Cuckmere Haven.’
We are left wondering how the sounds from this hut originated but one thing is certain: you wouldn’t want to try to sleep there!

At Cuckmere is a free/ Name Your Price download from Crónica


Kate Carr Wind Turbine

KATE CARR – FROM A WIND TURBINE TO VULTURES (AND BACK)

Perhaps it’s a good advice to put on your coat or an extra sweater before you start listening to this album, because it feels like a rather cold and windy affair (even though the location recordings were made in Velez Blanco in Southern Spain.

For this (almost documentary) recording, Kate Carr had a clear concept: creating a ‘mountain pass’ in sound, following a transect (‘a straight line or narrow section through an object or natural feature or across the earth’s surface, along which observations are made or measurements taken’) of the mountain and pausing every 100 meters to record the sound of that particular spot.
Ten locations for the climb up (Ascent), and another ten for the way back (Descent).

“The result of this repeated journey is this release which explores 10 sonic niches, in an attempt to chart the changing sonic environments in this extreme environment. These locations were both recorded straight and ‘played’ via activities ranging from vibrating the hunting signs, to rolling pines cones.”

Because of the manipulation of some of the objects in the surroundings, this journey is a mixture of natural sounds with abstract, unusual elements. The result is an eerie feeling of remoteness, seemingly disconnected from anything human.


Herbert's Archive

ABBY LEE TEE – HERBERT’S ARCHIVE

Of the set mentioned here, Herbert’s Archive is arguably the closest to ‘true’ environmental recordings. Except for the fact that this set ‘of obscure sounds performed by Asian small-clawed otters, donkeys, pigs, chickens or corncrakes, interwoven with gurgling waterpipes, sizzling streams and underwater percussion’ is just as manipulatively arranged as this description suggests.

The Herbert refers to the Austrian musician’s favorite recording device he recorded this collection with.
This short (2 tracks, 20 minutes) cassette release (no digital release as far as I know) is the follow-up on Tee’s earlier release Riverside Burrows, presenting a nice image of nature’s alternate reality.. (perhaps we should call this ‘fake nature’ from now on…).



ABBY LEE TEE – REPOSITORY 1

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Michael Begg * BJ Nilsen

Michael Begg - Titan

Michael Begg - Titan

MICHAEL BEGG – TITAN – A CRANE IS A BRIDGE

If you know Michael Begg for his work with Fovea Hex only, his work as Human Greed or under his own name may come as a surprise: it is far more experimental – and often much darker in nature.

Titan – A Crane Is A Bride  is a great example of the way he merges experimental soundscapes with theatrical orchestrations.
It is the stereo version of the quadraphonic work commissioned by Cryptic for the 2017 Sonic-a Festival: a location project housed in the wheelhouse on top of the Clydebank Titan, 150 ft above the river Clyde.

The Aeolian Harps that were stationed at the top of the crane for the duration of the festival are the main performers here. The sound of the wind playing with the strings can be manipulated somewhat, but they will always stay incalculable by nature. Begg’s instrumentation (strings and electronics) leaves the song of the aeolian harps intact but adds a striking emotional dimension to it. It is as if the Titan Crane tells its tales – fierce, sad, contemplative –  struggling against the wind, and warns us about the state of the world we live in.

“In the face of a sociopolitical climate increasingly founded on fear, mistrust, closing borders, and the enforced alienation – geo-politically, economically, culturally and psychologically – of nation states and their populations, Titan stands, brazen and severe, as an articulation of the increasingly endangered idea that real strength, real character, real value, is in the realm of reaching out with all the skills at ones disposal – engineering, manufacture, imagination, collective endeavour, BUILDING – to connect with the world beyond our borders.”

Industrial field recordings are often just that: objective recordings of sounds. But with Michael Begg’s instrumentation, the Titan Crane feels like a living creature. One that tells us an important story.. if only we listen.

I personally hope the surround (quad) version will also become available in the future. But this stereo version definitely is immersive – and impressive – enough too!


BJ Nilsen - Massif Trophies

BJ NILSEN – MASSIF TROPHIES  Also on Spotify

While Michael Begg places his field recordings in a musical setting that alters its origins, BJ Nilsen often presents the sounds of nature as it – and in unmatched sound quality.
I assume there will still be a lot of editing and sound manipulation necessary to get to a sonic result like this, but still it feels as though you are actually standing at the original recording location.
Before listening to Massif Trophies, you might keep some extra clothes at hand – a hiking trip in the Gran Paradiso alpine mountains does not guarantee good weather.

It’s not ‘just’ the Sound of Nature, however – above all Massif Trophies is a, experimental, ‘musical’ album. Details like background drones and manipulations of the environmental recordings are added to tell the story of the tough trip through the mountains.
The album starts with the natural sounds of thunder (Alpe Djouan, Rough Grazing), but also presents a drone piece where the environmental sounds are moved to the background (Eaux Rousses).

“Drawn to the monotonous and physical effort that mountains and high altitudes contributes, this [hiking trip] became one of the main inspirations for the album, reflecting upon the perception of the landscape during several hours of physical difficulty, let alone rapid weather changes, horizontal thunderstorms and rock avalanches.”

Especially recommended for all of us that like adventurous armchair travelling!

Note: Bandcamp link only offers digital download. Click this link to get the vinyl version.

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Anne Chris Bakker/Andrew Heath * Lee Yi

Lee Yi - An Instant for a Momentary Desolation

Lichtzin

ANNE CHRIS BAKKER & ANDREW HEATH – LICHTZIN

Regular readers will know Anne Chris Bakker‘s name from his contributions to the various Kleefstra brothers album, ánd of course from his solo albums. Titles that may unfortunately have reached only a small cult audience but are among the best of introvert, unhurried (semi-)acoustic ambient music.
After meeting Andrew Heath when playing live at the Resound festival in the UK, the two decided to work together. After a week of inspired improvisation in the north of the Netherlands – ‘gathering field recordings, composing and cycling’, the recordings were edited into the four tracks of Lichtzin (a difficult word to translate, but I guess sense of light comes close) – which is now released as a CDR on Chihei Hatakeyama’s White Paddy Mountain label

It’s easy to hear why these two musicians get along so very well. Their music develops in such an unhurried way that they help you loose your sense of time.
‘Half-glimpsed melodies’ are embedded in the immersive drones. This combination is what makes this music stand out: like the best of Brian Eno’s soundscapes this music avoids to impose obvious emotions on the listener. It is neither dark nor light – it just is, it is what it is. I guess that must’ve been influenced by the cycling tours through the Frysian landscapes: it is music that feels like a natural environment.

Mindful music.

‘Pause and contemplate’- a much needed advice for the hectic and hurried times we live in.


Lee Yi - An Instant for a Momentary Desolation

LEE YI – AN INSTANT FOR A MOMENTARY DESOLATION

His name may suggest otherwise, but Lee Yi comes from Málaga, Spain. He is a jazz musician (guitarist) also focusing on composing ambient/electronic music. A somewhat obscure artist perhaps: no mention of him at Discogs, however his Bandcamp page offers six previous titles since 2013.

The title prepares the listener for some desolate sounds. This album deals with a topic many will recognise – not a political issue but environmental disasters: it ‘describes a place devastated by the natural reactions of these days… how beauty can corrupt us by desecrating what we love… Nature can be as cruel as beautiful. Immense and tenacious!’
With all the hurricanes, floodings and raging fires going on this clearly is a present-day topic.

This definitely sets the mood for listening. And sometimes, the desolation is inescapable (like in Incertae). But at other moments, what this music tells you is entirely up to your own mood. Imagine yourself a different concept and probably the music will wrap itself around it. It can be desolate, but it can also be soothing.
It all is in the Ear of the Beholder, I guess.

The physical edition of this album is available in two editions: Litography + Interior Engraving Deluxe (only 20 copies, so probably sold out on pre-orders) and Lithography Standard edition. Digital download also available.

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Abby Lee Tee * Jake Muir * James Osland * Nao Otsuka

Penguin Kids

Abby Lee Tee

ABBY LEE TEE – RIVERSIDE BURROWS  Also on Spotify

This nice little 20 minute 10-inch vinyl album (download available too) starts with layers of field recordings, to immediately give that nice outdoor feeling.
But Riverside Burrows is not just field recordings: there are also instrumental parts – drones, synth layers, chimes – that seem to fit in perfectly with nature’s sounds.

Abby Lee Tee (from Linz, Austria. It’s an alias, by the way, not a person’s name) paints a nice atmosphere, “a cinematic journey though imaginary valleys full of running water, chirping birds, squeaking otters, oinking pigs and clandestine odd sounds”.

You can almost smell nature’s freshness right from your listening chair!


Jake Muir

JAKE MUIR  – ACCLIMATION  Also on Spotify

The basic elements of Acclimation are field recordings, natural sounds as well as the sound of machinations. But it would not do the album justice to call it an ‘environmental’ album. It is, in a way, but also it isn’t, because Jake Muir has treated the recordings in such a way that they become musical elements, parts of a full scenic composition.

Acclimation is based on a live set that was created for a performance at the Seattle’s Corridor Festival in the Georgetown Steam Plant.
Given the context of this setting, it was based “solely on industrial and aqueous field recordings”, made on various locations in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Iceland and Washington.
Some of these recordings were previously “deemed not useful” but found their place in this new context, an environmental recording of a nonexistent place.
A storytelling soundscape, somewhat comparable to the work of Chris Watson.
(Digital Only)


JAMES OSLAND – DEPARTURES

Departures opens with refreshing bird sounds and breaking waves that set the atmosphere. At Once We Felt Safe, indeed.
There are field recordings from all over Europe, South-East Asia and Australasia – the sounds of nature, dialogues and environments merge perfectly with the drones accompanying them.

Listening to this album feels like reliving memories of faraway journeys to unknown destinations – even if they weren’t even your own personal journeys.
You can simple be an armchair traveller and let James Osland guide you: “It Was All So Unfamiliar And That Was Nice”.
(BTW – it officially says unfimilliar on the track title but I guess that must be the New Zealand accent 😉 )


Penguin Kids

NAO OTSUKA – PENGUIN KIDS

Concluding this virtual field trip around the world with the sounds of Nao Otsuka from Japan. Like Shimmering Moods Records labelmate James Osland above, he (or she – not much information is known about the artist apart from a Soundcloud page) merges the field recordings with unobtrusive music that is effectively enhancing the relaxed atmosphere.

Quiet, calm, and well-balanced like a Japanese garden: perfect music to enjoy at the end of a warm summer day.

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Fresco + Irissarri * Steve Pacheco * Lorenzo Montanà

Lorenzo Montano Phase IX

EquidistanciaLEANDRO FRESCO & RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI – LA EQUIDISTANCIA  Also on Spotify

The “12” white and black marbled vinyl housed in a matte-laminated sleeve including a 12 x 12 poster of the artwork” is marked as sold out at this time, but the good news is that a repress is coming up at the end of June. For those that can’t wait: the music is equally strong in its ethereal form.

Two like-minded souls that have never met while making this album – hence the title?: Leandro Fresco from Argentina and Rafael Anton Irisarri from Seattle, Washington. “A productive partnership that quickly found Leandro creating specific sounds based on concrete directives from Rafael.”

The opening track title translates to ‘When a mystery is too impressive, it is impossible to disobey’. We can safely assume this describes the way the two were working on this project.
“Leandro’s ‘melodic sensibility’ proved to be the defining undercurrent to Rafael’s signature sound design”.

The result is a set of tracks that are melodic, and sensitive ambient soundscapes, with ‘a lot of sadness and memories’ that listeners will instinctively recognise and tell us “we are not so different; not alone in this world”.  


Constellate

STEVE PACHECO – CONSTELLATIONS  Also on Spotify

A cassette release (as usual for the Belgian Dauw label, since they’re a ‘tape label’) – but fortunately with a digital download counterpart too.
Of course, the digital reproduction of the Dauw graphic artist Femke Strijbol is not as tactile as it is on the cassette release.  

Steve Pacheco is a Los Angeles based artist, so it’s somewhat surprising that his debut album is released on a Ghent based label.
Or is it? After all, his music fits the Dauw label perfectly. Dauw “aims to create an unique handmade piece of art that flatters both the ear and the eye” – and that is exactly what Constellations does.

46 Minutes of deep relaxation, the guitar-based drones clustering together in a constellation that feels like a warm bath.
There’s no darkness in his ambience – it is the sound of peaceful acquiescence. It’s OK To Let Go.


Lorenzo Montano Phase IX

LORENZO MONTANÀ – PHASE IX  Also on Spotify

Italian composer Lorenzo Montanà‘s work dates back to 2009. Besides releasing his solo-albums, he has collaborated with artists like Pete Namlook and Alio Die. Apart from creating and releasing his own music, he is also a soundtrack composer (perhaps you know the song Deep Shadow from the Hunger Games movie trailer which he composed together with Tying Tiffany as T.T.L.). As a producer/arranger his name is tied to more that 40 albums in various genres.

Phase IX is his first ‘American‘ release: it is released on the American/Canadian Projekt label. But of course it’s available worldwide through the usual channels.

The “translations of internal thought currents into autonomous sonic spheres” have a nice 70’s atmosphere, through the use of sequencer patterns of course (Dhalg Fu), but they are not strictly electronic: ‘natural’ ingredients are added by using instruments like the hang drum, cello and piano.
Overall, this music fits perfectly next to that of Robert Rich or Steve Roach. 

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David Toop * Lawrence English * John Grzinich

David Toop Entities

David Toop Entities

DAVID TOOP – ENTITIES INERTIAS FAINT BEINGS

Contemplating a release on the Room40 label, David Toop asked Lawrence English “Why would anybody release music in the 21st century?
“He laid out his philosophy;” Toop continues, “I was convinced.”

The philosophy of Lawrence English is not further explained here and may remain a mystery, but Entities Inertias Faint Beings is an answer to the question in itself: because there are always new territories to explore…  Because there always will be new languages to come…

Toop takes his material from all over the world, from all kind of instruments and all kind of environments – from east to west, natural as well as electric and ethereal.
He then combines them into complete alternate realities, creating music that is unlike anything you heard before, music that feels like it’s not from this world at all.
It is ‘environmental’ music, in a way, assimilating the atmosphere of “the placement of stones in Japanese stone gardens, the chanting of Buddhist sutras, daylight listening in thin air, kookaburra chatter, catapult elastic, radio waves in a kettle, electric buzzers….” (and possibly everything else you can imagine).
But at the same time it isn’t – because no environment sounds as mysterious like this.


Also on Spotify


Approaching Nothing

LAWRENCE ENGLISH – APPROACHING NOTHING

Approaching Nothing is a very direct reference to Presque Rien (Almost Nothing)  by Luc Ferrari, one of the earliest soundscape compositions (1970) including what R. Murray Schafer defined as ‘soundmarks’ (“a sound which is unique to an area”) – “Once a Soundmark has been identified, it deserves to be protected, for soundmarks make the acoustic life of a community unique.”
And it’s not just a reference in title: for this album Lawrence English traveled to Vela Luka (Croatia) – the exact location where the original sounds for Ferrari’s ‘Presque Rien’ were recorded. So it might very well be possible that some of these soundmarks were present on the original recordings also. I guess there are: the sound of the boats is exactly the same, the only difference is in the enhanced recording techniques.

Though they are subtly edited and manipulated to complete a detailed postcard-like view of the surroundings (and sometimes not very subtly: at some moments a passing car is deliberately cut off quite radically to shift to another scene), these are the most ‘natural’ kind of environmental recordings imaginable. There is no ‘musical’ content at all – no other instruments, no musical arrangements, no enhancements or processing. There shouldn’t be, of course: if there was one thing that Luc Ferrari’s ‘Presque Rien’ demonstrated it was that music everywhere around for those who care to listen.


John Grzinich

JOHN GRZINICH – PREVAILING WIND, TANGLED UNDER

For those interested in environmental recordings, the Corollaries series on the Crónica label is a definite must-check.
This (sixth) edition in the series is an acoustic exploration of a deserted, metal water tower about four stories high made by soundscape artist John Grzinich.

“People are pulled inward upon hearing the depth of the reverberations from within. In numerous instances time seemed to stop as we gathered around, crawling about, climbing, plucking, bowing, striking, howling, stringing and generally playing in and around the great structure.”

Two single-take recordings were made: “the first was a dialogue of sorts between three artists carried out through sporadic sounds and the second was a solo follow-up to meditate on how the various artifacts attached in the previous months were affected by the windy conditions”.

The metallic sounds – clangs, whistles, whispers and moaning – from within the tower suggest that it’s alive and breathing.
A fascinating recording of post-industrial environmental ambience, available as a Name Your Price download (as are all editions in this series).

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