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Radboud Mens * & 1605Munro * & Mathijs Kouw

Upper Partial Tones

Radboud Mens is a dutch composer and sound designer that seems to be operating somewhat below the radar. ‘Seems to’, because over time he has released an impressive body of work – solo releases as well as collaborations with artists like Stephan Mathieu, Janek Schaefer, voice artist Jaap Blonk, Michel Banabila and more recently with Matthijs Kouw.
His first album was released in 1999 and since then many interesting albums have appeared in a more or less steady flow. 2018 looks like an especially productive year, with the release of two solo albums, a collaboration with 1605Munro (and two successors of his drone work together with Matthijs Kouw). 

 

Upper Partial Tones

RADBOUD MENS – THREE PIECES FOR UPPER PARTIAL TONES

I’m afraid I was not sure what upper partial tones are, and there is no explanation on the release page on this albums background. So, usually that’s where Wikipedia comes to the rescue:
“An overtone is a partial (a “partial wave” or “constituent frequency”) that can be either a harmonic partial (a harmonic) other than the fundamental, or an inharmonic partial. A harmonic frequency is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. An inharmonic frequency is a non-integer multiple of a fundamental frequency.”
OK. So I’ll probably have to read that article more closely later.
But for now: better let the music do the talking.

It’s easy to hear that this album is about but I could simply hear that this album was about composing with overtonesRadboud Mens opens the album with a relatively short – and very relaxed – Polyrhythmic Ambient Drone, which sets the mind for the two longer Pieces for Oboe and Electronics (in C and in G, respectively). In these pieces (23 and 32 minutes respectively), the true magic happens ‘above’ the drone created by the stretched oboe sample.
By carefully manipulating this ‘fundamental’ electronically, Mens creates a melody of floating overtones which become the true centerpiece of this music. When listened on speakers, it is as if these notes float through the listening space looking for their place in the room, its emphasis changing with every move of the listener’s head.
It may need some dedicated listening, but once it grabs you there’s magic in the air.


Radboud Mens - Ambiguity

RADBOUD MENS – THE AMBIGUITY OF AN APPARENTLY STATIC PHENOMENON

The Ambiguity Of An Apparently Static Phenomenon was originally released as a limited (100) cassette edition on No Rent Records, but can be downloaded for free from their Bandcamp page now since the cassette has sold out (a few signed copies are still available directly from Radboud Mens himself).
The No Rent Records Bandcamp page lazily mentions Side A and Side B as track names, but from Mens’ page we learn that there are different track titles: Sequence, Tongue, A Temporary State of Relative Positions and the three part title track.

The Ambiguity …investigates how ‘apparently static’ (drone) music can still be an interesting listen. In this case Radboud Mens is not primarily focusing on using overtones, but creates soundscapes using bass guitar, electronics, organ, synthesizer, a Granulator II sampler and electric guitar.
The question is what exactly is ‘ambigue’ about the ‘apparently static phenomenon’, because this is a very pleasant listening experience – at least for anyone who can appreciate ‘apparently static’ drone music.


 

Layers

RADBOUD MENS & 1605MUNRO – LAYERS

After this healthy dose of drones it can be good to return to somewhat more ‘down-to-earth’ music (with the emphasis on ‘somewhat’ of course).
This collaboration with 1605Munro sheds some light on a different aspect of Radboud Mens‘ music: ‘warm intelligent soundscapes that feel brilliantly open, thoughtful and oh so quiet. A contemplative and entertaining study in the art of skipping unnecessary notes.’ (Roel Kruize in the liner notes).

1605Munro is a somewhat weird-sounding alias of Andrés G. Jankowski – born in Buenos Aires, but ‘radicated’ in Berlin. And there’s a definite Berlin touch in this 10-track collection of electronic paintings, from  frivolous rhythmic tracks to dead-serious soundscapes. Each track treasuring an original Krautrocky touch – a slightly lighter touch perhaps than the drone-recordings, but adventurous in their own personal way!


Mens - Kouw - 3/4RADBOUD MENS & MATTHIJS KOUW – 3/4

If you want to dive even deeper into Radboud Mens‘ drone experiments: the collaboration with Matthijs Kouw (1, from 2017) gets no less than two follow-up editions: and 3/4 – the latter being a 2-CD album. Due to production complexities the release order got unintentionally mixed up: is now scheduled to be released early next year, while 3/4 is already available now.
Be prepared for the more extreme minimalist drones, Eliane Radigue style, with Radboud playing long magnetic strings and analog filters and Matthijs playing modulars.

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Janek Schaefer * Erik Griswold

Schaefer - What Light

Schaefer - What Light

JANEK SCHAEFER – WHAT LIGHT THERE IS TELLS US NOTHING  Also on Spotify

The slow crackle in the intro, the vocal drone and the Robert Wyatt sample that gave this album its name… Janek Schaefer manages to set the atmosphere right from the very start.  And once you start the ride, you do not want to get off before it stops… simply enjoying the trip, wondering what surprising turn is in store in the next moments…

What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing,
 the title track of Schaefer‘s new album, is created entirely from elements of Robert Wyatts Cuckooland album (Also on Spotify). The 21 minute piece, created with his custom-made two tone-arm turntable, effect pedals and ‘digital collage’, was originally created as a multi-channel composition for 2014’s Sounds New Festival in Canterbury. With Robert Wyatt’s blessing, of course.
The atmosphere is defined by a steady background drone, over which the different samples and fragment are layered. The collage-like structure and use of different musical fragments have the same mesmerizing effect as KLF’s ‘Chill Out’ (1990) – which over time has become one of the classics of the ‘ambient’ genre. It’s a wonderland ride, ‘transforming the power of half-forgotten memories into otherworldly works, that are ambiguous as they are evocative’.

The B-side on the (transparent gold virgin vinyl) album offers seven shorter tracks. These tracks are not based on Wyatt samples, but they still ‘exist in the same wondrous space’ – radiating the feeling that Alice must have felt while walking in Wonderland.
This is music that ‘inhabits the spaces between sadness and joy, and relish in the unpredictability of emotional gravity’.
A musical wonderland that only Janek Schaefer can create …

BTW –  It’s also available on CD but for unknown reasons this is not offered on the Bandcamp page which only mentions the vinyl and the download version. Try Boomkat if you’re looking for the CD-version.


Griswold

ERIK GRISWOLD – YOKOHAMA FLOWERS  Also on Spotify

At first listen I thought that Alone Time (the opening track) was performed by a gamelan orchestra. It sounded like that, but it did not have the specific tuning. From the liner notes I learned what I probably should have heard: this is nothing like a gamelan orchestra, but a collection of works for prepared piano. My first association was not thát strange it seems: one of the tracks is called Wind-Up Gamelan. 

Erik Griswold has perfected playing the prepared piano in such a way that it does sound like a completely new instrument, and not just like a piano with beer caps between the strings.

“Griswold’s compositions remind us that the piano is never truly knowable, or known. Each composition collected here reveals another detail or way of knowing the piano. The preparations release something in excess of the instrument itself.”

At moments the piano sounds like a piano, but more often it sounds like an unknown plucked string instrument, or bells, or something unknown. Or like a gamelan orchestra. But preparing the piano is not the  goal in itself: it is the means to create a playful kind of music that is a pleasure to listen to. Music in which ‘the language of the piano is born and reborn.’

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Various Artists: We Stayed The Path … * Gavin Miller

Meander Scars

VARIOUS ARTISTS – WE STAYED THE PATH THAT FELL TO SHADOW / WE STAYED THE PATH… (SUBSCRIPTION SERIES)

We Stayed The Path That Fell To Shadow is a Lost Tribe Sound compilation album, a benefit album supporting environmental and mental health charities:  We hold the belief that as our surroundings improve so does our mental health.” It also marks the start of a new subscription series with the same name which will run until the summer of 2019.

As a compilation album, We Stayed The Path… is a perfect introduction to the sound of the Lost Tribe Sound label. A unique sound, merging the use of (mostly) acoustic instruments into a hard-to-define style – experimental yet also firmly rooted in (folk) music tradition. “A rustic, brooding mix of classical, folk and otherwise indescribable sound.”

Some of the artists are new to the LTS roster, like The Phonometrician, Gavin Miller and Spheruleus (Harry Towell). Others were presented by the label before: Alder & Ash, William Ryan Fritch, KJ, The Green Kingdom, Mute Forest, From The Mouth Of The Sun, Seabuckthorn and more.
Each of these artist have their very own style and approach, yet it is remarkable how their choices come together in a clearly recognisable and unique Lost Tribe Sound trademark.

We Stayed The Path… kicks off the subscription series of the same name. If you want to hear a good introduction to the sound of the Lost Tribe Sound artists this is a very good start – especially since you’re also supporting a fine cause!

The full subscription series will include seven titles: four of them on CD (the compilation album, Gavin Miller‘s Meander Scars (2CD) , William Ryan Fritch’s Music for Film Vol. I & II (also 2CD’s) and The Phonometrician), and the other four on Vinyl (Spheruleus, 2 titles by Skyphone and again the Phonometrician album). Because the Phonometrician album is included in CD as well as Vinyl, the download option has seven titles, not eight.

So beware and note: the CD and Vinyl versions are nót the same; they contain different titles (only the Phonometrician album is released on both). If you want the complete series you will have to sign up for the CD+Vinyl package, or choose the digital download edition. Be sure to check the series website for further details.

To subscribe to a series of releases requires dedication and faith in a label’s quality selection. Those who follow the Lost Tribe Sound label, and especially subscribers to their earlier Prelude To The Decline series will probably know what to expect. But for those still in doubt (even after listening to the above compilation), there’s an introduction with example tracks  from the albums that will be released. This introduction sampler cannot be bought or downloaded: it is a is a streaming-only ‘teaser’ for the series.

And if, after hearing this, you still do not want to commit yourself to the full series, it’s good to know that the releases may also be available separately. But it’s a risk: only if copies are left, and you’ll miss the subscription discount.


Meander Scars

GAVIN MILLER – MEANDER SCARS

Together with the compilation, Meander Scars is the first release in the We Stayed The Path… series. Gavin Miller is known as one half of the duo Worriedaboutsatan. He also curates the This Is It Forever label.

Meander Scars are geological features that are “formed  by the remnants of winding or meandering water channels. They are caused by the varying velocities of current within the river channel. Due to higher velocity current on the outer banks of the river through the bend, more erosion occurs causing the characteristic steep outer slopes.” 

Meander Scars is a more ‘acoustic’ album than usual for Gavin Miller.
On the four parts of Upper Course, Miller teams up with cellist Aaron Martin. The second half of the album presents  Lower Course: different renditions of the same pieces but without Aaron Martin. All tracks are relatively long (8-10 minutes) and take their time to unfold and create a beautiful, almost unreal atmosphere.

“The long-form compositions were constructed from a series of slow churning rhythmic guitar loops, warm noise, soft synths and distant choirs which build over time into colliding patterns of pastoral bliss. The restraint used to give the listener just the right amount of interest and to keep the music’s progression moving forward is perhaps Gavin’s greatest accomplishment”


Shimmer

GAVIN MILLER – SHIMMER

While mentioning Gavin Miller‘s music, it’s also very much worth mentioning his recent (september) release Shimmer.
It is released on ’boutique’ record label Sound In Silence, from Athens, Greece. Which means the hand-made limited (150) edition is packed in hand-stamped cardboard envelope with a polaroid style photo attached to the front.

The photo perfectly captures the mood of the album, a short, shimmering 23 minute instrumental piece in six parts.
“Dreamy soundscapes and soothing atmospheres, blending gentle strumming guitar melodies, eerie synths, sparse bass lines, dark piano chords, hazy background drones, cinematic strings and indistinct vocal samples.” 

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DreamScenes – November 2018

DreamScenes CZ

“Child, your roots are strong enough to grow through concrete and steel”

Tracklist:

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

OR:
stream it from Mixcloud:

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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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Siavash Amini * Amini & Umchunga

Amini - Umchunga

Foras

SIAVASH AMINI – FORAS  Also on Spotify

Foras (meaning ‘Outside’ in Latin) is Siavash Amini‘s sixth solo album in six years, and his second release for Hallow Ground. With four track covering 38 minutes it is a relatively short album, but Amini does not need more than that to express what he wants to.

The opener First Came Their Shadows warns us for what’s to come, with sonic outbursts as well as foreboding calm. The track titles reveal that the atmosphere will not get much ‘lighter’: Aporia (‘the expression of doubt’, definitely the noisiest track of the set), The Beclouding, Shadow of their Shadows.

Foras want to explore ‘how individual sorrow relates to and is triggered by space’, focusing on ‘how landscapes and buildings connect to and transform the inside world and thus the psychological experience’.
Using field recordings he made ‘in places over which a deep sense of darkness looms’, he blends ‘harsh electronic noise with lush granular synthesis and classical composition techniques.’ With four intense, deep soundscapes as a result, a ‘complex sound world that is haunted also by hope and compassion’.


Amini - Umchunga

SIAVASH AMINI & UMCHUNGA – THE BRIGHTEST WINTER SUN

The Brightest Winter Sun was released almost simultaneously with Foras, but on a different label (Flaming Pines). Here, Siavash Amini teams up with Umchunga (Nima Pourkarimi, also from Iran) who released his debut album Should Have Been Done By Now  on Hibernate in 2015.
The depth and emotional impact of these soundscapes are similar to those on Foras, but the ‘tone of voice’ is quite different: widely cinematic, more open perhaps, more optimistic even?

This may have something to do with the fact that this is a collaboration. But it may also have originated from the underlying concept: the ‘disoriented drunken drones’  are ‘drawn from the work of long dead composers.’
Amini and Umchunga reinterpret (piano) compositions of late 18th and 19th century composers in a way that renders them completely unrecognisable – ‘by depriving these compositions of one their most prominent characteristics namely thematic and tonal development and progression’.

For most tracks, you will have a hard time recognising the composers and their compositions. But the titles are a clue: each track points to the year in which the composer in question passed away. So Google is your friend here. You’ll probably be surprised (I was).

The Brightest Winter Sun is released on cassette and as a digital download.

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DreamScenes – October 2018

DreamScenes CZ

“No hay banda – there is no band
This is all a tape recording…
It is all recorded
No hay banda
It is all a tape
It is – an illusion
Listen!”
(Silencio scene from Mulholland Drive, 2001)

Tracklist:

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:42 Katharina Ernst – X-06
    Extrametric, 2018, Ventil Records 
  • 02:54 Ital Tek – Adrift
    Bodied, 2018, Planet MU
  • 05:54 Low – The Son, The Sun
    Double Negative, 2018, Sub Pop
  • 08:17 Murcof – Chapitre VI
    Lost In Time, 2018, Glacial Movements
  • 11:03 Jóhann Jóhannsson – Horns of Abraxas
    Mandy OST, 2018, Lakeshore Records/Invada
  • 12:16 Maria W. Horn – Atropa
    Kontrapoetik, 2018, Portal Editions/XKatedral
  • 14:44 Dakota Suite, Dag Rosenqvist, Emanuele Errante – De Ziekte van Emile
    What Matters Most, 2018, Karaoke Kalk
  • 17:55 Houston Chamber Choir – John Cage: Five (Edit)
    Rothko Chapel, 2015, ECM Records
  • 20:36 Rutger Zuydervelt – Stay Tuned Laznia
    Various Artists: In Progress Vol. III, 2018, Gdansk
  • 24:00 Ensemble Modelo62 – Claudio F. Baroni: In Circles II (Mov.I)
    Motum, 2018, UNSounds
  • 32:55 Murcof – Chapitre N (Piste Audio Exclusive Sur GM)
    Lost In Time, 2018, Glacial Movements
  • 35:42 Angelo Badalamenti – ‘Silencio (No Hay Banda)’ sequence from Mulholland Drive
    Mulholland Drive, 2001, Milan
  • 38:44 Michel Banabila – Transform
    Everywhere Else Is Just Right Here, 2018, Tapu Records
  • 44:56 Minco Eggersman, Theodoor Borger, Mathias Eick – Tangible
    Unifony, 2018, Butler
  • 46:18 Jóhann Jóhannsson, BJ Nilsen – I Need A Fix
    I Am Here, 2014/2018, Ash International
  • 47:50 Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang – The Swans Bend Their Necks Backward To See God
    The Heights Of The Reed, 2018, Rune Grammofon
  • 53:40 Low – Always Up
    Double Negative, 2018, Sub Pop 
  • 58:37 DreamScenes – Outro (Dean Hurley)

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

OR:
stream it from Mixcloud:

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Jana Irmert * Thomas Ankersmit

Jana Irmert - Flood

Jana Irmert - Flood

JANA IRMERT – FLOOD  Also on Spotify

It’s no use to try to find a better description of this music than that from Tobias Fischer on the liner notes for this album, so I’ll take the easy way and just quote him:

‘Inspired by Chyngyz Aitmatov‘s dystopian novel The Mark Of Cassandra, Jana Irmert has created a metaphoric world of billowing harmonic clouds, gently crackling sounds and abstracted field recordings. All three parts of the album are marked by perpetual subtle shifts, memory turning into an imperfect compass: you can walk through the music in all directions without ever passing the same point twice.
Inside this world of concrete sounds and pure abstractions, of organic timbres and alien noises, all sense of perspective is lost: what is far can seem close, tiny sounds suddenly appear enormous.’


Flood is Berlin-based sound and media artist Jana Irmert‘s second full album, following up 2016’s End of Absence. It is divided in three parts: Standing On Breaking Ice, Silence On A String and The Sound Of The Universe Spinning, but can in my opinion best be enjoyed in one continuous session.


Thomas Ankersmit

THOMAS ANKERSMIT – HOMAGE TO DICK RAAIJMAKERS  Also on Spotify

If you’re interested in the history of experimental electronic music (I add ‘experimental’ since nowadays the ‘electronic music’ genre seems to refer to a dance genre not particularly covered on this blog), sooner or later you’ll encounter the name and work of Dick Raaijmakers. He was an electro-acoustic researcher  working in the Philips Natlab research center (his Kid Baltan alias is in fact Dik Natlab reversed), producing some of the very first electronic (pop) music in the late 50’s and 60’s, and assisted Edgar Varèse in assembling the famous Poème Électronique for the 1958 Expo. He also co-founded STEIM: STudio for Electro-Instrumental Music. In his book The Method, he describes how motion, cause and effect and their perception are interrelated.

It is exactly thát which is clearly demonstrated in Thomas Ankersmit‘s Homage to Dick Raaijmakers: ‘With his homage Ankersmit re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about electric sound, composition, and spatial experience’.

Ankersmit‘s advice is NOT to listen with earphones (which I ususally do), but on speakers, and relatively loud, because of the inner-ear phenomena triggered by the sinus waves from his Serge synthesizers. “With this phenomenon, the listener’s inner ears actively generate sounds that don’t exist in the recorded signal, and which can change with a small movement of the head.”

The effect (also explored in detail by Jacob Kirkegaard on his Labyrinthitisis indeed spectacular. The sound changes with every movement of the head or a change in position, and is partly dependent on the acoustics of the room it is played in.
I literally checked if (and why) there was sound coming from the back speakers of my surround set… but of course there was none: this is a stereo recording. Still it sounded to me like it was a full surround sound set!
Homage to Dick Raaijmakers feels like a physical experience. Which is also why this piece may not be to everyone’s liking: it requires a dedicated listening session and fully takes control of the environment. Not exactly your average ‘ignorable background ambient’ set, but a very rewarding and fascinating aural experience …

 

 

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Trondheim Voices + Asle Karlstad – Rooms & Rituals

Trondheim Voices

Trondheim Voices

TRONDHEIM VOICES & ASLE KARSTAD – ROOMS & RITUALS   Also on Spotify

Even though it’s located in the middle of Norway, not even in the upper north, I always associate Trondheim with a faraway distant city, somewhere beyond the end of the earth. A strange, almost imaginary place, one that you’re not very likely to visit soon but for that reason also has a strange attraction. That description somehow also fits the Trondheim Voices choir, a pool of (up to) 10 female singers performing choral works that seem to have originated from previously unknown parts of the world.

‘These voices are like no choir you ever heard. They can form pale clouds of sound, or pools of glowing light, or bright shafts of pure sound. Phrases can soar before suddenly reversing direction and travelling backwards, but along a different tangent.’

(While the ‘no choir you ever heard’ will probably be true for most listeners, it is only partly true: the music on this album somewhat reminded me of the work of Meredith Monkespecially her 1979 album Dolmen Music)

 

Most of Trondheim Voice‘s music is improvised, but their performances can also include composed or traditional material. Atmosphere can shift from soothing angelic to devilishly scary within a few seconds.
Their performances are often site-specific, with the singers walking around the area carrying Maccatrols: small wireless boxes, designed by sound designers Asle Karstad and Arnvid Lau Karstad, featuring controls that enable each one to modify her voice with various effects.
The voices are the Maccatrols’ only sound source and the manipulations are created in real-time – making the compositions even more otherworldly (or sometimes downright scarier) than they already are on their own.

Experiencing a Trondheim Voices & Asle Karstad performance in the right environment will probably be an unforgettable experience. That may be reason enough to travel to Trondheim somewhere in the future. But until that happens, this album will do fine as a substitute for a live performance: the pieces are taken from several different performances. It should be noted that all these pieces are recorded live without overdubs!
Definitely one of the most exciting and unexpected listening experiences I heard in a long time!

(Warning: some parts of the album, as well as the Live Impro #1 video above, may not be suitable to listen shortly before sleep time.)



TRONDHEIM VOICES & ASLE KARSTAD – STEAMSAW

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DreamScenes – September 2018

DreamScenes CZ

“Go to sleep pretty baby
Go to sleep pretty baby
You and me and the devil makes three
Don’t need no other lovin baby

Go to sleep little baby
Go to sleep little baby
Come and lay your bones on the alabaster stones
And be my ever lovin baby”

Tracklist

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna+ Go To Sleep)
  • 01:16 Masayoshi Fujita – Harp (edit)
    Book Of Life, 2018, Erased Tapes
  •  06:14 Merope – Seng Ge
    Naktės, 2018, Granvat
  • 09:57 Mike Lazarev & Arovane – Footsteps
    Footsteps, 2018, Moderna Records
  • 12:01 Hilde Marie Holsen – Orpiment
    Lazuli, 2018, Hubro Music
  • 14:40 Trondheim Voices & Asle Karstad – Below  Ritual #4
    Rooms & Rituals, 2018, Grappa
  • 16:55 Julius Aglinskas – …
    Zoom in 12: New Art Music from Lithuania, 2018, Music Information Centre Lithuania
  • 25:14 Norvik – Second Spring
    Messages to No One, 2018, self-released
  • 28:30 Simon McCorry – A Slight Return
    Song Lines, 2018, Naviar
  • 32:01 Hibernis – Hibernis Bells (edit)
    So What, 2018, Serein
  • 36:38 Peppermoth – Glacial
    Glimmer Tide, 2018, Six Degrees Records
  • 39:21 Merope – Naktės
    Naktės, 2018, Granvat
  • 44:21 BJ Nilsen – Table Of Hours
    Focus Intensity Power, 2018, Moving Furniture Records
  • 48:41 Jake Muir – Lanterns Below
    Lady’s Mantle, 2018, Sferic
  • 52.42 The Prairie Lines – Echo Collapse
    Today Leap And Stop Time, 2018, Eilean Records
  • 55:41 Erland Cooper & William Doyle – Migration III (fragment)
    Murmuration, 2018, self-released
  • 58:14 DreamScenes – Outro (Go To Sleep + Dean Hurley)

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