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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)

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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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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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DreamScenes – July 2018

DreamScenes CZ

An extra dreamy July edition.

With, apart from the usual new releases, a fragment of Robert Kroos‘ Brainwave Set as performed in june as part of RAAR (Rotterdam Art And Radio)/Varia.

Tracklist:

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:05 Kajsa Lindgren – The Garden (fragment)
    Womb, 2018, Hyperdelia
  • 03:30 Snufmumriko – Drömmer I Juli
    Drömboken, 2018, Lagerstaette
  • 08:18 Les Horribles Travailleurs – Keizersrande 4 (ft. Anja Kreysing)
    Off Track, 2018, Esc.Rec
  • 11:15 Robert Kroos – Brainwave Set, Live at RAAR @Varia 2018 (fragment)
    Unreleased Live Recording, 2018, unreleased
  • 18:46 Memum – Illuminate (feat. Anna Marjamäki)
    Confidence, 2018, Unperceived Records
  • 24:00 Agnes Obel – Stretch Your Eyes (Ambient Acapella) (fragment)
    Late Night Tales: Agnes Obel, 2018, LateNightTales
  • 25:32 Julien Boulier – Accord Etendu
    A Film Not Yet Made, 2018, Time Released Sound
  • 27:03 J. Peter Schwalm – AUUA
    How We Fall, 2018, RareNoise
  • 32:00 Stephan Mathieu – In Them A Giant Diverted Himself
    Trace. Recordings Of Entropic Systems 1998-2018, 2018, self-released
  • 37:02 Gluid – Inbetween
    Off Track, 2018, Esc.Rec
  • 42:08 Eximia – Day One
    Visitors, 2018, Cryo Chamber
  • 47:40 Colin Stetson – Mothers & Daughters
    Hereditary Soundtrack, 2018, Milan
  • 50:23 Wolfgang Mitterer – Beethoven – Intermezzo
    Nine In One, 2018, Col Legno
  • 53:44 Bart van Dongen & Richard van Kruysdijk – One
    One, Two, Three, Four, Five, 2018, Opa Loka
  • 58:56 DreamScenes – Outro (Dean Hurley)

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Jon Hassell * J. Peter Schwalm

Hassell - Pentimento

JON HASSELL – LISTENING TO PICTURES (PENTIMENTO VOL. ONE)   Also on Spotify

I remember my first acquaintance with Jon Hassell‘s music very well. It was back in 1980, and I checked out Fourth World Vol. 1 – Possible Musics following the Brian Eno link (obviously). I was not yet familiar with his earlier work Earthquake Island and Vernal Equinox. I remember I was totally confused, listening in that small record shop. I could not understand this music at all! It seemed to come from another world, one I could not even begin to imagine. I did not buy the album.. it was way off.. too weird for me at that moment.
But upon going home, the strangeness music kept haunting me. What was it, this strange atmosphere, the whispering trumpet sound that resemble an elephant that caught a cold, the otherworldly rhythms?
Before I reached home I turned around and headed back to the shop. I decided that any music that could surprise me this way deserved to be bought.
I remember peddling my bike even harder because I was afraid that someone else would buy that single copy available.
Jon Hassell‘s music never left me since. And never disappointed me either (although naturally I prefer some of his projects more than others).

A part of this somewhat disorienting surprise came back to me again when listening to Pentimento, Vol. One. Not as strong as with this first encounter, of course: 38 years later I am quite familiar with his music. But still: Jon Hassell is not a man to simply repeat himself.

Pentimento is a noun meaning “Reappearance in a painting of ealier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and used as elements in a final composition”.
This suggests that parts and fragments of earlier work are re-used, de-constructed and re-arranged in new compositions. And of course there are many recognisable elements from Hassell‘s earlier work – the way he controls his insrument, the ‘spliced’ electronic layers it is embedded in – and yet Pentimento also feels like a new direction.
At first listen I found the overall atmosphere on this album more ‘nervous’ than I expected. I probably expected the lush and reassuring ambience of the Fourth World releases, and his previous (2009) album Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street – but Pentimento is more in the vein of City: Works of Fiction (1990) or the Bluescreen projects.
This took me some time to adjust to, but -as often- persistance proves to be rewarding.

This nervous tension in the music, alternated by moments of profound peacefulness, probably reflects Hassell‘s theory about ‘The north and south of you’:
A mind formatted by language and located in the head compared with the area of wildness and sensuality below the waist where dance and music and procreation reigns.”

Another way to enjoy these sounds is by what he calls “Vertical listening”, an exercise in ‘mindful listening’:
“Most of the world is listening to music in terms of forward flow – based on where the music is “going” and “what comes NEXT. ” But there’s another angle: Vertical listening is about listening to “what’s happening NOW ” – letting your inner ears scan up and down the sonic spectrum, asking what kind of “shapes” you’re seeing, then noticing how that picture morphs as the music moves through time.”

There is no way you can overestimate the work of this now 81 years old living legend, a man who studied under Karl-Heinz Stockhausen, played on the orginal recording of Terry Riley’s In C, worked with La Monte Young in his Theatre of Eternal Music, and studied singing with Pandit Pran Nath. And this, of course is only the foundation of his work, defining a personal genre that has inspired many artists.

And there’s more good news: Listening To Pictures (Pentimento, Vol. One) is the first release on Hassell‘s own brandnew Ndeya label, which promises to release new and unreleased music as well as archival releases.

As a somewhat related sidenote:
If, like me, you’re a devoted follower of Jon Hassell‘s work and contributions, I suggest you track down this album by Michael Fahres called The Tubes‘ – an album that may be one of Hassell’s most obscure collaboration projects. The environmental recordings of the ‘breathing rocks’ on El Hiero, combined with Hassell’s trumpet and Mark Atkins’ didgeridoo, is an ode to the breath of life itself – ánd a perfect exercise in ‘vertical listening’. I don’t know if this is still available from Cold Blue Music but – given its relative obscurity – it probably is. If not, it’s definitely worth tracking down on Discogs or similar.

 


How We Fall

J. PETER SCHWALM – HOW WE FALL  Also on Spotify

Of all the artists that came into view via a Brian Eno connection, J. Peter Schwalm is probably one that remained unknown to the larger public. Unfairly, because his music is most interesting and multidimensional. The two worked together on Music for On Myo Ji (2000), the soundtrack of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Fear X and even more intense on Drawn From Life (2001).
Since then, Schwalm released two solo albums (Musikain and The Beauty of Disaster), and an album with transformations of the music of Wagner.

How We Fall is his second release on the Italian Rarenoise label. Apart from additional guitars by Eivind Aarset and bass by Tim Harries, Schwalm performs all instruments himself, avoiding ‘popular or widespread plug-ins, instead using analog an digital outboard effects to achieve his characteristic sounds’ and the ‘multitrack composing’ technique he developed when performing at the Punkt Festival.
The result is a complex but highly detailed, ‘widescreen’ sound that perfectly matches his compositions.

Most of How We Fall has a deep sense of urgency, unrest, of hidden ‘angst’. This has everything to do with Schwalm‘s personal situation: in 2016 he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which proved impossible to remove during the operation. Definitely one of the most threatening personal verdicts one can imagine.
In the following year Schwalm “set to work under this impression, partly weakened by the inevitably following chemotherapy. Over the course of the year, pieces were created that reflect feelings such as restlessness, fear, despair and anger, but artistically process these emotions into abstract sounds.”
“During the process I realized that there are parallels between my personal experiences and emotions and the current social and political situation in the world,” Schwalm recalls. “The music represents a closed universe that reflects the moment and the circumstances in which it was created.”

Knowing about this background gives How We Fall an extra dimension, and forces respect for the way J. Peter Schwalm faces his deepest fears and still manages to let the rays of hope shine through. It deepens the appreciation of this album. But, as with all good music, it is not really necessary to know about this to receive the message of this music.

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DreamScenes – June 2018

DreamScenes CZ

Not home
So don’t try to call
Don’t come to see me
I’m not here
Anymore

(Anne Garner – Not Home)

 

Tracklist:

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:45 Danny Mulhern – Perpetual Motion
    Safe House, 2018, 1631 Recordings
  • 02:52 Markus Guentner – Refraction (with Julia Kent)
    Empire, 2018, A Strangely Isolated Place
  • 11:10 J. Peter Schwalm – Singlis
    How We Fall, 2018, RareNoise
  • 15:53 Anne Garner – Not Home (Porya Hatami Remix)
    Not Home single, 2018, Slowcraft
  • 22:29 Sonologyst – NASA Classified Tapes
    Silencers – The Conspiracy Theory Dossiers, 2018, Cold Spring
  • 24:17 Ben Lukas Boysen – Pending
    1+1=x, 2018, Erased Tapes
  • 28:31 Hackedepicciotto – Emerald Cenote
    Joy, 2018, Potomak
  • 33:36 Ben McElroy – Ink Drunk
    The Word Cricket Made Her Happy, 2018, Eilean Records
  • 36:02 Emerge – Substance
    Re:Flections Sound Art Festival 20 07 18, 2018, Attenuation Circuit
  • 39:54 Robert Honstein – Economy Of Means – Chorale
    An Economy Of Means, 2018, New Focus Recordings
  • 44:59 Andrew Sherwell – A Mesultane’s Flight
    Orthodox Tales, 2018, Whitelabrecs
  • 49:24 Capac – Lyke-Wake Dirge
    Through The Dread Waste, 2018, self-released (Bandcamp)
  • 54:00 Jóhann Jóhannsson – The Furious Sea Of Fogs And Squalls
    The Mercy (Soundtrack), 2018, Deutsche Grammophon
  • 54:59 Philipp Rumsch – Interlude
    Reflections, 2018, Denovali
  • 56:11 Pink Fluid – Dream One
    Pipe Dreams, 2017, Horisontal Mambo
  • 59:00 DreamScenes – Outro (Dean Hurley)

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Clarice Jensen * Joana Gama & Lúis Fernandes * Pitch & Splitter Orchestra

Clarice Jensen

Clarice Jensen

CLARICE JENSEN – FOR THIS FROM THAT WILL BE FILLED  Also on Spotify

Clarice Jensen is not the first and certainly not the only person that “expands and confuses the familiar sound of solo cello through the use of effect pedals, multi-tracking, and tape loops recorded at variable speed”. But when the artistic director of the  American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) releases her debut album on the Miasmah label, extra attention is required. Especially when that album opens with a piece composed in collaboration with Jóhann Jóhannsson, with whom she collaborated and toured from 2009 until his death in 2018.

Her music is not about displaying virtuosity, but about restraint – “to fill the void with what [the listeners] find in their center of stillness” – which of course is a different kind of virtuosity in itself.

bc (the track composed with Jóhansson) is a relatively ‘simple’ piece displaying “the startling effect subtle changes have on conventional elements across many repetitions, employing the simple devices of a two-octave c-major scale and a three-chord loop.” It is followed by Cello Constellations, written for Jensen by Michael Harrison, scored for solo cello and 25 multi-tracked cellos and sine tones.

The second half of the album contains the two-part title track For This From That Will Be Filled, composed by Clarice Jensen herself, soliciting ‘both meditation and disorientation’ in using drones, long loops and the sounds of New York’s Grand Central Terminal accompanying the processed cello.


The music on this album is originally written for an audio-visual live performance with Jonathan Turner, stills of which are included in the album artwork. Excerpts of Jonathan Turner‘s videos for these performances can be found on his VIMEO page.


Gama - Fernandes

JOANA GAMA & LUÍS FERNANDES – AT THE STILL POINT OF THE TURNING WORLD  Also on Spotify

It starts with a knock. A kind of ‘Poltergeist’ knock, with increasing reverb. Immediately the atmosphere is as eerie as the track title “Neither Flesh Nor Fleshless”. From there, ‘the music swells and breaths’ , with ‘atmospheric layers of strings, percussion and horns’.
It is the striking start of At The Still Point Of The Turning World, the album that got its title from T.S. Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton. The opening track seamlessly flows into Perpetual Possibility, which introduces the dialogue between piano and electronics. the atmosphere slightly changes but won’t loosen its grip on the listener.

“It is a record of restless motion, lilting and pulsing with a sense of gentle determination. Born out of a period of mutual loss, the works carry a bittersweet sentiment. Bitter in the
sense of loss; sweet in the sense of lingering memory and influences recognised of those departed.”

Joana Gama, Portuguese classically trained pianist and researcher, and Luís Fernandes,  electronic music artist also known as Astroboy, met in 2012, and have released work as Quest in 2014. They have also made the soundtracks for a number of prize-winning short films. At The Still Point Of The Turning World was commissioned for the Westway Lab Festival 2017.

Exploring “the timbral connections between piano and electronics”, combined with José Alberto Gomes’ orchestral arrangements performed by Orquestra de Guimarães, results in a captivating spectrum of contemporary classical music. Or New Music. Or Post-classical electronics.
Oh well, words seem to fail me here.
Never mind, just listen to the way the atmosphere slowly evolves from the eerie opening chords to the completely different atmosphere of Lucid Stillness and Shaft Of Sunlight. 
You’ll be amazed.


THE PITCH & SPLITTER ORCHESTRA – FROZEN ORCHESTRA (SPLITTER)

Drones are often performed by single or just a few instruments, electronic or acoustic. It’s not often a drone piece is performed by a full orchestra (unless, perhaps in the moments before a performance starts, when the orchestra tunes their instruments).
The Pitch quartet teams up with the 19-person Splitter Orchestra to perform the 60 minute Frozen Orchestra (Splitter) on a variety of acoustic instruments combined with electronics, turntables, oscillators and reel to reel tape machines.

Splitter Orchester

The title for this piece could hardly have been chosen better. The frozen piece feels like the musical equivalent of a movie still. But this does nót mean that nothing changes for 60 minutes, it changes in the same way the the ice caps on the earth’s North and Sound pole change: slowly. Very slowly.
” ‘Frozen’ indicates a very slowly moving field of harmonic relationships consisting of so-called pitch sets, which are augmented by noise sets, that is, nonperiodic sounds organized in equivalent relationships. The score guides the group through various defined states of frozen surfaces where each player makes individual choices from a set of intervals or noises and thus constantly shifts harmonic weight and textural quality.”

Around 25 minutes into the piece, the orchestra retreats and environmental recordings and electronic sounds take the stage. The sound spectrum is somehow turned inside out – without realising it the listener has been transferred to a different universe. When the orchestra returns, it is hard to tell the difference between the acoustic and the electronic sounds.

A performance like this may not be to everyone’s liking. But once you’re in the right – frozen – state of mind the effect is incredible. When the music stops, it’s hard to tell if it lasted 60 seconds, 60 minutes or maybe even 60 years.



THE PITCH & SPLITTER ORCHESTRA – FROZEN ORCHESTRA (SPLITTER)
[ambientblog edit]

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Christina Vantzou * Gray Acres

Vantzou No.4

Vantzou No.4CHRISTINA VANTZOU – NO. 4   Also on Spotify

No. 4 continues Christina Vantzou‘s exploration of ‘ambient classical minimalism’ that started in 2011. Three years have passed since the release of No. 3, taking her time to determine the direction she wanted to take with this album: ‘focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space”‘.
Working with artists like Steve Hauschildt, John Also Bennett, Clarice Jensen (among others), Vantzou does not simply act as the center-stage composer and performer, but channels her ideas into a process of ‘prepared sponteneity’: “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.”
It definitely must take self-assurance to be able to loosen control and let other musicians (and technicians) add or delete elements in the end result, which becomes more of a collaborative effort than a personal solo album.

Still, No. 4 bears all the marks of Christina Vantzou‘s signature: ‘a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance.’ At the same time it is not simply a continuation of the previous No. 1, 2 and 3. It’s as if the music drifts deeper and deeper into the subconscious, slowly becoming more and more ‘immersive and immaterial’, gradually ‘loosening time’ until nothing else exists but ‘hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix’.

Like with her previous releases, there will probably be a No. 4 Remixes in the (near) future. Definitely a pleasure to look forward to, but no need to anticipate this too much: for now we can simply enjoy what is here and what is now.
For now, No. 4 deserves our undivided attention.


Gray Acres

GRAY ACRES – GRAY ACRES  Also on Spotify

Gray Acres is the self-titled debut album of the new musical project of Andrew and Michael Tasselmeyeralso known as core members of Hotel Neon and The Sound Of Rescue. With this new project, they seek “beauty and stillness”, which results in a sound that is even softer and more dreamlike than their work as Hotel Neon.

Layering “emotional textures of immersive drones, walls of effected guitar swells, subtle piano and field recordings”, their album is a textbook example of ‘contemporary’ ambient music: it’s a pleasure to drift away in its beautiful landscapes, while at the same time there’s enough happening for dedicated listening.
Or, to quote the Godfather of Ambient music Brian Eno: “as ignorable as it is interesting”.

The CD-version comes in two different editions: the deluxe edition includes three extra tracks that are not on the standard CD edition and in the digital download.

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