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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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Sava Marinkovic * Hannu Karjalainen * Toàn

Karjalainen

Sava Marinkovic

SAVA MARINKOVIC – THROUGH THE AIR

Sava Marinković is a musician from Serbia. He plays guitar in various bands and projects, but on his solo albums he has developed an ‘experimental approach to ambient music and free improvisation and minimalism’.
Marinkovic‘s Bandcamp page 
shows three album titles, but there’s at least one other released by the DOF label in 2013 (Evocation, mentioned here).

Actually not much more than these simple facts is known; the album did not come with any information and the Bandcamp page doesn’t tell us much more details either.
Which means it’s just the music that counts: the album has to speak for itself.

And it does so convincingly: in the five tracks (34 minutes) Sava creates lush images of deep  ambient sounds of the warmest kind. Each track slightly different in nature but all fit together perfectly.
The guitar may be his main instrument, but it’s definitely not the only one used to create this atmosphere.
Just surrender yourself to this music and you’ll probably soon feel like floating through the air.
(Digital Only)


Karjalainen

HANNU KARJALAINEN – A HANDFUL OF DUST IS A DESERT

Some artists release three or more album in one year. Hannu Karjalainen is not one of them: this is his third full album since 2007’s Worms In My Piano and 2009’s Hintergarten (which were released as Hannu, without his last name).
At other moments, the Finnish composer worked with  Simon ‘Slowdive’ Scott, Monolyth & Cobalt Chris ‘Dakota Suite’ Hooson (remember The End of Trying?).
Chris Hooson co-composed the track Love Is A Black Lion, which features a sample from The End Of Trying (Part III). 

Karjalainen‘s music “draws inspiration from ambient, drone, modern classical and dream pop.” The sound of his music is widescreen cinematic, which is not a real surprise since he’s a filmmaker also. From the multilayered piano loops in the short title track to the pop-ambient of A Year In A Day, the sad nostalgic melancholy of Love Is A Black Lion and the yearning vocal loops and threatening pulses in the closing track Breaks My Heart She Aria: this album covers many evocative styles.

“This is the kind of desert you won’t mind getting lost in and even take pleasure in roaming through the expansive sonic landscapes and horizons it embodies.”


Histos Lusis

TOÀN – HISTÓS LUSIS

Anthony Elfort is a French musician currently living in Britain. His name was unknown to me until now: according to the bio he’s a “beatmaker who has produced several albums mixing jazz and hip hop influences”. So maybe some of you know the work he released as Qiwu Selftet.

As Toàn, he focuses on a different kind of music: a sort of free-form mix of ambient and modern classical. All tracks for this album were composed in Angoulême and Cruguel, France. One can only wonder the influence of the location of the music, which is intensely atmospheric, as can be demonstrated with this video of Post Tenebras:

 

The video is assembled from “excerpts of various documentaries”, just like the tracks are composed using “samples found on old records, live instruments and field recordings”.
All of the parts carefully assembled into a unique style – a delicate balance of electronics, modern classical and  acoustic world music.

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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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Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva * Tobias Hellkvist * No One

No One 1

Salty Wind

SOUND MECCANO & JURA LAIVA – SALTY WIND AND INNER FIRE

Sound Meccano (Rostislav Rekuta from Riga, Latvia – electronics, field recordings, sound processing) and Jura Laiva (also from Latvia – guitar, guitar drones, piano) have worked together before, releasing 2 EP’s on Crónica and Flaming Pines. This release on Eilean Records is their first full-length album.

With the campfire sounds, the rain and other environmental sounds this 8-part journey feels like camping out in a dense forest, slowly moving through different weather conditions.

“The album is best perceived as an audio journey, a road-movie for the ears.”

With the help of Kate Pavula (violin, voice, viola, accordion) and Eriks Kirsfelds (cello) it becomes a cinematic journey. The eight parts are sequenced into one 71 minute trip from which there’s no way back once you started.
But why would you want to?
“The overall mood of the record is far from somber, as if to prove that the inner fire that never goes out is warm enough to protect us from salty winds, no matter how endless the winter might seem.”


Forest Psalms

TOBIAS HELLKVIST – FOREST PSALMS  Also on Spotify

The basic field recordings for this album were recorded in the United States in 2015 and 2016: at Culver City, Los Angeles, Topanga Canyon and Big Sur (California) and Big Pine Key, Florida. Additional recordings were made in Sweden and Denmark; the album was finished in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Field recordings being the basic source material does not automatically mean that this is a ‘nature’ recording: they are the inspiration, the starting points. The added electronics make it ‘true ambient’ sounds, intended “to lead the audience into a state of mindfulness, total relaxation, and focus”.

After a 2 day hike in the forest of Northern California, I came to experience a rare kind of stillness and desolation which really fascinated me. I think most of the music I make is some kind of attempt to recreate moments like these for me to revisit.”
And we can consider ourselves lucky to be able to join Tobias Hellkvist in this revisit.


No One 1     No One

NO ONE – 13

Just  a fairly random pick of two albums from the six that are numbered in the order No One started working on them:   123459.
This means that 6 – 7 – 8 are currently works in progress but will probably be released somewhere in the near future. Besides, there’s also mention of an upcoming CD-release on Midira records.
No One is an artist of the prolific kind, obviously, because only a few days ago another album was released – not numbered but with a title: Antipodes

I can’t tell how the other titles sound (yet), but No One states that he “often creates several practically identical works”, so I guess these two releases are fairly representative for many of his other work.

“No One makes conceptual music…” (which is a nice statement in itself, by the way) “… by manipulating sounds to create confusion”. 

One could say the music on these albums are heavily drone-based, but that wouldn’t the right description for soundscapes like these that constantly change and evolve in a very cinematic, story-telling way. The drones seem to cover hidden melodies that struggle to get to the surface. All in a lush, widescreen sound created with recordings, tape treats, instruments and keyboards.
1 is split in two tracks around 30 minutes each, while 3 presents a single 41 minute track.

 

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Fabio Perletta * Simon Fisher Turner * Mayforest

Ichinen

Ichinen

FABIO PERLETTA – ICHINEN 一念

The 一 (one) and 念 (thought) in the title refer to the shortest possible unit of time known as a principle of Zen practice: “a point of time which has neither the past nor the future.. “. The moment “where eternity cuts into time”, which exactly correspondents to what is know as Satori, which “takes place when consciousness realizes a state of one thought.”

That are some thoughts to ponder on for a while – and for that pondering Fabio Perletta provides a perfect soundtrack. Three untitled tracks (totalling 48 minutes – but put it on repeat and you can take all the pondering time you need).

On this album, Fabio Perletta explores the “emotional states experienced before, during and after a very long awaited trip”. The three different pieces are created using location recordings from Tokyo, Takayama and Kyoto, all heavily processed to unrecognisable abstract soundscapes using computer, feedback, magnetic tape and digital and ‘irreversible‘ sound processing.

Musique Concrête for the mind? In fact, words fail to describe it describe because “Zen does not follow the routine of reasoning, and does not mind contradicting itself or being inconsistent.”
Just listen. And try to look for that exact moment of ‘one thought’.

Ichinen 一念 is a digital-only release.


Giraffe

SIMON FISHER TURNER – GIRAFFE  Also on Spotify

From the very first cut-up fragments op Into Bush it’s clear that this is going to be an amazing journey. Simon Fisher Turner – composer, actor, sound designer – took his relatively simple recording devices (Roland Edirol R-09 and iPhone) around the world (Berlin, Lake Biwa, Cambridgeshire, Hammersmith, River Thames, Tokyo, Porto, Andalucia) and mashed all kinds of location recordings into kaleidoscopic tracks that ‘blur the line between sound design and song, machine severity and narrative sentimentality’.

There are amazing sounds heard in every direction, but they are kept together by the layered electronics, morphed into augmented field recordings.
Images of non-existent worlds, created from blended and altered every day sounds: “a sonic landscape where musical and non-musical elements are placed on a level hierarchy.”

Slight Smile is a spoken word poem by Emma Smith, adding to the psychedelic dreamlike visions of this album, ultimately dissolving into the incromprehensible realms: 
“You are the leader, and I wore funny clothes. We travelled together, and I wore leather. Lovely backstage photos…”

Travelling together is the key to this album. Travelling, and sharing the amazement and excitement of unexpected encounters…

One question remains… why the Giraffe’?
The fata-morgana-like cover image of a giraffe’s shadow looks nothing like an earthly creature, but it still is. It’s an altered image, in the same way the life sounds on this album are altered images of the world surround us.


SIMON FISHER TURNER – SAVE AS


Mayforest

MAYFOREST – MAYFOREST

The cover design and ASCII-art track titles like –∞–––––∞– or ––(–––––)–– may suggest the analytical kind of sound resembling the analytical Raster-Noton approach: mathematical more than emotional (though that’s always a subjective matter of course). But even in the first minutes of the opening track it’s clear that this is a misconception: Mayforest presents an organical ambient sound with many acoustical (-sounding) elements.
Mayforest’s music is definitely more ‘human’ than the package might suggest.

Mayforest is Christian Maiwald, living in Berlin and Szczecin (Poland).
There’s not much information on the background of his music, apart from the fact that there’s “no lute and no 808”.

The tracks are presented in order of their production date, because  Christian “likes to see where things lead me.” Wherever that may be, it’s a promising path, passing many enjoyable soundscapes in a strikingly original instrumentation.

At moments, the sound is not unlike that of the Stars of the Lid, and you might also hear elements reminiscing Bersarin Quartett….
Namedropping of course, just to give  an idea about some of the Mayforest sounds you can expect on this ‘off-radar’ album definitely worth checking out.

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Juha-Matti Rautianen * Bing Satellites * Bethan Kellough

Juha-Matti Rautianen

Juha-Matti Rautianen

JUHA-MATTI RAUTIANEN – THE ENDLESS NOW – MUSIC FOR STAGNATION

Sometimes Art flourishes on imposed restrictions.
Finnish bass-player Juha-Matti Rautianen can tell you all about this: he cut the tip of his right index-finger in an accident on New Year’s Day in 2014. Pretty disastrous for a professional bass-player playing over 15 years on stage and in various bands and various genres.

But Rautianen obviously is a man who doesn’t accept limitations – instead he took up the challenge: composing and performing live ambient music with his primary instrument, using an array of effect pedals.
“My accident gave me the opportunity to examine the aesthetic of focusing on the present – the moment right now. “

“I think the most intriguing music is born when you set limits to yourself” –  I can almost imagine Brian Eno’s smile affirmative here.
The limitation is not only his broken hand, but also the instrument: a bass guitar is not often the instrument of choice for ambient music. “I tried to use my bass guitar as unorthodoxically as possible.”
The result: a refreshingly imaginative, ‘mindful’ album.

But please: do not read this as an invitation to break your fingers or otherwise hurt yourself… It’s better to remember this advice from Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies“: “Honor thy error as a hidden intention”

Also on Spotify


Bing Satellites

BING SATELLITES – EXTENSIONS OF REALITY

Let’s discuss ‘prolific’…. The artist known as Bing Satellites (real name Brin Colemanhas produced over 61 albums since 2015 under this name – and that’s not counting the releases under different aliases like Blocker, Ghost Harmonics, The Ambient Visitor, The Lovely Moon and probably more.
I can’t say I’m really familiar with all of his work, so Extensions of Reality is a fairly random pick – especially when considering that another eight titles were releases (at time of writing) after this particular one from December 2016.

That said, Extensions of Reality is a fine way to start exploring Bing Satellites‘ catalogue; especially since the download version is a Name Your Price release,
The music on this album is heavily inspired by Brian Eno’s generative music concept, sometimes you even hear fragments reminiscing Fripp & Eno’s heavenly guitar loops. The three king tracks are built from improvised layers, generative loops with slightly different lengths, so the output is different each time: “they interact in ways that could not be foreseen.”

Indeed: think Music for Airports.

So completist collectors: beware!
Think again before you start listening to this album: there may be no way back from checking out many many other releases.
(But then again: most of the Bing Satellites releases are available as a Name-Your-Price download.)



Bethan Kellough - Aven

BETHAN KELLOUGH – AVEN

Touch label release from last year’s august that I missed somehow but still want to recommend to those that missed it too.
Reading Aven‘s liner notes it’s clear that field recordings are the main ingredient here: recordings made in Iceland and South Africa. The impressive rumbling sound of ‘underground geothermal activity escaping to the surface through a small shaft’ gave the album it’s title: such shafts are called ‘Aven’.
But by augmenting the field recordings with various drones and melodic violin passages,  Bethan Kellough transforms the recordings into a symphonic fantasy, imagining entering unknown underground environments.
If you want to hear one example of how environmental field recordings can be turned into a full-featured symphony, try Aven

Bethan Kellough (a.k.a. Bethan Parkes) got the PhD in Sonic Arts in 2015 at the University of Glasgow. She is researching “immersive sound-worlds, spatial aesthetics and the interactions between sonically and visually articulated spaces”,  her music “inhabiting the boundaries between music and sound design”.

Aven is her debut album release – a live recording, recorded in April 2016 in Los Angeles as part of the Touch Conference.

Also on Spotify

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Teruyuki Nobuchika * TamTam * Rhucle/Silentwave

Teruyuki Nobuchika

Teruyuki Nobuchika

TERUYUKI NOBUCHIKA – STILL AIR

The third album by Japanese electronic musician and soundtrack composer Teruyuki Nobuchika is released on the Oktaf label.
As a sound designer and composer for a multitude of (Japanese) TV dramas and movie soundtracks, he’s experienced in creating different moods and atmospheres in relatively short tracks.
His skills are convincingly displayed on this multi-faceted album, featuring “electronic abstractions and classic sensitivity influences in a minimal ambient music context”.

With eight tracks and a total playing time of just under 28 minutes, the only downside I can think of is that it is much too short. No doubt there must be much more where this came from!

Also on Spotify


TamTam Urban Dialog

TAMTAM – URBAN DIALOG

If your association with ‘Field Recordings’ and ‘Environmental Music’ is that it are recordings from the environment presented in the most authentic way possible, preferrably without alteration of any kind, then this 50 minute soundscape is an obligatory listen. And doing so is without financial risk, since it’s a Name Your Pice download.

TamTam is a Berlin duo of sound artists Sam Auinger  (electronics, field recordings) and Hannes Strobl  (electric bass, field recordings).
‘Sonic thinkers’, whose music is situated at the exact spot “where the sound environment becomes the instrument, and the instrument becomes the sound environment.”

The environmental sound recordings are taken from different urban situations, restructured and merged with a set of bass sounds and playing techniques.
“The piece is considered finished at the moment it can be performed in one take”.

Urban Dialog is an environmental symphony, a soundscape where there is no difference between music and sound. It simply is both at the same time.
The hectic soundscapes of everyday city life are transformed into an pleasurable urban symphony.


Night Life

RHUCLE & SILENTWAVE – NIGHT LIFE

Yet another enchanting beauty on Chihei Hatakeyama’s White Paddy Mountain label is this split from Rhucle and Silentwave.

Rhucle (from Tokyo, further details unknown) delivers five relatively short tracks that feel like a garden walk in the early morning – uplifting and bright music with titles like Tipsy, Leisure Time, Ice Lolly and Warm Rug.

The album closes with a 20 minute drone track by Silentwave (Nogushi Yoshinori from Yokahama, Japan). An improvisation aptly called Night Wave, which is considerably darker -by design- but still a very comfortable way to spend the night.

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Jonty Harrison; Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva; Chris Watson

Flow Moss Northumberland

Jonty Harrison - Voyages

JONTY HARRISON – VOYAGES
If ‘music is organised sound’, then this new album by Jonty Harrison is far more than a collection of seemingly unrelated field-recordings. It is a composition (or two, actually) in its own right, created by selecting sounds from a variety of locations, spaces, places, scenes and vistas ‘which we may or may not have experienced, but which we somehow recognise’.

The first piece of this acousmatic electroacoustic collection, Espaces Cachés, is a 14 minute ambisonic trip created from the original 30-track commission from Maison des Arts Sonores.
The second piece, called Going / Places is a one hour journey divided into 23 parts. The recordings come from all over the world and are often combined in such a way that they could never have existed on one location simultaneously.

The scenes, ‘one implying imminent motion, the other more restful and tranquil’, take you all over the world – unpredictably jumping between Europe, Iceland, Australia, North America, North Africa and parts of Asia.

“Sounds reach us as they would in everyday life, as if we were ‘there’: from multiple locations in different positions and at different heights and distances. In this sense we are closer to reality; but even the bounds of reality can be stretched by the agencies of motion and memory — unreality, surreality and hyper-reality are but steps along the route that can be taken by the imagination…”

Save yourself an expensive holiday this year: buy this album, put on a quality headphone, close your eyes – and let professor Jonty Harrison guide you to some unexpected corners.



JONTY HARRISON – ESPACES CACHÉS


Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva

SOUND MECCANO + JURA LAIVA – SIRELI AIG
Continuing the excellent Corollaries series – compiling works resulting from the Active Crossover: Mooste residency (Estonia) curated by Simon Whethampart IV introduces Sound Meccano (Latvia-based Rostislav Rekuta-Dzhordzhevich) collaborating with Jura Laiva (Jurii Santalov, also from Latvia).
All of the Corollaries recordings rely heavily on the environmental recordings of the location, which are often stunningly realistic, and Sireli Aig is no exception.
Adding Jura Laiva‘s guitar drones and glitchesand Mirva Tarvainen‘s double bass and occasional vocals to Sound Meccano‘s field recordings, electronics and sound processing brings a whole new dimension, resulting in impressive soundscapes that are ‘environmental’ as well as ‘musical’.
A fresh taste of the northern hemisphere, available as a Name Your Price download.


Flow Moss Northumberland

CHRIS WATSON – DAWN CHORUS
While on the subject of field recording: if you’re interested in the bright and lively sounds of nature you might as well check out this free download of Chris Watson – the unsurpassed master of environmental recording.

Not only does he record his material in unexpected locations, the page on which these files can be found is a bit of a surprise too: it’s a blog post on the Bowers & Wilkins site dedicated to their speakers and headphones.
(Which undoubtedly are perfect companions to these binaural recordings, by the way – but don’t worry, this is not gonna be a sponsor-driven blogin the future. It’s really just a coincidence that I found these files offered here).

Two incredibly realistic – and refreshing – recordings, from Northumberland and Suffolk respectively, are offered for free as  high-quality WAV files.
And that’s not all: the download also includes a Dawn Chorus remix by Richard Norris.
The recordings were made and offered on occasion of the International Dawn Chorus Day (May 1).



RICHARD NORRIS – DAWN CHORUS

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Tetherdown; Cyril Secq/Orla Wren; Gamardah Fungus; Luke Howard;

Gamardah Fungus

Tetherdown - First Flight

TETHERDOWN – FIRST FLIGHT
Tetherdown is a new trio formed by Anne Garner, James Murray and Mark Beazley (Rothko), and this is their … ehhh … First Flight.

Anne and James created one of my favourite albums from 2015, so I was somewhat surprised to hear them taking quite a different direction with Tetherdown. Not very different, though: it’s just that First Flight contains no ‘vocal songs’ like Be Life, but there’s the same subtle, dreamy treatment of sounds… Four pieces – each around the 10 minute mark – of unprepared improvisations that “emerged unforcedly in a single setting and is presented here exactly as played without edits of overdubs.”

In a way, the interplay of Mark (electric bass), James (processed guitars) and Anne (Flute, Keyboards and vocals) remind me of the very early ‘Cosmic’ improvisations of Tangerine Dream (Zeit and Atem era) – though that comparision clearly fails when you listen to them both. (I don’t really know why – I guess it’s the use of the flute and some of the guitar sounds that triggered my memories).

It’s a true Flight indeed… and if this is what this trio is capable of producing without preparations or expectations, I really hope that more of these flights will follow!

Also on Spotify


Branches

CYRIL SECQ / ORLA WREN – BRANCHES
Strikingly bright recordings of acoustic strings played by Cyril Secq (member of Astrïd), backed by subtle electro-acoustic processings by Orla Wren (Tui). That is the setting of this unique setting: “a duet between acoustic strings and processing, field recordings, edits and organic arrangements. The tunes woven together and untwine again as branches shaken by the wind”.

Cyril Secq‘s guitar parts were recorded earlier, for a solo project that was never released. Orla Wren took them as a starting point for his processed electronics which remain modest and calm, strictly serving the purpose of the bright atmosphere of the guitar pieces.
Although they never played together in real life, the music sounds as if they are really interacting with each other.
Refreshingly different!

Also on Spotify


Gamardah Fungus

GAMARDAH FUNGUS – HERBS AND POTIONS
Artemisia, Bryophyta, Beladonna, Mandragora, Hypericum“each track is named for a herb which can both heal and harm”.

Ukrainian duo Gamardah Fungus (sound designer Igor Yalivec and guitarist Segey Yagoda) delve deep into their grandparents’ folkore and wisdom of herbal healing practices to find the inspiration for this soothing (I almost wrote ‘healing’, but I guess that’s a word better avoided) album:

“Using herbal concoctions our grandfathers were able to treat any disease and even bring up a dying man on its feet. Also, they were able to do the opposite – bring anyone to dementia, injury or another disease.”
Listening to the peaceful improvisations, there’s no need to fear for the latter. After all, the duo’s name Gamardah Fungus “refers to a substance made according to ancient recipes of natural herbs and minerals to help you open your mind to the universe. Not a drug, but an elixir of wisdom.”

Maybe because they’re from Ukraïne (with, in Igor’s own words, “an experimental music scene that is still poorly understoond and remains something unusual for the most listeners over the world”), or maybe it’s the setting of the guitar improvisations with the field recordings background, but their music sure has a unusal pleasing atmosphere.


Luke Howard - Forgotten Postcards

LUKE HOWARD – FORGOTTEN POSTCARDS
Luke Howard is a composer/pianist from Melbourne, Australia, whose debut solo album ‘Sun, Cloud’ was nominated for the 2013 Australian Music Prize that year.
Forgotten Postcards is his fifth solo album.
The opening track, Homeless,  and the closing title Shift are noteworthy for the way he transposes short repetitive themes using the full range of the keyboard. From the lower register to the upper, and back again, and before you realise it the slightly melancholic theme has anchored itself in your subconscious.
It is the perfect soundtrack for shifting through a box of forgotten postcards, which will bring back forgotten memories.
I guess it will also do so even if you do not have a box of forgotten postcards yourself.

Also on Spotify

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France Jobin; Nils Quak; Vlad Nedelin; No Mask Effect

No Mask Effect

Singulum

FRANCE JOBIN – SINGULUM
France Jobin (Montreal, Canada) is a sound artist whose work reveals ‘a minimalist approach to complex sound environments where analog and digital intersect.’
Her latest release on Line is a collection of four  ‘sound sculptures’ recorded using the Serge and the Buchla 200 modular synthesizers as well as the Nord Modular. Subtle, non-intrusive pieces you’re hardly aware of, but with a lot of details to be discovered if you listen carefully.

“I put field recordings through a series of editing and manipulation processes which result in very different sounds from their origins. These manipulations affect time, timbre, harmonics and the essence of each sound, whereas composition influences how they relate to each other.” 

Singulum represents an unattainable goal, the process of decay while conserving a continuation of information.”



FRANCE JOBIN – M


Ad Interim

NILS QUAK – AD INTERIM / IN GIRUM IMUS….
Two cassette releases from Nils Quak that (luckily) are also available as a download:
Ad Interim has a ‘introspective, relaxed kind of vibe – not unlike staring in your TV’s static for approximately six hours’ (this description comes from Nils Quak himself).

In Girum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni (‘We are lost in the night and consumed by fire’) is a collection of modular synth pieces that – again in his own words – is “like this wonderful acid trip that turns into your personal nightmare: abrasive, disjointed, noisy. The perfect soundtrack for your romantic dinner.”
Personally, I have some slight doubts about that last statement…


Vlad Nedelin Postante

VLAD NEDELIN – POSTANTE
Jazz drummer and composer Vlad Nedelin was born in the Soviet Union, has lived in Israel, and is currently residing in Stockholm, Sweden.
This is his first fully electronic album, and an impressive debut it is, too!
Nine tracks, seamlessly sequenced, drawing influences from ambient, industrial and musique concrête. Soundscapes with an adventurous ‘sci-fi’ touch, reminiscent of that of Biosphere, but with a somewhat sharper edge.



VLAD NEDELIN – AN ISLE


No Mask Effect

NO MASK EFFECT – QUICK SMART
After many years of running a label (Psychonavigationand listening to hundreds of demos, Keith Downey decided it was time to release some of his own music.
His main inspiration for this album was (again) Geir ‘Biosphere’ Jensen’s music – most clearly so in Grass that could’ve been taken directly from Jensen’s Cho Oyu album.

There’s an important role for everyday environmental sounds: ‘the sounds that we all encounter on a daily basis, be it the sound of traffic, people’s conversations at a local market, the sound of someone cutting the grass perhaps or even just the lovely sounds of birds singing in the trees, basically anything or everything you might experience from taking a walk around any town or city.”

Strip away the radio signal sounds from the opening track, Downtown, leaving just the synth pads and bird sounds, and you may experience the same feeling of summer heat as on Wendy/Walter Carlos’  landmark album Sonic Seasonings (from 1972).

Enough references to classic ambient material, but it’s also a very personal vision of what makes (environmental-)ambient so interesting to listen to. Or not listen to.
Also on Spotify

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