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René Aquarius * Atom TM

Transmutation

Transmutation

RENÉ AQUARIUS – TRANSMUTATION  Also on Spotify

Norwegian artist Ajla R. Steinvåg‘s inspiration comes from ‘the process of metal partical accumulation in the human body’, which ‘can drive cells to activate inflammatory pathways, programmed cell death and subsequent encapsulation of dead tissue’.
René Aquarius 
also has a medical background: he is a medical scientist ‘with a focus on bone and blood vessel pathology’. But of course for us he is primarily known as the drummer of Dead Neanderthals (who were recently featured here because of their surprising Life album), and for his collaboration with Rutger Zuydervelt.
Their shared interests has culminated in a multimedia installation in eindhoven in September 2018 – so now only the soundtrack remains for us to enjoy.

Transmutation presents two tracks (the title tracks and Flesh Sarcophagus) – immersive deep and dark drones that move slowly, illustrating the medical process described above. Dark and as scary as it is beautiful. Aquarius is a drummer and from the sound of it I guess that these sounds are mainly creating using his cymbals and low drums, of course post-processed with a lot of effects yet still recognisable.

Unfortunately there are no impressions online of the installation in Eindhoven, and Steinvag‘s site has not yet been updated. But looking at images of his earlier work while listening to this dark soundscapes I assume it must have been an impressive event. (If anyone has been there please tell about it).
What is left now is the soundscape: a dark and alienating journey, slowly moving like the thick blood in your veins. Make no mistake: this is definitely a recommendation!


 

Texturen III

ATOM TM – TEXTUREN III

I don’t think I need to go in detail (again) about Uwe Schmidt‘s countless aliases and incredibly versatile musical output ranging from ecstatic cumbia to deep minimalism. I don’t know how he does it but Uwe Schmidt seems to have a musical Midas’ touch…

As Atom™, one of his ongoing series is Texturen (Textures) – long-form (50+ minutes) drone pieces that focus on microscopic details of sound. Texturen III ‘picks up where he left off with Texturen II‘, and simply starts as if a machine is turned on.
But from there, quite a lot is happening. Details float in and disappear again, the overall context remains constant but within that everything constantly changes and floats.
It ‘weaves and winds through landscapes of the mind that touch on all points of an emotional spectrum from caustic to convivial – Designed to inhabit the infinite space of your mind’. 

Each part can of course be enjoyed separately, but the project may take on massive proportions if the collection is listened to as one single journey.  It’s unclear how many editions this series is gonna get in the future, but I assume Schmidt will simply add a new edition when he feels the time is right. But when he decides it is finished, I really hope it will be released as a box-set (or maybe even a continuous digital or Blu-Ray edition).
From his website I learn that a live performance of Texturen can take on virtually any length – it took 4 hours at Berghain on New Year’s Day 2018! So obviously there’s more to come… I expect at least 8 hours so a full Texturen series can accompany you during a good night’s sleep.

But for now, just simply engage in the first three parts!

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Machinefabriek (x 4)

Seeker

I could easily fill all of this blog with Machinefabriek/Rutger Zuydervelt releases. Blink twice and the release pages (solo/collaborations) will probably be updated with a new title. And, contrary to what you might expect with such prolific output, each release promises different surprises and thus deserves attention.
Time for a roundup of some recent releases:

Seeker

AARON MARTIN & MACHINEFABRIEK – SEEKER  Also on Spotify

Aaron Martin (cello, banjo, organ, ukulele, vocals) and Machinefabriek (electronics, processing, editing) have worked together before (on Cello Drowning, 2007). The tracks for Seeker were originally conceived for a dance piece by choreographer Iván Pérez called Hide and Seek.

The CD album version presents the (reworked and refined versions of) the original sketches that were created in preparation for this choreography. A remarkable combination of sounds covering a wide spectre of emotions – from gritty  and noisy electronics to smooth vocal arrangements and organic folky strings… and many things in-between.

Included with the CD-version (and with the digital edition, of course) is a download of a 53 minute continuous remix of these pieces. This is what became the final score for the choreography.
This continuous mix is a perfect example of the added value of a good mix: take the original tracks (which are good enough to be played on their own, make no mistake about that), put them in a different order and they will tell a completely different story. Context is everything. You’ll recognise the tracks, but still it feels as if the mix is a completely different album from the version with the separate tracks.

Seeker has waited to be released for more than two years. It was intended to be released on a different label but it was postponed for many reasons. Finally, Dronarivm came to the rescue… and we definitely should thank them for doing so.


Becoming

MACHINEFABRIEK – BECOMING  Also on Spotify

The collaboration with choreographer Iván Pérez became a fruitful one: after Hide and Seek more Machinefabriek scores would follow.  Becoming is the fourth product of their fruitful collaboration (following Attention The Doors Are Closing and Exhausting Space). 

What was new for this particular production was that the score was produced live instead of using pre-recorded material. During performance, the dancers and the musician (Rutger Zuydervelt) have a real-time dialogue and so each performance is different.

“The choreography and music were created simultaneously, rehearsing together, and developing a movement and sound ‘vocabulary’ for the piece. The end result is structured, but still leaves a lot of room for improvisation in order to keep a natural flow. “

The CD release of Becoming is a ‘studio version’: a 40-minute piece edited from sounds recorded during the rehearsals. Again, Rutger Zuydervelt guides the listener through a landscape of contrasting extremes: from distorted noise that sets the listener in full alert mode, to dreamy drones and angelic choirs performed by Mariska Baars (soccer Committee/Piiptsjilling).
To illustrate the way each performance can vary, the CD/digital edition includes a 46 minute live version recorded at the première performance of Becoming in Bassano del Grappa, Italy.

It is worth noting that this majestic sound is created using a relative ‘lo-fi’ setup of tools: pocket piano, pre-recorded cassettes, coil pick-up mic, contact mic, slinky spring, radio, dictaphone, tuning fork, scourer, micro amp, looper pedals, effects pedals.
Watching Machinefabriek perform live is nothing like the usual ‘laptop artist’ – it is watching a true sound alchemist at work.


Astroneer 2

RUTGER ZUYDERVELT – ASTRONEER VOL. 2  Also on Spotify

Exactly one year after the Volume 1 release of the Astroneer game soundtrack a follow-up is released, simultaneously with a major game update. In the game, the music plays continuously and reacts interactively to the player’s decisions.
But for the CD/Download-release the eighteen tracks are presented as separate compositions. They are an addition to the 26 tracks of Volume 1, so that’s quite an impressive soundtrack altogether!

Astroneer shows Machinefabriek at his most playful. Like on Volume 1the synths have a retro sound that matches the games physics. Relatively short tracks, most of them quite light-hearted (except of course when danger or caves are involved).

Compare this release with the previous two and the one below, and you’ll probably find it hard to believe that these albums were created by one and the same person!


What it seems to be

MACHINEFABRIEK & SARAH PAYTON – WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE  Also on Spotify

What it seems to be (Dutch: Wat het lijkt te zijn)  is a collaborative project for an installation by Sarah Payton:  a temporary artwork near the Buiksloterweg in Amsterdam.
It is a viewer made of concrete and rusting steel. When you look into the viewer you do not see the surroundings but watch a video with images of the city. You won’t find it there anymore: the installation has moved to different locations near the shores of the IJ until the end of october, and its current location is unknown. But we still have the soundtrack, thanks to the Dauw label.

With a beautiful and relatively soft-focused Machinefabriek‘s soundtrack, Sarah Payton  tells stories “about things, such as a journey to another country, the properties of water, and the Wizard of Oz. Of potatoes, immigrants and homeless men that she encounters in the city. Threaded throughout is the search for a story in which everyone in the city could feel at home.” 

Sarah Payton

For some reason I personally have concentration issues with spoken word performances – the same reason why I cannot listen to an audiobook: after a few minutes I hear the voice but not the meaning. I hear but I don’t understand – the voice has become an instrument and could’ve very well been a trumpet or any other solo instrument. Still, Saray Payton has a nice voice, and her observations are definitely worth concentrated listening.

The cassette release (or digital download) contains the original installation version (spoken) as well as the instrumental version on the B-Side. It is another example of Rutger Zuydervelt‘s versatility: no abrasive noise here but a soft, gentle, piece. Music that fits Sarah Payton’s contemplative observations about the world around her like a glove.

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Banabila Exclusive: Dissolve (Free Download)

Installation View

MICHEL BANABILA – DISSOLVE
(AMBIENTBLOG EXCLUSIVE!)

Ambientblog is very proud to present this exclusive download from Michel Banabila: a 38 minute soundscape created for Gerco de Ruijter‘s installation called Dissolve

Dissolve  is an installation by landscape photographer and filmmaker Gerco de Ruijtershowing landscape images filmed in the Alamosa Valley, Colorado, near the Great Sand Dunes. The shore of the mountain lake is shown in time-lapse images of one full day, from early morning darkness to nightfall, comprised into 4 minutes.
Using animation technique, the reverse image is added, so the mirrored landscape changes position with the real at about three-quarters of the movie. From there, the next sequence starts in mirrored mode until it is swapped into its original mode. This way, the images are shown in endless succession.
The landscape and its mirrored image are tilted 90 degrees, so ‘form and landscape are interwoven in a poetic, abstract experience‘.

Dissolve was premiered on the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF) in March 2017, as part of the Expanding Animation exhibition, presenting installations that combine animation, film and fine arts.

Dissolve   Dissolve   Dissolve   Dissolve
(click images for full size)
 

Because the tilted landscape image is detached from its natural context the eight minute installation can induce a meditative state which is deepened by the soundscape Michel Banabila created especially for this installation. The length of the film (8 minutes) is different from that of the soundscape (38 minutes), so the soundtrack is slightly different with every iteration of the loop.

Banabila‘s Dissolve soundscape reminisces some of Brian Eno’s generative works: repeating notes that appear at irregular intervals, embedded in multi-layered drones and deep rumbling sub-bass sounds. Indeed: ‘music that is as ignorable as it is interesting.’ It’s a soundscape one can lose itself in, an atmosphere enhancer that can be put on repeat – and thus it’s a perfect companion to De Ruijter’s detached landscape stills.
One could argue that this is not a ‘characteristic’ Banabila piece: he never before, to my knowledge, released a full-album-length ambient piece like this. (Until now, his X-Rated Manggha Mix was the longest ambient track with its 18:24 minutes).

It seems Banabila feels at home in whatever style he choses: in his works for films, dance and theatre, his more ethnic oriented collaborations, his present day focus on more experimental electronics, ánd in long-form ambient soundscapes.

The Dissolve installation is not the first time that Gerco de Ruijter and Michel Banabila worked together: many of Banabila‘s album covers are graced with stills from de Ruijter‘s aerial landscape photography. Floatand the recent Sound Years  are fine examples.
They also produced various other film and installation pieces together, like Crops, Grid Corrections and Ringdijk/Dike-Ring.
(An overview can be found here on this Banabila Blogpost)


(Video from Gerco De Ruijter‘s VIMEO collection)
 



MICHEL BANABILA – DISSOLVE

Download Dissolve-FLAC (286MB)

Download Dissolve-MP3 (94MB)

This download contains Banabila‘s 38:30 version of Sound for Dissolve, and includes stills from the original video installation by Gerco de Ruijter. 

Please note that this download is intended for personal use only.
For non-personal and/or commercial use such as radio-broadcasts, soundtracks or any other kind of publication, please contact Michel Banabila (music) or Gerco de Ruijter (video stills) first.

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Monty Adkins – Borderlands

Borderlands

After “Fragile.Flicker.Fragment” (2011), Four Shibusa” (2012) and Rift Patterns” (2014) (all of which I heartily recommend listening), Borderlands” is Monty Adkins‘ fourth consecutive album on the Audiobulb label.
Before that, there were three earlier releases  – on Crónica, Radio France and Empreïntes Digitales  (as Mathew Adkins on the latter).
And from his website discography we learn that another digital release is to be released in March this year!

Quite an impressive catalogue that is, especially given the exceptional quality of all these recordings. Each has its own style, instrumentation and context and yet all have the distinctive ‘Monty Adkins sound’ – music “characterized by slowly shifting organic instrumental and concrete soundscapes”.
An unparallelled match between electronic and acoustic sounds, between the ‘natural’ and the ‘synthetic’.

Borderlands” presents a single 37 minute piece, commisioned for Totum One“: a 360° audio visual laboratory installation, “exploring virtual worlds using 3D headsets and new ways of hearing sounds.”  The installation is based on a text by Deborah Templeton “that explored liminal states of consciousness”, but this text is not present in this instrumental recording.

IOU - Totum One

The sound that visitors experienced at the installation will probably have been quite different from what you hear here, because  visitors had “tablet computers so that they could send a graphical satellite on a journey between 3-D “planets”, each of which emitted a soundscape – for example, the sound of streams and running water.”
These added sounds and effects are not included in the basic recording presented on this album.

While the music of Borderlands” was created to embark on a sonic space trip, the music has absolutely nothing to do with the usual kind of space music associated!
The heart of the piece is the sensuous multitracked cello playing by William Mace, subtly supported by unobtrusive electronic details and accents that slowly move (somewhat) to the foreground while the piece evolves.

The composition ‘comprises of six interludes and six extended panels, each comprising twenty-eight short melodic fragments. Each panel uses the same fragments to form new melodies and harmonies.” – but for the listener it feels – and can be enjoyed – as one single uninterrupted piece.
A piece in which every single detail has its place, a piece that conveys that everything is as it should be.
A very, very comforting piece.



MONTY ADKINS – BORDERLANDS (fragment: first panel)

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Janek Schaefer – Unfolding Luxury / Inner Space Memorial

Unfolding Luxury

In two separate vinyl album releases (also available as digital downloads), the Dekorder label presents a beautiful overview of the work of Janek Schaeferpresenting new pieces –  in some cases created by collating existing material.

In his work, Janek Schaefer has always focused on the multiple aspects of sound, exploring it using self-built devices he used to manipulate sounds in thought-provoking installations.
The audio recordings are only one-dimensional representation of his muti-media installations, which are often conceptual and visually attractive.

One of his earliest works (1995) recorded the fragmented noises of a sound activated dictaphone while it was travelling overnight through the Post Office. This piece (called ‘Self Storage’) was presented on an exhibition where he shared works with artists like Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson.
Since then, Schaefer’s many performances and exhibitions have earned him many prizes and awards.


Unfolding Luxury

Unfolding Luxury beyond the City of Dreams“, the first album of the pair, contains seven relatively short pieces (ranging from 3 to 8 minutes).
Within the calm atmosphere of these pieces, there are many fascinating sounds to discover. Sounds that come to life even more when Schaefer explains where they came from or what occasion they were created for:

A piece for his brother-in-law composed on the day he passed away (‘He had seen the white lights of heavens gatem but returned, and became fascinated by what he called God’s divine darkness in lifetime.’).

An orchestral drone piece ‘featuring an old French lady singing to her cats with an extra celestial chorus’.

“A Carpenters LP piano loop layered again and again over a high sky recording, which was recorded using a helium balloon floating in the clouds over the city, with raindrops”.

“The City of Dreams” seems to be reaching all the way up to heaven, with its multiple piano motifs “recorded live with my twin-arm turntable, additional overlays recorded with Mark Robinson on his old family piano.”

The closing piece for this album (“Beyond”) features a return of the Carpenter’s sample, this time mixed with recordings made in “Grand Central Station at closing time when the vast hall was deserted, and the full majesty of the acoustic space could be appreciated. Stillettos pass by forming polyrhythm’s, as the last train announces it’s departure…”

Janek Schaefer has the gift to present  well-respected serious sound-art with a deep emotional appeal, while not forgetting his relativistic sense of humor.

Inner Space Memorial

The title of the second album, Inner Space Memorial in Wonderland“, is a combination of the titles of the two pieces included, each taking up a full side of the album with about 20 minutes.

Inner Space Memorial”, created in honour of J.G. Ballard, is a monumental organ drone piece for which -in the original installation- ‘a pair of speaker cones were turned around to play back into the void of their cabinets.’

“Wonderland” is the finale piece of Schaefer’s Asleep at the Wheel…” exhibition soundtrack, with location recordings recorded on the footbridge over the M3 (the six lane motorway that was built right in front of his (J.G. Ballard’s) home while he was writing Crash and Concrete Island.

Compared to (the somewhat intrusive sound of) side A, this piece reflects the calm of a roadtrip at night: “A single majestic daydream that drives you forwards as reality undertakes you. A work that questions where our culture is heading further down the highway ahead. Ideal music for when you need to stay awake on the road.”

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Mark Polscher – The Pomegranate Tree

Pomegranate

Imagine this:

A museum dedicated to the ancient Egyptian art, with thirteen rooms (“fields”), divided in seven “areas”, with a 64-channel soundscape accompanying the exibition combining abstract and somewhat haunting electronic sounds with partly edited, partly montaged texts spoken from ancient Egyptian poems (with titles such as The Book of the Dead, The Prophecies of Neferti, The Teachings of Ptahhotep).

Sounds like a soundscaper’s dream, doesn’t it?

Yet, this is exactly what Mark Polscher realised for(/with) the State Museum of Egyptian Art (Munich, Germany) for the project named The Pomegranate Tree“.

“As an installed composition the music pervades all chambers of the collection and changes with the moments of the visitor to become his companion. (…). By moving through space the visitor becomes the choreographer of the piece, just as the piece accompanies and shapes the choreography of his visit to the moseum. The music converts the museum space into a stage, and integrates the visitor into its course.”

The installation exhibition opened in june this year, and will be performed in its original multichannel “gestalt” until 2019 once a month (so be sure to carefully plan your visit!).

But for those of us that will not be able to immerse themselves into this installation in Munich, a 63-minute 2-channel CD version of the project has been released recently: a luxury package with a 80-page booklet including introductory notes and the full texts in German as well as translated in English.

It clearly is not an easy task to translate a non-linear 64-channel soundscape installation into a stereo CD version. “The key task was to find a appropriate translation from simultaneity to linearity. How to proceed with distances and directions? How to find a correlation for the 13-room polyphony?”
And, of course, how will the soundscape hold if detached from its relation with the objects displayed in the museum?
The two different experiences may be uncomparable, but also without having experienced the immersive museum installation, the CD-version clearly conveys the mystery of ancient Egypt and its prophetic poems.

It’s probably no surprise that this is not exactly meant as ‘background’ music. The haunting texts (spoken in German) are accompanied by an abstract, eerie, and seemingly random soundscape.
It’s easy to imagine yourself completely on your own exploring the insides of a newly discovered pyramid – and I guess, like me, you won’t feel very comfortable in such a position. Especially when realising that “None comes thence, that could tell”!

What is maybe most fascinating in this project (and perhaps something any any historic exposition can only hope for), is that it manages to link the historic texts, that are thousands of years old, to present times. Which may be best demonstrated by these fragments from “Land in Upheaval”:

“This land is being ruined, and nobody
cares about it, nor speaks about it, nor sheds tears about it!
(…)
One laugh
s with a bitter laugh
one will no longer weep at death
and no longer fast for a dead man,
for everybody is occupied with himself.”

from The Prophecies of Neferti, Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty.


MARK POLSCHER – LAND IN UPHEAVAL

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Janek Schaefer – Asleep at the Wheel…

ASTW


Asleep at the Wheel

Janek Schaefer’s website presents an impressive list of site-location projects that are very interesting to investigate, because they demonstrate Schaefer’s perfect balance of concept, visual and sound.
(A few of them, Unfolding and Extended Play, were presented on Ambientblog earlier).

As the Artist in Residence for the 2010 Milton Keynes International Festival, Schaefer presented Asleep at the Wheel…’: a location project for which he completely transformed the deserted Sainsbury’s supermarket into a three-lane highway at night, a ‘ghost road of cars’, where the audio is played from the in-car sound systems. From the car seats, visitors could listen to presentations and interviews thematically dealing with sustainability and the future of the earth, and how we can be able to improve that future.

“The exhibition is a thought provoking and immersive sound installation for multiple car radios, that contemplates our future. Exhibited in a vast disused supermarket, three-lanes of cars dissect the darkened interior, as the multiple hazard lights illuminate the space, revealing the finite road of our consumer driven daydream.”


Asleep at the Wheel

This Asleep at the Wheel…’ installation project is extensively documented in a massive (and FREE!) 348 Mb download, which is divided in three parts:
The first directory contains all background information, photos and a documentary movie.
Another directory features the complete“In-Car soundtracks” (the spoken word soundscapes presented in the different cars) plus a soundscape called “The Ghost Road”  which features the sound that was heard in the hall outside of the cars.
Finally, the package also includes the digital version of the 40-minuteGlovebox Mixtapewhich, strictly musically speaking, is the most listenable when ‘detached’ from the installation, since it contains the soundscapes, without the the spoken word parts that require active attention.
This mixtape, by the way, is also available separately, as a real psysical audio cassette (available on the My Dance The Skull cassette label).

Not included in the download package, but still a very adventurous listen is the 20 minute “Audiotour”  that can be found on the Extra Info Page

And finally: for those collectors that can’t live without physical media, especially of the special edition kind, Janek Schaefer also presents the Audiofile Box Set edition, presented on an USB Car Key with a LCD Slideshow Keyring  (!!!). Using valuable resources for an electronic gadget like this might be a bit debatable regarding the project’s overall theme…but the limited edition package is also of irresistable beauty (ánd very very limited).


Janek Schaefer – Asleep at the Wheel – Car 2 In-Car Soundtrack

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