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Manos Milonakis * From The Mouth Of The Sun * Jason van Wyk

Hymn Binding

Milonakis - Festen

MANOS MILONAKIS – FESTEN  Also on Spotify

If the first thing you associate with this title is Thomas Vinterberg’s film, you’re close.  This is Manos Milonakis‘ score for a theatrical adaptation of that film by the National Theater of Northern Greece, directed by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos.  Festen was the first movie from the Dogme (Dogma) 95 movement, one with a confronting theme:

“A family celebration disrupts the superficial peace of the Hansen family household. The family patriarch and businessman Helge celebrates his 60th birthday, surrounded by relatives and close friends. The buried secrets of the family come to light. Nobody is really shocked, though. The feast goes on as if nothing happened. The well-oiled bourgeois machine still holds.”

Milonakis‘ soundtrack stands firm with the multitude of  current ‘modern classical’ soundtracks releases. With the addition of a string section and George Papadopoulos on guitar, he plays a multitude of instruments himself: piano, synthesizers, glockenspiel, beat programming, loop processing.
The relatively short soundtrack (32″) introduces some strong and appealing musical themes which – according to the storyline – do not stress the tension, but seemingly try to cover it by its loveliness: …as if nothing happened…
I can only imagine how the combination of this music works out with the story of the disrupted family piece on stage.

But most of us have to do with the soundtrack only. And you definitely don’t have to know anything about the story it was written for to enjoy this fine album!


Hymn Binding

FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SUN – HYMN BINDING  Also on Spotify

On their third full album From The Mouth Of The Sun (or FTMOTS: Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist) further explore the possibilities of their sound based on the use -and manipulation – of acoustic instruments. The duo has created their own orchestral sound, using cello, piano, acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, ukulele and pump organ to create ‘a musical landscape full of contrasts, where melodies and ominous textures intertwine.’

Recording acoustic instruments is a challenge in itself, as Rosenqvist mentions:
” You never know what you’re going get, and you can never repeat it exactly the same way. The wood in the instrument changes from air pressure and with different temperatures. You change your sitting position from one take to another and all of a sudden it sounds slightly different. You move the microphone or you move something in the room and it sounds slightly different. Acoustic sound sources allow for chaos to be a part of the creative process, allowing for something you can never fully control.”

Instead of trying to record each instrument as perfect as possible, FTMOTS makes use of this phenomena, ‘to bring out new layers from already existing timbres’. 

Of course, both musicians bring in a lot more experience than ‘just’ the three albums they released as this duo. Rosenqvist (Gothenburg, Sweden) has released more than forty titles as a solo artist and in collaborations, has written music for dance performances and movies. Martin (Topeka, Kansas) has played music since he was 11 before chosing to study the cello at the age of 17. He has worked on his impressive discography since 2006.


Jason van Wyk - Attachment   Jason van Wyk - Opacity

JASON VAN WYK – ATTACHMENT  Also on Spotify / OPACITY  Also on Spotify

Home Normal  celebrates their release of Jason van Wyk‘s newest album (Opacitywith the re-release of Attachment, which was originally released on the Eilean label early 2016, which sold out quickly.
Considering the amount of piano-based albums that were released in the earlier years, releasing yet another sounds almost risky.
But label owner/mastering engineer Ian Hawgood immediately recognised the special talent of van Wyk, a South-African composer who is releasing (electronic) music since he was just 14:

“Quite apart from being a breath of fresh air with its flowing and soulful piano elements, the sound design and lush melodious pads just had me absolutely hooked. I felt there was another layer to be told in the work, with its close recording techniques, dusty piano tones, and overall warmth.”

Attachment is van Wyk‘s ‘first foray into an ambient/post-classical piano cross-over: beautiful piano playing, intertwined with his subtle sound design and wide open soundscapes’

On Opacityvan Wyk further explores his combination of calm, serene piano music – sometimes solo, sometimes embedded in soft synth pads. The two albums match together perfectly, in fact these two releases could easily be considered two parts of a double-album full of ‘piano-focused tenderness’.

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Jason van Wyk; Stefano Guzzetti; Iggy Pop-Tarwater-Alva Noto; Inside the Baxter Building; Alex Lucas-Olan Mill

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Attachment

JASON VAN WYK – ATTACHMENT
From Cape Town, South Africa, comes Jason van WykThis is his second solo album, and Eilean Records first venture in the modern classical scene.
Van Wyk‘s main instrument is the piano, but not exclusively: he also adds synth and electronics on beautiful floating ambient in the second half of the album, in tracks like Found, Evanesce and Outset.

“An immersion in the deepness of the elements, near from the oceans and the breath of the air, a fragile and delicate release with some strong ambient colors.”

It’s a very intimate recording, partly because of the compositions but also because of the way it was recorded: including the tiniest details and vibrations from the inside of the piano. Mastered by Ian Hawgood. 


Stefano Guzetti - Leaf

STEFANO GUZZETTI – LEAF
…who also did the mastering job for Leaf, the new album from Stefano Guzzetti on Home Normal.
Thirteen compositions for piano and different ensembles (violin, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, with piano, glockenspiel, field recordings and sine waves performed by Stefano Guzzetti) dedicated to ‘one of the most common things we can find in everyday’s life”:  a leaf.

Like a leaf in the various seasons, these pieces each have different moods: from lively and joyful to melancholic and sad.

Also on Spotify


Leaves of Grass

IGGY POP, TARWATER & ALVA NOTO – LEAVES OF GRASS
If you immediately associate the name Iggy Pop with I wanna Be Your Dog or the explosive Lust for Life period, you may have to re-group after listening to this  22 minute mini-album. On each of the spoken word tracks Iggy Pop recites a poem by American wordsmith Walt Whitman (1819-1892), and James ‘Iggy’ Osterberg has the perfect voice for the declamations of Walt Whitman’s poetry.

“I think (Walt Whitman) had something like Elvis. Like Elvis ahead of his time, one of the first manic American populists. His poetry is always about motion and rushing ahead, and crazy love and blood pushing through the body. He would have been the perfect gangster rapper. “

The background score for the recitals is created by none less than Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) and Tarwater (Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok), to stunning effect. However, it is not easy to distinct who did what exactly musically. Do they play together, collaborating on the tracks, or do they separately perform on different tracks? I don’t know… But in fact it doesn’t matter, since the overall result is organic and fits together perfectly.

This is a vinyl-only release, with no digital counterpart planned. So: when it’s gone it’s gone.


IGGY POP/TARWATER/ALVA NOTO – OUT OF THE ROLLING OCEANS THE CROWD


Seldom Somber

INSIDE THE BAXTER BUILDING – SELDOM SOMBER
A gloomy atmosphere, unearthly jazzy horn arrangements over electronic soundscapes. Inside the Baxter Building is clearly not your average jazzclub outfit – although they would perfectly fit a Twin Peaks setting.
Their Seldom Somber debut is a stunning release of ‘real-time electronic music’: improvised music that was recorded live in the studio.
Simon Petermann (trombone, electronics), Samuel Würgler (trumpet, electronics) and Fabian Gutscher (electronics) manipulate the sounds of their instruments  ‘to create a rich palette of sounds with which they lead the listener into unexpected soundscapes’.
The title track also includes a spoken word poem, directly linking their music to the Krautrock tradition.
Inside the Baxter Building manages to break through stereotypes of the electro-acoustic genre…“and to keep their music lively and mobile, which in electronic music is a rarity”.

And – in case you didn’t know: The Baxter Building is a fictitious 35-story office building appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.


INSIDE THE BAXTER BUILDING – DON’T KILL IT BEFORE IT’S DEAD


tramuntanaALEX LUCAS & OLAN MILL – TRAMUNTANA
Olan Mill (Alex Smalley) has released a steady flow of albums since 2010 on labels like Serein, Preservation, Facture and Hibernate. Alex Lucas is a less familiar name to me, and there is not much information about him (?) on the internet. 
Both have worked together on this album in 2012, when the tracks for this album were recorded by Bruno Sanfilippo.
It’s not clear who does what exactly, but I assume Alex Lucas provided most of the piano playing, while Alex Smalley provided the electronic embedding. But of course they could also each have done both. Stylistically the compositions are somewhere between Nils Frahm and Philip Glass, but with more emphasis on the electronics, that is as prominent as the piano, so not just there for its enhancement.

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