Janek Schaefer visits Cuckooland using samples from Robert Wyatt’s 2003 album. * Erik Griswold further explores the possibilities of the prepared piano.
Vvolk may very well be the only ‘ambient orchestra’ in the world * Three works inspired by (perpetual) motion by Claudio F. Baroni * Olivia Block‘s ‘132 Ranks’ will make you feel humble.
Slow down time with κασετα from The Pitch, and/or dive into the NGC 1999 Nebula (1.500 light-years from home) with Ben Bertrand
Intense improvisations by Aidan Baker/Simon Goff/Thor Harris, and fascinating cellotronics by Ze-Ka
Dutch Roundup (worth international attention): Cut Worms ‘Cable Mounds’, Michel Banabila ‘Stop Motion’ and Jeroen Effern‘s Untitled album.
Two great ‘Contemporary Classical’ albums:
Christoph Berg‘s ‘Conversations’, released on the Sonic Pieces label.
Jeffrey Roden‘s Next Level Minimalism on volume 2 of “Threads of a Prayer”
A short but refreshing break from the usual ambient soundscapes: Kid Koala and Emiliana Torrini’s collaboration album called ‘Music to Draw To’, and a spectacular reissue of accordeon wizard Mario Batkovic’s ‘Solo’ album.
CEEYS play an intimate church live session; music for Mourning by Poppy Nogood; and Joe Frawley captures the spirit of the ‘Cartomancer’ Olney H. Richmond.
Around december 2007, I made a mix from Soccer Commitee’s music and music from Machinefabriek.
This mix is never published here before, because it was made for the dutch NPS-Folio radio show broadcast.
I don’t usually post the Folio broadcasts here, but it’s time to make an exception to that rule: a recent social media post about the beauty of Soccer Committee’s album sC made me decide it was time to dust off the 2007 mix and publish it again.
Because it’s still as powerful now as it was back then, almost 10 years ago.
“Somehow, in Europe, over the last century, as complexity and inaccessibility became equated with intelligence and the avant-garde, we lost something along the way. Modernism gave us so many stunning works, but we also lost our lullabies.”
Long-form compositions are a challenge to a composer, because he (she) has to deal with the audience’s relatively short attention span: not many people will be able to focus and keep their concentration for 4 hours or even more. For this reason, it is no surprise that long-form experiments are often found in the realm of ambient music. Ánd that they are often dealing with ‘sleep’ – which instantly solves the attention span problem too.
In the Shortlist sections, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for. Still, I think they deserve your attention: use the links to find more info and hear previews.
Good Weather for an Airstrike – Lights
“Good Weather For An Airstrike (the name comes from a Sigur Rós piece) is an ambient/post-rock project by Tom Honey from Winchester, Hampshire UK. The idea of the project was to create a collection of relaxing sounds which would help Tom alleviate the issues caused by suffering from tinnitus, which causes a ringing sensation in the ear and can often result in difficulty sleeping. Combining processed guitars, dreamy strings, piano, synths, drums, lulling drones and subtle field recordings, Lights is full of wonderful soundscapes that mix ambient, electronic, post-rock and neo-classical sounds perfectly.”
Offthesky & Man Watching the Stars – Afar, Farewell
Experimental violinist Brendan Paxton joins Jason ‘Offthesky’ Corder on these “five gorgeous tracks of slowly evolving melody on a soft bed of processed guitar, molten strings and Offthesky’s deep and quirky signatures”.
To some, waves on the shore, leaves from a tree, flames in a fire all look the same.
Others can stare at this fractal beauty and find Zen-like peacefulness in the fact that this ‘sameness’ is just an illusion, because every single detail is different – and no single detail ever occurs twice.
Michael Gordon‘s “Timber” may achieve the same effect in sound.
“Timber” is scored for six “wooden 2x4s, each cut into different sizes, giving each one a slightly different pitch.”
Called a “simantra“, this percussion instrument was first devised by composer Iannis Xenakis.
Created as a soundtrack for the Bill Morrison movie depicting the disembling of the North East England’s mining community (the movie DVD will be released in june), this CD version is recorded live at the Durham Cathedral with a surprising cast of a 16-piece brass ensemble, church organ, percussion and electronics (the latter pre-recorded to catch the reverberation of the cathedral itself and use it in the recording).
No string section – in instrumentation and style Johannsson returns to the time of “Virthulegu Forsetar” (Touch, 2004).
Peter Broderick is not afraid to try out some new directions. With his music (ranging from minimal electronics via minimalism to new-folk), as well as with the ways to distribute them.
Some of his records were released on fairly wellknown labels as Type and Kning, or on lesser known labels as Slaapwel Records and Fang Bomb. But also on cassettes, freely available mixtapes, and now even using Flickr (the web 2.0 photo sharing site).
As far as I know, he’s the very first artist creating a ‘Flickr Album‘ this way.
Though he’s not the only one working in this musical area (think of Eliane Radigue, her ‘Trilogie de la Mort’ especially, or Alvin Lucier with his ‘Music on a Long Thin Wire’), I can hardly think of anyone creating drones more ‘minimal’ than Phill Niblock does.
Phill Niblock (born 1933) has a vast catalogue of compositions exploring the essence of sound by asking the listener to zoom in almost indefinitely and forget about time. To the casual passer-by, the music may sound like it’s only one endless chord and if you don’t have the right mindset you’ll probably get extremely bored soon. But if you let the sound grab you, you’ll hear the subtle nuances and interplay of the interacting waveforms.
A local independent production most of the time is not a good one to judge – most of these can be categorized as ‘sympathetic’ only. Imagine my surprise when I started listening to this CD an I could not leave my place until it got finished…only to hit the ‘replay’ button.