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James Murray * Multicast Dynamics * Pjusk

Multicast Dynamics - Continental Ruins

Killing Ghosts


James Murray has regularly been featured this blog: recently with his album Eyes to the Heightand before that with The Sea in the Sky, Mount View and, of course, his work with Anne Garner on Be Life.
Each album building on his reputation of a sound wizard capable of linking the abstract to the accessible in a very unique and personal way.

Killing Ghosts
his latest, is released on the renowned Home Normal label. Label curator Ian Hawgood recognised Murray‘s talent to ‘blur the line between deep electronics and textured ambience. […] The combination of melody and careful design [that] takes a huge amount of skill, care, and patience.’
The label is obviously extremely proud to present this album. Given the reputation of Home Normal for their past releases, that is about the best recommendation you can possibly get.
And one that I can wholeheartedly support!

Compared to earlier works, where his compositions sometimes felt like they were ambient instrumentations of vocal pieces (and sometimes they also were), James Murray takes a step further into creating abstract soundscapes. Killing Ghost is darker than its predecessors in this way. It’s different compared to earlier albums, in a way. But not thát different because it has all the great marks that we have come to know by now: personal, emotional, and with unequalled sound design.

The beautiful artwork from this album is painted by Małgorzata Łapsa-Malawskawhose motto is ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. (Which can be shortened to ‘Less is More’).

Also on Spotify

Multicast Dynamics - Continental Ruins


Not even a year has passed since Samuel van Dijk (Multicast Dynamics) completed his four-part series Scape, Aquatic SystemScandinavia, and Outer Envelopes. Finland must be an inspiring country to live in!
His new album, Continental Ruinssounds like it could have been part of the quadrilogy: Van Dijk continues his sonic observations uninterrupted. But the concept, the story behind this album is slightly different: it is “inspired by decayed infrastructure – a sound documentary about sunken cities and continents, landslides and islands.”

‘Arctic’, ‘gloomy’, ‘submerged’, ‘desolate’ may be the key words to describe the musical palette created with “analogue synthesizers, arcane effect and manipulated field-recordings”, but at the same time the beauty of decay is attractive in a strange way. And very calm and organic, too. Probably because it bears the promise that new things, new life, will always grow from the ruins.

Also on Spotify


Pjusk - Syklus


With three tracks (23 minutes), this (download-only) EP by Norwegian duo Pjusk (Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevikwill probably leave you hoping there’ll be more of this in the future.
Their last album (Drowning In The Sky, with Sleep Orchestra) was from 2014. Since then their output was limited to short 3-track EP’s, like this one. But does it matter? Three EP’s make up a full album, don’t they?

Syklus is a “celebration of friendship”: each track is a collaboration of the duo with a different artist, coming from every corner of the world: Canada (Loscil), Kurdistan (Porya Hatamiand China (SHAO).
Each of these artists has their own influence on the tracks, but the mini-album still manages to retain the consistent sound that we have come to know (and love) from previous Pjusk albums.

Also on Spotify

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Multicast Dynamics; Tobias Freund & Valentina Berthelon; Mario Gronnert; Richard Eigner

Mario Gronnert

Multicast Dynamics - Outer Envelopes

The fourth and final part in a series of releases that ‘explores organic and aqueous worlds in a dreamlike and spiritual appearance’.

After Scape, Aquatic System and ScandinaviaSamuel van Dijk takes off into outer space.
‘He sends a time capsule out into a fictional space, exploring the unknown and placing sonic beacons which create eerie soundscapes and detailed textures. Together with airy pads and dark shuffling rhythms, these elements form dynamic sequences which display the sonic and embody the thematic evolution of the Multicast Dynamics project.’

In more than one way the music resembles some of the best work of Geir ‘Biosphere’ Jenssen: the dubby rhythm combined with a blanket of electronic layers.. But if there’s one thing that this series of album proves it is that it is not simply a copy, but the work of someone creating new originals with the use of noise generators, modular synths and ‘experiments with voltage’ .

Each of these albums stand up very well on its own, but of course the full evolutionary concept is best enjoyed when the four albums are played sequentially.

Outer Envelopes is concluded with a dub-techno re-shape of the title track by VC-118A – one of Samuel van Dijk‘s other aliases. It concludes the 4-cd series that moved ‘from an evolutionary to a cosmological scale’ – and might very well be a promising glimpse of the direction Samuel van Dijk‘s next venture might take.

Also on Spotify


Recent Arts

Tobias Freund is a German experimental musician with a long history of experience in music (even dating back to 1980 when he worked as an engineer in the high-end studio of German producer Frank Farian). In his later works he explores the musical areas between Acid, Ambient and Techno, all of it with a focus on the live approach. He has worked together with Max Loderbauer, Ricardo Villalobos and Uwe ‘Atom™’ Schmidt (among many others).
Max Loderbauer also helped develop the Max/MSP application that was built for this Recent Arts project: ‘a  “Loop Based Computer Controlled Engine” that repeats and processes sounds in a free and natural way – which feels like listening to the flowing water of a creek, or to the sound of the wind.’

For Recent Arts, Freund teams up with Chilean visual artist Valentina Berthelon (who is currently living in Berlin).
Primarily, Recent Arts is an audio-video liveshow manipulating sound and image in realtime, the video is as important as the audio.
This album version, of course, displays only the audio component of such a show. But it’s impressive enough, even without the videos.
Nonetheless, checking more examples of Berthelon‘s video art, I’d say that this project also deserves to have a DVD-version including the videos for these tracks!

Tobias Freund & Valentina Berthelon – Emptiness Syndrome

Tobias Freund & Valentina Berthelon – Zero Theorem

Mario Gronnert

Collaboration album of Mario Gronnert (Germany) and Mason ‘CommonSen5e’ Metcalf (Portland, USA).
Mario Gronnert had some musical experience in a progressive rock project named Aera before he decided he wanted to be a ‘one man music project’ and finally found his home in ambient music. Since his initial release in 2012, this is his fourth full album.
The Nightmares and Dreamscapes are rather dark and abstract ‘urban’ soundscapes with an occasional glimpse of light shining through near the end of the album.

“It is shaped, driven and originally inspired by the imagination of a journey by two individuals, beginning in a kind of post apocalyptic city. They are following the dark and foggy and ashy urban streets and railways to find a sign of light and hope for a new beginning at the end”

The opener, Breathing the Ash, is a 22 minute (nightly) walk through the unfamiliar city, the remaining six tracks are shorter pieces  (3 – 7 minutes)

Richard Eigner - When the Days

This is the second release in Crónica’s ongoing Corrolaries series, a collection of works resulting from a collaborative residency curated by Simon Whetham in Mooste, Estonia (the first was  this one by Yiorgis Sakellariou).
Released as a Name-Your-Price download, they are a perfect way to discover the various ways that environmental recordings can be transformed into sound art soundscapes.

When the Days…‘ is constructed from Field recordings made in Mooste and its surroundings, “which was especially appealing for the contrasts between nature and derelict and abandoned structures from the soviet area. My aim was to convey the atmosphere I was absorbed in, wandering around in solitude in the landscape almost devoid of human presence.”
And that atmosphere is perfectly captured!

Environmental sound recordings can be used to re-create a certain atmosphere, if you record them well and leave them as close to the source as they can be.
But that is not the purpose of these projects, of this album. When listening to them, you hear music, not just sound.
That’s precisely what Edgar Varèse meant when he defined ‘music’ as ‘organized sound’.

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Thomas Köner; Multicast Dynamics; Machinefabriek + Anne Bakker


The controversial Manifesto of Futurism was written by Marinetti over 100 years ago. It’s ‘a rejection of the past and a celebration of speed, machinery, violence, youth and industry’. Parts of it can also be read as a glorification of the purifying violence of war – the only way to cleanse the world – and especially these words take a quite different meaning in current times.

In Thomas Köner‘s work for sound and moving images, fragments of this Manifest are slowly read by a whispering voice over Köner‘s characteristic – but in this case particularly dark and haunting – soundscapes. The images are vague, as is their exact relation to the text. They are assembled from decelerated and superimposed parts from film sources from 1909 and earlier, which brings out the ‘optical unconscious‘ movements and dimensions of reality. 
Which is in a way also what Köner’s music does: it brings out ‘the sonic unconscious’: ‘a Utopia of decelerations in defiance of the cult of ‘ubiquitous speed”. 

Though the atmosphere is darker, more menacing, The Futurist Manifesto  is most related to Köner‘s Les Soeurs Lumière, from Unerforschtes Gebiet (2003). (You’ll probaby recognise some of the bell-like samples).

The Futurist Manifesto  is released as a DVD by Von Archives. Audio-only can be downloaded from Bandcamp.

Multicast Dynamics - Scandinavia

Dutch media artist Samuel van Dijk (a.k.a. Multicast Dynamics) is working on a four-part release set. After the first two releases Scape (dealing with ‘dry land filled with light and streams’) and Aquatic System (about ‘the constantly changing surface of the oceans’), Scandinavia explores ‘a frozen and murky underwater world’. And a mysterious and fascinating world it is!
Van Dijk uses ‘granular synthesis, obscure delay units and rudimentary looping techniques on magnetic tapes’ to create a fascinating array of soundscapes that perfectly match – yet are different from – both earlier releases. The nine tracks explore ‘arctic’ landscapes – ‘the inhospitable surrounding of frost and ice… Layers of hypnotic atmospheres with barely perceptible undercurrents.’
The overall atmosphere is dark and glacial. All sounds are created using electronic processing, but the result sounds remarkably organic.
‘Brooding pulses of bass and tonal patterns lead to the core of the sonic landscape. Gentle radiant layers of light and soil emerge and aquatic echoes expose new paths.’
Scandinavia can of course also be enjoyed as a stand-alone release. But if you enjoy these kind of sounds, I strongly recommend to  also check out the two preceding parts. The last part (‘the arrival in an interstellar space and the cosmos’) will be released in 2016.

Multicast Dynamicss – Kohta


Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt and violinist Anne Bakker have previously worked together on Halfslaap II – a piece that aimed to ‘pull the listener into some sort of dreamstate’.
On Deining (‘heave’, or ‘commotion’), the effect is about the opposite: the listener is increasingly alarmed and forced to stay alert.
For this 26 minute piece, Anne Bakker played a series of upward and downward glissandi:
‘I asked Anne Bakker to bow each string of her instrument while sliding slowly from the lowest note to the highest, for exactly five minutes, as fluent as possible. Anne also recorded the same procedure in reverse, following the strings from the edge of the fingerboard to the top nut of the instrument.’
Rutger then assembled different layers into four sections, each focusing on one string, also adding sine waves and radio static.
The result is as beautiful as it is frightening (or, in Rutger’s own words: ‘the taste is a tad bitter’). A clear demonstration of the effect that a specific arrangements of sounds can have on an emotional level.
It is hypnotizing too, and so it may still pull you into a dream state… but I don’t think anyone be able to sleep quietly with sounds like this playing.
Just as Halfslaap II was the duo’s reworking of Rutger’s original HalfslaapDeining can be seen as a string reincarnation of Stroomtoon Eénon which created the down- and upward glissandi using tone generators.

Edit 12-02-2016:
The Bandcamp page has been updated and now includes a live recording of the striking performance of Deining on the International Film Festival Rotterdan (IFFR) on january, 29.
On this performance, the strings are performed by Anne Bakker (who performs violin solo on the studio recording), together with Lidwine Dam, Saskia Venegas and Pablo Kleinsmann on violin, and Nina Hitz on cello. With Rutger adding the waves and static of course.
If you already ordered/download Deining, you can simply redownload it from your Bandcamp collection to obtain the bonus live recording. And I strongly recommend to do so, because it’s an incredible performance!

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Multicast Dynamics – Scape, Aquatic System


It is a good Denovali practice to pair a new album release with a re-release from the same artists: often a release that previously was only limitedly available or very hard to find.
Here, Multicast Dynamics’ (Samuel van DijkHolland) newest release Aquatic System is paired with his previous release Scapeoriginally released in 2014 as a C44 cassette (on the Finnish label Kaukana Väijyy Ambient).

But this particular project reaches even further: Scape and Aquatic System are the first half of a quadrilogy that will be completed with another two albums later.
“The album series move from an evolutionary to a cosmological scale: starting from dry land filled with light and streams, to the constantly changing surface of the oceans, into a frozen and murky underwater world, finally up to the arrival in an interstellar space and the cosmos.”


Scape is assembled with the use of analogue synthesizers, field recordings and ‘lo-fi outboard effects’.
Samuel van Dijk masterfully creates sounds that are organic and sci-fi at the same time. Although it’s a risky comparision, the result somewhat reminded me of Biosphere’s music (without the beats) – though I cannot really explain why exactly…
“Mysterious crackles, subtle hisses and washes of gloomy sounds reveal a dense approach to composition, processing and recording resulting in an introspective, ehtereal and intense listening experience.” 


An attempt to capture and recreate the traveling of light on colliding objects through a detailed and organic space.
sound+ video: Samuel van Dijk

Multicast Dynamics - Aquatic System

Aquatic System manages to keep up the same quality level, but -as expected- shifts its focus to more (sub-)aquatic experiences.
The tracks were composed over a period of two years, inspired by (and using processed field recordings from) locations in Finland and Fuerteventura.

Originally composed for an audiovisual performance with visual artist Emilia KwiatkowskaAquatic System is an album about water and the life within it:
“The (music and the) visuals illustrate the story through a series of highly atmospheric and almost tangible images.”
It starts out from a small scale, almost microscopic: you can almost hear every bubble finding its way to the water surface. From there, the journey continues “from frozen lakes, forest creeks, rotating super cells to finally arrive at the all-imposing ocean”.



Both these albums immediately grabbed my full attention on first listen: the music has that mysterious undefineable ‘extra’ … I can play them almost continuously without losing interest.
This first half of the full project set a high bar for the remaining two releases of the series, but I am really very confident that this set will become a landmark in conceptual environmental ambient music.
If I was someone making lists, these Multicast Dynamics albums would definitely end up at the top.
In other words: highly recommended! 

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