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Giulio Aldinucci * Murcof

Disappearing in a Mirror

Disappearing in a Mirror

GIULIO ALDINUCCI – DISAPPEARING IN A MIRROR  Also on Spotify

Apart from his various collaboration and split releases, Disappearing In A Mirror is Giulio Aldinucci‘s follow-up to 2017’s Borders and Ruins; it’s his second release for Karl Records. If you thought Borders And Ruins depicted a rather dark view on the state of the world, you’d better be ready for this new album.

“Where “Borders …” was a reflection on the instability of borders and their impact on the relationship between people and territory, “Disappearing In A Mirror” raises the very personal question of identity.”

Aldinucci manages to create a sonic version of a hall of mirrors, where you can get completely disoriented from the images of yourself trying to find a way out.
In a striking combination of gritty distorted sounds and distant orchestral/choral arrangements that sound like a stretched Beethoven symphony, the first two tracks present a frightening dystopic view. But from there, Aldinucci restores the balance (somewhat) with Notturno Toscano – as if he doesn’t want to scare the listener too much. But even in this track the intensity slowly increases again. There’s no way out of the mirror maze, it seems…

In the words of Giulio Aldinucci himself:
Disappearing In A Mirror focuses on the fluidity of the identity concept, highlighting the harmonious coexistence of contradictory elements and the transitional features that characterize every transformation. It is a reflection on the current situation of change and disruption and at the same time it is a gaze into the human timeless soul and its inner soundscapes.”

A ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ is an entertaining maze as long as you realise you will find the way out at some point. But what if there’s no way out but to disappear completely?

If the sweat in the palms of my hand is an indicator of emotional intensity, this album definitely belongs on the top the list!


Murcof Lost In Time

MURCOF – LOST IN TIME  Also on Spotify

It took me some time to find out this was actually a re-release. I don’t usually cover re-releases but this one is an exception, since the original 2014 release on Casino Luxembourg was vinyl-only and destined to virtually disappear from the radar into cult territories. (Fun fact: the original release still seems to be for sale from Casino Luxembourg).

Lost In Time is Murcof‘s soundtrack for a video by Patrick Bernatchez, which in turn was a sound project that was part of explorations around Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. The choral aria of the Goldberg Variations, as performed by Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal is merged by the – rather ominous – Murcof soundscapes.

 

The result is quite different from most earlier Murcof releases. Much, much darker and more suspenseful than you would have expected based on his earlier work.
The choir arrangements sound otherworldly, alienated – I wouldn’t have guessed that they are based on a Bach aria, because it sounds more contemporary in this context.
The combination with the (mostly electronic) soundscapes is downright chilling. Which is why Glacial Movements is the designated label for this fascinating (re-)release!
So praise to the label for re-releasing this album and making it available again on CD and digital download!

This particular edition features a bonus track available with the download, Chapitre N, which was especially composed for this Glacial Movements release.

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Resina * Tamar Halperin * Murcof/Wagner

Murcof Vanessa Wagner

Resina

RESINA – RESINA

The New Blood compilation offered a sneak preview of Resina, one of the 130701 label’s new artists. Resina, referring to the Latin Resin – ‘the blood of the tree’, is the alias of Karolina Rec from Warsaw. She’s a cello player that has been active in the Polish independent music scene since the late ’00’s, featured on many albums and soundtracks (that are probably unknown to the non-Polish audience). She also played in the Polisch Chamber Choir, familiarizing herself with the works of Penderecki, Górecki and Lutoslawski. After finally sending in a demo, 130701 eagerly invited her to release her debut album.

There are a lot of cello-centered artists and albums in the experimental/improv/modern classical scene, but Resina definitely adds her own personal style, referring to ‘the landscape-rooted drone of English composer Richard Skelton’ as well as ‘Werner Herzog’s musician of choice, Ernst Reijsiger’.
Her music is the result of experimenting with the instruments and electronic tools, and often conveys ‘a simultaneous feeling of beauty and enxiety (at nature’s power and unpredictability)’:

“I try to take people to some places – but where particularly depends on them, their needs and experiences”

Resina‘s purpose was to ‘cross beyond comfort zones, break free from academic instructions and challenge herself to find other ways of expression in the instrument’.  She clearly succeeded!


Also on Spotify


Tamar Halperin

TAMAR HALPERIN – SATIE

Most of the music by Erik Satie, and especially his piano works, have become a part of our collective consciousness. So, if one wants to release an album with his music, one faces the challenge of finding a different angle in the performance, or present a new vision on his work.
As Tamar HalperinIsraeli pianist and harpsichordist, explains:

“In 1925, after Satie’s death, his friends entered his apartment and were amazed to find there, in addition to a large number of umbrellas ans an astounding scene of chaos, two grand pianos, stacked one on top of the other. The musical equivalent of this image, it seemed to me, would be the overdubbing of one piano recording over another. Many of the pieces in this album were recorded this way: first the bass part, then the melody, and often – on top of the “two pianos” – I added harpsichord or glockenspiel, a Hammond organ or a Wurlitzer, and of course a computer. Imagine the mess in old Satie’s apartment had he been living today!”

A humoristic approach that Satie probably would have approved, I guess. But it’s not just ‘funny’, because it works very well and perfectly fits the music. After all, Satie himself was one of the first to blur the lines between ‘classical, art music’ and non-classical, popular styles.
Apart from that, the added layers are well-dosed: sometimes exuberant, at other moments (like in Gymnopedie 1) more restrained.

The (respectfully packed) CD-version of the album contains a booklet with Halperin’ annotations for every track.

Also on Spotify

TAMAR HALPERIN – PETITS CHORALS (12), FOR PIANO: CHORAL #1


Murcof Vanessa Wagner

MURCOF & VANESSA WAGNER – STATEA

And while we are on the subject of classical music in different contexts, we definitely need to mention this release. A surprising duo: (MurcofFernando Corona teaming up with award winning classical pianist Vanessa Wagner to present an impressive playlist of contemporary classical compositions, each reworked in a jaw-dropping instrumental dialogue of piano and electronics.
Maybe the duo’s not as surprising as they seem: both have classically trained musical background so they know exactly what they’re doing here.

The selection features works by  Arvo Pärt, György Ligeti, Erik Satie, Morton Feldman, Valentyn Silvestrov, John Adams, Philip Glass, and -somewhat surprising- Aphex Twin. 
There definitely will be classical music purists that shudder when they hear the instrumentation, but even they will have to admit that all of these compositions are treated with the greatest respect. And ‘treated’ they are: Murcof paints the surrounding environment with all kinds of electronic textures, while Wagner‘s subtle piano remains the main link to the originals, and prevents the album from drifting of too far into the unknown. They do not aim to shock, the original beauty remains preserved, yet in a certain way, these are very radical interpretations.

At some moments (especially the vocoder section in Silvestrov’s ‘Farewell, O World, O Earth’) I was warped back to 1968 when Walter Carlosrevolutionary album ‘Switched on Bach‘ album went straight up to #1 in the classical charts. Times were different then: no-one had heard those strange synthetic sounds of the Moog synthesizer before. It was a ‘gotspe‘ and a revolution at the same time.
Almost 50 years later, Statea cannot hit thát hard any more, because today everyone is familiar with the sounds of synthesizers and a lot of music and experiments have passed since 1968.
But still, this album takes classical reinterpretations to a whole different level because of its daring instrumentation, its selection of works, and the careful balance of ‘electronic’ music with acoustic piano.

Also on Spotify

MURCOF & VANESSA WAGNER – VARIATIONS FOR THE HEALING OF ARINUSHKA (ARVO PÄRT)

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afarOne – Lucen

Lucen

Stefan Ruggeri is a classically trained pianist “with a core of teenage rebellion, and a love for rock’n’roll.”
“I was used to going to the conservatory with Pearl Jam on the headphones and, a few seconds later, trying to climb to an impervious prelude of Rachmaninov”.

As afarOne, he has been working for three years on his debut release Lucen“, recently released by German label Karl Records

Lucen is one of those albums that immediately stand out on the very first listen – the kind that get stuck on ‘repeat’ almost automatically.

The piano is Stefan‘s main instrument, and the way the notes are embedded in the subtle electronic background is somewhat reminiscent of the music of Murcof .
Some of the bright piano sounds (on “Gordon” for instance) feel like if they have been taken directly from Arvo Pärt‘s “Für Alina” yet placed in an entirely different context.

But Ruggeri is not “just copying” these styles, he definitely creates his own here, using his musical education to create subtle moods and compositions, combining the acoustic piano with layered string sounds and glitchy rhythm tracks.

Although the cover image suggests a rather dark mood, whether you perceive this music as ‘dark’ of ‘light’ will  probably depend on how you feel yourself. The tracks manage to be ‘dark’ and ‘somewhat threatening’ while at the same time ‘light-hearted’ and ‘optimistic’.

Some artists stand out from the crowd; some albums just jump out from the pile  –Lucen is definitely one of those albums.

AfarOne – Gordon

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Murcof – Cosmos

Ambientblog

Cosmos

2005’s Remembranza was a remarkable release, partly because the warm organic sound that made the music feel quite different. Cosmos has the same sound detail, but it sounds less melancholic and more dark and threatening.
Of course, with a theme and title like this it’s no wonder it sounds like some retro-futuristic science-fiction movie soundtrack. Murcof sets himself a high standard, partly referring to to the great modern composers such as Pärt and Ligeti. The heavy crescendo’s will not appeal to everyone I guess: this is NOT ‘drone’ ambient – No chance to softly dream away.
Still, he’s living up to his reputation easily, settling himself firmly between the great artists of this genre.

BTW – Murcof will be headlining the Interzone Ambient Festival in Utrecht on September, 26.

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Interzone Ambient Festival + Cluster concert

Interzone

It’s been quite some time since my latest post to this weblog. Holiday time, the obligatory holiday trips …I obviously had a hard time…

But the new season has a promising start:
If you live near Utrecht, Holland you should keep an eye on the following events
(and if you don’t live in Holland but are interested still, keep an ear on the FOLIO webstream as linked below):


http://www.interzone-festival.com/frames.html

  • Interzone Ambient Festival – 29 / 30 september, Theater Kikker, Utrecht
    This is a 2 day festival that has a promising line-up. Murcof will be there, probably to promote his new release: Cosmos. Other performers on saturday are Jessica Bailiff, Klimek and  Shuttle 358.
    Sunday will bring us a Ahornfelder showcase, with performances by Sinebag, Semuin, F.S. Blumm, Marcel Turkowsky.
    Radio 6′ Folio will preview this festival on september, 4

cluster

  • Tivoli De Helling programs a performance by Cluster (Dieter Moebius / Hans-Joachim Roedelius) on November, 7
    Don’t know what to expect on this concert, but both Moebius and Roedelius were there to define ‘ambient’ in the time their music was called ‘Krautrock’. They partnered with Brian Eno, worked with legendary producer Conny Plank, and their 30+ years of musical output is quite difficult to survey. Again, the night before this concert, Folio will present a musical preview.

Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

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