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Gideon Wolf – Year Zero

Gideon Wolf Slow

Gideon Wolf Year Zero


The Fluid Audio label has built itself quite  a reputation for their releases: for the quality of the music as well as for their luxury packaging. As a result, most of their releases are sold out before the official release date, on pre-order alone.
Since there was no sign of a digital release, I hadn’t considered a recommendation of the new Gideon Wolf album, since no one would be able to buy the album by the time I wrote about it.
But things changed along the way: a small batch of physical releases popped up unexpectedly (some 25 at the time of writing, so not much left by now I guess), and the release was made available as a digital download on Gideon Wolf‘s Bandcamp page.

Gideon Wolf is the alias of Tristan Shorr, and Year Zero is his 4th album since 2012. It’s a solo album, in a way, but it could not have come to life without the contributions of a small ensemble of artists that played improvisations or ‘incoherent and strange phrases/notes’ that were later reassembled into the resulting pieces.
The music could be labeled ‘neo-classical’, because of its instrumentation: a cello, two violins, a synth. But it’s not the kind of melancholic cinematic music usually connected to this genre tag. The arrangements are much more abstract and adventurous, each track with a different sound balance, exploring different structures and string arrangements. Some are almost ‘classical’ or ‘minimal’, but most of the tracks explore a more ambient or experimental structure.
The closing tracks Noise and Nova introduce the additional vocals of Tristan’s daughter and his ‘partner in life and work Rachel Champion. 

Working the other way around – composing pieces from instantaneous improvisations and a collection of short phrases – has  given this music a refreshing element of surprise. And it’s exactly that element that makes this album stand out among many others.
Thát, ánd the luscious packaging of course.
But I won’t spend too many words on that: you can simply check this page or check the original Fluid Audio release page for details.
The (25) beautiful photo prints included in the package are also included in the download set, which also includes a bonus track (so download it even if you bought physical) and some screensaver images.

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Mike Cooper; J Butler; Tambour; Lunae Lumen

Fratello Mare

If you want something different: hére’s something different.
I guess you never heard anything merging Hawaiian/Pacific music with experimental music into a rather psychedelic Exotica? Or, even better: how many experimental music artists can claim they have performed with blues legends John Lee Hooker, Howlin Wolf and Jimmy Reed, have recorded numerous sessions for John Peel, and have improvised together with Lol Coxhill and Roger Turner?
I assume this limits the possible choices down to one: Mike Cooper.

Although he clearly has nót forgotten about his roots, his current music may not be what you’d expect. It is… different.
That’s why Lawrence English aptly named him ‘The Icon of Post-Everything” (and that about perfectly says it all).
Fratello Mare is Coopers third album for the Room40 label, following Rayon Hula (2010) and White Shadows in the South Seas (2013).
Once again, it’s an ‘ode to the Pacific, its people and the traditions that have flowed from that part of the world into seemingly endless iterations with contemporary culture…. A poetic and dreamlike wandering, that sonically traverses the ever-changing edge of land and sea and Cooper’s musical imagination.’
But a word of warning here: don’t start this journey unprepared. Brother Sea is not just about lush tropical Pacific atmospheres – there’s just as much of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in it! 


J Butler Memory

From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania comes Jonny (J) Butlerexperimenting with guitar pedals, DIY & custom electronics, tape loops, toy instruments and digital signal processing.
Memory is a collection of calm (guitar based) melodic studies, “exploring the idea that memories change and evolve, just as things do in the physical realm: memories fade, change, are re-written, morph and elide”

Tambour - Chapitre I

With an artist/band name like Tambour I expected to hear some uptempo drumming, but this delicate little EP is about the opposite from that. It’s 25 minute of subtle minimalist neoclassical music, “with twinkling piano and haunting string arrangements.”
Tambour is Simon P. Castonguay from Montreal, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist with a background in film studies – which explains the ‘dreamy yet uplifiting atmosphere of storytelling’ in this little 4-track collection. But it’s only Chapter 1 – there’s more to come!

Lunae Lumen

A short (15 minute) EP showcasing the potential of Martha Otero, a 25-year old ambient/contemporary classical composer from Zacatecas, Mexico.
finds inspiration in the music of artists like Max Richter. The five tracks are all relatively short and – like most neo-classical music of this kind – would also do a perfect job as a movie or documentary soundtrack.

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