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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.

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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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Biosphere & Deathprod – Stator


In 1998, Biosphere and Deathprod – Geir Jenssen and Helge Sten, respectively – released Nordheim Transformed“: a split album where both artists transformed the original experimental music of (fellow Norwegian) Arne Nordheim’s “Electric” (1974) almost beyond recognition. 
It’s not completely clear whether Geir and Helge actually worked together on this album – it’s a split, where different tracks are each credited to one of the two artists – but from its coherence it’s clear that they at least influenced each other greatly in producing this album.
Nordheim Transformed” is a landmark album in both artists’ catalogue – as well as for the ambient music genre in general.

Seventeen years – and quite a lot of releases – later, Geir and Helge return to this split-album formula to release Stator“, built on the same principles: each delivering individual tracks (three tracks contributed by Biosphere, and four tracks by Deathprod).
A project that was commissioned by Tape to Zero for their 2014 festival, “presenting both familiar and unfamiliar faces on the same stage, with fresh projects and a unique musical expression.”

Nordheim Transformed” was based on another artist’s work, but Stator” presents original compositions, sonic images that partly get meaning from the album title:

stator (´stertɘ)
1. (Electrical Engineering) The stationary part of a rotary machine or device, esp. of a motor or generator.
2. (Aeronautics) A system of non-rotating radially arranged parts with within a rotating assembly: the fixed blades of an axial flow compressor in a gas turbine.
[C20: from Latin: one who stands (by), from stare, to stand].

It’s important to know the meaning of this title, because it is also the description of the music presented: there are stationary as well as rotating parts. It’s up to your fantasy to decide if you move along – or stand and stare..

For Geir Jenssen and Helge Sten, it’s a return to classic electronic ambient form: no acoustic instruments are in sight.
Both artists have a somewhat different musical approach so it’s quite easy to hear who contributed what track: Biosphere delivering the industrial rhythmic sounds (the kind of sound that brought him his immense popularity) of “Muses-C”, “Baud” and “Space is Fizzy” – while Deathprod , on the other hand, performs more abstract deep dronescapes in “Shimmer Flicker”, “Polychromatic”, “Disc” and “Optical”.

Though the difference between the tracks is obvious to hear, the album is still very well balanced: the tracks are complementary in such a way that is feels like a collaboration more than a split album. The excellent mastering job (done by Helge Sten) adds a dimension of seemingly infinite depth to the sound.

In the history of ambient electronic music both Biosphere and Deathprod  have gained legendary status.
Stator” shows why.


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Anna Thorvaldsdottir – Aerial


Samples and samplers are getting so sophisticated that the casual listener might not even distinguish sampled strings from a real orchestra any more. At the same time, contemporary ‘modern classical’ composers somehow all seem to work within the same set of parameters.

Right from the opening track it’s obvious that Aerial is something else, almost beyond comparision! The (almost archetypical) yellow Deutsche Grammophon logo on the cover already indicated that we might be in for something …‘serious’.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir is a composer (from Iceland, as you may have guessed from her name). Aerial” is her second full album (the first was 2011’s Rhízõma). Apart from that she has been composing since 2000, and has received many awards for her work.

The six compositions on Aerial(ranging in length from 7 to 10 to 14 minutes) are performed by different ensembles – duo’s, a quartett, some larger ensembles, and even a full symphony  orchestra. It is not exactly ‘light’ music; you’ll have to be prepared for some dark and haunting sounds, a stifling atmosphere sometimes reminiscing the music of György Ligeti (Remember ‘2001’?) or Béla Bartók.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir “frequently works with large sonic structures that tend to reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Her music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.”

The opening track, “Into – Second Self” is scored for (7) brass & (4) percussion. “Ró” is scored for a small ensemble and performed by CAPUT Ensemble (with Tonmeister’ Daniel Bjarnason).
The album’s center piece,  “Aeriality” is a massively dynamic piece performed by the Icelandic Orchestra, one of the albums climaxes.
Things slow down after that with calmer music, scored for harp & percussion, or piano and electronics (the only electronics on this album, by the way). The closing piece, “Shades of Silence”, sounds different because it is performed (by Nordic Affect) on baroque instruments .

It took me some time to grow accustomed to this album. It requires some dedicated listening, on the right moment.
But ultimately, the raw beauty of the distictive textural palette grabbed me, and didn’t let go.

Only to leave me wondering why I had not heard of Anna Thorvaldsdottir before.

Also on Spotify


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Eivind Aarset – Dream Logic

Dream Logic

Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset will probably be known by many of you, just for his contributions to the music of artists like Nils Petter Molvaer, Arve Henriksen, David Sylvian.

When reading about his new solo album, the combination of some details made it clear to me that this was a release to look forward to:

First: it is released on the ECM-label.
Second: it is co-produced and co-composed by Jan Bang
Third: it’s title is Dream Logic” 

The title of this album is well-chosen indeed:
“With its drifting planes of sound-texture, built from layers of processed guitar, sometimes supported by subliminally-throbbing bass, and its otherworldly ambience, it attains an almost hallucinatory quality, underlined by its avoidance of stressed time.”

The guitar may always be the starting point, but from there the processed effects and added samples create a dark, yet sometimes also comforting atmosphere, developing and expanding the emotional core of the material”.

These fascinating soundscapes Aarset and Bang create together, are also proof of their invaluable contribution to the works of the artists they have worked with in the past.

The eleven tracks vary in length (from under two minutes to over seven) as much as in dreamlike atmospheres. The colour of those atmosphere ranges from lovely green to pitch-dark black; and the images are clear at some times but mysteriously hazy at others.

“The beauty of Decay” , the album’s closing track (featured below), is a respectful dedication to the Fourth World Music of Jon Hassell.

It’s almost impossible to classify this music because it surpasses any genre definition. It may be classified as impressionist jazz, electronic experimental soundscapes,ambient – or all of those.  

But whatever genre it may be filed under, many (if not most) visitors of this weblog will definitely favourite this album.


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Svalastog – Woodwork



Rune Grammofon does it again! Can you imagine what ‘electronic’ music based on the sound of a ram’s horn, a cow’s horn and a harpeleiki (a norwegian zither) could sound like? Well – in fact it sounds a bit like the compositions of Information’s ‘Biomekano’, because that’s where Per Henrik Svalastog comes from. Only this time the sound is much more natural (as opposed to electronic), due to the nature of the instruments used. This is a complete new definition of the electro-acoustic genre. Fascinating!

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