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Olan Mill * Boban Ristevski

The Turn Of The Screw

Olan Mill Curves


Alex ‘Olan Mill‘ Smalley‘s new album begins with a track radiating total peace, a most beautiful interplay of bamboo flutes. The opening track is a natural start for this ‘journey’, since it was ‘captured on either side of a trip to Myanmar at the end of 2016’.
Curves marks a period of important transitions: ‘as I prepared to become a father and relocate to Germany.’

Judged by the nature of the music on this album, these important life events did not harass Smalley too much: te rest of the album continues the pleasant peaceful feeling and this is a pleasure to immerse yourself in. The ‘exotic’ elements like in the first track move more to the background as the album progresses, but the combination of field recordings (‘from my home and various work environment’) with processed guitar, synthesizers and voice manages to hold the atmosphere. At the same time, there’s enough happening to reward active listening, too.
Olan Mill, again, managed to ‘create a time-capsule of locations and experiences.’

The Turn Of The Screw


On the same label (Shimmering Moods) comes The Turn Of The Screw by Boban Ristevski. I don’t know anything about him, except that he’s from Macedonia and that this is his second (?) release under his own name (but I don’t know about any previous aliases either), following up 2017’s In Search Of The Miraculous – of which I assume that only very few people know about.

That previous album was inspired by the Russian esoteric P.D. Ouspensky’s book ‘In Search Of The Miraculous’. This new album directly refers to the horror novella by Henry James, so it’s no surprise that the album opens with a track called Practical Magical Evocation.
The album is ‘intended to be or sound magical’. And it does. Or maybe even is…

Compared to Olan Mill, Ristevski‘s sound is more electronic (less organic-sounding), but he weaves the same atmosphere – a place you want to linger in for a while but that has a somewhat otherworldy atmosphere too.
Most of the tracks are relatively short, with the exception of the second track One (with a beautiful sound effect like raindrops falling on a tin can) that takes up one third of the relatively short album (just under 30 minutes..because it’s based on a novella I assume).

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Anjou * Hotel Neon * Olan Mill

Anjou - Epithymia

Anjou - Epithymia

ANJOU – EPITHYMÍA  Also on Spotify

Epythymía  is the follow up of the duo’s self-titled debut release on Kranky (2014). Mark Nelson (Pan⋅American, Labradford) and Robert Donne (Labradford, Aix Em Klemm, Cristal) simply pick up where they left, to further explore soundscapes that “embrace flux and ambiguity: drones swell and shudder, hushed currents of noice glitch and dissolve, atmospheres congeal and liquify.”

Four (of six) pieces take their time to slowly evolve and pass the ten minute mark; the other two are short interludes of around 3-4 minutes.

“Alternately spacious and dense” within the same track (check An Empty Bank, for example)this is an adventurous trip of “mesmeric synthetic drift and veiled melodic undertow.”


HOTEL NEON – CONTEXT  Also on Spotify

I assume regular readers are already used to the fact that this blog mainly recommends digital downloads. There’s a simple reason: many of the physical editions are already sold out by the time I have listened to the album twice. That is especially true with the releases on Fluid Audiothey often are sold out on pre-orders following an announcement in their mailing list.
If you’re a masochist and want to see what you missed here, check out this page. All others can simply focus on the digital download (or play on Spotify).

On their third full-length album, Hotel Neon (Andrew and Michael Tasselmeyer with Steven Kemner, with Lacey Tasselmeyer contributing some beautiful Eno-esque vocals on two tracks) explore a full night’s cycle: the titles of the nine tracks are all timestamps between 12:41 AM and 8:30 AM.

Night music, indeed… Music to close your eyes to.

But not necessarily ‘dark’.  That depends on the context: “arguably the only thing that gives a song its meaning in the mind of the listener.”
Context will have a unique, shifting message that can only be decoded by the listener alone, and that in turn also makes it a personal album.”

Hakobune makes a guest appearance too, dropping in around 3.04 AM.

Olan Mill Orient


There’s a statement in my policy saying that I do not review cassette-only releases unless there’s a digital download available too. So here’s a dilemma: Orient was released on march, 31 (Yes, I know I’m late to the show) in an edition of 90 and an extra 10 in a special edition package. Of course they’re sold out now.

But should I recommend to check out the download if the Dauw label has set the price to an ff-ing 1.000 (thousand) Euro? No, of course not. So I won’t.

Which is a pity, because this Olan Mill is a fascinating versatile album, a jaw dropping collection of soft harp music (Arpon), overtone singing accompanying an east-european choir (Molanret), modern classical string arrangements (Birove), dreamlike choirs (Alve) – and much, much more.

This should be heard by many more than just the hundred that went for the analog cassette format!
So don’t be silly, Dauwmake it available to those that do not necessarily need cassettes, for a reasonable price. The album deserves it.

Edit June, 11 – Dauw/Olan Mill reaction:
In a reaction to this post, Dauw explained that it was not theír decision not to have a digital download available: it was on specific request from the artist himself.
(He also personally comments below about the reason why).
It seems impossible to hide a digital download from the page, so that was the reason why the price was set at this level instead.

Also, the good news is that there will be an additional release of this album later this year, so it will not only be available on cassette but also on vinyl, Cd ánd as a digital download.

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Jason van Wyk; Stefano Guzzetti; Iggy Pop-Tarwater-Alva Noto; Inside the Baxter Building; Alex Lucas-Olan Mill



From Cape Town, South Africa, comes Jason van WykThis is his second solo album, and Eilean Records first venture in the modern classical scene.
Van Wyk‘s main instrument is the piano, but not exclusively: he also adds synth and electronics on beautiful floating ambient in the second half of the album, in tracks like Found, Evanesce and Outset.

“An immersion in the deepness of the elements, near from the oceans and the breath of the air, a fragile and delicate release with some strong ambient colors.”

It’s a very intimate recording, partly because of the compositions but also because of the way it was recorded: including the tiniest details and vibrations from the inside of the piano. Mastered by Ian Hawgood. 

Stefano Guzetti - Leaf

…who also did the mastering job for Leaf, the new album from Stefano Guzzetti on Home Normal.
Thirteen compositions for piano and different ensembles (violin, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, with piano, glockenspiel, field recordings and sine waves performed by Stefano Guzzetti) dedicated to ‘one of the most common things we can find in everyday’s life”:  a leaf.

Like a leaf in the various seasons, these pieces each have different moods: from lively and joyful to melancholic and sad.

Also on Spotify

Leaves of Grass

If you immediately associate the name Iggy Pop with I wanna Be Your Dog or the explosive Lust for Life period, you may have to re-group after listening to this  22 minute mini-album. On each of the spoken word tracks Iggy Pop recites a poem by American wordsmith Walt Whitman (1819-1892), and James ‘Iggy’ Osterberg has the perfect voice for the declamations of Walt Whitman’s poetry.

“I think (Walt Whitman) had something like Elvis. Like Elvis ahead of his time, one of the first manic American populists. His poetry is always about motion and rushing ahead, and crazy love and blood pushing through the body. He would have been the perfect gangster rapper. “

The background score for the recitals is created by none less than Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) and Tarwater (Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok), to stunning effect. However, it is not easy to distinct who did what exactly musically. Do they play together, collaborating on the tracks, or do they separately perform on different tracks? I don’t know… But in fact it doesn’t matter, since the overall result is organic and fits together perfectly.

This is a vinyl-only release, with no digital counterpart planned. So: when it’s gone it’s gone.


Seldom Somber

A gloomy atmosphere, unearthly jazzy horn arrangements over electronic soundscapes. Inside the Baxter Building is clearly not your average jazzclub outfit – although they would perfectly fit a Twin Peaks setting.
Their Seldom Somber debut is a stunning release of ‘real-time electronic music’: improvised music that was recorded live in the studio.
Simon Petermann (trombone, electronics), Samuel Würgler (trumpet, electronics) and Fabian Gutscher (electronics) manipulate the sounds of their instruments  ‘to create a rich palette of sounds with which they lead the listener into unexpected soundscapes’.
The title track also includes a spoken word poem, directly linking their music to the Krautrock tradition.
Inside the Baxter Building manages to break through stereotypes of the electro-acoustic genre…“and to keep their music lively and mobile, which in electronic music is a rarity”.

And – in case you didn’t know: The Baxter Building is a fictitious 35-story office building appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.


Olan Mill (Alex Smalley) has released a steady flow of albums since 2010 on labels like Serein, Preservation, Facture and Hibernate. Alex Lucas is a less familiar name to me, and there is not much information about him (?) on the internet. 
Both have worked together on this album in 2012, when the tracks for this album were recorded by Bruno Sanfilippo.
It’s not clear who does what exactly, but I assume Alex Lucas provided most of the piano playing, while Alex Smalley provided the electronic embedding. But of course they could also each have done both. Stylistically the compositions are somewhere between Nils Frahm and Philip Glass, but with more emphasis on the electronics, that is as prominent as the piano, so not just there for its enhancement.

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Bruno Sanfilippo – Upon Contact Reworked

Upon Contact Reworked

Though the album is presented as if it were a remix-album (and in fact it also ís)the basic track is not taken from a previous release from Bruno Sanfilippo‘s extensive discography. The title track and opener of Upon Contact Reworked is a new composition which is the basis for further reworks, reconstructions and remixes by different artists.

Upon Contact (the original)  is a very quiet, satie-esque piano composition, leaving a lot of space for the notes to breathe.

The title track is then reworked by Francesco Giannico, Olan Mill, Leonardo Rosado, Jorge Haro, Quivion and Hior Chronik respectively.

I assume the contributors have never met while making this album, but judged by the resulting tracks on this album they must’ve been communicating telepathically. All of the remixing artists have added their own views and watermarks, but overall they kept very close to the original atmosphere.
There are no disturbing exceptions or exceptions that break the spell.

But still: you can hear the subtle differences in every approach; the acoustic piano composition slowly morphing into more electronic areas before returning to the sound of the piano in the closing Hior Chronik version.

There are quite a lot remix compilations floating around, but rarely have they been presented as a conceptual unity like this album, which feels like it could’ve been the work of one single artist.
I guess that proves the strength of the original underlying composition of Upon Contact.

Also on Spotify

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Loscil; Olan Mill; Linear Bells; Fabio Orsi; Alphaxone

Conche de Matha

For Greta

A strikingly beautiful three-track set from Loscil (Scott Morgan), released as a fundraiser for his friends whose daughter Greta has been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma.
More recommendation to download this and pay generously for it should not be needed.

Half Seas Over

Short (26 minute) but beautiful set from Olan Mill (Alex Smalley), presenting some live tracks as well as new studio pieces. More than before, “the hauntingly beautiful vocals that have become increasingly predominant in his works really take centre stage here.”
Originally, the expression ‘half seas over’ “comes from the notion of a ship being so heavy that it sits low enough that small waves (half seas) wash over the deck of a ship”.
Which perfectly fits the waves of sound ‘washing’ over the listener.

Also on Spotify

Conche de Matha
As you probably guess from the cover, it’s only a very small step from “Half Seas Over” to Linear Bell’s “Conche de Matha”  – thematically ánd musically. David Teboul’s ‘washes’ are created from the sounds he recorded when visiting a small French island in December: “I decided to trap all the surroundings sounds and soak up the best of this autumnal atmosphere.” At home, the sound atmosphere was recreated with additional layers of guitar, cello and organ. The result can be heard found in this beautiful name-you-price download.

Fabio Orsi-Thrill

These eight tracks, all simply titled “Just for a Thrill”, all evolve from minimalist melodic tunes that are embedded in a warm synth pad backing. The album starts with ‘classic’ piano themes but slowly gets more ‘electronic’ and abstract near the end; as if the ‘backing’ takes over. Most of the tracks are around six minutes in length, with the exception of (4) and (8) that are considerably longer (up to 20 minutes for the closing piece).
Released in Home Normal style: packed in locally cultivated and harvested washi paper and also including en 16 page booklet with Fabio Orsi’s polaroid photographs.

Also on Spotify


Considerably darker atmospheres come from Alphaxone, which is the alias of Mehdi Saleh (from Iran). “Altered Dimensions” is a great title capturing the cinematic sounds of this masterfully produced album “of smooth frequency manipulation.”
“Creating dark ambient soundscapes with a futuristic touch”, Alphaxone “reaches a new level of audio fidelity and there is always something subtle in the background as protruding from beyond the physical plane.” 

Also on Spotify

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