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Bruno Sanfilippo * Daniel W J MacKenzie * José Silva

Modulated Tones

Bruno Sanfilippo - Piano Textures 4

BRUNO SANFILIPPO – PIANO TEXTURES 4

On this fourth edition of his Piano Textures series, Bruno Sanfilippo continues his exploration of ‘minimalist piano concepts’, combining the sounds of the piano (and sometimes prepared piano) with electro-acoustic backgrounds.

In his own words: “Sometimes they ask me if I am a piano player who ventures into electronic music, or an electronic musician who ventures into the piano. […] I do love the sound of the piano just as much as I love electronic-based music. I know some times I can get some listeners confused by this, if I do, I’m so sorry. But, at the moment I will passionately explore both fields.”

Minimalist and modern classical piano music is a crowded genre nowadays, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. But for his restrained but emotionally engaging compositions, his perfect sound quality and combining the sound of the piano with more experimental electro-acoustics, Bruno Sanfilippo can stand the comparison with fellow contemporary classical composers like Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Harold Budd.

Also on Spotify


Daniel WJ MacKenzie - Every Time Feels Like The Last Time

DANIEL W.J. MACKENZIE – EVERY TIME FEELS LIKE THE LAST TIME

Eilean Rec.’s first release for 2017 is Daniel W.J. Mackenzie‘s Every Time Feels Like The Last Time. The title promises dense, atmospheric melancholy and that is exactly what you get.
The album opens with modern classical piano compositions, but as it progresses the music crosses a bridge to more abstract experimental and ambient territories. (This may not be a complete surprise if you know that Mackenzie  has also released quite a few albums as Ekca Liena since 2008). By doing this, the album ignores some ‘traditional’ genre definitions and claims a unique position.

Mackenzie is accompanied by Ecka Rose Mordecai’s cello playing and many location recordings from Tromsø and various locations in England and South Africa.

The physical edition of this album is almost sold out already, apart from a few last copies available from Daniel Mackenzie‘s Bandcamp site.
So don’t hesitate if you’re interested in a CD-copy. The digital edition will of course remain available.


Modulated Tones

JOSÉ SILVA – MODULATED TONES No. 1: MUSIC FOR FRAMED WORKS

Debut album of South American artist José Silva, born in Venezuela but now based in Ecuador.
Multi-layered ambient soundscapes – created with guitar pedals, field recordings and a compressor – are the cinematic foundation for the soft, slow, often Harold Budd-like piano themes.

The music on this album  is inspired by Silva‘s interest in photography. It provides “a soundtrack for surveying a photographic collection to provide space for a slow introspective processing of the shots, as thoughts or memories flicker in your mind.”

So: randomise your photo collection, pick 10 of them, start playing the music, and then take your time to link what you see to what you hear!

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Jeffrey Roden – Threads Of A Prayer, Volume 1

Jeffrey Roden - Threads of a Prayer Vol. 1

Jeffrey Roden - Threads of a Prayer Vol. 1

JEFFREY RODEN – THREADS OF A PRAYER, VOLUME 1

Jeffrey Roden has worked as a professional bass player in various genres and settings and has been releasing CD’s for solo bass.
In the early days of his career he was a session musician (for legends like Bo Diddley), an in-demand sideman in jazz, funk, soul, a rock songwriter and writer of classic pop songs.
But he turned his back on the music industry and ‘turned his gaze inwards and moved from chambermusical electro-jazz to solo improvisations. It was the spiritually and soft resolve of Arvo Pärt’s  oeuvre that would turn into the foremost source of inspiration”.

Threads of a Prayer, Volume 1 (Volume 2 is scheduled for release in 2017) is an epic 2-CD set introducing Roden’s compositional work.
Two hours an twenty minutes of introspective and meditative music: for solo piano on the first CD, and for string ensemble on the second.

It is dangerous, unfair (and probably too early) to compare Roden‘s work to that of contemporary giants like Arvo Pärt.
But, as Tobias Fischer notes in the liner notes, there are remarkable similarities:
“Just like Pärt, Jeffrey had enjoyed success early on in his career. Just like Pärt, he didn’t follow up on it but instead went to look for his own path. And just like Pärt, this path led, first, towards monody and then a music of great outer simplicity, intricate detail and emotional complexity.”

Sandro Ivo Bartoli performs the solo piano compositions on the first CD.
12 Prayers (dedicated to Arvo Pärt and Carmen Montez), 10 Untitled Pieces, and The Passing Of A King all have one thing in common: the silence between the notes, the ultimate quietude. In this unhurried meditative focus, the link to the work of Arvo Pärt and possibly Erik Satie, Morton Feldman and, to lesser extent, John Cage is obvious.

The second CD presents the seven part The Many Latitudes of Grief, two Untitled pieces for quintet, and the 35 minute Leaves (which came “from a lifetime of watching leaves fall and marvelling at both the beauty and inevitability of the falling.”)
The works on this second CD are performed by the Bennewitz QuartetSzymon Marciniak (double bass), Wolfgang Fischer (timpani) and Johannes Kronfeld (trombone).
Because of the difference in instrumentation, the two CD’s in this album are slightly different in sound, but they share the same quietude, completely shutting out the hectic world outside.

It’s Jeffrey Roden‘s sole purpose to take the listener to “the other place: a place within oneself where there is a deeper awareness of many things both emotional and spiritual.”

“I rely upon the work and the listener to find their own relationship and meanings. The work allows the listener to decide what course of mind and spirit to take, whether the time be spent in active or passive listening. Essentially the music serves to elevate the listener to a place unknown and filled with beauty.”



JEFFREY RODEN – THE PASSING OF A KING
Sandro Ivo Bartoli, piano
 


JEFFREY RODEN – THE MANY LATITUDES OF GRIEF: FOUR
Bennewitz Quartet,
Johannes Kronfeld, trombone

 

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Porya Hatami & Arovane * Offthesky

Phone to Logoa

Kaziwa

PORYA HATAMI & AROVANE – KAZIWA

Porya Hatami (Iran) teamed up with Uwe Zahn (Arovane) (Germany)  sharing their love for the piano in its various forms. But Kaziwa is not a solo piano album. It is the main instrument for these 15 mysteriously titled tracks, but considerable thought has gone in creating the background atmosphere.

“By stripping down the elements surrounding the main instrument, they have recorded an album that subtly resonates within a framework of restraint. Ghostly shimmers follow plaintive piano melodies, as reverberations haunt the spaces between notes.”

Kaziwa is a Kurdish word for dawn… or dusk. Which may also be the best moments to play this album. Soft as a Harold Budd album, but at the same time with an atmosphere so mysterious that it “could serve as a soundtrack for a Twin Peaks episode that never happened.”

As usual with the Time Released Sound releases, there are three editions: a download version, the standard CD release and a deluxe edition of 75.  


Phone to Logoa

PORYA HATAMI – PHONE TO LOGOS

Only a few months after the Kaziwa release with Arovane, Audiobulb releases another Porya Hatami album worth checking out. Especially when you’re new to Hatami‘s work, because this album is a hand-picked selection of tracks (including unreleased work) that illustrates his musical evolution over the five years since his debut release in 2012.
Phone To Logos retraces my creative process to date. Each track illustrates distinct sound palettes and aesthetics at play during different periods of writing.”

Most of the thirteen tracks are solo pieces, but there are some collaboration pieces too: such as Dawn (with Tomogotsu Nakamura), two tracks with Arovane (not included on Kaziwa), and a sneak peek into the future release with Artificial Memory Trace.

Phone To Logos is a download-only release.


OfftheSky - Transit

OFFTHESKY – STUDY OF LIGHT FORM IN TRANSIT

Originally released as a bonus download for those that bought a physical copy of Jason Corder‘s 50th release Silent Went the Seabut made available as a download after that edition sold out – which obviously didn’t take very long.
Silent Went the Sea was a combined CD + DVD release, matching each track with an accompanying video.
So is this Study: two of the Jean Piché videos (Hémisphères and Australes) are included in the download.
These videos originally contained a different soundtrack, created by Piché himself (that is why I don’t embed these videos here). But in these download version they are dubbed with the OfftheSky tracks -remixed and remastered from the original 2011 recordings. The music fits the images like a glove – showing exactly what the title promises: a Study of Light Form in Transit.

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Tetherdown; Cyril Secq/Orla Wren; Gamardah Fungus; Luke Howard;

Gamardah Fungus

Tetherdown - First Flight

TETHERDOWN – FIRST FLIGHT
Tetherdown is a new trio formed by Anne Garner, James Murray and Mark Beazley (Rothko), and this is their … ehhh … First Flight.

Anne and James created one of my favourite albums from 2015, so I was somewhat surprised to hear them taking quite a different direction with Tetherdown. Not very different, though: it’s just that First Flight contains no ‘vocal songs’ like Be Life, but there’s the same subtle, dreamy treatment of sounds… Four pieces – each around the 10 minute mark – of unprepared improvisations that “emerged unforcedly in a single setting and is presented here exactly as played without edits of overdubs.”

In a way, the interplay of Mark (electric bass), James (processed guitars) and Anne (Flute, Keyboards and vocals) remind me of the very early ‘Cosmic’ improvisations of Tangerine Dream (Zeit and Atem era) – though that comparision clearly fails when you listen to them both. (I don’t really know why – I guess it’s the use of the flute and some of the guitar sounds that triggered my memories).

It’s a true Flight indeed… and if this is what this trio is capable of producing without preparations or expectations, I really hope that more of these flights will follow!

Also on Spotify


Branches

CYRIL SECQ / ORLA WREN – BRANCHES
Strikingly bright recordings of acoustic strings played by Cyril Secq (member of Astrïd), backed by subtle electro-acoustic processings by Orla Wren (Tui). That is the setting of this unique setting: “a duet between acoustic strings and processing, field recordings, edits and organic arrangements. The tunes woven together and untwine again as branches shaken by the wind”.

Cyril Secq‘s guitar parts were recorded earlier, for a solo project that was never released. Orla Wren took them as a starting point for his processed electronics which remain modest and calm, strictly serving the purpose of the bright atmosphere of the guitar pieces.
Although they never played together in real life, the music sounds as if they are really interacting with each other.
Refreshingly different!

Also on Spotify


Gamardah Fungus

GAMARDAH FUNGUS – HERBS AND POTIONS
Artemisia, Bryophyta, Beladonna, Mandragora, Hypericum“each track is named for a herb which can both heal and harm”.

Ukrainian duo Gamardah Fungus (sound designer Igor Yalivec and guitarist Segey Yagoda) delve deep into their grandparents’ folkore and wisdom of herbal healing practices to find the inspiration for this soothing (I almost wrote ‘healing’, but I guess that’s a word better avoided) album:

“Using herbal concoctions our grandfathers were able to treat any disease and even bring up a dying man on its feet. Also, they were able to do the opposite – bring anyone to dementia, injury or another disease.”
Listening to the peaceful improvisations, there’s no need to fear for the latter. After all, the duo’s name Gamardah Fungus “refers to a substance made according to ancient recipes of natural herbs and minerals to help you open your mind to the universe. Not a drug, but an elixir of wisdom.”

Maybe because they’re from Ukraïne (with, in Igor’s own words, “an experimental music scene that is still poorly understoond and remains something unusual for the most listeners over the world”), or maybe it’s the setting of the guitar improvisations with the field recordings background, but their music sure has a unusal pleasing atmosphere.


Luke Howard - Forgotten Postcards

LUKE HOWARD – FORGOTTEN POSTCARDS
Luke Howard is a composer/pianist from Melbourne, Australia, whose debut solo album ‘Sun, Cloud’ was nominated for the 2013 Australian Music Prize that year.
Forgotten Postcards is his fifth solo album.
The opening track, Homeless,  and the closing title Shift are noteworthy for the way he transposes short repetitive themes using the full range of the keyboard. From the lower register to the upper, and back again, and before you realise it the slightly melancholic theme has anchored itself in your subconscious.
It is the perfect soundtrack for shifting through a box of forgotten postcards, which will bring back forgotten memories.
I guess it will also do so even if you do not have a box of forgotten postcards yourself.

Also on Spotify

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1631 Recordings Selection

Endless Melancholy

1631 Recordings is a new label run by David Wenngren (Library Tapes) and Mattias Nilsson (Kning Disk).
The label focuses on contemporary classical music mostly.
In the first months of 2016, they’ve unleashed an incredible amount of releases featuring new material as well as a bunch of re-releases. And there’s no sign this will stop soon.
On the occasion of ‘Piano Day 2016’, here’s a selection from their recent releases:

Cave in the Sky

CAVE IN THE SKY – SÖNGHELLIR
When Cye Wood visited Iceland, he became lost looking for the Snæfellsjökull Glacier. When he finally found it, he also found the ‘Singing Cave’ that gave this album its name: Sönghellir.
Cye Wood  (who previously released an album with Lisa Gerrard in 2010: The Trail of Genghis Khan) plays guitar, violin, bass viola, Rhodes bass and piano. He is assisted by various musicians playing acoustic instruments, so – apart from a sporadic field recording – this is all but ‘electronic’ music.
The ensemble setting somewhat reminded me of the sound of a ‘matured’ (in terms of the compositions) Penguin Cafe Orchestra:  pleasing and unclassifiable compositions: it’s neither folk music nor jazz, it’s not ‘pop’, it’s not ‘contemporary classical’, but it’s not ‘experimental’ either – it’s a great combinations of impressionistic compositions with influences from all over the world.
Ánd it has a great sound too: the mastering was done by Valgeir Sigurdsson (Björk, Feist, Sigur Ros) and the album was mixed by Paul Corley (Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, Daniel ‘OPN’ Lopatin).
Also on Spotify


Le Lendemain

LE LENDEMAIN – FIRES
Re-release of the album that was originally released on Home Normal in 2009. Le Lendemain is David Wenngren (piano, field recordings) and Danny Norbury (cello, dulcitone). A delicate, intimate dialogue between instruments, with sparsely added environmental recordings or electronic effects.
“The music from this album is a journey of two instruments and the outside world, what it adds up to is a soundtrack to the moments of unconsciousness, of times when one is dreaming, or the beautiful in between state.” 

Also on Spotify


Endless Melancholy
ENDLESS MELANCHOLY – A QUIET RECOLLECTION
With a name like Endless Melancholy there is no need to try to describe the kind of music. This is not a new album from Oleksiy Sakevych (Kiev, Ukraine), but a recollection of the albums he made from 2012 (when his debut Music for Quiet Mornings was released) until now.
His work slowly evolved from minimal piano pieces to modern composition, a bit of post rock and to ambient electronic soundscapes.
This release is a great way to start exploring Endless Melancholy‘s music. The first seven tracks on this release focus on his piano-centered works  (with one new composition: Unsaid), while the second half features more ambient electronic  tracks

Also on Spotify


Luke Howard - Forgotten Postcards
LUKE HOWARD – FORGOTTEN POSTCARDS
The opening track, Homeless,  and the closing title Shift are noteworthy for the way Luke Howard uses the full range of the keyboard repeating the theme from the lower register to the upper, and back again. And, before you realise it, the slightly melancholic theme has anchored itself in your subconscious.
Luke Howard is a composer/pianist from Melbourne, Australia, whose debut solo album ‘Sun, Cloud’ was nominated for the 2013 Australian Music Prize that year.
Forgotten Postcards is his fifth solo album. It is the perfect soundtrack for shifting through a box of forgotten postcards, which will bring back forgotten memories. I guess it will also do so even if you do not have a box of forgotten postcards yourself.

Also on Spotify


Alex Kozobolis

ALEX KOZOBOLIS – ALEX KOZOBOLIS
Like the Endless Melancholy Recollection, this is not a re-release but a ‘best of’ compilation selected from the previously released work of Alex Kozoboliswho is not only a composer but also photographer and filmmaker – so it’s not surprising his music would perfectly fit a movie soundtrack.

Also on Spotify


Piano Cloud

VARIOUS ARTISTS – PIANO CLOUD, VOLUME 1
Much of the contemporary classical music releases use the piano as the main instrument, so it’s fitting that 1631 Recordings releases a compilation album of piano music from their artists (and friends).
Piano Cloud, Volume 1 presents 20 relatively short compositions for solo piano (1 hour total) . It is a collection of ‘light’ neo-classical music, romantic in style mostly, never ‘experimental’ or ‘difficult’.

The collection opens with one the genres’ most important pioneers (I almost wrote pianeer): Nils Frahm. But there are many more familiar names: Library Tapes, Peter Broderick, Fabrizio Paterlini, Anna Rose Carter, Stray Ghost, Lucy Claire, Hior Chronik, Endless Melancholy, Akira Kosemura.
And that is only half of the bunch: the other half are names somewhat less familiar but that definitely does not mean their work is inferior!
A great overview of the popular genre. A kind of mission statement for 1631 Recordings too (although their releases are not limited to solo piano music only).

Also on Spotify


Keys

VARIOUS ARTISTS – KEYS
A second piano-centered compilation, subtitled “A Comprehensive Collection of Contemporary Piano Compositions”. A celebration for Piano Day (March 28), featuring exclusive contributions from Rafael Anton Irisarri, Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Richard A. Ingram, Library Tapes, Machinefabriek, Gabriela Parra, Sommer and Krater. A great overview of how different (acoustic) pianos can sound from each other, depending on the use, the recording technique, and on the post-processing of course: from bright to muffled, from clean to creaky. And everything in-between.

Also on Spotify

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

tramuntana

Attachment

JASON VAN WYK – ATTACHMENT
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

STEFANO GUZZETTI – 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

IGGY POP, TARWATER & ALVA NOTO – 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.


IGGY POP/TARWATER/ALVA NOTO – OUT OF THE ROLLING OCEANS THE CROWD


Seldom Somber

INSIDE THE BAXTER BUILDING – 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.


INSIDE THE BAXTER BUILDING – DON’T KILL IT BEFORE IT’S DEAD


tramuntanaALEX LUCAS & OLAN MILL – TRAMUNTANA
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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Akira Rabelais – The Little Glass (+Spelle… reissue)

The Little Glass

THE LITTLE GLASS
And suddenly, without any warning, there’s good news from the ever-enigmatic Akira Rabelais:
His entire back-catalogue is now available on Bandcamp – which is good news because most of these title were unavailable for a long time now.
And at the same time a new album is released: The Little Glass (available in digital as well as in physical format).

More news on the re-issues below, but let’s start with the new release first.

The Little Glass is a 5-part (2CD) album presenting collaborative pieces created with Harold Budd It’s not the first time they worked together: Rabelais’ 70 minutes remix of As Long As I Can Hold My Breath was included on Budd’s Avalon Sutra cd (2004).
The first 4 pieces on CD1 all focus on the sound of the grand piano and Budd’s distinctive playing – with lots (lots!) of room for the spaces in between. Opening with a very short (19 seconds) fragment, the second part immediately alters your perception of time stretching up to 42 minutes. The remaining two pieces are relatively short with their 7 and 10 minutes.
The entire second CD is filled with the Part V (70 minutes), which presents a mirrorred sound palette: no longer the piano is up front, it is hidden somewhere in the background, triggering light, bell-like synth sounds that create a peaceful atmosphere of generative eternity.
(Christmas seems to be the perfect time for this release, but this doesn’t mean you can’t play it at other times of the year)

As usual, there’s not much information about the creative process involved, apart that both Rabelais and Budd play the piano.
The sections sound as if they were (partly) improvised, with parts and fragments later edited edited and re-shuffled, sometimes using random algorithms, and adding extra breathing space between the notes. In Part II  especially, you can hear (if you listen closely) the software choosing fragments and thus generating cuts in the prolonged background reverb.
This is intentional, of course – I assume that Rabelais‘ self-developed Argeïphontes Lyre software is the third artists here (if you like a challenge: just try to find some background information on this A.L. software on his website).

“I just let it take me along to wherever it needs to go. It’s really is like having a garden growing…letting the weeds take over and do what they want.. ”
(Akira Rabelais about his Argeïphontes Lyre software)

The result is a strange, ethereal kind of music that is neither 100% human nor strictly artificial. It is both, at the same time.
You won’t be able to hum along, because there’s no recognisable melody – and yet it feels remotely familiar.
The kind of music you can ‘set and forget’ and play in the background for a very long time.


Spellewauerynsherde

SPELLEWAUERYNSHERDE (Re-release + radio show)
Ever since I first heard this release from 2004 (on David Sylvian‘s Samadhisound Label) it has been on my all-time favourite list. (It was, in fact, one of the earliest favourites mentioned on this blog).

Akira Rabelais’ re-workings of 1960/70 Ampex tapes with found voices from Icelandic a capella lament songs may be somewhat too haunting for some: it’s ‘as if a voice coming from the middles ages haunts you in your deepest sleep’.

This album became somewhat of a cult classic but remained unknown to many.
That is why I am very pleased that Rabelais decided to make it available as a digital download: if you missed it before, here’s your chance to catch up!

In 2005, Trans>Parent Radiation (a sublabel of Bremsstrahlung) released a compilation called Spellewauerynsherde, Interpretations Various & Sundry  with Spelle-remixes by artists like Christian Fennesz, Kit Clayton, Taylor Deupree, Stephan Mathieu and more.

Some of these tracks were included in the Spelle radiobroadcast I compiled for a dutch radio program (Supplement, NPS/VPRO, 4FM) in 2006.
This radioshow also included some (still unreleased!!) fragments submitted by Akira Rabelais especially for this occasion.
This is the tracklist:

  • 1559 W. Cunningham Cosmogr. Glasse 125, Within which drawn another Circle, a finger breadth distant (*)
  • 1390 Glower Conf. II 20, I can nought thanne unethes spelle that I wende altherbest have rad (*)
  • 1440 Promp. Parv. 518/20, Wawyn, or waueryn, yn a myry totyr, oscillo (*)
  • 1559 W. Cunningham Cosmogr. Glasse 125, Within which drawn another Circle, a finger breadth distant (*)
  • I8U – 1570-1 in Willis & Clark Cambridge (1886) III. 594, For vppyng ye Swannes and wynteryng them..xxiijs. (**)
  • Steve Roden – 1480 Robt. Devyll 32, Hys mother gave hym to the feende of hell In the houre of hys fyrst contemplacyon (**)
  • Kit Clayton – 1250 Owl & Night. 314, Ich singe..Mid fulle dreme and lude stefne (**)
  • 1483 Caxton Golden Leg. 208b/2, He put not away the wodeness of his fleshwith a shrede or shelle (*)
  • 1671 Milton Samson 1122, Add thy spear, a weaveers beam, and seven-times-folded-shield (*)
  • 1559 W. Cunningham Cosmogr. Glasse 125, Within which drawn another Circle, a finger breadth distant (*)
  • (throughout:) Intermission Tracks 12,50,27,76,70, 21,14,34,6 (***)

(*) – from Spellewauerynsherde, Samadhisound, 2004
(**) – from Spellewauerynsherde, Interpretations Various & Sundry, Trans>Parent Radiation, 2005
(***) – unreleased fragments, from Akira Rabelais private collection

On occasion of the renewed availability of Spellewauerynsherde (and with special permission by Akira), you can play this radio show below.
(The program has a short introduction in dutch, presented by Hans Mantel, and also contains short interview fragments. Note: the links mentioned are no longer active).


Akira Rabelais a.o. – Spellewauerynsherde 4FM Radio Special, 2006

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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.


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Monochromie; Visionary Hours; Peter Grech; Northumbria; Mogano

Sycomore

Behind Black Clouds

MONOCHROMIE – BEHIND BLACK CLOUDS
The word Monochromie refers to one single colour, but Behind Black Clouds is in fact a very colourful album: an album with lots of different sounds and atmospheres. “Dark or luminous, hor or cold, wind or earth – attentive ear will detect them all.”
Wilson Trouvé 
(from France) is also a virtual artist: “This also reflects on the way my music tells specific stories. It is no different than clay, dust, paper, colors, paint or inks.”
Behind Black Clouds is his fourth full album as Monochromie, and his third for the Fluttery Records label.
Different kind of pianos play the main part on the album, in melodic, romantic, as well as more abstract arrangements. But sometimes the piano makes place for other instruments like metallophone or melodica, bright synths, drum synths or samples from street recordings. Or even sheer noise, like in Noise.



MONOCHROMIE – HEARTBEAT


Footfalls Echo

VISIONARY HOURS – FOOTFALLS ECHO
The opening track Stillness of the Violin sets the mood: it shows exactly what the title implies.
But right after that the instrumentation changes completely, although the mood on this album stays very gentle. The diverse acoustic instruments (strings, guitars, flute and clarinet) are mixed using ambient reel-to-reel tape delay effect and also using slowed down or reversed recordings.
Together with producer Richard Formby (Spectrum, Mogwai, Dakota Suite, Jazz Butcher), Hayden Berry (Visionary Hours) has created a unique blend of analog sounds on this third album that is released on Hibernate Recordings in this handmade edition of 100 (which, as usual, is quickly selling out).


Sung of the Black CanyonPETER GRECH – SUNG OF THE BLACK CANYON
Peter Grech is an artist without a label, considering himself “the audio equivalent of a small local farm, hopefully supplying tasty sonic carrots”.
Judged by the tasty carrots he serves on this self-released album, he shouldn’t be without a label for long … but if he does, we’re lucky to have Bandcamp access his music.
Sung of the Black Canyon is a 50 minute descriptive soundtrack inspired by a wilderness hiking journey he made in the United States, each of the seven parts ‘intended as stages reminiscent of the journey’. It may be a personal notebook this way, but for other listeners it’s an inspiring soundtrack for their own imaginary fieldtrip.


Helluland

NORTHUMBRIA – HELLULAND
From Canada comes this duo called NorthumbriaJim Field and Dorian Williamson, creating ambient drones with guitar and bass as the main instruments, largely improvised and often recorded live. Helluland is their third full length album, “much more conceptual and introspective but still unmistakeably Northumbria in scope and sound”.
With the guitar creating the main layers it sounds as if Robert Fripp is  always near: Fripp and Eno are mentioned as one of their main influences. But the guitar is not looped like in most Frippertronics – the themes are played improvised on the spot. There is a close relation to the Canadian landscape, the Baffin Island (to the left of Greenland) more specifically, which was discovered by he Norse Vikins over a thousand years ago.
“(The Canadian Arctic) must’ve seemed like Jötunheimr to them, the mythical lands of the giants in Norse mythology. The landscape of Baffin Island i so unbelievably primordial and massive …. we really wanted to try and evoke the feelings, feats and wonder these adventurers must have felt.”


Sycomore

MOGANO – SYCOMORE
Second release from the brand new Berlin-based Arboretum  label is aptly named after a tree and dedicated to the Tree of Life from ancient civilizations. It’s a balanced set of brooding rhythms, electronics and ritualistic references to Eastern mythology by using instruments such as the dilruba.
Mogano (Marco Berardi) is obviously deeply fascinated by ancient cultures and musical practices, but at the same time manages to create a futuristic dubby beat – inescapable and atmospheric.
Sycomore is released as a four-track vinyl 12″ also including a remix of “Annunaki” by (Samuel) Kerride. Included is a download code that also includes the digital bonus track Dukkah. 



MOGANO – SYCOMORE

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Poppy Ackroyd – Feathers

Poppy Ackroyd Feathers

Barely one month after the DVD (re-)release of “Escapement”Poppy Ackroyd pops up again with her newest full album release Feathers” .
Time for a quick update, an ‘addendum’ to the previous post.

While Escapement” featured piano and violin mainly, Feathers” also introduces other instruments: harmonium, clavichord, harpsichord, spinet (and cello). But the piano and its percussive possibilities are still at the heart of the album.
Apart from playing her own (Blüthner) grand piano, she was given the possibility to select different instruments from the Russell/Mirrey Collection of keyboard instruments in Edinburgh.

“Recordings of unfamiliar sounds, which include brushing/plucking the strings and tapping/stroking the frames or soundboards, are combined with accidental ‘imperfect’ sounds that come from playing the instrument, such as pedal noise or the sound of harpsichord shutters opening and closing”. 

When an artists starts “dismantling different pianos to understand how their mechanisms work and make sound”, this often indicates you’ll be listening to ‘difficult music’, but not in Poppy Ackroyd‘s case!

With her experience (studying contemporary classical piano, collaborating with the Hidden Orchestra, and creating film and theatre soundtracks), Poppy Ackroyd manages to create music that is ‘interesting’ as well as ‘accessible’, balancing her ‘sonic experiments’ with delicate, often light-hearted,  melodies – thus creating her own personal (and recognisable) style.

Also on Spotify


Poppy Ackroyd – Roads

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