London Docks – Tangaroa

London Docks is the alias Nikita Sorokin uses for his solo work.
He’s not from London, but from Los Angeles.
Also a member of Insects vs. Robots – but don’t let that count as an introduction, because the music he presents as London Docks is quite different from that of this particular “psychotropicturesque quasi-nomadic music tribe”.

Tangaróa is a collection of tracks merging Nikita Sorokin‘s solo violin improvisations with “fields recordings and electronica into sonic dreamscapes that are inspired as much by science fiction and mythology as they are by musical ideas”.

Bruno Sanfilippo; Lucho Ripley; Lucy Claire; Christina Vantzou; Ulises Conti

BRUNO SANFILIPPO – CLAROSCURO

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Classically trained musician and composer Bruno Sanfilippo (Spain) presents a beautiful romantic and somewhat melancholic set of modern classical compositions for piano, violin (Pere Bardagi) and violincello (Manuel del Fresno).
“With the fragility and beauty of some Arvo Pärt compositions and a high cinematic touch, “ClarOscuro” brings the perfect soundtrack for an imaginary movie.”

Aaron Martin + Christoph Berg – Day Has Ended

With only a few releases, the relatively new Moscow-based label Dronarivm found its status as one of contemporary ambient music’s most important labels.

With the release of Day Has Ended“, with Aaron Martin and Christoph Berg contributing four tracks each, that status is definitely confirmed – if not enhanced.

Stray Theories; Rudi Arapahoe; Lucy Claire; Milkweed Assassin Bug; Jeremiah Pena

In the Shortlist sections, I will mention the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for. 
Still, I definitely think they deserve your attention, with or without extra words! 


Stray Theories

STRAY THEORIESTHOSE WHO REMAIN
With his latest release Stray Theories (Micah Templeton-Wolfe) adds another level of refinement to his already impressive (and independently produced) discography.
Micah is a master of widely cinematic arrangements and melancholic compositions, seemingly evolving out of nothing into a melodic hook that sticks with you for a long time.

Library Tapes – Sun Peeking Through


Library Tapes - Sun Peeking Through

Recording music since 2004, Swedish composer David Wenngren a.k.a. Library Tapes has a distinct personal style that perfecly matches the best in the  ‘acoustic ambient’/’post-classical’ genres.

His latest album Sun Peeking Throughflawlessly unites different kind of aspects from the genre: ambient electronics in the opening and closing Variations, romantic piano melodies combined with melancholic cello musings, all alternating with dark abstract ambient string soundscapes.

Title and cover image tell all there is need to know about this album: look behind the melancholy and sadness to find the Sun Peeking Through.

Olan Mill – Paths


Paths

Paths” is the follow-up to Olan Mill‘s debut release Pine” (released in 2010 on the Serein label). 
Their second release (now on Facture) continues to explore their “unashamedly romantic music”, with a well-merged blend of violin, pipe organ and processed guitar.

Olan Mill‘s sound is somewhat comparable to the sound of the Stars of the Lid and A Winged Victory for the Sullen and will definitely appeal to the same audience.

Szymon Kaliski + Stefan Wesolowski – 281011


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This collaboration by Szymon Kaliski (electronics) and Stefan Wesolowski (violin) – released as a limited  (50 only) edition on Few Quiet People – was commissioned especially to promote the new spatial audiovisual controller called the Dodecaudion.
A gesture-based controller which, by the looks of it, can best be described as some sort of nowadays Theremin

Clem Leek – Lifenotes

The album cover image may suggest this is another piano-based album. Not true, although the piano plays an important role.

The first two tracks on his new album Lifenotes clearly demonstrate that Clem Leek is a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, as well as violin, guitar and various other instruments. 
Along the album, the main instruments vary but the atmosphere remains effectively restrained.  

“This CD was all about getting back to basics and recording pieces that were simple, which happens to be my best way of writing.”

Nils Frahm – Felt

Although just under 30, self-taught pianist Nils Frahm has gained world-wide recognition for his delicate, yet fascinatingly dynamic, improvisational style of playing. He’s not afraid of starting with a brusque hammering of the piano keyboard and keeping that up for quite some time, until suddenly the underlying composition starts to show and may suddenly turn into an utterly moving, melancholic composition.

By recording his playing from the inside, the squeaking and groaning of the piano mechanism accompanying the bright piano notes has become one of his trademarks. 

Felt“,  his latest release, is perfectly in line with its predecessors Wintermusik andThe Bells, but it’s balance is even more mature.

Antonymes – The Licence to Interpret Dreams

Although it is his debut for Hidden Shoal Recordings,  the new album by Antonymes – “The Licence to Interpret Dreams – is in fact his second full album following up “Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future” (or third, if you also count “31: Before the Light Fails”, which was a special project in a limited edition of one (!), and only partly available as a digital download after that).

The Licence to Interpret Dreams  fits in perfectly with the best of the recent ‘post-classical’ releases and will have immediate appeal to listeners that also enjoy releases by artists like Johann Johannsson, Max Richter, Peter Broderick and Dustin O’Halloran. 
But to leave it at that description would not do justice to the versatility of this album. It is not “just” a collection beautifully constructed post-classical chamber music.

Visionary Hours – The Road to Basho


The Road to Basho cover

From the first bars of the opening track “Everyday is a Journey“, one could get the impression thatThe Road to Basho” might fit in perfectly with the post-romantic classical chamber music releases so popular nowadays. 

But after a while things start to sound a bit different: although the music sounds like it is created with acoustical instruments, the theme itself does not really seem to change..it gets looped over and over again – until it’s as hypnotizing as Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet” (or as a William Basinski recording without the tape deterioration).

In fact, the only way to know your player is not stuck on repeat, is by recognising the (slowly increasing) phasing effects in the background.

Dakota Suite & Emanuele Errante – The North Green Down

The deepest grief can often inspire the most impressive art. 

The albums of Dakota Suite are not the ones to celebrate the happier moments in life, as can be seen from their titles alone.
They commemorate sadness, loss, pain, fear and loneliness.
But the (mainly acoustic) instrumentation also always leaves room for hope, for acceptation of the way life is. 

Previous Dakota Suite releases have brought some timeless masterpieces, like “The End of Trying”  and its remix companion “The Night Keeps Coming in” (you can still stream the Folio Radio show compilation of these two albums).
Dakota Suite’s latest release “The North Green Down” may prove to be their most impressive work to date. But the foundations of this album is of heartbreaking sadness once again…

Dustin O’Halloran – Lumiere


Lumiere Cover

By now, we can safely speak of a “school of composers”, creating neo-classical, romantic, sometimes melancholic chamber music (sometimes with some electronic elements too): people like Max Richter, Johann Johannsson, Sylvain Chauveau and the like.
Music that sounds like the soundtrack of a movie you want to see just because of the soundtrack…

Dustin O’Halloran  is no ‘newbie’ in the genre. He wrote the scores for Marie Antoinette (2006) and An American Affair (2010), and has released two “Piano Solos” albums on Bella Union.

With this new release Lumiere, Dustin O’Halloran definitely settles firmly between the masters of the genre!

Max Richter – Infra

Next to Johann Johannsson and Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter is one of the pioneers of the ‘post-classical’ genre, a mixture of classical music, electronic sounds and rock music influences. 
Mostly the compositions in this genre are suble and not too complex, often slightly (ore not so slightly) melancholic – the kind of music that feels and sounds like it’s written to be a (movie) soundtrack.  

So it should not be a surprise that Richter’s Infra was originally written as a score for Wayne McGregor’s ballet as performed by the Royal Ballet.

Beautiful Companions: Dakota Suite

The End of Trying

‘The End of Trying’ is not a ‘typical’ Dakota Suite Release. Unlike most Dakota Suite albums (except 1999’s Navigators Yard) it is fully instrumental, with Chris Hooson, David Buxton and Colin Dunkley playing piano and David Darling playing cello.
The latter fact may indicate the mood of the music on this album: it is extremely delicate, heartbreaking melancholic music.
A ‘classic’ release that immediately struck me when I first heard it in the beginning of this year.

The track titles indicate the overall mood of this music: How Could You Let Me Go, Things We Lost Along The Way, All The Love I Had Was Not Enough, A Quietly Gathering Tragedy, and not forgetting “Een Langzaam Lekkende Wond‘ (A Slow Leaking Wound) which reminds us of the fact that Chris Hooson lived in Holland for quite a few years.
This beautiful sad music is clearly not meant to brighten up your day. But it might soothe your sadness with rays of hope shining through empathic, understanding themes and fabulous cello sounds. 

‘The End of Trying’ is one of the most beautiful albums I have heard this year, and it even gains strength with the companion CD that was released shortly after the release of the original: “The Night Keeps Coming In”.

Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto: UTP_


UTP cover

The short ‘Bartók pizzicato‘ string punches from the opening track, Attack, may give the impression that this is gonna be one of those uncomprehensible and almost unlistenable (to my ears, anyway) retro-avant-garde string compositions. But ‘Attack’ is an appropriate title: it brings the listener off-balance and thus make him more perceptible for the well-balanced, ‘Utopian’ music directly following this opening piece.

UTP_ (short for Utopia) was commissioned by the city of Mannheim (Germany) for it’s 400th birthday in 2007. Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten ‘Alva Noto‘ Nicolai (who partnered on Vrioon and Insen before – both highly recommendable albums) team up with Ensemble Modern.
Ensemble Modern is a chamber ensemble specialising in playing modern compositions. They performed work by Frank Zappa, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve reich, Olivier Messiaen, and many more.