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Frank Bretschneider * Rapoon

Bretschneider

Bretschneider

FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER – LUNIK  Also on Spotify

It’s definitely not ambient at all, but it ís 100% electronic, and every once in a while even the most dedicated dronehead like myself enjoys an inescapable beat. So: turn up the volume and press Play!

Frank Bretschneider – co-founder of the raster-noton label – presents his new album Lunik with the motto “It moves, it sings. … but does it swing?”
And right from the very first track you know it does. I don’t think electronic music has sounded this funky since Kraftwerk (with a possible exception for some of the aliases of Uwe ‘Atom TM/Senor Coconut’ Schmidt)!

According to Bretschneiderthis represents the soundtrack of his life and his musical influences:“some San Francisco psychedelia, some London underground, some Berlin school (old & new). Krautrock from Cologne & New York minimalism. A shot of Detroit grit, a bit of Moscow dust, a splash of Paris charm?”
Some life that must have been!
And, judging by the sparkling vibrancy of this record, it isn’t over yet! 


Rapoon - Airstrikes

RAPOON – AIRSTRIKES

Rapoon is the alias of Robin Storey, also known as co-founder of Soviet*France. His immense catalogue boasts over 75 albums (since 1992) under this alias alone, not counting compilations, collaborations and releases under his own name (or different aliases). It seems the man literally breathes music. Often categorized as ‘ethno-ambient’, it is hard to pinpoint his music to a specific (sub-)genre

For Airstrikes he found inspiration in ‘oriental music and rhythmic structures that derive directly from dance music’. It is a reflection on the hectic state of the world – and I’m afraid the future doesn’t look too bright. The music is filled with impending doom, which is clear from the very first track Airstrikes (Disasters … Fake News), with its short vocal stabs Airstrikes – Disaster – I Told You So.
Another haunting track We Pray For Rain is like a rain dance ritual, summoning a cleansing, or at least desperately trying to do so. Drones are another subject – and in this context it’s not about musical drones, but those used in warfare or intel operations.

Storey maintains the feeling of impending doom from the beginning to the end of the album. After six relatively short tracks the album closes with the 25 minute We Are Such Stuff…, which restates some of the musical ingredients of the previous tracks into one soundscape. The most ‘ambient’ track of this collection indeed, but still not exactly one that will ease you mind…

To celebrate Rapoon‘s 25th anniversary of his solo artistic activity, the Zoharum label has released a special wooden edition box-set limited to 50 copies. Also, there is a double album version which includes a recording of the Warsaw gig entitled Easterly Moon.

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A Zoharum Quartet

Forrest Drones

Zoharum is a Polish label founded in 2007, specialising in experimental music. Their catalogue, close to 100 releases, is often dedicated to the promotion of Polish artists, new as well as renowned, but they are also releasing works from other artists. New albums as well as re-releases: a wealth of albums to explore if you’re into ambient, industrial, experimental, electroacoustic, IDM, or all other kinds of music adventurous and unpredictable. 


Forrest Drones

FORRRESTDRONES – NAJA FLEXILIS EXEQUIAE
A 60 minute drone piece, or (better maybe) a collection of drones glued together by the comforting familiar sound of crackling vinyl (or a burning fireplace, if you insist).
“Is the melody you hear soothing or sinister?” I’d say: it is both – it is as enigmatic as the owl on the cover.
ForrrestDrones (mind the third R!), is Robert Skrzynski, also known as Micromelancolie.


Vintermusik

DAG ROSENQVIST & RUTGER ZUYDERVELT – VINTERMUSIK
Re-issue of two collaboration projects by Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek). The original releases from 2007 were easy to miss: “Vintermusik” was limited CDR self-release, and the 24-minute auditive fever dream “Feberdrøm” was released as (also limited) 3″ CDR on Odradek.
Seven years later, this music still sounds remarkably fresh: “contemplative music full of shimmering guitar drones, delicate piano melodies and a bit of field recordings. They sound cold, yet warm at the same time.” A well-deserved re-release!


Tunguska Event

JARL | ENVENOMIST – TUNGUSKA EVENT
The Tunguska Event was “a large explosion which occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River at 07:14 on June 30, 1908. It flattened 2.000 km2 of the forest and caused glowing sunsets on the horizon. Some scientists claim it was connected with an asteroid or comet that burst into the air above the region, others claim that it might have been a small black hole passing the earth. The mystery is still unsolved.”
Erik Jarl and David Reed (Envenomist) create a ‘sonic reenactment’ of this event, “full of oily drones and industrial blasts intertwined with unsettling ambient textures”, yet avoid trying to re-create the sound of the explosion itself (which obviously cannot be recreated at all). What remains is the mystery that still surrounds the Tunguska Event.


Machine River

RAPOON & PROMUTE – MACHINE RIVER
One of the most prolific artists on the Zoharum label, Robin “Rapoon” Storeyteams up with Shaun Sandor a.k.a. Promute. Inspired by “the swirling mist of sound conjured by Rapoon” on his 2011 tour, Promute started creating tracks with various homemade instruments, prepared guitar, bass and sitar, and sent this to Rapoon to manipulate further. Des Kashyap contributed some vocal improvisations and the result is some out-of this world weirdness which is definitely not meant for the faint of heart.

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Rapoon. Taylor Deupree. James Murray. Red Sector A. Jason Grier.

Borderland

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 ór without extra words!


Rapoon

RAPOON – THE FIRES OF THE BORDERLANDS
Originally released in 1995, this is considered a landmark album in the impressive catalogue of Rapoon (Robin Storey) releases. It became out of print long ago, but now receives a well-deserved expanded re-release: the double CD features a (near) 40 minute live recording for KFJC Radio (San Francisco) from 1996, next to the remastered version of the original album.

“These sounds generate images of desert lands somewhere in uncharted countries suspended in time. It is a chronicle of those lands which was found buried in the scorching sands. You can almost feel the texture of it in every second of this album which conjures up ghosts of people from those lands with writhing snakes at their feet.”


RAPOON – CIRES DIVAM
 



Lost & Compiled

TAYLOR DEUPREE – LOST & COMPILED
I don’t think the work of Taylor Deupree needs any further introduction here… This album was especially compiled to be sold at the 2014 Japan tour, but the remaining copies can be bought from the 12k shop.
The compilation has an interesting concept: the tracks came from the idea that songs go through so many permutations that by the time they are released they have left behind a trail of ghosts. Sometimes when he goes back to early and rough mixes of songs he will hear something more relaxed, free, and less perfect…
The songs on this album are just that: tracks in earlier states of completion or entirely different versions that never made the final cut.”


TAYLOR DEUPREE – SLEEPOVER (ALT)
 



Mount View

JAMES MURRAY – MOUNT VIEW
On this final chapter of his ‘biographical trilogy’, after Floods (2012) and The Land Bridge (2013), James Murray presents seven tracks all conveying a sense of retrospective melancholy.
” Mount View was the first place I called home and casts a long shadow over my life. To return is to close a circle that spans three and a half decades. Mount View is the vantage point from which I can best see things as they are, a place from which I can forgive and let go. It is the beginning and ending of all things.”
The subtle soundscapes are are filled with details and (almost faded) melodies, making this album feel like a collection of abstract instrumental ‘songs’ more than just ‘classic ambient’ music.

Also on Spotify



Red Sector A

RED SECTOR A – RESET
A remarkable release on the Italian Xonar label, presented without much information, apart from the fact that Red Sector A is Andrea Belluci.
Belluci has been creating music since the mid-90’s, and his experience can be heard in the production and the arrangements. Starting from ambient soundscapes, slowly introducing occasional beats, sequencer patterns, glitches and voice samples, “Reset” naturally meanders through different styles of electronic music.



Unbekannte

JASON GRIER – UNBEKANNTE

Also on Spotify

“…and now for something completely different…”, you might think at the beginning of this album, when Jason Grier sets in with the sweet acappella song “Baby I don’t know right now”. And that’s true, but in a way you probably didn’t expect: it doesn’t take long before Grier lures you into different -more unknown(unbekannte)- territories: with every track the album seems to get weirder until in the last track – the title track – it seems to have become completely detached from reality.
“Grier would offer little more direction than “just play something melancholic while I put on this meditation record”, or “what does it sound like to cut this wire here? then here! then here!!”
He commissioned hour-long cymbal solos, spun psychoacoustic tone-webs from thousands of guitar harmonics, used rewired guitar amps as sub-bass microphones, and recorded the spontaneous sizzling of snare drums placed in a sealed room beside bass oscillators set at extreme volume levels.”

There’s always a hidden link with “pop” music somewhere, mainly due to the guitar and vocals (partly provided by Lucrecia Dalt). But with a creation process like this, and the choice of ‘exotic sound objects’, this album is in fact more ‘experimental’ than many, many others!


JASON GRIER – COVER ME

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Rapoon; Aquavoice; Marek X Marchoff

West And Blue

RAPOON – TO WEST AND BLUE
Zoharum is a Polish label releasing experimental music since 2007, its catalogue boasting over 70 titles now, a wealthy collection to explore. It’s remarkable how flourishing the experimental and electronic music scene seems to be in Eastern Europe (Poland, in the case of Zoharum)!
Not all Zoharum artists come from Poland: among the many unknown artists and bands, Rapoon (Robin Storey, UK) might be the best-known.

To West and Blue is Rapoon’s 50th (!) album, and his fifth for Zoharum.Seven tracks, with varying soundscapes describing the area where he grew up in the UK:
“…a peninsula of land which stuck out into the Solway Firth. Surrounded by the sea when the tide was in and surrounded by endless mudflats when the tide was out. When the water covered the ground the line between the sea and the sky was almost non-existent.”
Inevitably, there are some field recordings included, but they are hardly audible. The soundscapes are varying in style, but all of them are mysteriously dark and somewhat puzzling, particularly those with the stretched voice samples.
They are not always sounding explicitly “natural”, so I guess Solay Firth must be a mysterious view at times!.



http://zoharum.bandcamp.com/album/grey

AQUAVOICE – GREY
Another fine example of what the Zoharum label has to offer.
Although “Grey” is Tadeusz Luczejko‘s first album on Zoharum, Aquavoice already originated in 1999 and became Tadeusz’ solo project from 2001.
His own electronic music has earned him several awards, and his broad musical experience (having worked alongside people like Tomasz Stanko, Robin Guthrie /Cocteau Twins, Banco de Gaia and Higher Intelligence Agency) can clearly be felt this fascinating album.
The inspiration from films as well as literature gives the opening track “S.E.T.I. Project” a great ‘Solaris-like’ atmosphere! On Grey“, Aquavoice explores a wide range of electronic/experimental music.
Apart from making music, Tadeusz Luczejko is also the main organiser and art director of the AMBIENT music festival in Gorlice, Poland since 2003.



Funeral Music

MAREK X. MARCHOFF – FUNERAL MUSIK FUR JENNY MARCHOFF
This album is presented as “the most atypical album in Marek Xavier Marchoff’s discography”, but since I’m not familiar with his other albums I can’t really comment on that.

Jenny Marchoff was Marek’s grandmother, and this music was created right after she passed away.
It was recorded in one single nightly recording session using analogue field generator, guitar, tubs, screen, bulbs, sampler, tapes, machines, as well as “backlight ghost” and “room silence”. That was fifteen years ago.
The resulting music has been kept hidden, until now.
It is, of course, a very personal statement – this may definitely not everyone’s ‘funeral music’ of choice.
But the way it was recorded, the instruments used, results in a beautiful analogue Lo-Fi atmosphere that was (fortunately) left untreated. This is exactly what may give this album its sincere honesty.

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