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Gluid – Metamorphosis; Arpatle – The Day After

Ambientblog

Can this be a coincidence?

In the same week I have received two new albums with a remarkable resemblance: both are from Dutch artists, both have a bright ‘lightweight’, almost ‘poppy’, feeling yet are experimental in their creative use of sound samples. Also, both are defying contemporary genres. They’re not ambient, not too experimental, not strictly electronic, not improvised, but definitely not ‘mainstream pop’ either.

Could it be we’re defining a new genre here?


Gluid

GLUID – THE METAMORPHOSIS EP
The Metamorphosis refers to Franz Kafka’s classic Die Verwandlung’. This music was originally written for a theatre production based on Kafka’s 1915 novel.
Gluid (dutch for sound but missing the first vowel) is Bram van den Oever, and this is his fourth release. Musically, it is not unlike his remarkable 2007 release Binnensuis (dutch for ‘home interior’, but missing a consonant), describing a woman’s neurotic compulsive behaviour in a way too close for comfort – but this itme without the spoken word.
There’s a thematic resemblance between these two releases, an undeniable uncomfortable aspect to the seemingly lightweight music. Always something underneath hiding; things are never just what they seem to be.
The Metamorphosis EP is not released in physicial format, it can be downloaded for free! But please consider to donate to support the artist and his label Esc.Rec (pronounced like Ass-Crack – neither vowel nor consonent missing here).


Gluid -Faulty Narcosis


Arpatle

ARPATLE – THE DAY AFTER
Patrick ‘Arpatle’ Bossink (from Utrecht, Holland) has his new album released through Dublin-based Psychonavigation Records. Like Gluid’s album, “The Day After” also defies the usual genre classifications. It is described as ‘found sound with dub techniques’, but I doubt that description fully fits the album’s music.
It has a nice ‘airiness’ distinguishing it from many other contemporary releases, and links experimentalism, creative sound-searching to an accessible poppy (though not ‘mainstream’) sound worth checking out.


Arpatle – Headache

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Susumu Yokota – Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

Since 1993, Susumu Yokota has built an impressive catalogue of more than 30 albums, and numerous EP’s and 12″-es.

On Kaleidoscope he presents 16 new tracks, over 1 hour of music.
Yokota can’t be accused of making it easy for himself. But, even better: his musical ideas are still as fresh as if this was his debut release.

Susumu Yokota’s music is often catalogued under ‘ambient’ music, but it hardly ever is – there is simply too much going on.

Kaleidoscope” is a very appropriate title for these electronic sound sculptures.
I can almost imaging Susuma recording almost every single sound of everyday life and then finding a spot for it to use in a composition, in strange conjunction with other sounds he has recorded or created.
Vocal samples of a soulful background choir, people singing in a church service , street sounds, weird screams, vocoder samples, all embedded in electronically created and unpredictably sculpted backgrounds.

These are never just plain simple ‘environmental‘ recordings, because all fragments are presented far out of their original context. Like the album title suggests it is a kaleidoscopic, unrealistic view of the surrounding world.

Susumu Yokota once again proves he is a master master of Sound Art.
Without the heavy pretentiousness that sometimes goes with the genre, Kaleidoscope offers a refreshingly enhanced and unrealistic view on the sounds of our surrounding world.

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Jan Bang – …And Poppies from Kandahar

Jan Bang

The Samadhisound label, founded and curated by David Sylvian, simultaneously released three impressive titles. Together they present a landmark of the current experimental/electronic/ improv scene.
Be prepared: none of these albums are ‘easy listening’ music – in fact, a lot of this music wouldn’t even be considered ‘ambient’.

Jan Bang‘s album “…And Poppies from Kandahar” is a good start, because it contains the most ‘accessible’ music of these titles.

Any album including contributions of Jon Hassell, Arve Henriksen and Nils Petter Molvaer would get my immediate and unreserved attention! It’s no real surprise that Bang can bring these names together: he has worked with them on their respective albums, as ‘samplist’ and/or as producer.

There are a few more impressive contributors here (such as Sidsel Endresen, Peter Freeman, Eivind Aarset and Lars Danielsson), as well as a range of credited samples, including Kammerflimmer KollektiefRichard Wagner and Robert Schumann.

Jan Bang has a distinct, very personal way of using these samples in his music. He is not afraid to stop/start them (in such a way that even the backgound hiss drops out for a second), and to combine them with alienating found sounds (‘exhaust fan‘) or cut-up vocal fragments (Sidsel Endresen).
The result is remarkably coherent, unearthly and alienated, but also warm and personal.

Bang seems to draw from thousands of sources, though all sources are hard to identify. But all fragments perfectly fit together and sound as if they were meant to fit this samplist’s puzzle.

And Poppies from Kandahar (David Sylvian is credited for the titles) is one of the more impressive albums I have heard in a long time.
It proves that there are alway new roads to travel, that there is still a lot of new music to explore.

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Joe Frawley – Left Cincinnati

Frawley

After exploring various diversions of his musical art-form, Left Cincinnati feels like a ‘return to form’ of the sounds Joe Frawley presented on his 2008 album The Hypnotist“.

The desolate piano sounds from the opening track Plain Yellow Dress immediately bring you to deserted playgrounds of your mind, with cutup fragments and almost ungraspable vocal samples.

“Short stories for processed found sounds and piano, exploring the dreams and memories of an identity-shifting female protagonist”

I guess that’s an appropriate enough description for this album. The collected sounds on this album are closely related: they all share the strange, alienated impressions of memories of distant past, of travelling on and of leaving home.

The soundscapes can sometimes also be quite unnerving, especially in the overtly sexual references of some fragments. I sometimes find these samples uncomfortable, almost embarrassing, to listen to, as if they present sound fragments I was not intended to hear.

Since his first release (Wilhelmina’s Dream, 2006) Joe Frawley definitely has developed  an immediately recognisable, personal – and different – style – which I suggest you check out!

The physical release of “Left Cincinnatti” is limited to 100.
But it can also be downloaded from Bandcamp (along with his other releases).

Joe Frawley also recently released “Angel Boxes“, featuring Rachel Rambach on vocals, as a free download.

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