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Felipe Otondo – Tutuguri


Some albums get you nailed to your seat right from the start…you can’t stop listening until it ends, and barely move inbetween because you don’t want to miss anything.
This is exactly what happened to me when listening to Tutuguri, a new album from Chilean sound artist Felipe Otondo.

An important part of this spell came from the extreme clarity of the sound, especially in the opening track Irama’, which ‘investigates distinctive rhythmic features of traditional gamelan music using the unique timbral explorations of contemporary electroacoustic music’.

After studying acoustics in Chile, Felipe Otondo moved to Denmark for post-graduate studies in sound perception, focusing on spatial sound and timbre perception.
In someone else’s hands, this could result in a somewhat academic approach – music that tells theories, not stories.
But Felipe Otondo manages to tell a clear story, and takes you along on a trip “from Buddha to Zapotec”.

From the four tracks on Tutuguri, the second track ‘Teocalli’ is an impressive example of contemporary program(me) musicor ‘narrative’ music:
‘Teocalli’ is inspired by Julio Cortázar’s short story ‘The Night Face Up’, in which ‘a man driving a motorbike is involved in an accident and ends up in the hospital. In the middle of his hazy fever, he dreams he is a fugitive trying to hide from the Aztec indians, who are active in their annual manhunt for the ritual human sacrifice. The short story alternates between the hazy environment of the hospital and the intense environment of the jungle and the sacrifice temple Teocalli.’
It is a haunting soundtrack, indeed: you don’t need any images to visualize it. In fact you probably don’t even need to know the background story, because it transcends in every single fragment.

‘Ciguri’ is based on sounds that are somewhat similar to ‘Irana’, also exploring different types of bell sounds. It ‘is structured as different states of intensity stemming from the ritual of the peyote.”
The bell sounds on the closing track, ‘Sarnath’, on the other hand, are based on field recordings from various Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. After the sonic experience of a fever trip as well as a peyote ritual, these sounds slowly take you back into a more earthly, yet still meditative, state of mind.

It’s not hard to tell why this album is so very different from many others. It is not just the sound quality – although that definitely is a very important factor. But it’s also because Otondo manages to combine his own Chilean background with his in-depth knowledge of acoustic sound perception.
Even though this CD contains only sounds (no visuals or other multimedia performances), I would not dare to call this just ‘music’. Because it is an ‘experience’.



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Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason; Daniel Thomas Freeman; A Shadow; I8U; Sister Waize


In the Shortlist sections, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for. Still, I think they deserve your attention: use the links to find more info and hear previews.


Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason – Solaris
With the names of these two composers and the title referring to the classic SF movie, further introduction is completetely superfluous. This is “a quiet, stilled and all consuming symphonic suite at once as affecting and uncanny as the science- fiction classic that inspired it”. 
As mysterious as the movie, Solaris is “a journey into an internal world, into the self, a flux of wonder, horror, sorrow and tenderness, and a ravishing sensory experience”.

The Beauty of Doubting Yourself

Daniel Thomas Freeman – The Beauty of Doubting Yourself
With a title like that an album hardly needs any further introduction. The album starts off pitch black with track titles like “Dark House Walk” and “Staring into Black Water” (25 minutes!), but the ovarall atmosphere gradually gets lighter and more optimistic as does the instrumentation. Dark electronic settings slowly make way for mediaeval sounding string arrangements. Not many albums can present a sound palette like this in such a coherent style.

A Shadow cover

A Shadow – When all is Said and Done what is left to Say and Do
Drone-based soundscapes by Keith Murphy from Dublin. But not ‘drones’ as in ‘start and forget something is playing in the background’, because Keith brings in a lot of dynamic tension in the use of his instruments and sound manipulation techniques. 
“The sound world he creates is founded on the combination of minimal instrumental material and dense processed textural layers in slow moving progressions. The influence of the music of artists such as Fennesz, Colleen, Fabio Orsi and Tim Hecker can be felt in A Shadow’s music.”


Surface Tension

I8U – Surface Tension
Three long-form drones – their names indicating their ethereal nature: Water, Toluene, Ethanol. 
Sound sculpture from France Jobin (aka I8U), based on field recordings and integrating “digital, analog, glitch and drone into a field of aural vision that simultaneously exhibits micro and macro perspectives on a complex, yet inviting, environmental theme”.

Sister Waize - Dawning of Wonder

Sister Waize – A Dawning of Wonder
Although David Mekler warns us that
this album is “not intended to be listened to all at once”, and almost apologetically states “Do not think of this as you do any other music”, I find  these “folding drones” more engaging than most other drone recordings. They have a nice, mysterious, industrial feel. 
“Please refer to the Sister Waize blog for further suggestions on how to listen to folding drone music“. 
Which prove to be great suggestions for listening to any other kind of drone music, too!
(Free download)

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Enrico Coniglio+Under the Snow – Dialogue One

Dialogue One

I first learned about Enrico Coniglio on the Underwater Noisescompilation and from there found his fascinating Salicornie (Topofonie Vol. 2)”, dedicated to the city of Venice.

Compared to “Salicornie”, this latest release, Dialogue One”  is quite different: one hour of abstract soundscapes and mutually attracting opposites.

“Dialogue One” is a ‘split’ project with Silentes label artists Under the Snow (Stefano Gentile (guitar, field recordings) and Gianluca Favaron (field recordings, processing)).

Although there is no ‘dialogue’ between the artists in the tracks itself – the first four tracks are  performed by Enrico Coniglio, while the last, performed by Under the Snow, takes up the other half of the album – “Dialogue” is a title well chosen. All tracks show a caleidoscopic display of sounds that seem to be quite different but merge very well.
It’s a dialogue between harsh and soft sounds, hi-fi and lo-fi, sawtooth and sinus, shouting an whispering, comforting and frightening. But, different as they are, all parts adds up to a fascinatingly coherent universe of electronic sounds.

Enrico Coniglio – Kingdom of Her

Coniglio - I

Another Coniglio release (also on Silentes) is part of a cassette series called Collezione Del Silenzio: 26 audiocassettes (one for every letter in the alphabet) containing “Free Interpretations of Silent Sounds”.
For this series, Coniglio takes care of the letter “I” with two tracks, resp. 16:43 and 18:52 in length.
Backed with the familiar analogue hiss of the cassette tape, Coniglio slowly unfolds his drones. In this almost industrial hiss, it is hard to distinct his sound from the carrier’s distortion. There’s a lot of clicks and short eruptions, as if the tapes catches environmental radiation in sound. It’s a fascinating array of sounds, always changing, always moving on.

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