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Unland; Elderbranch Campaign; Wouter van Veldhoven

Wouter van Veldhoven - A Head Stuck In Tapes

Unland - Die Ruhe

UNLAND – DIE RUHE NACH DEM STORM
The quiet before the storm can be frightening, because you don’t know what’s to come. The quiet áfter the storm can be reassuring – depending on the fierceness of the storm – because you know the storm has passed.
Unland is a german trio consisting of Jonas Meyer (piano, effects), Christian Grothe (guitar, effects, sampler) and Shabnam Parvesh (clarinet). They create “improvised soundscapes between conventional composition and digital abstraction”.   Not too digital, since their core instruments are acoustic, and their sound is, too, although the instruments are manipulated in real-time.
This relatively short album (29 minutes) demonstrates their sound, which “defies any definition and is influenced by jazz, classical music, kraut-rock and ambient-meditations.”



Unland – Die Ruhe Nach Dem Sturm


Elderbranch Campaign

THE ELDERBRANCH CAMPAIGN – SACRED SONGS OF THE FIELD
I must admit that I had not heard of The Elderbranch Campaign before, but it turns out this duo (G.M. Slater and Stephen Robert Rook Thompson) have already released quite a few titles since 2012: Sacred Songs of the Field is their 11th album.
It’s an homage to other albums dedicated to animals, such as The Residents’ “Animal Lover” and Pink Floyd‘s “Animals”.  It contains three long tracks that, in their own words ‘showcase their interpretation of how animals (in this case sheep, pigs and dogs) would express themselves musically’.
That was not exactly what I thought of when listening to The Lamentations of Sheep, The Sacrifice of Pigs and The Passion of Dogs, but it’s an interesting thought anyway. Not the happiest animals, apparently, because these dark ambient soundscapes are quite haunting and hardly leave room for light to enter.
But they are a fascinating set of sculptures created from synths, guitars, found objects, voices and processed field recordings.
‘Absolutely best experiences over headphones’.

Also on Spotify


Wouter van Veldhoven - A Head Stuck In Tapes

WOUTER VAN VELDHOVEN A HEAD STUCK IN TAPES
This is simply presented as a collection of unreleased works. The reason why they remained unreleased, even when there were enough labels interested in releasing his work, is Wouter Van Veldhoven‘s personal insecurity about the musical results:
“[I] have often delayed releases to a point where I didn’t want to release the material at all anymore. For now I am not going to release anything until I might accidentally might create something I would really like to release.”

His insecurity may be somewhat understandable if you’re familiar with his audio-visual performances, the complex contraptions of his reel-to-reel tape recorder performances. There is as much to see as there is to hear – there is definitely much more going on than “just” audio. But still, I think he underestimates the power of his music!
The proof of that is in this collection of almost 2 hours of unreleased material, which demonstrates Van Veldhoven’s unique (deteriorated) sound created by interplaying vintage (and often worn-out) tape-recorders.
Because he considers this as ‘unfinished’ music, not intended for official releases, this collection is presented as a Free/Name Your Price download!

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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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Ian William Craig – A Turn of Breath

iwcraig

“A collection that holds twelve works for voice and 1/4″ tape” is a description that immediately grasps my attention, especially when the performing artists is “a trained opera singer, delivering an elegant balance between theatrical and ambient sentiments”.
A Turn of Breath is my first encounter with the work of Ian William Craig.
And after a brief moment of “What-am-I-currently-listening-to!?”-confusion, this quickly turned out to be one of the most surprising releases I have heard in a long time.

The confusion came from the way Craig presents his recordings: a beautiful, well-trained voice, recorded using ‘faulty’ reel-to-reel devices, overlayed multitracks enhancing the distortion until it becomes like an instrument itself. The effect is mesmerizing and moving in a unique way.

Ian William Craig‘s private Bandcamp page lists five recent albums under his own name, but A Turn of Breath is presented as “his premiere LP”: this vinyl album (including digital download) is his first physical release.

At some moments, it sounds like audiophiles’ nightmare: the sound of faulty tape-recorders, loose cable connections, a completely worn out needle… all the sounds everyone always struggles to avoid are carefully placed in the foreground here. But behind that, struggling to work its way through, there are the – mostly wordless – voice and choir.

The process of amplifying decay though multitracking resembles the work of William Basinski, but on an emotional level this album is closer to Akira Rabelais’ “Spellewauerynsherde (2004) – which has always remained one of my all-time personal favourites.

So: be prepared and give it a try!

Also on Spotify


IAN WILLIAM CRAIG – A SLIGHT GRIP, A GENTLE HOLD, PT.1

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The Volume Settings Folder – Ivan Hoe and Other Tales

Ambientblog


Ivan Hoe

From the very first minutes of Ivan Hoe and Other Tales“, you will realise that this is not gonna be like one of your average atmospheric drone albums.

Starting with a spoken voice recording, taken from old tape cassettes for English summer homeworks” and telling tales about the ancient Saxons from Sherwood Forest, the album shifts into “a journey into an almost cold, dark and ‘aseptic’ forest, ending with a come-back to a warm home”.

Atmospheric it is, sure enough. But even more, Ivan Hoe and Other Tales is a weird sonic trip, unravelling some of the tales that were kept secret by the old oaks of Sherwood Forest…

The tales about Ivan Hoe (main character of Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel about 12th-century England) are English in every detail, so it may come as a surprise that The Volume Settings Folder is, in fact, a project by Italian guitarist M. Beckmann. 
Adding ‘guitarist’ to his name may be somewhat superfluous, because the guitar fragments on this album are hard to recognize in the wealth of other collected and manipulated sounds.
Beckmann ignores any existing convention in combining field recording to sound effects, distorted rhythms, hiss and crackles – and presents them glued together as one organic collage. 

At the end of the second track, the tale about Ivan Hoe is once again told, telling about Ivan Hoe’s love for Lady Rowena, and how he must’ve been knight of King Richard (‘perhaps the bravest’ ). But for the rest of the album the other tales are left up to your own imagination.

It may be because, as a child, I was a dedicated follower of the Ivanhoe TV series. Or the fact that I visited Sherwood Forest (also the home of Robin Hood, of course) last summer and have watched the enigmatig thousand years old oaks dying.
But I think it’s mainly the wide array of dreamlike sounds that make this album so very fascinating.
It’s simply hard to imagine what exactly you are listening to! 

In style with the original source of inspiration, this album is released as a cassette edition in various package collections. Apart from the cassettes, there’s also a choice of CD-R’s in various editions – and recently the digital (unlimited) edition also became available.
Enough to choose here (but note the physical editions are extremely limited)


THE VOLUME SETTINGS FOLDER – ARBOREA OSPIZA

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