Subespai – Carrers De Sydney. 

“Carrers De Sydney” is the debut release of Barcelona via Sydney artist Mauri Edo aka Subespai.  This is his first release, which he did a extremely limited run of 20 copies, each comes with photos of the area where tracks are named after by the artist nuun. There are plans to follow up with a cassette release on a local label.

The Ep’s title is in Catalan (the main language spoken in Barcelona) which translates to “Streets of Sydney”. During an email exchange Mauri mentioned “I have never been a traveler and living in a different country was a positive shock, but a shock nonetheless. I found myself lost on the city’s details, amazed at how ordinary things like streets an alleys can be different in two very civilized and very western cities of the same world. The Ep has three songs, every one of them named after one of the city’s streets and alleys, not main streets,  not at all special in terms of urbanism or location, but special enough that caught my attention repeatedly when I was around them.” The Ep’s 20 copies come with pictures of the streets “as I see my music very much enhanced by the imagery of places, like the soundtrack for modern living.”

“Temperance Ln” opens the Ep, physically located in the city central business district coming off George street. The track is the first and only track on the Ep to employ acoustic instrumentation in this case acoustic guitar which is used sparingly above electronic glitches and two layers of looped electronic drones/rhythms. The use of the acoustic guitar provides a difference point to the two other tracks and leads in a direction that could be a good one for Subespai to further. 

“Moorgate Street” physically located in Toongabbie North West to Sydney is a perfectly normal suburban street with an attached culdisac. This 5 minute track is a drone track with pulsing synth like sounds, hiss that continuously build up with s slightly harsher drone becoming the central tone under which the pulsing drones continue.

“Henry Lawson Ave” concludes the Ep. Physically located in the North side of Sydney, where Macmahons Point Jetty is and parallel to the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the track starts with a looping almost idling car sound that lays a rhythmic foundation before reverberating loops of piano, filter in and out and are warped giving an additional off kilter rhythm which continues on as the original idling rhythm dissipates. 
The Ep is only 16 minutes in length, so it gives the listener a taste of the artist’s sound. There are also some other tracks up on Soundcloud which include Disquiet Junto Project tracks, for people to pursue more.

Its hard to gage the response of the music to the individual locations just by observing them via Google Street view (although the images contained with the release are striking architectural ones). You could imagine only what sort of idea the individual locations presented to Subespai especially as an immigrant. The suburbia of Toongabbie would be totally different to that of Barcelona and the same goes for the seaside Macmahons point and the inner city Temperance Ln. It would be curious to see what the sounds would be like if he chose three from areas from his former home town. Would the sound pallet be different?

Before moving to Australia he was active, so it will be curious to see how his music progresses with these new influences.

You can get your hands on one of the remaining copies of the Ep:

And you can stream the Ep’s three tracks here:

https://soundcloud.com/subespai/henry-lawson-ave

https://soundcloud.com/subespai/moorgate-st

https://soundcloud.com/subespai/temperance-ln

Endless Melancholy – The Vacation. 

Endless Melancholy is the solo project of Oleksiy Sakevych from Ukraine.  The project first got notice with his Modern Classical releases on Poland’s (now UK) Preserved Sound label “Music For Quiet Mornings (recently re-issued) and “Before After” on Twice Removed as well as releases on his own Hidden Vibes label. He has since gone onto release on the P*dis and 1631 Recordings label.

“The Vacation” is the fifth Endless Melancholy album following on from 2015’s “Her Name In A Language Of Stars” and 2016’s “In The Shadow Of History” soundtrack.

“The Vacation” was lovingly crafted over the span of two months, processed through the vintage reel-to-reel tape recorder for some analogue warmth and received a thoughtful master from Stephen Mathieu at Schwebung Mastering studio. Wonderful artwork by Lita Akhmetova.  The whole album was inspired by a short story, “The Vacation” by Ray Bradbury,  written in 1963.” 

Bradbury’s science fiction story follows a family on an endless vacation when they find themselves the only inhabitants on Earth. I find listening to Drone records as a soundtrack to an imaginary film, or in this case a soundtrack with a theme to it (almost a concept album in that regard). This album is no exception.

The album starts with “They had wakened one morning and the world was empty” which sonicly gives you a visual image not to dissimilar to the end of the movie “28 Days Later” where you see people surrounded by absolutely nothing but the raw environment and not a person to be sighted. This is summed up in the tracks title, but also the feel of the track as it opens with fierce wind like noise, melodic drones and various layers of other drones that balances each other out. Some provide the higher notes while some function as almost a bass like rhythm section for the higher notes to float over. Some low-level piano keys are visible that provide a haunting element, but it is the drones that give the track its isolation feel. Interestingly it doesn’t over stay its welcome and is quite well-timed in its 4 minutes 35 seconds in length.

“Stillness mixed with Stillness ” starts with shimmering piano chords, tape hiss (the album was recorded on a vintage reel-to-reel recorder. The drones appear in choral form and the elements build (in an almost opposite fashion to the title). The layering effect becomes more pronounced 3 minutes in to the track with elements rising and ebbing until the tape hiss and shimmering keys are all that remain.

“Wouldn’t we be Lonely?” packs the melody with soaring drones and enough melancholy to match the tracks title to the feral of isolation and possibly grief. The piano that starts minimally around the 3 minute 50 mark emphasizes the melancholy and as the drones start to disappear, it’s almost a clearing of the mind that the title is questioning. This track shows the deftness of Sakevych’s ability to construct emotive pieces.

“His voice faded” is the noisiest piece and could align with the titles premise,  presumably of being lost for words and swamped with thought. It is reminiscent of early tracks with low bass elements, high drones, arctic like noise, before clarity emerges and the low notes hover and vibrate.

“Sunflower Wilderness” opens like a classic ambient/drone track where layered drones come in and out on loops before higher drone elements are added join the original loops. Rings of sound fill and add texture and depth and remind the listener of classic Brian Eno material. You get the feel of openness, which is hinted in the title.

“Earth that was now no more than a meadow” has electronics added to the sound pallet and gives it a SCI-Fi drone feel. A mid section of underlying static like noise buzzes under multi layered drones and pulses of noise punctuate as if the signal from television or some other form of reception has been interrupted. Towards the end the sound is degraded to just noise before it cuts off. The title of the track could easily be made into a pastoral one, but Sakevych has often for a more industrial side to musically match the title.

“Enough to cost us a Lifetime” sees the shimmering keys return with the melodic drones that make it a purely drone track, but if the elements were switched it could also be a stunning modern classical one. Waves of ever-expanding drones engulf the track adding synth drones that patiently and clearly build up and up and as a testament to Mathieu’s mastering fill the sound without overwhelming it. As they rise, the shimmering keys are still audible almost to the end.

“And he had walked her through the still and empty city streets” starts with off with a stabbing sound that is almost claustrophobic which gives the aural accompaniment of the streets and their emptiness bearing down on the people. Halfway through the track the piano comes into fore and while melancholic, there is enough melody to provide this listener with a feel of slight optimism. The track ends with a slowly engulfing hiss that reminds of the listener of the opener and that loneliness before it dramatically stops.

I have yet to be disappointed with anything Sakevych has done and this is no exception. The way he layers, controls and augments shows his talent to construct rather the just drone on incessantly.


“The Vacation” is available in two forms from June 27th. The first is a deluxe CD with a Grey cloth bound case and metal shield limited to 150 copies via Hidden Vibes:

Or available on cassette in a cardboard O-card envelope from ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ.

You can preview three tracks here:

IIKKI Books x 2 : Danny Clay / Katrien De Blauwer – Stills / Andrea Belfi / Matthias Heiderich – Alveare. 

IIKKI Books is the sister label to the very popular French label Eilean Rec run by Mathias Van Eecloo (who retired his well known Monolyth & Cobalt project recently), with the exception of the media being vinyl and accompanying photography/art books vs handmade cd-r releases. This is the only difference as much like the quality and eye for detail that Eilean Rec is known for, it carries onto the IIKKI catalog.

Currently there have been two releases which will be covered here with the next installment, a collaboration between Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer (on the music) and Ester Vonplon (on the book) which is due out the end of June/early July (see below for a preview).

IIKKI 001 is “Stills” with music by Danny Clay and visual art by Katrien De Blauwer. Danny Clay is a San Franciscso based artist “whose works frequently utilize open forms, archival media, found toys, toy instruments, analogue and digital errata, family history, graphic notation and everything in-between”. His works have appeared on such labels as Hibernate, Unknown Tone Recordings, Heat Death, Tesselate and Eilean Rec to name a few. On this recording he is joined by Paula Karolak on Viola while he uses Piano, Voice, Harmonium and Viola. The record was mastered by Taylor Deupree and design by Sprflxgrfzm.

Katrien De Blauwer, an artist from Belgium calls herself a “photographer with out a camera”. She recycles old pictures and photos from media sources “to create stunning collages of mood and place. These fragmentary images evoke faded memories that are quickly brought to the fore. In turn the viewer becomes a character in De Blauwer’s stories”.

The musical component of “Stills” is hauntingly crafted with tape loops by Danny Clay over a two-year period. In fact you could claim it lies in Hauntilogical canon of experimental ambient music, alongside the likes of The Caretaker, William Basinski, Indignant Senility and the likes. There is sound pallet of dense hiss like background noise to the tracks like “10.15.2015(1)” which evoke a distant feel, like you are hearing in something from the past that is almost a memory in that there is a little cloudiness, much like most memories from the past tend to be. The simple instrumentation creates quite a range of sound so that the music isn’t just one shade.

After a warped brief track in “5.12.2016” the album begins proper with the aforementioned “10.15.2015” which starts with a modern classical mournful piano, before drones enter (presumably from the Harmonium) with aged hiss/the occasional bumps or glitches which evoke a scratch on a record or re-used recording tape. The track is a looping one that is immersive.

The next track “6.12.2015(1)” starts off with the what sounds like of a needle on a dusty groove while an instrument is being prepared.  Being that he has used toy instruments in the past you would think it was this, but due to the instrumentation listed I would lean a prepared piano with creating the sound. Loops of what sounds like layered and paired Harmonium and vocals become the opposing sound that creates a different melody,  but has the same quality to that of the prepared sound.

“3.16.2016” brings the Viola into the album for the first time, if I am not mistaken with two Violas combining with minimal piano to create a lighter feeling track. The hiss is there, but the tones that the Viola’s create give a lot of warmth, which is something that Viola can bring the opposite of. Conversely when they return on “3.15.2016” , a later highlight, the mournful quality of the Viola is the predominant sound of the piece.

“6.12.2015 (II)”, “6.12.2015 (IV)” (more of the variations of the track 6.12.2015″) and the previously mentioned “5.12.2015” are all short tracks, re-workings  or possible fragments of memories.

“10.15.2015 (II)” is a stand out with minimal piano and warped loops which fuse an almost ghostly like presence to the plaintive piano perfectly. Both sounds are some what buried in the track which adds to the haunting quality.

“10.30.2015 (I)” is comprised of small loops and is closest to William Basinski in its construction of muted drones, presumably of Harmonium, with glitch like piano plunking on a regular short loop. Repetitively nice it doesn’t wear out it’s almost 4 minute length.

“5.24.2016”, collects piano loops with vocal melody drones and very low in the back ground another series of piano and the customary hiss that bathes all the tracks and adds depth. The background low series of piano cones to the foreground, while the original foreground swaps to the background giving the track a nice variation and focus.

“6.12.2015 (III)” revisits the original two versions and is the more experimental of the three tracks. There is more of the glitch / scratch at the opening and the perceived toy instrument sound is more affected/warped.

The album finishes with “10.30.2015 (II)” which places the piano front and center alongside the vocal loops and seems to hold little in regards to the previous titled track. It’s almost like the track could be the perfect distillation of the albums sound with all the elements lined up and complimenting each other.

While different in sound, but maybe not in mean to previous releases like “Ganymede” or “Archive”, “Stills” shows what an artist using such a minimal sound source can construct.

Comparing the audio to the visual I can only go by what I have seen in the slide show on the IIkki page and the below Vimeo video, De Blauwer’s collages don’t reveal full images and provide juxtapositions which compliment the music at hand.

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This particular book has been nominated for the Revelation Book Awards to be announced at La Maison Rouge in Paris next week.

IIKKI 002 is “Alveare” a music by Andrea Belfi and visual art by Matthias Heiderich. Andrea Belfi is “a drummer, composer and experimental musician. Through the last twenty years he has developed a unique style of drumming“. His work has appeared on labels such as Room40, Miasmah, Constellation and others. On this recording Andrea plays drums, percussion and synthesizer and is joined by Audrey Chen (Cello on “Grigiro”) and Atilla Faravelli (Rotating Speakers on “Abito”). The record was mastered by Guiseppe Ielasi and design by Sprflxgrfzm.

Matthias Heiderich is a Berlin based photographer whose urban landscapes “plays with lines and colors to give his own vision of the cities,  a new perspective of architecture photography. And certainly,  more than all,a regard on the human”.

“Alveare is a journey across and toyed man-made cement beehives – the legacy of a group of visionary architects.  Their playground : post-war Italy. Their vision: affordable dwelling designed to meet as many human needs as possible. A superficial look at these architectural reveries decades later might bring to mind terms as “excessiveness” and “megalomania”. But these massive edifices are prototypes of a city  of the future –  an urbanized future that was yet to be shaped by bold ideas and dreams”.

When you think of musicians that are predominantly percussionists,  there are not a lot that come to mind that produce music other on their chosen instrument or who explore sound. Artists like Simon Scott, Oren Ambarchi, Tony Buck and Mick Harris come to mind. Add Andrea Belfi to that list. Belfi’s “Alveare” is a sonic trip, brilliantly mastered by fellow Italian Guiseppe Ielasi (who was formative in the younger Belfi’s musical education due to a distribution he ran and exposed Andrea to different sounds). This LP is perfect for headphone listening. The sounds bounce in and out and are sharp and clear with depth and texture.

“Alveare” opens  with “Vano” (meaning vain) which starts with panning electronic pulses and percussion that in places is slightly muted, repetitive and explores the drum kit. There is a slightly Dubby feel with layers of thud electronics which are the predominant sound. Sounds fizz and scatter, glitches of sine waves pop and crack, ominous sounds and noises swirl in a mid track crescendo and continue to hold their own while the percussion holds it together.

“Statico” starts with persuasive gong sounds with added effects various persuasive effects like what sounds like small drums, a sharp triangle, but not triangle sound with what sounds like some sort of whistle/wind instrument and electronics that build a hypnotic mostly persuasive track that gives you the feel of a documentary of some 70’s Expo.

“Grigio” (meaning Grey) featuring the Cello of Audrey Chen starts of with a Spaghetti Western feel or of a film scene some sort of isolation or in the desert, with the synths providing that feel supported by digitally affected percussion and repetitive cymbal work, haunting cello, building electronics and slightly motorik percussion leads into scattershot electronics that lead into the tracks percussive finale. For an almost 9 and a half-minute piece there is a lot going on. The only reference I can come up with is some elements of Amon Tobin’s work.

“Abito”  featuring Atilla Faravelli on rotating speakers is probably the most futuristic of the pieces on the album. The futuristic sounds are purely from the past, the drumming that is the bed for which they rest on is tribal. A translation of “Abito”  to English references clothing or dress, when cam also be used in reference to appearances, so in this case it could ne a direct reference to the futurist architecture of the book.
“Passo”  (meaning steps or a small movement) contains the elements from previous tracks filtered through to one point. Electronics scatter and clash, synth sounds from from the 70s vibrate and oscillate, Dubby percussion clangs and bangs, while the track flows in a Dubby experimental fashion.

Comparing the audio to the visual I can only go by what I have seen in the slide show on the IIkki page and below Vimeo video, the images are quite angular, geometric in pattern and minimal. It would be easy to go with music that fitted these things,  but the buildings themselves were futuristic from a post-war perspective and Belfi’s take on post-war futurism compliments Heiderich’s photos perfectly. Incidentally the word “Alveare” means beehive, which in some of the cases of the photo makes sense with the angles and geometric shapes of some of the architecture featured.

One nice part of the releases is the way get combine from the spine of the book having the same label as the record (with the artist’s name changed), through to the book having sections devoted to this tracks. They way they tie in the audio and the visual is to be commended.

The next collaboration is previewed here: 

Iikki has been selected as one of the fine art book publishers at Les Recontres D’arles De La Photogaphie to present their works and Ester Vonplon as nominated as one of the new discoveries. Congratulations to all.

Roberto Attanasio – Behind Those Eyes I Rest.

Behind Those Eyes I Rest

“When I was thirteen I started producing music with my computer, passing through many genres. I was fascinated by the possibility to manipulate the sound with equalizers, compressors and new digital technologies. The first timed I touched my little midi keyboard I tried to compose a little track without knowing anything about the instrument. In that moment I saw the piano as the best way to express myself and I started my musical studies” – Roberto Attanasio

Italians are renowned for their passion, be it cooking, the arts, romance. So it is no surprise that when it comes to one of the most passionate forms of music, Modern Classical,  they are amongst the front-runners in this genre. No coincidence is that five reviews into this blog’s short life and the third Modern Classical release reviewed again comes from an Italian artist, this time its Roberto Attanasio.
It seems that Roberto just appeared in 2016 with two albums (“Abyss” and “Another Shade”) and the two singles (“Shade” and “Run”) all on the 1631 Recordings label. But he had in fact released the single “Closed” back in 2014 for an audio video project with Chris De Krijger (which can be viewed here). This year he contributed “Somnus”  to the “Piano Clouds Vol. 3” and on May 26 sees the release his new digital single “Behind  These Eyes I Rest”, again on 1631 Recordings.

This two song Ep/single with striking blood film looking cover art was composed, arranged and produced at his home studio in Italy using a Kawai BL 71 vertical piano with the harp of a grand piano. In an email exchange Roberto states that “I usually create piano solo compositions just because some of my ideas come from improvisation. ..I’m very inspired by the act of playing for hours and take one particular good ideas I found. This Ep is completely different because I created it in a few days, thanks to he fact that I had these songs in mind from the start to the end.”
“Behind Those Eyes” , which is 3 minutes 16 seconds in duration has 3 distinct movements. It starts with ambient sounds, in that I mean environmental sounds and sounds of the piano itself and some sort of ‘clacking’ sound that gives you the impression that the windows have been opened to let in light and sound. The piece builds rather quickly with the first motif, a rolling ever so slightly melancholy part coming in only 12 seconds into the track which becomes the main part of the track until at the one minute mark where strings come in and more immediate melodic part adds to the melancholy. At the two-minute mark after a very slight pause an upper register section appears, underplayed by a more mournful part which balances each other out, giving light and shade and which guides the remainder of the track through till its final section of strings and minimal piano. Interestingly the ‘clacking’ sound re-appears at the end as if returning the journey back to the start.For a piece that is relatively short in duration there are several movements that appear to mark the track as being longer, which is something that you would be happy if it happened.

The second track “I Rest” which runs for 3:00 minutes in duration, the familiar mix of strings and piano playing which while it doesn’t have the same amount of movements as its predecessor, has consistent pace and phrasing that allows it flow well. The strings are used to highlight and accompany the piano without drawing attention away from it.  There is bright uplifting feel about the track, which could be explained by the previous quote from Roberto about his joy and inspiration of just playing the piano.

As Roberto mentioned in our email exchange in regards to his method of writing /recording his music “The only thing I had to do was transcribe I had in mind, and that was incredible because what you listen to is exactly the song I played in my mind. I didn’t do any change respect to my music thoughts and maybe this is the beauty of the Ep : spontaneous and intimate.”

I think the last word of that quote best sums it up this Ep and the recording style of it. – intimate.

“Behind Those Eyes I Rest” is out on May 26 via 1631 Recordings.

roberto_attanasio_3

The Green Kingdom – Riverside Trail.

“The Green Kingdom is Michael Cottone, a graphic designer and sound artist based in Michigan.  Interested in creating compositions which blur the lines between sounds and structure while keeping a sharp focus on melody, his pieces are crafted using a variety of instruments, electronic sources, sampled textures and field recordings.”

Over the last 11 years Michael has been crafting his sounds and releasing on a variety of labels such as SEM label, Home Assembly Music, Flaming Pines, Nomadic Kids Republic, Tench, Dronarivm and others. This 2 track ep released via his bandcamp page is a digital only release that is sandwiched by his last physical release, the CD “Harbor” on Dronarivm and the forthcoming yet to be titled LP on Lost Tribe Sound due later in the year.

This Ep, released on April the 2nd, comes with the title track and the “nocturnalmix” coming in at a combined 17 minutes in length. The title track starts with several layers – a subtle drone which gets distorted, field recordings (presumably of the “Riverside Trail”), a more harmonic drone and at around the one minute mark the first sounds of foot steps.  The initial impression is that this is one of the darker The Green Kingdom tracks, but the truth is that it’s just part of a the whole track which reveals more as it goes on.

Around the 2:30 point a synth drone joins in the sound pallet. The drones vary for the next few minutes interlacing with the field recording until the 4:30 mark where the first clearly identified guitar part (slightly reminiscent of Australian artist Seaworthy) comes in and at the 6 minute mark the field recordings start changing to foot steps as the sound changes to a more brighter tone, giving the impression of leaving the riverside to a more open space. A percussive beat is added which gives the track a base to which the guitar parts can attach to.

At the 8:30 mark the sound drops out with acoustic guitar and other layering guitars added to the bird sound and foot prints. It’s at this point that the track grows into a more acoustic pastoral track to where the inter-meshing guitars, field recordings and drones bring in the light that was being covered by the earlier noisy drones.

The “(nocturnalmix)” has a more electronic approach with delicate beats, field recordings, harmonic drones and a slightly dubby approach. With the original track, the drones that came in at the end are central to the remix and there appears to some haunted vocals that loop in and out. Having not heard his Dustcraft side project,  I can only assume is that this mix is that projects dubby influence.

The first preview track “Adventurine” for his forthcoming LP is now up on the Lost Tribe Sound bandcamp page here and you can see the difference in this compared to “Riverside Trail” or his blissed out “Harbor” album and note that Michael is an artist that is not held to one particular version of a style of music. He is definitely an artist to keep your eye on.



Celer – Plays Red River.

Celer is the solo project of Will Thomas Long. Previously a duo with his late wife Danielle Baquet-Long (who also recorded under the Chubby Wolf alias), the project has been very prolific and continues to release volumes of music since his move to Japan.

One of the admiral things that Will does is even though he has a well-known profile and has appeared on esteemed labels such as Home Normal, Baskaru, Spekk, Low Point and Dragon’s Eye Recordings to name a few, he also releases on small run cdr and cassette labels. He established  the Two Acorns label which has put out material by Maile Colbert, Il Grande Silenzio as well as his own material.

He has recently released several buy it now/ pay what you want releases via his bandcamp page such as the long form pieces “Fragile That Eventually Breaks” & “In The End You Will Just Disappear”, the experimental “Vapour”, and the reissue of the previously ultra small edition of “Plays Red River” amongst others.

“Plays Red River” initially was limited to 13 signed copies and sold at shows in August 2016. Constructed using Television, reel-to- reel tape, Boss Reverb and Tape Echo, it was recorded live.

This 16 minute piece is classic Celer. The piece is the result of layering of multiple drones approximately 20 seconds in length with a rich haunting sound reminiscent of William Basinski’s “The Disintegration Loops”. “Red River” is a 1948 western starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift, half a still from the film is used for the front cover (of John Wayne embracing Joanne Dru). Whether or not any source material that the loops are based on cone from the movie, is something only Will would be able to answer.

The beauty about this piece is when the next wave of loops come in there is a slightly highlighting drone that ties them together before fading away. The repetition and the varying drones interlock and give the piece an ethereal and pulsating sound which could easily be extended to form a larger work.

Ambient/Drone artists can be a dime a dozen these days, but when its good its truly enjoyable to listen too and over a decade working at it, Will knows exactly what to do.