New release: Porya Hatami & Arovane – Kaziwa.

On May 4 n5MD team up with Time Released Sound to bring about the reissue, this time on vinyl, of Porya Hatami & Arovane’s “Kaziwa”. Originally released by Time Released Sound in, this reissue sees two editions of 200 on n5MD and 50 copies on Time Released Sound. The n5MD version will be on gold with black splatter, while the TRS version will be one of their typically unique handmade versions which are described as “Each record to be slipped in between a folded, almost life-sized vintage tri-fold spinal X-ray. Each of these mysterious images is centre holed like the album itself and is then threaded with gold thread through the outer, hand coloured, aerosol shot and stamped black disco sleeve. Each of these sleeves are hand worked and will be uniquely golden. A hand printed insert with also accompany each record.”

A video has been produced which you can check out below to hear the organically glitchy ambience of the track “Unn” as well as a track posted up on soundcloud around the time of the original release.

For this and other n5MD releases such as their forthcoming Winterlight and OKADA release go to n5MD or check out Time Released Sound.

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Lars Jakob Rudjord – Pharos.

“Pharos” is the latest single from Norwegian Modern Classical pianist/composer released on Fyrlyd records on February 23rd. It is the first track released since his acclaimed 2016 album “Indiepiano”.

According to Lars : “Sometimes you need to get out of your studio. There is an old lighthouse a few miles from my home, and the area is just so beautiful. Windy, Sunny and with a wide view to the North Sea, it’s a great place to clear your mind and get inspiration. There is a small art gallery with a piano next to the lighthouse, and I got to borrow the keys for a couple of days. I ended up writing and recording Pharos.”

“Pharos” refers to the lighthouse Pharos of Alexandria in Egypt which is one of the seven wonders of the world and the archetype for all lighthouses. There are various forms of symbolism for lighthouses from the darker side like danger or risk through to the lighter side of being alert and navigating through rough waters.

The music on Lars’ single falls in the latter side of the symbolism equation. The music is open, light, grand and with a sense of melody and narrative. Lars lives on the Southwest Coast of Norway, a windswept area and his music has been described as having an icy sound that is truly Nordic. This doesn’t come through in the piece.

The track opens with measured mid paced tones that are joined by a melodic, but airy violin drone section before the track moves in a cinematic direction that conjures up images of the sky, clouds and being above things. For a modern classical piece it has a fair amount of ambiance embedded in it. The music moves from this section to one that is similar to the start of the track and is quite melancholic which rather quickly changes the tone and feeling of the piece. The music has a raw quality to it where you can hear the idiosyncrasies of the piano and it lends to a more intimate recording. The track ends with a return to quicker paced playing alongside the restrained violin which nicely ends the track.

This is the first piece of music from Lars Jakob Rudjord that I have heard and I am curious to hear more. The feeling for me is of a soundtrack composer in a modern classicalists skin such is the visual feeling of the material. As it only goes for a little over three minutes on length you will be pressing start all over again. Recommended.

Lars Jakob Rudjord

Fyrlyd Records

In Brief: Good Weather For An Airstrike/ Corre/ The Volume Settings Folder.

One of the goals of the blog is to attempt to cover everything sent. Bear in mind that this is a solo blog and I have the usual work/life balancing act, it has got to the point where weekly submissions have easily exceeded output and subsequently the review queue has shown no sign of slowing down. The In Brief sectioning is for brief reviews to attempt to alleviate this queue. All work featured here are releases I recommend, but unfortunately don’t have the time for the usual big reviews.

Good Weather for an Airstrike is the long running project of Tom Honey. “Little Steps” is his ninth album with some of these self released, through his Hawk Moon label or via outlets like Sound in Silence, Hibernate or Rural Colors. This particular release is his first on vinyl and was put out by Sun Sea Sky Productions.

According to the label: “Little Steps” offers ten carefully and meticulously crafted tracks, combining elegant guitar work with hazy ambient field recordings to evoke feelings of traversal, transporting the listener through a fragile tapestry of ethereal ambient-inspired electronic post-rock.

The label have described this well as the tracks range from Ambient soaked Dream Pop of “Hello, Darling” with its soaring Ambience, thoughtful minimal guitar lines and welcoming melodies which sets the tone for a bright, light filled release through to the beats, descending piano lines, field recordings, backwards loops and slightly twangy guitar sounds of “Each Day is Different” which acts like part of an intro of “A Cold Like No Other”. This particular track carries on the backwards loops and focuses on the electronic side of GWFAA with delicate melodies bouncing around over lush synth washes. The title track features Liam J Hennessy (formerly known as Umber and who put out “Held” last year on Sound in Silence) on Guitar and Tom’s brother Rob on drums. This particular track is the purest electronic post rock on the album with long stretches of Ambience, off kilter melodies, fractured beats and country-esque guitar lines that give it a soundtrack feel.

Going backwards we have “Every Day’s New” which starts with light Ambience that is soaring, a minimal beat, spaced piano lines which has a further piano section and some tremolo guitar layered over it before martial drumming takes the drumming into an uplifting section before the track starts breaking down its elements and then reconstructing them in a different order with the guitar’s contemplative chords leading the track back into its rebirth. There is no rush, no sense of urgency, just control and pacing.

“Blossom” sounds like a church organ washing over the listener with a paired guitar line sneaking out of the side of it. This track features the ethereal voice of Lauren Honey that forms part of the Ambience and is complimented by chimes of some sort and aquatic sounding piano which sounds like water droplets.

“A Week Away” is a short vignette dominate by the short cut up backwards sounds that flutter about before being submerged in the mix of heavy synth drones that then subside revealing a delicate piano section that just leaves you wanting more. “Enemy” sounds positively uplifting compared to the title. Buried loops that oscillate under a cloak of drones are joined by field recordings of a small child and birds while icy cold drones with static clinging to them circle around creating this rich sound tapestry. Cascading piano lines that bounce around are joined by metronomic beats adding a dimension alongside the subtle guitar sections.

“Strawberries” features solo piano that is quickly submerged by drones that sound distant but loud. Field recordings and additional soaring drones which creep up and start to engulf the track join in creating a push/pull feel with the positioning of the elements as each one takes their place in the focus of the listener. “Just One More Evening” is a perfect end to the album. The soaring drones that have been a central point through out are paired with two guitar sections that have different tones, from the post rock like picking to the blues – like explorations. A further section of drones come across siren like in the way the enter one side and exit out with a slight reprise afterwards.

I have never been disappointed by one of GWFAA’s releases and this is no exception. Tom Honey makes it seem so effortless such is his ability to construct music with such melody and combination of elements that can reappear over an album, but yet not feel stale at all. Recommended.

Corre (pronounced Koh-ra) are an Audio/Visual collective from the UK who released the album “Form” on Akira records in October of last year. The label states: “Influenced by classical crossover composers like Nils Frahm and Max Richter, composer artist duo Henry Green and Hattie Ellis wanted to explore the ways in which a cross-genre alliance could be formed between electronic and classical music.”

The album is a collection of 10 relatively short pieces (approximately 30 minutes in total length) that will be leaving you wanting more, which is naturally a good thing. The feeling of the classical crossover is that they are leaning more on the electronic side of the fence.

The album opens with “A Spark, A Beginning” which sets the tone with its use of electronics alongside a bare piano with occasional scattered beats, low-key melodies, snatches of sound, washes of drones, etc… Everything is somewhat submerged, but close to the surface. “Aeon” sounds like bouncing electronic balls attracted to glitches with muted affected minimalist piano stabs alongside a repeating melody. A harmonica like drones snakes its way in and out alongside more traditional synth lines before the tempo picks up and the elements start working together to create this mist tinged electronics piece.

“Vast” feels composed of barely there elements such as the electronics which are used more as a rhythm than a melody piece. As further elements are introduced such as guitar and synth, the track emerges from its shell to open up its vision before returning to the earlier minimal beginnings.

“Signal” feels like a storm or bad weather is on its way with the use of a rather orchestral drone which is light and airy alongside weather infused field recordings. Beats enter as if they were performed by a version of Kraftwerk that was formed in the late 90’s as opposed to 1970 with a speed that is at odds with the rest of the other elements such as the drones which bathe the track out to its finish.

“Signal” fuses the organic with the electronic with retro futurist electronica meeting modern classical piano to create a reflective, but association introspective piece which is probably caused by the piano, but also enhanced by the repetitive loops at the end of the track.

“Proceed” feels like a pure ambient electronica piece with piano sections repeating alongside Robert Fripp like ambient guitar and scattershot beats that are joined by skittering sounds, both of which build up the track and them transport it into the next section which is dominated by melodic beats, washes of static noises and soft electronics.

“Transient (A)” buries the piano under cloaks giving the sound a nostalgic blurry edge while light flowing drones give a hint of melody, but do not dominate. Field recordings add a layer of detritus before the cloak is removed and suddenly the piano becomes clear and vibrant which leads to “Transient (B)” which sounds like the organic and natural flip side of the previous track. Crystal clear without a hint of something cloaking it the melody that was performed by piano is replaced by guitar (with some piano alongside it). This particular version has a classic post rock/ ambient feel and, for me, is the highlight of the album.

“Refuge” has washes of synth that start the track off, but then become a base for other elements to be added such as guitar, reverberating dub like sounds, melancholic piano that change the texture ever so slightly by increasing the pace of some instruments while retaining the original languid pace of others.

“Form” the title track starts with electronic rippling glitches that are joined by thick synth waves and warped sounds that echo around. As the track continues the music gradually peaks in its intensity before fading and never going over the edge.

As debuts go, this is rather stunning. The good news is Henry Green has a new album coming out shortly which, if this is an indication of the type of music he is capable of coming up, will be well worth the listen.

When you think of artists or labels that put together outstanding artwork and packages for their releases labels like Time Released Sound and Fracture/ Fluid Audio come to mind. One artist that has been doing this for his numerous release is Fillippo Bordigato aka The Volume Settings Folder. He has a wealth of self released music, but has also appeared on labels such as Organic Industries and Oscarson. “Hamlets” released in December is his most recent.

The story surrounding the release unfolds as: “During summer 2016 I visited a friend of mine who lives 50 kilometers away from my village, still here in North-East Italy. There was a big flea market in the town. We passed by lots of sellers. One in particular stuck with me, an old man selling all kinds of old pictures at unreasonably high price. I came home empty-handed. Months later I visited the market again, this time determined to bring home a set of beautiful aerial pictures I spotted during the previous visit. I already envisioned how to use them for a new album because they sparkled something, but I was not sure what. The man was still firmly decided not to lower the price for me. So I bought only one, for forty euros.
The picture is astonishing, in my opinion, also given the fact that it is a composite aerial view shot 99 years ago, in 1918, over the fields and marshes of the Venice Laguna. 2017 arrived and I had no new material to publish. Plus I got a new, stiff job. The pacing of my daily life changed dramatically. Weekends became a time-space to live entirely and properly, and also the only time left for my music. I composed a lot on the go, while clearing my mind among the lands of the laguna. I dusted my old tape recorder, and maximized its use to its broadest extent in my personal music making to date.
So after over a year I found that real place, and that aerial view found its music in an album about tension and release. A coming and going to the many places I explored in the few hours I had. An ode to all the villages and parishes, hamlets drowned in fog and mud.’

The album has a submerged dust soaked transmissions from the past feel to it. Opening with “Leaving the Dry Lands” there is an ominous drone which casts its gaze over granular broken transmissions of field recordings and fractured sound that reveal a sharp melody. “White Maize” has a haze attached to the acoustic guitar with field recordings. It’s almost like tape loops that have been exposed to the elements and are warped. Scattershot electrical sound shoot across randomly as a natural sort of Ambience is created under all the elements.

“Canola” features gritty field recordings alongside warped sounds and deep buried guitar that has a bass tone for depth. There is a storm/torrid wind-swept feel to the piece that covers over most of the track.

“Sorgum” follows similar territory to the opening two tracks, but this time there is a more constant drone feel that underpins everything. The warped sounds remain alongside some sort of random picking, but its the drones that make the track which could stand out a bit more if the other elements were omitted.

“The Tics and the Tocs” turns the album on its head with full swells of Ambience alongside what sounds like recordings of naturally occurring electricity. Toy like instruments make innocent sounds and playful melodies alongside tightening string sounds and seagull squaks. As the track progresses stormy static noises start to make their presence known alongside the warping sounds and a bassy tone gives the track a different tone. At just under 10 minutes in length it is the albums epic and if there was a slight bit of editing to bring forth some of the elements more to the center of the piece that would make it that little bit better.

“No Tillage” piles the haze on deep and thick relying on the listener to listen deeply and pull back the layers to reveal the music underneath. There are snatches of melody and rumbles of rhythm under drones and haze with the warped sounds making their distorted and decayed appearance once more.

“Landlubber” sounds like an exposed 78rpm recorded played for the first time after years of neglect. Church like rhythms and melodies struggle to be heard under years of dirt and grime and posses a haunting ghostly quality that has a certain twang to it. By the end of the track the melody and music has taken more a central spot with the detritus somewhat starting to fade as the drone wins out in the end.

“Grove of Reeds” features clattering field recordings entwined with minimal piano and tape loops. The piano has a stark but also lyrical quality to it and the playing varies from light and delicate to more heavy-handed full sounding. The recording is subdued which gives it a distant feel and while not cloaked like the other tracks, it is somewhat muted. An airy drone cuts through adding another texture to the piece, which due to instrumentation stands out from the rest of the album.

“Laguna Rising – Neon Flares Dripping Down My Spine” the warped sounds return with a vocal like drone, manipulated guitar pieces, snatches of sound that enter briefly and then depart sometimes looping back in. There are elements of beauty that start to reveal themselves after the four-minute mark like an accordion like drone and rolling melodic chimes that ripple out.

“Hamlets” is a release for those that love submerged music that has hidden elements in that are not all revealed at once. There is, for me a bit too much use of the warped elements that appear throughout the album. The album works well when other elements are introduced like the piano on “Grove of Reeds” which for me is the highlight.

Preserved Sound x 4: Max Ananyev / Visionary Hours / Aaron Martin / Benjamin Louis Brody.

Back when I started this blog the music I reviewed was from a handful of purchases which then led to a small trickle of submissions which has now become a steady flow of music heading my way. I try to balance the reviews out with lesser known stuff alongside better known labels, stuff that has been in the queue for a while alongside the soon to be released music. This overview (featuring a selection of each respective albums tracks) combines a bunch of these types of submissions and they all happen to be part of the Preserved Sound catalog.

Now, for those that may not be familiar with this formerly Polish, now UK-based label I just have this to say – dive right in. Preserved Sound have a very organic feel about them in the handmade packaging which keeps the same aesthetic from when they started (the only difference being the changed of burnt CD-r’s to pressed cd’s). They consistently release music that is always of great sound quality, that is of various genres and they foster a roster that is not really seen on other labels. While others have come and gone before and since their inception, Preserved Sound continues to move forward consistently putting out great releases while still maintaining their ethos.

Max Ananyev’s “The Way to the Ocean” was ironically the first thing the label sent and was released back in September of 2017. The label describe it as “a collection of simple and sincere pieces for Classical Guitar and Mandolin.” Inspired by trips to the Atlantic Ocean Ananyev states “I wanted to create a very pure classical guitar sound with a wide spectral range and low-level of white noise.” “The Way to the Ocean” is his second release for Preserved Sound following on from “Communication” (November, 2016).

“Spring” opens with fast spindly picking before settling in for a moody section and double layering which has a slightly darkish and introspective feel, before operatic vocals (from Maria Shulyakovskaya) weave in and out in a haunting fashion as the guitar playing returns to its almost frenetic and hypnotic pace.

“Fickleness of Water” the opening of the song could arguably be described as an Ambient track such are the sustaining sounds that are created by the acoustic guitar. The track has a light filled summery feel that is almost percussive in a way. Kalimba joins the guitar, the body of the guitar is gently struck before fast picked sections mirror waves of the ocean as they continually ripple out.

“9” is an instant standout with its multilayering of guitar sections and mandolin and kalimba. It has a folktronica feel and is rich with depth as the various layers and elements build to form this propulsive but highly melodic piece that, I hope I am not insulting Ananyev, could easily be heard on an advertisement. There is a loop like feel to the piece and it is more a maximalist track than previously heard on the album.

“Secret and Melancholy” sounds like a classic classical guitar track with a slight synth ambiance running through it. The music possesses a post rock quality to it for a brief section before returning the classical side, although there is a slight reprise to the post rock section in the track’s final thirty seconds.

“White Night” opens with delicate at times minimalist plucking, before the track varies in tone and intensity mixing up gentle sections with more fluid faster paced sections. I can’t personally detect a narrative to this particular track that feels unrestrained as the music moves through a variety of terrains.

“Ocean Coast” ends the album once more creating melodic and spindly textures as the guitar chords feel circular in the way that the seem to circle around in a whirlpool fashion. There are reflective touches and movements where the tempos change and introspective feelings emerge. The voice of Maria Shulyakovskaya returns this time multitracked from a brief section and in a way brings the album full circle. The remainder of the track contains a section of layered guitar that has a feeling of expressiveness and unwinding as it unfurls.

I have to admit not listening to a lot of acoustic guitar in my past and with classical guitar I am definitely out of my depth when it comes to experience and knowledge of this form of music. However, I can appreciate the music on this album, which for some reason feels to me like it’s a soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon in spring where you’re sitting comfortably with a book and a good coffee and enjoying this music which matches the temperature.

Hayden Berry aka Visionary Hours and Preserved Sound boss describes this, his fourth album (with all appearing on Preserved Sound and one on Hibernate) as a collection of blind collaborations. Artists who contributed to this album include fellow Preserved Sound luminaries such as 3+, Western Skies Motel, Adrian Lane, Trigg & Gusset as well as other artists such as Bruno Sanfilippo, Isnaj Dui and others.

According to Berry “I wanted to collaborate with different artists, but still keep control over the pieces. In some cases, I sent the same acoustic guitar piece out to more than one artist, with the idea that two artists would unwittingly collaborate with each other on that particular piece – a blind collaboration, if you like.”

“Rippling River Drifts Blue and Green” is a collaboration with Bruno Sanfilippo which opens with field recordings of lapping water which is joined by Sanfilippo’s piano minimalist slightly plaintive piano playing which is delicate, but with enough intent. The piano is then replaced by Berry’s acoustic playing of the same chords joined by warm drones and reverberating layers of the guitar. The change in instruments changes the feel of the piece despite the same use of chords. There is more a feeling of hope in the guitar with its lighter tones. I feel that there is a third collaborator, but I would be guessing to come up with their name based on my interpretation of the musical component added.

“Empty Hills Just After Rain” opens with acoustic guitar that is building up in tempo wish is joined by cellist Adrianna Maria Kafel giving the track a darker bass tone, while a soaring section of drones presumably on guitar from Unconditional Arms as well Adrian Label on violin (all these are purely my guesstimations rather than knowing for sure). The addition of these instruments fleshes out the track and makes it feel longer than it is. Also I get a yearning for a vocal and am somehow reminded of Chantal Acda’s music.

“Flowering and Falling” field recordings of insects chirping open the track with acoustic guitar slowly creeping into focus which is joined by the scraping sounds of guitar strings which is presumably care of Western Skies Motel and possibly Isnaj Dui on Bass Flute . The bass flute adds a melodic breathy tone, while Western Skies Motel’s collaboration is complimentary to the field recordings. Berry’s guitar has a bright feel with a pleasant loop to it giving it an almost pastoral feel to the track.

“Where the Wind Sharpens the Goodbye” feels like Berry is collaborating with himself as well as others. I say this because the primary input of his has been the acoustic guitar, but in this occasion he also contributes Clarinet alongside Trigg & Gusset’s Saxophone and Fender Rhodes. This track comes across as an introspective and moody one which is probably the result of the Fender Rhodes which is accentuates by both the mournful bassy qualities of both the wind instruments.

“Against the After Glowing Sky” is a guitar collaboration between Berry and Unconditional Arms which goes through several sections of change from its initial bit of the hypnotic finger picking acoustic guitar and post rock styling of the electric guitar to similarly picked electric guitar and then soaring ambient guitar lines. The track then turns into full band mode which is initiated by full ambiance of both guitar sections. The use of bass and cymbals really drive the track making it similar in sound to Do Make Say Think.

“Hills Empty, No Ons to Be Seen” begins with shimmering reverb laden guitar that is joined by a similar sounding instrument in The Sly and The Unseen’s harmonium plus another instrument I can’t get my head around what it is based on the notes supplied, but most probably Adrian Lane on zither. The guitar and the zither work well together while the harmonium gives the track the drone element which, thankfully isn’t overpowering and is makes it more complimentary rather than as a focal instrument.

When sending sections of recordings for artists to collaborate with it can be hit or miss depending on the way that those collaborators respond to the material sent. Thankfully, I am happy to report that these particular collaborations have worked a treat. The feeling is that in some cases they have followed the initial source piece and others they have responded. Both these methods have worked well and the results speak for themselves. The vinyl version of the album (limited to 99 copies) has sold out, but I recommend getting hold of the CD version (an edition of 150 copies). You wont be disappointed.

US artist Aaron Martin is the master collaborator working alongside names such as Machinefabriek, Dag Rosenqvist, Orla Wren and Christoph Berg to name a few. He has appeared on labels such as Dronarivm, Eilean Rec, Type, Preservation and others. “A Room Now Empty ” is his first full solo release since 2014’s “Comet’s Coma” and features Martin on cello, Electric Guitar, Roll up piano, concertina, Ukulele, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Lap Steel and Singing bowl.

According to Martin “A Room Now Empty is similar to the concept of “Day Has Ended” where Christoph Berg and I created music to encompass the passing of a day, but stretched out for the padding of a lifetime or at least a portion of a lifetime”.

The album opens with “Anticipation of Loss” which starts with a low metallic spindly drone that is snaking its way upwards with other drones joining in such as a distorted drone and a lower drone. Cello slowly unwinds with long strokes of the bow bringing its deep, rich, but melancholic tone and providing the center point to the track which the drones start positioning themselves around to occupy various territories and create an almost claustrophobic soundscape. The tones never get to point of being too loud or overpowering, but do have a feeling of and mournfulness about them.

“Form Hanging in Air” the sound of the cello is one of those instruments that lies in the melancholic feeling human emotions. Such is the timbre and the way it is used it is hard to associate it with a different feeling or emotion. On this particular track the cello occupies the territory mentioned, but with the layering of the pieces it gives depth and a very personal emotion. You get the feeling of loss or regret, but with the melodic touch, hope. There is another sound buried low in the mix would could be the banjo, but it appears manipulated.

“First time Underwater” begins with a sharp drone, field recordings, acoustic guitar, bass and cello to create a pastoral track that has multiple layers, but is grounds by the bass and acoustic guitar. The music is at odds with the delicateness of the acoustic guitar meeting the squall of the field recordings and the tightly bowed cello which are like a storm around the acoustic guitar. A brief track that you could enjoy at least double its length.

“Memories are drifting Bells” pairs the cello pieces that are weighed down with heavy anguish. This particular track is dripping with emotion and feeling that changes mid track with reverberating guitar tones, cello and haunted crooning. It’s almost the soundtrack to a funeral procession. Gone is the heaviness to reveal a lighter, but still mournful territory, as if the grieving process has not entirely finished, but it the coming terms with is happening.

“Depth of a Glance” features lap steel picking with swirling singing bowls underneath it and hummed vocals. There is an isolated feel due to recording style where the tone of the lap steel is a bit muted. Scorching layers of cello and possibly concertina fill the sound by cascading across. More sections of cello entwine with one holding the melody and this other holding the bottom end with other guitar elements of the twangy variety entering the picture giving the tracks a whole together different feeling.

“Movement Passing” brings the banjo to the fore alongside cello and has a very Americana drone feel. The loop like picking contrasts with the bowing of the cello, but while having different tempos they work together in creating mood that is cautiously optimistic.

There is a feeling of mournfulness which is hard to escape with an instrument such as the cello. That said it doesn’t mean the album is one singular color. The use of the other instruments and the layering reveals depths to the piece and unveils more and more with each listen. The original release sold out in a short period of time, but the label are putting out an additional fifty copies and if you are lucky you may be able to grab one.

Benjamin Louis Brody is a US composer presenting his first album on Preserved Sound called “Far Away Music” which is released on February 26. He also records/recorded under the name Flow State and has worked with the likes of Philip Glass, Tom Waits and NYC ‘s The Chelsea Symphony to name a few.

According to the artist “When I started this project, I asked myself whether I could give my music depth perception, similar to a painting or a drawing – the classic illusion of train track perspective that gives a painting a certain sense of distance. With “Far Away Music” I set out to do that with sound. The music and sounds you hear could only have been created through computer technology. By manipulating the speed and texture it’s allowed me to change the perspective of the original content. “Far Away Music” represents how I experience my work in a more personal way – it’s vast and subconscious.”

The album comprises of four long tracks ranging in length from eight and a half minutes up to fourteen and a half minutes and involves musicians on Violin and Double Bass.

“Far away I” opens quickly like an on coming storm with a full warped sound that is composed of drones and snatches of sound that loop in and out quickly while other elements are like rolling and undulating. There is an oscillating feel like the sounds are in vibration such is the shortness of the sections and they are fused to create a kaleidoscope of sound that has many layers. There is an overall murkiness to the piece which gives you the feeling of being submerged or like waves of sound are much like those at a beach. It is like the music is somewhat wrapped underneath and attempting to get out. The drones have an orchestral feel, some are dense while others are smaller and fleeting. One thing about the track that remains is its center of gravity. It never loses that center, it is always there as the track moves. Towards the end the track returns full circle, before slowly and gently fading to silence.

“Floating into Infinity” follows with another full, deep soundscape, this one feeling like an alien landscape. Long rumbling drones are laid out in movements with elements of decay, but also have a feel of something grander with a church organ feel to some of the drones. There is a strong feeling of isolation in the beginning of the track which is interrupted by a series of fractured synth sections like a concertina of sound that is broken up onto micro sections and then stitched together. The sections scatter about from left to right disrupting your hearing, but giving the feeling of a fuller soundscape.

“Together” slowly unfurling looping drones that are light in sound and structure with a haunting flute or saxophone sound having a breathy sound. Field recordings add a grittiness that is the counterpoint to the drones which by now are getting darker and fuller in their texture. The violin contribution is not that obvious as it is used in conjunction with others to create the drones. There is also quite a sci if like synth feel to the track which makes it different to the preceding two tracks.

“Far Away II” pulsing dub like synths that sound like breaks in transmission and fragments of varieties of looped sounds put together. Some sounds feel like they are backwards or maybe it is just the phasing. There appears to be three distinct sections, a long metallic drone that cuts across all the sound and circling left and right, the pulsing cut up sections and the backwards sounding piece. Unlike “Fade Away I” the center of the track is not present as the sounds cut in and out with the briefest bits of near silence as the music starts to become more subdued and lower in intensity. The notes indicate that the track features double bass, but this is hard to detect. There is a rumble to the piece that could be from modified double bass, but I am not sure about this. Like the original track the track after several minutes of more subdued movements fades to silence.

Benjamin Louis Brody has created an album that fits in line with the likes of William Basinski and artists that utilize re-imaging or re-working of previous material. It would be interesting to know which previous works were used and how the manipulation changed the textures of the pieces.

Dronarivm x 2: Sven Laux “Paper Streets”/ Aaron Martin and Machinefabriek “Seeker”.

The Russian Dronarivm label have been somewhat quietly, in the sense that they don’t make a big song and dance about it, constructing a catalogue of releases that woould make most label bosses green with envy. These two releases are from the end of 2017 (with a fresh release from Bruno Sanfilippo due out this week) are no exception. They are also quite different which keeps listeners engaged to what the label is putting out.

German artist Sven Laux has released nine albums, for the most part digitally only and some in the Techno and House genres. “Paper Streets” sees him go Neo Classical and reveals a new talent in this particular field.

The label state that “Sven paints minimal landscapes with water colours in shades of violin, cello & piano; stripped bare & soaked in memory. The artist’s work bares a sense of detachment & reflection that usually occurs with the passing of time. Forlorn irony shows itself as it reminds you what feels like to fall in love for the first time., while conjuring ghosts from the last time you shared a gaze. A departure from Sven’s earlier work, “Paper Streets” is an organic, neo-classical journey heard through a cinematic lens. Orchestral notes surge like tides and resonate like heartache. Nostalgia echoes and dissolves with a disarming vulnerability.”

“Are You Still With Me?” straight from the beginning we are introduced to sweeping soundscapes of soaring drones that sound like you are floating through clouds. Sounding orchestral and wind-swept, the layering keeps in the central plains – not too high or too low in their sounds and fluctuating enough as not to be stagnant and boring. The track is reminiscent of classic Eno and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

“A Glimpse of Memory” shuffling field recordings, piano and strings brings in the neo classical direction. The piano has soft glassy tones, the lyrics hello and violin have an edge to them as if they are cutting through the sound like a saw. Fragments of sound flutter about alongside deep lush sections of drones as the music sort of feels like being on a boat pounded by waves as it has that cascading feel.

“Out of the Blue” takes a glacial cold drone alongside violin drones and delicate minimal muted piano tones and field recordings to create a slow, meditative loop like piece that unfurls slowly, ever so creeping up in intensity. There is a definite dark feel to the track which is highlighted by cello progressions, but what gives it color amongst the darkness are the delicate piano tones that ripple out – sometimes in a highlighted section, other times buried under other elements.

“Paper Streets” starts with clashing field recordings before the music goes large-scale with the piano, violin and cello all coming together to create a vast layered sound reminiscent of an orchestra and sounding like something out of a Hollywood movie. There is a strong filmic quality that inspires scenes of an important part of a movie such as a setting sealing intro or an action transition setting. The way the instruments fuse and flow together is instrumental in the feeling you get from the track. The repetition also helps build the mood and maintain the intensity.

“From Sadness To You” the first track on the album where the piano is front and center. Slightly melancholic, it is joined by violin and drones that resonate and are looped at a speed slightly faster than the consistent piano playing. Some backwards electronics and the track changes its direction with an almost jazz feel of haunting broken trumpet sounds and soaring strings sections that are embedded with a layer of drones that also feature synth stabs. For me it’s a tale of two halves of which my preference as the first one.

“There’s Still Hope” field recordings, dusty sounds, church like organ, electronics that swirl and sound affected are joined by sweeping drones reminiscent of the albums opener and return once more to Neo classical and widescreen sounds previously enjoyed before. The pace on this piece is deliberate, slow and has had the time and care to construct. Not everything is crammed into it. It just slowly takes it time to unwind and reveal itself. Much like the title track, this has a strong Hollywood feel to it.

“The Lost Violin” begins like it’s a second part of a track with haunting drones, granular sounds, violin arcs, field recordings and synths. The synths add a rich sound to the track and come across as having both a Neo classical feel but one with a tinge of a proggy sci-fi feel. Like other tracks repetition is used, but unlike others, for me, it is not as successful as before. Possibly this could by the variation on the sound with the synth’s influence.

“I Wish I Could Sleep” long form Neo classical bellowing drones with flickering sounds on ever second section fill up the sound with metallic sounding violin sections that travel off into the distance. Creaking field recordings add to the violin sounds which are now joined by low bowed cello sections that give the track its bottom edge. With the last few minutes left in the track the strings start to dominate with long flowing orchestral drones that fill out the track and elevate it up making the sound full and dense, but not overpowering or making it claustrophobic. There is a “Disintegration Loops” feel to the way the track loops.

Sven Laux has constructed an impressive album that is full, considered and an enjoyable listen with highlights being “Paper Streets” and “There’s Still Hope”. The only slight and this is very slight negative, is the occasional sameness which is not over powering in any way but is noticeable to a certain extent. Recommended listening.

Rutger Zuydervelt  (Machinefabriek) was invited to work on a score for a dance with Choreographer Iván Pérez called “Hide And Seek” in collaboration with American musician and all round collaborator Aaron Martin (with whom Pérez had previously worked with on the piece called “Kick the Bucket”).

As Rutger states “I don’t think he knew at that point that Aaron and I had worked together previously (on “Cello Drowning,” an EP released on Type in 2007). Living in the US, Aaron started recording parts and sending them to Iván and me. Then, I would use his recordings to build the score: processing them, editing them, adding sounds, etc..

The tracks on the “Seeker” album are basically the refined versions of the first sketches we made, trying out how our sounds would blend, and what directions and atmospheres could be used in the dance performance. After that, these tracks were morphed into one long collage, tailored to the choreography. This final score is added to the album as a digital bonus.”

The dance performance includes six dancers who find themselves in a space, not knowing each other, but relying on each other. The audience is described as being “drawn into an atmospheric trip, where desires, frustrations, madness, and humour are slowly revealed.Hide and Seek is a game that not everyone will wish to play.”

“Wake” sounds like electronic rhythm slowly disintegrating, like a signal that is breaking down and mutating which is paired after a while with Martin’s cello which is playing a similar rhythm and also at times sounds affected. The tones generated in the electronics are markedly different to that of the violin, but both work well together. Towards the end of the track the music changes with the electronics sounded distant and fragmented, while the violin also shares in the distant feel, but that could possibly be due to mixing.

“Wings in the Glass” static building up scatters around with flashes of noise before an all-conquering low cello drone that has the bass feel of the didgeridoo rumbles into the pieces to submerge the electronics underneath it before they start to flicker above and take control. More sections of cello are layered on with one baring low drones while two to three deeply melancholic sections wrap around each other while the electronics scattered about and a noisy ,but sweet melody joins in. In the end the swarm of electronics engulfs everything before all elements drop out to reveal Raster Noton style glitches.

“Arms Turn Slowly” a percussive sound of something clacking it put through effects giving it a sound reminiscent off something bouncing off a surface. More electronics in an off kilter melody which turns to be a plucked instrument like kalimba and bass thumps are joined by swirling strings and more juxtaposing instruments and layered hummed vocals. If the piece involves six dancers then this track comes across as featuring an instrument for each dancer.

“Leaves are Swimming” brightly strummed string instrument like ukulele is accompanied by similar wordless vocals to that of the preceding track with rustic harmonica like tones and electroacoustic electronics. The electronics splutter and retreat while swirling noisy loops career over the layered strummed instruments created a storm like squall before fading to reveal the initial start of the piece.

“Hidden” haunting drones with field recordings and electronics swirl in circular fashion moving around, ebbing and flowing. While not going particularly dark, the music travels in that direction but has enough light to it as not to overpower. It feels like a fusion of Ambiance and electroacoustic experimentalisation without being wholly one or the other.

“Seeker” Martin’s low bowed Cello sets the tone of the piece with layered sections creating emotive almost distraught music for mourning. The music flows, cadcades and wails before Zuydervelt’s touch is noticed with slight electroacoustic touches of static and effects.

“A Small Crowd Points” electronic tones bounced around like static on an electrical wire. A distant oscillating sound is unwinding to reveal a drone which is short and looped with a similar feeling origin to the original tones. This oscillating sound becomes the central part of this track as the sound scatters around before a cello drone joins in as well as other elements of the instrument such as scraping of the strings, plucking the strings and striking of the body. The cello part is like an organic version of the tones that Zuydervelt was constructing at the beginning and it is almost like a baton has been passed between the artists.

“Close To Dark” a distant dark rumble like a storm with the beginnings of a drone are cut by a sharp section of electronic pulses that act like progressions or like a measurement for the drone. They sound crisp and vibrant with a hint of compressed air, crackles and disintegration. They sound very foreign and almost out of the world like a transmission. They scatter, click, roar and pop and just when they reach the peak buzzing cello enters the picture alongside someone panting and more sonic detritus. There is a slightly claustrophobic feel to the music which is heightened by the panting as if the person is under the cloak of darkness trying to get free.

“Buried Cloth” breathy vibrato vocals are layered with occasional bass motifs that act as a slight percussive device. The vocals cover the range from more haunting to almost weeping through to rich almost vocal drones. This track is quite different to what has preceded it without the cello and electronics. Presumably watching the dance might give it the context that I am unaware of and its importance in the score.

The album finishes with the digital only bonus track of the full score of the performance of the piece as “Hide and Seek (Music)”. For this track the music was collaged to be tailored to the choreography.

As an album it stands up, let alone as a soundtrack to a dance piece. I have checked out a few of the videos of the performance and as I have no knowledge about contemporary dance I can’t comment on the movements, the music’s experimental nature suits the performances. Martin and Zuydervelt prove to be great collaborators with the results being cohesive and not a case of two artists adding their sections to each others music.

1921 – In my veins.

1921 - In my veins - cover.jpg

In My Veins” by Swedish duo 1921 was originally released digitally back in November 2017 and sees a vinyl release on February 16. 1921 consist of David Åhlén and Andreas Eklöf on vocals and Synthesizers & Electronics respectively.

The label states: “In my veins” marks David Åhlén’s return to the Compunctio label (“We sprout in thy soil,” 2009) and Andreas Eklöf’s continuation after the Manifest-winning album “Klavikord” (Compunctio 2013). Even while working on the album “We sprout in thy soil,” David and Andreas collaborated, then as now, with producer Andreas Runeson.

In their collaboration, 1921, both of their musical expressions have reached full force while being united in an almost unimaginable manner. David’s timeless melodies and angelic falsetto voice, which have inspired e.g. SVT Kultumyhetema to name him the Arvo Part of indie pop, are interlaced with Andreas Eklöf’s electronic-organic soundscape, full of harmony and counterpoint.

Together, they create an electronic chamber music of sorts. This collaboration between an inimitable voice and an electroacoustic composer brings to mind Antony, Bon Iver and Vangelis. The similarities may end there, but there is also a touch point in that both groups create an epic soundscape where one readily lingers.”

The music is a fusion of Åhlén’s falsetto and occasionally fragile vocals and Eklöf’s retro-futurist synth pads. Describes as a mix of Bon Iver, Jon & Vangelis and Antony Heggarty. I am not much for vocals in music as they can be overpowering and at times pompous, but I am happy to say that is not the case with Åhlén’s control and ability to deliver emotion convincingly.

“Holy” floating, oscillating synth lines with Åhlén’s fragile, at times close to breaking vocals, form the basis of this track. The vocals are front and center at times being a pointer to where the music will turn to next. Breathy croons welcome ambient sections. The music pulses underneath and is light, melodic and bubbly, holding its own and letting the vocals be the focal point of the song. Only when the breathy parts welcome ambient sections do we hear the music rise above the levels of sound it previously inhabited.

“Always” starts with humming almost bellowing synth progressions over which Åhlén breathfully sings about “filling me with light” and “you’ve always been there” amongst others. The synth sound is almost colorful in its sound and if it was a color it would be blue as there is a touch of regret that is emphasized in the lyrics which is is felt noticeably through the music.

“New Worlds” Åhlén’s vocals on this track remind me of Peter Broderick in the way they sound close to faltering. The music is almost funereal with its minimalistic tones and percussion. The synths traverse all the levels of the sound with light gliding tones to darker synth stabs with a shimmering stormy static cutting through and towards the end of the track almost taking over.

“Inter” an instrumental piece where synth keys resonate out as if hit and stretched out creating ambient drones that spread out and quickly dissipate. It sounds like rain drops hitting a steel roof giving off a percussive sound.

“In My Veins” the first time where you feel an almost beat to the music which gives the piece a pace with light and dubby synth stabs. The track also features extra female vocals which double track the lines “the spirit in my… veins/ blood/ heart..calls me”. The music fuses the ambient electronic sphere with an almost pop feel to it. It is not straight forward pop, but also not totally ambient.

“Similar” dark synth tones with a slight industrial edge and harsh feel cut in and out saw like unveiling short sections of almost melodic pieces that are cut short. They extend out to be cut off very quickly, much like waves that chop and change, before being propelled out again crashing on the shore. The tones are maintained throughout the piece with not much fluctuation, which could explain the title of the track.

“Psalm 115” emerging from almost silence the vocals emerge worth a rich tone to them under which competing synth tones emerge – the slightly dark but uplifting tone and the darker bass tone. Both synth tones work as drones rather than as flowing synth lines and towards the second half of this track have an ethereal feeling about them which makes sense with the lyrics being derived from a Psalm that apparently was sung by Jesus and his followers on the night he was arrested and betrayed and the night before his crucifixion.

“No One” is probably the most upbeat track on the album and I guess a devotional piece from one lover about another where the phrase “there is no one like you” repeated over and over. The music is similar to “In My Veins” in its dubby feel with the music feeling like an electronic ball bouncing around with truncated sections and several layers of drones that occupy melodic and more haunting territory. The track itself is rather short and you feel they could extend it as at times you get the feeling that it is going to expand fully into an electronica dance track.

“The Clear Fount” Åhlén starts the track acappela style before the familiar jaunty electronics come in with their light tones and bouncy feel and the welcome return of (uncredited) female vocals that are multitracked. The lyrics for this track as well as “New Worlds” come from mystic and author Linnea Hofgren whose year of death also gives the project their name.

“Arteries II” feedback light tone welcomes you with very low sounding synth progressions that are both futuristic, but also rather like a church organ. The synths slowly rise up with volume as does the feedback like drone which starts fluctuating. The synths continue to have a flowing feel to them, almost like creating a texture rather than as flowing pieces, like something is passing through like weather, or in this case due to name, blood. The elements change as the track goes into the second have with the drones briefly fading out before returning and oscillation as the synth progressions continue to vary. I am not sure if the track works as it is a bit too freeform for my liking and I am not sure what the intention is.

For the album the best tracks are those as a duo, especially those with the additional female vocals. The tracks that appear to be just Ekhöf seem to have a different feel to those the duo create. They come from a similar place but lead in a different territory. If you like minimal music with impassioned vocals and some lovely synth excursions, this may just be what you are looking for.

1921

Compunctio

Forthcoming: OKADA – Misery.

n5MD have announced the second release for 2018 this time coming from Gregory Pappas aka OKADA. The “Misery” album is due for release on April 6 with pre-order’s commencing on February 9th via the label’s bandcamp store. The label describe the album thusly “OKADA’s familiar epic length tracks to take the listener on a journey injected with achingly beautiful vocals, nostalgic atmosphere, and OKADA’s epochal dirge-paced beats.” You can see a teaser trailer for the release below.