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.