“Songs for Leona Carrington” is a five track cdr with booklet released by the fine Wist Rec label in an edition of 120 copies. According to the label it is “a biographical release based on the esoteric universe of Surrealist painter and writer” with music by Engel alongside text by Carrington (1917-2011) and watercolor interpretations of her work by Manfred Naescher. The release features musicians such as Paul Kolinski (drums), Mitchell Girio (bass), Bryan W Bray (Electric Guitar), James Beardmore (Theremin).

Engels music has been described as “folk noir“, “sung poetry” and “minimalist holy blues from another galaxy“. The tracks contained on these two albums are indeed minimal sometimes just relying on guitar and vocals. Her voice is easily identifiable as emotive, but without the over the top histrionics that some singers can stray into. Her guitar can have a blues post-rock feel in one track and be more shimmering and ambient based with tremolo in others. With “Sketches…” she works well with collaborators who add to the songs without filling out the tracks too much. There is still a nice minimalistic approach akin to slow core bands like (early period) Low which can be heard on tracks like “Anubeth’s Song (Burn Eternally)” and “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds”.

“Vigils” is a deeply personal album that was recorded during the brief time of knowing that Engel’s father Isaac was terminally ill and his passing. Recording these improvisational pieces as well as a cover of Hank Williams Sr’s “Angel of Death”.

With “Vigils” the playing is more pensive with a certain amount of delicacy and restraint felt, which is understandable to what Engel was going through at the time. This is best shown by the track “Saffron” There is a more ambient feel to the tracks with a certain amount of light in the music, but it also feels under a cloak of some sort. The emotion in Engels voice comes through in the Hank Williams Sr cover, which with the lyrical content I would imagine would have been hard to record. That the release is a collection of improvised recordings done one night, it does not come across that way to the listener.

https://soundcloud.com/claraengel/ether

Chelidon Frame is Italian sound artist and guitarist Alessio Premoli from Milan. He works with drones, found objects, short wave radio signals, prepared guitars and looped soundscapes. His companion releases on the Manyfeetunder label are seven tracks that are the result of guitar loop improvisations that are then reworked to give a sense of depth and rhythm with the use of the glitches and imperfections that arose in the recording process.

“Vol 1” opens up with “Granularity 0.0” – an aquatic sounding piece of layered scattered guitar snippets, but come “Granularity 1” long shimmering drones are joined with short snippets of scratchy sounds and then various styles of guitar sounds like twanging, almost classic guitar virtuoso playing and loops of playing alongside chimes and percussive sounds. “Granularity 2” builds on the previous pieces with a slight new age feel underneath multiple layers of guitar pieces. “Granularity 3” sees more traditional guitar drone pieces constructed by various loops of different guitar styles, before the glitches enter the sounds with a xylophone or hand help wood instrument sound.

The three tracks on “Volume 2” are a continuation for “Vol 1″ with the music cut from the same cloth. You can see where the post production has worked out constructing this tracks in a sort of kaleidoscopic fashion. The three tracks are all quite different, but share some elements and styles.”Granularity 4” sees the loop work used with a bit more restraint than previously. Sometimes you guess the feeling that the album is one big track that has been divided up into sections.

Both albums are Free Download.

The following two releases are from Japan’s Gohan Tape label from Germany’s Hainbach (who has appeared on Spring Break Tapes, Limited Interest and Little Mary) and ioflow aka US artist Joshua Saddler who after twenty years of playing piano started improvising minimal delicate pieces incorporating field recordings, effects and computer processing.

Hainbach, whose music The Wire called “A Hell of a Trip” seems to create dark music with organic and synthetic means fusing them together in a bleak landscape such as the post apocalyptic opener “A New Moon”, before veering into retro futurist breakbeats and synth on “Breaxit”. “Clubbs” sounds like a demented music you would possibly hear in a nightclub which starts off shaky and wobbly before sort of coming together with dubby, squelchy and industrial sounds. The music changes tone again with “Gestalten” and its mix of layered short electronic ripple like sections of electronic decay and detritus that pulses and throbs. “Faultlines” and “Vines” are tracks featuring broken electronics, with “Faultlines” feeling the more experimental of the two purely because of the ambience that floats under the misfiring electronics.

“We Will Stay” brings in ultra minimalist soft electronics that has been largely absent from the album before the title track takes us back to the broken beats, splattering electronics and demented night club sounds – which vaguely hark back to Slava Tsukerman’s “Liquid Sky” soundtrack. Hainbach concludes with the distorted “I Want to Fade Like Magnetic Tape, disappearing in a Wash of Noise and Fantastic Distortion” which sounds like a mix of dug up nostalgia and futuristic washes of synth.

The cassette has since sold out but digital is still available.

Ioflow has appeared on compilations like “Sequence 4”, “Sequence 5” (both Future Sequence) and “Discovery 1” (Soft Recordings).

For “Spring” he fuses field recordings and solo piano alongside Rhodes, E-bow, Modular Synth and Reverb pedals to create sparse, but not boring, minimal and delicate pieces. “Slow Trails” fuses these elements and instruments together to create a piece that fans of Taylor Deupree or The Green Kingdom should appreciate.

Piano takes the lead alongside field recordings of birds and water on “Tumbling through the Shadows” with the piano striking a balance in the timbre of its sounds from delicate through to darker more forceful.

“Sun-Dappled Stillness” could be the apt description for the album as a whole, let alone the title of one track. The music is appropriately sparse with the slightest haunting flute like sound over low volume field recordings and minimal piano playing. The level of sparseness actually draws the listener in to engage with all the elements and be mindful of what is going on.

The two tracks “Ripples//Lakesounds” and “Lines//Lakesounds” appear as almost bookends despite the letters appearance four songs from the end. Both track feature the same constituent parts, but its the first half of the title that hints at the nature of the music. Naturally “Ripples” would indicate faster playing than the more controlled “Lines” and that is what you get, both joined by field recordings. Personally speaking, I lean more towards the “Ripples” part of the equation.

“The Greening” strikes the balance of the use of field recordings and piano and could easily be a Modern Classical piece if Saddler deemed so.

With a musician whose work is based on twenty years of playing an instrument it would be quite easy to fall into a category such as Modern Classical. Because of the restraint shown and the strength of field recordings, his music feels more Ambient/Environmental/ Composer than just one strict genre.

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