In brief – A look back Pt. 2.

The prolific Benjamin Finger who has released on labels such as Oak Editions, Time Released and Eilean Rec to name a few, saw the release of “For Those About to Love” on Flaming Pines back in November of last year. From the label: “Norway’s Benjamin Finger plunges the listener into a pulsing, sparkling disorienting world in “For Those About To Love”. Part collage, part dream; by turns joyful, sombre, heartfelt and playful. This album is as layered and diverse journey into the mysteries of the heart”

“Lipstick Shades” noirish piano with Blixa Bargeld style vocals, fragments of voices, backwards loops, repetitive keys, glitches and scatter shot sounds. It sounds as if in a swirling bad dream. The operatic singing then drifts in and out has a haunting quality that fits in with the uneasy and hypnotic feeling the music generates.

“Midnight Wolves” guitar is joined to flickering sci-fi electronics, while sounds float around in the background, some cascading while others being more submerged. The music comes in waves with the guitar feeling more improvised than other elements.

“Ultraviolet Light” field recordings mixed with undulating drones that pair well with the flowing sounds of the water based field recordings. Whispered wordless vocals bring in a fresh sound and are used as a melodic tool as well as an instrument. They are layered with one from Inga-lill Farstadt the other from Lynn Fister and become the focal point under which the synths, drones and field recordings move about.

“Transparent Mind” full of field recordings, hypnotically entwined sounds approaching beat territory and the layered looping vocalizations as heard before. The ‘beats’ are a fusion of sounds and appear to have a broken feel to them where they go a bit wonky at times and at other times speed up in tempo. Siren like electronics join in the maelstrom towards the end.

“Eyeball Humidity” horn like drones meets quasi industrial sounds before hints of melody briefly appears and then is covered in layers of manipulated sounds including altered voices, electronics, pulsing drones and noise that settles down for a short period of time before expanding with guitar and a kaleidoscope of sounds including oscillating synths as well as techno sections and type writer like percussion. Much like the title, this track is rather bizarre in the territory that it covers.

“Melanpholy Waltz” acoustic picked guitar mixes with backwards vocal snatches, buzzing electronics and oscillating drones. The guitars quickly change their sound as other sounds bounce and bring a percussive edge to the track.

“You Always Start” starts with a recording of a woman (which to me sounds like Madonna) uttering the titles name before drones from the cello of Elling Finnanger Snøfgul, field recordings and beats enter the field alongside dreamy xylophone like chords. The drones are long and orchestral while the other elements seem to be in bite sized chunks. With the use of beats you get the feeling that the music is going to be propelled in some way, but you soon realise that Finger is an artist in sound as a constructive device rather than simply a musical one.

“Misteriose Vignette Sonore” spacey sounds lead into almost frantic sounding synths and rhythms that reverberate around building up a tension in the music which is joined by the faintest of electronics and similar synths sections gradually. There is a somewhat early Four Tet feel to the track and it keeps getting more frantic as it continues. Around the half way point is a brief ambient respite before it returns into another section that is like a version of the start – the sake intensity, but with a slight twist on the sound. The third and final movement again changes the style of music, but maintains the approach with the looped and glitched synth sounds.

“Shrink into Love” looped broken electronics that change in texture as the loops reach their length, but keep the same feel. It’s almost like they have gone through a variety of software and hardware. Vocal fragments come in drone waves sounding breathy and ethereal, which contrasts with noisier aspects.

The music that Finger makes is not one that you can easily classify. This can is be a good thing, but for some a bad thing. There are many elements going on that you sometimes think a less is more approach might work. Clearly confines are not for Finger as they would restrict him in his way of expressing himself. If you lean towards more experimental aspects of music, the “For Those About To Love” may be for you.

Julien A. Lacroix is a French musician whose music runs the gamut of Elrctroacoustic, Experimental Ambience, Glitch and Musique Concrete. He also records under the names Moloch Conspiracy (Dark Ambient) and a Ori (Glitch/Noise).

Julien describes himself as “I specialise in electroacoustic and experimental soundscapes. I don’t rely on solely on synths, and my album features cellos, timpani and other sounds I recorded to give it a more natural & an analogue feel. I collab with Uunslit who made vocals for the album, She’s from the US & more in minimalist  sound scape & poetry”

“Clair Obscur ” is a CD-r release on the UK Aetheric Records label.

“Rotation” a darkish tone permeates the beginning with eerie sound scapes, vibrating electronics, glassy sounding noises, glitches and glacial cold drones. The music lives in the dark ambient territory with a nod to more sci-fi/ post industrial sound scapes. Sounds clang, rumble and flitter about creating an uneasy journey.

“Conjuration” continues on the descent into the darker chasms with fragments of vocals, wind-swept drones, chimes, noises and field recordings that sound like you are going further and further into a tunnel with light diminishing and darkness encroaching.

“A Conversation with the Demon” a single piano key welcomes a plethora of sounds that swirl cycically before opening up with a bit of space. Dark string like drones rattle out, electronics flutter like broken recordings, a sound like a bicycle wheel spinning around floats around while a percussive element that sounds like water dripping joins the fray. There is a feeling reminiscent of the previous tracks that doesn’t really associate with the title. The music comes across as creating a sense of unease with claustrophobic elements and elements constantly moving.

“Into a Dark Place” a single drum beat welcomes harsh noises, creaking sounds, scattering noises and long screeching drones. You feel as if you’re on the bow of a creaking boat gently floating through mist. There is tribal element brought about the percussion which has not been heard so far on the album. The music feels like it’s not reliant on electronics and uses the drones to create the sound scape, which is minimal, but foreboding. Cymbals add to this feeling as well as scraping noises, while sputtering electronics that are glitchy and crunchy make their subtle appearance in the last-minute and a half or so. This is the only track on the album to not feature the vocalist Uunslit on the album.

“Clair Obscur” sounds like a plague of locusts rattle around with storm drones and speaking in tongues like vocals before degrading electronics bring the track into a new darker, heavier sound scape with metallic noises, pulsing electronics and glacial drones. The music is not easy to get a grasp of as it traverses genre descriptions with Dark Ambient and Electroacoustic being the more obvious ones, but the music is not restricted to just these.

“Talisman” ends the album with probably the most relaxed and open section of music contained on the whole release. Long layered drones of haunting and melodic quality are combined with the whispering and ethereal snatches of vocals, piano that varies from minimalist to stark and a collection of sounds including electronics that sound as if excavation is occurring.

I don’t normally listen to music like this. The truth is the older I get, the more refined and restricted my music taste has become. One thing that can be noted on this release is that despite a lot sonically going on the music does not get bogged down and the sounds are clear and crisp. If you like delving into the deeper, darker and experimental styles of music “Clair Obscur” may be for you.

Drogtech is the recording alias of Polish producer Lukasz who has been releasing music since 2012 with the album “An Ordinary Life”. His most recent album “In Search of the Unknown” was released in late November last year and was the result of successful crowd sourcing. His next release the “Sessions” Ep is currently up for pre-order and is due out on August 10.

Lukasz states “In Search of Unknown” is my second album after released back in 2012 “Ordinary Life”. The first album closed a certain stage of musical inspiration and after it was released I needed a fresh start. In the first place I rebuilt the studio and then start to learn a new way of making music. Over the last five years I’ve released a few Ep’s, one single and two remixes. However, I felt that it was time to create another album. The right moment came in at the beginning of 2017 when I was able to start working on tracks already in my own place.”

“Before the Storm” sets the template for the album to come. Crisp beats, warm synth drones, reverberating hand claps and a focus on percussion. Certainly not the blueprint, but a definite roadmap. The music is imbued with melody, a sense of lightness and a journey through different terrain. The music is light without being transparent and has a nice floating feeling.

“Adrift” long slightly distorted vapor trail like drones meet tabla percussion and beats while piano lines make their debut. The beats propel the track with the drones gaining in prominence and focus while the percussion jostles for space. A noisier droning section breaks up the track and takes it away from the easily saccharine feel it could go to. Guitar enters and is used in lead fashion but with an ambient edge in its tone before fading away.

“Torn Apart” pulsing electronics, swirling drones and crunching beats with paired cymbals under which synth progressions ring out take this track into soaring territory. There is slight dubby feel contained on the music and also a gritty edge, but unlike the title, there is a feeling of expanding than being pulled apart. The synths reverberate in layers enhancing the uplifting quality of the music which ends with swathes of long drones.

“The hope is over there” a disjointed beats and dubby flashes of synths run in different directions to the consistent cymbals and bass lines. Percussion that sounds hand-held, but probably electronic, leads to a more percussive section with layered elements focusing the direction of the track and leading it up to the synth section that provides the melody. While dominated by beats and percussion, there is enough ambience to keep the music light and airy.

“Waterfall” drones, minimal percussion and bass lines give this glitchy track a heavy dose of ambience. Synth progressions and hand claps take the track in a downtempo vein where the melody is strong and the ambience is ever-present.

“Emptiness” starts with ambient drones swirling about over dubby synth progressions that have a dark edge to them as they flow out. The track maintains these elements in it’s short journey and they are repeated but never repetitive or boring

“Await” (bonus track) focus on a rumbling bass line, hand claps, minimal percussion and distant ambience that starts to roar into life as another electronic section that combines glitchiness with melody is added in. Metallic sounding reverberating percussion comes in at the same time as an almost breakbeat sections joins in as well.

This album is enjoyable for the simple fact is that it offers Ambient fans that are looking for something more than drones and want it to head in a more electronics vein without falling into the trap of being an Ambient/dance record. The music is lush, the eats subtle and it is just nicely crafted. If more beat orientated work with melody and some ambience is your thing, the check out “Seasons”.

“Nick Nightingale is an American guitarist and composer whose work drifts between experimental music, modern composition and minimalism. Nick started creating original soundtracks to films as an experiment in 2006. He also began composing under the alias Nick Nightingale, named after the piano player in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. After releasing several alternative and post-punk records from 2008 – 2012, he studied Jazz, Minimalism and Modern Composition extensively. Influenced equally by cinema and music, his latest work focuses on combining electric guitar melodies and ambient soundscapes.”

“The Dragon with Three Heads” opens the album with reverberating drones overlaying guitar sections while synth waves break up the sections and change the texture of the tracks it is divided into two sections with the synths dominated the second half. The guitar has a murky watery texture that is submerged, but that could be just the recording quality.

“Pointing to the Moon” eerie bassy tones with looped scraping sounds are paired with minimalist guitar playing that takes its time to unfurl. Almost country like in its sound it utilises the length of the notes to create a layer of ambience.

“Mythical Beings” takes the synth in a sci – fi vein with its throbbing short loops and minimal guitar pieces. For me the synth sounds and those of the guitars seem to be coming from different styles and for that reason they don’t really mix.

“Swedish Houses” sees granular synth loops that harken back to “Pointing to the Moon”, before the synths turn more coming across as a soundtrack to a funeral before changing once more and being joined by the guitar.

“Furniture Music” takes us into cold industrial glacial territory with synth tones making restrained stabs before a haunting synth tone that melts into the industrial sounds and makes the music desolate. The color of the inital restrained synth brings a short bit of light towards the end.

“Untitled No.6” reverberating synth that sounds like a swarm is joined by piano lines which contrast the noise that surrounds them. A small metronomic beat welcomes guitar, replacing the piano and giving a similarly alien tone to the reverberating synths.

“Cult Possession” echoing piano progressions are replacing with tensely vibrating synth and echoing twanging guitar.

“Away From Home” A Clockwork Orange style synth with rattling percussion presumable manipulated from a guitar, slowly rolls out joined out by small sections of guitar with clanging quality. The quality of the synth changes on the second half to more alien soundscapes and the guitar pieces start to disintegrate.

Listening to this you get the feeling of a person who is experimenting with sounds and trying to see what works for them. The album might be called “Ambient Guitar Works”, but for me it’s the synth that holds the attention. While still a bit minimal in the sound scapes on the album, you can see the faintest beginnings of territory to explore with additional elements.

Alina K is a UK-based pianist, composer and occasional model whose “Awakenings” Ep contains four tracks recorded in Studio Two at Abbey Road Studios and produced by Nick Tauber (who has worked with the likes of Thin Lizzy, Toyah, Marillion and Venom) . I am not sure how available this Ep is other than it a track is on Soundcloud, and the full Ep is on Spotify and Deezer.

“Alina K draws the greatest satisfaction from composing her own music and it was the piano that first captured Alina K’s imagination and invigorated her creativity. She began playing the piano from an early age and went onto study the instrument at the J. Karoso Music School in Klaipeda, Lithuania. She later moved to London, where she is now based.”

“Awakenings” sounds like pure classical piano with a constant romantic tone to the playing. A string section (which I believe to be the Millenia Strings) ever so slightly weaves its way in without overpowering the piano. The music goes through movements where it is contemplative through to sections that are expressive. It manages to maintain a nice balance without going to far into to each style.

“New Beginnings” rolling melodic piano that feels deliberate and controlled in the feel and the way emotion is demonstrated. With a title like it has you could think of it bring an exuberant piece of music, but it feels tentative as if new beginnings are those that still hold a degree of uncertainty. The string section compliments this nicely.

“Solace” an introspective sounding piece that while not sounding melancholic is not overly filled with light – just a nice balance. The music matches the title in that it is a solo piano track unadorned and to a certain extent naked.

“Walking Your Path” feels cinematic with the strings only being in brief moments, but having a bit more of a say in how the music comes out. The playing is more up tempo than previous tracks, but with that hint of darkness that the strings and the selection of the keys emphasise. The longest track on the Ep uses its length to build on the mood of the piece for the whole duration with several repeating motifs coming through.

As I mentioned I am not sure, other than streaming how you could get this Ep. I recommend Alina set up a bandcamp page to get her music out to people.

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