It’s a broken record around these parts to talk about the size of the review queue (which is now past 1000 tracks), these particular releases (with the exception of the Ard Bit) are from the recent and not so recent past. My usual apologies in delays to each artist below as I cast my eyes and ears upon their works ever so briefly.
“Guitar Impromptus’ is a collection of freeform compositions for four and more classical guitar parts with added effects. Mathieu’s first instrument is the guitar and as a student he used to record his improvised sketches onto a 4 track tape machine whilst learning how to compose for the instrument. Many years later, Mathieu revisits this idea of multi-layered guitars to form standalone cinematic compositions or guitar ‘tableaux’. This is in keeping with his contrapuntal and polyphonic composing style and it offers organic impromptu journeys into his inner creative self.”
Previously seen on these pages with his “Aitaké For Solo Violin” and “Movements” Ep’s, this time sees Karsenti move away from the strings and piano that dominated those Ep’s and re-invent himself as a classical guitarist. While the vessel of his music has changed his musical style, one that is involved within the cinematic / score is still very apparent. Karsenti is very adept at turning his hands to other instruments and gaining the same great quality out of them. “Impromptu Number One” sets the tone for the EP with its layered and passionate playing while a piece like “Echoes In The Park” revels in the sound design that is featured all the way back to “Unfinished Memories” on the”Aitaké…” EP.
If you haven’t yet checked out his catalogue them you are in for a treat with 5 Ep’s on his bandcamp (two of which I have yet to have the pleasure to discover). Once you do you might just find someone new to follow. “Guitar Impromptus” is available Digitally.
“Ard Bit’s fourth EP blends field recordings, soundscapes and rhythmic sources into melancholic and atmospheric layered constructions. The Rotterdam- based dutch composer and sound artist has several releases on Lowriders Recordings, Shipwrec and Symbolic Interaction, and now comes with a self-released new episode of strange stories and emotions.
Six Scores One was partly written in the forests of Winterswijk, a stone’s throw from the Korenburgerveen. This peat lies in an environment where you can wander through beautiful forests, wooded banks, streams and heathland. An ideal place for reflection. Six Scores One tells a story of ever-changing nature in all its facets. Transforming beautiful fields into ominous, disorienting worlds where serenity gives way to devastation.
One strong recurring layer, suggesting a machine world, conjugates everything and is often sculpted far enough from the source of inspiration. Ard Bit’s processing here moves in veiled ways, woven with the quirky compositions as if they are housed.”
It made sense listening to this EP once more after a break and having my head turned back to more electronica styled music by the latest Suumhow album. While not of the same sort of noisy character the two releases do share an interest in warping sound and manipulating elements. Ard Bit mixes in dub techno, snatches of dark ambient, experimentation, washes of static, synth progressions, ambience and skittering percussion to create pieces that oscillate between IDM and more Ambient influenced electronic pieces. A real highlight is “Kern” which sees Ard Bit aka Ard Janssen move into darker territory with an ominous synth throb before mutating into a collection of broken sounds and sonic detritus.
On the EP Ard Bit mixes it up so you neverbally know what to expect. The tracts change their firm throughout leading you away from where you thought you would be headed. Janssen clearly has an ear from Sound design in the way that disparate elements are combined and different styles are woven through. You get glimpses, sometimes seconds long, where you see totally different areas that he could move into is in his musical journeys. A piece like the final track “Sw6rm” which initially makes me think of Scorn, has subtle orchestral strings that make me curious to hear what he would come up with if he ventured down that vein. I am also reminded of Amon Tobin and the sound design of his album as there is a nice clarity to the sounds contained herein with a crispness that is quite noticeable in making the productions sonically rich.
“Six Scores One” is an interesting ep that nicely mixes styles with experimentation and circumvents expectations (especially after the first two beat orientated tracks in “Afterhook” and “Clouds”. The EP is available on Cassette and Digital.
Swedish musician Olof Cornéer sent over two of his works. “Bells For Splitting Reality” (Kning Disc) under his own name and “New Glasir” (Slow Future Vault) under the name Night Gestalt. Cornéer, while a new name to me has been releasing music the mid 00’s initially as Dibaba before joining Stefan Engblom aka Phasio in the successful duo Dada Life. In 2014 after discovering he had cancer he evaluated the importance of music in his life. These two works are part of that re-evaluation and show the diversity in his music which is different from his more electronic/house related background. I briefly checked out Dada Life and am thankful for the musical journey that he is on now. These two albums are quite different to each other. “Bells For Splitting Reality” is a solo piano album of stark minimal piano pieces, while “New Glasir” moves more in an electronic and vocal direction. Because of the nature of music sent my way I am more attracted to the “New Glasir” album purely because it offers my ears something different. That is not to say anything bad about “Bells…” which has ten pieces that in a way sometimes feel as if they were written on piano for electronic instruments. With most piano sent my way there is a strong sense of narrative or movements. This does occur on this album with a track like “Bells For Splitting Reality Part 6” with its melancholic moodiness while “Bells…Part 8” dives into ultra minimalism, almost stripping away the narrative to create a fraught piece of music. The one thing that is needed for this album in my opinion is some variety in the piano sound. It could be recording under different conditions or different techniques, but there is s tendency for the tone of the piano to sound the same which loses its dynamic feature.
With “New Glasir” Cornéer explores electronic landscapes and fuses electronic and organic instruments nicely. Opening with the slow woozy burn of “A New Social Contract”. The album then moves into more pop territory with “Can You Feel It”. I have an aversion to most vocals in music with a preference for instrumental music (though old school Hard Core and some Alternative music I don’t mind the vocals), but with this track its more of one of the elements rather than in the purest sense. It comes to a peak with “Dark Summer” which is the highlight with its dark electro pop feel. While “Bells…” was a bit of the same tone, this album is the flipside with a vibrancy that pushes the sound to all corners. It still retains a sense of minimalism in its construction as shown by “Infernal Machines” which could have appeared on “Bells…” if not for the ominous dark electronics. That particular track has a raw natural piano sound which would have been welcomed on “Bells…”
For the remainder of the album Cornéer vacillates between Moody electro ambient pop and more purer electronic pieces. They are the type to easily get lost in providing a relaxing soundtrack mixing in retro synth sounds, bare piano and cold ambience. The mixing up of the tracklist to vary the sounds of the pieces of one of the reasons the album is successful. There are times where you feel as if the music is going to explode in a beat frenzy like with the piece “The Longest Night” as it somewhat teases you where it may head and then becomes a layered vocal work which for some reason reminds me of Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space”. You can see the points where Cornéer could easily lean back to his more dancefloor orientated past, but it feels like he is determined to explore more avenues of sound which makes the album a success. Interestingly the definition of Gestalt is “the idea that the whole of something is more important to our understanding than the individual parts.“, which comes across in the album.
Since this release Cornéer has released the “Waves, Breaths And Dead Cities” album on Bigo & Twigetti under his own name which is written for wind quintet and features remixes by his electronic alter ego, which nicely pairs at least two of his styles. Both these albums are available on Lp and Digital.
“Yves-Gaël Jacek alias Saenïnvey is a French ambient/drone music artist who lives between France and Vietnam. Almost all of his sounds are released by some instruments from his own making which gives this particular texture in his compositions. His music combines a rich acoustic palette and a refines electronic treatment. His works bring us into this permanent balance between electroacoustic and drone. He presents “Right After The Forrest” his second album.”
I missed out on the release on Eilean Rec from Saenïnvey, “The Path”, but what is noticeable straight away from the outset is the cinematic nature of the music. It is hard to simplify the genre description for the pieces as you tend to get lost in the imagery of the mind while listening. Jacek clearly has a musical vision that is cinematic in its scope and wide-screen in its vision. The album best listened in its entirety leans toward the darker side of music, one in which strings, drones,electronics and pounding tribal percussion are used to take you into deeper places with an approach that is truly fully formed and stays away from the vignette style (although some tracks time length would dispute this) that creeps into music of a similar nature. The tantalizing part is that the bandcamp page hints at the album being an introduction to something bigger.
The album’s bookends “22 steps” and “There is nothing left” exist in a similar sound world where a tension exists. Between these tracks the remaining five pieces shows Jacek fully exploring these sound worlds, sometimes at slow revealing pace like in “Charm” or with an ominous nicely building claustrophobic edge on “Behind Their Voices” or the plucking guitar, deep drone, poundin percussion and variety of strings and finger instruments that make up the menacing “The Broken Watch” . Whatever the case is the music is engaging and has a granduer that is intoxicating. As this was released back in January, hopefully we can see what this bigger project will be sooner rather than later.
“Right After The Forrest” is available on limited Cd (50 copies) and Digital and is totally recommended.
“In the fictitious town of Bekkebakken, conformity is a virtue and all things otherwordly are frowned upon. Twelve year old Lars, half zombie, and his just as special friends with
certain supernatural characteristics, have a series of strange adventures suppressing their true natures in order to fit in.”
Last year’s “Closing Statements” was on this humble blog’s best of 2018 lists and many others. At the start of the yea his Mirakel label released his soundtrack to The Norwegian TV kids show “ZOMBIELARS”. Designed around the concept of conformity and not fitting in, the music naturally in’t s clichéd Zombie soundtrack. Instead it is full of proggy, retro synth goodness ala John Carpenter with some John Bonham style drum solos thrown in for good measure. Not seeing the TV show limits the sort of impression that the music can leave on you, but then the music is that strong itself that it stands on its own feet. Musically this has a strong electronic feel, but as is played by a whole band and not just someone surrounded by a lot of tech.
The music moves through sections of propulsiveness like on “Annerledes” which has the dynamic drumming mentioned above, through to the pulsating dubby industrial-esque “Beserk” and some vaguely disco meets electro stylings meets prog on “Detroit”. Whatever the track there always seems to be an undercurrents whether slight or not to the music that removes it from being too playful, adding an edge that is lacking in soundtracks to children’s television. There are pieces like “Lei”, “Ulevende” or “Usynlig” that could easily appear on any Kaada release. A personal favourite is “Algebra” with its Ambience, running synth lines and retro sound that has a real ‘running’ feel to the track.
“ZOMBIELARS” is a success as it’s an album that when removed from its origin it has the qualities for it to stand alone as an album in its own right. “ZOMBIELARS” is available digitally from Mirakel.