There is something that gnaws away at me as I cannot give an equal amount of time to all releases. I hate to not be able to devote as much time to those that remain after the cull of things that are not to my taste, so please take these as Twitter length reviews of releases you may not have come across before. Bizarrely all these albums are between thirty nine and forty two minutes in length.
“The birth of Nymphalida takes place in 2013. It is the first solo project by Pietro Bianco (born 1989), classical guitarist from Sardinia, Nymphalida debuted in November 2014 with the album “Portraits”, published by the irish label Psychonavigation / Tranquillo Records. It is a work associated with the childhood of White.
In May 2015 Nymphalida’s second album, entitled “Lòghi”, was released again by the irish label Psychonavigation / Tranquillo Records. The album is a thematic overview of the relationship between places and humans. Nymphalida’s third album, “Assenza”, has been released in September 2019 by Italian label Sounds Against Humanity.”
“Assenza” is a six track, forty one minute album of music of the minimalist of kind. No rushing or overloading the tracks with various instruments, the album definitely resides in the dark ambient glacial field. Bianco rather than just do waves of dark drone that is the occasional style within that style operates in a way where tension and release are a feature. There is a certain ominous quality that is shown on a piece like “Via del Ritorno” aka “Way Back” which highlights the cinematic quality of the music. It’s not all doom and gloom as evident by “Luce (Un Nuovo Inizio)” aka “Light (A New Beginning)” which ends the album on a slightly more melodic and forlorn feel.
Originally released on CD-R (20 copies) which are now sold out and Digital, the album is a secret gem.
“A musical project of chance, of random, of the analog/digital duality. Of the cycle between continuum, discrete, and again continuum. Mixed, confuse randomities that become concrete by being created, listened, recorded.
Randomities of tones, Randomities of grains, of sound particles. Creative restrictions that projects ideas, like quantum functions collapsing into sounds as played. Ephemeral moments that became perennial when recorded. A moment captured, materialising into sound, transmuting into information. Randomities that perpetuate and continue it’s cycled by also being appreciated in a random way.
Random_music_generator (1) is a function-album that generates a sequence of tones that cannot be reasonably predicted better than by a random chance and can be better appreciated by random listening.”
The first of two releases from the Brazilian label La Petite Chambre in this post, sees the label venture into more experimental electronics with Andre Veloso aka a_d_a. Featuring the artwork of Bruno Nunes Coelho which gives the label a real visual statement, the music is a curious mix of experimental electronics and a jazz and folk like feel. The thing you notice with this label is their collective like feel which results in music that may be different, but gives the listener an idea that the music will be of high quality. When you look at the cover art, project name and title you may be lead to think that you will be taken into obscure territories, but what you end up with are pieces that transcend genres, changing from track to track. Other than the artwork another feature of the label is their attention to sound which results in vibrant listens as Veloso mixes up his instrumentation and sound sources in ways to ensure that the music is not dull. Anything from drone based works to retro synth near dance pieces are covered in this eclectic collection.
“random_music_generator (1)” is available on CD and Digital.
“Dose Curves, the first solo outing for Montreal-based harpist Sarah Pagé, is perfectly strange and stable. Like an entirely detailed, delectable world in a spin of its own, the album moves, breathes, grows and changes at a pace that feels wonderfully natural; in welcoming ways that belie its intricate oddities. Across the five-track suite, all recorded live in motion, Pagé unfurls untold possibilities from within the 5000-year-old instrument. Moving through free-form tonal caverns, catching gently-bent melodic breezes and expanding out to the ambient aethers, Dose Curves is a spellbinding debut that affirms its maker as one of Canada’s most versatile and accomplished experimentalists.”
Firstly, this does not feel like a traditional harp record. Pagé uses pedals and amps to completely change the feel and sound of her chosen instrument and like cellists like Julia Kent, Clarice Jensen, Raphael Weinroth-Browne she transcends the idea of what her chosen instrument sounds like. The times it most sounds like you would expect is when it feels like a glistening body of water and you can imagine Pagé in full flight with he hands furiously plucking the strings. When it doesn’t like on the album’s title track, the music you get is very earthy metallic droning music that has a real rumble to it as Pagé completely changes any aspect of the instrument. The beauty of the album is the ability for each piece to stand on it’s own and have it’s own feeling, whether it is the more electronic “Lithium Taper” or the warped ambience of “Stasis” and the furious glistening melody of “Ephemeris Data”. There is a lot to be intrigued about.
“Dose Curves” is available on limited LP (222 copies), CD-R and Digital.
“On their first new album in five years, the long-running Brazilian ensemble takes its instrumental sound to a new strength.
Active since 2003, the band Constantina has a kind of mystique around it that brings rapturous reunions in every new album released. “Atrópico”, the most recent effort from the band, comes with a new sense of growth while its members had to deal with major transformations in their personal lives.
The loss of a father, a battle against a cancer and the born of a new child; all these struggles and blessings gathering in these five years of hiatus help to shape the sound pieces that we found in the new album.
“Atrópico” does nothing that you haven’t heard them do before—all of their peculiar melodies are there, but only this time, they have done it with a more emphatically and dramatically way. Using more horns sections and a new approach in the guitar work, the band made a step forward in its atmospheric ambiences. It sounds darker than any previous work from the band, and yet, full of hopefulness.”
Another La Petite Chambre release and possibly the core of their artists together, Constantina give me vibes of a band that would be suited to the Constellation label. This is Post Rock through the lens of more jazzy, roots orientated style. There are times when a group like Isotope 217 comes to mind and Veloso’s a_d_a project’s influence comes though on the track “Ensinando a Ser Sombra” aka “Teaching To Be Shadow”. There is a certain amount of familiarity within the pieces, but thankfully not as a whole as the band are still able to throw curve balls and put their own heritage into the pieces. The way that they transition musically from more traditional rock set up to electronics and then jazz is very fluid and natural.
“Atrópico” is the kind of album that is multi-dimensional and will not overstay it’s welcome. The album is available on LP (250 copies), CD (50 copies) and Digital.
“The duo conceptualized making a warm, summery record and set out working remotely with Neher (Beach Body, Oiseaux) improvising sparse works on piano and Fender Rhodes and Dawson (Library Voices, ROM DOS) contributing tape manipulations, synths, and textural elements.
“I had just built a little studio set up in our sun room at home and then it poured for days on end,” recollects Dawson. “After hours and hours of rain skittering across the glass ceiling in the background it became impossible to hear the songs without it… so I set up microphones. Many of those recordings made it on the album but it also sent my down a wormhole, sifting through a field recording archive I’ve made over the last few years to dig out other summer recordings that had water themes.”
Neher adds “The process behind this record was particularly ephemeral for me. While I did throw a few pieces away, I felt confident in the single-take improvisations that were my contributions to the pieces and I let them leave my mind shortly after the mixing process. When we received our masters some time later, I was surprised to find that the lush and serene music I remembered writing was instead spare and unsettled. What changed between my perception of the music then and now isn’t a failure of the record but instead a feature: our elastic memory’s ability to listen to and reinterpret our environment day in and day out.”
Originally released back in November on Neher’s Soft Wired label, “On Remembering” is the duo’s second full length following on from “Nothing Is On Fire”. Quite easily one of the most impressive covers of recent times, the enclosed music does it justice. There is a gentle pastoral meets electronic ambience that has a real meditative feel to it, as if it invites the listener to just cast off whatever is worrying them. Subtlety and minimalism are the key as witnessed on a piece like “Petrichor” which buzzes with a paper thin electronics meets tones and what feels like field recordings and the transparent qualities of “Empty Maps”. It is almost like the music is that fragile it could easily crumble into dust and be dispersed by the wind. The old saying that less is more definitely applies to this album as Neher and Dawson have developed a form of enticing listeners with this feeling of ‘barely there’ which is in a way a ruse, as there is truly something there. Very much recommended.
“On Remembering” is available Digitally.