I have been trying to mix up the posts of current releases alongside those that I missed first time around from the latter part of 2019. Here is one such post featuring some fine piano works, electronica and post rock from the likes of Tambour, Ed Carlsen, Anoice and Dominique Charpentier.
“Montreal pianist and composer Tambour also known as Simon P. Castionguay returns with his third EP Constellations (ou comment arrêter le temps) / (or how to stop time). This collection of five paintings sees Castonguay reflecting on notions of time ; its passing, the time we have and the time that we don’t, the time we take or choose not to; time spent waiting after something or someone; our perceptions of and relation to the world around us (and the stars beyond).”
It is no real surprise that a release such as this finds itself on the Canadian label Moderna Records. For some time now they have been issuing music that is some of the finest in the Modern Classical (and electronica) genres and this release is no exception. Tambour is a name I was vaguely familiar with if not through music. This five track EP nicely blends Modern Classical with Ambient and Electronics into a form of music that is as dreamy as it is beautiful. Castonguay teams up with a string quartet to add the more droning moments of the pieces and some subtle additions to the sound.
After the opening duo of “Orion (Mythologies)” and “Vela (Lover’s Antlers)”, the music starts to reach an apex on the second half pieces like “Ursa Minor (Caroline’s Theme)” which nicely fuses contemporary and classical elements, while “Cassiopée (Mirror Maps” explores moody landscapes mixing in ambience, electronics and staccato strings. The final piece “Lyra (L’Orage Blanc)” reveals Castonguay to be an artist who it feels like he looks further into the music and styles of the past rather those of contemporaries. There is such a grandeur to his works that you could easily see them being played by a full orchestra.
“Constellations (ou comment arrêter le temps)” is available as Digital release and you can also buy prints of the cover art by Sean Patrick Curtis, Simon P Castonguay and Catherine Pelletier.
“Ed Carlsen returns with his sophomore LP Morning Hour. Written, recorded and produced over the last two years in Kraków (Poland) and his hometown of Cagliari (Italy), the record finds Carlsen taking his melodic modern classical sensibilities to new terrain, fusing string textures with electronica and melodic piano with swelling electric guitar , all the while exploring a diversity of upbeat and downtempo feels.
The shape shifting sounds on Morning Hour are rooted in real life experiences – the sense of place in distant locales, the confronting of anxieties, the loss of life, and ultimately, the redemptive choice in leaving the darkness behind for a new light…”
Here we have yet another Moderna release, this time the third album from Ed Carlsen. While others flirt with electronics within their modern classical framework, Carlsen fully embraces it on this release while still maintaining a classical feel. It could be a no-no to purists, but with electronics entering this genre it does open up the sound and offer a form of music that is quite complimentary. While their are pieces like “Words” that are quite dominated by electronic s(as well as guitar on this particular track), a piece like “Entangled” fits nicely in with it’s delightful piano and epic strings.
A piece like “Hands, Heart” allows Carlsen to explore ambient territories through both his piano playing as well as his use of electronics giving rise to an uplifting piece of music that moves through periods of contemplation before expanding into a near joyous crescendo. With a piece like the finale “Mormor” or “Interlude” you are left wondering if a move to more electronic forms of music (Eg: Kiasmos) could be on the cards. Carlsen definitely has the skills to pull off the switch as well as to remain within this multi genre style.
“Morning Hour” is the kind of album suited to those that like the electronic excursions with Modern Classical or those who like electronics and are finding piano music an interesting style to explore. This album brings together the best of both worlds. “Morning Hour” is available on CD and Digital.
“The music one craves when picking yourself up. It has been four years since Anoice’s 4th album, ‘into the shadows’, the masterpiece of neoclassical, post-rock, and ambient music, featuring ’old lighthouse’ which became the #1 trending track on Spotify as Japanese artists, and ‘invasion’ which was used as the credit roll tune of ‘Girl Lost’, a US movie which was the #1 trending movie on Amazon Prime Video. An instrumental music band featuring a magnificent cinematic sound, Anoice will finally release their 5th studio album ‘Ghost in the Clocks’, after releases from the members’ solo projects, Takahiro Kido and Yuki Murata, and side projects RiLF, Films, and Mizu Amane. It’s set to be a future classic.
On this album, Anoice express the world that follows ‘The Black Rain’, their highly-praised 3rd album, which was selected as one of the top albums of the year by many music review websites. This is a new dark cinematic masterpiece that is also Anoice’s unique sound.
My entry point to Anoice was the solo album “Piano Fantasia” from member Yuki Murata that was featured on this blog back in January of 2019. The music of Anoice cannot be defined by one particular sound. Labels like Post-Rock, Neo-Classical and Ambient are some that are applicable. Their core lineup features instruments such as Piano, Drums, Guitar and Violin as well as guest musicians on strings and flute.
Only when the piece “Heroes” start do you get the essence of a Post-Rock band. The two opening pieces “After the Rain” and “Clockwork Moment” are more within the Modern Classical and Experimental frameworks respectively. “Heroes” features soaring strings, military style drumming, feverish piano and colourful strings to bring the music to a threshold while holding onto it’s intensity. In some ways it feels reminiscent of Mono, but from a different sound influence. A piece like the single “It” makes me feel as if you are listening to a classical band rather than a post rock one. Largely led by Murata’s piano and strings with flourishes of cymbals, the music has somewhat of a gothic edge and by that I don’t mean either the UK or US style of music, more about a darker mood to the piece. It’s only on “Rebirth” that the band flex their Post-Rock muscles with electric guitar guitar and traditional drumming and rhythms coming into the fore, while on “Time” they venture into jazz like symphonic rock territory.
For the most part of the album they work better as classical quartet rather than as rock band, They sound like they possibly are a group that is centred around Murata (on this I might be wrong, but this is the impression I get with the pieces). When they stay within this style as their framework the music is at it’s most successful as once the more rock based elements come in they feel like they are possibly of the proggy or more mainstream sounding feel and they don’t work personally for me so well. If the album was more like pieces such as “Heroes” it would have struck more of a chord with me (pun not intended). “Ghost In The Clocks” is available on LP, CD and Digital.
“This new album is based on two main concepts. First, the creative process is totally experimental as I try to reinvent myself by using new instruments like analog synthesizers, and by concentrating my work on sound textures & rhythm rather than melody.
This album is also the result of an artistic collaboration with the french photographer Laurent Pistiaux . Indeed, each composition is finely inspired and entitled after a photo he took on a small island in Britany, Ushant. For some of the tracks, it works the other way around, the photo being chosen as artwork after a new piece is finished.”
If anyone has been following this blog would know of my appreciation of Dominique Charpentier’s work. I kind of feel a little guilty that it’s taken me this time to cover this album which came out five months ago. Over the journey that I have been following the works of Charpentier has developed this ability to go from strength to strength. The early releases that came my way such as “Esquisses” or “Reminiscence” were strictly piano based albums with a bit of a raw feel. Since the Charpentier has gone onto explore electronics as seen from “Chrysalide” on wards and the recordings have become clearer.
The pieces on this album straddle the balance of piano recordings and electronics with the likes of “Ressac” or “Chat Perché” entering new territory for the artist as he shifts to more beat orientated and largely purely electronic based pieces. Whether this is a new form of music that he will pursue in the future or is based on the photographic images as mentioned in the press release, and is solely related to this project, only time will tell. I can’t say I am sold on the whimsical “La Cabane” that has a variety of sounds an at times makes me think of indie electronics meets new wave meets synth pop meets light pop.
Pieces like “La Tendresse” and “Vignette (Piano)” are those that best remind me of Charpentier’s work, but it is always good to hear someone that is not resting of where they have been on previous releases and are continuing to explore the musical landscapes and push themselves forward. “Lueurs” is available on limited CD (50 copies) and Digital with sheet music also available.