With the onset of the Corona Virus pandemic changes occurred in the underground music scene. From moving to largely Digital releases through to the Bandcamp revenue initiatives, arguably more music was released due to the nature of isolation and lock down. It has become quite difficult to keep up to speed with all these releases, so this post is more of an overview of releases from four seemingly intertwined seven degrees of Ambient music. The following post includes a staggering Thirty Two releases (the majority through Whitelabrecs) that have come out since May the first! Naturally all these release are Digital only.
The Whitelabrecs “Home Diaries” series consists of a total of thirty releases which come from artists the label has worked with in the past (or through related sister labels) and new artists that have been welcomed into the fold. Their releases have included the following:
“A Quiet World was produced using a 7 string Ibanez guitar and several pedals, with added field recordings from around the house. The album is presented as a diary, with tracks arranged as days, counting from 1 to 10. It is a reflection of the quiet world around us, as lock down conditions dampen acoustics across the globe. During the recording process, Sebastian got a terrible cold and his fears of whether he had contracted the virus were reflected into his music, as these calm guitar moods are contrasted by some more intense swells of transcending drones.”
I find that the pieces that work for me more tend to be those that rely less on the twangy guitar and concentrate more on dronescapes like on the piece “Day 3” or “Day 7”. I previously passed on the collaborative release with Slow Clinic and unfortunately this release also doesn’t resonate with me. It feels bleached of colour and light, which may be it’s intention so It doesn’t appeal to my taste.
“Each of the ten pieces unfolds slowly and carefully, placing field recordings of the outdoors at its core as calming drones emit into the environment that is created. There is a clear fascination of Japan in Sebastian Paul’s work, with previous work nodding in the direction of the far Eastern country. In this Home Diaries edition, he opens with the track ‘Tokyo’, as one of the most populous cities in the world has its bustling acoustics dampened. Watery, dream-like mirages are woven throughout the album until the final piece ‘Paradise’ closes this sleepy chapter. The album has been deliberately mastered at a slightly quieter level, to reflect the level of calm that the artist intends for the listener and we find this is best enjoyed with headphones late at night. “
Sometimes ambient works that largely feature field recordings can feel clumsy in their placement, as if they are just tacked in. In the Case of Sebastian Paul’s contribution to the series the pieces work as they have both a calming and transcending feel to them and they explore a vast swathe of territory and textures.
Fossil Hunting Collective
“Aperture is a 44 minute album dealing with the artist’s experience of lockdown, which he shared with his family. It began following surgery, so recovery and finding a way back to making music played a big part in this record. There is a sense that time stands on end, through guitar drones, slow and subtle rhythms as well as both indoor and outdoor field recordings. Recovery from the operation forced a gradual approach to this album but thankfully, the extra time at home has allowed Jones to build in a remarkable level of detail throughout. The nuances in each daily routine is captured and set to a range of techniques which stretch far and away beyond flares of sleepy drone. This one should retain your interest from start to finish and sounds just as good with the volume dial set to loud, as it does when turned down. “
Fossil Hunting Collective is Jamie Jones who is one half of Still Harbours whose “Flurochrome” was released a while back. The music contained here could be loosely described as Ambient but it has a lot of other sound influences with glitchy beats, rhythmical touches and cut up dialogue. The end result is one which is engaging as it wakes you from the ambient coma you could be in and draws you in with both it’s diverse sound sources and it’s vibrancy.
“Chris and his family have remained indoors more frequently than others during lock down, to shield themselves from risk. Drones for The Borders is a five track mini album of synth, field recordings and short wave radio. The work is full of dynamic character and wide ranging moods lending themselves to the landscape of the borders, which Chris captures during recorded drone flights. Themes of communication failure also bleed into the grand, wide-open spaces of this record, as the fuzz of short-wave radio hums.”
Chris Dooks offers a completely different take with his entry into the series. Synth heavy with a visceral feel, the music is experimental in nature with occasional violent swathes of sound and distortion. Field recordings and Dialogue gives the material an eerie edge of isolation and post pandemic life.
“Emotioncodes is a set of 7 tracks, where synth or guitar loops were created, recorded to quarter-inch tape and then played through a 16 track recorder, before being fed back onto reel to reel tape again for some extra dust. This approach, which Steven describes as a magnetised orchestra, carries the theme of him trying to convey a specific emotion from the day of recording. The tracks became Emotioncodes, for you the listener to decode and it is hoped that throughout this dusty record, that you will find comfort. “
Hymns57 is Steven de Taeye who runs the Aural Tethers label alongside Jamie Jones aka Fossil Hunting Collective. The pieces on this release are as much about their method of recording as they are the sounds. There is an overcast feel to the music where the decay is not obviously noted but subconscious in its presence. The most conventional of the piece “Emotioncode Seven” is the stand out for me as it has a detritus covered new age feel that still shimmers under the weight.
“James has continued working throughout the pandemic due to being a key worker, but he has found the general pace of life to have slowed considerably. This has given him more time to read, relax and write music and this record is influenced by noise pollution, as unwanted noise has disappeared. The natural world now has centre stage and this became the backdrop for an album in which field recordings are the main focus. Natural sounds are accompanied with only the gentlest placement of ambient drones for a subtle but detailed listen. It is best enjoyed in a quiet setting free from noise pollution; indoors or outdoors for a three dimensional listen, where you can bring further natural sounds to this environment.”
The above quote really says it all. If you are seeking a soundtrack for some time away for contemplation, Then Osland’s “Everything Will Be Alright Forever” ticks all kinds of boxes. There is a slow calmness as well as a soundscape that involves depth and texture. A piece like “Darkness Fell Quiety Over Us” (sp?) is the type that draws you in with it’s captivating drones and is perfect for headphone listening. Hats off to the mastering of James Edward Armstrong as he enables the pieces to be engaging as well as encompassing.
Pie Are Squared
“He set himself the objective of placing the listener in his studio, situated in central Ravenna. Field recordings captured the daily routine from indoors as well as those caught from just beneath the windows, on the outside. These run all the way through the album, which has been adorned with dense soundscapes created from pretty much all of the equipment he owns.“
“Muri” by Pie Are Squared is a rich release of vibrant drones and soaring ambience with the occasional crackle noted. The pieces move from minimal terrain through to walls of sound. The more minimal drone based works like “”Would’ve Been Nice To Go Home” (a reference to visiting family in Egypt) and “What’s the Opposite Of Nostalgia” have a very emotional and heartfelt feel.
“Before the pandemic took hold, we were in discussions with Andreas about releasing a new Polaroid Notes album, which has now been delayed. He’d moved from his office to a home-working environment, saving a 300km commute and adding four extra days at home. He had already created a Home Diaries themed album during the lock down period, having re-recorded some older material as well as new improvisations using Rhodes piano keys as the main sound source. Moonlight Sessions as its name suggests, is an album for quiet night-time reflection.“
Polaroid Notes contribution is the Rhodes heavy “Moonlight Sessions” which has an intimate feel as if you are in the same room. Time, space and pace are used at bringing out his pieces which aid in making them introspective and also relaxing. There is a natural feel to the music that relies more on the notes played than any additional sort of treatments or effects. With eleven tracks and thirty three minutes in length, Polaroid Notes doe not overstay his welcome and instead makes you yearn for a little more.
Francis M. Gri
“After chatting with Francis, he went away to develop this piece into a suite of 5 sections, which he adapted with additional elements including guitar, sansula and singing bowls. It became a mini album and the title translates to ‘rooms and distances’, a simple title yet with plenty of scope for interpretation. Electronic piano keys reflect the lonely socially-distant streets but also, the intimate warmth of being safe inside your own home. The singing bowls give a sense of distance and travel then, again, they also retain a meditative hum that is very much of the present. It is hoped that this record will provoke or aid an inner reflection and become a spring-board of positivity.”
For an artist that lives in one of the most Covid -19 impacted areas of Italy, you would be forgiven if you expected the material to full of angst or dread. Instead the five piece/movements or tracks rely on melodic tones to convey their positivity. The pieces have flourishes of electroacoustic sounds in them, combined with distance and calmness evoked by the pace of the music resulting in a gentle thoughtful listen.
“Living alone has given Jack lots of opportunity to recall and think about memories. This became the focus for his Home Diaries record, as he thought about how his mind recalls memory. He intentionally used ideas of nostalgia by adding them into these pieces. One example includes in the opening track Jack had asked his brother to record his 11 month old daughter Jane (Jack’s niece) whilst she was playing. Another is the video for Weeks which was originally shot by his uncle Keith in the 1970s for a school project when he was teaching his brother Scott how to fly the aircraft in the video. This short album is wondrously stirring and does not contain a shred of darkness, as these sounds were inspired by the best moments of the artist’s past. They’re a beacon of warmth and positivity in these strange times that are upon us.”
If ever there was a moniker that did not suit the music it is No Death. The music is the kind that wraps around you and pulls you in tightly. It has this nice balance of field recordings, intimate moments, lilting drones and swathes of ambience. The pieces can’t help but make the listener feel content inside with a piece like “Weeks” being a particular highlight with it’s loops, piano lines and drones that show beauty through repetition. Easily one of the best from the “Home Diaries” series.
The Volume Settings Folder
“His Home Diaries edition begins with melancholy layers of pseudo-blues guitar which slowly disintegrates into a bed of restful Ambience. The carefully layered beauty of each and every moment of this sound is underpinned by a new-found abundance of time, in which the artist was able to truly develop his ideas. There is a summertime haziness which gives the listener a sense of wide-open sun-bleached fields and a comfort to be found in sheer existence, not to be mistaken for sadness.”
The consistent Italian musician M. Beckmann aka The Volume Settings Folder joins the fray with this four track EP. Known for his own home made, hand crafted self releases as well as via Oscarson, Static Reasons and others, Beckmann contributes four pieces of decay which if you take all the quarantine themed track titles into effect ( for example: “At Home But Always Leaving”, “I Will Not Go Now On The Pastures To Walk”) probably reflect a change in existence. Instead of being able to move freely, especially in a place as widely affected as Italy, the decay could reflect the diminished freedom and the feelings this generates.
“Michael has still managed to work in some free-time into his new-found routine by getting up early and this space has been mostly reserved for music. Household environments and every day objects, toys and sounds were used to develop modern classical compositions and contemporary soundscapes. Some pieces feel intimate, particularly when piano notes and strings combine, whereas others feel cavernous and dreamy. ‘Indoors’ was created during a time when a new routine was being established by this family and if you allow yourself the time to absorb this mini album in full, you’ll be struck by a sheer level of detail, order and balance.”
Michael Southard aka Time Rival is one of the three principles behind the Triplicate label out of Richmond, Illinois of which is a new one for me. His six track contribution is entitled “Indoors” which naturally reflects the nature of the lock down. His release is one I intend to go back and spend more time with it as it nicely combines Modern Classical with an organic and innocent feel as well as embracing Electronica and Ambient. My personal taste leans more to the Modern Classical style and if Whitelabrecs were to do a sampler/compilation the addition of “I Just Need Like Two Minutes” would be a walk on for me.
“Mehrdad Kanani is a photographer and sound designer based in Tehran, Iran. He got in touch after learning of our Home Diaries project, as he had been writing some material based on the sounds inside his head. These were on his mind as he wrestled with the idea of quarantine and self isolation. Living alone, he initially felt suppressed, especially after travel plans had been cancelled but throughout the process and through his work on the sound content of his Home Diaries, Mehrdad adopted a positive approach. Amidst the murk and fuzziness of the opening track ‘A Dreamless Sleep’, a half-tuned radio broadcast beams out waves of positivity, which ultimately shifts aside for another quiet pause. This gentle smearing of noise, hum and fractals somehow lends itself perfectly to the dreamy melodies that blur in and out. The jittering thoughts of a solitary soul that flit about, like positive and negative electricity charges, have been sonically transcribed for you, the listener.”
Mehrdad Kanani clearly has an eye for photography as shown on his Instagram page and he has shown the same sort of aptitude for the three granular works that make up what seems his debut release. The pieces have a gritty feel in the foreground with a swirling mysterious soundscape bubbling underneath. Kanani is not afraid to mix in darker sounds alongside delicate melodic ones as well as drones and field recordings. Recommended for those who appreciate Federico Durand.
Mind Over MIDI
“Helge, a serious hardware aficionado, lives a quiet life only emphasised by the Norwegian lockdown since mid May. He has used the time to continue his immersion into the musical equipment that he considers family, making spaces in which he can drop in and out of without applying any conscious themes. Some of these spaces are provided for us here, as a Home Diaries edition which drapes looped, recurring motifs across vacant, icy sonic fields. Both chillingly cold and cosily warm, these soundscapes are best allowed to unfold in full, to give light to hazy moments of vacant clarity.”
Helge Tømmervåg has been recording under the Mind over MIDI name for a quarter of a century with releases on labels such as Beatservice, Diametric, Silent Season and ROHS! to name a few. There is a distant, submerged and blurry feel to the four pieces that make up Helge’s contribution. There is a certain muffled darkness that permeates over the fragile melodic tones. Almost as if the heart of the music is buried under ice and the darkness is the swirling cold atmosphere above it. The music is calm, but you sense a slight uneasiness which may just be the melancholic touches talking.
“We’re pleased to welcome back Ostrava, Czech Republic’s Blochemy, who contributed the CD album ‘Nebe’ to our discography earlier this year. This 5 track mini album is the perfect companion piece or perhaps, an extension. Field recordings, synths, tape recorders and granular synthesis have been the tools to shape these pieces. The tone of these pieces follow the familiar pattern from Nebe. There’s an added warmth and contentment to the sound, as this artist has used the bonus time indoors to spend time with his family and complete unfinished musical projects.”
You can sense that not all the time spent in isolation has been wasted. Following on from his physical release “Nebe”, Blochemy returns with this five track EP that utilised time spent in isolation to finish up on projects. The pieces contain acoustic instrumentation weaved into pieces with warped sounds, glitches, field recordings and other sounds to create these hazy, distorted dream like pieces that you cannot make out just what they represent thanks to the blurred images.
“Cosmos’ Home Diaries edition follows a series of live video performances, in which he used the pressure of the live situation to focus on the need for an immediate accuracy to his work and he has retained the realism of these sessions, by leaving the compositions largely unedited in this short album. Field recordings from his previous homes as well as the nightly howls are included, amongst other captured moments. In this work, you’ll find a restful space awaits you, as delicate piano notes adorn a bed of deep ambient drones.”
When I first read about the “nightly howling” I admit to being a bit apprehensive as to what the music would sound like. Thankfully Rennert weaves them into a choir of drones that sound more like a squalling wind than a gaggle of screaming people. There is a hushed darkness to the pieces that nicely situates itself around a variety of field recordings, piano and layers of Ambience. The end result is one which is calming and fits in nicely with some of the other artists in the series.
“Adrian’s recent work has largely been focused around the piano but in his Home Diaries record, Adrian decided to focus on strings and combined his acoustic instruments such as violin and bowed guitar and psaltery with orchestral MIDI libraries for Kontakt. He wanted to tread the line between the real and the synthetic so that this would be difficult to discern for the listener. The result is a form of Neo Classical composition which feels both modern and traditional, weaving stories that reflect the restrictions of the pandemic, the positivity born from spending time creatively and with family and also, a series of dreams.”
I’ve been gladly following Adrian Lane’s career now since his first release on Preserved Sound back in 2013. Each release is fully formed with a great attention to detail and this eight track, twenty four minute release entitled “Indigo And Salt Peter” is no exception. The part in the above press quote about trading the line between real and synthetic and making it difficult to discern to the listener is correct. This feels as if it was recorded in a world class studio with an string ensemble. Lane’s pieces have this ability to play with light and shade and notions of romance in music. The move away from piano to more string based instruments or sounds is an inspired one as the music is quite magical.
“John and his fiancée had just about finished renovating their RV when the pandemic took hold and their dreams of travelling were put on hold. Like many, they had to focus on the idea of staying put instead. For John, he saw the positivity in being able to use the time wisely and amongst many things, this included a chance to create music. He approached this Home Diaries record wanting to move away from his ambient sound and focus more on musical elements, including looped piano compositions and lots of sampling. Sampling has always been a key element to his approach, but he wanted to use this alongside more acoustic source material. John’s sampling is seamless and these layers of fractured sound tell a story, when the clock is ticking at half its normal rate.”
Like others Daliah has used the time in lock down to his advantage in the sense that he has been able to focus more on his art, reconnect with a childhood inspiration (Frank Zappa) and try out new approaches to his ambient music. For his release “Fishes” he opted to focus on small melodies and tones and chop them up and play with them via the use of loops. The end result is pieces that vary from dream like hazy soundscapes to more rhythmical miniatures that feel as if they are not restricted in any way, case in point the stunning “Kafka’s On Shore”. There is such a variety in sounds that I look forward to listening to more of this in the future.
“Sven’s Home Diaries came about suddenly, after his experience of the pandemic saw him living away from home, some 100km from Berlin. He was staying with family for childcare purposes but the weeks away from his art drove him to head back home alone. Over some intense days in his studio, Sven had created ‘Scattered Fragments of Separation‘, a full and immersive album of modern classical compositions. The dreamy but emotive sound of the piano became the focus of his sound, as he wanted to both lose himself whilst also, channel his experiences into a documentary record which preserve this strange time.”
In some ways Sven’s artistic calling was what lead to this album and inspired it. Despite being close to family he needed to return to his studio as a kind of therapy. Laux has been releasing a consistent selection of material over the last couple of years and this is no exception. A full length release comprising nine tracks and fifty minutes in length, “Scattered Fragments of Separation” easily showcases why Laux is being noted as someone who’s releases are worth investigating. The tracks, titled “Fragments 1” through to “Fragments 9” blur the lines between Modern Classical and Ambient ( with some retro sounding synth action) and are anchored by a stillness and slightly cold melancholic sound. The end result is another release which to fully immerse yourself into.
“Neil’s Home Diaries album consists of three mid-length tracks, which were restful spaces for him to reacquaint himself with his musical equipment, which had been in storage for some time. He has recently become a father and at the point of lock down, his daughter was just 3 months old. This album has become a deeply personal journal, in which he has documented this special time with his young family, during strange circumstances. The moments of each movement evolve, with generative patterns offering child-like looping melodies which occasionally flourish into echoing synth swells.”
After listening to this three tack release I am left wondering about the connectedness of the pieces, if they are part of one big piece. The EP starts with “Floating Home” which introduces a sound scape which is as melodic and playful as it is sharp. There is a whimsical feel buried within under the electronics, synths and possibly guitars. There is a calmness note with a lullaby quality also present that if the more detritus like sounds were removed, would make a sleep piece for his children. “Quiet City” is almost cut from the same cloth with a more abstract sound and field recordings entering in. Towards the end synths abound in a bouncing fashion which become precursors to the main motif of the final piece “Strange Times” which over time becomes a denser swell of sound which is far removed from the opening track. In some way it is like the obvious conclusion as that childlike whimsy heard early on has also vanished for the most part. A near Power Electronics section leads us towards the more progressively relaxing finale where some of that innocence returns.
The Invention Of Aircraft
” This year, Phil had two solo albums delayed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Velatore is one of these, which we plan to release later this year. When we broke the news that Velatore would be delayed, Phil responded by working on an album for our Home Diaries series. He was just about to move house before lock down commenced and ended up staying with his friend Annie in South London. He’s been able to set up a temporary studio and make full use of the inspiration and resources that this new environment and circumstance provided. He switched from hardware synths to software, took several daily domestic field recordings, Annie is a professional sound recordist, so she provided some recordings of some dawn choruses and another good friend Ian contributed some slide guitar in a couple of the pieces. The production of this record began on Phil’s birthday, the day lock down here in the UK commenced and this became the title of the album.”
If you were to travel back in time to the infancy of the Ambient genre to show an example of where the music has travelled, “Twenty-third of the Third” would be a good example to use. Contemporary ambient is an amalgam of many different forms of inspiration or sources of sounds which allows the artist to be expressive. Some choose not to do so, thankfully Phil Tomsett is not one of those. Carrying on from his collaborative album with Ian Hawgood (“Fragmented Boundaries”, Home Normal, 2019), Phil produces an album of wide scale works that infuse slide guitar, field recordings, drone and a bed of ambience.
Opening with a piece that directly references his birthday and the title that work commenced upon the album, the remaining tracks have lock down / isolation inspired titles such as “I’ve Become Disconnected From The World”, “Zoom Chat Madness” and “Surrounded By Extroverts”. Musically however, the pieces don’t dwell on either the negativity that such a situation can engender but does emulate the weirdness and the humour in the title “Zoom Chat Madness”. Listening to these pieces it is quite obvious when Ambient / Drone is done well and when it is not. Sometimes this style of music can lack a soul. This is not the case with the music Phil Tomsett puts out which is rich, vibrant and energising. Well worth listening to (though I might just skip “Zoom Chat Madness” from now on).
The label run by British musician James Murray has instigated the Lifelines series with the theme or rallying call of “Hold Tight”. “Lifelines is a new digital series presenting vital and consoling works from an expanding Slowcraft roster, each paired with bespoke artwork by print maker June Murray.” I have previously covered the release on the series from Mathieu Karsenti ” Downstream Blue”, this time ’round I get up close and personal with the other releases in the series.
“Composer and field recordist Tomáš Šenkyřík conceived of Fond during early morning lock down sessions coinciding with the arrival of his fourth child. Weaving Pavel Rajmic’s violin and double bass into piano, guitar, electronics and field recordings, a delicately restrained electroacoustic collection emerged, painting a poignant and moving portrait of new life and fatherhood under exceptional circumstances.”
The beauty of these digital releases is that you are introduced to new artists or ones you hadn’t had a chance to catch up on. Tomáš Šenkyřík is a new name for me and alongside Pavel Rajmic on violins and double bass he offers up four pieces that marry sound collages, drones, field recordings and strings. Occasionally the music tips into the more discordant side, but on a whole the pieces are understated explorations in sound blending the various styles together to come out as more as sound art than a particular genre. Occasionally field recordings can feel cumbersome in music when they are worked in in a fashion that is unnatural. With Šenkyřík’s pieces they feel essential to them with the other elements nicely encompassing them.
“Il Tempo Della Nostra Estate is the compelling new full-length album from Italian composer and guitarist Federico Mosconi, a sublime and heady work full of personal warmth and nostalgic introspection, awoken by hazy waves of cyclic summer heat.”
My only other interaction with Mosconi was the “Between The Ocean And The Sky” release he did with Francis M. Gri, also on Slowcraft. “Il Tempo Della Nostra Estate” aka “The Time Of Our Summer” is a hazy, drifting soaked work that is as dissonant as it is relaxing. Field Recordings, static, piano, violin, acoustic and post rock styled guitar make up the pieces that range from more relaxed works through to epic walls of noise. The quality you notice is the depth of sound where juxtaposition of sounds occur and invite you to pull back the layers to see the totality of the pieces.
LA PETITE CHAMBRE
This Brazilian label/collective instigated their “At Home With….” series in March 27 and adopted a weekly release schedule seeing a release drop each Friday. Thus far there have been eleven entries with this current quartet getting us up to date.
Grotta Veterano is an artist based in the North of Italy and his two track release is comprised of “Rahorn” and “Kingtitle See”. The two pieces fall under the experimental umbrella with a strong drone and sound art presence. Field recordings filter through, but it is hard to identify a particular sound or feel to the pieces as they don’t fit a certain mould. Indeed in the track notes to the Bandcamp page the artist states “As for the precedent track, the concept is absent. The only idea is to explore music while making it.” He also states that tension is part of the pieces, but they are not that obvious.
Tropiques is the new French artist Alex Fernandino and the two pieces contained here, “Faux Jumeaux” aka “Fake Twins” and “Trickster” are his debut pieces. There is a strong electronica feel in the piece with glitches, looped rhythms, effects, guitars, etc… making their presence known. The opening track “Fake Jumeaux” is bright and summery with a vibe that help but be contagious. “Trickster” operates from a similar sound palette, but has a more rhythmical and internalised feel with post rock guitar lines being the main feature. I am curious to see how the Tropiques project develops as this is a good first offering.
“Christopher was born and raised in Northern Ireland. His compositions originate from acoustic sounds and instruments which are later intricately edited to form flowing soundscapes. He makes use of loops, drones and field recordings to give his music an intimate sound. Christopher currently lives in São Paulo, Brazil.”
Christopher Scullion is an Irish artist living in Brazil who has a collection of what looks like self released works. This release has elements of dialogue and rhythmical avant – pop. I am sure there are credible comparisons to be made, but I don’t have the vast musical knowledge to attribute them. It would appear that making audio recordings of incidental occurrences is part of his style and he uses these in the way that other artists use distance and static to evoke memories. The closest comparison I can come for the second track “Still” would be Message to Bears and even that is far off. For those who like folktronica mixed with field recordings and a variety of home spun feelings.
Eddu Ferreira follows the more rhythmical permutations of the more recent releases on the series and pairs nicely with the likes of Scullion and Tropiques. The voice seems important to Ferreria’s style, but it is used as an instrument rather than in the conventional way. Electronics and guitars are the other main sound sources and like the voices they are manipulated to cast different shapes and territories. The two pieces “One Side: Your Body” and “Other Side” Your Voice” flow together but represent different styles. It’s almost as if each features what is missing from the other.
“PROTECTORATE AND THE PROTECTOR: “This is the audio from my recent performance installation hosted by ANÓNIMO and commissioned by A MUSEUM LIFE. MARFA Project Rooms Edition.” Having the vast desert as a framework, the Marfa Project Rooms edition is a multi-dimensional space that responds to the West Texas town artistic, geographic, and environmental context.”
The “At Home With….” series comes to an end with this releases from Jeanann Dara. Rather than a two track ” single we instead get a single sixteen minute track epic that moves through genres such as string driven modern classical, folk, drone and experimental. I don’t know the mechanism of the way the piece was constructed, but I imagine a healthy dose of looping electronics are involved due to it’s many layers that are flitting about in every possible direction. There are ominous drones, sea spray like noises, circular movements and rapid slashes of strings involved in creating a piece that is as intriguing as it is hypnotic. If artists like Julia Kent or Clarice Jensen resonate with you, I am sure this piece will as well.
The Italian label KrysaliSound, run by Francis M. Gri tends to have breaks during the European summer as evidenced by the label’s schedule over the last couple of years. Naturally things were a little different this year. “Before the closing of the season and the restart in September I am pleased to present 3 digital releases which are published together today June 13th. During the lock down I received a lot of demos and I wanted to give voice to new names that I hope you will remember in the future. All of these works are involved in some way with the Corona virus days.”
Sascha Rosemarie Höfer
“Sascha Rosemarie Höfer is the first name and comes from Germany. In the last months he found an archive with an old project recorded in 2012 and during the isolation he edited and completed the work .”Bar-Do” derives from the Tibetan and means something like stuck in between two conditions of overlapping reality conceptions. When we are suddenly sliding from a safe situation into uncertainty e. g. there is always a gap – as it is in between two consecutive thoughts. But we don’t recognise it, and therefore we don’t use the gift that lies in it. Instead, we are afraid of it. And this is the reason why we’re rashly searching the next step to safety again at all costs. But this gap is a possibility for insight if we don’t panic, stay calm and let the moment happen. But the fear around us that spreads it wings inside ourselves is mostly dominant. And this fear is none which was necessary in former times to be aware of the tigers and lions that tried to harm us and put us into flight or fight mode. It is a constructed fear that keeps us in our cages. And so I think it fits into times like these with all the anxiety and uncertainty around us due to the pandemic turmoil. To catch a clear thought for what’ s really happening seams like fishing in muddy waters.”
Seventeen pieces in Twenty Six Minutes with only one piece passing the three minute barrier and the rest averaging under a minute in a half. The album is split into tracks with prefix “Prolog der Wahrnehmung” (aka “The Prologue of Perception”) and “Hinter dem ersten Grund” (aka “Behind The First Reason”). Before listening I thought this separate may result in differences in sounds, but for the whole part all the pieces exist within some sort of experimental electronic noisecapes (but not completely noisy). It is bound to appreciate to some people with it’s shape shifting meets loop based sound, but unfortunately I am not one of them.
“Robbie Elizee is the second artist and comes from Nashville, USA. I found his music on Soundcloud and what I will propose you is a collection of minimal electronic songs almost all recorded during the isolation. His music comes from cheap instruments bought from the pawn shop like guitars, keyboards, effect pedals, cassette recorders then all processed on his laptop. He makes music in his spare time and usually self-releases his records publishing them on his Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages.”
Robbie Elizee is a Nashville Ambient artist in the classical sort of way. His pieces mix in field recordings, melodic electronics, audio dialogue, drones and static to create pieces that vary from boarding on glitch like electronica to melancholic almost modern classical. Despite the differences within the pieces the album doesn’t feel like one where everything is thrown in together. There is an organic flow and a consistent distance felt throughout the pieces regardless of their style. This is another album I look forward to investigating more deeply when I get the chance as KrysaliSound have really exposed an interesting talent here.
“Flow Control is the project of the Tucson Az based Jesse Anderson. He uses recording techniques which are very fascinating to me like tape loop cassette and reel to reel. In the desert outskirts of Arizona, the passing winds blow over the mountains stirring the valley below. As it moves through the human settlements and stirs up the raw, untouched sandy grit of the sun-soaked desert, a melody emerges from the collision of natural and artificial landscapes. Ephemeral is a meditation on this process. It follows the melody and conveys its essence as it passes through, disappears, and reappears upon remembrance and is held before the mind. New dimensions and characteristics not fully exposed in the first illumination emerge through this meditation. The impermanent melody ultimately fades into distorted mental images of the original windblown tones, and Ephemeral grasps at its beauty before it completely fades.”
Jesse Anderson describes his music as “unfolding ambient music with layers of sounds produced by modular synthesizers, tape, and piano.” and this is evident on his two track release “Ephemeral”. The two pieces “Emergence” and “Passing Cycles” blend in hazy, static soaked sound that has a kaleidoscope of sound and colour alongside piano and field recordings. While similar in nature “Passing Cycles” is probably the stand out of the two because it holds a consistent sound for longer. Both pieces change in the second half, but it’s more dramatic on “Emergence” and for me it doesn’t gel so well. I personally prefer the first seven minutes of that piece and maybe the two sections would be better as separate tracks.