With an aim at trying to be as up to date as I can, this is a post of releases that came out in the month of June. It wraps up releases from labels such as Whitelabrecs (the final “Home Diaries” series” and their post Digital emergence), Time Released Sound, Same Difference Music and a self released album from Irish composer Peter Jones.
“UK duo Darkroom – Andrew Ostler and Michael Bearpark – have been active since the late 1990s with releases on Burning Shed and more recently via their Bandcamp site. They are renowned for their extended live performances: rarer following Andrew’s move to Scotland; now even more challenging with the pandemic and resulting lock down. Seeking and finding positives through the ‘new normal’, Andrew has been performing as part of streaming event series. Mike was present on these occasions from a distance via guitar recordings transferred to cassette: one from their Edinburgh performance towards the end of 2019, and another, inspired by Scotland, that seeded the recording of their full Whitelabrecs album planned for November 2020. The pieces evolve through multiple shades of colour and dynamics, retaining an open live feel; ‘Arrokoth’ and ‘The Uncut Stones of Night’ are very much of their time, yet combine to make a timeless album experience.”
The second last of the Whitelabrec’s “Home Diaries” series, this and the below Luis Meihlich release missed out on the big post I did about digital series in the times of Covid-19. This particular release comprises two long pieces clocking in at just under forty minutes in length together. Long form rumbling, dark and mysterious quasi cinematic is the name of the game with the opening piece “Arrokoth”. Presumably titled after the trans-Neptunian object located in the Keiper Belt in space, the piece is one which slowly evolves and evokes a lot of space and isolation. Mournful at times and at others fitting in nicely with the Dark Ambient template, the piece is by no means minimal. Constantly moving, Darkroom mix in linear drones with a wide collection of sounds which at times seem to be barely there , such as the guitar strumming in the background.
The second piece “The Uncut Stories Of Night” continues with the duo exploring territory with a feel of several movements within the piece as it changes the sound and instrumentation throughout. Opening with an eerie soundscape, the guitar was barely present in the previous tracks asserts itself in more traditional guitar based Ambient/Drone. The music remains within a similar dark framework as it’s predecessor, but seen through the prism of experimental music as the duo set about creating a sense of unease that is not restricted to a particular style.
My personal preference of the two pieces is “Arrokoth” as I appreciate the way in which it is open and vast. “Home Diaries” is available Digitally.
“Vihne” is a ‘city’ album, full of dust and artificial light whereas “Below” is more free and open, as it is inspired by the natural world. The cover image was taken by Jens last Autumn and in this record, he tried to reflect the peaceful moments he experienced during this time. There’s a calmness to the sound underpinned by a satisfying melancholy, as we take in these breezy reflections. “Below’ perpetuates the subtle beauty of a timeless moment. It’s fragile, and yet, in all its reduced textures, it’s demanding in its overall emotional undergrowth – closely intertwined in hope and yearning.”
There is a fractured and fragile quality to the music presented on “Below”. Reminiscent of the works put out on 12k in the way that seems to exist and not exist at the same point, The music is one which has a calming and earthy quality about it. Static soaked and wafer thin, if the sound was vision it would be translucent. There is a feeling of eerie early morning calm where the only sounds you hear are those produced by the earth and nature. Pauly weaves spiralling guitar lines, field recordings and micro tones to create pieces which leave their meaning open to each listeners interpretation. You can take the pieces as meditative or nostalgic, transcendental or experimental. The choice is up to you. It’s not all quite as revealed on “Solve” with it’s darker, metallic feedback like drones that cascade over the upper reaches, while with “Hidden” we enter broken beat meets glitch territories which shows listeners that Pauly is happy to throw a few curve balls in there. If anything this is the kind of release which could be used amongst others as an example of contemporary ambience, one which has moved away from the niceties of it’s initial blossoming through to a more textured and real feel.
“Better” is the first new physical CD-R released post-covid (well, sort of) from Whitelabrec’s and is also available digitally. It comes highly recommmended.
“Paweł Pruski is an artist from Krakow, Poland who has previously had vinyl albums released under the name of Minoo and more recently, Ambient albums as Pruski. One such was a contribution at the beginning of our Home Diaries series after we had postponed the release of his album ‘Playground’. His work pushes and extends the boundaries of Ambient and Drone music and he also performs as a live act in events and festivals around the world. Playground is a journey into a child’s world. A world without sophisticated sentences, complicated relationships or conventions. Here, the most important things are gestures, curiosity and surprise. It is discovering what is around, fascinated by nature. It is an attempt to look from the side back to the beginning of our journey in this world. What was it like to be surprised by the colour of the leaves, rain, and the ticking of the clock? For this is a journey to a place where the tree is the whole world, and a small meadow can be the whole cosmos.”
My first exposure to Pruski’s music was his entry in the “Home Diaries” series titled “I Need Space”. With “Playground” he offers up seven pieces compared to lone track on his previous release. The sound of “Playground” is one which is vibrant, rich and alive. Blending influences from Ambient and Electronica, Pruski’s compositions can feature such elements as field recordings, drones, loops, micro melodies, tones, guitars and walls of synths. Not all of these elements are obvious to the naked ear and require close attention via headphones to eek out these sounds. Like his blends of influences the style of the music can feature flickers of cinematic touches especially when there is found dialogue laced into the pieces. But don’t expect this to be all light and joy as Pruski likes to add a subtle wash of darker emotion into some of the pieces giving them a slight ominous feel, like “Comets” for example.
Pruski states that the pieces are about the journey into a child’s world and you can sense a variety of takes on this. From the innocence through to the oblivious nature to what may be unfolding around them, which comes across in the warped drones that wrap around the dialogue on a piece like “Bridge” which brings each of these interpretations together. The beauty of the release is that there is this balance going on so that the music is never too sweet, nor is it too dark. Rather it touches on the fringes of both feelings without it being so obvious and rote. Like “Better” this is a fine release to re-start and re-calibrate the label in the physical world.
“Playground” is available on limited CD-R and Digital.
There are release that come with a plethora of information which sort of negates the purpose of review as some times these press releases are far better than anything I could have come up with. Then there are releases such as this that arrive with little fanfare or information which seem to me at least, to indicate that it is the music that is important, not the way of “selling” it. I have no idea really who Peter Jones is and I kind of want it to remain that way. It is not because I am disinterested, rather I want a bit of mystery with a release like this and knowing the background could potentially spoil it.
The Modern Classical world is the current iteration of 77 punk rock, every one is doing it. The only real way to stake your own part of the scene is either a point of difference or doing it so well that others look potentially amateurish. The latter is how Jones makes a name for himself. This eight track, twenty-seven minute release is full of soaring or mournful strings and subdued piano. Jones doesn’t over stay his welcome with each piece and neither does he leave things unsaid. Cinematic flourishes are the heart of the release as he blends strings and piano so effortlessly into music that is highly fluid and narrative driven. His depth is shown of in a piece like “Descent” which shows the full gamut of emotions and playing styles and coalesces them into one epic and majestic piece.
The whole release is a Modern Classical fans dream and the perfect soundtrack to solitude. “Carrying Glass” is a Digital Only release and is very much recommended.
“The Latin word “Remansum” (backwater) suggests the action or the result of stopping and remaining in a place. It alludes to both the place in a river where the waters seem to stop and be still and to an idyllic place where one enjoys a deep calm. The tracks feature delicate impressionistic piano melodies that flow alongside distinct electronic textures. I composed the music using piano, samplers, electronic sounds as well as sounds originated from processed acoustic instruments. Some tracks feature cello melodies played by guest musicians Dina Bolshakova and Sebastian Selke (Ceeys) and one track includes subtle bandoneon sounds. The track “Ayse” features the voice of an old Turkish woman from a small village near the Black sea, humming and praying while cooking. I would say that the music is at times melancholic and yet mysterious.”
Mario Verandi is an Argentinian sound artist based in Berlin whose work appears more rooted in the performance area rather than the physical/digital one with a minimal discography that spans over two decades. On his latest album he is joined by Cello and the Bandonean, which is a type of concertina typically used in tango music. Verandi’s exposure to sound art and visual performances dictate the style of music that appears on”Remansum”. You get a Modern Classical feel throughout the pieces, but they are through the eye of someone akin to tying them to visuals as part of a story telling experience. Verandi uses electronics in such a way to add to the mood and the feel of the pieces with a slightly disturbed/ominous touch felt.
I listened to this album directly after the above Peter Jones one and while in the same sort of sphere, but not same sound, I find myself feeling the same sentiment with both releases. What you have here is a composer. I know people that write their own music are composers, but when you feel that it is beyond a simple state and that the artist is bringing in many other layers or forms of inspiration to their works, they become composers with a capital C. With Jones I was impressed by the melding of instruments to create breathtaking work, with Verandi I am similarly mesmerised by his more electroacoustic forms of expression and how they orientate the pieces differently resulting in a deeply cerebral experience. A piece like “Bosque” is a perfect example of this with it’s deeply percussive feel alongside it’s experimental touches and at times minimalist treatments. Despite having electronics in his arsenal Verandi only uses them as textural components with the only difference being on the throbbing pulses on “Melted Horizon”.
“Remansum” is the sort of album that can act as a bridge for listeners to explore other territories and approaches. It is one which challenges expectations without going to far towards the experimental side of music. The album is available on Digital and the typically bespoke feel that Time Released Sound are known for via the vinyl format. The CD edition has sold out.
“Melorman returns with his new album “For The Sun”. A sonic trip of six organic tracks that flows as naturally as the sun’s daily travel. The album explores new ambient paths, vibrates with peace and harmony and offers virtual travelling though luminous synths and dreamy atmospheres.”
This, my first encounter with Melorman the Greek producer also known as Antonis Chaniotakis who has appeared on various labels such as Sun Sea Sky Productions, Symbolic Interaction, Archaic Horizon, Summer Rain Recordings, Shima Records, IVDT, CCT Records, Sixteensteps, and Envizagae. “For The Sun” is his first full length since 2017’s “Somewhere, Someday” album and is an album comprised of a mix of tracks that encompass Ambient, IDM, Downtempo and retro touches. The music is not too cerebral to be chin scratching, but them it is not so obviously suited to more dance floor situations. Instead it lies in this nether world between these approaches which probably attributes to the success of the album. It is the kind of release that can be put on as a background work or soundtrack to your day and one which isn’t ignorable and can also enhance the listeners mood.
Chaniotakis like all good producers who have been working for close to a decade and a half, knows the craft of writing these pieces. The build ups, the tempos, the textures of the sounds, the variety of musical and stylistic influences are the reason’s why an album like “For The Sun” works. A great example is piece such as “Night Falls” which if you strip back the sections you can see the layers that make the piece and know that on their own you could construct a minimal piece of just certain components. Chaniotakis doesn’t want to steer the listener in a certain theme or direction as he presumably knows the limitations that that can put on his music. Instead there is an openness to the tracks which is rather freeing.
Naturally with each person’s taste you are drawn to specific pieces so I find myself appreciating tracks like “Eliquis”, “Night Falls” and “8 a.m” more than the others. “For The Sun” is a release which I will come back to in the future when I want to be uplifted with something that is a bit retro, but also timeless. The album is available limited clear vinyl (100 copies) and Digital via Same Difference Music.