With a backlog of releases to attempt to get through, let’s go with those of a short number of tracks.

“I was asked to contribute an unreleased Chrystal Für track to ToneShift’s Sound + Solidarity podcast event to help bring attention to and honour the victims of racial violence. John Cage’s 4’33” was the inspiration to give a new voice to silence – we can no longer be silent when it comes to the advancement of basic human relations. 30 experimental composers, all exceptional, contributed. Now officially released, “Rising Rain” is a contemplative, moody journey with a touch of hope sprinkled in. All proceeds will be donated to Colour of Change.”

Chrystal Für is US based artist Chris Vibberts who also works in recording studios of some form. His track “Rising Rain” is one such piece that I had logged into the review queue (which currently stands at 825 songs or 3.2 days of continuous listening). I had kind of forgotten about it, as you can do from time to time with so many submissions coming in, so it was a pleasure to re-discover it (and then explore more of his music). Created/submitted for a charity compilation, there is a real subtlety to the piece which ties in with the influence of Cage’s “4:33”. Utilizing  Wine Glasses, Tibetan Singing Bowl, Organ, Keyboards, Samples, Glockenspiel and GForce MTron, Vibberts creates a piece that despite it’s subtleties embraces depths of darker drones, haunted sounds and delicate melodies all wrapped into one piece. Looking a bit further into his back catalogue it is revealed the Vibberts is no novice to creating pieces on the slower, more thoughtful vein. At times barely there, the piece is very much one to sooth without being a washed out and one dimensional. A musical salve for current times.

“Modern music sees absolute oblivion as its goal. It is the surviving message of despair from the shipwrecked.” – Theodor W. Adorno
“Styrofoam (aka Antwerp, Belgium based electronica producer Arne Van Petegem) is announcing the upcoming release of a new album, “Political Songs”. “Political Songs” started life as a series of mostly improvised synthesizer recordings, performed in Styrofoam’s studio as a soundtrack to various scenes of disjointed local and world politics playing out in the background. “Political Songs” is an understated call to action and self-education as well as a tribute of sorts to various thinkers that continue to inspire and provide us with a better grasp on world events. The album will be released on September, 4 through Styrofoam’s own “Silent Face” label as a limited cassette + postcard set as well as digitally through the usual channels.

Styrofoam returns with his first full length since 2018’s “We Can Never Go Home” on Sound In Silence with an album dedicated to seven writers/thinkers that have helped him make some sort of sense of what is going on in the world. The track I was sent is the opening piece “Political Song For Theodor W. Adorno To Sing”. Now, I can’t possibly begin to try and explain the work of Adorno, so I will just note that he was part of the Frankfurt school of Critical Theory of Society and was a philosopher, psychologist, sociologist and musician. Adorno advanced a dialectical conception of natural history that critiqued the twin temptations of ontology (the philosophical study of being) and empiricism (The philosophy of science) through studies of Kierkegaard and Husserl. His interest in Avant Garde music was influential in his writings. Now, how all this relates to Styrofoam’s piece I am not sure as going down the philosophical rabbit hole is not really for me. That said “Political Song….” is a piece of electronic music that challenges as much as it delights. It may or not be in Adorno’s favourite Schoenberg twelve tone technique, but it balances a more disjointed and frenetic electronic opening with a later burst of melody and layering reaching an almost crescendo before gently drifting off. In a way this opening piece is rather reflective of the album as a whole as the tracks range from the more experimental and glitch soaked through to walls of lush retro synths. “Political Songs” is available on limited cassette and postcard set (limited to 50 copies) and Digital.

“When life runs away with you and you get caught up in the whirlwind of time: “Wait for me, wait for me! I am caught in the middle of thee’ “Caught In The Middle Of Thee” is a song that, to me, is pure feeling. It doesn’t need many words nor instruments and conveys its meaning solely with the voice .It is an (almost) a cappella song venturing into the realm of ambient and gospel inspired ethereal sound atmospheres. The song is taking on the feeling of being caught in the middle of all the big questions of life like God’s existence, life’s meaning, and the question of the self. Like a storm we can’t see when we are caught in its eye, we can’t see clearly when we are right in the middle of life’s quests. “Caught In The Middle Of Thee” will be released on 19th October 2020 and will be joined by a remix by German ambient/downbeat artists Thomas Lemmer & Andreas Bach. The remix will be released on 2nd November 2020.”

Seen on these pages before Berlin based artist Valeska Rautenberg is about to release a new single called “Caught In The Middle Of Thee” which will be accompanied with a Downtempo remix a couple of weeks after the initial release. Traditionally I am not a big vocal fan due to the way in the voice can be used in such an over the top fashion by some singers. Rautenberg thankfully is not one of these. Her voice is not something I am unfamiliar with after hearing it on her “Aerial Minds” EP and you can hear her background of classical singing, both as a teacher and leading a choir. Not only is her history with singing observed, but also the way in which she layers her voices and adds such subtle instrumentation in which reflects her musical journey as well. She has a background in such styles as Jazz, Blues, as well as having a voice very much suited for Downtempo music as she has a control over it and a way to use it expressively. From an almost frightened soul through to a determined person, it is all conveyed quite easily. The beauty of the two tracks is the way that the voice suits the music, but with each version it has changed somewhat because of the instrumentation and feel of the track. The original piece has a more torch song quality while the remix definitely pushes it’s sounds and qualities more in a jazzier vein. As nothing is live officially now you will have to wait until late October, but if you heard “Aerial Minds” then you know you are in for a bit of a treat.

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