An interview with Lost Tribe Sound’s Ryan Keane.

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In the first in an occasional series bringing light to those that are responsible the physical release of music, I sent off some questions to Lost Tribe Sound boss Ryan Keane. Ryan is responsible for releases from William Ryan Fritch, The Green Kingdom, Graveyard Tapes, Western Skies Motel, Part Timer and others. There will be more reviews of the LTS catalog to come, but in the meantime please enjoy this interview.

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Please introduce yourself. Why did you start Lost Tribe Sound? Did you have experience with music before starting the label? Is it a one man operation?

Hi DAF, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I’m Ryan Keane, owner at LTS. Lost Tribe Sound originally started as a way for my buddy Andrew Sanchez and I to release the music we made as Tokyo Bloodworm back in 2007. After one self release we decided it was a better idea to release with a more established label, so we reached out to Andrew and Craig at Moteer to release our next two albums.

In 2009, I had the crazy notion I could take on releasing music from other artists. Enter William Ryan Fritch’s Vieo Abiungo project. And yes, I am technically a one man operation. Of course all the musicians, visual artists, and fans play a big part in keeping me busy. But I am the PR team, the art & video department, the packing & shipping division, manufacturing and the complaint department.

From the outside looking in you and William Ryan Fritch have a close relationship. How did you meet/come across his music? How important to Lost Tribe Sound is he?

William and I first met in Tempe, AZ where I was living at the time, he came down from Flagstaff to play a show that my musical project Tokyo Bloodworm was also scheduled to play. I ended up backing out of the show, but I’d become interested in his music from some of the samples online so I decide to attend. William and I hit it off almost immediately, discussing our similar taste in music for artists such as Muslimgauze, Manyfingers and Bonnie Prince Billy to name a few. At that point, I mentioned it might be fun to release some of William’s music he had posted from his experimental ethno-centric project Vieo Abiungo. It immediately struck me as the sound I had been hoping someone would create for years. Deep drums, modern classical elements, textured as hell, and it dipped in the realm of world music without coming off as cheesy or contrived.

It’s easy for me to say, that without William Ryan Fritch there would be no Lost Tribe Sound. He has definitely been the most crucial and central artist on our roster. His talents as a multi-instrumentalist are unparalleled. The rough-hewn and organic approach Fritch delivers on all of his releases, speaks so perfectly to the central vision I had for Lost Tribe Sound from the beginning. The fact that we still speak almost daily, and that he’s trusted LTS to release 26 of his albums since 2010, I realize is an unbelievable privilege. Fritch is my closest ally, a best friend, and the most talented individual I ever had the opportunity to work with. I always remind him he needs to remember the little people when he is famous one day.

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You also do publishing/licensing with Settled Scores. How did this come about? Do you represent other artists than those on Lost Tribe Sound?

Settled Scores is the licensing arm of Lost Tribe Sound. It has been a slow burning project since 2013 or so, spawning from much of the work for film that William Ryan Fritch was bringing in. We expanded the licensing end to include other artists from the LTS roster and beyond in 2014, working with clients like GoPro cameras and an ever-growing list of indie film makers and forward thinking companies. Including the LTS roster, we represent catalogs for a select group of artists who approach making music in a similarly rustic and unique way. The goal behind Settled Scores is to show commercial, tv and film makers that we offer a great alternative the highly overused and often times drab music that seems to dominate the industry. I personally love seeing a high action scene set to music that is more contemplative and out of the ordinary, it adds a tension and interest to the shot, that no canned “action music” could even touch (example).

I’m hoping that more directors move in this direction, as there is a big beautiful world of experimental and extraordinary music out there that deserves their attention. Our Settled Scores roster outside of the LTS catalog currently includes works from Christoph Berg, Skyphone, Aaron Martin, James Murray, Anne Garner, Wickerbird, Glacis, Kyle Bobby Dunn and Mid-Wife to name a few.

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What quality do you look for in a release for Lost Tribe Sound? Do you accept demos?

There is no set genre or style I hold a LTS release to. I am more attracted to the vibe and mood the music offers. Usually, LTS releases tend to be less electronic, with a focus on real instrumentation. Not to say they can’t feature electronic elements but it is more about the nature in which they are treated. I love music when it is hard to place a time or region it may have come from. Of course rustic, dark, pulsing blends of folk, classical and ancient sounding rhythmic oddities always hit the spot, yet I feel like we also managed to created our own intriguing take on pop, indie and rock music as well. I’ve tried to get in the frame of mind of gathering more seasons within the music, yet the winter and fall toned music always seems to have the biggest draw for me.

Not opposed to receiving demos if the artist has really checked out the music we release and really gets it. Most LTS releases come by way of a friend of friend type situation, but every now and then I come across an artist and fall in love, enough to reach out to them and see if they are interested in releasing on LTS. It’s just hard releasing all the music I enjoy on the label. Just because I like an album doesn’t mean it is the best thing to release on LTS. I have to really love it, usually listening to it over a period of month, to make sure the music stays with me emotionally. Running a small operation I have to be overly picky, since one or two poorly received physical releases can really make or break my budget.

How important is the visual identity of packaging and format to the label? It’s a pretty huge part of label. I’d say the artwork is the second most important part of the release, outside of the music sounding amazing and carrying the right impact. Keeping with the vibe of the music, most of the artwork we choose fits that timeless, rustic vibe I am a sucker for. Sometimes the artist brings the art to the table and other times, I get to work on the artwork and design from scratch. This happens to be my most favorite things I get to do running the label. We’ve had the chance to work with some of the most amazing visual artists over the years, like Joao Ruas, Gregory Euclide, Jamie Mills and Sail. They’re some of the most exciting illustrators and fine artists in the modern-day, so blown away by the depth and detail they bring to their art. I always try to treat each LTS release like a piece of fine art, from the cover design to the music within.

Sometimes I creating handcrafted packaging to give it the feel it deserves, hopefully coming off like a precious artifact. For example, the new panoramic CD editions for this year’s Prelude to the Decline (Subscription Series), I wanted to design a case that felt substantial and provided a much larger canvas for the artwork than standard CD packaging provides. I tested a lot of materials and different paper stocks in the design, also figuring out how the metal screws would work into the design. The end result feels and looks amazing, so hopefully when fans hold them in their hands they will get a sense of how much love went into them.

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2017 is a pretty ambitious year with the great Prelude to the Decline series. Have you looked beyond the year or are concentrating on the releases from that schedule?

It has been an ambitious year with the series, perhaps too ambitious, as I’ve barely had time for anything else.  I’ve already hand-built over 600 CD cases, hand-numbering them all, along with the hand-numbered the vinyl editions. Oddly enough even with the generous deal the subscription series offers, the response to subscribe to it has been slow.  Not sure if it’s just the uncertainty times we are living in or what, but I stand behind it as perhaps the greatest thing the label has managed to pull off.
We are still looking to the future with Lost Tribe Sound, we have a few amazing releases lined up for next year already from a couple of my favorite artists Skyphone and Spheruleus, along with a brilliant new release from a lesser known artist, Phonometrician, that should have fans drooling. Fritch may go into a slow down period in 2018. He’s been on such a rampage of releases over the last few years, we figured it might be a good idea to put some distance between them. Perhaps this will help folks realize his brilliance and better appreciate his work. That said, we may still have a surprise or two from him in 2018.  We’ll see how many more years of LTS I have left in me. I treat each release like it was my baby, so it is not always easy on the psyche when a release does poorly, or is just not well received by the public.  If I am no longer feeling useful to the artists or the music community any longer than what’s the point.
I think a lot of labels face concerns of adequacy, I rarely mention it publicly with regard to LTS.  But it is always in the back of my mind. Pushing to get real press for a release, selling enough copies to have a physical edition make sense, and being able to pay our artists something decent always stresses me out. My main love has always been the music, but not being able to create a beautiful physical edition anymore would really make me lose interest. The fans we have are very supportive, and send some great encouragement (usually when I need it the most), but it still bums me to see those waste-of-space download sites passing around our artist’s releases for free like they’re worthless.  Moaning aside, I think real music fans know to show their support through buying the music from the labels and artists they love.  It’s so vital to continuing to bring high quality music into the world.  So in that, I have hope for the future of LTS.

 

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Many thanks for Ryan talking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about the label via the following :

Losttribesound.com

Losttribesound.bandcamp.com

Soundcloud.com/losttribesound

https://www.youtube.com/user/Losttribesound

William Ryan Fritch x 2 – The Old Believers & The Sum of the Parts.

If there ever was such a relationship between a label and its artist that is responsible for such a wealth of material as there is between Fritch and Lost Tribe Sound, I would be surprised to find one. 2015 saw the “Leave Me Sessions” series which saw a total of 11 albums (over six and a half hours in total, spread over CD, digital and vinyl) released to subscribers. Lost Tribe Sound has released over 20 of his albums including those under the Vieo Abiungo moniker.

“The Old Believers” and “The Sum of the Parts” were two soundtracks that were part of the aforementioned “Leave Me Sessions” and sees them gain a wider release with both releases getting new artwork and “The Old Believers” having an additional 8 tracks from other works that compliment the original album. With such a wealth of material , I have selected tracks from each release to focus on.

Lost Tribe Sound boss Ryan Keane has this to say about these albums: “It should be noted, that calling ‘The Old Believers’ and ‘Sum Of Its Parts’ soundtracks paints an incomplete picture. Too often the genre or classification of “soundtrack” brings to mind sloppily arranged carbon copies of a film’s cues; often just a few main themes and a collection of one minute tracks that, when not set to picture, fall short of an overall worthy listen.”

This last statement is noted when listening to these albums as while short in length (length ranging from 1:14 to 4:06), the pieces don’t seem to be vignettes or have a different musical style to represent different moods. You would be none the wiser if you did not know of their soundtrack status.

“The Old Believers” is a documentary short film that tells the story of a group of Russian Orthodox Christians who are attempting to preserve their 17th century way of life in 21st century America and coping with surrounding modernization and internal conflicts.”

“Of A different time” opens the album with violin drones and cello that cut a mournful feel and also one with a hint of nostalgia laid over the faintest fielf recordings. Shimmering strings lead into a section of isolated percussion while violin repeats a fast rhythm that drops out to return to the original mournful cello and an ambient sounding string section to the fade out.

Acoustic guitar with gentle tones comes into the mix on the track “Clouded Was Every Prospect” (not on the original album) which becomes the bed for a variety of string sections such as cello and violin to attach themselves to and veer the piece between such styles as folk, modern classical and ambient. There is deft texture and layering of instruments that give both depth and feel to the piece. Judging by the title of the track but not seeing the film, it’s for a section of the film presumably where no decision is ultimately the best one. This could be heard in the musical territory covered.

“Left to Wander” sees percussive guitar that is roughly plucked and strummed with some minimal bass drum beats woven into an alt – folk tapestry with different speed of instruments as strings such as cello and violin with some clattering, while others are gently strummed. Sounds like something that could come out on the Constellation label.

“Still and Dense Solitude” (not on original album) sees layered classical guitar with a slight Spanish feel accompanied by the bass rumbles of cello and soaring violin with all instruments propelling in the same direction and speed. As opposed to other tracks that see the instruments and their sounds juxtaposed, these sounds compliment each other and they all build up with the same pace in the second half of the track.

“Who fell the Last Tree” (not on original album) fuses a lush Ambient intro alongside picked and scratchy violin with field recordings and a haunting multilateral drone and percussion. The field recordings which sound like someone walking through snow are paired with a shaker like instrument that gives the impression of an axe being swung into a tree. The Ambient touches, the first for the album give the track a much different feel than others while still retaining the core instrumentation and overall theme.

“By the Letter” is a beautiful interlude with gently played acoustic guitar with a lead element played over the rhythm that has a feel of distance , while a near silent drone slowly increases in volume from the shadows to be the feature element as the guitar almost abruptly stops. When listening to this track I am visualizing a scene where images of the past are superimposed overprotect times.

“We Fear Change” is a multi layered piece with at least five different things going on at the once – from the likes of delicately finger picked guitars, bass drones,violins and percussion elements (but maybe not traditional percussion instruments). A highly layered and textural piece that while packed with elements is not stuffy or claustrophobic. The layered guitars propel the track with the elements like violin providing the mournful quality like the title would imply. Possibly the standout track on the album.

“The Last Frost” is pure drone piece where a central drone emerges at a slow pace that is vibrating while accompanied by a lighter melodic one which is mimicing its texture, while a more celestial drone starts creeping in trying to come through which it briefly does just before the track finishes.

“The Old Believers” features a similar motif to that of “We Fear Change” and “Clouded Was Every Prospect” in respect to the guitar playing which has the natural unadorned picking style. It doesn’t take long for other elements to come in such as bass drum beats, violins, drones and very sad sounding cello. Fritch gives each instrument its chance but also gives the track the space to breathe with elements such as the cello and drones retreating and the focus being brought back to the rhythms created by the acoustic guitars. It is a well measured track with sections that overlap give depth and continuation.

“‘The Sum Of Its Parts,’ the feature film from award winning filmmaker/editor Fiona Otway’s introduces some of the world’s foremost robot researchers alongside tomorrow’s future leaders in robotics. This film explores the messy front lines of the crusade to make robots part of our everyday experience. From initial sketches, to soldering wires, to programming actions and performing experiments “in the wild”, scientists, high school students, and artists obsessed with bringing robots to life are shaping a new era in our relationship with technology. Yet, by observing their successes and failures along the way, what becomes clear is that robots actually have a lot to teach us about what it means to be human.”

The obvious idea for composer when writing for a film that is about robotics and future technology is to do a futurist (or retro futurist) electronic soundtrack. Fritch doesn’t take that approach, instead he ops for making the music more orchestral, large scale and sounding epic.

“The Sum of the Parts” has a radiant drone opening this string driven mini opus with the quality you would expect from a Clint Mansell soundtrack. Cutting strings, bowing cello’s and drones wrap around each other, building up each layer with a driving quality. The feel is reminiscent of a scene of a movie where the central or climatic part of the movie is happening. Subtle bass drum keeps the pace while the strings build up speed.

“Idling” is a short track with an ambient loop leading the intro makes you think it will remain in this genre, but it becomes a string driven track with a ‘glassy’ ambient feel. The combination of cello and violin mixes with the prominent ambience and acoustic guitar to a very light and summery feel. Is like a modern classical track without the austerity.

“Mechanized” You get the feeling of wonder when listening to a track like this at how one artist can come out with such layered pieces such as these. With violin strings sawing over the thump of a cello accompanied by a swarm of strings that’s literally at least 5 or 6 different sections all working together in support if each other. Time is given to let each instrument shine with elements being tge focus before retreating into the background to reveal itself once more.

“Gnashing Metals” starts with a thump of cello before entering a section of a series of violin pieces, presumably prepared piano with a toy like sound and picking or scraping sounds of string instruments to create this motorik piece that has a driving nature and falls in this almost bleak apocalyptic alt-folk sound with its clanging instruments.

“Unfounded” the return to the cinematic soundtrack as mentioned in the title track is the hallmark of this track. All encompassing ambience with classical strings that move in a glacial pace and have a haunting mournful sound to them. The strings lilt and waft before xylophone heralds in the low timbres of the cello to add bottom drone that is almost entirely droned out by the strings as they gain in intensity and and total domination over the track till towards the end where just the ambience, xylophone and bass drum remain.

Throughout these albums Fritch shows his musical chops in the form of composer, musician and recorder. His strength lies in his ability to construct multi layered pieces with an attention to, structure and how the instruments work together. If I were to chose between these two albums Would pick “The Sum of the Parts” purely because my taste leans more to the cinematic feel than the more rustic Alt-Folk that his is familiar with. However, both albums are recommended.

Drifting, Almost Falling – Spotify playlist

I have put together a playlist of artists that have or will be featured in this blog. Only one track per release per artist and naturally only those that have their music featured on Spotify. This will be updated when more releases are featured on this blog and/or available on Spotify.

Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer – Lowlands.

The third release in Iikki’s audio/visual pairing comes from the musical duo of Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer paired with the photographs of Ester Vonplon.

Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer are well known names in the Ambient/Electronic community with the New York based Deupree running the highly respected 12k label as well as being an in demand masterer and musician himself and Fischer a regular collaborator with Deupree (“In a Place of such Graceful Shapes” and “Twine”) and the man behind the highly influential “Monocoastal” album. Ester Vonplon is a Berlin trained Swiss photographer who traveled to Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean in summer 2016. She sailed the ice-clogged seas of the Arctic Ocean on a three-masted sailing vessel, to capture the impressions of the calving glaciers and melting ice.

This journey in the Arctic Ocean was the perfect beginning for Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer to compose and record Lowlands.

Iikki states Deupree music “emphasizes a hybrid of natural sounds and technological mediation, and shows a marked attention to the aesthetics of error and the imperfect beauty of nature, marked by a deep attention to stillness, to an almost desperate near-silence” while Fischer’s “work typically centers around memory, geography and the manipulation of physical audio recording mediums. Slowly unfolding melodies and warm tape saturated drones have become a trademark of his recordings.” Both these descriptions are evident in the music that makes up “Lowlands”.

“Lowlands” starts off with toy like piano, field recordings with a static haze quality to them, distant bells, occasional guitar. The track has a dreamy quality with a combination of muted sound and then a crystal clear guitar piece that gives the track depth. Its almost like the images contained in the book of something submerged and then being revealed. There is also the occasional warped sound as if something has been left to the environment has changed shape. There is a bass hum that comes towards the end if the track, that if listened to in a car has the power to vibrate the vehicle.

“On Branches” starts with what sounds like someone going off to record something and they are setting to their dictaphone. Bells chime, scratching sounds, detritus, old micro Caretaker like sounds are buried. Loops abound, but not obviously. The main feel is of decay, like something is breaking down, but the track loses most of the clattering sounds to a nice ambience at the end.

“Rides” Drones, glitchy tones, warped melodies, guitar plucks build as the track starts off slowly and picks up speed with a kaleidoscope of sound as if wheels are spinning towards a descent. Percussion, mostly cymbal sounds like and sticks clatter making the track denser. Towards the end most of the elements fall away.

“Migration” guitar leads off this track , with a warped sound, treated guitar sounds of shuffling or of sanding wood, light drones that give the affect of a clear sky. The memory of fellow 12k artist Seaworthy comes to mind with his fusion of sound and guitar.

“Sometimes” has a hint of an eerily still early morning with electrical buzz, ambient drones, chimes, occasional beats, but not in the traditional sense. Buried guitar slowly makes its was out of the background, while drones float. Some of the electrical like sounds remind me of recordings where people have recorded the natural environment and the sounds emitted by the earth.

“Snow Slowed” goes hauntilogical with buried sounds under a veneer of dust, with haunting drones, broken piano and a bright becoming harsh drone which sounds like an icy gale whipping around the environment.

“Cascaded” warped sounds caress effected guitar in a loop like fashion with an underbelly of crackling static and detritus. Tones flitter and break down, chimes generated from the guitar give a xylophone like tone. Slow drones, with a slight high tone hold the middle ground for the detritus underneath and chimes on top.

“Rivers” a violin drone cuts across the beginning, with melodic under play looping around, guitar is picked carefully, clattering field recordings, dark cello like drones which give ominous edge buzzsaw across, sounds which remind the listener of a childs jewelry box bump into each other and the sounds of a breeze swirling around are all included in this track which has the most clearest if sound palet on the album. It naturally finishes with recordings of water.

The obvious thing for musicians to do would be to make a heavily water based record with a glacial feel to it to emphasize both the coldness and the the slowness of glaciers calving and melting. To their credit Deupree and Fischer don’t, they follow the descriptions of their styles that the label stated above to a tee. The recordings made over the period of 2014-2017 come diverse areas such as Reykjavic and the duos own areas of Pound Ridge and Portland respectively. The recordings do have a feeling that they can be applied to other themes as they are not rooted in one sound. My only complaint would be use of warped sounds over several of the tracks. While it makes them share similar element, it appears to be slightly overused.

Josco & Spheruleus – Folded Distance.

If you are a fan of Ambient/Drone (you probably wouldn’t be here if you weren’t) the name Harry Towell would be one you were quite familiar with. Harry records as Spheruleus (and also Magnofon) and has appeared on labels such as Home Normal, Hibernate, Analogpath and Time Released Sound to name a few. He also runs the Audio Gourmet, Tessellate, Whitelabrecs and Warehouse Decay labels and started the Irregular Crates blog/label.

Josco (aka Gerard McDermott) is a writer, photographer, curator and sound designer from the Republic of Ireland. He is currently based in China. He has previously released on the Somehow Recordings label and has created compilations devoted to Irish music.

“Folded Distance” which was recorded between March 2011 to March 2016 “is a record about travel, but it is also about staying where you are and staying where you feel you belong. One of us moved around a lot and the other stayed relatively still; although we were geographically separated, we could communicate instantly across the incredible land mass between us -the more we set about weaving Josco’s drones and the exotic sounds of Asia with the sleepy rustic fields of Lincolnshire and Spheruleus’ instruments, the more the concept of “Folding Distance” became apparent to us, and the more it became realised by us.” The album was influenced by distance and the artists ability to communicate and collaborate weaving their sound recordings (from Turkey, Ireland, UK, Morocco and Thailand) to their own experiences. The album was mastered by Home Normal boss Ian Hawgood.

“Samila” presumably influenced by the beach in Thailand opens with the squall of a storm with static billowing and wind like drones that emerge from the dying storm. The drones are layered giving different tones and are looped with an almost exhaling like sound. The field recordings of the environment return as the storm/wind pans from side to side with granular sound before acoustic guitar comes in gives the track a different feel, one of contemplation. By the end of the track the ebbing storm has taken over and it fades to silence.

“Kilis” presumably after the small town on the Turkey / Syria border features acoustic guitar over field recordings of conversations (possibly workers at a market?) while Synth drones soar above and below. The elements pan from side to side with the occasional field recorded music entering the mix. The drones dominate the track but don’t convey the tortured recent and past history of the place. That said there is a mournful quality to them.

“Tungsao” containing field recordings of the market place of the same name is an environmental sounding drone piece, with wind like drones that are cut up, utilization of field recordings to form sounds, recorded traditional percussion, delicate piano, cooking sounds like glitches all thrown into the mix. You get the feeling of something similar to the Freeform albums that came out on the Quartermass label back in 2001/2, like this piece is an audio diary to a specific experience.

“Praterstern” named after a station on the line U1 and line U2 of the Vienna U-bahn is the noisiest track on the album thus far. Opening with low-frequency noises, static, some sort of indefinable noise like things being dragged (but with effects), vinyl crackle, short intertwined drones, a very low bass noises and electronic rubble noises.

“Kru Ze” the longest track on the album starts of with what sounds like an airplane getting ready to take off, joined by sounds of decay, electronic bells, guitar like feedback drones, static dissonance, jarring drone. But while there is a darker element to the track, it is not too bleak.

“Solva” a fishing town is on the lower west coast of Wales and this track is a welcome respite to the ferocity of “Kru Ze”. It contains looped vocal drones alongside traditional ones. There is almost warped pastoral feel, like if a piano accordion that was broken was being played in short bursts of sound. As the track progresses there is a wash of noisier environmental degradation with the looped vocal being the counterpoint to the growing storm and clattering noises.

This album is different to one that I was expecting. I was expecting a rather straight forward pairing of two distinct sound sources in a more ambient fashion. What we get is a more environmentally born album that is open to the interpretation of each listener. There is a lot of depth to the tracks and the density is apparent. For listeners who prefer the noisier end of the Ambient/Drone spectrum.

Toàn – Histós Lusis.

​Once more Eilean Rec has found a gem. Toàn (real name Anthony Elfort) is a French electronic musician based in the UK. As a beatmaker, he has produced several albums mixing jazz and hip hop influences under the pseudonym of Qiwu Selftet. With the change of name to Toàn the focus is now on freer musical forms, close to ambient and modern classical. His first album “Histós Lusis” (which translates to “He Played Histos”) was constructed without using any synths and entirely composed by samples found on old records, live instruments and field recordings. The album was composed between 2015 and 2017 in Angoulême and Cruguel in France.

The album has a feel of a well crafted cinematic mix of elements like every single structure, instrument and style was carefully thought out and executed well. This is not an album rushed or one to rush through. The pace of the album is very gentle and it flows smoothly.

“Inland” combines water sounds with chimes, clips or fragments of sounds, drones, violin, horns and bells to create a percussive mix of elements that mold together and overlap each other in a flowing motion. The mix of field recordings including the water work well amongst the more mysterious sounds that are generated from both the fragments and the violin.

“Post Tenebras”  (“After Dark”) opens sounding like something from Canadian duo Hanged Up, before vinyl crackle and piano are joined by bells, triangles, oriental sounding wind instruments and strings to give the track a very cinematic feel. The pace is relatively slow, with elements slowly filtering in and out with the strings steering the track through the elements.

“Une Touche De Pluie” (“One touch of Rain”) naturally starts with a storm clattering on pots and pans catching the rain with this long dense drone with a sound that reminds me of Marconi Union. The drone is elongated and fills out the sound with waves and pulses and is overlapped. It’s like a pebble being thrown into water and as it ripples out, the next ripple starts forming.  Slow cutting violin intersects with micro elements of percussion before martial like free jazz drumming and mournful noir violin and scrapping percussion bring the track to the end.
“Ghostly Ballet” starts almost like the previous track ends with a scrape of a gong, brushed cymbals, clattering noises, alarm noises, static noise, piano alongside horns, violin and a muffled shimmering drone that rises and keeps building up with a variety of percussive devices creating a cacophony of sound before dropping out. The sound landscape becomes formed with the sounds of running water, harp, violin, plucked Asian instruments, bells, chimes, drums and humming underlying tone. Elements collide with so many sounds that the track covers many genres from free jazz, ambient, sound art, Electroacoustic and bears the artist’s Jazz and Hip Hop past.

“Plume” adds piano over broken beat looped crunchy sounds, scraped metal sounds, field recordings, bells and violins. The piano segment has a ‘running feel’ which is joined by fragments of jazz drumming, growing string drones, metal Neubauten-esque percussion and the regular paced bell. There is a post apocalyptic feel without it degenerating into an industrial pastiche. There is a strong feel of loneliness and isolation, but with out total melancholy that would render the track bleak.

“अरोड़ा” ( Hindi for “Aurora”) mines the Basinski territory with subtlety crafted ambient loops that are then joined by static, mournful flute, with buried micro elements like strings, percussion, harp, glitches that slowly build over the languid pace of the loops. There is something relaxing listening to something that appears to be growing organically while you listen.

“Unsolved” stabs of piano travel out in ripple effect over vinyl crackles before muted horn punctuations, waves of ambient Synth, glide above the piano. Asian percussion and string instruments change the feeling of the track from a smoky droning jazz track to one colluding with Chinese classical music down a dark and mysterious alley way.

“Une Si Délicate Tempête” (“A Stunning Storm”) is the longest track on the album clocking in at 12:43 and the sound pallet matches the title with its volume and its depth of sound. What appears to be a kaleidoscope of grainy sounds, violin and field recordings clatter and glitch about with ebbs and flows much like a real storm where there is a a break before the template changes to a more Electroacoustic ambient sound and then veers into broken piano and strings with the granular drones and sounds returning before the calm is over. At first the track tends to lead you to an expectation that is turned on its head around the four minute mark, which in a way sums up this album as a whole.

While quite different to his Jazz/Hip Hop work “Histós Lusis” shows Toàn’s ability to create vibrant sounding records that show a richness to sound, which in this case was expertly mastered by label boss Mathias Van Eecloo.  Although physically sold out at the label it is available via the artist and soon Stashed Goods or Experimedia.

Enrico Coniglio & Matteo Uggeri – Open to the Sea.

Dronarivm return to the musically fertile country of Italy for their latest release. Although the release is credited to Enrico Coniglio and Matteo Uggeri there are a decent amount of collaborators on this release such as vocals/lyrics coming from Francesca Amato’s (aka Comaneci), Lau Nau, Violeta Päivänkakkara and British actor John Guilor.  Extra brass from Fabio Ricci (Vonneumann), electronics from Guilio Aldinucci and Stella Riva (Satan Is My Brother) and mastering by James Plotkin rounds out the collaborators.

The label describes the collaboration as s result of fruitful email conversations and describes the collaboration as “Sweet and minimal melodies on piano, organ and guitar of Enrico meet the efforts of trumpet and drums of Matteo whose electronics treatment and delicate beats provide the solid ground to a music that seems a perfect match of the two artists sensibility.  “Open to the Sea” explores a variety of merging organic sounds where the calm and intimately of the album is disrupted by incursions of gentle noises and sometimes curious juxtapositions.”  

Coniglio describes himself as a Guitarist, environmental sound recordist and sound artist with an interest in the landscape aesthetics. He has previously appeared on labels such as Fluid Audio, Crónica Electronica, Taalem, Glacial Movements as well as co-running the digital label Galaverna. 

Matteo Uggeri is a frequent collaborator with releases with artists such as Andrea Ferraris, Maurizio Abate and Christiano Deison on labels such as Hibernate, Time Released Sound and Scissor Tail to name a few.

“Open to the Sea” starts off with Francesca Amato’s sweet sounding double track voice reciting the title. Ambient tones and granular glitches start the track which is no hurry floating at a gentle pace. Lau Nau’s haunting vocals float over the soundscape which is building in intensity ever so slightly before violin cuts through and field recordings of possibly a market place enter that are crisp enough to make you think they are there in the room with you. I would file this under electroacoustic sound art than as ambient per se.

“Jessaias de reduire mes medicaments” begins with Scanner-like recording of a phone conversation/ interview which is joined by melodic ambient tones and musical saw like drones which are peppered by glitchy electronics that are pulsing and phasing. This short track combines the experimental elements alongside the more the melodic electronica and fuses them together well.

“Up Over The Harbours Lights” Coniglio’s guitar opens the track in a blues like style alongside ambient drones that coincide with the final strum of the guitar before piano, industrial sounds, field recordings and samples enter the sound mix. The track shows the musicians soundtrack-esque construction to create a sound palate of dissimilar origins to work together.

“I Am The Sea” features Violeta Päivänkakkara on vocals and lyrics and starts with her ethereal vocals before melancholy minimal piano, guitars, synths, distant percussion, bells, electronics and trumpet fuses together to form a track that is so many genres mixed into one. The haunting trumpet that cuts through mixed with Päivänkakkara’s vocals, alongside piano and electronic and traditional percussion works so well as it covers post rock, electronica, Electroacoustic and soundtrack works so easily.

“Floating Metal Sheets” this experimental sounding track sees assistance from fellow Italian and Dronarivm artist Guilio Aldinucci. This track starts with acoustic guitars and some sort of background percussive noise source that I can’t get my head around. Some crackling electronics start and flutter with drones lightly covering them as a rolling noise pans left and right. Trombone joins the track with an effect similar to a car slamming on its breaks, before changing to slow mournful blowing over the acoustic guitars while electronics scatter about.

“Dutch Street Theatre” features UK voice over artist and actor John Guilor who has worked on Dr Who. Guilor’s narration is laid over piano, drones and violin and field recordings of people talking. I am not sure where the narration comes from and whether it is related to the theme of this album, but it doesn’t personally work for me.

“Now I’m Silent” starts with an electronic heart beat sound paired with darting drones, piano and percussive noise with electronic whistling, before venturing into jazz territory with wailing trumpet and electric guitar, disjointed gunshot drums. It’s a track of two quite separate halves that work well separately, but take time to get used to the differences.

“Allarme” begins with a broken piano like opening, before alarm sounds pan in and out and glitch electronics, cymbals and piano are gently caressed. Field recordings, possibly of radio or loud-speaker transmissions traverse the piece that is being slightly held together by piano while non traditional percussion rattles and rolls with brass instruments and intermittent sounds. Again Coniglio and Uggerri manage to fit a lot of source material in a piece that while at times seems like a juxtaposition, but also compliments one another.

“I Say I May Be Back” sees radio samples and static overload piano with a hint of paning banjo, guitars and percussion that has a nautical feel with Francesca Amato’s vocals that bring the album full circle with the recurring title line. The instruments one by one break down leaving Amato’s voice to finish out the album much like she started it.

“Open to the Sea” is not a straight forward album to get a handle on. There are so many constituent parts that make it up and it covers Ambient/Drone/Post Rock/Experimental/ Electroacoustic genres, sometimes in the same track. The thing it has going for it is it’s unpredictability and it’s depth is that it’s not a release that can be easily glossed over. Most of the tracks work extremely well and the depth that James Plotkin has gotten in the master allows for that richness and shows why he is one of the most popular masterers around.  There is a special version of the release limited to 50 copies which comes with a jigsaw and bonus digital ep.

https://soundcloud.com/dronarivm/i-am-the-sea