From The Mouth Of The Sun – Hymn Binding. 

“Hymn Binding” is the third FTMOTS album following “Woven Tide” (Experimedia, 2012), “Into the Well” (Fluid Audio, 2015) and soundtrack album”Menashe” (Wayfind, 2017) under their own name. The names Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist should be familiar to readers of this blog due to their releases on labels such as Preservation, Under the Spire, Dronarivm, Miasmah, Eilean and others. This album was mastered by the trusty ears of 12k boss Taylor Deupree and finds it well at home on the Lost Tribe Sound label.

The label state “At the core, From the Mouth of the Sun’s sound is comprised of cello,
piano, acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, ukulele and pump organ. Yet with Hymn Binding they’ve allowed those acoustic sources to change
shape, at times turning them into something that more resembles synths or digitally rendered sounds. They do this, not as a means of disguising them, or really wanting them to sound like synths, but to bring out new layers from already existing timbres. Rosenqvist mentions, “There’s something very beautiful and rewarding to working with acoustic sound sources. Because when you record them, you never know what you’re going get, and you can never repeat it exactly the same way. The wood in the instrument changes from air pressure and with different temperatures. You change your sitting position from one take to another and all of a sudden it sounds slightly different. You move the microphone or you move something in the room and it sounds slightly different. Acoustic sound sources allow for chaos to be a part of the creative process, allowing for something you can never fully control.”

My first thought when having a cursory run through listed is how great the sound is. You can get albums that have issues with mixing or mastering, where the sound is compromised because of the multiple elements and where depth, light and shade are muddied up. This is definitely not the case in regards to this album. It is a treat for the ears, the vibrancy of the instruments, the patience, the depth, it’s all there.

“A Healer Hidden” kicks off the album with what sounds like an affected banjo giving a circulation droning sound which is joined slowly by long multiplied violin lines which cut through the sound as static builds up to breaking point before dissipating and slowly droning out. This brief piece is almost an intro, but will give an indication of terrain that will be covered throughout the album.

“A Breath to Retrieve Your Body” Backwards recordings that are like watching something glitch in reverse and sound a bit like a distant and faded memory, open this track with Basinski-like ambience that are supporting by slow placed drones that sound like they are created using some sort of brass instrument which take over the sound as the backwards recordings fade away. The brass drones are joined by more urgent emotive violin that has a sense of intent to it. The two main elements – the brass and the violins are juxtaposed to each other in both their musical intensity and the emotional intensity. The more orchestral morose brass drones for me are the highlight. Towards the end the static returns for a tiny section as the violin disappears and the brass drones slowly retreat to the shadows with a quiet, relaxed feel.

“The First to Forgive” uses silence to effect as the track slowly starts off very quietly with string drones before a shimmering, echoing sound like a ripple on a pond radiating out. Martin coaxes violin lines from his instrument that convey both melancholy and hope. Gentle guitar pieces with a post rock feel, field recordings adorned by static, possibly some buried piano and rolling instrumentation flesh out the track which could be described as an Ambient/Post Rock/ Drone marriage of sound. The layers and elements are given space and time and are used for a reason and not always as a layered part. Elements like shimmering key-like instrument section for example become the first focal point before leading into the guitar being more central.

“Light Blooms in Hollow Space” distant and old sounding repeating minimal piano gently plays to your left while on your right hand side your ears are met with an accordion drone (or pump organ) so captivating that you havens noticed that the piano has changed tempo and is joins by spindly guitar playing which is also joined by possibly cello and other string instruments creating a rather cramped sonic section that is more freeform in it’s playing and the clashing sound than the previous tracks. Elements disappear almost disappear as quickly as they arrived add we are left once more with the repetitive piano and this time cello as opposed to accordion.

“The Last to Forgive” opens with delicate piano lines with deeply mournful violin and a section of distorting field recordings holding the mid section of the sound palate under which cello that appears to be following the piano lines, gives the track the deeper tones. The sound of the piece gets quieter and quieter which is similar in the beginning of “The First to Forgive”. Slowly it retreats into silence fading away with field recordings of a droning nature and the piano only remaining.

“Risen, Darkened” is where the duo get epic. Silence welcomes long haunting drones that are buried deeply as if in a tunnel and this closer you get the more pronounced they sound. The drones inhabit different levels of sound giving high, middle and lower layering, but are also moving at the same time which makes them multidimensional. Guitar, Piano, Cello, static recordings, percussion and other elements build up together and become symphonic and chugging in a way that is like a drone/orchestral version of Japanese post rockers Mono. They bring the music to the cusp of overflowing and carefully restrain it in. The last-minute and a half sees the intensity stripped back with minimal piano, classical like guitar, minor drones, scattered field recordings gently bring the track to rest. A clear highlight track of the album.

“Roads” slowly flowing and unwinding stark piano lines are joined by layered and duplicated violin and cello lines, while a separate cello section cuts through and another violin has a saw like approach as it cascades across the music and has an Americana feel to it (think fellow LTS musician William Ryan Fritch). This is joined by a complimentary twanging guitar sound which leads the track in an old western / southern gothic vibe with screeching and static field recordings which add to the ominous quality of the music and move it into epic territory once more. And like the preceding trick they pull back the reins just before falling of the cliff.

“Grace” the Pump Organ/Accordion slowly drones emitting a sound reminiscent of the dawn of a new day. It oscillates and electronic noise of an indistinguishable nature scatter around cutting across the sound in a cut up but buzzsaw fashion. A melodic sound appears deep in the mix which reveals itself once the piano comes out from under the cloak of sound. The sound starts changing with more string drones replacing dominance of the electronics and they compliment the piano which was more at odds than aligned to the electronics. The timbre of the piano changes to one of more chime like than the one that wrestled with the electronics. Slowly the track fades away, ambience, electronics, drones gently retreat to the silence. “Grace” is fitting finale to the album.

From The Mouth Of The Sun have delivered a stunning album and have carried on Lost Tribe Sound’s outstanding the Prelude to the Decline series. They show how to make deeply textured music seem effortless and reward the listener with an album to enjoy endlessly. Totally recommended.


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Odd Nosdam – Lif.

Greek label Sound in Silence run by Absent Without Leave’s George Mastrokostas (how about a new AWL album George?) isn’t a stranger to bigger names on their roster. They have released albums by the likes of Bvdub, Strafænn Hákon as well as a bunch of other names such as Hessien, Good Weather For An Airstrike, Caught in the Wake Forever to name a few. The latest big name to add to the roster is Odd Nosdam aka David P. Madson who is best known as a member of cLOUDDEAD and Co-founder of the hip hop label Anticon. He also runs the Burnco Records label that has digitally released this with different art.

The label describes the release as “The sound of LIF can be described as the continuation and expansion of “Music For Raising“(Ed note: Madison’s 2015 album on the Baro label), blistering with analog loop chains that soak in the resonance of tremolo, tape-delay, space echo, distressors, and many other trusted devices in Odd Nosdam’s toolkit. Very little computer processing occurred during the making of LIF, relying heavily on hand triggered elements that cycle into an endless bridge between pulsing loops and shape shifting overtones. Imagine a horizon where sunrays find traces of openness around gloomy backdrops of clouds, organically centered as a jump off point into another realm of existence.” A source of inspiration was “Dlp6” from William Basinski’s “The Disintegration Loops IV”.

The album begins with “MIG” which sets the tone for the rest of the album with its hazy loops and repeating tones. Unlike the Basinski albums (which appear to be fully loop based), the album appears to be a more electronic experience with the use of echo effects and the ambient crystalline structure.

“RAI” follows the tones in “MIG” and adds a dubby feel to the music with the pulses between the chiming loops. At times the music retreats like if affected by weather. Coincidentally the album was created during January and March this year, when the Bay Area was going through a particularly wet period and this is reflected in the feel of this track.

The title track “LIF” introduces a darker atmosphere to the previous tracks with certain elements like the chimes being deeper in the mix and the haze being increased. Going with the weather/environment theme you can see a change in the surroundings. Utilizing loops there is an amount of degradation which adds to the sonic texture of the piece and follows the continuation of the album.

“AIN” is the shortest track on the album and is clearly affected by a rain storm. The predominant feature of the track is the ever present haze which is looped relatively quickly giving a pulsing wave of sound that is opposite to equally paced melodic dusty loops.

“SES” sees haunted distant tones with tremolo and echo that soar out under the dubby underground and hazy looped foreground. The use of the tremolo sounds after “AIN” gives the feel of post rain light coming through the gloom.

“KEL 1” what sounds like twangs guitar is looped alongside the dubby haze that cuts thought the track. A distorted/noisy undertone prevails and begins to cloak the track in static noise. “KEL II” is like reprise of the previous track but unlike the previous one, the static distorted noise encompasses in all making the dubby section fight for the small section that it is featured.

“REN” brings throbbing drones that sound like affected accordion or some sort of squeeze box like instrument in the way that they seem to be taking a breath before starting to again. There is an underlining static that feels random compared to the previous loops and is more of an accompanying sound that a feature.

“TRO” sees fractured ambience that has a definite nostalgic feel to it. It has chime like tones that are looped in a melodic rhythm while clipped static and haze cut through the track quite quickly breaking it up. The fractured ambience in a way can be reminiscent of Oval in it’s cut up and looped, yet melodic feel. The mix if the track allows elements to come com and centre them retreat giving it some variation to the others.

“BOM” continues with the pulsing haze and dubby loops, but is further down in the mix with a different tone front and centre. The features of the track are consistent in the loops and the pacing to the rest of the album, but tone is an ever so slightly darker one which makes the difference. I am not sure of the source instrument but it has features that remind me of small sections of “Isn’t Anything” era My Bloody Valentine guitar tones.

The nature of looped based music is that it is going to repetitive, this is a given. With this release Odd Nosdam has put his touch on it and his own impressions via the influence of the weather. Reading the accompanying text on the labels bandcamp page helps like listening notes and gives more information to the listener on construction of the album.

How To Cure Our Soul – Mare.

Italian duo How To Cure Our Soul present their fourth album “Mare” on the US label Sequel (home to Forest Management, Dominic Coppola, Celer) as a digital and CD release (apparently available soon) with a DVD-r version being self released. The Italian duo of Marco Marzuoli (who started the project as a solo vehicle) and Alessandro Sergente are both graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts and consider themselves as an audio/visual project. Their previous releases have appeared on labels such as Low Point (UK), Audiobulb (UK), Setola di Maiale (IT).

For this album they are joined by Rossano Polidoro (Triac, ex TU M’) while the album was recorded in Città Sant’Angelo during the summer of 2016.

The duo described it as “a composition for electric guitars, freeze pedals, field recordings and tapes. also collaborated to the realization of the album. Mare aims to be a minimalist immersion into an isolationist sea. All sounds and images of the sea have been recorded on the Adriatic Sea (Silvi Marina, Abruzzo, Italy; autumn 2015). Through a personal use of digital and analog instruments, How To Cure Our Soul reflects about philosophy, landscapes (natural and human) and communication, producing videos, music and photos, personal outcomes of the reality’s reinterpretation.

The album’s promo information (and indeed the text featured in the bandcamp release page) allude to the power of the sea in a quote from author Jules Verne. As mentioned above the feature of “Mare” are field recordings of water from the Adriatic Sea (which also is featured on the albums art). The swirling, choppy water is the centre to the piece with a constant flow, the occasional sound of someone walking or splashing in it. The track starts with an almost Richard Chartier like beginning of near silence with field recordings of the sea first being heard around the one and a half-minute mark. The sound appears to be layered or possibly recorded in a section where there is a lot of activity. Around the five-minute mark is where the drone elements come in. A long drawn out pulsing drone follow a straight line of sound around the water and bird sounds which are still dominating the soundscape.

Just before the nine minute mark a more intense looping and oscillating drone starts to dominate the sound sphere with high level arching under which the field recordings remain at the same volume and the original drone increases in intensity. The oscillating drone has a melodic component to it while still having a depth of volume as it threatens to take over the piece. Twelve minutes in sees an accompanying melodic section added which adds another layer with a glassy feel to it, like it’s a combination of Synth drones and the howl of wind, it is has that sort of quality.

Approaching the half way mark of the thirty-two and a half-minute piece the intensity of the drones increases to just being more intense than the field recordings. The drones work together not as intertwined, but rather as layers, each built on top of each other, but with the fluctuations of sound and changing intensity. While other structured drone pieces with field recordings can lean toward a dark ambient or pure ambient form, “Mare” straddles both with the intensity, but also the melody.

With the last eight or so minutes of the track remaining, the structure and sound of the drones changes to a lighter one and the intensity changes to become more reflective. Towards the end, like the beginning the long drawn out drone and field recordings remain till the last two minutes are purely water sounds.

Having a thirty-two and a half-minute single piece for an album can be challenging especially using a relatively small palate of sounds. That said How To Cure Our Soul manage to make it work with their drone construction. I would have like to have heard maybe more variation in the field recordings, but I understand the concept behind it in its importance to the track.

How To Cure Our Soul

Naviar Records x 2 – Gomel, 1986 / Sōzuproject “Breathe Slowly”.

Naviar Records is London Based label who describe themselves as “a community and label that explores the intersection between music and traditional Japanese poetry.” They have been releasing music since March 2014 and these two releases are their latest.

“Gomel, 1986” is an extension of the “Clouded Lands” show (in conjunction with the art collective Food of War) about the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and was “a show which aimed to raise awareness on the consequences that such catastrophic events bring in people’s culture and everyday life. For this event, Naviar’s community had to recreate sounds, atmospheres and moods of one of the areas which were mostly affected by the disaster: the region of Gomel, in Belarus

Each artist had to re-imagine the atmospheres and moods of the time and the recordings were made within a two-week period. The release is available as a limited Cd-r (50 copies) and digital.

“Black Rain” by Dirigent opens the album. Dirigent is San Francisco classically trained composer Chris Christensen who is drawn toward analog electronics and classic tape-studio techniques. The track starts with echoing percussion, water like sounds, electronics, the chiming of clocks, dark ambient drones and recordings of phone calls and media reports in Russian. I haves no idea of what is being said, but there is a certain amount of alarm in the voices, but not overly distraught. The music borders Dark Ambient and Industrial and has an unsettling edge to it. Electronics come in and or in a wave-like fashion possibly inspired by waves of radiation.

“Tjernobyl” by Robert Rizzi. Rizzi is a Danish/American Composer and Sound artist, Master of Electronic Music Composition from DIEM, Aarhus. Robert teaches Electronic Music and Sound art at SDMK Music Conservatoire in Esbjerg, Denmark. He works primarily with field recordings, found scores and improvised instrumental pieces, very often in collaborative site specific installations and compositions with visual artists. Field recordings of rain/ a storm with scattershot sounds are joined by a siren like drone, bass, minimal piano and electronics. The focus is on the field recordings, but the minimal nature of the bass and piano alongside the electronics really brings out the post apocalyptic feel of the music.

“Black Clouds” by Earthborn Visions. Earthborn Visions is a project born out of wide-ranging influences, with a particular affinity for any music that positively influences perception and thinking. They explore juxtapositions of sounds and styles, melodies and noise, planned and random acts, field recordings and electronics, analog and digital. Synth drones slowly unfurl melodically before picking up a darker wind-blown edge and giving a feeling that compliments the title. There is a subtlety to the track, so it’s not too literal in its intentions.

“Cage of Obscured Rain” by IF. IF is Matteo Gazzolo an actor, director, musician, sound designer (founder of Soundethers). He’s been teaching theatrical techniques and text analysis since 1999. He organizes trainings and lectures on acting styles. Matteo lives in Sardinia (Italy) where he plays his stage productions, focusing on the relationship between music, sound technologies (live electronics) and speech. The use of rain sounds return with a more obvious use of weather sourced field recordings. The drones that join are fractured as if they are too also affected by the weather. The drones start to build in intensity and the tone tends to go in a more screechy noise affected way. The track heads into a mix of dark ambient and more melodic fusion with the two opposing styles mixing up in layers and alternating in dominance. The ending of the track is where the field recordings and dark ambience takes hold.

“I Forgot Everything” by In die Ferne. In die Ferne’s first musical experiences date back to the late 80s — playing the guitar in an utterly forgotten noise combo that only recorded 2 tracks. He started making electronic music in the early 2000s. Minimal drones and tones are central to this track. Repetition or loops sees the motif replayed as the drones, while noisy have that classical Eno style to them. The rough / noisy is to the tracks detriment and stands out against the clearer recordings.

“Aftermath” by Jesús Lastra. Lastra aka Jalastram/Flat Stone is a Madrid-based self-taught artist from Maracaibo, Venezuela. He began to experiment with audio editing software in 2007. Then, he started composing ambient music, or more specifically, soundscape, drone and experimental music within the electronic genre. Slow drawn out drones are joined by string drones and a low rumble. The sound is full, but also mournful.With a title like “Aftermath” the artist is clearly trying to convey the post disaster desolation of the area with the heaviness of the drones, the fusion of the elements (strings, piano) and the mood of the times.

With a compilation that comes with a theme or an inspiration there are bound to be cross over of source inspiration eg: field recordings of rain, that said while there are similarities, the artists are able to put their own touches to give a little variation to each piece. The two final tracks probably act as the weaker and stronger pieces on the album. If you like thematic albums this may be for you.

Paolo Mascolini records as sōzuproject. He has released a handful of albums and ep’s. This release on cassette (edition of 59 copies) and digital is his latest. This is the first time he has come across my radar.

The label states that this was “Recorded between December 2016 and February 2017, Breath Slowly describes the composer’s experience while cycling off-road in the mysterious Italian Dolomites in 2016. Divided into two acts, the album depicts an imaginary journey of self-discovery inspired by these desolate and overwhelming mountain landscapes.

“Ascent” starts off with eerie rumbling, echoing recordings of some sort before layered and occasionally fractured drones arc across the soundscape. Staccato strings cut across before a deep Bassoon like bass drone enters and vibrates out. The music starts to fill out with the strings and the bass thump being joined by noisier sections. The music oscillates with looped electronics joining the fray. As the track continues on the intensity is lifted. If the intention is to convey the intensity of ascending mountains on bicycle and also the desolation of the area, then it is succeeded with the slow build up which dissipates to a more electronica like ending.

“Descent” the drones that start this track have a slightly croaky sound to them as if they are made of field recordings of frogs. A buzzing drone enters the picture and loops with a low-level electronic section barely audible underneath. The electronics start to build up in the mix and their fast paced nature is at odds with the slow intense drones, before they start to challenge the drones which are getting noisier and distorted. There is a subtle wall of noise/ orchestral nature to the drones in the way they sound. The end of the track is like reprise of the beginning with some of the elements featuring again with the electronics still fighting for position.

I have to admit having an expectation to how the tracks would sound in relation to the theme which was completely opposite to the end result. I expected “Ascent” to be intense , which it was, in relation to climbing a mountain by bicycle and ‘Descent” being a more laidback enjoying the scenery feel, which it wasn’t. If you like long form noisy layered drone, then this release might be your cup of tea.

Otto Lindholm – Alter.

On October 13 (Friday the 13th in certain places) Gizeh Records releases the second album from Belgium based Double Bassist/Electronic musician Otto Lindholm. Lindholm’s self titled debut came out on Icarus Records /Vynila Vinyls in 2015 and gained critical appraisal from the likes of Fact Magazine and influential broadcaster Mary Anne Hobbs.

Lindholm had this to say about the album’s genesis “My original idea was to work on the melody and the play of the arco (ed note: Arco being the returning to playing bowed after pizzicato), looking for expressive music from this combination. To do it, I first decided to work on ‘modes’ and their specific color. With these modes I could work on tensions, frictions and color shading. Working on the melody aspect, I was looking to go beyond the romantic, easy listening or sentimentalizing, trying to suggest more than an expression of concrete emotions.

The album contains four tracks with a consistent length with times ranging from just over eight minutes up to ten and a half minutes. The record comes in a vinyl edition of five hundred copies on 180g vinyl with download code and bonus 12″ x 12″ print if purchased via the labels store. It was mastered by Lawrence English of the Room40 label.

“Fauve” (a Fauve is a type of artist from the Fauvism movement that featured the “radical use of unnatural colors that separated color from its usual representative and realistic role, giving new emotional meaning to colors”). On this track slow bowed strings and monolithic bass swells are the first thing you hear, pulsing and throbbing. There is a deep dark sound to the track, but also room for melodic touches. Layers of double bass come in an out with low-level electronics and manipulated bass sounds. The more the track moves on, the more elements are added with the electronics mimicking the bass swells, but also being off rhythm to them. The tracks fluidity enables it to cover the genres of modern classical and certain elements of post rock. With the use of tones and manipulated organic and electronic sounds you could state the Lindholm has started he aim for the album straight off with the opening track.

“Lehena” (which in African names means one who refuses) arcs of bass vibrate across with a swarm like sound underneath that build up before a violin like section takes the focus before an electronic section of pulsing loops, ambience and squelchy beats provides a counterpoint to the organic sounds created by the double bass. The electronics threaten to take over the track and lead it in a more dance/electronica based vein, but while they lead the track to its finish they remain as one of the elements of the sound palate.

“Alyscamps” a deep dark drone is joined by ghostly electronics and glacial ambience. The drones intertwine with the electronics combing the acoustic with the electronic. Flickering sections lead to the feeling of a broken transmission from a deserted outpost. The flickering remains a constant while scattershot sounds with haunting presence form like a storm which is subdued just before the end for some distinct double bass. The “Alyscamps” is a Roman section in Arles, France and was the burial ground for nearly 1,500 years. The haunting music could be easily influenced by this landmark.

“Heliotrope” a Heliotrope is a popular flowering plant that happens to be a toxic plant. On this particular track the double bass recordings are deep and are used under a bed of higher at times bordering on screeching drones. While tracks like “Alyscamps” utilized the electronics in a different way, “Heliotrope” relies more on the ambient and drone elements that can be coaxed from the double bass. There are effects in the piece with juddering sounds, sounds that cut in an out, degradation of sounds, etc…. which gives it a more experimental / cut up feel.

On “Alter” Lindholm expands on what he started with on his self titled debut, but comes across more as focusing on the qualities of his chosen instrument than the electronic component of his debut. Don’t get me wrong, the electronics are still there but appear to be more of a tool of his experimentalism than as a feature. For those who checked out the recently reviewed Alder & Ash should also check out this album.

Otto Lindholm

Gizeh Records

Alder & Ash – Clutched in the Maw of the World.

“Clutched in the Maw of the World” is the follow-up Alder & Ash album released at the same time as the debut was re-issued by Lost Tribe Sound. Both got the deluxe physical treatment with a hand crafted sleeve in an edition of 150 copies each.

Lost Tribe Sound had this to sat about the artist: “Alder & Ash treads on the experimental fringes of modern classical, perhaps too abrasive to play nice with the coy melodrama of the scene. Yet, the music has enough grit to take hold of lovers of doom, noise, and the like, perhaps winning over new fans of cello music from even the most hardened black metal die-hards.”

“The Merciless Dusk” starts off with screeching feedback like noises with slowly strummed cello that has a very distraught sound to it. The cello plays mournfully over the screeching, but is used sparingly with great restraint which emphasizes the melancholic feel to it. There is a sense of loss in the tone of the cello that is inescapable.

“A Seat Amongst God and his Children” percussive use of the cello’s body alongside long bass thumps are joined by layered sections of melodic lines that cut in an out before the percussion and bass drop out and a tale of woe is introduced by the lead section which reaches low notes, before the previous sections of percussion and bass return with added distortion changing the tone of the piece and adding a level of almost violence to it. This goes in cycles with the quieter piece coming back before it descends back into the distorted section. The juxtaposition of the different in volume is quite pronounced and effective. A note should be made of the recording of the cello which highlights the accents of the instrument.

“All his own, the Lord of Naught” bass thumps underneath scraped loops are accompanied by spindly cello lines with a ghostly presence. A Ponticello section brings in a darker section of distorted loops followed by strumming and scraping of the strings before heading back into the noise. The strummed and scraping sections give the feel of an old western soundtrack which is opposite to the freak out of the Ponticello and loops.

“Clutched in the Maw of the World” layers of buzzsaw cello cut through the air filling up the sound,balancing both light and shade. It’s not long before an emotive and despair-like central piece takes the solo focus over the drone like other sections. As the track moves on the buzzsaw sections start to keep getting ever so slightly heavier and a background section of squall like distortion builds up and swarms over the track to its completion.

“The Great Plains of Dust” when this track starts you have to check that you are not listening to a track by Stoner legends Sleep such is the heaviness of the beginning. An orchestral like section of drones joins the thump and they come across like a track from the “A Clockwork Orange” soundtrack. The drones have a semi distorted stab like feel. The track then changes into a familiar Alder & Ash track with the distorted bass loops and fluid cello lines over the top. Again the cello sounds returns for a brief section to the Stoner realm with its deep bass tone, before the playing turns emotive and leads into a further distorted and layered section. The track manages to traverse Stoner Rock, Classical and Alt country/folk with an apparent ease.

“Seeds of a Sallow Earth” deft acoustic picking and use of the percussive qualities of the cello welcome affected sections that sound like transmissions from a radio, such is their removed sound. The cello is battered and slapped and gently plucked and strummed resulting in the most experimental of the tracks over the two albums.

“The Merciful Dawn” after some light drones and minimal bass thumps long and emotive cello lines occur minimally and unforced. The lines have a slight, but not overpowering melancholic feel to them. The lines are replaced with layers of gently strummed and more forcefully plucked strings and hitting of the body of the cello which you can detect a ring hitting it.

“The Glisten, The Glow” the percussive slap and gently strummed strings are joined by a layered section of strummed cello which gives the track a feel of a post rock track due to all the elements joining together with not one having a tone that leads it any given direction. The use of pace and space gives the track a hint of restraint that is held on till the middle of the track where there is a slight sense of urgency of the cello as if something needs to be conveyed. Towards the end the urgency is replaced by grandeur as the tone of the cello is more emotive and almost lyrical in its lines. This particular track and “The Great Plains of Dust” are the two stand out tracks of the album for very different reasons.

“Clutched in the Maw of the World” follows the sound template of “Psalms for the Sunder”, but extends it further with the use of silence, pace, atmosphere and leading the music in a grander soundtrack-esque style. While “Psalms…” was obviously a cello based record, “Clutched…” while also being a cello record shows more depth and variance in its compositions and the colors that the music displays. A recommended listen.

Alder & Ash – Psalms for the Sunder.

Lost Tribe Sound sought to expose Alder & Ash to a greater audience. The first of the two releases they put out was “Psalms for the Sunder”. This originally came out self released in 2016. Lost Tribe Sound decided to re-issue in physical form alongside the latest album “Clutched in the Maw of the World”.

The label had the following to say: “Psalms for the Sunder thrives in opposing extremes. As the title suggests, Psalms for the Sunder is a study of downfall and collapse. The work explores the boundaries, the desolation and despair, among the edges of things come undone. In that tension and space it finds not only cacophony, violence and decay, but also bittersweetness and calm.”

Alder & Ash is Adrian Copeland from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and is a solo cellist and only uses Cello to compose these pieces. He uses such techniques as legato (“musical notes are played smoothly and connected. That is, the player transitions from note to note with no intervening silence”), pizzicato (plucking of the strings), but also extended techniques like percussion against various parts of the cello, scordatura (detuning strings), string scratching, col legno (striking strings with bow) and ponticello (metallic and shrill overtones). Making full use of the instrument results in the music made by Alder and Ash.

“A Prelude To The Decline” slow drones are accompanied by minimal picking before the mournful quality of the cello cuts through with a melodic touch. The main cello piece alternates in tone and intensity giving the track both the mournful part, but also an angry intensity. The range of tones gives the cello a vocal-like feel in that it is conveying an unsung narrative.

“At Night in the Slaughterhouse” a distorted beat and slapping of the body of the instrument give the track its percussive feel while layers of cello combine to give both rhythm and lead parts. The press release gives mention of Dirty Three and Bad Seed’s Warren Ellis violin playing and this comes through early in this track with similar frantic playing. Just when you feel the track is settling down, the distorted percussion comes thumping back in industrial style while affected cello screeches above it roaring in intensity until the more emotive sections take control.

“Black Salt” starts with occasional strumming of the cello as if the player or person is finding their feet or rhythm before the percussive part starts to form something more. The strumming picks up speed, joined by buzzsaw sounds cutting left to right and some distant distorted rumble sounds. The melodic cello part that becomes the central focus lends a modern classic feel which is at odds with its more rustic beginning. After an ebb the strumming starts up again with both the distorted rumble sounds and a percussive beat. After a short period it fades to low-level drones and cutting sounds while the strumming slowly fades to the end.

“Seen Through the Cedar Smoke” multi layered picking and percussion are joined by the briefest bursts of sounds similar to that of a horn. The picking rhythmically becomes dense and woven and is covered with stabs of sound. The affected cello comes back into play sounding like the guitar sounds of Big Black – like distorted that it removes the original sound of the instrument. The quiet/loud dynamic comes into play when elements drop out and the picking starts up again, with both a feature element and the rhythmic base. There is quite a post industrial feel to the track, almost like post war desolation and decay.

“Ikejime” bizarrely the title refers of a method of paralyzing fish to preserve the meat. I am not sure what preservation is going on in this track but it has a jaunty rhythm over which slow bowed cello hangs over utilizing the screech noises that can be apparent with the cello. There are several layers the recording with each holding its own position from rhythm to melodic parts , those that are designed to add color, while others become the lead and yet others add the emotive depth to the pieces. All the levels don’t make it claustrophobic in any way and they are complimentary.

“Children of Gomorrah” has an ominous bluest feel with the starting percussive bit and distorted strings before sad sections are added and the track returns to the distortion of earlier tracks and has a vibe of seedyness as if it would suit as a soundtrack piece for show like “Peaky Blinders” or something where there is little light, grime, decay, etc….

“Triage” acoustic strumming with a drone that is long and emotive that slowly evolves, with the rhythm staying the same pace before dropping out altogether and allowing the drone to be accompanied by Warren Ellis style strings which posses an Americana feel that is almost improv like, before the strumming re-emerges. With Triage meaning to assess the importance of things, this could be represented in the layers of the piece and the way they build up and how they are structured.

On “Psalms for the Sunder” Alder & Ash utilize their chosen instrument to the fullest and create music that cuts through genres such as Drone, Americana, Industrial and others without being bogged down in one set genre. The music contained could easily be featured on a soundtrack or just enjoyed with a pair of headphones on.

The last physical copies are still available now.