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.

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An interview with Dronarivm’s Dmitry Taldykin.

Dronarivm has been around since May 2012 with the release of Star Turbines “The Sleeping Land” on cassette. From this auspicious start and with Bartosz Dziadosz (Pleq) acting as curator, the label has gone from strength to strength releasing music from the likes of Celer, Offthesky, Porya Hatami, The Green Kingdom, Caught in the Wake Forever, Guilio Aldinucci and many more. Label boss Dmitry Taldykin kindly answered my questions.

Please introduce yourself. Why did you start Dronarivm?  Did you have experience with music before starting the label? Was there a label prior to Dronarivm? 

My name is Dmitry Taldykin.  I’m from Moscow, Russia.

Dronarivm is the logical continuation of Radiodrone Records, that was focused on the Russian experimental ambient scene. After I had received the first demo from abroad I took thought to work with foreign markets. Radiodrone Records was not very successful and I decided to start Dronarivm-  that’s how it appeared. The first release was reissue on CD of a cassette album by Celer – Rags of Contentment. I just sent the email to Will Long and he gave me authorization…..it was 5 years ago, Autumn 2012.

When I was younger I played the guitar in an alternative rock group, but it was not connected with the label. It was another story from both sides, musical and aesthetic.

From the outside looking in you and Pleq have a close relationship. How did you meet/come across his music? How important to Dronarivm is he?

Continuing the story… When I was ready to take over the world J)) I got the account on Facebook, where I met Bartosz Dziadosz aka Pleq. I sent him one message: – Hi! Do you want to release something on a cassette? And he replied: – Yes, that would be great!

After that I released the split Pleq / Philippe Lamy. It was very limited edition – around 30 copies. I ordered new cassettes from USA, recorded them at home on two-cassette deck Pioneer, that was equipped with digital input. I bought it in Yaroslavl, Russian city located 300 km away from Moscow.

After some time Bartosz decided to become the curator of Dronarivm. He introduced me to many musicians via internet and acted as an intermediary in the publication of many subsequent releases. This partly remains to this day.

What quality do you look for in a release for Dronarivm ? Do you accept demos?

It is very complicated question. It depends on personal preferences. We are trying not to concentrate on one music genre. We can release drone ambient like Chihei Hatakeyama, or piano modern classical like Lorenzo Masotto. We don’t care about the commercial profit in general. We always look for completeness, perfection… Ideally an album should sound as hell from start to end as much as possible. I don’t know how to express the idea exactly… But I hope sometimes we get it 🙂

Dronarivm is interested mostly in fusion of such genres as ambient, modern classical, electronic, field recordings, experimental. Sometimes we release them in pure, but it happens very seldom.

It is possible to send us demos. But unfortunately we can’t release all we get and listen.

So far 2017 has seen 7 releases. What can be expected for the rest of the year and have you got plans for 2018? (Please note I factored in the just released omrr CD, which was wasn’t released at the time the questions were sent and the re-issued /expanded Olan Mill CD)

Frankly speaking nowadays I see only 5 🙂 Elegi, Lorenzo Masotto, Pausal, Pleq, Enrico Coniglio & Matteo Uggeri… We can also consider Omrr – Devils for my Darling as sixth, it will be issued in the end of September. By the time this interview will be published it could be fait accompli

In 2017 we are planning to release Sven Laux – Paper Streets and Aaron Martin & Machinefabriek – Seeker.

Also we have some plans for 2018. I don’t want to give any comments on that. The only thing I would like to say – these will be wonderful albums, as always 🙂 Hope everything will work out fine.

How important is the visual identity of packaging and format to the label? You have done tapes and cds. Have you considered vinyl?

I’m not sure if listener can recognize Dronarivm once looked at it. Many labels create their own aesthetic canons to make their releases appear visually recognizable, identifiable in the general flow. It is very clear desire taking into consideration the volume of music production.

As for Dronarivm, we work individually with each particular release. We don’t have any rules in design. It is absolutely up to the taste of musician and editor.

CD is the optimal format for us now. To release vinyl, I would need to move to Latvia or the Czech Republic, or somewhere else forever. In Russia, to release vinyl costs a lot of money. If sometimes it happen it will be the last release of Dronarivm 🙂 Maybe in future something will change. But while we continue to do what we do. With hope for the best …

An interview with Whitelabrec’s Harry Towell.

One of the hardest working people in the Ambient/Drone sphere is Harry Towell. He wears many hats and has four labels in various states of activity as well as his well known Spheruleus moniker. I caught up with Harry to talk about his Whitelab Rec’s label.

You record under the Spheruleus name (as well as Magnofon) and run the Tesselate, Audio Gourmet and Warehouse Decay labels while also writing for the Irregular Crates Blog. What was the impetus in starting another label? Are you a workaholic? Are Tesselate and Warehouse Decay still active?

I am indeed a workaholic. I have no idea how I find the time. But then I don’t truly see music as work so it’s not hard. With all the labels and pseudonyms, I guess like many artists, I have a habit of starting something new! Some creators end things by closing doors neatly behind them when they intend to open a new one. Others, like me, tend to leave doors open and chop and change between projects. Audio Gourmet for instance could have stopped a couple of years back when I was working more on Tesselate and Warehouse Decay, but I am glad I left the door ajar , as this year I’ve been putting out free EP’s again and really enjoyed it, with some great support.

 

Currently Warehouse Decay is inactive and I’ve no immediate plans to get it going again. I’ve always loved House music and wanted to be a part of the scene and use my experience running Ambient labels to make a go of it. Unfortunately it proved a tough nut to crack and apart from a few friends who supported it loyally, I felt pretty alone. It’s interesting that Ambient music fans, artists, labels etc have all taken different paths to stumble on the genre, many from Post Rock, Metal or IDM, many from the New Age or ethnic Ambient genres too. It seems that Deep House is not such a conventional route and so I didn’t have as many interested contacts or a connected audience.

Tessellate is not fully closed, despite being inactive of late. I always feel it could be another window if I felt like splashing the cash on some more luxurious packaging but the trouble is the risk as to whether I’d make enough back to justify a bigger release.

I launched Whitelabrecs after an idea which was the blueprint for the packaging and I recalled how well Under The Spire did as a label when starting out, when they released things in simple rubber stamped cardboard packages. I had also recently been reunited with my record collection and was feeling very nostalgic about the days when I’d visit local record stores, purchasing white label vinyl as I got to grips with DJing. Often records would have nothing other than a sticker or rubber stamp, sometimes even just an etching on the black plastic space near the label. So I did the usual, set up a website, a Bandcamp page and started asking around to see if anyone would want to release on this new label of mine. Thankfully there was a lot of interest and here we are today!

How important is the visual identity to the label? Compared to the Tesselate releases, Whitelabrec’s releases have the hand-made aesthetic. Was it important for the label to have an aesthetic to encompass a concept?

For Whitelabrecs this has become crucially important – it was the idea behind the label and I’ll keep it going for as long as I can. I think this is also why I slowed down with Tessellate, as the packaging is different for pretty much every release and the label never truly found an identity. When the idea struck for Whitelabrecs, I truly connected with it and wanted this to be the plan for all releases on the label. I knew there’d be the odd detour but for general releases, I decided that it was very important to follow the pattern this time so I could build an identity.

Is the label genre bound or do the releases float over various genres?

The label isn’t genre-bound as it will be rooted in my own music taste which is incredibly varied. So far releases have been generally within the modern Ambient scene, perhaps encompassing most of the sub-genres from floatier drone stuff, to glitch electronics and onto Modern Classical, Folk and even Jazz. This has generally gone down well with listeners. I’m open to pushing the boundaries in the future and taking one or two detours so watch this space! But generally, I’m looking at releasing introspective, thought-provoking music and can’t see that changing. In other words, I’m not likely to rekindle my failed dreams from Warehouse Decay by releasing dancefloor-ready Tech House!

A glance at the catalog reveals a mixture of familiar names with those that are new (or side projects). How important is it to you to expose people to new artists? Does this become a factor when deciding what to release?

I have always worked with both newer names to the scene and more established artists and in the Whitelabrecs catalog there is a blend. I don’t dwell too much on whether an artist has released before, how successful their other work was or how many Instagram followers they have. We’ve only got 50 copies to make and sell, of which the artist gets 10. So I only have to worry about those 40 copies and they tend to shift regardless of how well established an artist is. Sure, it certainly helps to have some familiar names –releases by Tsone, Steve Pacheco and Guy Gelem took little in the way of a push! I’m also delighted to give some other artists their first taste of releasing a physical album however, such as Sea Trials, Ludmila and Ben McElroy. I remember how exciting this felt when I first held a copy of ‘Frozen Quarters’ which I released as Spheruleus on Under The Spire.

Looking at the future of the label there are no plans to just attract well-known artists now it’s a bit more established. We have demos queued up until WLR043 and in that queue we’ve got some well-known artists as well as new comers so the blend will continue.

You’ve recently done a cassette release and the 20 cdr box set. What other plans do you have for the future? Do you plan quite far in advance?

There’ll likely be another box set for those that don’t mind waiting a year or two to play catch up. I did this so that there’s a way for people new to the label to not miss out completely and also, because I was getting asked about out of print releases. I’ve always said I wouldn’t reissue anything individually, but since box set orders are always likely to be low due to the price tag, I took the decision to do this just so there is a way for new collectors to join in the fun.
I enjoyed making the mix tape too and was surprised at the level of interest having never worked with this format before. I’ll certainly be doing more mix tape releases in the future and perhaps get into the local fields and continue the photography theme for the artwork.

There are no other clear ideas just yet as I’m currently just getting my head down and working my way through the discography queue. I think another compilation could be in order at some point but there’s no overall rush on that. There will be new ideas though – with both the box set and the tape, the ideas struck me suddenly and it doesn’t take me long to pull it all together once ideas such as these set in.

With schedule, I’ll take in demos and add them to the back of the queue once approved. I’ll leave them until I get nearer – perhaps drop in with the artist and have a chat now and again. Some artists are very keen and understandably so, so we organise things well in advance so everything’s ready. Other artists are happy to leave it until the few weeks in the run up to the release and wait for me to get back in touch.

There is a lot to do for each release but we’ve followed a similar formula since the beginning, so I’m quite used to it now, 28 releases in – so the work isn’t too daunting. I guess burning the CDs is the most time-consuming thing but that gives me a chance to work on other things, listen to music and relax bit too.

You can check out more :

Whitelabrecs

Bandcamp

Astrïd & Rachel Grimes – Through The Sparkle.

The latest release from Gizeh Records is a collaborative release from French quartet Astrïd and American pianist and former member of Rachel’s, Rachel Grimes. Grimes’ music I am familiar with when she was with Rachel’s, but I haven’t kept up to date with her releases on the likes of Temporary Residence, etc… Astrïd is a group I was familiar only in name with Cyril Secq having a collaborative release with Orla Wren on Dronarivm and three of the members being joined by Sylvain Chauveau as Butterfly in the Snowfall on Home Normal (as well as appearing on the “Elements” series of compilations as Astrïd). Astrïd have previously appeared on the Arbouse Recordings, Monotype and Rune Grammofon labels. They comprise of Vanina Andréani : violin, kalimba, metallophone, Yvan Ros : drums, percussions, Cyril Secq : guitars, harmonium, Juno, Rhodes, bass and Guillaume Wickel : clarinet, bass clarinet, Juno.

The album is the result of mail and email exchange that led to two lots of songwriting in France. Astrïd invited Rachel to come for a residency to make music together and play shows in France. They gathered for a few days, here and there, in 2012 and 2013 to write songs in Cyril and Vanina’s home studio in the countryside.

Gizeh Records describe the record as “The compositions found on Through the Sparkle glow with a unique, connected energy and a pure, instinctive musical understanding. Considered contributions from all sides allow the pieces to unfurl naturally. Each note and phrase feels like it simply couldn’t be placed anywhere else in the album. Charming, gentle and cinematic sounds are found here in abundance. Melodies circle and reveal themselves without force, allowing the listener to focus and explore the depths of what is on offer. Musically, Through the Sparkle is an expansive and evocative album.”

“The Herald en Masse” – Grimes’ piano is the first thing you hear before Violin, Brushed Percussion, Clarinet and other instruments combine to create a track that has elements of the almost Folky / Post Rock sea inspired music of Rachel’s “The Sea and the Bells” and the meandering feel of The Dirty Three (Ros’ brushed percussion also brings to mind Jim White). The elements build up nicely with each occupying their own space giving a feel of an orchestral recording rather than that of five musicians. The piano anchors the track while other elements like guitar and clarinet are able to color the sound and come screeching in or providing more depth.

“M5” – Secq’s tremelo guitar opens the track with long spindly chords that spread outwards before being joined by minimal piano lines and string based drones for the first half of the track with the guitar setting the dark mood. This all changes with briskly played piano with an urgent sound is joined by brushed percussion, kalimba, clarinet and guitar (which has changed from darker mood to a more melodic tone). The Clarinet builds up the melody in mirror like form to the guitar with the percussion keeping the pace with the piano. It is a track where the instruments are in sync with each other.

“The Theme” – Haunting Clarinet and chiming tremelo guitar combine with kalimba, piano, brushed percussion and violin in an almost improv style with the elements colliding at times while at others occupying their own space. It all comes together in the last minute of the track largely led by sparse drums which give the track a direction to go in.

“Mossgrove & Seaweed” – is a track that is purely about building tension between the instruments. What sounds like layering of piano and Rhodes keys hammered that build up on intensity with harmonium coming through and string drones. The instruments keep building to a crescendo where the strings and harmonium alongside the cymbals take over the track before it is paired back to the elements of the start and brings it all back to where it started.

“Hollis” – is the track featured on both Soundcloud and Spotify and it is easy to see why. It starts with a barely audible drone that piano is then added to before swinging jazz-style drumming comes in supported by bass, clarinet, metallophone and kalimba and has a jazz meets post rock and almost trip hop feel. There is a swing to the playing that is under pinned by the great drumming which drives the track along as well as the piano does in the start. The other elements add different textures and color to the track, with the clarinet adding a melodic is slightly melancholic feel.

“M1” – Secq’s prepared sounding guitar opens the track with a melody underneath it presumably from the Juno. The feeling of the guitar is almost Western in sound. As it unfurls the bass clarinet comes into sound and slowly other elements are added like percussion, Rhodes, Piano and the guitar drops out. It builds up after the Rhodes and Piano to become fully formed alt folk piece where the strings take the place that guitar once held and work well in tandem with the clarinet gives two different types of sound – the higher sound of the violin meets the bass tones of clarinet.

“Le Petit Salon” – is a stunning piece of cinematic music with mournful violin strings cutting above piano with a haunting feeling that would be well placed in a period movie about loss. Other instruments start to fill out the sound like bass clarinet and harmonium, prepared guitar playing screeches and off kilter urgent ramshackle drumming careens around. The extra instruments give the piece weight but don’t over power the two main instruments and the overall theme of the track.

The playing and compositions of this album give you the feeling of a long-standing band, not a band and a collaborator. The way Astrïd and Grimes fuse together is so seamless with each others influences forming together to create something their own. Elements of Grimes’ sounds developed in Rachel’s come through and fit nicely within the Astrïd framework to provide an enjoyable and cohesive piece of work. The label describes it perfectly : “Through the Sparkle is a record of miniature symphonies, of elegant restraint. A gracious and generous offering from a group of musicians at one with each other and at the top of their game.”

You can buy the album here.

Astrïd

Rachel Grimes

Gizeh Records

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.