Eilean Rec x5: Śruti/ Benjamin Finger/ Emmanuel Whitzthum/ Aries Mond/ Amuleto.

For this second part of Eilean Rec release catch up, I get up to speed on the Class of 2018 (minus the previously reviewed Ljerke release). Again, some fine works of various colors and musical styles for listeners to dive right into.

Śruti is the collaboration between Egyptian experimental musicians Omar El Abd (Omrr) & Mohammed Ashraf (Pie Are Squared). “Heard, Unspoken” is their debut. The album was created over the past two years between Cairo, Egypt & Ravenna, Italy. El Abd has appeared before on Eilean Rec with “Music For The Anxious” while Ashraf has appeared on labels such as Records DK, *Handstitched and others.

The album is paired into two tracks of each part of the album’s title eg: “Heard (Pt.1)” and “Heard (Pt.2)”.

“Heard (Pt.1)” begins with cut up electronics that sound like something breaking down. The textures range from crisp sounds through to more submerged sounds. Drones, field recordings, loops, broken electronics come together in an aurally rich sound scape which is fluctuating with depth and intensity, but doesn’t sound cluttered. The music takes a darker turn with heavier drones mixing in with glitches and noise to create a storm like environment that threatens to, but never wholly enters the maelstrom. Snatches of minimalist piano change the mood of the piece, which still remains intense, but with a different edge to it. Towards the end organ sounding drones mixed with static saturated synth pulses give a fractured feel to the track not too dissimilar to its beginnings.

“Heard (Pt.2)” picks up were part one finished before moving into a mixture of field recordings, acoustic guitar and thought out and well spaced minimal piano. Granular pulses of electronics add a gritty edge before strings take the track to more cinematic places before fading to an almost unheard level. They continue with a melancholic edge alongside broken electronics, before the music swells with intensity and various guitar sections come in such and a post rock/ambient influenced style and a more twangy section. The music becomes more forceful seeking out more of the listener as it threatens to and borders on noise in brief parts. The swell of the track is such as once it has reached its crescendo, it slowly dissipates with breathy drones to its completion.

“Unspoken (Pt. 1)” feels like a mysterious soundtrack composed of snatches of electronics, backwards dialogue, floating ominous synths and foreign sounds. There is a strong Space theme. A tunnel like sounding drone comes in with its almost echoing presence before turning into a lighter, but still intense soundscapes, just with a bit of light to the ominous sound generated. The sound feels like it’s constructing of many layers that are not totally discernible, but can be slowly picked out at glances. With three minutes left in the track the music takes on a more electronic feel to it with swathes of ambient coating Oval-esque sounds.

“Unspoken (Pt.2)” continues with the glitchy electronics added to with field recordings, drones, piano, and other tones to create a track that falls across genres like electroacoustic, sound art, quasi film soundtrack and modern classical flirtations. The sound comes across as full, but the way the components come together allows for depth in the piece. The track has the ability, much like the others on the album, to flow easily from section to section without sounding clunky.

Hopefully not the last collaboration between these artists, it would be great to hear how they would react to stripping back the layers and focusing on an individual style. I would imagine it would be as impressive as this debut.

Benjamin Finger follows up his “For Those About to Love” album on Flaming Pines with “Scale of Blindness”. Finger, based in Oslo, Norway has been composing music since 2005 and active since 2009 and is a composer, electronic music producer, DJ and photographer. His music has graced labels like Time Released Sound, Shimmering Moods Records, Oak Editions and many more.

This is his second release on the label with this previous “Pleasurably Lost” in 2015. The label describes the work as “an unknown territory, dense and unpredictable, without musical styles, a deep dive, well-managed, into his own world.”

“Halogen Flux” welcomes you to the album with squelchy sounds, loops, gritty sounds, haunting female vocals, broken circuitry and scattershot electronics. Sounding more like an experimental piece that is a song collage, rather a standard piece, though it must be noted that it does have a sense of composition about it rather than the ‘kitchen sink form of experimentation. “Anxiety Blues” follows in the similar sound landscape with bubbling electronics, female vocals (by Lynn Fister), washes of synchs and percussive elements. You can visually picture Finger with a bunch of analogue retro instruments plugging away and turning knobs.

“If Memory Serves” utilizes some American dialogue about a plane jacking (DB Cooper) alongside layered retro synth lines that remind of Mogwai’s post “Rave Tapes” sounds that have a hint of menace about them coupled with melody and a retro feel. “Vagabond Void” begins with loops of squelchy sounds alongside a Morse code like scratchy synth and a kakiedescopic carousel sounding synth section with minimal percussion. The track feels like hyperactive synth lines that are then broken up by an ambient section before a darker sound enters the field and becomes part of the frantic feel you get. The track has an almost claustrophobic and schizophrenic sound to it.

“Fragrant Darkness” warped oscillating tones that fluctuate with frequency and intent, coming across in a way of a broken transmission are paired with an emotive vocal/synth drone with dub like qualities. The music has a looping quality to it that changes as the track goes through several moods and expands with additional instrumentation of mainly the synth kind. “Earview Map” starts with a more traditional synth drone of long proportions with choppy synth stabs that than ripple out creating quite a moody submerged piece. You get the feeling of alien world such are the low subdued tones. The drones grow with a slight static to them in the last-minute with blips and blops keeping that alien feel alive.

“Falling Asleep” oscillating synth lines with a partial drone attached meet dubby synth lines, percussive elements, vocals. Elements come in loop forms, but also in building up and breaking down of the sounds. What sounds like treated guitar comes in and adds something else as well as the clicking sticks percussion.

“Vanishing Faces” is the album’s epic clocking in at just over 12 minutes in length. It is quite different to the previous tracks before it in that the music is more laid back, less frenetic. It is given time to unfurl the drones and the bass line holds it all together. The drones are both melodic and metallic. The feel of an alien like environment is still sonically there but the initial feeling is of dawn with the sun coming up. The bass line melody (which sounds like an ominous organ) gets more flesh to it as the track also builds around it. Drones and rumbling synth with flashes of synthetic strings finish off the track, which until the last moments, was a change from the majority of the album.

This album would suit those that like a touch of experimental music mixed with a healthy dose of retro feel. In comparison to the Flaming Pines release, which will be reviewed at some point, you can see an artist that while there is something that ties his work together, it appears not to be too similar.

Emmanuel Witzthum is an Israeli musician, multidisciplinary artist, and lecturer. He has been on labels such as Cotton Goods and has appeared on Eilean Rec with his collaboration with Craig Tattersall as E & I on the”The Color of Sound” album. This album has 4 tracks, 4 haikus, like 4 seasons, two tracks of which are long and the other two are normal length.

“Eyes shut, Leaves. Lift in winds across. Autumn Skies” is an emotive piece that utilizes Whitzhum’s viola and electronics to compose a piece of sweeping music that has obvious dronal elements, but to label it just drone would be to undersell it. It feels like a grand classical piece that has elements that flow and ebb with an undercurrent that forms the body of the track. The use of layering and repeated motifs helps build the track and gives it more than one dimension.

“Soft rain falls. Winter Solitude. At night, still” a fusion of short passages of viola over which layered long sections can glide with a occassional minimal bass drum beat opens the track. If the title gives anything away it is the word solitude. The music feels rather mournful and it feels that it tells a story of loss with the two viola styles being ‘sobbing’ the short loop like passages and the deep melancholy of the longer sections, mixed with reflection.

“Shy Flowers. Cloud Sighs, Clear Blue Sky. Breeze turns warm”. In a way this feels like the flipside of the previous track as the elements are connected and in a similar style – short and long viola passages with a minimal occasional beat. However, the tone is different. It is lighter, still lyrical and emotive, but this time with head held high looking into the sun. The pace of the track accentuates the feel with a relaxed speed.

“Against Tree. Eyes look to Sunset. In summer.” continues with the similar stark instrumentation that the three preceding tracks have used with each track managing to convey z different mood which, given the timbre of the viola is not that easy to do. This particular track utilizes more of drone than the short sections of viola than before. The main sections of viola have the familiar long form bows, but conjure up a feeling of reminiscing. The visual representation would be looking over an open field to a body of water that stretches out with nothing on the horizon. A nice addition to the sound palate are brief moments of wordless vocals to the end which add another element.

Whitzhum’s album is a joy for those that like music that conveys human emotions.

Boris Billier is a french musician based in the Pyrénées mountains in southern France. He started to compose with environmental sound recordings in 2002. He toured with different solo projects, playing “acousmatic” concerts. He often collaborated with contemporary theatre.

From 2013, he started to focus on instrumental music, with a particular interest for piano, and to share tracks under Aries Mond pseudonym.

“Come” the opener starts with flickering sounds and muted piano that comes across as both distant and up close. Electronics scatter around the piano breaking up the sound but also adding queues for the next section. A hum arrives adding a different long melody which holds and brings forth a new section of piano largely unfettered by the electronics (though they are still present). For a three-minute track you feel that it is almost an intro than a stand alone piece and it gives you a feeling of a thematic album, that you will or will not discover is the case, as it unfolds.

“Again” close records piano meets some swirling static sound, electronics and snatches of breathy noises that sound collaged as they have a cut and paste feel. The track is rather brief and sounds an exercise in texture and minimalism rather than a song.

“Come on lets wait” fuses field recordings, experiments with the piano itself, glitches, random tones to create a fractured piano/glitch track that turns ever so ominous with the tone getting heavier and the glitches and tones increasing in their coverage. There is an echoey tone to the glitches which sound like machines breaking down. The repetitive loop section mid way through the track gives it a major motif to hang onto. Things clatter and clang, melodies ring out and for want a better word, a groove is found. After this section an introspective feel comes over the track with the piano being slightly moody.

“Please” close capture recorded minimal piano with all the sound and imperfections of the piano leads this track in a thoughtful mood. Each note is played intentionally with no accompaniment leaving the piano sounding a bit fragile. The pace is relaxed which enables the mood to be easily read. A nice well thought out piece.

“Relentlessly” follows some of the cues that were introduced on “Again” with the vocal glitches having a sound of frustration in there little snatches of sound. There are metallic scraping sounds, possibly the wires from the inside of the piano. The scraping maintains a rhythm which is also produced by the bouncy tones as well.

“Sure” a metronomic sound welcomes lightly played piano and electronics that bounce out and circulate around field recordings. The piano is the center of piece as it holds its place and pace, while other elements float around it including field recordings and more breathy vocals. The piano and tones at times mimic reach other with their repetitive tones.

“So Long” frantic keys, bells and glitchy tones set the stage for this track which holds onto melody while still being experimental in its playing and combination with organic and non organic sounds. The feeling is not too dissimilar to that of the music of Nobukazu Takemura, but with a more humane touch. The mirroring of piano and tones works well.

“Once again” ventures into glitch territory almost exclusively with moody ambiance breaking up the loop sections with a percussive feel – in a like a pinball machine, included in the track. While having pulses of melodic touches, there is an element of noisiness due to the slightly storm like distorted sound.

This albm includes piano, vocals, glitches, field recordings, but is more the sum of the parts with its willingness to experiment and play with sound. The music is consistent in its sound, but without being repetitive and boring.

“Amuleto is Francesco Dillon (cello, prepared cello, feedbacks, other strings, objects) and Riccardo Wanke (guitars,keyboards, electronics, synths, harmonium). The duo takes its name from Roberto Bolaño’s novel and seeks to trace invisible links among distant geographical and cultural spaces, words and sounds. Good part of the inspiration comes from literature, sounds, images coming from various sides of the world. Their music emerges as a combination between contemporary, experimental and electronic music with influences of folk and classical traditions and improvisation.”

As a duo their work has previously come out on the Mazagran label, while separately they have appeared on labels such as Sedimental, Stradivarius, Glistening Examples and Three:Four records. As a level you could make a strong argument that Electroacoustic forms a large part of their oeuvre. This side is shown with Amuleto.

“Las Hojas Mineralizadas De la Árboles” aka “The mineralized leaves of trees” fuses field recordings – crackling noises, electronics, with guitar, harmonium, cello to create a drone piece which results in long sustained tones being coated in a sonic detritus. The drones and other elements travel the various depths of sound and texture, using the instruments for their primary and secondary sound sources. This is best demonstrated by the use of the various guitar tones and the sound of the lead being inserted and removed from the guitar.

“Sumaj Orcko” frequencies and loops seem to be the heart of this piece which definitely rests in the experimental field. Sounds buzz, gurgle, scrape, scatter in a kitchen sink manner where everything appears to be constructed using instruments of alternative means. The track ranges from purely electronic experimentation to more organic sound source experimentation through to left field ambient/drone.

“Bajo la Lluvia Casa Silenciosa” aka “Under the rain silent house” features voice recordings, cello, electronics to create a piece that is hard to get a handle on in regards to what it is trying to convert. Field recordings of conversations give it an eavesdropping feel, but then the noisy prepared strings take in a completely different direction, although it should be noted a variation of this appears at the start of the track.

“Los Naufragios De Cabeza de Vaca” aka “The Cow Head Shipwrecks” fuses field recordings, dark electronics and looped string instruments, giving an almost conventional feel to the track as it builds up the intensity and suspense, before elements drop out and the electronics are what remains. The next section returns to the experimental of before with wild guitar bashings over electronics. Interestingly this leads into more traditional guitar sound with an accompanying humming rhythm, before going into a traditional/ experimental hybrid section. This section builds suspense due to the bashing, the strings that are screeching and the constant humming electronics.

“Una Aventura Nocturna” aka “A Nighttime Adventure” taking the title literally, the duo construct a sound pallet of metallic screeches and string drones that reverberate and extend seemingly forever. The mood is dark and field recordings of dialogue are used, but without understanding the language I cannot ascertain if they fit mood. The feeling is thick but without being claustrophobic, but also suspenseful.

“Máquina Para Fabricar Santos” aka “Machine to Make Saints” fuses the noisy experiments with prepared strings alongside electronics which creates a nice balance of the two styles that while different compliment each other. After a breakdown section, cello that is being roughly played joins electronic beats before another section of joins in and the electronics start to lead the track once more. With the track having around a minute left the cello goes into overdrive in its intensity and its sound of harsh tones that slash and grind to the end.

If you like to more free form experimental Electroacoustic side of music (and Eilean Rec), this may be right up your alley.

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Alapastel – Hidden For The Eyes.

Alapastel is the recording name of Slovakian composer Lukáš Bulko with his debut release being the first release in the series from Slowcraft label called Slowcraft Presents. Each release will be limited to a first edition of 150 copies with heavyweight custom sleeve which is hand stamped and includes other personal hand-made elements. For this particular release Bulko is joined by Alex Lukáčová and Marián Hrdina on vocals and mastering by Adam Dekan.

According to the label “This treasure trove of neo-classical grandeur, electric-acoustic production and subtle folk tones was eight years in the making and clearly signals the arrival of a unique and original new talent. Lukáš speaks with spirited and assured musical voice in an ambitious, pastoral and otherworldly collection…”

“Encounter” opens with an electronica like feel with bells, field recordings of birds, drones, flickering sounds to create this slightly dark neo-classical inspired drone piece. The track has a static feel to it and the short sections of drones that cut across add to this feel. After a fraction of silences string section cones in elevating the sound to become more grandeur. The way the music comes across in surges or washes is reflected in the choice of field recordings of nature. The track has the feel of an introductory piece to the album as it sets more of a groundwork rather than maintain a specific narrative. This is noted by the snatches of vocals at the end of it.

“Seashell” chiming, toy like instruments alongside chimes, vocals (presumably sung in Slovenian) , guitars, violins, static haze, piano create a hybrid track that feels like a mixture of classical meets electroacoustic with a slight folk element. Bass horn instruments add a lower element while violin which is buried low in the mix adds to the feel alongside the percussive piano. The music towards the end flows more into the experimental realm with distorted bass motifs and affects laden vocals that are used more as a musical element than as just singing.

“Bride of the Mountains” male and female vocals intertwine with drones to give a choral and icy feel. Soaring strings place the track firmly in the modern classical field with some ominous sound scapes creating a otherworldliness. The vocals (female only now) become less clear and distant while the strings float around while dark heavy drones create a sound  aurally similar to a dark snow-covered area. The vocals return front and center and without an understanding of the language you feel just by the singing that it comes across like a traditional folk song.

“Frozen Lakes, Fog and Snow” an icy foghorn like sound alongside staccato violin, plucked strings, field recordings, piano, accordion and drones starts forming a clicky rhythm with pulsing accordian and snatches of a variety of sounds coming in and out at almost random intervals. There is a certain comforting mood to the piece that in a way despite being quite electroacoustic in its construction, is quite meditative. The sounds pulse and scatter, quickly shine and fade away, all to do it over again but not feel repetitive.

“Solar System for Nina”opening with plucked strings and long drones the piece moves on to minimal piano with long flowing violin drones and granular electronics with a male narrator giving the feel of a cinematic piece rather than a ‘song’. Repeating chime tones adds a melody to music that has a certain weight and feel before the male voice changes to torch song quality meets opera. The music has retreated back to the shadow thanks in part to the strings, plus the dark bass hums which give an almost dread like feeling. At the half way point the track is turned on its head with frantic strings, pounding keys, swirling sounds and full-blown operatic singing. This change brings a feeling of intensity and of frantic despair which again is felt through the vocals. The track once more changes back to a similar tone to the first movement, but not as dark as before thanks to the flowing piano and the water like sounds, plus the hand percussion lightens the music. For the first time since the intro of “Bride of the Mountain” are the female and male vocals combined.

“Tousled” solo piano with an improv feel of experimenting with the instrument is the basis of the track. The playing changes from soft and tentative to frantic and intense. With a name like “Tousled” you are led to believe that the messy, disordered piano is to reflect the title.

“Demon” long heavy layered drones are paired with some sort of animal like growling which has a guttural feel to it. The drones change from section to section, some cutting through the darkness, while others add to it. As the track progresses the darker elements take more of a focal point in the music and the music is firmly in the neo-classical canon. Glitchy, crunchy textures are introduced alongside arching strings and slight melodic motifs, but the music remains firmly in the darker territory.

“Peaceful Soul in Calm Ocean” wind-blown horn sounds, flickering electronics, pulsing sounds and drones give off a feeling that is contrary to the title. This is no gentle flowing and ebbing piece. There are elements like the horn sounds which you could identify as being calm, but its the other elements that are in stark contrast. Just over half way a piano melody enters in which for the most part has relaxed playing with occasional increase in intensity. The electroacoustic sound scapes start to shower the music with static sounds and washes of distortion. You get the feeling of music that has been exposed to the elements where decay has set in and original sounds have been modified.

This is an album were you leave you expectations at the door. I was thinking it would be more Modern Classical, but it feels like an electroacoustic album that uses Modern Classical and to a lesser extent Folk as its source of inspiration and then manipulates them into a totally different context. If music has become a bit predictable for you and you like it a bit on the darker, more experimental side of the fence then Alapastel’s debut may just be right for you.

Clarice Jensen – For this from that will be filled.

On April 6 the Miasmah imprint releases the debut from US cellist Clarice Jensen called “For this from that will be filled” on CD/Vinyl/Download. Usually a debut would mean a new artist, but this is not the case with Jensen who is the artistic director of ACME (American Contemporary Musical Ensemble) appearing on releases with them on releases on labels such as New Amsterdam Records, also as part of the Wordless Music Orchestra (and configurations there of) and as a collaborator and touring musician for the late Icelandic composer Jóhan Jóhannsson. On addition to this Jensen is a Julliard graduate who has also collaborated with the likes of Stars of the Lid, Max Richter and Tyondai Braxton to name a few.

The four track album includes pieces Co-composed with Jóhannsson, Michael Harrison and two self composed pieces. Jensen is a cellist who utilizes multi tracking, effects pedals, tape loops to highlight the sound of the cello, but to also experiment and confuse the sound of the cello. For this album the music has been composed either for the artist, such as Harrison’s “Cello Constellations” or composed as an audiovisual collaboration, such as the two-part title track that was composed as a collaboration with artist Jonathan Turner and exhibited at The Kitchen in NYC in 2017. A visual representation of the performance was used in the album’s artwork.

As I have zero musical knowledge in composition, I will be quoting the notes supplied to help describe the pieces.

The album opens with “bc” with its description stating that “the work displays the startling effect subtle changes have on conventional elements across repetitions, employing the simple devices of a two-octave c-major scale and a three chord loop.” The piece uses looped sections of cello drones that work together in a tandem situation where they enter and exit in an overlappping fashion which highlights the difference in the sounds generated. You have one which has a deeper, darker, grittier tone that cuts through, while the other has a more mournful and heartfelt tone that provides the emotional heft to the piece. There is a certain degree of light to the piece that is most noticeable with second section of cello. The pace is maintained throughout the piece which allows for intensity to build, but also provide consistency.

For Harrison’s “Cello Constellations” the music is an “exploration of the harmonic series scored for solo and cello and 25 multi-tracked cellos and sine tones. The work is divided into three sections, each a constellation of pitchers tare sustained at very specific Hertz numbers. The effect of these precise pitches interacting with each others such that harmonic beating occurs as an incidental, but deliberate component of the work.” Slow rumbling cello sounds emerge from silence vibrating away get thicker and denser as the waves of more cello tones start to enter into the sound scape. There is a real throbbing bass like tone reminiscent of the didgeridoo while short fractured pieces of cello sound like cut up transmissions. The harmonic beating mentioned previously gives a slight piano sound. Sections of cello drop out removing the throbbing bass sound to reveal a more experimental feel and higher tones section that revels in suspenseful sound. This then makes way for a fashion of melodic minimal tones, long harp like cello and an underlying buzz. The melodic tones sound like a hand percussion instrument like the kalimba. The tones start to get longer and more foreign sounding, almost like decay and desolation have set in. As the piece continues the music become more ominous with thick bassy tones alongside the sped up cut up tones as experienced at the building. It’s quite a transition from the low long tones to the final flurry of extreme activity that threatens to collapse at the end, bringing the listener to the precipice, dangling them over, but just bringing them back before they plunge into an abyss.

“For this from that will be filled (a)” the first of Jensen’s composed audiovisual pieces utilises a cello sound “that evokes a strange organ that is both grand and deteriorating, at times rich and at times brittle “. The music sounds indeed like a wound up organ alongside dark metallic drones that together with the ‘organ sounds’ create a slightly claustrophobic and nightmarish feel. The music is built up in a way that is pure soundtrack material in the way that it can conjure moods and feelings with the listener. The short repetitive sections that emerge slightly early on, start to become the center of the second half with their off kilter sounds giving off a sense of unease. The deterioration mentioned before does not mean that the music goes all glitchy, but in turn refers (for me) the feeling in the music as it slightly gets warped throughout the piece.

“For this from that will be filled (b)” is composed of “drones, long loops, and a field recording from New York’s Grand Central Terminal interweave with acoustic and heavily processed cello, which conjures the sound of machinery.” The epic piece of the album starts of with loop based cello with both a hum and screech to it. It’s almost like a switch has been flipped and the machinery roars into life, spinning around in deafening noise, before long bass heavy cello drones start to creep out, some darker than others. There is also a slight static, dusty feel to the track which may or not be the field recordings. The cello drones start to become clearer with the ‘machinery’ still holding an important part in the sound scape, but just not as forceful as before. The cello exhibits a haunting quality as it resonates with high notes and drones attached to it that radiate out. The machinery by this stage has disappeared leaving the cellos to traverse in layered fashion covering the sonic landscape. The cello music then changes the focus to a single cello which sounds like it is wrestling with emotions. At times its frantic and at others emotive, but scattered in both instances. Field recordings of the Terminal filter through on looped fashion with the manipulated recording of the word “Attention” being the focal point. The music towards the end still feels a bit scattered, but less frantic giving the feeling of some control has been retained.

Clarice Jensen has created a dark, but deep album that on repeat listens will reveal more to the listener. According to Jensen in an interview with NPR that the album is “Meditative and Disorienting” which is true. The use of loops and effects provides both these processes with Part b of the title track clearly demonstrating the disorienting part as well as penultimate section of “Cello Constellations”. While the meditative part is clearly seen in the opener. Solo instrument albums don’t have to be one-dimensional and this proves it. If you liked Otto Lindholm’s “Alter” (released last year on Gizeh) you will definitely like Jensen’s album too.

New release: Porya Hatami & Arovane – Kaziwa.

On May 4 n5MD team up with Time Released Sound to bring about the reissue, this time on vinyl, of Porya Hatami & Arovane’s “Kaziwa”. Originally released by Time Released Sound in, this reissue sees two editions of 200 on n5MD and 50 copies on Time Released Sound. The n5MD version will be on gold with black splatter, while the TRS version will be one of their typically unique handmade versions which are described as “Each record to be slipped in between a folded, almost life-sized vintage tri-fold spinal X-ray. Each of these mysterious images is centre holed like the album itself and is then threaded with gold thread through the outer, hand coloured, aerosol shot and stamped black disco sleeve. Each of these sleeves are hand worked and will be uniquely golden. A hand printed insert with also accompany each record.”

A video has been produced which you can check out below to hear the organically glitchy ambience of the track “Unn” as well as a track posted up on soundcloud around the time of the original release.

For this and other n5MD releases such as their forthcoming Winterlight and OKADA release go to n5MD or check out Time Released Sound.

Dronarivm x 2: Sven Laux “Paper Streets”/ Aaron Martin and Machinefabriek “Seeker”.

The Russian Dronarivm label have been somewhat quietly, in the sense that they don’t make a big song and dance about it, constructing a catalogue of releases that woould make most label bosses green with envy. These two releases are from the end of 2017 (with a fresh release from Bruno Sanfilippo due out this week) are no exception. They are also quite different which keeps listeners engaged to what the label is putting out.

German artist Sven Laux has released nine albums, for the most part digitally only and some in the Techno and House genres. “Paper Streets” sees him go Neo Classical and reveals a new talent in this particular field.

The label state that “Sven paints minimal landscapes with water colours in shades of violin, cello & piano; stripped bare & soaked in memory. The artist’s work bares a sense of detachment & reflection that usually occurs with the passing of time. Forlorn irony shows itself as it reminds you what feels like to fall in love for the first time., while conjuring ghosts from the last time you shared a gaze. A departure from Sven’s earlier work, “Paper Streets” is an organic, neo-classical journey heard through a cinematic lens. Orchestral notes surge like tides and resonate like heartache. Nostalgia echoes and dissolves with a disarming vulnerability.”

“Are You Still With Me?” straight from the beginning we are introduced to sweeping soundscapes of soaring drones that sound like you are floating through clouds. Sounding orchestral and wind-swept, the layering keeps in the central plains – not too high or too low in their sounds and fluctuating enough as not to be stagnant and boring. The track is reminiscent of classic Eno and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

“A Glimpse of Memory” shuffling field recordings, piano and strings brings in the neo classical direction. The piano has soft glassy tones, the lyrics hello and violin have an edge to them as if they are cutting through the sound like a saw. Fragments of sound flutter about alongside deep lush sections of drones as the music sort of feels like being on a boat pounded by waves as it has that cascading feel.

“Out of the Blue” takes a glacial cold drone alongside violin drones and delicate minimal muted piano tones and field recordings to create a slow, meditative loop like piece that unfurls slowly, ever so creeping up in intensity. There is a definite dark feel to the track which is highlighted by cello progressions, but what gives it color amongst the darkness are the delicate piano tones that ripple out – sometimes in a highlighted section, other times buried under other elements.

“Paper Streets” starts with clashing field recordings before the music goes large-scale with the piano, violin and cello all coming together to create a vast layered sound reminiscent of an orchestra and sounding like something out of a Hollywood movie. There is a strong filmic quality that inspires scenes of an important part of a movie such as a setting sealing intro or an action transition setting. The way the instruments fuse and flow together is instrumental in the feeling you get from the track. The repetition also helps build the mood and maintain the intensity.

“From Sadness To You” the first track on the album where the piano is front and center. Slightly melancholic, it is joined by violin and drones that resonate and are looped at a speed slightly faster than the consistent piano playing. Some backwards electronics and the track changes its direction with an almost jazz feel of haunting broken trumpet sounds and soaring strings sections that are embedded with a layer of drones that also feature synth stabs. For me it’s a tale of two halves of which my preference as the first one.

“There’s Still Hope” field recordings, dusty sounds, church like organ, electronics that swirl and sound affected are joined by sweeping drones reminiscent of the albums opener and return once more to Neo classical and widescreen sounds previously enjoyed before. The pace on this piece is deliberate, slow and has had the time and care to construct. Not everything is crammed into it. It just slowly takes it time to unwind and reveal itself. Much like the title track, this has a strong Hollywood feel to it.

“The Lost Violin” begins like it’s a second part of a track with haunting drones, granular sounds, violin arcs, field recordings and synths. The synths add a rich sound to the track and come across as having both a Neo classical feel but one with a tinge of a proggy sci-fi feel. Like other tracks repetition is used, but unlike others, for me, it is not as successful as before. Possibly this could by the variation on the sound with the synth’s influence.

“I Wish I Could Sleep” long form Neo classical bellowing drones with flickering sounds on ever second section fill up the sound with metallic sounding violin sections that travel off into the distance. Creaking field recordings add to the violin sounds which are now joined by low bowed cello sections that give the track its bottom edge. With the last few minutes left in the track the strings start to dominate with long flowing orchestral drones that fill out the track and elevate it up making the sound full and dense, but not overpowering or making it claustrophobic. There is a “Disintegration Loops” feel to the way the track loops.

Sven Laux has constructed an impressive album that is full, considered and an enjoyable listen with highlights being “Paper Streets” and “There’s Still Hope”. The only slight and this is very slight negative, is the occasional sameness which is not over powering in any way but is noticeable to a certain extent. Recommended listening.

Rutger Zuydervelt  (Machinefabriek) was invited to work on a score for a dance with Choreographer Iván Pérez called “Hide And Seek” in collaboration with American musician and all round collaborator Aaron Martin (with whom Pérez had previously worked with on the piece called “Kick the Bucket”).

As Rutger states “I don’t think he knew at that point that Aaron and I had worked together previously (on “Cello Drowning,” an EP released on Type in 2007). Living in the US, Aaron started recording parts and sending them to Iván and me. Then, I would use his recordings to build the score: processing them, editing them, adding sounds, etc..

The tracks on the “Seeker” album are basically the refined versions of the first sketches we made, trying out how our sounds would blend, and what directions and atmospheres could be used in the dance performance. After that, these tracks were morphed into one long collage, tailored to the choreography. This final score is added to the album as a digital bonus.”

The dance performance includes six dancers who find themselves in a space, not knowing each other, but relying on each other. The audience is described as being “drawn into an atmospheric trip, where desires, frustrations, madness, and humour are slowly revealed.Hide and Seek is a game that not everyone will wish to play.”

“Wake” sounds like electronic rhythm slowly disintegrating, like a signal that is breaking down and mutating which is paired after a while with Martin’s cello which is playing a similar rhythm and also at times sounds affected. The tones generated in the electronics are markedly different to that of the violin, but both work well together. Towards the end of the track the music changes with the electronics sounded distant and fragmented, while the violin also shares in the distant feel, but that could possibly be due to mixing.

“Wings in the Glass” static building up scatters around with flashes of noise before an all-conquering low cello drone that has the bass feel of the didgeridoo rumbles into the pieces to submerge the electronics underneath it before they start to flicker above and take control. More sections of cello are layered on with one baring low drones while two to three deeply melancholic sections wrap around each other while the electronics scattered about and a noisy ,but sweet melody joins in. In the end the swarm of electronics engulfs everything before all elements drop out to reveal Raster Noton style glitches.

“Arms Turn Slowly” a percussive sound of something clacking it put through effects giving it a sound reminiscent off something bouncing off a surface. More electronics in an off kilter melody which turns to be a plucked instrument like kalimba and bass thumps are joined by swirling strings and more juxtaposing instruments and layered hummed vocals. If the piece involves six dancers then this track comes across as featuring an instrument for each dancer.

“Leaves are Swimming” brightly strummed string instrument like ukulele is accompanied by similar wordless vocals to that of the preceding track with rustic harmonica like tones and electroacoustic electronics. The electronics splutter and retreat while swirling noisy loops career over the layered strummed instruments created a storm like squall before fading to reveal the initial start of the piece.

“Hidden” haunting drones with field recordings and electronics swirl in circular fashion moving around, ebbing and flowing. While not going particularly dark, the music travels in that direction but has enough light to it as not to overpower. It feels like a fusion of Ambiance and electroacoustic experimentalisation without being wholly one or the other.

“Seeker” Martin’s low bowed Cello sets the tone of the piece with layered sections creating emotive almost distraught music for mourning. The music flows, cadcades and wails before Zuydervelt’s touch is noticed with slight electroacoustic touches of static and effects.

“A Small Crowd Points” electronic tones bounced around like static on an electrical wire. A distant oscillating sound is unwinding to reveal a drone which is short and looped with a similar feeling origin to the original tones. This oscillating sound becomes the central part of this track as the sound scatters around before a cello drone joins in as well as other elements of the instrument such as scraping of the strings, plucking the strings and striking of the body. The cello part is like an organic version of the tones that Zuydervelt was constructing at the beginning and it is almost like a baton has been passed between the artists.

“Close To Dark” a distant dark rumble like a storm with the beginnings of a drone are cut by a sharp section of electronic pulses that act like progressions or like a measurement for the drone. They sound crisp and vibrant with a hint of compressed air, crackles and disintegration. They sound very foreign and almost out of the world like a transmission. They scatter, click, roar and pop and just when they reach the peak buzzing cello enters the picture alongside someone panting and more sonic detritus. There is a slightly claustrophobic feel to the music which is heightened by the panting as if the person is under the cloak of darkness trying to get free.

“Buried Cloth” breathy vibrato vocals are layered with occasional bass motifs that act as a slight percussive device. The vocals cover the range from more haunting to almost weeping through to rich almost vocal drones. This track is quite different to what has preceded it without the cello and electronics. Presumably watching the dance might give it the context that I am unaware of and its importance in the score.

The album finishes with the digital only bonus track of the full score of the performance of the piece as “Hide and Seek (Music)”. For this track the music was collaged to be tailored to the choreography.

As an album it stands up, let alone as a soundtrack to a dance piece. I have checked out a few of the videos of the performance and as I have no knowledge about contemporary dance I can’t comment on the movements, the music’s experimental nature suits the performances. Martin and Zuydervelt prove to be great collaborators with the results being cohesive and not a case of two artists adding their sections to each others music.

Various – Artifacts.

The Default label is a new one from Wrocklow, Poland with their first physical release the “Artifacts”. The music is based on found recordings and sonic detritus and released on cassette in an edition of just twenty copies. All artists are new to me although three of them (Amevblement, Sp@m and Omnisadness) are all the work of Andy Nyxta.

“Jvst Fields” by Amevblement – fuses loops that sound like short snippets of synths and repetive piano keys that work well together. The tones generated are both melodic with both sections being manipulated as to offer variance within each other’s sound and also the sound of them combined. For a minimalist track such as this it can be a tightrope to walk on with it being easy to fall into boring territory which, thankfully, this does not happen.

“And Water” by Amevblement – brings in synths loops with an addition of detritus to give it a bit of an edge. The loops feature a hypnotic foreground with a dub techno-like background that cascades as opposed the pulsing focal point. A third center section is a very repetitive pulsing part which balances between the two other sections.

“Sp@m 2000 (2017 edit) by Sp@m – ominous futuristic synth reverberations meet fast paced glitch percussion which scatters around the listeners ears. A noisy soundscape adds in which breaks up the elements, but also adds to glitch percussion with a melodic section of what sounds like rolling glass balls, such is the crystalline sound. While the other two tracks were more controlled in their pace, this particular track is almost a blur in its franticness. Towards the end of the track synth starts to creep in with melodic ambience which adds to the overall feel of the track.

“Omnisadness (The Closure)” by Omnisadness – is a near ambient-ish swell of loops and degraded sound that sounds like an electric swarm has met a post industrial soundscape meets The Caretaker. As the track progresses other sounds which sound as like bombs going off enter the picture. For the majority of the track the elements are fairly constant up till the final minute and a half where the breakdown fully occurs and the loops are slower, longer and are at the point of collapse.

“Blacklightlabs vs Omnisadness” – synth washes move right to left with an ominous menace pulses of sound similar to that of pressurized air pump away. More of an interlude than a fully formed piece as it doesn’t really vary over the rather short duration.

“Dying Bride” by Blacklightlabs – returns to the glitchy tones of the earlier pieces, but this time fashioned on an ambient/drone theme were tight glitch elements flicker from the drones which are melodic and deep. While the other tracks were in a way tightly held, this time is long and warping. The track completely changes for the second half were it is subdued and at times almost barely there.

There are points of interest to listeners here with the use of loops that work well to a certain extent. Despite at times using a minimal sound pallet, there is not the repetitiveness that can overpower some music. If you are interested in new labels and artists, this may be for you.

Ljerke – Ljerke.

The first Eilean Rec release for the new year may just be their most ambitious one yet. The debut album by Ljerke, a collective of like minds artists comes as a multi media package with a DVD included that is a visual realization of the album from Netherlands and Icelandic artists Marco Douma + Haraldur Karlsson.

“Ljerke is a multidisciplinary live project which took form in the Frisian landscape as as source of inspiration. (which on a tourist website is described as “as Dutch as it gets. Blue skies with impressive cloudscapes. Vast meadows, in which cows graze amid narrow ditches. Sheep dotting an old dike with a village church on a hillock in the distance”). The project includes some music artists from Netherlands (Romke Kleefstra on guitar and effects, Jan Kleefstra on poetry and voice, Sytze Pruiksma on percussion, dulcimer and guitar with effects ) and Norway (Alexander Rishaug on electronics, Hilde Marie Holsen on trumpet and effects, Michael Duch on contrabass) completed with the video artists Marco Douma (NL) and Haraldur Karlsson from Iceland. A new project of live impro music, poetry and film, in the same context of former projects as Seeljocht (Piiptsjilling) and Skeylja (The Alvaret Ensemble).”

“Muurv” which translates to the project umber three can mean a variety of things. From wisdom, harmony and understanding to the number of time; beginning, middle and end, birth, life, death, past and present and death. The track opens with what sounds like a bass drum beaten (but could be the contrabass), before scattered electronics, manipulated guitar recordings, drones and fragments of sound are joined by the narration / poetry of Jan Kleefstra. Sounding like a pure electroacoustic piece that seems in a way a collage work, with the intention, I think, to create a sense of unease. There is no real consistent structure. Sounds enter and leave, quiet-ish narration and warped parts like guitar, that depart as quickly as they arrived. In the last-minute and a half the track goes as conventional as it will with feverish guitar and contrabass being strummed quickly building up a rhythm while also sounding quite random in their playing. As there is sparseness to the track it is hard to discern what is going on, but it hints at the direction the music will take over the album.

“Tsjilland” starts with a distant explosion like beat alongside scorching electronics and trumpet. The trumpet has a touch of melancholy alongside the metallic sounding electronics that have an electrical storm quality about them. Contrabass, scratches of guitar and dulcimer give a more noisy sound scape. The press release mentions the “Frision Landscape” as a source of inspiration, but for me this is like an alien transmission. Unless that particular landcsape is still, but with a sense of menace or unease to it, then I don’t get the influence. That said, it is not my environment, so that could be my lack of recognizing the influence. A large part of this alien feel is the electronics, which are early Mego-esque with their feel of splattering sounds. The contrabass lends a more mournful tone, along with the fast strumming of what sounds similar to violin, but possibly manipulated guitar, gives it a certain, dare I say, structure to the piece. Again, towards the end the track starts to take more of a shape than the preceding six plus minutes.

“Waarbekkasin” low contrabass rumbles with a Godflesh like intensity are joined by a squall of stormy noise before a high guitar drone and Kleeftra’s narration enters the picture.A metallic noisey drone is introduced before it departs almost as quickly as it entered. The sound of the track is cloaked in a fog, but you can sense elements building up which they start doing four minutes into the piece with what sounds like bells, but probably dulcimer ushering in the next phase which has the contrabass quickly strummed, guitar lines rippling out, bass drum beats and electronics adding to the mix. the final section is the most musical with the dulcimer giving the brightest shade to a predominantly dark piece.

“Skiermunk” begins rather subdued with a pulsing sound with smatterings of percussion, static, low-frequency electronics, trumpet, guitar manipulations building a subterranean soundtrack of fractured music. a bit like musical detritus in that the parts seems to decay in your ears. As the notes say mixed and edited by Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek) you are not sure if this is one combined improv piece of one that has been edited or constructed together. You get elements of Jazz Fusion meets Mego fuckery meets out-and-out electroacoustic experimentalism.

“Hettekobe” droning contrabass sounding didgeridoo like welcomes the listener with its manipulated deep low playing and scraping. Bells and Kleeftra’s narration enter alongside a swirling drone. The contrabass disappears to leave the drones alongside trumpet and table top electronics changing the texture of the track to a slightly lighter one before bashing percussion takes the piece into a third section which the percussion and trumpet lead the way. The Contrabass and electronics return alongside a searing drone, more percussion, trumpet and guitar manipulation to create an almost impenetrable wall of sound that swarms tp the tracks completion and crashes like a wave.

“Skjegfuggl” looping distant trumpet, long presumably guitar drones fuse together with electronics entering the fray and low bashed guitar creating a jazzy soundtrack-esque piece of noir which adds an extra level of noir with Kleeftra’s poetry narration. The music changes more to a drone piece, but not a traditional one as you would usually expect, but one that has a definite more experimental approach to it. Elements come across, enter and disappear, flash in and out and probably is the most controlled piece of the album.

The album was recorded as part of a tour in  November 2016 at the Landscape studio te Gauw, recorded by Jan Switters and later mastered by Norwegian Noise legend Lasse Marhaug. The recording is clear and there is enough space for the instruments to occupy various levels of the sound scape and be audible at any level. That said, If I am being honest, I probably wouldn’t listen to this a lot. This is primarily my desire for more structure and less improvisation. Improvised music relies largely on flashes of brilliance, while a more constructed piece can work more on building mood, texture, rhythms as the musicians are on the same page. With improvised music the musicians are in a way reacting to each other, so there is more chance encounters at something different as opposed to constructing something in a singular fashion. That said, if improv is your thing, this may be for you.