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.


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.

In Brief: Clara Engel / Chelidon Frame/ Hainbach/ ioflow.

“Songs for Leona Carrington” is a five track cdr with booklet released by the fine Wist Rec label in an edition of 120 copies. According to the label it is “a biographical release based on the esoteric universe of Surrealist painter and writer” with music by Engel alongside text by Carrington (1917-2011) and watercolor interpretations of her work by Manfred Naescher. The release features musicians such as Paul Kolinski (drums), Mitchell Girio (bass), Bryan W Bray (Electric Guitar), James Beardmore (Theremin).

Engels music has been described as “folk noir“, “sung poetry” and “minimalist holy blues from another galaxy“. The tracks contained on these two albums are indeed minimal sometimes just relying on guitar and vocals. Her voice is easily identifiable as emotive, but without the over the top histrionics that some singers can stray into. Her guitar can have a blues post-rock feel in one track and be more shimmering and ambient based with tremolo in others. With “Sketches…” she works well with collaborators who add to the songs without filling out the tracks too much. There is still a nice minimalistic approach akin to slow core bands like (early period) Low which can be heard on tracks like “Anubeth’s Song (Burn Eternally)” and “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds”.

“Vigils” is a deeply personal album that was recorded during the brief time of knowing that Engel’s father Isaac was terminally ill and his passing. Recording these improvisational pieces as well as a cover of Hank Williams Sr’s “Angel of Death”.

With “Vigils” the playing is more pensive with a certain amount of delicacy and restraint felt, which is understandable to what Engel was going through at the time. This is best shown by the track “Saffron” There is a more ambient feel to the tracks with a certain amount of light in the music, but it also feels under a cloak of some sort. The emotion in Engels voice comes through in the Hank Williams Sr cover, which with the lyrical content I would imagine would have been hard to record. That the release is a collection of improvised recordings done one night, it does not come across that way to the listener.

Chelidon Frame is Italian sound artist and guitarist Alessio Premoli from Milan. He works with drones, found objects, short wave radio signals, prepared guitars and looped soundscapes. His companion releases on the Manyfeetunder label are seven tracks that are the result of guitar loop improvisations that are then reworked to give a sense of depth and rhythm with the use of the glitches and imperfections that arose in the recording process.

“Vol 1” opens up with “Granularity 0.0” – an aquatic sounding piece of layered scattered guitar snippets, but come “Granularity 1” long shimmering drones are joined with short snippets of scratchy sounds and then various styles of guitar sounds like twanging, almost classic guitar virtuoso playing and loops of playing alongside chimes and percussive sounds. “Granularity 2” builds on the previous pieces with a slight new age feel underneath multiple layers of guitar pieces. “Granularity 3” sees more traditional guitar drone pieces constructed by various loops of different guitar styles, before the glitches enter the sounds with a xylophone or hand help wood instrument sound.

The three tracks on “Volume 2” are a continuation for “Vol 1″ with the music cut from the same cloth. You can see where the post production has worked out constructing this tracks in a sort of kaleidoscopic fashion. The three tracks are all quite different, but share some elements and styles.”Granularity 4” sees the loop work used with a bit more restraint than previously. Sometimes you guess the feeling that the album is one big track that has been divided up into sections.

Both albums are Free Download.

The following two releases are from Japan’s Gohan Tape label from Germany’s Hainbach (who has appeared on Spring Break Tapes, Limited Interest and Little Mary) and ioflow aka US artist Joshua Saddler who after twenty years of playing piano started improvising minimal delicate pieces incorporating field recordings, effects and computer processing.

Hainbach, whose music The Wire called “A Hell of a Trip” seems to create dark music with organic and synthetic means fusing them together in a bleak landscape such as the post apocalyptic opener “A New Moon”, before veering into retro futurist breakbeats and synth on “Breaxit”. “Clubbs” sounds like a demented music you would possibly hear in a nightclub which starts off shaky and wobbly before sort of coming together with dubby, squelchy and industrial sounds. The music changes tone again with “Gestalten” and its mix of layered short electronic ripple like sections of electronic decay and detritus that pulses and throbs. “Faultlines” and “Vines” are tracks featuring broken electronics, with “Faultlines” feeling the more experimental of the two purely because of the ambience that floats under the misfiring electronics.

“We Will Stay” brings in ultra minimalist soft electronics that has been largely absent from the album before the title track takes us back to the broken beats, splattering electronics and demented night club sounds – which vaguely hark back to Slava Tsukerman’s “Liquid Sky” soundtrack. Hainbach concludes with the distorted “I Want to Fade Like Magnetic Tape, disappearing in a Wash of Noise and Fantastic Distortion” which sounds like a mix of dug up nostalgia and futuristic washes of synth.

The cassette has since sold out but digital is still available.

Ioflow has appeared on compilations like “Sequence 4”, “Sequence 5” (both Future Sequence) and “Discovery 1” (Soft Recordings).

For “Spring” he fuses field recordings and solo piano alongside Rhodes, E-bow, Modular Synth and Reverb pedals to create sparse, but not boring, minimal and delicate pieces. “Slow Trails” fuses these elements and instruments together to create a piece that fans of Taylor Deupree or The Green Kingdom should appreciate.

Piano takes the lead alongside field recordings of birds and water on “Tumbling through the Shadows” with the piano striking a balance in the timbre of its sounds from delicate through to darker more forceful.

“Sun-Dappled Stillness” could be the apt description for the album as a whole, let alone the title of one track. The music is appropriately sparse with the slightest haunting flute like sound over low volume field recordings and minimal piano playing. The level of sparseness actually draws the listener in to engage with all the elements and be mindful of what is going on.

The two tracks “Ripples//Lakesounds” and “Lines//Lakesounds” appear as almost bookends despite the letters appearance four songs from the end. Both track feature the same constituent parts, but its the first half of the title that hints at the nature of the music. Naturally “Ripples” would indicate faster playing than the more controlled “Lines” and that is what you get, both joined by field recordings. Personally speaking, I lean more towards the “Ripples” part of the equation.

“The Greening” strikes the balance of the use of field recordings and piano and could easily be a Modern Classical piece if Saddler deemed so.

With a musician whose work is based on twenty years of playing an instrument it would be quite easy to fall into a category such as Modern Classical. Because of the restraint shown and the strength of field recordings, his music feels more Ambient/Environmental/ Composer than just one strict genre.

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.