Simeon Walker – Coda (video) + tour dates.

Simeon Walker whose 2017 album “Mono” was featured here has announced a new live video for the closing track of said album “Coda” as well as European tour dates, including two piano day (March 29) dates.

The dates are as follows:

29/03 – Atmospherics – Newcastle (Piano Day – Matinee Show)

29/03 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds (Piano Day)

04/04 – House Concert – Essen

05/04 – House Concert – Cologne

06/04 – Alter Güterbahnhof – Meppen

06/04 – Konvoi Studios Düsseldorf

08/04 – In Between Books – Bratislava

10/04 – Sofar Sounds – Vienna

11/04 – Felsenkeller – Frankfurt

12/04 – Sofar Sound – Krakow

You can find more information here.


Sound in Silence x 4: Panoptique Electrical/ Test Card/ Sweeney/ A Lily.

Keeping up to date with releases that come my way is getting daunting now (and I am nowhere near the level of submissions of the bigger better known blogs like Headphone Commute, Stationary Travels and A Closer Listen get). The choice I see it is to review only select things and be choosy or to reduce the size of the reviews to try to cover more music. I have opted to do the latter.

With this review I will mention four of the previous Sound in Silence releases (with their most recent Gray Acres and Yndi Halda releases to come later).

Panoptique Electrical is the solo project of Jason Sweeney with “Quiet Ecology”beinh his third release on the Sound in Silence label after last year’s highly acclaimed “Disappearing Music for Face” and the debut album, back in 2015 of collaboration with Richard Adams of Hood and The Declining Winter, under the name Great Panoptique Winter. According to the label the album is “centered on gentle piano melodies and a background full of atmospheric textures and swelling cello drones. “Quiet Ecology” balances between Modern Classical and Ambient soundscapes, in the vein of both Ambient pioneers like Brian Eno and Harold Budd and artist like Max Richter and A Winged Victory For The Sullen.”

The album opens with “The World is so Loud” which fuses minimalist repetitive piano motifs effectively alongside long undulating and ultimately fulfilling drones. The dark stabs of piano that end each section reverberate with weight to them that is opposite to the drones that cascade around it. The drones would be enough to sustain another artists work by themselves. There is a feeling of lightness with a hint of melancholy while the piano tone is rather morose.

“A Vow of Silence” welcomes the listener with multilayered drones of ominous quality that vibrate with a short thick frequency while a cello drone cuts in and out, sometimes just barely in the background. The feeling of the drones is of like an amplified recording of natural sounds of the earth has been manipulated to a more consistent soundscape.

“Footfalls” the piano makes a welcome return with a balanced sound of lighter and darker keys and rather than the repetitiveness of the opener, a more lyrical approach to the music. With piano based music it is sometimes hard to gleam a different feel or mood to the music due to the timbre of the instrument. The music on this particular piece cones across very filmic, in my mind, to visualize a night drive in blinding rain desperate to get somewhere or leave somewhere. The mood over the seven plus minutes of the piece is consistent and unadorned, leaving a naked piece of music to reveal itself.

“Upon a Map” creates a string section drone that cuts across the music with sharp sections of cello slashing across a dark filigree of drones which give the track more of the feel and (almost) rhythm.

“A Place With Trees” minimal keys with long reverberations open this piece and give it weight when filling out the sound. The long drones created are matched by the delicate melodies also created. The feeling of the piece as if Sweeney has sat down and just started playing with an open mind, but with an idea of an intended sound as well. The music feels very relaxed, the pace is consistent, with a slight feeling of things breaking down as the piece goes on and the playing becomes darker in mood.

“In Between Buildings” mote strident piano playing sets the tone for this track that musically sits mid range between the more melancholic and light and airy playing. There is definitely a meditative feel with the use of building repetition. Five minutes into the piece the tone changes with a slight detour into the darker sounds of the instrument which cases this constant rumble of keys vibrating to give the piece a thick underbelly. This is a part that you would expect a soaring string section to elevate it and push the music further out into the stratosfear, but restraint is shown in not doing something obvious.

“Quiet Ecology” is quiet a stunning work that adds another name into the mix of fine piano musicians.

Test Card is the solo project of Vancouver based Lee Nicholson also known in the past as Electrohome and as a member of Formula One, Domestic4 and Future Peasents. He has released on labels such as Kooky, Fierce Panda, Liquefaction and others. “Redfussion” is his second full-length album after last years highly acclaimed debut album “Start Up Close Down” on the japanese Symbolic Interaction label. “Blending perfectly elements of dreamy Ambient, Minimal Post Rock and Lo-Fi Electronica, “Redfussion is a lovely release highly recommended for devotees of Labradford, 1 Mile North, The Durutti Column and Helios.”

Test Card is a new name for me. The music covers the glitchy but organic strains of electronica meets ambience. Opener “Remembering Redfussion” has squelchy beats, ambience, warped electronics, guitar parts to fuse together creating a mishap mash of different sound sources that work together in creating a relaxed bit of electronica.

“Those Long Dusks of Summer” bass tones , synth ambience, delicate Fripp & Eno-esque guitars, phasing synthesizers and the most minimal of beats to create a retro inspired piece of gentle ambient/ electronica with sci-fi touches.

“Another Early Night” with an opener sound similar to that of Gary Numan’s “Cars” the track welcomes ambient pulses alongside glitches and snatches of guitar and other sounds. Squelches loop to form a sort of percussive rhythm while dub like sound techniques are introduced added to the retro sounds of this synth (slightly reminiscent of the Dr Who theme) to create a laid back piece.

“Old Enough to Drink Sherry” sees the guitar come to fore surrounded by swirling ambience and mini retro drum machine beats. The sound is light even with all the elements included the customary retro synths fluttering in and out. The music doesn’t force its way through to the listener, rather being laid back for the listener to engage with.

“The Sheep Field is Now An Estate” warm tape looped like ambience is built upon with other lighter drones, tiny fragments of guitar that briefly shine alongside a slightly darker toned guitar and drones which start to take a more forceful presence.

“Be Home In Time For Tea” Wah guitar sets this track apart immediately alongside other guitar parts, sci-fi touches, truncated beats and sounds to give an ambient meets sci fi meets surf music feel. The guitars that occupy different plains in the track are the feature instrument of the piece. They create the melodies, rhythm and also are used as a textural device.

“My Favorite Conker Tree” uses loops that sound like theremin to warp in and out while guitars come in in snatches of sound. Backwards clipped recordings are used effectively in the nostalgic sense. There is a pastoral laid back feel to the track which you can pin on the guitars and the loops.

“Ice Cream Day Dream” is a brief snatch of retro synth progression that is over almost as it just began.

“We Have Helium Balloons” a layered section of crooning and choral wordless vocals are paired with minimal crisp beats, dubby bass lines, twangy guitar lines and snatches of electronics. The track works well in that it doesn’t over do in the elements and feels more constructed than some of the others.

“I feel so Adrone” phasing guitar is joined by cold ambience that changes around in the depth of the track as does the guitar parts. The ambience takes over this time with a warmer freer tone before fading into the background with a bass section added. Each section that comes in retreats back to the background while the previous elements returns to the fore. It’s almost like a treadmill with the movements of the instruments coming around cyclically. The warm ambience tends to win the battle of the elements as it remains for the majority of the track.

Unfortunately this album didn’t grab me. There is nothing wrong with it, there are parts that are nice such as “We Have Helium Balloons”, but as a whole body of work it wasn’t for me. However, other reviewers have liked it and if you like that hazy nostalgic ambient meets electronica theme it might be right for you.

Taking a detour from his Panoptique Electrical pseudonym Jason Sweeney also records under the simple name of Sweeney.

“With help of his collaborators Jed Palmer and Zoe Barry who provide Cello, Accordian, String Arrangements, Guitars and Bass, Sweeney creates a peaceful and emotional album full of beautiful textures and sonic landscapes. Centered on his distinctive voice and melodic piano lines, “Middle Ages” magnificently merges songwriting, Modern Classical and Ambient sounds with minimal beats and field recordings.”

“Night at Spirit Lake” sees Sweeney’s Sylvian-esque fragile vocals over piano welcomed in by a string section drone. The vocals have a faltering emotional touch to them which is enhanced by the cinematic nature of the music with drones heightening this feeling. You get the feeling of mood being a strong consideration in the construction of the piece.

“End of Men” musically the tone is lighter than the opener with a more lightly haunting feel. Lyrically the tine is dark but the vocals don’t over do it. Subtle bass guitar motifs lead soaring sections of strings that bring in the haunted stark feeling inspired by the lyrics.

“45” swirling piano and cello accompany vocals that are dripping in despair and are faltering in their delivery. Metallic shaking percussive sound introduces a more intense section with percussive piano as well as staccato cello that raise the intensity of the music, but also change the tone to like dark European folk music.

“Oh Goddess” fuses piano, voice, synths and cello. The Sylvian-esque quality of Sweeney’s vocals is more noticeable here with the track also having a retro feel to it. The cello provides the melody to the track, before the string section turns percussive with its insistent rhythms alongside the piano.

“Man of Dreams” delicate piano lines with soft string drones accompany Sweeney as he croons about a lover and his features. The music while not bathed in light or darkness seems to float in between these two dimensions. The vocals are passionate without getting whispery or dramatic. Overall the track in a way, shows restraint.

“When He Went Away” light strings cut through with both a melodic and drone touch to them before retro pulsing synths and a bass drum beat welcome acoustic guitar and vocals. The vocals have a touch of fragility which is followed by a medieval sounding string section which further takes the track in another direction. Accordion adds a flourish of sound that adds to the piece.

“True Love” piano,vocals and cello entwine together with the strings complimenting the piano rhythms as they are both light and delicate. The cello is gentle with its playing, the piano sounds like fingers rolling over the keys with slight weight placed on the keys. The vocals vary from breathy to faltering to more strident delivery.

“Middle Ages” cinematic strings and drones mirror each other with light drones, gongs taking the music into the next direction alongside field recordings of someone walking on hard wood floors and birdsong. Synth ambience permeates the piece for the second half of its duration providing a counterpoint to the opening string section.

“None but the Lonely Girl” piano, pastoral sounding acoustic guitar, vocals, strings take the song in a medieval feel with the guitars having a lute like quality to them. They mirror the piano and with the accordion revel in the old feeling of the music.

“Burial” while the track has a bit of an ominous feel to it, the music constructed of piano and cello alongside vocals doesn’t tend to dwell in the darkness. It does have its moments, but because of the tone in the vocals the music is still removes from melancholy. It is almost like a track for looking back and reminiscing.

The music on this particular album is definite different to that under Sweeney’s Panoptique Electrical moniker which is understandable why it’s just under his surname. There is a strong Medieval torch song feel to the album. I have always struggled with works that include vocals, which I feel limits my connections with the lyrics contained. Of you however, are fans of singers such as David Sylvian, Scott Walker or Anohni, then you will like this.

A Lily is the solo project of James Vella, better known as a member of instrumental Post Rock band Yndi Halda (who recently released the “A Sun-coloured Shaker” single on Sound in Silence). “Ten Drones on Cassette”, A Lily’s third full-length album and first since 2011, consists of ten cinematic Ambient and Minimalist Drone tracks originally released on ten cassette in editions of one copy each. According to the label: “It was recorded using various instruments, including Guitar, Voice, Organ, Clarinet, Brass and many others, and treated with a multitude of effects and acoustic processing, resulting in a sublime collection of dreamy soundscapes and hypnotic textures.”

Each track is named after a person that inspired the track and took up the side of a cassette. For this release the tracks are edited.

“Hildur” its hard to work out the instrumentation on such a piece, but what ever they are they are layered together creating a kaleidoscope like track of multi layered sounds that comes across at time stabs of sound as the loops roll around. There is a central drone sound to it as the other sound are mixed up on layers that are constantly changing color tone and texture.

“Selassee” a glacial and choral drone stretches out traversing territory as it winds its way out slowly changing its texture and pitch. There are two distinct levels to the piece with a darker more ominous drone being saddled with a whistle like harsher, but lighter drone.

“Konstantin” a submerged murky drone that has a humming quality to it is matched with a more textured multi layered one that sonically occupies a different territory and one that if you were looking at on a graphic equalizer you would notice the undulations and changes in its tone. The track is quite hypnotic.

“Soloman and Adama” following on from the previous track we have another intertwined layered drone. This track starts with a kaleidoscope drone which is joined by another string section like long pastoral drone which comes in at intervals and elevates the original drone.

“Enrico” two sounds emerge with a whistling like feedback drone and a throat singing like deep drone. The two of them trade-off for intensity in the track with each occupying their own sphere, but the feedback glacial like one being more noticeable due to the sometimes harsher tones.

“Miles” shrill siren like drones and a wind squall drone are joined by a third louder and more soaring drone that travels from ear to ear in clockwise fashion. The layers of sound are covered from deep to high with a constant dark, heavy keeping the same territory throughout.

“Jas” takes us into storm filled hills as the wind rushes through creating a howling noise which teaches its crescendo just shy of two minutes into the track before remaining with that intensity for the majority of the rest of the track. The drones have a certain ‘color’ to them rather than just being harsh noise.

“Layla” takes the storm of before and hands it to a power electronics musician for a remix – well, probably not, but it does infer the intensity of the piece. It doesn’t fully go into noise territory but the drones are at that level were it could collapse into white noise.

“Zadie” takes the dark ambient approach mixed with some static as if it’s a transmission from an isolated uninhabited place. There is a dry arid feel to the drones with the static giving a feel of interruption in the music.

“Didem” is a pure ambient drone with haunting tones that sound like horns. There is little distortion or noise and they unfurl in sections with some sounding very crystal clear synths and others having an orchestral feel to them. This changes when dark washes of heavy guitar drones take the track in a different direction with arching drones before returning to a similar territory as the beginning. This is probably the standout track.

If you are into pure drone music that is largely unadorned this could be the album for you. With the CD purchase you also get a download coupon for the original ten tracks that clock in between 37 and 50 minutes each. At time of publishing there were only a dozen copies remaining.

Theo Alexander – Hammer Frenzy.

Previously seen on this blog with his release of last year “Palliative” Prague based British musician Theo Alexander returns with “Broken Access” due out on April 27 via Luau Recs.

According to Alexander the first single “Hammer Party” “combines the rhythmic drive of minimalism combined with unconventional production techniques that have developed over previous releases such as “The Black Bunny” (1631 Recordings) and “Points of Decay” (Blank Editions). The result is a piece as close to My Bloody Valentine as it is to Philip Glass or John Adams, with a strong melodic sensibility as well as a thick, raw tone”.

If this is just a taste of what is to come, then the album will be a great listen. You can check out “Hammer Frenzy” and pre-order the album bellow.

Tomorrow We Sail – The Shadows.

Tomorrow We Sail is a six piece Leeds based band who are part of the Gizeh Records stable and whose members appear / have appeared in other Gizeh groups such as A-Sun Amissa, Glissando and Farewell Poetry. The band is stylistically described as Post Rock / Folk / Alternative which perfectly suits their music.

This their second album follows on from 2014’s “For Those Who Caught the Sun in Flight”, which the label states: “this new work combines perfectly the soaring atmospheres, gorgeously intertwined vocal harmonies and dramatic shifts in tone and dynamics that have come to characterise Tomorrow We Sail’s sound. Yet, there is a new sense of urgency here. Very much an album of its time. “The Shadows” draws upon the same sense of connection to both the past and present that defined its precursor, but features storytelling that is even more defiant and deeply personal.”

“Side by Side” opens with fluid guitar lines of a slightly distant quality before the sound is filled with drums, violin, bass and piano creating a quality of Post Rock that is reminiscent of the almost nautical quality of a group like Rachels. The intensity picks up when the band veer into a loud section of crashing instruments before the breakdown that lets the music reach out and expand. The mood changes due to the effect of the long thin guitar arcs, violin and almost martial drumming. The band are adept at creating mood and the mix allows for multiple layers of sounds cascading around, but not colliding. Vocally with the use of group dynamics (all members with the exception of drummer/percussionist Alistair Hill are credited with vocals), they bring an emphasis to the lyrics but also a quality of folk music singing , which is why the label describe them musically as Post Rock / Alternative / Folk.

“Home Fires” delicately melodic tones from glockenspiel are paired with minimal bass and guitar with the male/female joint vocals of Tim Hay and Ella Blake which have a combination of rich tones and fragility. The music moves into a section where the violin leads the track in the folk direction that would not be as obvious if just the electric instruments remained. The violin, along with the pace of the track which is slow, steady and melancholic allows for build ups and additional instrumentation such as the harmonium to join the sound palate. There is a sense of an alt country feel in the guitar tones in spots, while also being quite spindly in other moments. The vocals are what underpins this track especially the double tracking and their interaction with the instruments determines the style of music. Hay’s vocals on particular have a very tortured romantic feel about them.

“The Shadows” the musical narrative changes with a full descent into Post Rock that has strong Ambient touches. The guitars ring and soar, the drums maintain a stuttered beat, Blake’s vocals change their tone into an angelic form. The music has removed any elements of folk previously heard and is about filling the sound with mood, texture, subtlety and emotion. The guitars are there not to create a rhythm but to create a feel of something ascending that is augmented by the keyboards and underpinned by the glockenspiel which adds a level of innocence to the track.

“Winifred” stark piano is paired with the combined vocals of Hay’s David Sylvian-esque vocals and Blake’s fragile style lending the track a morose feel. With a subtle breathy backing vocal added there are only four elements used in the construction of the track and these elements are rather effective in filling the sound and creating a mood that feels almost like a eulogy for someone lost.

“The Ghost Of John Maynard Keynes” slowly building rumbling, howling drones and feedback create tension and usher in vocals dripping with despair before a tremolo infused based heavy alt rock groove kicks in. The use of tremolo, drones and synchs lends the track an alt country meets post rock feel. The guitar cuts through the sound like a knife and rather than being a rhythmic feature is more about texture and color. The bass and drums are what holds the rhythm and under pins the track. The track veers onto a sea shanty sort of feel with the defiant group vocals. The vocals ate able to fuse together well as the vocals all occupy different spheres with the different timbres of the vocals. At just under seven minutes the track manages to cover a fair amount of ground and have several movements.

“To Sleep” atmospheric windswept ambient drones swirl skyward alongside piano and Blake’s torch song style fragile vocals. Angela Chan’s string sections add an orchestral feel to the track which opens it up while complimenting the vocals and the piano sections. As the vocal soars they help in bringing forth the emotion in Blake’s voice.

“The Golden Elevator” the epic track on the album begins with dark guitar drones which demonstrate the track’s melody, Hammond organ, strings and Hay’s earnest singing. The drones are deep in the back ground, but not so far as to as be ignored. In the lead up to the full band coming in the strings start making their effect, mining a territory coveted by modern classical and post rock. When the band kicks in the music holds these qualities, but also has a dimly lit smoky feel to the music, but when the music reaches its crescendo the band sound like an electric folk band on fire. The vocals throughout the track range from quietly broken, to crooning, to falsetto to extremely hope filled and expansive. The music mirrors these territories perfectly and provides a complete listening experience.

Having been in other bands and creating music for several years now, you can see “The Shadows” as a distillation of their learned craft. The tracks are well constructed with nothing superfluous, with each element selected to compliment an other. The variation throughout the album and indeed within certain tracks, gives the listener depth and variety to enjoy. If you are looking for a thoroughly thought out and considered album you would do well checking out “The Shadows”.

Tomorrow We Sail


Lars Jakob Rudjord – Pharos.

“Pharos” is the latest single from Norwegian Modern Classical pianist/composer released on Fyrlyd records on February 23rd. It is the first track released since his acclaimed 2016 album “Indiepiano”.

According to Lars : “Sometimes you need to get out of your studio. There is an old lighthouse a few miles from my home, and the area is just so beautiful. Windy, Sunny and with a wide view to the North Sea, it’s a great place to clear your mind and get inspiration. There is a small art gallery with a piano next to the lighthouse, and I got to borrow the keys for a couple of days. I ended up writing and recording Pharos.”

“Pharos” refers to the lighthouse Pharos of Alexandria in Egypt which is one of the seven wonders of the world and the archetype for all lighthouses. There are various forms of symbolism for lighthouses from the darker side like danger or risk through to the lighter side of being alert and navigating through rough waters.

The music on Lars’ single falls in the latter side of the symbolism equation. The music is open, light, grand and with a sense of melody and narrative. Lars lives on the Southwest Coast of Norway, a windswept area and his music has been described as having an icy sound that is truly Nordic. This doesn’t come through in the piece.

The track opens with measured mid paced tones that are joined by a melodic, but airy violin drone section before the track moves in a cinematic direction that conjures up images of the sky, clouds and being above things. For a modern classical piece it has a fair amount of ambiance embedded in it. The music moves from this section to one that is similar to the start of the track and is quite melancholic which rather quickly changes the tone and feeling of the piece. The music has a raw quality to it where you can hear the idiosyncrasies of the piano and it lends to a more intimate recording. The track ends with a return to quicker paced playing alongside the restrained violin which nicely ends the track.

This is the first piece of music from Lars Jakob Rudjord that I have heard and I am curious to hear more. The feeling for me is of a soundtrack composer in a modern classicalists skin such is the visual feeling of the material. As it only goes for a little over three minutes on length you will be pressing start all over again. Recommended.

Lars Jakob Rudjord

Fyrlyd Records

In Brief: Good Weather For An Airstrike/ Corre/ The Volume Settings Folder.

One of the goals of the blog is to attempt to cover everything sent. Bear in mind that this is a solo blog and I have the usual work/life balancing act, it has got to the point where weekly submissions have easily exceeded output and subsequently the review queue has shown no sign of slowing down. The In Brief sectioning is for brief reviews to attempt to alleviate this queue. All work featured here are releases I recommend, but unfortunately don’t have the time for the usual big reviews.

Good Weather for an Airstrike is the long running project of Tom Honey. “Little Steps” is his ninth album with some of these self released, through his Hawk Moon label or via outlets like Sound in Silence, Hibernate or Rural Colors. This particular release is his first on vinyl and was put out by Sun Sea Sky Productions.

According to the label: “Little Steps” offers ten carefully and meticulously crafted tracks, combining elegant guitar work with hazy ambient field recordings to evoke feelings of traversal, transporting the listener through a fragile tapestry of ethereal ambient-inspired electronic post-rock.

The label have described this well as the tracks range from Ambient soaked Dream Pop of “Hello, Darling” with its soaring Ambience, thoughtful minimal guitar lines and welcoming melodies which sets the tone for a bright, light filled release through to the beats, descending piano lines, field recordings, backwards loops and slightly twangy guitar sounds of “Each Day is Different” which acts like part of an intro of “A Cold Like No Other”. This particular track carries on the backwards loops and focuses on the electronic side of GWFAA with delicate melodies bouncing around over lush synth washes. The title track features Liam J Hennessy (formerly known as Umber and who put out “Held” last year on Sound in Silence) on Guitar and Tom’s brother Rob on drums. This particular track is the purest electronic post rock on the album with long stretches of Ambience, off kilter melodies, fractured beats and country-esque guitar lines that give it a soundtrack feel.

Going backwards we have “Every Day’s New” which starts with light Ambience that is soaring, a minimal beat, spaced piano lines which has a further piano section and some tremolo guitar layered over it before martial drumming takes the drumming into an uplifting section before the track starts breaking down its elements and then reconstructing them in a different order with the guitar’s contemplative chords leading the track back into its rebirth. There is no rush, no sense of urgency, just control and pacing.

“Blossom” sounds like a church organ washing over the listener with a paired guitar line sneaking out of the side of it. This track features the ethereal voice of Lauren Honey that forms part of the Ambience and is complimented by chimes of some sort and aquatic sounding piano which sounds like water droplets.

“A Week Away” is a short vignette dominate by the short cut up backwards sounds that flutter about before being submerged in the mix of heavy synth drones that then subside revealing a delicate piano section that just leaves you wanting more. “Enemy” sounds positively uplifting compared to the title. Buried loops that oscillate under a cloak of drones are joined by field recordings of a small child and birds while icy cold drones with static clinging to them circle around creating this rich sound tapestry. Cascading piano lines that bounce around are joined by metronomic beats adding a dimension alongside the subtle guitar sections.

“Strawberries” features solo piano that is quickly submerged by drones that sound distant but loud. Field recordings and additional soaring drones which creep up and start to engulf the track join in creating a push/pull feel with the positioning of the elements as each one takes their place in the focus of the listener. “Just One More Evening” is a perfect end to the album. The soaring drones that have been a central point through out are paired with two guitar sections that have different tones, from the post rock like picking to the blues – like explorations. A further section of drones come across siren like in the way the enter one side and exit out with a slight reprise afterwards.

I have never been disappointed by one of GWFAA’s releases and this is no exception. Tom Honey makes it seem so effortless such is his ability to construct music with such melody and combination of elements that can reappear over an album, but yet not feel stale at all. Recommended.

Corre (pronounced Koh-ra) are an Audio/Visual collective from the UK who released the album “Form” on Akira records in October of last year. The label states: “Influenced by classical crossover composers like Nils Frahm and Max Richter, composer artist duo Henry Green and Hattie Ellis wanted to explore the ways in which a cross-genre alliance could be formed between electronic and classical music.”

The album is a collection of 10 relatively short pieces (approximately 30 minutes in total length) that will be leaving you wanting more, which is naturally a good thing. The feeling of the classical crossover is that they are leaning more on the electronic side of the fence.

The album opens with “A Spark, A Beginning” which sets the tone with its use of electronics alongside a bare piano with occasional scattered beats, low-key melodies, snatches of sound, washes of drones, etc… Everything is somewhat submerged, but close to the surface. “Aeon” sounds like bouncing electronic balls attracted to glitches with muted affected minimalist piano stabs alongside a repeating melody. A harmonica like drones snakes its way in and out alongside more traditional synth lines before the tempo picks up and the elements start working together to create this mist tinged electronics piece.

“Vast” feels composed of barely there elements such as the electronics which are used more as a rhythm than a melody piece. As further elements are introduced such as guitar and synth, the track emerges from its shell to open up its vision before returning to the earlier minimal beginnings.

“Signal” feels like a storm or bad weather is on its way with the use of a rather orchestral drone which is light and airy alongside weather infused field recordings. Beats enter as if they were performed by a version of Kraftwerk that was formed in the late 90’s as opposed to 1970 with a speed that is at odds with the rest of the other elements such as the drones which bathe the track out to its finish.

“Signal” fuses the organic with the electronic with retro futurist electronica meeting modern classical piano to create a reflective, but association introspective piece which is probably caused by the piano, but also enhanced by the repetitive loops at the end of the track.

“Proceed” feels like a pure ambient electronica piece with piano sections repeating alongside Robert Fripp like ambient guitar and scattershot beats that are joined by skittering sounds, both of which build up the track and them transport it into the next section which is dominated by melodic beats, washes of static noises and soft electronics.

“Transient (A)” buries the piano under cloaks giving the sound a nostalgic blurry edge while light flowing drones give a hint of melody, but do not dominate. Field recordings add a layer of detritus before the cloak is removed and suddenly the piano becomes clear and vibrant which leads to “Transient (B)” which sounds like the organic and natural flip side of the previous track. Crystal clear without a hint of something cloaking it the melody that was performed by piano is replaced by guitar (with some piano alongside it). This particular version has a classic post rock/ ambient feel and, for me, is the highlight of the album.

“Refuge” has washes of synth that start the track off, but then become a base for other elements to be added such as guitar, reverberating dub like sounds, melancholic piano that change the texture ever so slightly by increasing the pace of some instruments while retaining the original languid pace of others.

“Form” the title track starts with electronic rippling glitches that are joined by thick synth waves and warped sounds that echo around. As the track continues the music gradually peaks in its intensity before fading and never going over the edge.

As debuts go, this is rather stunning. The good news is Henry Green has a new album coming out shortly which, if this is an indication of the type of music he is capable of coming up, will be well worth the listen.

When you think of artists or labels that put together outstanding artwork and packages for their releases labels like Time Released Sound and Fracture/ Fluid Audio come to mind. One artist that has been doing this for his numerous release is Fillippo Bordigato aka The Volume Settings Folder. He has a wealth of self released music, but has also appeared on labels such as Organic Industries and Oscarson. “Hamlets” released in December is his most recent.

The story surrounding the release unfolds as: “During summer 2016 I visited a friend of mine who lives 50 kilometers away from my village, still here in North-East Italy. There was a big flea market in the town. We passed by lots of sellers. One in particular stuck with me, an old man selling all kinds of old pictures at unreasonably high price. I came home empty-handed. Months later I visited the market again, this time determined to bring home a set of beautiful aerial pictures I spotted during the previous visit. I already envisioned how to use them for a new album because they sparkled something, but I was not sure what. The man was still firmly decided not to lower the price for me. So I bought only one, for forty euros.
The picture is astonishing, in my opinion, also given the fact that it is a composite aerial view shot 99 years ago, in 1918, over the fields and marshes of the Venice Laguna. 2017 arrived and I had no new material to publish. Plus I got a new, stiff job. The pacing of my daily life changed dramatically. Weekends became a time-space to live entirely and properly, and also the only time left for my music. I composed a lot on the go, while clearing my mind among the lands of the laguna. I dusted my old tape recorder, and maximized its use to its broadest extent in my personal music making to date.
So after over a year I found that real place, and that aerial view found its music in an album about tension and release. A coming and going to the many places I explored in the few hours I had. An ode to all the villages and parishes, hamlets drowned in fog and mud.’

The album has a submerged dust soaked transmissions from the past feel to it. Opening with “Leaving the Dry Lands” there is an ominous drone which casts its gaze over granular broken transmissions of field recordings and fractured sound that reveal a sharp melody. “White Maize” has a haze attached to the acoustic guitar with field recordings. It’s almost like tape loops that have been exposed to the elements and are warped. Scattershot electrical sound shoot across randomly as a natural sort of Ambience is created under all the elements.

“Canola” features gritty field recordings alongside warped sounds and deep buried guitar that has a bass tone for depth. There is a storm/torrid wind-swept feel to the piece that covers over most of the track.

“Sorgum” follows similar territory to the opening two tracks, but this time there is a more constant drone feel that underpins everything. The warped sounds remain alongside some sort of random picking, but its the drones that make the track which could stand out a bit more if the other elements were omitted.

“The Tics and the Tocs” turns the album on its head with full swells of Ambience alongside what sounds like recordings of naturally occurring electricity. Toy like instruments make innocent sounds and playful melodies alongside tightening string sounds and seagull squaks. As the track progresses stormy static noises start to make their presence known alongside the warping sounds and a bassy tone gives the track a different tone. At just under 10 minutes in length it is the albums epic and if there was a slight bit of editing to bring forth some of the elements more to the center of the piece that would make it that little bit better.

“No Tillage” piles the haze on deep and thick relying on the listener to listen deeply and pull back the layers to reveal the music underneath. There are snatches of melody and rumbles of rhythm under drones and haze with the warped sounds making their distorted and decayed appearance once more.

“Landlubber” sounds like an exposed 78rpm recorded played for the first time after years of neglect. Church like rhythms and melodies struggle to be heard under years of dirt and grime and posses a haunting ghostly quality that has a certain twang to it. By the end of the track the melody and music has taken more a central spot with the detritus somewhat starting to fade as the drone wins out in the end.

“Grove of Reeds” features clattering field recordings entwined with minimal piano and tape loops. The piano has a stark but also lyrical quality to it and the playing varies from light and delicate to more heavy-handed full sounding. The recording is subdued which gives it a distant feel and while not cloaked like the other tracks, it is somewhat muted. An airy drone cuts through adding another texture to the piece, which due to instrumentation stands out from the rest of the album.

“Laguna Rising – Neon Flares Dripping Down My Spine” the warped sounds return with a vocal like drone, manipulated guitar pieces, snatches of sound that enter briefly and then depart sometimes looping back in. There are elements of beauty that start to reveal themselves after the four-minute mark like an accordion like drone and rolling melodic chimes that ripple out.

“Hamlets” is a release for those that love submerged music that has hidden elements in that are not all revealed at once. There is, for me a bit too much use of the warped elements that appear throughout the album. The album works well when other elements are introduced like the piano on “Grove of Reeds” which for me is the highlight.

Preserved Sound x 4: Max Ananyev / Visionary Hours / Aaron Martin / Benjamin Louis Brody.

Back when I started this blog the music I reviewed was from a handful of purchases which then led to a small trickle of submissions which has now become a steady flow of music heading my way. I try to balance the reviews out with lesser known stuff alongside better known labels, stuff that has been in the queue for a while alongside the soon to be released music. This overview (featuring a selection of each respective albums tracks) combines a bunch of these types of submissions and they all happen to be part of the Preserved Sound catalog.

Now, for those that may not be familiar with this formerly Polish, now UK-based label I just have this to say – dive right in. Preserved Sound have a very organic feel about them in the handmade packaging which keeps the same aesthetic from when they started (the only difference being the changed of burnt CD-r’s to pressed cd’s). They consistently release music that is always of great sound quality, that is of various genres and they foster a roster that is not really seen on other labels. While others have come and gone before and since their inception, Preserved Sound continues to move forward consistently putting out great releases while still maintaining their ethos.

Max Ananyev’s “The Way to the Ocean” was ironically the first thing the label sent and was released back in September of 2017. The label describe it as “a collection of simple and sincere pieces for Classical Guitar and Mandolin.” Inspired by trips to the Atlantic Ocean Ananyev states “I wanted to create a very pure classical guitar sound with a wide spectral range and low-level of white noise.” “The Way to the Ocean” is his second release for Preserved Sound following on from “Communication” (November, 2016).

“Spring” opens with fast spindly picking before settling in for a moody section and double layering which has a slightly darkish and introspective feel, before operatic vocals (from Maria Shulyakovskaya) weave in and out in a haunting fashion as the guitar playing returns to its almost frenetic and hypnotic pace.

“Fickleness of Water” the opening of the song could arguably be described as an Ambient track such are the sustaining sounds that are created by the acoustic guitar. The track has a light filled summery feel that is almost percussive in a way. Kalimba joins the guitar, the body of the guitar is gently struck before fast picked sections mirror waves of the ocean as they continually ripple out.

“9” is an instant standout with its multilayering of guitar sections and mandolin and kalimba. It has a folktronica feel and is rich with depth as the various layers and elements build to form this propulsive but highly melodic piece that, I hope I am not insulting Ananyev, could easily be heard on an advertisement. There is a loop like feel to the piece and it is more a maximalist track than previously heard on the album.

“Secret and Melancholy” sounds like a classic classical guitar track with a slight synth ambiance running through it. The music possesses a post rock quality to it for a brief section before returning the classical side, although there is a slight reprise to the post rock section in the track’s final thirty seconds.

“White Night” opens with delicate at times minimalist plucking, before the track varies in tone and intensity mixing up gentle sections with more fluid faster paced sections. I can’t personally detect a narrative to this particular track that feels unrestrained as the music moves through a variety of terrains.

“Ocean Coast” ends the album once more creating melodic and spindly textures as the guitar chords feel circular in the way that the seem to circle around in a whirlpool fashion. There are reflective touches and movements where the tempos change and introspective feelings emerge. The voice of Maria Shulyakovskaya returns this time multitracked from a brief section and in a way brings the album full circle. The remainder of the track contains a section of layered guitar that has a feeling of expressiveness and unwinding as it unfurls.

I have to admit not listening to a lot of acoustic guitar in my past and with classical guitar I am definitely out of my depth when it comes to experience and knowledge of this form of music. However, I can appreciate the music on this album, which for some reason feels to me like it’s a soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon in spring where you’re sitting comfortably with a book and a good coffee and enjoying this music which matches the temperature.

Hayden Berry aka Visionary Hours and Preserved Sound boss describes this, his fourth album (with all appearing on Preserved Sound and one on Hibernate) as a collection of blind collaborations. Artists who contributed to this album include fellow Preserved Sound luminaries such as 3+, Western Skies Motel, Adrian Lane, Trigg & Gusset as well as other artists such as Bruno Sanfilippo, Isnaj Dui and others.

According to Berry “I wanted to collaborate with different artists, but still keep control over the pieces. In some cases, I sent the same acoustic guitar piece out to more than one artist, with the idea that two artists would unwittingly collaborate with each other on that particular piece – a blind collaboration, if you like.”

“Rippling River Drifts Blue and Green” is a collaboration with Bruno Sanfilippo which opens with field recordings of lapping water which is joined by Sanfilippo’s piano minimalist slightly plaintive piano playing which is delicate, but with enough intent. The piano is then replaced by Berry’s acoustic playing of the same chords joined by warm drones and reverberating layers of the guitar. The change in instruments changes the feel of the piece despite the same use of chords. There is more a feeling of hope in the guitar with its lighter tones. I feel that there is a third collaborator, but I would be guessing to come up with their name based on my interpretation of the musical component added.

“Empty Hills Just After Rain” opens with acoustic guitar that is building up in tempo wish is joined by cellist Adrianna Maria Kafel giving the track a darker bass tone, while a soaring section of drones presumably on guitar from Unconditional Arms as well Adrian Label on violin (all these are purely my guesstimations rather than knowing for sure). The addition of these instruments fleshes out the track and makes it feel longer than it is. Also I get a yearning for a vocal and am somehow reminded of Chantal Acda’s music.

“Flowering and Falling” field recordings of insects chirping open the track with acoustic guitar slowly creeping into focus which is joined by the scraping sounds of guitar strings which is presumably care of Western Skies Motel and possibly Isnaj Dui on Bass Flute . The bass flute adds a melodic breathy tone, while Western Skies Motel’s collaboration is complimentary to the field recordings. Berry’s guitar has a bright feel with a pleasant loop to it giving it an almost pastoral feel to the track.

“Where the Wind Sharpens the Goodbye” feels like Berry is collaborating with himself as well as others. I say this because the primary input of his has been the acoustic guitar, but in this occasion he also contributes Clarinet alongside Trigg & Gusset’s Saxophone and Fender Rhodes. This track comes across as an introspective and moody one which is probably the result of the Fender Rhodes which is accentuates by both the mournful bassy qualities of both the wind instruments.

“Against the After Glowing Sky” is a guitar collaboration between Berry and Unconditional Arms which goes through several sections of change from its initial bit of the hypnotic finger picking acoustic guitar and post rock styling of the electric guitar to similarly picked electric guitar and then soaring ambient guitar lines. The track then turns into full band mode which is initiated by full ambiance of both guitar sections. The use of bass and cymbals really drive the track making it similar in sound to Do Make Say Think.

“Hills Empty, No Ons to Be Seen” begins with shimmering reverb laden guitar that is joined by a similar sounding instrument in The Sly and The Unseen’s harmonium plus another instrument I can’t get my head around what it is based on the notes supplied, but most probably Adrian Lane on zither. The guitar and the zither work well together while the harmonium gives the track the drone element which, thankfully isn’t overpowering and is makes it more complimentary rather than as a focal instrument.

When sending sections of recordings for artists to collaborate with it can be hit or miss depending on the way that those collaborators respond to the material sent. Thankfully, I am happy to report that these particular collaborations have worked a treat. The feeling is that in some cases they have followed the initial source piece and others they have responded. Both these methods have worked well and the results speak for themselves. The vinyl version of the album (limited to 99 copies) has sold out, but I recommend getting hold of the CD version (an edition of 150 copies). You wont be disappointed.

US artist Aaron Martin is the master collaborator working alongside names such as Machinefabriek, Dag Rosenqvist, Orla Wren and Christoph Berg to name a few. He has appeared on labels such as Dronarivm, Eilean Rec, Type, Preservation and others. “A Room Now Empty ” is his first full solo release since 2014’s “Comet’s Coma” and features Martin on cello, Electric Guitar, Roll up piano, concertina, Ukulele, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Lap Steel and Singing bowl.

According to Martin “A Room Now Empty is similar to the concept of “Day Has Ended” where Christoph Berg and I created music to encompass the passing of a day, but stretched out for the padding of a lifetime or at least a portion of a lifetime”.

The album opens with “Anticipation of Loss” which starts with a low metallic spindly drone that is snaking its way upwards with other drones joining in such as a distorted drone and a lower drone. Cello slowly unwinds with long strokes of the bow bringing its deep, rich, but melancholic tone and providing the center point to the track which the drones start positioning themselves around to occupy various territories and create an almost claustrophobic soundscape. The tones never get to point of being too loud or overpowering, but do have a feeling of and mournfulness about them.

“Form Hanging in Air” the sound of the cello is one of those instruments that lies in the melancholic feeling human emotions. Such is the timbre and the way it is used it is hard to associate it with a different feeling or emotion. On this particular track the cello occupies the territory mentioned, but with the layering of the pieces it gives depth and a very personal emotion. You get the feeling of loss or regret, but with the melodic touch, hope. There is another sound buried low in the mix would could be the banjo, but it appears manipulated.

“First time Underwater” begins with a sharp drone, field recordings, acoustic guitar, bass and cello to create a pastoral track that has multiple layers, but is grounds by the bass and acoustic guitar. The music is at odds with the delicateness of the acoustic guitar meeting the squall of the field recordings and the tightly bowed cello which are like a storm around the acoustic guitar. A brief track that you could enjoy at least double its length.

“Memories are drifting Bells” pairs the cello pieces that are weighed down with heavy anguish. This particular track is dripping with emotion and feeling that changes mid track with reverberating guitar tones, cello and haunted crooning. It’s almost the soundtrack to a funeral procession. Gone is the heaviness to reveal a lighter, but still mournful territory, as if the grieving process has not entirely finished, but it the coming terms with is happening.

“Depth of a Glance” features lap steel picking with swirling singing bowls underneath it and hummed vocals. There is an isolated feel due to recording style where the tone of the lap steel is a bit muted. Scorching layers of cello and possibly concertina fill the sound by cascading across. More sections of cello entwine with one holding the melody and this other holding the bottom end with other guitar elements of the twangy variety entering the picture giving the tracks a whole together different feeling.

“Movement Passing” brings the banjo to the fore alongside cello and has a very Americana drone feel. The loop like picking contrasts with the bowing of the cello, but while having different tempos they work together in creating mood that is cautiously optimistic.

There is a feeling of mournfulness which is hard to escape with an instrument such as the cello. That said it doesn’t mean the album is one singular color. The use of the other instruments and the layering reveals depths to the piece and unveils more and more with each listen. The original release sold out in a short period of time, but the label are putting out an additional fifty copies and if you are lucky you may be able to grab one.

Benjamin Louis Brody is a US composer presenting his first album on Preserved Sound called “Far Away Music” which is released on February 26. He also records/recorded under the name Flow State and has worked with the likes of Philip Glass, Tom Waits and NYC ‘s The Chelsea Symphony to name a few.

According to the artist “When I started this project, I asked myself whether I could give my music depth perception, similar to a painting or a drawing – the classic illusion of train track perspective that gives a painting a certain sense of distance. With “Far Away Music” I set out to do that with sound. The music and sounds you hear could only have been created through computer technology. By manipulating the speed and texture it’s allowed me to change the perspective of the original content. “Far Away Music” represents how I experience my work in a more personal way – it’s vast and subconscious.”

The album comprises of four long tracks ranging in length from eight and a half minutes up to fourteen and a half minutes and involves musicians on Violin and Double Bass.

“Far away I” opens quickly like an on coming storm with a full warped sound that is composed of drones and snatches of sound that loop in and out quickly while other elements are like rolling and undulating. There is an oscillating feel like the sounds are in vibration such is the shortness of the sections and they are fused to create a kaleidoscope of sound that has many layers. There is an overall murkiness to the piece which gives you the feeling of being submerged or like waves of sound are much like those at a beach. It is like the music is somewhat wrapped underneath and attempting to get out. The drones have an orchestral feel, some are dense while others are smaller and fleeting. One thing about the track that remains is its center of gravity. It never loses that center, it is always there as the track moves. Towards the end the track returns full circle, before slowly and gently fading to silence.

“Floating into Infinity” follows with another full, deep soundscape, this one feeling like an alien landscape. Long rumbling drones are laid out in movements with elements of decay, but also have a feel of something grander with a church organ feel to some of the drones. There is a strong feeling of isolation in the beginning of the track which is interrupted by a series of fractured synth sections like a concertina of sound that is broken up onto micro sections and then stitched together. The sections scatter about from left to right disrupting your hearing, but giving the feeling of a fuller soundscape.

“Together” slowly unfurling looping drones that are light in sound and structure with a haunting flute or saxophone sound having a breathy sound. Field recordings add a grittiness that is the counterpoint to the drones which by now are getting darker and fuller in their texture. The violin contribution is not that obvious as it is used in conjunction with others to create the drones. There is also quite a sci if like synth feel to the track which makes it different to the preceding two tracks.

“Far Away II” pulsing dub like synths that sound like breaks in transmission and fragments of varieties of looped sounds put together. Some sounds feel like they are backwards or maybe it is just the phasing. There appears to be three distinct sections, a long metallic drone that cuts across all the sound and circling left and right, the pulsing cut up sections and the backwards sounding piece. Unlike “Fade Away I” the center of the track is not present as the sounds cut in and out with the briefest bits of near silence as the music starts to become more subdued and lower in intensity. The notes indicate that the track features double bass, but this is hard to detect. There is a rumble to the piece that could be from modified double bass, but I am not sure about this. Like the original track the track after several minutes of more subdued movements fades to silence.

Benjamin Louis Brody has created an album that fits in line with the likes of William Basinski and artists that utilize re-imaging or re-working of previous material. It would be interesting to know which previous works were used and how the manipulation changed the textures of the pieces.