Akira Kosemura – In the Dark Woods.

Akira Kosemura would be a familiar name to those who love exquisite piano based music. He has released on the likes of Someone Good and his on label Schole which is also has been home to the likes of Haruka Nakamura, Flica, Ghost and Tape and others. Such is the popularity that Kosemura has gained over the years with his exceptional music that he has some 473,000 Soundcloud and over 357,000 monthly Spotify listeners. This particular album was released on vinyl, CD+DVD and on the Schole/ 1631 Recordings labels.

The press release states: Treasuring a serene feeling and an intimate conversation with oneself.” is the main concept of his new work, which recalls a vivid emotions, as music goes into one’s body and feels a blood flow deep into a heart. As indicated in the title, an entire album is filled with an obscure darkness and a world of misty sounds never to be feared of, like a comfortable quietness in the dark where a child in the womb is hearing mother’s heartbeat. As the music goes on, it gradually begin to widen an introspective worldview. The combined sounds of repeated phrases as seen in minimal music method, a sophisticated crossover sound in between acoustics and electronics, and an improvisational solo piano will present the worldview suggestive of a broad theme, such as a circulation of life or the law of nature.”

The album feels like an album within an album within an album. There are many styles and territories that Kosemura covers from solo minimalist piano to Sci-fi Synth explorations to Ambient detours to Haunting Modern Classical with occasional bleeding of these styles within tracks. Naturally the standout ones are the solo piano which shows Kosemura at the top of his field and if you’ve been following the artists covered in this blog in the same field (Stefano Guzzetti, Roberto Attanasio, Lorenzo Masotto, Dominique Charpentier, etc…), there is a lot of talented musicians/composers out there.

The album opens with “DNA” a meditative piece combining delicate lighter keys played with restraint under which more strident repetitive playing that has a hypnotic feel. Accompanying this is the sound of what appears to be sonar blips, low-level drones, bells and the natural sound of the piano from the keys and hammers which gives the track an organic and natural feel. The track makes a statement for the pieces to come with its variation and use of mixed elements.

This is followed by “Resonance” that continues in the natural recording style of the piano, presumably down to the placement of microphones to pick up the nuances of the instrument. It’s quite an intimate piece with an almost sing songy flow to it. Due to its short two-minute nature it comes across as an interlude or a bridge track.

“Between the Trees” follows the recording techniques set out before, but the sound has a bit more urgency in it. The playing is more intense with the piece feeling a need to convey or communicate with the listener, to get their attention. The track starts with ominous bass notes that make a return mid track, but make way for more melodic notes with a glacial haze to them. You can easily see this type of track in a soundtrack situation with its repeating theme coming full circle.

“Sphere” is where Kosemura goes interstellar with a Synth track that oscillates, has a jazzy lightly flowing section where you feel that his fingers are barely touching the keys as he floats over them. The contrast in the piece is the Synth oscillating loops are at odds with the seemingly improvises jazzy section. An ice-cold slice of ambience joins in bringing to this fore a hammering section of Synth that fully fits the interstellar vibe with its definite Sci-fi Synth prog feel.

“Kaleidoscope of Happiness” returns to the themes set our previous with the piano driven tracks. Feeling like a relative of “Resonance” you can see why Kosemura has done soundtrack work before as his compositions are a perfect accompaniment for visuals. There is a light feeling of remorse with the track, but not over the top melancholy as there is hope in the second section.

“Inside River #1” and “Inside River #2” are cut from the same cloth, but there are variations within them. The tones of the tracks are slightly different with “Inside River #2” at times feeling a bit muted in sound, but also a bit more intense. This could simply be down to the recording or also Kosemura’s playing.

“Shadows” picks up the speed in playing with the hammers jostling in the sound mix. The track is a mix of high and lower notes with the lower notes being subtle in the mix. When the track enters the final minute you see the intensity and volume peak as Kosemura brings the track to the precipice and stops just before it falls of the cliff.

“Dedicated to Laura Palmer” is a static drenched hazy ambient Synth exploration. There are beds of loops that float in and out, layers of Synth pulses, what sounds like treated electric guitar, glacial tones and hints of the theme music to the TV show by Angelo Badalamenti. The track is a mixture of 70’s ambience with a retro/futurist feel.

“Moving” is a bright hope filled track that uses its lower tones in an ambient fashion with what sound like crickets chirping in the distance. The playing has an intensity that fits the feel of the piece in that it is neither to slow or too fast. At under a minute this is a nice vignette.

“Snowy Sky” is full of field recordings of what sounds like rope scraping across wood like on a boat where the rope is being tightened. Half of the sound palate comes from this and accompanying piano sounds, while the rest comes from the actual piano keys which are melodic and have while comfortingly familiar offer a different feel and mood to that of the previous tracks. Going back to previous tracks on the album I can’t say its reminiscent of others which is a positive thing.

“Spark” opens with an ambient slice alongside minimalist piano with percussive chimes that vaguely bring back the sonar sound of “DNA”. The piano while central to the piece is not the core instrument as the chimes and the ambience make up equal sound to the track. A meditative piece on repetition could with the relaxed nature a reference to the meditative practice of thinking about situations and going over things in your mind which would link up with the album’s theme of Treasuring a serene feeling and an intimate conversation with oneself.”

“Innocence” has Kosemura hammering keys building up opposing sections of the faster lower keys with the spaced out minimalist higher keys creating that juxtaposition of sound and intensity. It brings two opposing styles to bring about different textures and moods. With a track titled “Innocence” I would have expected a more subdued relaxed and ambient-esque track, but I guess the purity is in the spaced out keys.

“The Cycle of Nature” sees Kosemura at his most intense with the fast repeating phrasing joined by what could be water, but is more certainly the hammers and pedals of the piano, a wash of (natural) ambience enters in bringing together another movement which features electronic keys that shimmer across another layer of piano bringing around four layers of keys together. Everything drops out for a brief section bringing it back to the beginning and erupting again with a massive Synth burst of ambience that hovers over everything before the track delightfully fades to silence.

“Stillness of the Holy Place” is the albums epic track clocking in just under ten minutes in length and has a more studio controlled recording where the only thing you hear is the keys and not so much the other elements of the piano (they are there, just not so pronounced) . By having this type of recording the track comes across grandly. There is a sense of control of the piece where you feel that there is a narrative at play. Half way through the track other piano elements come into the sound more clearly. There are several movements with in the track where the intensity shifts from almost calm to more strident, from more meditative to freeform, etc… I personally am not sure what the narrative is and for me the shorter tracks work better than this long one.

“In the Dark Woods” bringing the Modern Classical side into play. Layers of complimenting violin, viola, contrabass and cello cross over each other filling up with sound that is epic in scale and rich with emotion, melancholy and sweeping gestures. Slowly the layering builds up with intensity rising in a way filling up the sound and making the surroundings shrink which is what I presume the title is referring to.

“Letter from a Distance” brings the album to the end where Kosemura returns to the delicateness of solo piano that he has demonstrated throughout the album. After going epic on the second and third last tracks, we see the sublime playing lead out as if over the final credits of a movie, book ending the album and reinforcing the mastery of delicate, subtle, emotional piano pieces in the of Kosemura.

Throughout the album Kosemura has demonstrated why he has such a following. For some a strictly solo piano album could be too much of a same thing, but for Kosemura he knows how to construct an album that can sound familiar but you look back to the other tracks you cannot pin point which track it is. Naturally with a genre like Modern Classical /Solo piano that is fast becoming a saturated one, it helps to be a great composer and this is what Kosemura has on his side. Add to the fact that Kosemura doesn’t just rely on Piano and you have an artist that sustains the listeners interest and keeps them engaged.

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Adrian Lane – Playing With Ghosts.

On his Fourth album, the follow-up to “Branches Never Remember”, on the Preserved Sound label (the home to all of his albums), Adrian Lane uses 100-year-old cylinder recordings as the starting point for new compositions – chopping them up, reordering them and playing along to build up a series of completely new compositions.

As Lane says “I’ve always liked the idea of collage and often include this in my visual art, so I wanted to do something that incorporated this approach in my music.”

Utilizing a similar construction method to that of The Caretaker, Lane “uses the cylinder recordings to build up each piece on Playing With Ghosts so that it bears little resemblance to the original. If there is any kind of concept to the album it probably centres around the way sound can change over time and as well as people’s perception of the sound. These recordings have obviously deteriorated a lot over the 100 or so years that they have existed, and this has brought out new qualities.”

On the album Lane is joined by Bryan Styles on Clarinet, Mick Gawthorp on Flute and Saxophone, Rei Sugawara and Debbie Lane on Voices, while Adrian Lane uses Piano, Samples, Glockenspiel and Laptop.

“Another Spell than Beauty’s” static and distant sounding piano ring in the track with slow-paced playing that is controlled, gentle and fluent with a healthy dose of mournfulness. Clarinet which sounds like a bed of drones compliments the piano but also gives the piece the nostalgic feeling that the static like crackles throughout the track alludes to. The tone changes once the clarinet comes into play with less a feeling of decay than at the start of the piece and more a hint of haze.

“Playing with Ghosts” a record needle drop with a haunting loop, piano and clarinet combine to form the intro to the track which drops out leaving a bouncy hopeful piano melody before a quick backwards section sees the intro return. After this section both the first two sections join together before dropping out to just the piano before another backwards section introduces static to the mist for a brief part before the intro returns and the music drifts off into the silence. The use of the backwards sections helps transition the piece and brings the listener’s attention to focus.

“Abandoned Equations” degrading crackles meets soaring pianos with a percussive edge. The piano sounds recorded in an abandoned room with its distant edge which gives it a haunted ambience. The repetitive nature of the piece givers it a meditative overview rather than being monotonous.

“Of the Spheres” stark piano paired with the haunting quality of the clarinet which gives it a smoky jazz feel and fits in well with the nostalgic motif. The lines of both the piano and clarinet are long and flowing, intertwining each other. The snippets of voice from Rei Sugawara are very subtle and serve as a bridge between sections.

“A Rainy Beginning” distant rolling field recordings with what sounds like particularly raw piano and a less haunting clarinet give this track a different feel to the previous tracks despite the familiar instrumentation. There is a romantic feel that balances the melancholy, the hauntingness and the starkness with a small dose of hope.

“Retreat Half_Hidden” the clarinet on this particular track has the feel of saxophone in its bluesy playing alongside the minimalist piano and the various sound samples that adorns the track. Samples of fractured electronics crisp in nature give a rustic feel to the track and add an extra dimension to it. While the piano remains the central focus, the layering and flowing clarinet, for me is the focal point.

“Count the Tides” looped recordings of the cylinder recordings that sound manipulated and cut up, float in and out with additional static giving it a bass like bed. Melodious piano fills the next section before electronics signal the loops and joining saxophone brings a different edge to the track. Electronics, drones, chimes enter the sound mix with an increase in the speed of the piano leading the track to its conclusion.

“Conversing in Turn” sees Flute enter the sound palate for the first time which pairs nicely along side the piano. The style of playing is very similar to that of the clarinet, but naturally gives it that breathy ambient touch to the track. In fact this is the first track that leans more in the ambient direction because of the flute and the electronics that are glacial and environment related that creep up towards the end of the track. There is very much a feeling of Déjà vu with this track.

“Father & Son” a collaborative piece between Lane and his seven-year old son Nicholas Lane sees snatches of melody that lie at the outer skirts of the piece alongside a strident piano playing that has intention and comes across as the player is making a strong statement with the force in which they are playing. The snatches of backwards loops glitch in and out adding further texture to a mostly piano dominated piece. The long reverberations also give the piece depth. There is a section were the playing slows down in intention and focuses more on melody and mood which helps join the first and last sections.

“Andante” refers to moderately slow tempo which is not instantly noticeable at the start of the track with the dust soaked ancient looped melodies that fade out like ripples in a pond to be then joined by slow piano. The loops drop out and Clarinet and the introduction of Debbie Lane’s voice (this time more prominent in the mix than Sugawara’s was) take centre place. The clarinet shares a quality with the loops that when they return they are paired perfectly. Muted clarinet alongside soft glitchy rhythms fade out the track.

“To Other Coasts” Flute and Saxophone join alongside Lane’s piano for the opening section. Saxophone gives it the Drone, Flute the breathy ambience and Piano the earthy touch. Another layer to this is the almost imperceptible voice which adds an ambient edge alongside the flute.

“A Nip in the Air” space is explores in this piano based track with minimal accompaniment with exception of some sound sources and a layer of ambient flowing drones with a slight buzz to them as well as chime sounds. It’s almost like the windows have been opened to let the natural ambience in.

“Invisible Near the Rain” Clarinet, long ambience, static and a soundtrack-esque piano line form the basis of this track. The Clarinet’s long drones bring out a layer of melancholy that is opposing the fresh piano feel. The detritus of the cylinder recordings adds a layer of grittiness that compliments the lines of the clarinet which fuels the nostalgia of the piece.

“Make or Mars” smoky noir jazz-like Clarinet briefly sets the tone for this track which follows the theme with the murder-mystery sounding piano keys that are joined by micro samples of little orbiting sounds echoing out into space. The Clarinet returns to emphasize the noir mood giving a sepia appearance to the track which ends with the oscillating sounds.

“Even the Forest” sees the electronic micro samples combine well with the subtle clarinet. The miniature glitches being the tiny sections of cylinder recordings that are mixed in with piano and longer looped sections of cylinder recordings the effective use of the way things are looped and repeated gives it a childlike rhyme feel.

“Amid Tall Dangers” following on the jazz noir feel of the previous track this combines with the loops become an orchestral sounding track. The piano is minimalist , but effective and follows the beat of the music bringing you back to centre. The way the cylinder recordings cut and loop add extra dimension to the music than simply being a base for the music to join.

Lane’s feel for the album was the combination of the past and the present. “The age of the recordings gives a haunting quality  to the music it contains, partly because of the fact that it’s old, but it would have seemed like cutting edge sound for the people who recorded it onto cylinders at the time. I liked the idea of combining this with modern technology and more traditional instrumentation – and what’s interesting is that my upright piano used on the album was built around the same time these cylinder recordings were originally produced.”

To say he has achieved something jaw dropping is an understatement. Any concern you have of it being derivative of The Caretaker are easily forgotten.A special mention should go to his collaborators especially Bryan Styles’ Clarinet, which helps formulate many of the albums tracks. This album was released on August 18 in an edition of 150 copies, I urge you to check it out.

From The Mouth Of The Sun – Hymn Binding. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Sontag Shogun and Moskitoo – The Things We Let Fall Apart / The Thunderswan.

Home Normal return to the vinyl format for the first time since 2013’s Fabio Orsi and Pimmon LP. This time around it is a collaborative 7″ by New York trio Sontag Shogun and Japanese sound artist Moskitoo. The 7″ designed for the Portugal/Spain tour of Sontag Shogun comes in an edition of 500 copies and Digital and is released on November 15.

For the uninitiated (myself included) Sontag Shogun is a Brooklyn based “collaborative trio that makes use of analog sound treatments and nostalgic piano compositions in harmony to depict abstract places in our memory. Textures built from organic materials such as sand, slate, boiling water, brush and dried leaves, both produced live in performance and recorded to weathered 1/4″ tape, warm up the space between lush piano themes. All of which is abstracted coolly in the reflective digital space of treated vocals and a live processed feed from the piano.” Moskitoo is a Japanese sound artist and vocalist. So far she has released two albums on Taylor Deupree’s 12k label as well as collaborating with FilFla as well as contributing a number of remixes.

Home Normal describe this release as Post Classical / Electronic Ambient and that is truly what this release is, a combination of both those genres. With the exception of Ian Temple’s piano playing and Moskitoo’s vocals it is hard to attribute who is creating the remaining sounds. Jeremy Young uses oscillators, tapes and piezo mics, Jesse Perlstein on laptop, field recordings and Moskitoo on organic instruments. But together the four artists create something quite special and fluid.

“The Things We Let Fall Apart” – The track starts out with an oscillating drone that is joined by minimal piano before manipulated electronics and field recordings join in to give the piece a real feel of the fusion of the genres. Leading up to the introduction of Moskitoo’s vocals, the level of ambient drones and crunchy electronics increases, with the vocals being initially manipulated like the electronic component. Moskitoo has a breathy vocal style that has a distant feel and nostalgia to it which allows it to appear of floating above the music. The vocal section itself is not long (it is roughly the final minute of the piece that the singing really takes place) and could probably have music either side of it, but it works perfectly with the mix. Piano, electronics and field recordings add extra innocence to the track (especially if you are not fluent in Japanese). Listening to the track you realise that all the elements contained in the song are all included for a reason, there is nothing superfluous in the piece.

“The Thunderswan” starts with Temple’s solo piano with its rich melancholic tone that is accompanied by fragile electronic glitches and pieces of manipulated piano. Moskitoo’s vocals float in as the electronic filigree increases in its presence. The tones from each part – the piano, electronics and vocals are all separate in their mood, texture and color. The electronics start filling up the sound with a grainy, glitchy swarm like feel. The piano increases in intensity as does the manipulated sounds which are presumably processed via laptop. The ambient component comes from Moskitoo’s vocals which eschew words for a section to created stunning vocal drones, before returning to conventional singing with the vocal drones accompanying the singing. The electronics start to become noisier in nature and come from a different perspective to that of the piano which has become grander in nature and has started to be played in a rolling style. Musically this track is quite lush, epic and uplifting.

On this single Sontag Shogun and Moskitoo have ably demonstrated how to collaborate. The way they have been able to fuse their music together and construct it results in an enjoyable listen. Hopefully this is not the only collaboration that the four of them come up with. Totally Recommended.

Sontag Shogun

Moskitoo

Home Normal

https://soundcloud.com/homenormal/homen106-sontag-shogun-moskitoothe-things-we-let-fall-apart-the-thunderswan-album-sampler

Otto Lindholm – Alter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Otto Lindholm

Gizeh Records

An interview with Dronarivm’s Dmitry Taldykin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An interview with Whitelabrec’s Harry Towell.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can check out more :

Whitelabrecs

Bandcamp