2017 : Twenty of the Best List.



I have to admit a sense of dread in compiling this list. These lists can be seen as from arbiters of taste and start well before the year ends. Sometimes it seems in competition to be the first to decree which album/label etc to be the finest of the year. I am not an arbiter of taste at all by any stretch of the imagination. This is a simple list of twenty releases I liked this year. There is no ranking, no breakdown into genres or sub groups (sorry, no best Winter albums as well, it’s not winter everywhere). Just a plain old list. My apologies go to those that had sent across material that has yet to be reviewed, but I endeavor to review them all. There is a supplementary list of three re-issues that also caught my attention this year. Without further ado and in no particular order….


Lorenzo Masotto “Aeloian Preocesses” (Dronarivm)

“Although I have not heard Masotto’s two previous releases and cannot compare this release to them (nor ascertain if the music matches the title of the album), what is striking is the use of electronic elements and instrumentation that compliment the solo piano. Such is the skill that this could sit comfortably in the Erased Tapes catalog.”

Toàn “Histós Lusis” (Eilean Rec)

“The album has a feel of a well crafted cinematic mix of elements like every single structure, instrument and style was carefully thought out and executed well. This is not an album rushed or one to rush through. The pace of the album is very gentle and it flows smoothly.”

Emilìa “Down To The Sadness River” (Rottenman Editions)

“Yi and Peh construct the album using only bowed guitar and piano to stunning effect. Recently I have been listening to music composed with lots of different elements and instruments, so it is quite a refreshing change to listen to something constructed with such few instruments that is so rich in sound.”

Giulio Fagiolini “Dietro a un Vetro” (Home Normal)

““Dietro a un vetro” is quite a stunning record especially as debut’s go. There is a great range of material and the fact that Giulio shows great restraint in his playing shows that he is in total control. The field of Modern Classical solo piano is one that is full to the brim, but Giulio easily adds to the field without it being simply ‘another piano album’. Totally recommended.”

The Green Kingdom “The North Wind and Sun” (Lost Tribe Sound)

“The production, performing and mixing were all done by Michael Cottone. I can only assume that the recording was done at home as there is no information to where it was recorded. If this is the case Cottone has done an outstanding job with such time and care put into this album which was expertly mastered by Taylor Deupree at 12k Mastering. If you have been a The Green Kingdom you will love this, if you are new to his work go back and get accustomed to his outstanding back catalog. Totally Recommended.”

Francesca Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci “Reframing” (Eilean Rec)

““Reframing” is a work that could be classified as Electroacoustic Ambience and has more than enough depth and variation for sustained listening. It is a perfect headphone listen to pick up all that is happening in the tracks. A mention should be made of the dynamic master of Ian Hawgood.”

Sontag Shogun and Moskitoo “The Things We Let Fall Apart” (Home Normal)

“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.”

From The Mouth Of The Sun “Hymn Binding” (Lost Tribe Sound)

“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.”

Roberto Attanasio “Behind Those Eyes I Rest” (1631 Recordings)

“As Roberto mentioned in our email exchange in regards to his method of writing /recording his music “The only thing I had to do was transcribe I had in mind, and that was incredible because what you listen to is exactly the song I played in my mind. I didn’t do any change respect to my music thoughts and maybe this is the beauty of the Ep : spontaneous and intimate.”

I think the last word of that quote best sums it up this Ep and the recording style of it. – intimate.”

Bruno Sanfilippo “Lost And Found” (AD21music)

““Lost & Found” sees a collection of material from a wide span of time be collected to form a cohesive album. Some work better than others, my personal preference would be “Soltario” to be shorter, but the album is an enjoyable listen for people looking for more than just a solo piano album.”

Crisopa “Transhumante” (Sound in Silence)

“There are no standouts on the album for me. That is because it is consistently good. There are elements that appear several times over (like the affected vocals) which can make the music a bit samey, but that can attributed to a fair amount artists. What Lizón has created here is an enjoyable, bright listen. It’s the aural equivalent of opening the curtains and letting the light shine in. If you like the artist references at the start of the review, then you will enjoy this album.”

Aidan Baker/ Thor Harris/ Simon Goff “No Place” (Gizeh)

“It is quite amazing to think that this was recorded in a short period of time on one day, edited and re-assembled and then some six months later sounding like a fully formed album from an established group. Aiden Baker, Simon Goff and Thor Harris have produced a very enjoyable, rich album that thanks to Gizeh Records we are able to appreciate.”

Adrian Lane “Playing With Ghosts” (Preserved Sound)

“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.”

Ghost and Tape “Var” (Home Normal)

“Over the course of four albums in seven years, with the others appearing on Schole  and Slaapwel as well as Ep’s on Rural Colours and Hibernate, Heine Christensen has created his own place in the ambient scene with his thought out minimalistic, micro glitches and melodic tones. Expertly mastered by the former experimental grindcore practitioner Plotkin, “Vár” is a trip down the sun soaked dappled miniatures of Ghost and Tape and lives up to both his history and that of Home Normal’s class of 2017. Recommended.”

Jason van Wyk “Opacity” (Home Normal)

““Opacity” refers to the lacking of transparency or translucency which can be compared to the pieces on the album where there are multiple elements. One of the synonyms of Opacity is haziness which can be occasionally heard in tracks like “Clouds” and the beginning of “For Now” for example. For “Opacity” van Wyk has taken on some of the elements of “Attachment” added some from his previous work and taken it further. The shorter pieces that come across as Soundtrack-esque is a something that would be interesting to see van Wyk detour into as I think he would pull it off with aplomb. A mention should be made of the cello and violin of Brittany Dilkes, Gavin Clayton and Lynn Donson for their important contributions to the album. Recommended.”

Polaroid Notes “Unsung Memories” (Whitelab Rec)

“A thoroughly enjoy album from someone who would easily craft a great soundtrack in the future.”

The Prairie Lines “Eyes Down Slowdown” (Whitelab Rec)

“A thoroughly enjoyable release especially if you like your ambience coated in thick haze with layers to peel back and investigate.”

Astrïd & Rachel Grimes “Through The Sparkle” (Gizeh)

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

Dominique Charpentier “Esquisses” (Self released)

“It would be easy to see this ep as something more than it is. It could easily be part of a soundtrack to a feature film. The length of the tracks are perfect and make great little vignettes. For an artist that is used to being self released, he could easily slot into the roster of say 1631 Recordings.”

Totally Recommended.

Akira Kosemura  “In The Dark Woods” (Schole)

“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.”




Vargkvint “Brus” (Soft Recordings)

“It is fairly easy to see why Soft re-issued this and fits in well with their stable of releases that have included Darren Harper, Kate Carr, EUS and of course Linear Bells. This release is just simply one of those that come along and captivate you from the start and you hope that more than a limited audience gets to experience it.”

William Ryan Fritch “The Sum Of The Parts” (Lost Tribe Sound)

“Throughout these albums Fritch shows his musical chops in the form of composer, musician and recorder. His strength lies in his ability to construct multi layered pieces with an attention to, structure and how the instruments work together. If I were to chose between these two albums Would pick “The Sum of the Parts” purely because my taste leans more to the cinematic feel than the more rustic Alt-Folk that his is familiar with. However, both albums are recommended.”

Jakob Lindhagan “Skorheten” (1631 Recordings)

“Overall this is an impressive album with miniatures that would be great if expanded. It shows of Lindhagen’s talent and flexibility and a composer to use different elements to the tracks so it’s not a case of “same same”. I look forward to what he brings us on his next release. Totally recommended.”


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.


Alder & Ash – Clutched in the Maw of the World.

“Clutched in the Maw of the World” is the follow-up Alder & Ash album released at the same time as the debut was re-issued by Lost Tribe Sound. Both got the deluxe physical treatment with a hand crafted sleeve in an edition of 150 copies each.

Lost Tribe Sound had this to sat about the artist: “Alder & Ash treads on the experimental fringes of modern classical, perhaps too abrasive to play nice with the coy melodrama of the scene. Yet, the music has enough grit to take hold of lovers of doom, noise, and the like, perhaps winning over new fans of cello music from even the most hardened black metal die-hards.”

“The Merciless Dusk” starts off with screeching feedback like noises with slowly strummed cello that has a very distraught sound to it. The cello plays mournfully over the screeching, but is used sparingly with great restraint which emphasizes the melancholic feel to it. There is a sense of loss in the tone of the cello that is inescapable.

“A Seat Amongst God and his Children” percussive use of the cello’s body alongside long bass thumps are joined by layered sections of melodic lines that cut in an out before the percussion and bass drop out and a tale of woe is introduced by the lead section which reaches low notes, before the previous sections of percussion and bass return with added distortion changing the tone of the piece and adding a level of almost violence to it. This goes in cycles with the quieter piece coming back before it descends back into the distorted section. The juxtaposition of the different in volume is quite pronounced and effective. A note should be made of the recording of the cello which highlights the accents of the instrument.

“All his own, the Lord of Naught” bass thumps underneath scraped loops are accompanied by spindly cello lines with a ghostly presence. A Ponticello section brings in a darker section of distorted loops followed by strumming and scraping of the strings before heading back into the noise. The strummed and scraping sections give the feel of an old western soundtrack which is opposite to the freak out of the Ponticello and loops.

“Clutched in the Maw of the World” layers of buzzsaw cello cut through the air filling up the sound,balancing both light and shade. It’s not long before an emotive and despair-like central piece takes the solo focus over the drone like other sections. As the track moves on the buzzsaw sections start to keep getting ever so slightly heavier and a background section of squall like distortion builds up and swarms over the track to its completion.

“The Great Plains of Dust” when this track starts you have to check that you are not listening to a track by Stoner legends Sleep such is the heaviness of the beginning. An orchestral like section of drones joins the thump and they come across like a track from the “A Clockwork Orange” soundtrack. The drones have a semi distorted stab like feel. The track then changes into a familiar Alder & Ash track with the distorted bass loops and fluid cello lines over the top. Again the cello sounds returns for a brief section to the Stoner realm with its deep bass tone, before the playing turns emotive and leads into a further distorted and layered section. The track manages to traverse Stoner Rock, Classical and Alt country/folk with an apparent ease.

“Seeds of a Sallow Earth” deft acoustic picking and use of the percussive qualities of the cello welcome affected sections that sound like transmissions from a radio, such is their removed sound. The cello is battered and slapped and gently plucked and strummed resulting in the most experimental of the tracks over the two albums.

“The Merciful Dawn” after some light drones and minimal bass thumps long and emotive cello lines occur minimally and unforced. The lines have a slight, but not overpowering melancholic feel to them. The lines are replaced with layers of gently strummed and more forcefully plucked strings and hitting of the body of the cello which you can detect a ring hitting it.

“The Glisten, The Glow” the percussive slap and gently strummed strings are joined by a layered section of strummed cello which gives the track a feel of a post rock track due to all the elements joining together with not one having a tone that leads it any given direction. The use of pace and space gives the track a hint of restraint that is held on till the middle of the track where there is a slight sense of urgency of the cello as if something needs to be conveyed. Towards the end the urgency is replaced by grandeur as the tone of the cello is more emotive and almost lyrical in its lines. This particular track and “The Great Plains of Dust” are the two stand out tracks of the album for very different reasons.

“Clutched in the Maw of the World” follows the sound template of “Psalms for the Sunder”, but extends it further with the use of silence, pace, atmosphere and leading the music in a grander soundtrack-esque style. While “Psalms…” was obviously a cello based record, “Clutched…” while also being a cello record shows more depth and variance in its compositions and the colors that the music displays. A recommended listen.

Alder & Ash – Psalms for the Sunder.

Lost Tribe Sound sought to expose Alder & Ash to a greater audience. The first of the two releases they put out was “Psalms for the Sunder”. This originally came out self released in 2016. Lost Tribe Sound decided to re-issue in physical form alongside the latest album “Clutched in the Maw of the World”.

The label had the following to say: “Psalms for the Sunder thrives in opposing extremes. As the title suggests, Psalms for the Sunder is a study of downfall and collapse. The work explores the boundaries, the desolation and despair, among the edges of things come undone. In that tension and space it finds not only cacophony, violence and decay, but also bittersweetness and calm.”

Alder & Ash is Adrian Copeland from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and is a solo cellist and only uses Cello to compose these pieces. He uses such techniques as legato (“musical notes are played smoothly and connected. That is, the player transitions from note to note with no intervening silence”), pizzicato (plucking of the strings), but also extended techniques like percussion against various parts of the cello, scordatura (detuning strings), string scratching, col legno (striking strings with bow) and ponticello (metallic and shrill overtones). Making full use of the instrument results in the music made by Alder and Ash.

“A Prelude To The Decline” slow drones are accompanied by minimal picking before the mournful quality of the cello cuts through with a melodic touch. The main cello piece alternates in tone and intensity giving the track both the mournful part, but also an angry intensity. The range of tones gives the cello a vocal-like feel in that it is conveying an unsung narrative.

“At Night in the Slaughterhouse” a distorted beat and slapping of the body of the instrument give the track its percussive feel while layers of cello combine to give both rhythm and lead parts. The press release gives mention of Dirty Three and Bad Seed’s Warren Ellis violin playing and this comes through early in this track with similar frantic playing. Just when you feel the track is settling down, the distorted percussion comes thumping back in industrial style while affected cello screeches above it roaring in intensity until the more emotive sections take control.

“Black Salt” starts with occasional strumming of the cello as if the player or person is finding their feet or rhythm before the percussive part starts to form something more. The strumming picks up speed, joined by buzzsaw sounds cutting left to right and some distant distorted rumble sounds. The melodic cello part that becomes the central focus lends a modern classic feel which is at odds with its more rustic beginning. After an ebb the strumming starts up again with both the distorted rumble sounds and a percussive beat. After a short period it fades to low-level drones and cutting sounds while the strumming slowly fades to the end.

“Seen Through the Cedar Smoke” multi layered picking and percussion are joined by the briefest bursts of sounds similar to that of a horn. The picking rhythmically becomes dense and woven and is covered with stabs of sound. The affected cello comes back into play sounding like the guitar sounds of Big Black – like distorted that it removes the original sound of the instrument. The quiet/loud dynamic comes into play when elements drop out and the picking starts up again, with both a feature element and the rhythmic base. There is quite a post industrial feel to the track, almost like post war desolation and decay.

“Ikejime” bizarrely the title refers of a method of paralyzing fish to preserve the meat. I am not sure what preservation is going on in this track but it has a jaunty rhythm over which slow bowed cello hangs over utilizing the screech noises that can be apparent with the cello. There are several layers the recording with each holding its own position from rhythm to melodic parts , those that are designed to add color, while others become the lead and yet others add the emotive depth to the pieces. All the levels don’t make it claustrophobic in any way and they are complimentary.

“Children of Gomorrah” has an ominous bluest feel with the starting percussive bit and distorted strings before sad sections are added and the track returns to the distortion of earlier tracks and has a vibe of seedyness as if it would suit as a soundtrack piece for show like “Peaky Blinders” or something where there is little light, grime, decay, etc….

“Triage” acoustic strumming with a drone that is long and emotive that slowly evolves, with the rhythm staying the same pace before dropping out altogether and allowing the drone to be accompanied by Warren Ellis style strings which posses an Americana feel that is almost improv like, before the strumming re-emerges. With Triage meaning to assess the importance of things, this could be represented in the layers of the piece and the way they build up and how they are structured.

On “Psalms for the Sunder” Alder & Ash utilize their chosen instrument to the fullest and create music that cuts through genres such as Drone, Americana, Industrial and others without being bogged down in one set genre. The music contained could easily be featured on a soundtrack or just enjoyed with a pair of headphones on.

The last physical copies are still available now.

The Green Kingdom – The North Wind And The Sun.

After over a decade of releasing his dust soaked ambience, Michael Cottone aka The Green Kingdom finally sees his music released on the vinyl format courtesy of Lost Tribe Sound. His previous releases have come out on labels such as Nomadic Kids Republic, SEM, Dronarivm, Home Assembly and Disqan to name a few. This was originally scheduled for a cassette released, but so blown away by the music, Ryan Keane decided vinyl was the correct format.

A challenge was set to Cottone however, as Keane states “At headquarters we pondered what would happen if Cottone abandoned the majority of his electronic equipment and limited his arsenal to nearly all acoustic instrumentation? Asking kindly, Cottone obliged. After a number of months of trial and error TGK delivered us this experiment.We were floored, not only is the music still undeniably that of The Green Kingdom, it seems to exude a new sense of wonder and confidence.The North Wind… is the aural equivalent of the fondest, hazy memories gleamed from childhood days past. The melodies are playful and comforting like womb-filtered lullabies.”

“The North Wind” is the answer to the challenge in which Cottone fuses the more acoustic and Americana elements with his electronic / ambient influences to build a bridge between the two styles that exist as separate entities or as a cohesive piece.

“Signs and Wonders” starts with a string drone that has horn from a boat in a fog type feel to it that is joined by minimal Bowery Electric style beats and acoustic guitar, bass, chimes and what sounds like ukulele. The drone starts taking center stage, but the other elements such as the bass, beats and guitar provide layers as opposed to over powering the track with too many elements. The beats and bass are subtle, but form a foundation while the guitars and ukulele give the track a natural feel to it.

“The Singing River” after what sounds like a flute based drone (no instrumentation are listed) layers of acoustic guitar start over lapping. One has the feel of a natural pastoral loop, another has a more ‘twangy’ feel while there is some finger picking going on in a third. These are joined by shaker percussion, wood chimes, bass and field recordings of a stream which maybe is the origin or inspiration of this title. The feeling of the music is quite light and summery and this is highlighted in both the flute drones and the field recordings.

“Rusted Relic I” is a brief piece that pairs opposite elements of a frantically played string instrument which sounds like Bouzouki alongside toy piano that has a feel of water dropping, alongside shaker percussion and possibly kalimba which also has the same feel as the toy piano. A nice vignette of a track.

“Virescent” essentially means to ‘being green’ which is quite fitting in with Cottone’s nom de plume. The track features crystal clear acoustic guitars that shine with ambience. They become layered, one that goes from side to side and are joined by shimmering drones which for another artist would possibly be the track alone. Not knowing the array of instruments used its hard to get a handle on what is being played, but there is an element in the track that ends up leading the track to the end which sounds Synth like or even guitar driven that reminds me of “Loveless” era My Bloody Valentine.

“Unnamed Lands” is where the album goes cinematic, which may be a future career path for Cottone. Repetitive guitar, drones, minimal percussion, bass and field recordings lead into a Morricone sounding section that shimmers with tremelo, before a brief ukulele section with drones leads back to the pastoral section of the start. You get a strong Western feel from the track that is plaintive, but not heart-broken.

“Aventurine” rattling of coins or something metallic being sorted through alongside drone loops are joined by hand percussion, grainy recordings, layers of acoustic and guitars and flute which has a quality of both calm and alarm (which is almost replicated in the electric guitar). The feel of the piece is one of post rock with an alt-country influence. You get the feeling of a full band playing such is the depth of the track.

“The Beacon Tree” I get the feeling of both dawn and dusk with this track, like it is suited for the sun rising or retreating. It has that sort of feel of a new day or gratitude for the day that has just passed. There is the initial guitar motif that starts the track which is later buried in the mix before coming out again at the end that gives me this feeling. The way the other elements come in is very measured and when you listen you can see when the next element is coming in and there is at least 8 or 9 parts that come in like other guitar, banjo, kalimba, synth that come in to either compliment each other, or to give more light to the track.

“Rusted Relic II” reminds me of a criminally overlooked Australian project called The Townhouses whose music shares a similar childlike innocence to this track. Elements like Toy Piano and Kalimba from “Rusted Relic I” return, but this time joined by a haunting drone, a chime like instrument (not xylophone, but similar), accordion/ squeeze box and wooden sounding percussion (which may be zither). Unlike “I”, “II” has a more melodic, but yet subtly frantic feel.

“Silt” sounds more like an ambient track with the warm Synth drones and padded percussion that is taken in an acoustic direction, but still remains ambient. While other tracks the acoustic instrumentation is the focal point this one is where the elements become 50/50 partnership. You could take the feeling of the track either way, but for me it is Ambient Acoustic as opposed to Acoustic Ambience.

“From the Ashes of Industry” sees slowly strummed and measured acoustic guitar which shimmers mixed with picked pieces of percussive parts and tremelo guitar to the right of your headphones and slightly baritone guitar to the left. The tremelo guitar brings back that Morricone feel with its twangy feel that floats over the strumming acoustic. The layering of guitar gives it musculature without being too heavy. Shimmering synths that come I two-thirds of the way have a Mogwai like feel to them which tips the tracks theme on its head.

“Ramshacklet” guitar drones, oscillating sounds, vinyl dust form a bed for acoustic guitar, cello drones and very minimal and deep down in the mix, shuffling percussion to build upon. The thing about the track is that the elements not in a rush and are complimentary to each other. It is like with the possible exception of the acoustic guitar, all the elements are on the same level. There is a slightly ghostly quality to the music, that of regret and the past.

“Rusted Relic III” at times feels like reduction of the elements of the two parts of the trilogy, with the minimal kalimba being the focal point over dronescapes before the franticness of “I” returns, but not in the full way of the original. It is almost like the two original tracks have been deconstructed to create the third. There are other elements like the drones which give a counterpoint to all the fingerpicking instruments, but they are lower in the mix to make other elements the focus.

“Children of Light” an Asian theme comes to mind in the opening of this final track on the LP, penultimate on the digital version before low cello cuts through at the same time as gently played acoustic guitar and a Synth drone provide the rhythm that more layers of acoustic guitar and drones then occupy. The cello plus the layering bring to mind label mate William Ryan Fritch and the guitar another label mate in Western Skies Motel. A section of progy Synth gives it a bit of a different edge to the pure acoustics. Much like other tracks on the album there are many layers that provide different textures, colours and occupy different roles within the track, but still manages to naked claustrophobic in any way.

“Oval Beach” is pre-order bonus track which sees the various sides of Cottone’s music taking in the acoustics favored on this release and pairing it with more of his dust soaked ambience with the flute making a return, the beats, Accordion like drones, electronics, kalimba to create a track that balances out the elements but making it folktronica meets post rock meets dream pop.

The production, performing and mixing were all done by Michael Cottone. I can only assume that the recording was done at home as there is no information to where it was recorded. If this is the case Cottone has done an outstanding job with such time and care put into this album which was expertly mastered by Taylor Deupree at 12k Mastering. If you have been a The Green Kingdom you will love this, if you are new to his work go back and get accustomed to his outstanding back catalog. Totally Recommended.

An interview with Lost Tribe Sound’s Ryan Keane.




In the first in an occasional series bringing light to those that are responsible the physical release of music, I sent off some questions to Lost Tribe Sound boss Ryan Keane. Ryan is responsible for releases from William Ryan Fritch, The Green Kingdom, Graveyard Tapes, Western Skies Motel, Part Timer and others. There will be more reviews of the LTS catalog to come, but in the meantime please enjoy this interview.


Please introduce yourself. Why did you start Lost Tribe Sound? Did you have experience with music before starting the label? Is it a one man operation?

Hi DAF, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I’m Ryan Keane, owner at LTS. Lost Tribe Sound originally started as a way for my buddy Andrew Sanchez and I to release the music we made as Tokyo Bloodworm back in 2007. After one self release we decided it was a better idea to release with a more established label, so we reached out to Andrew and Craig at Moteer to release our next two albums.

In 2009, I had the crazy notion I could take on releasing music from other artists. Enter William Ryan Fritch’s Vieo Abiungo project. And yes, I am technically a one man operation. Of course all the musicians, visual artists, and fans play a big part in keeping me busy. But I am the PR team, the art & video department, the packing & shipping division, manufacturing and the complaint department.

From the outside looking in you and William Ryan Fritch have a close relationship. How did you meet/come across his music? How important to Lost Tribe Sound is he?

William and I first met in Tempe, AZ where I was living at the time, he came down from Flagstaff to play a show that my musical project Tokyo Bloodworm was also scheduled to play. I ended up backing out of the show, but I’d become interested in his music from some of the samples online so I decide to attend. William and I hit it off almost immediately, discussing our similar taste in music for artists such as Muslimgauze, Manyfingers and Bonnie Prince Billy to name a few. At that point, I mentioned it might be fun to release some of William’s music he had posted from his experimental ethno-centric project Vieo Abiungo. It immediately struck me as the sound I had been hoping someone would create for years. Deep drums, modern classical elements, textured as hell, and it dipped in the realm of world music without coming off as cheesy or contrived.

It’s easy for me to say, that without William Ryan Fritch there would be no Lost Tribe Sound. He has definitely been the most crucial and central artist on our roster. His talents as a multi-instrumentalist are unparalleled. The rough-hewn and organic approach Fritch delivers on all of his releases, speaks so perfectly to the central vision I had for Lost Tribe Sound from the beginning. The fact that we still speak almost daily, and that he’s trusted LTS to release 26 of his albums since 2010, I realize is an unbelievable privilege. Fritch is my closest ally, a best friend, and the most talented individual I ever had the opportunity to work with. I always remind him he needs to remember the little people when he is famous one day.


You also do publishing/licensing with Settled Scores. How did this come about? Do you represent other artists than those on Lost Tribe Sound?

Settled Scores is the licensing arm of Lost Tribe Sound. It has been a slow burning project since 2013 or so, spawning from much of the work for film that William Ryan Fritch was bringing in. We expanded the licensing end to include other artists from the LTS roster and beyond in 2014, working with clients like GoPro cameras and an ever-growing list of indie film makers and forward thinking companies. Including the LTS roster, we represent catalogs for a select group of artists who approach making music in a similarly rustic and unique way. The goal behind Settled Scores is to show commercial, tv and film makers that we offer a great alternative the highly overused and often times drab music that seems to dominate the industry. I personally love seeing a high action scene set to music that is more contemplative and out of the ordinary, it adds a tension and interest to the shot, that no canned “action music” could even touch (example).

I’m hoping that more directors move in this direction, as there is a big beautiful world of experimental and extraordinary music out there that deserves their attention. Our Settled Scores roster outside of the LTS catalog currently includes works from Christoph Berg, Skyphone, Aaron Martin, James Murray, Anne Garner, Wickerbird, Glacis, Kyle Bobby Dunn and Mid-Wife to name a few.


What quality do you look for in a release for Lost Tribe Sound? Do you accept demos?

There is no set genre or style I hold a LTS release to. I am more attracted to the vibe and mood the music offers. Usually, LTS releases tend to be less electronic, with a focus on real instrumentation. Not to say they can’t feature electronic elements but it is more about the nature in which they are treated. I love music when it is hard to place a time or region it may have come from. Of course rustic, dark, pulsing blends of folk, classical and ancient sounding rhythmic oddities always hit the spot, yet I feel like we also managed to created our own intriguing take on pop, indie and rock music as well. I’ve tried to get in the frame of mind of gathering more seasons within the music, yet the winter and fall toned music always seems to have the biggest draw for me.

Not opposed to receiving demos if the artist has really checked out the music we release and really gets it. Most LTS releases come by way of a friend of friend type situation, but every now and then I come across an artist and fall in love, enough to reach out to them and see if they are interested in releasing on LTS. It’s just hard releasing all the music I enjoy on the label. Just because I like an album doesn’t mean it is the best thing to release on LTS. I have to really love it, usually listening to it over a period of month, to make sure the music stays with me emotionally. Running a small operation I have to be overly picky, since one or two poorly received physical releases can really make or break my budget.

How important is the visual identity of packaging and format to the label? It’s a pretty huge part of label. I’d say the artwork is the second most important part of the release, outside of the music sounding amazing and carrying the right impact. Keeping with the vibe of the music, most of the artwork we choose fits that timeless, rustic vibe I am a sucker for. Sometimes the artist brings the art to the table and other times, I get to work on the artwork and design from scratch. This happens to be my most favorite things I get to do running the label. We’ve had the chance to work with some of the most amazing visual artists over the years, like Joao Ruas, Gregory Euclide, Jamie Mills and Sail. They’re some of the most exciting illustrators and fine artists in the modern-day, so blown away by the depth and detail they bring to their art. I always try to treat each LTS release like a piece of fine art, from the cover design to the music within.

Sometimes I creating handcrafted packaging to give it the feel it deserves, hopefully coming off like a precious artifact. For example, the new panoramic CD editions for this year’s Prelude to the Decline (Subscription Series), I wanted to design a case that felt substantial and provided a much larger canvas for the artwork than standard CD packaging provides. I tested a lot of materials and different paper stocks in the design, also figuring out how the metal screws would work into the design. The end result feels and looks amazing, so hopefully when fans hold them in their hands they will get a sense of how much love went into them.


2017 is a pretty ambitious year with the great Prelude to the Decline series. Have you looked beyond the year or are concentrating on the releases from that schedule?

It has been an ambitious year with the series, perhaps too ambitious, as I’ve barely had time for anything else.  I’ve already hand-built over 600 CD cases, hand-numbering them all, along with the hand-numbered the vinyl editions. Oddly enough even with the generous deal the subscription series offers, the response to subscribe to it has been slow.  Not sure if it’s just the uncertainty times we are living in or what, but I stand behind it as perhaps the greatest thing the label has managed to pull off.
We are still looking to the future with Lost Tribe Sound, we have a few amazing releases lined up for next year already from a couple of my favorite artists Skyphone and Spheruleus, along with a brilliant new release from a lesser known artist, Phonometrician, that should have fans drooling. Fritch may go into a slow down period in 2018. He’s been on such a rampage of releases over the last few years, we figured it might be a good idea to put some distance between them. Perhaps this will help folks realize his brilliance and better appreciate his work. That said, we may still have a surprise or two from him in 2018.  We’ll see how many more years of LTS I have left in me. I treat each release like it was my baby, so it is not always easy on the psyche when a release does poorly, or is just not well received by the public.  If I am no longer feeling useful to the artists or the music community any longer than what’s the point.
I think a lot of labels face concerns of adequacy, I rarely mention it publicly with regard to LTS.  But it is always in the back of my mind. Pushing to get real press for a release, selling enough copies to have a physical edition make sense, and being able to pay our artists something decent always stresses me out. My main love has always been the music, but not being able to create a beautiful physical edition anymore would really make me lose interest. The fans we have are very supportive, and send some great encouragement (usually when I need it the most), but it still bums me to see those waste-of-space download sites passing around our artist’s releases for free like they’re worthless.  Moaning aside, I think real music fans know to show their support through buying the music from the labels and artists they love.  It’s so vital to continuing to bring high quality music into the world.  So in that, I have hope for the future of LTS.



Many thanks for Ryan talking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about the label via the following :





William Ryan Fritch x 2 – The Old Believers & The Sum of the Parts.

If there ever was such a relationship between a label and its artist that is responsible for such a wealth of material as there is between Fritch and Lost Tribe Sound, I would be surprised to find one. 2015 saw the “Leave Me Sessions” series which saw a total of 11 albums (over six and a half hours in total, spread over CD, digital and vinyl) released to subscribers. Lost Tribe Sound has released over 20 of his albums including those under the Vieo Abiungo moniker.

“The Old Believers” and “The Sum of the Parts” were two soundtracks that were part of the aforementioned “Leave Me Sessions” and sees them gain a wider release with both releases getting new artwork and “The Old Believers” having an additional 8 tracks from other works that compliment the original album. With such a wealth of material , I have selected tracks from each release to focus on.

Lost Tribe Sound boss Ryan Keane has this to say about these albums: “It should be noted, that calling ‘The Old Believers’ and ‘Sum Of Its Parts’ soundtracks paints an incomplete picture. Too often the genre or classification of “soundtrack” brings to mind sloppily arranged carbon copies of a film’s cues; often just a few main themes and a collection of one minute tracks that, when not set to picture, fall short of an overall worthy listen.”

This last statement is noted when listening to these albums as while short in length (length ranging from 1:14 to 4:06), the pieces don’t seem to be vignettes or have a different musical style to represent different moods. You would be none the wiser if you did not know of their soundtrack status.

“The Old Believers” is a documentary short film that tells the story of a group of Russian Orthodox Christians who are attempting to preserve their 17th century way of life in 21st century America and coping with surrounding modernization and internal conflicts.”

“Of A different time” opens the album with violin drones and cello that cut a mournful feel and also one with a hint of nostalgia laid over the faintest fielf recordings. Shimmering strings lead into a section of isolated percussion while violin repeats a fast rhythm that drops out to return to the original mournful cello and an ambient sounding string section to the fade out.

Acoustic guitar with gentle tones comes into the mix on the track “Clouded Was Every Prospect” (not on the original album) which becomes the bed for a variety of string sections such as cello and violin to attach themselves to and veer the piece between such styles as folk, modern classical and ambient. There is deft texture and layering of instruments that give both depth and feel to the piece. Judging by the title of the track but not seeing the film, it’s for a section of the film presumably where no decision is ultimately the best one. This could be heard in the musical territory covered.

“Left to Wander” sees percussive guitar that is roughly plucked and strummed with some minimal bass drum beats woven into an alt – folk tapestry with different speed of instruments as strings such as cello and violin with some clattering, while others are gently strummed. Sounds like something that could come out on the Constellation label.

“Still and Dense Solitude” (not on original album) sees layered classical guitar with a slight Spanish feel accompanied by the bass rumbles of cello and soaring violin with all instruments propelling in the same direction and speed. As opposed to other tracks that see the instruments and their sounds juxtaposed, these sounds compliment each other and they all build up with the same pace in the second half of the track.

“Who fell the Last Tree” (not on original album) fuses a lush Ambient intro alongside picked and scratchy violin with field recordings and a haunting multilateral drone and percussion. The field recordings which sound like someone walking through snow are paired with a shaker like instrument that gives the impression of an axe being swung into a tree. The Ambient touches, the first for the album give the track a much different feel than others while still retaining the core instrumentation and overall theme.

“By the Letter” is a beautiful interlude with gently played acoustic guitar with a lead element played over the rhythm that has a feel of distance , while a near silent drone slowly increases in volume from the shadows to be the feature element as the guitar almost abruptly stops. When listening to this track I am visualizing a scene where images of the past are superimposed overprotect times.

“We Fear Change” is a multi layered piece with at least five different things going on at the once – from the likes of delicately finger picked guitars, bass drones,violins and percussion elements (but maybe not traditional percussion instruments). A highly layered and textural piece that while packed with elements is not stuffy or claustrophobic. The layered guitars propel the track with the elements like violin providing the mournful quality like the title would imply. Possibly the standout track on the album.

“The Last Frost” is pure drone piece where a central drone emerges at a slow pace that is vibrating while accompanied by a lighter melodic one which is mimicing its texture, while a more celestial drone starts creeping in trying to come through which it briefly does just before the track finishes.

“The Old Believers” features a similar motif to that of “We Fear Change” and “Clouded Was Every Prospect” in respect to the guitar playing which has the natural unadorned picking style. It doesn’t take long for other elements to come in such as bass drum beats, violins, drones and very sad sounding cello. Fritch gives each instrument its chance but also gives the track the space to breathe with elements such as the cello and drones retreating and the focus being brought back to the rhythms created by the acoustic guitars. It is a well measured track with sections that overlap give depth and continuation.

“‘The Sum Of Its Parts,’ the feature film from award winning filmmaker/editor Fiona Otway’s introduces some of the world’s foremost robot researchers alongside tomorrow’s future leaders in robotics. This film explores the messy front lines of the crusade to make robots part of our everyday experience. From initial sketches, to soldering wires, to programming actions and performing experiments “in the wild”, scientists, high school students, and artists obsessed with bringing robots to life are shaping a new era in our relationship with technology. Yet, by observing their successes and failures along the way, what becomes clear is that robots actually have a lot to teach us about what it means to be human.”

The obvious idea for composer when writing for a film that is about robotics and future technology is to do a futurist (or retro futurist) electronic soundtrack. Fritch doesn’t take that approach, instead he ops for making the music more orchestral, large scale and sounding epic.

“The Sum of the Parts” has a radiant drone opening this string driven mini opus with the quality you would expect from a Clint Mansell soundtrack. Cutting strings, bowing cello’s and drones wrap around each other, building up each layer with a driving quality. The feel is reminiscent of a scene of a movie where the central or climatic part of the movie is happening. Subtle bass drum keeps the pace while the strings build up speed.

“Idling” is a short track with an ambient loop leading the intro makes you think it will remain in this genre, but it becomes a string driven track with a ‘glassy’ ambient feel. The combination of cello and violin mixes with the prominent ambience and acoustic guitar to a very light and summery feel. Is like a modern classical track without the austerity.

“Mechanized” You get the feeling of wonder when listening to a track like this at how one artist can come out with such layered pieces such as these. With violin strings sawing over the thump of a cello accompanied by a swarm of strings that’s literally at least 5 or 6 different sections all working together in support if each other. Time is given to let each instrument shine with elements being tge focus before retreating into the background to reveal itself once more.

“Gnashing Metals” starts with a thump of cello before entering a section of a series of violin pieces, presumably prepared piano with a toy like sound and picking or scraping sounds of string instruments to create this motorik piece that has a driving nature and falls in this almost bleak apocalyptic alt-folk sound with its clanging instruments.

“Unfounded” the return to the cinematic soundtrack as mentioned in the title track is the hallmark of this track. All encompassing ambience with classical strings that move in a glacial pace and have a haunting mournful sound to them. The strings lilt and waft before xylophone heralds in the low timbres of the cello to add bottom drone that is almost entirely droned out by the strings as they gain in intensity and and total domination over the track till towards the end where just the ambience, xylophone and bass drum remain.

Throughout these albums Fritch shows his musical chops in the form of composer, musician and recorder. His strength lies in his ability to construct multi layered pieces with an attention to, structure and how the instruments work together. If I were to chose between these two albums Would pick “The Sum of the Parts” purely because my taste leans more to the cinematic feel than the more rustic Alt-Folk that his is familiar with. However, both albums are recommended.