"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"
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Monday, 29 September 2014

Urn Burial


Anything new from Richard Skelton is welcome, obviously. But the unstrung, slab-like 'Nimrod is lost in Orion' is freighted with more than novelty: the sound of thrilling reinvention. 

Part of a rich collection of works in different formats that also includes a doubtless profound & gorgeous book, 'Nimrod' (by The Inward Circles, a new addition to Skelton's many music-making personae) centres on the drones & arcs that were a more secondary, framing part of his sound before. 

Now he works with a beautifully abrasive monumentality - exploring sound as "a substance that might endure weathering", as he puts it. The effect is to "reveal layers of harmonic till with outcrops of more obdurate material; moraines of static, veins of melody.'



Blurb: "Richard Skelton's first solo album in two years is preoccupied with 'the great volume of nature', its delicacy and violence, light and dark, solace and psychological burden. The music hovers between the empyreal and the subterranean, and - framed by the accompanying book of texts, art and photography - offers what Skelton describes as a 'picture of a wood through which slanting light dimly traces other forms'.

Nimrod presents the idea of music - not as the distillation of a specific place (as in works such as Landings and Ridgelines), but as a relic of an imaginary landscape; a series of notional artefacts:

'I wanted to concentrate on sound as a material presence - to explore it as a substance that might endure weathering, to reveal layers of harmonic till with outcrops of more obdurate material; moraines of static, veins of melody.'

The tremulous strings that characterised much of his earlier work have all but disappeared as the music is divested of ornament, revealing the coarse grain of its underlying substrate: a dark mass of shifting tonal colours suffused with filigree detail.
The excerpted texts that make up the accompanying book come from a range of sources, united by a hyper-sensitivity to nature itself; a desire to understand and come to terms with its 'hidden state'. They are figures in the landscape, some of whom construct elaborate systems of classification and natural philosophy, others who seem wounded by their very affinities, and others still who seem lost, or are institutionalised. The tone of the work as a whole - which finds its analogue in the music - is aptly evoked in Gerard Manley Hopkins' poignant phrase: 'nature in all her parcels and faculties gaped and fell apart'. There is a sense of things on the verge of collapse, of despair and regret."



NB: photos by Corbel Stone Press

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Gilded bitch


p jørgensen's third Low Point is - please brace for the obligatory intro clunk - a new high point. Like recent work from Cory Allen (covered here earlier this year), it captures an artist in rapid, thrillingly ambitious transition from their original largely digital, controlled sound into a broader electro-acoustic palette foregrounding 'real' instruments/textures & improvisation.

LP's characterisation of the piece as melancholy & intricate is pretty unarguable. The ravishing Capetillo cover captures its refracting beauty perfectly - a kind of rippling deep stasis that leaves these ears frantic to hear where the long arc of Peter's development goes next...



Artist/label blurbs: "this album has been a long time coming, as i initially started composing the opening and closing tracks back in late 2010 while touring the uk. 

this vinyl release features beautiful contributions from christoph berg on strings, jeppe skjold on reeds & anders provis on drums & cymbals. cover photography by acclaimed photographer christina capetillo. linernotes & coverdesign by architect & director morten meldgaard. mastered for vinyl by taylor deupree."

"Gold Beach was painstakingly recorded, processed and assembled over the course of the last four years.

Unlike Jørgensen's previous works, electro-acoustic compositions subject to heavy computer processing, the most notable departure on Gold Beach is the prominent use of unprocessed acoustic instruments, including double bass, violin, clarinet and saxophone.

The framework to Gold Beach was created by Jørgensen and his group of musicians carrying out a series of both structured and improvised sessions, which were then subject to additional recording, editing and further composition. Whilst some sessions stand more or less untouched from their first takes, others were subject to heavy editing, though the feeling of instant composition is maintained throughout."


Full stream:






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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Normal Service Resumed


Close to an LMYE best label award for contributions to 2013 (Annual Hairshirt), it was A Very Good Year for Home Normal, which recently celebrated its 5th birthday. After a shaky early-’09 inception (Sketches) an increasingly stronger run of releases has seen the Tokyo-London enterprise slowly grow to the status of a beacon of stylistic tone-setting, sustaining a burgeoning ambient drone and organic electronic community. Despite relatively high print runs releases are often sold out at source—further cause for celebration for Ian Hawgood, for whom, in the face of a flagging mainstream music industry and his ‘not promoting the hell out of it,’ (interview, Tokafi), it's been business as usual. LMYE has been meaning to resume Normal service since the turn of the year, so here goes… 



One of the stand-outs in ’13-14’s stream was Fabio Orsi + Pimmon’s Procrastination—but blow me down if this didn’t come out last February, so ffwd-ing to now in the interests of currency, we find a certain Mr Margraff ditching duck-down-delving nom de disque and coming out as plain old René, maybe a way to say that Phasen comes from a more authentic self—more guard-down hair-let-down. Over eight smeared—presumably steel string-wrung—textural meditations Margraff shapes shudders of unsettled mien from slender means—getting closer to source sounds’ core, small grabs blurred and transformed—a shift from previous ethereal and shoegaze orientations to bleaker, more fragile but more focused compositions.


The aptly titled Continental Drift (previously earslent) is the outcome of a cross-continental communion between LMYE fave, Sam Landry (North America), aka Le Berger, and musician mates—René Margraff (Europe) again, with Fuzz Lee (Asia), aka elintseeker, making up Faures. The eponymous earth alluded to is the least salient element evoked here. Rather they are air—palpable musical gestures of soaring, water—sequences suggestive of submersion, especially in the longer-form “Asthenosphenic Movement” trilogy, and crackling fire, all converging in highpoint, “Magnetic Striping.” The trio fuses controlled grainy rushes with more composed unfurls in a shimmering son et lumiere. Overall, a notably neo-romantic deep-water, wide sky, beyond-horizon, into-the-spheres affair, this unlikely ambient-drone supergroup engage in an unwontedly pretty poesis of sound design. The trio spin this accompanying quote into their semiosis of sound: ‘It let them float and drift, break apart and converge. Where they broke away, cracks, rifts, trenches remain; where they collided, ranges of folded mountains appear.’ (geologist Hans Cloos re: Wegener’s theory). 



Back to 2013, on a completely different tip is c60 / tmkutekt by wndfrm, which is real Oregon kid (geddit?) Tim Westcott (who some may have caught as Cloudburst for Resting Bell release, Katedra) with two long-form ’scapes sourced from location recordings of the Biosphere Museum of the Environment in Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal’s geodesic dome, which showcases the water ecosystems of the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River region. Westcott’s dome of enclosed sound is initially all restraint, silence abounding, then a deal of metallic hiss as a backdrop for an odd back-quack; the further it peels, the more it reveals, ending in a kind of intense long thin wire drone. The second piece sets out like an industrial dryer before chatter enters followed by remote reverbed clank, the whole then drowned out by a passing plane. If, as the sleeve has it, Canada Council for the Arts funded this, I’m putting in a proposal. In the meantime, a virtue with c60 / tmkutekt is definitely patience.



A propos of patience, Ithaca Trio offers Music For Piano & Patience. With previous on Hibernate and Under The Spire, Oliver Thurley plots a path from a lowlight Leeds with a set of nicely reel-to-reeled piano loops. Obvious reference point is Lord of the Decadent Tinkled Ivory Loop, William Basinski, but these two half-hour pieces are sui generis; the first lets loops spool out somewhat scatter-gun, with a warm grain of tape saturation, skips and crackles, weathered-seeming—as if from some unearthed old vinyl find from a loft stash; the second—more structured—sounds like someone stopping off for a pensive plonk at an old Johanna in a deserted church.



Far from—let alone up—any notional alleys approaching the al wing of Earslend Towers is Place For One Day—trailed as a sort of alternative minimal-electro-folk record—by a project called Birdt (violin/vocals - Janne Mansens|accordion, synths, vocoder, glockenspiel - Sascha Schmitt|bass clarinet - Gareth L. Davis|guitar, vocals & lyrics – with a bunch of mates playing, singing & helping along). Likewise leaving your LMYE scribe’s chimes unrung, though undoubtedly well-crafted, is At Home - Piano Book (Volume One) by Sardinia-based Stefano Guzzettia set of ivory-tinkling lyricism to please Dustin O’Halloran types.

 
Chronovalve aka Mike Engebretson has been under the radar for some time now plying his ambient trade; associated with the (now sadly defunct) Smallfish enterprise half a decade or so ago, he (re-)surfaced last year with Trace of Light which has oodles of lush textured ambiance and a few neo-choral wisps with lashings of synthi-ness. For the sleep-deprived, this is the right somnific stuff—cloud-watch micro-symphonies, billowing, undulant drift, reminding of the days/daze of fave ‘snooze-to’ records (Somnium, DJ Olive, anyone…?). Currents swirl, waves coalesce in fleeting intermesh, then peal off in a rendering of sonic light bathing sounding object in halation effect.



Finally, commemorating its 5th birthday is a 5-disc comp, Elements, featuring 60+ artists from Home Normal past, present and future, raising money for 5 different charities. 


Last word to HN: ‘In this modern digital age with its constant stream of information, we've sought to work as quietly as possible, firmly rooting our ethos that things can be released in a subtle, quiet way. 'Organic' has always been the key word, and we are so thankful that people seem to still appreciate the natural path we've chosen, ignoring all the noise that surrounds our chosen way.' 


Chronovalve - Trace of Light from Chronovalve on Vimeo.



 

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Stringent steps


'Psychedelic minimalism' indeed. Cory Allen's journey beyond the exquisite electro-pointillism that made him a natural sparring partner for the great Steinbruechel (on Seams, an entrant in LMYE's Festive 50 a couple of years back...) takes him ever further into novel territory that seems to need some name of its own - preferably one less dreary than the utilitarian 'electro-acoustic improvisation'. So PM it is... 

"As the perfection of the digital age continues to tighten its grip on the organic quality of analog, I felt a need to gently take a few steps back from the stringent digital world in order to find balance. Sometime over the last two years, my interest shifted to the subtleties of the analog bandwidth, and more specifically, the artifacts or errors that occur in the analog medium as a source," he wrote (for Fluid Radio) a while back

(Allen's successful pursuit of the "beauty of degraded analog sources" - sourced from "bad cable grounding signals, poor antenna connections, shoddy field recordings and blank spots on aged vinyl records" - is displayed in the lovely blur of his Shutter Echo below...). 

Already signalled by last year's gripping 'ensemble drone' workout The Great Order (again a Festive 50 component, at the turn of this year), Allen's move to an acoustic aesthetic stands out as a striking, unexpected re-invention.

Now it underpins two forthcoming releases that seem likely to count among the year's most cherished by these ears - The SourceThe Seeker and The Healer, the latter a collaboration with another member of the LMYE pantheon, Duane Pitre, that adds yet more lustre to the increasingly essential Students of Decay.  

(In his Feel Free, ED09 & other works, Pitre too has happily married an experimental approach with an acoustic ensemble setting, of course.)

As well as PM, Allen tags Source's almost Tantrically prolonged Divine Waves (hear below) as 'cello bass meditation'. A spacious meditativeness may well be what connects his early & later work.

It's also much in evidence on the keeningly resonant TS&TH, meanwhile, which unveils & showcases Allen's self-invented 49-string drone harp - not quite Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument, but not far off. 

"With these works, my intent is to find a balance between the living nature of analog and the magic perfection of digital, all the while imprinting the most fundamental aesthetic of all; the human spirit."  











Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Excellent adventures


Taking a painfully overdue moment today to laud Ted's excellent adventures - the Ted in question being the 'shoegaze cellist' Ted Laderas (who goes - a bit bafflingly, to me at least - by The OO-Ray), & the adventures his fine collaborations this year with Marcus Fischer (a self-released digital-only typhoon fundraiser for The Philippines) & Le Berger (a 50 copies-only C20 cassette for Twin Spring Tapes)...

The inspiredly-named Le B'OO-Ray is a new & almost certainly virtual Montreal-Portland partnership. In contrast, the pairing of Ted & Marcus (Rayfish?) is a quite long-standing collab of Oregon neighbours that produced the Tessellations release back in 2012.

Though linked by the sonorous Laderas cello, of course, & a kind of shared restraint, the releases are likewise dissimilar. The largely acoustic Tulong is a pair of delicate, hushed & affecting mutual explorations of tone that swell & recede like the archipelago waters of their setting. The more shaped (composed, reallyis a more textured to & fro between its parents - a glinting, echoing unfolding in crepuscular half-light

Let it also be said: the bleary beauty To Be Twice Put In Jeopardy ("Composed by Le Berger, inspired by The OO-Ray") is one of the most ravishing things yet from LMYE's cherished Berg...  

Tulong context: "Tulong is Tagalog for aid or assistance. All Proceeds will be donated to Humanitarian Response Philippines, a charity that is assisting in the rebuilding of homes of those devastated by Haiyan. Marcus Fischer + Ted Laderas/The OO-Ray are both of Filipino descent. Upon hearing of the destruction wreaked in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, they immediately wanted to help. The result is the Tulong EP. This EP continues their long standing collaboration (starting with their LP Tessellations) with two long form pieces, one improvised live (“Deluge”), and one recorded especially for this EP (“Reconstruction”). They use synthesizers, guitar, cello, and loops to build two distinct sonic pieces that evolve to powerful conclusions."

B'OO blurb: "The three minimalist pieces that comprise "V" play like something lost to time...akin to a fond memory retrieved over and over throughout the years until it is uncertain what is left: reality or fantasy? So too, are the simple refrains of "V". They are like those threads of muted memories becoming more bare as time moves on - less certain, more surreal. The progressions may seem to be the same, but the context is always changing, influencing an accurate sense of recall. Yet, however ambivalent the musical progressions may be, they evoke an austere sense of conviction as if something DID happen and it WAS meaningful, but...that is where the thread ends - the point beyond which memory can no longer breach. The rest will have to be summoned by another means. Perhaps by you, dear listener..."









Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.
















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