domingo, 25 de septiembre de 2011

Alexander Turnquist - Hallway of Mirrors

Genre: Folk, Experimental
Label: VHF records

Alexander Turnquist continues to forge his own radical style to create a very resonant and enveloping acoustic sound, full of beautiful harmonic overtone interplay, all instruments sustained. Alex’s guitar approach revolves around a prodigious right-hand technique and a minimalist slant on composition that separates him from the retro-styling endemic to most current acoustic guitar music. Hallway of Mirrors uses much of the tonal palate from his previous record (As the Twilight Crane Dreams in Color, vhf#118) – dense 12-string finger-picking with vibraphone and piano carrying much of the melody. On Hallway, the pieces are more concise with the added sweep of Christopher Tignor’s elegant violin punctuating Alex’s harmonics-laden forward motion and Matthew O’Koren’s immaculate vibraphone (played with both mallets and bow). The additional instrumentation, inspired in part by Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians,” provides an added focus in the music, signifying each change in tone and timbre. Recorded on analog tape using traditional automatic double tracking stereo mix techniques by engineers Henry Hirsch and Bram Tobey, the sound has an elegant soft focus that highlights Alex’s strong and sharp performance. The centerpiece of the album, the 16 minute “Waiting at the Departure Gate,” makes a sly nod in tribute to fellow VHF artist Jack Rose, who all too briefly explored similar techniques on his classic “Black Pearls.” A truly uplifting and emotional listening experience.

sábado, 10 de septiembre de 2011

Talvihorros - Descent Into Delta

Link removed by request

Genre: Electronic, Ambient, Drone
Label: Hibernate

The descent into delta is British composer Ben Chatwin’s map of the mind’s vibrational spectrum. The human brain emits waves at different phases, with gamma rays reflecting full alertness and delta waves reflecting the zenith of slumber. Much like a film can trace a character’s entire lifetime in a couple hours, Descent Into Delta maps the transition between complete lucidity and deep sleep in less than forty minutes.

While the title suggests a dropping down into peace or darkness, the guitar-driven ambience contains a lot of bright-cornered drama, suggesting that the mind is surprisingly active while on the path to losing consciousness. “Beta” sounds like our curiosity with dreams, as if it is a direct invitation to visit the other side. Washed out tremors of tremolo swim amongst disembodied conversations and sea-floor trowling guitars. A multitude of distorted and shimmering layers jockey for space like a crowded school of fish that instinctively knows when to turn. Listening to this track is as fascinating as watching a coral reef burst with chaos and balance: a vivid but relaxing experience.

Considering the significantly less busy layering in opening track “Gamma”, Chatwin’s explorations suggest that the dreamworld is more dynamic than the waking state. Further into Descent Into Delta the sounds spread out. Alpha waves, the official waves of wakeful relaxation with closed eyes, arrive in the form of lugubrious guitar respirations. Dulcimers waver like leaves in a tree, and sour the shine of day. With eyes closed, the tangible world starts to bend. Talvihorros attempts to float the listener’s mind on an earthen hammock while the atmospheric sounds occasionally go off key, as if the mind is remembering them incorrectly.

The release is meant to be a continuous exploration of waves emitted by the brain, but curiously the music stops halfway though before the cloud-painting “Theta” slumbers its way in. On an LP this makes sense, but it’s a shame Chatwin didn’t blend it all together for the digital release. This would have allowed the listener to fully indulge in the experiment. The Caretaker’s recent album also served as a mental experiment on vinyl, exploring the affects of Alzheimer’s disease and memory, but the nature of those song fragments warranted pauses and uncertainty. Descent Into Delta is very lush and was labored over intently. Addressing this snag would have improved the experience.

Chatwin seems to get better with each Talvihorros release, and Descent Into Delta is a fine example of the diverse ways in which a guitar can contribute to the crafting of a cohesive environment. Overall it has the sensibility of Aidan Baker and the real-time nocturnal features of Expo 70. Chatwin improvises much of his work and goes in to tweak it later. Yet despite the obvious amount of care, this release has the air of spontaneity. On the final track, “Delta”, a viola wanders like a ghost through the dead of night, clearly present, but without tangible form, like a lucid dreamer in the ether of sleep.

Review from The Silent Ballet

sábado, 3 de septiembre de 2011

Leyland Kirby - Eager To Tear Apart The Stars

Genre: Ambient, Drone, Experimental
Eager To Tear Apart The Stars is as beautiful as you'd expect from a Kirby album, centred largely around piano, canned strings and a constant wash of static crackle.
These tracks are arrestingly clear-headed and sombre, with the requisite amount of emotional un-ease and a beguilling sense of ambiguity thanks to those perception-altering layers of fuzz and filtered detritus on the lens keeping things firmly hyperreal. How you decipher the meanings of these moods and atmospheres is where the beauty and longevity of these tracks lie, as patience and repeated listens will reveal new views of the landscape as the seasons change. Imagine if Roedelius had grown up in Stockport in the midst of a rave-o-lution, couple that with a sardonic yet discerning post-everything attitude 10 years before everyone else, and then wonder what that experience may result in - and you just might be quite close to imagining the treats this album holds in store for you...