miércoles, 28 de abril de 2010

Gareth Davis & Steven R. Smith - The Line Across

Genre: Ambient, Drone, Experimental
Label: Alt.Vinyl


Outside of the Jewelled Antler outfit Thuja, Steven R. Smith doesn’t play much with others. Instead the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist records alone at home, assembling moody soundtracks for inward journeys back to the age of steam.

So it means something when the guy records with anyone else, and it means more that he’s made two LPs in a row with Gareth Davis. Given that the Amsterdam-based clarinetist tends to play modern classical repertoire and records with the likes of Martin Stig Andersen and Machinefabriek, they aren’t an obvious pairing, but that might make it an even better one.

The Line Across, much more than their first LP Westering, is a departure from Smith’s body of work. While analog effects, exotic instruments like the spike fiddle and nail violin, and a warmed-up tube amp define his sound, Smith is at heart a tunesmith, a writer and player of melodies.

But not here - The Line Across is all about texture and time. The LP comprises two side-long pieces composed of layers of feedback, resonance, and seriously low reeds (Davis plays contrabass and bass clarinets throughout) that pass over each other like banks of mist and low-lying clouds. You have to wait for the melodies because they emerge so slowly and are mixed so low that they’re more like extra blankets on the bed than the top spread. The music’s slow motion makes it more potent; by standing in opposition to an everyday life of data overload, it offers a powerful antidote.

viernes, 23 de abril de 2010

Lexithimie - Stroll Into The Shade For A Moment

Genre: Ambient, Drone
Label: SRA Sounds

My Space


The title, "Stroll into the Shade for a Moment", is extracted from the book "Heart of Darkness" by the English author Joseph Conrad and is a perfect phrase for creating this environment as an image, the precise image needed in the mind for creating these sound-works.

viernes, 16 de abril de 2010

Rafael Anton Irisarri - Reverie

Link Fixed

Genre: Ambient, Electronic, Neo Classical
Label: Inmune Recordings

My Space


Reverie pairs two brand new compositions with an interpretation of Arvo Pärt's classic 'Für Alina', arriving in an edition of 500 copies pressed onto clear virgin vinyl, complete with download code. The A-side begins with 'Lit A Dawn', a typically dense and immersive composition that integrates pensive, tentatively paced piano figures with arcs of vaporous background ambience. The compressed and muffled quality of the recording only heightens the impact of the music itself: as slow and purposeful as it may be, it somehow also feels as if its on the verge of rupturing or breaking at the seams. After this lyrical opening, 'Embraced' takes on a more mysterious quality, sliding what seems to be submerged guitar figures across Eastern-style scales while a soupy, filtered production style lends an aloof, washed-out feeling. Taking up the entirety of the B-side, the extended 'Für Alina' is rendered with a reverent beauty, observing the meditative economy of Pärt's triadic 'tintinnabulation' style. Here the bell-like sonorities prompted by sustaining overtones is as important to the central harmonies themselves, and Irisarri certainly exhibits an understanding of this kind of detailed approach to minimalism. The piece is supremely graceful, dictated by a free flowing tempo and a mood of poised introspection. It fits Irisarri's own style of composition and performance perfectly, and he makes for an apt interpreter.

jueves, 15 de abril de 2010

Federico Durand - La Siesta del Ciprés

Genre: Ambient, Electronic
Label: Spekk

My Space


This compelling new microsound work on Spekk was inspired by what its author describes as "the sensations produced by listening to music while falling asleep." Federico Durand set about producing some wonderfully foggy, suggestively melodic miniatures for this album, each brilliantly capturing the kind of between state your senses are in at the moment of waking up, or drifting off to sleep. The slow moving, gauzy sound designs mirror sleep-tinted perception in all its languid, fuzzy warmth, and invitingly drowsy tracks like 'Mi Pequeno Mundo De Papel' and 'Los Alerces Del Patio' feel every bit like the conduits to the land of nod they were intended to be. Marking Durand's album as an alternative to the more commonplace laptop-generated ambient records out there, La Siesta Del Cipre's was laboriously assembled on an ancient PC with cassette tapes. While the process was distinctly lo-fi, the end result is anything but, and despite the snooze-centric concept the record proves to remarkably well-crafted, lending a special kind of quivering, filtered precariousness to a piece like 'Pudu, Tu Nombre es Tobias?'. Another outstanding release from Spekk, occupying the same upper echelons of the micro-ambient world as Chihei Hatakeyama or even the most accessible works of Stephan Mathieu and Taylor Deupree.

martes, 13 de abril de 2010

Tobias Hellkvist - Evolutions

Genre: Ambient, Electronic
Label: Home Normal

My Space


Evolutions is the third album from Swedish producer/multi-instrumentalist Tobias Hellkvist, a new artist on the increasingly impressive Home Normal roster. Apparently prior works from Hellkvist were based upon acoustic guitar elements, but here he exhibits a deft command of highly textured, composerly soundscapes. 'Fresh Start' introduces the album with a flutter of dulcimer-like tones and a growing cloud of ambience fashioned from various instrumental timbres and some discreet electronic processing. Like a kind of stealthy fanfare this densely constructed piece serves as a great introduction to the sort of delicate, finely poised flow of sonorities that's to come. Soon, 'Patience' arrives with its bitcrushed tones and steel-strung acoustic meanderings, before the altogether less pastoral 'Scars And Stripes' billows into earshot. For this track Hellkvist treats sustained piano keyings in a juddering, Tim Hecker-like fashion while ear-caressing glitchy noises bubble away in the corners of the mix. After the washed-out, wintry splendour of 'White Hole', 'Arms' proves to be rather special, sounding like an eroded tape recording of old clock chimes resonating together - the whole quivering sound mass gradually ascending into a plume of pealing bell clamour. The label's curator, Ian Hawgood clearly thinks very highly of this record, citing it as "the archetypal Home Normal release in many ways", and undoubtedly Evolutions is worthy of that praise.

viernes, 9 de abril de 2010

Valet / Richard Youngs -Tsuki No Seika: Volume 2

Not The Original cover art
Genre: Experimental
Label: Root Strata

The theme behind the Tsuki No Seika series is a restriction to acapella music, so each contributor has to operate within vocals-only guidelines (whilst supplying their own artwork for the sleeve, incidentally). Kranky artist Valet (aka Honey Owens) offers what ostensibly seems to be a radical cover version of Mudhoney's seminal 'Touch Me I'm Sick', which here is rendered within a swarming, groggy swirl of edited vocal tones that brings a kind of cloudy beauty to the piece. At times it sounds as though it's got some oral percussion going on in there too, which is most welcome. Richard Youngs is no stranger to this acappella lark (take a listen to his Summer Wanderer LP, for further details), and his hypnotic 'Fen Flowers' manifests itself as a minimalist, abstracted, multitracked take on the traditional, Ewan MacColl school of hand-on-ear folk singing. It's a strange blend of disciplines, but his hypnotic delivery has real weight and resonance to it. Tremendous stuff from both parties.