Independent Music & Equipment Reviews & Music Label

Posts tagged “Electronica

Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer at Spectrum NYC

Taylor Marcus Spectrum NYC

More on Taylor Deupree and 12k: http://12k.com/

More on Marcus Fischer: http://www.mapmap.ch/

Compared to many, I am a relative latecomer to works on the 12k label (within the last 5 or 6 years), but I have listened to experimental, acoustic/electronic and improvised musical works for decades.  Having missed other recent chances to see artists’ work that I admire in a live setting, I was quite pleased that the stars aligned last night to see Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer perform in an intimate and comfortable setting at the Spectrum NYC on Ludlow Street in Manhattan as the final part of The Cellar and Point Presents series.  My elder son also came along–it was nice to share the event with him.

The type of work I do often involves long spans of time between inspiration and tangible result, months and frequently years.  So, being able to witness creativity translated into a reality in a comparatively short interval is pleasantly stimulating.  Mostly I’ve seen it in jazz collaborations or rock music solos—taking a true creative risk and watching the outcome unfold and evolve (although the latter is often pre-scripted these days).

Taylor Spectrum NYCTaylor Deupree

Deupree’s own work I know primarily through his 12k label and I have reviewed a number of his label’s albums here, and Fischer’s with various collaborations and solo works on a number of labels including Tench, Kesh, Optic Echo, Flaming Pines, 12k as well as self-released.  Aside from their live performance with Corey Fuller, Tomoyoshi Date and Simon Scott on the 12k CD Between, Deupree and Fischer also collaborated on a studio project in 2011 entitled In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes (and I was VERY fortunate to find the gorgeous original limited edition release thanks to a referral from Marcus Fischer who spotted a lone remaining copy at Beacon Sound in Portland, Oregon a couple of years ago).

I’ve been trying to find the text source, but I recall Taylor Deupree advocating that musicians of electronic or experimental works avoid using their laptop computers as primary music generators at performances, recommending artists create sound in the moment via other methods, rather than playing prerecorded sequenced works.  Live performances need not be perfect, and sometimes fascinating things come out of failure or happenstance.  Last night’s performance lasted a bit more than an hour (audio and video were recorded by Joseph Branciforte of The Cellar and Point), and was a sonic journey that could have fallen unexpectedly to quirks of some rather complicated equipment set-ups (see photos below), but the back-up plans in place were not needed at all.

Marcus Spectrum NYCMarcus Fischer

Initially, Deupree and Fischer spent about 15 or 20 minutes recording and layering sounds and textures loosely reminiscent of Graceful Shapes with percussion, melodic instruments, bows and various effects before branching off and working, more or less, independently of each other yet still curiously bound together.  At about 40 minutes, both added new sounds and effects to take the performance into an alternate realm (Deupree being somewhat freer in applying contrasting textures).

Taylor EquipTaylor Deupree’s Equipment

After the opening, Deupree’s sound creation and processing were primarily via electronic means, adding sounds from his modular synthesizer and shifting resonances between the channels of Spectrum’s surround-sound system.  Whereas Fischer used largely acoustic instrumentation, plucking strings, bowing (actual bow and E-bow), tuning forks and other objects to add layers and textures.  Before long, sounds that started as staccato percussives sounded more like fluid, perhaps akin to an ocean or at a shore, and light breezes mixed with occasional Manhattan street noises (the happenstance).

Fischer, who also works with tape loops (such as his recording At Frame) had a vintage tape recorder with an expanded trapezoid of magnetic tape stretched between microphone stands to supplement the fabric of sound.  Fischer would at times modulate pitch by physically moving the tape (also, watching the tape splice pass across the stands was rather hypnotic).  Only occasional glances between Deupree and Fischer occurred as the piece developed, no words exchanged, just the sounds they created that filled the space.  At an appointed moment, Fischer snipped the tape loop, it unraveled, and the music gradually faded into the night.

Marcus EquipMarcus Fischer’s Equipment

It was an inspiring and soothing diversion from the realities that compete for space in an overly active mind, and Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer’s performance gives me hope that in an age where ceaseless media, noise, and clamoring for wealth and power dominates many of our collective daily experiences, it is possible to remain true to a more peaceful and well-crafted vision while remaining spontaneous and creative in a quiet timelessness.

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A couple of pre-show photographs by jotabu

marcus1Marcus Fischer Pre-Performance Set-up

marcus setupMarcus Fischer’s Equipment Close-up


Marsen Jules – Sinfonietta

MJSinfonietta

CD DR-28 – Time: 45:56 (Limited Edition of 100 and Deluxe Edition of 100)

Dronarivm – http://dronarivm.com/2014/11/21/marsen-jules-sinfonietta/ & http://dronarivm.bandcamp.com/album/sinfonietta

Almost two years ago The Endless Change of Colour (12k1074) presented a peaceful timelessness borne from a phrase on a jazz record split into three stems disguised as something entirely different.  The resulting single movement instrumental work was grounded in a calming earthiness.

Sinfonietta is similar in form, although in contrast it’s loosely held to the bounds of sonic gravity.  From the opening, the music phrases materialize definitively then ease in gently to create a feeling of gazing over what could be a familiar realm below with the observer being gently suspended and the vision staying just beyond reach.  Recurrent themes occupy a somewhat narrower range of sound and emotion compared to TECOC, yet there are no detectable patterns and the entire work is elegantly devoid of monotony.  Periodically, slower flowing waves materialize and vanish gracefully, like evaporating clouds, a languid aurora or another vision from the imagination.

Even with a seemingly minimal palette, Marsen Jules (the nom de plume of Martin Juhls) cleverly interlaces and produces three dimensional visualizations in sound.  Listening to Sinfonietta, I feel as if I am serenely traveling in space, perhaps orbiting the Earth (or another as yet undiscovered planet) and marveling at the sights from my comfortable observation craft where I am quite content to remain.

Happy traveling.

 

This is a solicited review.


My Favorites of 2014

2014 has been a year when I’ve been relatively quiet on reviews, but I have been listening to many things, and I was very fortunate to attend some fabulous concerts that I’ve documented here with brief write-ups and photos (no photos of King Crimson!).  I’ve also been focused on other things, including making noise with some guitars.  As in the past, my listening is concentrated on what’s available to me, which is relatively narrow in scope, but I do listen to a pretty wide array of music.

This is my list of 14 favorites for 2014 (in no particular order) and then a few special categories.  Each title on the list links to the artist or record label website.  Happy Listening and I hope you all have a nice Holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.  Thank you for reading in 2014!

Albums

Sturgill

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

 

n'monix cover

Nick Magnus – n’monix

Northlands

Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre – Northwinds

Should WM 38

Should – The Great Pretend

Kosloff

Hallock Hill – Kosloff Mansion (My review was somewhat unconventional in interpretation–a really nice album).

Gareth Dickson

Gareth Dickson – Invisible String (a compilation of recent live recordings)

HGM

Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers

SH Royal Albert

Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2CD/DVD (a fabulous live album & DVD with excellent sound quality!)

12k2031

Stephen Vitiello + Taylor Deupree – Captiva (double 10” LP)

MSMW

Medeski Scofield Martin Wood – Juice

Ben Watt

Ben Watt – Hendra

Beck

Beck – Morning Phase

Levin Bros

Levin Brothers – Levin Brothers (It’s only taken decades, but the Levin brothers got together and made a really marvelous jazz album)

Rosanne-Cash-The-River-The-Thread-300x300

Rosanne Cash – The River & The Thread

Soundtrack

Blizzard

Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd – White Bird in a Blizzard

Boxed Sets

ANTHONY PHILLIPS

Anthony Phillips – Harvest of the Heart (Anthology Boxed Set): Unlike the recent R-kive Genesis box set, Cherry Red knows how to put together a proper anthology, complete with many tracks of never-before heard music from AP’s archives.

Songs Ohia

Jason Molina – Songs: Ohia – Journey On (7” 45 RPM Compilation Box Set, a really beautiful set, probably rarer than hen’s teeth by now.)

KC Elements

King Crimson – The Elements (Tour Box, archive, live and some new material as a companion to the 2014 US Tour)

Reissues (Vinyl)

ERP

East River Pipe – The Gasoline Age (vinyl reissue, my introduction to the brilliant songs of F. M. Cornog when it was first released on CD in the early 1990s)

Lambcop XX

Lambchop – Live at XX Merge (I’m so happy that Merge Records decided to release this in honor of their 25th Anniversary.  Looks like the LP is out of print for the moment.)

EPs

William Tyler Lost Colony

William Tyler – Lost Colony

Olan Mill Half Seas Over

Olan Mill – Half Seas Over (Live performances 2012-2014)…too short for an album, too long for an EP, but what the heck!

An Accidental Concert Photo

SH


Zammuto – Anchor

trr227-233x233  trr227_deluxe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temporary Residence TRR 227 LP (CD and D/L) Time: About 39 Minutes for 11 LP Tracks

Artist: http://www.zammutosound.com/ Label: http://temporaryresidence.com/

1) Good Graces 2) Great Equator 3) Hegemony 4) Henry Lee (Trad) 5) Need Some Sun 6) Don’t Be A Tool 7) Electricant 8) IO 9) Stop Counting 10) Sinker 11) Your Time 12) Codebreaker* Bonus on Deluxe LP download with silkscreened cover

zammuto-studio-real-1Many scientists have labs and equipment, and there are parallels between science and the creation of music.  Discovery and creativity take hard work, inspiration and many tools—some of the work is also drudgery and can take a long time to complete.  Some experiments succeed and some don’t, but research presses on.

Nick Zammuto’s lab is in Vermont and while Zammuto’s current work is more accessible and song-oriented than work of his previous collaboration with Paul de Jong (The Books), Nick and his bandmates are still looking for music and inspiration in unexpected places (sometimes in quirky infomercial videos, physical inventions, admonitions from a parent and odd audio samples).  Sounds are discovered, altered, created and spun into a fabric of song, and more often than not the results are downright fun.

It took about a year from the very successful IndieGoGo campaign to the release of Anchor, but along the way Nick Zammuto kept backers well informed on progress and entrusted early previews of the final tracks, along with the background for inspiration and in-depth technical information on how many of the sounds were developed.  The resulting album varies from calming drones to chest pounding beats along with idiosyncratic melodic turns and spirited lyrics.  Many of the tracks are based around odd rhythms, some created with scratches deliberately made on LPs at planned intervals.

scratchAlthough I’m not always an advocate of loud music, I think this album better with the volume knob UP—it’s often an absolute romp.  Most of the music is also well suited to their live shows, where Nick Zammuto and his bandmates know how to have a good time, often with accompanying videos.  I can attest it’s also a great album for driving (at safe lower volumes!).  In general, I find this album to be more reserved (almost cautious, at times) compared than their first.

After Good Graces eases-in, the more dynamic tracks like Great Equator, Hegemony, Need Some Sun, Electricant and the aggressively percussive IO give the album its verve.  Anchor also has its quieter and more drone oriented moments, and can be quite introspective at times, as in Henry Lee, Stop Counting, Your Time and the acoustic percussion and guitar swells of Sinker.  The bonus track Codebreaker is a syncopated keyboard, guitar arpeggio and electronic percussion pattern study.

I think my only criticism of Anchor is that Zammuto might consider exploring some longer form works.  Peculiar and energetic always work for me.

TRR227_ColoredVinyl_WEB

The limited edition deluxe LP with silkscreen print cover

 

Photos are courtesy of Zammuto’s website, but I participated in the campaign and got myself a deluxe LP.


Harold Budd – Jane 12-21

HB Jane 12-21

CD: Darla DRL289 2014 Time: About 39 minutes

CD available at this link to Darla (To be released on September 9, 2014)

Tracks: Jane 12 through Jane 21 with track Jane 16 subtitled (For Pale Saints)

I took some time off from writing reviews; primarily to just take some time off, but also I have been awaiting preorders for a number of releases as well as getting more serious about making some music instead of just listening.  It’s a hard road training old fingers to do new things, but it’s about the journey for me, not just the destination.

What a treat it is to return to a new album by Harold Budd (and I understand that another collaboration with Robin Guthrie has been recorded and will be released in early 2015, the title will be Another Flower).  Jane 12-21 is another fine example of Harold Budd sitting at a piano (or other instrument) and just playing without rehearsal or embellishment, one take without revisiting and then moving on.  There are some apparent treatments and minimal overdubs.  It’s difficult for me to tell if the percussion is actual or keyboard-based sampling, but it does sound like actual percussion most of the time.

This album is simpler and less adventurous compared to Jane 1-11, and that’s not a criticism at all, just an observation.  The cover design is also rather stark by comparison, with one panel by artist Jane Maru and minimal information about the tracks, recording and times, adding a bit to the somewhat mysterious nature of the album.  Jane 1-11 was created in response to videos created by artist Jane Maru (which were later released as a companion CD/DVD: Budd Maru Collaboration ) so without the benefit of input from Harold Budd (so far), I wonder if Jane 12-21 was created as a response to further videos by Maru (see video for Jane 8 below).

The album contrasts between recordings that are intimate and those which are spatially broad, more distant (whether the distance and reverberation were achieved with actual spaces or electronically, I don’t know).  To briefly describe each of the tracks on the album: Jane 12 is a stark and up-close, yet resonant piano with brief references to Debussy’s Clair de LuneJane 13 also uses a piano with light melodic percussion.  After the first two tracks Budd moves to more experimental territory and Jane 14 consists of melodic percussion (bells, glasses) with reverb and has a very calming effect.  Distance, like a dream on the edge of consciousness is how Jane 15 sounds, with hushed piano and a spatial reverb.  Whether intentional or not, I do find some of the pieces referring back to other previous Jane 1-11 pieces.  Jane 16 does this for me—reminds me of Jane 8.  It’s placid keyboard chords with gentle piano accompaniment and minimal apparent treatments.  The piano is responding to the chord movement of the keyboard.

Air moving through pipes is how Jane 17 starts, it’s a strong sound with treated piano and minimal percussion, and a pronounced flow and movement.  Jane 18 bends and twists with a somewhat downcast sonorous keyboard.  The melodic references to the first Jane series return with Jane 19, again keyboard and resonant chimes.  It sounds a bit more reflective to me with shades of Budd’s earlier work.

Jane 20 has a breathy keyboard melody, somewhere between wind chimes and woodwinds along with a gamelan (at times sounding like vibraphone) and deep percussive overtones.  This track more than any other in the series evokes a scene from a film with a vast landscape of mystery.  Budd closes this collection with Jane 21, a modest and delicately resonant cross between piano and celeste and themes appearing in various other Jane tracks, making it part of the larger cohesive whole.

Harold Budd’s work takes me to a place where I like to be, and return there as often as I can.  I think you’ll want to add this album to your collection.


Miguel Isaza – Levedad

Isaza - Levedad

CDr éter-06 Time: 38:42  Edition of 70

Tracks: 1) Pneuma, 2) Infraleve, 3) Indeleble, 4) Transparencia, 5) Levedad, 6) Gravedad

Links: http://eterlab.bandcamp.com/album/levedadhttp://miguelisaza.com/

Label: http://eter-lab.net/en/eter06/http://eter-lab.net/en/https://soundcloud.com/eterlab

 

I listened to Levedad a few times and instead of immediately formulating thoughts about it, I moved on to some other activities allowing the impressions to coalesce in my subconscious.  A day later I listened again and found myself thinking about cosmology, and the mystery that we cannot see or explain approximately 95% of the mass and energy in our Universe—what has come to be known as: Dark Matter and Dark Energy.  It’s a conundrum of knowing that something is there out there, but not knowing what exactly it is.

Although I have no expertise in astrophysics, I have read some of Stephen Hawking’s and Carl Sagan’s works.  Why I had this macro-scale reaction to Levedad, I’m not sure.  By sharp contrast, there’s also a micro scale parallel as in the communications between (nerve) cells, the electrical impulses that pass via dendrites and synapses (which we KNOW to exist and have been observed in real-time using powerful laser and electron microscopy).  And what of the 5% of the Universe that we can describe, see and hear?

In this album I think I would equate the tangible 5% of the Universe to the micro-sounds that populate the sonic ether throughout the six pieces on this album…like the flash of a small meteor that almost fools the eye when it disappears as quickly as it appears, the electrical pulses of a distant quasar captured with a radio telescope or the intensive shimmering ribbons of an aurora borealis.  The vast remaining aura of sound is the indescribable and unknown.

****

Miguel Isaza studies sound and philosophy and conducts cross-disciplinary research on listening.  His work includes composing, exhibit installations, performance, visual art (including computer generated images) and research.  Isaza explores the relationship between creators, educators and students with workshops, talks and publications as well as creating, recording and producing music.  He works with museums, academic institutions and on web-based projects.  He co-founded the Éter label along with Alejandro Henao in Medellín, Colombia and also runs the Monofónicos, Invisible Valley and Sonic Terrain music labels.

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Levelad is a series of micro-montages that are akin to the recent long exposure Hubble Deep Field images of a fraction of our visible night sky.  The longer the time of the exposure the greater the detail that is revealed and the further back in time one travels visually; like letting one’s eye adjust to the dark and eventually more stars appear in the dome of the sky.

In my brief e-mail correspondence with Isaza, I asked if there are any underlying concepts for the album, and he had a reply that was curiously similar to my impressions (after I had already listened to the album and formulated my opinions):

“The work has for me a sense of nothingness, inspired on thin, delicate and suspended activity of bodies…”

So my reaction to the album, I have concluded, is plausible in the broadest sense.  The album has varied textures and moments of contrast from crystalline (almost piercing) individual tones to broad and intense walls of sound.  There are some recurrent sounds and themes giving a sense of familiarity within the largely ethereal sound-scape.  It’s my opinion that the aura of two of the latter tracks (Transparencia and the title track Levedad) somewhat belie their titles, but that in no way diminishes the listening experience.  Perhaps they were titled with a somewhat Duchamp-esque irony.

Pneuma (roughly translates to a vital spirit or creative force) opens the album with a vibrant clarity.  It begins in relative silence and then merges into sonorous glassy environs, and moves briefly into cavernous and buzzing electric depths.  Infraleve gives the impression of being nearby an audio jet-stream with micro-sounds and other sonic activity dancing below and in front of the high and fast-moving heavens.  There is somberness in Indeleble, as if evoking a distant memory during a passage of time.  In contrast to the jet-stream of Infraleve there is a feeling of an almost brooding undercurrent.

 

As noted above, and despite the title, there is a broad three-dimensional frontal density to Transparencia.  It meanders a bit with the faintest sounds of distant voices.  For me, Levelad (lightness) is ever so slightly referential, sounding mildly like the Opening Titles and backgrounds to the soundtrack of the film Bladerunner where Deckard is reviewing surveillance photos, which is followed by the Blush Response segment.  Eventually a layered drone blends into the piece, but is delicately penetrated with avian sounds of an outdoor environment.  Gravedad is appropriately grounded and has familiar sounds of nature, perhaps marking a return from the exploration of the unknown.

Enjoy the flight.

Isaza - Levedad 2


Hallock Hill – Kosloff Mansion

Kosloff Mansion

Hundred Acre Recordings HA06: 12” LP (copy 18/40 signed, 200 total LPs & digital download)

Label: http://www.hundredacrerecordings.com/ Arrangement and production by Tim Noble

http://www.hundredacrerecordings.com/artists/hallock-hill/hallock-hill-kosloff-mansion-2014/

Hallock Hill Website: http://hallockhill.com/

Tracks: Side A: 1) I Light The Lamp And Sit Down, 2) The Good Dead, 3) The People Without Tears, 4) Death Was A Bird, 5) Villages Of The Black Earth, 6) A Secret It Remains, 7) Another Light; Side B: 1) Workbench Atheist, 2) Demons In The Birchwood, 3) Farewell, Pale Corpse Of Many Sins, 4) The Immortalisation Commission, 5) We Looked For You For 52 Years, 6) Massed Bands And Megaphones

Ask a person cold about a particular moment in time and the recall on specifics might not be immediate or complete, but drop a needle on an LP or press play on a CD and the instant the music starts (even if it has been unheard for 30+ years) that same person’s recollection of a memory could be lucid, with the place, time and circumstances remembered in vivid detail.  Music is often a key that unlocks chambers in a memory palace.  While not necessarily as far back as 30 years, there are moments while listening to Kosloff Mansion that visions of the past coalesce and the aura of the album further enhances that experience.  Perhaps Tom Lecky had different intentions from my own experience for the inspiration of his fourth album, but that’s the power of music when combined with synapses, dendrites, proteins and whatever…

 

I often associate the works of HH’s with layered compositions for acoustic and electric guitar (as in the albums The Union or A Hem of Evening), but this LP is mostly rooted in solo piano with production and treatments by collaborator Tim Noble (of  The Lowland Hundred).  It’s hard to know where Noble’s contributions specifically appear, but I think of Lecky’s work as being mostly austere, without apparent structure at times, although intricately layered (some juxtapositions being left to chance).  I was fortunate to have ordered this LP early enough to obtain a copy signed by Lecky and Noble, along with a hand written short poem by TL.

Kosloff Mansion starts gently, like the rising Sun with beams of light reaching into the morning, or rather, a candle’s flame penetrating the darkness.  It could be an unhurried day or evening in a cabin in the woods, just sitting contemplating nothing (or everything) and listening without distraction—the types of moments of which we need more.  Briefly, a storm interrupts in The Good Dead and this triggers the vision of a very late night deep in the Adirondacks (of New York) with lightning and thunder that a (then) very young son wanted to end, but I wanted (privately) to continue, to hear the storm echoing through the mountains.  With assurances that the storm was increasingly distant, there was comfort enough for the younger to sleep and so the elder could continue listening and pondering that particular night before a loon emerged and greeted the dawn.

Instrumentation sometimes changes from solo piano to bells, or perhaps it’s a celeste, but they fit while shifting with the breezes, moonlight and stars reflecting in the lake of the vision.  A Secret It Remains blends liquid and tones before landing in the austerity of Another Light with only hints of ominous strings rolling in on an imaginary tide of a lurking then emerging spirit…before fading.

Workbench Atheist seems to be more of the morning; soft music with a light rain or is it the creaking of an ancient wood floor?  Demons In The Birchwood is a darker, but livelier spirit and the celeste returns with a deeper Leslie-esque treatment, before merging into a wraith-like Farewell, Pale Corpse Of Many Sins, which at times is unsettling yet ironically at peace.  A reverie is freed to peregrinate in The Immortalisation Commission and it builds to a crescendo and then gently disperses.  There is a firm perseverance in We Looked For You For 52 Years, a feeling of reverence is also present.   Massed Bands And Megaphones punctuates Kosloff Mansion with a blend of a celebratory whimsy and sounds reminiscent of fireworks echoing in the distance.

At times Kosloff Mansion is mysterious, yet halcyon moments come forth and while different in sound and instrumentation from his previous works, it’s very much rooted in what I have come to appreciate in Lecky’s work—a really brilliant and different kind of music experience.

****

Added bonus! Hallock Hill live on WFMU, along with Tim Noble (HH segment starts at about 30:00, but enjoy the entire show!): http://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/55533


Peaceful Wrath – Fields

PW F Cover

Label: Whispered CD WR001CD Limited to 500 hand-numbered copies Time: 36:54

Available at: http://whisperedlabel.bandcamp.com/album/fields

Tracks: 1) Cristaline (Flux), 2) Copper Traces, 3) Elements, 4) Archaique, 5) Rubis, 6) Pudgala, 7) Myth, 8) Canvas, 9) Cristaline (Reflux)

 

Fields is the first album to be released by the Whispered label and opens with a solo piano and the sounds of a distant shore.  The music is from the imagination of Stéphane Vandezande in his guise as the Peaceful Wrath, and the work is part minimalist and part chamber orchestra along with delicate electronic and environmental treatments.  The spirit is somber at times, as in Cristaline, but can change quickly to be playfully furtive like in the track Elements.

PW F Cover CD One moment, the music appears to be from a discreet scene from an imaginary film (as in Pudgala) whereas at others it depicts a broad conceptual sonic portrait, much like in the track Rubis.  The presentation of the compositions is never brash, but the starkest of tracks can be the most powerful, even more so than those more broadly orchestrated (in a way, the power of silence).  In Copper Traces, Vandezande also plays with rhythm and syncopation and has elements similar to Johannes Schmoelling’s solo oeuvre.  There are also brief moments of humor in the variety of the orchestration in Elements and I was instantly reminded of Eno Moebius Roedelius’s 1978 album After The Heat.

PW F Back

Voices also appear like momentary distractions in dreams, but are gentle enough to allow a return to the comfort of the music; this occurs in Myth as it advances cautiously from solo piano to cello and then bass (or treated synth) and then into a section of chamber music, which quickens rhythmically.  It’s one of my favorite pieces on the album.  Canvas shimmers, rumbles a bit and even growls before the “reflux” of Cristaline.  Vandezande notes that Fields was recorded under rainy skies in Brussels and in a small village in the French countryside, and he recommends as companions, “…a log on the fire and a nice cup of hot chocolate…”; sounds like an excellent idea, and I can also attest that it works well on warm sunny days too, a very nice listen with beautiful cover artwork.

****

This is a solicited review.


Orbit Over Luna – Transit

OOL-T Cover

Label: http://polarseasrecordings.com/  Artist: http://orbitoverluna.com/

Available at: http://polarseasrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/transit

Polar Seas Recordings PSR-007: CD-R Limited to 50 (Time: 64:02) with hand stamped numbered envelope, 8 page booklet and unique numbered art card by Shannon Penner.  Review copy is 35/50.  Album is also available as a digital download, but the first seven tracks only.

Tracks: 1) The Breathing of Roots, 2) Saturnine, 3) Chambers of the Sea, 4) Sungazing, 5) Ylla, 6) Un Jardin Des Cieux, 7) In The Decay of Shadows, Bonus CD tracks: 8) Equinox, 9) In The Decay of Shadows (Piano)

It’s all a matter of relative perception…a transit at sea, in the sky or on land and the paradox of experiencing the direct speed of travel from within or observing from afar a celestial body in space, a vehicle on land or a jet in the sky moving very slowly, when in reality in it could be traveling hundreds or even thousand of miles per hour.  Time can seem to stand still…

Shannon Penner is Orbit Over Luna and he is an animator, sound designer, composer and multi-instrumentalist from Toronto, Canada.  His work draws from many influences and instrumentation in his work varies, but it’s primarily guitar-based (often with ample reverb) with select moments of piano.

SP Headshot

Penner’s album Transit is both about being in the moment and observing from afar while experiencing the sense of movement on land, at sea or in air (or perhaps even floating in space).  The album is quite serene and comforting, but it holds one’s attention weaving through a variety of sonic territories.  I compare the album (as much as I like the competitive side of sailing) to spending a delightful afternoon on a sailboat in the warm sunshine with gentle breezes and my hand occasionally creating a gentle wake in the water.

The Breathing of Roots announces what follows almost like a distant fog horn at dawn, to gently nudge one’s attention that it’s time for a journey.  Saturnine seems a bit of a misnomer, because rather than being gloomy, it’s a slow drift on that boat (and not in the doldrums) allowing the distractions of the world to dissolve and to focus instead on the gentle and calming movement…a languid afternoon on the water.

 

I’ve read Shannon Penner’s oeuvre being compared to a number of different musicians, but the closest for me is the work of Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and in particular his trilogy of recent EPs entitled Angel Falls, Songs To Help My Children Sleep and Sunflower Stories.  Penner’s work, however, is not as rhythmic or melodic when compared to Guthrie’s; instead it focuses more on atmospheric imagery.  Throughout the album there are occasional broad wave motions that yield gossamers of a tangible melody, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.  In The Decay of Shadows, which follows the transit of the Sun in the sky, has a minimal and complementary piano melody to the guitar chords that emerges and disappears gently like shadows created from clouds passing across the sky until the Sun sets below the horizon (one of the bonus pieces is the isolated piano track).

OOL-T Copy 35

Sungazing has moments of distorted guitar as if shielding one’s eyes from the Sun’s glare and as a more comfortable view emerges the sound clarifies and the panorama of the landscape comes into focus.  Ylla is a celestial passage and it makes me wonder if it’s a nod to one of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles of the same name.  And the farthest and most ethereal transit of all is in Un Jardin Des Cieux (The Garden of Heaven).  In The Decay of Shadows is the postlude to the album, but there are two bonus tracks on the CD, the first is Equinox, the two points in our year on Earth where we travel about the Sun and where day equals night, before summer or winter, as we pass through time…and the older we are the shorter our relative perception of time becomes.

Enjoy the ride!


Pjusk / Sleep Orchestra – Drowning In The Sky

P-SO DITS Cover

CD DR-21 Time: 56:34 – http://dronarivm.com/

http://pjusk.no/ & http://www.sleeporchestra.com/

Tracks: 1) Donitsk, 2) Daithn, 3) Skdiv, 4) Aoleeignal, 5) Rionzemef, 6) Vansunbarth, 7) Pleq Remix of Rionzemef

I’ve been a bit out of the loop with Dronarivm label releases for the last six months or so, but one of their new albums caught my ears—the collaboration with Pjusk and Sleep Orchestra.

Drowning In The Sky initially strikes close to home in its sound aura since we are just emerging from a VERY long winter here in the northeast USA.  Pjusk’s (Rune Andre Sagevik and Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik) music is often rooted in their Norwegian locale being inspired by weather, landscape and nature and Sleep Orchestra’s work (as noted by Christopher Pegg) is often influenced by science fiction or imaginary soundtracks to “…movies in your head…”

From what I have heard of their prior respective works, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought that their musical styles would merge comfortably, but after listening to Drowning In The Sky the combination works quite well.  The album does indeed seem very much like a soundtrack to a short film of an imagined journey that starts in a stark and harsh landscape of wind, snow and ice—not exactly a comforting place to be, but the solitude brings a focused awareness of the surroundings (Donitsk).  Eventually the scenes change and there is a transformation from an outdoor landscape into more industrial and metallic-sounding scenes (Daithn) with sporadic rhythms.  Taut and glitchy beats emerge and then there are layers of cavernous spaces, like giant shipyards or factories with remote gantry cranes (Skdiv), sharpened with a solo trumpet.

In time the scenes are darker (Aoleeignal), although still quite spatial with sounds dancing within the mix, and there is a strong visceral undercurrent and an increased sense of motion.  There is a return to an outdoor environment: water and wind in Rionzemef and an auditory sense of being in a vehicle of some sort (a large truck, train or ship perhaps) while experiencing a storm and pulsing undercurrent from outside the vehicle.  The environment, despite being a long way from the desolation of an Arctic plain continues to intrude into the soundscape and at a windshield or porthole…or in the mind.  Vansunbarth appears to be the arrival at the imaginary destination, where furtive sounds move quickly, muffled announcements, signals ring and footfall moves in a foggy haze, disorienting as if being awakened suddenly from a traveling slumber.

 

The album is a journey of contrasts, from the far reaches of harsh yet pristine tundra to the gritty environs of an industrial zone, from desolation and isolation to population.  Pleq’s remix of Rionzemef gently sways and is more hypnotic and comforting than the original track.

P-SO DITS Closed

A historical comparison: Drowning starts off being quite similar to Envangelos Papathanassiou’s chilling soundtrack to the film Antarctica and ends up more in a post-apocalyptic and highly cinematic realm of Bladerunner.  Also of note, (and I always prefer a physical release to digital) Dronarivm has changed their CD sleeve to a quite effective recyclable folded heavy cardstock slide-out package; my only comment would be to ask that the inner portion slides out another centimeter farther for easier access to the CD.

P-SO DITS Open


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