Half the year gone . . . half t’go!
u n f o c u s e d _ r e p r i s e | ambient/experimental/piano/avant-garde/minimal | 78:26
A “wrapped around the piano”, meandering mixture of hush & quietude; crafted in tribute to “. . on reflection” by William Basinski & Janek Schaefer (read our April album review here)
(with a hearty shout-out to the Temporary Residence label for forwarding a copy of this wonderful composition to preview!).
An absolute pleasure to construct, this pairs well with 2021’s ’elements_view’.
Listen via Mixcloud
01 Harold Budd & John Foxx – Weather Patterns
02 David Bowie & Erdal Kızılçay – The Mysteries (edit)
03 William Basinski & Janek Schaefer – ‘. . on reflection’ (three)
04 Brian Eno & Harold Budd – First Light
05 William Basinski & Janek Schaefer – ‘. . on reflection’ (four)
06 Ayumi Tanaka Trio – Zephyr
07 Grotta Veterano – Dutch Boy Paint (excerpt)
08 John Foxx & Harold Budd – After All This Time
09 William Basinski & Janek Schaefer – ‘. . on reflection’ (two)
10 Brian Eno – A Clearing
11 Porya Hatami – Transition
12 Janek Schaefer – Battlestar Kaempfert
13 Jeff Greinke – The Conversation
14 Izumi Tateno/Toru Takemitsu – Les Yeux Clos 2
How would one circumnavigate a straight line between fullness . . . and sparsity? Between the delicate. . . and powerful?? Solidity vs. vaporousness???
I’ve been listening to “. . .on reflection”, a collaborative and engaging work between musicians William Basinski & Janek Schaefer; I’ve had it on ‘repeat’ for the last several days, and am mesmerized by the delicate balance between soft & firm, fluid & solid and ethereal & real-time aural construction. It immediately brings to mind the ambient collaborations between Harold Budd, Brian Eno & John Foxx; (that is to say: a powerful canon of composition*).
The five tracks dance to an avant-garde ambience that draws the listener into its interior web of mirrored cadence of piano & electronic meditation. The haunting, ofttimes sparse and meandering, melodies reverberate across an emotional landscape that yields only to the listener’s wonderfully imaginative, inner wanderings; i.e. what will you do; what will you accomplish and for what will you strive within this newly discovered, aurally rich world? Let the trinkling, tinkling melodies wash over you — then set your sights to new & broader horizons.
When all is said, done and listened to, it’s a crossroads: a juncture where delicately woven, nuanced tapestries of sound meet the shimmering reality of sublime compositional genius (and a highly recommended #ambient acquisition).
Available via the Temporary Residence record label on April 29th.
(*this album will be featured on an upcoming May/June ambient mix podcast)
Wishing you all the best in 2022!
Twenty-twenty-two will be dominated, from a studio perspective, by a new #ambient series.
Debuting on January 3rd, posting every other month & running into 2023 . . . it has all the makings of an ethereal barn-burner!
I am so happy that today I can finally share my third spiritual child ‘#3’ with you. It was a long and sometimes turbulent journey, creating this album during a time full of struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. But especially reading all your sweet comments and hearing your stories about what my music gives to you, encouraged me to go on and to create this album. I hope that these songs will also become part of your personal journey through life, and that this music will give you the support and comfort we all need sometimes.
Released November 3, 2018
All songs written & arranged by Kevin Imbrechts. Except for song 5 & 11 by Kevin Imbrechts & Hannah Boswell. Except for song 6 by Kevin Imbrechts & Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie.
Produced by Kevin Imbrechts.
Recorded (September 2016 – March 2018) by Kevin Imbrechts at his home studio (BE).
Except for song 6, recorded by Adam Wiltzie.
Additional string recordings (track 1, 3, 8 & 9) by Jimmy Van Rietvelde at Sugarbeat Studio (BE).
Mixed by Birgir Jón Birgisson at Sundlaugin Studio, Mosfellsbær (IS).
Photographs Chrisopher De Béthune
Lay-out Ruben Van Bouwel
Tine Anthonis (cello track 1, 3, 8 & 9)
Hannah Boswell (vocals track 5 & 11)
Budapest String Orchestra (track 6)
Beatrijs De Klerck (cello track 1, 3, 8 & 9)
Kevin Imbrechts (acoustic & electric guitar, samples, piano, keys, synths and others: all tracks)
Adam Wiltzie (guitar & synths track 6)
Do you remember the last time you were breathing consciously? Either way, you are likely doing it now. On his new album »Observation of Breath« for the Swiss-based Hallow Ground label, Lawrence English worked exclusively with an organ for four compositions that are exercises in »maximal minimalism,« as their creator himself notes in a nod to Charlemagne Palestine, who coined this term. While it seems somewhat fitting that those four pieces based on a steady flow of air were conceived and recorded in a situation of accelerated standstill caused by a respiratory disease, the Room40 founder is not so much concerned with capturing the zeitgeist than rather incorporating the spirit of time itself. »It is a record about presence and patience,« he explains. Exploring the unique sonic affordances of a singular instrument, »Observation of Breath« is not only devoted to the durability of sound but also to its density. That it marks his debut on Hallow Ground after having shaped its sound by mastering most of the label’s releases in recent years is just as fitting then as its release following albums by Kali Malone and FUJI|||||||||||TA, whose innovative work with organ instruments have facilitated a rediscovery of their possibilities.
English’s compositions however are neither directly indebted nor responding to these musicians. His exploration of the organ’s many facets started a decade ago when the composer was given access to an instrument built in 1889 that is presently housed at The Old Museum in Brisbane. After it had already played a crucial role on his seminal albums »Wilderness Of Mirrors« and »Cruel Optimism,« last year’s self-released »Lassitude« was the first record that English entirely composed and recorded with that instrument. »During the soft lockdowns, I spent many days playing to an empty concert hall, recording the pieces that became ›Lassitude‹ and then, this album,« says English in regards to an unfortunate situation that fortunately provided him with time and space—two major themes but also key qualities of the four new compositions. In this sense, he goes on, »Observation of Breath« resolves a number of the questions originally raised by »Lassitude.«
»The organ is an exercise in the observation of breath,« English explains the album’s title. »It is a physical breath, one that manifests both audible and inaudible waves of vibrations. The sheer scale of the instrument, its weight and the physical length of the pipes involved in producing the sounds we experience is nothing short of mind-boggling.« More importantly, the sound artist is fascinated by the organ’s ability to produce frequencies that exist at the sensory limits of human awareness—it’s at the edges of these limits that fascination can be found, he argues. »The particular organ that I work with comprises four manuals and 45 speaking stops and it has a tubular-pneumatic action,« he explains. »It’s the stops that are the focus of my interest. They are very specific and when manipulated in certain ways and in certain combinations, create a unique set of unsteady timbres that make it a remarkably intoxicating instrument to collaborate with.«
Collaboration is indeed the key word here. The pieces of »Observation of Breath« were recorded in one take in recognition of the co-existence and co-dependence of the human body and mind when brought in unison while working with such a complex instrument. The end results are thus not only marked by longevity but also gripping dynamics. While the six minute-long »A Binding« and the album’s title track explore the sonic qualities of different frequency spectra with long sustained drones, opener »A Torso« and the aptly titled »And a Twist,« only two minutes and 42 seconds long, work with rhythmic elements that create intense moments of structural instability. »The music’s power lies in its density, in the stacking of exhales all breathing in unison and then, at some point, failing to breathe further,« says English. »In these moments a wavering unsteadiness of tone arrives with an elegant uncertainty.« It is precisely this quality that makes »Observation of Breath« such a masterful exploration of the multifold relationships between space and time as well as the body and the mind—it’s a conscious meditation on unconscious processes.
Released September 10, 2021
All organ recorded at The Old Museum, Brisbane July-November 2020,
except A Torso’s centre section which was recorded in 2016 on the same organ.
Performed and Produced by Lawrence English
Picture by Juan Valverde de Amusco, 1560
Design by Ruth Stofer and Greenpointless