The third album in the series that started with Slow Music for Rapid Eye Movement and continued with Graduals.
Released on ConSouling Sounds, February 2018.
The third album in the series that started with Slow Music for Rapid Eye Movement and continued with Graduals.
Released on ConSouling Sounds, February 2018.
Meandering through & dissecting this astonishing & breathtaking retrospective of one of the true ambient masters of our time: vidnaObmana, a.k.a. Dirk Serries.
Dirk explores sound, spacing & the distance between darkness, light & the inevitable gray areas uncovered by those polar opposite & opposing forces.
Sonic waves ebb, flow & wash over the listener as they’re immersed in the beautiful, introspective sonance delivered up via Serries’ guitar-crafted ambient sound-work.
Out on double LP & CD on April 8th via Consouling Sounds.
Dirk Serries on this album:
“EPITAPH is the swansong of music I like to name my vintage ambient. For more than 30 years I’ve been trying to seek perfection, from synthesizers to electric guitars, a bumpy ride for sure with lots of doubts, frustrations, extreme self-criticism and a few highs and lows but the call kept on strong. This is what I breathe, this is the heart of who I am. But that momentum has arrived to depart from this, not that I’ll abandon my ambient music completely and forever. I do see this expanding as an occasional live entity but in the studio setting I’m looking forward to discover other terrain.
[Me: that “other terrain” has, as of late, been within the realm of eclectic, avant-garde Jazz in collaboration with several different lineups of musicians]
EPITAPH is therefore my finest collection of ambient pieces to date. One, as all were, quite personal and attached as they are performed in solitude with only the imaginative mirror to hold in front of me. Melancholic impressions improvised on the spot with just a guitar and a handful effects recorded directly onto computer. Will for sure continue to emphasize with ambient music but my frame of mind is currently focused on moving forward and applying my techniques and inspiration towards new sonic alliances.
For now I do hope you’ll join me on this closing chapter and embrace this space.”
1. spectral grey walls
2. shining form constellation
3. alternation and return
4. eaves in dusk
5. the profusion of daze
6. torrential aether shadows
7. formations of grace
8. the nebulous chords
9. brittle air elegy
10. and all the murmur fell
Nik Bärtsch has been busy on the production side of things as of late (with Kali’s Riot) & now Hely – great ritualistic groove jazz (primarily piano & drums). I grabbed both these releases on the day they became available.
Nice work, fellas!
Imagine a Rothko, from the Color Field Painting era: luminous, full of contrasts; layered, extremely saturated, yet all the while, deliberately restrained. An object which was designed to elicit a type of internal, compositional tension that is not only capable of triggering your latent emotions, but that can also invoke that, which can only be described as an expression of the sublime. Now, imagine this in musical form!
Borderland, the sophomore release from the Swiss piano and drums duo (with Lucca Fries, also known from the band Ikarus and Jonas Ruther) called HELY, is a collection of emotionally spiked compositions that sound like a series of intense, vivid, pictographic abstractions. A true feast for synaesthetics! It’s a record that reimagines the relationship between the piano and a set of drums and proposes a unique musical vernacular, one that fuses these two distinctly percussive instruments into an expansive, droning, polyrhythmic tapestry. The sound presented here could just as well be the bastard child of trance-inducing West African drumming traditions and the minimalistic, contemporary, European, post-classical and experimental sensibilities –if the two were to ever cross-pollinate and were presented in the form of an immersive soundtrack.
All the songs found on this album were recorded in just two days, as a series of single and double takes. The session took place under the auspices of producer Nik Bärtsch and sound engineer Willy Strehler, at HELY’s rehearsal space, in a Cold War fallout shelter. The key objective for the duo was to get an honest, context-specific sound, and not worry about anything but the actual performance. Plus, the fellas knew that no concert grand would ever be able to reproduce the magic of their beaten up 1920s Welmar short, with its beautifully uneven reverb and idiosyncratic resonances and overtones. Here, it’s important to note that all of the sound-design-like “special effects” that are scattered about Borderland (if you listen to this record on headphones you will find plenty) were made with the actual instruments.
Borderland is the product of a decade spent honing a singular sound and defining an operational modus which can sustain it in the long term. Novel contingencies between the piano and the drums were thoroughly explored. In the two years leading up to this recording session, sketches of songs were not only collected, but also repeatedly tested, both in a live context and during rehearsals. These thematic blueprints eventually became the core material for this record and were recorded as a serious of live improvisations. This should explain the extremely dynamic performances and raw emotional affect of this body of work.
Thematically, Borderland is a polychromatic sprawl, with each composition presented as a complete universe in its own right. The hidden architecture of every song is wholly an outcome of an emotional tension and the result of two extremely seasoned musicians mining the present moment for it. Hyoga and Opio, for example, explore the hypnotic affects of the drone, with each going about it in its own, singular way. Hyoga relies on a sequence of overlapping, intensifying currents of staccato piano, interspersed with glistening shards of percussion; which eventually explodes into a cinematic crescendo. Opio, by contrast, abandons all of these shimmering, icy qualities and crafts a taut, insular space out of seemingly repetitive combinations of dampened percussion and muted piano strings. Cluster cyclically revisits a cluster of notes, relying on a 10/4 time signature, making it sound completely new and simultaneously familiar with every returning cycle. Chopin SpaceStation revels in a melodic type of poetry, and despite what its title infers, was actually inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Trance, on the other hand opens a field of limitless possibilities around a single note and a pulsating, shuffling breakbeat. It’s one of those songs that feels like it could play on forever. Borderland, the title track of the LP, is what the fellas half jokingly sometimes refer to as “the hit.” The reason for this is not only its simple harmonic backbone, but that it had connected with the audience every single time they played it out. Perhaps the fact that it was born out of personal turmoil is also not coincidental here. And it’s just a ravishing moment on the record. In sum total, all of these songs add up to one rich, highly gratifying, yet unpredictable soundtrack of a journey, through an imaginary space called Borderland.
Released November 10, 2017
Daniel WJ Mackenzie (born in Oxford, UK; currently based in Brighton) is an artist working in a variety of disciplines, most known as a musician under the alias Ekca Liena. Under his own name Daniel works with modern and conceptual composition, as well as sound art and installations, and is a member of improvised drone / noise band Plurals.
A significant and increasing body of work has been released physically on international labels and various formats, whilst audio and visual work has been commissioned by individuals and groups including other musicians, film makers and performance artists. Daniel is also involved in curating music, installations and film as an individual and as a founding member of arts collective Lost Property, and writes music reviews and features for publications including Fluid Radio, Bad Acid and The London Economic.
Here’s the actual size for texting:
(translated from his Bandcamp page)
Human values Dissapear “: Treatise on Musical sociology
There is a phrase that is pronounced very emphatically today: “We live hard Times”. “For Pepo Galán, that sentence is a definition of the world we find ourselves in.” Human values Dissapear “contains, from its title, a declaration of intent on the part of the artist, to offer a personal vision of the world around us whose ideal metaphor would be a boat that travels adrift to end up sinking, little by little, to the action and Permissiveness of their passengers.
This continual present, with its paradoxes and inconsistencies, is diluting our capacity for communication, commitment and self-sacrifice, creating, apart from a certain affliction, a mistrust of our environment, including our relationships Closer. With all these reflections, Pepo Galán performs a sociological and emotional treatise on our context, a journey into emotional recesses where we seldom feel comfortable, between frustration and distress but, at some point, a small plot of Hope, an island where we can live with the values that one day were lost.
In this journey of depths and feelings, Pepo Galán has wanted to be accompanied by artists with common affinities of the stature of Cadiz David Cordero and Lee Yi, partner at Dear Sailor. Along with these fellow travelers, the sentimental framework of “Human values Dissapear” is reinforced, offering an intense work, full of enigmatic compositions and, at the same time, sincere and real, tangible for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in their sound.
Max Richter’s potent distillations of classical tradition, minimal electronica, and the spoken word deliver a listening experience that intentionally levels the field between composer and audience; promoting an open and easy musical conversation without sacrificing depth or emotional resonance in the exchange. His work with film luminariessuch as Martin Scorsese and Ari Folman along with the undoubtedly countless mixtapes that have featured tracks from any one of his six studio albums has brought about a slow burn on the collective consciousness. The British composer’s inclusive and undemanding approach to composition has not only given rise to an almost telepathic exchange between himself and the musicians he works with, it has more importantly, invited a wider audience into the once cloistered halls of contemporary composition.
When did you start composing – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started composing before I knew what composing was. As a kid of five or six, I always had tunes going around in my head that I was sort of reconfiguring, almost like a child playing with Lego. I was always doing it but didn’t realise that it was something called composing. It was almost a subconscious thing that I became aware I’d been doing, much later on.
In terms of influences I suppose it was things that everyone is influenced by when they’re little, you know the classics. The Beatles and in the classical domain, Bach. Those were my starting points, the twin stars.
What do you personally consider to be incisive moments in your work and/or career?
The first one would have to be going to study with Luciano Berio in Italy. This was a big deal for me because he was such a brilliant musical thinker. I had not really encountered anyone like him before.
When I showed him a score of mine once, it felt as though he was reading my mind, which is a bit scary because he managed to see what was on the page but also what I meant when I wrote it. Maybe I was succeeding or failing but he could read the intention behind all of my scribbles, which was amazing.
The second would have to be when I started to do my own records. Having already done a lot of composing, playing as a performer and other things like that, recording Memoryhouse and The Blue Notebooks, were major turning points for me.
What are currently your main compositional challenges?
I don’t know really. Composing for me is a bit like an obsessive compulsive disorder in that I do it all the time. The main challenge would simply be remaining true to the material and following it wherever it wants to go, something like an archeological process of discovery. I always try and remain open to what the material can do.
What do you usually start with when composing?
Music for me is story telling, so I usually start with an intention or something I want to say. From there I kind of struggle around in the dark, trying to find ways to say that. Sometimes it’s a linear thing where I have an idea and then go about trying to find ways to express it. Other times I will discover things along the way and the idea ends up turning into something else altogether. It’s a mixture between intention and chance.
I think the reason I write music is because I’m trying to say things that I find difficult to encapsulate verbally. Music is its own kind of language and it’s very good at saying things that words struggle with, so that’s often the impulse for me.
How do you see the relationship between timbre and composition?
They are two sides of the same coin really. There has always been a tug of war between colour and text or notes against orchestration in traditional music.
A good example of this would be when you think of Debussy. With him, it’s all about the colours but actually underneath all of that colour there are these fantastic notes. Debussy’s incredible if you play it on a piano but it’s equally as brilliant if you go and play it on any other instrument because the notes are so great in the first place.
Then of course there are other kinds of music like electronica, which to some extent is all about colour and hardly about the notes at all. It tends to be more about textures as opposed to melody or harmony.
A lot of dance music for example, is about minute gradations over long spans of time; cyclical things that evolve slowly. So some things are all about colour and they’ll live in the synthesisers or in the computer. Other kinds of music are more about how the notes interact and they’re the sorts of things I would write down on paper or work out on the piano. I think it just depends on what the project is. Each piece has its own point on that spectrum of timbre versus composition.
What do improvisation and composition mean to you and what, to you, are their respective merits?
I do a lot of my composing at the piano and I sort of just let my hands walk around on the keyboard. It’s a process of happy accidents really; a mixture of random discoveries that go with a strategic kind of compositional planning. Those two things go hand in hand.
Music is a physical process. The way you play something has to make sense physically. It’s a way of thinking aloud but the text also has to make sense, so for me composition and improvisation are connected.
Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
What I’m trying to do is get things down as simply and with as much intensity as I can, that’s also why I write, because I’ll have that impulse. I don’t want things to be obscure. In fact I want it all to be very straightforward. I don’t want to keep people out. It’s a conversation and I want people to be able to take part in it.
We imprint our biography on what we come to and music is no different in that sense. Every listener will bring his or her own way in and that’s what’s kind of nice about it actually. It’s what makes it more like a conversation.
The relationship between music and other forms of art – such as painting, video art and cinema – has become increasingly important. How do you see this relationship yourself and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
Music is one of the dominant ways of experiencing being alive and so in a way, it’s more than just hearing. It’s about articulating feelings, stories and attitudes. I also feel as though an album or a piece of music almost has a sense of place inside it if it’s good. It takes a lot out of you to really apprehend music fully so I think it does relate to the other senses.
In terms of how music relates to other forms of media, there are a million possible connections between these things. I’ve done quite a bit of film music and the multitude of ways in which sound can connect to stories and visuals is always really interesting. Film music is solving puzzles mostly. It’s a technical discipline and I find it a completely different thing to writing music on its own.
In my case, when I’m writing just music, I’m trying to give the absolute total picture or the maximum intensity of that idea to the listener. If you did that in the cinema, you wouldn’t have a film. It would be as though you’ve gone to a cinema just to hear a record playing [laughs].
In pursuit of excellence
Digressions & musings on Ambient, Electronica, Mixing & the Ether
Jazz is the Teacher - Funk is the Preacher
lead from the front
Finding Out the Truth of Things
Christian inspiration and encouragement to give a jolt of caffeine to your soul.
We started and we will finish