No Home of the Mind is the third album by Bing & Ruth, a critically acclaimed project formed by Kansas-born composer David Moore while studying music in New York, and represents the third configuration in as many outings. Eleven became seven between City Lake (2010) and Tomorrow Was the Golden Age (2014) and the ensemble has been streamlined once again, this time to five.
After giving us a taste last year of their new modern classical project with The Grunewald Church Session, brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke are about to release their full-length studio debut album entitled Concrete Fields as CEEYS. The moniker they chose is a neologism forged from references to their respective instruments – a combination of the French spelling for cello (‘violoncelle’) played by Sebastian and ‘keys’, of which Daniel uses a wide variety in constructing their distinctive narratives including a 1912 Steinway and some intriguing vintage gear. But sound is only part of the story the Selke’s have to tell. Concrete Fields is in fact the first installment of a triptych and incorporates images & videos to resonate their experience growing up in a prefab estate in East Germany and navigating dramatic personal, political,. and cultural change.
“It is our remembrance of a childhood growing up in Europe’s largest prefab estate Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Berlin, East Germany…After the ‘quiet’ revolution in 1989 and the fall of the wall, and throughout the 90s, the region always kept a blend of an edgy feeling of departure and a vague melancholy. We like that the politics tried lots of things to bring more colour and life into the post-revolutionary landscape, but the strange feeling never fully left us. To carefully handle all the different facets of this time period we decided to release our musical version of what the Germans call ‘Betonfelder’ in the form of a trilogy spread across the next few years.” – CEEYS
Francesco Giannico‘s latest album presents itself as “an unlikely acoustic bio-marine chronotope through a collaborative mode”. The collaborative aspect is the incorporation of sound samples collected from participants around the world, a concept that worked a treat on Agoraphonia (2016, Dronarivm) but with a change in focus from the urban to the aquatic. Giannico then takes these samples and weaves them into complete and immersive soundscapes that exist in a time & space of his imagining, e.g. a chronotope albeit a musical rather than literary one.
Last year, classically-trained composer, musician, and sound designer Madeleine Cocolas released her debut album entitled Cascadia, but it was no nascent work. Rather it was a stunning distillation of sounds and ideas drawn from a project where she created new music weekly over the course of a year. Prior to that she composed a new live score for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film The Birds and worked on a variety of multidisciplinary projects with numerous choreographers, musicians, and visual artists as well as being a music supervisor for a number of award-winning Australian television programs. That is a lot of creative momentum and it continues unabated with her exciting new EP Lunar about to be released by Seattle-based Self Center Records.
Inspired by the forests, oceans and folklore of her native Sweden and named after a dissonant music interval occurring in ancient tuning systems (“Wolf fifth” in English), Vargkvint is an enchanting solo music project from Sofia Nystrand. Her debut EP Brus is a completely DIY effort which she composed, performed, mixed, mastered, designed, and released on her own.
Floating Away From the World is the third album in as many years by OKADA on the n5MD label and his fifth overall (the first two being issued by Fluttery Records). It is the first, however, that Gregory Pappas developed for this project since relocating from Mobile, Alabama to Seattle, Washington with a corresponding shift in style that seems to match the cool, wet climate of his new home. As on previous albums, Pappas offers up a quartet of fluid & emotive long form works that fuse ambient textures & modern classical elements with downtempo beats and ethereal vocals, but the mood on the new album is distinctly overcast and deeply introspective while the rainy textures will be pure bliss for even the most casual pluviophile.
In the space of ten months, Dennis Huddleston has released three albums from his experimental ambient project 36 (pronounced three-six). Far from making music to simply zone or chill out to, Huddleston often weaves rich thematic and imaginative material into his sonic tapestries for an especially emotive and cerebral listening experience. Considered together, this trio of albums cover a vast perspective spanning past, present, and future.
Collaborative releases are not the mainstay of the Eilean Rec. label, but when they appear, they are always something special. The latest of such is On the Brink which brings together two authentic sonic explorers from the eastern seaboard of the USA – Josh Mason (Jacksonville, FL) and Nathan McLaughlin (Hudson, NY). The album is a metaphorical journey from a unique perspective that examines the state of mind as one faces the possibility of failure.
“…we traveled together with the wind on our faces, holes in our shoes and short that one layer that can provide the necessary comforts we tend to rely upon. raw nerves, biting hunger and a drive to see the unknown corners kept us moving forward. we can offer these markers and surveys as proof of our trip and as evidence of what lies slightly beyond our immediate purview but with a combined effort – within reach.” – Nathan McLaughlin & Josh Mason
The “Presence” series is a new solo project from Andrew Tasselmyer (Hotel Neon, The Sound of Rescue) which he frames as “an ongoing experiment in intentional listening” and describes as “a combination of found sound and intuitive, responsive composition…the product of being present”. The first volume in the series consists of eight variations on this theme, each one building a musical narrative around a field recording taken from the context of everyday life and ordinary objects.
Love Retained is a series of mostly solo piano sketches by Ian Hawgood, also known as the founder of the trail-blazing Home Normal label, album mastering wizard, and all-around friend & advocate of so many DIY musicians who make experimental ambient & modern classical music. The sketches were originally intended as starter material for collaboration, but Hawgood came to see them in a different light as he reflected with disarming and courageous candor about his struggles with depression and how it has interfered with his creative process in recent years (I urge you to read all of his eloquent liner notes which I will not do the disservice of attempting to summarize).
The recordings are simply tracked to cassette, and contain no editing or mastering, so you know, filled with ‘mistakes’. They are pieces I found really enjoyable to make, and have found I have increasingly enjoyed looping on low levels at night, or when the mind wonders/wanders. They are incomplete and yet it feels right for me to give this to friends, family, and anyone else that this connects to in some way. The incompletion is a beautiful and freeing thing. – Ian Hawgood
Four years ago Christoffer Franzen released his debut album as Lights & Motion. Reanimation was the culmination of many months of long Scandinavian nights spent in the studio composing, performing, and engineering an uplifting and distinctly cinematic style of post rock to the delight of a close-knit group of fans gathered on social media who knew they were hearing something special from the first snippets and fragments that emerged during the embryonic stages. As much a fan of Hans Zimmer as Explosions in the Sky, the ever-prolific Franzen has gone on to a release a trio of albums of music oriented towards film & television under his own name along with three more Lights & Motion records, the newest of which is entitled Dear Avalanche.
“While it may sound paradoxical because an avalanche is so dangerous, it reminds me that there is always a precious silver lining in everything that happens. Events in your life will threaten to overpower you, but there is strength in facing them head on, accepting them for what they are and choosing always to look for the positive message in all the hardship and struggle. I hope people listening to this album will feel like they’ve been taken on a journey, as I worked hard at creating a world of sonic panoramas to get lost in.” – Christoffer Franzen
Finding the right balance between continuity and change is challenge all bands have to face once they establish themselves with an audience. Change too much and risk losing your artistic identity; change too little and risk boredom and stagnation. But find the right balance and it can be a beautiful trajectory, which I would argue is the case when it comes Glories as the prepare to release their third full-length record, There Is No Stillness. The key elements that have endeared the Birmingham, Alabama based band to so many post rock music fans remain firmly in place, but enough has changed to endow the album with a luster of freshness and excitement.