Sunday morning music: Two if by ‘Sea’

Coinciding with the release of a remastered edition of “Land” by Iranian sound artist Porya Hatami is “Land Remixes” which will contain interpretations the original works by artists such as The Green Kingdom, Ruhe, Offthesky, and Pleq.   Rather than just remixed versions, these tracks appear to complete reworks with significant new musical components added, analogous to the recent Screws reworked project from Nils Frahm in which the original pieces stand on their own with gorgeous simplicity but also provide a framework for limitless and creative interpretation.  Featured here are the both the original and reworked versions of  ‘Sea’.  The original track is a deeply meditative blend of loops and field recordings whereas The Green Kingdom finds movement and melody in the piece which are brought out by acoustic guitar, chimes, and subtle percussion.  Each has a different effect on the listener, but both are calming and beautiful.

The original track ‘Sea’ from the remastered version of Land:

The rework from The Green Kingdom off of Land Remixes

Album Review: “Hotline” by Aidan O’Rourke (Reveal Records)

On September 25, 1956 the first submerged transatlantic telephone cable system, known as TAT-1, was inaugurated.  On July 1, 2013,  a superb new album called “Hotline” will be released on Reveal Records which is brilliantly centered around and inspired by this piece of history.  The album is a solo project from Aidan O’Rourke who is also part of the award-winning innovative folk trio Lau and the modern trad band Kan.

“Hotline” blends traditional folk & jazz elements, seamlessly moving back & forth between idioms and sometimes superimposing them in a strange & beautiful alchemy.  This all enhanced by strategically placed audio that provides historical context and field recordings captured during visits to the TAT-1 complex in Scotland.  The tracks have been tagged by Aidan himself as ‘avant garde folk’ and that turns out to be a very apt designation.  Each piece follows a very clever template in which the introductory section evokes a sense of place and time and then builds into a musical conversation that connects different idioms and bridges dichotomies, not unlike the many verbal conversations that took place over the cable itself.  The main voices in these conversations are Aidan’s fiddle, Phil Bancroft’s saxophone, and Paul Harrison’s piano, all deftly propelled by Martin O’Neills bodhran and Catriona McKay’s Scottish harp.

The opening track is appropriately titled TAT-1 and the remaining titles outline the primary historical markers that form the big picture.  We have ‘Clarenville’, the small town in Newfoundland, Canada that served as the origination point of the cable on the western side of the Atlantic.  Next is the title track, ‘Hotline’, referring to he connection between the American and Soviet heads of state carried over TAT-1, followed by ‘HMS Monarch’, the British vessel that did the majority of the work to submerge the cable.  And, finally, ‘Gallanach Bay’, the eastern connection point near Oban, Scotland, the artist’s hometown.

The music is by turns gorgeous, haunting, playful, nostalgic, and, on occasion, thrilling. It is a work that looks back on innovation of a bygone area through a musical lens that is itself innovative in a contemporary sense.  This is an album that is bursting with creativity and is built around a fascinating & cohesive concept and a musical modus operandi that seems limitless in it’s depth and possibilities.  And, the musical telepathy evident between the musicians is nothing short of amazing.  Look for this one on many a best of 2013 list at the end of the year.

You can listen here to one taste of the great music on this record, the closing track ‘Gallanach Bay’.  Also, I highly recommend reading the outstanding and informative interview with Aidan by Folk Radio UK (see link directly below).

Folk Radio UK interview with Aidan O’Rourke

“Hotline” in the Reveal Records web store

Sample track from upcoming Diamat album on N5MD

Here is some new music from Diamat, a project formed by Attilio Bruzzone, co-founder and composer of port-royal, and Andrea Zangrandi. The album releases on July 30 on n5MD.  This sample track is today’s Friday listening feature and has a lush and warm sound that definitely whets my appetite to hear the rest of the record.

Diamat artist page on N5MD

Diamat on Facebook

Google translate site links added

A new menu has been added to allow you to launch a version of this site translated into another language by Google, starting for now with French, German, Italian, and Spanish.   The links are located in the sidebar on the right side of the page. The translations will not be perfect, but I hope some of our international visitors will find it helpful. If you would like to give feedback on this feature, please leave a comment or you may email me at  Thanks, merci, danke, grazie, y gracias.

Lotus – ‘Orchids’ – (The Album Leaf Remix)

For a nice midweek pick-me-up, check out this remix of ‘Orchids’ by The Album Leaf.  The original tune is from Philadelphia-based electro/post rock band Lotus who explained why they asked Jimmy LaValle to rework this song: “During the summer of 2010 we played 3 shows with the band and met Jimmy LaValle (the main mind behind The Album Leaf). His compositions have a unique ability to bring a very human and affecting element to music that is steeped in electronics. We decided he should remix one of the least electronic compositions from the Lotus album “Orchids.” LaValle created a mix that combines the lush strings and guitars of the original with The Album Leaf’s signature approach to atmosphere and beat to create a track that invokes a sepia-filtered, cinematic nostalgia.”  Well said, and well done.

The Album Leaf web site

Lotus web site

Album Preview: Marsen Jules Trio – Présence Acousmatique

As the oppressive summer heat begins to settle in, an album that promises “atmospheric soundsculptures between ambient, avantgarde-classic and modern jazz” sounds like a cool and inviting proposition. This is an entrancing preview from “Présence Acousmatique”, the new album from Marsen Jules Trio, now available as a digital release on the Oktaf Music & Art label.

Présence Acousmatique on Bandcamp

Oktaf web site

Sunday morning: A cinematographic interpretation of Nils Frahms ‘familiar’

Nihls Frahm’s ‘finding’ is a sublime piece of music and Anne Baum takes a similarly minimalistic and subtle approach to interpreting it visually with a video she describes as “A day looking. A day finding. Felt through tones and images.” The result is simple, elegant, and surprisingly moving.

finding from annebraun on Vimeo.

Sunday morning: “So Flows the Current” time lapse video (music by Patrick O’Hearn)

‘Beyond This Moment’ is a particularly lovely piece of music from composter and multi-instrumentalist Patrick O’Hearn.  Here it is set to a beautiful compilation of nature and time lapse photography in a video by Kirill Oleynikov.  Together they make for some realxing and inspiring Sunday moring viewing & listening.

“So Flows The Current”- Time Lapse Reel 2013 from Kirill Oleynikov on Vimeo.

Summer music: ‘Wind Factory’ by Sunlight Ascending

It is the first Saturday of summer and the music of Sunlight Ascending comes to mind as a fine way to start it off.  The Clawson, Michigan based band released “Leaving My Waiting Room” in December with the backing of their fans through a successful Kickstarter project.  It is a very dynamic and balanced post rock album.  This is ‘Wind Factory’, a perfect soundtrack for the warm & sunny day.

Review: “A Sense Of Uncertainty” by Good Weather for an Airstrike (on Rural Colours)

“A Sense of Uncertainty” is the title of a new EP from Good Weather for an Airstrike, the musical project of UK artist Tom Honey. Tom began his project about four years ago with the goal of creating sounds to help induce sleep and alleviate the suffering caused by tinnitus (ringing in the ears). He has produced quite a bit of material since then, but this EP shows that he may just now be hitting his stride as a composer and sound artist. With the last GWFAA album, “Lights”, he began to introduce more textures, melody, and structure into his pieces. On the new EP, that artistic growth stretches even further and the result is a very assured and cohesive record that strikes a lovely balance between cool ambience and warm emotion.

If the title of the record and the individual tracks are anything to go by, then perhaps the music is intended to capture the intense stillness one experiences in the moments of uncertainty before something life-changing is about to occur or be divulged. In those moments, senses are heightened, but everything seems to go into slow motion so that one is very aware of reality, but experiences feel quite surreal.  The music here seems to capture such moments of emotional suspended animation. Perhaps this is a story the record is meant to convey or perhaps I am reading too much into it. In either case, it certainly worked for me to listen to it on that basis.

Just as there is a conceptual theme to the EP, a melodic theme runs throughout, but each piece renders it with different textures and with varying emotional impact. ‘Two Miles of Uncertainty’ establishes the sense of stillness and the melodic theme with its airy keyboards, swelling strings, and mellifluous choir like sounds. ‘Stop Everything It’s Snowing’ cleverly creates a sound picture that evokes the title through the use of single well-placed piano notes. ‘Lasting Effect’ introduces deeper bass tones and slightly droning keyboards and is the musical equivalent of a thousand-yard stare. ‘Are You OK’ is the most structured song with it’s pulsing bass line and it scales a dramatic arc before diffusing into the closing ‘Two Hours of Uncertainty’, in which the theme is repeated only with ethereal choral tones and the sounds of human voices and field recordings in the background. It all flows very smoothly and has a nice cinematic quality to it.

If you are a fan of Tom’s work, you will likely enjoy this subtle evolution in his sound. And if you have not had the pleasure of listening to Good Weather for an Airstrike, this would be a lovely place to start.

For a preview of the album, here is track number four, “Are You OK?”.

Good Weather for an Airstrike on Facebook

Good Weather for an Airstrike on Bandcamp

Rural Colours

Sunday listening: ‘Concrete Oceans’ from North Atlantic Drift

Sunday morning listening. This week it is North Atlantic Drift, an ambient music project from Mike Abercrombie & Brad Deschamps based in Toronto and who cite Brian Eno, Boards of Canada, and Stars of the Lid among their key influences.  This morning’s selection is ‘Concrete Oceans’ from their latest effort “Monuments” , which showcases what attracts me to their sound – lush ambient textures, glacial keyboards, and subtle, yet dramatic use of percussion.  Their debut album “Canvas”, released last year, is also highly recommended.

Saturday listening: ‘You Are Here’ from “Journey” by Francesco Berta (Oxide Tones)

Another excellent recent release from Oxide Tones is the album “Journey” created by Italian musician Francesco Berta.   The track ‘You Are Here’ creates a delicate & melodic atmosphere with just a tinge of melancholy before blossoming into a powerful, full-on post rock crescendo.  We recommend turning up the volume and enjoying this one on repeat.

Francesco Berta’s web site

Journey on the Oxide Tones web store