Mix & Remix vol 2: Floex / Hidden Orchestra

For this edition of Mix & Remix, we’ll take a look at tracks from two artists who each remixed the other’s work, Floex (Tomáš Dvořák) and Hidden Orchestra. In both cases, the reworked versions are so inventive and vibrant, I can’t imagine them not having been made any more than the originals on which they are based.

Saturnin Fire and the Restless Ocean (Floex / Hidden Orchestra)

Saturnin Fire and the Restless Ocean is track that appears on a 5-track EP from Floex (Tomáš Dvorák) released by Denovali Records in August. It is a compact gem of a song featuring the bright tones of the metalaphone and many deft ambient touches to create more atmosphere than you might expect from a track that is less than 3 minutes long. In the hands of Hidden Orchestra, however, it serves as the core of a longer richly layered piece propelled by their trademark dual drum attack of Tim Lane and Jamie Graham and the distinctive playing of Joe Acheson and Poppy Ackroyd. It is pure alchemy that sounds inspired, dynamic, and sophisticated.

Floex original version:

Hidden Orchestra remix:

Dust (Hidden Orchestra / Floex)

Dust is a track that appears on Hidden Orchestra’s 2010 EP, “Footsteps”. In the original mix the rhythmic pulse of the song materializes out of a soft hiss and, as the percussion marches to a full head of steam the bass, strings, horns, and electronics are brought on board until all the layers are moving at the same driving pace. It becomes a fast moving call and response between all the instruments swirling around the ever present pulse and muscular clockworks of the drums. The remix by Floex is a little more whimsical and melodic. The pulse in this version is introduced on the piano. The bass and drums still propel the piece forward, but they are processed into a dub aesthetic that still propels the piece forward, but in a more supportive role that opens up acres of sonic space for the rich synths, sax, and clarinet to take over. The voice sample in the original is dropped in favor of extended melodic improvisation and the result is very satisfying and nearly euphoric.

For more about the artists featured in this edition of Mix & Remix:

Floex:  http://www.floex.cz/

Hidden Orchestra:  http://www.hiddenorchestra.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mix and Remix vol 1: Ef/Lights & Motion – Adam Fielding – Lau/Fraction Man

The remix. Is it a growing trend or just something that is more visible now in the world of social music sites and broadband internet?  Perhaps it is a little of both, but one thing that is for sure is that music lovers are the beneficiaries of the creativity that goes into reworking tunes and giving them new, extended, or even very different lives.  Starting with this post, I’ll start regularly featuring some of my favorite remixes side by side with the original pieces.

Bells Bleed & Bloom (Ef / Lights & Motion)

‘Bells Bleed & Bloom’ is one of the tracks off the 2013 release “Ceremonies” by Swedish post rock band EF.  It is a lovely tune that builds from a steady, atmospheric march and has a nice organic feel to it.   Fellow Swedish artist Lights & Motion (Christoffer Franzén) takes the song and adds his trademark orchestral flourishes and stirring crescendos which create a version that is melodically faithful to the original but gives it a widescreen cinematic feel.

Original version by EF:

Lights & Motion remix:

 

Falling Through The Sun (Adam Fielding)

This trio of tracks all come from the original artist, Adam Fielding.  He released a song called ‘Falling Through The Sun’ on his 2010 album “Lightfields”, a collection of ambient, shoegaze style rock with rich, atmospheric arrangements.  Since then he released two remixes of the song.  The first comes from his 2012 release “And All Is As It Should Be”, which gives a peaceful ambient treatment full of subtlety and understated emotion.  The second comes from his 2013 release “Lightfields (Instrumental Version)”, which returns to the electronic rock feel of the original, but strips out the lyrics and brings the guitars, keyboards, and drums to the fore.  All three versions are excellent.

Original version:

Instrumental rock version:

Ambient version from And All Is As It Should Be

 

The Bird That Winds The Spring (LAU / Fraction Man)

In 2012, one of the most innovative bands on the trad music scene, LAU, released the award winning album “Race The Loser”.  It is an exhilarating record, blending traditional folk instruments and lovely melodies with non-traditional elements to create a unique and intoxicating mixture.  In 2013 they push the envelope even further with an EP of remixes.  The song featured here is ‘The Bird That Winds The Spring’.  The remix is from Fraction Man (Gordon Skene of Frightened Rabbit), a dynamic interpretation which keeps the handclaps and Kris Drever’s vocals as the foundation, but wraps it in a clever reverb-soaked mix and adds layers of electric guitar.   Innovation on top of innovation, it makes for a fun and hypnotic listen.

Original version from Race the Loser:

Fraction Man version from LAU Remixed:

Hope you enjoyed this round of mix and remix.  There will be plenty more to come.

Album Review: “Embers” by August and After

Having just reviewed a lovely EP by Sophie Jamieson, let’s stick around the London folk scene for one more  up and coming band to watch, the duo of Ned Mortimer and Vedantha Kumar who are the creative core of August and After.   The m.o. of the group is to “weave vocal harmonies and thoughtful lyricism onto layers of guitar, piano, strings and brass”, and this they absolutely succeed to do.  As evidence, last month, they released their debut LP, “Embers”, a fine collection of tunes that fits that description perfectly.

On their Facebook page, Ned & Vedantha cite a number of influences that are all very compatible with their music, some of which will undoubtedly spring to mind immediately when hearing the record, such as Simon and Garfunkel and Kings of Convenience.  The record covers a diverse range of moods & styles, sometimes melancholic, sometimes romantic, sometimes lively & playful.  The arrangements are also clever, perhaps even ambitious at times.  Liberal use is made of additional musicians, including excellent backing and lead female vocalists, cajon, strings, and horns.

August and After puts their hearts right on their sleeves from the get go, starting with a romantic recollection of the passing of Halley’s comet, before the truly lovely and melancholy ‘Waltz for Marie’ which features a duet with the aforementioned Sophie Jamieson.  The next track, “The Orchard” is a song which might be the most definitive of the album’s style and talent.  It is simple, eloquent, beautifully arranged, and I found it repeating itself in my mind for hours after having listened to it.

The guitar work and orchestral elements come to the fore in ‘Valley de la Luna’ before the album takes a playful detour with ‘The Jailbreak Song’,  a tune with a little dash of Django Reinhardt acoustic swing and lots of clever touches.  Highlights of the remainder of the album are the haunting ‘Gleam Behind the Ghosts’, the ballad ‘Set Sail’, and the lovely interplay of guitar and horns in the closer, ‘Salamander’.

“Embers” is a very refreshing record.  It is easy on the ears, but full of inventiveness, beauty, and even a little fun, something that Ned and Vedantha try to generate in their live performances.  It should be noted that August and After seems to strive more than most to involve other artists to collaborate and not just in the medium of music.  They are working on a variety of video collaborations featuring animation and dance as well as blogging about the album making process.  August and After are clearly a creative force on the rise, a delight to listen to and fun to watch.  Long may it continue.

“Embers” is available through must digital distribution methods including the group’s Bandcamp site where you can also order a nice limited edition CD package.

Album info: http://augustandafter.bandcamp.com/album/embers

You may enjoy watching this lovely animated video for the song ‘Set Sail’

EP Review: “Where” by Sophie Jamieson (Folkroom Records)

Sometimes I measure music by how it grabs me while I am listening to it and sometime by how much it haunts me after I have stopped.  When I hear something that captivates me immediately and then refuses to stop haunting me until I listen again, well then I know I have found something special.  So it was when I heard the music of UK singer/songwriter Sophie Jamieson and her 5-track EP called “Where”.

The five songs on the album could be delivered with stunning grace, beauty, and power by Sophie alone with an acoustic guitar, and so they have been in some of her live and video performances if you have been fortunate enough to see them.  But her tunes and her voice create nothing less than pure alchemy when combined with skillful guitar work,  ambient aesthetics, and the eloquent arrangements that grace the production.  For this credit must be extended to her collaborators, guitarist Liam Hoflay, cellist Derek Yau, and multi-instrumentalist and producer Ben Walker.

From the resonating guitars and swells of vocal power in the opener ‘Waterloo’ to the heart-tugging ballad ‘Dinah’ to the almost dirge like closer ‘Ode to the East’, “Where” will draw you in with a bewitching siren call and it will resonate in your mind long after it is over.

Already Sophie has been involved in collaborating with and promoting other artists and by all accounts she is working and gigging as hard as anyone out there.  With music this beautiful and that kind of creative drive and work ethic, I am sure this only the beginning of much more to come from this promising artist.

“Where” is available in both digital format and a limited edition CD from Folkroom Records.

Album info:  http://folkroomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/where-ep

This song, Glass, is not on Where, but is just as lovely as anything in that collection and is accompanied by a video Sophie shot on foot after coming out of the tube at Leicester Square:

Album preview: Oxycanta III – Ultimae Records

“Oxycanta III” will be third installment in a series of compilations featuring artists on Ultimae Records.  The trailer for the album created by Magnus Birgersson is a work of art in itself and wraps together portions of all 12 tracks along with beautiful graphics.  The collection was curated by by French Dj and arranger Mahiane and mastered by Vincent Villuis (a.k.a. AES Dana).   The album is now available for pre-orders on the Ultimae Bandcamp site.

“Throughout Oxycanta III the sound spectrum reaches wide arrays of deep bass all the way to the high-pitched resonances to display many of the DJ’s musical influences while, with a keen sense of float, she blends IDM, downtempo and neo-classical with a hint of atmospheric electronica, and a dash of dub.”

Album info:  http://ultimae.bandcamp.com/album/oxycanta-iii

Album Review: “ETT” by Row Boat (Bottle Imp Productions)

 “ETT” is the latest effort and first full length album from Row Boat, the ambient/post rock project of Mark Wardale.   As enjoyable as were the EPs,  “Romance” and “Svaret är ja”, “ETT” unfurls the full scope and power of Mark’s creative vision and it arrives as a significant and ear-catching contribution in an increasingly crowded field.  At times delicately nuanced, at others epic and bombastic, “ETT” is an outstanding multi-faceted album that brings together a number of diverse genre aesthetics and has real growing power.

The title track opens the album and sets a tone of bold and stark beauty by evoking a vivid wintry landscape through the sound of blustering winds, plaintive strings, human voice, and a plethora of other textures.  ‘Prova’ then builds on this as the first full length track.  It begins with some unique reversed vocals which Mark uses sparingly and effectively in various places on “ETT”.  They sound a bit odd to the ear at first, but soon become indispensable to the song and serve as a focal point for the melody as the song builds to a thunderous crescendo that instantly gives the album serious post rock credibility.

From here the intersections and variations between evocative soundscapes and rousing instrumental rock are masterfully developed and sequenced.   The hauntingly beautiful ‘Frostavallen’ is followed by the epic peaks and valleys of ‘Radslan’.  The contemplative ‘Fix Your Bones’ is followed by the melodic romanticism of ‘By Winter’s Night’.  The album then downshifts to a pure ambient mode with ‘Aurora’ and ‘Igloo’ before rising up to what I consider the showpiece of the album, ‘Kampaglod.   This track has wonderful melodic pulse, a snarling bass line, and is driven by a fabulous drum riff.  It is perfectly placed on the album to deliver wide-eyed catharsis before easing you home with a long, delicate outro and into the reflective closing track, ‘Annika’.

I was glad to be able to spend a good amount of time with this album before reviewing it.  I found it yielded new rewards and deeper satisfaction with each and every listen, which is the sign of an album that was constructed with great care and emotional investment and built up with many well thought out layers.   It fires the imagination, touches the emotions, and always stays interesting.   It manages to be eclectic and maintain a sense of wonder and mystery while always remaining accessible and engaging.

“ETT” is currently available in digital format on a name your price basis or in a nice physical CD package, both available to order on Row Boat’s Bandcamp site. Do yourself a favor and give it a thoughtful listen.  Once you do, you probably will not be able to stop.

Album Info via Bottle Imp Productions: http://www.bottle-imp.com/album/row-boat-ett

New Music Roundup: Previews of Upcoming Releases

After a little hiatus from updating the blog, I thought I would put together one post with a collection of previews from a number of upcoming albums as a way of catching up a bit.  Some really great music is in the works and we will be spoiled for choice in the coming weeks. I am excited about every single one of these and hopefully you will find something new here that will excite you too.

Float 2013 by Peter Broderick (Erased Tapes)

In conjunction with Cassette Store Day, Erased Tapes is releasing a Float 2013, a new version of Peter Broderick’s 2008 debut album remastered by Nils Frahm. On cassette only for now, it will be reissued in multiple formats later this year. The preview track is ‘A Snowflake’.

Album info: http://www.thinglink.com/scene/425331060327317504


ETT by Row Boat

ETT is the new ambient/post rock album from Mark Wardale under the moniker of Row Boat. It will be a wonderfully eclectic and emotional collection of songs as you can tell from the excellent teaser video. The album releases on Sept 10.

Album info: https://enjoyrowboat.bandcamp.com/album/ett


Everything Will Be Fine by Qualia

Qualia, an instrumental ambient/post-rock music project of Dan Leader, will be releasing a 12 track LP on Sept 12 which will be mastered by and collaborated on by fellow artist Méon (who also has a new release coming Sept 25). Dan has released a couple of the tracks for preview that sound great:

Day Has Ended – split CD from Christoph Berg and Aaron Martin (Dronarivm)

Dronarivm will be releasing a split CD by Christoph Berg (who also records as Field Rotation) and Aaron Martin on Sept 23. They have released one track from each artist as a preview and both are just lovely (both included in the Soundcloud link below). Based on these previews, the pedigree of these two artists, and the fine cover art, this looks to be a special package.

Album info: http://dronarivm.com/2013/08/28/aaron-martin-christoph-berg-day-has-ended/


Sirens by Oceanus (Hawk Moon Records)

Hampshire, UK based duo Oceanus mixes ambient and shoegazing music with numerous metal and rock influences and will have their new album “Sirens” released by Hawk Moon Records. Oceanus is made up of Alex Fawcett (Arboretus) and Rob Honey (Damn Robot! & Inachus). Rob also did the mastering and a remix for the outstanding collabortive album Sol by Oathless & Good Weather for an Airstrike. Look for Sirens on Sept 30.

Album info: http://hawkmoonrecords.bandcamp.com/


Oxycanta III on Ultimae Records 

The oustanding Ultimae label will be releasing their new multi-artist compilation Oxycanta III on Sept 30.   This gorgeous video previews the track ‘Complex A’ from Circular (mastered by AES Dana).

Album info: http://ultimae.bandcamp.com/


Mooncake

Russian post rock outfit Mooncake will be releasing a full length LP on October 18 which include fresh mixes of ‘Zaris’ and ‘Cast the Route’ as well as new tracks. It sounds like it will be real treat from this teaser:

Album info: http://mooncakeband.com/


Eternal Movement by Tides From Nebula

Another strong post rock entry comes from Warsaw-based Tides From Nebula whose new LP “Eternal Movement” will have a European release in early October and a North American release on November 5. The preview track ‘Only With Presence’ promises a satisfying blend of rocking intensity and atmospheric elements.

Album info: http://eng.tidesfromnebula.com/


Let Your Hands Be My Guide by Chantal Acda
Chantal Acda, who has recorded as Sleepingdog and is part of Belgian folk band Isbells, will be releasing a solo
album under her own name in November on Gizeh Records. This effort will be mastered by Nils Frahm, who is also collaborating along with a stellar group of artists including Peter Broderick, Shahzad Ismaily, and Gyda Valtysdottir (from Icelandic group Múm and the Sleepingdog live band). The preview track, ‘Jason’, is lovely.

Album info: http://gizehrecords.limitedrun.com/products/518328-chantal-acda-let-your-hands-be-my-guide


Siavash Amini – Ambient LP based on poetry of T.S. Eliot

Finally, this is a wonderful piece of ambient music called ‘Silent Seas’ from Iranian sound artist Siavash Amini who was recently featured as the Soundcloud Artist of the Day. This is one of the pieces that will appear on an album he has in the works that is based on the poetry of T.S Eliot, which accounts for the emotion and melancholy that imbues the music. Release date is yet to be announced.