Label Spotlight: Fluttery (Row Boat, Arms of Tripoli, Beneath the Watchful Eyes, Harnes Kretzer)

Fluttery_SpotlightFluttery Records, established in 2008 by Taner Torun, is self-described as “a home for post-rock, ambient, experimental, electronic, modern classical lovers”. The label says “We call our artist roster ‘United Nations of Fluttery Records’. We are a multicultural record label with artists from different parts of the world. It is a place for creative music and artistic independence.”

Pay a visit to Fluttery’s website and you will see those are no idle words.  The label boasts a varied catalog of music spanning both genres and geographies, and they have rolled out an impressive array of releases to kick off 2014 in style, four of which are featured here.

“In Between” by Row Boat 

Mark Wardale’s solo project has been quite prolific in the past year.  His full length debut “Ett” and his “Shallow Waters” EP have garnered much well-deserved praise for their evocative Scandanvian soundscapes and post rock prowess.  Row Boat’s debut on Fluttery, “In Between”, is a more intimate affair, exploring inner landscapes by emphasizing space as much as sound.  Strings and piano predominate, giving the album more of a modern classical leaning. Wardale’s range as a composer and musician is nothing short of impressive.  He seems to have an unerring sense of where to place sounds and where to leave space, when to show restraint and when to cut loose.

“In Between” explores themes of intimacy in an abstract manner without words.  It balances romanticism and optimism with a sense of melancholy, loneliness, and doubt serving as counterweights.  The tension of these dichotomies pervades the album and gives it a powerful immediacy that belies the quietness of the music.

Among the highlights are the gorgeously languid ‘Meet Me at the Colosseum’, which proves the perfect opener, the graceful ‘Hollow’ with its delicate rainfall and melancholic interplay of piano & guitar, the elaborate ‘The Dying Art of Romance, with its clockwork percussion driving a dramatic rise and descent, and finally, ‘What It Is To Feel’, with its stunning and fluid piano work.  This is a thoughtfully constructed album that generously rewards repeated listening.


Listen to ‘What It Is To Feel’

“Dream in Tongues” by Arms of Tripoli

“Dream in Tongues” is the second album and first full length effort by Los Angeles based Arms of Tripoli and a fine one it is.  The vivid splashes of color on the cover art are very much reflected in the music.  The humorous studio banter at the end of some of the tracks indicates that the music is as fun to play as it is to listen to.

But make no mistake about it.  All that fun and exuberance are not at the expense of serious musicianship.  The songs are inventive and well-constructed and delivered with assurance and the kind of musical telepathy between band members that is required to pull off this kind of progressive/math rock blend successfully.

Highlights are the opening track ‘Miniature Habitats’ brightened by the deft touch of vibraphone, the swirling guitars and soaring melody of ‘Scraping Skies’, the sheer fun of ‘Escalator Jazz’, and the jaunting closer, ‘Ahs a Vahs a Vae’.  This is spirited, melodic instrumental rock that will have you rolling down your windows and cranking up the volume to enjoy again and again.


Listen to ‘Scraping Skies’

“We Held Our Breath Until Our Hearts Exploded” by Beneath The Watchful Eyes

Beneath The Watchful Eyes is a new post rock project from the Blackpool, UK based duo of Simon Morgan and Barry Parkinson who are also members of the band Goonies Never Say Die.  With “We Held Our Breath Until Our Hearts Exploded”, they have created moody, ornate, soundscapes that balance delicate ambiance, lush electronica, and cinematic post rock crescendos.

The opening with ‘Blood and Sand’ showcases all of these attributes, weaving a dystopian web of sound before launching into a guitar-driven crescendo on a wave of glitchy percussion and pulsing bass.  ‘Box Cutter’ is one of the most fully realized tracks I have heard this year and hits a sweet spot between electronica and melodic post rock that would do 65daysofstatic proud.

The album continues with a nicely varied sequence of tracks that range from the highly atmospheric (‘Letters from Zedelghem’) to the nearly bombastic (‘All They Did Was Stand and Stare’), but the sound is always elegant and controlled.  Arrangements are thoughtful and well-crafted.  It is beautiful, but uncompromising in it’s intensity.   In short, BTWE create cerebral music that will still get your pulse pounding.

Listen to ‘Box Cutter’

“Petrichor” by Harnes Kretzer 

Composer and musician Harnez Kretzer from Nürnberg, Germany, is a creator of highly nuanced ambient, neo-classical soundscapes and his debut on Fluttery Records, “Petrichor” is one of the most refined releases I’ve heard this year.  Here rich acoustics, delicate field recordings, and lush electronics are woven into gossamer webs of melody and melancholy.

When the piano comes to the fore, such as on ‘Ephmeral’ or ‘Damped’ it is hard not be reminded of Nils Frahm and Kretzer lives up to the comparison with both an exquisite melodic touch and the incorporation of the ambient sound of the hammers and pedals into the music.  At other times, “Petrichor” is more exploratory and abstract.  For example, in ‘Diaphanous’, Kretzer creates a very different atmosphere using electric piano over dusty loops.

The title track is a veritable plethora of subtle loops and effects from which the piano boldly emerges and calmly recedes.  Electronics take over completely in ‘Desultory’, the longest track on the album, a gorgeous and deeply layered drone piece. The lovely organ and piano interplay of ‘Onomatopoeia’ makes for a fine closing track, but if you have the purchased album, it also dissolves very neatly into an ambient hidden track which works just as well.

With “Petrichor”, Kretzer shows himself to be an artist with an extremely fine ear for sound, melody, and texture and loving attention to detail.  This album is strongly recommended for fans of ambient, neo-classical, and lo-fi music.  The seamless blend of acoustic and electronic elements works to near perfection and you will likely find something new to enjoy with each listen.

Listen to ‘Onomatopoeia’