Noteworthy highlights from the past week of music discovery, releases, previews, and other news. Daily updates are available on the ST Facebook and Twitter feeds and audio/video links to all tracks featured during the month are available on the Stationary Travels Songdrop page.
Everyday Dust – The Principality of Dustland [Sparkwood Records]
The Principality of Dustland is the full length debut of the enigmatic artist Everyday Dust just released as part of the increasingly impressive catalog of Sparkwood Records. This is an exceptionally evocative collection drone-based soundscapes that chronicle a journey to an imaginary land by hot air balloon, a lush steampunk dream shrouded in fog and coated in dust that would be a worthy soundtrack to a reading of a Jules Verne novel. The album is best enjoyed listening all the way through, but ‘Ticking Heart’ is a truly stand out track worth calling out on its own. Dedicated to “George Daniels and the horologists of the world”, it is a sublime ambient homage to the marvels of clockworks and time pieces.
Through Sparkwood, you can download a digital version of the album on a name your price basis, but for the full experience, you may want to order the CD edition which comes with 10 printed photos and a delightfully written “eye-witness tale” printed on vellum paper.
‘Ticking Heart’ by Everyday Dust
Middlemarch – Wolf Hall [Time Released Sound]
Wolf Hall is a new album by Middlemarch, the duo of Dimitris Avramidis and Ross Baker released by Time Released Sound, a label known for their imaginative and artfully bespoke packaging. Inspired in part by the Hilary Mantel novel about court intrigue during the rule of Henry VIII, it is a “beautiful melange of melodic and atmospheric, pastorally infused and electronically treated and overlaid piano ambiance” evoking imagery of Tudor England, castle halls, and sculpted gardens.
The artistic treatment is exceptionally lovely, even by the very high standards the label has set for itself. Wolf Hall comes in two editions, standard and deluxe, both of which feature unique collages “made from the full page photos of a huge, 80 year old book on early tudor architecture, and is collaged ala Max Ernst with vintage prints of birds, animals, and other slightly surreal elements”. See the links below to order and to view a beautiful “behind the scenes” presentation of the artistic process behind the making of the collages (stunning to look at, too).
Making of: http://timereleasedsound.com/making-of-the-wolf-hall-collages/
‘Angels’ by Middlemarch
Elskavon – Reveal [Anthem Falls]
Reveal is the third full length effort by Elskavon, the ambient instrumental project of composer & musician Chris Bartels. Reading what Bartels has to say about the record reveals (no pun intended) that he had something of a progressive plan from the outset in which each album would have a specific sound and mood. Movements in Season and Release were both ambient in nature, with the former being more lush and elegant and the latter more minimal and wintry in tone. Reveal completes the cycle with the introduction of a post rock element featuring more structured arrangements, percussion, and several collaborators in the studio. The result is the most expanisve Elsakvon album yet and a lovely collection of songs that will likely appeal to fans of the style Hammock or Helios. Highly recommended.
‘Letting Go’ by Elskavon
Maybeshewill – Fair Youth [Superball]
Fair Youth is the highly anticipated new album from Leicester UK based post rock stalwarts Maybeshewill. If you are familiar with the band and have not yet heard the new record, be prepared for a bit of a change, but it is one that after several listens has really won me over. This is not a brooding record with explosive crescendos or imposing walls of sound. It is a bright and energetic record built around great melodies, upbeat pacing, and liberal use of electronics around the analog instrumentation. When the band does rock out, they soar, especially when the horn kick in as they do in the chorus of the title track. If you enjoy uplifting, melodic instrumental rock then run, don’t walk, to get this album. If you are fan of their prior work, listen with an open mind and give Fair Youth a chance to work its magic on you. As for me, I foresee this one in heavy rotation for quite a while.
‘Fair Youth’ by Maybeshewill
Pouya Ehsaei – There [Entr’acte]
There is the debut album by Pouya Ehsaei, an Iranian sound artist currently based in the UK. Readers may have noticed by now that Stationary Travels does not typically venture very much into the noisier, more experimental & avant garde side of ambient. That is simply a matter of personal taste, but I am sure I have readers who enjoy that side of the genre very much and I think this record might be just their cup of tea. And I must add that after a few listening sessions, it has opened my ears to a greater appreciation of the style. There is noisy and visceral at times. But is also imaginative and cerebral, and has its delicate moments as well. It is especially fascinating when the traditional Iranian music that was used as the starting point for the samples bubbles up to the surface and asserts itself among the digitized sounds and effects. There is a challenging album, but for fans of this style of sound craft, I would expect it to be a very satisfying and one which may entice those who have held the genre at arm’s length to have a thoughtful listen.
Order from Entr’acte; http://entracte.co.uk/projects/pouya-ehsaei-e172/
Order from Bookmat: http://boomkat.com/vinyl/1093878-pouya-ehsaei-there
‘There #1’ by Pouya Ehsaei
Peter Gregson – Lights in the Sky [Cabinbaggage]
Lights in the Sky is the new album from cellist Peter Gregson, whose EP with composer Michael Price was just recently featured on both Stationary Travels and Headphone Commute, and who has collaborated with names like Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Lights in the Sky is a Gregson’s new full-length solo record, a collection of “music for cello, piano, and minimoog”. Gregson seamlessly incorporates electronics and technology into his elegant compositions and expressive cello playing to create rich sounds and arrangements that are beautiful and highly satisfying to listen to. Modern classical fans will absolutely not want to miss this. Exceptional.
Singles & EPs
Richard J Birkin – Night Sun
Night Sun is an art installation and an online story commissioned by Nottingham City for Light Night Nottingham in February 2014, funded by Arts Council England. “It’s a physical thing about human connections in times of darkness. A toy music box sits on top of a wooden plinth outside a dark shop window. When someone touches the music box, the window lights up. When they turn the handle, a musical story unfolds, projected onto the previously lifeless window.” The music for this installation was composed by Richard J. Birkin (also of Emphemetry and Crash of Rhinos) and performed by Derventio Quartet and is now available as a downloadable single on Birkin’s Bandcamp site. Don’t let it’s brevity put you off. The story is quite effecting and the music is gorgeous. It may be small, but it is a gem not to be overlooked.
Night Sun by Richard J Birkin
The Gateless Gate – Myrrh
The Gateless Gate is an ambient music project of duo Allister Thompson (who also writes a great music blog called Make Your Own Taste) and pianist/singer Teri-Lynn Janveau. Their sound incorporates a wide variety influences including psych, prog, and post rock. This week they have released an EP called Myrrh, a very enjoyable outing based around the song of the same name originally released by legendary Aussie band The Church. Allister and Teri-Lynn turn in their own lovingly rendered rework of the song and ensconce it among three ornate instrumentals inspired by the musical and lyrical theme of the title track. The last two pieces make for a particularly evocative and cinematic journey with lush synths, shimmering guitars & piano, and layered vocals. The cover art is quite striking as well, making Myrrh quite a tidy and inviting package. This should have appeal to fans across several generations and genres, so check it out and spread the word.
‘camel dust heralds our arrival/with a dead sun shining on my back’ by The Gateless Gate
We Deserve This – Terzia
We Deserve This is a Germany based post rock project by Jan-Dirk Platek, who has been releasing a flurry of singles of late. His latest, ‘Terzia, a high energy piano driven piece with crunching riffs and a strong melodic core, should only add to his steadily growing fan base. Post rock fans should dial into this one and also check out his 6-track EP Nulllinie.
I had an opportunity to contribute another guest mix to the Circumambient podcast run by Thomas Mathie (aka Headphonaught), a fellow music blogger and founder of netlabel weareallghosts. This mix features a selection of minimal and organic pieces that ended up being loosely themed around sky and water. The artists represented are 36, Porya Hatami, IIlluha, Threethings, Savaran, Secret Pyramid, Tegh, Linear Bells, Simon Bainton, and Mark Harris. I invite you to enjoy the journey. You can listen here via Mixcloud or follow the links to the Circumambient web page or iTunes