Noteworthy highlights from the past week of music discovery, releases, previews, and other news. Daily updates are available on the Stationary Travels Facebook and Twitter feeds and audio/video links to all tracks featured during the month are available on the November 2014 Songdrop page.
Previews of Upcoming Releases
Loscil | Sea Island | Kranky (November)
The release of Sea Island by Loscil on Kranky label edges ever nearer and we were treated this week to another captivating preview track, ‘Sturgeon Bank’. By the sound of this lovely piece, we can expect another impeccable ambient journey inspired by the Canadian landscape from the hands of Scott Morgan.
More info: http://www.loscil.ca/releases/
Northumbria | Bring Down the Sky | Counsouling Sounds (November)
Ambient metal duo Northumbria, admittedly have roots in darker sounds not often played here, but the latest effort from the hands of Jim Field and Dorian Williamson called Bring Down the Sky is a more contemplative affair that balances the massive and expansive sound of their guitars with a melancholy-tinged sense of stillness and reflection, most particularly on the lovely ‘Ostara’. Ambient music that could fill a stadium with sound is not an easy thing to pull of, but Jim and Dorian do just that on the title track. Mesmerizing.
Lubomyr Melnyk | Evertina | Erased Tapes (December)
Pianist Lubomyr Melnyk follows up his latest album Corollaries with a new 24-minute mini album entitled Evertina due out next month via Erased Tapes which will feature three newly composed solo piano pieces which showcase the more gentle and melodic side of his work. Like Corollaries, the cover for Evertina will feature the distinctive artwork of Gregory Euclide. Pre-orders are now available and the beautiful title track can be previewed on Soundcloud.
“The piano for me has so many different faces, so many personalities and wonders, it is like life itself, ever-changing yet always holding to a permanence of beauty…these three pieces fit so nicely together in spirit, they present a tableau, a tiny triptych that can reach the world without waiting for a major work, they stand beautifully on their own, and do not need an album to surround them with comfort and padding. No, they are what they are, and a short musical interlude as this record gives, is just perfect for their nature.” – Lubomyr Melnyk
Lights & Motion | Chronicle | Deep Elm (Jan 2015)
Christoffer Franzen might just be one of the hardest working people in music. He composes, performs, and mixes every note and layer for his Lights & Motion project which bookended 2013 with two full length studio albums, Reanimation and Save Your Heart. Earlier this year he released a collection of film and TV music inspired compositions boasting over 20 tracks and now we learn that in January 2015 we will see his third album, Chronicle. It appears as if the new album will unite his uplifting melodic post rock with his cinematic compositional style, as evidenced by the huge sound of the soaring preview track ‘Reborn’.
The Union Trade | A Place of Long Years | Tricycle Records (Feb 2015)
In February, San Francisco post rock/shoegaze outfit The Union Trade will release A Place of Long Years, their first full length album since 2008 and the first new music since their 2011 EP Why We Need the Night.
“After a brief hiatus…the band spent 3 years regrouping and refocusing their collective effort on creating instrumental guitar driven soundscapes, dynamic progressions, and sheer emotional strength. Picking up where they left off with the success of their popular instrumental song ‘Everyday Including Holidays,’ The Union Trade enlisted two local musicians to contribute on key tracks: Nate Blaz, fellow label-mate and cellist of (Geographer) and Ann Yu vocalist of (Silver Swans) to lend their haunting styles and unique points of view to The Union Trade sound.”
This week we got a preview by way of the song ‘Murmurations’ which sounds very promising indeed.
Kryshe | In Between | Hidden Shoal
In Between is the latest release from Germany based ambient composer and sound artist Kryshe via Hidden Shoal. The EP was actually available in September, but was a new discovery to me this week. It is a lovely five track journey featuring crystalline piano blended with electroacoustic touches in a spacious ambient context. I find his work very easy on the ears and suspect you will too.
Mono | The Last Dawn / Rays of Darkness | Temporary Residence
One of the most beloved bands in post rock, Mono of Japan, follow up their 2012 album For My Parents with not one, but two new releases which are described as “recorded simultaneously yet conceptually and creatively disparate”. I was personally drawn toward The Last Dawn which is sonically and thematically the lighter of the two. It brims with aching melodies, swelling strings, and effusive emotion. Rays of Darkness on the other hand is termed their blackest album and is the first to not feature any orchestral instruments whatsoever. That said, there will no doubt be an eager audience for its massive sound and more experimental posture and I am quite enamored with ‘Surrender’ which features a trumpet played by Calexico’s Jacob Valenzuela. It is hard to fault the band when they have managed to deliver both the style their existing fans crave as well as pushing into bold new territory.
Follow the links below to order either album from Temporary Residence as well as a limited edition signed and numbered print set featuring the artwork developed by Pat Perry for both.
Order The Last Dawn: http://shop.temporaryresidence.com/trr242
Order Rays of Darkness: http://shop.temporaryresidence.com/trr243
Order Pat Perry Fine Art Print Set: http://shop.temporaryresidence.com/trr242243
All Shall Be Well | Blauwgeel
It was delightful to finally receive the new full length release from All Shall Be Well, based in Haarlem, Netherlands. Despite being separated by over three years, the style of BLAUWGEEL fits very neatly with its predecessor, ROODBLAUW right down the 2-color motif (red/blue, blue/yellow). The band has a fine ear for elegant, yearning melodies which they render in a in an airy, almost waltzing lilt punctuated by powerful crescendos.
BLAUWGEEL features six beautiful tracks including a composition developed around a short story called ‘Buko’ by Amanda Andrei, the winner of the band’s Storytellers contest. See the link below for a very nice read about that project and the story itself. Also available is a 50 page hardcover book with art inspired by the songs which will be limited to only 300 copies.
Musée Mécanique | From the Shores of Sleep | Tender Loving Empire
Portland, Oregon based band Musée Mécanique follows up their debut album with the “ambitious” From Shores of Sleep, a work which the band desired to be “less like a traditional album and more like a musical novel or story” as the band describes most evocatively:
“The listener is taken on a voyage within a dream, through ten individual songs exploring the balance between realism and idealism, responsibility and adventure-seeking — the dream realm and waking life. From romantic shoreline, across haunted tides, through perilous squall and storm, past coral reefs and up grave river endings, the journey takes us through meticulously composed musical scenes that unfold seamlessly and ultimately leave us somewhere we never expected to be.”
In addition to the fully realized album, the band has also released an instrumental version which allows the story of the record to be told strictly through the music and puts the spotlight on the elaborate arrangements. They are each generously offered on a pay-what-you-want basis, so I recommend both as they are equally enjoyable in albeit slightly different ways.
The Echelon Effect | Sierra
David Walters followed up the second installment of his Atlantic / Pacific dual album earlier this year with a lovely new EP called Sierra. In keeping with the beautiful cover art by Stephen Perez (who also records music himself as evolv), the sounds here are a little more soothing and intimate thus conveying more of a sense of stillness than of going on a journey. These are some of the finest sounds Walters has produced. Highly recommended.