The weekly travelogues begin for 2015 with a round-up of recent releases, previews, and other gems of music discovery to share. 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 Songdrop page.
Recent Releases & Missed Gems
Talk West | Black Coral Sprig [Preservation]
I have been building a short list of missed gems from 2014 as I discover them on the best of lists from the blogs & fellow music lovers I follow, and this one sits near the very top. I should have expected as much since it was found on the Headphone Commute list called “Music for Withered Leaves and Lonely Fishtanks” which shared many of my own favorite albums of the year.
Talk West is the musical alias of Dylan Golden Aycock and Black Coral Sprig is his LP released in February by Preservation to inaugurate their limited edition Circa 2014 series “unearthing and unifying underground artists”. In it Aycock “negotiates the terrain between stately and homely by stretching a ringing country tone into an all-encompassing atmosphere, much like the ambient realms of Stars of the Lid. His unhurried, gentle playing style comes to reveal understated textures that weave into a whole alternately spirited, warming and often haunting”. On first of what is sure to be many spins I have found it to be beautiful, patient, and serene.
Featured Track: ‘Willow and the Dogwood’
Dreamsploitation | The In-Between Years:1959-1963
This intriguing November release was discovered among the stellar lists of A Closer Listen.
Dreamsploitation (aka Chuck Blazevic) set out to explore “the elegiac dimensions of American popular music recordings produced during ‘the in-between years’ of 1959-1963, i.e., the teen music that had dominated the charts between the waning of rock’n roll in ’59 and the flowering of rock in ’64”. Not a theme one would expect for an ethereal & melancholic ambient recording and yet it works beautifully as remembrance of the era seen through a hazy, nostalgic filter as it decays and dissipates.
Featured track: ‘Adagietto for Priscilla’
Kate Carr | Fabulations [Soft Recordings]
Admittedly, recordings that are heavily skewed toward field recordings or experimental noise don’t often feature on Stationary Travels, and as something of a newcomer to that segment of the genre I am still cultivating an ear for it. But it is quite clear to me that Fabulations by Kate Carr is among the finest examples and thus has been garnering much praise from bloggers & fellow artists alike.
The album, just released by Soft Recordings “continues exploring our planet and society by trapping sound particles in various countries” with sounds recording in Marseille, Nice, Cefalu, Catania, Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dungun and Barcelona, all embellished only sparingly with atmospheric instrumental layers. A must listen for connoisseurs of the style and, possibly, an ideal entry point for curious or uninitiated.
Featured Track: ‘Under an Ancient Fort’
Clara Engel | Harvest (Siavash Amini Remix)
Recorded by Clara Engel in the middle of winter, in a large room that used to be a warehouse in Toronto, Canada for her album Ashes and Tangerines, ‘Harvest’ is “a love song, a song of resignation, and a song about resolution. It’s about a landscape, it’s about bodies and how the wind rips and tears into them indiscriminately. It’s a song about the weather, about transience. It’s a song with open spaces where meaning dissolves as the wind blasts and whistles through”.
This remix of the song by Siavash Amini was most unexpected, but a more perfect match could not be imagined thematically or stylistically. He brings the sweeping emotional drone textures he spun for his own Dostoevsky-inspired opus What Wind Whispered to the Trees, lending the piece suitable depth and drama. And Engel’s voice has the anguished sincerity, range, and gravitas to not only not get lost in it, but to radiate even more than it does in the original. A very striking collaboration.
Hotel Neon | Hotel Neon [Home Normal]
Hotel Neon is a side project of brothers Michael and Andrew Tasselmyer, also of ambient/post rock band The Sound of Rescue. Recently Ian Hawgood of Home Normal discovered the self-titled debut recording and took it on to be remastered and reissued on his label. As Ian says, “Much like the music, Michael and Andrew are wonderfully understated when noting the album came about through simple means: a usb recording device, cheap guitars, effects processors, and a computer. Yet the result is really quite something…When we heard it, apart from enjoying it solidly for a good few days, we decided to play around with twin decks to focus on the beautiful lows that were hidden within. Through tape saturation the lows became beautifully transparent giving us a deeper focus to the work, and hopefully an album that contains with it that stirring element of something glorious yet hidden within the recesses of the mind’s eye”.
Whether or not you have heard the original, this release will be worth your attention if you appreciate elegant, minimal ambient drone.
Featured Track: ‘A Lament’
Sarah Davachi | Barons Court [Students of Decay]
Barons Court is a new full-length recording by Sarah Davachi to be released next month via Students of Decay. Davachi “marries an academic approach to synthesis and live instrumentation with a preternatural attunement to timbre, pacing, and atmosphere…Three of the album’s five compositions feature acoustic instrumentation (cello, flue, harmonium, oboe, and viola, played by Davachi and others) which is situated alongside a battery of keyboards and synths and emphasizes the composerly aspect of her work”.
Far from dense or impenetrable, there is an inviting airiness in every piece that allows the unique sounds of each instrument to shine through translucent layers, all reflecting a patient & thoughtful human touch. This is a mesmerizing record that offers something refreshingly different in the ambient field.
Featured track: ‘Wood Green’
Ending the Year on a High [weareallghosts]
Many of you are familiar with Thomas Mathie, writer of the Headphonaught blog and curator of the Circumambient podcast (which has kindly hosted a few Stationary Travels guest mixes) and one of the nicest & most positive people who promote ambient music today.
Thomas also runs the weareallghosts netlabel and has pulled together some of the artists from the roster as well as some very special guests to produce a varied compilation called “Ending the Year on a High” the proceeds from which will be donated to Hospice UK. Covering a gamut of sounds styles, a modest £5 gets you music from Cousin Silas and Christopher Alvarado, Brother Saturn and Kevin Lyons, Stephen Briggs and Tim Rowe, Negative Spectrum and Sound Awakener, Delicate Apparatus and Scott Lawlor, William Spivey, Wolfgang Merx and Rhys Anslow, Mystified and Microvolt, Orbit Over Luna, åpne sinn, Row Boat, Daniel Prendiville, and twincities. In addtion, the first twenty who contribute more than that, will also get a download of ‘In Between’, the latest full-length album from contributor Row Boat.
Featured Track: ‘It Seems a Small Thing’ by Orbit Over Luna
Enfold 01 [Ultimae]
Ultimae Records observes their 15th anniversary by inaugurating a new V/A compilation series call Enfold and offering the first volume as a free download. The focus of this collection is “gentleness and chill” and contributors include label stalwarts such as Lars Leonhard, I Awake, Fingers In the Noise, Miktek, Circular, and AES Dana. Available in both CD and studio master (24 bits) editions.
Featured track: ‘Winter Shell’ by I Awake