Sound Impression: James Murray – The Sea in the Sky [Voxxov]

Strong  conceptual themes presented in the context of minimal ambient and electronic music are the penchant of self-taught British composer James Murray. Having released the deeply personal Loss on Eilean Rec. earlier this year, he turns outward and looks upward on his latest work, The Sea in the Sky  which is now available on Voxxov Records

For his seventh album….James Murray takes to these whirling currents, vertiginous depths and irresistible tides. Dissolving guitar, bass, piano and electronics into continuous streams of granular sound he has created a strikingly original series of long-form meditations that condense, dissolve and recombine their elements, constantly drifting and shifting in form like the clouds themselves – Voxxov Records

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Sound Impression: Wolf Maps – Purity [Futuresequence]

Purity, the second release this year by UK-based ambient drone artist Wolf Maps on the Futuresequence label, feels like both a progression and evolution from its predecessor. The grainy, distortion-saturated aura of Sun Ghosts had already begun to decay into something more gauzy and translucent by its conclusion and the new work follows through on that transition in resolute manner, delivering a deeply meditative collection of tracks cast in softer hues. The edges have been burnished and the dials have been adjusted to register on a different emotional scale.

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[Rekonstrukt-I] Tegh – Night Scenes [Bitrot]

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For some time now, we have been singing the praises of a collective of artists from Iran who have consistently been putting out some stunning ambient & electronic recordings. Several of them, namely Siavash Amini, Hesam Ohadi (Idlefon), and Arash Akbari, have gotten together to launch a new label they call Bitrot. The inaugural release is not only a superb record in its own right, but it also sets a benchmark for the label’s aesthetic and launches the “Rekonstrukt” series which takes a cereberal approach to the way artists rework each other’s music.

“In order to reconstruct a piece you first have to take it apart and engage it in a way that with its destruction you bring a new creation to life, in which something from the original still lives…By channeling a piece of music through different imaginations you will find out that it has many hubs and nodes that were hidden in the original. In this series we try to explore this idea by letting artists find these hubs and nodes that make up a work and have them rearranged. Then you can see the work in the light of other creative minds, generating a vast network of musical landscapes connected by an invisible line that is the original music’s destruction.”

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Travelogue 2015-39: A Modern Classical Sunday

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Any day is a good day for listening to modern classical, but somehow it seems especially perfect for Sundays. In this travelogue we’ll look at four wonderful recent releases that can fill many Sundays to come with joyful listening.  The featured artists are Masayoshi Fujita, Jacob David, Jane Antonia Cornish, and Michael Vincent Waller

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John Lemke – Nomad Frequencies [Denovali]

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Experimental musicians are all nomads of a sort, free spirits always seeking out new realms of sound to explore and inhabit, but usually they prompt and challenge themselves to this exploration of their own choosing. It is the mark of an innately talented and dedicated artist to draw musical inspiration from unwelcome circumstances forced upon them, as is the case with John Lemke and his newest album Nomad Frequencies soon to be released by Denovali.

“In the summer of 2014, forced to indefinitely evacuate his Glasgow flat and studio due to structural damage from one hour to the next, with nothing more than a laptop and a bag of clothes, John embarked on a six month odyssey of soul searching, couch surfing and spending an extended period of time in his old hometown of Berlin for the first time in years – it was to be an odyssey that would help ferment and distill the ideas of his second album on which work had just begun.”

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A Sense of Place: Mark Lyken and Emma Dove – Mirror Lands

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Tucked into a recessed portion of Scotland’s eastern coastline, Black Isle is a peninsula that sits between the windswept Highlands to its north and the city of Inverness and the Great Glen to its south. The waters of the surrounding firths are traversed by dolphins, porpoises, seals, migrating whales, cargo & cruise ships, and fishing boats as well as serving as home to oil rigs. Its land mass is home to woodlands, rolling hills, farms, castles, and towns. The name possibly derives from a consequence of its mild climate which often leaves it devoid of the whiteness of frost and snow that may surround it during the winter.  It is a place which intertwines the threads of a multitude of narratives both natural and man-made.

Mirror Lands is a film and sound installation created by multimedia artist Mark Lyken and filmmaker Emma Dove that focuses on that place and those narratives. It was one of 14 projects across Scotland supported by Creative Scotland’s Imagining Natural Scotland initiative. Music and sound are both integral to the project which Lyken has referred to as sitting “somewhere between and art film and a documentary” and that part of the experience has now been extended into a soundtrack album artistically packaged and released by the creative hands at Time Released Sound. The key to fully appreciating this wonderful recording is first understanding the impetus of the film. Continue reading

Communique: Discreet + Oblique

The Barbican Centre are hosting an event as part of their Transcender festival series that may be of interest to readers of Stationary Travels, especially those near, in, or around London later this month. Entitled Discreet + Oblique: The Music of Brian Eno, it will be a live performance which seeks to recreate the shimmering textures of Eno’s landmark album Discreet Music and build on its conceptual vision (note: Eno himself will not be performing).

To mark the album’s 40th anniversary, musical directors Leo Abrahams and David Coulter have devised a richly-imaginative live performance of this breathtaking work…A specially-assembled ensemble – electronic musician Benge, saxophonist John Harle, violinist Emma Smith, cellist Oliver Coates and experimental jazz trio The Necks – will incorporate original equipment, including EMS synthesiser and Eno’s ‘Frippertronic’ tape looping system, to summon a unique realisation of Discreet Music’s magical sound-world. This concert performance – incorporating various visual and sonic surprises – aims to pay tribute to, and give new life to, that initial, incredibly fertile vision.

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Sound Impression: Ten – Hitherto [Twice Removed]

Hitherto is an ear-catching two track EP by Ten, an instrumental music project by Leeds-based artist Dominic Deane that mixes ambient, instrumental and electronic sounds. It also catches the eye in that it has been released by Twice Removed Records in a rare 5-inch format produced by Lathe Cuts, which means each one is a unique handmade artifact.

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Sound Impression: offthesky – the serpent phase [Hibernate]

Jason Corder’s experimental music project offthesky has always been a prolific one and this year has been no different, having already seen two full length and two collaborative releases the latest of which is the serpent phase on the UK based Hibernate label.

Initially conceived with the aim to create a series of piano sketches exploring mobile recording techniques, ‘the serpent phase’ takes in recordings made in Chicago, Switzerland, England, Canada, Colorado, and Kentucky. These initial recordings were then added to with other instrumentation including vibraphone, guitar, a synth, drum kit, vocals and textural field recordings.

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Various Artists – Dialog Tapes [Dauw & Eilean Rec.]

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Surrounded by abstractions, space, and a spirit of experimentation, ambient music is inherently fertile ground for collaboration. We see artists coming together all the time to co-create, embellish, and rework pieces of music. But sometimes there is as much room for creativity in devising the frameworks for collaboration itself as there is in the artistic output. Dialog Tapes is a case in point. Here two very distinctive labels with compatible aesthetics, Dauw (based in Belgium) and Eilean Rec. (based in France), came up with a scheme to bring their rosters together to create a dual album release comprised of 14 tracks, 7 to be released on each label and each one co-created by a different pairing of artists.

One year ago, Eilean Rec. got in touch with us and after some emails it became clear that we had to work together somehow as we really love each others label. What started with some rough ideas ended up in a wonderful project… We linked artists from both labels to each other and asked if they wanted to make a collaborative track. The final result is amazing: 15 artists, 14 tracks and 85 minutes of wonderful music…

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Reissue: July Skies – Dreaming of Spires [Rocket Girl]

On our musical journeys some albums become mile markers, touch stones that we can go back to to reset our musical compass to true north. For me, Dreaming of Spires by July Skies is that kind of album. Lest anyone familiar with my listening history think I am being disingenuous, it took me years, too many really, to stumble upon it. But from the first time the refrains of ‘Swallows and Swifts’ washed over my ears, I knew I was hearing something special. Originally released in 2001, Dreaming of Spires manages to distill the pastoral beauty of the English countryside and a palpable sense of youthful wonder into musical form, which is just what Antony Harding had in mind from his earliest beginnings of the project which was later collaborated on by others, including Ben Holton and Robert Glover of epic45.

Everything seemed possible at the end of youth and there was a need to capture feelings and a growing interest in exploring towns, villages, ruins, abandoned places and the countryside through sound. Frustrated attempts on an old Spanish guitar ensued. In 1997, I bought a Fender Stratocaster (originally owned by Pete Holder from the Birmingham band Anarakula), a battered delay pedal, learnt a few chords and created July Skies with the aim to release a 7″ record… – Antony Harding

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Hior Chronik – Taking the Veil [Kitchen. Label]

Originally from Athens and currently based in Berlin, composer and musician Hior Chronik has a had very productive year with his name appearing on at least 3 full length albums and collaborating with a dizzying array of artists from the fields of modern classical, ambient, and electronic music.  Perhaps none is more beautiful or affecting as Taking the Veil released in May on Kitchen. Label.  The album is uniquely accompanied by a visual narrative in the form of an art book created by photographer Amber Ortolano, who also features as the recurring role of singer on several of the tracks.

The subject in the visual narrative of Taking the Veil is of young women imprisoned by their flow of thoughts and their dark imagination. The delicate beauty and ambiguous gestures of feminine protagonists serve as powerful metaphors of the veil as the title of the album reflects – They reveal and conceal all at once, reviving emotions conjured by a sense of mystery. The album underlines this atmosphere that probe the consciousness imbued with burnished hues of something half-remembered and half-dreamed – Kitchen Label

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