A quiet space and a good pair of headphones are recommended for this group of albums that share an intent to capture signals, noise, and resonances and sculpt them into fascinating sonic narratives. Featuring Sustainer, José Soberanes, Kate Carr, Arovane, & Porya Hatami.
With Lost Voices, enigmatic Montreal-based ensemble Esmerine continues its now ten-year long musical journey, expanding and evolving around their founding core – melodic percussionist Bruce Cawdon and cellist Rebecca Foon. The band has grown from a quartet to a quintet with bassist Jérémi Roy joining Cawdon and Foon along with drummer Jamie Thompson and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson. Whereas its exhilarating predecessor, Dalmak, was very much shaped by the immersive experience of an artist residency in Instanbul and collaboration of local musicians, the new album is a more stylistically diverse and expansive offering:
Lost Voices can fairly be called Esmerine’s “rock” album, expanding upon the band’s celebrated prowess at deploying structure and dynamic, balancing melodic expression against methodical restraint through a diversity of stylistic touchstones (minimalism, post-rock, math-rock, desert rock) while allowing for explosive crescendos of exuberant density and maximalism that most notably distinguishes this record from previous work
Keith Kenniff returns with the first full length Goldmund album in four years, one that is especially bound up in the ethos of the questing Herman Hesse character he chose as the moniker for this piano-centric solo music project. Hearkening back to the style of Malady of Elegance (2008), Sometimes is an exquisite collection of seventeen meditative improvisational sketches that resonate with emotional urgency.
Recorded over the course of three years, the material on his new album Sometimes functions as a journal, documenting brief moments in Kenniff’s day when he could turn to the piano as a source of solace and unending creative possibilities. Kenniff wrote and recorded everything on the album with the exception of the track “A Word I Give”, which is a collaboration with preeminent Japanese pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto, who once described Goldmund’s music as “…so, so, so beautiful…”.
Dragon’s Eye Recordings is an imprint based in Los Angeles and curated by sound and visual artist Yann Novak. Originally founded in 1989 by Yann’s father Paul, the label has released over 70 editions in the fields of sound art and experimental music since being relaunched 2005 with a focus on electronic, electroacoustic, field recording, drone and acousmatic music and a well defined and elegant minimalist visual aesthetic for presenting them. This travelogue focuses on the most recent and highly recommended offerings created by Darren McClure, Miguel Isaza, Tobias Hellkvist, and Novak himself.
Invoking the breathtaking and mysterious expanse of western skies in name is easy enough to do. Creating music diverse and powerful enough to live up to it is another thing entirely, but with the two full length Western Skies Motel records he has delivered this year, Danish musician René Gonzalez Schelbeck has shown he is up to the task. Prism, released earlier this year on Preserved Sound, is a pristine sunlit journey, a dance of light on the acoustic guitar suited to morning meditations under a placid cerulean sky (see the ST review here). The forthcoming Buried and Resurfaced, on the other hand is an album that dwells in the twilight of a brooding dusk, a bruised and sullen sky where storm clouds gather and stillness forebodes.
Slaapwel Records is a small record label strictly focused on music to fall asleep to. It was founded and run by Wim Maesschalck (Wixel) from 2007 to 2012 and featured such ambient & experimental music luminaries as Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper, TX), Greg Haines, Peter Broderick, Simon Scott, and Seaworthy. With Wim’s blessing, the label returns in 2015 with Stijn Hüwels as its new caretaker and a new entry in the catalog from Ghost and Tape:
“Since I loved the label from the beginning, I accepted with no hesitation and started my search for sleepy tunes. I heard Heine Christensen aka Ghost and Tape was very interested in making a Slaapwel-album. Heine and I got in touch, and so it began! It took some time, but here we are: very proud to present you …a perfect Slaapwel soundtrack, not only as the reawakening of the label, but also one that will guide you from awake to sleep. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do” – Stijn Hüwels
Manchester based musician & sound artist Richard Ginns was last featured here with his mid-2014 release Fall, Rise which was inspired by a harrowing experience with a blinding snowstorm encountered during a winter trip to the Alps. In keeping with the timing of its release, his latest, Until the Morning Comes, is a more autumnal excursion that exudes stillness and tranquility and finds a perfect home on the brilliantly eclectic Eilean Rec. label.
Since From the Mouth of the Sun debuted in 2012 with Woven Tide Dag Rosenqvist and Aaron Martin have been continuously honing their craft with solo and collaborative projects almost too numerous to mention, so it was very exciting to hear them announce a new FTMOTS project in 2015. October finally saw the release of Into the Well and both the music and the handsome bespoke limited packaging from Fluid Audio are as special as we could have hoped for.
In 2005, Glenn D’Cruze stepped out from behind the drum kit where he supported of a variety of Vancouver based bands and launched his own called North Atlantic Explorers along with Jonathan Anderson. After the debut record (Skylines), the project remained quiet until 2014 when they returned with the first of an ambitious brace of conceptually related albums called My Father Was a Sailor.. Now, with release of the purely instrumental All the Ships At Sea, the musical diptych is complete. The albums are bound by their source of inspiration – D’Cruze’s late father’s life at sea with the British Merchant Navy:
As a young man, my father left his parents and eight siblings in a faraway country and set out to see the world. He arrived in Glasgow, Scotland circa 1952 to begin a life as an engineer with the British Merchant Navy and he spent the better part of a decade on the steamer ships. Upon returning from the sea, he fell in love with and married a stenographer and began a new life in Canada. But that was a lifetime ago…I can only wonder, and I often do, what life was like for him as a young man sailing out to distant seas and being out at sea for endless days” – Glenn D’Cruze
The tenth and latest Soft Recordings release is an album by the label’s founder David Teboul under his familiar moniker of Linear Bells. OR is his first new work on Soft since his springtime collaboration with Sound Awakener (Belonging to the Infinity) and his first full length solo recording since Insides, which was released by Assembly Field at the start of the year. We are told that this record is a deeply personal one to Teboul, one that was created during three months of seclusion, and there is nothing in this immersive collection of long form drones that would belie that claim.