Travelogue 2017.08.07: Spotlight on Home Normal

Since its founding in 2009, Home Normal has consistently been one of the shining lights on the landscape of experimental ambient & electronic music. Conscientiously curated and uncompromisingly supportive of its artists, it is more than a label; it is a hub for a community of artists and mindful listeners who appreciate thoughtfully crafted, emotionally honest music.

“Based in Japan, the label was run as a way to connect to a sense of what ‘home’ and ‘normal’ could mean to someone who was in what was essentially an alien environment to them. The focus of the label was to release the ambient and electronic works of friends within the live scene we were part of in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, but soon expanded to include the work of many artists worldwide…We see the label as a family of friends who work together to create unique works that have a hold and impact on whoever can take their time to absorb our music and aesthetic” 

Featured here are recent & upcoming releases by Ian Hawgood + Wil Bolton,  Giulio Fagiolini, and Jason Van Wyk,

Ian Hawgood + Wil Bolton – Transparencies

Though they first started collaborating almost eight years ago, Transparencies marks the first full-length album by label founder Ian Hawgood and sound artist Wil Bolton as a duo. Piano, glockenspiel, flute, vocals, and found sounds are all delicately woven in & around Bolton’s distinctively organic, metallic guitar textures. Like a languid fever dream, one track flows into another in a humming miasma as fragments of melodies coalesce and diffuse against a collage of sonic ephemera. Patient, contemplative, and meticulously crafted with the frosty warmth of a winter thaw.

Transparencies features cover art by Hitoshi Ishihara whose work also featured on Wil’s 2014 label debut Bokeh. The album is currently available on limited edition CD & digital download.

Giulio Fagiolini – Dietro a un vetro

Italian composer, keyboardist and pianist Giulio Fagiolini debuts on Home Normal with Dietro a un vetro., a collection of fetching piano compositions each delicately waltzing on the thin edge between minimalistic restraint and effusive romanticism. In the increasingly crowded field of solo piano music, if an artist does not distinguish themselves either with dazzling technique or inventive applications of the instrument, they must at least be able to convey a soulful sincerity and purity of emotion along with a solid mastery of melody and mood. It is the latter which flows in seemingly effortless fashion through Fagiolini’s hands and permeates this beautiful record.

Dietro a un vetro features cover art by Luca Passerotti and will be available August 15 on limited edition CD & digital download.

Jason Van Wyk – Opacity

South African artist Jason Van Wyk made a name for himself on the electronic music scene before shifting several years ago toward minimal composition, a domain that he demonstrates complete mastery over on his third full-length album entitled Opacity.  It is an impeccably lush and luminous collection of imaginative pieces that manage to sound expansively cinematic while remaining serene and intimate. Van Wyk’s piano along with Brittany Dilkes and Gavin Clayton on violin and Lynne Donson on cello weave the modern classical magic embellished by opulent layers of electronics used both ornamentally and melodically throughout. Such an assured combination of emotional effusion and rich sound design is rare to find and is a real treat for the ears as well as the soul. Exceptional.

Opacity features cover art by Gregory Euclide and will be available September 30 on limited edition CD & digital download.

Jason Van Wyk – Attachment

Attachment was first released in the spring of 2016 on Eilean Rec. marking the labels first foray into the piano-based modern classical scene while introducing the potent beauty of Van Wyk’s compositional soundscapes to a new audience. Having mastered the original and releasing its follow-up on his own label, Ian Hawgood saw an opportunity to revisit the album and  glean something more from it.

“After creating a very clean master of ‘Attachment’, I felt there was another layer to be told in the work, with its close recording techniques, dusty piano tones, and overall warmth. After inviting Jason to release his follow-up on Home Normal, we also agreed that a complete remaster using tapes would be a lovely way of approaching ‘Attachment’ again” – Ian Hawgood

Indeed, it was a worthwhile effort as the remastered version adds even more crepuscular beauty and depth of field. It is not so much that one version is better than another as it is akin to the effect of looking at a painting in two different kinds of light each of which brings out different elements to savor.

Attachment features cover art by Vadim Petrakov and will be available September 15 on limited edition CD & digital download.