From the delicate minimalism of a single piano to the aching beauty of a string ensemble to the mysterious studio alchemy of the analog fused with the electronic, here is a selection of some particularly memorable journeys in modern & experimental classical music released in 2017.
This list can never be big enough to include all the beautiful work done in these genres over the course of a year, but here are 25 albums that left a lasting impression. Here you’ll find rich atmospheres, deep emotional undercurrents, and organic, warm, and tactile soundscapes. Among these albums we find as much decomposition as composition, an embrace of stillness and naturally occurring beauty.
Each of these albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to a particular place or time – personal narratives, journeys remembered, or depictions of landscape real or imagined. Each one takes the listener on a journey and immerses them in a unique place or moment in time. One might say they represent the very essence of stationary traveling, which makes them quite to special to this listener in particular…
Discovering new artists via streaming platforms is not only the province of curators and listeners. It is also a way that artists can discover one another and, occasionally, these discoveries can open the doors to collaborations that would never have otherwise happened. Such is the case with Fabian Rosenberg (aka Klangriket) and Sjors Mans. After encountering each other’s work on Soundcloud and conversing over the wire about music & sound gear, they developed a piece entitled “Sarem” (listen here). It was a good enough experience that the two musicians felt they wanted to co-locate and see what they would come up with if they shared the same room while writing. So, Fabian left his hometown of Stockholm to visit Sjors at his Amsterdam studio.
It has been a little over two years since we heard from Good Weather For An Airstrike, the project British musician Tom Honey conceived nearly nine years ago to help alleviate suffering caused by tinnitus. Little Steps is a fine addition to his catalog as it finds the sweet spot between the ambient, post-rock, and electronic elements which are all integrated into a seamless organic flow with a deft and delicate touch.
Jason Sweeney is known for a wide variety of projects and many musical aliases over the past two decades. Perhaps the most personal and intimate is the classically oriented Panoptique Electrical which saw a new release this month, the first since last year’s Disappearing Music for Face. A great deal of what you need to know about the know record is encapsulated in its title – Quiet Ecology.
In 2016 Sweeney undertook a quiet odyssey across four Australian cities (Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne), searching out and mapping quiet spaces in and amongst these built environments. He wanted to discover as many zones of quiet or retreat in these cities and make compositions in response to these locations. He created maps and listening walks that took him from space to space. His desire was to ask a simple question: Can you find a way to release yourself, if only temporarily, from the noise of the world? ‘Quiet Ecology’ is a sonic memorial to these spaces and a musical act of quiet preservation. – Sound in Silence
It was the piano that first captured composer Alina K’s imagination as a child in Lithuania. Having moved to London with the intention of further developing her piano
playing skills and performed at the opening ceremonies of the prestigious Vancouver Fashion Week, she recently took the bold decision to leave a steady work in the world of luxury retail to focus full-time on her music. This has led to her first collection of music to be formally released, an EP due in early February of 2018. Produced by Nick Tauber, who has worked on bestselling albums for Thin Lizzy, Def Leppard, and Marillion, Awakening will feature selections from fourteen original compositions that she recently recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. The first track from the album, the aptly titled “New Beginnings”, premieres today and allows listeners to experience the uplifting beauty and direct emotional appeal of her elegant compositional style.
“I want to create music that transcends boundaries. My compositions come from my heart and I am so happy to see them bringing joy and positivity to the audience.” – Alina K