My first introduction to Josh Mason‘s music was Hellified Irie (2015, FET Press), a work that used journal writing, inventive sound design, and a meditative riff on 60’s era surf music to recreate the “constant hum” and hazy torpor of Florida summers past through a nostalgic lens. It exemplified the personal nature of Mason’s music and his collagic style which relies on analog and digital sources to “examine themes of family, community, mental health and location”. This was something that was both instantly captivating and a refreshing departure from the remote landscapes and heavy atmospherics for which so many ambient artists have a propensity.
Mason brings a similar approach to his newest record entitled Coquina Dose. The album was released this past March on the Florabelle imprint, but it plays particularly well in summer given the subtropical setting.
“Coquina Dose is the book on your nightstand under a lamp with a 40 watt bulb. It’s driving alone at night up and down the strip looking for a pool to crash. It’s the endless lights of luxury, hotels, oceanfront dining. It’s dogs barking, the wind off the water, dead friends, and sunsets that are no longer free. Everything humming, everything buzzing. It’s a new day, in the same circuit. Short interesting rides, followed by a loss of momentum. Notes of grass, lychee, pineapple, burnt sugar.” – Josh Mason
Continue reading “Sound Impression: Coquina Dose by Josh Mason”
Sun Rain is the solo alias of Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ, & electronic producer Chad Skinner. Released earlier this month on Hush Hush Records, Sheets represents his debut under this moniker, yet he’s been active within the music community for the past five years, releasing two albums as part of electronic production duo Snowday as well as spinning DJ sets in clubs and festivals around Ontario as Legs Florentine.
Recorded entirely in Skinner’s home studio, Sheets is a collection of eight sonically diverse electro-acoustic vignettes bound together in an aesthetic of melancholic beauty and heartfelt reflection on the importance of trees and wood in historical and contemporary life. From solo piano to folk guitar and from ambient synths to soothing beats, there is an organic style and contemplative mood shared by all the varied pieces that serves the overarching theme.
“After acquiring and spending time with a piano over a century old, I realized just how precious wood is. It has been integral for the survival of mankind; all the while remaining one of the most utilized natural materials for creative exploration.” – Chad Skinner
Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Paper 2” by Sun Rain”
One piano player. One percussionist… As classically trained musicians, Rasa Daukus (piano/keyboards) and Will Larsen (percussion/drums/electronics) began working together as music undergraduates playing a repertoire based on 20th century piano and percussion. Tess Said So combine piano, percussion and electronics with non-classical sounds and techniques, infusing their sound with pop, jazz, ambience and minimalism.
With I Did That Tomorrow (2014) they introduced their unique creative partnership, a vibrant collection of tracks that defied the apparent limitations of their chosen format. The same improvisational spirit, bold elegance, and impeccable musicianship that made such a resounding first impression shone just as brightly on their 2016 follow-up Scramble + Fate and now we are about to be treated to it once again with imminent release of Piaf’s Boyfriend, an ode to people they met while recently on tour.
The new record which will be available on CD & digital beginning May 31 finds the duo at the top of their game as musical storytellers with Rasa’s sparkling piano lines leading the way accompanied by Will’s versatile and highly expressive percussion. In this interview kindly furnished by Hayden Berry of Preserved Sound, Rasa & Will talk about writing an album that captures the personas of different people they met or who left an impression on them along the way. Continue reading “Duologue: A conversation with Tess Said So”
Kinbrae is the musical project of twin brothers Andrew & Michael Truscott based in Edinburgh and Dundee, Scotland. Their signature sound is at once evocative and experimental, mixing brass, acoustic guitar, percussion and musique concrète to create works rooted in a sense of place utilizing both ambient and contemporary classical elements. The liner notes for their 2015 release Coastal Erosion succinctly described it as “sonic map making”. It is a concept they continued with 2016’s Tidal Patterns (1631 Recordings), which was inspired by a year spent on the Hebridean lsle of Coll and againg with their most recent release, Landforms, which is themed around Scotland’s longest river, the mighty River Tay, as well as its surrounding landscape and the impact growing up on its banks had on the two brothers.
The album unfurls like a cinematic travelogue that takes in the river from its origins on the slopes of Ben Lui in the west to its eastern tidal reaches near Perth as it approaches the North Sea. It is a meandering 120 mile journey through a vast catchment presided over by iconic bridges, sprawling countryside, and bustling towns. To help create an expansive sound worthy of the album’s central protagonist, the Truscotts collaborated with Ben Chatwin (aka Talvihorros) who provided additional instrumentation as well access to his Edinburgh studio where they were able to experiment with adding modular synthesizers and effects into the mix.
“For this record we wanted to expand ourselves sonically to combine brass parts with synths, electronic textures and manipulated field recordings to create an expansive orchestral sound. Movement of Light was one of the first songs we wrote for the record and from early on in the recording process we thought it was well suited to open the album. Collectively these water based tracks come together to form the overall ‘Landforms’ album, mirroring the way in which water itself forges natural features on the land, helping to give the music a sense of place. ” – Andrew Truscott
Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Landforms by Kinbrae”
Richard Skelton is an artist from northern England, UK whose work is deeply immersed in landscape and nature. To date he has released over 30 EPs and albums of music, and has produced work for exhibitions, performance, feature films and documentaries. His latest work, entitled Border Ballads, was recently released by Corbel Stone Press, a publishing house which he co-runs with wife & creative partner Autumn Richardson. The first part of the title refers to the location around which the album is themed as well as where it was recorded, the well-watered border country where Scotland and England meet. It is an evocative place and one that makes fertile territory for Skelton’s vivid sonic explorations. The second part of the title is a clue that this is one of the most lyrical recordings in his canon, favoring concise melodic structures over the sprawling, glacial soundscapes that feature in much of his recent work.
“Skelton has spent the last two years living on the rural northern edge of the Scotland-England border, a boundary demarcated by various watercourses – among them the Kershope Burn, the Liddel Water and the River Esk. This hinterland topography has informed a series of musical recordings which, in their brevity, stand in stark contrast to the long-form compositions for which he is more usually known. Nevertheless, there is a sense that these twelve miniatures are fragments of a larger whole, such is their unity in tone and timbre.”
Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Border Ballads by Richard Skelton”
After dazzling us last year with Solan Goose, the soaring inaugural entry of his poetically inspired Orkney triptych, composer, producer & multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper and his talented supporting cast return in 2019 to continue the story with another transportive musical portrait of one of the planet’s most enchanting places. Entitled Sule Skerry, the new album shifts perspective from the sky above the Scottish archipelago and its avian fauna to the sea below and the people whose lives & stories are inextricably linked to it. Once again, Cooper commands the expedition using piano, Minimoog, tape loops, field recordings, & electronics supported by his fabulous live ensemble consisting of Anna Phoebe (violin), Jacob Downs (viola), Lottie Greenhow (soprano) and newly added member cellist Klara Schumann withatmospheric embellishments added by Leo Abrahams on ambient guitar.
It’s a record about the sea, our relationship with the outside world, forces outside of our control but it’s also about creating a nest within that, nurturing and protecting our own sea havens, those sheltered bays, those safe places. Always returning back in some form, as we step in and out daily.”
Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Sule Skerry by Erland Cooper”
Since 2009, William Ryan Fritch has composed music for over 30 feature films and more than a hundred short films as well as releasing over 20 solo records. How does one attempt to showcase such a body of work in a single album and make it cohesive and compelling? Consider Deceptive Cadence: Music For Film Volume I & II a masterclass in just that. At forty-five tracks and a two & a half hour run time, the cleverly titled double album is sourced from material bound to many disparate narratives, yet Fritch has carefully curated the selected compositions in a way that transcends the original context to create something majestic and new, a singular opus that a listener can come to with fresh ears and experience with unfettered joy & wonder.
“Most of those familiar with Fritch, know only of his albums as a singer songwriter or genre-elusive multi-instrumentalist, which truly represent a small fraction of the depth and range of his work. ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ gathers the most remarkable and memorable pieces from Fritch’s vast catalog of film compositions. Rather than filling up two volumes with half assembled film cues and fragmented themes, Fritch has gone to great lengths with ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ to make sure both volumes tell a story, build theme, and create a satisfying full album experience as good as any movie they may have come from. While this music once graced a particular film, show, or commercial, it has all been reimagined, reworked and made whole in post-production to complete the epic narrative of ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ ” – Lost Tribe Sound
Continue reading “Through a Musical Lens: Deceptive Cadence: Music For Film Volume I & II by William Ryan Fritch”
“I grew up between these hills, under the sun…”
Founded by Taylor Deupree in 1997, the 12k label now has spanned two decades refining its distinctly conceptual approach to experimental music with the intent of providing “a conscious counterpoint to the information overload of the 21st century”. Over that time, one could argue 12k has become more than just a label. It has become both a platform and a community for a group of creators with a shared aesthetic while embracing the distinctive qualities of their respective artistic voices. One of the guiding principles that Deupree has followed in nurturing the label and growing this community is to “evolve constantly, but slowly”. He has achieved this by continually curating new artists into the fold with an especially discriminating ear. The most recent of these is Michael Grigoni, a composer & multi-instrumentalist originally from the Pacific Northwest, who now lives in Durham, North Carolina and records under the name M. Grig.
Grigoni specializes in dobro, lap steel guitar, and pedal steel guitar and it is his layered, atmospheric approach to these instruments that brings something new to 12k’s sonic domain while managing to fit perfectly into its vision. Having produced several EPs and done a fair amount of film & session work, Mount Carmel is the first full length album by M. Grig and employs an approach that derives from his study of ethnomusicology while attending the University of Washington which introduced him to ethnography.
“Ethnography is a method for field-based research developed by anthropologists. The method involves spending time with people and learning about different ways of being in the world and taking notes while you do so—jotting impressions, observations, feelings, snippets of speech, sketching maps, landscapes. Putting experience to paper in the moment again and again over a lengthy period of time—for months, sometimes years. This sensibility colors my music; this layering of ideas, feelings, and textures. Something emerges, or is discovered or revealed, through this process. Combing sounds made with an instrument with sounds recorded in the field, blending and enfolding these sources, is deeply satisfying and grounding for me.” – M. Grig
Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Mount Carmel by M. Grig”