Since its inception, Harry Towell’s Whitelabrecs label has been nothing less than prolific with release after release that seems to bring out the best in any artist that appears on the roster. In fact, Whitelabrecs made more appearances in my 2019 retrospectives than any other label. Given the creative impetus that represents, perhaps it is no surprise that Towell reacted to the disruption that Covid-19 has visited on so many projects by finding a way to pivot in a new direction to keep the music coming. Thus we have the Home Diaries, a series of digital releases created in response to, and sometimes inspired by, the current situation.
“Home Diaries is an invitation to artists and musicians to create an album or EP to document their personal experience during the lockdown or social distancing conditions that are upon us, due to the coronavirus outbreak. The series reflects a range of sounds, styles and ideas, as each artist portrays their own reflections uniquely. The releases feature a recurring Polaroid image of a small lonely house, with a coloured filter chosen by the artist” — Whitelabrecs
This round-up features eight of the musical diaries I’ve personally enjoyed, or half the output of the project so far which has seen 16 releases over just 45 days with more apparently on the way.
002: Edu Comelles – Mirar Lluny
“Mirar Lluny, the title of the track means “To look far away” in Catalan. The idea for the title came out while empathizing with fellow friends and family, and random people also in lockdown who don’t have access to outdoor spaces or have views from their window. — Edu Comelles
A wonderfully sparse and meditative long form track with modern classical leanings by by the Spanish sound artists & composerincorporating contributions by Isabelle Latorre on piano and Sara Galán on cello.
004: Andrew Sherwell
“I wanted to capture this solitude and the repetition of the days. Not in an angry way, because, as I have said, I have to accept the situation for what it is … But also, there are new elements of surprise and beauty to be found in solitude, in the lack of others. You see and experience your surroundings in a different way. You have to.” — Andrew Sherwell
London-based ambient drone artist Andrew Sherwell captures a palpable essence of loneliness and stillness in these sumptuously-textured, melancholic soundscapes.
005: Pruski – I Need Space
For the first week of quarantine, like everyone else, I guess I was a little insecure. Later, step by step, I tried to take more and more from what I enjoy – music. Interestingly, I discovered that this is a great way to escape from my four walls; a mental escape. So I tried to immerse myself deeply in the sound. I tried to combine my experiences with nature with my own sensitivity. — Pawel Pruski
Based in Krakow, Poland, the artist known simply by his last name of Pruski unfurls an immersive long form piece studded with interesting textural elements riding the ebb & flow of a gentle sonic current.
006: Spheruleus – Canvas Homes
“Every day I’d spend a bit of time in the conservatory with Isla and record whatever instrument I’d bought down … We’d go for a walk in the evening, come home and then later I’d get to work on making a piece of music from these loose sketches. I wanted to make a track completely in one day and make a new one as often as I could and this was effectively the birth of Home Diaries, which I decided to open out to other artists.” — Harry Towell
Towell’s own contribution to the series under his solo moniker of Spheruleus features a plethora of instruments and exudes a homely atmosphere full of pastoral charm and the acceptance of a slowed pace of life.
007: Jazzdefector – A Quiet World
“I developed symptoms of a cold that weekend, they gradually got worst and then after a few days seemed to stabilize. I guess my growing fears of ‘did I or didn’t I have the coronavirus’ is reflected in the music I was making. I have not had a cold like this one in years! Some of the moods are intense and there are also moments of calm.” — Sebastian Buccheri
Based in Leicestershire, Sebastian Buccheri aka Jazzdefector uses his guitars & pedals to evoke a wide range of moods with which he was coping as he intertwines shimmering, meditative gems with occasional bursts of disquietude.
009 by Fossil Hunting Collective – Aperture
“I think a lot of my unconscious focus was making sense of the new pandemic normal and trying to create something hopeful through sound, but it never does come out that way in my writing style! … The entire album is laced with field recordings of our documented daily routines from the morning preparations of breakfasts, to the awakening of springtime fauna, and the seasonal shift of ice to thaw. Most of the track titles, now seem very obvious to me as a reflection of the aptly named moments of this time.” — Jamie Jones
On the heels of a release as half of Still Harbours, Canadian musician Jamie Jones returns to his solo project Fossil Hunting Collective with this soporific blend of guitar-based drones marbled with field recordings and fluid tonal shifts.
012: James Osland – Everything Will Be Alright Forever
“The inspiration for this record came from the effect the lockdown has had on noise pollution. Working outside during the week I have been acutely aware of how much unwanted noise has disappeared. Natural sounds are being given the space to take center stage and many of the wonderful sounds of spring are no longer being hidden under a blanket of cars, factories and human interference.” — James Osland
Devon, UK based audio-visual artist James Osland creates an immersive sound diary teeming with sounds of nature that have emerged in the silence of a quarantined world. Soothing and bucolic.
013: Pie Are Squared – muri
“I wanted to embrace the “home” part of this, which is why there are recordings from inside the apartment while we’’re going on with our daily lives and from outside the apartment’s windows, running throughout he album which creates the sound bed for everything else … I wanted to make music that’s comforting to listen to in a way, to get lost in while doing other things, like reading, doing things around the house or just browsing stuff online.” — Mohammed Ashraf
As Pie Are Squared, Egyptian musician Mohammed Ashraf takes the listener inside his studio based in Ravenna, Italy with an especially immersive set of hauntingly beautiful and vaugely comforting sonic vignettes.