Field Journal: 2020 Week 37

image © copyright Russel Sherwood Photography

The field journal is a concise weekly digest of music discovery. Featured in this edition: Christopher Tignor (USA), Richard J. Birkin (UK), Porya Hatami (Iran), Moss Covered Technology (UK), Grandbruit (Canada), F.S.Blumm (Germany), Ólafur Arnalds (Iceland), Alex Kozobolis (UK), Jenny Sturgeon (UK), Leandro Fresco & Rafael Anton Irisarri (Argentina/USA) .

Christopher Tignor – “Ode to Joy”

from the Composure: Classical Reworks for Modern Relief via Western Vinyl

A breathtaking interpretation of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy by composer, violinist, lecturer, & software engineer Christopher Tignor as part of a new series from the folks at Western Vinyl called Composure: Classical Reworks for Modern Relief. It is quite something to hear him take a piece of music of this age and renown and make it seem as if it was composed for our age. It definitely sent a few chills up my spine. The series has also seen works released by Peter Broderick, Bram Gielen, and Erik Hall.

My approach to the work was to take Beethoven’s well-known theme and use it verbatim (without the last, repeated phrases) as the upper melodic voice of a piano part that forms the backbone of my piece, surrounding it with strings, electronics, and percussion. I wanted to utterly re-imagine the triumphant exuberance of this theme in a setting that acknowledges the yearning, fragile qualities of joy. The new harmonies and glacial tempo produces a new, yearning study on finding and holding onto joy during these challenging times.

Christopher tignor

Richard J. Birkin – “Matter”

from the forthcoming album ‘matterlightblooming‘ on Reveal Records

A tantalizing first glimpse of a new album written & orchestrated by Richard J. Birkin which he performs along with The London Contemporary Orchestra. His first full-length release since Vigils (Reveal Records, 2016), he shares that it is “the biggest thing I’ve ever made”. The effusive strings soaring over a simple piano line on “Matter” certainly portend something expansive and hopeful. Though I have very much enjoyed Birkin’s understated approach to his previous projects, I am quite looking forward to hearing him embark in this new direction.

Porya Hatami – “Butterflies”

from the ‘Exhibition #100‘ compilation on Audiobulb

Exhibition #100 is a sprawling compilation from Audiobulb Records, an exploratory music label based in Sheffield, UK. It was issued to mark the milestone of achieving 100 releases and generously offers 34 tracks from a wide variety of artists spanning “electronic, ambient, microsound, electro-acoustic, idm/glitch and modern classical”. As well as their music each artist chose an image to represent their track which is hung in a frame on the exhibition wall. Featured here is a particularly lovely contribution from Iranian sound artist Porya Hatami.

Moss Covered Technology – “Untitled Quiet Loop #1”

from ‘Quiet Loops‘ on Dewtone Recordings

It is always nice to hear something new from Greig Baird’s Moss Covered Technology project. A modest release not to be overlooked is this lovely collection of sketch like pieces he produced to help create an atmosphere for his studio work.

Grandbruit – “Éveil”

I was recently introduced to the music of Grandbruit, an artist based in Montreal who creates his work primarily from field recordings and guitar loops. I especially enjoyed the sense of immersion and radiant emotions in this piece he released as a digital single last month. I see he has a brand new EP called Symétrie just released a few days ago, so I know what I will be listening to next!

F.S.Blumm- “emmeck”

from the album ‘In Sight‘ on Sonic Pieces

Wonderful guitar tones, melody lines, and spry rhythms in this piece from the new solo album ‘In Sight‘ by composer & multi-instrumentalist F.S.Blumm. Featuring everything from guitars to percussion, vibraphone, strings, piano, the album was just released on Sonic Pieces where he has appeared previously on several collaborations with Nils Frahm. Described by the label as “the kind of album that would be great to encounter played in a tiny Japanese jazz bar on a vintage, top notch speaker system together with a handful of local oddities”, I am definitely looking forward to delving further into this one.

Ólafur Arnalds – “We Contain Multitudes (from home)”

from the forthcoming album ‘some kind of peace‘ on Mercury KX

Directed by Blair Alexander

Teasing his forthcoming new album ‘some kind of peace’, the Icelandic performs a tender and affecting piece he wrote on a tiny electric keyboard at a friend’s cabin late one night. The video was filmed at Arnalds’ home in Reykjavík.

“At the time I had spent so much time away from what I had considered home, almost setting up a separate life on the other side of the planet. My mind was going through a process of learning to live in two vastly different cultures, of recognizing that within one body there are multitudes of different and often contradictory facets of personality”

Ólafur Arnalds

Alex Kozobolis – “Where London Sleeps”

from the album ‘Somewhere Else‘ on Phases Records

llustration /Animation : Will Scobie — Concept / Direction : Alex Kozobolis

A nice surprise to see a brand new animated film for a song that appears on last year’s release ‘Somewhere Else‘ by composer, photographer, & filmmaker Alex Kozobolis. It certainly adds a whole new dimension to the sparkling piano piece while taking the viewer on a magical journey over sleeping London and beyond.

A boy borrows a CD from a friend and embarks on a surreal journey that introduces him to the piano and a whole new universe of music. A loosely autobiographical account of how I came to fall in love with the piano, through borrowing a Thelonious Monk CD from a friend.

alex kozobobolis

Jenny Sturgeon – “Being”

from the forthcoming album ‘The Living Mountain‘ on Hudson Records

Video by Jim Lockey

Having first heard about it through a virtual book group hosted on Twitter by Robert Macfarlane, I have enjoyed following Jenny Sturgeon‘s project based on The Living Mountain by Scottish author Nan Shepherd. ‘Being’ is a song from her forthcoming album of the same title and corresponds to the final chapter in the book featuring Jenny on piano, Su-a Lee on cello, and Mairi Campbell on viola as well as a field recording made within the Cairngorms National Park. The album will be available on CD and limited edition blue vinyl in October. Also of interest, many of the songs were recorded with a ‘Nan Taran’ guitar especially made for Jenny by luthier Rory Dowling out of Scots pine.

lifted through the strata

look east

our lives stretched out below

learning, we process what we can

from the time we have

from all the time we have...

from “Being”

Leandro Fresco & Rafael Anton Irisarri – “Elevado Como Barrilete”

from the album ‘Una Presencia En La Brisa‘ on A Strangely Isolated Place

Video by Gabriel Rud

Featured in a travelogue post this past spring, Una Presencia En La Brisa (A Presence In The Breeze) features the alchemical fusion of Leandro Fresco’s melodic sensibilities with the recondite studio wizardry of Rafael Anton Irisarri on their second collaboration. This presents a welcome opportunity to revisit one of the outstanding tracks on the record along with a fabulous new video created for it by Gabriel Rud.