Field Journal: 2020 Week 41

© copyright Russell Sherwood Photography

Featured in this edition: Danny Mulhern, Elskavon & John Hayes, Holt, Liam J Hennessy & Good Weather For An Airstrike, Lights & Motion, Minihi, Rachel Grimes, and Sachi Kobayashi.

Danny Mulhern – “Flow State Desnuda Waltz 2”

from the forthcoming album ‘Flow States‘ on 1631 Recordings

Danny Mulhern is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer who has worked with London Contemporary Orchestra on records and film scores, including the critically acclaimed “What They Had“, starring Hilary Swank, Blythe Danner, Michael Shannon and Robert Forster, as well as scores for the long-running forensic crime drama Silent Witness and numerous arts and science documentaries for the BBC. This song teases his forthcoming new album on the 1631 Recordings imprint called ‘Flow States‘. Very much looking forward to more details about the album and a full listen when it comes out on December 4.

Elskavon – “Vermillion”

from the forthcoming album ‘Du Nord‘ on Western Vinyl

On this side of the pond, an exciting new collaboration has been announced between multi-instrumentalist and composer Chris Bartels, aka Elskavon, and pianist John Hayes both based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and at the center of a burgeoning ambient & modern classical scene that has developed in the Twin Cities. Du Nord will be released in November on Western Vinyl putting them in the company of such acclaimed artists as Goldmund, Christopher Tignor, Heather Woods Broderick, and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith to name just a few. Listeners familiar with their solo work probably need no further convincing at this point, but as the first single from the record, the vibrantly rhythmic “Vermillion” should catch the ears of anyone not already paying attention.

Holt – “Luna”

from the forthcoming instrumental EP ‘Painted Sound’

London-base music maker Amy Holt, who records simply as Holt, will releasing her first instrumental record entitled ‘Painted Sound‘ later this month. The album was created during lockdown during a time where, unable to see family and friends, the artists sought solace in her music and found it holed up in a loft with an old piano where she explored themes of “isolation, reconfiguration and creation”.

“The writing started in the spring, usually a time of new beginnings and renewal – all turned on its head by the pandemic. I found myself exploring themes of isolation, loneliness and our surreal new world – but I also found joy in irrepressibility of nature that I had previously taken for granted”

Amy holt

Liam J Hennessy – “Open Skies (Good Weather For An Airstrike reinterpretation)”

from the album ‘In the Half Light (reinterpretations)‘ on Bigo & Twigetti

A follow-up to the 2019 solo album In the Half Light by musician and composer Liam J Hennessy, London’s Bigo & Twigetti are releasing the new collection of reinterpretations by a stellar roster of artists including Message to Bears, Blurstem, Jim Perkins, Alex Steward, Chris Hyson, Luca Longobardi, Levi Patel, and (featured here), Good Weather For An Airstrike. With really striking cover art, there is lots here to catch the ears and eyes.

Lights & Motion – “Tainted”

from the EP ‘Ghost of You‘ on Deep Elm

The very first full-length album review I posted on the blog was for Reanimation, the debut of Lights & Motion, a solo project of Swedish musician Christoffer Franzen. Over the years since, Christoffer has continued to successfully nurture that project and increasingly pursue his interest in scoring for film & television. While his music often has a euphoric wide-screen feel to it, this EP finds him retreating into a much more subdued mode of creation inspired by the winters of his home country.

Each of these five tracks were written during Swedish winters, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that sense of melancholy sounds very Nordic to me. The sound of these songs is stripped back and relatively sparse, painting a vivid picture in my mind of a dark snowy night in the silence of a Scandinavian forest.

Christoffer franzen

Minihi – “Hallowed Halls”

Between them,percussionists and composers Zands & Louise Anna Duggan have worked with artists and ensembles ranging from the Royal Philharmonic to Lady Gaga as well as recording on Thom Yorke’s Grammy nominated album ‘Anima’ with the London Contemporary Orchestra. As Minihi, they blend mallets, piano, and other bell-like textures with drums, synths, and vocals to create soundscapes where, as they describe it, “the classical palette intersects with the world of groove and electronics”. This is one of a pair of digital singles the duo has released on Berlin-based Unperceived Records that I found to be a captivating introduction to their work.

The piece combines the sound of an old orchestral keyboard instrument called the celeste with various synths and bell-like textures, and a repetitive groove built from a traditional Irish drum called the bodhran. Louise Anna’s voice is also used within the texture to create a sense of it reverberating within the space. The track has taken on a new significance recently, with all the concert halls, theatres and gathering spaces worldwide that lie dormant, waiting to be filled with life again.


Rachel Grimes – “Got Hold of Me (Instrumental)”

from the EP ‘The Way Forth – Instrumentals‘ on Temporary Residence

Last year pianist, composer & arranger Rachel Grimes released her soundtrack to The Way Forth, a new folk opera inspired by a treasure-trove of family documents, photos, and letters spanning several generations and which retraces generations of Kentucky history through the voices of women from 1775 to today. This companion release that just came out in October contains five instrumental versions of compositions from that recording, shining a spotlight on her versatile and sublime compositional skills in a concise but powerfully evocative way.

Sachi Kobayashi- “Helplessness”

from the forthcoming album ‘Moon & Sea‘ on Serein

Sachi Kobayashi is a Japanese producer based in Tokyo who we are told is no stranger to the world of electronic music, though her forthcoming album Moon & Sea on the Serein label will be her first that can be properly considered as ambient. The label describes it somewhat cheekily it as “a deep and dreamy offering that hearkens back to ambient music’s golden years (if you’re old enough to remember them)”. Listen to the gorgeous opening track and you’ll soon see just how well the warm orange & pink hues and the solitary figure staring out the window at the moonlit sea on the album cover matches the aura of the music she creates.