The days are growing shorter and the last leaves of autumn are fading embers that will soon disappear. The transition of fall into winter seems especially dispiriting in a pandemic year, but there is still comfort and consolation in the anodyne effects of music. The six albums that comprise this journey come from artistic voices spread across two hemispheres and three continents, yet they share in common a deep sense of introspection and a devotion to layering and sculpting sounds in ways that prove equally captivating and compelling.
Meanderings – Our Hope Is Lost At Sea [El Muelle Records]
Meanderings is a one of several music projects from Los Angeles based multi-instrumentalist, composer, & sound designer Dann Michael Torres whose new record Our Hope Is Lost at Sea is a deeply meditative opus created using a variety of extended range & textural guitars, prepared strings, tape loops and field recordings. Preparing us for the inward journey on which the album will take us, the label describes it as an exploration of loss, hope, and nostalgic contemplation conveyed through “solemn patterns and melancholic phrases”. From the arresting “Empty Words” that opens the album to the soulful undulations of “You’ve Simply Had Enough of Drowning” that ebbs it toward its gentle conclusion, these eleven carefully constructed pieces resonate with elegiac beauty and raw emotion.
Our Hope Is Lost At Sea is available digitally and in a limited CD edition from El Muelle Records based in Málaga, Spain and features photography and design by Pepo Galán.
meanwhile.in.texas – Heimat [Secret Press]
Under his meanwhile.in.texas alias, Angelo Guido takes us to Sant’Andrea Island and other locations near Brindisi in Southern Italy through field recordings collected during the summer of 2018 which he blends with electric guitars, tape loops, field recordings & piano to create a vivid sonic tapestry tinged with melancholy. The setting may be picturesque, but Heimat is no tourist postcard painting scenes of sun-kissed coastal charm. Rather the album explores themes of loss and decay with bright watery sounds embedded with exfoliating static, gritty textures, and distressed melodies. The result remains very pleasing to listen to but maintains a fascinating tension throughout making a unique sonic journey.
Links: Bandcamp (label) | Bandcamp (artist)
Heimat is available now from Prague-based Secret Press in two limited editions: a pro-dubbed lemon-yellow cassette in smoked case (30 copies) and a hand-crafted CDr package with sleeve made out of vintage album cardboard from late 70’s (also 30 copies). The album was mastered by Blear Moon and features photography by Tatyana Palyga.
Federico Mosconi – Sails [Unknown Tone Records]
Federico Mosconi is an Italian guitarist whose live performances range from classical to contemporary styles in solo, ensemble, and orchestral settings, but over the past few years he has also been creating immersive experimental works which juxtapose his intricate guitar work with weighty drones and lush ambient soundscapes. On Sails, Mosconi goes for an especially reflective mood that seeks to “embrace the audience as if drifting through moonlit seascapes at dusk”. To that end, he creates vivid sonic imagery through billowing drones and grand orchestral gestures punctuated by brief passages of crystalline guitar that serve to illuminate the scene at the most discrete moments. A painterly work that really engages the imagination.
Sails is available as a digital release from Unknown Tone Records based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and features cover photography by Mark Kuykendall. The album was mastered by Mosconi himself.
Still Harbours – Armature [Lontano Series]
Armature is the second outing for Still Harbours, a duo comprised of Bradley Deschamps, aka anthéne, and Jamie Jones, aka Fossil Hunting Collective, each of whom had a busy year with their solo work as well. Striking a slightly more contemplative tone than Fluorochrome which debuted in February on the Ambientologist label, these eight tracks weave a shimmering web through oscillating drones that defy their gravitas with a kind of weightlessness that holds them aloft. The album closes on its most moving track as the mournful minor-key melody and slowly surfacing guitar textures of “The Shape of Modern Tragedy” land with particular poignancy.
Armature is available digitally and on limited edition CD (70 copies) from Lontano Series, a division of rohs! records. The album was mastered by Andrea Porcu and features original photography by Richelle Forsey.
thme – that’s what it will be like [Whitelabrecs]
Thme is a new project from French artist Théo Martin who was originally raised in the suburbs if Paris and now resides inside the city itself. Théo learned guitar at a young age and played in a band for several years, but his solo music production started as part of a student exchange program. that’s what it will be like is his debut album developed during a period of intense work with focus on creating a sense of slowing down time. Showing extraordinary patience and depth from the off, he has created a beautiful electroacoustic ambient reverie to get pleasantly lost in.
Links: Bandcamp (label) | Bandcamp (artist)
that’s what it will be like is available from Whitelabrecs in their customary limited vinyl-effect CD edition which featuring artwork by London based collage artist Arctic Sun. The album was mastered by James Edward Armstrong (aka Slow Clinic).
Erik Williamson – The Streets Are Very Quiet, But The Birds Are Very Loud [Fluid Audio]
Another debut artist making a strong impression here is Erik Williamson from Brisbane, Australia with the poetically titled The Streets Are Very Quiet, But The Birds Are Very Loud, a collection of tape saturated drones and sepia-toned vignettes that reflect on personal themes through abstract expression. Curation becomes composition as Williamson morphs and layers his original sources until they take on a recondite aura and out-of-time feeling while still allowing contours of melody to remain discernible in the final form of each piece. Combined with the customary imaginative bespoke packaging from Fluid Audio, it is an exceptional first outing.
“This album meditates on the struggles to find and express one’s own identity in a world of ever-present, all-consuming obligations. Incorporating various processes of mechanical noise, tape degradation, and ambience, an obscure wave of sonic textures is formed, burying any semblance of its source material which embodies reveries of isolation and vulnerable moments.“Erik Williamson
Links: Fluid Audio | Bandcamp (label) | Bandcamp (artist)
The Streets Are Quiet, But The Birds Are Very Loud was mastered by Marly Lüske and released by Fluid Audio. The album is available digitally from their Facture imprint or directly from the artist. The limited CD editions with handmade notebooks and vintage astronomy prints are sold out at the label, but a few copies remain available via Norman Records at this writing.