Ishmael Cormack is a British sound artist living in rural Somerset in South West England whose practice as focuses on the “gathering and weaving found sound with acoustics”. His first label release was Ammil on Krysalisound which I happily featured here when it came out in April. Since then, Cormack has gone on to release three more albums on as many different labels along with sundry other self-released projects, firmly establishing himself among my favorite artists currently working in the electroacoustic ambient space in just a very short time. This travelogue is a short but appreciative summary of some of these works featuring 1992 (Rottenman Editions), Feral (Mailbox Label), The Sunday Project (self-released), and Maple Finch (Handstitched).
1992 [Rottenman Editions, Nov 2020]
“1992 is a sonic portrait of my life and the result of my experimentation with cassettes. Splicing and looping form the vehicle for synthesiser, piano and electric guitar.”ishmael cormack
Released on Rottenman Editions, a boutique label based in Spain, 1992 is perhaps the most lush and pensive of Cormack’s releases as he draws a sonic portrait of his life with brushstrokes of piano, synth, and guitar spliced & looped into a silvery diaphanous reverie. The long form title track mesmerizes through repetition and subtle tonal shifts while the more laconic “Before” brings the melancholic undercurrent to the foreground.
1992 is available from Rottenman Editions digitally and in a limited CD edition with blue & green hand-printed wallet and “1992” analog printed postcards (50 copies). The album was mastered by Lee Yi. Photography by Meneh Peh.
Feral [Mailbox Label, Oct 2020]
“Feral is inspired by George Monbiot’s book with the same title. It explores rewilding and the importance of humanity allowing nature to take the lead. I designed Feral’s cassette art with this in mind. I wanted to reuse something that already existed in the world; something that already has its own beauty: illustrated plates from David McClintock & R.S.R Fitter’s ‘A Guide To Wild Flowers’ form the cassette sleeves, housing a sage green cassette”ishmael cormack
Released on mailbox, a British label just launched this year by James A. McDermid, Feral is an fine example of Cormack integrating of natural themes into his work as he explores the idea of rewilding through four ornamental soundscapes that beautifully intertwine shimmering electronics with organic sounds. As noted above, great care was taken to echo these themes in the design & presentation of the cassette editions.
Feral is available via Mailbox label digitally and in two cassette editions each housed in a mint green shell and a handmade o-card – one in color (just a few remaining at this writing) and one in black & white (currently sold out). The album was mastered by Frances M. Gri. Cassette sleeve artwork designed and created by Ishmael Cormack and download artwork was sourced & re-imagined by Ryan Hooper.
Maple Finch [Handstiched, Mar 2020]
“Maple Finch was conceived through multiple thought channels with an approach to nature and the outdoors, the six pieces of work have a familiar theme running through them. From the perspective of the bird and its surroundings and habitat to technical elements which are in-turn connected to organic field recordings, reverbs and natural noise created during the process.”
A spring release on Handstitched, Maple Finch is the most pastoral
Maple Finch is the most manifestly pastoral work in this group with only the most subtle use of electronics binding together crystalline acoustic guitar and delicate field recordings in attempt to literally create a bird’s eye view of the coming of spring. A beautiful and fascinating work that creates a sense of immersion not through enveloping sounds, but through its vivid and detailed sonic depiction of the natural world.
The Sunday Project (Mar-Sep 2020)
The Sunday Project is a collaboration that ran through the spring & summer with Thom Quentin Leigh who created videos to accompany Cormack’s meditative musical sketches embroidered with tranquil field recordings. The collection of videos is available on a YouTube channel dedicated to the project and a condensed listening experience is available as a pair of long-form audio tracks of equal length. The stated objective of the work was to create representations of life’s simplicity and give attention to quiet hidden moments. What would it sound like if you could distill the simple & profound pleasures of sitting in the middle of a garden or slowly walking down a forest path into music? Very much like this, no doubt.
The Sunday Project was released in two very limited cassette editions which are sold out at this writing, but digital download options remain available.