Throughout a raging ice storm and in the slow thaw afterwards, the music here has been making for fine company. Wherever you are, I hope you’ll take the time to listen and that you will find the same. Featured in the second field journal edition for 2021 are recent discoveries and releases by Abul Mogard, Adeline Hotel, Chuck Johnson, Haraldur Thrastarson, The Innocence Mission, Mt Went, Origamibiro, Ryan Dugre, and Tristan Eckerson.
Abul Mogard- “Sand”
from In Immobile Air
Abul Mogard returns with his first full-length studio album since 2018’s Above All Dreams. In Immobile Air finds the enigmatic artist introducing more delicate elements to his sound in the way of upright piano and reel-to-reel treatments as exemplified in the beautifully crafted “Sand” featured here.
Adeline Hotel – “Reliable Feelings”
from Good Timing (Ruination Records)
New York based musician and songwriter Dan Knishkowy, aka Adeline Hotel, will soon be releasing a sparkling set of acoustic guitar instrumentals entitled Good Timing which he developed during under quarantine in the summer of 2020. Full of beautiful splayed and arpeggiated guitar lines that coalesce into melodic shapes and disperse, the music strikes a very pleasing balance between pastoral Americana and abstract atmospherics.
Chuck Johnson – “Red Branch Bell”
from The Cinder Grove (VDSQ)
The follow up to his stellar 2017 album Balsams, Chuck Johnson continues his introspective explorations of the pedal steel guitar with The Cinder Grove, a “a suite of requiems for lost places” that wistfully reflects on profound changes in the California landscape much of which has been impacted by wildfires.
While I hope to spend much more time with this record soon, I have come across two excellent treatments that I highly recommend reading to gain a deep appreciation of the work. One is a beautifully written review by Allison Hussey for Pitchfork and the other is an in-depth article & interview by Grayson Haver Currin in the New York Times.
Haraldur Thrastarson – “Eitt”
Launching their new Luminant Series with its first single, the INNI label offers a pensive beauty from Icelandic composer Haraldur Thrastarson which he performs on piano and multiple trombones with deep thrums of double bass contributed by Yair Glotman. The mellifluous brass tones of the piece are a response to the darkness of recent world events which Thrastarson optimistically presents as the “opening theme to a new chapter where hopefully a better path to follow forward can be found”.
The Innocence Mission – “The Lakes of Canada”
from Birds of My Neighborhood (2021 vinyl reissue)
The Innocence Mission is a band I have followed for the past 30+ years. The magic of their early albums has never diminished while they continue to produce wonderful new works that radiate empathy, kindness, and humble beauty. Alongside recent gems like See You Tomorrow and Sun on the Square, Karen and Don Peris have been putting out some lovely vinyl reissues. The latest of these is a brand new edition of their 1999 release Birds of My Neighborhood which includes the now classic single “The Lakes of Canada” (also famously covered by Sufjan Stevens).
Mt Went – “Rewild”
from Lit Way Down (Lost Tribe Sound)
Mt Went is a collaboration between Andy Cartwright, known for his solo work as Seabuckthorn, and Dave Anderson (Von Braun). The two recorded Sheltering Sky in 2010 when they lived in the same UK town and having gone separate ways, they have revisited the project in 2018 leading to the development of a brand new record called Lit Way Down. Both albums are being released together in a double CD book edition by Lost Tribe Sound. The track featured here exemplifies the bleak but ultimately elegiac sound they have carved out together.
Origamibiro – “Fracture”
from Miscellany on Denovali
After a six-year hiatus, the trio that was Orgiamibiro reemerges primarily as a solo project of composer Tom Hill with a new album called due for release next month on the Denovali label. Building on the “found sound” style of their earlier work, Miscellany continues a theme of “exploration into the tangible nature of everyday objects and textures – both in and outside of the home” but with an expanded palette to include piano and other instruments such as viola da gamba, zither, singing bowl, glockenspiel, drum machines and gongs. As this featured track suggests, all manner of eclectic and cerebral charms await.
Ryan Dugre – “Glace Bay”
from Three Rivers
New York based multi-instrumentalist and composer Ryan Dugre follows up his 2019 album The Humors with another multifaceted guitar-centric collection of songs on Three Rivers which is due out next week. Written in January of 2019 during a “song-a-day exercise”, the album spans a range of styles from film music to pastoral jazz and meditative Americana. Featured here is the graceful closing track called “Glace Bay” which Dugre wrote after spending time digging into records about his ancestors and learning about some of the struggles they endured.
Glace Bay is where my great-grandfather Edward Macmillan was born. It’s a coal mining town on the eastern tip of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. His father died in the mines in 1897 when he was three, leaving him as the eventual provider of the family. This piece is named in his memory.Ryan Dugre
Tristan Eckerson- “Quiet Now”
“Quiet Now” is a beautiful and soothing new single from Cincinnati based pianist & composer Tristan Eckerson. Drawing on his background in blues, jazz, and contemporary music, Tristan often creates vibrant, kinetic pieces for solo piano, but here takes a wonderfully restrained approach to create a poignant moment of introspection and palpable melancholy. The cover photo that sets the tone for the piece was taken in Akiyoshidai, Japan by artist and photographer Chizuru Masumura.