Field Journal: 2021 Week 20

It has been a delightful spring in Virginia but this week has served notice that another hot southern summer is on our doorstep. This group of singles, EPs, and albums have just seemed like the right kind of company for these languid and sunny days.

Aukai – “Soplo del Sueño ( Message To Bears Rework)”


The bright sounds of Markus Sieber aka Aukai finds an ideal complement in the gentle acoustics and warm electronica of Message to Bears (the musical alias of English composer and multi-instrumentalist Jerome Alexander) on this gorgeous rework of “Soplo del Sueño” from Aukai’s recent Entretanto EP. The cherry on top is yet another distinctive piece of cover art from Gregory Euclide.

Caught in the Wake Forever – Fair Weather Voyager


Scottish multi-instrumentalist & songwriter Fraser McGowan encapsulates a decade of fine lo-fi ambient creations as Caught in the Wake Forever with this anthology of compilation tracks, rarities & unreleased works even as he bids farewell to the project. The selections have appeared on a variety of top ambient labels including Home Normal, Hibernate Recordings, and Dronarivm. Featured here is “Long Hours in the Reading Room”, a previously unreleased track from the sessions that produced his 2019 release Waypoints (Archives). A lovely look back for those who have enjoyed his work over the years or an excellent introduction for those who have yet to discover it.

Charlie Coxedge – Big Top


Following up his 2017 Bella Union release Cloisters, musician & writer Charlie Coxedge of the Manchester band MONEY has just released a second full-length solo album on Bradford, UK based label This Is It Forever called Big Top. Previously unfamiliar with his work, I’ve been well and truly struck by the balance between the ethereal atmospherics and the melancholic gravitas of his sonic peregrinations on looping guitars & synths.

The album was released on limited edition cassette which sold out quickly, but it is still available for download & streaming. And if you enjoy this as much as I did, be sure to check out Youth, an absolute gem of an EP you can find on Charlie’s Bandcamp page.

Chihei Hatakeyama – “Late Spring”


In addition to the excellent work he has released on his own White Paddy Mountain label recently, Chihei Hatakeyama pops up on Gearbox Records with this entrancing spring reverie created with acoustic & electric guitars, modular synths, and other atmospheric effects. These solemn ambient meditations have a lush and verdant quality commensurate with the beautiful cover art supplied by Stijn Hüwels.

Already available for download & streaming, CD and black vinyl editions are due to be released in just a few days on May 28.

Cloud Tangle – Swells


Recording under the wonderfully evocative name of Cloud Tangle, Brisbane-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Amber Ramsay creates a mesmerizing sonic concoction that melds melancholic bedroom pop, shoegaze, electronica, and opaque ambient textures. Swells sees her setting aside her guitars to explore a more synth-based sound than her 2020 debut Kinds of Sadness as she offers up mixture of haunting vocal tracks with beautifully conceived instrumental interludes such as the piece featured here which closes the album entitled “Feedback”.

Dave Depper – Europa


Finding himself in Europe late in 2015 after nearly a year of touring as part of Death Cab for Cutie, Dave Depper decided to devote at least a little time every day to improvising on his guitar on a cobbled together looping setup. By the time he returned to Oregon, he had accumulated over ten hours of material which he distilled into a meditative 9-track album called Europa. Presented as something of an audio diary, the track names reference the cities where they were recorded – Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Munich, Manchester, and Vienna. An irresistible invitation to share pensive moments of introspection with a versatile and creative musician.

It’s odd and melancholy to listen to this music now. In some sense it’s a communication from a simpler time, before Brexit, before the 2016 election, from a seemingly kinder world, a world with open borders and live music. May we live in that world again soon.

Europa is available from Jealous Butcher Records on CD & digital as well as a standard black vinyl edition and a limited color vinyl edition.

Hakobune – above the northern skies shown


Hailing from a small town in Hyogo, Japan, Takahiro Yorifuji is a musician who creates larger than life ambient soundscapes as Hakobune. Actually part of the winter batch of releases from Oakland, California’s Constellation Tatsu earlier this year, the weightless, shimmering drift of above northern skies shown transitions easily into fine spring & summer listening.

The album is available in a yellow cassette edition as well as digital download and streaming.

Josh Mason – Recreación Segura


Jacksonville’s Josh Mason has a unique sound that manages to distill un-romanticized experiences of a everyday life along Florida’s beaches with balmy ambient textures encoded in static and languid surf guitar that sound as if they have been baked in summer heat. Recreación Segura is another fine collection of sketches and vignettes along these lines.

But back in the city,
Accounts of the hour
Jitter and diverge:
Big Jim bellows,
Signaling St. John’s to toll,
And when a plastic wristwatch chimes
It occurs to me, and only then,
That this new dialect—
Does actually have
A familiar cadence.

Nowhere Wood – “Sun’s Glaze”


Nowhere Wood is the alias for a project based in the UK that emerged on Bandcamp at the end of last year focusing sound exploration and improvisation with acoustic and electric guitars. While it may still be in its formative stages, there are already a number of inviting tracks available to listen with the multi-layered textural patterns “Sun’s Glaze” standing out as a particularly spellbinding piece.

The Paper Sea – Shadow Falls


From being a founding member of 1990s San Francisco shoegaze band The Rosemarys to playing cornet and keyboards for post-rock quintet Whale Fall and placing music in film and television, LA-based musician Jared Matt Greenberg has deep well to draw on for the new solo project he has dubbed The Paper Sea. While the songs are skewed toward the intimate and wistful end of the compositional spectrum, there is abundance of musical color thanks to a plethora of instruments (strings, cornet, Wurlitzer and Rhodes electric pianos, Moog synthesizers, Mellotron, Hammond and Farfisa organs, accordion, vibraphone, bells, pedal steel,acoustic and electronic percussion, electric and acoustic guitars and basses, and occasional wordless vocals) and free-flowing reference to multiple genres and influences.

I wanted to convey something that was both very familiar, quotidian, and ubiquitous,even mundane (paper), and at the same time grand,elemental, and aspirational (the sea).

Shadow Falls, which was named for the Rod Nelson woodblock print featured on the cover is now available on CD & digital with a limited vinyl LP edition on the way in September (pre-orders available).

Signal Hill – The EPs (Expanded and Remastered)


Though 2016’s Alturas remains their last full-length album of new music, instrumental rock quartet Signal Hill delivers their second premium release of remasters and rarities in two years with The EPs, an expansive collection that combines newly mastered versions of songs from The Distance and their self-title debit along with a handful of rare b-sides. To sweeten the package, the 15-track release will be available in a striking white vinyl 2xLP limited edition with cover art by band member Rishi Arora. The full package comes out in July, but a vibrant new version of “Celadon” can fill up your headphones right now.

Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk – Eight Fragments of an Illusion


With their first new album together since 2017’s PASSAGE, Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk unfurl a new collection of blissful, polychromatic instrumentals pieced together from sessions spanning the course of three years. The focus of the new record is on ” texture and slowly evolving patterns” with Munk melodic, swirling guitar patterns intertwined with a soaring tapestry of sounds created by Schnauss with an array of rare synthesizers and “vintage outboard gear” housed in his London studio. From the stratospheric heights of “Asteroid 2467” which opens the album, Eight Fragments of an Illusion is a truly kaleidoscopic headphone journey.

The album is available from Azure Vista Records on CD and a limited 12″ + 10″ transparent blue and red vinyl edition.