Track Premiere: Enfolding by Jim Perkins

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A classically-trained musician, composer for film, frequent collaborator, and founder/curator of Bigo & Twigetti, when Jim Perkins goes into the studio to record his own projects, it is safe to assume he has found a fresh and novel concept to explore. Such is the case with his new album Pools, his first full-length since 2015’s Constance. Once again, Perkins draws from the compositional techniques of his roots and cleverly subverts them with innovative recording methods and sound design combined with thematic constancy. In particular, Pools relies on binaural recording techniques and careful layering and spatial positioning of the instruments to create an immersive listening experience best experienced with a pair of headphones and attentive ears.

“A relaxed compositional framework leaves room for the serendipity of improvisation; it facilitates a beautiful balance; music with purpose, music that breathes. I want the listener to feel as if they are in the room with these instruments and surrounded by sound” – Jim Perkins

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Track Premiere: “Reul” by Plïnkï Plønkï

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In a genre that is virtually defined by its sober nature and weighty themes, a little whimsy and humor can be a breath of fresh air, especially when it is as artfully conceived as Plïnkï Plønki, an Icelandic music project that describes itself as “a 50 piece ensemble that doesn’t exist”.  That droll description, the bold primary colors of their album art, and the alliterative playfulness in the name itself all promise something refreshingly different for the open-minded modern classical listener.  But the clever wordplay doesn’t end there.

The title of Pangur Din, their sophomore full-length album due this fall is itself a play on words from the 9th-century poem “Pangur Bán” written by an anonymous Irish monk (“So in peace our task we ply, Pangur Ban, my cat, and I; In our arts we find our bliss, I have mine and he has his“).  In fact, set for a release to coincide with European Day of Languages, each song on the album is a Celtic language reference given abstract musical form. 

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Track Premiere: Mame by Carlos Cipa

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Carlos Cipa is a classically trained composer & multi-instrumentalist based in Munich who has scored music for film, dance, and theater and shared the stage with such neoclassical luminaries as HauschkaÓlafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, and Valgeir Sigurdsson. His third solo album, entitled Retronyms, is about to be released on Warner Classics and it will be his first full-length release since 2014’s All Your Life You Walk (Denovali).

The album title is a hint that we are about to see Cipa and his music in a new light. A retronym is essentially a new way of seeing something old, a renaming brought on by changes that require new clarity. For example, consider how acoustic guitars were simply known as guitars until the electric was invented. Retronyms emerge out of  periods of advancement and thus serve as markers of growth and development. Spend a little time with the new album and it becomes apparent why Cipa chose this metaphor. It marks a turning point in his album output, fusing established piano and classical motifs with bold new forays into pop, jazz, and electronic music resulting in his most multi-faceted and imaginative work yet.

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Track Premiere: Unendlich, Endlich by Arovane & Mike Lazarev

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In the winter of 2017, pianist and Headphone Commute editor-in-chief Mike Lazarev began an intriguing remote collaboration with Uwe Zahn, better known in experimental music circles as Arovane. Over the next year and a half, the two kindred spirits developed a musical language of their own that has taken form this summer in the release of Aeon on the enigmatic Eilean Rec. imprint. In his London studio, Lazarev would record minimal piano pieces, often late at night, sometimes with the windows open, seeking to capture every sound resonating from the instrument. Zahn then delicately deconstructed these recordings, extracting not only the notes themselves but even the brush of fingers across the keys, the fall of the hammers, or the ‘breathing’ of the strings thus turning them into morphological units for the formulation of new means of expression,

“We both aspired to delve into this instrument and play with all of the sounds living within, as heard from the inside. Many ideas would come from Uwe in the form of a sketch, an aural vocabulary, or a sonic brochure, which I would interpret through a pair of closely placed microphones. There are even fewer melodies and even more spacial pianism on here than in my previous solo reductionist works, which Uwe so masterfully extracted with his experienced ear. In this incredible partnership, we have discovered a new dimension within the piano…”Mike Lazarev

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Video Premiere: “Coeur” by Rob Simonsen

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When Sony Masterworks releases ‘Reveries‘ by Rob Simonsen in September, it will technically by a debut album, but the Los Angeles based composer’s work should be well known to many.  Having worked with Mychael Danna on movies like 500 Days of Summer (2009) Moneyball (2011) and Life of Pi (2012), Simonsen has gone on to score a number of major independent and feature films such as The Way, Way Back (2013),The Spectacular Now (2013), The Age of Adeline (2015), The Front Runner (2018) and Captive State (2019) to name just a handful.  The album has a rather rich backstory as one might imagine for a composer as experienced and well-traveled as Simonsen, and the more one learns about it, the more apparent what a labor of love Reveries represents.  By his own account it is both a return to Simonsen’s roots escaping into and exploring the piano as youth as well as to an aesthetic he encountered and developed an affinity for while working in Paris and Berlin in recent years.

“I came back to LA and thought, I want to have those conversations here. I want to be able to go to a church and see a little concert. I want to connect more with people doing interesting explorations, and thinking deeply about their art.”

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Premiere: “Sun Release” by Heron

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Hailing from the wilds of Pennsylvania’s northwest, instrumental quartet Heron arrived on the post-rock scene like a rush of fresh mountain air with their 2017 debut album You Are Here Now, Right out of the gate, they showed a penchant for melodic invention, infectious energy, and exhilarating arrangements with admirable attention to the nuances of space, tone, and texture.

In their second full-length record out this summer, members Ben Blick (guitar), Eric Morelli (bass), Boyd Lewis (guitar), and Nate Blick (drums) have built on that solid foundation by employing those dynamics in a more refined and expansive compositonal framework. Sun Release is a collection of great post-rock songs each of which can easily stand on its own while fitting into an overarching narrative – a single, soaring arc that spans the whole record.

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Video Premiere: Follow Me to the Moon by Daigo Hanada

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Fuji Pro 160NS Warm'

When we first met Japanese composer & pianist Daigo Hanada, it was his 2017 debut Ichiru on Moderna Records, an album written in Berlin and Tokyo over the course of a year and recorded with only an upright piano and a pair of microphones. This summer, Hanada returns to the label with a beautiful EP in a similar vein entitled Ouka, a new collection of seven intimate vignettes full of oneric charm. Once again, there is an elegant simplicity to Hanada’s work, a balance between melody, harmony, and space that is easy to listen to but takes a special touch to achieve.

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Video Premiere: Now I Am Found by Paul Saunderson

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Known predominantly for his extensive work in film (“Three Identical Strangers”, “100 Streets”, and “Starfish” among others) and writing arrangements for such artists as Coldplay, Badly Drawn Boy, and Kasabian, British composer and mult-instrumentalist Paul Saunderson will soon be releasing his own debut album which blends electronics and field recordings with classical instrumentation. Passage, which will be available July 5 from the 1631 Recordings imprint is a 14-track opus strung together in a continuous flow which parallels Saunderson’s own personal journey over the past several years in which he disperses intimate piano works dispersed amidst euphoric orchestral pieces of cinematic scope.

“I have always been interested in combining electronics with classical music, something that has become a large part of the writing in my film work. Music and nature have always held a strong bond, so I also wanted to retain an organic element, often creating sounds from field recordings, taking something literally from nature and turning it into music.” – Paul Saunderson

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Premiere: ypsilon by Zahn | Hatami | McClure

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Ypsilon” is the second collaboration between veteran sound artists Uwe Zahn aka Arovane (Germany), Porya Hatami (Iran) and Darren McClure (Japan).  Perhaps some readers recall the first time they joined forces as a trio on Veerian (2016, Eilean Rec), a veritable masterclass in minimalist expression and textural sound design. Never ones to repeat themselves, the new record find the group expanding on their original ideas and excavating new sonic terrain with the addition of more fluid melodic shapes and rhythmic structures. Ypsilon is in constant motion. It pulses, shimmers, and percolates with a restless energy and an impetus toward experimentation and even playfulness.

Here in this exclusive premiere, you can enjoy the penultimate title track which ushers in the album’s more contemplative, atmospheric closing chapters, a smooth glide path to the end of  a fascinating sonic excursion.

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