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Nil Ciuró is a composer and sound designer based in Barcelona who creates music for TV, advertising, motion graphics and short film. Next month he will  be making his second appearance on the 1631 Recordings contemporary classical imprint with a new album entitled Inwards.  The first preview of the new record was the Piano Day 2019 release of the fluttering ballad “Even”, but the second single shows the more kinetic side of Ciuró’s work.

Continue reading “Premiere: Boundaries by Nil Ciuró”

Veins_Cover_3000pxBorn in East Berlin to actor Klaus-Peter Thiele and painter Rosemarie Rautenberg, Valeska Rautenberg grew up living and breathing creativity and has followed that path throughout her life. She started working as an actress at the age of eleven and continued starring in movies and television shows on & off while at school and later during university. During her teen years, however, she discovered music was her true love and since then she has engaged in all aspects of it as an instrumentalist, singer, composer, producer, and teacher.

Rautenberg has also performed in a wide array of settings from pubs & underground clubs to gala events and major venues, but her latest release is an especially personal and intimate one. Part of a series of releases that began in 2017 after taking some time off to tend to her personal life, Veins (Songs for Piano, Wind, & Water) is a collection of four beautiful piano-based vignettes inspired by early morning walks on the streets of Berlin and being attuned to sounds that can easily be drowned out when the city is bustling.  Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Wandering” by Valeska Rautenberg”

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After a little winter hibernation, things are beginning to spring to life over at 1631 Recordings, one of my favorite contemporary classical labels since its inception. In addition to three releases announced in conjunction with Piano Day 2019, the label will be bringing us a collection of brand new reworks of material from Jakob Lindhagen‘s ‘Paces which was originally released in late 2017 (read the ST review here).  While Lindhagen successfully etched the quintessence of long Scandinavian nights into each of the album’s austere, delicate compositions, these carefully curated reworks reveal how just how adaptable they are to new ideas and constructions.  Continue reading “Premiere: Jakob Lindhagen – In The Machinery (Aisling Brouwer Rework)”

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Ian Hawgood‘s name is absolutely inseparable from the contemporary ambient & experimental music scene. His Home Normal label, which just marked its tenth anniversary, is one of the first and still one of the best of its kind. He is also a tireless and kind supporter of other musicians in this space and has had a hand in mastering many of their albums across a wide array of labels. His own solo albums, however, have been few & precious so it comes as great news to see one arrive this spring only a year after last year’s for Eilean Rec. Hawgood himself draws a connection between the two, saying that they are “partners in construction”, the result of patient late-night cultivation over nearly a five-year period spent living in Warsaw and Tokyo before ultimately selling off his entire collection of synths and reels, some of which went to the British Library.  One might argue he saved his best for last as Impermanence is a sublime document of sonic ephemerality and extraordinary filigree in terms of both texture and emotion.

“After many years of in-demand mastering, label curation and collaborative focus Hawgood now offers us a definitive portrait of the technical expertise and personal integrity demanded by exemplary modern tape-based practice…In studios between Tokyo and Warsaw walls of reel-to-reel tape recorders, analogue synthesizers, processed textures and degraded cassette recordings were all carefully coaxed into braiding together their hiss, wow, flutter and warmth into this beautifully flowing nine-chapter arc of delicately unpredictable sound.” – James Murray (Slowcraft Records)

Continue reading “Premiere: “Whispers” from Impermanence by Ian Hawgood”

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Minneapolis composer Chris Bartels has been writing ambient music under the name Elskavon for a decade and this past year was arguably one of his most productive with the release of Skylight and numerous collaborations and work supporting the burgeoning indie classical scene in the area along with artists like Jacob Pavek, Philip Daniel, and John Hayes. Not only that, but the Bora York indie pop project fronted by Bartels and wife Rebekah are in the process of developing a new album as well.  Sounds like more than enough to keep even the most restlessly creative musician busy, does it not? Yet, somehow Bartels has found the time & energy to put yet one more iron in the fire with Blurstem.

The project was born as a piano-centric offshoot of Elskavon. Chris and Rebekah were gifted an old spinet piano when they bought a house in 2015. Always slightly out of tune, a little dusty sounding, and very much imperfect, the instrument had a character that Chris wanted to explore. He cut up an old sweater and taped it to the strings, so as to avoid waking up their children at night and ended up writing so many new songs on this spinet that he felt the need to start a whole new project.  Fittingly, the first single from the album that resulted is premiered here on Piano Day.

Continue reading “Premiere: Rubrik by Blurstem + Brique A Braq”

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Mnemosyne’ is the debut album from Mexico City based multi-instrumentalist, film composer and sound preservationist Carlos Morales, who creates under the name The Phonometrician. His music incorporates classical and American primitive guitar with elements of ambient, drone, and post-rock as well as field recordings, synths, and tape. It is a very special brand of music that finds an ideal home on the Lost Tribe Sound label which includes on its roster such illustrative & kindred artists as Western Skies Motel, From the Mouth of the Sun, Seabuckthorn, and William Ryan Fritch – a potent apposition of rustic authenticity and acoustic alchemy with opaque abstractions. The title of the album refers to the Greek goddess of memory and remembrance, a fitting symbol of its overarching theme.

“‘Mnemosyne’ is an album that asks what memories would sound like if they were captured through sound…Morales deploys a very specific palette of instrumentation to realize his musical vision, it’s as if a classical guitar is slowly being worn away and devoured by an onslaught of looping, ever-shifting analog sound creatures, scattering for cover when the light hits them too directly and continuously eat away at the strings. Much like rifling through the pages of an aged and tattered diary, warm shuffles of vinyl and airy waves tape saturation emerge only to retreat once more into the darker recesses, leaving the pysche grasping wildly to recall the meaning of their existence.” – Ryan Keane (Lost Tribe Sound) 

Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Chloe” by The Phonometrican”

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Vargkvint is the project of Sofia Nystrand which she named after a dissonant musical interval known as the “wolf fifth” due to its howling properties. It is a name which perfectly evokes the enigma of her spellbinding sound which offers sweet enchantment permeated with the aura of forces both ancient and primal. Her debut EP Brus took us deep into the forests and folklore of her native Sweden and on her first full-length record entitled Hav, she turns her focus to the sea. Having grown up in a small coastal city, it is an environment Nystrand knows well for all its allure, mystery, and power all of which she seeks to capture on the new record.

”The sea has played such a huge part for us, in how societies have formed and grown, it has connected us with each other and given us life, and is the base behind much of our mythology. But at the same time, it has been a really cruel mistress – its storms, tsunamis and rising sea levels have been devastating to individual lives, whole societies and now humanity as a whole. It’s in that conflict – its beauty and its menace, its life-giving and its life-taking, this concept-album was created”Sofia Nystrand 

Continue reading “PREMIERE: “Drivved” from Hav by Vargkvint”

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“I remember playing my grandfather’s old guitar, tuneless, and the haunting sound that it made…”

Nostalgia is at the heart of the music Bruno Nunes Coelho (Ana, Constantina) makes under as El Conejo, a project inspired by the first chords he played on his grandfather’s old guitar and the memories of the places he has lived. After a self-titled debut in 2015, he returns this spring with a mesmerizing second outing entitled ‘Tempestade Tropical‘ which focuses in particular on a short time spent living in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the loss of his father during that period. While many of us might associate Rio with the spectacle of its dramatic vistas, sprawling diversity, and colorful festivals, Coelho, turns inward to gently explore the immutable cycles of life universal to all places as well as his own memories and losses.

“Oh, sweetheart, I do belong here where the repetition is beautiful.I have this feeling, nostalgia, I think you can call it that. It reminds me of something. Something that I’ve been missing but I can’t tell exactly what it is. This feeling keeps coming back, like a loop. And it’s beautiful…and sad. And it’s beautiful, and sad, and beautiful, and sad.”  Bruno Nunes Coelho aka El Conejo

Continue reading “PREMIERE: “Peixe de Água Doce” from Tempestade Tropical by El Conejo”

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Currently based in Britain’s idyllic Ribble ValleyMuldue is a solo project that musician Max Ramsden first established while living in the medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. His new EP entitled A Place Both Foreign and Familiar shortly to be released on Seattle’s Hush Hush label finds Ramsden building on the alchemical style he first introduced on ‘Due Melodies of a Concrete Soul‘ (2015) and ‘A Cruel Light From Below‘ (2016) while evolving toward a more organic sound steeped in pastoral slowcore beauty and gauzy atmospherics.

Continue reading “PREMIERE: “Pour” from A Place Both Foreign and Familiar by Muldue [Hush Hush Records]”