Shimmering Moods is a label based in Amsterdam that has already had a fruitful 2017 with a number of excellent limited edition CD releases and quite an international roster of artists. Featured here are recent works by Andrew Tasselmyer (USA), Snufmumriko (Sweden) , Rime Trails (Denmark), and Gallery Six (Japan). Also highly recommended are two albums featured on our 2016 year-in-review – Radio Sea’ by Adzuki and ‘Mothers Garden’ by Å Asher-Yates, a brand new reissue of ‘Naar Vi Vaagner’ by øjeRum, and a pair of works by Dimitar Dodovski, ‘Derive’ (2016) and ‘In Every Direction’ (2015). All releases can be found here on their Bandcamp site.
Traversing the ancient trade routes and vast landscapes of Asia via the legendary Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railways is rightly considered the trip of a lifetime by many. One of the oft-selected itineraries runs from Beijing to Moscow by way of the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar and the Russian city of Irkutsk, Siberia’s gateway to the west. While many have documented this grand excursion in words and pictures, Melbourne-based musician & field recordist David Evans presents the experience from a unique sonic perspective on his new album Suddenly woken by the sound of stillness. Constructed from recordings captured on a trip taken in 2015, it is an aural document that traverses not only geographical boundaries, but the abstract territories which the artist describes as exploring “ideas of memory, movement and place, and the boundaries between creation and documentation”.
The release of a new album by Sophie Hutchings to coincide with Piano Day 2017 has been one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. Having beguiled us with the dreamy abstractions of Wide Asleep (Preservation) which only came out last summer, Yonder finds Sophie in a more ebullient mood as radiant melodies ripple and flow from her piano with pure élan.
There always been something quite personal in the music of Clem Leek. Trained as a pianist from a young age and now a developed into a composer, sound artist, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist, he has drawn heavily on his surroundings and life experiences from the very start; consider the misty, overcast reflections of growing up in England on Holly Lane (2010) and the intimate piano & guitar based sketches of Lifenotes (2011) and Rest (2013). The past year has apparently been on one of significant change for Leek and this is reflected in his latest opus and third studio album entitled America.
“America is a reflection of Clem’s personal transition from Europe to the U.S. Each track refers to new experiences, both information and sensory. Moving from the countryside to the city brought about a plethora of new friends, landscapes and routines and this is reflected in the new styles, instruments and techniques that have bled into the album. “
Whoever said “don’t sweat the small stuff” surely was not talking about ambient music. When it comes to this genre, nuances can make all the difference between a bland listening experience and a compelling one. For an outstanding example of the latter, consider Context, the forthcoming third album by Hotel Neon, the Philadelphia-based trio of Michael Tasselmyer, Andrew Tasselmyer & Steven Kemner. Speaking of his own ambient music, Brian Eno once suggested that it should “accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular”, a characteristic very much on display here. It was the band’s choice on this record not to thrust any particular narrative on the listener but rather, as the album title suggests, to provide a context to which they could connect to their own. Spend an hour or so with these warm, heavily textured crepuscular drones and you are likely to agree it is mission accomplished.
“Context is arguably the only thing that gives a song its meaning in the mind of a listener. The direct message of a track title has disappeared. Vague symbols have usurped them, unable as they are to contain any kind of subliminal message. As a result of this, the listener has been given a lot more freedom to interpret the music as they see fit – they put the ambient washes of sound into a context of their own making. ” – Fluid Audio
One of the most recognizable 21st Century proponents of prepared piano music, Volker Bertelmann aka Hauschka, returns with his first full-length studio album since 2014’s Abandoned City. It is not as if he has not been otherwise occupied during the intervening time. Quite the opposite in fact. He has been touring, curating festivals, collaborating on special performances, and composing soundtracks such as the Oscar-nominated score for “Lion” with Dustin O’Halloran, not to mention releasing a live album, a collection of remixes, and an EP. So, perhaps it is remarkable that he ever found the time to create What If which is now on the cusp of its official release.
“I definitely decided with What If to make a record that might be my most radical. The lyrical piano has disappeared, and the sounds I’m fascinated by – like noise and electronic elements – have taken over”
Based in Montreal, Québec, Moderna Records is a recently founded label that has quickly established itself as a home for wonderful new voices in experimental and modern classical composition. Having introduced many listeners to artists such as Veronique Vaka, Ed Carlsen, and Tim Linghaus, they do it yet again with the debut solo album by Japanese composer & pianist Daigo Hanada. Written in Berlin and Tokyo over the course of a year, Ichiru is a collection of intimate vignettes recorded with only an upright piano, a pair of microphones and two hands.
Diary is a new collection of thirty solo piano improvisations by Bafta-nominated and Emmy award-winning composer Michael Price, a bounteous and enchanting offering that any lover of contemporary classical music would be more than happy to take at face value. But, Diary is more than a simple collection of songs; it is a window into very creative process of the composer. Compiled over a six-week period, Price began each working day with a new improvisational piece recorded in a single take, allowing the project to unfold as an unguarded and unedited musical journal of his thoughts, mood, and level of inspiration.
In this video, the disarmingly self-effacing Price pulls back the curtain even further as he talks about the project and the sometimes surprising patterns and insights it had to reveal.
Originally released on cassette in 2013, Italian label KrysaliSound has remastered and reissued a mesmerizing long form composition by Danish collage artist & musician Paw Grabowski under his artistic pseudonym of øjeRum. An undulating, hypnagogic organ-based drone, He remembers there were gardens was conceived as an alternate soundtrack to the 1962 “photo-roman” (photo-novel) La Jetée by Chris Marker which is still recognized as a unique and highly influential experimental cinematic work.
The film, presented in a series of stills, paints a dystopian vision of post-apocalyptic Paris where survivors live underground below the galleries of the Palais de Chaillot. Its protagonist is a man who is held captive and forced to travel time in a quest to find a source of energy to regenerate a decimated society. The man is chosen because of the power of his obsession with the past, specifically the allure of a fragmented, pre-war memory of a woman on the observation platform (“the jetty”) at Orly Airport and a tragic incident that occurs there which becomes the focal point of the story’s haunting denouement.
“Those familiar with the film with have no difficulty in recalling the flashes of a destroyed world, the status of the museum, and the moment on the platform. Even if you haven’t seen the film, the breathing of Grabowski’s organ will conjure similar images and moments. It fluctuates between the drifts and falls and the throb and hum of a person lost in time and place.” – KrysaliSound
Among the many compositions, albums, and events coming our way for Piano Day 2017 will be the release of the third in a series of beautifully conceived EPs by composer Garreth Broke featuring special watercolor and ink artwork by partner and frequent collaborator Anna Salzman. Entitled March, these four new solo piano pieces underpinned by subtle organ textures are an exploration of “cycles and returns”, in particular coping with grief and the journey from loss and disappointment to renewal and hope.
“Even when it’s not apparent, grief is always there. Once you have it, it is always a part of you. The challenge is to allow it to be without allowing it to rule. Nature shows us how.” – Garreth Broke
Featured here in an exclusive premiere is the video Anna created for the song ‘Hinterland’ which moves across an abstract landscape she created in watercolor and ink on a three meter long leporello (a concertina style fold-out book), once in the initial presentation of the melody and again from an inverted perspective as the melodic hues turn a darker shade. Continue reading
Hailing from Northwestern Pennsylvania, instrumental quartet Heron arrive like a rush of fresh mountain air on the post rock scene with You Are Here Now, a magnificent debut album bursting with melodic invention, infectious energy, and arrangements that demonstrate meticulous attention to space, tone, and texture.
Enjoy an exclusive premiere of the beautiful new song “Lucien” from the forthcoming debut solo piano EP by Freya Lily. Due for release on March 23, ‘The Dream’ will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and other digital outlets.
Born in the Devonshire countryside and now based in London, Freya Lily has been studying classical piano and composing for years, but due to stage fright, she had never played her work to others until a chance encounter at a party where she discovered an upright piano in a side room and decided to test out some recent compositions. After playing, she turned around to discover the rest of the house party now in the room and received an overwhelming response to what became an albeit impromptu first outing for her music.