When I first heard instrumental trio Square Peg Round Hole was making an ambient record, I was expecting a conventional approach – rework the same melodic constructs of their prior albums while losing the drums, lowering the volume, and slowing the pace. That would have been a pleasant enough affair to be sure, but for a band that prides itself on sheer inventiveness, I should have known to expect more. Five Years traverses quite a bit of previously unexplored sonic territory for the band as they show a penchant for developing beguiling, color saturated soundscapes, densely layered and studded with subtle glitch elements and a plethora of vocal & abstract percussive textures.
In the brand new video for his solo piece “The Crossing”, Danny Mulhern puts us inside his piano and in the mind’s eye of the solitary passenger lost in a monochrome reverie, a rider on a train gliding past the city lights and into the station haunted by the wistful melody so delicately rendered, a melancholy lullaby for the weary traveler and a oneiric reflection. The track opens his forthcoming EP Metanoia and segues into the ensemble piece “Flying the Nest” which was premiered here last month. Stationary Travels is very pleased to offer this additional glimpse into one of the most beautiful modern classical releases you are likely to hear this year.
Imagine the textured, aerated drones of Sky Margin (Own Records, 2013) and the pastoral romanticism of Along the Mantic Spring (Infraction, 2014) fused into a single amalgam and then elevated into a dazzling, symphonic edifice of sound. Avifaunal is the brand new lush and expansive musical narrative created by Alex Smalley (aka Olan Mill) and Simon Bainton under their collaborative moniker of Pausal now out on Dronarivm. The grandiosity of the new record has its origins in a live performance a couple of years prior at a venue which invited experimentation on a large sonic scale.
In 2015 the band were asked by Martin Boulton of Touched Music to perform in Pembrokeshire, Wales and set about generating new material for the show. It was also an opportunity to develop a new equipment setup including looped turntable, voice microphones and synths. A local hall was hired for improvisation and practice sessions which provided an interesting sonic space to explore and possibilities to work at far louder volumes, both of which helped shape the eventual live set and the track “Murmuration” as that is represented here. “Spiral”, “Scatter” and “Soar” were also edited and assembled from the recording sessions around this time.
Guitar loops drawn in long, slow arcs across a crepe-thin curtain of sound and a backdrop of pastoral field recordings. Never claustrophobic, there is ample room to move & breathe among these temperate and mellifluous drones and ample time to ponder as they slow time to a lethargic ebb. The comfort of light in a dark room. This is A Persistent Lack of Ambition by Duister, aka Carlos Maquieira released earlier this year on El Muelle Records, a label based in Málaga, Spain. Was the poetic stanza cited in the liner notes cite inspiration for the music or is it a guidepost for listening? Perhaps both. In any case, this is a lovely opus that is easy on the ear and stimulating to the mind.
My story begins very simply: I could speak and I was happy.
Or: I could speak, thus I was happy.
Or: I was happy, thus speaking.
I was like a bright light passing through a dark room.
(Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night)
The sensation of floating weightless and carefree in lilting currents beneath an azure sky and a blazing sun casting webs of light on the sea floor below. Hours to drift, to explore, to gaze at the expanse of endless horizons or muse on what lurks in dark places or teems among the cloudy depths. There is no time nor age here in the midst of this collage of youthful memories fashioned from warm aqueous drones and marine sounds.
The reassuring steady hum of soft drones, temperate in mood, weightless as if held aloft on gentle air currents; permeable to texture and filigree; slowly turning to catch shimmering glints of light; calm; harmonious. A salve for the ears and a balm for the soul. These are the things that come to mind listening to Constellate by artist & musician Steve Pacheco which he recorded in Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Understated and beautifully crafted, it is an excellent an inspiration to moments of reflection and an excellent companion to working in solitude.
Even if you don’t know the name, there is a very good chance you’ve heard the music of composer Angus MacRae before. His compositions have graced films & commercials ranging from the BBC to companies like Sony, Toyota & Vodaphone while he has also written for a wide variety of live arts performances across Europe including theater and dance. Having released a pair of studio EPs in 2015 which saw a combined digital release last year on 1631 Recordings, he returns to the format and the label with a beautiful collection of modern classical vignettes entitled Cry Wolf.
Reprising their partnership on 2015’s Bridges of the South, Black Hill (Csarnogurszky István, aka musicformessier) and Cousin Silas take us on another binate ambient guitar journey through bucolic and atmospheric soundscapes this time inspired by England’s picturesque Teesdale region.
When the resonator guitar was first invented, it was to address a simple, practical need to help guitar players be heard in ensemble settings and cut through the din of the noisy venues where they performed. There are many other ways to address such needs these days, but none that offer the distinctive sound this instrument generates. Used traditionally, it instantly adds an earthiness and authentic Americana flavor to almost any piece of music. In the hands of Andy Cartwright (aka Seabuckthorn) however it is something else entirely – a seemingly bottomless well of unbridled creativity and a veritable builder of worlds. On his third full-length album entitled Turns, Cartwright adds a new dimension to the peregrine narratives and wide-screen atmospheres he created on I Could See the Smoke and They Haunted Most Thickly to create his most complete artistic statement yet.
‘Turns’ is far more of a cerebral experience than its predecessors. transitioning seamlessly between hypnotic long-form pieces, minimal harp-like ballads and the primal stomping world-builders that have become Seabuckthorn’s calling card. – Lost Tribe Sound
With more than half of its 100 map points now filled in, the imaginary island of Eilean has evolved into a remarkably eclectic, globally diverse, and often magical place. Point 80 on the map has been selected by a pair of collaborating musicians from Latvia – sound designer and field recordist Sound Meccano (aka Rostislav Rekuta) and ambient guitarist Jura Laiva. Together they have contrived a vivid collection of soundscapes entitled Salty Wind and Inner Fire.
Part of the Spring 2017 series and the most recent addition to the Eilean Rec. catalog is a first-time collaboration between Belgian musician & Slaapwel Records curator Stijn Hüwels and American composer & sound artist Danny Clay. It turns out to be an inspired pairing in a wonderfully understated kind of way as Hüwels somnambulent guitar-loop minimalism finds a perfect complement in Clay’s delicate electroacoustic ephemera fashioned from turntables, sine waves, and celesta.
It is hard to believe it has been three years since the last full-length Lowercase Noises album. Chalk part of that up to the ever-increasing speed with which time in general seems to pass these days and the rest up to Andy Othling’s constant efforts to stay in touch with his fans, put on live performances, and regularly share new EPs, improvisations, and videos. But you have to go back to 2014’s This Is For Our Sins to find an album as immersive and conceptually integrated as The Swiss Illness which will be releasing in May. The theme once is again is a somber one, but the post rock, vocal, and folk elements that served well in telling the tragic story of Russia’s Lykov family give way to a more contemplative, modern classical leaning style that suits a highly emotional exploration of the emotion of nostalgia even as he exposes the very origins of the word.
I wanted this album to be about death, but it didn’t fit. Instead I expanded on the idea of loss and made it about nostalgia, which for me means the loss of things both large and small, both incredibly heavy and largely inconsequential. I experienced all those things in 2016, and as a result the only thing I could create was a minimal, slowly-evolving and (hopefully) beautiful dive into that feeling. Overlaid is the story and history behind the word “nostalgia”, which was coined by doctors studying Swiss mercenaries far away from home, and the physical ailments brought on by their feelings. – Andy Othling