There is a fascinating paradox in Aaron Martin‘s music I’ve come to appreciate. On one hand, there are the rustic tones and earthy folk melodies that ring with the homespun authenticity of a sprout from pure Americana rootstock. On the other, it is possessed of an exotic and transcendent quality that is malleable to a disparate range of contexts. Ample evidence of this would be Martin’s collaborations with experimental musicians from around the globe such as Machinefabriek (Netherlands), Orla Wren (England), Christoph Berg (Germany), or his From the Mouth of the Sun partner Dag Rosenqvist (Sweden). More recently we’ve seen it in his original soundtrack work such as Menashe set in an orthodox Jewish community in New York City and the newly released Adam, a short film directed by William Armstrong that tells the story of Adam Voigt, a vital young South African surfer faced with a life-altering diagnosis.
New music from Rachel Grimes is always cause to sit up and take notice. The in-demand pianist, composer, arranger, and collaborator extraordinaire has been involved in numerous projects of late, but we’ve not been treated to a full-length album of her own compositions since 2015’s The Clearing, that is until now with the release of her splendid soundtrack to The Doctor From India by filmmaker Jeremy Frindel,a portrait of the life and work of Dr. Vasant Lad who first brought the ancient medical practice of Ayurveda from India to the west in the late 1970s. I confess to not having seen the film nor being familiar with Dr. Lad and his story, but having spent some time with the album, I can attest to the uplifting power and quietly dazzling beauty of the music it has inspired Grimes to compose and perform along with Scott Moore on violin, Jacob Duncan on saxophone & flute. Continue reading
Originally from the Pacific Northwest and now living Durham, North Carolina, Mike Grigoni is a composer & multi-instrumentalist who plays dobro, lap steel and pedal steel guitar and records under the name M. Grig. While he has settled personally in the Tar heel state, Grigoni’s music has found a home on Canadian label Other Songs where he has released a trio of delightful EPs – Field Notes (2016), Still Lifes (2017), and the brand new Millpond Way.
Danish collage artist & musician Paw Grabowski aka øjeRum made his first appearance on KrysaliSound with one of the standout EPs of last year, a reissue of his alternate soundtrack to Chris Marker’s 1962 time travel film La Jetée entitled He remembers there were gardens. He returns with an encore reissue of another øjeRum long form piece, albeit a more pastoral one. Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod is a 30-minute suite of haunting acoustic guitar motifs, gossamer textures, and percussive chimes as delicate as the hollow bones of a tiny bird.
From the heartland of America comes a fascinating split release by Kyle Bobby Dunn and Wayne Robert Thomas that will engage your mind as much as it will your ears. Each artist contributes a single long-form track to be released together in a limited vinyl edition by Ohio-based Whited Sepulchre based in Cincinnati, Ohio. By now the savvy reader might be bemoaning my ignorance saying to themselves Dunn is Canadian. True enough, but he his explores a distinctly American theme on his composition which both complements and segues the wistful ruminations offered by his Indianapolis-based collaborator.
A little over a year after his patient fusion of close mic’ed solo piano with delicate synthesizer constructions on The Words She Said (reviewed here), Irish-born, Montreal-based composer/producer Paddy Mulcahy returns with an enigmatic foray into finespun electronica & percussion in the form a striking five-track EP entitled From Water. It begins with the shimmering “You Could Walk Across the Shannon” which treads a fine line between hope & melancholy in keeping with what Mulcahy sought to put across in the song.
“‘You Could Walk Across The Shannon’ is about overcoming the impossible. It’s a musical representation of being an underdog in a vicious race; it’s the rare ability to walk across a riverbed at low-tide. I want to inspire people who are suffering, people who are sad and feel like there’s no point. This music was inspired by nature, people and overcoming my depression.” – Paddy Mulcahy in DJ Mag, 03/09/2018 Continue reading
It is hard to conceive of a more fitting title for latest offering from 36 (pronounced three-six), the ambient / experimental project of Dennis Huddleston from the United Kingdom. Circuit Bloom is like a garden of electronic flowers that bud and blossom in a slow, kaleidoscopic efflorescence of fleeting ephemeral beauty. In a shift from recent 36 releases that resonated on a cosmic scale, Huddleston chose a more introspective theme for a group of songs which serves as a prelude a full-length album to come later this year.
“[Circuit Bloom] contains a selection of 6 predominantly piano-based tape loops, exploring the themes of isolation and escapism, through a Cyberpunk-inspired lens. For me, Cyberpunk is about people living on the fringes of society, finding ways to deal with the hardships they face, through the manipulation and exploitation of technology. It’s a genre/aesthetic I’ve always loved and its influence has always seeped into my music.” – Dennis Huddleston, aka 36
“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space…This work was born in the silence between other major projects. The work explores the subtle beauty of the piano in an attempt to capture something warm and real and alive.” – Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken aka Glacis
These days truth is hard to find and even harder to hear amidst the din and chaos of a world that seems to be spinning ever faster towards madness. For many of us that makes albums like Metaphors quite precious. Just a man and his piano speaking truth in the euphonic language of wordless song. And what lovely songs they are – simple, profound, memorably melodic, and bound to the space in which they were created by the creak and hum of the piano which was preserved in the recordings. Continue reading
Some artists prefer to work under a cloak of anonymity and let their music forge its own identity, and so it is with Rime Trails, an ambient music project based in Denmark. Over the past few years that identity has emerged as one associated with contemplative soundscapes rich in textural elements and reflective of natural surroundings. Given the Scandinavian setting, it is not surprising to find an abundance of wintry themes, but the latest offering is music for another season. Sacred Groves is “music for springtime in eight parts” that was recorded between April and September of 2016.
Crafted from various unnamed instruments and synthesizers, each track is a verdant reverie and an evocation of mystery and contemplation in equal measure. The mood is cloistered and meditative while the sounds wind their way through wooded paths wrapped in tendrils and bathed in shifting light. When the din and clamor of the world becomes too much, you might find this is just the sanctuary you crave.
Releases may not be flying out at quite the prolific rate they were during the first 18 months or so following the launch of 1631 Recordings, but the Swedish imprint remains a steady and reliable source of wonderful new modern & post-classical music. Most recently, the label has offered up the debut album of Glaswegian multi-instrumentalist composer and producer Richard Luke, a collection on which he collaborated on with Scottish Chamber Orchestra first violinist Amira Bedrush McDonald entitled Voz.
Italian composer Luca Ciut has created numerous scores in recent years for movies, theater, and dance and worked with both Golden Globe and Emmy winning filmmakers. Inspired by his experience living in Los Angeles, his 2013 debut album of original compositions entitled Seventeen Million Lonely Angels was originally planned as a solo piano record accompanied by field recordings but ended up embracing a variety of additional instruments. On his second album, however, it is just the man and his piano unraveling a very personal and intimate journey in 13 songs, an opus which Ciut dubbed Per Te Solo Per Te, Per Me Solo.
“For you only for you, for me alone. And there is a space in between, a comma. Light, but present. There are things we do for someone else and other things we do for ourselves. And it is not always easy to make them go by the hand, without tugging each other. Words often mingle, they want to take the upper hand, compete to arrive first.So I tried to use a scale where the two arms felt the same, same weight. And if this did not happen, I would start again, to weigh. Because this album is also: for me only for me, for you alone.” – Luca Ciut
Since 2005 Jamie Stillway has self-released 3 full-length records of original compositions garnering accolades from the likes of Fretboard Journal and Jazz Times while drawing numerous lofty comparisons, but March of this year will bring us her first album of solo electric guitar recordings entitled City Static which finds the Portland based guitarist exploring contemplative ambient territory while deftly blending in classical, jazz, & melodic elements.
Stillway was inspired to record City Static in conjunction with her 40th birthday. An electric approach resonated with what she observed in the world around her; as she created space for silence in her life, the constant background noise of the city became more and more noticeable— a droning static hum that inspired [her] most experimental and compelling work to date. – Fluff and Gravy Records