Sound Impression: I Remember When by Ex Confusion [n5MD]

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Atsuhito Omori has been making nostalgia-tinged instrumental music as Ex Confusion for the better part of a decade now and will be soon be making his third appearance on the n5MD label with ‘I Remember When’.  This will be the first of his albums to see a vinyl release which seems apropos given its highly ephemeral qualities which are ideally suited to the format.

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Sound Impression: A Certain Grief by øjeRum [Shimmering Moods]

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As the polar vortex plunges the northern hemisphere into a deep freeze it seems the right time to visit A Certain Grief, the latest opus from Danish collage artist and musician Paw Grabowski aka øjeRum. It is an album that was literally recorded with gloved hands in the cold as he explains himself:

“All sounds are recorded at my girlfriends parents house. They live remote in the country side and have a really old pump organ in the living room. It’s a really old house and in winter they only heat up this room for special occasions. I recorded this two winters ago in freezing cold, with gloves on and candle light. All background sounds are the actual sounds that were in the house while recording; the creaking chair, the crackling and pumping of the organ, the everyday noises of the family talking and working in the kitchen next door. “Paw Grabowski

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Sound Impression: Fragments by Last Days [Split Music]

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Any composer who develops their work over a period of years is inevitably going to end up with musical fragments that don’t make it onto a finished album. They could be tracks that were dropped due to the constraints of a physical release. Maybe they needed to be cut or altered to serve the overall narrative. Or, maybe they are simply diamonds in the rough, awaiting refinement and context before they can shine. But, sometimes what ends up on the cutting room floor can tell its own story and so it is with the latest release from Edinburgh-based musician & composer Graham Richardson as Last Days which features fourteen pieces culled from the twelve years during which he created such understated cinematic gems as Seafaring, Satellite, and The Safety of the North.

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Sound Impression: Noord by Sjors Mans [Piano and Coffee Records]

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Dutch musician & filmmaker Sjors Mans has quietly released some really lovely recordings over the past 2 years. These include various of sketches & singles on his Soundcloud page, a solo album entitled Dauw on 1631 Recordings, and an improvisational collaboration from his Amsterdam studio with Fabian Rosenberg (aka Klangriket) last year on Piano and Coffee Records. It is to this label he returns with a his new solo record Noord, a graceful and eloquent ode to the desire to create simply, instinctively, and without pretense.

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Sound Impression: 88 by Cédric D. Lavoie [Preserved Sound]

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Based in the market town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, Preserved Sound has always been a friendly label to artists who create unique intersections of modern classical, jazz, and experimental ambient music, often featuring unconventional approaches to instrumentation.  Some of the more noteworthy recent examples include Tess Said So, Covarino/Incorvaia, Adrian Lane, and Trigg & Gusset. This month the label will add a new name to the catalog that fans of the aforementioned should very much appreciate – Canadian composer and founder of the Mismar ensemble Cédric Dind-Lavoie. His forthcoming solo album on entitled 88 originated on the piano and was then fleshed out with bowed & plucked upright bass as well as a keen focus on the use of discrete percussion and sound effects.

“Everything started on the piano. I also explored recording techniques emphasizing the sound resulting from the mechanics of the piano and my fingers on the keyboard. These sounds are rarely acoustically audible, but add an intimate and intriguing aspect to the recording… ​I also thought about hiring string players to play on some of the tracks but eventually decided to take on the challenge of playing everything on the upright bass, to achieve a darker and perhaps more unusual string section.” – Cédric D. Lavoie 

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Sound impression: eistla by r beny

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Maybe it is my lack of imagination or maybe it was growing up during the era of the Apollo Program, but when I picture the busy maze of knobs, ports, lights, and crisscrossing cables that make up a modular synth setup, the last thing I expect are warm, organic, efflorescent sounds full of soulful melancholy and longing. But, that is exactly the kind of music that Bay Area musician Austin Cairns produces with these devices under the moniker of r beny (an homage to Canadian photographer Roloff Beny).  Building on the extraordinary work of his previous releases ‘saudade’ (Dauw, 2018) and ‘cascade symmetry‘ (self-released, 2017), Cairns gives us a late-year gift in the form of ‘eistla’.

“A recurring dream. The frozen landscapes of isolation and loneliness. Fragmented memories lost at sea. Cold, sharp light // Glowing rays of hope in the morning. // It was just a dream.” – r beny

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Sound Impression: Dett by Kevin Verwijmeren

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Abstraction and introspection both feature heavily in the music of Kevin Verwijmeren. When he began making music in 2013, the Dutch producer, who grew up in a remote area of the southern Netherlands close by the sea, drew inspiration from long travels on public transport as well as theoretical perspectives acquired as a physics student. In the two years since his last album (Those Glorious Heights, 2016), he has immersed himself in intensive sound study and recording and now presents his third full-length studio album Dett.

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Sound Impression: Insomnia Drones by Tapes and Topographies [Simulacra Records]

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After putting out two superb albums already this year in Fathoms and Opiates, Texas-based musician Todd Gautreau has pleasantly surprised with yet a third Tapes and Topographies release right on the cusp of the fall equinox. As its title suggests, Insomnia Drones is a suitably soporific offering that lulls the listener into a welcome state of melancholic languor and deep rumination.

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Sound Impression: ex by kj [Dronarivm]

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In a few short years, New York based musician, producer, and filmmaker KJ Rothweiler has solidly established himself among the serious purveyors of compostional ambient music with a string of captivating albums including the brand new ex now out on Dronarivm and mastered by none other than Rafael Anton Irisarri at his Black Knoll Studio.

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Sound Impression: The Great Lake Swallows by Julia Kent and Jean D.L. [Gizeh Records]

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The Great Lake Swallows is the seventh entry in the Dark Peak series from Manchester UK’s Gizeh Records and introduces a very special first time collaboration between Canadian cellist Julia Kent and Belgian guitarist/tape machine manipulator Jean D.L. Recorded in Charleroi, Belgium in 2015 during a video installation with Sandrine Verstraete, the album’s long elegiac arc comprises four movements, chapters if you will, in a single riveting whole punctuated by brief caesuras that mark subtle shifts in the narrative.

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Sound Impression: Volume Flow by Pausal [hibernate]

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Hibernate was formed in the “rain-soaked paradise” of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire by  music enthusiast Joanathan Lees in 2009. The label saw a diverse array of top-notch artists contribute releases to its sterling catalog for the better part of six years before a entering a period of low activity in 2016 & 2017, so the arrival of fresh material in recent months is a most welcome development. The revival began with a pair of new entries in the  “postcard series” this past spring and it continues this summer with a gorgeous new full-length album by Pausal. Though Volume Flow is the first release for the project on the label, its members Alex Smalley (aka Olan Mill) and Simon Bainton have each appeared twice before as solo artists. Continue reading

Sound Impression: Fieldem by Silent Vigils [Home Normal]

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One of the steadiest sources of light among labels that feature & promote ambient music from around the globe is Home Normal under the guidance of Ian Hawgood, a fine artist and mastering engineer in his own right. The newest entry to their catalog brings together two outstanding artists who likewise both curate independent labels while creating their own music, Stijn Hüwels (Slaapwel Records) and James Murray (Slowcraft Records).  The new collaborative project is called Silent Vigils, a suitable moniker for the liminal quiescence of sound these two kindred spirits have reached across water to create with one another.

“Molenbrook, Mossigwell, Zwartewall, Fieldem… places neither here nor there; half in the world, half in the mind. We began this project as an exchange of gestures across the water, a dialogue motivated by mutual respect and revolving around our shared love of the minimal, the graceful and the understated. We completed it on 22nd March 2017 – the day of the Westminster attack, one year to the day after the Brussels bombings. These four pieces have become our personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking and open borders.” – Silent Vigils

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