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. “
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.
Francesco Giannico‘s latest album presents itself as “an unlikely acoustic bio-marine chronotope through a collaborative mode”. The collaborative aspect is the incorporation of sound samples collected from participants around the world, a concept that worked a treat on Agoraphonia (2016, Dronarivm) but with a change in focus from the urban to the aquatic. Giannico then takes these samples and weaves them into complete and immersive soundscapes that exist in a time & space of his imagining, e.g. a chronotope albeit a musical rather than literary one.
Last year, classically-trained composer, musician, and sound designer Madeleine Cocolas released her debut album entitled Cascadia, but it was no nascent work. Rather it was a stunning distillation of sounds and ideas drawn from a project where she created new music weekly over the course of a year. Prior to that she composed a new live score for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film The Birds and worked on a variety of multidisciplinary projects with numerous choreographers, musicians, and visual artists as well as being a music supervisor for a number of award-winning Australian television programs. That is a lot of creative momentum and it continues unabated with her exciting new EP Lunar about to be released by Seattle-based Self Center Records.
Inspired by the forests, oceans and folklore of her native Sweden and named after a dissonant music interval occurring in ancient tuning systems (“Wolf fifth” in English), Vargkvint is an enchanting solo music project from Sofia Nystrand. Her debut EP Brus is a completely DIY effort which she composed, performed, mixed, mastered, designed, and released on her own.
Floating Away From the World is the third album in as many years by OKADA on the n5MD label and his fifth overall (the first two being issued by Fluttery Records). It is the first, however, that Gregory Pappas developed for this project since relocating from Mobile, Alabama to Seattle, Washington with a corresponding shift in style that seems to match the cool, wet climate of his new home. As on previous albums, Pappas offers up a quartet of fluid & emotive long form works that fuse ambient textures & modern classical elements with downtempo beats and ethereal vocals, but the mood on the new album is distinctly overcast and deeply introspective while the rainy textures will be pure bliss for even the most casual pluviophile.
The “Presence” series is a new solo project from Andrew Tasselmyer (Hotel Neon, The Sound of Rescue) which he frames as “an ongoing experiment in intentional listening” and describes as “a combination of found sound and intuitive, responsive composition…the product of being present”. The first volume in the series consists of eight variations on this theme, each one building a musical narrative around a field recording taken from the context of everyday life and ordinary objects.
French composer & sound designer Ocoeur (Franck Zaragoza) enlisted the services of Christoph Berg, The Green Kingdom, and Julien Marchal to create this intended prologue to his 2016 full-length album Reversed, his fifth release on Oakland, California-based label n5MD. Reversed – Remixes is an entrancing quartet of reworked pieces, one of Zaragoza’s own creation and the remainder from his hand-picked team of collaborators.
Velleitie is a music project started in 2013 by Indiana native Sean Kase while living in Chicago. I confess to no knowledge of his music before stumbling upon Unblurred Variants, but since discovering it, have not been able to escape the undertow of these five melancholic, billowing drones which suspend time while being arced across by undulations of cello and bowed guitar.
“Just trying to slow the world down” is Sebastian Buccheri‘s pithy summation of his Jazzdefector music project. And slow the world down he does with the reverb-saturated aural webs he creates as a backdrop to his intimate jazz-inflected compositions and improvisations a dozen of which comprise his newest album Solo recently released on Whitelabrecs.
Letting Go Variations is a more than fitting title for this collection of four plaintive, delicately ornamented constructions by Kirill Nikolai recorded by the artist in Seattle, Washington during the Summer of 2015. Ambient swells tugged by an undertow of wistful strings lap against the shores of memory in an ebb & flow full of unfulfilled longing.
The resulting music is a dying rose, a love letter written in notes to someone who never received or returned that love. ‘Letting Go Variations’ is a haunted recording; not of a spirit, but of a tired soul. – Fluid Audio