PREMIERE: “Peixe de Água Doce” from Tempestade Tropical by El Conejo [La Petite Chambre]

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“I remember playing my grandfather’s old guitar, tuneless, and the haunting sound that it made…”

Nostalgia is at the heart of the music Bruno Nunes Coelho (Ana, Constantina) makes under as El Conejo, a project inspired by the first chords he played on his grandfather’s old guitar and the memories of the places he has lived. After a self-titled debut in 2015, he returns this spring with a mesmerizing second outing entitled ‘Tempestade Tropical‘ which focuses in particular on a short time spent living in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the loss of his father during that period. While many of us might associate Rio with the spectacle of its dramatic vistas, sprawling diversity, and colorful festivals, Coelho, turns inward to gently explore the immutable cycles of life universal to all places as well as his own memories and losses.

“Oh, sweetheart, I do belong here where the repetition is beautiful.I have this feeling, nostalgia, I think you can call it that. It reminds me of something. Something that I’ve been missing but I can’t tell exactly what it is. This feeling keeps coming back, like a loop. And it’s beautiful…and sad. And it’s beautiful, and sad, and beautiful, and sad.”  Bruno Nunes Coelho aka El Conejo

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SASO – Thresholds [Melted Snow]

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Thresholds is the 6th studio album from SASO, a project formed in Dublin, Ireland in 2000 by composer & multi-instrumentalist Jim Lawler and producer/recording engineer Ben Rawlins and one which extends the duo’s collaboration with pianist Kevin Corcoran first heard on Mysterium (2016). The inspiration for the record came from the passing of Jim’s father, Brian Lawler, a musician and composer himself, and it was after his funeral that Jim and Ben began talking about creating compositions that would reflect the cycle of life and the journey to death. To do this, they decided to “go back to basics” and make a purely instrumental album using strings and piano while relying exclusively on vintage analog equipment to facilitate a minimal approach to recording and mixing while capturing most of live sessions in a single take.

“We wanted to press the reset button. We took everything we knew and put it to one side and embarked on a new chapter…We embraced the discipline of restriction so we could focus on the art rather than the convenience of technology. It felt like an antidote to modern digital production”Ben Rawlins, SASO

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Premiere: “Pour” from A Place Both Foreign and Familiar by Muldue [Hush Hush Records]

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Currently based in Britain’s idyllic Ribble ValleyMuldue is a solo project that musician Max Ramsden first established while living in the medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. His new EP entitled A Place Both Foreign and Familiar shortly to be released on Seattle’s Hush Hush label finds Ramsden building on the alchemical style he first introduced on ‘Due Melodies of a Concrete Soul‘ (2015) and ‘A Cruel Light From Below‘ (2016) while evolving toward a more organic sound steeped in pastoral slowcore beauty and gauzy atmospherics.

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A Sense of Place: Grønland by Glåsbird [Whitelabrecs]

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Glåsbird is an alluring new project inaugurated, we are told, under a cloak of anonymity by an established artist within the ambient/modern classical scene to focus on chosen themes and develop them into carefully crafted conceptual soundtracks. The first published material from this project was the highly evocative Drift Stations which took a mere ten minutes to put the listener in thrall to the austere beauty of the Arctic Circle. While the EP held its own as a compact narrative, it was also a prelude of much more to come as the “Land Ahead” at the end of  its 2-track journey turns out to be the sprawling ice-capped island country of Greenland which is majestically explored on the full-length Grønland now out on Whitelabrecs.

“Glåsbird imagined that they were assigned the task of scoring the soundtrack to a film about Greenland and spent a great deal of time researching the subject. Hours of documentaries, drone helicopter footage, NASA and satellite images, Instagram traveler accounts, 360° photos, web articles and maps were surveyed, to the point where this artist felt sufficiently immersed in this sub-zero but beautiful land…” – Whitelabrecs

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Duologue: A conversation with Tim Linghaus

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Born in the GDR in the early 1980s, German musician & composer Tim Linghaus had his first experiences with making music when he discovered his father’s RX 11 and guitars as a young boy. During his university years he played guitar in bands ranging from metal to singer/songwriter, but more recently he has been producing an understated, nostalgic, and deeply personal style of neoclassical music centered around piano, synthesizers and ambient noise. It began with the wonderful debut EP ‘Vhoir‘ (Moderna Records) in 2016 and on into last year with the poignant, quietly stunning ‘Memory Sketches‘ (Schole/1631 Recordings).

Tim begins the new year with ‘About B. (Memory Sketches B-Sides Recordings)‘, a collection of additional material that did not make it on to the first album and which has a slightly different focus which he explains in this conversation about the record.

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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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PREMIERE: “Prelude 1” by Chris Child [FOIL]

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Chris Child is a musician and Emmy award-winning composer based in New York. In addition to scoring music for a wide variety of TV shows, commercials, and video games, he is known in electronic music circles by the moniker of Kodomo under which he has released numerous albums, EPs, & remixes and performed at music festivals around the globe. Come the first of February, he will be releasing a new album under his own name and newly launched imprint, a prismatic collection of solo compositions & ambient sketches entitled Pieces for Piano Vol. 1. Made using recordings captured on his iPhone and handheld recorder while traveling throughout the United States, Child chose the music of such classical composers such as Bach & Debussy as the album’s referential framework which he channels into mesmerizing offshoots, variations, and sonic experiments using a simple & direct approach.

“As much as I love gear and creating in the studio, the length and intensity of the process can be overwhelming. After ‘Divider‘, I wanted to try something that was completely different and that I had an immediate connection with.”Chris Child 

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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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2018 Year in Review: The Art of the EP

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The EP is often overlooked when it comes year-end retrospectives, but this format can provide us with some very special musical moments and here are some from 2018 that I would not have wanted to miss.

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2018 In Review: Journeys in Ambient, Drone, and Electroacoustic

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This list can never be big enough to include all the beautiful work done in these genres over the course of a year, but here are 25 albums that left a lasting impression. Here you’ll find rich atmospheres, deep emotional undercurrents, and organic, warm, and tactile soundscapes. Among these albums we find as much decomposition as composition, an embrace of stillness and naturally occurring beauty.

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Illuminine | #3 [Ferryhouse Productions]

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Kevin Imbrechts may be from Belgium, but there is something unmistakably Icelandic in the character of the music he creates as Illuminine, a kind of atmospheric and enigmatic beauty.  No wonder Sigur Ròs sound engineer Birgir Jón Birgisson took an early interest in his work and invited Imbrechts to the band’s  Sundlaugin studio where he completed the recording of first album and went on to record the next two. Of course, there are other prominent strands in the DNA of his sound – melancholic neoclassical in the vein of Ólafur Arnalds or A Winged Victory for the Sullen (whose Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie has become a collaborator) and electric guitar which traces back to Imbrechts’ admiration for the more introspective work of avant-garde instrumentalist Buckethead citing ‘Electric Tears’ (Metastation, 2002) as an influence.

All of these elements are manifestly present on the newly released #3 which turns out to be the most personal Illuminine album yet as Imbrechts reveals it concerns a very dark chapter in his life during he was struggling with anxiety and panic attacks as well as being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Harrowing as that may sound, he says that writing the album was “the best therapy possible” and that it turned into a sort of “secret sound diary” which he molded to reflect the daily cycles from dawn to anxious, sleep-deprived nights and back to hopeful dawn again.

“It’s my own ‘channel’ to communicate with the world, to express feelings. Everyone can and should project their own ideas and feelings onto the music. Instrumental music is more powerful than vocal music with clear lyrics; it’s much more telling. I want to share this with the world, as I think people have to talk about these issues. It’s not easy to talk about it, but it helps.” – Kevin Imbrechts 

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ALBUM STREAM: ‘La Fonte’ by Brendon John Warner

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For eight years, Brendon John Warner wrote, recorded & toured Australia with the progressive post-rock group We Lost the Sea before heading down a different musical path to pursue his growing interest in synthesis and lo-fi electronics. Beginning to pull at what he calls “a long lingering creative thread”, he dedicated himself to a “radical, contemporary musical view focused on contrasts, textures, dynamics, spatial relationships and instrumentation”. That choice and commitment have come to fruition in the form of his first full-length solo album entitled La Fonte (“The Melt”), a sprawling, kaleidoscopic electroacoustic exploration of the relationships between humanity and planet earth, ecology and economy, and climate change. Those are pretty ambitious themes to tackle in a first effort, not to mention one that clocks in at over a full hour of immersive instrumental music, but Warner says that stretching himself in this way had a significant impact on him creatively speaking.

“Both musically and thematically ‘la fonte’ challenged me to re-imagine the way I express myself through music. While storytelling through instrumental music in nothing new to me, using a broader concept of sound and composition to delve into more contemporary issues became the hallmark of what I was trying to achieve. From the use of found-sounds and sampling to blending synthesized drums with live percussion, and even a more open approach toward improvisation, this record, and the impossibly big themes it aims to explore, changed me as a musician and as an artist.” – Brendon John Warner

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