The first time hearing the music of Winterlight is a pleasurably disorienting experience. Circulating amidst its dizzying swirls & sonic eddies are decades of musical influences and waves of reverb-drenched melody which coalesce into sumptuous, prismatic compositions with vast depth of field. Structurally uncomplicated, but texturally complex, the origin of the sound traces its roots to founder Tim Ingham‘s absorption in the post-punk and shoegaze music of the 80s and 90s in his native Thames Valley England. It was not until 2006 that Ingham mined those influences in an effort to recreate the lush and hazy sounds of his youth. It was then the project came into being and quickly integrated itself onto the ambient/electronica scene over the course of several albums, singles, and remixes.
This band’s latest album had a lengthy gestation period of its own. The Longest Sleep Through Darkest Days is the culmination of nearly seven years of on and off “creative spurts, false starts, and second guesses” and reflects a turmoil hinted at in its title. The listener, however, is not burdened with the arduousness of this genesis. For us, there is only the bliss of its “melancholic euphoria”, expansive beauty, and deft nostalgic nods to the electronic music that informs it. Even better news is we don’t have to wait until the March release to enter the vortex of these mesmerizing sounds as the band is releasing the single with a pair of exclusive B-sides next week and you, dear reader, can check them out right now. Continue reading
Don’t be fooled by Martyn Heyne’s youthful appearance. The Hamburg-born composer & producer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his debut full-length album. He took up piano and guitar at an early age teaching himself the instruments in non-traditional ways before going on to be classically trained at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. In addition to being a live performer with the acclaimed indie band Efterklang and opening shows for Nils Frahm and A Winged Victory for the Sullen as a solo artist, Heyne has worked with a diverse group of high-profile artists in his Lichte studio in Berlin including Peter Broderick , alt-J, and The National (for a nice sampling of these check out his ‘Monday is Ok’ mix here). He brings all of this compositional and recording experience as well as his fondness for the electric guitar to the table for the recently released Electric Intervals, an album which he approached with a very specific philosophy.
“The number of parameters that determine a recording appears to be infinite. The mood, instrument, tuning, settings, microphones, room, placement, temperature, time of day, etc. all contribute to sound. The magic, once captured, is impossible to recreate. This might seem a hindrance, but it’s really the whole point of recording for me and also the reason why I never use samples or virtual instruments…the better the instrument sounds, the more you want to convey that quality.’’ – Martyn Heyne
vaghy (Tamás Vághy) is a Hungarian composer and pianist who is making an appearance as a newcomer on the modern classical scene, but is no musical neophyte. Surrounded by his father’s old tapes and vinyl, his love of music came at an early age. Having developed into a multi-instrumentalist with a taste for a wide variety of genres, he performed in thousands of concerts from clubs to large festivals including serving a the keyboardist for the well-known Hungarian rock band Anna and the Barbies. During these years, in the quiet environs of his bedroom studio, he indulged a passion for classical music. After seeing a Nils Frahm video several years ago, Tamás was inspired to bring this more personal work into the public sphere, performing live sets in 2016 and again in 2017 in support of Frahm’s own worldwide Piano Day event.
Taking their name from the alias of the figure at the center of Rembrandt’s masterpiece “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” who was central to the theme of their debut album (‘Floods’, 2015), Aris Kindt is a collaborative project from Gabe Hedrick and Francis Harris. The duo once again choose an artistic reference as a conceptual touchstone for their second album entitled Swann and Odette, a pair of protagonists from Marcel Proust’s sprawling seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time. The album is a heady offering from a sonic perspective as well as a thematic one:
“Picking up where their first record (2015’s Floods) leaves off, ‘Swann and Odette’ is an evolutionary leap forward for the duo. The sonic palette is deeper, the grooves more sparse and the melodies are given more room to seep deep within a mix so expansive it feels almost tactile…a seamless interplay of synths and instrumentation cast loose from their origins and awash in oceanic delay.”
You can sample the ornate, cerebral soundscapes Hedrick and Harris are able to conjure from their extensive gear in this exclusive premiere of “Treatise”, a mesmerizing track that juxtaposes hazy swirls of guitar and malleable sonic forms with a steadily metronomic, pulsing groove.
If this all sounds rather modern for an album steeped in references to a turn-of-the-century novel, the point is not so much to soundtrack Proust’s story itself, but to explore concepts it suggests about the relationship of music to experience and memory or perhaps just the act of reading it in a current setting, both of which are suggested in John Stroud’s liner note essay (“Future Ghosts: Aris Kindt’s Soundtrack for a Radical Materialist Ontology”) which offers an assessment of the record as a kind of “post-structuralist pop”:
It is a science fiction record that launches our consciousness out into a speculative emotional landscape of decisively Proustian flavor while using techno’s taxonomic/serial bed of reference as an invitation to transmogrify that future into the pulsations of the actual body. As for Proust’s novel, it feels as much like a paperback thrown in a backpack more than any sort of foundation, something to read along the way while you’re waiting for your train (an image of which Proust would absolutely approve) while Swann and Odette plays over the radio in an altogether saner world. – John Stroud
Swann and Odette inaugurates Kingdoms, a new label being launched by Harris which he describes as “a new platform for adventurous music ranging from new voices in club-inflected jazz, contemporary composition, ambient, and electronic music to reissues of little-known obscurities from across the musical spectrum”. Editions of the album will be available from October 20 on digital and an attractive limited edition colored vinyl LP.
Links: Bandcamp (DL/LP) | Kingdoms
On their first two albums Chicago-based trio To Destroy a City introduced us to a sophisticated and exhilarating sound forged from layers of guitars, synths & pianos and driven by electronic beat production intertwined with live percussion. In two weeks when they roll out their third record entitled Go Mirage, fans and new listeners alike will be treated to not only their most stunning sonic tapestries yet, but an inspired new vocal dimension which does no harm whatsoever to their post rock pedigree.
“This follow-up to 2014’s post-rock paragon SUNLESS has an added immediacy due to the soaring nature of guitarist Michael Marshall’s step toward the mic…Idealists might bark that To Destroy A City can’t continue to fly the post-rock flag with such a vocalic album. The enlightened will find that the addition of vocals places the band as contemporaries to artists such as Caspian, Mogwai, and Album Leaf which have effectively used vocals as key components in their music.” – n5MD
After releasing a number of EPs and singles under his own name, Brooklyn-based composer and filmmaker Austin Johnson will be making his official debut under his new alias breaking with the October 20 release of the soundtrack to his short film babyteeth on Seattle’s Hush Hush Records. The unobtrusive textures and moody atmospherics of his minimalist soundscapes well serve the film’s intimate indie feel and its understated treatment of tension & conflict in the context of everyday life.
“The main idea behind both the film and the soundtrack was to convey anxiety and angst through the lens of tranquility. It’s easy to get lost in anxiety, so in “babyteeth” I depict a boy’s rough journey to tranquility in an environment where that seems impossible.” – Austin Johnson (aka breaking)
Since its founding in 2009, Home Normal has consistently been one of the shining lights on the landscape of experimental ambient & electronic music. Conscientiously curated and uncompromisingly supportive of its artists, it is more than a label; it is a hub for a community of artists and mindful listeners who appreciate thoughtfully crafted, emotionally honest music.
“Based in Japan, the label was run as a way to connect to a sense of what ‘home’ and ‘normal’ could mean to someone who was in what was essentially an alien environment to them. The focus of the label was to release the ambient and electronic works of friends within the live scene we were part of in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, but soon expanded to include the work of many artists worldwide…We see the label as a family of friends who work together to create unique works that have a hold and impact on whoever can take their time to absorb our music and aesthetic”
Featured here are recent & upcoming releases by Ian Hawgood + Wil Bolton, Giulio Fagiolini, and Jason Van Wyk,
Archives is a label based in Valencia, Spain run by DJ, producer, & musician Agustín Mena (aka Warmth, SVLBRD). You won’t find a lot of words written by the label about itself. Its impressum can be found in the music which focuses uncompromisingly on pure ambient, downtempo & dub techno aesthetics with a preference for soothing, warm tones and meditative atmospheres. Presented here are six recent releases by an international roster of artists including Logic Moon (Germany), Robert Farrugia (Malta), Yoyu (Canada), Purl (Sweden), Shuta Yasukochi (Japan), and Halftribe (UK). Also highly recommended are their Ambient and Soundscapes compilation series and Warmth’s own ‘Essay’ which was one of the best reviewed ambient albums of 2016.
Sound In Silence is a small DIY record label based in Athens, Greece that has been releasing limited editions presented in collectible handmade packaging since 2006. Featured here are four of their most recent releases by moshimoss & stabilo, anthéne, bvdub, and (ghost). I also recommend browsing through the rest of their Bandcamp catalog where you’ll find gems by artists such as Wil Bolton, Caught in the Wake Forever, Good Weather for an Airstrike, and North Atlantic Drift.
La Equidistancia (‘the equidistance’) is an extraordinarily apt title for the first-fruits of a newly formed creative partnership between Leandro Fresco and Rafael Anton Irisarri just released by A Strangely Isolated Place. It can be seen as a nod to the meeting of creative minds over long geographical distances (Fresco in Argentina and Irisarri in New York) but the album also intersects some musical and symbolic midpoints as it consummately strikes a balance between careful sound design and raw emotion, between melodic sensibility and textural aesthetics, and between melancholic reflection and purifying catharsis. In the sublime center of all of these things we find these six beautifully constructed, soul-searching instrumentals that are capable of forging a powerful human connection.
I really love that grainy aspect you can hear in the music, degraded in a way, like it’s been trough some rough patches (as both Lean and I have been through over the years)…There’s a lot of sadness and memories in the music. I feel that one most embrace this sadness and share it; make others know we are not so different; not alone in this world”. – Rafael Anton Irisarri
One of the most recognizable 21st Century proponents of prepared piano music, Volker Bertelmann aka Hauschka, returns with his first full-length studio album since 2014’s Abandoned City. It is not as if he has not been otherwise occupied during the intervening time. Quite the opposite in fact. He has been touring, curating festivals, collaborating on special performances, and composing soundtracks such as the Oscar-nominated score for “Lion” with Dustin O’Halloran, not to mention releasing a live album, a collection of remixes, and an EP. So, perhaps it is remarkable that he ever found the time to create What If which is now on the cusp of its official release.
“I definitely decided with What If to make a record that might be my most radical. The lyrical piano has disappeared, and the sounds I’m fascinated by – like noise and electronic elements – have taken over”
On his most fully realized album to date, composer/producer Paddy Mulcahy offers up eight beautiful experiments in juxtaposing solo piano minimalism with vibrant synthesizer constructions. While some of his previous releases demonstrated Mulcahy quite capable of inventively sketching and improvising in a compressed time frame, the music on The Words She Said was cultivated over a two-year period
The album was started in the Summer of 2015 during a recording trip around Germany and London. Paddy then continued to work on the album while finishing his BSc degree in Music Production at Limerick Institute Of Technology. The album was inspired by the similarities and contrasts between pianos and synthesizers, and this relationship was conveyed through the use of various recording and mixing techniques.