It has been a little while – too long in fact – since we have visited the shores of the Eilean, an imaginary territory the map of which is now dotted & colored by 60 albums covering a broad and eclectic spectrum of ambient, electroacoustic, and modern classical music. The label saw five outstanding releases over the summer months by Bill Seaman, Toàn, Josco & Spheruleus, Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci, and Monty Adkins and has begun the transition to autumn with an exceptional debut record by Cicely Irvine. Here is a brief synopsis of each along with selected tracks for the reader to explore as well as links to the artists whose work is featured on the covers where available. (Note: most of these limited editions sold out soon after their release, but some may be available in small quantities; check the linked Bandcamp pages for details).
Soft Ice is a gorgeous, billowing immersion in youthful memories of winters past by ambient artist Angela Klimek under her musical nom de plume, poemme. The album which she released herself earlier this year is now available in a nicely packaged CD edition on Polar Seas Recordings where these beautiful monochromatic dreams in drone form find a fitting home.
“This collection of songs was composed specifically for sleep and reflects my memories of winters growing up in Cleveland. The endless gray skies, the magic of a fresh blanket of snow, and more wonder still once Lake Erie transforms into a vast, frozen desert. The scene takes place at my favorite lakeside park, with a pale sky above and waves of solid ice below. All is silent but for a flock of geese in the distance, making its way to warmer land…” – Angela Klimek
Lowlands is the third edition of the recently launched IIKKI project, a unique concept in which each entry in the series is the outcome of a creative dialog between a visual artist and a music artist which results in parallel imprints – a fine art book and a vinyl record. This one began when Ester Vonplon traveled last year to Spitsbergen, an island in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, where she captured impressions of the calving glaciers and melting ice of the Arctic Ocean aboard a three-masted sailing vessel. The musicians chosen for this edition are Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer, frequent collaborators and potent alchemists in the art of electroacoustic minimalism, who fashioned an audio narrative from recordings made over a 3-year period in locations as far-flung as Iceland, Oregon, Florida, and New York.
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.
Collaborative releases are not the mainstay of the Eilean Rec. label, but when they appear, they are always something special. The latest of such is On the Brink which brings together two authentic sonic explorers from the eastern seaboard of the USA – Josh Mason (Jacksonville, FL) and Nathan McLaughlin (Hudson, NY). The album is a metaphorical journey from a unique perspective that examines the state of mind as one faces the possibility of failure.
“…we traveled together with the wind on our faces, holes in our shoes and short that one layer that can provide the necessary comforts we tend to rely upon. raw nerves, biting hunger and a drive to see the unknown corners kept us moving forward. we can offer these markers and surveys as proof of our trip and as evidence of what lies slightly beyond our immediate purview but with a combined effort – within reach.” – Nathan McLaughlin & Josh Mason
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.
It seems this list can never be big enough to include all the beautiful work done in these genres over the past year, but here are 25 albums that left a lasting impression.
The year in review begins with a new type of list for 2016, but one I very much hope to maintain going forward. Each of these albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to a particular place – personal narratives, journeys remembered, or depictions of landscape real or imagined. Each one takes the listener on a journey and immerses them in a unique place or moment in time. One might say they represent the very essence of stationary traveling, which makes them quite to special to this listener in particular…
What a difference one letter can make. Agoraphobia is a paralyzing anxiety that causes one to fear & avoid crowds and open spaces. Change the ‘b’ to an ‘n’, however, and you have Agoraphonia, a neologism coined by Italian sound artists Francesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci for their latest project which is built around field recordings of public places from around the world and the resulting album about to be released is anything but anxiety inducing.
A town square is an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town and used for community gatherings. Based on this basic perspective, it is easy to notice how the soundscape of this living center could represent not only sonically, but also from a cultural point of view, a priceless document. After an open call lasted 6 months to send most interesting audio material concerning the theme of the “square” the samples have been selected and reworked in order to create an ideal symphony of all living squares all over the world.
Music you can touch as well as hear was the objective of four new works created by Mark Kuykendall, aka The New Honey Shade, for an installation that was part of a unique art show in Tulsa curated by local artist Kelsey Karper. Kuykendall then constructed extended remixes of each piece to create a captivating full-length album entitled Sightless Seasons.
These works were created on C scale music boxes, then mounted to cigar boxes. 4 pieces were composed for the group show / installation “Please Touch the Art” show at the Center for Creativity. Twelve Oklahoma artists, including two who are blind, have created new work for the exhibition in a wide range of media, including sound, scent, sculpture, installation, and more. Most of the artwork can be touched, while others feature high-contrast imagery or interactive components. The show is designed to engage all the senses, with a particular focus on accessibility for visitors who are visually impaired.
When we last heard from Richard Ginns, it was his finely woven album released last year on Eilean Rec. entitled Until the Morning Comes. It seems only fitting his next release be on Dauw as the two labels share much common ground in their aesthetic approach as amply demonstrated by the collaborative Dialog Tapes which they co-released last year. On A Beautiful Memory Shaped in Stars, Ginns once again gives a master class in electroacoustic minimalism as he fuses analog, electronic, and natural sounds into a quiescence of time using lap harp, synthesizer, piano, music boxes, chime bars, kalimba, household objects, electric guitar, and a variety of tape machines & microphones. Continue reading
Last autumn Flaming Pines released the first installment in their new Tiny Portraits series, “small renderings of place in memory and sound” by ambient & experimental artists from around the world that took us to a volcanic island in Japan, a street corner in Hanoi, a square in Athens, and a quiet park in Tehran (read the ST review here). Each one is a kind of sonic interrogation by the artist in response to the questions that drive the project.
“Sound and place are two terms often thrown together, but what actually connects the two? Sure places sound differently, or may shape the sounds that enter them in particular ways but in what ways is sound actually able to capture and convey place? Is place something to be captured at all?” – Flaming Pines
How far and wide the series will go remains to be seen, but it is a welcome sign that an excellent new quartet of works is now available from artists representing Hungary (Peter Turner), Latvia (Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva), Russia (Foresteppe), and Ukraine (Gamardah Fungus). Continue reading