Travelogue 2018.03.30: Field Notes

Still basking in the afterglow of Piano Day 2018, this edition of Field Notes puts the spotlight on a superb quartet of new & upcoming piano-themed releases by Goldmund (Western Vinyl), Stefano Guzzetti (Home Normal), Muriël Bostdorp (Whales Records), and a cadre of artists associated with Moderna Records. Continue reading

Sound Impression: Metaphors by Glacis [22.16.04 Records]

“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space…This work was born in the silence between other major projects. The work explores the subtle beauty of the piano in an attempt to capture something warm and real and alive.” – Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken aka Glacis

These days truth is hard to find and even harder to hear amidst the din and chaos of a world that seems to be spinning ever faster towards madness. For many of us that makes albums like Metaphors quite precious. Just a man and his piano speaking truth in the euphonic language of  wordless song. And what lovely songs they are – simple, profound, memorably melodic, and bound to the space in which they were created  by the creak and hum of the piano which was preserved in the recordings.  Continue reading

Through a musical lens: Memory Sketches by Tim Linghaus [Schole/1631 Recordings]

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What is a memory? It is not such a silly question. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Try to put it into words. What IS a memory? How do they accrue such significance to our sense of self?  Musician Tim Linghaus wrestles with this in a beautiful and touching way on his latest album called Memory Sketches. Tim’s experiences with making music began when he discovered his father’s Yamaha drum machine and guitars when he was a young boy in the GDR. During his university years he played guitar in a couple of bands ranging from metal to singer/songwriter, but of late his music is mainly based on piano, synthesizers and noise. If you have had the joy of listening to his debut Vhoir, then you know it is of an exceptionally thoughtful and delicate nature and the new album continues very much in the same vein but with a very particular purpose as Tim explains.

“What is a memory? Is it a residue of our past conjured into being by pictures in our minds? Is it our former self communicating with our present one or the other way around? Is it a recurring emotion or smell we notice in a déjà vu or a daydream? Is it an individual sum of those aspects? What I know is that memories help me to define who I am. They establish connection between me and everything that is not present or future – sometimes sharp and palpable, more often soft and frail. Unfortunately, some memories fade away irrevocably. Hence, I am quite afraid of losing them.” Tim Linghaus

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Travelogue 2018.03.11: A Modern Classical Matinee

vid1This musical weekend matinée features a collection of four beautiful modern classical compositions by Tambour, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Erland Cooper, and Fabrizio Paterlini set to video. For just a little while, leave your cares behind and enjoy the transportive magic of these musical stories. 

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Sound Impression: Voz by Richard Luke [1631 Recordings]

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Releases may not be flying out at quite the prolific rate they were during the first 18 months or so following the launch of 1631 Recordings, but the Swedish imprint remains a steady and reliable source of wonderful new modern & post-classical music.  Most recently, the label has offered up the debut album of Glaswegian multi-instrumentalist composer and producer Richard Luke, a collection on which he collaborated on with Scottish Chamber Orchestra first violinist Amira Bedrush McDonald entitled Voz.

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A Sense of Place: Anenon – Tongue [Friends of Friends]

Amidst the teeming diversity and cacophonous sprawl of Los Angeles are scores of people who specialize in making and selling dreams. There is probably no place on earth that has not been imagined or portrayed there and preserved on celluloid.  But to truly experience the soul of a place, to connect with it, soak it in, and meaningfully interact with it, you really do need to be there. Perhaps it was with this mindset that Brian Allen Simon aka Anenon packed up his instruments in the spring of 2017 and left behind a roiling political/cultural climate for the serene and picturesque rolling hills of Tuscany, home to millenia of sublime artistic expression and enviable provincial life. There, in a makeshift attic studio on the third story of a 16th century villa in the small town of Palaia he embarked on a month long musical odyssey which resulted in his fourth LP entitled Tongue. 

“I live in the city of ephemerality. The omnipresent LA light soaks my mind and body and moves me forward towards a dark and inconsistent absence of remembrance. Around me, histories are bought and sold daily in an unplanned, urban and suburban dwelling that on paper makes zero sense, but in reality has become a haven for wide open creative thinking and action that couldn’t exist anywhere else…I wanted to make music that can live inside of anywhere one finds themselves: city or country. It’s a series of shifting moods and melodies that through the heart, mind, hands, throat, and tongue sing an outpouring of metaphysical, nuanced psychedelic passing truth.” – Brian Allen Simon

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Emmanuel Witzthum – Songs of Love and Loss [Eilean Rec]

coverEmmanuel Witzthum is an Israeli musician, violist, composer, multidisciplinary artist, and lecturer who has been involved in projects, festivals, and orchestras all around the globe including including New York, Jerusalem, Paris, Berlin, and Madrid. Some readers here may recall his work with collaborator Craig Tattersall (aka The Humble Bee) as E& I on their sublime Eilean Records release The Colour of Sound (2016) an album described on this site as “a complete suspension of time and the invocation of a blissful, halcyon torpor conducive to a state of deep reflection” and “a truly gorgeous album of quietly epic proportions”. Two years later Witzthum returns to the enigmatic label with a new solo work entitled Songs of Love and Loss which brings his viola and voice work into a sharper and more impassioned focus as he offers up a quartet of ardent compositions each represented by a haiku and associated with a different season.

Eyes shut, leaves 
Lift in winds across 
Autumn skies 

Soft rain falls 
Winter solitude 
At night, still 

Shy flowers 
Cloud sighs, clear blue sky, 
Breeze turns warm 

Against tree 
Eyes look to sunset 
In summer 

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PREMIERE: Fragmentary Blue by Aukai

Aukai is a Hawaiian word for seafaring traveler or sailor, a suitable metaphor for the musical project of the same name from Markus Sieber conceived after a move from Europe to Mexico and born from his desire to create music that could work in tandem with film, video, theater and the visual arts. The distinctive sound that permeates the music of Aukai owes much to the love affair Sieber has cultivated with the ronroco, a stringed instrument of Andean origins recently popularized by film composer Gustavo Santaolalla.  The magic happens as the instrument’s brightly arpeggiated strings are deftly woven into expansive compositions fleshed out by an ensemble that includes cellist Anne Müller (Agnes Obel Band, Nils Frahm), violinist Bogdan Djukic, pianist Angelika Baumbach, keyboardist Alexander Nickmann, and longtime collaborator Jamshied Sharifi (Laurie Anderson, Sting, Dream Theater) .

It is a formula that received a warm & enthusiastic reception for Aukai’s self-titled 2016 debut and works a treat again on the forthcoming follow-up album Branches of Sun which began as a series of recordings made by Sieber during a retreat to a small cabin near the Old Spanish Trail in Colorado last winter far away from a world of human and technological distractions. Perhaps the mood is a bit more austere and contemplative this time as the pristine, remote atmosphere of the high-mountain country looms in the background, but the luminosity and nomadic spirit in the music remains irrepressible and life-affirming. For a taste of the new record, have a listen to the gorgeous interplay of cascading piano runs with the sun-soaked ronroco set off by warm swells and textures of cello that characterize “Fragmentary Blue” offered here in an exclusive premiere.

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Poppy Ackroyd – Resolve [One Little Indian]

Poppy_Ackroyd_Resolve_CoverWhen we got a chance to speak with Poppy Ackroyd this past summer, she was about to release Sketches, an album of solo piano reworks of material from her first two studio albums as well as pieces from an upcoming new work. Now that album has arrived, erasing any possible vestiges of doubt that she is one of the most innovative and exciting artists on the experimental classical scene and a truly distinctive artistic voice.

Resolve finds Poppy building and expanding upon her dynamic and percussive approach to playing the piano in ways both conventional and unconventional. It also find her collaborating in the studio for the first time with other musicians including Manu Delago (Bjork, Cinematic Orchestra, Anoushka Shankar) on hang, Mike Lesirge (Bonobo, Andreya Triana) on clarinets and flute, and Jo Quail on cello. It is a vibrant and mesmerizing record with a positive impetus behind it. 

“Resolve is about the determination to embrace the good things in life whilst dealing with unexpected and challenging difficulties. Finding the light in the dark, facing sadness and loss head on, and developing a growing inner strength.” – Poppy Ackroyd

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Sound Impression: Per Te Solo Per Te, Per Me Solo by Luca Ciut

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Italian composer Luca Ciut has created numerous scores in recent years for movies, theater, and dance and worked with both Golden Globe and Emmy winning filmmakers. Inspired by his experience living in Los Angeles, his 2013 debut album of original compositions entitled Seventeen Million Lonely Angels was originally planned as a solo piano record accompanied by field recordings but ended up embracing a variety of additional instruments. On his second album, however, it is just the man and his piano unraveling a very personal and intimate journey in 13 songs, an opus which Ciut dubbed Per Te Solo Per Te, Per Me Solo.

“For you only for you, for me alone. And there is a space in between, a comma. Light, but present. There are things we do for someone else and other things we do for ourselves. And it is not always easy to make them go by the hand, without tugging each other. Words often mingle, they want to take the upper hand, compete to arrive first.So I tried to use a scale where the two arms felt the same, same weight. And if this did not happen, I would start again, to weigh. Because this album is also: for me only for me, for you alone.” – Luca Ciut

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Duologue: Aaron Martin talks about ‘A Room Now Empty’

Along the pathways of my stationary travels, I have not encountered an artist more mesmerizing or compelling than Aaron Martin.  Centered around his singular cello, he employs a plethora of other instruments (guitar, banjo, ukulele, lap steel, concertina, singing bowls) to forge a unique sound and style with roots sunk deep in rustic earthiness yet somehow reaching boundlessly into transcendent and ethereal realms. It is as if Martin unlocks not only the resonance of  his instruments, but extracts the very history and memory out of the elements from which they are made. I find his music to be ancient, timeless, and modern all at once, always moving and unfailingly pointed towards true north.

Never has this been more true than on his newest work entitled A Room Now Empty soon to be released by UK-based contemporary classical label Preserved Sound, Martin’s first full-length solo record since the sublime Comet’s Coma (Eilean Rec., 2014).  Soon listeners will be able to revel in its stark, intimate beauty and be shaken by its soul-deep, melancholic yearning. In the meantime, Stationary Travels is very pleased to present this interview provided courtesy of Preserved Sound & Hayden Berry in which Aaron talks about how the layered meanings in the music and titles of  the album and how they don’t allow one clear-cut reading of the music.

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2017 In Review: A Sense of Place and Time

Each of these albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to a particular place or time – 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… 

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