Carlos Cipa is a classically trained composer & multi-instrumentalist based in Munich who has scored music for film, dance, and theater and shared the stage with such neoclassical luminaries as Hauschka, Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, and Valgeir Sigurdsson. His third solo album, entitled Retronyms, is about to be released on Warner Classics and it will be his first full-length release since 2014’s All Your Life You Walk (Denovali).
The album title is a hint that we are about to see Cipa and his music in a new light. A retronym is essentially a new way of seeing something old, a renaming brought on by changes that require new clarity. For example, consider how acoustic guitars were simply known as guitars until the electric was invented. Retronyms emerge out of periods of advancement and thus serve as markers of growth and development. Spend a little time with the new album and it becomes apparent why Cipa chose this metaphor. It marks a turning point in his album output, fusing established piano and classical motifs with bold new forays into pop, jazz, and electronic music resulting in his most multi-faceted and imaginative work yet. Continue reading “Track Premiere: Mame by Carlos Cipa”
Tambour is the musical project from Simon P. Castonguay, a Montreal-based composer and self-taught multi-instrumentalist who also has a background in film studies and has done work in the world of theater. This summer sees the release of Tambour’s third album which was written largely in the fall of 2017 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and features performances by the Mommies on the run string quartet (Mélanie Bélair, Mélanie Vaugeois, Ligia Paquin, Annie Gadbois) and Pietro Amato (Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre), who also engineered the record, on french horn. Entitled Constellations (ou comment arrêter le temps), it is meant as both a reflection of the passage of time as well as a window into Castonguay’s own recent past. The album’s subtitle translates to “or how to stop time” and that is what he does through both the format and compositions that make up the record.
“This collection of five tableaux sees Castonguay reflecting on notions of time ; its passing, the time we have and the time that we don’t, the time we take or choose not to ; time spent waiting after something or someone ; our perceptions of and relation to the world around us (and the stars beyond). Playing with these notions, Castonguay chose to play with the form of the record, configuring the listening experience as one continuous listen from start to finish. The listener is invited to lose themselves in time, and not focus on the bounds of individual tracks.” – Moderna Records
Continue reading “Sound Impression: Constellations (ou comment arrêter le temps) by Tambour”
In the winter of 2017, pianist and Headphone Commute editor-in-chief Mike Lazarev began an intriguing remote collaboration with Uwe Zahn, better known in experimental music circles as Arovane. Over the next year and a half, the two kindred spirits developed a musical language of their own that has taken form this summer in the release of Aeon on the enigmatic Eilean Rec. imprint. In his London studio, Lazarev would record minimal piano pieces, often late at night, sometimes with the windows open, seeking to capture every sound resonating from the instrument. Zahn then delicately deconstructed these recordings, extracting not only the notes themselves but even the brush of fingers across the keys, the fall of the hammers, or the ‘breathing’ of the strings thus turning them into morphological units for the formulation of new means of expression,
“We both aspired to delve into this instrument and play with all of the sounds living within, as heard from the inside. Many ideas would come from Uwe in the form of a sketch, an aural vocabulary, or a sonic brochure, which I would interpret through a pair of closely placed microphones. There are even fewer melodies and even more spacial pianism on here than in my previous solo reductionist works, which Uwe so masterfully extracted with his experienced ear. In this incredible partnership, we have discovered a new dimension within the piano…” – Mike Lazarev
Continue reading “Track Premiere: Unendlich, Endlich by Arovane & Mike Lazarev”
Having immersed us in the empyrean beauty of the cosmos with last year’s Constellations, BAFTA award-winning composer Jane Antonia Cornish turns her gaze from the heavenly to the pelagic on her new record, an exceptional new collection of cyclical works for piano, strings, bass guitar, & electronics entitled Seascapes. Once again, Cornish achieves a consummate balance between painterly eloquence, cinematic grandeur, and refined minimalist expression as she captures the vastness and wonder of her chosen subject framed in contemplative stillness.
Continue reading “Sound Impression: Seascapes by Jane Antonia Cornish”
Since arriving on the scene less than a year ago, Indianapolis-based Past Inside the Present has rolled out a rather dazzling catalog of thoughtful and immersive ambient releases of exceptionally high quality. Among these is a pair of gems under the title of Orchestral Tape Studies. The first record is by “healing sound propagandist” zakè (扎克), an homage to minimalist symphonic composers and orchestras in which fragmented orchestral loops have been compiled and woven together with oscillating repetitive strands of textural ambient drone. The result is a wonderful meditative exploration of liminality and tonality and one of the most serene and beautiful albums you could hope to enjoy.
Continue reading “Sound Impression: Orchestral Tape Studies”
When Sony Masterworks releases ‘Reveries‘ by Rob Simonsen in September, it will technically by a debut album, but the Los Angeles based composer’s work should be well known to many. Having worked with Mychael Danna on movies like 500 Days of Summer (2009) Moneyball (2011) and Life of Pi (2012), Simonsen has gone on to score a number of major independent and feature films such as The Way, Way Back (2013),The Spectacular Now (2013), The Age of Adeline (2015), The Front Runner (2018) and Captive State (2019) to name just a handful. The album has a rather rich backstory as one might imagine for a composer as experienced and well-traveled as Simonsen, and the more one learns about it, the more apparent what a labor of love Reveries represents. By his own account it is both a return to Simonsen’s roots escaping into and exploring the piano as youth as well as to an aesthetic he encountered and developed an affinity for while working in Paris and Berlin in recent years.
“I came back to LA and thought, I want to have those conversations here. I want to be able to go to a church and see a little concert. I want to connect more with people doing interesting explorations, and thinking deeply about their art.”
The music shows a clear kinship with the intimately immersive work of such composers as the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hauschka, Hildur Guðnadóttir, or Dustin O’Halloran (A Winged Victory for the Sullen), artists who journeyed albeit in the opposite direction, that is to say one of beginning as solo artists before entering the world of film & TV soundtracks. This is clearly evident in the somber, reflective beauty of “Spectre” which debuted along with a dramatic video treatment earlier this summer. And now the profoundly emotive “Coeur”, the album’s second single, along with part two of a continued visual story are here to be enjoyed in an exclusive premiere.
Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Coeur” by Rob Simonsen”
CEEYS is a portmanteau coined from the names of the primary instruments used by brothers Sebastian & Daniel Selke to perform their minimalist modern classical compositions – the cello played by Sebastian (‘violoncelle’) and Daniel’s piano and vintage synthesizers (‘keys’). Their latest album now out on the Neue Meister imprint is the final chapter in a triptych centered around growing up in Europe’s largest prefab estate in Berlin-Marzahn-Hellersdorf, East Germany and living through the dramatic political & cultural changes that transpired during the collapse of the GDR and the reunification with the West.
The album is called Hiddensee, referring to the small but picturesque holiday island in the Baltic Sea just west of Rügen, a “sweet little land” (‘Söte Länneken’) with an unspoiled beauty that attracted such artists & intellectuals in the early 20th century as Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, and Sigmund Freud and which served as both a popular vacation destination and a haven for dissidents throughout the GDR era.
“After the Peaceful Revolution in 1989, the subsequent fall of the Berlin Wall and all through the 1990s, the area kept its contradictory atmosphere of vibrant euphoria and underlying melancholia. As we strongly felt the need to incorporate all different aspects of these turbulent times into our work, we decided to release them in a series of records over the next years to come. While CONCRETE FIELDS was dedicated to our childhood behind the Iron Curtain in the 1980s, WÆNDE was a collection of impressions regarding the sudden fall of the Wall – the moment of change that is shaping us to this very day. Now we turn to the no less intense 1990s – for us, those years bring to mind family trips and our sheer amazement for the vast beauty of the world.” – CEEYS
Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Hiddensee by CEEYS”
When we first met Japanese composer & pianist Daigo Hanada, it was his 2017 debut Ichiru on Moderna Records, an album written in Berlin and Tokyo over the course of a year and recorded with only an upright piano and a pair of microphones. This summer, Hanada returns to the label with a beautiful EP in a similar vein entitled Ouka, a new collection of seven intimate vignettes full of oneric charm. Once again, there is an elegant simplicity to Hanada’s work, a balance between melody, harmony, and space that is easy to listen to but takes a special touch to achieve.
Continue reading “Video Premiere: Follow Me to the Moon by Daigo Hanada”
Known predominantly for his extensive work in film (“Three Identical Strangers”, “100 Streets”, and “Starfish” among others) and writing arrangements for such artists as Coldplay, Badly Drawn Boy, and Kasabian, British composer and mult-instrumentalist Paul Saunderson will soon be releasing his own debut album which blends electronics and field recordings with classical instrumentation. Passage, which will be available July 5 from the 1631 Recordings imprint is a 14-track opus strung together in a continuous flow which parallels Saunderson’s own personal journey over the past several years in which he disperses intimate piano works dispersed amidst euphoric orchestral pieces of cinematic scope.
“I have always been interested in combining electronics with classical music, something that has become a large part of the writing in my film work. Music and nature have always held a strong bond, so I also wanted to retain an organic element, often creating sounds from field recordings, taking something literally from nature and turning it into music.” – Paul Saunderson
Continue reading “Video Premiere: Now I Am Found by Paul Saunderson”