PREMIERE: “Repose” by Mike Lazarev [1631 Recordings]

A good friend and active supporter of instrumental music as the creative force behind the revered Headphone Commute (a huge influence on Stationary Travels, btw), Mike Lazarev has more recently revealed himself to us as a fine composer of solo piano music with a pair of mini-albums released on 1631 Recordings. Completed in New York before a move to London and intended to be listened to as the second half to last year’s Unhinged, the forthcoming follow-up entitled Dislodged offers ten exquisite pieces that explore “the outer reaches of spatial and reductionist pianism”.

If the two albums comprise a journey, it would seem (and we would hope) it is on a path to healing. Muted, wistful, and plaintive Dislodged may be, but the track titles hint at peace and recovery while sweet melodies and the occasional flourish of other instruments as well as a TV interlude add a sort of warmth to the proceedings. One might imagine the dark face of a building at night in the heart of the city where a single window glows with light and, as we peer inside and tune our ears to sounds coming from that direction, we get a glimpse of the composer having a dialog with his instrument. Intimate and personal perhaps, but expressed in a universal wordless language that anyone who has experienced detachment, isolation, or heartache will instantly understand.  Continue reading

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VIDEO PREMIERE: “Winter’s Heart” by Andrew James Johnson (feat. Chamber Ensemble of London)

Classical composer and pianist Andrew James Johnson will release his debut solo album Winter’s Heart in November 2017, a record he developed over a number of years, taking inspiration from travels from the Californian coast and Hawaii, to the Canary Islands and mainland Europe. Born in Birmingham to a family of six siblings, Andrew was brought up on the music of The Beatles, Elton John and David Bowie while at the same time he developed an unprompted love of classical music immersing himself in the works of Beethoven, Schumann and Chopin – a juxtaposition in styles that shaped the musical landscape of his childhood and is reflected in his passionate compositional style which Johnson embraces with genuine conviction as he seeks to forge a genuine connection with his audience.

‘Winter’s Heart’ is my debut classical album. It’s the summation of my creative output as a pianist/composer over the last few years. The ‘winter’ theme represents what I personally tap into when I’m alone with nature – stillness, clarity, openness and purity. The piano has such a wonderful sound world to explore. It’s sonorities are limitless and can reach into our emotional core with just a few notes! I hope that my music will touch listeners and allow them to experience their own beautiful isolation and to be lost in the ebb and flow of the unraveling musical textures, much like winter itself…”

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Duologue: A Conversation with Jane Antonia Cornish

My guest for this edition of duologues is award-winning composer Jane Antonia Cornish who grew up in England and is currently based in New York City. In addition to composing scores for the acclaimed documentaries, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood and Citizen Jane: Battle for the City as well as the drama Fireflies in the Garden, (starring Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds and Willem Dafoe), Cornish was the first female in history to win a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for music in 2005. In that same year the UK Film Council also honored her with a Breakthrough Brit in Hollywood award. Most recently she has released her third solo album Into Silence, an exquisite, intimate, and deeply affecting work that ICON Magazine called “A virtual blessing in a world gone mad”, a sentiment with which I would wholeheartedly agree.

Links:  Solo Albums | Order signed CDs  | Into Silence via Innova

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VIDEO PREMIERE: In the Hands of Strangers by Danny Mulhern

Reflections on a Dead Sea is the debut full-length album by British composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Danny Mulhern which presents an augmented, evolved and extended version of his purposefully muted original score for short film The Dead Sea, directed by Stuart Gatt. Set in Libya and backed by the humanitarian organization Medicins Sans Frontieres (aka Doctors Without Borders), the film tells the harrowing story of Emmanuel and Olu, a husband & wife who become incarcerated in a migrant detention center following a failed attempt to flee to Europe. The album was recorded in collaboration with the London Contemporary Orchestra and cellist Oliver Coates in a format that fuses composed and improvised elements together as Mulhern explains:

“We discovered the sound that fitted the film best was extremely soft articulations, played so they were barely audible. It opened up a fascinating sound world that I felt could go beyond the film…For the album sessions I had some pre-recorded piano improvisations, with instructions for each player to play over them within certain parameters (such as articulations, choosing notes from certain chords and never staying longer than a bar on any given note.) We could then home in on interesting sounds that were suggested with each take – a sort of controlled randomness. This way of working was an epiphany; it was really exciting to essentially hear new music coming out of the control room speakers for the first time.”

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Duologue: A conversation with Sophie Hutchings

To hear the music of Australian pianist Sophie Hutchings is to be spellbound by its unfettered beauty. Rich in melody and sonic colors in constant movement, her compositions and arrangements can summon wide open spaces on a grand scale or turn inwards with the most calming and intimate warmth.  After a busy year in which she released two albums (Yonder and Byways), toured in Europe, performed at the inaugural Q3Ambientfest, and traveled to India, Sophie was kind of enough to take some time to chat with us about her recent projects and her music in general.

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Sound Impression: Paces by Jakob Lindhagen

Jakob_Lindhagen_Paces

After providing the music to films such as the 2017 Cannes-nominee ”Push it” and the Guldbagge-awarded/ Prix Europa-nominated ”Skörheten” (Fragility), Stockholm-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Jakob Lindhagen has just released a new full-length solo album called Paces. It features nine pieces led by piano & string trio and colored with unexpected instrumentation such as musical saw and zither as well as other sounds resulting from both deliberate experimentation and happenstance.

”I was recording with equipment that wasn’t always functioning properly. For example, one microphone occasionally started to pick up radio frequencies. At times it was really faint and turned out to be a detail just adding to the overall impression, so I decided to keep it. Other times it was really “in your face”, instead inspiring me to incorporate it into the composition” – Jakob Lindhagen

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From the Mouth of the Sun – Hymn Binding [Lost Tribe Sound]

Hymn Binding marks the third full-length album by From the Mouth of the Sun, a collaboration formed in 2011 by Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist. It also marks a new zenith in the potency of their alchemic fusion of acoustic sound sources (cello, piano, acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, ukulele, singing bowls, and pump organ) into creations of otherworldly beauty and stirring emotion. Organic by its very nature, it is a process which Rosenqvist explains requires the musician to be willing to embrace forces over which they do not have complete control:

“There’s something very beautiful and rewarding to working with acoustic sound sources. Because when you record them, you never know what you’re going get, and you can never repeat it exactly the same way. The wood in the instrument changes from air pressure and with different temperatures. You change your sitting position from one take to another and all of a sudden it sounds slightly different. You move the microphone or you move something in the room and it sounds slightly different. Acoustic sound sources allow for chaos to be a part of the creative process, allowing for something you can never fully control.” – Dag Rosenqvist

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Through a Musical Lens: Loving Vincent OST by Clint Mansell [Milan Records]

Oddly enough, I don’t remember which painting it was, but I will never forget the way it felt to stand for the first time in front of an original Van Gogh at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In some ways it was a disorienting experience. I recall becoming light-headed as if the colors & textures on canvas were alive and in perpetual motion. This phenomenon proved to be no fluke as I found in subsequent opportunities to view his work in person again years later at the VMFA’s Art of the Flower exhibition and again during a first visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.

I am sure I am far from being  alone in being so viscerally affected by the vibrancy of Van Gogh’s work. In fact, there is now a stunning new film that goes so far as to literally bring many of the his paintings to life even as it purports to tell the story of the events leading to his tragic early death. Written & directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, their animated film Loving Vincent was meticulously hand-painted by a team of 115 artists.

“Loving Vincent is the upcoming biographical animated film from newcomer directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman about Vincent van Gogh’s final days and the attempt by an acquaintance of his son (played by Douglas Booth) to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. A film unlike any other, it is entirely hand painted – each of the movie’s 65,000 frames is an oil painting on a canvas created using the same techniques as Vincent van Gogh.”

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Duologue: A conversation with Francesco Berta

Francesco Berta is  a music composer, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist from Italy and currently living in London. While his earliest albums featured a generous amount of exhilarating instrumental rock, since 2014 he has focused increasingly on compositional forms producing some truly beautiful and compelling work. In 2017, Francesco undertook an ambitious project in which he challenged himself to release new material on a monthly basis for the entire year, an effort that has seen 7 new releases so far (find them all here).  We got a chance to catch up with Francesco to talk about the project as well as his frank & insightful views on the process of composing and his participation in the 10th annual Film Music Festival in Krakow.  

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Travelogue 2017.08.20: Topographies of the Soul

Ambient music, when masterfully constructed and emotionally invested, has the power to cross inner oceans, map out the topographies of the soul, and expose the deep strata of memory. This introspective listening journey consists of a quartet of releases that do just that. Featuring the intricately woven and emotive soundscapes of Tapes and Topographies (Todd Gautreau), Bird Traps (Marcus Skinner), Wil Bolton, and James Murray.

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Sound Impression: In Distance We Are Losing by Alaskan Tapes

The suited man toting a bag across a barren landscape on the cover of In Distance We Are Losing speaks volumes about stark emotional tone of this new album from Alaskan Tapes, a project from musician Brady Kendall out of Toronto, Canada. If you have heard his music before, you know there are going to be moments of arresting beauty and ethereal interludes, but there is a sense of isolation, preoccupation, and distraction present in these tracks that tugs in another direction while the visceral presence of the cello parts contributed by Raphael Weinroth-Browne lend as much rawness as eloquence to the proceedings.

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Travelogue 2017.08.07: Spotlight on Home Normal

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,

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