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Kevin Imbrechts may be from Belgium, but there is something unmistakably Icelandic in the character of the music he creates as Illuminine, a kind of atmospheric and enigmatic beauty.  No wonder Sigur Ròs sound engineer Birgir Jón Birgisson took an early interest in his work and invited Imbrechts to the band’s  Sundlaugin studio where he completed the recording of first album and went on to record the next two. Of course, there are other prominent strands in the DNA of his sound – melancholic neoclassical in the vein of Ólafur Arnalds or A Winged Victory for the Sullen (whose Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie has become a collaborator) and electric guitar which traces back to Imbrechts’ admiration for the more introspective work of avant-garde instrumentalist Buckethead citing ‘Electric Tears’ (Metastation, 2002) as an influence.

All of these elements are manifestly present on the newly released #3 which turns out to be the most personal Illuminine album yet as Imbrechts reveals it concerns a very dark chapter in his life during he was struggling with anxiety and panic attacks as well as being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Harrowing as that may sound, he says that writing the album was “the best therapy possible” and that it turned into a sort of “secret sound diary” which he molded to reflect the daily cycles from dawn to anxious, sleep-deprived nights and back to hopeful dawn again.

“It’s my own ‘channel’ to communicate with the world, to express feelings. Everyone can and should project their own ideas and feelings onto the music. Instrumental music is more powerful than vocal music with clear lyrics; it’s much more telling. I want to share this with the world, as I think people have to talk about these issues. It’s not easy to talk about it, but it helps.” – Kevin Imbrechts 

Continue reading “Illuminine | #3 [Ferryhouse Productions]”

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Abstraction and introspection both feature heavily in the music of Kevin Verwijmeren. When he began making music in 2013, the Dutch producer, who grew up in a remote area of the southern Netherlands close by the sea, drew inspiration from long travels on public transport as well as theoretical perspectives acquired as a physics student. In the two years since his last album (Those Glorious Heights, 2016), he has immersed himself in intensive sound study and recording and now presents his third full-length studio album Dett.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Dett by Kevin Verwijmeren”

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Among the musical highlights of 2015 was a collaborative project between two distinctive ’boutique’ labels – Dauw, curated by Pieter Dudal with a specialization in handmade cassette releases, and Eilean Records curated by Mathias van Eecloo, a limited edition CD imprint based on a concept of mapping out an imagined place. Located in Belgium and France respectively, they are European neighbors as well as kindred spirits. The joint project called Dialog Tapes comprised two albums released in parallel wherein every track was a collaboration between a different pairing of artists selected from each label (read more about the first volume here).  It turned out to be nothing less than treasure trove for listeners who appreciate electroacoustic ambient music steeped in eclecticism, minimalism, and filigree while at the same time blending diverse artistic styles in new & creative ways.

Needless to say, it was very gratifying news indeed to see a second iteration of the project on offer this year. Once again, the quality of the music across the two volumes is exquisite and the thoughtful pairings yield utterly captivating results full of subtle sonic surprises in their many permutations and juxtapositions. 

“In its essence, Dialog Tapes is an ambitious attempt to connect a musical field through its own creative forces. It’s about connectivity and making new unexpected musical ties between individual actors…Four years later, both labels now express a distinctive sound and found their place within the field of minimal ambient and electro-acoustic music. Hence, Dudal and Eecloo found that the time was ripe to initiate the follow-up of the first Dialog Tapes output. After a long process of carefully selecting the artists and curating the collaborations, a wonderful group of musicians started to explore musical overlap, looked for new approaches to make music and ultimately went in a dialog with another artist. ”  – Dauw/Eilean 

Continue reading “Dauw + Eilean | Dialog Tapes II”

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The Great Lake Swallows is the seventh entry in the Dark Peak series from Manchester UK’s Gizeh Records and introduces a very special first time collaboration between Canadian cellist Julia Kent and Belgian guitarist/tape machine manipulator Jean D.L. Recorded in Charleroi, Belgium in 2015 during a video installation with Sandrine Verstraete, the album’s long elegiac arc comprises four movements, chapters if you will, in a single riveting whole punctuated by brief caesuras that mark subtle shifts in the narrative.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: The Great Lake Swallows by Julia Kent and Jean D.L. [Gizeh Records]”

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One of the steadiest sources of light among labels that feature & promote ambient music from around the globe is Home Normal under the guidance of Ian Hawgood, a fine artist and mastering engineer in his own right. The newest entry to their catalog brings together two outstanding artists who likewise both curate independent labels while creating their own music, Stijn Hüwels (Slaapwel Records) and James Murray (Slowcraft Records).  The new collaborative project is called Silent Vigils, a suitable moniker for the liminal quiescence of sound these two kindred spirits have reached across water to create with one another.

“Molenbrook, Mossigwell, Zwartewall, Fieldem… places neither here nor there; half in the world, half in the mind. We began this project as an exchange of gestures across the water, a dialogue motivated by mutual respect and revolving around our shared love of the minimal, the graceful and the understated. We completed it on 22nd March 2017 – the day of the Westminster attack, one year to the day after the Brussels bombings. These four pieces have become our personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking and open borders.” – Silent Vigils

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Fieldem by Silent Vigils [Home Normal]”

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Dauw is a Belgian boutique label based in Ghent that specializes in handmade cassette releases of electroacoustic ambient music of an especially organic & pastoral nature and features a unifying visual aesthetic based on the graphic artwork of Femke Strijbol. The label offers sounds and colors eminently suited to the gentle awakenings of springtime and it is our good fortune that they have put up some irresistible new releases for the season.

Continue reading “Travelogue 2018.04.15: From Winter into Spring with Dauw”

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As February draws to a close in this part of the world, we can’t help but start to anticipate the thawing of winter and the colors of spring and Belgian boutique label Dauw is a fine place to look for music that will suit the change in seasons. The label’s docket for March includes a collection of  reworked material drawn from #2 by Illuminine (aka Kevin Imbrechts), a lovely study in melancholia which the artist released last year. As was the case with 2015’s #1 Reworks an international roster of artists has been compiled to reinterpret or “reconstellate” the songs into new experiences across a diverse range of styles from delicate ambient and solo piano to minimal electronica and techno.

Like an early hint of spring, we’ve been gifted a glimpse into one of the new mixes, a sprightly polyrhythmic reworking of the previously wistful “Dualisms #2” by Berlin based multi-instrumentalist, composer & producer Studnitzky. The song is released along with a striking video entirely shot in Iceland by Melina Rathjen, a place that has a special meaning for both artists who spent time there working on their music.

Continue reading “Video: Dualisms #2 (Studnitzky Rework) by Illuminine”

The reassuring steady hum of soft drones, temperate in mood, weightless as if held aloft on gentle air currents; permeable to texture and filigree; slowly turning to catch shimmering glints of light; calm; harmonious. A salve for the ears and a balm for the soul. These are the things that come to mind listening to Constellate by artist & musician Steve Pacheco which he recorded in Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Understated and beautifully crafted, it is an excellent an inspiration to moments of reflection and an excellent companion to working in solitude.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Constellate by Steve Pacheco [Dauw]”

Part of the Spring 2017 series and the most recent addition to the Eilean Rec. catalog is a first-time collaboration between Belgian musician & Slaapwel Records curator Stijn Hüwels and American composer & sound artist Danny Clay.  It turns out to be an inspired pairing in a wonderfully understated kind of way as Hüwels somnambulent guitar-loop minimalism finds a perfect complement in Clay’s delicate electroacoustic ephemera fashioned from turntables, sine waves, and celesta.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: An Unintended Space by Stijn Hüwels & Danny Clay”