Duologue: A conversation with James A. McDermid

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The summer series of duologues begins with special guest James A. McDermid. Those who pay close attention to the goings on in the community of artists who make experimental & electronic music have likely taken increasing notice of his work with three full-length albums on as many labels over the past year as well as the launch of a new Mixcloud radio show. Not only that, but James can be found on Twitter passionately supporting the work of many fellow artists. This burst of activity, however, began after nearly 9 years without a release and the devastating loss of a dear family member. I am very pleased to share this candid and insightful conversation with James about his artistic journey and recent & upcoming albums.

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Travelogue 2018.04.15: From Winter into Spring with Dauw

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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.

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Sound Impression: Circuit Bloom by 36

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It is hard to conceive of a more fitting title for latest offering from 36 (pronounced three-six), the ambient / experimental project of Dennis Huddleston from the United Kingdom. Circuit Bloom is like a garden of electronic flowers that bud and blossom in a slow, kaleidoscopic efflorescence of fleeting ephemeral beauty.  In a shift from recent 36 releases that resonated on a cosmic scale, Huddleston chose a more introspective theme for a group of songs which serves as a prelude a full-length album to come later this year.

“[Circuit Bloom] contains a selection of 6 predominantly piano-based tape loops, exploring the themes of isolation and escapism, through a Cyberpunk-inspired lens. For me, Cyberpunk is about people living on the fringes of society, finding ways to deal with the hardships they face, through the manipulation and exploitation of technology. It’s a genre/aesthetic I’ve always loved and its influence has always seeped into my music.” – Dennis Huddleston, aka 36

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Duologue: An interview with Barry Kernachan

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On Piano Day 2018 the sounds of musicians will be heard around the globe celebrating a love for one of the most beloved and expressive instruments in the world. Among them will be names that might be new to many listeners such as Barry Kernachan who is releasing his new album to coincide with that special day. Not that he is new to music. Far from it. Barry has been playing since he was a child and writing for a number of years. But Layers is an album where he strips everything back and focuses on the core instrument. It is bright, melodic, and engaging record that piano music lovers will find easy to fall into. In this interview provided by Preserved Sound, Barry talks about the album, his musical journey and his improvisational process.   Continue reading

Lucy Claire – String Works [1631 Recordings]

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I first encountered the music of London-based composer Lucy Claire when the Stationary Travels blog was only about a month old, an affecting piece entitled “Paelistin” savored over a cup of coffee on a quiet Saturday morning. Soon after that came the stunning two-part Suite (reviewed here) and a pair of beautifully realized collaboration & remix EPs featuring guest artists such as Marie Schreer,  Alev Lenz and Tom Adams. After a relatively quiet 2017, it is wonderful to hear that Lucy is planning a series of releases throughout the year and she could hardly hope to get off to a better start than the first installment, a ravishing quartet of compositions entitled String Works which is now available.

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Tomorrow We Sail — The Shadows [Gizeh Records]

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The very name of the band Tomorrow We Sail evokes an aura of journeys into far off horizons full of promise, an apt metaphor for the creative odyssey the Leeds-based band has been on since their formation in 2009. Their 2014 debut, For Those Who Caught The Sun In Flight, was the culmination of four years spent developing the euphonious and stirring blend of folk, post rock, neoclassical, and atmospheric elements they can now claim as their own signature sound. What followed was a restless period of musical exploration and a traveling hiatus with the band eventually reuniting less one member (violinist David Ramsey who remained abroad) to work on a new record. Without venturing any conjecture about the personal sojourns that took place during the intervening years, what is abundantly clear is how much band has grown musically. Now out after three years in gestation, The Shadows finds the six-piece collective spreading their wings wide and soaring to majestic new heights on the strength of potent songwriting, intricate arrangements, and engaging vocals.

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yndi halda – A Sun-Coloured Shaker

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If yndi halda was in the market for a new tag line they might consider “no music before its time” (a riff on the 70’s era Orson Wells commercial for Paul Masson wine for any of our readers too young to remember). Consider their resplendent opus Under Summer (2016), which the band worked on over a nine-year span following 2007’s Enjoy Eternal Bliss, clear evidence of their patient willingness to take as long as necessary to nurture their music to the point they feel it is ready to put out into the world. The same can be said of their new single A Sun-Coloured Shaker. In fact, it was that extended period of slowly chipping away at the composition, arrangements, and production of the last record that left the band with what they refer to as “small pockets of music which [they] really loved but had no home for”.  One piece in particular they felt truly belonged with the album but simply needed more time to develop and so they lovingly tended the vine as best they could until the fruit was ready.

“We knew it had to be a part of the album eventually, but also that it needed more time. So, between tours and obligations for Under Summer, we met to continue writing, and we eventually reached our destination: an accompaniment to the album, a new song that tells the leftover stories. We see A Sun-Coloured Shaker as the passing of night that follows Under Summer’s day. The dawn after the album’s dusk has faded. We wanted to express the realization that something as simple and everyday as sunrise can be so truly life-giving. That the natural rhythm of nightfall and daybreak is a foundation of reality and being.” – yndi halda

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PREMIERE: “I Can’t Start Being Happy For Feeling Sad” by Winterlight

The first time hearing the music of Winterlight is a pleasurably disorienting experience. Circulating amidst its dizzying swirls & sonic eddies are decades of musical influences and waves of reverb-drenched melody which coalesce into sumptuous, prismatic compositions with vast depth of field. Structurally uncomplicated, but texturally complex, the origin of the sound traces its roots to founder Tim Ingham‘s absorption in the post-punk and shoegaze music of the 80s and 90s in his native Thames Valley England.  It was not until 2006 that Ingham mined those influences in an effort to recreate the lush and hazy sounds of his youth. It was then the project came into being and quickly integrated itself onto the ambient/electronica scene over the course of several albums, singles, and remixes.

This band’s latest album had a lengthy gestation period of its own. The Longest Sleep Through Darkest Days is the culmination of nearly seven years of on and off “creative spurts, false starts, and second guesses” and reflects a turmoil hinted at in its title. The listener, however, is not burdened with the arduousness of this genesis. For us, there is only the bliss of its “melancholic euphoria”, expansive beauty, and deft nostalgic nods to the electronic music that informs it. Even better news is we don’t have to wait until the March release to enter the vortex of these mesmerizing sounds as the band is releasing the single with a pair of exclusive B-sides next week and you, dear reader, can check them out right now.  Continue reading

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: Little Steps by Good Weather For An Airstrike [Sun Sea Sky]

It has been a little over two years since we heard from Good Weather For An Airstrike, the project British musician Tom Honey conceived nearly nine years ago to help alleviate suffering caused by tinnitus. Little Steps is a fine addition to his catalog as it finds the sweet spot between the ambient, post-rock, and electronic elements which are all integrated into a seamless organic flow with a deft and delicate touch. 

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Premiere: New Beginnings by Alina K

It was the piano that first captured composer Alina K’s imagination as a child in Lithuania. Having moved to London with the intention of further developing her piano
playing skills and performed at the opening ceremonies of the prestigious Vancouver Fashion Week, she recently took the bold decision to leave a steady work in the world of luxury retail to focus full-time on her music. This has led to her first collection of music to be formally released, an EP due in early February of 2018. Produced by Nick Tauber, who has worked on bestselling albums for Thin Lizzy, Def Leppard, and Marillion, Awakening will feature selections from fourteen original compositions that she recently recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. The first track from the album, the aptly titled “New Beginnings”, premieres today and allows listeners to experience the uplifting beauty and direct emotional appeal of her elegant compositional style.

“I want to create music that transcends boundaries. My compositions come from my heart and I am so happy to see them bringing joy and positivity to the audience.” – Alina K

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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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