Travelogue 2017.06.17: A Spring Quartet

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

A brief survey of an exquisite quartet of modern classical albums for the Spring season by Christoph Berg & Henning Schmiedt on Flau, Tambour on Moderna Records, Julian Marchal on the newly launched Whales Records, and Moinho on 1631 Recordings. 

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Travelogue 2017.05.31: Spotlight on Polar Seas Recordings

Toronto based Polar Seas Recordings was founded a little over five years ago and for most of that time has primarily served as a home for the releases of Brad Deschamps & Mike Abercrombie as North Atlantic Drift as well as their respective side projects anthéne and Transits of Mercury. In the past year however, the label has released no less than eleven albums, matching the output of the first four years put together while expanding their roster of artists and encompassing a broader sonic palette. Here is a roundup of some the most recent and recommended. 

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Pausal – Avifaunal [Dronarivm]

Imagine the textured, aerated drones of Sky Margin (Own Records, 2013) and the pastoral romanticism of Along the Mantic Spring (Infraction, 2014) fused into a single amalgam and then elevated into a dazzling, symphonic edifice of sound. Avifaunal is the brand new lush and expansive musical narrative created by Alex Smalley (aka Olan Mill) and Simon Bainton under their collaborative moniker of Pausal now out on Dronarivm. The grandiosity of the new record has its origins in a live performance a couple of years prior at a venue which invited experimentation on a large sonic scale.

In 2015 the band were asked by Martin Boulton of Touched Music to perform in Pembrokeshire, Wales and set about generating new material for the show. It was also an opportunity to develop a new equipment setup including looped turntable, voice microphones and synths. A local hall was hired for improvisation and practice sessions which provided an interesting sonic space to explore and possibilities to work at far louder volumes, both of which helped shape the eventual live set and the track “Murmuration” as that is represented here. “Spiral”, “Scatter” and “Soar” were also edited and assembled from the recording sessions around this time.

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Angus MacRae – Cry Wolf [1631 Recordings]

Even if you don’t know the name, there is a very good chance you’ve heard the music of composer Angus MacRae before. His compositions have graced films & commercials ranging from the BBC to companies like Sony, Toyota & Vodaphone while he has also written for a wide variety of live arts performances across Europe including theater and dance. Having released a pair of studio EPs in 2015 which saw a combined digital release last year on 1631 Recordings, he returns to the format and the label with a beautiful collection of modern classical vignettes entitled Cry Wolf.

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Sound Impression: Roaming in Teesdale by Black Hill & Cousin Silas

Reprising their partnership on 2015’s Bridges of the South, Black Hill (Csarnogurszky István, aka musicformessier) and Cousin Silas take us on another binate ambient guitar journey through bucolic and atmospheric soundscapes this time inspired by England’s picturesque Teesdale region.

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Seabuckthorn – Turns [Lost Tribe Sound]

When the resonator guitar was first invented, it was to address a simple, practical need to help guitar players be heard in ensemble settings and cut through the din of the noisy venues where they performed. There are many other ways to address such needs these days, but none that offer the distinctive sound this instrument generates. Used traditionally, it instantly adds an earthiness and authentic Americana flavor to almost any piece of music. In the hands of Andy Cartwright (aka Seabuckthorn) however it is something else entirely – a seemingly bottomless well of unbridled creativity and a veritable builder of worlds. On his third full-length album entitled Turns, Cartwright adds a new dimension to the peregrine narratives and wide-screen atmospheres he created on I Could See the Smoke and They Haunted Most Thickly to create his most complete artistic statement yet.

‘Turns’ is far more of a cerebral experience than its predecessors. transitioning seamlessly between hypnotic long-form pieces, minimal harp-like ballads and the primal stomping world-builders that have become Seabuckthorn’s calling card.  – Lost Tribe Sound

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Sound Impression: Clem Leek – America [YEN]

There always been something quite personal in the music of Clem Leek. Trained as a pianist from a young age and now a developed into a composer, sound artist, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist, he has drawn heavily on his surroundings and life experiences from the very start; consider the misty, overcast reflections of growing up in England on Holly Lane (2010) and the intimate piano & guitar based sketches of Lifenotes (2011) and Rest (2013). The past year has apparently been on one of significant change for Leek and this is reflected in his latest opus and third studio album entitled America. 

“America is a reflection of Clem’s personal transition from Europe to the U.S. Each track refers to new experiences, both information and sensory. Moving from the countryside to the city brought about a plethora of new friends, landscapes and routines and this is reflected in the new styles, instruments and techniques that have bled into the album. “

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Video Premiere: Composer Michael Price talks about the process of ‘Diary’


Diary is a new collection of thirty solo piano improvisations by Bafta-nominated and Emmy award-winning composer Michael Price, a bounteous and enchanting offering that any lover of contemporary classical music would be more than happy to take at face value. But, Diary is more than a simple collection of songs; it is a window into very creative process of the composer. Compiled over a six-week period, Price began each working day with a new improvisational piece recorded in a single take, allowing the project to unfold as an unguarded and unedited musical journal of his thoughts, mood, and level of inspiration.

In this video, the disarmingly self-effacing Price pulls back the curtain even further as he talks about the project and the sometimes surprising patterns and insights it had to reveal.

 

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PREMIERE: Lucien by Freya Lily

Enjoy an exclusive premiere of the beautiful new song “Lucien” from the forthcoming debut solo piano EP by Freya Lily. Due for release on March 23, ‘The Dream’ will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and other digital outlets. 

Born in the Devonshire countryside and now based in London, Freya Lily has been studying classical piano and composing for years, but due to stage fright, she had never played her work to others until a chance encounter at a party where she discovered an upright piano in a side room and decided to test out some recent compositions. After playing, she turned around to discover the rest of the house party now in the room and received an overwhelming response to what became an albeit impromptu first outing for her music.

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Travelogue 2017.01.29 – Exploring Past, Present and Future With 36

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In the space of ten months, Dennis Huddleston has released three albums from his experimental ambient project 36 (pronounced three-six). Far from making music to simply zone or chill out to, Huddleston often weaves rich thematic and imaginative material into his sonic tapestries for an especially emotive and cerebral listening experience. Considered together, this trio of albums cover a vast perspective spanning past, present, and future. 

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Alex Kozobolis – Weightless [Futuresequence]

Alex Kozobolis could be seen as something of a creative nomad and a sort of renaissance man. He is a filmmaker and an outstanding photographer whose work runs the gamut from capturing fellow musicians in portrait and live performance, artistic album covers, and mesmerizing abstract images. He also composes music which until now had only been released in digital form. That changes with his forthcoming new record entitled Weightless, a collection of four solo piano miniatures followed by comparatively more expansive reworks created by Tom Adams, Siavash Amini, Hedia, and Transept which is to be released in striking vinyl and CD editions.

“The remixes and their respective artists were meticulously considered and approached with the intention of creating a cohesive album rather than a fundamentally detached congregation of unrelated pieces of music. Each artist was asked to interpret not only the music but also the title of the tracks..  The result, i think, and hope, is something which you’ll be able to listen to from start to finish and feel consistently engaged by…” – Alex Kozobolis

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Travelogue 2016.12.14: Seas of Tranquility

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Calmly transportive. Blissfully adrift. Hazy and translucent. A listening journey with four exceptional albums from around the globe that delve into the idyllic side of ambient and electronic music created by The Green Kingdom (USA), Chihei Hatakeyama (Japan), Warmth (Spain), and James Murray (UK).

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