By my count, Whitelabrecs has come out with nearly 70 releases in the four years since it was founded by Harry Towell (aka Spheruleus). For the first three, the label strictly followed a set formula in which each release came out on vinyl-effect CDs in a limited run of 50 copies. This year, Towell has upped the ante with runs of 100 copies and a new packaging motif designed to emulate gatefold vinyl LPs as well as an expanded range of photographers sourcing the artwork. What has been consistent from the beginning, however, is a steady stream of highly engaging releases from a thoughtfully curated roster of artists currently working in the ambient, drone, modern classical, electro-acoustic and folk genres. The six albums featured here have provided me with a great deal of listening pleasure lately, but they only represent a portion of the breadth and depth of what is on offer, so I recommend allowing oneself lots of time to explore during visits to Bandcamp.
Continue reading “Travelogue: A Journey With Whitelabrecs”
It is one thing to be a versatile musician and quite another to work at the forefront of multiple genres with the kind of virtuosity Bryce Dessner has shown over the past decade. He has won Grammy Awards both as a contemporary classical composer and as guitarist, arranger, and co-principal songwriter of The National as well as receiving both Grammy and Golden Globe nominations for his film score for “The Revenant“. Dessner has also has written orchestral, chamber, and vocal compositions for the likes of Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Metropolitan Museum of Art (for the New York Philharmonic), and New York City Ballet while his orchestrations can be heard on the albums by such marquee artists as Paul Simon and Bon Iver.
This fall Dessner is releasing Tenebre, a selection of four compositions freshly recorded by Hamburg’s Ensemble Resonanz including an exhilarating orchestral version of the popular “Aheym” originally composed for the Kronos Quartet, a vibrant reworking of the titular piece featuring an appearance by vocalist Moses Sumney, the premiere of a new string trio entitled “Skrik”, and a performance of “Lachrimae”, Dessner’s first composition for string orchestra which references the musical worlds of Renaissance composer John Dowland and Bartók’s Divertimento.
This preview video provides glimpses of the music from the album and captures the palpable excitement of Dessner and the members of Ensemble Resonanz over bringing these pieces to life together, Tenebre is now available digitally with a CD edition coming out later this month.
“When I first heard Ensemble Resonanz perform my music, the energy and precision of the group was somewhat shocking. It’s like there’s a fierceness to the sound, while retaining its depth.” – Bryce Dessner
Links: Listen/Order| Bryce Dessner | Ensemble Resonanz
The partnership of visual artist Anna Salzmann and composer/musician Garreth Brooke (aka Garreth Broke) has always been a special one both personally and creatively. Their latest work together is entitled Healing and combines 11 abstract artworks by Anna with 25 minutes of piano music by Garreth which seeks to explore this complex and sometimes contradictory emotional process from several perspectives.
“Healing explores the complex, not always linear process of healing. Any struggle is full of contradictions: there are moments of pain and relief, tension and release, opacity and clarity. Part of what made Anna and I fall in love with each other was a shared need to create, whether that was art or music, and a recognition that we were both creating in order to heal. Like all couples, we have old wounds, whether they be physical or mental. We’ve found that the act of creation/healing is far more powerful when working together because it forces us to listen more carefully, to act more wisely, to strive to find workable compromises.” – Garreth
In art as in life, Anna and Garreth prove to be ideal complements for one another as can be seen in this video premiere of the touching opening sequence of the album (“Intro”/”Hiding”) accompanied by Anna’s striking watercolor & ink images in motion.
Continue reading “Through a Musical Lens: Healing by Anna Salzmann & Garreth Broke”
Since starting his ambient-drone-post rock music project in 2011, M. Beckmann has been making a unique brand of music as the volume settings folder while drawing on the “countryside ambience” of North-East Italy as his main inspiration. As Beckmann tells it, his process usually begins with a spontaneous rush of ideas which he then nurtures through a period of “music seasoning” which can involve months of post-production treatments to come up with the end product. While most of the albums and EPs produced over the past eight years – including some fine bespoke limited editions – have been self-released, there is a label to look to if you want to hear Beckmann’s finest work and that would be Oscarson. It is on this vinyl-centric imprint based in Germany that we find Laguna (2016), his lovely homage to memories of Venice, as well as his most recent album entitled Hothocleana.
Continue reading “Sound Impression: ‘Hothocleana’ by the volume settings folder”
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”
“Ypsilon” is the second collaboration between veteran sound artists Uwe Zahn aka Arovane (Germany), Porya Hatami (Iran) and Darren McClure (Japan). Perhaps some readers recall the first time they joined forces as a trio on Veerian (2016, Eilean Rec), a veritable masterclass in minimalist expression and textural sound design. Never ones to repeat themselves, the new record find the group expanding on their original ideas and excavating new sonic terrain with the addition of more fluid melodic shapes and rhythmic structures. Ypsilon is in constant motion. It pulses, shimmers, and percolates with a restless energy and an impetus toward experimentation and even playfulness.
Here in this exclusive premiere, you can enjoy the penultimate title track which ushers in the album’s more contemplative, atmospheric closing chapters, a smooth glide path to the end of a fascinating sonic excursion.
Continue reading “Premiere: ypsilon by Zahn | Hatami | McClure”
Born in East Berlin to actor Klaus-Peter Thiele and painter Rosemarie Rautenberg, Valeska Rautenberg grew up living and breathing creativity and has followed that path throughout her life. She started working as an actress at the age of eleven and continued starring in movies and television shows on & off while at school and later during university. During her teen years, however, she discovered music was her true love and since then she has engaged in all aspects of it as an instrumentalist, singer, composer, producer, and teacher.
Rautenberg has also performed in a wide array of settings from pubs & underground clubs to gala events and major venues, but her latest release is an especially personal and intimate one. Part of a series of releases that began in 2017 after taking some time off to tend to her personal life, Veins (Songs for Piano, Wind, & Water) is a collection of four beautiful piano-based vignettes inspired by early morning walks on the streets of Berlin and being attuned to sounds that can easily be drowned out when the city is bustling.
Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Wandering” by Valeska Rautenberg”
This travelogue introduces some wonderful recent & upcoming modern classical releases showcased through a collection of new videos. Featuring Hania, Rani, Flying Hórses (Jade Bergeron), Nico Casal, Erland Cooper, Peter Sandberg, and Aukai.
Continue reading “Travelogue 2019.02.23: Saturday Matinee”
Born in the GDR in the early 1980s, German musician & composer Tim Linghaus had his first experiences with making music when he discovered his father’s RX 11 and guitars as a young boy. During his university years he played guitar in bands ranging from metal to singer/songwriter, but more recently he has been producing an understated, nostalgic, and deeply personal style of neoclassical music centered around piano, synthesizers and ambient noise. It began with the wonderful debut EP ‘Vhoir‘ (Moderna Records) in 2016 and on into last year with the poignant, quietly stunning ‘Memory Sketches‘ (Schole/1631 Recordings).
Tim begins the new year with ‘About B. (Memory Sketches B-Sides Recordings)‘, a collection of additional material that did not make it on to the first album and which has a slightly different focus which he explains in this conversation about the record.
Continue reading “Duologue: A conversation with Tim Linghaus”