Thresholds is the 6th studio album from SASO, a project formed in Dublin, Ireland in 2000 by composer & multi-instrumentalist Jim Lawler and producer/recording engineer Ben Rawlins and one which extends the duo’s collaboration with pianist Kevin Corcoran first heard on Mysterium (2016). The inspiration for the record came from the passing of Jim’s father, Brian Lawler, a musician and composer himself, and it was after his funeral that Jim and Ben began talking about creating compositions that would reflect the cycle of life and the journey to death. To do this, they decided to “go back to basics” and make a purely instrumental album using strings and piano while relying exclusively on vintage analog equipment to facilitate a minimal approach to recording and mixing while capturing most of live sessions in a single take.
“We wanted to press the reset button. We took everything we knew and put it to one side and embarked on a new chapter…We embraced the discipline of restriction so we could focus on the art rather than the convenience of technology. It felt like an antidote to modern digital production” – Ben Rawlins, SASO
Continue reading “SASO – Thresholds [Melted Snow]”
As spring dissolves into summer, the stillness of beautifully crafted ambient drones and languid electroacoustic soundscapes are just the ticket for the right state of mind. Fortunately some of the finest artists in the field have unveiled new recordings for us to enjoy and here is a look at eight of them you won’t want to miss. Featuring Ant’lrd, Benoît Pioulard, Bradley Sean Alexander, Halftribe, Solidarity Hymn, Sven Laux, Tapes and Topographies, Valotihkuu, and Warmth.
Continue reading “Travelogue 2018.06.17: An Ambient Summer”
A little over a year after his patient fusion of close mic’ed solo piano with delicate synthesizer constructions on The Words She Said (reviewed here), Irish-born, Montreal-based composer/producer Paddy Mulcahy returns with an enigmatic foray into finespun electronica & percussion in the form a striking five-track EP entitled From Water. It begins with the shimmering “You Could Walk Across the Shannon” which treads a fine line between hope & melancholy in keeping with what Mulcahy sought to put across in the song.
“‘You Could Walk Across The Shannon’ is about overcoming the impossible. It’s a musical representation of being an underdog in a vicious race; it’s the rare ability to walk across a riverbed at low-tide. I want to inspire people who are suffering, people who are sad and feel like there’s no point. This music was inspired by nature, people and overcoming my depression.” – Paddy Mulcahy in DJ Mag, 03/09/2018 Continue reading “Sound Impression: From Water by Paddy Mulcahy [Phases Records]”
How does one capture the essence of a landscape so as to describe it to another who has never been there? The vast majority of us would rely on words and pictures, but how many of us would think of trying to do this strictly with sound? Not music, mind you, but sound. That is the unique perspective & artistry of the field recordist and there are few out there as inquisitive, resourceful, and discerning as Kate Carr. She has steadily built a creative practice around exploring both human and natural geographies.using field recording, experimental composition and sonic mapping. Recently during a residency at Joya: AiR in Velez Blanco in southern Spain, she decided to undertake a sonic transect of the mountain facing the villa where she was staying.
Over the next two weeks I lugged my equipment up and down the mountain, pausing every 100 metres to sample or attempt to ‘play’ a very precise and small location. In this way this release attempts to stitch together a mountain pass in sound, a succession of played and recorded sonic niches from the radio in the villa on the valley floor, to the vibrating low-growing woody shrubs braving the rocky peak…It is a quiet and strange document I think, which I hope conveys something about remoteness, and a sense of a physical journey through a very specific landscape via sound.”
Continue reading “A Sense of Place: From a Wind Turbine to Vultures (and Back) by Kate Carr [Flaming Pines]”
It has been a little while – too long in fact – since we have visited the shores of the Eilean, an imaginary territory the map of which is now dotted & colored by 60 albums covering a broad and eclectic spectrum of ambient, electroacoustic, and modern classical music. The label saw five outstanding releases over the summer months by Bill Seaman, Toàn, Josco & Spheruleus, Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci, and Monty Adkins and has begun the transition to autumn with an exceptional debut record by Cicely Irvine. Here is a brief synopsis of each along with selected tracks for the reader to explore as well as links to the artists whose work is featured on the covers where available. (Note: most of these limited editions sold out soon after their release, but some may be available in small quantities; check the linked Bandcamp pages for details).
Continue reading “Travelogue 2017.09.17: A Summer of Eilean”
On his most fully realized album to date, composer/producer Paddy Mulcahy offers up eight beautiful experiments in juxtaposing solo piano minimalism with vibrant synthesizer constructions. While some of his previous releases demonstrated Mulcahy quite capable of inventively sketching and improvising in a compressed time frame, the music on The Words She Said was cultivated over a two-year period
The album was started in the Summer of 2015 during a recording trip around Germany and London. Paddy then continued to work on the album while finishing his BSc degree in Music Production at Limerick Institute Of Technology. The album was inspired by the similarities and contrasts between pianos and synthesizers, and this relationship was conveyed through the use of various recording and mixing techniques.
Continue reading “Paddy Mulcahy – The Words She Said”
The music of Sheridan Tongue has traveled the cosmos with Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox and haunted the gritty, shadowy worlds of characters like detective inspector Alan Banks (DCI Banks) and spy-master Harry Pierce (Spooks, aka MI-5). After years of helping bring the visions of others to life, the BAFTA nominated composer unveils a narrative of his own in the form a new project called IN-IS to which he brings all his potent cinematic storytelling abilities interwoven with colorful strands pulled from classical, ambient, and electronic music.
“I want my music to have a duality so it can mean different things to different people. I don’t want to impose too strong a single feeling. I am more interested in colours, textures and layers in music over melodies than more traditional aspects of composing.” – Sheridan Tongue
Continue reading “IN-IS: Seven Days [NW1 Records]”
We often think of sound as something that we experience, consume, and internalize but Australian-born, Ireland-based composer Robert Curgenven looks at it a little bit differently and reminds us that it has physical properties, a shape, an embodiment that shares spaces with us. He explores this in a particularly captivating fashion on Climata, a dual CD release available on Yann Novak’s Dragon’s Eye Recordings and Curgenven’s own Recorded Field Editions label. The album was created with unique site-specific recordings captured in 15 of artist James Turrell‘s Skyspaces spread across 9 countries. Skyspaces are proportioned chambers with apertures in the ceiling open to the sky that can stand alone or be integrated into an existing architecture.
“Each of the individual recordings, with their quiet & slowly changing microtonal interventions made in-situ, interrogate and offer a specific document of weather, location and duration framed by the architecture of the Skyspace – a frame that blurs the distinction between interiority and exteriority – while allowing the physicality of the Skyspace to be subtly rendered audible.” – Robert Curgenven
Continue reading “Robert Curgenven – Climata [Dragon’s Eye Recordings / Recorded Field Editions]”
Positioned on the south-western coast of Ireland, picturesque County Kerry boasts some of the regions most iconic scenery and ancient history. It also home to singer and musician Thom Brookes who introduced us to his ambient music project Drombeg last year with Notes From the Ocean Floor, an EP released by Futuresequence. Brookes has followed this up with a new full length album on the label, a more expansive and conceptually unified record called Earthworks which captures the sense of this very special place where it was made.
A soundtrack for the middle-of-nowhere, the wild landscapes of Brookes’ native Southern Ireland are littered with historic (Tumulus), and geological (Béarra) structures hardened under the relentless elements. Sinuous string melodies, and tender piano phrases reach like sunlight breaking through heavy clouds, blended with electronics and field recordings in careful balance to produce a rich cinematic sound. – Futuresequence
Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Drombeg – Earthworks [Futuresequence]”