Travelogue: An Eilean Rec. Journey

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Eilean Rec. is a non-profit independent French label founded on a rather original concept – a map of an imagined land populated with 100 points each of which corresponds to an album release. A little over five years since it began, that map is nearly complete and during that time, the label has introduced us to so many excellent artists and albums while gently stretching the boundaries of what listeners might expect from ambient and electroacoustic music. I confess a little sadness in seeing it drawing to a close, but the finite nature of this project is an essential part of its aesthetic and there is no doubt those involved will move on to other equally interesting creative endeavors. Presented here four recent Eilean releases that I’ve been enjoying during my summer listening by Ecovillage (Sweden), Seabuckthorn (UK), Ciro Berenguer (Spain), and Andrew Tasselmyer (USA).

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Premiere: Boundaries by Nil Ciuró

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Nil Ciuró is a composer and sound designer based in Barcelona who creates music for TV, advertising, motion graphics and short film. Next month he will  be making his second appearance on the 1631 Recordings contemporary classical imprint with a new album entitled Inwards.  The first preview of the new record was the Piano Day 2019 release of the fluttering ballad “Even”, but the second single shows the more kinetic side of Ciuró’s work.

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Sound Impression: Dissimilar Lake Pigments by Lee Yi [Rottenman Editions]

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The soft pink textures on the cover of Lee Yi‘s new album Dissimilar Lake Pigments might at first seem to be at odds with its title, but delve into the liner notes and you will learn that this immersive new exploration of color and sound was inspired by Lake Hillier, a body of water just off the Pacific coast in Western Australia which is, in fact, astoundingly pink in color.

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Travelogue 2018.06.17: An Ambient Summer

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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

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A Sense of Place: From a Wind Turbine to Vultures (and Back) by Kate Carr [Flaming Pines]

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 CarrShe 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.” 

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Emilía – Down to the Sadness River [Rottenman Editions]

Blue is the color and blue is the mood of Down to the Sadness River by Emilía, a new collaboration between Lee YiVanesa Jimenez (aka Meneh Peh).  The album is being released on the multi-disciplinary Rottenman Editions which was founded by Jimenez and where you can also find their 2012 recording under the moniker Niñocometa along with Yi’s lovely Motet EP from earlier this year. The album’s description alludes to a painful life” and “a suffering past, tragedy and the slow search of the long road to stillness” and while the artists respect their own privacy regarding the details, there are poignant clues in the song titles and there is certainly nothing held back in the haunting intensity of the music.

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Sound Impression: A Persistent Lack of Ambition by Duister [El Muelle]

Guitar loops drawn in long, slow arcs across a crepe-thin  curtain of sound and a backdrop of pastoral field recordings. Never claustrophobic, there is ample room to move & breathe among these temperate and mellifluous drones and ample time to ponder as they slow time to a lethargic ebb. The comfort of light in a dark room. This is A Persistent Lack of Ambition by Duister, aka Carlos Maquieira released earlier this year on El Muelle Records, a label based in Málaga, Spain. Was the poetic stanza cited in the liner notes cite inspiration for the music or is it a guidepost for listening? Perhaps both. In any case, this is a lovely opus that is easy on the ear and stimulating to the mind.

My story begins very simply: I could speak and I was happy.
Or: I could speak, thus I was happy.
Or: I was happy, thus speaking.
I was like a bright light passing through a dark room.
(Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night)

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Alejandro Bento – Ripples [Subtempo Records]

Since this blog began only a few odd years ago, we’ve seen the emergence of some wonderful new labels which are now fixtures on these pages – Eilean Rec., Moderna Records, and 1631 Recordings to name a few. But there is plenty of room for new voices and new ideas as evidenced by the recent arrival of Subtempo Records on the scene. The label founded last year by Rocco Tyndale will be focused on “left-field leaning, classical and electronic” music coupled with a strong focus on visual art and an emphasis on creating “long lasting pieces of art” and their first physical release is a delightful EP by Alejandro Bento, a self-taught pianist from Spain who also records electronic music as Axel Toben. Ripples is a triptych of solo piano pieces accompanied by a remix contributed by award-winning producer/composer Robot Koch. The heartfelt sentiments that come across in the music are just as Bento intended.  

“These songs speak of origins and horizons. But most of all, they speak of love, friendship and care, of presence and joy. They speak of following the heartbeat and believing in one’s self and in others.” – Alejandro Bento

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Lee Yi – Redemption Comes With Dawn / Falling Into Crevasse

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As soon as December nears, those of us who write about music begin to feel the urge to reflect on the year and start making our favorite album lists. But if we can resist that siren call for a bit, we’ll often find some real gems in the flurry of releases that typically appear in the weeks leading up to the winter solstice and perhaps make one last new discovery. For me, such is the case with the work of Lee Yi, a jazz guitarist from southern Spain with extensive studio experience which he now employs to create some truly beguiling ambient & electronic music.

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