A vibrant and eclectic selection where genres never define of confine, but only serve as reference points for those of us with inadequate words to describe the music.
What exactly is “cinematic folk”? A good way to answer that question would be to have a listen to Landscapes, the latest solo release by Oakland-based composer, producer, & multi-instrumentalist Jacob Montague. The album, which flows more like a suite than a collection of songs, oozes pastoral charm with scene-setting atmospheres and a strong narrative flow propelled by a keen sense of rhythm given a wide-screen context by clever integration of lush electronics, strings, and bold percussive elements.
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
This list is short, but particularly sweet. A dozen memorable albums released this year of particularly delicate construction and pastoral feel featuring acoustic guitar, primitive, and experimental folk music.
Take a listening journey with four albums by six artists steeped in masterful primitive folk guitar and rich echoes of Americana with an avant spirit of experimentation and imagination. Featuring Seabuckthorn, Nevada Greene, Scott Tuma, Dylan Golden Aycock, Lake Mary, and M. Sage.
It may seem that 1631 Recordings is getting more than its fair share of attention on these pages, but the sheer bounty of artists and music the label has been showcasing in a such a short period of time makes it worthy of the sustained focus, especially when they launch a significant new element to their burgeoning catalog like the Texture Series. Whereas their first three V/A compilations were all centered around the piano, the Texture Series covers a broader spectrum of modern classical as well as ambient, drone, electroacoustic, and instrumental folk.
Featuring tacks originally composed for a pair of documentary films, Field Notes is the debut by Light of Woods, a solo project of Raleigh, North Carolina based multi-instrumentalist M. Grig. Describing the album as “Americana in a minimalist vein”, Grig combines dobro, lap steel, pedal steel, electric & acoustic guitars and piano with dense layering techniques and textural loops to create a rustic idyll framed by a cinematic eye.
A glistening gossamer web spun from reminiscence and longing. The warp and weft of memory woven into a translucent sonic tapestry. A collage of frozen time and faded beauty. All of these are suggested by both the title and music of Væv, the latest work of Copenhagen-based musician and collage artist Paw Grabowski under the moniker of øjeRum (the word væv, rooted in Old Norse, can be translated as tissue, loom, web, or weave).
The balmy, languid days of summer are a perfect time to discover the arcadian sounds of Albosel, an ambient folk trio from Nottingham, UK and their new album, Container about to be released on Hawk Moon Records. Theirs is an ethereal and melancholic sound built around pristine guitar lines intertwined with layers of gauzy vocals, and a delicate smattering of electronics, violin, & flute.
Last year the music of Western Skies Motel found its way from Denmark to all corners of the globe. The artist saw his music released on labels based in Poland (Prism, on Preserved Sound) and Australia (Buried and Resurfaced, on Twice Removed) while the raw material of a third album called Settlers made its way to American Southwest leading to its forthcoming multi-format release in April on Lost Tribe Sound.
In the dry desert of Arizona that Lost Tribe Sound calls home, a letter is received from guitarist René Gonzàlez Schelbeck who’s eager to share a collection of intimately composed songs, titled Settlers. Upon listening, we are immediately enthralled. There’s a timeworn, arid, and almost badlands quality to Schelbeck’s hypnotic, cyclical guitar style. It seems to perfectly capture the lonely, barren landscape of the American West… – Ryan Keane (Lost Tribe Sound)
An admittedly eclectic category, here are fifteen wonderful albums steeped in elements of acoustic, primitive, folk, or pop music. But those are only references and common threads. Each one is its own unique and memorable musical journey. – Click on album titles in the list below for more information
Editors note: Few of the albums presented in these lists fit neatly into a single genre and we would not have it any other way, nor would the artists. The categorizations used here should not distract the reader from the joy of discovery. They are simply a way to organize and present based on my perceptions of compatible listening experiences and I was not above stretching the boundaries and making exceptions to fit in the most music possible. Continue reading
It has been a little too long since we last visited the continent of Eilean, the imaginary land whose map is populated with 100 points, each of which marks a release on the label that bears its name (25 have been released so far). Each album comes with a card that contains a piece of the map and, on the reverse side, photos of soil samples collected from the artist who made it. This unique project and its commitment to eclecticism as well as stretching the boundaries of ambient & electronic music has generated some captivating releases, four of which are featured here by Yadayn (Gowaart Van Den Bossche), Lake Mary (Chaz Prymek), Twigs & Yarn (Stephen Orsak & Lauren McMurray), and Benjamin Finger.