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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”

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Christopher Willits is an artist, teacher, musician, and guitarist based in San Francisco who has a diverse catalog of over 25 releases to his credit and has collaborated with such illustrious names in the field as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Taylor Deupree, and Tycho. He is also the founder of a nonprofit audio platform called Envelop which empowers 3D listening experiences through a combination of immersive sound venues and open-source audio production tools. Willits will be employing these himself to bring performances of his forthcoming new album Sunset to live audiences. The album will be released June 14 by Ghostly International with which he has had a long association. The music on the record has a simple but profound objective.

One of the core artists on Ghostly since its inception, the ambient artist’s compositions on Sunset move from warm to cool, designed as a soundtrack to embrace the day’s end; a collective letting go. Willits presents his latest work with the simple instructions: “Begin the music 15 minutes before the sun sets.”

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Sunset by Christopher Willits”

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For their latest record entitled It Billows Up, Brooklyn-based avant music trio Sontag Shogun sought to capture the essence of their live performances on record through the use of collaborative techniques and modular compositions they had developed while on tour in Europe, Japan, & North America in 2016/17. The end result is a kaleidoscopic pastiche of music and sound, an au courant panorama of compositional and improvisational elements blended with foley art and human theater into a singular hypnagogic narrative by the band’s three members –  Ian Temple (piano), Jesse Perlstein (electronically treated vocals, field recordings), and Jeremy Young (analog oscillators, reel-to-reel tape loops, and beats made only with contact mic’d objects & surfaces).

Continue reading “Sound Impression: It Billows Up by Sontag Shogun”

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Sun Rain is the solo alias of Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ, & electronic producer Chad Skinner.  Released earlier this month on Hush Hush Records, Sheets represents his debut under this moniker, yet he’s been active within the music community for the past five years, releasing two albums as part of electronic production duo Snowday as well as spinning DJ sets in clubs and festivals around Ontario as Legs Florentine.

Recorded entirely in Skinner’s home studio, Sheets is a collection of eight sonically diverse electro-acoustic vignettes bound together in an aesthetic of melancholic beauty and heartfelt reflection on the importance of trees and wood in historical and contemporary life.  From solo piano to folk guitar and from ambient synths to soothing beats, there is an organic style and contemplative mood shared by all the varied pieces that serves the overarching theme.

“After acquiring and spending time with a piano over a century old, I realized just how precious wood is. It has been integral for the survival of mankind; all the while remaining one of the most utilized natural materials for creative exploration.”Chad Skinner 

Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Paper 2” by Sun Rain”

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Kinbrae  is the musical project of twin brothers Andrew & Michael Truscott based in Edinburgh and Dundee, Scotland. Their signature sound is at once evocative and experimental, mixing brass, acoustic guitar, percussion and musique concrète to create works rooted in a sense of place utilizing both ambient and contemporary classical elements. The liner notes for their 2015 release Coastal Erosion succinctly described it as “sonic map making”.  It is a concept they continued with 2016’s Tidal Patterns (1631 Recordings), which was inspired by a year spent on the Hebridean lsle of Coll  and againg with their most recent release, Landforms, which is themed around Scotland’s longest river, the mighty River Tay,  as well as its surrounding landscape and the impact growing up on its banks had on the two brothers. 

The album unfurls like a cinematic travelogue that takes in the river from its origins on the slopes of Ben Lui in the west to its eastern tidal reaches near Perth as it approaches the North Sea. It is a meandering 120 mile journey through a vast catchment presided over by iconic bridges, sprawling countryside, and bustling towns. To help create an expansive sound worthy of the album’s central protagonist, the Truscotts collaborated with Ben Chatwin (aka Talvihorros) who provided additional instrumentation as well access to his Edinburgh studio where they were able to experiment with adding modular synthesizers and effects into the mix.

“For this record we wanted to expand ourselves sonically to combine brass parts with synths, electronic textures and manipulated field recordings to create an expansive orchestral sound. Movement of Light was one of the first songs we wrote for the record and from early on in the recording process we thought it was well suited to open the album. Collectively these water based tracks come together to form the overall ‘Landforms’ album, mirroring the way in which water itself forges natural features on the land, helping to give the music a sense of place. ” – Andrew Truscott 

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Landforms by Kinbrae”

Skelton_Border_Ballads_coverRichard Skelton is an artist from northern England, UK whose work is deeply immersed in landscape and nature.  To date he has released over 30 EPs and albums of music, and has produced work for exhibitions, performance, feature films and documentaries.  His latest work, entitled Border Ballads, was recently released by Corbel Stone Press, a publishing house which he co-runs with wife & creative partner Autumn Richardson. The first part of the title refers to the location around which the album is themed as well as where it was recorded, the well-watered border country where Scotland and England meet. It is an evocative place and one that makes fertile territory for Skelton’s vivid sonic explorations. The second part of the title is a clue that this is one of the most lyrical recordings in his canon, favoring concise melodic structures over the sprawling, glacial soundscapes that feature in much of his recent work.

Skelton has spent the last two years living on the rural northern edge of the Scotland-England border, a boundary demarcated by various watercourses – among them the Kershope Burn, the Liddel Water and the River Esk. This hinterland topography has informed a series of musical recordings which, in their brevity, stand in stark contrast to the long-form compositions for which he is more usually known. Nevertheless, there is a sense that these twelve miniatures are fragments of a larger whole, such is their unity in tone and timbre.”

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Border Ballads by Richard Skelton”

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After dazzling us last year with Solan Goose, the soaring inaugural entry of his poetically inspired Orkney triptych, composer, producer & multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper and his talented supporting cast return in 2019 to continue the story with another transportive musical portrait of one of the planet’s most enchanting places. Entitled Sule Skerry, the new album shifts perspective from the sky above the Scottish archipelago and its avian fauna to the sea below and the people whose lives & stories are inextricably linked to it. Once again, Cooper commands the expedition using piano, Minimoog, tape loops, field recordings, & electronics supported by his fabulous live ensemble consisting of Anna Phoebe (violin), Jacob Downs (viola), Lottie Greenhow (soprano) and newly added member cellist Klara Schumann withatmospheric embellishments added by Leo Abrahams on ambient guitar.

It’s a record about the sea, our relationship with the outside world, forces outside of our control but it’s also about creating a nest within that, nurturing and protecting our own sea havens, those sheltered bays, those safe places. Always returning back in some form, as we step in and out daily.”

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Sule Skerry by Erland Cooper”

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Since 2009, William Ryan Fritch has composed music for over 30 feature films and more than a hundred short films as well as releasing over 20 solo records. How does one attempt to showcase such a body of work in a single album and make it cohesive and compelling? Consider Deceptive Cadence: Music For Film Volume I & II a masterclass in just that. At forty-five tracks and a two & a half hour run time, the cleverly titled double album is sourced from material bound to many disparate narratives, yet Fritch has carefully curated the selected compositions in a way that transcends the original context to create something majestic and new, a singular opus that a listener can come to with fresh ears and experience with unfettered joy & wonder.

“Most of those familiar with Fritch, know only of his albums as a singer songwriter or genre-elusive multi-instrumentalist, which truly represent a small fraction of the depth and range of his work. ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ gathers the most remarkable and memorable pieces from Fritch’s vast catalog of film compositions. Rather than filling up two volumes with half assembled film cues and fragmented themes, Fritch has gone to great lengths with ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ to make sure both volumes tell a story, build theme, and create a satisfying full album experience as good as any movie they may have come from. While this music once graced a particular film, show, or commercial, it has all been reimagined, reworked and made whole in post-production to complete the epic narrative of ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ ” – Lost Tribe Sound

Continue reading “Through a Musical Lens: Deceptive Cadence: Music For Film Volume I & II by William Ryan Fritch”

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“I grew up between these hills, under the sun…”

Founded by Taylor Deupree in 1997, the 12k label now has spanned two decades refining its distinctly conceptual approach to experimental music with the intent of providing “a conscious counterpoint to the information overload of the 21st century”. Over that time, one could argue 12k has become more than just a label. It has become both a platform and a community for a group of creators with a shared aesthetic while embracing the distinctive qualities of their respective artistic voices. One of the guiding principles that Deupree has followed in nurturing the label and growing this community is to “evolve constantly, but slowly”.  He has achieved this by continually curating new artists into the fold with an especially discriminating ear. The most recent of these is Michael Grigoni, a composer & multi-instrumentalist originally from the Pacific Northwest, who now lives in Durham, North Carolina and records under the name M. Grig.

Grigoni specializes in dobro, lap steel guitar, and pedal steel guitar and it is his layered, atmospheric approach to these instruments that brings something new to 12k’s sonic domain while managing to fit perfectly into its vision.  Having produced several EPs and done a fair amount of film & session work, Mount Carmel is the first full length album by M. Grig and employs an approach that derives from his study of ethnomusicology while attending the University of Washington which introduced him to ethnography.

“Ethnography is a method for field-based research developed by anthropologists. The method involves spending time with people and learning about different ways of being in the world and taking notes while you do so—jotting impressions, observations, feelings, snippets of speech, sketching maps, landscapes. Putting experience to paper in the moment again and again over a lengthy period of time—for months, sometimes years. This sensibility colors my music; this layering of ideas, feelings, and textures. Something emerges, or is discovered or revealed, through this process. Combing sounds made with an instrument with sounds recorded in the field, blending and enfolding these sources, is deeply satisfying and grounding for me.” M. Grig

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Mount Carmel by M. Grig”