PREMIERE: “Peixe de Água Doce” from Tempestade Tropical by El Conejo [La Petite Chambre]

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“I remember playing my grandfather’s old guitar, tuneless, and the haunting sound that it made…”

Nostalgia is at the heart of the music Bruno Nunes Coelho (Ana, Constantina) makes under as El Conejo, a project inspired by the first chords he played on his grandfather’s old guitar and the memories of the places he has lived. After a self-titled debut in 2015, he returns this spring with a mesmerizing second outing entitled ‘Tempestade Tropical‘ which focuses in particular on a short time spent living in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the loss of his father during that period. While many of us might associate Rio with the spectacle of its dramatic vistas, sprawling diversity, and colorful festivals, Coelho, turns inward to gently explore the immutable cycles of life universal to all places as well as his own memories and losses.

“Oh, sweetheart, I do belong here where the repetition is beautiful.I have this feeling, nostalgia, I think you can call it that. It reminds me of something. Something that I’ve been missing but I can’t tell exactly what it is. This feeling keeps coming back, like a loop. And it’s beautiful…and sad. And it’s beautiful, and sad, and beautiful, and sad.”  Bruno Nunes Coelho aka El Conejo

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Premiere: “Pour” from A Place Both Foreign and Familiar by Muldue [Hush Hush Records]

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Currently based in Britain’s idyllic Ribble ValleyMuldue is a solo project that musician Max Ramsden first established while living in the medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. His new EP entitled A Place Both Foreign and Familiar shortly to be released on Seattle’s Hush Hush label finds Ramsden building on the alchemical style he first introduced on ‘Due Melodies of a Concrete Soul‘ (2015) and ‘A Cruel Light From Below‘ (2016) while evolving toward a more organic sound steeped in pastoral slowcore beauty and gauzy atmospherics.

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A Sense of Place: Grønland by Glåsbird [Whitelabrecs]

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Glåsbird is an alluring new project inaugurated, we are told, under a cloak of anonymity by an established artist within the ambient/modern classical scene to focus on chosen themes and develop them into carefully crafted conceptual soundtracks. The first published material from this project was the highly evocative Drift Stations which took a mere ten minutes to put the listener in thrall to the austere beauty of the Arctic Circle. While the EP held its own as a compact narrative, it was also a prelude of much more to come as the “Land Ahead” at the end of  its 2-track journey turns out to be the sprawling ice-capped island country of Greenland which is majestically explored on the full-length Grønland now out on Whitelabrecs.

“Glåsbird imagined that they were assigned the task of scoring the soundtrack to a film about Greenland and spent a great deal of time researching the subject. Hours of documentaries, drone helicopter footage, NASA and satellite images, Instagram traveler accounts, 360° photos, web articles and maps were surveyed, to the point where this artist felt sufficiently immersed in this sub-zero but beautiful land…” – Whitelabrecs

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Sound Impression: I Remember When by Ex Confusion [n5MD]

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Atsuhito Omori has been making nostalgia-tinged instrumental music as Ex Confusion for the better part of a decade now and will be soon be making his third appearance on the n5MD label with ‘I Remember When’.  This will be the first of his albums to see a vinyl release which seems apropos given its highly ephemeral qualities which are ideally suited to the format.

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Sound Impression: A Certain Grief by øjeRum [Shimmering Moods]

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As the polar vortex plunges the northern hemisphere into a deep freeze it seems the right time to visit A Certain Grief, the latest opus from Danish collage artist and musician Paw Grabowski aka øjeRum. It is an album that was literally recorded with gloved hands in the cold as he explains himself:

“All sounds are recorded at my girlfriends parents house. They live remote in the country side and have a really old pump organ in the living room. It’s a really old house and in winter they only heat up this room for special occasions. I recorded this two winters ago in freezing cold, with gloves on and candle light. All background sounds are the actual sounds that were in the house while recording; the creaking chair, the crackling and pumping of the organ, the everyday noises of the family talking and working in the kitchen next door. “Paw Grabowski

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2018 Year in Review: The Art of the EP

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The EP is often overlooked when it comes year-end retrospectives, but this format can provide us with some very special musical moments and here are some from 2018 that I would not have wanted to miss.

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2018 In Review: Journeys in Ambient, Drone, and Electroacoustic

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This list can never be big enough to include all the beautiful work done in these genres over the course of a year, but here are 25 albums that left a lasting impression. Here you’ll find rich atmospheres, deep emotional undercurrents, and organic, warm, and tactile soundscapes. Among these albums we find as much decomposition as composition, an embrace of stillness and naturally occurring beauty.

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2018 In Review: A Sense of Place and Time

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Each of these sixteen albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to places or moments in time. While this is a somewhat common motif in instrumental music (ambient in particular), it is absolutely integral in these outstanding works released in 2018. Some are personal narratives and some are depictions of landscape either real or imagined. Others are sonic interrogations or interactions inextricably linked to the locations where they were formed. Whatever their nature, all of them proved captivating and memorable. One might say they represent the very essence of stationary traveling… 

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ALBUM STREAM: ‘La Fonte’ by Brendon John Warner

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For eight years, Brendon John Warner wrote, recorded & toured Australia with the progressive post-rock group We Lost the Sea before heading down a different musical path to pursue his growing interest in synthesis and lo-fi electronics. Beginning to pull at what he calls “a long lingering creative thread”, he dedicated himself to a “radical, contemporary musical view focused on contrasts, textures, dynamics, spatial relationships and instrumentation”. That choice and commitment have come to fruition in the form of his first full-length solo album entitled La Fonte (“The Melt”), a sprawling, kaleidoscopic electroacoustic exploration of the relationships between humanity and planet earth, ecology and economy, and climate change. Those are pretty ambitious themes to tackle in a first effort, not to mention one that clocks in at over a full hour of immersive instrumental music, but Warner says that stretching himself in this way had a significant impact on him creatively speaking.

“Both musically and thematically ‘la fonte’ challenged me to re-imagine the way I express myself through music. While storytelling through instrumental music in nothing new to me, using a broader concept of sound and composition to delve into more contemporary issues became the hallmark of what I was trying to achieve. From the use of found-sounds and sampling to blending synthesized drums with live percussion, and even a more open approach toward improvisation, this record, and the impossibly big themes it aims to explore, changed me as a musician and as an artist.” – Brendon John Warner

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Sound impression: eistla by r beny

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Maybe it is my lack of imagination or maybe it was growing up during the era of the Apollo Program, but when I picture the busy maze of knobs, ports, lights, and crisscrossing cables that make up a modular synth setup, the last thing I expect are warm, organic, efflorescent sounds full of soulful melancholy and longing. But, that is exactly the kind of music that Bay Area musician Austin Cairns produces with these devices under the moniker of r beny (an homage to Canadian photographer Roloff Beny).  Building on the extraordinary work of his previous releases ‘saudade’ (Dauw, 2018) and ‘cascade symmetry‘ (self-released, 2017), Cairns gives us a late-year gift in the form of ‘eistla’.

“A recurring dream. The frozen landscapes of isolation and loneliness. Fragmented memories lost at sea. Cold, sharp light // Glowing rays of hope in the morning. // It was just a dream.” – r beny

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PREMIERE: “Þægindi” from Close by Mark Wardale [Bottle Imp]

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After two full-length albums and a trio of EPs under the moniker of Row Boat, musician/composer Mark Wardale is about to release his first work under his own name. There is an amusing bit of self-deprecating cheek when he cites irreconcilable differences with himself in reference to the change, but when it comes to creating imaginative, ear-catching music that spans multiple genres, Wardale is as serious as ever.

To listen to ‘Close‘ is to enter a world where neoclassical, ambient, and post-rock elements are intertwined, infused with Scandinavian character, and ornamented with eclectic sonic flourishes. While the same could be said of the music of Row Boat, the new record marks a noticeable shift toward modern classical elements and cinematic flair as the ambient & post-rock atmospherics are employed much more sparingly. In addition, Wardale demonstrates his growing compositional prowess by weaving a cohesive tale in which the narrative of each track supports a greater one that flows through the entire album.

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Video: “Universalis” by Hammock

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On their first full-length studio album since the deeply elegiac ‘Mysterium’ a little over a year ago, the Nashville-based duo of Marc Byrd & Andrew Thompson known as Hammock find themselves following a “vertical, upward movement back toward the light”. This progression from the low places of grief toward beckoning illumination is subtly depicted on the cover of Universalis and the hopeful, healing tone of the music echoes that trajectory while hearkening back to some of the most beloved recordings in the band’s canon as well as some of their early influences. For example, one can hear the sweeping atmospheric balladry of ‘Raising Your Voice to Stop an Echo’ and the glacial stillness of ‘Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow’ alongside the orchestral neoclassical grandeur of their more recent works.

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