Chiehei Hatakeyama – Mirage [Room40]

The inspiration for Chihei Hatakeyama’s Mirage came during a trip to Turkey taken by the artist about five years ago. The diverse & exotic architectures, streets, bazaars, and waterways were no doubt a feast for the eyes, but it was what Hatakeyama heard with his keen musical ear that spurred the creation of the new album. Framed as “a meditation on the phenomenology of music and architecture” it explores the way sound is shaped and influenced as it traverses and mingles with the surrounding structures.

“Walking through the labyrinthian bazaars of Turkey, Hatakeyama took inspiration from the way sounds emerged and decayed within those spaces. Looking to replicate these experiences in the creation of the album, he developed a series of new processes and transformations that expanded his approach to textural music.”

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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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Travelogue 2017.05.31: Spotlight on Polar Seas Recordings

Toronto based Polar Seas Recordings was founded a little over five years ago and for most of that time has primarily served as a home for the releases of Brad Deschamps & Mike Abercrombie as North Atlantic Drift as well as their respective side projects anthéne and Transits of Mercury. In the past year however, the label has released no less than eleven albums, matching the output of the first four years put together while expanding their roster of artists and encompassing a broader sonic palette. Here is a roundup of some the most recent and recommended. 

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Endless Melancholy – The Vacation [Hidden Vibes / Pantheon]

Heavy, oscillating waves of sound wash up on imaginary shores warmed by the rays of a distant sun. The Vacation, the latest album by Oleksiy Sakevych under the moniker of Endless Melancholy is a worthy follow-up to his well reviewed 2015 release Her Name In A Language of Stars

Even more so than its predecessor, it evokes a sense of cosmic wonder and vast, otherworldly vistas while being anchored to a strong emotional undertow which lends it the haunting poignancy that makes it so compelling. Best experienced as a complete journey from start to finish, there are some individual standout moments, with tender stillness at the heart of “Wouldn’t We Be Lonely” and the transcendent, palatial slow build of “Enough to Cost Us a Lifetime” being arguably among the most striking.

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Sound Impression: Five Years by Square Peg Round Hole

When I first heard instrumental trio Square Peg Round Hole was making an ambient record, I was expecting a conventional approach – rework the same melodic constructs of their prior albums while losing the drums, lowering the volume, and slowing the pace. That would have been a pleasant enough affair to be sure, but for a band that prides itself on sheer inventiveness, I should have known to expect more. Five Years traverses quite a bit of previously unexplored sonic territory for the band as they show a penchant for developing beguiling, color saturated soundscapes, densely layered and studded with subtle glitch elements and a plethora of vocal & abstract percussive textures.

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Pausal – Avifaunal [Dronarivm]

Imagine the textured, aerated drones of Sky Margin (Own Records, 2013) and the pastoral romanticism of Along the Mantic Spring (Infraction, 2014) fused into a single amalgam and then elevated into a dazzling, symphonic edifice of sound. Avifaunal is the brand new lush and expansive musical narrative created by Alex Smalley (aka Olan Mill) and Simon Bainton under their collaborative moniker of Pausal now out on Dronarivm. The grandiosity of the new record has its origins in a live performance a couple of years prior at a venue which invited experimentation on a large sonic scale.

In 2015 the band were asked by Martin Boulton of Touched Music to perform in Pembrokeshire, Wales and set about generating new material for the show. It was also an opportunity to develop a new equipment setup including looped turntable, voice microphones and synths. A local hall was hired for improvisation and practice sessions which provided an interesting sonic space to explore and possibilities to work at far louder volumes, both of which helped shape the eventual live set and the track “Murmuration” as that is represented here. “Spiral”, “Scatter” and “Soar” were also edited and assembled from the recording sessions around this time.

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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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Sound impression: Before We Dive by Altars Altars [auasca]

The sensation of floating weightless and carefree in lilting currents beneath an azure sky and a blazing sun casting webs of light on the sea floor below. Hours to drift, to explore, to gaze at the expanse of endless horizons or muse on what lurks in dark places or teems among the cloudy depths. There is no time nor age here in the midst of this collage of youthful memories fashioned from warm aqueous drones and marine sounds.

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Sound Impression: Constellate by Steve Pacheco [Dauw]

The reassuring steady hum of soft drones, temperate in mood, weightless as if held aloft on gentle air currents; permeable to texture and filigree; slowly turning to catch shimmering glints of light; calm; harmonious. A salve for the ears and a balm for the soul. These are the things that come to mind listening to Constellate by artist & musician Steve Pacheco which he recorded in Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Understated and beautifully crafted, it is an excellent an inspiration to moments of reflection and an excellent companion to working in solitude.

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Sound Impression: Roaming in Teesdale by Black Hill & Cousin Silas

Reprising their partnership on 2015’s Bridges of the South, Black Hill (Csarnogurszky István, aka musicformessier) and Cousin Silas take us on another binate ambient guitar journey through bucolic and atmospheric soundscapes this time inspired by England’s picturesque Teesdale region.

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Sound Meccano & Jura Laiva – Salty Wind and Inner Fire [Eilean]

With more than half of its 100 map points now filled in, the imaginary island of Eilean has evolved into a remarkably eclectic, globally diverse, and often magical place. Point 80 on the map has been selected by a pair of collaborating musicians from Latvia – sound designer and field recordist Sound Meccano (aka Rostislav Rekuta) and ambient guitarist Jura Laiva. Together they have contrived a vivid collection of soundscapes entitled Salty Wind and Inner Fire.

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Sound Impression: An Unintended Space by Stijn Hüwels & Danny Clay

Part of the Spring 2017 series and the most recent addition to the Eilean Rec. catalog is a first-time collaboration between Belgian musician & Slaapwel Records curator Stijn Hüwels and American composer & sound artist Danny Clay.  It turns out to be an inspired pairing in a wonderfully understated kind of way as Hüwels somnambulent guitar-loop minimalism finds a perfect complement in Clay’s delicate electroacoustic ephemera fashioned from turntables, sine waves, and celesta.

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