PREMIERE: Fragmentary Blue by Aukai

Aukai is a Hawaiian word for seafaring traveler or sailor, a suitable metaphor for the musical project of the same name from Markus Sieber conceived after a move from Europe to Mexico and born from his desire to create music that could work in tandem with film, video, theater and the visual arts. The distinctive sound that permeates the music of Aukai owes much to the love affair Sieber has cultivated with the ronroco, a stringed instrument of Andean origins recently popularized by film composer Gustavo Santaolalla.  The magic happens as the instrument’s brightly arpeggiated strings are deftly woven into expansive compositions fleshed out by an ensemble that includes cellist Anne Müller (Agnes Obel Band, Nils Frahm), violinist Bogdan Djukic, pianist Angelika Baumbach, keyboardist Alexander Nickmann, and longtime collaborator Jamshied Sharifi (Laurie Anderson, Sting, Dream Theater) .

It is a formula that received a warm & enthusiastic reception for Aukai’s self-titled 2016 debut and works a treat again on the forthcoming follow-up album Branches of Sun which began as a series of recordings made by Sieber during a retreat to a small cabin near the Old Spanish Trail in Colorado last winter far away from a world of human and technological distractions. Perhaps the mood is a bit more austere and contemplative this time as the pristine, remote atmosphere of the high-mountain country looms in the background, but the luminosity and nomadic spirit in the music remains irrepressible and life-affirming. For a taste of the new record, have a listen to the gorgeous interplay of cascading piano runs with the sun-soaked ronroco set off by warm swells and textures of cello that characterize “Fragmentary Blue” offered here in an exclusive premiere.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Dalot and Sound Awakener – Little Things [Fluid Audio]

One of the most unexpected and pleasant surprises of the year so far is a stunning new collaboration between a pair of sound artists from separate continents – Dalot (Maria Papadomanolaki), originally from Greece and currently based in London, and Sound Awakener (Nhung Nguyen) from Hanoi, Vietnam.  Imaginatively conceived and elegantly packaged, Little Things presents a pastiche of sonic artifacts and divergent personal narratives transfigured into wondrous inner landscapes that become wholly immersive for the listener.

It starts from ground-level interactions, field recordings of soundwalks in parks, on the streets, hydrophones in rivers and contact microphones on bridges and delicately moves to the ethereal…The album creates a journey for the listener; a journey of changes between the two artists’ lives; the changes in seasons, life-events, ordinary moments and creative processes that affected the perspectives and emotional states within which this album was produced. In ‘Little Things’ the two artists offer an adventurous exploration of internal landscapes through sound and memory, the light and shadow encountered within. – Fluid Audio

Continue reading

Sound Impression: City Static by Jamie Stillway [Fluff and Gravy]

Since 2005 Jamie Stillway has self-released 3 full-length records of original compositions garnering accolades from the likes of Fretboard Journal and Jazz Times while drawing numerous lofty comparisons, but March of this year will bring us her first album of solo electric guitar recordings entitled City Static which finds the Portland based guitarist exploring contemplative ambient territory while deftly blending in classical, jazz, & melodic elements.

Stillway was inspired to record City Static in conjunction with her 40th birthday. An electric approach resonated with what she observed in the world around her; as she created space for silence in her life, the constant background noise of the city became more and more noticeable— a droning static hum that inspired [her] most experimental and compelling work to date. – Fluff and Gravy Records

Continue reading

PREMIERE: The Maps They Held by Gray Acres

image_01_Gray_Acres.png

Gray Acres is a new project from brothers Andrew & Michael Tasselmyer set to launch next month with the release of their self-titled debut album on Athens-based boutique label Sound in Silence.  The sound fits neatly and distinctly somewhere in between Andrew’s solitary field recording work and the more opaque and densely layered drones they create with guitarist Steven Kemner as Hotel Neon.  The watchword here is ‘stillness’ as the duo weave a diaphanous fabric of drones that undulate and swirl in translucent currents. There is a muted self-awareness in these pieces which is amplified by the clear presence of textural elements such as piano, guitar, or flowing water. Inexorably, one is drawn deeper and deeper into peaceful introspection.

Continue reading

Video Premiere: Offers of Peace by Elskavon

When Chris Bartels chose the name for his Elskavon project he formed a neologism from a pair of Icelandic words – elska meaning “love” and von meaning “hope”). It was not only a message he would weave into his compositions, but a nod in the direction of Sigur Ros, one of his key influences when he started to write ambient music.  All of this comes together in a very direct way in this video premiere of “Offers of Peace” from his upcoming fourth album Skylight.  Love and hope would no doubt be foremost among the emotions Bartels feels toward his children and the song is specifically dedicated to his second child Oliver (whose name actually means ‘offer of peace’). The Icelandic connection is reinforced by some truly gorgeous video footage provided by friend & filmmaker Ryan Gates to accompany the music.

Continue reading

Travelogue 2018.01.15: Field Notes

This edition of Field Notes surveys eight outstanding drone, & electroacoustic ambient releases from late 2017 and early 2018 representing hours of immersive listening. Featuring Tapes and Topographies, Olli Aarni, Magdalene Flowers, Erik Levander, A Lily, the volume settings folder, and Bradley Sean Alexander, along with an expansive 30-track charity compilation from the Dronarivm label.

Continue reading

2017 Year In Review: The art of the EP

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 2017 that you might not want to miss. 

Continue reading

2017 In Review: Journeys in Ambient, Drone, and Electroacoustic

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.

Continue reading

2017 In Review: A Sense of Place and Time

Each of these albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to a particular place or time – personal narratives, journeys remembered, or depictions of landscape real or imagined. Each one takes the listener on a journey and immerses them in a unique place or moment in time. One might say they represent the very essence of stationary traveling, which makes them quite to special to this listener in particular… 

Continue reading

Sound Impression: Little Steps by Good Weather For An Airstrike [Sun Sea Sky]

It has been a little over two years since we heard from Good Weather For An Airstrike, the project British musician Tom Honey conceived nearly nine years ago to help alleviate suffering caused by tinnitus. Little Steps is a fine addition to his catalog as it finds the sweet spot between the ambient, post-rock, and electronic elements which are all integrated into a seamless organic flow with a deft and delicate touch. 

Continue reading

Sound Impression: Quiet Ecology by Panoptique Electrical [Sound in Silence]

Jason Sweeney is known for a wide variety of projects and many musical aliases over the past two decades. Perhaps the most personal and intimate is the classically oriented Panoptique Electrical which saw a new release this month, the first since last year’s Disappearing Music for Face. A great deal of what you need to know about the know record is encapsulated in its title – Quiet Ecology.

In 2016 Sweeney undertook a quiet odyssey across four Australian cities (Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne), searching out and mapping quiet spaces in and amongst these built environments. He wanted to discover as many zones of quiet or retreat in these cities and make compositions in response to these locations. He created maps and listening walks that took him from space to space. His desire was to ask a simple question: Can you find a way to release yourself, if only temporarily, from the noise of the world? ‘Quiet Ecology’ is a sonic memorial to these spaces and a musical act of quiet preservation. – Sound in Silence 

Continue reading

Hammock – Columbus (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) / Mysterium

Few artists in the world of instrumental music have a compass as locked on to true north as Hammock. For years, this Nashville-based project of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson has  served up a rich sonic feast spanning the genres of ambient, post-rock, and modern classical while resonating with heartfelt, and often heart-wrenching, emotion. Perhaps what they are capable of was summed up best and most succinctly in a comment to one of their recent videos where the listener said “Hammock has this way of telling you, ‘Everything will be okay.’, in the most beautiful way possible”. And in 2017 we have a double helping of new work from the band, an original motion picture soundtrack and a full-length studio album.

Continue reading