Calmly transportive. Blissfully adrift. Hazy and translucent. A listening journey with four exceptional albums from around the globe that delve into the idyllic side of ambient and electronic music created by The Green Kingdom (USA), Chihei Hatakeyama (Japan), Warmth (Spain), and James Murray (UK).
A Pulse Passes From Hand to Hand is the first collaborative effort between sound artist Jeremy Young and cellist/multi-instrumentalist Aaron Martin, four meditations on a theme by two kindred musical spirits. The project was dreamt up by Martin while on tour with Young and his band Sontag Shogun last year. The title has meaning to both the artists and the listener as Martin explains:
We first met on tour, where, each night, the music we created was passed to small crowds of people and to each other. The title of this album, in part, references the temporary emotional space that live music inhabits and its effect on the bodies occupying that space. “A Pulse Passes…” is not a live album, however, and the title also reflects the idea of creating an album in two separate places, without actually interacting in person, where music is brought to life by being passed back and forth. A third layer of meaning for the title exists in the role of the listener: when the element of creation has come to an end, the final work exists as a document of those moments, a captured pulse passed on to all who listen.
Not long ago I read The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. Describing the titular character’s domain, the narrator says “Matsu’s garden whispers at you, never shouts; it leads you down a path hoping for more, as if everything is seen, yet hidden. There’s a quiet beauty here I only hope I can capture on canvas”. These four albums capture a similar aesthetic, each an introspective journey that emphasize stillness over structure, quiet inner landscapes that provide respite and renewal.
Chihei Hatakeyama | Moonlight Reflecting Over Mountains [Room40]
Noteworthy highlights from the past week of music discovery, releases, previews, and other news. Daily updates are available on the Stationary Travels Facebook and Twitter feeds and audio/video links to all tracks featured during the month are available on the Songdrop page.
Previews of Upcoming Releases
Poppy Ackroyd | Feathers | Denovali (November)
Poppy Ackroyd follows up her outstanding debut album Escapement with her second full length release called Feathers in November. The extensive promo for the album on the Denovali site really whets the appetite for this record, especially for those already familiar with Poppy’s wonderful compositional style and her boundless creativity that goes “beyond the keyboard” using all aspects of the piano to create – strings, soundboards, and pedals.
“Poppy’s beloved, restored Blüthner grand piano in her studio is again the backbone of the album, providing most of the melodies, bass lines and percussive sounds. Other material originated from improvised recording sessions at the Russell/Mirrey Collection of keyboard instruments in Edinburgh.”
We can also expect to hear harmonium, clavichord, harpsichord and spine, violin, field recordings and contributions by guesr cellist Su-a Lee. Check out the beautiful preview track ‘Roads’ and keep your eye on the Denovali site for the official release and upcoming tour dates.
More information: http://denovali.com/poppyackroyd/
Carlos Cipa | All Your Life You Walk | Denovali (November)
Denovali makes a strong showing this month with another highly anticipated release, the second full length album from Munich based composer and multi-instrumentalist Carlos Cipa entitled All Your Life You Walk. Carlos is an accomplished pianist who has shared the stage recently with artists such as Hauschka, Ólafur Arnalds, and Valgeir Sigurdsson and has impressed with his debut The Monarch and the Viceroy and his collaborative EP with Sophia Jani, Relive. Fans of modern classical, and piano in particular, will not want to miss out this album, especially after hearing the exquisite preview track ‘And Gently Drops the Rain’.
“Carlos Cipa created unique contemporary compositions fraught with beauty, tension and emotional intensity, clearly presenting the unique voice of a composer, who is fascinated by classical and contemporary composers ranging from MOZART, DEBUSSY or RAVEL to STEVE REICH and DAVID LANG, but is also inspired by modern bands like THE NATIONAL or MOGWAI. Though each piece is framed as a coherent song, it’s all pieces combined that create a musical flow, spanning over the whole album…conceived as concept album ‘All your life you walk’ should be listened to as a whole.”
More information: http://denovali.com/carloscipa
‘And Gently Drops the Rain’
Chihei Hatakeyama & GWFAA | Falling Sun | Rural Colours (November)
The latest release on boutique label Rural Colours is an unexpected, but delightful surprise, a collaboration between ambient guitarist Chihei Hatakeyama and Good Weather for an Airstrike, the solo ambient project of UK musician Tom Honey. The stunning cover art and generous album sampler that appeared this week promise a sumptuous and absorbing collection of soundscapes that showcases the best of these two artists. While waiting for the official release, why not saunter over to the Bandcamp sites of each where you can find an abundance of their solo material to check out.
More information: http://music.ruralcolours.co.uk/music
Chihei Hatakeyama on Bandcamp: https://chiheihatakeyama.bandcamp.com/
Good Weather for an Airstrike on Bandcamp: https://goodweatherforanairstrike.bandcamp.com/
To Destroy a City | SUNLESS | N5MD (November)
Chicago-based post rock trio To Destroy a City emerges from a three year quite period following their 2011 debut album with SUNLESS which will be released on N5MD. Having had a chance to preview the recording, I can tell you that this is a very assured and polished sophomore effort and one that should light up the eyes & ears of post rock fans with its balanced mix of organic energy and atmospheric textures. The official release is just over two weeks away, but pre-orders are available and you can listen right now to the soaring preview track ‘Last Contact’. Play it loud and often.
“At times SUNLESS is more electronic leaning than its predecessor, yet is still punctuated with sheets of glacially emotive guitar-work. Intricate electronic beats give way to propulsive live drumming. The synths, while more prominent this time out, fit effortlessly into the TDAC framework…a must-have for fans of God is an Astronaut, Hammock, and Lights Out Asia. SUNLESS will be available on CD/FLAC/MP3 as well as limited edition 2xLP with a limited amount in red/orange/black splatter.”
More information: http://n5md.com/discography/233/SUNLESS
K. Novotny | Gesture & Texture | Preserved Sound (December)
Ambient/Electroacoustic musician K. Novotny from Łódź, Poland will be releasing his newest album Gesture & Texture in December on Preserved Sound which he describes as a “collection of meditations on the soundscape around us and how it relates to the passage of our own lives”. The music is a style of which I am particularly fond – soft ambient drones adorned with natural field recordings, piano, and deft touches of electronica woven into tranquil soundscapes that caress the ears. Keep an eye out for announcement of a release date and pre-orders. In the meantime, enjoy the preview track ‘Anāhata’.
More information: https://preservedsound.bandcamp.com/
There Is No Teenage Love | LAHEX | (January)
There Is No Teenage Love is a project from Los Angeles based musicians Erik Tokle (Whale Fall) and David J. Dowling. Their second full length album LAHEX will be released on 12” white vinyl in January and can now be pre-ordered with an instant digital download. Two preview tracks are available now and both exemplify the duo’s M.O. which is to “create cinematic soundscapes through improvisation and live looping, manipulating guitars beyond recognition and dispensing with conventions of structure in favor of a post-modern, abstract and painterly approach to composition“. Both are gorgeous and unfold slowly revealing many layers of tone & melody. Beautiful stuff.
Massimo Disceopoli | Parallax | DOF (Sep 1)
Parallax is the first album that drummer and multi-instrumentalist Massimo Discepoli (aka Nheap) releases under his own name. It has the spirit of an ambient recording, but takes a unique approach in prominently featuring the acoustic drum kit. While that may sound like a musical oxymoron, it works out quite beautifully. The key is the approach in which Discepoli’s uses the set in a way that “abandons the role of mere rhythm accompaniment”, instead uses them to add color and atmosphere. And that doesn’t just mean cymbal washes and soft rolls across the toms. On some tracks Discepoli shows some real chops and delivers thunderous poly-rhythmic jams, yet somehow never spoiling the meditative ambient mood. Parallax is a seeming paradox that ends up being a delight to listen to.
(ghost) | A Vast and Decaying Appearance | N5MD (Oct 14)
Connecticut-based musician Brian Froh has delivered his second album under the moniker (ghost) on the N5MD label entitled A Vast and Decaying Appearance. At times poetic and reflective (see his words below), at others deliciously glitchy in a way that reminds one of his label-mate Ocoeur, and at others airy & melodic like Tycho, it all comes together for a great listen. A must listen for fans of intelligent and emotive electronica.
a vast and decaying appearance
withered and broken
hanging on by a thread
distorted beyond recognition
dwindling in my view
a clouded shadow
on jagged stone
More information: http://n5md.com/discography/235/A-Vast-and-Decaying-Appearance
‘A Vast and Decaying Appearance’
Kiasmos | Kiasmos | Erased Tapes (Oct 27)
We’ve been enjoying collaborative sounds from Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rassmussen as Kiasmos for several years and now thanks to the duo’s focused efforts in 2014, we finally we have a complete full-length album in the Erased Tapes catalog. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. It is nothing less than sublime, hitting the sweet spot of every genre it references – techno, IDM, modern classical, and ambient.
“Made in Ólafur’s newly build studio in Reykjavík, Iceland, a majority of the album was recorded using acoustic instruments next to a variety of synthesizers, drum machines and tape delays. It features a live drummer, string quartet and Ólafur performing on the grand piano, producing an ambient, textured sound, which makes it a perfect home listen and equally danceable record.”
I suspect most readers of ST are already enjoying this album, but if not, don’t waste anytime checking it out. A fine way to do that is this stream and track-by-track description hosted by Drowned in Sound here: http://ow.ly/DFin7
Luke Howard | Two & One | (Oct 30)
Australian composer and pianist needs little introduction. His latest recording Two & One is now available in digital format and is released in conjunction with his new photo book of the same name consisting of fifty-four carefully selected photos from travels throughout Australia, North America and Europe. Fans of his last album Sun, Cloud will be right at home as he delivers another set of fine compositions melding piano and electronic orchestrations with a touch of the cinematic. In particular, ‘Hold Me Through’, ‘Oculus’, and ‘Nocturne’ are exceptionally lovely.
Visit Luke’s Bandcamp page to get the album. The photo book and a book of concert tour posters are also both available for purchase their.
Sentimental Machines | Less | (Oct 30)
Sentimental Machines is a collaborative project between Italian sound artist Attilio Novellino and electroacoustic musicial Saverio Rosi. Having performed together at numerous festivals and art events, the duo sees their first studio album Less released on the Dronarivm label. It is a collection of six lovely tracks featuring “close-ups of melancholy piano on a vaguely industrial flow…mixing old musical instruments (piano, pump organ, tape delay and analog echo machines), field recordings and laptop treatments in order to highlight the sentimental aspect behind these electroacoustic compositions.”. Highlights in particular are the elegiac ‘The Shining Ground’ and the mesmerizing ‘Dogma – Homage to Arvo Pärt’.
Less is available in digital format or in a limited run of 3” CDr in a specially boxed package.
Sophie Hutchings | White Light | (Oct 30)
The latest recording by composer and pianist Sophie Hutchings is a gift of music and poetry offered by the artist as a free download to enjoy in between her last studio album Night Sky and the next one to come. It is a collection of exquisite solo improvisations recorded in a church hall in here hometown of Sydney, Australia. Fans of Sophie’s work or solo piano in general will no doubt welcome this present into their collections with delight and gratitude while looking forward to her next project.
With no wind and no sound
substance in the silence
a rest in fading skies
when light dips to gloaming
a subtle closing in
something whispering in the silence
shadows toward darkness
motionless on a mountain
the lonely fragrance of earth after rain
stretch out your arms and see
Noteworthy highlights from the past week of music discovery, releases, previews, and other news. Daily updates are available on the ST Facebook and Twitter feeds and audio/video links to all tracks featured during the month are available on the Stationary Travels Songdrop page.
Jacob Montague | North Winds (Aug 19)
Multi-instrumentalist member of the indie alt-folk band Branches Jacob Montague has been building a wonderful body of largely instrumental solo work which sees him blending classical, cinematic, and electronic influences into his acoustic Americana base to paint vibrant and eclectic widescreen soundscapes. His album Tiger and Traveler was one of my favorite releases in 2013 and while the new album North Winds is not a significant departure in sound and style, it feels both more kinetic and less pastoral. The guitar, banjo, and mandolin are shimmering and clear, the percussion pops and booms with cavernous reverb, and the songs teem with a variety of additional voices and instrumentation (celesta, marimba, horns, & more). The music ranges from moments of delicate grace to anthemic swells with occasional brief, but seamless forays into electronica and post rock. It is both something different and something beautiful. Highly recommended.
‘When All We Have Is This’ by Jacob Montague
On Mountains | Made with wood and Fire (Aug 31)
On Mountains is an ambient oriented post rock based from Nick Riley based in Melbourne, Australia. His new album Made with wood and fire presents a very interesting conceptual context for the music:
“Synesthesia is an effect wherein the stimulation of one sense causes automatic sensations in another sense. I met Sean Day a synesthetes who would see colours and shapes when he heard music. I asked him to listen to these songs and tell me what he saw. Amazingly he saw a general theme of wood, colours of red and orange and smoke. We used this imagery to name the album as well as the track titles.”
Fans of the more pastoral sounding work by Hammock, Helios, or Explosions in the Sky should feel right at home with the feel of this record. Melodic and blissfully clean & clear in tone, Made with wood and fire is easy on the ears and made all the more interesting when considering the imagery of the song titles as they play.
More about Sean Day and synesthesia: http://www.daysyn.com/
‘Beneath burns dark and orange’ by On Mountains
Savaran | The Spaces in Between | Ember Music (Sep 1)
Savaran is moniker used by Welsh artist Mark Walters for his ambient experimental music. Having enjoyed his contribution to the Endless Intermission V/A compilation for Subterranean Tide netlabel, this was my first opportunity to listen to one of his full length works. The Spaces in Between is a well crafted and nicely varied collection of electroacoustic music with a strong drone ambient leaning and an abundance of deft touches of noise, field recordings, and other sonic textures. With the album generously offered on a pay what you want basis, I would strongly encourage fans of these styles to give this a listen at the earliest opportunity.
‘Glade’ by Savaran
Equal Stones | Self Deliverance | Hidden Vibes (Sep 1)
Self Deliverance is a new 3 track EP by Amerstam based producer Amandus Schaap who releases his music under the name Equal Stones. These pieces dwell in the grey mists of ethereal and melancholic drone, a style I am particularly fond of. With the digital edition available on a name your price basis, there is no reason not to check this one out, however there is a very nice limited edition CDr package available from Hidden Vibes with photograph by Peter Nejedly and art design by Oleksiy Sakevych (aka Endless Melancholy) that is very much worth a look. A very nice little package here and an artist I look forward to hearing more from.
‘For Her’ by Equal Stones
Chihei Hatakeyama | Winter Storm | White Paddy Mountain (Sep 2)
Tokyo based sound artists Chihei Hatakeyama this week released his new album Winter Storm. Consisting of four tracks captured at various points during the year, it offers over 70 minutes of blissful lo-fi ambient guitar drone music. The album is available from White Paddy Mountain in digital form or as part of a CD bundle which includes a 2 track bonus CDr. This is one to really get lost in. Beautiful work.
‘Don’t Ask What’ by Chihei Hatakeyama
Christopher Willits | Opening | Ghostly (Sep 2)
Christopher Willits’ new project Opening is much more than a collection of new music. It is a “visual album” which includes a 45 minute film and a seven track recording on Ghostly International along with a series of photo prints and special live performances; truly a comprehenisve multi-media experience.
Willits says, “There are no actors or dialogue in this film. The audience and their perception is the main character, and everyone’s imagination is going to create some meaning that’s relevant to their own experience. My intention is to create a space where people can open up and expand into, relax and recharge….For me, OPENING is about transformation, the experience of changing oneself to be more of who you know you can be, and, ultimately, the joy that comes with that change.”
You can enjoy a view and a listen through the lovely official YouTube video of ‘Wide’ embedded here and then follow the links below for the complete film and album.
Download OPENING – vimeo.com/ondemand/opening
Project site – christopherwillits.com/opening
Buy the Album – theghostlystore.com/products/christopher-willits-opening
‘Wide’ by Christopher Willits
Hiatus | Garden (Sep 9)
Equally at home with piano based modern classical, cinematic, and beat driven electronic music, Hiatus, the London based project of Cyrus Shahrad, released this short, but gorgeous single called ‘Garden’ on his Soundcloud page. It is wonderful piece of music to enjoy (and download if you choose). If you are not familiar with Hiatus, it may also serve as entry point to a fine catalog of music by this talented artist.
Hiatus on Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/hiatus
Hiatus on Bandcamp: http://www.hiatusmusic.bandcamp.com
‘Garden’ by Hiatus
Miguel Isaza | Uji | Eilean Rec. (Sep 9)
Uji by Miguel Isaza will be the next release on the Eilean Rec. label and the next point on it’s imaginary map. Isaza is is a composer from Medellin, Colombia dedicated to the practice and research of sound in different fields. His work has been beautifully described as “ephemeral sounds floating in the ocean of impermanence where nature’s temporality is contemplated in a dialogue of suspension and transition.”. Indeed, Uji is a beautiful recording of patiently crafted electroacoustic music, a highly textural and organic style of ambient that is very at home in the resplendent Eilean catalog. Enjoy a preview here and look for the full release on September 9.
Album preview of Uji
Row Boat | Romance | Fluttery Records (Sep 19)
Romance is a reissue of the debut EP from Mark Waredale’s enigmatic Row Boat project that will be offered by Fluttery Records with new art design by music blogger & photographer Daniela Patrizi on September 19. As the label notes, the reissued EP will be a fine complement for the recent full lenght release In Between.
“Whereas now many people refer to Row Boat as a Post-Rock project, it all started out with glistening xylophones & violins, abundant textures and lots of horns. Romance is the ultimate accompaniment to Mark Wardale’s most recent album ‘In Between’, were we saw him reign in the heavier guitars and take a small step back into the Romantic side of music and composition”
The growing base of Row Boat fans will certainly want this in their collection and for those not familiar with the project, I would submit this as a great place to start.
‘Bella’ by Row Boat
Gabriel Saloman | Shelter Press (Oct 18)
Composer Gabriel Saloman (Yellow Swans) will be releasing a new two volume solo project called Movement Building on Shelter Press. The first volume, a 34 minute 2-part opus called The Disciplined Body, will be released in October. Featuring music originally composed for a dance work (“Re-marks on Source Material” by Daisy Karen Thompson), the album is a foray into haunting minimalist guitar-based drone with an undercurrent of pulsing and sometimes polyrhythmic percussion all building toward an of apex of swirling visceral distortion. It makes for engrossing listening as a stand alone piece of music. Enjoy an excerpt here and look for the full release of The Disciplined Body around October 18.
‘Movement Building Vol.1 (excerpt)’