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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”

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Located near the pine forests of southern Mississippi, Laurel was founded in the 19th century as a lumber town and has produced a number of notable actors & musicians in the modern era including opera singer Leontyne Price. It is also here we find talented musician & composer Jameson Nathan Jones quietly doing some really lovely work that fans of modern classical and ambient music will no doubt appreciate. His latest album is a gorgeous foray into the blending of organic elements (piano, cello, and the human voice) with electronics and manipulated tape loops which Jones dubbed Static Deviations.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Static Deviations by Jameson Nathan Jones”

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Photo by Image by Robert Katzki  (source: unsplash.com/photos/yKWuzGyVsBM)

Welcome to the listening room.  Make yourself comfortable and check out some of the latest sounds that have caught our ears as well as previews of upcoming releases.  We begin with the quarterly Soundcloud “field journal” playlist for the spring season as well as new music by THESIS (ft. Taylor Deupree, M. Grig, & Porya Hatami), Rafael Anton Irisarri, Benoit Pioulard & Sean Curtis Patrick, Antarctic Wastelands (Ben Tatlow)Michael Price, Maiya Hershey & Steve Jansen, Sven Laux & Daniela Orvin, Richard Luke ft. Amini Bedrush-McDonald, and Laura Masotto Continue reading “The Listening Room (April 2019)”

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Some artists just have a knack for engendering special collaborations and Belgian musician Stijn Hüwels is one of the those. In fact his last four releases have all been collaborative efforts – Sleep, Shared with Norihito Suda (2016, Dauw),  An Unintended Space with Danny Clay (2017, Eilean), and Fieldem (2018, Home Normal) as part of Silent Vigils with James Murray, and now Tomodachi which involved ten different artists and especially highlights the two essential ingredients that makes all of these work so beautifully. But, best let Stijn tells us about that in his own words:

“The starting point for this album was simple. I sent out a question to fellow musicians I deeply respect and whose work I especially like. I know all of them for some time, and they all have a significant influence on my work. I asked them to send me ‘something’, a sample, melody or field recording I could use to create a new piece of music. This exchange of inspiration forced me to approach composing in a different way than I use to do, without abandoning my main gear (guitar and laptop). Slowly, I tried to make a consistent story from the different pieces I got. That’s how the album was formed and how it got its final shape. I decided to call it ‘Tomodachi’, Japanese for ‘friend(s)’. That’s the only thing I can say about the album: it’s about friendship and music”. – Stijn Hüwels

Continue reading “Stijn Hüwels – tomodachi [Dauw]”

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Image © 2013 Russell Sherwood Photography

Welcome to the listening room.  Make yourself comfortable and check out some of the latest sounds that have caught our ears as well as preview upcoming releases.  Last updated on March 23, 2019 and featuring tracks by Siavash Amini, William Ryan Fritch, Philip G Anderson, Sōzuproject, Federico Mosconi, Kyle Bobby Dunn, Lowercase Noises, Heron, Ciro Berenguer, Andrew Tasselmyer, Stijn Hüwels, Jameson Nathan Jones, and Poppy Ackroyd (Hauschka rework)

Continue reading “The Listening Room (March 2019)”

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Ryan Dugré is a freelance guitarist and multi-instrumentalist based in New York City. He has recorded and toured with several pop & indie bands as well as performing live in such wide ranging settings as Le Festival d’été de Québec, Bonnaroo, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, BBC 6 Radio with Marc Riley, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, and Eliot Fisk’s Boston GuitarFest at New England Conservatory of Music of which Dugré is a graduate. He is also a solo recording artist with a newly released second album called The Humors, a title referencing the ancient medical system based on the theory that one’s health and emotional well-being is determined by the balance of the body’s four fluids, or humors, each of which corresponds to an aspect of temperament. Dugré explains how he attempted to translate this concept to music:

“I wrote everything on the guitar. A lot of the songs are in alternate tunings that I kind of stumbled into. This helped me connect what I was hearing in my head to my hands in a different way than I was used to. Certainly not a new technique, but it helped me remove myself from standard movements on the guitar…I had been thinking a lot about this idea of balance in a song, balance of an album. Staying aware of what types of sounds happen when, and how even small tweaks affect the listening experience. Sometimes, taking a little sweet away and adding more sharp was the move, and other times it was the opposite.” 

Continue reading “Ryan Dugré – The Humors [Birdwatcher Records]”

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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

Continue reading “PREMIERE: “Peixe de Água Doce” from Tempestade Tropical by El Conejo”

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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

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Grønland by Glåsbird [Whitelabrecs]”

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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

Continue reading “Sound Impression: A Certain Grief by øjeRum [Shimmering Moods]”