vaghy (Tamás Vághy) is a Hungarian composer and pianist who is making an appearance as a newcomer on the modern classical scene, but is no musical neophyte. Surrounded by his father’s old tapes and vinyl, his love of music came at an early age. Having developed into a multi-instrumentalist with a taste for a wide variety of genres, he performed in thousands of concerts from clubs to large festivals including serving a the keyboardist for the well-known Hungarian rock band Anna and the Barbies. During these years, in the quiet environs of his bedroom studio, he indulged a passion for classical music. After seeing a Nils Frahm video several years ago, Tamás was inspired to bring this more personal work into the public sphere, performing live sets in 2016 and again in 2017 in support of Frahm’s own worldwide Piano Day event.
Taking their name from the alias of the figure at the center of Rembrandt’s masterpiece “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” who was central to the theme of their debut album (‘Floods’, 2015), Aris Kindt is a collaborative project from Gabe Hedrick and Francis Harris. The duo once again choose an artistic reference as a conceptual touchstone for their second album entitled Swann and Odette, a pair of protagonists from Marcel Proust’s sprawling seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time. The album is a heady offering from a sonic perspective as well as a thematic one:
“Picking up where their first record (2015’s Floods) leaves off, ‘Swann and Odette’ is an evolutionary leap forward for the duo. The sonic palette is deeper, the grooves more sparse and the melodies are given more room to seep deep within a mix so expansive it feels almost tactile…a seamless interplay of synths and instrumentation cast loose from their origins and awash in oceanic delay.”
You can sample the ornate, cerebral soundscapes Hedrick and Harris are able to conjure from their extensive gear in this exclusive premiere of “Treatise”, a mesmerizing track that juxtaposes hazy swirls of guitar and malleable sonic forms with a steadily metronomic, pulsing groove.
If this all sounds rather modern for an album steeped in references to a turn-of-the-century novel, the point is not so much to soundtrack Proust’s story itself, but to explore concepts it suggests about the relationship of music to experience and memory or perhaps just the act of reading it in a current setting, both of which are suggested in John Stroud’s liner note essay (“Future Ghosts: Aris Kindt’s Soundtrack for a Radical Materialist Ontology”) which offers an assessment of the record as a kind of “post-structuralist pop”:
It is a science fiction record that launches our consciousness out into a speculative emotional landscape of decisively Proustian flavor while using techno’s taxonomic/serial bed of reference as an invitation to transmogrify that future into the pulsations of the actual body. As for Proust’s novel, it feels as much like a paperback thrown in a backpack more than any sort of foundation, something to read along the way while you’re waiting for your train (an image of which Proust would absolutely approve) while Swann and Odette plays over the radio in an altogether saner world. – John Stroud
Swann and Odette inaugurates Kingdoms, a new label being launched by Harris which he describes as “a new platform for adventurous music ranging from new voices in club-inflected jazz, contemporary composition, ambient, and electronic music to reissues of little-known obscurities from across the musical spectrum”. Editions of the album will be available from October 20 on digital and an attractive limited edition colored vinyl LP.
On his most fully realized album to date, composer/producer Paddy Mulcahy offers up eight beautiful experiments in juxtaposing solo piano minimalism with vibrant synthesizer constructions. While some of his previous releases demonstrated Mulcahy quite capable of inventively sketching and improvising in a compressed time frame, the music on The Words She Said was cultivated over a two-year period
The album was started in the Summer of 2015 during a recording trip around Germany and London. Paddy then continued to work on the album while finishing his BSc degree in Music Production at Limerick Institute Of Technology. The album was inspired by the similarities and contrasts between pianos and synthesizers, and this relationship was conveyed through the use of various recording and mixing techniques.
Floating Away From the World is the third album in as many years by OKADA on the n5MD label and his fifth overall (the first two being issued by Fluttery Records). It is the first, however, that Gregory Pappas developed for this project since relocating from Mobile, Alabama to Seattle, Washington with a corresponding shift in style that seems to match the cool, wet climate of his new home. As on previous albums, Pappas offers up a quartet of fluid & emotive long form works that fuse ambient textures & modern classical elements with downtempo beats and ethereal vocals, but the mood on the new album is distinctly overcast and deeply introspective while the rainy textures will be pure bliss for even the most casual pluviophile.
In the space of ten months, Dennis Huddleston has released three albums from his experimental ambient project 36 (pronounced three-six). Far from making music to simply zone or chill out to, Huddleston often weaves rich thematic and imaginative material into his sonic tapestries for an especially emotive and cerebral listening experience. Considered together, this trio of albums cover a vast perspective spanning past, present, and future.
French composer & sound designer Ocoeur (Franck Zaragoza) enlisted the services of Christoph Berg, The Green Kingdom, and Julien Marchal to create this intended prologue to his 2016 full-length album Reversed, his fifth release on Oakland, California-based label n5MD. Reversed – Remixes is an entrancing quartet of reworked pieces, one of Zaragoza’s own creation and the remainder from his hand-picked team of collaborators.
Since this blog began only a few odd years ago, we’ve seen the emergence of some wonderful new labels which are now fixtures on these pages – Eilean Rec., Moderna Records, and 1631 Recordings to name a few. But there is plenty of room for new voices and new ideas as evidenced by the recent arrival of Subtempo Records on the scene. The label founded last year by Rocco Tyndale will be focused on “left-field leaning, classical and electronic” music coupled with a strong focus on visual art and an emphasis on creating “long lasting pieces of art” and their first physical release is a delightful EP by Alejandro Bento, a self-taught pianist from Spain who also records electronic music as Axel Toben. Ripples is a triptych of solo piano pieces accompanied by a remix contributed by award-winning producer/composer Robot Koch. The heartfelt sentiments that come across in the music are just as Bento intended.
“These songs speak of origins and horizons. But most of all, they speak of love, friendship and care, of presence and joy. They speak of following the heartbeat and believing in one’s self and in others.” – Alejandro Bento
This year saw the return of some a number of beloved and well-known bands from quiet periods ranging from several years to as long as a decade along with bright splashes from some new & dynamic voices. This is a particularly vibrant and diverse selection where genres never define of confine, but only serves as reference points for those of us with inadequate words to describe the music.
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).