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… 

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Sound Impression: Presence, Volume 1 by Andrew Tasselmyer

The “Presence” series is a new solo project from Andrew Tasselmyer (Hotel Neon, The Sound of Rescue) which he frames as “an ongoing experiment in intentional listening” and describes as “a combination of found sound and intuitive, responsive composition…the product of being present”. The first volume in the series consists of eight variations on this theme, each one building a musical narrative around a field recording taken from the context of everyday life and ordinary objects.

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2016 in review: A Sense of Place

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The year in review begins with a new type of list for 2016, but one I very much hope to maintain going forward. Each of these albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to a particular place – 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… 

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A Sense of Place: Agoraphonia – Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci [Dronarivm]

What a difference one letter can make. Agoraphobia is a paralyzing anxiety that causes one to fear & avoid crowds and open spaces. Change the ‘b’ to an ‘n’, however, and you have Agoraphonia, a neologism coined by Italian sound artists Francesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci for their latest project which is built around field recordings of public places from around the world and the resulting album about to be released is anything but anxiety inducing.

A town square is an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town and used for community gatherings. Based on this basic perspective, it is easy to notice how the soundscape of this living center could represent not only sonically, but also from a cultural point of view, a priceless document. After an open call lasted 6 months to send most interesting audio material concerning the theme of the “square” the samples have been selected and reworked in order to create an ideal symphony of all living squares all over the world.

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A Sense of Place: More ‘Tiny Portraits’ on Flaming Pines

tiny_portraits_vol2Last autumn Flaming Pines released the first installment in their new Tiny Portraits series, “small renderings of place in memory and sound” by ambient & experimental artists from around the world that took us to a volcanic island in Japan, a street corner in Hanoi, a square in Athens, and a quiet park in Tehran (read the ST review here). Each one is a kind of sonic interrogation by the artist in response to the questions that drive the project.

“Sound and place are two terms often thrown together, but what actually connects the two? Sure places sound differently, or may shape the sounds that enter them in particular ways but in what ways is sound actually able to capture and convey place? Is place something to be captured at all?” – Flaming Pines

How far and wide the series will go remains to be seen, but it is a welcome sign that an excellent new quartet of works is now available from artists representing Hungary (Peter Turner),  Latvia (Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva), Russia (Foresteppe), and Ukraine (Gamardah Fungus). Continue reading

Sound Impression: Secret Pyramid – Distant Works II [Proposition]

“Seven transmissions from the Pacific Northwest” is how Vancouver-based artist Amir Abbey introduces Distant Works II,  the latest album under the pseudonym Secret Pyramid. Whereas the first volume in the series was based on unused material from the album that became The Silent March (2011), this collection of dronescapes and sketches appear to freshly unearthed and molded by Abbey from field recordings, strings, piano, tape, synthesizers, and the highly distinctive sounds of the ondes martenot.

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Sound Impression: Stijn Hüwels – Six Pieces For Guitar [mAtter]

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Stijn Hüwels is a sound and recording artist based in Belgium whose work with processed guitar, loops, and field recordings reflects his “profound fascination with minimalism”. Most recently featured here on the blog in his role as the new custodian of the Slaapwel Records label, he is releasing new solo work of his own through Japanese label mAtter in the form of Six Pieces For Guitar with the option of a companion 2-track EP.

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Travelogue 2015-48: Spotlight on Dragons Eye Recordings

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Dragon’s Eye Recordings is an imprint based in Los Angeles and curated by sound and visual artist Yann Novak.  Originally founded in 1989 by Yann’s father Paul, the label has released over 70 editions in the fields of sound art and experimental music since being relaunched 2005 with a focus on electronic, electroacoustic, field recording, drone and acousmatic music and a well defined and elegant minimalist visual aesthetic for presenting them. This travelogue focuses on the most recent and highly recommended offerings created by Darren McClure, Miguel Isaza, Tobias Hellkvist, and Novak himself.

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A Sense of Place: Tiny Portraits on Flaming Pines

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Flaming Pines label founder Kate Carr has developed a highly regarded and multi-faceted creative practice “centered on articulating the relationship between people and place through sound”. In addition to her own sound work, she has curated a variety of wonderful conceptual series, the latest of which has seemingly unlimited potential despite its ostensibly diminutive name – Tiny Portraits.

In Listening to Noise and Silence, Salomé Voeglin talks of soundscape compositions occupying a site ‘between preservation and invention’ – an attempt by the composer or field recordist to retain the essence of a site inevitably results via the processes of recording, composition and listening in the creation of somewhere new. Tiny Portraits asks each participant to dwell on these connections and disconnections between sound and place, representation and invention by starting somewhere small, somewhere overlooked or obscure, and to interrogate this site using sound. – Kate Carr

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A Sense of Place: Mark Lyken and Emma Dove – Mirror Lands

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Tucked into a recessed portion of Scotland’s eastern coastline, Black Isle is a peninsula that sits between the windswept Highlands to its north and the city of Inverness and the Great Glen to its south. The waters of the surrounding firths are traversed by dolphins, porpoises, seals, migrating whales, cargo & cruise ships, and fishing boats as well as serving as home to oil rigs. Its land mass is home to woodlands, rolling hills, farms, castles, and towns. The name possibly derives from a consequence of its mild climate which often leaves it devoid of the whiteness of frost and snow that may surround it during the winter.  It is a place which intertwines the threads of a multitude of narratives both natural and man-made.

Mirror Lands is a film and sound installation created by multimedia artist Mark Lyken and filmmaker Emma Dove that focuses on that place and those narratives. It was one of 14 projects across Scotland supported by Creative Scotland’s Imagining Natural Scotland initiative. Music and sound are both integral to the project which Lyken has referred to as sitting “somewhere between and art film and a documentary” and that part of the experience has now been extended into a soundtrack album artistically packaged and released by the creative hands at Time Released Sound. The key to fully appreciating this wonderful recording is first understanding the impetus of the film. Continue reading

Wil Bolton – Inscriptions [Dronarivm]

Wil Bolton certainly has a way of capturing the aura and stillness of a place in music. Self-described as “an artist who works predominantly in sound”, his pieces are very much like sonic portraits that harness light, color, and texture with such patience and attention to detail that the listener can almost see and touch them, even inhabit them. His latest full length record released on the Dronarivm label, Inscriptions, began with a collection of environmental sounds collected in Tallinn, Estonia during an artist residency there in 2011.

These field recordings focus in on the quiet, everyday sounds of streets, parks, a lake and a town square. I lived with these sounds for some time, before working on the album. In spring 2013, I began to record the instrumental sounds. I started working with loops I lifted from the quietest sections of old dusty charity shop records – the sounds of piano, strings and harp, half-buried in hiss and crackle. I re-pitched, stretched, edited and processed these loops with guitar pedals and laptop effects. Then over this bed of loops, I recorded layers of digitally treated instrumental parts, played on acoustic guitar, piano and analogue and digital synths.  – Wil Bolton

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Jeff Stonehouse – Mariner’s Willow

A life and a landscape remembered. That is what we find in the latest solo work from musician Jeff Stonehouse called Mariner’s Willow, a warm and pastoral ambient journey that comes a very personal place.

This piece is written in memory of my mum, who passed away earlier this year. She lived in a little village, nestled at the foot of the South Downs, and the nature sounds in the recording were taken on the evening of the last day that she spent at home…I tried to combine the piano with guitar sounds to try and give the impression of the ebb and flow of the sea, which played an important and very influential role in her life. If you listen very carefully, you might hear a beautiful voice drifting in and out on the breeze. It’s not supposed to be a sad piece, despite its inspiration, more a celebration of the things my mum loved the most. – Jeff Stonehouse

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