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
Whoever said “don’t sweat the small stuff” surely was not talking about ambient music. When it comes to this genre, nuances can make all the difference between a bland listening experience and a compelling one. For an outstanding example of the latter, consider Context, the forthcoming third album by Hotel Neon, the Philadelphia-based trio of Michael Tasselmyer, Andrew Tasselmyer & Steven Kemner. Speaking of his own ambient music, Brian Eno once suggested that it should “accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular”, a characteristic very much on display here. It was the band’s choice on this record not to thrust any particular narrative on the listener but rather, as the album title suggests, to provide a context to which they could connect to their own. Spend an hour or so with these warm, heavily textured crepuscular drones and you are likely to agree it is mission accomplished.
“Context is arguably the only thing that gives a song its meaning in the mind of a listener. The direct message of a track title has disappeared. Vague symbols have usurped them, unable as they are to contain any kind of subliminal message. As a result of this, the listener has been given a lot more freedom to interpret the music as they see fit – they put the ambient washes of sound into a context of their own making. ” – Fluid Audio
Letting Go Variations is a more than fitting title for this collection of four plaintive, delicately ornamented constructions by Kirill Nikolai recorded by the artist in Seattle, Washington during the Summer of 2015. Ambient swells tugged by an undertow of wistful strings lap against the shores of memory in an ebb & flow full of unfulfilled longing.
The resulting music is a dying rose, a love letter written in notes to someone who never received or returned that love. ‘Letting Go Variations’ is a haunted recording; not of a spirit, but of a tired soul. – Fluid Audio
Poets and musicians tend to be restless souls. It must be a burden at times, but that innate inquietude can also be the very thing that fuels the creative engines and resistance to complacency. As both a poet and a musician, Leonardo Rosado not only knows this well, but has let it serve as the very impetus of his collaborative new album, In the Dead of Night When Everything Is Asleep. In response to a sense of getting locked into the idiosyncrasies of his own methods, he craved a new way of working and a creative partner who would help him break old patterns yet remain true to himself artistically, ultimately choosing cellist & multi-instrumentalist Aaron Martin as well as involving his own children. Unbounded by a specific theme, compositional structure, or even working track titles, they embarked on what Rosado called “a journey into nothingness”.
I just went and recorded everything I could think of with my kids: a trumpet, guitars, wooden, metallic, glass objects, rainstick, metalophone, just having fun, not caring about tempo, melody, or tuned instruments, just banging around…Having two hours of recordings I had to start sampling all the stuff and playing with it for awhile. After I started creating these nameless pieces I thought that it was a good time to ask Aaron if he wanted to do a collaboration that he accepted. The collaboration was quite straightforward. We decided that I would prepare the scenery for him to come and take over, and that’s what he did. He took over in the most beautiful way I can think of. – Leonardo Rosado
The Ring Road is route 1 through a wonderland, an 828 mile long circuit around the country of Iceland. It is also the setting and inspiration for a new album called Remnants by the ambient drone trio Hotel Neon, quite a contrast from the origins of their eponymous debut which was conceived and recorded in the confines of a Delaware apartment. The implication of this is that the perspective has changed from an inward focus to an outward one, but that would only partially be true. The presence of vast, glacial landscapes is certainly suggested in the four pieces that make up the album, but these patient, fluidic drones are more reflective of the inner state that the journey evoked.
“Whilst Hotel Neon’s debut album was born of chaos and strife, ‘Remnants’ is a tribute to sentiment – a nostalgic reflection on memories, inspired by a road trip to Iceland in 2015…Their circumnavigation of the Ring Road is filled with longing for bygone memories, field recordings and layers of texture from a wide variety of sources.” – Fluid Audio
Since From the Mouth of the Sun debuted in 2012 with Woven Tide Dag Rosenqvist and Aaron Martin have been continuously honing their craft with solo and collaborative projects almost too numerous to mention, so it was very exciting to hear them announce a new FTMOTS project in 2015. October finally saw the release of Into the Well and both the music and the handsome bespoke limited packaging from Fluid Audio are as special as we could have hoped for.