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One of the steadiest sources of light among labels that feature & promote ambient music from around the globe is Home Normal under the guidance of Ian Hawgood, a fine artist and mastering engineer in his own right. The newest entry to their catalog brings together two outstanding artists who likewise both curate independent labels while creating their own music, Stijn Hüwels (Slaapwel Records) and James Murray (Slowcraft Records).  The new collaborative project is called Silent Vigils, a suitable moniker for the liminal quiescence of sound these two kindred spirits have reached across water to create with one another.

“Molenbrook, Mossigwell, Zwartewall, Fieldem… places neither here nor there; half in the world, half in the mind. We began this project as an exchange of gestures across the water, a dialogue motivated by mutual respect and revolving around our shared love of the minimal, the graceful and the understated. We completed it on 22nd March 2017 – the day of the Westminster attack, one year to the day after the Brussels bombings. These four pieces have become our personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking and open borders.” – Silent Vigils

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Fieldem by Silent Vigils [Home Normal]”

Since its founding in 2009, Home Normal has consistently been one of the shining lights on the landscape of experimental ambient & electronic music. Conscientiously curated and uncompromisingly supportive of its artists, it is more than a label; it is a hub for a community of artists and mindful listeners who appreciate thoughtfully crafted, emotionally honest music.

“Based in Japan, the label was run as a way to connect to a sense of what ‘home’ and ‘normal’ could mean to someone who was in what was essentially an alien environment to them. The focus of the label was to release the ambient and electronic works of friends within the live scene we were part of in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, but soon expanded to include the work of many artists worldwide…We see the label as a family of friends who work together to create unique works that have a hold and impact on whoever can take their time to absorb our music and aesthetic” 

Featured here are recent & upcoming releases by Ian Hawgood + Wil Bolton,  Giulio Fagiolini, and Jason Van Wyk,

Continue reading “Travelogue 2017.08.07: Spotlight on Home Normal”

Love Retained is a series of mostly solo piano sketches by Ian Hawgood, also known as the founder of the trail-blazing Home Normal label, album mastering wizard, and all-around friend & advocate of so many DIY musicians who make experimental ambient & modern classical music. The sketches were originally intended as starter material for collaboration, but Hawgood came to see them in a different light as he reflected with disarming and courageous candor about his struggles with depression and how it has interfered with his creative process in recent years (I urge you to read all of his eloquent liner notes which I will not do the disservice of attempting to summarize).

The recordings are simply tracked to cassette, and contain no editing or mastering, so you know, filled with ‘mistakes’. They are pieces I found really enjoyable to make, and have found I have increasingly enjoyed looping on low levels at night, or when the mind wonders/wanders. They are incomplete and yet it feels right for me to give this to friends, family, and anyone else that this connects to in some way. The incompletion is a beautiful and freeing thing. – Ian Hawgood

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Love Retained by Ian Hawgood [Home Normal]”

Looking back on noteworthy news, musical discoveries, and social media interactions from the past week.  For a complete list of songs featured this month on the Stationary Travels Facebook and Twitter feeds, check out the July Songdrop mix.

Deru

I am at least a month late to the party, but this week I finally got to dig into the amazing new 1979 project by Deru (the electronic music project of LA-based composer/producer/sound designer Benjamin Wynn) along with Effixx (filmmaker and designer Anthony Ciannamea). On his project site Deru describes 1979 as “an audiovisual time capsule, a perpetual relic, a collective beating heart, a breathing human record, a meditation on nostalgia, my fifth studio album, the year I was born”.   The music here is outstanding, but it is about so much more. To see what it is all about, follow the the links below to visit the interactive site and to read an excellent in-depth feature and interview on the ISO50 web site (ISO50 is the design pseudonym of Scott Hansen, aka Tycho)

1979 interactive site: http://www.1979.la
ISO50 Feature: http://blog.iso50.com/33584/deru-1979-experiencing-an-album/

Tomonari Nozaki & EUS 

Tomonari Nozaki (aka UNKNOWNjp) and EUS (one of several projects of Jose Acuña) partnered to release this sumptuous 4 track album.  EUS offers his original mix of ‘Sol Levit’, which appeared on his October 2013 release of the same title, and Nozaki offers his previously unreleased ‘Adansonia’ and then each remixes the other work.  EUS brings to the table his dark ambient and rich melancholic undertones and Nozaki his cinematic, nearly effusive romanticism. The two are seamless merged through the warm analog medium of reel-to-reel tape and the end result is as absorbing and as emotionally resonant as ambient music can be.  This is generously provided as a free download.  I strongly recommend you grab it while you can.

Wil Bolton 

Bokeh is the new album by Wil Bolton mastered by Ian Hawgood and due to be released next month on Hawgood’s Home Normal label and available now for pre-orders.  Above is the album sampler on Soundcloud and below is the video Bolton created for the beautiful title track which treats the viewer to a fine example of the bokeh effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh).

Oskar Schuster

Berlin-based composer Oskar Schuster released a lovely solo piano EP this week called Matilda.  It is available as a 5 track digital download or in a handmade physical edition which includes sheet music for all the pieces and 2 bonus tracks.  This is one modern classical fans should enjoy and may be of special interest to those who play.  Follow the link the Bandcamp site for full information.

Matilda on Bandcamp: http://shop.oskarschuster.com/album/matilda-ep

Peaceful Wrath

Peaceful Wrath is a music project of Belgium-based artist Stéphane K. Vandezande which blends ambient, electronic, and modern classical elements together with a cinematic perspective.  Featured here is ‘Canvas’, one of my favorite tracks from his album Fields.  I was curious about the vocal sample heard around 4:40 and found that they were the words of Hal Lasko, also known as “the pixel painter”.  The video below shares his amazing story in a very touching presentation:

A Sudden Burst of Colour 

A Sudden Burst of Colour is an instrumental rock band based in Motherwell, Scotland.  They have a particularly fresh and uplifting sound which is in full regalia here on their latest single ‘Yume’ courtesy of Stereofox.  I particularly enjoy the clean, crystalline, reverb heavy sound of the guitars.  If legendary guitarist Hank Marvin made a post rock record, this is what I imagine it would sound like. Lots of melodic invention and nice changes here too. Play this one loud and often.