PREMIERE: ‘Chrysalis’ by Francesco Berta

At the beginning of 2017, Francesco Berta challenged himself to publish new creative work at the pace of at least once per month throughout the year. The Italian-born, London-based composer & multi-instrumentalist has made good on that commitment with a half dozen singles and EPs released by the beginning of summer, a commendable achievement for someone who holds himself to such an uncompromising personal standard when it comes to authenticity and attention to detail.

His latest piece entitled ‘Chrysalis’, which Stationary Travels is very pleased to premiere, is a prime example. How many ideas, layers and emotional cues can be contained in less than two minutes of recorded music?  Quite a lot apparently. It begins with Francesco’s general approach to music and a very specific concept for the piece in compositional, melodic, and metaphorical terms.

“I love melody and my works are overflowing with melody, I always start with a theme. This time it was different, you can hear three different, subtle and quite short melodic themes but they’re hidden. The whole track is a metaphor of life and chaos, and the fact that takes quite some time to find an order in the chaos and sometimes you solve the problem by letting go and enjoying it a bit.”

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VIDEO PREMIERE: The Last by Garreth Broke and Anna Salzmann

In a recent interview with the folks at Piano & Coffee, pianist and composer Garreth Broke spoke about growing up on a diary farm in West Wales where he forged a strong connection to the landscape and developed an acute awareness of how much changes are wrought over it with each season. That experience served as a large part of the inspiration for a quartet of EPs he would create with his artist partner Anna Salzmann, each of which would mark the beginning of a new season. The series comes to a conclusion next week with the release of June which features three compositions by Broke and vivid new imagery by Salzmann that is aflame with bright, warm colors.  Continue reading

Travelogue 2017.06.17: A Spring Quartet

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

A brief survey of an exquisite quartet of modern classical albums for the Spring season by Christoph Berg & Henning Schmiedt on Flau, Tambour on Moderna Records, Julian Marchal on the newly launched Whales Records, and Moinho on 1631 Recordings. 

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Chiehei Hatakeyama – Mirage [Room40]

The inspiration for Chihei Hatakeyama’s Mirage came during a trip to Turkey taken by the artist about five years ago. The diverse & exotic architectures, streets, bazaars, and waterways were no doubt a feast for the eyes, but it was what Hatakeyama heard with his keen musical ear that spurred the creation of the new album. Framed as “a meditation on the phenomenology of music and architecture” it explores the way sound is shaped and influenced as it traverses and mingles with the surrounding structures.

“Walking through the labyrinthian bazaars of Turkey, Hatakeyama took inspiration from the way sounds emerged and decayed within those spaces. Looking to replicate these experiences in the creation of the album, he developed a series of new processes and transformations that expanded his approach to textural music.”

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Emilía – Down to the Sadness River [Rottenman Editions]

Blue is the color and blue is the mood of Down to the Sadness River by Emilía, a new collaboration between Lee YiVanesa Jimenez (aka Meneh Peh).  The album is being released on the multi-disciplinary Rottenman Editions which was founded by Jimenez and where you can also find their 2012 recording under the moniker Niñocometa along with Yi’s lovely Motet EP from earlier this year. The album’s description alludes to a painful life” and “a suffering past, tragedy and the slow search of the long road to stillness” and while the artists respect their own privacy regarding the details, there are poignant clues in the song titles and there is certainly nothing held back in the haunting intensity of the music.

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Sound Impression: Landscapes by Jacob Montague

What exactly is “cinematic folk”? A good way to answer that question would be to have a listen to Landscapes, the latest solo release by Oakland-based composer, producer, & multi-instrumentalist Jacob Montague. The album, which flows more like a suite than a collection of songs, oozes pastoral charm with scene-setting atmospheres and a strong narrative flow propelled by a keen sense of rhythm given a wide-screen context by clever integration of lush electronics, strings, and bold percussive elements.

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Video: Sorg Sea by Flying Hórses

Nearly two years after Tölt, the debut release of Montreal composer Jade Beregron’s solo project Flying Hórses, she returns in stunning form with an eleven-plus minute epic single called Sorg Sea. It is not that she has not been busy in the interim. Bergeron was invited to play Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in 2015 as well as the world-renowned Festival International de Jazz de Montreal in 2016 before joining The Banff Centre for Performance Art for their Independent Music Residency later that year to work and collaborate with Juno award-winner Charles Spearin (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think) who is among the guest musicians on the new piece. Also performing are Alex Mah (cello), Kathleen Edwards (gutiar), and Brock Geiger (double bass) while Efrim Menuck (GYBE, Silver Mt. Zion) helmed the mixing controls. Continue reading

Manos Milonakis – Festen [Moderna Records]

Festen is the third solo work by Manos Milonakis, a composer/producer/performer and architect born & raised in the Greek port city of Thessaloniki. It is his original score for the theatrical adaptation of Thomas Vinterberg’s 1998 film of the same name which premiered last November at the National Theatre of Northern Greece. Milonakis spent 3 months of theatrical rehearsals and studio work fusing the sounds of piano, persephone, synthesizer, glockenspiel, violin, viola, cello, guitar, and theremin with programmed beats and loop processing into his score which has now been marvelously condensed into album form for release by Moderna Records.

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Travelogue 2017.05.31: Spotlight on Polar Seas Recordings

Toronto based Polar Seas Recordings was founded a little over five years ago and for most of that time has primarily served as a home for the releases of Brad Deschamps & Mike Abercrombie as North Atlantic Drift as well as their respective side projects anthéne and Transits of Mercury. In the past year however, the label has released no less than eleven albums, matching the output of the first four years put together while expanding their roster of artists and encompassing a broader sonic palette. Here is a roundup of some the most recent and recommended. 

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Endless Melancholy – The Vacation [Hidden Vibes / Pantheon]

Heavy, oscillating waves of sound wash up on imaginary shores warmed by the rays of a distant sun. The Vacation, the latest album by Oleksiy Sakevych under the moniker of Endless Melancholy is a worthy follow-up to his well reviewed 2015 release Her Name In A Language of Stars

Even more so than its predecessor, it evokes a sense of cosmic wonder and vast, otherworldly vistas while being anchored to a strong emotional undertow which lends it the haunting poignancy that makes it so compelling. Best experienced as a complete journey from start to finish, there are some individual standout moments, with tender stillness at the heart of “Wouldn’t We Be Lonely” and the transcendent, palatial slow build of “Enough to Cost Us a Lifetime” being arguably among the most striking.

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PREMIERE: Sleepwalking Deers by Luis Berra (Video by Piano & Coffee)

The three young people in golden deer masks roaming a deserted urban landscape bathed in the incandescent yellow glow of street lamps furnishes a moody, surreal backdrop for the mellifluous piano lines woven by Florence native Luis Berra on “Sleepwalking Deers”, the opening track to his new album Piano Creatures now out on 1631 Recordings. It is a sweetly melodic piece tempered with a bluish tint that lends a touch of melancholy, a quality which the video, developed by the creative community of Piano & Coffeetaps into.

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Sound Impression: Five Years by Square Peg Round Hole

When I first heard instrumental trio Square Peg Round Hole was making an ambient record, I was expecting a conventional approach – rework the same melodic constructs of their prior albums while losing the drums, lowering the volume, and slowing the pace. That would have been a pleasant enough affair to be sure, but for a band that prides itself on sheer inventiveness, I should have known to expect more. Five Years traverses quite a bit of previously unexplored sonic territory for the band as they show a penchant for developing beguiling, color saturated soundscapes, densely layered and studded with subtle glitch elements and a plethora of vocal & abstract percussive textures.

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