Video Premiere: “Alight” by Zura Zaj

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Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed some dazzling albums from Belgian guitarist Gowaart Van Den Bossche under the moniker of Yadayn, but that is not his only musical project nor is it even his oldest. That turns out to be Zura Zaj, a collaboration with horn-player Jonathan Baltussen and violinist Lieze Van Herzeele that has been on a decade long journey to its debut release entitled Small Obstacles. 

“Zura Zaj’s journey started ten years ago when three young musicians met in a university orchestra and started tuning their instruments to each other’s tastes and creativity. A Hungarian roommate called it “strange sounds”, or “zura zaj” in the dialect of his home region, and so our name was born…Small Obstacles is the outcome of a decade of searching and finding, of overcoming and bonding.” – Zura Zaj

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Travelogue 2018.04.15: From Winter into Spring with Dauw

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Dauw is a Belgian boutique label based in Ghent that specializes in handmade cassette releases of electroacoustic ambient music of an especially organic & pastoral nature and features a unifying visual aesthetic based on the graphic artwork of Femke Strijbol. The label offers sounds and colors eminently suited to the gentle awakenings of springtime and it is our good fortune that they have put up some irresistible new releases for the season.

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Sound Impression: From Water by Paddy Mulcahy [Phases Records]

A little over a year after his patient fusion of close mic’ed solo piano with delicate synthesizer constructions on The Words She Said (reviewed here), Irish-born, Montreal-based composer/producer Paddy Mulcahy returns with an enigmatic foray into finespun electronica & percussion in the form a striking five-track EP entitled From Water.  It begins with the shimmering  “You Could Walk Across the Shannon” which treads a fine line between hope & melancholy in keeping with what Mulcahy sought to put across in the song.

“‘You Could Walk Across The Shannon’ is about overcoming the impossible. It’s a musical representation of being an underdog in a vicious race; it’s the rare ability to walk across a riverbed at low-tide. I want to inspire people who are suffering, people who are sad and feel like there’s no point. This music was inspired by nature, people and overcoming my depression.” – Paddy Mulcahy in DJ Mag, 03/09/2018 Continue reading

Sound Impression: Circuit Bloom by 36

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It is hard to conceive of a more fitting title for latest offering from 36 (pronounced three-six), the ambient / experimental project of Dennis Huddleston from the United Kingdom. Circuit Bloom is like a garden of electronic flowers that bud and blossom in a slow, kaleidoscopic efflorescence of fleeting ephemeral beauty.  In a shift from recent 36 releases that resonated on a cosmic scale, Huddleston chose a more introspective theme for a group of songs which serves as a prelude a full-length album to come later this year.

“[Circuit Bloom] contains a selection of 6 predominantly piano-based tape loops, exploring the themes of isolation and escapism, through a Cyberpunk-inspired lens. For me, Cyberpunk is about people living on the fringes of society, finding ways to deal with the hardships they face, through the manipulation and exploitation of technology. It’s a genre/aesthetic I’ve always loved and its influence has always seeped into my music.” – Dennis Huddleston, aka 36

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PREMIERE: “Here” by Walrus Ghost & Max Frankl [Hush Hush Records]

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It almost sounds like a pitch for a screenplay. European jazz guitarist travels to New York and answers and ad for an open room posted by an experimental electronic music producer. Kindred spirits who followed very different musical paths, the two hit it off and end up creating an album of music together. Only it’s not a screenplay. It is the story of Munich-born and Zurich-based guitarist Max Frankl and Brooklyn-based Christian Banks aka Walrus Ghost. At the time Frankl moved in, Banks was about to release his debut album Uplifting Themes for the Naysayer. Despite striking up an instant friendship, it took time for their mutual appreciation of each other’s approaches to writing & playing music to grow. But, grow it did. First a song, then a handful of tracks, and finally a complete album called Avenues and Remembrances which will be released later this month.

“When we first met, we could both feel a great connection between the two of us. Some weeks later we recorded some music together, which was one of the greatest experiences I had while playing and recording with a lot of different musicians in New York. The things I treasure in Christian`s music have a lot to do with my compositional approach towards music: I like warm and rich environments that bring a particular quality to the music that is sometimes lacking in hectic day to day life: calmness, silence, and tranquility.” – Max Frankl

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Travelogue 2018.03.30: Field Notes

Still basking in the afterglow of Piano Day 2018, this edition of Field Notes puts the spotlight on a superb quartet of new & upcoming piano-themed releases by Goldmund (Western Vinyl), Stefano Guzzetti (Home Normal), Muriël Bostdorp (Whales Records), and a cadre of artists associated with Moderna Records. Continue reading

Duologue: An interview with Barry Kernachan

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On Piano Day 2018 the sounds of musicians will be heard around the globe celebrating a love for one of the most beloved and expressive instruments in the world. Among them will be names that might be new to many listeners such as Barry Kernachan who is releasing his new album to coincide with that special day. Not that he is new to music. Far from it. Barry has been playing since he was a child and writing for a number of years. But Layers is an album where he strips everything back and focuses on the core instrument. It is bright, melodic, and engaging record that piano music lovers will find easy to fall into. In this interview provided by Preserved Sound, Barry talks about the album, his musical journey and his improvisational process.   Continue reading

Sound Impression: Metaphors by Glacis [22.16.04 Records]

“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space…This work was born in the silence between other major projects. The work explores the subtle beauty of the piano in an attempt to capture something warm and real and alive.” – Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken aka Glacis

These days truth is hard to find and even harder to hear amidst the din and chaos of a world that seems to be spinning ever faster towards madness. For many of us that makes albums like Metaphors quite precious. Just a man and his piano speaking truth in the euphonic language of  wordless song. And what lovely songs they are – simple, profound, memorably melodic, and bound to the space in which they were created  by the creak and hum of the piano which was preserved in the recordings.  Continue reading

Through a musical lens: Memory Sketches by Tim Linghaus [Schole/1631 Recordings]

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What is a memory? It is not such a silly question. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Try to put it into words. What IS a memory? How do they accrue such significance to our sense of self?  Musician Tim Linghaus wrestles with this in a beautiful and touching way on his latest album called Memory Sketches. Tim’s experiences with making music began when he discovered his father’s Yamaha drum machine and guitars when he was a young boy in the GDR. During his university years he played guitar in a couple of bands ranging from metal to singer/songwriter, but of late his music is mainly based on piano, synthesizers and noise. If you have had the joy of listening to his debut Vhoir, then you know it is of an exceptionally thoughtful and delicate nature and the new album continues very much in the same vein but with a very particular purpose as Tim explains.

“What is a memory? Is it a residue of our past conjured into being by pictures in our minds? Is it our former self communicating with our present one or the other way around? Is it a recurring emotion or smell we notice in a déjà vu or a daydream? Is it an individual sum of those aspects? What I know is that memories help me to define who I am. They establish connection between me and everything that is not present or future – sometimes sharp and palpable, more often soft and frail. Unfortunately, some memories fade away irrevocably. Hence, I am quite afraid of losing them.” Tim Linghaus

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Lucy Claire – String Works [1631 Recordings]

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I first encountered the music of London-based composer Lucy Claire when the Stationary Travels blog was only about a month old, an affecting piece entitled “Paelistin” savored over a cup of coffee on a quiet Saturday morning. Soon after that came the stunning two-part Suite (reviewed here) and a pair of beautifully realized collaboration & remix EPs featuring guest artists such as Marie Schreer,  Alev Lenz and Tom Adams. After a relatively quiet 2017, it is wonderful to hear that Lucy is planning a series of releases throughout the year and she could hardly hope to get off to a better start than the first installment, a ravishing quartet of compositions entitled String Works which is now available.

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Sound Impression: Sacred Groves by Rime Trails [Shimmering Moods]

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Some artists prefer to work under a cloak of anonymity and let their music forge its own identity, and so it is with Rime Trails, an ambient music project based in Denmark. Over the past few years that identity has emerged as one associated with contemplative soundscapes rich in textural elements and reflective of natural surroundings. Given the Scandinavian setting, it is not surprising to find an abundance of wintry themes, but the latest offering is music for another season. Sacred Groves is “music for springtime in eight parts” that was recorded between April and September of 2016.

Crafted from various unnamed instruments and synthesizers, each track is a verdant reverie and an evocation of mystery and contemplation in equal measure. The mood is cloistered and meditative while the sounds wind their way through wooded paths wrapped in tendrils and bathed in shifting light.  When the din and clamor of the world becomes too much, you might find this is just the sanctuary you crave. 

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Travelogue 2018.03.11: A Modern Classical Matinee

vid1This musical weekend matinée features a collection of four beautiful modern classical compositions by Tambour, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Erland Cooper, and Fabrizio Paterlini set to video. For just a little while, leave your cares behind and enjoy the transportive magic of these musical stories. 

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