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Sun Rain is the solo alias of Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ, & electronic producer Chad Skinner.  Released earlier this month on Hush Hush Records, Sheets represents his debut under this moniker, yet he’s been active within the music community for the past five years, releasing two albums as part of electronic production duo Snowday as well as spinning DJ sets in clubs and festivals around Ontario as Legs Florentine.

Recorded entirely in Skinner’s home studio, Sheets is a collection of eight sonically diverse electro-acoustic vignettes bound together in an aesthetic of melancholic beauty and heartfelt reflection on the importance of trees and wood in historical and contemporary life.  From solo piano to folk guitar and from ambient synths to soothing beats, there is an organic style and contemplative mood shared by all the varied pieces that serves the overarching theme.

“After acquiring and spending time with a piano over a century old, I realized just how precious wood is. It has been integral for the survival of mankind; all the while remaining one of the most utilized natural materials for creative exploration.”Chad Skinner 

Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Paper 2” by Sun Rain”

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One piano player. One percussionist… As classically trained musicians, Rasa Daukus (piano/keyboards) and Will Larsen (percussion/drums/electronics) began working together as music undergraduates playing a repertoire based on 20th century piano and percussion. Tess Said So combine piano, percussion and electronics with non-classical sounds and techniques, infusing their sound with pop, jazz, ambience and minimalism.

With I Did That Tomorrow (2014) they introduced their unique creative partnership, a vibrant collection of tracks that defied the apparent limitations of their chosen format. The same improvisational spirit, bold elegance, and impeccable musicianship that made such a resounding first impression shone just as brightly on their 2016 follow-up Scramble + Fate and now we are about to be treated to it once again with imminent release of Piaf’s Boyfriend, an ode to people they met while recently on tour.

The new record which will be available on CD & digital beginning May 31 finds the duo at the top of their game as musical storytellers with Rasa’s sparkling piano lines leading the way accompanied by Will’s versatile and highly expressive percussion. In this interview kindly furnished by Hayden Berry of Preserved Sound, Rasa & Will talk about writing an album that captures the personas of different people they met or who left an impression on them along the way.   Continue reading “Duologue: A conversation with Tess Said So”

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Kinbrae  is the musical project of twin brothers Andrew & Michael Truscott based in Edinburgh and Dundee, Scotland. Their signature sound is at once evocative and experimental, mixing brass, acoustic guitar, percussion and musique concrète to create works rooted in a sense of place utilizing both ambient and contemporary classical elements. The liner notes for their 2015 release Coastal Erosion succinctly described it as “sonic map making”.  It is a concept they continued with 2016’s Tidal Patterns (1631 Recordings), which was inspired by a year spent on the Hebridean lsle of Coll  and againg with their most recent release, Landforms, which is themed around Scotland’s longest river, the mighty River Tay,  as well as its surrounding landscape and the impact growing up on its banks had on the two brothers. 

The album unfurls like a cinematic travelogue that takes in the river from its origins on the slopes of Ben Lui in the west to its eastern tidal reaches near Perth as it approaches the North Sea. It is a meandering 120 mile journey through a vast catchment presided over by iconic bridges, sprawling countryside, and bustling towns. To help create an expansive sound worthy of the album’s central protagonist, the Truscotts collaborated with Ben Chatwin (aka Talvihorros) who provided additional instrumentation as well access to his Edinburgh studio where they were able to experiment with adding modular synthesizers and effects into the mix.

“For this record we wanted to expand ourselves sonically to combine brass parts with synths, electronic textures and manipulated field recordings to create an expansive orchestral sound. Movement of Light was one of the first songs we wrote for the record and from early on in the recording process we thought it was well suited to open the album. Collectively these water based tracks come together to form the overall ‘Landforms’ album, mirroring the way in which water itself forges natural features on the land, helping to give the music a sense of place. ” – Andrew Truscott 

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Landforms by Kinbrae”

Skelton_Border_Ballads_coverRichard Skelton is an artist from northern England, UK whose work is deeply immersed in landscape and nature.  To date he has released over 30 EPs and albums of music, and has produced work for exhibitions, performance, feature films and documentaries.  His latest work, entitled Border Ballads, was recently released by Corbel Stone Press, a publishing house which he co-runs with wife & creative partner Autumn Richardson. The first part of the title refers to the location around which the album is themed as well as where it was recorded, the well-watered border country where Scotland and England meet. It is an evocative place and one that makes fertile territory for Skelton’s vivid sonic explorations. The second part of the title is a clue that this is one of the most lyrical recordings in his canon, favoring concise melodic structures over the sprawling, glacial soundscapes that feature in much of his recent work.

Skelton has spent the last two years living on the rural northern edge of the Scotland-England border, a boundary demarcated by various watercourses – among them the Kershope Burn, the Liddel Water and the River Esk. This hinterland topography has informed a series of musical recordings which, in their brevity, stand in stark contrast to the long-form compositions for which he is more usually known. Nevertheless, there is a sense that these twelve miniatures are fragments of a larger whole, such is their unity in tone and timbre.”

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Border Ballads by Richard Skelton”

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After dazzling us last year with Solan Goose, the soaring inaugural entry of his poetically inspired Orkney triptych, composer, producer & multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper and his talented supporting cast return in 2019 to continue the story with another transportive musical portrait of one of the planet’s most enchanting places. Entitled Sule Skerry, the new album shifts perspective from the sky above the Scottish archipelago and its avian fauna to the sea below and the people whose lives & stories are inextricably linked to it. Once again, Cooper commands the expedition using piano, Minimoog, tape loops, field recordings, & electronics supported by his fabulous live ensemble consisting of Anna Phoebe (violin), Jacob Downs (viola), Lottie Greenhow (soprano) and newly added member cellist Klara Schumann withatmospheric embellishments added by Leo Abrahams on ambient guitar.

It’s a record about the sea, our relationship with the outside world, forces outside of our control but it’s also about creating a nest within that, nurturing and protecting our own sea havens, those sheltered bays, those safe places. Always returning back in some form, as we step in and out daily.”

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: Sule Skerry by Erland Cooper”

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Since 2009, William Ryan Fritch has composed music for over 30 feature films and more than a hundred short films as well as releasing over 20 solo records. How does one attempt to showcase such a body of work in a single album and make it cohesive and compelling? Consider Deceptive Cadence: Music For Film Volume I & II a masterclass in just that. At forty-five tracks and a two & a half hour run time, the cleverly titled double album is sourced from material bound to many disparate narratives, yet Fritch has carefully curated the selected compositions in a way that transcends the original context to create something majestic and new, a singular opus that a listener can come to with fresh ears and experience with unfettered joy & wonder.

“Most of those familiar with Fritch, know only of his albums as a singer songwriter or genre-elusive multi-instrumentalist, which truly represent a small fraction of the depth and range of his work. ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ gathers the most remarkable and memorable pieces from Fritch’s vast catalog of film compositions. Rather than filling up two volumes with half assembled film cues and fragmented themes, Fritch has gone to great lengths with ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ to make sure both volumes tell a story, build theme, and create a satisfying full album experience as good as any movie they may have come from. While this music once graced a particular film, show, or commercial, it has all been reimagined, reworked and made whole in post-production to complete the epic narrative of ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ ” – Lost Tribe Sound

Continue reading “Through a Musical Lens: Deceptive Cadence: Music For Film Volume I & II by William Ryan Fritch”

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Located near the pine forests of southern Mississippi, Laurel was founded in the 19th century as a lumber town and has produced a number of notable actors & musicians in the modern era including opera singer Leontyne Price. It is also here we find talented musician & composer Jameson Nathan Jones quietly doing some really lovely work that fans of modern classical and ambient music will no doubt appreciate. His latest album is a gorgeous foray into the blending of organic elements (piano, cello, and the human voice) with electronics and manipulated tape loops which Jones dubbed Static Deviations.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: Static Deviations by Jameson Nathan Jones”

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Nil Ciuró is a composer and sound designer based in Barcelona who creates music for TV, advertising, motion graphics and short film. Next month he will  be making his second appearance on the 1631 Recordings contemporary classical imprint with a new album entitled Inwards.  The first preview of the new record was the Piano Day 2019 release of the fluttering ballad “Even”, but the second single shows the more kinetic side of Ciuró’s work.

Continue reading “Premiere: Boundaries by Nil Ciuró”

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“I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon…” Jack Kerouac

One of the privileges of being on this journey of musical discovery over the past five years or so has been to witness first hand the trajectory of emerging artists from their tentative beginnings to their creative peak, and one of the most satisfying among these has been Hotel Neon. What began in 2013 with brothers Michael & Andrew Tasselmyer, some inexpensive equipment, and a little inspiration from Jack Kerouac has blossomed into a vital trio (multi-instrumentalist Steven Kemner joined in 2015) that is doing some real heavy lifting in the field of ambient & electroacoustic music.

From the perspective of the outside observer at least, some of the keys to Hotel Neon’s success would seem to be an extraordinarily clear vision of their sound from the very outset, a commitment to avoid repeating themselves, an intense work ethic, and persistent efforts to cultivate a sense of camaraderie with fellow artists as well as their audience. All of this has translated into a series of albums each of which becomes essential listening as soon as it released. This travelogue features the last two most recent full-length records, the brand new Vanishing Forms and last year’s Means of Knowing, both available on Agustín Mena’s outstanding Archives imprint.  Continue reading “Travelogue: The Beautiful Hum of Hotel Neon”