M. Ostermeier – Tiny Birds [Home Normal]

You would be hard pressed to find an ambient composer/musician out there with a more clearly defined minimalist aesthetic than Baltimore-based M. Ostermeier.  He describes his compositions as often featuring “skeletal piano melodies that are augmented with electronics, acoustic recordings, and occasionally guitar”. True to that aesthetic, his most recent work draws inspiration from simple and elegant structures found in both the seen and unseen world, a propensity which perhaps has its origins in his background as a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

In the case of Still, released on his own Tench label last year, the inspiration was architecture, a musical echo of the clean and spacious designs of the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry.  On his latest, about to be released by Home Normal, it is the marvelously lightweight and compact natural engineering of the humble bird.

…amongst the gorgeous little melodies at play here, there is a careful depth of sound design from a variety of found sounds and field recordings…It is just the kind of album we love around these parts: namely, a work that takes its time to develop as it sees fit, without any need to rush to its restrained conclusion. – Ian Hawgood

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M. Ostermeier – Still [Tench]

Still is the first full length album from Baltimore, MD based musician M. Ostermeier since The Rules of Another Small World released in 2011.  There is plenty of common ground between the two.  They are both released on Ostermeier’s own Tench label and they each feature sleek minimalism anchored in accessible, avant-garde leaning piano lines accompanied by sparing use of electronics.  The contrasts on the other hand are subtle, but significant enough to create two very different listening experiences.

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Album Review: Shallow by Porya Hatami (on Tench)

Experimental sound artist Porya Hatami has been quite prolific of late. Based in Sanandaj, Iran, Hatami has released a variety of solo albums and EPs over the past two years, appeared on numerous compilations, and has collaborated with artists such as Lee Anthony Norris, Darren Harper, and Liam Coleman (Lcoma).  In February 2014, he released what may be his finest work to date in the form of Shallow on M. Ostermeier’s Tench label.

Shallow is comprised of three tracks lasting just over 40 minutes that take the listener on a pastoral journey through inner space.  Hatami’s work has always been largely focused on nature and has featured an abundance of field recordings, but on Shallow he has opted for a more delicate and spacious sound that earlier releases have only hinted at.

The 21 minute long ‘Fen’, which opens the album, begins with the whirring, crackling, and bubbling sounds of natural field recordings which eventually fade into a soft melodic drone ebbing beneath an expanse of celestial tones.  By the time a hushed breeze and birdsong come into the frame, the listener is in a state of complete serenity which only deepens as the album continues.  ‘After the Rain’ features lovely work on the piano and one can almost smell the “petrichor”, that distinctive scent that rises from the soaked earth as the clouds dissipate. ‘White Forest’ then closes the album, enveloping the listener in more soft drone, bell tones, and the sound of a rushing breeze so vivid one can almost feel it on one’s face.

Shallow is the exquisitely patient work of a master sound sculptor.  One of my very favorite things to do is walk on an isolated beach at the break of dawn with only the sound of lapping water, birds, and sea breeze as company. This album is the closest I have heard to recreating that feeling through music and sound. It is rich, organic, tranquil ambient at its best.

If you enjoy Shallowbe sure to visit Hatami’s Bandcamp site to explore his many other releases such as Land and The Waning Branches and watch for the May 2014 release of The Longing Daylighthis second collaboration with Lee Anthony Norris on Carpe Sonum.

Ordering information: http://www.tenchrec.com/TCH06.html

Porya Hatami on Bandcamp: http://poryahatami.bandcamp.com/

Listen to ‘After the Rain’ set to a gorgeous video by Pejman Pabarja and Azad Jannati