Sound Impression: In Distance We Are Losing by Alaskan Tapes

The suited man toting a bag across a barren landscape on the cover of In Distance We Are Losing speaks volumes about stark emotional tone of this new album from Alaskan Tapes, a project from musician Brady Kendall out of Toronto, Canada. If you have heard his music before, you know there are going to be moments of arresting beauty and ethereal interludes, but there is a sense of isolation, preoccupation, and distraction present in these tracks that tugs in another direction while the visceral presence of the cello parts contributed by Raphael Weinroth-Browne lend as much rawness as eloquence to the proceedings.

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Travelogue 2017.08.07: Spotlight on 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,

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Video Premiere: ‘Esquisse IV’ by Dominique Charpentier

Earlier this summer, French pianist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Dominique Charpentier released an EP consisted of five songs each of which was developed in less than two hours. He chose this format as an experiment in form and a personal challenge. While compressing the creative process into a fixed time always risks an uncertain outcome, in this case it produced an enchanting quintet of piano-based pieces with a touch of melancholy and a touch of musette so as to weave a spell of melancholic and nostalgic romance in the space of twelve minutes.

Inspired by the music, the folks at Piano & Coffee have created a video to accompany songs using a montage of grainy, sepia-toned footage shot around a bustling 1970’s Paris turning “Esquisse IV” into a plaintive scrapbook of shared memory. Continue reading

Duologue: A Conversation with Poppy Ackroyd

With her 2012 debut ‘Escapement’, Brighton-based composer Poppy Ackroyd entered the same rare air as such esteemed innovators of modern classical and electronic music as Nils Frahm and Hauschka. Classically trained on violin and piano, she creates utterly mesmerizing music by manipulating and multi-tracking sounds primarily from these two instruments in sometimes unconventional ways, an approach she expanded upon with her second album ‘Feathers’ in 2015. This year she brings us a flurry of new projects to enjoy starting with her new mini-album ‘Sketches’ in which Poppy reinterprets pieces from her first two records as pure solo piano pieces along with several new compositions. She also has a brand new full-length album in the works for release in November and all this in the midst of performing as part of Hidden Orchestra, who themselves have a wonderful new record out called ‘Dawn Chorus’. I am ecstatic that Poppy was willing take time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for Stationary Travels readers and thus kick-off the very first in our new series of artist interviews called Duologues.

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James Maloney – Gaslight [Moderna Records]

The field of film & theater composers releasing debut albums of original compositions is ever-growing. For lovers of indie, modern, & post-classical music it is a healthy trend that means we are increasingly spoiled for choice, but it also raises the bar for the kinds of creativity and inventiveness needed to keep the genre fresh and compelling.  That is where artists like James Maloney come in.

Originally from Birmingham, having studied music at Oxford, and now the Music Associate at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Maloney has just released his debut solo record entitled Gaslight on Moderna Records. Conceived of largely at night as a reaction to the noise and the pace of city life and built around a closely mic’d old piano accompanied by trumpet, vibraphone, & glockenspiel, it sparkles with that elusive lustre of pure inspiration and effortless enchantment.

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PREMIERE: Chess Players byLena Natalia

 

Chicago-based pianist & composer Lena Natalia is a storyteller who speaks through a piano rather than a pen, able to create scenes, moments, and characters only through the moods and melodies of her compositions. Her experiences living in Paris served as the backdrop for her first two albums while last year’s Second Youth explored personal and nostalgic territory closer to home. Her fourth collection of songs entitled Almost Home finds her broadening her sonic palette to include more varied piano textures, tasteful use of string & choral like synths, and even a bit of percussion. Listen here to an exclusive premiere of “Chess Players”, an especially elegant and cerebral piece with an evocative hint of Slavic flavor.

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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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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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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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