Video Premiere: “Swells” by Adam Daudrich

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Moderna Records‘ Fall 2019 single series has gotten off to a fine start with releases thus far by Hiroco.M (Hiroko Murakami) and Jacob David and now Montreal-based pianist Adam Daudrich. “Swells” is a selection from Daudrich’s solo release ‘The Wooden Box‘ which explores the use of muted upright piano, harmonium, and Wurlitzer electric piano in the telling of “intimate stories” and what he calls “adult nursery rhyme” and “fading music-box songs”.

It is a lovely piece with cascading, arpeggiated patterns of shimmering notes and feather-light percussive textures. Delicate, yet full of movement & color, the song finds an ideal match in this mesmerizing video shot on the Berlin S-Bahn by photographer & filmmaker Emma Roufs.

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VIDEO PREMIERE: The Fountain by Julia Gjertsen

Fragile (album cover)

The first time I heard Julia Gjertsen‘s music, it was Slow Motion Stories’, a lovely collection of four ambient piano vignettes which she released in 2012. Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing that EP or the various singles, Piano Day releases, and remixes she has produced since will be thrilled to hear she is coming out with a new full-length album on the Moderna Records imprint this Fall.

Fragile is a mixture of recorded piano, electronics and organic elements recorded in Gjertsen’s home studio in Oslo and accompanied by densely arranged synth layers and percussion. With the exception of the album opener “Hyphen II”, which is a rework of a piece originally composed in 2016, the tracks were created primarily between January and May 2019 and the change of seasons during this time finds parallels in the music.

“As with spring, I think there is both melancholy and naivety in the melodies. The title of the tracks and album came to me when I was in Greece for a week and was working to finish this album. The word ‘Fragile’ and the idea for the album reflects my state of mind and the way I see the world in general, as well as some natural elements such as the sea. For me, we are fragile. This isn’t necessarily negative. As we can hear there are some cracking noises from the piano – I wanted to keep that in my tracks as I think it reflects a feeling of fragility and intimacy. The intention was to create a proximity to the listener, as I always try to do in my music” – Julia Gjertsen

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Sound Impression: Constellations (ou comment arrêter le temps) by Tambour

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Tambour is the musical project from Simon P. Castonguay, a Montreal-based composer and self-taught multi-instrumentalist who also has a background in film studies and has done work in the world of theater.  This summer sees the release of Tambour’s third album which was written largely in the fall of 2017 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and features performances by the Mommies on the run string quartet (Mélanie Bélair, Mélanie Vaugeois, Ligia Paquin, Annie Gadbois) and Pietro Amato (Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre), who also engineered the record, on french horn. Entitled Constellations (ou comment arrêter le temps), it is meant as both a reflection of the passage of time as well as a window  into Castonguay’s own recent past. The album’s subtitle translates to “or how to stop time” and that is what he does through both the format and compositions that make up the record.

“This collection of five tableaux sees Castonguay reflecting on notions of time ; its passing, the time we have and the time that we don’t, the time we take or choose not to ; time spent waiting after something or someone ; our perceptions of and relation to the world around us (and the stars beyond). Playing with these notions, Castonguay chose to play with the form of the record, configuring the listening experience as one continuous listen from start to finish. The listener is invited to lose themselves in time, and not focus on the bounds of individual tracks.” – Moderna Records

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Video Premiere: Follow Me to the Moon by Daigo Hanada

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Fuji Pro 160NS Warm'

When we first met Japanese composer & pianist Daigo Hanada, it was his 2017 debut Ichiru on Moderna Records, an album written in Berlin and Tokyo over the course of a year and recorded with only an upright piano and a pair of microphones. This summer, Hanada returns to the label with a beautiful EP in a similar vein entitled Ouka, a new collection of seven intimate vignettes full of oneric charm. Once again, there is an elegant simplicity to Hanada’s work, a balance between melody, harmony, and space that is easy to listen to but takes a special touch to achieve.

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Travelogue 2018.08.19: The Moderna Records Summer Singles Series

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This travelogue entry features the mesmerizing music of the new summer singles series from Moderna Records, a label founded several years ago in Montreal by Évolène Lüthi “to trace a line from electronic sound designers to classical composers, connecting them through the realms of ambient and cinematic music”. 

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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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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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Daigo Hanada – Ichiru [Moderna Records]

Based in Montreal, Québec, Moderna Records is a recently founded label that has quickly established itself as a home for wonderful new voices in experimental and modern classical composition. Having introduced many listeners to artists such as Veronique Vaka, Ed Carlsen, and Tim Linghaus, they do it yet again with the debut solo album by Japanese composer & pianist Daigo Hanada. Written in Berlin and Tokyo over the course of a year, Ichiru is a collection of intimate vignettes recorded with only an upright piano, a pair of microphones and two hands.

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