Modern Classical EPs from Lucy Claire / Oskar Schuster / Peter Gregson & Michael Price / Julien Marchal

I’ll spare you the obvious cliche, but this group of modern/post classical and piano EPs are all small packages that deliver big musical satisfaction, each one a gem in it’s own right.  

Lucy Claire / Collaborations Vol.1 [This is it Forever]

Lucy Claire set her own bar quite high with her Suite EP last year, but she has delivered a new work just as satisfying and even more expansive with Collaborations Vol.1 on This Is It Forever Records.  The album revolves around two new compositions, each featuring a special collaborator accompanied by Lucy on piano and a string quartet made up of Marie Schreer on viola, John Garner & Julia Loucks on violin, and Samuel Justitz on cello.

‘Stille’ features Alev Lenz whose haunting vocals are looped in manner reminiscent of Juliana Barwick in a mesmerizing call and response with the quartet, briefly receding into the background as the strings spread their wings and fervently ascend heavenward, and then reemerging to bring the song to a tender a cappella conclusion.  On ‘Somnus’, the strings are predominant, presenting mournful and passionate swells and playful flourishes with textured brushstrokes of color added by the guitar of Bruised Skies.

Three reworks flesh out the rest of the Vol.1  First, Jerome Alexander, as Message to Bears, brings his pastoral indietronica touch to his version of ‘Stille’ which is followed by a lush and spellbinding downtempo interpretation of the same piece by Gavin Miller and Thomas Ragdale as the duo worriedaboutsatan.  To close out the record, ‘Somnus’ gets a muted ambient drone treatment by Bruised Skies. The compositions are lovely, the performances are exquisite, and the reworks are both inventive and enjoyable. We can hope this is only the beginning and that Lucy along with her friends and collaborators will keep dishing out slices of musical heaven like this one.  Long may it continue.

Listen to ‘Somnus ft. Bruised Skies’

In studio performance of ‘Stille’ ft. Alev Lenz 

Oskar Schuster / Matilda [Record Jet]

Oskar Schuster is a musician and composer based in Berlin but whose sound is deliberately more reminiscent of Paris owing to the nods to the musette style also heard in the work of Yann Tiersen in the soundtrack to Amelie.  Shades and tones are added from a wide variety of influences ranging from Schumann and Chopin to Sigur Ros and Beirut, but the core of the sound is the piano and a music box style complimented by nostalgic sounds meant to create “melodies you seem to remember from early childhood days or long-forgotten dreams, at the same time sad and joyful, euphoric and exuberant, nostalgic, thought-provoking and always kind of melancholic.”

In March, Schuster released a very nice full length album called Sneeuwland which encompasses all these aesthetics. Matilda, on the other hand, is an EP which is similar in tone, but consists strictly of solo piano pieces.  The music is eloquent, subtly cinematic and beautifully performed.  Matilda consists of 5 songs, but can be ordered in a special package which includes a sheet music book with handmade golden letter artwork and 2 additional unreleased tracks.

Listen to ‘Paris Montparnasse’ 

Official video for ‘Valtameri’ from Sneeuwland

Peter Gregson & Michael Price / Berlin 1 – 3

Peter Gregson is a cellist and classical composer who will be releasing and album called Lights in the Sky next month.  Michael Price is a classical, TV, and film music composer with a long CV of scores and projects including the BBC series Sherlock and who has also put out an album on Erased Tapes called Stillness.  This past May, Gregson and Price put out this little gem of an EP called Berlin 1 – 3 which contains three splendid improvisations for piano and cello with a sublime touch of tape effects and a mournful, introspective tone.  You would be hard pressed to find a lovelier way to spend 10 minutes of your time.  Gregson and Price have generously offered this on a name-your-price basis which makes a must have for modern classical aficionados and a springboard for a deeper dive into the work of these two accomplished artists.

Listen to ‘Berlin 1’

Excerpt from Peter Gregson’s forthcoming album Lights in the Sky’

Julien Marchal / Insight 

Julien Marchal is a French composer, pianist, and sound designer who is currently working on an album project called Altered Perceptions which will reflect his classical, minimalist, and electronic influences. En route to completing that project, he has put out this excellent solo piano EP called Insight.  It may only be four songs which last a combined total of just under 9 minutes, but they are exceptionally lovely and will whet the appetite for the more expansive project to come. Fans of Nils Frahm will particularly be interested as Marchal prefers a similar minimal, damped style recorded so as to make the pedals and hammers audible.

Listen to ‘I’

Living Room rehearsal of ‘Shelter’ from the forthcoming Altered Perceptions:

Travelogue: Week 2014-29

Looking back on noteworthy news, musical discoveries, and social media interactions from the past week.  For a complete list of songs featured this month on the Stationary Travels Facebook and Twitter feeds, check out the July Songdrop mix.

Deru

I am at least a month late to the party, but this week I finally got to dig into the amazing new 1979 project by Deru (the electronic music project of LA-based composer/producer/sound designer Benjamin Wynn) along with Effixx (filmmaker and designer Anthony Ciannamea). On his project site Deru describes 1979 as “an audiovisual time capsule, a perpetual relic, a collective beating heart, a breathing human record, a meditation on nostalgia, my fifth studio album, the year I was born”.   The music here is outstanding, but it is about so much more. To see what it is all about, follow the the links below to visit the interactive site and to read an excellent in-depth feature and interview on the ISO50 web site (ISO50 is the design pseudonym of Scott Hansen, aka Tycho)

1979 interactive site: http://www.1979.la
ISO50 Feature: http://blog.iso50.com/33584/deru-1979-experiencing-an-album/

Tomonari Nozaki & EUS 

Tomonari Nozaki (aka UNKNOWNjp) and EUS (one of several projects of Jose Acuña) partnered to release this sumptuous 4 track album.  EUS offers his original mix of ‘Sol Levit’, which appeared on his October 2013 release of the same title, and Nozaki offers his previously unreleased ‘Adansonia’ and then each remixes the other work.  EUS brings to the table his dark ambient and rich melancholic undertones and Nozaki his cinematic, nearly effusive romanticism. The two are seamless merged through the warm analog medium of reel-to-reel tape and the end result is as absorbing and as emotionally resonant as ambient music can be.  This is generously provided as a free download.  I strongly recommend you grab it while you can.

Wil Bolton 

Bokeh is the new album by Wil Bolton mastered by Ian Hawgood and due to be released next month on Hawgood’s Home Normal label and available now for pre-orders.  Above is the album sampler on Soundcloud and below is the video Bolton created for the beautiful title track which treats the viewer to a fine example of the bokeh effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh).

Oskar Schuster

Berlin-based composer Oskar Schuster released a lovely solo piano EP this week called Matilda.  It is available as a 5 track digital download or in a handmade physical edition which includes sheet music for all the pieces and 2 bonus tracks.  This is one modern classical fans should enjoy and may be of special interest to those who play.  Follow the link the Bandcamp site for full information.

Matilda on Bandcamp: http://shop.oskarschuster.com/album/matilda-ep

Peaceful Wrath

Peaceful Wrath is a music project of Belgium-based artist Stéphane K. Vandezande which blends ambient, electronic, and modern classical elements together with a cinematic perspective.  Featured here is ‘Canvas’, one of my favorite tracks from his album Fields.  I was curious about the vocal sample heard around 4:40 and found that they were the words of Hal Lasko, also known as “the pixel painter”.  The video below shares his amazing story in a very touching presentation:

A Sudden Burst of Colour 

A Sudden Burst of Colour is an instrumental rock band based in Motherwell, Scotland.  They have a particularly fresh and uplifting sound which is in full regalia here on their latest single ‘Yume’ courtesy of Stereofox.  I particularly enjoy the clean, crystalline, reverb heavy sound of the guitars.  If legendary guitarist Hank Marvin made a post rock record, this is what I imagine it would sound like. Lots of melodic invention and nice changes here too. Play this one loud and often.