Album Stream: Melding by Marika Takeuchi [bigo & twigetti]

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Composer and pianist Marika Takeuchi has been involved with music her entire life. She began studies in classical music at the tender age of three in her native Japan and, at age 18, went on to study composition at Shobi Music College in Tokyo and do early career work for Japanese national radio and Universal Music Japan. In 2009, she moved to the United States to study film scoring at Berklee College of Music and saw the release of here first solo album ‘Night Dream’ before graduating in 2012. Since then, she has continued to work on a wide variety of projects as a composer, pianist, orchestrator, and arranger while continuing to release solo recordings such as ‘Impressions’ (2013), ‘Rain Stories’ (2014), and ‘Colors in the Diary’ (2016) which was produced by Windham Hill founder & Grammy-winning producer Will Ackerman and features cellist Eugene Friesen and Boston Symphony Orchestra violinist Si-Jing Huang. Continue reading

Sound Impression: Piano Works by Lucy Claire

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This past March, London-based composer & producer Lucy Claire began her wonderful new ‘Works’ series, a string of EP releases each featuring a different focus. The second installment has just arrived in the form of Piano Works, a beguiling collection of bittersweet compositions and sketches performed on a range of pianos from grands and uprights to electric keyboards and toy & thumb types. Ever the consummate collaborator, this edition features Lucy alongside guest performances by cellist Ren Ford (Keaton Henson’s Romantic Works), violinist Marie Schreer (The Royal Northern Sinfonia), and ambient guitarist Pete Lambrou (VLMV).

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Travelogue 2018.03.30: Field Notes

Still basking in the afterglow of Piano Day 2018, this edition of Field Notes puts the spotlight on a superb quartet of new & upcoming piano-themed releases by Goldmund (Western Vinyl), Stefano Guzzetti (Home Normal), Muriël Bostdorp (Whales Records), and a cadre of artists associated with Moderna Records. Continue reading

Duologue: An interview with Barry Kernachan

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On Piano Day 2018 the sounds of musicians will be heard around the globe celebrating a love for one of the most beloved and expressive instruments in the world. Among them will be names that might be new to many listeners such as Barry Kernachan who is releasing his new album to coincide with that special day. Not that he is new to music. Far from it. Barry has been playing since he was a child and writing for a number of years. But Layers is an album where he strips everything back and focuses on the core instrument. It is bright, melodic, and engaging record that piano music lovers will find easy to fall into. In this interview provided by Preserved Sound, Barry talks about the album, his musical journey and his improvisational process.   Continue reading

Sound Impression: Metaphors by Glacis [22.16.04 Records]

“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space…This work was born in the silence between other major projects. The work explores the subtle beauty of the piano in an attempt to capture something warm and real and alive.” – Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken aka Glacis

These days truth is hard to find and even harder to hear amidst the din and chaos of a world that seems to be spinning ever faster towards madness. For many of us that makes albums like Metaphors quite precious. Just a man and his piano speaking truth in the euphonic language of  wordless song. And what lovely songs they are – simple, profound, memorably melodic, and bound to the space in which they were created  by the creak and hum of the piano which was preserved in the recordings.  Continue reading

Through a musical lens: Memory Sketches by Tim Linghaus [Schole/1631 Recordings]

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What is a memory? It is not such a silly question. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Try to put it into words. What IS a memory? How do they accrue such significance to our sense of self?  Musician Tim Linghaus wrestles with this in a beautiful and touching way on his latest album called Memory Sketches. Tim’s experiences with making music began when he discovered his father’s Yamaha drum machine and guitars when he was a young boy in the GDR. During his university years he played guitar in a couple of bands ranging from metal to singer/songwriter, but of late his music is mainly based on piano, synthesizers and noise. If you have had the joy of listening to his debut Vhoir, then you know it is of an exceptionally thoughtful and delicate nature and the new album continues very much in the same vein but with a very particular purpose as Tim explains.

“What is a memory? Is it a residue of our past conjured into being by pictures in our minds? Is it our former self communicating with our present one or the other way around? Is it a recurring emotion or smell we notice in a déjà vu or a daydream? Is it an individual sum of those aspects? What I know is that memories help me to define who I am. They establish connection between me and everything that is not present or future – sometimes sharp and palpable, more often soft and frail. Unfortunately, some memories fade away irrevocably. Hence, I am quite afraid of losing them.” Tim Linghaus

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Travelogue 2018.03.11: A Modern Classical Matinee

vid1This musical weekend matinée features a collection of four beautiful modern classical compositions by Tambour, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Erland Cooper, and Fabrizio Paterlini set to video. For just a little while, leave your cares behind and enjoy the transportive magic of these musical stories. 

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Poppy Ackroyd – Resolve [One Little Indian]

Poppy_Ackroyd_Resolve_CoverWhen we got a chance to speak with Poppy Ackroyd this past summer, she was about to release Sketches, an album of solo piano reworks of material from her first two studio albums as well as pieces from an upcoming new work. Now that album has arrived, erasing any possible vestiges of doubt that she is one of the most innovative and exciting artists on the experimental classical scene and a truly distinctive artistic voice.

Resolve finds Poppy building and expanding upon her dynamic and percussive approach to playing the piano in ways both conventional and unconventional. It also find her collaborating in the studio for the first time with other musicians including Manu Delago (Bjork, Cinematic Orchestra, Anoushka Shankar) on hang, Mike Lesirge (Bonobo, Andreya Triana) on clarinets and flute, and Jo Quail on cello. It is a vibrant and mesmerizing record with a positive impetus behind it. 

“Resolve is about the determination to embrace the good things in life whilst dealing with unexpected and challenging difficulties. Finding the light in the dark, facing sadness and loss head on, and developing a growing inner strength.” – Poppy Ackroyd

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Sound Impression: Per Te Solo Per Te, Per Me Solo by Luca Ciut

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Italian composer Luca Ciut has created numerous scores in recent years for movies, theater, and dance and worked with both Golden Globe and Emmy winning filmmakers. Inspired by his experience living in Los Angeles, his 2013 debut album of original compositions entitled Seventeen Million Lonely Angels was originally planned as a solo piano record accompanied by field recordings but ended up embracing a variety of additional instruments. On his second album, however, it is just the man and his piano unraveling a very personal and intimate journey in 13 songs, an opus which Ciut dubbed Per Te Solo Per Te, Per Me Solo.

“For you only for you, for me alone. And there is a space in between, a comma. Light, but present. There are things we do for someone else and other things we do for ourselves. And it is not always easy to make them go by the hand, without tugging each other. Words often mingle, they want to take the upper hand, compete to arrive first.So I tried to use a scale where the two arms felt the same, same weight. And if this did not happen, I would start again, to weigh. Because this album is also: for me only for me, for you alone.” – Luca Ciut

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Video Premiere: Offers of Peace by Elskavon

When Chris Bartels chose the name for his Elskavon project he formed a neologism from a pair of Icelandic words – elska meaning “love” and von meaning “hope”). It was not only a message he would weave into his compositions, but a nod in the direction of Sigur Ros, one of his key influences when he started to write ambient music.  All of this comes together in a very direct way in this video premiere of “Offers of Peace” from his upcoming fourth album Skylight.  Love and hope would no doubt be foremost among the emotions Bartels feels toward his children and the song is specifically dedicated to his second child Oliver (whose name actually means ‘offer of peace’). The Icelandic connection is reinforced by some truly gorgeous video footage provided by friend & filmmaker Ryan Gates to accompany the music.

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2017 In Review: Journeys in Modern & Experimental Classical

From the delicate minimalism of a single piano to the aching beauty of a string ensemble to the mysterious studio alchemy of the analog fused with the electronic, here is a selection of some particularly memorable journeys in modern & experimental classical music released in 2017. 

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PREMIERE: “Leidseplein” by Klangriket & Sjors Mans [piano and coffee records]

Discovering new artists via streaming platforms is not only the province of curators and listeners. It is also a way that artists can discover one another and, occasionally, these discoveries can open the doors to collaborations that would never have otherwise happened. Such is the case with Fabian Rosenberg (aka Klangriket) and Sjors Mans. After encountering each other’s work on Soundcloud and conversing over the wire about music & sound gear, they developed a piece entitled “Sarem” (listen here). It was a good enough experience that the two musicians felt they wanted to co-locate and see what they would come up with if they shared the same room while writing. So, Fabian left his hometown of Stockholm to visit Sjors at his Amsterdam studio. 

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