Thursday, September 28, 2006

OCHRE: Lemodie (Benbecula Records)

Benbecula Records 2006
10 Tracks. 57mins15secs

Buy it: CD
Ochre | Benbecula Records

Chris Leary first got noticed with his debut EP, Sound System Bangers Vol. 1, in 2003, yet he had spent the previous few years freely distributing his music on the Internet and on CDrs. This led him to work on a series of remixes for artists such as Rusuden or Melodium, while his own tracks regularly got picked up to be featured on various compilations. His debut album, A Midsummer Nice Dream, published two years ago on London-based Toytronic, collected tracks created over a long period of time, but this sophomore effort is the fruit of a much more focused gestative process.

With Lemodie, Leary creates a voluptuous soundtrack which goes well beyond the boundaries set with A Midsummer Nice Dream. While the scope remains very much set into electronic territories, classical orchestrations resonate all throughout as melodic themes are adorned with delicate silky string motifs, at times taking the form of a string quartet, at others given full orchestral treatment.

Elsewhere, Leary brings complex rhythmic formations to life with rich analogue tones and soft washes, piecing together sumptuous cinematic soundscapes from disparate elements to create a series of truly evocative compositions. While he still cultivates the melancholic aspect of his music, conveyed through sweeping melodies and elegant electronic arrangements, Lemodie is more upfront than its predecessor. The rhythmic fabric has gained in complexity and relief, arrangements appear more structured and in focus, reflecting on the overall narrative of the record and its consistency. Leary deploys here an impressive array of sounds and moods and applies grain and textures with great expertise.

Answering the soft hues and shapes of the cover, the compositions go from crisp digital landscapes (111, Infotain Me, Anomie) to atmospheric lustre (Open Top) and vast evocative moments (Sosacharo, Lifewish). If influences are perceptible, Leary puts them to good use and takes great care in blending them into the background so as not to overshadow his own inputs. With this second offering, Leary shows here increased confidence and focus and quietly makes his place amongst the artists to watch.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

SQUAREPUSHER: Hello Everything (Warp Records)

Hello Everything
Warp Records 2006
12 Tracks. 63mins41secs

Buy it: Ltd Edition CD | CD | LP
Warp Records

Four years ago, Tom Jenkinson was asking 'Do You Know Squarepusher?' If the album that hid behind this title lured you to think that you did, think again. With his eighth album in eleven years, Tom Jenkinson shakes off his compulsive beats and driving grooves in favour of a much more chilled and eclectic sound.

Tom Jenkinson burst out on the electronic scene in the mid nineties with a series of EPs for Spymania, Rephlex and Worm Interface, and a debut album published on Richard D James's Rephlex. A seasoned self-taught bass player and drummer, Jenkinson's particular blend of experimental drum'n'bass dipped in a bubbling bath of digital jazz and acid house and his seminal live performances rapidly brought him a huge following, Since, he has cleverly set the pace for his contemporaries with each new release by cleverly dodging expectations.

Hello Everything marks the most radical revision of the Squarepusher template since Music Has Rotted One Note. While there are echoes of the frenetic electro-bop of past releases, more prominently on Hello Meow, Planetarium, Welcome To Europe, Plotinus or The Modern Bass Guitar, the emphasis has overall switched to the melodic aspect of Jenkinson's work, revealing in the process more than ever his spotless production skills. Here, Tom Jenkinson scatters jazz crumbs in the most conspicuous way (Theme From Sprite, Bubble Life, Rotate Electrolyte), injects elements of folk on the wonderfully delicate Circlewave 2, revives his interest for avant-garde sonic explorations on Vacuum Garden and Orient Orange, scissors his way through epic rhythmic patterns and febrile synthetic waves on Plotinus, all with the same consistency and devotion.

As the title suggests, highlighted by a selection of pictures of instruments ranging from an acoustic guitar and a drum machine to a xylophone, a drum kit and a bass guitar, all played by the same person, the ubiquitous Tom Jenkinson is once again responsible for playing every last instrument on here and also assumes full production duties. This certainly contributes to Hello Everything feeling extremely consistent, despite the varied approach adopted. Here, Jenkinson appears more liberated and opened to new influx of ideas. Rumours has it that he is, since the release of Ultravisitor, free from contractual duties with Warp, which could have contributed to the liberated feel of this album. Whatever the reason, Tom Jenkinson has produced with Hello Everything his most accomplished record since Music Has Rotted One Note, and perhaps his best record to date.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Supersilent and Wibutee live at the London Jazz Festival

Londoners: two dates for your diaries.

Wibutee: 11 November, live at the ICA

Supersilent / In The Country: 15 November, live at Cargo (Thanks to Colin for pointing that one out).

Both gigs are part of the London Jazz Festival. Click here for full listing.


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QUINOLINE YELLOW: Colour Index 47005 (Uchelfa Recordings)

Colour Index 47005
Uchelfa Recordings 2006

Uchelfa Recordings

Answering to the evocative E104 name and deemed 'not recommended for consumption by children', Quinoline Yellow is a synthetic greenish yellow dye used in the food industry. It is also the name adopted by London-based electronic artist Luke Williams, who has in the last few years released a series of critically acclaimed EPs on Skam and is own Uchelfa imprint. His debut album, Dol-Goy Assist, was released last year on Skam.

Quinoline Yellow's new EP, Colour Index 47005, named after the industrial reference of Quinoline Yellow, is the unapologetically electronic follow up to Dol-Goy Assist. In these times when most musicians desperately try to sound acoustic, it is refreshing to find such a rich collection of highly contrasted artificial soundscapes put to the service of stunning melodies and dense atmospheric tones. Williams is, alongside Bola's Darrell Fitton, amongst the most ardent protagonists of the pure synthesis approach, producing wonderfully warm and engaging electronic music in an all too rare fashion.

Right from the onset, Williams positions this latest collection in line with previous releases as he develops lush melodic themes and dresses them in ornate electronic swathes. In just six tracks, spanning a drop under thirty minutes, Williams creates a vibrant patchwork of expressive musical sequences which seem to borrow as much from the post industrial era embodied by the likes of Richard H Kirk, as they do from the digital age. Whether through the sluggish circumvolutions of Powys Quoits, the syncopated electro of Miniature Cockroach Cab (a track that surely deserves attention for its title alone), the vocal inserts of Carrageenan and Clos Pen Glin2, the blurred digitalia of The Wash Pool or the ethnic scope of Bob Brigham's Gold Chariot, which echoes Bel Canto's Look3, Williams eternally redefines the environment in which his compositions evolve while maintaining a constant atmosphere temperature all the way through. Elements appear to drift in and out of focus as melodies ebb and flow, and melodies themselves at times seem to dissolve, only to emerge later entirely intact, giving this EP a strong astral feel. Here, Williams is as versatile and interesting as ever, driving each composition to its fullest.

This latest offering from Quinoline Yellow is another classic instalment in Williams's growing body of work and provides a further insight into his uncompromising approach and vision.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Earlier this week, I was working on finally creating a cover for a compilation that I made last year, so I could give a copy of it to Sean's mother as she's been asking me for some music for some time. The compilation was originally inspired by the compilation created by St Etienne's Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs for the series The Trip a couple of years ago. I wanted the compilation to feature some St Etienne-like artists (Peach, Mono, Technique, Mulu), together with some French, British and American sixties pop and some more modern tracks. The result (see cover below) turned out to be rather very nice if I may say so myself. I played it a few times in the office, where it was very well received, and it usually surfaces on summer evenings. I renamed the compilation MetroPop to highlight not only the French slant on some of these tracks, but also the fact that despite being rather chilled, almost all these tracks have, in my opinion, something of an urban feel.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: MetroPop: Paris - London - New York Vol. 1 & 2

Click on the image to enlarge

While I was working on the cover, I found another half-finished compilation in my iTunes playlists, and promptly decided to finish it and create a cover so I could also give this one to Sean's mum. The track listing reads as follow:

01. Gene Clark: Strength Of Strings
02. Lou Rawls: Dead End Streets (Parts 1 & 2)
03. Magnétophone: A Sad Ha Ha (Circled My Demise)
04. John Martyn & Beverley Martyn: Primrose Hill
05. Gorillaz: Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head
06. Merz: Warm Cigarette Room
07. Al Stewart: Year Of The Cat
08. El Perro Del Mar: God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)
09. Devendra Banhart: Heard Somebody Say
10. Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra: Some Velvet Morning
11. Scott Walker: Do I Love You
12. Vetiver: You May Be Blue
13. Broadcast: Still Feels Like Tears
14. Joanna Newsom: This Side Of The Blue
15. Susanna & The Magical Orchestra: Time
16. Julie Covington: My Silks And Fine Array
17. Vashti Bunyan: Diamond Day
18. Jose González: Hearbeats

Cover and history below.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Some Velvet Morning (Soundtrack For An Autumn)

Gene Clark: Strength Of Strings
I first encountered this song on This Mortal Coil's Filigree & Shadow album. It was then sung by Dominic Appleton, who incidentally is Woody's neighbour and friend (is there anyone in the world worth knowing he doesn't know?). I fell for the haunting mood of the TMC track when I first heard it, and was pleased to find that it was also so much part of the 1974 original.

Lou Rawls: Dead End Street (Parts 1 & 2)
I first heard this song on a David Axelrod compilation (Anthology Vol. 2) and instantly loved its raw groove and emotional scope. It just fitted here like a glove.

Magnétophone: A Sad Ha Ha (Circled My Demise)
The second album from Birmingham's Magnétophone certainly widened the scope of the band's work, and this rather haunting track, with vocals from King Creosote, hinted at early 4AD, especially This Mortal Coil. I saw the band perform this particular song, with King Creosote, live at the Luminaire for the label's 25th anniversary, and it was probably even more haunting then.

John Martyn & Beverley Martin: Primrose Hill
I'd never heard of John Martyn prior to hearing St Etienne's The Trip. The song featured on this album, Auntie Aviator (which also now features on MetroPop) was just so perfect in every way that I had to find out more about the album it originated from. Once I'd put my hand on Road To Ruin (Island, 1970), I realised that this little gem was in good company. The album was, according to All, recorded in August 1970, the month I was born.

Gorillaz: Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head
The track that started this compilation. It originally went a bit unnoticed when I first listened to Demon Days, but its story, told by American actor and film-maker Dennis Hopper, caught my imagination one evening, and it rapidly became one of my favourite tracks on the album. I especially love the last (very folky) verse, sung by Damon Albarn: "O little town in U.S.A, your time has come to see / There's nothing you believe you want / But where were you when it all came down on me? /Did you call me now?".

Merz: Warm Cigarette Room
I was sent a promo copy of Merz's second album but, although I liked the album, I couldn't really see it fit in on themilkfactory. In hindsight, it probably would have been well at home there. This song in particular got me, and it reminded me of some of the early tracks by Dutch band Nits, which remains unfortunately totally unknown here in the UK.

Al Stewart: The Year Of The Cat
I owe the pleasure of knowing this track to Woody, who played it one day in the office a couple of years ago. Andrew was very vocal about why he hated this song, yet, I just love its gentle mood and great melody.

El Perro Del Mar: God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)
I found the self-titled album from Norwegian songstress Sarah Assbring in the last product sale I went to before leaving Virgin. I got it because it was released on Memphis Industries, and I fell in love with its sixties pop atmosphere. This is quite a strange little pop song, and a wonderful little gem.

Devendra Banhart: Heard Somebody Say
One of my favourite tracks from his third album proper, Cripple Crow, this is one of his most produced songs, yet it is as intimate and beautiful as anything he has done.

Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra: Some Velvet Morning
The song originally selected for this compilation was Summer Wine, yet, when I was searching for a half-decent title for it, Some Velvet Morning came to mind and seemed to fit the bill rather well. I just couldn't name the compilation and not use the song. This is actually the first song by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra I ever heard, not that long ago, on some compilation. I was fascinated by the dense atmosphere of the piece and its dark tones, unusual for a pop song. Hazlewood's deep golden voice does much to give the song its intense coloration, but Sinatra's almost ethereal response is even more haunting.

Scott Walker: Do I Love You
A bit of a lighter moment here, with something of a romantic song from Walker the Great. I remember hearing this song for the first time some years ago on my way to Hélène and Laurent's wedding. I'd rented a car for the weekend, and I was driving along on a country lane after picking up the car from Charles De Gaulle airport, listening to the promo tape of a Scott Walker compilation that I'd picked up at work. This song came on, and I just fell in love with the melody.

Vetiver: You May Be Blue
Andrew first told me about Vetiver when I discovered Devendra Banhart, and as it also came with Nigel's seal of approval, I promptly got the band's first album. This track is taken from their second album. Pitchfork said of the song that "[it] recalls vintage Fleetwood Mac at their slinky best" and it has also been compared to the Grateful Dead's American Beauty, none of which, I must confess, I know much about. Still, this is one of my favourite tracks on To Find Me Gone and it fitted perfectly here.

Broadcast: Still Feels Like Tears
What can I say about Broadcast that I haven't said before? I can listen to their albums and EPs a thousand times, and it will always feel a little bit like the first time. This track, taken from the Pendulum EP, is typical of their work.

Joanna Newsom: This Side Of The Blue
I was recommended to listen to Joanna Newsom after falling in love with the two albums by Antony & The Johnsons. Soon I was searching on the web for some sound samples, and the first thing I cam across was a live video on the BBC Experimental site. At first, her voice grated so much on me that I didn't know whether I should laugh, cry or run away, yet, something was dragging me back. I downloaded her debut album and realised how wonderful and unique her work was... this song, which was recently featured in an ad for a mobile phone company, is perhaps the most accessible on the album. Here, it is just perfect.

Susanna & The Magical Orchestra: Time
This wonderful song is taken from the debut album of Norwegian duo formed by Susanna Wallumrød and Morten Qvenild, List Of Lights And Buoys, and reflects the mood of the whole album. This piece is delicate and touching, and I find there is something deeply exhilarating in the chorus. It is also, with the band's cover of Dolly Parton's Jolene, my favourite track on the album.

Julie Covington: My Silks And Fine Array
Another song first heard on a compilation, once again from St Etienne's The Trip. I just love everything about it. Unfortunately, the album it is featured on (The Beautiful Changes) doesn't appear to currently be available. Good job Soulseek came up trump!

Vashti Bunyan: Diamond Day
Legendary song from the legendary debut (and until recently sole) album of legendary folk singer. 'nuff said.

Jose Gonzales: Heartbeats
The track used on "that' famous ad. The original by Swedish popsters The Knife, dripping in phat electro sounds, was brillant, but Gonzales made it his own by giving it light folk textures and breathy atmosphere. What better way to end.

Monday, September 18, 2006

GAGARIN: Ard Nev [Version 2.0] (Geo Records)

Ard Nev
Geo Records 2006
09 Tracks. 42mins39secs

Gagarin | Filament Recordings

Gagarin is the solo project of Graham Dowdall, whose career as a musician extends far beyond this project. Originally a percussionist and sound designer, he has played with some of the biggest names on the music scene, including Nico, John Cale, Cabaret Voltaire and many more, has worked on a variety of dance and theatre projects and has performed all around the world.

He began developing his electronic/ambient project Gagarin in the mid nineties and set up his own record label, Geo Records at the same time. He released a first self-titled album in 1997, and, following a series of EPs and seven-inch singles, his second album, Earthling, materialised in 2003. Since, there has been very little apparent activity on the Gagarin front, but Dowdall began to work on new material in the latter part of 2005, a first draft of the album originally being released as a very limited edition CDR album on U-Cover in early 2006 while he continued to work on the record. This third album, now released on Geo, sees Dowdall stepping up the pace and sharpening up his atmospheric electronica to include elements of urban dub, even occasionally hinting at dubstep, giving Ard Nev more defined and progressive structures than its predecessor displayed.

For this latest project, Dowdall deploys once again a wide array of sonic tricks and generates warm pastoral soundscapes on which he builds sparse melodic themes. Relying on Spartan rhythmic arrangements to underline these, Dowdall draw the listening into a false feeling of security before inflicting random electric blows, characteristically delivered without prior warning. While Ard Nev kicks off in gentle style with the vast open space of Sandavore, Dirty Sweet unveils a much darker and claustrophobic setting, which is carried on to the following piece, Neovo 5-10, which despite a peaceful respite in the middle, proves to be as oppressive. Echoes of grime and dubstep scratch the sparkling surface as abrasive noises are pushed to the forefront. Merkage and Slewage build further on this urban affiliation and push the album into some rather inhospitable territories.

Elsewhere, Dowdall delivers subtler, gentler pieces, allowing for vast breathing spaces in between more abrupt moments. Tracks such as 120 Cms, An Tarbet or Skylon, one of the standout moments here, all combine wonderful sonic scopes with intricate details and sporadic melodies, while on Sullum Voe and Buidaig, Dowdall carves more defined melodies cast in superb ethereal soundscapes, bringing this album to a rather elegant close.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

CHRISTOPHE WILLITS: Surf Boundaries (Ghostly International)

Surf Boundaries
Ghostly International 2006
12 Tracks. 37mins23secs

Buy it: CD
Christopher Willits | Ghostly

Download Yellow Spring (MP3) courtesy of Ghostly International
Album preview

There is something opulent and comforting in the smooth tones and processed sounds of Christopher Willits’s new album. Hailing from San Francisco, Willits has released records on labels as diverse as 12K, Fällt, Sub Rosa, Nibble and Plop, as well as collaborations with Brad Laner as North Valley Subconscious Orchestra, and with Kid606’s Miguel DePedro and Hella drummer Zach Hill, with whom he is currently recording as Flössin. If this wasn’t enough, he also regularly contributes to diverse multimedia projects and installations.

Ever since he appeared on the music scene at the tail end of the nineties, Willits has developed a delicate blend of layered processed guitars, glitches and statics, which have placed him somewhere on the accessible vicinity of Fennesz. With this first album for Ghostly, his ninth altogether, Willits dips his experimental range in breezy Californian pop to produce a record that sends the Beach Boys into orbit with no intention to ever bringing them back down to Earth. The songs on Surf Boundaries are colourful expressions of various emotional states, which build up deep within each piece to add to the weight of the complete work and form a rather suggestive collection. Allegedly recorded ‘during the rise and fall of an intense personal relationship’, Surf Boundaries bears few emotional scars on its sleeve. Instead, Willits applies sumptuous soundscapes and soothing melodies to appease the mood.

Although Willits’s work is in majority of instrumental nature, the addition of vocal harmonies throughout the record, albeit buried under dense layers of guitars and brass sediments, reveal a blissful dimension to his work that had, until know, only been expressed with parsimony. Here, Willits dares simple melodies and drifts into introspective pop, at times flirting with shoegaze (Love Wind, Finding Ground, Yellow Spring), or stripping down to near-acoustic (Like Water), at others blowing a digital breeze over intricate constructions (Colors Shifting, Orange Lit Spaces).

As the album progresses and Willits redefines his soundscapes with each new track, he manages to retain the peaceful atmosphere all the way through by seamlessly bringing together his compositions with constant sonic touches. Surf Boundaries is one of these records that gradually reveal more depth and relief with each listen and ends up sticking in the mind.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

SVALASTOG: Woodwork (Rune Grammofon)

Rune Grammofon 2006
10 Tracks. 45mins25secs

Buy it: CD
Rune Grammofon

Svalastog’s take on Folk music is nothing short of interesting. Using traditional Norwegian acoustic instruments as a basis for his work, Per Henrik Svalastog then processes them to create a series of delicate hypnotic pieces with impressive evocative power.

Originating from Tromsø, Norway, home of Biosphere, Röyksopp, Alog, Mental Overdrive and many more fine electronic artists, Svalastog is perhaps best known for being one half of electronic duo Information, with who he has released three albums to date, the last one, Biomekano, published on Rune Grammofon four years ago, but he has also contributed a number of 12” and remixes under a variety of monikers, and released his debut solo album, Silencer, last year on Beat Service. Now returning to Rune Grammofon with his sophomore effort, Woodwork, he continues to explore the sonic imprints of various traditional instruments.

The idea for this solo project originated from the moment Svalastog found an old Harpeleik, a Norwegian zither, which once belonged to his grandfather, and decided to momentarily turn his back on all things electronic to focus on more natural and organic sound sources. Working from improvisations played on old acoustic instruments, Svalastog weaves intricate vignettes around incredibly detailed and sophisticated loops of incredibly to create a series of impressive cinematic compositions. Dressed in elegant acoustic debris, melodies only emerge to dissolve almost instantly, caught up in tribal rhythmic patterns, contributing further to the fragile aspect of this record.

There is a sturdy unity running throughout this record. The process used seems almost identical from one track to the next, yet on closer inspection, Svalastog combines the various elements of a particular composition into ephemeral structures, which give each piece a unique tone. From the onset of The Wood Metal Friction, which slowly lifts off from a vaporous flute-style wind instrument to develop into a cyclic rhythmic theme, Svalastog establishes the master process for the rest of the album. Snow Tracer, which follows, appears as a simple continuation of the previous track, but slow luminescent tones illuminate the background all the way through and give the piece an entirely different emotional facet. On Mouse Tracking, he liquefies the sonic incantations by introducing sliding string elements and builds on sparse bass drums and light percussive twitches to give Reforestation delightful magnetism. Even on the monolithic ambient Slow Blowing Wireless, Svalastog develops a series of deep-reaching patterns and assembles them into a stunning sonic composition.

Very much like Thomas Strønen with his solo debut, Pohlitz, released earlier this year, Per Henrik Svalastog creates an impressionist piece of work, using delicate touches and light textures to highlight the natural sheen of his original sound sources. Magnificent, graceful and evocative in every way, Woodwork is one of the most compelling Rune Grammofon releases to date.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

COLLEEN ET LES BOITES A MUSIQUE: Colleen Et Les Boîtes A Musique (The Leaf Label)

Colleen Et Les Boîtes A Musique
The Leaf Label 2006
14 Tracks. 38mins55secs

Buy it: CD
Colleen | The Leaf Label

Colleen is a very singular artist with a sharp visionary mind and a deep understanding of a wide range of music genres. Based in Paris, where she has spent most of her life, Cécile Schott as she was born, was classically trained, but she has since embraced modern technology to support her work.

Colleen's work first emerged on a joint compilation from French imprints Active Suspension and Clapping Music, which rapidly lead to her being signed on Leaf. Her first album, Everyone Alive Wants Answers (2003) made good use of electronically treated acoustic elements and samples to create rich evocative soundscapes in which she dressed her compositions. Her second effort, The Golden Morning Breaks saw her abandoning this process to focus solely on acoustic instruments, something she had been using during live performances for some time.

Her latest offering comes in the shape of a wonderfully poetic and ambitious mini album. Originally commissioned by French public service radio station France Culture for their Radiophonic Workshop programme, the work featured here is entirely based on sounds sourced from music boxes, with Colleen adopting, for one release, a collective name. For this project, Schott worked with a wide array of music boxes, not only utilising them as they were intended to, but also playing them with her fingers or with small mallets. The sounds were sampled and reassembled to create a string of exquisite compositions centred around incredibly sophisticated and intricate melodic formations, with only the odd effect affecting the dynamic range of the sound sources. At times deceptively simple, at others finely layered, the fourteen tracks create a wonderfully dreamy soundtrack which ebbs and flows with the assorted rhythmic patterns and melodies that constantly flourish all the way through.

Even more so than on her previous recordings, Colleen favours here utterly intimate and delicate tones and crafts a masterful piece of work with deep emotional roots. Although she works here with very few components here, she creates a series of wonderfully evocative and rich poetic vignettes in what is her most fascinating record yet.

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ADRIAN KLUMPES: Be Still (The Leaf Label)

Be Still
The Leaf Label 2006
09 Tracks. 51mins05secs

Buy it: CD
Adrian Klumpes | The Leaf Label

Adrian Klumpes usually officiates as part of Australian formation Triosk, with whom he has released two albums, including the recent The Headlight Serenade, and collaborated with experimental sound artist Jan Jelinek. Be Still is his first foray into solo work.

Built from recordings made during a single five-hour long improvisation session, Be Still originally intended to capture part of the creative process behind his music, yet the subsequent processing revealed a much more complex and somewhat abstract tone. While the recording context certainly influences the nature of this record, the nine tracks collated here appear especially suspended in both time and space. Although the scope of these tracks varies greatly, from the dreamy introspection of the piano-lead Cornered, Be Still or Passing Pain and the gleaming cinematic Unrest to the darker and more minimal Weave In And Out or Alone and the oppressive Why, Klumpes creates here a surprisingly captivating work. Melodies are delivered either in voluptuous swathes or rarified dry splinters and indifferently placed in various places throughout these compositions, sometimes forming the main body of a piece, at others hopelessly left drowning in clouds of sounds.

Moody and dense, Be Still appears at times unsettling, especially when Klumpes manipulates the original piano source sounds into thick structures, as on the stern Why, or to a lesser extend on the compulsive monotone Exhale. At its most experimental and treated, this album becomes almost entirely textural and atmospheric, yet, when he returns to more clearly charted territories, Klumpes crafts highly contrasted emotional landscapes on which this album ultimately relies on to express its narrative in full.

There is a similar scintillating aspect to this as to Triosk’s recent The Headlight Serenade. The way Klumpes approaches music through cascading sheets of pianos, and processes his sound sources into tiny particles that often hang in the air long after he has finished with them, give his work a pleasing gloss and contributes to his music being somewhat more accessible than one would initially expect from such a dry creative process. While he sometimes deals with darker concepts, and he certainly does here on a few occasions, he still relies on lighter elements to lift up his experimentations and bring them to life.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

MINT: Out Of Context / INIGO KENNEDY: Transaction (Rednetic Recordings)

The ever-excellent Rednetic deliver another couple of fine releases with new EPs from Mint and Inigo Kennedy.

Out Of Context
Rednetic Recordings 2006
07 Tracks. 29mins17secs

Mint | Rednetic Recordings

Out Of Context is the latest offering from Mint, AKA Murray Fisher, who also operates as one half of Boltfish Recordings. Collecting five original tracks and two remixes, this EP, Fisher’s first for Rednetic, is another foray into classic electronica territories. Lush melodies, crisp beats, warm soundscapes; Fisher builds impressive formations here, from the moody Coerce, which opens, and Out Of Context, to the feverish electro of Roman Triangle, the rampant melancholy of Russian Doll or the uplifting luminescence of Future Automation. Each track offers a slightly different angle to Fisher’s approach, yet they all integrate perfectly with each other, creating a constant flow of rich electronic soundscapes and ambiences. Mint’s own remix of Coerce reveals a much more dance floor-friendly touch, while Neytoda’s take on Out Of Context gives the track a surprisingly urban feel.

Fisher creates here another fine record, at times hinting at classic Detroit techno, and certainly reminiscent of early Warp or ART releases. Yet, this EP is certainly no painful nostalgic homage. Fisher knows very well how to manipulate classic ideas to make them sound fresh and modern, and he does it here once again with great elegance and disconcerting ease.

Rednetic Recordings 2006
07 Tracks. 38mins52secs

Inigo Kennedy | Rednetic Recordings

A London-based musician and DJ who has released an impressive amount of records under various aliases on countless labels, including his own, Asymmetric, Inigo Kennedy delivers here a sumptuous collection of electronic pieces for Rednetic. Spread over almost forty minutes, the seven tracks forming the backbone of this release go from beautifully crafted dreamy down-tempo compositions (Passing Doorways, It’s Complicated, A Timeless State) to raging techno moments (Runway Dreams, Quirky Night) without for a moment threatening the finely tuned balance of this album.

All the way through, Kennedy assembles incredibly complex compositions yet manages to retain the melodic aspect of each piece. Passing Doorways sets the standard for the rest of Transaction. Here, Kennedy brings together a haunting melody, sharp glitches and vast soundscapes into a tortured piece, articulating them around three distinct sections expertly jointed together.

Both Runway Dreams and Quirky Night hint at a much more dance floor-orientated approach, which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on any Dust Science releases. While a crisp driving beat rolls over moody analogue waves on Runway Dreams, creating a sharp hypnotic piece, Quirky Night introduces a much lighter tone. At times reminiscent of B12 or early Black Dog, the spirit of Detroit is perhaps much more palpable here than anywhere else on this record. The last four remaining tracks bring the pace down drastically, with Kennedy exploring different atmospheric settings, from the dreamy It’s Complicated and A Timeless State to the more earthy Ideas Arriving and Faraway Towns. Transaction is a truly stunning collection of beautifully produced electronica which is likely to leave any admirer of the genre wanting more. Much much more.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

TRIOSK: The Headlight Serenade (The Leaf Label)

The Headlight Serenade
The Leaf Label 2006
11 Tracks. 56mins05secs

Buy it: CD
Triosk | The Leaf Label

Triosk were formed in Sydney, Australia, in 2001 by Laurence Pike (drums), Adrian Klumpes (piano and keyboards) and Ben Waples (bass), three musicians with deep roots in improvised jazz. The first manifestation of the band was their collaboration with Jan Jelinek on 1+3+1, published in 2003 on ~Scape. The music on this album was created out of largely improvised sessions over pre-recorded loops, a process they also adopted for Moment Returns, their proper debut album, released on Leaf a year later.

The Headlight Serenade is the fruit of a much more considered approach. While improvisations still serve as the main basis for the compositions presented here, the tracks were developed over a longer period of time, each idea being worked on to its full potential. This results in a much more accomplished collection of tracks and a more consistent feel to the whole album. Right from the opening moments of Visions IV, the melody blows a gently breeze over shimmering orchestration and discreet drums, creating a rich dreamy setting far removed from urban connections. All along this album, Triosk refine the same principle, expertly applying it to various sonic contexts. Although there are still strong connections with the electronica movement to be found scattered over this album, Triosk seem to have adopted a resolutely more live approach. If the source improvisation have been processed and rearranged, the band’s aim at retaining the organic aspect of that part of their work means that this album feels extremely natural and flows beautifully from start to finish. While it is certainly apparent on Visions IV, One, Twenty-Four or Fear Survivor, and even more so on Intensives Leben, the vast sonic spaces of Lazyboat or Vostok reveal multiple layers of iridescence all contributing to the glistening feel of each piece.

There is more of a classic jazz feel to The Headlight Serenade than there was on its predecessor, yet this is not to say that Triosk have turned their back on experimentations. The tail end of Lazyboat or the cascading dissonances of Headlights are amongst the most obvious escapades into rugged terrains, but Triosk continuously challenge their boundaries to assert their sonic space. With this album, they combine accessible structures with more difficult sections with great agility and never lose focus on retaining the most vibrant part of their live improvisations.

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