FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Mixtape: Across The Universe [A Fractured Air Mix]

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Across The Universe [A Fractured Air Mix]

‘Across The Universe’ is a mixtape inspired by the music (and life) of Susan Schneider (AKA The Space Lady) whose incredible story has inspired anyone who has been fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Susan’s incredible gift for both making music and living life. The following mixtape was compiled to mark The Space Lady’s concert in Cork, Ireland on 12 April 2014.

To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/across-the-universe-a-fractured-air-mix/

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Tracklisting:

01. Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans ‘Zoom A Little Zoom (Rocket Ship)’ [Motivation]
02. Dick Hyman & His Orchestra ‘The Liquidator’ [Command]
03. The Beatles ‘Flying’ [Parlophone]
04. Joe Meek ‘I Hear A New World’ [RPM]
05. The Elegants ‘Little Star’ [His Master’s Voice]
06. Etta James ‘At Last’ [Chess]
07. The Ventures ‘El Cumbanchero’ [Liberty]
08. The Velvet Underground & Nico ‘There She Goes Again’ [Polydor]
09. Rachel and the Revolvers ‘Number One’ [Ace]
10. Prelude ‘After the Goldrush’ [After Hours]
11. Buffalo Springfield ‘Expecting To Fly’ [ATCO]
12. Julianna Barwick ‘The Magic Place’ [Asthmatic Kitty]
13. Jon Brion ‘Phone Call’ [Hollywood]
14. Toro Y Moi ‘Divina’ [Carpark]
15. John Maus ‘Hey Moon’ [Upset! The Rhythm]
16. Julia Holter ‘In The Same Room’ [RVNG INTL]
17. Eden Ahbez ‘The Wanderer’ [Righteous/Cherry Red]
18. Esquivel ‘Nature Boy’ [Righteous/Cherry Red]
19. The Flaming Lips ‘Do You Realize??’ [Warner Bros.]
20. Françoise Hardy ‘Je Ne Sais Pas Ce Que Je Veux’ [Ace]
21. Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans ‘Why Go Up There?’ [Motivation]
22. Colleen ‘Ursa Major Find’ [Second Language]
23. The Beach Boys ‘Good Vibrations’ Closing-Bit (Stereo)’ [Capitol]
24. The Beatles ‘Across The Universe’ [Apple]
25. Sounds Galactic ‘Across The Universe’ [Decca]
26. Odetta ‘Pastures Of Plenty’ [Vanguard]

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Soundcloud

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Step Right Up: Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani

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Interview with Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani.

“The classical background is definitely important for us, especially for the playing but also for writing the pieces. In the end it’s the love for popular/modern music, though, which brings us to make the kind of music we do.”

—Carlos Cipa

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Earlier this year marked the release of a special collaboration between the gifted young musical talents of Germany’s Carlos Cipa and Sophia Jani. The two-piece collaboration, entitled ‘Relive’, was released on the ever-dependable Denovali label, which contains two stunning neo-classical works: ‘Anouk’s Dream’ and ‘Whatever A Sun Will Always Sing’.

‘Relive’ is appropriately titled, especially when you consider the compositions themselves were played exactly as in the live situation (with no electronic manipulation), which became a very important theme throughout this collaboration. Both pieces were written for the pair’s performance at the Denovali Swingfest 2013 in Essen. The idea was to jointly compose two piano pieces for four hands, which do not only include playing the ordinary way, but also utilising rather unusual sounds from inside the piano. The result is nothing short of staggering that brings to mind luminaries such as Hauschka, Nils Frahm and Max Richter. The contemporary techniques included plucking and beating the strings with their fingers or different kinds of beaters, bowing them with nylon guitar strings, creating harmonics while pressing fingers down on the strings during playing, using the aeolian harp technique or creating beats on the cast iron frame. The endless array of sounds, timbres and textures that Cipa and Jani create from their beloved piano instrument is a joy to witness, as is the deep musical telepathy that flows throughout the utterly transcendent creations.

‘Relive’ is the follow-up to Cipa’s solo — and Denovali debut full-length  — entitled ‘The Monarch and the Viceroy’, released in the summer of 2012. At the tender age of 6 he began taking classical piano lessons with various renowned teachers. Ten years later after he started playing drums in different bands he became more and more interested in composition and improvisation. In the following years he made experiences in different music styles like jazz, hardcore/punk, indie rock and orchestral music. In recent years, Cipa has shared the stage with the leading lights of modern-classical music: Icelandic composers Ólafur Arnalds, Valgeir Sigurðsson; Germany’s Nils Frahm and the legendary duo A Winged Victory For The Sullen. Still in his early twenties — like Jani — a vast collection of artistic treasures will undoubtedly see the light of day, from this exceptionally talented pianist.

Sophia Jani discovered her fascination for piano at a similarly young age. She is classically trained on piano and violin and has deepened her skills at the conservatory of music in Munich before she began studying piano at the conservatory in Bordeaux, France. The young musician left Bordeaux after one year turning away from just interpreting classical pieces to concentrate on writing her own music. Recently, Jani has developed an interest in film-scoring as well as experimenting with vocals.

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‘Relive’ is available now on Denovali Records.

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Interview with Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani.

Congratulations Carlos and Sophia on your truly breathtaking work ‘Relive’. I have been obsessed with this record of late, and have fallen particularly for the ambient flow of sound you so effortlessly create. The two pieces ‘Anouk’s Dream’ and ‘Whatever A Sun Will Always Sing’ were written for your performance at the Denovali Swingfest 2013 in Essen. The root to this special collaboration is the live performance, and indeed your shared love for composition and improvisation. Please take me back to the concert in Essen, and the creative process involved with writing these two sublime piano-based compositions? I can imagine you had certain aims or guidelines in mind for this project?

Carlos: Thank you very much for your kind words! That’s rather appreciated. We’d love to tell you more about our work and the writing and recording of “Relive”.

We’ve been together for a very long time, but have never made any music together, so during summer holidays we decided it was about time to be creative. As we both play the piano as our main instrument, it came very naturally to focus on this instrument. As the problem with four-hands piano music on one piano is, that it can get very boring after a few minutes, we had to think about a solution for that problem. Since it was not very realistic to get two pianos on stage, we decided to experiment with the inside of the piano and searched for interesting sounds to combine with the four-hands playing. We used only a few utensils to help us creating the sounds (like guitar nylon strings or different kinds of beaters) but refused to use any kind of electronics, as we wanted to stay as natural as possible. As we also wanted to present our solo works on that particular concert, we decided to write two longer pieces which should frame the solo parts. That was also the birth of this collaboration EP called “Relive”.

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The plethora of sounds you generate from the piano instrument is really amazing. For example, ‘Anouk’s Dream’ contains distinct movements which ranges from the more traditional piano sounds to the more experimental. Can you please talk me through the various techniques you use throughout these particular pieces of music? For example, the “aeolian harp” technique that is utilized opens up a beautiful awakening of joyous sound. I also love the beating sound that conjures up the sound of Steve Reich’s rhythmic pulses.

Carlos: In “Anouk’s Dream” you can hear bowed strings at the beginning. Each one of us had a nylon guitar string with a lot of resin on it, and we combined finger picking and bowing to build up the first part of the piece. In the middle part you hear felt beaters hitting the cast iron frame (there are three main stress bars, which fortunately have different key notes) and the same beaters hitting the low a- and e- string. Another technique that was used in this piece is the “Aeolian harp”-technique, first used by Henry Cowell in 1923, where you press down keys silently and allow them to sound by sliding over the open strings. The last part of the piece is us picking the strings at different positions (in the middle of the string for a rich sound and near the pin blocks for a more restrained sound). The second piece “Whatever A Sun Will Always Sing” picks up the idea of beating the lower strings with the felt beater and also the beating of the cast iron frame. A new technique in this piece is the creation of harmonics, where one player presses down his fingers on the exact position for the flageolet on the strings and the other player presses the key.

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During the recording process, neither of the compositions had changed in any way from the initial live performance. Was it a challenge to capture the energy of the live performance in the studio environment? Where was ‘Relive’ recorded?

Carlos: The two pieces of “Relive” were recorded in our home studio in Munich. The recording really was a challenge! As there are so many different parts and different techniques, it was not able to record the pieces with the same position of microphones, for example the beating of the cast iron frame needs a really close position of the microphones to sound as rich as in a live performance. After all, we are really happy with the resulting recordings, but it surely was an intense weekend!

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‘Relive’ is a record that conveys the special musical telepathy that exists between two like-minded artists and composers. I would love for you to discuss how you first crossed paths with one another? How soon did you realize that a collaboration would blossom?

Carlos: Funnily, we’ve known each other since elementary school as we had the same piano teacher for nearly 7 years. After having changed to different teachers we met again and eventually fell in love with each other (we’ve been together for 6 years now). At this time I started to make my own music and Sophia left after a year of classical piano studies the musical paths for 4 years to study economic. She returned to music last summer to concentrate on writing her own stuff. At this moment it was obvious, that we would do something together, and finally last summer we could find the time to compose these two pieces.

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Please talk me through your musical backgrounds? I can imagine you both must have been immersed in music from a very young age?

Sophia: We both started taking piano lessons at the age of 6 and followed the classical path for nearly 12 years. After school, I couldn’t see myself as a classical pianist and left the musical path to study economics. During those studies I began to write own pieces on the piano and after finishing the studies this drew me back to music. Though, I still enjoy playing classical pieces, I can only see a way for me in writing my own music. I love to experiment, try new things, but in my own way.

Carlos: For me the turning point was when I started playing drums at the age of 16 and eventually played in a hardcore band with 3 of my best friends. From this moment on, I started to write my own music on the piano and saw a way in music for me. Right now I am studying classical composition.

The classical background is definitely important for us, especially for the playing but also for writing the pieces. In the end it’s the love for popular/modern music, though, which brings us to make the kind of music we do. We think it’s advantageous if you’re a part of both worlds, especially if you work mainly with instruments that have a classical connotation.

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It must be special to be on the Denovali roster. It’s a label that ceaselessly inspires and with each new release, a new discovery is made. The latest one for me is your ‘Relive’ record. It must be a wonderful time to be making music, particularly with the strength of modern-classical music that is out there, especially in the last few years. Can you discuss what music you are passionate about of late and what composers and records (old and new) have inspired you the most to make music?

Carlos: You’re right, it is really amazing to have the opportunity to release music on such a great label as Denovali. As you say the times now are really great to make music that definitely has roots in classical music but still has its place in popular music. As mentioned before, we think it is really important to know both worlds. That being said, inspiration comes in equal measure from the great composers (like Mozart, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, etc…), but also from modern bands like The National, Mogwai, Sigur Rós (and many many more). Right now, LPs who are rarely leaving our record player are the new Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (“Push the Sky Away”), the new David Lang pieces (“Death speaks”) and also Haim (“Days Are Gone”) and Daughter (“If you leave”).

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What’s next for both of you? Are there future projects on the horizon for you? I wish you all the best with the release of ‘Relive’ and congratulations once again on the remarkable record.

Carlos: Thank you once again for your words and wishes! Right now we’re working on new material.

Sophia: I am currently writing music for a short film, and preparing pieces for a debut album.

Carlos: Whereas I had a concert premiere of a string quartet piece last week and from now on I can find the time to get back to working on my second full-length solo-album.

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‘Relive’ is available now on Denovali Records. 

http://www.carloscipa.com
http://denovali.com

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Read our interviews with fellow Denovali labelmates Birds Of Passage (HERE), and Dale Cooper Quartet (HERE).

This year’s Denovali Swingfest — showcasing the best in experimental music — takes place in London (18th-19th April), Berlin (25th-26th April) and Essen (02-05th October), with guests including The Haxan Cloak (UK), Ulrich Schnauss (Ger) and Anna Von Hausswolff (Swe) [London]; Murcof (Mex), Oneohtrix Point Never (US) and John Lemke (UK) [Berlin].

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Written by fracturedair

April 8, 2014 at 11:57 am

Mixtape: Down To The Sound [A Fractured Air Mix]

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Down To The Sound [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/fractured_air/sets/down-to-the-sound-a-fractured

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Tracklisting:

01. Brian Reitzell & Daniel Lopatin ‘Bling Ring Suite’ [Def Jam]
02. Daedelus ‘Tiptoes’ (Perksun Remix) [Anticon]
03. Molly Nilsson ‘Lend Me Your Love’ [Neen]
04. Four Tet ‘Unicorn’ [Text]
05. Weekend ‘Red Planes (’81 Demo)’ [Blackest Ever Black]
06. Ryley Walker ‘The West Wind’ [Tompkins Square]
07. Tycho ‘Plains’ [Ghostly International]
08. Bibio ‘Down To The Sound’ [Warp]
09. Christina Vantzou ‘Brain Fog’ [Kranky]
10. Walter Schuman ‘Pretty Fly / Lullaby (Night Of The Hunter)’ [Finders Keepers]
11. Kreng ‘…And Then In The Morning’ [Sonic Pieces]
12. Shin Joong Hyun ‘Beautiful Rivers And Mountains’ [Light In The Attic]
13. Homeboy Sandman ‘White Sands’ [Stones Throw]
14. Kevin Morby ‘Slow Train’ (Feat. Cate Le Bon) [Woodsit]
15. The Staple Singers ‘I’m Coming Home’ [Vee Jay]

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Soundcloud

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Younger Than Yesterday: Ring

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The Tupelo, Mississippi-born songwriter John Murry — a blood relative to William Faulkner — released his solo debut ‘The Graceless Age’ in 2012 (initially via US label Bucketful Of Brains, subsequently via Evangeline Recording Co in 2013; and via Rubyworks in Europe, also in 2013). The album is as deeply affecting and genuinely life-affirming as one could possibly imagine: the album draws from Murry’s past experiences battling drug addiction (‘Little Coloured Balloons’ depicts Murry’s heroin overdose when he clinically died for several minutes) while haunting songs of fear, loss and alienation are imbued with a heartbreaking sense of perseverance, redemption and, ultimately, both forgiveness and hope. Prior to ‘The Graceless Age’, Murry also recorded with the highly influential veteran American songwriter Bob Frank; the resultant collaboration yielded ‘World Without End’ (2006), ‘The Gunplay EP’ (2007) and ‘BRINKLEY, ARK. and other assorted love songs’ (2009) released on Evangeline Records. ‘Califorlornia’, a brand new John Murry EP will be released on June 16 via Rubyworks.

Words: John Murry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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When I was a kid there was a division that existed — and still does — between what Deep Southerners and the rest of the United States had access to musically. I was unaware of what I was exposed to at home; the grand tradition of a blues that might have been founded in the Delta but made it’s home in the Hill Country of Mississippi that I was raised in. There people like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough and Kenny Brown and Otha Turner took essentially all of what the state of Mississippi had created and distilled it into a jump blues that played off of backbeats and dropped beats and ferociously wild slide guitar sounds. I used to stare at the hands of those men and others, like Cary Hudson, who married it to a native melancholic country feel at times or a Southern Rock indebted to the truer intents of that genres founders. I didn’t know at the time that I was blessed by the distance between Tupelo and Memphis; that I was quite literally watching something far more real and visceral than anything I’ve encountered since. Country music crafted by folks who moved to Nashville from God knows where had almost completely replaced the music of my childhood: the gospel songs my mother (quite out of tune) sang happily around the house, the Country radio that one could still trace back to The Grand Ol Opry, and the “oldies” stations that once filled the air with the sounds of Malaco and Muscle Shoals and Stax and Motown and Sun. All was replaced by “classic rock” and a new country music that more resembled “classic rock” than what we knew. I moved to Memphis and heard a great deal — too much almost — and was able to hear myself amongst the music I heard there. But before I left for Memphis, there were a few things that changed me completely.

I’m unable to pick a single record. But there was a record that I — on some visceral level — connected to and will unabashedly call genius. Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, perhaps, changed everything for me. As did Joe Strummer and The Clash. But I was a kid first…. And being a kid, a disaffected one at that, I suppose, I heard a record that’s stayed with me for many, many years. One created by a pair of North Carolina attorneys (by trade) and their band. We didn’t have The Smiths. We had The Connells. ‘Ring’ might’ve made splashes in places, but all I knew were the lakes near my home. They’d play in Oxford, MS and I’d go — too young to get in but somehow still managing to. I felt surrounded by people who must not have paid much attention to their lyrics, fraternity members in pressed khaki pants drawn — I guess — to little more than distorted guitars and Peele Wimberley’s great drumming. It confused me; like watching men from the North take over Beale Street did later — me realizing hip hop was the blues of Memphis, of the new America. That changed me, too. So many things did. But I could hear myself in that band.

In songs like ‘New Boy’ and ‘Doin’ You’ and ‘’74-’75’. Production aesthetics didn’t matter, still don’t, when I hear those songs. I still know every word to every song. The melodies were symphonic. The lyrics made sense, even though I was too young to know how much sense they made: “Didn’t I say “sorry”? Didn’t I say “Dear”? Didn’t you consider? Didn’t I stand clear? Didn’t you say “new boy get down on your knees”? Didn’t I say “trying, I’m trying, I’m trying…” or “I wouldn’t bet the whale that I’d ever see a juvenile in your eyes like the one I see. No, I wouldn’t climb the heights thinking that I’d find a reason for honesty without even…. Doin’ you and being new upon it, seeing your fog and driving through, seeing you with your creature comforts, doin’ you is like doin’ time.”

I don’t know what or why or how come, but these songs resonated with me. I didn’t want to imitate them. I wanted to sing along. I wanted to cry. I still do every time I put the record on. And I don’t care. I played it for my nephew recently and he made me teach him how to play ‘’74-’75’ immediately. It’s still that affecting. It’s still that lost in time. Like Blue Mountain’s ‘Dog Days’, but just far away from home enough to feel like it could carry me away from where I was right then and there. Other records they created stayed with me, but ‘Ring’ came along at the right time, like penicillin. I don’t know that I learned anything from the record. Other than how to love a record despite it’s audience (or lack of?) and how to feel transported away from melancholy by melancholy.

—John Murry

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Album: Ring
Artist: The Connells
Label: TVT Records
Year: 1993

Tracklist: Slackjawed; Carry My Picture; 74-75; Doin’ You; Find Out; Eyes On The Ground; Spiral; Hey You; New Boy; Disappointed; Burden; Any Day Now; Running Mary.

Personell: David Connell, Mike Connell, Mike Ayers, Doug MacMillan, Steve Potak, Steve Ritter.

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John Murry’s ‘The Graceless Age’ is available now on Evangeline Recording Co (US) and Rubyworks (EU).

To read our previous articles on John Murry, please see HERE and HERE.

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http://www.theconnells.com
http://johnmurry.com

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Fractured Air 13: Seeing Things (A Mixtape by Cillian Murphy)

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Fractured Air 13: Seeing Things (A Mixtape by Cillian Murphy)

To listen on Mixcloud:
http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-13-seeing-things-a-mixtape-by-cillian-murphy/

Tracklisting:

01. MONEY ‘So Long (God Is Dead)’ [Bella Union]
02. Neil Young ‘Out On The Weekend’ [Reprise]
03. The National ‘Hard To Find’ [4AD]
04. The Flaming Lips ‘Waitin’ for a Superman’ [Warner Bros.]
05. Arthur Russell ‘That’s Us/Wild Combination’ [Rough Trade]
06. Kevin Drew ‘Good Sex’ [Arts & Crafts]
07. Airhead ‘Wait’ [R & S]
08. Bobby Womack ‘Deep River’ [XL]
09. Röyksopp ‘Daddy’s Groove’ [LateNightTales]
10. Julianna Barwick ‘Call’ [Suicide Squeeze]
11. John Martyn ‘Small Hours’ [Island]
12. Bill Evans ‘Peace Piece’ [Riverside]
13. Vincent Gallo ‘Yes I’m Lonely’ [Warp]

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“Seeing Things” is a special mix made by Irish actor Cillian Murphy. At this summer’s Galway Arts Festival, Cillian Murphy will re-unite with playwright Enda Walsh for the production of ‘Ballyturk’, co-starring Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea. Previously, Walsh and Murphy worked together on ‘Disco Pigs’ (1996) and ‘Misterman’ (2011).
‘Ballyturk’ will run at the Black Box Theatre, Galway from July 10—27 as part of the 2014 Galway Arts Festival. The play will later transfer to London’s National Theater where it runs for a five-week season at the Lyttelton Theatre on September 11, and runs until October 11, 2014.
This Autumn Cillian Murphy will reprise his role as Thomas Shelby in the second season of BBC Two’s period drama ‘Peaky Blinders’.

For Cillian’s recent interview with Julia Holter, please click HERE.

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‘Ballyturk’, the new play written and directed by Enda Walsh starring Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea, will premiere at the 2014 Galway Arts Festival this July.

http://ballyturk.com
http://www.galwayartsfestival.com

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To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, or Twitter HERE.

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Step Right Up: Justin Walter

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Interview with Justin Walter.

“A lot of what is happening here is more a response, or reaction to what first took place. Sometimes it’s a very intentional response, and other times it’s a mix of intention and chance.”

—Justin Walter

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

justin walter_poster

Released on the world-renowned Kranky label last year, Justin Walter’s ‘Lullabies & Nightmares’ LP heralded a new and singular voice in ambient music exploration and contemporary music as a whole. The Brooklyn-based, Michigan-bred artist and composer creates utterly captivating, multi-layered compositions, primarily based on the Electronic Valve Instrument and held sounds of the trumpet. In addition, windswept layers of electronics and kalimba are wonderfully interwoven in the music’s rich tapestry. Having been a trusted companion this past year, ‘Lullabies and Nightmares’ endlessly reveals new insights and meaning upon every visit. Walter’s dreamlike tour-de-force is a resolutely unique record from a highly gifted composer and musician.

Walter was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the United States. His most recent explorations are centered around the Electronic Valve Instrument, a rare wind controlled analog synthesizer. Prior to the latest Kranky full-length release, Walter released two (equally) exceptional musical projects on the Life Like label: 2012’s ‘WALTER’ double cassette and the ‘Dark Matter’ 12″ later in 2013. Justin Walter is also the longtime member of renowned Michigan-based eight-piece NOMO — signed to the Ubiquity label — whose visceral and energetic rhythms are influenced by such diverse sources as free jazz, Afrobeat, street performing artists such as the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and post-rock luminaries such as Tortoise. Additionally, Walter has also worked with numerous bands and artists over the last decade including: Iron & Wine, Wild Belle, His Name is Alive, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Skeletons, Megan Byrne and Randy Napoleon.

About the making of ‘Lullabies & Nightmares’, Walter has previously stated:

“I set out to record an album of completely improvised music that fused my experiments with the Electronic Valve Instrument and my love of held sounds on the trumpet. In recent years I’ve come to see the trumpet as an instrument that speaks in slow and long sounds, with meaning coming from the shape and inflection of each note. The process for this was fairly straight forward, record lots of improvisations. Of the songs on the album, most are one take improvisations with the only overdubs being drums.”

The enlightening world of ‘Lullabies & Nightmares’ represents the latest chapter in this special composer’s journey as boundaries are blurred between the organic and synthetic — light and dark — across the album’s eleven heavenly tracks. While Walter quietly weaves his singular art and navigates his own personal dreams and nightmares across ‘Lullabies & Nightmares’, he manages to conjure up and confront both our brightest of hopes and darkest of fears in the process.

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Interview with Justin Walter.

Congratulations on the stunning debut album ‘Lullabies And Nightmares’. You set out to create an album of completely improvised music with the fusion of your experimentation with the Electronic Valve Instrument and held sounds of the trumpet. The results are staggering where a dreamy, surreal atmosphere is captured that effortlessly fuses light and dark textures. Please discuss for me the process involved in recording these compositions and how you have developed your unique blend of improvised music?

JW: Thanks Mark. The process I used to record most of this material was fairly straight forward. I’ve found over the years that when I write something and then go to record it, it never quite sounds how I imagined it, or intended it to sound. And so with this, the process involves either first take improvisations, or first thought add ons. A lot of what is happening here is more a response, or reaction to what first took place. Sometimes it’s a very intentional response, and other times it’s a mix of intention and chance. On some of the songs, you can hear a simple melody at first, the rest of the song is created by sampling and sequencing this melody and then manipulating that material to create form, tension, variation and so on. Most of the time it ends up being something that I’m not really interested in aesthetically. I’d say that the music that made it to the album represents around 10% of what was recorded. I wasn’t really interested in going in and making things happen after the fact, or even composing anything for that matter. I’ve been recording music in my bedroom this way for a long time and I find that the real spark for me comes on a first take. There’s something that’s tangible, a risk and a sense of truth when you just play what you’re feeling. But, like I said, most of the time it’s just this process of trying. It’s a long process this way, learning ways over time to direct things, but still failing most of the time.

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You have been intensively exploring the EVI, a 1980’s synthesizer/horn hybrid. This instrument forms the intricate framework to ‘Lullabies And Nightmares’. Take me back to first discovering the EVI; your fascination and love for this particular instrument, and the possibilities sought?

JW: Initially I sought to play it like a trumpet, linearly. It’s very hard to do that and I gave up even trying a long time ago. There are some great players out there though that have put in the time and can really get around on the instrument. What became fascinating for me was when I first realized that the underlying structure that the instrument operates on is not really like a trumpet at all, or any instrument for that matter. It’s very easy to play a simple melody and alter the melody up and down 4ths, 5ths, and octaves in a way that seems more intuitive that conscious. And with the exception of a couple notes, moving around in 4ths, 5ths, and octaves generally sounds really good. So you can alter, or embellish melodies while playing them and not lose sight of the basic melody in your head. This would be impossible to do on most instruments. This was sort of the beginning for me and from there it became more about what I wanted to do with that, in terms of saying something that means something.

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I must say the intricate detail and range of instrumentation — the fusion of the synthetic and analogue — creates a deeply immersive journey that becomes more meaningful each time I venture down ‘Lullabies And Nightmares’. For example, I love the use of live drums (Quinn Kirchner) on certain tracks (‘Plastic People’, in particular) and the pristine production by Erik Hall. Can you talk me through the challenges (if any) of capturing the special spark of spontaneity as you added layers of instrumentation to these tracks, and the complexity that must be involved when fusing electronic elements and acoustic sounds of trumpet into a composition?

JW: I’ve been playing with Quinn for a number of years now and I knew that having him come over and put his voice on what we (Erik Hall and myself) had been working on would be great. At the time, we didn’t have anything finished, just a ton of one takes, most of which ended up in the trash. Quinn must have played on 12 songs or something. I spent a number of weeks going through what had been recorded and basically picked out what I wanted to use. There’s definitely an intent there. Layers, tape echo layers, all sorts of top secret drum stuff. :)

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The title for me is such a fitting testament to the record’s sonic journey: it really captures the ethereal, mysterious atmosphere (that is brilliantly sustained throughout the eleven tracks) and the wonderful contrast between light and dark. Please discuss the title choice and indeed, the themes of ‘Lullabies And Nightmares’ and what it means for you? I simply love how you feel an out-pour of emotion being unleashed from the sonic timbres and textures across the record’s awe-inspiring sonic terrain.

JW: Thanks Mark. The title is really just about life. Sometimes it’s really great and other times it’s really bad. So there wasn’t really any decision made about having an album with titles that were about dreaming or anything like that. It must have just been were my head was. All of the songs were titles with the first thing that came to my mind, and that was that. ‘Sister Sleeper’, for example. I’m not sure what that means, but the words popped in my head and I liked the imagery they created and so that was that.

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My personal favourite must be the album’s title-track. I have listened to this sprawling opus innumerable times, and still find new meanings and hidden details. The moment that layers of uplifting brass sounds arrive into the forefront of the mix is nothing short of breathtaking. The song is built on several distinct movements, I feel, where a wonderful dynamic and feel is forever sweeping before your eyes. Can you shine some light on this piece please, Justin? Which parts first came into the picture and how did you manage to coalesce it together in the end? It’s a stunning tour de force.

JW: The opening bit was recorded in the first few days at Erik’s place in Chicago. It was just another take, if I remember correctly it was the 11th take we did. From that I did a pass with the sequencer and that was the form. I had a few beers and did a pass with the trumpet. Had a few more beers and did a pass with the EVI and then the next day added on some horn section style parts. I agree that in looking at it first and all at once, it seems fairly epic, but it’s really just a few first takes that are all responding to the thing that came before them. I don’t know how it happened and I’m not sure I can recreate it. I do know that I wanted it to be simple and beautiful and that’s what I tried to do.

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I love the held sounds of the trumpet. It reminds me of Colin Stetson’s work and some of the releases from the ECM label. Can you recount for me your memories of first playing the trumpet and how your technique has developed?

JW: My first trumpet was given to me by Louis Smith. He’s a great Blue Note recording artist and a wonderful man. I’d say that early on I was mostly influenced by him and the more traditional jazz icons. I wanted to play like Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis. I wasn’t really that great of a trumpet player though, so I tried really really hard and often did more damage than good. I moved to New York to study with Laurie Frink, who just passed, and she helped me figure out how to play the trumpet. Now I really do know how to play the trumpet exactly how I want to play it, and it’s really fun for me. After spending most of my life trying really hard to become great at something, I’d say that now I really don’t think about it too much. It’s definitely freed me up to pursue things like this. But yeah, at first it was Miles Davis and Bebop, now it’s just whatever comes to mind.

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‘Lullabies And Nightmares’ is home to the peerless independent Chicago-based music label, kranky. This in itself is a fitting testament to the music you have created. That must have been quite an honour? What records and, indeed, composers/artists have inspired you significantly in the pursue of your own art would you say, Justin?

JW: It is an honour. The label puts out amazing music. For this recording I was mostly inspired by Colin Stetson.

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Interviewing Koen Holtkamp of Mountains earlier in the year, he explained, when discussing the music-making process: “…allowing for more experimentation in the studio and letting things find their place versus having a preconceived notion of what we wanted to do beforehand.” I imagine the former is (more) the case for ‘Lullabies And Nightmares’? Also, have the pieces you have composed been fully realized in your mind prior to the recording/producing/mixing stage of the album? Or are you very much open to changes at this point due to the nature of improvised music?

JW: A bit of both. There’s magic in an improvisation, but sometimes, if it so close and just needs a nudge then it’s time to nudge. I had no idea what I was going to play until the moment I played it.

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What is next for you, Justin? How do you envision the follow-up to ‘Lullabies And Nightmares’ to sound like? Any other projects on the horizon?

JW: I’ve been working on a lot of new music. It’s really just what I do when I get off work. I’m working on things in a similar way, but this time it seems to be darker and more complex. A lot of material I’ll spend a month or two with and then just let it go. It’s the process of creating and looking for new sounds. I’m not sure when my next album will be done, right now it feels like I’m working on a series of paintings all at the same time and none of them are finished. It’s not a bad place to be.

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‘Lullabies & Nightmares’ is available now on Kranky.

http://www.justinwalter.net
http://www.kranky.net

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Written by fracturedair

March 27, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Mixtape: Long After The Music Is Gone [A Fractured Air Mix]

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longafterthemusicisgone_front

Long After The Music Is Gone [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/long-after-the-music-is-gone-a-fractured-air-mix/

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Tracklisting:

01. Áine O’Dwyer - ‘For The Souls Of Our Fleas’ (Fort Evil Fruit)
02. Anna Von Hausswolff - ‘Epitaph of Theodor’ (City Slang)
03. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - ‘Rains Thru The Roof At The Grande Ballroom’ (Constellation)
04. Calexico - ‘Entrenandos A Los Tigres’ (Our Soil, Our Strength)
05. Eric Dolphy - ‘Gazzelloni’ (Blue Note)
06. Colin Stetson - ‘This Bed Of Shattered Bone’ (Constellation)
07. Seán Mac Erlaine – ‘Long After The Music Is Gone’ (Ergodos)
08. Nils Frahm – ‘For’ (Erased Tapes)
09. Peter Broderick – ‘Floating/Sinking’ (Erased Tapes)
10. Amiina – ‘Kola’ (Amínamúsík ehf.)
11. Colleen – ‘Your Heart Is So Loud’ (Leaf Label)
12. Murcof – ‘Louis XIV’s Demons’ (Leaf Label)
13. Borngräber & Strüver – ‘Berlin Tribal Music’ (m=minimal)
14. Tindersticks - ‘Put Your Love In Me (Fade)’ (Lucky Dog)
15. Katie Kim - ‘Charlie’ (Flaming June)
16. Tape – ‘Byhalia’ (Häpna)
17. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – ‘Gun Thing’ (Mute)
18. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh – ‘Braes of Balquidder’ (State Of Chassis)
19. Julia Kent – ‘Nina and Oscar’ (Leaf Label)

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud  /  Soundcloud

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