FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Step Right Up: Spirit Fest

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Interview with Markus Acher.

It was one of the best personal and musical experiences for me.”

—Markus Acher

Words: Mark Carry

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Warm percussion and soft strum of acoustic guitar opens the irresistible torch-lit folk pop gem ‘Deja Vu’. Welcome to the bewitching world of Spirit Fest: the newly formed supergroup built around acclaimed Japanese duo, Tenniscoats, and featuring members of Notwist, Jam Money and Joasihno. The intricately woven vocals – swapped between Notwist’s Markus Acher and Tenniscoats – reels you in deep, creating a haven of celestial sounds that swirl majestically in the ether.

The pair of Acher-penned tracks ‘Rain Rain’ and ‘River River’ are sublime avant pop gems that form the vital pulse of the debut album’s opening half. A journey unfolds as the immaculate guitar tones simmer beneath Acher’s achingly beautiful lyrics. The hypnotic quality is not unlike a ripple of raindrops falling onto the surface of water: the meditative refrain of “rain on me” rises beneath the ebb and flow of Tenniscoats’ ‘River River’ invites reflection, of the deepest kind as a healing force prevails throughout this gorgeous pop lament. The sumptuous layers of blissful tones offers solace and hope.

Spirit Fest is a vital musical document from some of independent music’s most treasured artists. This divine pop odyssey represents one of their most accomplished works thus far (in terms of Tenniscoats or Notwist studio albums and the many marvelous collaborations all of these musicians have undertaken). A journey to awaken and enlighten.

‘Spirit Fest’ is out now on Morr Music.

https://www.facebook.com/spiritfestmusic/
https://www.facebook.com/morrmusicberlin/

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Interview with Markus Acher.

Congratulations on the irresistible pop opus of Spirit Fest, a collection of stunningly beautiful pop songs, for the here and now. Please recount your memories of first discovering the music of Tenniscoats and what paths led to the inception of this inspired new collaboration?

Markus Acher: Thank you very much! I’m very happy you like it.

When we visited Tokyo for the first time in 2005 with Lali Puna, I was looking for independent-underground-music from japan apart from the pop- and noise-bands, I knew. A friendly lady at tower-records recommended the CD “Songs for Nao” on chapter-music, a compilation with bands mainly centered around tenniscoats and their label majikick. This CD to this day is one of my favourite albums, as it opened up a whole new world to me. The music is intimate, folky, experimental, strange and familiar at the same time, and incredibly touching… wonderful songwriting and singing.

So, from that point, I tried to find tenniscoats-CDs, where-ever I could, which is difficult in Europe. They became one of my favourite, or maybe my favourite band.
As our friends from the Tokyo-based label afterhours are friends with Saya and Ueno, I had the chance to meet them, and we also talked about a collaboration. When we had the chance to invite bands for our festival Alien Disko in Munich last December, they were the first band, I invited.

It is a joy to witness these songs unfold and the rich musical language that is shared and communicated between its members. There is certainly a fluency and clarity to these avant pop gems. Can you please take me back to the recording sessions of Spirit Fest and your impressions of these particular days, making music together? I can imagine as Alien Disko festival was happening around the same time, this energy and atmosphere channeled into the music in some way?

MA: We recorded all together in the small apartment-studio of our friend Nico. It’s only two rooms, one of them his bedroom, and a small kitchen, with a beautiful view on a playground and the river Isar. It was very narrow and intimate, but that worked very well. It was a great time, between jetlag and sleepwalking, somehow. Also, I was the only person, who knew everybody… it was a gathering of fine people, who didn’t know each other: greek ( Tad klimp), english ( Mat Fowler ), japanese ( Saya + Ueno ) and german ( Cico + me ). We played each other songs, and recorded, without much trying. Mostly everything you hear was recorded live, with some overdubs, and editing afterwards.

In terms of the songs themselves, it’s clear that different members brought songs to the table; where some recordings are tonged with the signature Tenniscoats sound whilst others are more Acher/Notwist oriented creations. I get the impression that the starting point of these songs were perhaps just rough sketches and you must have seen many of these songs undergo a blossom and transformation as the various members put their touches on the recordings? Were there many happy accidents, so to speak that happened during the recording sessions?

MA: The songs were all composed as far as chords and melodies and most of the words go. We played them to each other and everybody found their part. We added new words and parts sometimes. It was so easy, as every one of them has such a clear voice and idea. It was one of the best personal and musical experiences for me personally.

The beating heart of the album (for me) arrives with the sister songs of ‘River River’ and ‘Rain Rain’, both achingly beautiful and meditative laments from the pores of the heart. I’d love for you to discuss the construction of these songs and I wonder were these songs written around the time of the album sessions or were they in your conscience for quite some time? The heavenly harmonies and intricate layers of sonic detail beneath the poetic prose flows like a majestic river, and those clean, warm guitar tones melt into the mix.

MA: These ( and ‘to the moon’ ) were two songs, I wrote with the tenniscoats and the possible collaboration in mind. As their lyrics so beautifully take pictures from nature to tell stories, I wrote about rain and rivers. Also, these songs were composed in not so good times for me, so they are just plain sad, to be honest… that wasn’t a time to be clever…they are just what they are. But what everybody added to the songs, was incredible… and Saya added these new vocal-melodies and arrangement, which made them whole new songs.

I fondly recall the Notwist ‘On/Off’ documentary (circa the making of the classic ‘Neon Golden’ LP) and I was struck by how you were writing some of these songs while in the studio. I wonder would this be the case for many of your sonic ventures, Markus? Spontaneity must be a key factor for you (and this may serve a constant factor in Spirit Fest and your other compelling musical projects)?

MA: As far as singing goes, sometimes, the pressure of having to compose or write something very fast can have very good results, as you write more subconsciously. But actually, I’m not good in it, and try to avoid it 😉 That’s different with playing instruments. I can find parts more easily.

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As you and Tenniscoats have such a wealth of music made thus far, these must also provide good reference points for you when it came to beginning Spirit Fest? I wonder what aims and concerns did you have (and conversations did you share) from the outset prior to making the album? I also get the impression that this project was always going to happen, it was just a matter of time. For instance, the art of collaboration is something integral to you and Tenniscoats (and continues to be) so it must have been such a natural and fun process to undertake Spirit Fest. Can you shed some light on the band name too, it’s a perfect title!

MA: Saya and Ueno made many wonderful collaboration-albums. Their collaborations with tape , and also the wonderful “two sunsets” with the Pastels, another favourite band. So when they suggested to make a collaboration, I couldn’t be happier. I thought, it would be important to capture the intimacy and intensity of them playing their songs, and that’s why I asked our good friend Tad klimp to record and produce it. I know, that he understands, what we do, and can capture every little detail. Mat and Cico, I asked, because they are very good friends, too, and very individual musicians, who have an experimental approach to making music, but also like songs and pop-music. In the end, that was a very good combination of people.

‘Spirit Fest’ was Saya’s english title for the song ‘Hitori Matsuri’, a song about a spirit / ghost wandering around at night. When she suggested it to be the band-name, we all liked it very much.

‘Take Me Home’ is such a gorgeous and bewitching pop lament. Again, the rich instrumentation and the vocal harmonies shared by you and Tenniscoats is one of the infinite sparks of the record. When it comes to the stages of beginning and ultimately completing a song, are there perhaps similar happenings or moments that occur during this process? For ‘Take Me Home’, how the song builds and the myriad of immaculate sounds (child-like sounds, piano notes, percussion, bass) and the celestial harmonies continually build, producing such a heartfelt and contemporary pop song. What is a perfect pop song for you (ingredients and so on)?

MA: ‘Take me home’ is an older song by the tenniscoats from their CD “We are everyone”, that I already had covered once. We thought, it could be good to play together. It’s mainly recorded, as we played it, with only a few small overdubs.

Everything is a good song, that you find yourself in and get lost…that tells a story, even when it’s an instrumental. Saya and Ueno have written so many incredible songs over the years. Even, when they are sung in Japanese, I understand them, although I don’t understand the words.

The second edition of the wonderful Alien Disko festival in Munich takes place this December. Can you discuss the lineup for this edition (such an inspired choice of incredible artists) and your vision for this special festival?

MA: The vision is to bring bands to Munich, that normally don’t come here. Many bands skip Munich on their international tours, that’s sad…although there is a really great scene of artists and bands here. We try to invite bands, that do something special, ignore genres or borders, and are somehow uncategorizable. This year, we invited the Congolese family-band Konono N.1, Shabazz Palaces, Amiina from Iceland, Colleen from France, Michaela Melian from Munich, Sam Amidon, Sauna Youth from London, MS John Soda with my brother Micha, Vanishing Twin, and many more.
Spirit Fest will also play again… a sort of release-show and return to the beginning of the record 😉

Lastly, what records do you feel were defining albums for you, Markus? In terms of pre-Notwist, growing up and the vital sounds that led you on the music path in the very beginning?

MA: Oh, there are so many actually… after many Hardcore-records, like Rites of Spring, Jerry’s Kids, Bad Brains, etc… Talk Talk “Laughing stock” was very important, This Heat, too. I took a lot of the guitar-playing from the Wipers, and Dinosaur Jr was a revelation for us, when “You’re living alover me” was released. Pitchfork, the Clean, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Yo la Tengo, Stereolab…they were and are very influential.
In recent years, I would say the Pastels, Broadcast and the tenniscoats are bands, I return to very often. Friends.

 

‘Spirit Fest’ is out now on Morr Music.

https://www.facebook.com/spiritfestmusic/
https://www.facebook.com/morrmusicberlin/

Written by admin

December 12, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Chosen One: Colleen

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Interview with Cécile Schott.

This decision actually made me feel a bit more confident that a fully electronic album was the way to go, since it would introduce a human element of non-exactness, something I value in music. ”

—Cécile Schott 

Words: Mark Carry, Photographs: Isabel Dublang

Colleen by Isabel Dublang ii

The world-renowned French artist Colleen has crafted one of her most captivating, absorbing and empowering works to date in the form of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’. The latest record marks Colleen’s first fully electronic-based album, having departed from the viola da gamba instrument (which was integral to the last two sonic treasures ‘Captain Of None’ and ‘Weighing Of The Heart’). The results are nothing short of staggering whereby Schott’s singular melodies shimmer across the radiant warmth of shimmering electronics and textured rhythms, creating, in turn, eight resolutely unique and stunningly beautiful sound worlds.

The delicate synth tones of ‘November’ immediately transports you to an ethereal dimension that serves the perfect prelude to the album’s lead single ‘Separating’. The gorgeously rich polyrhythms of Schott’s trusted Pocket Piano and Moogerfoogers creates mesmerising soundscapes that encapsulate the French artist’s achingly beautiful vocals. A charged immediacy and striking intimacy exudes from ‘Separating’s  masterfully interwoven sonic tapestries. As Schott sings on the opening verse: “Separating from the world /Is like a drop of rain/Falling to the ocean floor”, it reflects the artist’s emotional response to the inevitability of death and life’s impermanence. The hypnotic refrain of ‘Separating’ emits a healing force as a myriad of utterly transcendent moments continually fill the human space like stars dotted across the night sky.

The stand-out instrumental  cut ‘Another World’ forges a deeply moving journey into the depths of the human heart.  A piece of music such as this truly reflects the singularity of this remarkable musician, forever pushing the sonic envelope and exploring new avenues at each and every turn. The production’s richness and warmth is a joy to savor, which continually evolves and mutates into various shape-shifting patterns (a cross somewhere between Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark studio productions and Nils Frahm’s synthesizer works). The ambient bliss of ‘Another World’ feels just like that: co-existing in some far-reaching stratosphere of unknown dimensions.

Winter Dawn’ is steeped in the darkness of anguish and pain: “The world had nearly ended and the sky was blue” is sung beneath rhythmic pulses of synthesizers. The glorious rise in the song forms one of the utterly transcendent moments of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’ as Schott laments “O dear soul, flesh and bones/Love alone is your home” beneath intricately layered and sumptuously crafted electronic passages. The dichotomy of light and dark permeates throughout as Schott pleads “Deep and warm, golden dawn/Shine some more of that light of yours”. An intensely beautiful and soul-stirring tour-de-force.

The gripping heart of the latest full-length comes with the achingly beautiful duo of ‘Summer night (Bat song)’ and ‘The stars vs creatures’. ‘Summer night (bat song)’ is an intimate, heartfelt lament that conveys Schott’s deep love for nature. Lyrically, I feel there’s a closeness with the timeless songbook of Sibylle Baier or Townes Van Zandt in the innate ability to create an entire world – with such striking emotional depth – within a song. A deep sadness is etched across the “descending milky night” of Schott’s masterful poetic prose wherein the metaphor of the bat’s mystical movement conveys the necessity of change. A masterful song-craft.

Nature’s peace flows throughout the sublime ‘The stars vs creatures’. The glistening blue of a kingfisher by a river or the rare sight of a terrific red fox in the early night sowed the seeds for this magical song-cycle. Lyrically, the song feels more like a parable – a message of divine wisdom – that reminds us to savor life and appreciate each moment. The blazing light of hope shines forth like a million stars.

The album closer – and sprawling title-track – is yet another defining moment of this monumental work. This meditative lament casts a spell like no other as Schott’s beguiling vocals ascends into the atmosphere with eternal rays of optimism “so stillness now can reign again”. The extended electronic sections (a key part throughout the record) swells like that of the ocean waves as they traverse the vast human space. As the sun-lit horizon looms in the distance, we – the listener – are reminded just how far the journey has taken us: “I will call you when the sun has reached the final hour”.

A flame my love, a frequency’ is a precious and divine work of art. To coin Carl Sagan, music such as this can “break the shackles of time”.

A flame my love, a frequency’ is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.

Colleen’s tour dates (including America and Europe) are listed here.

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

 

Colleen by Isabel Dublang iii

Interview with Cécile Schott.

Congratulations firstly Cécile on your truly moving and groundbreaking new album “A flame my love, a frequency”. It’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions about this latest sonic marvel of yours. This sixth studio album represents something as close to a concept album as you’ve ever done. Rather than having to recount your specific memories of being in Paris – your hometown – during those atrocious terrorist attacks of November 2015, please shed some light on your mindset and outlook when it came to the immediate aftermath of this harrowing experience? For instance, you began to compose and make music again after a (much-needed) silence post these awful attacks, I would love to gain an insight into the feelings, colours, musical language that you soon found yourself heavily immersed in (and what would be the inception of “A flame my love, a frequency”)?

Cécile Schott: In July 2015 I had just finished the Captain of None tour and enthusiastically acquired a Pocket Piano by the brand Critter and Guitari and a Moog filter pedal from the Moogerfooger series called the MIDIMuRF. I experimented throughout the whole summer with the combination of the two and my Moogerfooger MF104M delay pedal (the one I already used on Captain of None), the initial intention being to create rhythms with the Pocket Piano + Moogerfoogers, which would form a kind of basis on which to play my viola. But somehow the two sounds did not seem to “gel” and I couldn’t find the excitement and freshness I had felt when playing the viola on my previous two albums. Instead, I did start to have little kernels of songs born just out of the synth and pedals, and I recorded these initial tests and took notes as I went along. This initial work period was suddenly interrupted by the illness of a close family member whom I had to go and visit immediately in France. I returned to Spain briefly, then went back to France again, and when I had to go back to Spain again, on the way back stopped in Paris on November 13th. So that when I came back, I found myself in the situation where I knew I had to work on a new album, but it felt like both a superficial and impossible task in the light of all the things that were happening on both a personal and more global level. For two weeks our flat stayed completely silent except for the online TV news, even listening to music just felt wrong. However, little by little, I realized that not working was not the solution, and that perhaps working on a new album might be helpful in taking my mind off the things that worried me so much. I felt an intense need for what I could call a joyful sound,and that’s when the basic ideas for the first songs were born: the instrumentals “Another world” and “One warm spark”, and “Separating”. “November” was also created early, as well as the basis  for “A flame my love, a frequency”.

The choice to have “A flame my love, a frequency” as your first fully electronic and keyboard-based album works so wonderfully on so many levels. The stark intimacy of your new song cycles – as your fragile vocals are masterfully embedded in sumptuous layers of electronic tapestries – and the cosmic quality of this latest voyage is further heightened by the minimalist nature of the new music. It’s this sacred space that your songs forever inhabit that makes for such an enriching, empowering and deeply affecting experience for the human heart and mind (which becomes the essence of the new album). Can you trace back to your decision as to remove the viola da gamba from your musical world (for now, at least) and I’d love for you to describe the various electronic instrumentation and studio set-up for the new album?

CS: I think that as a musician who has worked for more than 2 decades now, even if the first 12 years were not professional, I have a pretty fast understanding of when something is working or not. You always have to fully test out your ideas and give them a chance, but there comes a point where if something really feels forced, then you’re just wasting your time and not looking for alternative solutions that might work. I just remember that at one point it dawned on me that perhaps this album would have to exist as a purely electronic album, and because of the gravity of the situation, this drastic musical decision did not actually seem so drastic to me, or at least did not scare me as much as it might have done otherwise. The one thing I knew, from a composition and production point of view, was that if I was going to leave the viola behind for this album, then I needed to make sure I didn’t lose any of the characteristics of my music, which I see as a certain type of asymmetrical song structure, the combination of pop or at the very least melody and experimentation, and a warm sound.

As for the gear, I first saw the Pocket Piano at King Britt’s studio in Philadelphia during the Captain of None tour, and was immediately in love with its small portable size, and I was able to test the MIDIMuRF briefly twice, once again in King Britt’s studio and also at the house of my old friend French musician Dominique Grimaud. The Septavox came later, as I realized I wanted to expand the possibilities already contained in this extremely small but versatile setup. Pretty soon I made the decision that the album would have to be recorded live, because cutting into electronic soundwaves to correct mistakes (something I’ve always practiced in my past albums but always on acoustic sounds) is something that is extremely time-consuming and sometimes bordering on impossible. This decision actually made me feel a bit more confident that a fully electronic album was the way to go, since it would introduce a human element of non-exactness, something I value in music.

Many melancholic shades and textures shimmer across these new recordings, Cécile but I feel there is an undeniable light of hope and strength and beauty that radiates from the depths of darkness. Aesthetically, I just love how you place several instrumental tracks among the vocal tracks (obviously something not new here) but it really feels like one of those dub treasures from the 60s/70s as one hears these beautiful, transporting instrumental tracks alongside the richly poignant ballads. For example, how the ethereal, blissed-out instrumental ‘Another world’ follows precedes the deeply affecting (and latest single) ‘Winter Dawn’ – and the many intricate arrangements and moments within moments that effortlessly occur – creates such a profound listening experience. I’d love if you could discuss more in detail about these intricate transitions that occur between tracks (and within tracks of course) and the aesthetic quality of “A flame my love, a frequency”.

CS: Thanks for your kind words Mark. Because the subject matter could not be anything other than the very large question of life and death and our fear of death and illness, I immediately felt that this would almost be a concept album, and my feeling was reinforced by the limited instrumental palette – something I’d already tested on Captain of None. The idea in the case of a restricted instrumental palette is not that the songs will be similar, but the reverse: *because* theoretically you are limited in terms of the variety of sound, you cannot hide poor compositional ideas behind a lushness of diversity of instrumental timbres. Instead, the song structure itself, melodies and chords, effects used dynamically to truly shape the direction and mood of the song, the choice to include lyrics or not, and the actual lyrics themselves – everything needs to contribute to the diversity of the album. And to make extra sure that I wasn’t using the same sound combinations over and over again, I kept a precise account of what synth settings I was using (which mode and type of wave), what pedals I was using and what for (just the filter pedal / just the delay one / both, was I using preprogrammed filter patterns, LFO, etc). I really became lost in this electronic soundworld and found it immensely enjoyable, and was surprised at how I did not miss the viola da gamba once: it just felt like exploring a different country and thinking that it was worth a visit in its own right, without comparing it to other beautiful places you’ve visited. Exploring the various combinations was endless, time-consuming too, and not always fruitful, but regularly I found a combination that really spoke to my ears and heart and each time they became a new composition for the album, and little by little I started to get a clearer idea of the tracklisting, which follows a rough chronological timeline: November obviously refers to the worst month of that year, Winter dawn to the subsequent period, Summer night (bat song) already leads to a more peaceful period, and The stars vs creatures and the title track are more about the remaining uncertainty that one realizes will always accompany life, this emotional rollercoaster that life will always be: there simply is no way of evacuating death from life, it is part of it, and we have to learn to live with it.

Colleen by Isabel Dublang iv

The gripping heart of the new album comes with the achingly beautiful duo of ‘Summer night (Bat song)’ and ‘The stars vs creatures’ on side B. ‘The stars vs creatures’ is one of the most profound and moving ballads I have ever heard, one that reduces me to tears upon every visit. Please recount your memories of writing these particular songs, Cécile? The natural world and this magical, otherworldly realm that ‘The stars vs creatures’ inhabits exudes this remarkable source of intense healing. The lyric of “a single one of my feathers is worth a million stars or Venus” represents one of the most magical, celestial moments of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’. 

CS: These were part of the 3 songs that were born with the Septavox during the second half of the making of the album: Winter dawn, Summer night (Bat song), and The stars vs creatures. Summer night (Bat song) is one of the darkest sounding songs on the album, and yet it was inspired by a moment of profound peace: in the summer of 2016 I once again visited my parents in France and was lucky enough to find exceptionally good weather, so spent my afternoons either outside in the garden or inside my childhood bedroom with the windows wide open, giving me a great vantage point to watch birds and do birdwatching-related readings or listenings (something I’d planned on doing for a long time). In the evening after dinner I particularly looked forward to watching the house martins flying high in the sky and sometimes flying right above our house, but the moment I loved even better was waiting for the last bird to fly and for the first bat to appear. There are only two or three bats every night, so seeing them always feels quite special, and over the past couple of years I’ve grown more and more fascinated by these incredible animals, and the fact that they appear right after the last bird seen flying, sometimes within seconds, strikes me as an amazing symbol of a passage from the world of the day and light to a world of night and darkness, which in spite of the commonly associated negative themes is actually brimming with life.

One evening, as I sat in my room, one of them literally nearly flew into my room, and turned around at the last millisecond. I marveled at the dexterity and perfection of its flight, and reflected that I wished that I as a human being were able to do the same thing with my thoughts: just stop them when they’re going in the wrong direction. I knew there and then that I would need to make a song out of that experience, and out of the peace that I felt in that room so loaded with memories.

The stars vs creatures is indeed like another chapter in those reflections on the power of nature and its redeeming beauty: I really do see a kingfisher regularly in a river not far from where I live, and I had a chance encounter with a red fox in Switzerland while birdwatching in a low mountain area – a fleeting second in which I saw him and he saw me and then was gone, a second that filled me with an immense joy that lasted for weeks, the sensation of having had a privileged glimpse into the life of a wild animal where he’s really supposed to be.

Were there challenges posed with the electronic instrumentation and particularly when this provided the sole musical backdrop (excluding your vocals of course)? For instance, I presume some the Moog pedals were used on your previous ‘Captain of None’ tour and I presume you acquired some new equipment to be added to the mix for the new record?

CS: The Moog pedals were really crucial in giving width and analog warmth to the synths, and I used my favourite panning, 50% Left 50% Right, on all stereo returns from the pedals, so that the music sounds like it’s kind of dancing between your ears. I also added my favourite plugins which I’d already used on Captain of None, one is a spring reverb emulation and the other a tape delay.

I must ask you about the gorgeous album-title and how you came about choosing this deeply poignant title (which embodies the music so perfectly)? Also, please talk me through the song itself, it’s one of those meditative laments that maps the impending sunlit horizon. I also love how there seems to be a strong correlation between the album’s title-track and the lead single ‘Separating’, feels like they are sister songs. The title-track reminds me of ‘Lighthouse’, with its hypnotic, meditative feel and the everlasting light of hope that shines forth. Also, this organ sound that melds with your voice creates such a heavenly, soul-stirring sound.

CS: I had the core of that title song early in the making of the album, but the words came to me right towards the end, and in general, this album’s lyrics were hard to write given the serious subject matter. I knew I wanted to stay on a “poetic” (for lack of another word) level because that’s really the only way I manage to write lyrics, and the image of the flame seemed to work for me as a symbol of something that we need to keep alive in times of hardship: some people use a physical flame to represent life or the loved one in times of mourning, but in my title I use the flame more as a metaphor for anything that we hold on to make us survive fear and pain. The frequency was obvious because it’s literally what I did when making the album: I got lost in a world of sound to make myself feel better, and I know that music plays that role for so many people. And since I was in love with the filters’ sound on the MIDIMuRF pedal, I knew I wanted to have a song where the ending would be just that, a play on frequencies appearing and disappearing, with a final resurgence at the end, like a sun coming back from behind the clouds, as a musical symbol of hope.

You must feel deeply proud of this magnificent new album, Cécile. Looking back over the making of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’, I wonder did one song (over other ones) form a gateway into the rest of the album, which allowed you to nearly see the path you were navigating, in a way? Or in some ways, did mistakes or happy accidents occur during any of the sessions that found their way on the final album? 

CS: I actually think the whole process of making an album is a combination of disciplined persistent work and loose explorations where you should just let go and let so-called accidents happen, and electronic music-making is actually the ideal playing field for this approach: there are so many parameters that can change a sound, and with analog gear, there is no way of saving settings, so it’s all about capturing the moment. I take notes because I know I’m going to take the album to the stage later on, so that is also a fascinating activity, learning to know how your machines react to try and replicate something that can be very fleeting. I just loved the learning curve to this project, and I really feel that a new door has been opened in my music-making.

A flame my love, a frequency’ is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.

Colleen’s tour dates (including America and Europe) are listed here.

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

Written by admin

November 2, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E10 | October mix

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fracturedair_october17

This month saw the eagerly awaited return of prestigious American musician John Maus with the release of ‘Screen Memories’; a synth pop masterpiece (and follow-up to the remarkable 2011 opus ‘We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves’). Opening this mix is one of the heavenly synthesizer-based tracks culled from Maus’ recent Bleep mix.

Colleen is an artist very close to our hearts and the release of Cécile Schott’s sixth full-length ‘A flame my love, a frequency’ (via Thrill Jockey) marks 2017’s most bewitching, absorbing and deeply affecting records to have graced the atmosphere. Armed with just electronics and voice, the album’s eight otherworldly compositions transcend space and time: drifting majestically in the ether of unknown dimensions. Colleen’s tour dates (including U.S, North America and Europe) are listed here.

On the 14th & 15th December, the second edition of The Notwist-curated Alien Disko returns to Munich. The festival’s line-up reflects the boundless and pioneering qualities of the chosen acts, from Shabazz Palaces, Konono Nº1 and Amiina to Colleen, Sam Amidon and The Notwist. Tickets are onsale now.

This month’s mix also includes new releases from: Xylouris White; SAICOBAB; Spirit Fest; Lindstrøm; Sufjan Stevens; Gunn – Truscinski Duo and Les Filles de Illighadad.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E10 | October mix

 

To listen on La Blogothèque:

http://www.blogotheque.net/2017/10/31/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s02e10-october-mix/

 

01. Peter Davison“Shadow” (Higher Octave Music)
02. John Maus“The Combine” (Ribbon Music)
03. Shabazz Palaces“Moon Whip Quäz” (feat. Darrius) (Sub Pop)
04. John Carpenter“Assault on Precinct 13” (Death Waltz Recording Company)
05. Severed Heads“George the Animal” (Dark Entries)
06. The Velvet Underground“I Can’t Stand It” (Verve)
07. The Cat’s Miaow“Not Like I Was Doing Anything” (Library)
08. Cymbeline“Look at the Stars” (Guerssen)
09. Gunn – Truscinski Duo“Flood and Fire” (Three Lobed Recordings)
10. Les Filles de Illighadad“Abadrarass” (Sahel Sounds)
11. SAICOBAB“One” (Thrill Jockey)
12. Xylouris White“Only Love” (Bella Union)
13. Guelewar“Ya Mom Samaray” (Kindred Spirits)
14. Wallias Band“Muziqawi Silt” (Manteca)
15. Don Cherry“Brown Rice” (EMI)
16. Spiritualized“Feel So Sad (Glides And Chimes)” (Spaceman, Arista)
17. Colleen“The stars vs creatures” (Thrill Jockey)
18. Spectrum“All Night Long” (Silvertone)
19. Slowdive“No Longer Making Time” (Dead Oceans)
20. Spirit Fest“River River” (Alien Transistor)
21. NSRD“Schwenn” (STROOM)
22. Lali Puna“Wear My Heart” (Morr Music)
23. Four Tet “Daughter” (Text)
24. Sufjan Stevens“Wallowa Lake Monster” (Asthmatic Kitty)
25. William Eggleston“On the Street Where You Live” (Secretly Canadian)
26. Lindstrøm“Bungl (Like a Ghost)” [feat. Jenny Hval] (Smalltown Supersound)
27. Daphni“Carry on” (Jiaolong)
28. Blanck Mass“The Rat” (Sacred Bones)
29. Colin Stetson“All this I do for glory” (52Hz)
30. Dirty Three“Moon On The Land” (Bella Union)
31. Cat Power“Metal Heart” (Matador)
32. Marisa Anderson“Amazing Grace” (Mississippi)
33. Jackson C. Frank“Milk and Honey” (Sanctuary)
34. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis“Three Seasons in Wyoming” (Wind River OST) (Invada, Lakeshore)

Compiled by Fractured Air, October 2017. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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First Listen: “Never, just as you wanted” by Benoît Pioulard

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We are delighted to premiere an exclusive new track by world-renowned Seattle-based ambient artist Benoît Pioulard. The divine ambient exploration “Never, just as you wanted” is taken from Thomas Meluch’s forthcoming album ‘Slow spark, soft spoke’ due out on 17th November via Ghent-based independent label Dauw.

Benoît Pioulard - Slow spark, soft spoke (artwork)

Shortly after releasing his highly acclaimed ‘The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter’, Pioulard left on tour to Europe in order to promote the album. This tour took him to several distinctive places ranging from urban Brussels and Cork, Ireland to rural France and the mystic capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik.

Once returned to Seattle, these new impressions and memories formed the inspiration to make ‘Slow spark, soft spoke’. Not surprisingly, the album continues in the same vein as his tour cd ‘Lignin Poise’ – which was recently repressed on vinyl by Portland’s Beacon Sound -and is characterized by slowly moving lo-fi ambient.

Slow spark, soft spoke’ will be released on November 17th on Belgian based label Dauw on limited edition tape (first edition of 150 handmade copies) and digitally. The tape comes with original hand-printed artwork by Femke Strijbol and will be accompanied by a dried flower and a unique signed polaroid taken by Meluch himself.

‘Slow spark, soft spoke’ will be released on November 17th on limited edition tape and digital via Belgian label Dauw.

Dauw.bandcamp.com

Pioulard.bandcamp.com

 

 

 

Never, just as you wanted” is the first track off the eagerly awaited forthcoming Benoît Pioulard studio album. ‘Slow spark, soft spoke’ will be released on November 17th on limited edition tape and digital via Dauw.

Never, just as you wanted” is a timeless odyssey of complete transcendence with gradual bliss of guitar tones – and meticulously crafted sounds – that somehow map the ocean swell of human emotions – of the innermost kind – embedded deep within us all. This formidable tour-de-force could be a sister companion to the Beacon Sound-released vinyl ‘Lignin Poise’ as Meluch continues to develop and evolve his utterly unique lo-fi ambient sound worlds.

Dauw is a Ghent based label which primary aim is to combine music with the graphic work of Femke Strijbol. The labels’ current focus is on ambient and electro-acoustic music with a profound love for the more minimal side of both styles. After meeting Pioulard during a concert as part of their Living Riving Concert series (other concerts including Peter Broderick, Will Samson, Machinefabriek, David Allred, Gareth Dickson…), Dauw now presents the new studio album of Benoît Pioulard which marks their 25th release in almost 4 years of existence.

‘Slow spark, soft spoke’ will be released on November 17th on limited edition tape and digital via Belgian label Dauw.

Dauw.bandcamp.com

Pioulard.bandcamp.com

 

 

 

Written by admin

October 27, 2017 at 11:46 am

First Listen: “Permanently Midnight” by The Gentleman Losers (album teaser)

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We are delighted to premiere the new album teaser by Finnish duo The Gentleman Losers. This beautifully shot video is the first official announcement of the Helsinki-based band’s soon-to-be-released third studio album ‘Permanently Midnight’ (scheduled for release on 8th December 2017 via Estonian boutique label Grainy Records). The Gentleman Losers possess an uncanny ability to capture unfathomable beauty through the art of sound – as captured on the band’s first two utterly captivating studio albums – where endless subtle details are interwoven in the sonic tapestries of their shape-shifting compositions. The brand new track sees electronics added to the mix, with gorgeous strings, reverb-laden piano notes and ghostly guitar, representing a beautiful first glimpse into ‘Permanently Midnight’s otherworldly, far-reaching world.

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The Gentleman Losers is an experimental musical group formed in 2004 by the Finnish brothers Samu and Ville Kuukka. Since then they’ve released spellbinding music on several labels including Büro, City Centre Offices, Warp, Nothings66 and Standard Form. Their two full-length releases – 2006’s self-titled debut album and 2009’s sophomore effort “Dustland” – have been universally acclaimed, winning the hearts of many esteemed music-lovers worldwide, while also being championed by such independent music stalwarts as Germany’s Nils Frahm and UK’s Bibio. The forthcoming third record – the brothers’ latest venture into blissful instrumental music of unknown pleasures – is due to be released this December via Estonian boutique label Grainy Records, in what is destined to become (just like the band’s first two albums) a timeless classic. The Gentleman Losers’ self-titled debut album is available now on Büro; follow-up “Dustland” is also available now on City Centre Offices.

‘Permanently Midnight’ will come out on December 8th on the Estonian boutique label Grainy Records, on vinyl, CD, DL, and a limited edition CD with a photo book of pictures by Samu and Ville.

Pre-order “Permanently Midnight” by The Gentleman Losers HERE.

 

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October 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Central And Remote: This Is How We Fly

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The idea of foreign fields appeals to me in both directions – the strangeness of the vast acres over there, but the memory too of every blade of grass back home, every ditch, gripe and clump of rushes.”

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

Words: Mark Carry

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The live performances of contemporary folk quartet This Is How We Fly forever fill you with awe-struck wonder and inspiration. The gifted quartet of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (hardanger d’amore), Seán Mac Erlaine (clarinets and electronics), Nic Gareiss (percussive dance) and Petter Berndalen (drums) have created their own unique musical language – ever since their self-titled debut dropped in 2013 – with a deep understanding and rich chemistry forever inherent between its members. An evolution it seems is always happening between the players and the band’s latest sophomore release ‘Foreign Fields’ marks a masterful exploration into new sonic plains that delves deeper (than ever before) into enchanting realms of new possibilities.

The opening notes of  ‘A Man Of Few Words’ begins with hushed fiddle notes and delicate percussive dance, before warm textures of electronics and Berndalen’s drums ascend into the ethereal mix. Ó Raghallaigh’s deeply poignant and mournful fiddle notes brilliantly close the piece. Each breath, pulse and texture of ‘The Bittersweet March’ is a joy to savour: the heavenly blend of woodwind and strings amidst the soaring crescendo of drums and percussion (towards the final section) harkens to a symphony of celestial sounds.

Some of the band’s strongest works are beautifully captured on ‘Foreign Fields’ (which was recorded live in Dublin’s Fumbally Stables). ‘Ri Rua’ is an uplifting, heartfelt  lament with a vast array of colours and textures swarming across the sonic space: the duet between MacErlaine’s clarinet and O’ Raghallaigh’s hardanger d’amore is steeped in jazz, folk and classical flourishes. The way the piece transforms and continually builds is further heightened by the myriad of rhythmic textures masterfully supplied by Gareiss and Berndalen.

To trace the origins of the sounds unleashed by This Is How We Fly is a near-impossible task. One of the great hallmarks of their musical identity is the boundless nature of their musical framework: age-old traditions of Swedish folk music and Appalachian music, Irish tradtional are embedded somewhere deep in the foundations but most importantly, many experimental and contemporary sounds and nuances seep into the music, like the river finding its sea. I feel this becomes the essence of ‘Foreign Fields’ and a piece such as ‘Ti Mor’ epitomises the bold spirit of the quartet’s latest masterwork. The hypnotic, trance-like rhythms – which feels rooted deep in Africa – creates an utterly transcendent electronic exploration. The deep dialogue between Gareiss and Berndalen as the footwork and drums become one sound-world of dark, menacing textures. The brooding strings further adds to the cinematic brilliance of this piece, shifting between dub and electronic sound worlds.

The last couple of This Is How We Fly live shows I’ve witnessed, the group played in the round, so the audience and musicians effectively became one. The musicians – and audience alike – share the same experience, feeling each other’s heart beat to the sumptuous textures and sonic timbres to the quartet’s empowering musical journey. It’s precisely this image that encapsulates their remarkable latest full-length where each and every breath is shared, in turn by musician and listener alike.

‘Foreign Fields’ is available NOW.

http://www.thisishowwefly.net/

https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsHowWeFly/

tihwf2

Interview with This Is How We Fly.

 

 Congratulations on the truly sublime sophomore release ‘Foreign Fields’, it’s such a remarkable and stunning feat. One of the aspects I particularly love about this latest chapter is how the quartet explores much further and deeper into more contemporary and experimental terrain as illustrated by the wide range of sounds and possibilities attained throughout. Please take me back to the three nights of live performances at the Fumbally Stables and your memories of the music-making process during this special time? Describe the space as a live setting and your live set-up in this space too?

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh: The Fumbally Stables is a small room at the back of the Fumbally Cafe in Dublin, just off Clanbrassil Street, which has built up a wonderful vibrant community around it over the last few years, and it is run by friends of ours.  We played three nights in a row in front of a small audience each night, maybe 40/50 people.  We played in the round, which is a real treat for us, and something that we had experimented with at both the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan.  It’s such a lovely way to play together, as opposed to being fanned out across a stage, much more intimate and easier to connect with and hear everyone.  We played pretty much acoustically, with a small Genelec speaker for Seán’s live processing, and also some reinforcement for Petter’s percussion.

Nic Gareiss: It was January when we recorded so we tried to create as warm and inviting an atmosphere as possible: ambient light, candles, people sitting very close to one another and to us. I think that’s really evident in the recording and in the video Myles O’Reilly of Arbutus Yarns shot for the single “Rí Rua”. The idea of crafting the space for an audience to exist, in addition to the actual music or movement they experience is something I’ve become really interested in lately as a performer.  There’s something quite rewarding about preparing the actual space in which the “event” will occur and realizing that it has a large impact on the way the sounds and dance steps are received!

Seán Mac Erlaine: The really big part of what we do in performance is to make a very real communication between the group and the audience as well as a constant communication between the four of us making the music. So with this second album it seemed important to try and capture that and to try and get away from the typical recording studio set-up where there is physical separation between musicians. At the same time we like to present our music in the best way possible so we didn’t want this to have one of those live-album-so-we-can-forgive-the-crappy-sound attempts, y’know those ones where the singer forgets some of the words and the bass player is a little out of tune sometimes… We hired in Mats Helgesson from Sweden who is an expert in live recording and who managed to make us sound like we were in a studio but with an audience (who remained amazingly quiet!!!).

Petter Berndalen: Just for these concerts I had to think of several different angles. I would both play the concerts as a musician, but I also felt a responsibility to create something that was afterwards formable to a sound that had evolved into my mind from the launch of our debut album and up to now.

With the thought that I would like to mix our new album, the thoughts fell sharply in Mats’s direction. Furthermore, Mats and me put together an audio equipment of utmost quality, the choices we made of, among other things, microphones, preamps, cables, created a first form of what we can hear on the album today.

I’d love to gain an insight into your discussions and creative aspirations – as a quartet – that you would have been sharing and discussing prior to the recording/live performances back in January? For instance, having the gorgeous debut album already under your belt and having played many live shows worldwide in support of that album, you must have had a whole world of ideas and avenues in which you all wanted to explore on this highly anticipated follow-up?

CÓR: I think we wanted to create some music that was more integrated, rather than one person bringing a tune that the rest of the band then subsequently arranges.  So finding ways of writing music together was definitely a priority.  We also chose not to follow the route of making arrangements of traditional tunes, preferring to focus primarily on music we write.

SME: All those live gigs really shape the band so we start to understand more what the group can do and where we might be able to push things forward in our sound. The new album does – thankfully – sound different to the first one and I think it represents how we have grown together. Having writing time together was essential to make that happen and there’s more of everyone, and everyone at once, on this new record.

tihwf live

The title-track is a formidable piece of music, eternally mystical and bright melodies of rejoice. This piece is essentially in two parts and how the darker, inward patterns of part B fades into focus is a joy to savour. Can you talk me through this piece and the layering/construction of the various elements? It’s one of those incredible feats just how these intricate layers of achingly beautiful sounds fuse together so effortlessly, and these warm textures and motifs forever heighten and inspire. As a title also (and particularly as the album title), I’d love for you to discuss the significance or meaning of the title?

CÓR: The title ‘Foreign Fields’ comes from a poem my cousin Anthony Cunningham wrote for his father.  Sonny left Longford for New York when he was a very young man, and though he reached into his eighties, he never once returned home.  The idea of foreign fields appeals to me in both directions – the strangeness of the vast acres over there, but the memory too of every blade of grass back home, every ditch, gripe and clump of rushes.

SME: It’s an example of what happens when we get to write in the same space together. All the parts are written in the room at once so that they interlock and reinforce each other. I guess it’s this approach to composition that we were really seeking out rather than taking a piece which more or less exists and either just playing it or, worse, playing on top of it. It takes much more time to develop music this way but it’s been really satisfying for us and a nice challenge to play too.

PB: My favorite moment in the creation of this composition was when I and Nic suddenly found ourselves in the rhythmic dark texture that companions the march melody. The sound of that rhythm, the rhythm in itself and the way it fits in its context is the result of my and Nics un verbal common language, constantly evolving over the seven years we have been listening to and communicating with each other.

I get the impression that ‘Fjellvant’ feels like a piece that perhaps Petter brought to the table? The voice treatments and cinematic dimension that this composition inhabits unleashes a wall of raw emotion. I wonder as the quartet would often be split up, both geographically and being busy with other projects and musical incarnations, do you find yourself composing as solo entities and only once you join up as a four-piece, would you suddenly begin sharing all these ideas? Do you see the compositional approach to pieces such as ‘Fjellvant’ or ‘Ti Mor’ (for example) alter in a drastic way, or would the creative process be a more constant process?

CÓR: I think Fjellvant started with the little few notes I recorded on an iPad during one of the band’s writing days.  We spent a few days in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan, and would split up into pairs to work on stuff, so myself and Seán pulled Fjellvant out of the bag and he brought his electronics to the party.  When we brought it back to the boys, it already felt like a complete thing unto itself, so that’s how it remains!

SME: We’ve often played short solo sets so we thought let’s see if we can try duo material. Fjellvant (a Norwegian word pertaining to mountain walking) is one of the duos that made the cut. Also, hiking is something that Caoimhín and I really like to do and perhaps not on all of TIHWF’s to do lists! If I were to recast my life I might try being a singing contemporary dancer and sometimes the guys let me sing a tiny bit (I’m not going to bust out any moves with Nic beside me).

The album radiates the sense of a live performance where the band are playing live; sharing the same as the listener. The special, unique live shows of This Is How We Fly is ultimately translated onto the final album. Was this a primary objective for the band? Also, please discuss the aesthetic quality of your work and this space you travel deep inside when it comes to making music together? I love the solo pieces (however short!) that wonderfully bridge various pieces that form majestic interludes throughout (which again, brings you back to the band’s live shows).

CÓR: The audience has always been such an important part of how this band works, and we felt that perhaps we were losing something by going into studio to record.  We wanted to make this record in collaboration with our audience, from the crowd-sourced funding, to having their listening, enthusiasm and energy as part of the air around us as we recorded.

NG: We’ve experimented over the nearly seven years we’ve been performing together about how best to convey the way that live gigs seem so close to the heart of this project. As I mentioned, this has included work with filmmakers, including several collaborations with Myles of Arbutus Yarns and Donal Dineen, but also the creation of performances in unorthodox spaces, most notably a dilapidated Georgian House on North Great George’s Street in Dublin as part of Seán’s ongoing series The Walls Have Ears during the Dublin Fringe. The privilege and power of creating something in the moment, not only in front of an audience, but in response to them is endlessly invigorating for us. In this way, the in-the-round, mostly-acoustic, live format was the perfect avenue for us to try to share our interest in creating music as a practice of rapport.  This rapport is with the audience, with our own bodies, with the tools of our craft (drumsticks, fiddle bow, clarinet keys, dance shoes) and with each other.

PB: Sharing the same thing as the listener. To me, this is probably the only way I can or rather want to play music. I find no greater interest in sharing with a monologue. What’s interesting in a meeting with a listener, is the listener’s contribution back to the musician and the musician’s ability to take in this, do something of it and then share the next phrase with the listener, to hear what this one has to say this time!

The same is true of how we communicate with each other in the band. Just playing a song straight off just like it sounded last time, there are many others who find joy in that. But in the musical context I myself want to find myself in, I prefer to be 100% communicative in each phrase, every breath, every second.

tihwf pic

As solo musicians and composers, you have carved out unique solo paths with your own singular sound and musical identity. Please take me back to your earliest musical memories and the landscape that you feel has shaped and influenced your own individual musical paths? For instance, Nic, you have a really beautiful spoken word piece where you recount your memories of a teacher of yours in Limerick, the lyrics for which are truly inspiring. It is the way each member brings their own colours and rich language to the divine sonic canvas of the overall sound and how each one complements and further heightens one another, this must have taken you by surprise (in some ways) when you first came together and played together?

CÓR: I have so many memories from both listening to and playing traditional music that have shaped what I’m aiming for when I play.  Hearing Tony Mac Mahon stopping time playing ‘James Connolly’ in the Cobalt Cafe; fourteen hours non-stop playing with Dermy Diamond in Queally’s Pub in Miltown Malbay during the Willie Clancy, day after day after day, lit up by the man of the house throwing a step out of the blue; playing ‘The Rolling Wave’ by myself for hours upon hours on a New Year’s Eve, over and over again, until music became magic for the first time…

NG: Thanks! Often as part of our concerts, we each take a moment to allow one another to stretch out, allowing the audience to engage with our sounds individually. The piece “Scraping for Peggy” came out of this little band ritual and is dedicated to legendary Cork Irish dance teacher Peggy McTeggart. She said, “I’ll have no scrapers in our class”.  For her, “good” dance technique was adroit, crisp, and clean, resulting from a short sharp connection to the ground. This became a provocation for me to make whispery, gritty, hushed, or “dirty” sounds by sustaining my contact with the floor. There’s a playful sense of the joy of transgression, of doing what you’re told not to do, that honestly fills my heart with glee every time I get to dance the piece in her memory. For me, the connection to this older dancer and the way that tradition begs as many questions as it provides answers becomes a locus of performance but also of pleasure for me and hopefully for the audience as well.

SME: I’m not sure I have many early musical memories, I was into my teens by the time I got hooked on Bob Dylan and worlds surrounding that, but I don’t think you will hear much of that in my playing. Often the non-musical will inspire me as much as my listening habits. These days all I try to do is get out of my own way and let music flow and the direction I’m moving in is that the music has less and less to do with me than with the moment present, the players present and the people present.

PB: I remember that an early wish I had was the desire to possess the technical skills I have today on my instrument, but at the same time never heard of music of any kind before.

Today, however, I realize that my physical ability at my instrument and how it is intertwined with my wider musical understanding is the essence of what I do.

But to easily summarize how I have received my unique musical signature, I can say that it has arisen from many years of trying to translate Swedish folk music played on violin to same thing, but on drums.

An important question within my work is how central aspects of melody, such as hierarchical form and phrasing, melodic contour, ornamentation, etc. can be represented percussion playing on a drum kit where precise pitch transitions are not possible. Other important questions concern how to capture the rhythmic and metrical flexibility and ambiguity of Swedish traditional fiddle music on an instrument in which the rhythmic expression is precise and explicit.

Please shed some light on the Irish compositions ‘Ti Mor’ and ‘Ri Rua’. Can you recount your memories of the earliest versions of these pieces and how they bloomed over time? ‘Ri Rua’ feels like it could have originated between Sean and Caoimhin whereas ‘Ti Mor’ was a duet between Nic and Petter?

CÓR: Rí Rua was such an enjoyable tune to work on with Seán – trying to find ways of weaving notes, rhythms and phrases together on the two instruments.  I think the earliest version started with Seán’s phrases, and we worked out from there.

NG: Tí Mór began with a particular groove that’s created by a step known in Appalachian dance communities as the Tennessee Walking Step. The step is credited to Robert Dotson and was later modified and used by dancers in the US folk revival of the 1970s and 80s. It’s an insistent, bass-treble movement produced by stepping onto the floor and dropping one’s body weight through the foot (that’s the bass), then sliding backwards on the floor creating a sibilant brighter sound (that’s the treble part). Petter remarked that we rarely access this particular rhythmic pattern in our music and suggested we create something inspired by it. The piece winds up feeling like a track of Electronic Dance Music in which the beats are actually made by dancing!!

Lastly, the sprawling tour-de-force ‘Agus a hAon :: Mumpsimus :: Counterline’ spans the breadth of part B. I love this drifting, floating quality to the piece, how the woodwind dances its majestic dance amidst infinite colours of percussion and soaring fiddles. I get the impression this piece must have taken a considerable time to flesh out, so to speak and write the distinct movements inherent in this piece of music? Some of these melodies on the record sound at once wholly familiar and utterly unknown; perhaps one foot is steeped in tradition and the other is searching deep into new, unknown horizons.

CÓR: Yeah, I really love these three tunes! The second part of the first tune is really satisfying to me in its simple confusion. Mumpsimus is a waltz that initally made perfect sense to me but to no one else, hence the name, which means ‘a person who obstinately adheres to an idea in spite of evidence that they are wrong or unreasonable’.  And Counterline always feels SO good to play, again it’s very satisfying to me how the various parts interlock.

SME: There’s a mixture here of tightly written material and quite loose improvisation which feels nice, one moment we are in unison and then the atmosphere loosens and, as a player, you are free to contribute whatever feels just right for the piece. I know what you mean about the familiar sounding melodies, sometimes I wonder when we are writing, hey, surely someone has written this melody already, it’s so… simple! It’s hard to be objective but I haven’t heard anyone else playing them yet so I think we are in clear!

Your musical philosophy as a quartet. Can you somehow pinpoint what this is? Also, what you feel you have learned as a group over the past six (or so) years and what you feel comes next for the band, as you continually develop and evolve?

NG: I think Petter summed this up beautifully once during an interview we were giving at a French folk festival. He said, “You don’t need to practice to talk with your friends.” While we do of course see the value in rehearsal, the idea of being open to conversation in music-making – and being open to that conversation taking a radically different turn in performance than when you had it earlier in rehearsal, feels really crucial to this project. We want our performances to be very much about responding to one another and to audiences, wherever they (and we!) are affectually. As for what’s next: deeper rapport, perhaps an exploration of “home-ness” as opposed to the wonder and amazement of the “foreign fields.”  And maybe even an entire dance step-based EDM release!

SME: Yes, the essential philosophy would revolve around ideas of togetherness. Being together and listening. It may sound odd but listening is more important to us than even playing and there have been occasions where, on stage, each musicians stops playing but continues listening and we continue the piece without there being any piece left! In the seven years I hope we’ve learnt more about each other and, through that, ourselves. I think we are all pretty happy to continue as we started off with an openness to explore and push and learn and what that will sound like just depends on whichever moment you hear us.

PB: A dream I’ve been wearing for a very long time and which has become true with TIHWF is the fact that there’s no difference at all to just being together and playing music together.

‘Foreign Fields’ is available NOW.

http://www.thisishowwefly.net/

https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsHowWeFly/

 

 

 

 

Written by admin

October 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Mixtape: Tompkins Square Mix by Josh Rosenthal

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tompkins-square-sleeve

1) Shawn David McMillen – “Fuck Norfolk (For Max Ochs)”

I just wrapped up a mini-tour of the West Coast with two original Takoma Records guitarists, Max Ochs and Harry Taussig. They had never met, even though they were on the same Takoma sampler 50 years ago ! A few years back I released a digital EP, ‘Hooray For Max Ochs’, with folks paying tribute to Max. This one is by Texas artist Shawn McMillen who toured with Max and Christina Carter in 2006.

2) Peter Walker – “Hot Fusion”

I called Peter this morning to tell him it’s Karen Dalton’s 80th birthday today (July 19). He and Karen were very close. This track is from A Raga For Peter Walker, which featured the first new recordings by Peter in 40 years, plus tracks in tribute by Jack Rose, Thurston Moore and others.

3) Ben Reynolds – “England”

This is one of my favorite guitar tracks in our catalog. Ben went on to play in Trembling Bells.

4) Nathan Salsburg – “Bold Ruler’s Joys”

Today is also Nathan Salsburg’s birthday ! He once told me this track, which I asked him to do for Imaginational Anthem vol 3, was the “a-ha” moment when he decided to take himself seriously as a solo guitarist. Now look at him; collaborating with Joan Shelley, Bonnie Prince Billy and James Elkington. Might be the most technically proficient player on the acoustic scene. Can play in any style clean and pretty, but with soul too.

5) Richard Crandell – “Swallowtails”

For someone with the purest of hearts and zero career aspirations, Richard has actually built a great catalog – fine duo records, mbira records, a superb Christmas LP, and one stone classic – In The Flower of Our Youth, which we reissued on LP. Swallowtails is from a collection of 80s/90s recordings we just released as ‘Then & Now’ digitally. Flower is maybe my favorite rural road trip soundtrack. Try it !

6) Laurel Halo – “Blue Notion”

This one is from Remembering Mountains : Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton. Laurel Halo is someone I keep tabs on, an amazing artist. Her new album ‘Dust’ is ambitious and bold. Today would have been Karen’s 80th, so this song gets a revisit.

7) A Broken Consort – “A Mercy Kill”

We released two albums by British composer Richard Skelton, who has recorded under many pseudonyms. He is a visual artist, musician and publisher of journals and poetry, many relating to nature. I’ve worked with many talented people, but Richard might be the only one who actually deserves to be called a “genius.”

8) Hiss Golden Messenger – “Fennario”

Michael Taylor has moved on to big things since recording this track – signing with Merge and playing big festivals worldwide. But when I asked him to cover his favorite Michael Chapman song, I had no idea he’d bring so much to this faithful “Fennario” from MC’s Wrecked Again LP. I mean everything, down to the gospel backing vocals. Everything a “tribute” should be – bringing a great song to life again. I bet even some of his fans haven’t heard this one yet . . .

9) William Tyler – “Ponotoc”

This version is from the live WT CD we snuck into the Imaginational Anthem 1-5 box set. It’s out of print and not available in any other form, so sort of a scoop here. Tompkins Square released Will’s debut LP, Behold The Spirit, which has only grown in stature as a landmark LP.

10) Brigid Mae Power – “My Lagan Love”

B-side released last year digitally, new album in the works from this Irish songstress. I first heard this song via Van Morrison’s Irish Heartbeat LP back in the 80’s. Tompkins Square learned about Brigid from . . . Fractured Air . . . and are eternally grateful. We love her.

“Deep Cuts” Playlist by Josh Rosenthal (Tompkins Square)

01. Shawn David McMillen“Fuck Norfolk (For Max Ochs)”
02. Peter Walker“Hot Fusion”
03. Ben Reynolds“England”
04. Nathan Salsburg“Bold Ruler’s Joys”
05. Richard Crandell “Swallowtails”
06. Laurel Halo“Blue Notion”
07. A Broken Consort“A Mercy Kill”
08. Hiss Golden Messenger “Fennario”
09. William Tyler“Ponotoc”
10. Brigid Mae Power – “My Lagan Love”

Compiled by Josh Rosenthal, July 2017.

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