We are thrilled to premiere the new remix album ‘Cycles_1’ – a collection of remixes of London-based organist and composer James Mc Vinnie’s ‘Cycles’ opus – which comes out this Friday, 24th March 2017 via the prestigious Icelandic label Bedroom Community.
‘Cycles_1’ features Remixes by Sam Slater, Matt Huxley, Scanner, Talos, Paul Evans, Liam Byrne and Alex Groves. Taken from James McVinnie’s debut Bedroom Community album, ‘Cycles’ (music composed by Nico Muhly).
This is the fifth release on Bedroom Community’s HVALREKI digital series.
‘Cycles_1’ is available this Friday 24th March 2017 as part of Bedroom Community’s HVALREKI digital series. ‘Cycles_1’ can be purchased HERE.
“I wanted to take one of the shortest and most frenetic pieces on the album and flip it on it’s head, turning it into this extremely slow and very spacious piece. There are just a few tiny fragments that repeat and layer and gradually build up into this big wall of noise. It kinda feels like the original got stretched beyond recognition and all these other sounds came into view.”
“The track itself is this beautiful, stirring set of motifs that speak to each other but never really touch. In a way I saw the remix as the aftermath of that conversation… Something ponderous and tactile.”
“I was looking towards expanding upon the original piece, whilst retaining its elegance and grandeur. It explores a form of cinematic expression with pulsing light and dark, with a series of repetitive motifs that gradually develop into a percussive workout that continues to envelop a skeletal adaptation of the original Prelude throughout. Most of the string and keyboard parts I added were played live with no computer trickery to improve the timing. It closes in a very intimate way with additional vocal and guitar parts. I always enjoy the flow and tension of performing live to tape.”
“My idea was to use as little as possible. I broke a plate in the kitchen, sampled it and mangled a single loop of Nadia’s breath, violin and a single organ chord from Jamie. Everything else is just processing and kick drums, all placed inside some kind of ceramic texture world. It’s meant to sound like rocks underwater, or cracking knuckles or something.”
“I have had a longstanding love for liturgical music and the interaction between sound and architecture. With this remix I wanted to explore the space between notes and to build a sonic temple to religious ecstasy.”
“This remix was mostly made back in 2013, as a way to pass the time on the plane back from having visited Nico in New York. I wanted it to be a pure collage, so there are no extra bits added in, with everything coming from the original track. I think this was the first of all these remixes to be made, so I’m very happy to see it released.”
‘Cycles_1’ is available this Friday 24th March 2017 as part of Bedroom Community’s HVALREKI digital series. ‘Cycles_1’ can be purchased HERE.
We are delighted to premiere the beautiful new music video ‘Ory (Joyous Toil)’ by Austin’s Botany, taken from last year’s sublime ambient album ‘Deepak Verbera’ (released on the prestigious Western Vinyl imprint).
Interview with Spencer Stephenson (Botany).
“Deepak occupied a singular creative mental space for me that felt wholly different from anything I’d done before…”
‘Deepak Verbera’, the third LP by Austin’s Spencer Stephenson aka Botany, bends the beat-driven path carved by the composer’s first two records into free-form cosmic terrain, juxtaposing free jazz poly-rhythms, rich ambient textures and hypnotic psych-inflected harmonies. Following on from the more hip-hop oriented production of Botany’s first two records, ‘Deepak Verbera’ shows a master sound sculptor who ceaselessly blurs boundaries and pushes the sonic envelope.
‘Deepak Verbera’ is out now on Western Vinyl.
Interview with Spencer Stephenson (Botany).
Please talk me through the construction (or de-construction) of the utterly beguiling ambient exploration ‘Ory (Joyous Toil)’. For the recording itself, what was the equipment at your disposal?
Spencer Stephenson: A friend and former housemate of mine had come back from tour a few years ago with some cassette recordings of a harpist he had played a show with. He had asked her to play in some various keys and scales and recorded it through a handheld cassette player for the purpose of sampling, so I often pull from it to create beds of harp textures on my tracks. ‘Ory‘ begins with a sample of this tape being played on the piano roll in my DAW, jotted out in midi notes, kind of casio SK-1 style.
Everything else is laid out around that motif. It’s a very sonically full track but I don’t think there are more than a few layers, and the core structure consists only of those repeating chords created from the harp sample. Even with my vocal melody, I layered the same line over itself as opposed to creating a harmony. This song sounds maximal but is fairly minimal in its construction. It was one of the final tracks added to the album, and it felt like a breakthrough when I completed it. If the album is a face then this track is like the smile, or the human glint in its eyes. It makes the rest of the album connect with the listener, I feel.
I have some droning electric guitar that creates textural urgency and brings the song out of its softness, because I wanted most of this record to feel aggressively benevolent. The final element added was upright acoustic piano which I just plinked around on to create more texture billows, with the exception of the intro and outro chords. Despite how loose it seems to be, this track was the result of some level of deliberate sculpting to make everything feel both distinct and holistic at once. That’s why it has “Toil” in the title. The “Ory” part of it refers to Incredible String Band’s song Eyes of Fate which contains the line “echoes wholly only lonely, long before-y, ory, ory.” I mimick the final two words of that line softly in the background as a mantra.
One of the great hallmarks of your latest ‘Deepak Verbera’ LP is how the music is steeped in this cosmic sound world where an intense ambient dimension surrounds each creation. Can you discuss the making of ‘Deepak Verbera’ and the musical (or otherwise) influences you feel found its way into the overall sound?
SS: So on my album before ‘Deepak‘ I was juxtaposing straight ahead hip-hop production with heavy texturally-focused ambient exploration, really exploring how those two types of music could be made through the exact same means: samplers and record digging, DAWs, tape-recording, single-mic recording setups, etc. I turned in ‘Dimming Awe‘ and had this itch to keep going with the drum-less, spacey tendencies of it, so I hit the ground running and started working on ‘Deepak‘ before ‘Dimming Awe‘ was even mastered. ‘Deepak‘ occupied a singular creative mental space for me that felt wholly different from anything I’d done before and as a result it’s still my favorite in my discography. It felt like I had finally gained the confidence and palette to be able to put out something so freeform and uncensored, and I had been slowly stepping further out on that limb in the years before making this record.
I continue to be fervent about the idea that drone-y or contemplative music is not apolitical, and ‘Deepak Verbera‘ is an expression of that. In the American consciousness a lot of spiritually-leaning music, and contemplative spirituality in general, seems to have an association of passivity, or calmness, or something relegated to yoga studios and massage parlors. That, to me, shows a disappointing lack of imagination. In an era of sensory overload and cultural loudness, there’s nothing more anti-authority than turning down and coaxing the listener into introspection. There’s plenty of self-centeredness to go around, but self-awareness is overlooked. And I think that cosmic or spiritual perspectives can sometimes feel brutalizing, humbling, and scathing, and transcendent at the same time. So with ‘Deepak‘ I wanted to make a record that was at once both peaceful and turbulent. Elevating and unseating at the same time.
Some of the spiritual jazz that arose after John Coltrane’s death seemed to imply a similar motive, so people like Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane are obvious touchstones. The recent Ariel Kalma retrospective that RVNG put out also had a direct effect. I came of age during a time when hippie-ness was kind of re-appropriated and folded into freak folk and the New Weird America movement, and underground music became this weird Bush-era version of the late 60’s and early 70’s. There seemed to be an unapologetic leap into rambling freeform and improv within that paradigm that has been stitched permanently into my musical quilt.
I’d love to gain an insight into your approach to making the more hip-hop oriented sound of your previous works under the alias of Botany? Can you talk me through the process by which you splice different segments and elements together and how you feel you have learned and developed as a producer in this regard?
SS: That style of production is my first love, musically. It’s my default mode in a lot of ways. I started out writing full arrangements on guitar as a kid, and making a song out of samples feels no different to me, in fact its more fulfilling. I choose which elements of what I’m sampling fit best into a song, the same way I’d select chords or tones as a guitarist, and rhythms as a drummer. I rarely feel that I’m sampling something that’s outside of my own capability to play on any instrument with the exception of horns or strings. To me, sampling is about a wider curation process than traditional musicianship can provide. The timbrel, textural, and tonal array of sampling opens itself up far beyond what anything that a single instrumentalist can do on his or her own in a bedroom. Hip-hop is the most forward thinking genre in that regard, especially 90’s hip-hop when the MPC was the be-all-end-all.
So when I sit down to make a track I usually operate through those methods, even though I’m doing it outside of an MPC. It begins a lot of times by programming drums or rhythms and then building around that. I have a huge archive of loops and samples that I’ve created, but I usually sample from something outside of my archive when I’m working on new stuff. It all comes from various sources– vinyl, cassette, personal recordings, film, whatever.
I also begin a lot of projects around some interesting loop I’ve found, which is probably true for a lot of producers. Lately I’ve been into the vibe of manipulating one tiny sound, or a congruent stack of sounds, and taking it out of context, bending and pitching it around and having that process be the core of the track itself without need of structure or meter.
Please recount your memories of growing up in Texas and your musical upbringing. Your curiosity with many facets of sound and using sources and playing varied instruments must have stemmed from your adolescence I presume?
SS: Yeah, so I grew up in an area that was pretty lush and undeveloped, and I realize as I grow older that that was hugely influential. My father is also a musician, and my mother had good taste in music and was a careful listener, I remember showing her Four Tet’s album Rounds and hearing her later refer to him as a genius, so that says something about her ear. That combination of environment and musical enthusiasm made me into a musician. I have a deeply imprinted memory of being at home one rainy Friday afternoon in sixth grade. My dad and brother shared this bass guitar and amplifier in a room in the back of our house that had a big wall-wide window on one side. After noodling around on the bass I laid it down on the floor and ran one finger over the open strings for about an hour. Just “G, D, E, A” repeatedly for about an hour while I looked out the window at foliage dripping in the rain. I think that’s the moment when I realized that music doesn’t have to be in song form, that it can be an investigation into sound itself.
I grew up in a small town outside of Fort Worth, Texas so the pool of musicians was fairly small. There was a period where I was participating in other bands, mostly playing metal and whatever they were into, but the whole time I had this vision for a really exploratory, rhythm-heavy sound that had nothing to do with any of that. I got old enough to have interest in my parents’ vinyl collection so I started listening to folks of their generation like Nick Drake, Billy Cobham, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix who had always been a part of my life but who I’d started to fully appreciate around then.
My older brother was also making Drum & Bass and I really took to LTJ Bukem and Roni Size. It was all of this stuff together at a very formative age. That stuff demonstrated how electronic music was made. But through the older music I started to make the connection that this is what hip-hop was sampling, this was what hip-hop came out of in a sense. I was really honing in on Jay Dee’s production on Common’s “Like Water For Chocolate” of all things. That’s such a defining album for me because of its conceptual through-line and its interludes, hidden tracks, and jazz nods. It really played with and utilized the full-length format, weaving in and out of amazing singles with these really exploratory easter-eggs that rewarded patient listening.
A lot of my youth was spent being just that, a patient listener in an isolated headspace separated from the goings-on of my peers because of having a different musical vision than them. Almost no one else in my town really “got” the music I was interested in, so I ended up making it alone. I resented it at the time, but I appreciate my path now. I didn’t realize how much it forced me to follow my idea of what I thought music was supposed to be.
Lastly, please pick your most cherished psychedelic and jazz records from your collection. Would you have certain defining records that for you, you must always come back to?
SS: I definitely have some staples in my collection. The older I get the harder it is to fully cherish anything outside of those staples, there’s so much music being released, but I keep my ear open with some focused effort. On the psychedelic tip, which I consider to be very broad, I’ve been regularly listening to these records for years, most for about a decade:
Iasos – Inter-Dimensional Music
Colleen – Everyone Alive Wants Answers
NEU! – s/t
Broadcast & The Focus Group – Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age / HaHa Sound
JK & Company – Suddenly One Summer
Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter / The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion
Semya – Golden Days
Windy & Carl – Consciousness
Can – Tago Mago / Future Days
As far as jazz stuff goes, in no order or chronology:
Herbie Hancock – Mwandishi
Pharoah Sanders – Thembi
Don Cherry – Organic Music Society
Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil
David Axelrod – Song of Innocence (didn’t know whether to put this under psych or jazz)
Alice Coltrane – Huntington Ashram Monastery
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
Weather Report – s/t (1971)
Art Ensemble of Chicago – People in Sorrow
‘Deepak Verbera’ is out now on Western Vinyl.
Benoît Pioulard Opening Music – Sat. 4 March 2017, Cork, Ireland | w/ Wry Myrrh
We were thrilled to have invited our dear friend Thomas Meluch (aka the Seattle, Washington-based composer Benoît Pioulard) over to Cork for his first shows on Irish shores. One of our favourite aspects of promoting shows is making the all-important opening music for the evening. The concert took place at Gulpd Cafe, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, with support from the wonderful Wry Myrrh. Benoît Pioulard’s EU tour continues into March (accompanied by special hand-made tour-only CDs), for the full list of tour dates please see HERE.
01. Loscil – “Drained Lake” (Kranky)
02. High Plains – “Cinderland” (Kranky)
03. A Winged Victory For The Sullen – “Le Retour en Foret” (Iris OST, Erased Tapes)
04. Christina Vantzou – “Laurie Spiegel” (Loscil remix) (Self-Released)
05. MJ Guider – “Lit Negative” (Kranky)
06. Earthen Sea – “Exuberant Burning” (Kranky)
07. Dawn of Midi – “Dysnomia” (Erased Tapes)
08. Brian Eno – “Golden Hours” (Island)
09. Colin Stetson – “Spindrift” (Constellation)
10. Sarah Neufeld – “We’ve Got a Lot” (Paper Bag)
11. Saltland – “I Only Wish This For You” (Constellation)
12. Belong – “Common Era” (Kranky)
13. Grouper – “Headache” (Yellow Electric)
14. Mica Levi – “Love” (Under The Skin OST, Milan)
15. Eluvium – “Strangeworks” (Temporary Residence)
16. Colleen – “Ursa Major Find” (Thrill Jockey)
17. Sibylle Baier – “Tonight” (Orange Twin)
“The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter” is out on Kranky now. Full EU Benoît Pioulard Tour dates HERE.
Interview with Gareth Dickson.
“For me recording is almost a necessary evil, writing is where the fun is but once a song is written I am always quite anxious about how I will manage to capture it on a recording.”
Words: Mark Carry
Windswept beauty is immediately forged across ‘Orwell Court’ on the achingly beautiful folk lament ‘Two Halfs’. Scotland’s Gareth Dickson continues to explore deeper into mystical realms and otherworldly dimensions on his latest crowning jewel of timeless folk gems steeped in ethereal sound worlds of ambient and drone flourishes. These seven sumptuously crafted song cycles drift majestically into one’s heart and mind like the unfolding of dawn’s vast skies.
Delicate guitar tones coalesce with Dickson’s hush-like whisper on ‘Two Halfs’, casting a hypnotic spell. The returning guitar motif feels like an age-old melody unearthed from the depths of an ocean, before Vashti Bunyan’s ethereal voice – and carefully placed synths – further heightens the celestial and sublime human experience. The Glasgow-based musician has collaborated closely with folk luminary Vashti Bunyan – touring the world with Bunyan adding his distinctive guitar sound – and it’s her 2005 FatCat album ‘Lookaftering’ album that could form some reference point to Dickson’s latest sonic trajectory. For it’s not only the immense songcraft on display across ‘Orwell Court’s striking narrative but the rich textures, luminous tones and vast space in which these deeply moving songs – or closer to dense sound collages – forever inhabit.
The album’s vital pulse arrives with the duo of ‘Snag With The Language’ and ‘The Hinge of the Year’. Dream-like tapestries are weaved across the former, as gorgeous guitar patterns flicker like midnight stars before Nick Drake-esque vocals creates a brooding, cinematic atmosphere. Later, warm percussion is wonderfully added on the song’s middle section, displaying a kind of meticulous detail that feels all-too-rare in these modern times. Gradual ambient flourishes of acoustic guitar passages begins ‘The Hinge of the Year’ that belongs to the world of Brian Eno, Sweden’s Tape, Finnish duo The Gentleman Losers, Berlin’s Martyn Heyne as it does Bert Jansch, Jackson C. Frank and Nick Drake. Towards the final section, the tempo slows amidst Dickson’s singing of “snowfall” wherein the guitar instrumentation transforms into a viola de gamba (whose rhythmic pulses share the cosmic spirit of French artist Colleen).
The brooding tour-de-force ‘Red Road’ takes you down dusty roads and ghosts of memories as immaculate guitar tones and harmonica lingers in the pools of your mind. The dense, atmospheric instrumental ‘This Solid World’ serves the fitting prelude to the closing Joy Division cover ‘Atmosphere’. At every corner of ‘Orwell Court’ sublime reverie abounds. “Don’t walk away, in silence”.
‘Orwell Court’ is out now on 12K (and available in Europe via Discolexique).
Interview with Gareth Dickson.
Congratulations Gareth on your sublime new record, ‘Orwell Court’. The seven sonic creations captured here inhabit an otherworldly dimension, in which the songs – more like sumptuously crafted sound collages – drift majestically into one’s heart and mind. I have always felt this way with your music and ‘Orwell Court’ prevails with that mystical, far-reaching quality that renders the songs utterly timeless. Please take me back to the recording sessions themselves and your memories of writing ‘Orwell Court’? I would love to gain an insight into the place of ‘Orwell Court’, its resonance with you and whether there was a certain moment, mood, lyric, melody that perhaps served the trigger to the inception of this batch of songs?
Gareth Dickson: Thanks Mark, very good of you to take the time to engage with the record, and I’m glad you like it! ‘The Big Lie’ was the starting point for the whole album and very much set the theme for this record. In a sense ‘Orwell Court‘ could be described loosely as a concept album, it has a constant theme which applies in some way to all of the songs – it deals with concepts such as power, the state, myth, war, mass surveillance, manipulation of language etc. These are all topics which interest me at the moment and ‘The Big Lie’ was the first musical outlet for these thoughts. The rest of the album followed from there. ‘Orwell Court’, the place, is a street near where I grew up, George Orwell recovered from TB in the hospital near my house and they named the street after him. The similar themes he deals with in ‘1984’ made the name an obvious choice for me. It’s not, however, an album of ‘protest songs’, this album is as personal as any of my previous ones, it’s a personal reaction to what I see going on around me in the world whereas previous work was a personal reaction to what was going on in my own life.
The album was written and recorded at my home in Glasgow. Initially I spent a lot of long nights drinking coffee, improvising with the guitar (usually in altered tunings and through some effects pedals), and slowly allowing ideas to form. When I’m working like this I can spend weeks and months playing every night and hoping to find something new, but only very rarely will something excite me enough that I want to keep it and build on it. When that happens it’s just a case of trying to expand upon that initial idea, or combining it with other existing ideas which are in the same tuning. I recorded the songs myself in my living room after experimenting a great deal with microphone placements and effects set ups etc.
For me recording is almost a necessary evil, writing is where the fun is but once a song is written I am always quite anxious about how I will manage to capture it on a recording. It’s kind of a question of practicing the songs enough that you can play them well but not so much that they lose feeling. It’s a tricky balance and one which you don’t always feel has gone right. And recording itself is full of trade offs, a vocal mic placement which is good for voice may not be ideal for the guitar or whatever (I always record guitar and voice at the same time). So the whole process of home recording can be a difficult one, but one which has the advantage of having more control over exactly when you record, and therefore what mood you can achieve etc.
‘Two Halfs’ is the perfect opening line; I feel the gradual light of dawn appear across the horizon as the bright, joyous melody unfolds. Vashti Bunyan’s added harmonies heighten the song even further, a gorgeous match and haven of celestial sound. Please talk me through the construction of ‘Two Halfs’ and your memories of hearing the final recorded version? The echo and reverb from the instrumentation – and vast space created as a result – is a joy to behold.
GD: ‘Two Halfs’ is essentially built on two different riffs, the opening one for the verses and the interlude in the middle where the tempo drops. Some of the various pitched drones which you can hear in the background are from the delay pedal, and there is also some synth in there which Vashti added afterwards. I sent her the track and asked if she could add something to it, I was really blown away when I first heard what she had done. Her vocals are beautiful as always and the synth part she added is great. After this there was a long process of mixing, editing and eq-ing so the track emerged slowly from there and there was no one point where I heard it for the first time.
What were the challenges or biggest difficulties posed during the making of ‘Orwell Court’? I am curious whether the words appear for you first, prior to the musical framework or is it a case of painting words on a canvas of sound? For instance, has the creative process itself changed in any significant way from previous works like ‘Quite A Way Away’ and ‘The Dance’?
GD: Initially I would say that this album came together a little more easily than any of my previous albums, because I am now used to the process and have developed certain practical skills along the way in my guitar playing and recording (even though recording still remains a difficulty, it’s maybe less so now than previously). Later on the mixing process took a lot longer than I expected, I struggled with eq and reverb levels etc as it’s such a subjective process. What sounds like a good mix one day can the next day sound muddy and unclear, this part drove me mad for a good few weeks or more. Lyrics always take a certain amount of effort for me, I feel like guitar playing is a very natural thing to do but writing lyrics definitely takes more thought. They are always added after I have written a melody on the guitar, usually the guitar melody will suggest a certain mood and I will start the lyrics from there. In the past I have written entire songs in a night (Two Trains, Like a Clock were written this way), but now I would say they are more crafted and tend to take longer. Other than this my creative process hasn’t changed at all really since I started writing.
Please take me back to your musical upbringing and your earliest musical memories? What were the first defining moments for you that made a big impression in you and soon did you realize just how significant music would play in your life? Also, what particular records and musicians made you want to develop your own unique guitar playing?
GD: My parents were both big music lovers who grew up in the 50s and 60s so mostly around the house I would have heard things like The Beatles and Elvis when I was very young. I loved listening to the charts on the radio and watching Top of the Pops just like everyone else of my generation. In my early teens I played in punk and metal bands and listened to things like Metallica, Slayer, Fugazi, Snuff, Minor Threat. I think the first time I really realised how significant music would be to me though was when I was around 19 or 20 and started listening to acoustic stuff like Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, Incredible String Band.
These people were a revelation for me in terms of the depth of emotion they reached. This is when I really started playing guitar properly, practicing a lot and learning whatever I liked the sound of at that time. Not long after this I discovered electronic and ambient music – Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno. I think really what drove me to form my style initially was the desire to merge these two worlds – to have the discipline and direct connection with music that playing an instrument brings, but with the abstract and ethereal sound-world of electro. Since then I feel I have tried to incorporate many other types of music in to my own but this was the starting point. Other people who have had a big impact but not always in an obvious way would be Captain Beefheart, Syd Barrett, Robert Johnson, Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner…..
I love how there are meticulously crafted layers of instrumentation dotted across the record, which serves as a lovely complement to your voice & guitar. ‘Snag With The Language’ has some beautifully warm percussion added in the closing section and harmonica flows beneath ‘Red Road’. I can imagine the later stages in making ‘Orwell Court’ was a very enjoyable part of the process, when the songs are fully formed but you have the opportunity to add certain shades and textures to the songs? I personally feel the duo of ‘Snag With The Language’ and ‘The Hinge of the Year’ forms the vital pulse to ‘Orwell Court’s rich narrative (particularly the poetic prose of the latter).
GD: I also imagined that this would be the enjoyable part but it wasn’t always the case unfortunately! This was uncharted territory for me as I have never added extra instrumentation to my music before so there was a lot to learn. The main thing I learned, after a lot of experimenting, was that the overdubbed parts had to be kept extremely simple in order for them to work. I am used to being able to write what I like when I’m writing songs, but adding parts afterwards is quite a different thing. In the end I realised that anything added afterwards had to be simplified to the bare bones in order for it to work, so that took some time. But hearing these things back once I had honed them as much as I could really brought the album to life and that definitely was fun. I agree also that the two tracks you mentioned form the heart of the record in a sense, without choosing those over the rest of the album they are definitely important for the record.
The closing cover of Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ somehow fits so perfectly with the rest of the album, a song that embodies the record in many ways. I wonder did you envision this (utterly transcendent) cover version to be part of ‘Orwell Court’ from the very beginning or did this just happen in the midst of it all? I’d love to hear your memories of this particular song and the importance of Joy Division’s music in your own life?
GD: I am not actually so knowledgeable about Joy Division’s music to be honest but I have always loved this song, and of course ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. A few years ago Taylor Deupree (who runs 12k Records) asked me to record a cover version of this and the plan was for him to add some extra instrumentation and release it as a collaboration. When he heard it he decided that it worked well as a solo piece however, so we left it at that. During the recording of Orwell Court I thought that it would fit well with the rest of the album so I re-recorded it when I was recording the other songs.
You have played guitar alongside Vashti Bunyan on many tours across the world and have closely collaborated with this special soul. I would love to gain an insight into this collaboration and the experiences and deep learning you must have obtained as a result of this wonderful musical partnership?
GD: It’s been one of the defining experiences of my life, not just as a musician, and I have loved every minute of us playing together. We met in 2006 after FatCat let Vashti hear my music when she was looking for a guitarist to accompany her live. We’ve had some pretty memorable shows, from concert halls to little clubs and everything in between. We both learned a lot on the road together because we were both pretty new to touring and working with sound engineers etc, it took us a while to find our feet initially I think. Recently we’ve been playing often as a duo which is something I’ve really loved, playing with a band was great but a band has its own rhythm which is hard to break out of. With just the two of us it’s possible for Vashti to speed up or slow down or whatever and I can try to follow. Rehearsing together has always been great fun, a lot of cups of tea and catching up, and playing together without amplification, just a couple of guitars and Vashti’s voice, those for me are maybe the most special moments. I feel very lucky to have been involved with this, hard to put in to words what I’ve learned but I know that our playing together has had a deep impact on me.
Finally, in terms of the guitar set-up and the many delicate intricacies embedded deep in these guitar tapestries, can you outline your approaches to making these soundscapes and how you feel you ‘see’ music from a compositional approach point of view? There must be endless experimentations with various tunings and technical set-ups in order to generate such rich and lyrical layers of sound?
GD: On a technical level the guitar sound itself can be achieved fairly simply, I run my guitar through two effects pedals – an analogue delay (Electro Harmonix Memory Man) and a reverb (Electro Harmonix Holy Grail). There is definitely a fair bit of experimenting with altered tunings, sometimes I use existing tunings and sometimes I look for new ones myself. The Memory Man delay pedal has a really great warm and deep sound, especially the older ones, the new ones have changed and are a lot more clinical sounding. The older ones are like a musical instrument, with a lot of character. That’s all I use for the guitar sound, just these two pedals, there are no overdubbed synths or anything like that, the pedals provide any extra sound that you hear on the recording.
When I’m improvising though I’m on the look out for interesting things happening with the effects almost as much as for melodies that I like. In ‘Two Halfs’ for example, which you mentioned earlier, the effects pedals create drones of various pitches that enhance the original melody. In ‘The Solid World’ it’s the same again but with a lot more effects rolled in, the delay and reverb settings are turned up and I pick the guitar quite fast and very quietly so that almost all of the sound you hear is from the delay and reverb and not much from the guitar strings themselves. This gives the piece a kind of electronic feel but there are no synths or anything used there.
Another technique I use often is playing directly on the fret rather than just behind it as would normally be the case. This allows me to mute certain notes which gives a very different and maybe harp-like sound to the guitar, especially when combined with reverb. The main guitar part during the singing in ‘Snag With The Language’ is an example of this, and also the intro to ‘The Hinge of The Year’ which sounds quite different but is the same technique.
‘Orwell Court’ is out now on 12K (and available in Europe via Discolexique).
We’re excited to present three exclusive tracks for February’s mixtape.
February’s edition features an exclusive first listen of UK-based organist and composer James McVinnie’s “Cycles_1” album, set for release this Spring via Icelandic independent Bedroom Community. The album is a collection of reworks of McVinnie’s glorious 2013 Bedroom Community album, “Cycles”, an album featuring thirteen organ pieces performed by Mcvinnie, written by Nico Muhly and also featuring contributions from Nadia Sirota, Chris Thompson and Simon Wall. Presented here is the rework of “O Emmanuel” (the final of the “Seven O Antiphon Preludes” from “Cycles”) by composer Paul Evans, who is also the producer and engineer at the legendary Greenhouse Studios; the creative home of Bedroom Community, founded by Valgeir Sigurðsson in 1997.
Also featured on February’s mixtape is an exclusive first listen of Irish songwriter Brigid Mae Power’s hauntingly beautiful cover of Planxty’s “As I Roved Out” (a regular inclusion on Power’s enthralling live shows), taken from her forthcoming “The Ones You Keep Close” EP, comprising a collection of older songs of Power’s newly recorded by Peter Broderick at his Woods, Oregon-based studio The Sparkle during 2016. The stunning six-track vinyl EP will be available this April via German independent label Oscarson.
We’re happy to also feature the exclusive track “Rook” by Seattle-based artist Benoît Pioulard (Kranky, Ghostly International, Morr Music) which will be exclusively made available on a tour-only CD during his forthcoming eagerly-awaited European tour, commencing on 4th March 2017.
Also included on February’s mixtape are new releases from: Brokeback; Colin Stetson; Hauschka; Jens Lekman; Visible Cloaks; Cindy Lee; Clap! Clap!; Talaboman; Mind Over Mirrors; Julie Byrne & much more.
Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E02 | February mix
To listen on La Blogothèque:
01. Visible Cloaks – “Circle” (RVNG Intl)
02. Julia Holter – “So Lillies” (Live at RAK) (Domino)
03. Yaw – “Where Will You Be” (!K7)
04. Françoise Hardy – “Voilà” (Disques Vogue)
05. Cindy Lee – “A Message From The Aching Sky” (Superior Viaduct)
06. The Sadies – “It’s Easy (Like Walking)” [feat. Kurt Vile] (Yep Roc)
07. The Saxophones – “If You’re on the Water” (Self-Released)
08. Brokeback – “Spanish Venus” (Thrill Jockey)
09. Jens Lekman – “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?” (Secretly Canadian)
10. William Onyeabor – “Fantastic Man” (Luaka Bop)
11. Brentford Disco Set – “Rebel Disco” (Soul Jazz)
12. Adrian Homer Miller – “One and Only One” (Light In The Attic)
13. Colleen – “Eclipse” (Thrill Jockey)
14. Those Who Walk Away – “First Degraded Hymn” (Constellation)
15. Toydrum – “I’ve Got a Future” (Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Rework) [feat. Gavin Clark] (Skint)
16. Julie Byrne – “I Live Now As A Singer” (Ba Da Bing!)
17. Clap! Clap! – “Ascension Psalm” (feat. HDADD) (Black Acre)
18. Talaboman – “Safe Changes” (R&S)
19. Caribou – “People Eating Fruit” (Leaf)
20. Vermont – “Norderney” (Kompakt)
21. Paddy Mulcahy – “On The Steps” (Self-Released)
22. Hauschka – “Constant Growth Fails” (City Slang / Temporary Residence)
23. Mind Over Mirrors – “To the Edges” (Paradise Of Bachelors)
24. James McVinnie – “O Emmanuel” (Paul Evans Remix) (Bedroom Community)
25. Benoît Pioulard – “Rook” (Self-Released)
26. Colin Stetson – “Spindrift” (Constellation)
27. Mario Batkovic – “Restrictus 2” (Invada)
28. Richard Osborn – “Still I Will Be Merry” (Tompkins Square)
29. Brigid Mae Power – “As I Roved Out” (Oscarson)
Compiled by Fractured Air, February 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.
We are thrilled to premiere an exclusive track from Limerick City-based pianist and composer Paddy Mulcahy. The gifted Irish producer’s latest record ‘The Words She Said’ is scheduled for release later this week (Wednesday, 1st March) and follow-up to 2016’s solo piano works ‘Tape Sketches’ and ‘TwentySix’ (released via the prestigious Swedish imprint 1631 Recordings).
The sonic palette expands on ‘The Words She Said’ with pulsating analogue synthesisers fused with layers of mesmerizing piano patterns, forming in turn, beguiling and luminous soundscapes.
The achingly beautiful piano lament ‘Brother Walks In’ can be streamed below:
‘The Words She Said’ is available on 1st March 2017 and is available for pre-order HERE.
We are delighted to premiere an exclusive new track from Seattle-based ambient artist Benoît Pioulard. The ethereal ambient bliss of ‘Rook’ is taken from a brand new, handmade, tour-only album of recent works, limited to 100 copies, which will be for sale during Thomas Meluch’s upcoming European tour (see dates below).
The towering instrumental work ‘Rook’ permeates a vast, otherworldly realm of total transcendence, evoking the timeless sound of fellow luminaries – and Kranky labelmates – Stars of the Lid, Loscil, Grouper and Meluch’s own cherished songbook and storied career. The angelic tones and radiant pulses somehow maps all of life’s fleeting moments in one gorgeous, captivating ripple flow.
The first Benoît Pioulard European tour in three years will take in the following cities:
04 Mar: Cork, Ireland @ Triskel Arts Centre
05 Mar: Dublin, Ireland @ Bello Bar
07 Mar: Reykjavik, Iceland @ Mengi
09 Mar: Paris, France @ Supersonic
10 Mar: Ghent, Belgium @ Dauw HQ
11 Mar: Brussels, Belgium @ Huis 23
12 Mar: Girmont, France @ Une Figue dans le Poirier
14 Mar: Geneva, Switzerland @ L’Usine
15 Mar: Zurich, Switzerland @ Zukunft
16 Mar: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland @ L’Entre Deux
18 Mar: Trieste, Italy @ Tetris
At all shows, a brand new, handmade, tour-only album of recent works, limited to 100 copies will be available at the Merch table.
We are extremely pleased to be hosting Benoit Pioulard’s Cork concert:
Fractured Air & Plugd Records present:
Benoît Pioulard (Kranky) + Wry Myrrh @ Gupld, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork SAT 4th March 2017
Tickets: €12.50 (excluding booking fee)
Purchase tickets HERE