FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Mixtape: Fractured Air – “Everything Unfolds” – September 2018

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Our September mix opens with the utterly captivating new single “I Shall Love 2” from the peerless Los Angeles-based composer and songwriter Julia Holter. “That is all, that is all / There is nothing else” softly whispers Holter, beneath hushed silence before a cinematic synth back drop melds effortlessly with her majestic harmonies. The shape-shifting ballad continually builds with intricate layers of strings, percussion and double bass, forming a wholly shape shifting song cycle of stunning beauty. Her latest sonic creation journeys through astral planes – filled with hope and undying strength – in a search for inner peace and purpose amidst a world of chaos. “I Shall Love 2” somehow encapsulates one’s dreams inside one pulsating, vital heartbeat. The gifted composer’s fifth studio album ‘Aviary’ is released via Domino on 25th October 2018 alongside a European and U.S. tour.

Elsewhere, September’s mixtape features new releases from: legendary Minnesota trio Low; techno bliss courtesy of Djrum (R&S Records); Brendon Anderegg’s solo synthesizer explorations (Thrill Jockey’s “June” LP); the beautifully compiled Ivor Raymonde retrospective “Paradise – The Sound of Ivor Raymonde” (including his timeless arrangements for The Walker Brothers, Bill Fury, Dusty Springfield and many more); more essential re-issues via the Belgian imprint Stroom (Patrick Sellinger’s new wave/electronic opus “Businessmen” marking the label’s latest release); Carrie Cleveland’s soul treasure “Looking Up” LP (in a glorious expanded edition via London’s Kalita Records) and a gorgeous document of Sudan’s rich musical heritage on Ostinato’s new release “Two Niles To Sing A Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan”.  September’s mixtape also includes new soundtracks from Mogwai’s “KIN” score and the sorely missed Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s “Mandy” original score.

 

Fractured Air – “Everything Unfolds” – September 2018

01. Julia Holter“I Shall Love 2” (Domino)
02. The Majority“Wait by the Fire” (Bella Union)
03. Ennio Morricone“The Sundown” (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly OST, United Artists)
04. Silver Jews“We Are Real” (Drag City)
05. WHY?“Good Friday” (Boards of Canada Remix) (Joyful Noise Recordings)
06. Carrie Cleveland“Love Will Set You Free” (Kalita Records)
07. Virginia Wing“Relativity” (Fire)
08. Jóhann Jóhannsson“Children of the New Dawn” (‘Mandy’ OST, Invada/Lakeshore)
09. Mogwai“We’re Not Done” (End Title) (KIN OST, Rock Action/Temporary Residence)
10. Jonny Greenwood“Sandy’s Necklace” (You Were Never Really Here OST, Invada/Lakeshore)
11. Kamal Tarbas“Forget Those That Divide Us” (Ostinato)
12. Ahmed Malek“Tape 19. 11” (Habibi Funk)
13. Djrum“Blue Violet” (R&S)
14. Curve“Falling Free” (Aphex Twin Mix) (Warp)
15. Patrick Selinger“Businessmen” (Original) (Stroom)
16. Helena Hauff“Qualm” (Ninja Tune)
17. The Space Lady“Across The Universe” (Bongo Joe Records)
18. Rachel’s“4 or 5 Trees” (Quarterstick Records)
19. Casino Versus Japan“Sunset Wake” (Self-Released)
20. Brendon Anderegg“June” (excerpt) (Thrill Jockey)
21. June11“Memories” (Stroom)
22. Low“Quorum” (Sub Pop)
23. Oneohtrix Point Never“Toys 2” (Warp)
24. The Gentle People“Journey” (Aphex Twin Care Mix) (Warp)

Guest Mixtape: Echo Collective

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Founded by Margaret Hermant and Neil Leiter in Brussels only little more than five years ago, Echo Collective are one of the true shining lights of the contemporary modern classical scene. Echo Collective consist of classically trained and professionally active musicians based in the Belgian capital (Margaret Hermant, Neil Leiter, Yann Lecollaire, Hélène Elst, Charlotte Danhier, Gary De Cart and Antoine Dandoy). The group have collaborated closely with many of today’s most singularly unique artists including: A Winged Victory for the Sullen; Stars of the Lid; the late Jóhann Jóhannsson; Laniakea and Christina Vantzou. Earlier this year, Echo Collective released “Echo Collective Plays Amnesiac” via the 7K! label, a breathtaking reinterpretation of the 2001 Radiohead classic, which stemmed from a residency at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels during the 2016-2017 season, culminating in a live performance at the inaugural BRDCST festival in April 2017. Recently, Echo Collective performed their seminal live show at Primavera Sound, Barcelona to widespread acclaim. Compiled by Margaret Hermant (violinist and harpist for Echo Collective), she is also a member of the groups Bow and Quatuor Mp4.

 

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“Tribute”
compiled by Margaret Hermant, Echo Collective (Belgium)

Tribute to close friends and musicians whom I have had the chance to meet, to work with, or see on stage along my musical journey.

Echo Collective is a group that I founded with Neil Leiter in Brussels Belgium. Though we have our own musical projects, most of our work is collaborative. We have had the privilege to collaborate with artists like A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Adam Wiltze, Dustin O’Halloran, Christina Vantzou, Erasure, MAPS, Daniel O’Sullivan, Laniakea, to name a few. Through these collaborations, we are able to bring our background as classical musicians to bear in this new landscape of Neoclassical music. And often times, through the collaborations, we meet fantastic other musicians on the road. It really is an amazing gift to be surrounded by and working with such beautiful music and musicians.

This is the first time that I have been asked to make a published playlist. I chose to take the opportunity to share music by people we collaborate with, have met along the journey, or had the chance to see perform. And because I am a violin player, I really wanted to share music that was string based, and showed all the wonderful atmospheres that strings combined in different settings can make.

“This playlist is perfect for a good whiskey, a warm bath, or even a long drive. A companion to the beautifully simple moments in life.”
*Thanks to Neil Leiter, Steven De Vliegher

—Margaret Hermant, summer 2018


Echo  Collective – “Tribute” (Fractured Air Guest Mix)

01. Aphex Twin – “Aussois” (from Drukqs, Warp 2001)
02. Christina Vantzou – “At Dawn” (from No 4, Kranky 2018)
03. Jóhann Jóhannsson – “Odi Et Amo” (from Englabörn, Touch 2002)
04. Otto Lindholm – “Cain” (from In Death’s Dream Kingdom, Houndstooth 2018)
05. Echo Collective – “Hunting Bears / Like Spinning Plates” (from Echo Collective Plays Amnesiac, 7k 2018)
06. James Heather – “Ruqia” (from Stories From Far Away On Piano, Ahead Of Our Time 2018)
07. Jens Maurits Bouttery – “The Day The Dogs Disappeared” OST
08. Mau Loseto – “Hologram Intro”
09. Peter Baert – “Verdriet / Titels” (from Facades OST)
10. Adam Wiltzie – “Bring This Place To Life” (from Salero OST, Erased Tapes 2016)
11. Simon Lenski – “I Like This” (from Oh City, self-released 2016)
12. Mica Levi – “Love” (from Under The Skin, Rough Trade, Milan 2014 )
13. Hildur Guðnadóttir & Jóhann Jóhannsson – “Leaving Home” (from Mary Magdalene, OST)
14. Mica Levi & Oliver Coates – “Barok Main” (from Remain Calm, Slip 2016)
15. Prairie – “Elephants Will Rise Again” (from After The Flash Flood, Denovali 2018)
16. Piloot – “B1” (Radio Edit) (from Piloot, Piloot 2017)
17. Laurent Plumhans – “After” (from In Memoriam, Cypres 2018)
18. BOW – “Bryanbaum”
19. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – “I Am Consumed” (from The Kid, Western Vinyl 2017)

“Echo Collective Plays Amnesiac” is available now on 7K! Records.

https://echo-collective.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/collectiveecho/

Chosen One: Colin Stetson

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And I don’t imagine that there is ever a time when you simply say: “Ok, that’s it, this is the end of the hole that I’m digging and this mine is all bored out”; I don’t imagine that life and art works that way. So, I just continue to search and enjoy it.”

 Colin Stetson

Words: Mark Carry

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Colin Stetson’s utterly captivating score to Ari Aster’s debut horror film ‘Hereditary’ marks the latest instalment to the Montreal composer’s groundbreaking songbook and storied career. The gripping intensity of Stetson’s intricately-layered compositions serves an integral character to the film’s depiction of self-destruction and (spiralling) depths of the human condition.

The vivid textures and beautifully crafted soundscapes interject a pulsating energy and tension to the looming darkness that gradually takes hold of the Graham family. But as ever Stetson’s sound explorations maps the full spectrum: from the deepest of fears, anguish and loss to fragile beauty, hope and undying love. The soaring pieces encompass melancholic ambient excursions; genre-defying, cathartic sound worlds that unleash raw emotion akin to infinite swells of ocean waves.

A parallel could be drawn between ‘Hereditary’ and the artist’s latest solo work (last year’s incredible ‘All This I Do For Glory’). Across the album’s six exploratory compositions, Stetson examines the concepts of the afterlife; similar to the aftermath of destruction that crazes the skies in Aster’s film. The striking narrative of the world-renowned  composer’s musical endeavours forever take you in deep and far with a force and intensity that rarely is captured to tape to such masterful effect.

Tom Waits once described the creative process being like translation. “Anything that has to travel all the way down from your cerebellum to your fingertips, there’s a lot of things that can happen on the journey”. I imagine Stetson – a kindred spirit – and the vitality of the resonating sound waves travelling down the bell of the ancient saxophone, in turn, capturing the soul of all natural things. This fascintaing journey of Stetson’s continues to uncover new ground with each and every fork in the road ahead. Onwards. Always, onwards.

‘Hereditary’ OST is out now on Milan Records.

Colin Stetson’s forthcoming Autumn European TOUR.

http://www.colinstetson.com/
https://colinstetson.bandcamp.com/

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Interview with Colin Stetson.

 

First of all I’d love for you to discuss the making of the incredible ‘Hereditary’ score. Something that strikes you immediately is just how good a match it is for your music in the horror genre and indeed the plot itself? It must have been a very interesting process for you?

Colin Stetson: Yeah, definitely. I’ve been talking to Ari [Aster] for actually a couple of years about this project. He first contacted me two or three years ago and we started talking about the prospect of me scoring. When he contacted me, he was just in the finishing stages of the first draft of the script and so had reached out and told me that he’d been inspired by some of my solo work in the writing of the script and was asking if I’d be interested in scoring. So he sent me the script and as soon as I read it and I realized if he had got the thing made and pulled it off it was going to be a really unique and fantastic picture. And just from the get-go Ari and I had a really good rapport and so I felt comfortable about it from back then.

It’s been a few years and because of that – because we had so much lead time and I was in the loop as things came closer to fruition in terms of getting distribution, getting funding and getting casting and everything and when pre-production started – I was able to actually start scoring well before filming even started. So we were able to get to jettison some of the normal protocol: in the film-scoring world where you have to be scoring off temp music primarily and for this (since I had written a lot of material beforehand and before there had been even shots made or any edits made to picture), they could use a lot of what I had written specifically before the movie as a temp which was great. So, to some capacity I’ve been working on this film since January of last year and finally finished on January 12th of this year.

It’s not surprising in one way that your music was created in response to reading the script itself from the director so it’s interesting how it’s more your reaction to getting inside this story. And there’s a lovely parallel also – thematically and the particular world the film exists in – between your solo works and the themes of ‘Hereditary’?

CS: I think that because we were of such a like-mind and because he knows my solo music so intimately and at the same time understood that we weren’t going to approach this as though it was a solo record and we were able to seamlessly find a continuity and well agreement as to what the character of this score should be early on so there really weren’t any major disagreements or anything which is rare and the working relationship had been throughout the whole process just completely positive – not saying that it wasn’t collaborative because certainly there were things to go back and forth on from time to time – but in terms of the major theme ideas, sonic ideas and the general arc of the whole film, I was very pleased to find we were on the same page throughout in our inspirations and our ideas.

You typify this incredible sphere of contemporary music that’s happening this past decade or so. I’d love for you to go back to your last solo record which was another incredible feat, ‘All I Do This For Glory’. As a listener, it’s always fascinating to realize there’s never any overdubs where it’s all very much in the moment and live.

CS: That’s the major parameter that I set for the solo recordings and which I set many years ago when I first started making them back in 2006 (when I started making Vol. 1). It was just this one simple rule that there wouldn’t be anything added and there wouldn’t be anything extra beyond the relationship between myself and the instrument. And what that does is it challenges you to use to a full extent everything that is there in front of you, to a degree that you wouldn’t have if you could look elsewhere for other avenues sonically – shortcuts and whatnot. But with that, it opens up in the context of something like a film score is that I have a whole host of sounds, approaches and musical aesthetic that I have developed over the years for this solo stuff that I can mime in the context of the film score.

So, for this one I used – although nowhere is there anything stripped down to a single instrument the way that I would do on a solo record – there are moments where the foundation of the cue is completely captured exactly how I would capture a solo piece and then simply embellish upon after the fact with overdubs and more arrangement just to put it in the greater continuity of the score as a whole. So, sometimes a score for me won’t be like that at all and I did some music for a film called ‘Outlaws and Angels’ which was very sax-centric; there wasn’t a whole lot of embellishing and arrangement on top of that so one that was very stripped down. And then other things like a score I did for ‘La Peur’ (a French film ‘The Fear’) where it’s basically a chamber orchestra ensemble with a bit of the flair of the characteristics of my solo pieces as more of an after-thought: an aesthetic and not foundational.

This one [‘Hereditary’] I liked doing to such a degree especially because we got to start so early and really get into the character of the score as an individual; as another member of the cast as it were; we really got to find an overall continuity that I don’t think you always get to find in a score, so I had a lot of fun making this one.

Another aspect to this score I love is how there are the more epic pieces interwoven with the shorter pieces and where – as always – there’s this light versus dark element with dark, foreboding, menacing segments in contrast to the achingly beautiful, fragile moments throughout as well.

CS: Exactly. The main challenge with the score was to – as Ari had put it early on – he simply wanted to avoid sentimentality at all costs and just create from the opening of the film, to create this sense of foreboding and an all-encompassing evil and how to do that without it seeming tongue in cheek or having it melodramatic to a degree where people stop believing you after a little while. So for me it was really just about making sure that everything was done as patiently as possible and being as minimal as possible with each cue in terms of an economy of arrangement and instrumentation but also an economy of motif so that things like you said the subtle moments can really play up and even those big moments there’s still like a central focus in them and the bombast doesn’t become like an intricate cacophony to a degree where it takes your eyes off of the propulsion through the narrative.

Being able to step away from the score as a whole and find a grand continuity throughout the whole thing; it’s hard to talk about this one specifically because there’s so much danger of spoilers because it’s one of those things where it’s hard to even watch a trailer because I feel as though so much of the movie is given away [laughs] by throwing up so many images and from scenes throughout it because basically the first scene happens and then everything is a spoiler [laughs]. There are a great many things that I did throughout all of it that I can’t discuss in their function or in their structure because even to discuss it musically would be to give away some aspects of the narrative.

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As a composer and having  a string of solo albums, scores and the many collaborations you’ve done too, I’d love to gain an insight into your compositional approach if you have certain processes that you feel serves as a constant irrelevant of what the specific album you’re working on? Or if you have certain philosophies in terms of how you score a particular work?

CS: Well, there are a few different levels or layers to the process. I guess the first step is what is the story? What is this narrative? What is the overwhelming and underlining theme or intention that’s imbued? So there is always a bit of an epic tale as it were through each solo record. The last one was probably the first one that I did where I was trying to scale back and make it more in terms of the character of it, it’s more of a character study of a fictional individual in a parable-type story that I had written as a side narrative to the continuity of the trilogy and its opposite and relative character will be coming out with the next record. So that’s the first step: to really abstractly figure out what it is that I’m trying to say; what is the basic emotionality that you’re trying to imbue everything with so that’s carried through to the listener. And that would be the same thing for a score as well: what are the parameters in which we can say it.

The next step is figuring out the overall character and what is the instrumentation. For me, because I do everything myself: I perform all the instruments myself and record everything myself, it’s always a question of do I have the instrumentation already or do I need something that I don’t have ; do I need to learn something new that I don’t yet know how to do in order to make this music the way that I want it to be. So then that can be a brief process of really just identifying what the sound structures and characters of instruments that I’m going to be using the foundation for will be. Or it could be complicated and a little bit longer process where I’m actually buying new instruments and in some cases completely learning new skills in order to accomplish something that I don’t yet know how to do. And then along with that is if I know the general abstract emotional narrative and the character and then I have the nuts and bolts technicality of what are the instruments and what are the machinations of how I can make this happen.

Then it’s the process of doing it: I start to listen or read or I’ll start to really curtail my intake and consumption of media be it music or books so that it’s emphasizing the things that I want to emphasize and making sure that I’m not distracted by things that I don’t want to be distracted by. So in the case of ‘Hereditary’ I specifically and forcibly didn’t listen to any horror film scores or try to really watch any horror in anticipation of this because I didn’t want to be influenced by it. But at the same time I did specifically go towards other things to get at the resultant emotional qualities that I wanted to obtain through different means because I think trying to implement different tropes but not in conventional ways and not in a way that mapped onto the regular world of horror scores (so that will be the case with every record). Something like ‘Judges’ I think that I listened to almost exclusively gospel music for like a year as I was preparing and writing music for that record. And something like the last record I was just consuming so much of a cross of 90’s electronica and metal; it was like a practice of nostalgia for me of that era of my early adulthood so that being a very specific motives for me wanting to take music from my life experience in that particular era of my life but also the particular music that I mimed from that era were intentional; so I would be imbuing this record with the spirit of that background I guess.

As you say that too Colin, the last solo record certainly had the textures and colours of the techno producers of that time throughout that record.

CS: Great. I feel like it always comes through. I think I probably consciously micro-manage everything to a degree that most people aren’t used to but it really just worked for me.

Thinking about your solo records or works in general, do you find yourself for an intense period during the recording stage in particular because as you do it all live, do you find yourself rehearsing for extended periods and going through things before you step into the recording studio?

CS: It would be impossible for me to even sum up how much time. So, by the time that I get to the studio: I’ll take the example of the last record which is definitely the record that I spent the most time making because I recorded it myself in my studio, I was able to take the kind of time that I always wanted to be able to take. So, sometimes you spend years writing songs, getting them to a place where you can physically play the things that you have imagined because sometimes you imagine a piece but I can’t actually physically pull it off until I do x amount of work and sometimes it’s years of practice to get to a place that I’ve envisioned.

So then you have it to a place where it’s adequate: you can see capturing the piece of music as it is finally whole but then the process of getting it into the studio is sometimes long and drawn out because I use an array of microphones; choosing where those microphones are going to go sometimes is a bit of trial and error; choosing what sort of gear – which microphones, which pre-amps, which compression. How I’m capturing the sounds is entirely paramount to the mix at the end and then just hearing how the songs themselves are being captured so there are certain things that I need to be played over and over again and listen to over and over again for me to see how the mics are responding to certain dynamic changes.

Sometimes a whole piece will have to be recorded massively quieter overall than I would normally perform it live or sometimes the dynamics have to be exaggerated to a degree that I would never have been inspired to do in a live context but in the recording it is really necessary. So this process could be just days in the studio going over and playing it like half a dozen times every day or more to get there and that’s just the last stretch (like the last week of recording) and not to mention all of the hours on end throughout the years of writing stuff. It all comes from a place of just an enormous amount of rigour.

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All your releases have this essence that your life’s work is contained within these songs; there’s so much borne inside the music. When ‘Sorrow’ came out, it’s such a special record and your reimagining of Gorecki’s third symphony. This is something you had in your head for many years and with the Sorrow Ensemble, it feels like this close family of musicians. I gather this must have been an amazing experience to fully realize a dream of yours and seeing it come to fruition?

CS: Absolutely. That one in particular because as you know I don’t tend to do too much in the company of others at this stage in my career – it’s not because I don’t ever want to; there’s just limited time to get everything done. But that group, as you said it’s put together first and foremost by who the people are in my life and our relationships together. And then it also is a fact of my close relationships in that they are with people who have this astounding talent and facility on their instruments and very specific sounds and characters. So something like the ‘Sorrow’ thing I’ve been imagining it for a couple of decades really almost, how it would change, what I would change, why I would change the things that I would. And then it really was just a confluence of this particular set of people that was the final piece of the puzzle: this takes it from being something conceptual and makes it into something concrete.

Now we have performed this fifteen or sixteen times at this point over the course of the past couple of years and we continue to book more and it’s such a lovely thing to know that all of us just inhabit this music – we have it, it’s a thing that exists at all times and all we need is a call to get everyone in one place and this big beautiful and terrible thing can happen [laughs].

The live performance must be such a thrill especially as you say just to get everyone in the one room, it must be a special moment in itself to actually perform it live as a group?

CS: Oh absolutely. Again it’s one of those things where the majority of what I do has been – especially for this past decade – is solo performance so just having the pleasure and privilege of the company of all of those players. It is some of the most joyous backstage hangs ever is with that group of people [laughs], it is a beautiful band and I’m hoping to find the time and the circumstance so that I can have that group do something that lives on past the Gorecki reimagining and into other original work.

The physicality of the sound has long been one of the great hallmarks of your music and seeing you play live the listener can physically witness it. Your relationship and engagement with the saxophone instrument; I wonder looking over your discography you must find that you’re continually finding new ways and insights into your instrument because it feels like you are always covering new ground?

CS: Yeah I mean I’m surely trying; that was the purpose of the setting behind those basic rules in the beginning of the solo music was that if you just set up a few very simple parameters then you still have freedom – and music can be anything – but you have to find it in a certain source. And so then if you narrow down the relationship and the source of all sounds to particular instruments and your physicality then the challenge is what can you imagine and what you can think up and then figure out ways to implement with your body is the key. It all stems from that.

Some things will be immediately accessible and will just happen because already you have the ability to do it and some things will be more imagined and it will take sometimes years to get to the place where you can actually pull off the performance of a piece through a very specific and pointed practice regimen to get there. And I’ve just always really thrived on that structure and the thing that is thrilling is that I continue to find more: sometimes subtly and sometimes decidedly not so with the instruments, with the process of capturing sounds; sometimes there was a pretty massive evolution to the capturing of sounds between Vol. 3 and this last record where I’m given so much more time and experimentation with different mics and different placements and different mixing processes that I get it that those things have completely evolved from earlier renditions.

And I don’t imagine that there is ever a time when you simply say: “Ok, that’s it, this is the end of the hole that I’m digging and this mine is all bored out”; I don’t imagine that life and art works that way. So, I just continue to search and enjoy it.

In terms of your chosen musical path and the development of your own musical voice, did you have certain eureka or significant moments during your upbringing or even as you were a bit older where you really felt that you wanted to pursue your own solo music?

CS: Well, the earliest and biggest influence in my life was Hendrix, my dad used to listen to a ton of Hendrix so I defaulted and I just grew up listening and appreciating it. I had a huge infatuation with the music of Tom Waits and then continued to. And through that discovering Marc Ribot and really just becoming enamoured with his career and the way that he had not only been able to be such a  prominent figure as a sideman in different people’s careers but also as a soloist and bandleader for himself was very inspirational.

And Tom Waits, for that matter, learning how to play – in some part – through listening and playing along to his records. Working with him: that experience was pretty integral to me stepping outside the normal way of how things are done or in the way that I had been doing things compositionally or improvisationally and I started to look at things more narratively and more theatrically, more from a storyteller’s perspective. And so I wouldn’t have gotten to the kind of place as a composer or as a storyteller without that relationship for sure.

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It must have been a dream scenario working with Tom Waits? What records were you working on?

CS: That was in 2002 and 2003/2004. Most of what I did with him was the horns on two albums, ‘Alice’ and ‘Blood Money’ and then I did a few tracks that ended up on the ‘Orphans’ album box-set. Yes it literally was that dream come true situation because quite specifically I moved to the San Francisco Bay area in order to be near to where I knew he lived, so that I could – totally in a non-stalker kind of way – perhaps get onto his radar at some point in life and make some music for and with him. So it was one of those things that really seemingly comes out of nowhere but where it comes out of is entirely traceable and it’s really just having an intention, putting yourself in a certain position and being as prolific in the scene as you possibly can and ensuring that every time that you step up to playing with people you not only represent yourself as best as can as a player but also as a person and friend with them because it’s through those friendships and the performances that all the other relationships are going to come out of.

The EX-EYE record was another amazing release of yours. Again like what you were touching on before, it’s you with your close musical friends; I love the sheer wall of sound that you are able to conjure up and how it’s captured then on the album itself.

CS: For sure. The whole point of EX-EYE was to make a very specifically and intentionally virtuosic music – a friend just described it as “transcendent virtuosity”. I wanted to get this group together; Greg [Fox] and I were talking more and more about this idea of ‘maximalism’ (which I think is a misuse of how the term was initially quoted for), but the way we tend to think about it really is like a hyper-saturated virtuosic minimalism where you’re overfilling limited space with enormous amounts of melodic and rhythmic information but doing so in a way that unfolds in the same sense that minimalist music would melodically, harmonically and thematically. So the end result is this really heavy, very, very dense [sound] and through that, much bigger strokes are formed. It’s incredible to have music written with them and to perform with them and we’re starting to work on some new stuff.

‘Hereditary’ OST is out now on Milan Records.

Colin Stetson’s forthcoming Autumn European TOUR.

http://www.colinstetson.com/
https://colinstetson.bandcamp.com/

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August 21, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Mixtape: Fractured Air – “You Grow Closer”

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“You Grow Closer” features: the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based independent music treasures A Hawk And A Hacksaw (Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost), who released their latest album “Forest Bathing” earlier this year via LM-Dupli-cation. Like every record made (or influenced) by the hands of Barnes and Trost, the results are nothing short of astounding. Also featuring other 2018 gems including: peerless songwriter Marissa Nadler’s majestic “For My Crimes” (due for release this Autumn via Bella Union & Sacred Bones); world-renowned UK cellist Oliver Coates’s scintillating “Shelley’s On Zenn-La” full-length, his first for RVNG Intl which is scheduled for release on 7th September; Laurel Halo’s “Raw Silk Uncut Wood” (Latency); Helena Hauff’s “Qualm” (Ninja Tune); Steve Hauschildt’s “Dissolvi” (Ghostly International).

Fractured Air – “You Grow Closer” – August 2018

01. Aretha Franklin“You Grow Closer” (Checker, Chess)
02. Laurel Halo – “Mercury” (Latency Records)
03. A Hawk And A Hacksaw“The Shepherd Dogs are Calling” (LM Dupli-cation)
04. Zazou Bikaye“Mangungu” (Crammed Discs)
05. Talking Heads“Houses In Motion” (Sire)
06. DJ Lilocox“Vozes Ricas” (Principe)
07. Actress & LCO“Hubble” (Ninja Tune)
08. Oliver Coates“A Church” (RVNG Intl)
09. Helena Hauff“It Was All Fields When I Was A Kid” (Ninja Tune)
10. Steve Hauschildt feat Julianna Barwick“Saccade” (Ghostly)
11. Gang Gang Dance“J-TREE” (4AD)
12. Tim Hecker“I’m Transmitting Tonight” (Kranky)
13. Aïsha Devi – “DNA” (Houndstooth)
14. Caterina Barbieri – “Curve Sciolte” (Σ)
15. Colin Stetson – “Aftermath” (Hereditary OST) (Milan Records)
16. JOYFULTALK – “Monocult” (Constellation)
17. Exploded View – “Raven Raven” (Sacred Bones)
18. Szun Waves – “Constellation” (Leaf Label)
19. Brigid Mae Power – “Down on the Ground” (Tompkins Square)
20. Papa M – “Walt’s” (Drag City)
21. Marissa Nadler – “For My Crimes” (Bella Union)
22. A Hawk And A Hacksaw – “The Magic Spring” (LM Dupli-cation)
23. John Jacob Niles“I’m Goin’ Away” (LM Dupli-cation)

 

Guest Mixtape: Sarah Louise

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The Asheville, North Carolina-based guitarist and songwriter Sarah Louise presents an expansive mixtape which delves deep into new age, spiritual jazz, folk and indie territories. This year marked the release of Louise’s breathtaking solo album “Deeper Woods”, out now via Thrill Jockey Records.

sarahlouise_innerspace_mixtape

May 2018 saw the release of “Deeper Woods”, the latest album from the American guitarist and songwriter Sarah Louise, via Chicago’s Thrill Jockey Records. Significantly, “Deeper Woods” is Louise’s first LP which predominantly features her own vocals, offset magnificently with her trusted 12-string guitar, a sound which has come to be synonymous with her oeuvre to date, much like fellow Thrill Jockey artists Glenn Jones and Marissa Anderson. “Deeper Woods” also features contributions from Thom Ngyuen (drums) and Jason Meagher (bass) while Louise produced the album at her home-studio in Asheville, North Carolina. As well as recording as a solo artist, Louise is also one half of the duo House and Land – alongside Sally Anne Morgan (who also plays fiddle with The Black Twig Pickers) – who effortlessly fuse Appalachian folk traditions where harmonies forge and coalesce to soul-stirring effect. Thus far, the duo have released their self-titled LP last year via Thrill Jockey. Presented here is an extensive mixtape compiled by Sarah Louise, which – like her own wholly unique musical output – similarly shares both a timeless reverie and profound mysticsm; music which quietly speaks directly to the heart of the listener. Like the respective songbooks of musical visionaries from both of the past and present – Alice Coltrane, Mary Lattimore, John Fahey, William Tyler – Sarah Louise’s artistry and art is nothing short of transcendental.


Sarah Louise – “Inner Space” (Fractured Air Guest Mix)

01. Alice Coltrane – “Radhe-Shyam” (Warner Bros.)
02. Midori Takada – “Mr. Henri Rousseau’s Dream” (Reel-2-Reel to Digital conversion) (WRWTFWW Records)
03. Joni Mitchell – “Woodstock” (Reprise)
04. Kate Bush – “The Saxophone Song” (EMI)
05. John Luther Adams – “The Light that fills The World” (Cold Blue Music)
06. Anne Briggs – “Fine Horseman” (CBS / Earth)
07. Pärson Sound – “Blåslåten” (ti’llindien, Subliminal Sounds)
08. Heron Oblivion – “Beneath Fields” (Sub Pop)
09. Shirley Collins – “Bonnie Boy” (Polydor / A Wing & A Prayer Ltd)
10. Blind Mamie Forehand – “Honey In The Rock” (Anchor)
11. Solange – “Cranes in the Sky” (Columbia)
12. Trees – “Sally Free and Easy” (Sony / CBS)
13. Elvie Thomas – “Motherless Child Blues” (Mississippi Records)
14. Twin Sisters – “Sidna Myers” (Clawhammer) (County Records)
15. John Adams – “Phrygian Gates” (performed by Andrew Russo) (Sanctuary Records Group)
16. Meredith Monk & Collin Walcott – “Fear And Loathing In Gotham: Gotham Lullaby” (ECM)

“Deeper Woods” by Sarah Louise is available now on Thrill Jockey Records.

https://sarahlouise.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sarahlouisemusicmusic/

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July 26, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Guest Mixtape: Cheval Sombre

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Ahead of exciting forthcoming new releases, we’re delighted to present a mixtape by Cheval Sombre (New York-based songwriter and poet Christopher Porpora) entitled “When Summer was in my Heart”.

 

Cheval Sombre is the New York-based poet and songwriter Christopher Porpora, who since 2009 has released a pair of studio albums and a plethora of limited-run records via independent labels such as Trensmat, Static Caravan, Fat Elvis Records, Fruits de Mer and Sonic Cathedral. The long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s “Mad Love” (Sonic Cathedral) is a forthcoming release, together with this summer’s “Had Enough Blues”, a strictly limited 7” via the wonderful Knoxville, Tennessee-based independent label Fat Elvis Records. “Had Enough Blues” is a moving, soul-stirring folk lament fittingly made for these hard, modern times of political uncertainty and volatility. The E.P. is once again mixed and produced by the legendary Pete Kember (Sonic Boom, SPECTRUM, Spacemen 3). Furthermore, a new full-length album of covers recorded alongside longtime friend and frequent collaborator Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna) is also a forthcoming release.

Cheval Sombre – “When Summer was in my Heart” (Fractured Air Guest Mix)

01. Arthur Russell – “Instrumentals, Vol. 1, Pt. 1”
02. The 6ths – “Just Like a Movie Star”
03. Severed Heads – “We Have Come to Bless This House” (Harvey Treatment)
04. Jefferson Airplane – “J.P.P. Mc Step B. Blues”
05. Usha Khanna – “Hotel Incidental Music”
06. Gun Outfit – “Legends of My Own”
07. Kikagaku Moyo – “Kogarashi”
08. Kay Gardener – “Prayer to Aphrodite”
09. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “On the Wall” (Porta Studio Demo Version)
10. Piero Umiliani – “Roy Colt, Pt. 13”
11. Gimmer Nicholson – “Hermetic Waltz”
12. Moby Grape – “I Am Not Willing”
13. Charlie Hilton – “Funny Anyway”
14. Tempelhof & Gigi Masin – “She Left Home”

The very limited Cheval Sombre 7” “Had Enough Blues” is a forthcoming release via Knoxville, Tennessee label Fat Elvis Records.

https://www.facebook.com/chevalsombremadlove
http://www.soniccathedral.co.uk

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July 17, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Chosen One: The Gentleman Losers

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So we had a feeling of being stuck in this insane limbo, this quicksand, where no matter how fast we run, we don’t make headway.”

 Samu & Ville Kuukka

Words: Mark Carry

 TGL-Promo-2018-2-Large

Last winter saw the highly anticipated return of Finnish duo The Gentleman Losers with their sublime third studio album ‘Permanently Midnight’ (released on Estonian boutique label Grainy Records). With the addition of vocals (on several tracks) and synthesizer instrumentation, the band’s unique sound world has further evolved, producing a rejuvenated, cathartic and deeply bewitching sonic experience.

The Gentleman Losers consist of brothers Samu and Ville Kuukka from Helsinki, Finland. The duo’s immaculate instrumental music first surfaced in 2006 with their universally acclaimed self-titled debut full length, followed by the equally exceptional ‘Dustland’ in 2009. Looking back, the band mapped magnificently the gorgeous ambient and modern classical recordings of the 00’s. The duo’s first two records capture a fragile beauty of long-lost folk relics, forever filled with cinematic wonder and a lyrical quality is forever inherent in their stunningly beautiful musical works. In fact, many conversations with musicians over the years has seen the name of the Gentleman Losers pop up – often with a flood of excitement and a warm smile. A remarkable band whose return last year was akin to the return of a longtime friend to grace your very presence.

The long hiatus in these intervening years saw the Kuukka brothers form a synth pop outfit Lessons (with extensive touring in addition to the band’s debut album release) and film scores and other commissioned music. Says Ville, “We were really itching to get them out”. The album’s immaculate ten tracks contains a bold spirit that resonates powerfully throughout the quiet bliss of synthesizer-layered opener ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’ right through to the closing harmony-laden opus title-track.

As ever, keen attention to detail is clearly evident across the mesmerizing sonic canvas. Gorgeous harmonies are intricately placed on the late night bliss of ‘Swimming After Dark’ while the closing two tracks (forthcoming single ‘Rising Tide’ and ‘Permanently Midnight’) merges Memphis soul and 60’s/70’s Americana to magnificent effect. A healing quality prevails throughout the sumptuously layered creations.

The album’s towering centerpiece ‘Wintergreen’ epitomizes the visionary nature of the duo’s latest sonic jewel. Cinematic strings and brooding synthesizers are effortlessly fused with clean guitar tones and a plethora of pristine instrumentation, radiating a deep catharsis as a result. ‘Occultation Of Hesperus’ is a live jam, bustling with hypnotic guitar riffs and pulsating beat. The range of the band’s sound  is widening yet their trademark ambient aesthetics remain beautifully intact.

Permanently Midnight’ becomes an experience of in-betweenness. Says Samu, “Permanently Midnight explores the idea of liminality, of being stuck in a stage where the old has ceased to exist, but the new hasn’t yet begun”. A timelessness spreads across ‘Permanently Midnight’ like the impending light of dawn.

‘Permanently Midnight’ is out now on Grainy Records.

The Gentleman Losers’ upcoming single “Rising Tide” will be released on June 22nd on all major digital services.

https://www.gentlemanlosers.com/

https://thegentlemanlosers.bandcamp.com/music

30443387_2122838307986294_8106836017710891008_o credit Mirjam Varik

 

Interview with Samu & Ville  Kuukka.

 

Congratulations on the utterly compelling and stunningly beautiful new full length release “Permanently Midnight”. I just love how on one level, it’s unmistakably the unique sound world crafted by The Gentleman Losers but also there is many new elements inherent in your sonic oeuvre in this newest chapter (particularly, the use of voice and harmonies and more heightened use of synthesizer in places). Firstly, please discuss the primary concerns you both had for this new record (from the outset) and indeed the conversations you must have been having concerning the desire to add these new colours to your musical language?

Samu & Ville Kuukka: Thank you so much! I have to say, whenever we set out to make new music as TGL, it’s always very, very hard to meet the standards we’ve set for the band. We’re not happy with almost anything that comes out of our fingertips. I don’t know how many times we’ve cursed ourselves for being so demanding. I mean, who needs this kind of madness in their lives? Sonically, stylistically, and emotionally, we’ve set these boundaries, more or less strict, within which we operate. The world is very finely tuned, and it breaks easily, so each note and idea and sound needs to be carefully chosen to preserve the magic. That said, we felt that, since the gap between the releases ended up being so big, it was time we brought new elements to the sound. The expectations were high, I suppose, from our fans, to come up with the goods again, but at the same time, we’re not the same people as we were eight years ago. So it would have felt a tad disingenuous to keep making the same music we were making then.

There has been quite the hiatus from the second Gentleman Losers record (“Dustland”) and last year’s eagerly awaited follow-up. I get the impression your involvement in the synth pop band Lessons (and particularly the numerous live shows) helped inform the sound of what would become “Permanently Midnight”? The ambitious scope of the record is what strikes you immediately where the glorious compositions inhabit this remarkably empowering and cosmic spirit. During these years of allowing the new compositions to bloom naturally – and gradually I presume – there must have been a proud moment for you once the album finally came into being?

SK & VK: We never meant to take a break from TGL.”Dustland” materialised rather easily, so it wasn’t a question of being fed up with the band or anything. What did happen, was in fact our “side projects” – seeking film music commissions, then getting them, and the Lessons band – ended up taking way more time and energy than we had thought. Lessons in particular turned out to be much more demanding than we expected, much of it owing to the fact that the third member of the band, our singer and co-writer Patrick Sudarski, lives in Germany. But then Lessons got signed to Sinnbus records and there were releases and tours and interviews and the lot. Which was all lovely, obviously exactly what we wanted to happen! But when there are people involved in your endeavours, like label folks, PR people, booking agents, radio promoters, and what have you, it sort of becomes more serious. It’s a job then, really. There are people expecting things from you. With TGL it as just the two of us, more or less, especially after our label City Centre Offices decided to call it quits, after which we in fact had no outlet for the music. But certainly it was writing synth pop songs for Lessons that got us thinking that we might write vocal songs for TGL too. It was a very natural progression, too.

It wasn’t like we were working on the album all this time, but there were long stretches when it in fact was all we did. The film music stuff and the synth pop band were helpful in opening new creative doors for me personally, but I think there were times for Ville when he felt the opposite to be true. And at some point progress on the album got mired down. Those were difficult times for us, I can’t deny it. There was depression, a feeling of futility. The growing panic of having wasted years on a project that might not ever see the light of day, and if and when it did, would we even be on anyone’s radar anymore. And as always, the question of making enough money to pay for the rent. Which, of course, is a real struggle for indie musicians. It’s genuine poverty; there’s no nice way to put it. Ville had a serious bout of burning out and it took him a long time to recover. I was getting serious physical reactions from the constant stress of years on end. I was actually in physical pain for months, and no cause was found.

So we had a feeling of being stuck in this insane limbo, this quicksand, where no matter how fast we run, we don’t make headway. This is what the album came to be about at some point. We kept working on it, because it was already way past the point of no return, and we knew it would be great eventually, because the songs were there. Then we reached the moment where we thought the album was finished. We were in Berlin, and we played that version to some musician friends – Nils Frahm, FS Blumm, Takeshi Nishimoto, Martyn Heyne – and they all liked it. But for us, this was an ear-opener. We somehow heard the thing with fresh ears, and knew that it wasn’t anywhere near finished. So from that moment on, we got back to the drawing board and after some serious reworking, we finally found the right approach and the album became what it is.

And I need to point out that in spite of all the struggle, we love the album now. Once we had conquered the biggest issues and things started moving into the right direction, we knew that we had a great record in our hands.

IMG_3159 credit Samu Kuukka

In terms of the musical set-up and equipment at your disposal (and particularly your home studio set-up in Helsinki), I’d love to gain an insight into your studio set-up and the many innumerable instrumentation and analogue gear that were vital to “Permanently Midnight”‘s enchanting sonic canvas? Following on from the first two albums, were there new musical discoveries (instruments, gear, pedals, production tools etc) that served significant foundations to this latest release?

SK & VK: What has happened is that over the years, we’ve lost access to a lot of excellent gear! On our first album we had what was probably our best-sounding set-up. It was really a matter of serendipity. We just happened to have at our disposal pieces of equipment that, when combined, gave us a gorgeous sound. Often some important pieces of gear have been on loan from other people, so we’ve kind of lost them from our arsenal since then. Over the years we’ve always kept some key pieces that we own, such as our Telefunken mixing console from the 1950s, a Studer tape machine, a tape delay, some choice mics.

Among the new stuff on this record there’s the Roland SH-101 synth, which is mainly appreciated in dance music circles, but is a really lovely instrument. Another unique thing was the kantele, which is a traditional, zither-like, Finnish instrument. It was used for some colours on ”Night Falls in Nowhereland”. Other things included boring, technical stuff such as some Neve mic preamps. And towards the end of the mixing stage we got a pair of these most amazing speakers called Kii Audio. Those things are like the first real major development in speaker technology in decades. Absolutely groundbreaking stuff.

What we hope to achieve is a certain level of randomness and happy accidents. Things that we don’t have total control over. Which is why we like analogue gear, all things lo-fi, and even malfunctioning units. It’s a matter of letting chance take its course, and then editing the results in the digital domain. We do use digital stuff too, Pro Tools and such, and recently, Ableton Live.

The gorgeous soulful americana, neon-lit lament “The Good Bird Singin’ In The Twilight Tree” represents one of part A’s deeply enriching moments. The meticulous layering of the pristine sounds emits such a vivid warmth, particularly the heavenly harmonies atop the warm percussion. Can you talk me through this song’s construction and how it blossomed over time? Did you envision this composition to turn out in this way (or rather, you may never know until much later in the recording process)?

SK & VK:”Good Bird” was a relatively late addition, and one that, thematically, tied the album together. It was a song that came very easily. The music was somehow just waiting to come out. I lifted some of the lyrics from another, unfinished, song, and with minor alterations the song was there. The album’s main theme is sort of condensed in the words of ”Good Bird”. The production side took much, much longer. We knew we wanted this soulful sound for it, but it took a fair amount of experimenting. It used to have just the drum machine as the rhythm section. Then we wondered how it would sound with an acoustic drum kit. We didn’t want a regular-sounding drum kit, so we recorded it with a plastic toy mic onto this 70s cassette deck we had – and voilà! Mixing the song was pretty hard, mostly because of the terrible-sounding mix room that was our bane back then. But once Ville had the mix down, we knew we had a centerpiece track for the album.

Recording over several years and in many cities across Europe must have been a very interesting experience. I wonder would you have been working very specifically on certain songs in these various recording times you had together? Looking back on the album’s inception and creation, did certain tracks bloom much quicker than others? I’m very curious to know how late in the day (so to speak) did the composition (such as “Swimming After Dark” for example?) tell you to add vocals? 

SK: The multitude of recording locations was not something we planned, or meant to happen. It was just a fact of life then that we were moving round a lot. For example Ville was living in Paris with his girlfriend Kaisa Ruotsalainen for a while, and he had set up a little studio around a laptop and Ableton Live. So stuff kept coming to me from Paris, and then I worked on those  ideas, and some of them went somewhere, and others didn’t.

Some of the songs really took forever to find a final form – most of them did, I suppose. Good Bird, like I mentioned, was an exception. Some other didn’t require that much work, if you count the hours we put into them in the end, but they were recorded in a few sessions that were far apart in time. I think ”Soft Rains” was started in this lovely old house in Switzerland and finished years later in Helsinki.

“Swimming” is a song we had lying around for years. If I remember correctly, a version of it was left off ”Dustland”. It didn’t have vocals then, and it wasn’t at all the way it turned out now. Once the decision was made to have vocals on the new album, we found that song draft and fooled around with. That’s when it really came to life.

21-3551 credit Ville Kuukka

A snippet of “Wintergreen” was heard first on the band’s album trailer in the weeks leading up to its release. I feel this piece is one of the album’s pinnacles (and the band’s songbook thus far) with luminescent beats, smoky jazz flourishes and beguiling cinematic soundscapes. It’s clearly demonstrated that as brothers, each of you informs the other – as a near telepathic connection forever connects the pair – where a certain electronic beat or synth line informs the following vibraphone passage (and so on). Please shed some light on the creative process inherent in your work and indeed has the process remained the same or changed in any way from your early days?

SK: Ville has this favourite quote when talking about the way we play on a song like ”Wintergreen”: Keith Richards talks about the ”ancient art of weaving”, which is what he does with Ronnie Wood. The players listen to each other and just trade licks and lines, and the fabric of the song comes out of that. Certainly Ville and I have a wordless understanding when playing music, most of the time, at least. Which doesn’t mean that we always exist harmoniously in the studio! There have been some major shouting matches over the year, that’s for sure.

When we start writing new material, it’s always a very intimate process. It’s rare that we sit down and write together starting from scratch. Usually each of us brings something to the table that we’ve written alone, then see how the other one responds. So it’s this two-part filter always at work on the music. There are so many rejected ideas as a result that I can’t even guess at the number. But it means that only the strongest stuff gets a green light. This process has remained the same over the years.

“Permanently Midnight” encapsulates this in-between state, so it’s as if the immaculate sounds capture precisely this feeling of tension, despair and melancholy but therein also lies burning embers of hope within the darkness. Please talk me through the album’s title and the themes central to this latest journey of yours? The accompanying photobook (beautifully depicting “pictures from the in-between”) offers another perspective on this striking narrative built. Can you recount your memories of taking these many photos – the places you were, the feelings you were striving to capture – and the visual nature of your music (and the undeniable cinematic quality to the band’s sound)? The relationship between sight and sound must forever serve undying fascination and inspiration for you?

SK &VK: It was something that dawned on us as the recording process dragged on, and, in essence, took over our lives, that we were living in this weird place, or non-place, outside of time. We had the feeling that our lives or careers hadn’t really progressed much, in spite of our ceaseless work. We were working on something new, a piece that was to redefine us as artists to a great degree, but the work wasn’t finishing; we were stuck in a moment of transition. In anthropology, this is called a liminal state. In a broader sense, liminality has always been recognized as special, even dangerous state. In folk magic, certain places and times have been considered liminal, and therefore supernatural, such as a crossroads, a place between the worlds, so to speak. Think of the myth of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at a crossroads at midnight in exchange for superior guitar skills. So for example, the twilight is a time that is between day and night, and, of course, midnight is a time that is no longer the day before, nor yet the next one.

We then realized that we weren’t alone in feeling this. Many of our friends were feeling this in-between-things state as well. Culturally, politically, and technologically, so many things have changed recently that it has left us all reeling. The whole world is in a state of transition, but not really moving on into the future. Technology seems to have altered, in a profound way, a whole generation’s perception of the world, and what it means to be a human being in the world. The world as we knew it has vanished, seemingly overnight, because of technological progress running amok, this inhuman greed setting the pace, and people as the body politic behaving like idiots. Things are changing, but there is nothing in anyone’s field of vision to replace the old. I certainly don’t know what to expect from the future anymore. Like they say, the future ain’t what it used to be.

The photos were something that just happened on the side. We have both been avid photographers for years. So we always go everywhere armed with a camera of some sort, at least a compact 35mm. We shoot a lot of pictures, and at some point near the completion of the record, we realized that we have actually been sort of documenting the process all along. Not really capturing the actual work, but rather our lives, and how the world looked like to us during the recording. And turns out that many of the pictures can be seen as a visual continuation of what we were trying to put down in the music. I guess we tend to have a similar approach to taking pictures, where it’s a mood that we’re capturing, and the mood we’re in ourselves defines the subjects and the approach. So it’s really about this mental and emotional free association. You see different things depending on you’re feeling. The pictures in the book have been shot in many places, from Helsinki to Paris, and Tallinn to Leipzig. To put it in grand terms, I suppose we’re trying to capture how it feels to be alive at this particular time in history.

IMG_3166 credit Samu Kuukka

What also strikes me is the sequencing of the album and how the gorgeous celestial harmonies ascend into the atmosphere, towards the album’s close? It almost feels as if the crystal light of the impending horizon is nearing us. The meticulous attention to detail abounds at each and every turn. Is the sequencing a significant challenge?

SK & VK: We’re happy that you appreciate this! The sequencing is indeed an essential part of our art. We give it a lot of thought and go through endless permutations before find the kind of dramatic and emotional arc that delivers the kind of feeling that we’ve been looking for. We’re big fans of the Album as an art form, and it sort of baffles us that, really, very few artists seem to be interested in offering a good album, a whole, instead of a random collection of songs. I know this is very old-fashioned in this age of throwaway singles, but this is in fact a great loss that albums aren’t appreciated anymore, or supported (or even acknowledged) by many digital platforms. Mainstream music, of course, has never been about the album as a thoroughly thought-out piece of art, the label people just want to have the most obvious hit song to be first, then the next best song, and so on, until there’s the godawful side B. But if done well, the music album can be a unique form of expression. And the vinyl record, by its physical attributes, becomes a two-act show, which is a splendid way to present a suite of music. For the listener, there is a physical and psychological aspect to it as well, getting up, walking up the record, and flipping it over. It’s like reading a book. You have to do something physical to find out how the story continues.

The album’s final harmony-laden gems “Rising Tide” and the gorgeous title-track really conveys just how far the band has come and this sense of a journey – undoubtedly one of rejuvenation – that this music takes the listener on. Recount your memories of writing the lyrics and the various musical layers to these beguiling creations? Were there reference points (certain albums or films or books even) that you turned to throughout ‘Permanently Midnight’s album making process?

SK: The song ”Permanently Midnight” searched its form for a good while. Again, the demo had been around for a couple of years, sans lyrics, but it wasn’t until the phrase ”permanently midnight” came to me, and we decided to do something unexpected with the vocals, that the song found its form. It’s a very sweet tune, but we didn’t want to go too far in that direction. It was another song that was essential to our rebirth. The lyrics are really simple, to drive the point home. And the phrase ”all dressed up and nowhere to go” felt like a good way to describe what we were feeling.

Lastly, I must ask you about the menacing, seductive groove of “Occultation Of Hesperus”. It feels this glorious cut saw the light of day from a jamming session one evening? There is a live feel to this recording, which I love and a charged immediacy and rawness. It must be an exciting prospect for the pair of you to be touring the new record, will you be expecting new versions to evolve as a result of the chemistry of live performances?

SK:”Hesperus” was indeed a live jam, back in our dingy studio in the Punavuori neighbourhood of Helsinki. The basic track was just a drummachine, Ville on the electric guitar, and me on the Rhodes. It’s relatively rare for us to record like that, but it’s something we enjoy doing, and, indeed, will be doing on the road! We just recently played our first live show in many, many years. The reception was amazing and it really left us wanting to do it more.

‘Permanently Midnight’ is out now on Grainy Records.

The Gentleman Losers’ upcoming single “Rising Tide” will be released on June 22nd on all major digital services.

https://www.gentlemanlosers.com/

https://thegentlemanlosers.bandcamp.com/music

Written by admin

June 13, 2018 at 2:10 pm