FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Guest Mixtape: Julia Kent (Canada/The Leaf Label)

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To coincide with the release of “Temporal”, the world-renowned Canadian cellist and composer Julia Kent’s majestic fifth studio album, we are excited to present a very special guest mix compiled by one of independent music’s true treasures. The New York-based composer – originally best known as cellist for Antony and the Johnsons and member of the cello-driven group Rasputina – has quietly amassed a monumental body of solo work since “Delay”, her 2007 debut full-length. Each subsequent recording never ceases to amaze in it’s immense artistic vision and graceful execution, all the while revealing Kent as one of the most consistently fascinating artists making music today. 

Spanning a breathtaking spectrum of some of the world’s most innovative contemporary composers, Julia Kent’s guest mix beautifully blends modern classical, electronic, ambient and experimental spheres to wondrous effect. “Temporal” is available now on The Leaf Label.

juliakent_mixsleeve

 



Tracklist:

01. Jessica Moss“Fractals (Truth 4)” (Constellation)
02. Sarah Davachi“Third Hour” (Ba Da Bing!)
03. Resina“Procession” (130701)
04. Kelly Moran“Halogen” (Warp)
05. Galya Bisengalieva“Tulpar” (NOMAD Music Productions)
06. Helena Hauff“Entropy Created You And Me” (Ninja Tune)
07. Barbara Morgenstern “Brainfuck” (Staatsakt)
08. Fatima Al Qadiri“Breach” (Hyperdub)
09. Jlin “The Abyss of Doubt” (Planet Mu)
10. Zora Jones“Too Many Tears” (Fractal Fantasy)
11. Holly Herndon & Jlin“Godmother” (feat. Spawn) (4AD)
12. Gudrun Gut“Boys Keep Swinging” (Monika Enterprise)
13. Kali Malone“Arched in Hysteria” (Hallow Ground)
14. Félicia Atkinson & Jefre Cantu-Ledesma“Indefatigable Purple” (Shelter Press)
15. Christina Vantzou“Sound House” (Kranky)

‘Temporal’ is out now on The Leaf Label.

https://www.juliakent.com/
http://www.theleaflabel.com/

Chosen One: Julia Kent

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Creative work–whether it’s making music or writing or performing physically–can sometimes produce its own chronology and in that way seem to escape time.”

—Julia Kent

 Words: Mark Carry

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Last month saw the eagerly awaited return of world-renowned Canadian cellist and composer Julia Kent’s fifth studio album, ‘Temporal’: a deeply transformative journey into our very being that chronicles the fragility of human existence. The emotional world that Kent’s cello-based compositions innately unfolds – akin to the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates in a natural, hypnotic and gradual rhythmic pulse – unleashes a haven of raw emotion and vivid textures. It is this highly emotive quality of the cellist’s captivating soundscapes – which somehow encapsulates all of life’s fleeting moments in one enthralling, soaring ocean wave – that has been a cherished constant in her storied career to date.

Temporal’ begins with the epic tour-de-force ‘Last Hour Story’; a striking piece centered on a metronomic pulse. But it is the way in which the continually morphing and mutating strings somehow navigate into the hidden depths of one’s heart and mind – constantly changing direction, and forever exploring deeper into the unknown – which conveys a celestial beauty of unknown magnitude. A timelessness is created, for the listener, is taken into the here and now, with the heart pulse as our trusted compass.

The combination of hypnotic electronic pulses and contemplative strings is masterfully employed on the luminescent ‘Imbalance’. Momentous sound worlds of neo-classical, electronic and drone soundscapes are interwoven, overlapped and joined in synergy. The journey is undeniably taking its course: to here knows when.

Experimentation with vocals (bringing to mind kindred spirits of Kelly Moran’s latest Warp full-length or Kara-Lis Coverdale) on the dazzling ‘Conditional Futures‘ creates an utterly transcendent drone-infused-ambient creation. The hidden details are sculpted together into a labyrinth of time, wherein the strings serve the vital link.

The modern-classical splendour of ‘Floating City’ shares the timeless spirit of Hauschka and Olafur Arnalds such is its sublime spell. Heartwarming and enlightening, in equal measure.

An inner dialogue forever occurs deep within the very heart and soul of Kent’s glorious sound worlds. The album’s gripping penultimate track, ‘Through The Window’ encapsulates the empowering nature of the Canadian composer’s immense talents: it is as if our very inner reflection – both the darkness of fears, tension, doubts and the light of love, hope and joy – becomes reflected through the looking-glass. Music that becomes part of you.

‘Temporal’ is out now on The Leaf Label.

https://www.juliakent.com/

http://www.theleaflabel.com/

julia-kent-by-pepe-fotografia_1

Interview with Julia Kent.

 

Congratulations on the stunningly beautiful and transformative latest full length ‘Temporal’. An album title that epitomizes the intense spirit and emotive energy that permeates throughout: reflecting at once the transient nature of life and human existence but also a celebration of life’s ripple flow of fleeting moments. Please discuss the narrative of this latest solo work, Julia and recount your memories of witnessing these hypnotic pieces come to fruition?

Julia Kent: Thanks so much! The album came together over a few years and rather than there being a narrative thread running through the pieces, there is more the idea that they were reflecting on, as you say, the passage of time and the way in which we can sometimes seem to arrest it by creating something that intersects with it. Creative work–whether it’s making music or writing or performing physically–can sometimes produce its own chronology and in that way seem to escape time.

You have collaborated quite often in the field of dance and I was very interested to discover many of these pieces were born from your work in the world of dance/theatre. Please discuss the relationship between sound and movement and how your subconscious responds to these cues, so to speak? 

JK: I love working with dance because there’s a really specific and amazing energy that happens with dancers on a stage. What they do is so physical, obviously, but also transcends physicality. Dance turns our existence, as bodies negotiating our way through the constraints of gravity and the construct of chronology, into art.

‘Last Hour Story’ forms a significant foundation to ‘Temporal’s captivating sound world. The gorgeous textures of strings and subtle electronics creates this otherworldly, far-reaching stratosphere. I’m curious as to the song title and how this epic piece develops gradually over time. I can imagine the space – be it your headspace or indeed this ‘other’ space the music brings you deep inside – is very much apparent during the making and construction of ‘Last Hour Story’?

JK: “Last Hour Story” was originally developed to accompany a theatre piece called “Il Tempo Scolpito,” which of course references Tarkovsky’s autobiography, and that was my original working title for it, until I realized I just couldn’t presume to use that title. The whole piece unfolds over an unchanging metronomic beat, and I used it as an opportunity to explore how musical ideas can develop over something that remains unchanged and, in a way, inexorable. “Last Hour Story,” as a title, came from the idea of how time can compress or dilate, depending on how we’re experiencing it: the concept of how it changes depending on our perspective, like the way, allegedly, at the end of our life we could potentially have a bird’s-eye view of it.

Can you discuss the processes and techniques utilized on ‘Temporal’ and indeed if any new avenues were navigated on this latest exploration? As a composer, do you find you approach – in essence – has remained a constant throughout your storied career? 

JK: I think I do make music in the same way always: for me it really is about communicating emotion. For “Temporal,” because much of the music was created in response to external concepts, either from choreography or from text, I think perhaps it might have ended up being less interior than some of my other records. The compositional process definitely had one more step than some of my other music in terms of the pieces developing in a really immediate way in rehearsal or in response to concepts and then being refined over time as it became clear that this music could come together to be an album.

‘Conditional Futures’ conveys your masterful use of vocal textures and how these textures are interwoven with the cello instrumentation unleashes a fragile beauty amidst a dark undercurrent. Can you outline any challenges posed by adding these vocal treatments to your music? I wonder how much time goes into the production of ‘Temporal’, after which the tracks are put to tape?

JK: I’m always interested in processing organic textures and combining them with electronic textures in a way that blurs the boundaries between both, so that it’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. I think in “Temporal” I’ve done that more than in my other records. I did a lot of processing of the cello sound and the “found” voices that I used to turn them into textures. It makes them almost into ghosts of what they are. That’s something also, that seems inherent to looping. Someone in a recent interview referenced the concept of “hauntology” with reference to looping, which I thought was so interesting. It seems relevant in terms of the way repetition can create a phantom existence.

I’m in awe of the inner dialogue that forever occurs deep within the heart and soul of your sonic explorations. I feel ‘Through The Window’ encapsulates the deeply empowering nature of your cello based compositions. Can you discuss the act of layering pieces of strings and indeed how you – in effect – respond to musical ideas and build a piece from a starting idea to its finished, gleaming whole?

JK: That is a lovely way to describe the end result–thank you!–but, of course, my process is very much a process, and all the errors and imperfections contribute to the whole, the way our faces and bodies reflect the lives we live. There are always lots of side roads taken on the way to the destination, but those are the most interesting journeys!

Lastly, what music, film, theatre, books (or one or any of these) has inspired you in a big way?

JK: It’s not necessarily a direct inspiration on anything but, in New York, I just recently saw Elevator Repair Service’s production of “Gatz,” which is “The Great Gatsby,” turned into theatre, every word read onstage, and every character inhabited. It’s something like eight hours long and was so demonstrative of how art can intersect with time. It takes what is already an incredible work into another dimension. And so resonant to the American experience, historically and, especially, now.

‘Temporal’ is out now on The Leaf Label.

https://www.juliakent.com/

http://www.theleaflabel.com/

Written by admin

February 11, 2019 at 9:39 pm

Posted in CHOSEN ONE

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Guest Mixtape: Rauelsson (Sonic Pieces)

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We are delighted to present to you a special guest mix compiled by revered Spanish producer Rauelsson, whose 2018 full length ‘Mirall’ – released on the ever dependable Berlin-based Sonic Pieces imprint – unfolded deeply affecting electro acoustic explorations interwoven with gorgeous electronic textures and neo-classical splendor. The collaboration between Raúl Pastor Medall (Rauelsson) and Erik K. Skodvin (Deaf Center) on the soul stirring score for the Danish film ‘Darling’ (2017) is another essential musical document (as is Rauelsson’s 2013 Sonic Pieces-debut ‘Vora’ ). Below are some words from Raúl describing this special mixtape he has assembled.

Rauelsson pic

‘Ghosts, Friends and Acquaintances’

Listening to music made by friends feels particularly satisfying to me. There is something special about listening to sounds and words that come from a place that you know; somehow, you feel part of a shared journey. I have been lucky enough to meet some talented musicians over the years that I can now call friends. Some of them are gifted, glowing souls that have been very important in my music world. As an expression of gratitude here I am compiling an all-over-the-place, all-over-the-map playlist featuring some songs that might only have one thing in common: I discovered them thanks to friends or have been written and played by friends, or friends of friends. And ghosts, there are some ghosts too, so there you go Ghosts, Friends and Acquaintances.

Some –random– notes about these songs:

If you drive to Barcelona airport from the south you might take highway C32, which runs parallel to the Mediterranean Sea coastline. The southern section of this highway is called Autopista Pau Casals, named in honor of the celebrated Catalan cellist. The first time I noticed that this highway was called Pau Casals I was on my way to catch a plane to go back to Portland, OR. The day after I arrived in Oregon I had breakfast with my good friend Adam Selzer and he showed me a NPR article about some recordings that Robert Johnson and Pau Casals did (separately) in the and 1930s (Adam loved the sound of those early recordings). A few weeks later I was on the road headed to Seattle to play a show, and the violinist I was traveling with at the time played a CD with some gorgeous cello pieces (JS Bach’s cello suites) interpreted by Casals; she was shocked and confused by the fact that I had never listened to this before. It felt as if the world was telling me that I had to pay attention to this man that was born in Catalonia, so close to where I grew up. I did pay attention, and some of his concert recordings gave me goosebumps. This playlist opens and closes with Casals playing a traditional Catalan song, El Cant dels Ocells, and Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Through friends and acquaintances I have discovered a lot of good music. Years ago, for instance, several unconnected friends got me interested in the life and work of the incomparable Louis Thomas Hardin, aka Moondog. On my first trip to Berlin, a friend gave me a copy of a Moondog compilation called The German Years 1977 -1999. On that same trip I learned that Moondog moved to Germany in 1974, the year I was born. His discography is truly vast and fascinating; it is hard to pick just one record or song. Here I included the intricate and amazing Marimba Mondo 2, a hypnotically beautiful work of melody and percussion.

Together with Otto A Totland, I was once helping stick download code stickers on some coupons at Sonic Pieces HQ. Erik (K Skodvin) was helping as well, and to make the job easier on us he was spinning some records. He played a lot of great new music but a record called Tooth, by Raime, really caught my attention. The entire record is fantastic; energetic and enigmatic. I particularly like the first track on the record, Coax. As many people know, Otto and Erik make incredible music together (as Deaf Center) and solo. Getting to know them personally has only increased my respect for their work. Here I included Time Spent by Deaf Center and Flames from Erik’s solo discography. Also in Berlin I once attended a Christmas dinner party that Monique Recknagel (Sonic Pieces) organized. I remember being in deep conversation with Greg Haines (Something Happened; what an amazing track!) about some concerts I was asked to organize in Spain; I was telling him that I was interested in getting in touch with a guy called Jefre Cantu Ledesma. Oddly enough, Greg told me that Jefre was sitting on the same table, having dinner with us. I was too shy to talk to him, which I regret. Jefre’s show in Spain never happened but my admiration for his work is still happening. I really like his record A Year With 13 Moons, among others. Pale Flower is part of that record.

Unexpected things can also happen with friends. A friend of mine that makes really great music once gave me a CD-r to listen to. I thought that it was his new record and I really liked it so I called to congratulate him, only to hear him laughing quite hard: it was not his new record what he gave me but 1979 by Deru, a great record that had just been released (on a label called Friends of Friends!). Another friend once gave me an original LP of Spanish guitar tunes composed by Francisco Tárrega (played by Narciso Yepes in 1983 and released by Deutsche Grammophon) without knowing that this Spanish composer and guitar player comes from the same province in Spain where I come from. I grew up having his name associated with streets and buildings before I got to know who he really was; a great guitar figure of the 19th century. I really like his ‘smaller’ compositions, like Lágrima and Adelita.

There is even music I got to know by unknown friends. Yard sales and random boxes with free stuff are commonly seen around Portland, particularly during the summer. Someone once left a box with free CDs on my doorsteps. The box had a label that read ‘ghost music from me, your friend’. The little collection of CDs was not that interesting, honestly, and it was obvious that this box was not meant to be there for me to find. However, there was one CD in this collection that looked different; a CD-r with a handmade drawing of something that looked like a ghost playing a flute and the words ‘this is a duduk’ on it. The CD-r had this gorgeous song that I later identified as Siretzi Yares Daran, by Armenian musician and duduk player Levon Minassian. Thank you ghost friend.

Gallo Rojo, Gallo Negro is a cover song by Catalan composer and singer Silvia Pérez Cruz, originally written by Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio. This is a very powerful song written in the context of the repressive, long and dark times of fascist Spain. My mom was kind enough to give me her ticket so I could go see Silvia play with an amazing string quintet (the show was sold out!). The concert was fantastic. I have not seen a show that, playing Mediterranean and Latin-American repertoire, moved me that much. She was another great recommendation made by friends. Her record Vestida de Nit is a good introduction to the work she has done with this string ensemble.

This playlist also features a number of songs played by close friends. I truly admire and love Heather and Peter Broderick’s work. Their music really touches me. Here I included Turned, by Heather’s debut LP, and Sideline, from Peter’s stripped down (recorded in one day!) album How They Are. My dear friend Laurel Simmons also features on this list with her lovely track Linden Seeds, featuring Heather on harmonies. The recently released Tekoäly, by the wonderful and skilled Tatu Rönkkö is included here too; such a powerful song!

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Tracklist:

01. Pau Casals – “El Cant dels Ocells”(Columbia)
02. Tatu Rönkkö (feat. Islaja) – “Tekoäly”(Sonic Pieces)
03. Moondog – “Marimba Mondo 2” (Roof)
04. Levon Minassian – “Siretzi Yares Daran” (Wagram)
05. Raime – “Coax” (Blackest Ever Black)
06. Deaf Center – “Time Spent” (Miasmah)
07. Francisco Tárrega – “Lágrima” (Deutsche Grammophon)
08. Jefre Cantu Ledesma – “Pale Flower” (Mexican Summer)
09. Heather Woods Broderick – “Turned” (Preservation)
10. Deru – “1979″ (Friends of Friends)
11. MayMay – “Linden Seed” (Oscarson)
12. Francisco Tárrega – “Adelita” (Deutsche Grammophon)
13. Silvia Pérez Cruz – “Gallo Rojo, Gallo Negro” (Universal)
14. Erik K. Skodvin – “Flames” (Sonic Pieces)
15. Greg Haines – “Something Happened” (Denovali)
16. Peter Broderick – “Sideline” (Bella Union / Hush)
17. Pau Casals “Le Cygne” (Victrola / HMV)

‘Mirall’ is out now on Sonic Pieces.

https://rauelsson.bandcamp.com/

http://www.sonicpieces.com/index.html

Written by admin

February 8, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Posted in MIXTAPE

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Mixtape: Fractured Air – January 2019

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Our January mix features a host of sumptuous sonic gems that surfaced – for the most part – throughout last year. Vital reissues from Amercian dream pop artist Happy Rhodes (Numero Group); Robert Rental’s sublime post-punk explorations culled from 1980 demo tapes (Optimo Music) and Dublin artist Stano’s seminal 1983 solo debut released on Dublin’s Allchival re-issue imprint.

More sensational African funk emanates from the formidable Berlin Habibi Funk imprint (the label’s latest two releases are featured). With thanks to the XLR8R top tracks of 2018 piece, we’ve been introduced to the remarkable ambient opus ‘Nothing To Loose’ by DJ Healer, released last year to widespread acclaim. Peter Broderick (with a little help from his friends) has released his eagerly awaited “Sings Arthur Russell” album. His gorgeous rendition of “The Ballad Of The Lights” closes out our January mixtape.

Thanks as always for listening.


Fractured Air – January 2019

01. Christina Vantzou“Glissando for Bodies and Machines in Space” (Kranky)
02. DJ Healer“Great Escape” (All Possible Worlds)
03. Cucina Povera“Demetra” (Night School)
04. Eno Moebius Roedelius“Old Land” (Skyclad)
05. Beverly Glenn-Copeland“Color Of Anyhow” (Super-Sonic Jazz Records)
06. Sarah Davachi“Gloaming” (Ba Da Bing!)
07. Thom Yorke“Open Again” (XL Recordings)
08. James Heather“Ruqia” (Echo Collective Rework) (Ahead Of Our Time)
09. Djrum“Sparrows” (R&S Records)
10. GOSSIWOR“Fields of Helyon” (5 Gate Temple)
11. Severed Heads“Gashing the Old Mae West” (excerpt) (Ink, Virgin)
12. Lucrecia Dalt“Tar” (Jan Jelinek Remix) (RVNG Intl)
13. Happy Rhodes “When The Rain Came Down” (Numero Group)
14. Jinjé“Solace” (Kicks & Drums Records)
15. Robert Rental“Moving My Blue” (Optimo Music)
16. Kamal Keila“Al Ashafir” (Habibi Funk)
17. The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr“Shaikan Music” (Habibi Funk)
18. Noname“Blaxploitation” (Self-released)
19. El Perro del Mar“Walk On By” (Saint Etienne Remix) (Self-released)
20. Leon Vynehall“Envelopes (Chapter VI)” (Ninja Tune)
21. Yves Tumor“Licking An Orchid” (Warp)
22. Stano“Out of the Dark, Into the Dawn” (Scoff / Allchival)
23. Stuart A. Staples“Step into the Grey” (City Slang/Lucky Dog)
24. David Shire“Theme From The Conversation” (The Conversation OST) (Intrada)
25. Barnes & Trost“Holidays in the Old City” (LM Dupli-cation)
26. The Beach Boys“All I Wanna Do” (Reprise)
27. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith“Tides III” (Bandcamp)
28. DJ Healer“End of the World” (All Possible Worlds)
29. Peter Broderick & Friends“Ballad Of The Lights” (Pretty Purgatory)

Chosen One: Peter Broderick

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“When covering someone else’s work, one can’t help but wonder sometimes, what would the artist think about these new renditions?”

—Peter Broderick

 Words: Mark Carry

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Released initially on Christmas day, “Peter Broderick & Friends Play Arthur Russell” is a loving tribute to the 20th century musical visionary.

Many parallels exist between these two cross-generational composers, for Russell and Broderick’s genre-defying and deeply moving musical works are boundless (in terms of crossing a myriad of styles and many times within the same record) and limitless (in terms of the sublime beauty that soars from each artist’s wholly unique song-craft). The full spectrum of Arthur Russell’s compelling songbook is celebrated – and re-interpreted – across the album’s ten pristine recordings, from post-disco (‘That’s Us/Wild Combination’); sparse folk (‘Words of Love’) to soul-stirring minimal wave of ‘Losing My Taste For The Nightlife’ and folk country gems (‘You Are My Love’).

This deeply heartfelt record reflects just how these American composers are in fact, kindred spirits and this precise timeless spirit emanates from the album’s captivating narrative (of which spans many of Russell’s divine records). On ‘Ballad Of The Lights’, a young boy’s voice (replacing Allen Ginsberg’s original spoken word) talks about life and mortality and hopes and fears: “He wonders about life and he wonders if he will ever get old”. It is one of the most beautiful and deeply moving recordings to grace your ears, to hear a boy (full of innocence, sincerity and hope) that “mystifies his younger years” and hits you profoundly.

This album invites a cast of family and friends to offer new insights into Russell’s music. ‘Come To Life’ sees the gorgeous harmonies of Brigid Mae Power’s blend effortlessly with Broderick’s, creating a divine avant pop folk odyssey. The two previously unreleased Arthur Russell recordings are also captured to tape here, further revealing (yet again) the endless mystery and innovative nature of Russell’s tower of songs.

‘Peter Broderick & Friends Play Arthur Russell’ is available now via Pretty Purgatory:

https://prettypurgatory.bandcamp.com/album/peter-broderick-friends-play-arthur-russell

http://www.peterbroderick.net/
https://arthurrussell.bandcamp.com/

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Interview with Peter Broderick.

 

Congratulations Peter on the truly spellbinding Arthur Russell covers record, it’s such a loving dedication to a special voice in music. One of the lovely aspects of this collection is how you interpret Arthur’s songs, and in many ways make them your own (or at the very least, put your own unique fingerprint to these songs). Please take me back to the recording sessions and this beautiful ensemble you had by your side? Having played several live shows in the recent past with this concept, I wonder did you have quite a clear picture in how this album would become?

Peter Broderick: Thank you Mark. As you say, I had already done a number of Arthur Russell tribute shows, so it felt like a natural next step to record some of those songs. And after getting the chance to meet Arthur’s niece and nephew in Maine, as well as making some other friends in Maine whom I wanted to collaborate with in some way, I got the idea to record the songs there, in Portland, Maine, and to invite Rachel and Beau to contribute to these new versions of their uncle’s songs. After recording the basic tracks there, I put the finishing touches on the recordings at home in Ireland, inviting some more friends and family to contribute.

Can you recount your memories of first discovering Arthur’s music? Which record or musical period did you first fall in love with his unique sound? I must say there is a lovely correlation between you and your musical hero, in particular how you both really have created a plethora of wide-ranging musical journeys (in terms of the boundless nature of your music)…in the process of delving into this album, were there new insights and learnings you feel you uncovered about Arthur Russell’s songbook and musical genius?

PB: The first record that caught my ear was Another Thought, which I heard at a friend’s house in 2008 or 2009. I had already heard of Arthur Russell quite a bit before then, and even had quite a few people tell me I reminded them of Arthur Russell . . . but for whatever reason that was the first time the music really caught my attention. But once my attention was caught, I quickly went down into the rabbit hole. I just love everything he did, and how much musical exploration there is in his catalogue. I tracked down everything of his I could get my hands on. The most expensive record I ever bought is an original pressing of ‘Tower Of Meaning’ . . . I’m not gonna tell you how much I payed for that!

Two songs are previously unreleased, never to have been released by Arthur Russell. I was very interested to hear that you were given full access to his vast treasure chest of unreleased recordings. Can you perhaps discuss the reasons why you picked these two particular songs, Peter? I’d love for you to describe this experience and indeed how you crossed paths – and collaborated closely – with many of Arthur’s family, not least his partner Tom Lee?

PB: I wouldn’t say I was given full access to the archives. But Steve Knutson, who manages the Arthur Russell Estate, handed over to me several hours of unreleased material, which I then combed through to retrieve anything listenable . . . some of which needed considerable finessing to get into a decent sonic state. But the whole process was deeply fascinating to me, and along the way I discovered some absolute gems of songs, including those two on the record, which Steven and Tom Lee so graciously allowed me to release. And it’s been wonderful getting to know Tom. He has such a pure love for Arthur’s work, and he creates such beautiful works of art himself. I’m really honoured to have his painting on the cover of my little record of covers.

Portland Maine is the place of birth for both you and Arthur Russell. What was Maine like as a place to grow up in? The coast must be something that served a big inspiration for you, throughout your life?

PB: I was born near a small town called Searsmont, a couple hours away from Portland, Maine. And Arthur was actually born in Iowa. But much of Arthur’s surviving family is based in Maine nowadays. My family relocated to Oregon when I was just 3 or 4 years old, so it’s only in the last few years that I’ve been reconnecting with my birth place a bit. I’ve come to realize that I really love Maine.

Your beloved step son – and a big hero of mine! – Seán Power is prominently featured on the gorgeous and deeply moving cover of ‘Ballad Of The Lights’. I just love how Seán’s spoken word segments are beautifully interwoven with your heavenly harmonies. Please take me back to the recording (and even your initial ‘sketches’ so to speak) of this incredible song (and new recording)? Needless to say, it must have been a fun session to participate in…

PB: I’m not sure when exactly I got the idea in my head to ask Seán to recite those lines, which are spoken by Allen Ginsberg on the original recording . . . but once I got the idea, I couldn’t shake it. I asked Seán if I could hire him for the job, and I believe we settled on €30 plus a trip to the toy store immediately after the recording session. I am absolutely delighted with the result, and I think he was pretty happy with his new toys. It seems like people are enjoying that part of the record, which I’m really glad to hear. Seán is an awesome dude and I’m so grateful he’s on there.

One of my all-time favourite Arthur Russell songs is ‘Losing My Taste For The Nightlife’ and your version here is so fitting and blissfully beautiful. Again, the immaculate instrumentation and your vocal delivery (a constant across all these songs) breathes new life into Arthur’s sacred songbook. Did you have any concerns or doubts about (not only) playing Arthur’s songs (in terms of the live shows) but recording a whole batch of songs and releasing them?

PB: When covering someone else’s work, one can’t help but wonder sometimes, what would the artist think about these new renditions? I was definitely a little self-conscious about turning ‘A Little Lost’ into a reggae song . . . but I just LOVE playing it like that, and it’s one of my favorite ones to listen to from the record. There are some songs, like ‘Eli’ for instance, which I tried to learn pretty much note for note . . . but then there are others which I felt compelled to make a bit more my own. I suppose like anything, some people will like it and some people won’t. I’m happy with all these versions though.

Were there any happy accidents – I’m sure there were, as often in your recordings some spontaneous wonder occurs – that took place during the making of this record? I also love how you cover a lot of the composer’s various releases and in turn, this record really does convey just how inspirational and genre-defying his music truly is….

PB: Well I was really surprised by some of the contributions from friends on this record. The pedal steel parts from Hamilton Belk really blew my mind and just added so much to the songs. David Allred’s horn arrangement on ‘A Little Lost’ was a lovely surprise, and I love the bass part that Daniel O’Sullivan came up with on ‘Come To Life’. All of Beau Lisy’s percussion additions are really special to me. He likes to play this thing he calls a ‘Shitar’, which is basically a guitar with a bunch of shit glued onto it (get it? shit-ar?) . . . there are some really groovy rhythms on ‘That’s Us/Wild Combination’ which were played on that thing.

What’s next for you, Peter?

PB: Just a couple hours ago I finished mixing a live recording which, if all goes according to plan, will become my first live album, to be released later in 2019. More details to come on that one. I’m gearing up now to do some shows with my friend David Allred, working on some music for a film . . . it seems like 2019 will be another busy year with lots of music. And hopefully some time to do some of my favorite outdoor activities like foraging for wild food. I also hope to continue learning and sharing Arthur’s songs.

‘Peter Broderick & Friends Play Arthur Russell’ is available now via Pretty Purgatory:

https://prettypurgatory.bandcamp.com/album/peter-broderick-friends-play-arthur-russell

http://www.peterbroderick.net/
https://arthurrussell.bandcamp.com/

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January 14, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Chosen One: Mary Lattimore

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I think making music is just my way of capturing moments that otherwise might be fleeting. They’re little time capsules, the songs and the records.”

—Mary Lattimore

 Words: Mark Carry

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Having first discovered Los Angeles-based harpist and composer Mary Lattimore’s 2013 debut ‘The Withdrawing Room’ (released on Desire Path Recordings), each new release has been a hugely exciting discovery. On this year’s ‘Hundreds Of Days’ – and third release for the prestigious Ghostly label – Lattimore’s ethereal, dream-wave bliss of her harp-based compositions casts a spacious, luminescent and captivating sound world of unknown dimensions.

The gorgeous album opener ‘It Feels Like Floating’ feels just like that: the sacred harp tapestries drift in the ether of faded dreams amidst swathes of celestial harmonies. Utterly timeless. Jonsi’s Healing Fields remix is a fascinating re-interpretation that conveys the inspirational quality of Lattimore’s hugely unique and shape shifting compositions.

Guitar, keyboard and percussion is added on the poignant folk gem ‘Never Saw Him Again’: forging a dreamy pop opus from a past we have not yet quite arrived upon. The soundscapes and intricate layers continually build, as if reawakening some once-vivid memories of a loved one. The sparse ‘Hello From the Edge of the Earth’ maps the human heart and Lattimore’s love of the natural world. The lyrical quality of this piece is quite something to behold.

Baltic Birch’ blossomed from the composer’s recent trip to Latvia where she was struck by the abandoned resort towns along the Baltic Sea.  A desolate landscape is etched across the ambient soundscapes with the electric guitar haze recalling Lattimore’s collaborations with Jeff Ziegler.

The LA-based harpist – in much the same way as fellow contemporaries Julianna Barwick, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and so on – possesses the ability to transport you to an entirely new realm wherein the music becomes beautifully buried in the pools of one’s mind. ‘Hundreds Of Days’ is yet another gleaming treasure in the composer’s storied career.

‘Hundreds Of Days’ is out now on Ghostly International.

https://marylattimoreharpist.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/harpistmarylattimore/

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Interview with Mary Lattimore.

 

Congratulations Mary on the stunningly beautiful latest solo full length ‘Hundreds Of Days’. Firstly, please take me back to the record’s inception and particularly this redwood barn overlooking San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This must have been such an inspiring setting in which the compositions of ‘Hundreds Of Days’ emanated from? Please recount your memories of these colourful, creative days?

Mary Lattimore: I was awarded this artist’s residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in a national park outside of San Francisco. I stayed there for almost two months, absorbing the rugged, romantic landscape and meeting other artists who were painters, poets, activists, dancers from all over the world. We shared dinner together and lived in these Victorian military houses surrounded by eucalyptus trees. During the day, we were each alone in our own zones, writing or hiking, with barely any cell phone service or internet. My studio was this large barn where I’d set out all of my instruments, some I didn’t know how to play. Walking back to my house late at night was very star-lit and felt a little dangerous, in a safe way. Mountain lions had been spotted there.The ocean was grey-blue and the beach was rocky. We were surrounded by redwood trees, lots of fog, coastal sage and tsunami warning signs. We each had total freedom and met up at the end of the day to eat delicious food cooked by a gourmet chef. It was a very blissful couple of months of total creative freedom, where no one could hear me experimenting with things I didn’t know how to use or trying out vocals, embarrassingly. That kind of space and freedom within a time constraint of a two month, once-in-a-lifetime residency is very intense and very special. I’m really grateful for it.

As a listener I’m always struck by how expansive your harp-based creations truly are, and how the rich tapestries of sumptuous sounds drift in the ether of unknown dimensions. Looking back over these six pieces, I wonder were some of these borne from the act of improvisation? Also, I’d love to gain an insight into your mindset when you perform your trusted harp instrument? It feels as if there is some liminal state forever orbited when your music ascends into the atmosphere.

ML: Wow, that’s a beautiful way to put it. In general, all of the pieces are borne from improvisation, where I’ll press record and start to make something, then if I like where it goes, I’ll add the extra layers and morph where those layers go by adding layers on top of that. So it’s just kind of stacks of improvised tracks. Part of that method might be because I don’t really know how to edit, technology-wise, so I just add until it sounds cool and sounds the way I want it to. I guess it’s the same way when I play live. There are always happy accidents and loops that I have to figure my way out of, so it remains thrilling because there’s so much improvisation woven in there around the themes.

One of the new directions here is the added instrumentation of keyboards, guitar and grand piano, intricately woven with the harp tapestries. Truly, these new layers further heightens the otherworldly and timeless quality of your musical works. I’d love for you to talk me through the gorgeous album opener ‘It Feels Like Floating’ (a title which perfectly encapsulates the entire record)? Did the various layering provide any challenges? How long was this particular melody simmering in the pools of your mind, Mary? It feels such an effortless process, it’s almost as if a piece of music just comes to you, like a raindrop falling from the sky….

ML: I mean, I have to say, it’s not effortless, but it did just come to me, where I was just messing around, came up with that little figure that starts the song, and then I hit record and that’s what came out. It’s not effortless but I’m basically just playing with a kernel of an idea and then just seeing where it goes if I add other things. As I’m bad at editing, I scrap the whole take if I don’t like it and then just make something else. But usually, I can get myself out of trouble if I just add more things or take away big chunks rather than going in there and dissecting the tiny bits. It Feels Like Floating came from a place in which I had a little heartbreak and was trying to digest that. The title is a quote from the conversation I had with the dude, and I thought it was a pretty thing to say. Making up songs is how I navigate myself out of those things, in a way, too, I guess. But I also love to swim and that feeling of floating is one of the best feelings in the world.

The artist residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts must have served a significant source of inspiration for you, and particularly spending time with an entire community of creative souls. It reminds me of the Loft in New York or the Big Pink house in Woodstock from different moments in time. I would love to read a diary entry (if you will) from this time you spent along the Northern Pacific Coast and the characters that filled these days? 

ML: I should’ve kept a diary! Instead, I wrote lots of letters to other people. I was really psyched to get so much mail and to generate so much mail while I was there. I read 14 books in 2 months, which is a lot for me. A lot of my favorite days were those spent not talking with anyone, just making a little breakfast, drinking coffee, walking to the studio, playing some, then taking a hike down to the beach or up to one of the abandoned military structures high on a hill, then coming back down for dinner, then walking up to the studio, playing a little more, drinking a little wine, walking back home under the stars, reading and going to bed. I think the simplicity, the simple options of what to do during the day, the lack of mental chatter/worry and general stability where you didn’t have to fret about driving anywhere or the news or anything outside of the little bubble was super unique and luxurious. I’ll remember it forever.

Can you discuss your set-up for the recording of ‘Hundreds Of Days’? I wonder did you try out and experiment with new processes and techniques on this latest record? 

ML: I want to keep moving forward and trying out new things. I had this beautiful Moog Mother 32 and the Theremini and some pedals and some cheap thrift store keyboards, electric guitar, there was a grand piano in the main building, I just wanted to make the palette as full of colors as I could, so that was the main difference in this record, expanded palette. I didn’t really try out new techniques but I also think that the hourglass of two months being turned over, the limited time, inspired me to get lots of work done.

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‘Hello From the Edge of the Earth’ is such an achingly beautiful lament with the graceful harp notes unfolding a quiet magic instantaneously. As the title suggests, this piece of music is an ode to mother nature. I’d love for you to discuss the narrative of this particular piece and your memories of writing ‘Hello From the Edge of the Earth’? Were you steeped in nature from your upbringing back home in Philadelphia?

ML: I’m actually from North Carolina, so I did grow up amidst a lot of nature, in the mountains in the western part of the state. I figured out pretty early on that I love cities, the culture and the anonymity and the possibilities that come with living in a big city. I moved to Rochester, NY when I was 17, which is a larger city than the town where I grew up. My life in Philly didn’t have that much nature except for a park overlooking the river at the end of my block. I think being at the Headlands was the closest to immersion in nature that I’d felt for a while and it really lined up with my need to make something that encompassed heartache and a general sadness about leaving Philadelphia, where I’d lived for thirteen years. The record and this song are both a love letter to the wildness and jewel box beauty of the California coast and a postcard back to Philadelphia from my new location. I see this song as a postcard. It’s a little musical transmission from my new planet.

The act of travelling and road-trips across America has provided you with many stories, I’m sure which get captured beautifully into your deeply affecting music. As a musician and artist, I’d love to gain an insight into the ways by which your creative mind becomes unlocked (and the flood gates open, so to speak) when you’re in motion and witnessing different places along a continent spanning trip? For example, the seeds were for sewn for the predecessor ‘At The Dam’ LP from a U.S. road trip?

ML: Yeah, it’s true. I think making music is just my way of capturing moments that otherwise might be fleeting. They’re little time capsules, the songs and the records. My memory is pretty shot and it’s my way of recording the places and the feelings and it’s my way of communicating with other people, albeit wordlessly. Being on the road or being in a strange new place really flips a switch on in your brain, where you’re more aware and alert and awake, more present in your own body. I watch a lot of tv and I drink a lot of cocktails and mess around on my phone a lot and just hang out kind of duuuuhhhhhh, so being in motion really makes me right again, where I have to revive things that have fallen asleep, if that makes sense. So residencies and road trips feel important to the music because that’s when my ears and hands and brain and way of looking at the world and assessing situations are most alert. I want to go to Copenhagen in the summer to make a new record and to get to know that place, so that’s the next escape route.

Please describe for me your trusted 47-string Lyon and Healy harp. When did you first play this instrument and in what way do you feel you have developed this special relationship with the harp instrument? After first discovering your music in the form of ‘The Withdrawing Room’, it feels as if you are continually evolving with each new release. The possibilities are endless, perhaps the essence of your harp-based creations.

ML: Thanks so much! Yes, I want to keep evolving and seeing what the instrument has to offer, sound and personality-wise. I started playing the harp when I was 11 but didn’t really have such a personal relationship with it until I went to college (music conservatory) and had to spend solitary hours and hours in a practice room focusing on one piece at a time. I got close to my harp in a love/hate kind of way that felt like an important war we went through together. Now, it’s only love, though, because I have to protect it so much, taking it with me places. It’s like a sister to me.

Lastly, can you shed some light on your compositional approach when it comes to your harp playing, Mary? For instance, the myriad of sublime moments dotted across pieces such as ‘Never Saw Him Again’ and ‘Baltic Birch’ could never have been as a result of solely improvising? I love how transporting these pieces are, and these masterfully sculpted sonic creations feel like a sprawling abstract canvas of deep, resonating meaning.

ML: Baltic Birch was one where I had the main melody line in my mind beforehand in a singular melodic voice, so I thought of how I could build it. I thought I couldn’t loop that melody line because it was too long, so I looped the accompaniment, but then I realized that the melody actually could also be looped if it became kind of a round. Never Saw Him Again was definitely all improvisation and experimenting and I definitely thought it sounded kinda cheesy when I first made it. I also don’t really like my voice, so I put it through some Garage Band filter reverb stuff and had Jeff, who mixed it, kinda tweak the pitchiness of it when he was mixing just to make it not horrendous. I definitely just use vocals as texture and don’t claim to be a singer at all. Haha. I was just going with it. Everything comes with just messing around. I’ve never made a (solo) song in a real studio, only on my own with flexibility and an empty room and Garage Band on a laptop, so maybe it’s time to see what would happen if there was a little more pressure, with somebody a little more experienced controlling the actual recording and actual songs that are thought about more in advance. Who knows. Gotta keep trying things out! Thanks so much for the thoughtful questions! I always love to read your take on things!

‘Hundreds Of Days’ is out now on Ghostly International.

https://marylattimoreharpist.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/harpistmarylattimore/

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January 9, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Mixtape: Fractured Air – December 2018

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As the dusk light begins to fade on the year, we have a chance to both reflect on these past twelve months and look forward to what awaits us in 2019…Needless to say, music shapes pretty much everything that has taken place – and what moments are about to occur – from memorable, transcendent live shows (Low, Julia Holter and Nils Frahm’s shows will forever stay with me); making new musical discoveries (for instance, first hearing the illuminating voice of Penelope Trappes’ latest record or the myriad of timbres and textures contained on the Actress & LCO collaborative release ‘LAGEOS’); revisiting bands from previous decades (This Mortal Coil’s discography immediately comes to mind) or just simply having a cherished record (or playlist) as the soundtrack to your day (as you walk around in the pools of your mind or take in a nice scenic road-trip).

The importance of music never fades and isn’t that the most amazing thing? There is a science behind it: the reaction as your ears first hears a note and how you feel as a result. And whatever year we find ourselves in (2019, 2020 or beyond), new discoveries will always await us. As a listener, there is some comfort in this simple fact…
Lots of our favourite albums from 2018 are dotted across this December mixtape (and so many left out, as always is the way). The fresh and dynamic ambient sounds of Kranky debut signees (Less Bells and Saloli); Mary Jane Leach’s incredible flute compositions; two tracks from Julia Holter’s epic masterwork ‘Aviary’ and a recent discovery of the incredible Carola Baer (a retrospective compilation is lovingly compiled by Concentric Circles).

Also present is one of the late great composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s last recorded works: the deeply moving and transporting ‘Mandy’ score, such transformative guitar-based compositions. This year we lost a true voice in today’s music world. I can only imagine the unbearable loss it has been for all those close to this remarkable human being. I remember shaking Jóhann’s hand after a concert of his and just saying how amazing his music is. He smiled graciously and replied softly, “thank you”. Well, thank you Jóhann for the eternal gift your stunningly beautiful music forever brings.

 

Fractured Air – December 2018

01. Tom Waits“Alice” (Epitaph)
02. Actress & LCO“Voodoo Posse, Chronic Illusion” (Ninja Tune)
03. Phase II“Words From” (Definitive Jux)
04. Squarepusher“Lambic Poetry 5” (Warp)
05. Low“Fly” (Sub Pop)
06. Penelope Trappes“Connector” (Houndstooth)
07. Jóhann Jóhannsson“Mandy Love Theme” (Mandy OST, Lakeshore/Invada)
08. Tomita“Dawn Chorus” (RCA)
09. Julia Holter“Voce Simul” (Domino)
10. Alice Coltrane“Keshawa Murahara” (Luaka Bop)
11. Saloli“Anthem” (Kranky)
12. Carola Baer“Maker of Me” (Concentric Circles)
13. Mark Renner“It Might Have Been” (RVNG Intl)
14. Die Haut“Der Karbische Western” (Strut)
15. Paul de Jong“Johnny No Cash” (Temporary Residence)
16. Michele Mercure“A Little Piece” (Freedom To Spend)
17. Carla dal Forno“Blue Morning” (self-released)
18. Less Bells“Valentine” (Kranky)
19. Jessica Moss“Fractals (Truth 3)” (Constellation)
20. Villagers“A Trick of the Light” (Bibio Remix) (Domino)
21. Nils Frahm“A Place” (Erased Tapes)
22. The Gentleman Losers“Fish Roam in Winter Water” (Sound In Silence)
23. Mary Jane Leach“Downland’s Tears” (Modern Love)
24. Julia Holter“I Would Rather See” (Domino)
25. Mary Lattimore“Hello From the Edge of the Earth” (Ghostly)

Wishing our readers a very happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year.