FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Chosen One: Matthew Bourne

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So all these pieces have come about doing things for other people because for me, music is an extension of human relationships; I don’t think I’d make any music otherwise.”

—Matthew Bourne

Words: Mark Carry

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The element of surprise comes with each and every new release from the gifted talents of UK composer and pianist Matthew Bourne. On the back of numerous diverse and ground-breaking musical projects – from last year’s utterly compelling moogmemory project to revisiting Kraftwerk’s seminal ‘Radioactivity’ album in the collaborative voyage of ‘Radioland’ – this month sees Bourne return to the piano instrument with the stunningly beautiful ‘Isotach’ full-length, released on the ever-dependable Leaf Label.

Like the roll of a dice, chance is key to the sonic creations captured on ‘Isotach’. The title-track is a heart-rending, delicate piano piece that forms gentle ripples in the pools of your heart and mind. Later, ethereal cello strings gradually melds with the contemplative piano tapestries; recalling the likes of Sylvain Chauveau or Erik Satie. The following ‘Isothere’ is a deeply immersive experience whose gorgeously sustained piano tones encapsulates one’s inner-most thoughts or faded dreams.

The minimal nature of these quite bare compositions is a joy to savour. A timeless voyage unfolds throughout the skeletal piano motifs and ghostly cello strings, like long-lost artefacts resurfacing from deep beneath the ground. Divine strings ebb and flow amidst delicate piano flourishes on the utterly hypnotic ‘Valentine’ before enchanting piano melodies grace the atmosphere on ‘Duncan’.

Heavenly rapture ascends on ‘Wedding Mala’ with glorious shimmering patterns of cello and piano reflecting the summer light in all its beautiful glory. The piece only lasts barely ninety seconds and yet it’s as if all life’s fleeting moments have been captured. ‘Candela’ is yet another shape-shifting tour-de-force. The depth of human emotion that dispels from Bourne’s minimal framework of piano (with masterful addition of cello) becomes the essence of ‘Isotach’s timeless journey.

‘Candela (for Sascha Heeney)’ is taken from the Isotach album.

LP+CD/CD/download: https://matthewbourne.bandcamp.com/album/isotach

 

‘Isotach’ is out on Friday 18th August via The Leaf Label.

 

 

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Interview with Matthew Bourne.

Congratulations on yet another exceptional record – on the back of so many diverse and wonderful releases – it’s lovely how ‘Isotach’ sees you return to the piano instrument. Can you recount your memories of making the new album and the moment you realized you’d come back to the piano again and recording these new pieces at home?

Matthew Bourne: I’m not very good at doing two of the same thing [laughs]. I think I do one thing and think ‘Right OK, I think I’ve done that and I don’t want to do the same thing again’. It’s a bit of a running theme, I’ve done a piano record; I did ‘Montauk Variations’ which is the first thing I released with Leaf in 2012: it was very deliberate like a fresh direction if you like. Before that, for my solo piano playing, I used to use a lot of samples (sampled media like clips from television and film, other classical music) and I used to improvise around those. It was a very mixed bag of stuff and I burned out and I thought, right I need to strip back to some sort of essence so I did that record and then I spent a lot of time working in France with a really great saxophonist Laurent Dehors and I just journeyed between that and Radioland, which was the Kraftwerk revisiting that I did with Franck Vigroux and Antoine Schmitt and then the Moog record came in between all those things really.

Working on the Kraftwerk stuff with Franck, it was just synthesizers and I’d already started to do new pieces for the Moog record so really I think I was slowly just doing more synthesizers – and very unconsciously – and it was around last year that I thought I’ve hardly played the piano and so when I was playing the piano, I was very conscious of it and I think I did go through a period where the pieces that are on the record because of other people asking me to do sessions for them – could you record some piano for this track or for this pitch we’re doing and I’d record with just one mic set up and I thought I’d mess around with some stuff and then forget about it [laughs]. And there was one day when I went back into one of the sessions (for Sascha) and I saw all these other pieces at the end and I thought ’wow, what are those?’ and I listened to them and I thought I’ve done this quite a few times over the course of a year or so. And so I went back into all the job sessions that I had done and sure enough I had found a number of pieces which were just sitting there so I gathered them all up and thought there might be something that hangs them all together. The thing that binds them all together is that they were often recorded in windy or rainy conditions up here in the house (which is quite exposed to the elements) so I thought, well that’s a good enough excuse to try and tie them all together [laughs]. I wasn’t conscious of them if you know what I mean; it’s quite a hard one to explain.

It’s funny, for each of the records I’ve done for Leaf they’ve all been very different in terms of their intention I think. With the Montauk Variations record, I consciously wanted to try and do something different and working with Franck; that was a very conscious thing to rework an existing material. With the Moogmemory pieces, I think again I thought well I’ve got to get down to something but I just want to consciously sit and try to make a record so I had to catch it by surprise. And I think with the ‘Isotach’ record I think it’s even more by surprise [laughs] because the moment I try and sit down and consciously say to myself ‘Right, I’m going to make a record’, nothing happens; nothing comes out really, it’s like I have to catch it without me realizing it’s been caught, if that makes sense. Because the more conscious I am, doing something, that something just escapes somewhere and you end up chasing after some kind of weird concept rather than just sitting and playing something. It’s a funny process I found myself engaging with over the years so this is just the latest outcome of that I suppose.

I love the arrangements and particularly how the cello comes in and out at various points, in such a beautiful and minimalistic way.

MB: I mean that came about because I obviously can’t do both at the same time. So I play something on the piano and record it and I immediately listen back and without really thinking about it, I think where can I add some cello? And I just sit and think OK, maybe there and I pick a note and I start to play something. I mean I played the cello before I really played the piano so I started to learn cello before I was good at the piano. I don’t practice the cello as much anymore and it’s an instrument that’s in need of some routine maintenance so there is a non-virtuosic quality going on in this; you know the bow needs to be repaired so a lot of the notes sound quite wispy and ghostly. I also decided a while ago, what was happening to my cello parts weren’t sounding rich or full-bodied like somebody who is a proper cellist so I thought well maybe that’s my angle (which is that I’m not). So, the cello parts that I do, I make sure to try and not be like a proper cellist and accept the instrument as it is and accept the sounds that are being produced. I think I didn’t want a very rich “proper” cello accompaniment either, I think I wanted this strange and in between and fragile and ghostly almost sound.

I think it’s my intention that it just sits behind the piano; it’s there but it’s not there. Again, I try not to plan it out too much, I just react to what I had heard at first and I build up a few layers and then I sit and listen to that and think ‘Yeah OK, that sounds alright’, and then I save it and close the session and that would be it [laughs]. As I say, it wasn’t until I listened back, sometime after, I thought these are OK actually and I think if I thought of it with the frame of mind to try to make a record I may have erased those things and try to make them better or try to do something else with them. I think I just like to let them breathe, much in the same way as I sit and play the piano (when nothing is recorded), I try to do that with the cello parts as much as possible and the fact that I can’t really play the cello to a virtuosity degree meant that the minimal nature of the cello parts were because I can’t really do anything else. When I look at it that way, I’m quite amazed that any music came out of it at all [laughs].

You were on the back of doing the wonderful moogmemory release only a short time before; you must find that taking a break from one instrument and going back to it with a new perspective almost entirely?

MB: It’s like a seesaw because those pieces on the latest album were recorded during the period that I did all the moogmemory stuff – well some of them were – and as I say they were just left and forgotten about. And it was when I had got them all out, I thought, hang on I have hardly played the piano in years if I really thought about it (in terms of the hours spent at the piano keyboard). So, in a way even though that music was made a little while ago, it has the effect of I guess now thinking right, I am going to go back to this instrument. It’s funny isn’t it, work that’s been done in the past like months and months ago has the effect of giving me a bit of a nudge saying ‘Right, it’s time to get back to that now.’ It’s very funny the way recordings for me have functioned. In my house here I am lucky enough to be able to record and not get on anybody’s nerves or not having anybody banging on the wall next door to me. Once things start to happen I guess I don’t get disturbed which is nice really.

Is that a new set-up for you in terms of recording at home because I presume you didn’t record some of those previous albums in a home setting?

MB: Well the Montauk stuff was recorded at Dartington Hall in Devon and well actually all the other stuff was recorded here because electronically I can take a direct audio out from the instrument synthesizers into the digital interface. With the piano on ‘Isotach’ everything was recorded here but yeah it is a very new set-up for me because I’ve never really done, I’ve never had that luxury of being able to keep things set up. And so I moved to where I live now about three years ago and then I think a year or so in I decided right I’m going to buy the piano and owning a few things to record the piano nicely. So, it’s a simple set-up but I guess my issue is that I can’t go and consciously make a record. So a lot of the time I have all this stuff that’s built to capture what I do at any time but I don’t do it at any time [laughs] because otherwise I’d be too conscious of the fact that I’d been recording all of the time so it’s a funny dance that I do with this thing. I have to wait for something to come along really and to catch it by surprise, like something is happening here but that only happens after I’ve done something for a number of times or I’ve amassed a couple of recordings, so actually there is something going on and there is a record; something forming or another project happening but if I consciously go out of my way to do it as I say, it seems false, to me, I mean I wish I didn’t have that. I’ve had this conversation with Nils Frahm about this and he’s the opposite actually, he was saying ‘Well I go into the studio, I turn everything off and I’m not coming out until I’ve got this record’, and to sit and get these pieces together for however much time a week, two weeks and only do that and come out of it and really really craft a record; I wish I had a bit of that but I don’t, I have the opposite; I have to catch it by accident otherwise I feel like I’m cheating or something.

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It’s cool how the idea of the Piano Day brought about the gorgeous piece of music ‘Isotach’? And other pieces too are dedications to friends and people in your life, it’s lovely how that all worked out.

MB: Yeah, that was interesting because that was the first Piano Day wasn’t it and Nils said it would be cool if you could do a piece and I said ‘Well OK’ and I forgot about it and it was the day before the day itself and I’d been preparing some tiny little loops for a sample CD – of piano loops of all things – and one of the loops was this little motif that the piece is based on. I was just fiddling around with it and I thought ‘Well that might make an actual piece maybe’ and I just found myself musing on it and it was quite late – it was about twelve o’ clock at night and I thought I can’t be bothered actually, I thought I was supposed to do that piece but I don’t know – so then I thought I’d record it really quickly. I threw up one microphone and it was really windy and it was raining outside and at one point in the track you can hear the rain hitting against the window but it sounded louder in the room than on the recording. So that was just the one mic thrown up and then I just played around with it and then as I said before, I listened back and thought maybe I could add some cello to this and so I moved the mic, picked up the cello, added it, synced the parts, listened to it and thought ‘yeah that’s OK’ and then I added a bit of reverb and I made sure that the file was alright and uploaded it to my soundcloud and I tweeted it to the Piano Day thing. All in that entire track took me about half an hour to do so it was really quick.

And that’s kind of how I do most of my work and one of the other tracks ‘Wedding Mala (for Dave & Nichola)’ again, that was their wedding the next day and I thought well I haven’t got them a gift – and I had forgotten that they didn’t want any gift – so I thought maybe I should give them this small musical gesture. So I sat down and again I had to pick a friend up from the train station at about half an hour before he arrived and I thought Oh I’ve got to go drive and get him from town and so I thought I’d just sit down and do something, so I sat down and played this little thing and I thought yeah that’s fine and then I added some cello bits to this and then I thought I’ve got to go, save and close and go to the train station.  Again that was one of those pieces where I didn’t have any time to over think anything and thought I’ve got to do something. And again, I came back and thought actually that’s OK even though it felt really rushed at the time [laughs].

So all these pieces have come about doing things for other people because for me music is an extension of human relationships; I don’t think I’d make any music otherwise. I mean I’m quite content sitting at home playing through classical music and trying to learn pieces and sitting and practicing and figuring things out for my own amusement; I am very happy doing that. But in terms of things that make it out there into the public, they probably wouldn’t make it if it weren’t for Leaf and so I have a very good relationship with Leaf and with Tony and with the guys at the Leaf Label; they’re very kind and patient and then everyone else I get inspiration from. I used to think that I got inspiration from some weird, internal place within me but actually it’s not, it’s all to do with other people. Because the pieces of music aren’t really about anything, it’s just music so I think who can I give this as a gift to; who could I tribute this to; what’s the character of the music?

So that’s why I end up either dedicating them to people or naming them after people because I think well I don’t need it, I could just sit down and make up a piece on the piano but it’s no good to me, I think the more and more I do my music I feel quite comfortable naming them after people. There are a lot of jazz standards that are named after people so I guess there’s nothing new there but I do like the idea of giving the music as a gift where I think there is something being spoken in the music, like I’m going to give that to them. So that’s how that works, usually the dedications happen after the music actually, I don’t sit and think ‘I’m going to compose this piece for a really good friend of mine’ because again, for me that would be over thinking and putting something in the way.

The act of compiling the pieces I suppose must be a fun process in the sense that you’re seeing what matches each one? Because it is true there is very much a narrative running throughout and as a listener you feel they all belong together.

MB: It is quite fun because I think in the way the work has been done and it’s a different process. I think I was concerned because they are all very slow; they all have a kind of rhythm but the pace is very slow so I thought how am I going to find a path through all of these because they’re quite similar? And then what I ended up doing was usually at the end of a piece you can sometimes lead on to the next note of the beginning of the next piece so the start note of piece 2 often is either the same or a step higher or a semitone higher or lower than the other, so it’s as if the end of one piece help lead onto the other or the start of the other can help pick up from where the previous piece has left off, so there seems to be a handing in the baton in a way from the end of one piece to the next. So that’s often my process, I often think well what’s happening at the end of the piece and how does that link up to the start of the next piece?  So it’s often not like this piece is light in character or that’s dark, sometimes it’s just to do with how the end leads on or suggests something. I get them in a rough order, I start looking at those sorts of details in a way to try and glue the tracks together. It’s tricky, I think it’s a very, very hard thing to do. With ‘Montauk Variations’ it was more varied, it got pieces that were quite abstract; inside the piano it’s really percussive and non-tonal and then it’s got pieces that are quite tonal and melodic next to other pieces that are very still and I think there’s like seventeen tracks on that one so that was a lot. This one has ten tracks so it’s a little bit easier but harder in the sense that they’re longer, then slower but it’s a fun challenge nonetheless.

With the moogmemory release and the way there’s no real added manipulation except for the Moog itself, it must have been quite an experience for you to come to that moment where you could actually do that?

MB: That was something that came about quite early. I have a couple of other synthesizers – I don’t have a mass collection by any means – and very early on I tried adding some stuff over the top of it and I didn’t do very much but the sound was different and the feel was different, so I added another layer of something else. And then the more I just sat with the memorymoog and thought well this is an instrument in its own right – a bit like the piano – I decided that I was going to play everything; that everything was going to be played at the keyboard as if I was at a piano. There are a couple of tracks on the record where I do some overdubs, there’s one where I layer up a few things but I try to keep the layering as close to the original pache if you like. So if there was a bassline that I wanted to enhance I would only use the sound that came from that original pache to do it so I wouldn’t try and go off and explore too much and get a whacky or heavy bass sound and so that’s the sound of this pache so can I enhance the bass with that same sound or add something subtle inside the sound?

I try and do that on ‘Horn and Vellum’ where it’s more obviously layered and composed in a sense and again that just came out of me messing around and thought I’m thinking quite big here so I just started fooling around with stuff. But generally everything is played in and I thought well I didn’t know of anyone who had just sat down with an old polyphonic synthesizer and just played it as an instrument rather than program it, it’s quite easy to program things using Midi and things like that and that’s something I’m not that good at or very familiar with so I thought well I’m a piano player really so I should just play this instrument and just play everything in and not to click, just let the instrument generate everything, let the instrument generate arpeggios and rhythms and go with that. It was like a surrender; surrendering to the instrument and surrendering to what it tells you, I think my cello does the same to me; I think because of the way I am and haven’t played it for very long, you’re faced with a situation where you’ve only got what you’ve got to work with so you have to try and be creative with those limitations. If anything I see myself trying to limit myself even more rather than trying to expand what I’m doing.

I think it’s all about finding the right chords or just one chord note and just being happy with that. There is a piece on the record called ‘Valentine’ and that was done on Valentine’s Day. I was doing some work for a friend of mine Dan Berridge who scored an amazing BBC program about Iceland and I was doing the cello parts for that and I was having a break and I started playing this note and I layered up some of these notes and I think the first version of that was just three chords played and that was it and it only lasted for about fifteen seconds [laughs]. And I kept looping it again and again and I thought well actually this works like this but it’s only one chord and I like the idea of being happy with only one chord – even only one note if that ever happens – I’d be very happy to find the right note, in the right way, once or twice.

I know you don’t over think things when it comes to making music but would you have ideas or plans for some future musical projects of yours, especially now when looking back on the string of releases you have under your belt?

MB: I might do something where I combine a bit more; maybe the synthesizers with the piano and a cello. It’s something brewing in my mind that I could combine all of these elements next. Maybe that’s the next thing; it’s not about one instrument or one instrument with a bit of something else, maybe it’s everything in that I have in the house and maybe that’s the next thing that I try and do but I’m not sure.

‘Isotach’ is out on Friday 18th August via The Leaf Label.

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August 17, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Chosen One: Julie Byrne

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For a very long time – and I struggle with this still – I was searching to feel a sense of belonging.”

—Julie Byrne

Words: Mark Carry

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Buffalo-born singer-songwriter Julie Byrne’s latest sophomore full-length ‘Not Even Happiness’ is a deeply moving and captivating voyage, whose sheer depth is unfathomable. The nine divine sonic creations captured here belong to a cosmic stratosphere; gliding majestically among the white doves and glittering stars. To coin Kafka, ‘Not Even Happiness’ is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self. The spiritual, far-reaching qualities of Byrne’s masterful song-craft brings you, as you are, into a world of aching beauty and sublime transcendence. An infinite source of solace.

Follow my voice, I am right here/Beyond this life and beyond all fear” Byrne sings on the opening heartfelt lament ‘Follow My Voice’. The song – and indeed the album as a whole – details the ongoing search to feel a sense of belonging in this world, “beyond all fear”. The letting go. A mystical dimension permeates the ethereal harmonies as Byrne’s delicate voice melds effortlessly with heavenly, atmospheric instrumentation. On a later verse, Byrne sings “I consciously died, I seen dew on a rose”. The immense ballad feels like a gateway to the rest of the album; a tower of song to unlock the burden of pain. The soul of all natural things.

The closing prayer-like lament ‘I Live Now As A Singer’ emits a kind of catharsis like no other, an indefinable force breathes from deep within. It’s the moment the sunlit horizon is finally reached and the synth arrangements that melt with Byrne’s achingly beautiful voice reduces me to tears. The American songwriter’s honesty and openness creates such a profound impact: “And yes I have broke down asking for forgiveness / When I was nowhere close to forgiving myself”. Byrne’s fragile voice “glides in the light of a red moon” that penetrates every pore and crevice, like a river finding its sea.

Travel and nature are etched across the sprawling sonic canvas of ‘Not Even Happiness’. From sense and observation, songs such as ‘Melting Grid’, ‘Natural Blue’ and ‘Sea As It Glides’ maps the myriad of empowering places and natural beauty that lies therein, (from the Pacific Northwest to the glorious skies in Colorado and the sun-bleached waves in Big Sur). But moreover, this batch of songs chronicles the New York singer’s new relationship with the spiritual life: poetic prose painted across otherworldly dimensions and celestial harmonies echo powerfully this truth. On ‘All The Land Glimmered’ Byrne sings “I’ve been searching God within” on the first verse beneath meditative bliss of gentle acoustic guitar.

One of the great hallmarks of ‘Not Even Happiness‘ is the clarity and visionary quality of the song cycles effortlessly captured by this exceptional talent, transcending space and time with each turn of phrase and sonic pulse. The ability to look inward, deep into one’s own mind and express this through the art of music is in many ways the essence of ‘Not Even Happiness’s infinite power and healing force. A crystalline image of serene beauty is depicted on ‘Natural Blue’ that somehow encapsulates the illuminating light and vast magical power of Byrne’s master-work: “Sun split ember, fields that span both ways forever.” ‘Not Even Happiness’ is an infinite treasure.

‘Not Even Happiness’ is out now on Basin Rock (order HERE).

For all upcoming Julie Byrne EU tour dates (including Whelan’s Dublin on 30th August) please click HERE.

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Interview with Julie Byrne.

Congratulations Julie on the latest album ‘Not Even Happiness’; it’s a really captivating and deeply moving album. Musically, there are added layers like string arrangements and ethereal soundscapes that work so well on top of your voice and guitar. I’d love for you to recount your memories of seeing these songs – which I presume began as bare demos – gradually bloom into what they finally became (on the final recordings)?

Julie Byrne: First of all, thank you so much for the kind words and I’m glad that you feel that way about the songs. My main collaborator Eric Littmann and I began recording songs like ‘Morning Dove’ and ‘Natural Blue’ in an apartment that we were living at, in Bushwick Brooklyn but ultimately it felt that this wasn’t the right environment and we ended up scrapping everything that we had done [laughs]. In the meantime we made this plan to move to Buffalo temporarily and return to the house of my childhood – the house I was brought up in after I was born – and we decided that this would be a better environment to move through that process of recording and building a record. So, the bare structure of all of the songs (except ‘I Live Now As A Singer’), it just came from me working independently and then once the songs were finished, they were given to Eric and he’s very much responsible for a lot of the flourishes and the atmospheric elements and also the style of production is all him.

You mentioned ‘I Live Now As A Singer’ and even just the song-title itself, there is a profound feeling emanating throughout and it feels like there is a resolution and a beautiful end to the album; lyrically but also musically with the atmospheric synthesizer and your voice?

JB: That melody came to me and I started singing it as I had it stuck in my head for a long time and Eric helped me put that to music and that was the beginning of that song. And Jake Falby, our friend who plays violin, he came in and helped us construct the bridge that he played on and that was really a mutual effort between the three of us. Then in terms of the lyrical content of that song, I think that how much of the album encapsulates a phase of my life that was very much about looking toward exterior change to resolve whatever heartache I was feeling and doing that chronically year after year after year and still finding no respite. So this song I think maybe marks a transition into a new way of thinking or a new way to address a lot of the pain that I’ve been carrying for so long which is where many of the other songs came from.

Another quality that translates to the listener is this inward feeling or inner peace and a song like ‘Sleepwalker’ depicts that quest to find inner peace; I love how there is so much honesty and it’s so bare, in the best way possible.

JB: For a very long time – and I struggle with this still – I was searching to feel a sense of belonging; everything else but my own experience like my own baseline and so this album has ended up being a process of coming to realize that in order to cultivate a stronger sense of security I needed to really start building that without imagining that it could be given to me through a change of place, a change of work, a change of relationship that it would take so much more than all of those things to actually feel a sense of belonging in my own skin, so that’s where we’re left at the end of the record.

One of my favourites is ‘Sea As It Glides’ there is a particularly healing quality that radiates throughout. The beautiful imagery and poetic lyrics you use – together with the music – feels just like that; sea as it glides and a cosmic feel (like from the early 70’s), there is a certain magic.

JB: That song was really enjoyable to work with because it wasn’t carrying any kind of really significant emotional message, that song is almost like a photograph, this was written on the west coast of the United States in Northern California so it was really trying to encapsulate the feeling of just being in the sun and being at the mercy of the sea; I love that feeling of swimming in the ocean and recognizing its power – it’s no longer abstracted – you’re standing in the crest of a wave, your feet are still on the sand and you’re being tossed around, so that’s where that comes from.

In other ways of looking at the album, it closely resembles a photobook essay where there’s obviously a journey and particularly with references to various place names and places you have traveled and the many beautiful images; the songs allow you to be transported in the same way as a photographic exhibition or photobook.

JB: I would hope it could be that way because I mean those usually end up maybe being my favourite kinds of stories; the ones that bring you, as you are, into their world so if you feel that it does that I take that as a high compliment.

There is a lot of elements of travel and the different places you have been to, I wonder did you find yourself writing the actual songs while you were on tour or moving a lot?

JB: Yes, actually a lot of the songs were written while on tour. ‘Natural Blue’, when I started writing that, I was sitting in the front seat of my friend’s car and we were on a very long drive from Denver to Arcosanti, Arizona. And yeah, you know I mean that’s like a ten-hour drive so a lot of time passed [laughs] and I actually had the space to stretch out and play my guitar while we were on our way there so that’s where that song began. ‘Morning Dove’ was the first time that I went on tour in the UK, I was playing the instrumental part of that constantly. But yeah, a lot of them were written in travel and it’s nice to be able to do that when the inspiration is there because it feels that the spirit of these places are actually being somehow expressed through the melody in a way that it seems it couldn’t happen after the fact. And so it’s a different experience writing while you’re immersed in this place that is inspiring the song itself rather than thinking about it in retrospect, after returning home. That was a really good question, I don’t think that I was asked that before.

I was interested to read that for one of your songs – I believe it’s ‘All The Land Glimmered Beneath’? – is inspired by Frank O’ Hara’s poetry?

JB: Yes, I’m a huge fan of Frank O’ Hara. I can’t remember but I don’t think it’s for the new album. On the first album, there’s a song called ‘Emeralds’; that’s based on a poem that he wrote called ‘Animals’, so basically putting ‘Animals’ to music but I don’t think ‘All The Land Glimmered Beneath’ but I do have a terrible memory, even when it comes to my own work [laughs] because I’ve actually forgotten how to play that song; it’s the only one on the album I don’t play live because I don’t remember how [laughs]. But I love Frank O’ Hara and actually sometimes if someone asks me to sign their record, I’ll write his epitaph on their record because I always thought it was so beautiful, it’s “Be free and live as variously as possible” and I think those are words to live by.

After revisiting the album quite a bit, it was also bringing me back to Walt Whitman and his ‘Leaves Of Grass’ book of poetry.

JB: Yes, yes. ‘Leaves Of Grass’ was fused to my experience of the tour that ‘Sea As It Glides’ came from and it’s my friend David’s favourite poem. So for that song, there are elements of that poem that are woven into ‘Sea As It Glides’ and that’s kind of an homage to Walt Whitman and also to my friend David who I spent four months touring with in 2014 and was the first person that I ever entered the Redwood forest with or ever saw Big Sur.

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On a more general note of touring, as you’re travelling now and touring the new album do you find yourself surprised and inspired by new places that you may encounter?

JB: Yes, I’m sure that it will happen. A lot has changed in my working relationship with music from the first album that I released to this album and so it feels like for the past six months that I’ve been touring on this album I’ve been clamouring to meet my new responsibilities that have gone along with working in a new capacity in music. It has required a lot of energy and a lot of mistakes and very valuable lessons and I’m hoping that I’ve gotten to a point where I’m familiar enough with this new way of working in music where I can become less burdened by that stress and just more immersed in the experiences that I’m able to have through touring so that’s my aspiration for this five-week tour that we’re heading out on; the return to that original spirit of mystery and magic and wonder instead of being concerned with accounting and tour managing [laughs] and all of these other things that take you out of that experience.

The opening song ‘Follow My Voice’ is like that perfect first chapter and even those first words that are sung; it really serves like a gateway into the rest of the album. Did this song serve like a door opening for you in terms of creating more songs because it has that feeling that it allowed other songs to start flowing in?

JB: That’s an interesting precedent to write a phrase is that you feel like it’s a point of entrance. I always felt a fondness for that song and then also ‘I Live Now As A Singer’, maybe it is because those two songs in particular, it feels that they have archived a new relationship with the spiritual life and a new curiosity after feeling dis-empowered and heartbroken by daily life for long enough that I’d gotten to a point where I was very interested in studying and pursuing knowledge about what else there was aside from all of these outward and external experiences. So I feel that those two songs in particular embody that sincere aspiration to change and to become more loving and more secure even though it’s a very gradual and difficult process and one which I claim no authority but I look at those two songs more as prayers than as music.

Nature and there’s obviously such beautiful imagery and lyrics to so much of the world and the universe, I wonder did you have a love for nature from a very young age?

JB: Yes, I mean I had the good fortune to grow up in a very green and simple and quiet place, my parents live in the country, maybe like forty minutes from Buffalo, New York, which is a post-industrial place. There is a creek running through my backyard and I’m a lonely child so I feel like a lot of what engaged my attention was my relationship to the natural world and observing wildlife and all of these things from a very young age and just cultivating an early fascination which I think just became comfort. There would be times when I was living in New York, I would be walking down the street and I would feel almost psychically assaulted and just so out-of-place and it took me a while to realize, oh that’s because there’s no trees on this street at all, there is no green space to be seen and just how jarring that feels. I mean I think it’s that relationship to the natural world, it is something that is in all of our biology but it was what I had grown up with and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much an effect it has on my well-being and mental health to be able to commune with nature in that way and how starved I feel without it.

I was interested to read that you were self-taught on the guitar and going back to the ‘Rooms with Walls and Windows’ album and feeling that you are there in the room as you are playing the guitar and singing. How early in your life would you have began writing your own songs and playing the guitar?

JB: Well I always loved to sing and it was never something that I did in any formal venue like I was never in choir or anything like that. I’ve never been formally trained in music theory either so I had a close friend who took acoustic guitar lessons – it was a new elective they were offering at our high school – and so it began with her, she taught me a couple of chords and then I was finally able to accompany myself singing and it went on from there. But pursuing finger style guitar is something that’s very much rooted in my father’s influence, which is his style of playing and because I was self-taught I had developed all of these strange bad habits like I only pick with three fingers which is a bit limiting but I’ve gone too far without learning to have to pick properly [laughs] that I’m on that path now. And the guitar that I play is the one that I inherited from my father so his influence actively lives through that instrument so it’s really such a joy to play that particular guitar and to be able to travel with it and it’s without a doubt my most prized possession.

When you’re so busy touring and everything else, has there been particular music or sources of inspiration that you’ve been inspired by in the last while?

JB: I played a festival in Arizona called Form Arcosanti and I was either introduced to or I had the opportunity to see musicians that I’d been following for a while and that was a very inspiring place with very prolific people. Someone that I had the opportunity to finally see was the composer and cellist – and based in New York City – named Kelsey Lu, her performance was just unbelievable and breathtaking. Other than that I think the things that have actually been the source of inspiration in terms of I guess just reviving because that’s the really important thing when you’re living such a rigorous lifestyle and travel and having moments that give that energy back that has been expended on getting from place to place and performing, so those moments of inspiration have really just been found in hiking: we’ve been integrating a lot of hikes into our tours and we’ve been making them much more of a priority than we ever did in the past. And that’s been a very meaningful change I think in our lifestyle on tour.

‘Not Even Happiness’ is out now on Basin Rock (order HERE).

For all upcoming Julie Byrne EU tour dates (including Whelan’s Dublin on 30th August) please click HERE.

http://juliemariebyrne.com/

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August 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Step Right Up: Nadia Reid

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I find song-writing to be quite an unconscious thing at times.”

—Nadia Reid

Words: Mark Carry

Nadia Reid scribble Credit Meek Zuiderwyk

Preservation’ is the formidable sophomore full-length release – and follow-up to the dazzling song-writing debut ‘Listen To Formation Look For The Signs’ – from New Zealand singer-songwriter Nadia Reid. The album’s immaculate batch of songs offers a profound take on life and an overarching theme of self-acceptance as Reid describes the songs as “a confession to my future and past self.”

Armed (once again) with the production skills of Ben Edwards in Sitting Room studios and long-term guitarist Sam Taylor, the compelling torch-lit songs possess the same intensity of Sharon Van Etten’s songbook and the beautifully layered folk gems of This Is The Kit or local native Tiny Ruins. ‘Preservation’ marks one of this year’s most captivating voices where a hypnotic spell is cast at each and every turn.

Nadia Reid sit Credit Meek Zuiderwyk WEB

Interview with Nadia Reid.

Please take me back to the making of the latest sophomore album ‘Preservation’ and particularly the recording sessions themselves? I wonder did you have a slightly different perspective this time around, on the back of touring extensively and having your debut under your belt?

Nadia Reid: It was business as usual really. I started making it before really starting the big tours so it was pretty much the exact way we made the first record, there’s nothing too much too different; same band and same producer.

In terms of the lyrics and song-writing, I presume a considerable amount of the songs were written while you were travelling and on tour? And did you feel the songs gradually come to you over a period of time or was it more a case once you finally got to sit still after the commotion of touring?

NR: I find travelling and being on the road an inspiring time and it allows you to really examine your life. But I think in terms of where the writing comes, I think that comes when I get back to where I’m living and I have that calm that allows me the space to write.  But everything feeds into everything else; I wouldn’t have much to write about if I wasn’t doing crazy things around the world.

I can imagine you and the producer Ben Edwards have a close chemistry between one another, especially this whole studio space where you record and this whole dynamic must be interesting and a fertile source for making new music?

NR: Well, I have only ever worked with Ben so he’s all I really know. I think that environments and the sort of trust that exists between him and I is really important to me and also between the band and I; we all have a relationship or a connection which happens after years of playing together. Ben has been working with me from the very, very beginning – seven or so years ago now – and it’s hard to just buy that connection. You just never know how it’s going to go and I think with the producer and artist connection, you need to have that kind of trust and understanding and patience and so I am lucky.

Prior to the recording sessions, would you have detailed conversations with the producer and band in terms of what you want to achieve and map certain points out prior to the sessions themselves?

NR: Well a lot of it happened during the few days of recording. I mean the band was familiar with the songs and some of the songs Ben heard for the first time when we arrived at the studio. A lot of people would maybe take time with pre-production or whatever but we just had this thing where we went with it and what was recorded was what happened in the studio. I know not everyone works like that but it keeps things organic and not too rigid.

Being from New Zealand and the whole rich lineage of great bands, I wonder for you growing up ad things, you must have been surrounded by a lot of great bands from New Zealand?

NR: I have a lot of friends that make incredible music so I’m in such good company at home. Some of the bands tour overseas and some of them aren’t because it’s a hard thing to undertake because you must have the right level of support for it to really work. So there is so much that doesn’t leave New Zealand. The New Zealand band Tiny Ruins; she’s a good friend of mine and there’s so much great music being made in this country.

You have toured already quite extensively with ‘Preservation’, you probably have some new songs forming at this stage?

NR: We’re already starting to think about album #3 and I think by the time a record actually makes it out to the world, in a way you’re moving past it faster than the people who are listening to it. We’re all really excited about it and I’m just as excited – if not more excited – than the last one.

Would you notice the songs change or transform in a way as you’re playing live and especially after doing a lot of shows with the same core material?

NR: Absolutely and it’s really hard to put into words what that is. It’s really quite special and to be able to play them for years and years and to have these new meanings or have their meanings become apparent to me, I find song-writing to be quite an unconscious thing at times. I think you have to change it up to keep things interesting: things are changing all the time; life changes and we change and our feelings change.

What albums have you been enjoying a lot these past couple of months?

NR: I’m loving a band called Hiss Golden Messenger and a guy called Andy Shauf.

‘Preservation’ is out now on Basin Rock.

Nadia Reid plays the following Irish shows, beginning in Galway tonight:

10.08.17    Galway    IE    Roisin Dubh   (Tickets)
12.08.17    Bangor (Co. Down)    N. IE    Open House Festival   (Tickets)
13.08.17    Kilkenny    IE    AKA Fringe Festival   (Tix: via Rollercoaster Records)

For the full list of Nadia’s tour dates visit HERE.

https://www.nadiareid.com/

 

 

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August 10, 2017 at 10:30 am

Step Right Up: Ekin Fil

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What I mean is music was a part of my growing up as a person and i want it to be that way always.”

—Ekin Fil

Words: Mark Carry

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PHOTOS BY ERİNÇ GÜZEL

 

Turkish solo artist Ekin Fil has been carving out some of the most breath-taking and beguiling drone pop explorations these past few years, inhabiting the deep, ethereal dimension of Grouper’s Liz Harris and navigating the deepest depths of the human condition in the process. On the latest opus ‘Ghosts Inside’ – released earlier this summer on Los Angeles imprint Helen Scarsdale Agency – an undeniable catharsis permeates deep within these recordings: fragile vocals shimmer gently amidst spare elements of piano notes or reverb laden guitar swells, creating utterly hypnotic drone pulses and far-reaching shoegaze deconstructions.

The opening ripples of bass piano notes of ‘Let Go’ hang in the air- an ocean of sadness and despair pours through like pockets of light. Heavenly harmonies loop forever on the achingly beautiful lament ‘Like A Child’, belonging somewhere between the sonic sphere of Grouper’s ‘Ruins’ and Sarah Davachi’s ambient gem ‘All My Circles Run’. The introspective sound unfolds heartache and helplessness. Gorgeous swells of echo and delay drift majestically beneath Ekin’s soft-like whisper on ‘Episodes’ before the sparse piano ballad ‘Simple Past’ depicts decay and isolation. The radiant light of hope forever lies at the aching core of these deeply moving explorations, reminiscent of New Zealand’s Birds of Passage or Sweden’s Demen, for example, where the beating human heart serves the undying blood-flow.

The album’s centrepiece ‘Before A Full Moon’ echoes the timeless spirit of This Mortal Coil and the singular 4AD sound. ‘Ghosts Inside’ is a gripping journey through the pores of the human heart.

‘Ghosts Inside’ is out now on The Helen Scarsdale Agency.

https://www.facebook.com/Ekin-Fil

https://www.facebook.com/helenscarsdale/

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Interview with Ekin Fil.

Congratulations on the stunningly beautiful new full-length ‘Ghosts Inside’, a deeply affecting batch of beguiling songs. Please discuss the making and recording of the latest record and the space and time in which these recordings bloomed from? I particularly love the addition of piano to the sonic canvas, which further heightens this ethereal, far-reaching dimension.

Ekin Fil: First of all I would love to thank you so much. Though I would have some predictions, I’m not a person that knows how the album will turn out before starting to work on it. That period was terribly monotonous and static and I think it shows on the short and repetitive melodies in the album.

There is an undeniable catharsis permeating deep within these new songs where ‘Ghosts Inside’ contains pockets of glimmering hope amidst the shimmering darkness of decay and isolation. An immersive quality is forever inherent in your music that emits a healing nature to the recordings. I’d love to gain an insight into your studio set-up and the instrumentation used?

EF: Ghosts Inside consists of keyboard based tracks mostly whereas my previous releases were dominated by guitar. The emotional affect caused by this difference apparently is more direct with the listeners or may be more sincere? The instruments were basically a keyboard and a guitar with reverb and delay pedals for my vocals.

I feel the duo of ‘Before A Full Moon’ and ‘Fin’ forms the vital pulse and gripping heart to the new record. The way in which your voice blends so magically with the drone soundscapes of guitar (former) and keys (latter) creates such a hypnotic, timeless voyage into the pores of the human heart. Can you discuss the writing and construction of these particular songs?

EF: I think the songs you mentioned are the songs that most resemble my previous album because the new album contains fewer guitar based songs. Nevertheless although they differ structurally, they may not sound very different within the whole atmosphere.

Making music feels like such a natural process for you. I would love for you to discuss the inspirational figures and musical voices (from growing up in Istanbul to present-day making music as Ekin Fil) and how soon did you realize the importance of music in your life?

EF: May sound a bit cliché but music has been a part of my life from very early on. But when I think about it now I see that I may have wanted things to be under my control with my relation to music. I want to play and sing as long as I want, whether i become a ‘musician’ or not. Maybe I could not find any other way that i’m comfortable with within certain conditions.

I did not grow up in İstanbul, it was more like an urban town in the borders. Somewhere you can call more conservative. It was really difficult to reach and find the music, the books, things we were curious about there. I think all of these difficulties kept me from romanticizing stuff and kept my ego from getting bigger. What I mean is music was a part of my growing up as a person and i want it to be that way always.

The addition of piano instrumentation on penultimate track ‘Final Cut’ or album opener ‘Let Go’ forges a striking immediacy and beguiling atmosphere to the sonic sphere, reminiscent of Grouper’s ‘Ruins’ LP for instance (a lovely parallel exists between both albums). Were the piano-based songs written (& recorded) at the same time frame as the more guitar-based songs?

EF: Keyboard has been a contributing element in my previous guitar based tracks too. This time I just switched the balances leaving the keys alone and sometimes just letting guitars company them in a subtle way. All the songs in the album belong to a same period in my life. Actually I can’t say I can play one certain instrument better than others, I just use the one I feel I need and be content with it.

You have quickly amassed quite a wonderful discography and have developed your own rich musical identity across the years. Where do you feel you will explore next and what plans and collaborations do you feel you’d like to visit next?

EF: I hope and plan to play at other European cities after my show at Le Guess Who festival in November. We also plan to release a tape if we can around those dates too. Then new tracks and records and may be a split album.

Lastly, what records are you heavily immersed in of late?

Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN”, Joanna  Brouk’s “The Space Between”, Abul Mogard’s “Works”, All Washington Phillips, Kate Carr’s “the Story Surrounds Us”  are the records I have been listening to a lot lately.

‘Ghosts Inside’ is out now on The Helen Scarsdale Agency.

https://www.facebook.com/Ekin-Fil

https://www.facebook.com/helenscarsdale/

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August 9, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Central And Remote: Clang Sayne

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“I like the idea that there’s always room for manoeuvre; that the music should be able to change with us as we change personally.”

–Laura Hyland

Words: Craig Carry

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Clang Sayne are the Irish-based four-piece led by Wexford-based artist and founding member Laura Hyland. Having formed in London in 2008, the group (comprising of Laura Hyland alongside Peter Marsh on double bass, James O Sullivan on electric guitar and Matthew Fisher on drums) released their debut album “Winterlands” the following year to wide acclaim. The album revealed the spellbinding poetic lyricism of Hyland’s songwriting, together with the group’s innate ability to channel their diverse influences (jazz, folk, sound art, traditional) into their own distinct sound. The band’s captivating sound and thrilling lyricism continue to expand and flourish on the band’s follow-up, “The Round Soul Of The World”. Released in March of this year, the group’s second album is a stunning achievement in distilling myriad themes (chiefly those of mortality, death and love) in such a quietly breathtaking and poignantly moving way. Clang Sayne’s latest incarnation – Judith Ring on voice and cello, Matthew Jacobson on drums and voice, and Carolyn Goodwin on bass clarinet and voice (some of Ireland’s most gifted contemporary musicians in their own right)– are also undoubtedly responsible for weaving their own unique and diverse musical backgrounds to the recordings here. There is a clear sense of trust and appreciation in one another’s playing and musicianship (something that can only result from years of playing alongside one another and trusting one another completely) which makes “The Round Soul Of The World” such an ambitiously complex and genuinely fascinating album, all at once, one which manages to simultaneously move the heart and mind.

“The Round Soul Of The World” is available now.

http://www.clangsayne.com
https://www.facebook.com/clangsayne

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Congratulations on “The Round Soul Of The World”, it is such a startlingly complex and beautifully poetic and endearing album. First of all, I’d love if you could trace back the beginnings of this album: When did you begin to write this set of songs?

Laura Hyland: Thanks for your very kind words, Craig, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed listening.

I wrote ‘Mocking Moon’ shortly before leaving London in 2010, but it was a while before anything else followed. Several months later I returned to Co. Wexford, Ireland (where I grew up), and moved into an old farmhouse on the coast with Jude (Ring) and my cousin, Ann. Every morning I’d play my guitar in the garden. I was so taken with the soundworld there (wind, sea, birds) after so many years of living in cities that I felt it was a real shame to play over it, and so eventually I just started playing with it.

There were no other songs at that point-only this guitar-based soundworld that felt very soft and spacious and other-worldly. That feeling corresponded to my return to a rural home. Suddenly I was surrounded by a lot of wide open space, and a lot of love from family and old friends. It was a very stark contrast to the anonymity of city life (which I also love). There’s a kind of paradox in connecting with that sense of space and that kind of connection with neighbours: it’s ancient and timeless and immediate all at once.

I didn’t have an album ‘theme’ in mind at that point – just this feeling of space and expansiveness, and it kept emerging in everything I was playing with at the time – from sounds to words. Lyrics materialised, and gradually got worked into these guitar soundworlds and songs began to emerge, but they were very ethereal and shape-shifty for a long time. Newborn, Ashes, and Requiem were the first. Then Round Soul, the music for which I wrote some time later.

I was also seeking that same feeling of space in the dynamic I felt with other musicians. It took three years to find the right people – Jude was there from the outset (we’ve been friends and sonic ‘playmates’ for many years), but Matthew and Carolyn came later (2012/13 respectively). I felt a great calm and trust when we all played altogether – space for everyone to be themselves and roam around comfortably within the music but at the same time, always circling each other. I feel very lucky to have found these brilliant people/musicians.

By November’13 I had a collection of songs that fitted together. Mocking Moon was a kind of London ‘swan song’ – an inner heralding to myself that a change was in order. Requiem, Ashes, Newborn & Round Soul  were all a kind of ‘landing’ into a new place, having made that change. Blackbird & This Love I added at the very end – late in 2015. (This Love was actually written in 2005 on the conception of my first niece, but I never played it very much after that). These last two songs seemed to balance it and brought a kind of simplicity or groundedness to the album that wasn’t present in the other songs, but that felt very much a part of the bigger picture of what the whole album was about. On searching for a suitable engineer/studio I eventually found Les Keye/Arad Studios in Dublin, who recorded and mixed the album. He was great to work with, and has since become a very dear friend.

Musically, it embodies the spirit of so many different types of music so effortlessly and organically – folk, sound art, jazz, traditional, modern classical – and I love how each band member brings so much of their own unique backgrounds and personalities (for example, Matthew Jackobson’s extensive traditional and jazz playing or Judith Ring’s highly expressive cello works) into the final album cut. 

I would love to gain an insight into how song arrangements as challenging and as organic as these come to fruition? Is it a case of rehearsing or is it more a case of being aware of each other’s playing so much that it’s ultimately a very natural and fluid process?

LH: It’s both: rehearsing, and exactly as you say, being aware of each other’s playing to the point where it becomes fluid and cohesive. It’s also a case of choosing to play with people whose playing I like, and who like the music I write and the way I play. That cuts out a lot of work really. Often there isn’t much need for discussion or arrangement as everyone just appreciates what everyone else does. That to me is the perfect scenario – sometimes just listening is the best arrangement! Within that there are conscious decisions made, but this mutual appreciation comes first, and is very fundamental as far as I’m concerned.

I usually know the kind of soundworld and atmosphere I want to hear for a given piece, and the shape or contour I want it to follow. I communicate that to the others and then we improvise around these ideas. I listen back to recordings to pick out what I think works, and we all discuss it together too while we’re playing it. Through this feedback loop of playing and recording and listening and discussing we settle on an arrangement, though usually it’s quite loose. I like the idea that there’s always room for maneuver; that the music should be able to change with us as we change personally.

As for embodying the spirit of different types of music, I think that comes from a deeper place. We all share a very deep love of sound and music, and we’ve all arrived at that point from different paths. Apart from playing, I really enjoy talking about music and listening to music with Carolyn and Jude and Matthew. It’s a very great source of joy and inspiration for all of us. I think we’re each at a stage where we’ve left our training or ‘genre-home’ behind, and now we each just want to play and have space to continue growing within our playing.

That said, invariably the different paths we’ve traveled leave their mark, but ultimately I think it’s personalities that comes through, rather than genres. I think if you spend years exploring any artform you develop a bigger sense of what that artform is all about. You start to recognise graceful self-expression – that’s something that runs far deeper and has far more impact than any given genre. I think it’s what all artists aspire to – I certainly do.

There is also a beautiful sense of intricacy to the lyrics on the album which reveals many layers of added meanings on repeat listenings. As well as your own poetic and moving lyricism there is a number of other sources drawn upon here (for instance texts by both Maureen Barry and Austin Clarke on “The Emptying Of The Ashes” and “Blackbird” respectively) which strikingly combine together to paint a picture of both the finite and infinite over the course of the album. I’d love if you could detail the themes you wished to express yourself with these songs?

LH: The Austin Clarke line from Blackbird is taken from his poem, The Blackbird of Derrycairn in which a blackbird appeals to St Patrick who is busy studying his scriptures and praying in his cell, to leave his studies and come out to join in the world.

We become obsessed with particular aspects of life (art, childrearing, career, money, religion, political causes – whatever), at times to the exclusion of all else.  It makes hermits of us. That can bring its own rewards, but it can also be lonely and very isolating. I believe a varied and diverse daily life brings with it a sense of connection to the world, and the sense of a spacious and rich life. That to me is happiness.

I wrote that song after I had been to visit Charlie – an elderly and ailing friend of my emigree sister’s (Sorcha, to whom the album is dedicated). Charlie was a tricky but colourful character who had alienated herself in many ways. She spent a lot of time alone; as do I, and as does my sister – all for our own individual reasons. That line from the poem “still no handbell has a glad sound” literally popped into the song as I was writing it. It summed up very succinctly what I needed to say (essentially “whatever “handbell” or sense of duty that is calling us to isolate ourselves for some supposed higher cause or ambition will not bring happiness or immortality. So let’s ignore it and join in the world”), so I left it there.

‘The Emptying of the Ashes’ is an excerpt from a column that a woman from my local area, Maureen Barry used to write for the farmer’s journal for many years. She was of a generation that put religion (catholicism) at the centre of absolutely everything. Obviously that brings its own problems, and I would never wish for a return to that outlook, but by the same token, I do believe very strongly in faith – not in a deity (for me personally), but in our being a small part of something bigger  – a lifeforce – that we cannot control, and cannot understand, certainly not in any ‘rational’, or supposedly ‘objective’ quantitative terms. We can’t control or understand that lifeforce, and yet we’re utterly dependent on it, and that makes us vulnerable. What is there to do but give in to that vulnerability??

She nails this idea in this piece of writing: she presents herself as something small – a tiny element going about the daily tasks necessary to keep her existence ticking over. In doing so she becomes one with the world around her, and through this she perceives a sense of majesty – a sense of something huge and powerful and incomprehensible, and she’s humble in the face of that – she accepts that life or ‘lifeforce’ is incomprehensible. To me that is real faith: it isn’t god or church – it’s simply being and loving and not knowing why.

I’d love if you could talk and expand upon the influence of Maureen Barry? I know from hearing your live show that she seems to be someone who has had an important role and influence on you as an artist?

LH: She was a very intelligent and forward-thinking woman whom I’d known all my life. She was a feminist at a time when feminism was considered morally reprehensible. She earned a scholarship to study mathematics at UCD, again at a time when women were not encouraged to pursue academic ambition. She married a farmer and reared a family, gave maths grinds to local kids (myself included) and wrote a weekly column for the Farmer’s Journal, amongst many other things. I wouldn’t say she in particular had an important influence on me as an artist, but definitely she typifies a kind of woman from that era (which I grew up with the tail-end of) for whom I have huge respect. These women basically kept the community together. They were omnipresent in rural life when I was a kid. They had huge faith and strength and drive. They get forgotten about because their lives were quiet and supposedly apoltical, but I think many of them were true harbingers of change in Irish thinking – they distinguished between faith and institutionalized religion, and between women’s social status and the importance of their work as homemakers and childrearers. And they acted upon these distinctions, passing on subtle but clear messages through their actions to the likes of myself and other kids at the time, but they had to do it quietly and cleverly because such ideas were not socially tolerated.

The use of vocals on the album is really special which is all the more apparent in a live context. Your own vocals – when accompanied even simply by guitar – is always so special (the range of vocals extend from spoken-word like delivery on “Blackbird” to the glorious “Curse You Mocking Moon”, can you recount your earliest memories of wishing to be a singer, Laura? Or was it a case of being a musician to begin with, where being a singer happened at a later stage?

LH: I don’t ever remember wanting to be a singer as such, but I’ve always sung as far back as I can remember, and the feeling I had singing as a child is much the same feeling I have when I sing now. It’s very physical and very empowering. There’s something very primordial about sounding out your breath. It feels like another great big call to union with the world. I played violin as a small child, and I swapped over to guitar at 11-12ish, because I found it awkward to sing with an instrument under my chin. So I guess singing led the way and instrumental accompaniment followed. I think everyone should sing. I hate to hear people say they can’t sing. Everyone can sing – it’s a birthright!

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When adding and weaving so many other vocals (where effectively the entire band – Judith Ring, Carolyn Goodwin, Matthew Jacobson – will accompany you) – elevates the effect to another level altogether (for instance, on the title-track) and opens up so many possibilities when considering song structures and arrangements. It’s clear you all treat the voice like another instrument and that’s really striking on the album. Are these vocal arrangements conceived during rehearsals or at the studio? It must also be a really interesting and powerful experience singing like this in live shows, as it’s really apparent as a listener just how close a bond you each have to one another?

LH: I more see them all as just sound sources. Every sound source or ‘instrument’ has its limitations, yes, but those limitations are largely determined by social convention and music tradition. In truth, the sound one can elicit from an object is simply a product the object’s physicality and the player’s imagination. Organising or playing with those sounds in a pleasing fashion is music. I think it really is that simple.

If I have to think of them in terms of conventional instruments I would more see it as treating instruments as voices rather than voices as instruments! Voice is infinitely flexible in the range of sounds it can produce: continuous or discrete, pitched or inharmonic, an infinite range of timbres, incredibly subtle dynamics, and above all, because we communicate primarily through voice as a species, as listeners we’re highly sensitive to its nuances. To me, there’s no other sound source – ‘natural’ or synthesised – on the planet that is as universal or sophisticated.  So it makes sense to me that other instruments aspire to voice in terms of sonic potential or flexibility. Rather than relying on a palette of sounds that an instrument traditionally produces, I prefer to think in terms of what sounds/soundworld I want to hear, and then I try to find ways of eliciting that sound from a given instrument. That’s what we do with our voices all the time – for example, when we want to convey the kind of sounds an aeroplane or an explosion make.

Yes, it is a very powerful experience all singing together. It’s my favourite part of playing in this group and I really hope we do more and more of it as the years go on. I had an interesting experience recently while on holidays: my friend and I visited these ancient caves. The acoustics were incredible inside and so we spent the afternoon singing in them. We were just singing long tones – no songs as such. Other tourists came by throughout the day and the same thing happened 3 times, whereby a passerby would stand in the entrance of the cave to see/hear what was going on, and then to my great surprise and delight they’d join in! And it wasn’t a particularly ‘hip’ place where lots of right-on artists were wandering around; each time it was a very different ‘demographic’ that joined in: one young man our own age, two elderly german couples, and a middle-aged man. It was a very special experience. Humans want to sing. It’s such a great shame that we don’t make more space for it socially.

The vocals on ‘The Round Soul’ are based on an arrangement that I made multi-tracking my own voice at home, and I gave a demo recording of it to the others. There are specific points in the song where I wanted to replicate what I’d done on the recording, but there are also sections where the recording was simply to give an impression of the soundworld I had in mind, for example, in that middle section where our vocal lines overlap each other, I wanted it to be very fluid and elastic, so that nobody is tied down to a specific melody or harmony, and we’re all free to respond to each other as we play, so that the music becomes a living organism. Composition and improvisation are much like gardening to me in this regard: there’s a balance between manicuring plant growth and letting it grow wildly out of control. I find sound has the same propensity for chaos and order and growth: you lay out a structure and then you let things grow together within it. Some bits are manicured and others are wild. Some sounds are more rampant than others and require either more control or more space; others need more nurturing and coaxing…

Jude and I spent a long time singing and playing with each other over the years, before ever Clang Sayne came about. We share a very strong unspoken sense of what sounds good and interesting. Carolyn obviously has the clarinet in her mouth a lot of the time so she can’t always sing, but she’s found out all the places where she can swap between the two. Sometimes it’s quite a feat of breathing! Of the four of us, Matthew has sung least in the past, but he was really up for it when I first suggested it, and he joins in more and more as time wares on. Every now and then when we play live I hear him come in somewhere new where I haven’t heard him sing before. That makes me very happy.

My current favourite piece is the title-track “The Round Soul Of The World”, it encapsulates the album so magically and embodies everything that’s so spellbinding about the album’s breathtaking musicianship. From the incredible clarinet-driven outro to the wondrous use of texture from the drums and percussion, it’s such a powerful and fitting closer to the album. I’d love if you could reflect on the making of this song? It must have been a particularly proud moment for you all, listening to the finished recording of this song back?

LH: I wrote this while living in the farmhouse I mentioned in Q1 above. That was such a special few months, and we lived very simply in a very beautiful place. The day pretty much consisted of eating, sleeping, swimming, playing music, gardening and spending time together  – very idyllic, and very much a privileged 1st world life, but paradoxically also incredibly frugal.

All three of us were working hard on different projects – Jude and I, on our respective musics, and our other flatmate, Ann on visual art and teaching. Life felt very complete and fulfilling, and above all, very ‘blessed’ for want of a less corny word. I had just returned to Ireland and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for where I had arrived – geographically, socially, artistically  – in every way. I also felt during that time all three of us had space and time to give the world our ‘best’ selves, and that’s a rare opportunity. So it’s a song of gratitude for that, and a song of conviction for living. If I could strike a deal with the world this would be it: “I give you my best self and you give me shelter in return”.

I set the text to music a couple of years later, after I’d met Carolyn, and I had the bass clarinet in mind. I wanted a big, low, spacious drone, and a very elemental and big sound. I set it so that the lowest note on the bass clarinet formed the drone, so that she’d have maximum instrumental range to let loose on it, and then her and Matthew could really go for it together. Jude had also just begun playing the cello during that time, so it was a good one for her too as she could focus on one open string and all the sonic possibilities she could elicit from that. I’m very chuffed that her cello debut is on this recording!

It was good fun recording it! The first time we all listened back to the whole album together was a special moment. I think we were all proud of it, not necessarily this song in particular, but the album as a whole. I do remember listening back through the various takes we’d recorded of that song, and being so blown away by Carolyn’s solo on this take in particular  – it’s so full of life and gusto and conviction. There’s this one harmonic that she pulls out at the very end and it’s like glass. Even now when I hear it I can’t understand where or how that sound came out, but it’s a little piece of magic.

The true spirit and unique sounds Clang Sayne generate are obviously due to the very unique and singular musicians in the band, who each of course are responsible for such a wealth of music courtesy of many other projects and bands here in Ireland. I love how each musician’s style and background shines through so naturally on the album, it brings to mind fellow Irish-based band This Is How We Fly and the true spirit of jazz.

I’d love if Matthew, Carolyn and Judith could talk about what it’s like for them to play with Clang Sayne? It must be a really exciting departure from your other projects and a beautiful way of pushing your own creative energies into many different directions in this context?

Matthew Jacobson: What struck me from the very first time I played with Laura was her complete openness and willingness to collaborate. Given that her music is so personal and emotive, it is unique that she is so prepared to give musicians carte blanche when performing it. I think this is what gives her songs such a sense of life, allowing them to breathe and remain fresh.

None of the musicians’ roles in the band are confined to the instruments that they play ie I don’t feel like a drummer in the band, rather as a facilitator and collaborator in Laura’s stories, poetry and music. Instead of playing a specific groove, I may at times aim for textures or soundscapes or I may play nothing at all! Playing in a group where the composer or songwriter places their full trust in you gives you the platform to be spontaneous, creative and free. This can bring the music to entirely new spaces, without losing the integrity of the original material. I really love being involved in projects in this capacity and this one is particularly special for me as it has allowed me to sing on an album for the first time!

Carolyn Goodwin: Because of the delicacy in Laura’s writing, her songs demand intense focus from the listener on every hearing. I feel that this is still the case for me and that even from my seat within the band, I am having an experience akin to that of a member of the audience. With each song you are confronted with something that is both powerful and fragile at once, and as musicians we are given the responsibility to be mindful of the craft that has gone into the writing, along with the freedom to make something new at every performance. Striking the illusive balance between these two elements is something I think we collectively strive for in every execution of the music, and what ultimately unites us as Clang Sayne.

Judith Ring: Clang Sayne is an incredible group to play in. It gives us all a chance to deeply explore various sonic ideas and really develop a cohesive sound that represents our individual talents as well as our capability to blend together into something unique. As a composer I typically work alone and hand my music over to other people to perform but as part of Clang Sayne I get to explore that world myself and certainly my own music often influences what I bring to the table. Working with Laura on her music is such a rich experience as the material at its core is so powerful and gives us so much to play off. The aspect of freedom within the work also allows us to grow with the music and vice versa. It’s an ever-evolving thing!

What albums have you been listening to lately?

LH: My favourite thing over the past year is definitely the music from William Kentridge’s exhibition, ‘The Refusal of Time’. It’s a series of texts and stories written and recited by Kentridge and set it to music by South African composer, Philip Miller. It’s mind-blowing, both in Kentridge’s reflections on time and in Miller’s arrangements.

Others this past year or so in no particular order include:

Matana Roberts: ‘Coin Coin Chapter Two: Missippi Moonchile’

Johnny Nash: ‘Eden’

Claudia Schwab: ‘Attic Mornings’ 

A compilation called ‘I’m in a Strange Town: Blues and Gospel 1927 – 1967’

Ancient Ocean (aka J.R Bohannon): ‘Blood Moon’

Ellen Fullman ‘Through Glass Panes’

Josephine Foster ‘I’m A Dreamer’

Matthew Jacobson & Sam Comeford: Insufficient Funs EP

Peadar O Riada’s 1987 album (untitled).

Marissa Nadler – various albums

Arvo Part – various choral works

Ivor Cutler: Jammy Smears

Laurie Anderson: various recordings

An album conceived by Mark Garry for The RHA’s Artists Curate Series in 2006, entitled ‘Plane’

Katie Kim: Salt

Bitchin Bajas & Bonny Prince Billy: ‘Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties’

Planxty’s entire back catalog

What are the next plans for Clang Sayne?

LH: I’ll start writing a new body of work in September, based on a set of poems I wrote several years ago. I’d hope to get that wrapped up before Christmas and then bring it to the others in Spring 2018 with a view to recording it maybe next summer. I’ve been ridiculously slow in the past getting albums over the line. This time I really want to try turn it around a bit faster.

Otherwise, some touring in Ireland in the Autumn, and hopefully further afield in 2018. Recently I just hooked up with booking agent, Emma Kelly from Merakindie. It’s the first time I’ve worked with someone else on the business end of things, and it feels good to get help with this part of the project as it’s not something I find easy, so I’m pretty focused on that for the summer – finding good people to help: that includes a manager and a PR person – anyone interested please get in touch!!

“The Round Soul Of The World” is available now.

http://www.clangsayne.com
https://www.facebook.com/clangsayne

Chosen One: Justin Walter

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The music itself comes to light more like finding sea shells on the ocean floor with your eyes closed.”

—Justin Walter

Words: Mark Carry

Justin_Walter_Doug_Coombe_2_17-1000x630

Angelic piano tones reverberate softly into the ether on the album’s glorious title-track. Gradually, synth bass elements coalesce together: a diffusion of sumptuous layers before heavenly trumpet passages form ripples in the pools of your mind. The immense sonic journey of  ‘Unseen Forces’ is encapsulated in some otherworldly realm; lost to the constraints of time that ceaselessly grows in meaning and significance. Michigan trumpeter Justin Walter has forged another timeless sound world  with his sophomore full length ‘Unseen Forces’ – and follow-up to the sublime debut ‘Lullabies & Nightmares’ – released on the ever-dependable Chicago-based Kranky label.

Divine sonic tapestries are masterfully forged across the album’s nine exceptional tracks, with intricate layers of electronics and trumpet. Walter’s trusted EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) is a rare wind-controlled analog synthesizer from the 70’s that forms an integral foundation to the music’s visionary dimension. The opener ‘1001’ reveals the delicate beauty of these drifting synthesizer melodies that lies somewhere between Boards of Canada and the ECM’s rich discography. Bass notes are masterfully added two minutes in, creating a powerful, unequivocal force, reminiscent of Kranky alumni Tim Hecker or A Winged Victory For The Sullen.

Dark, menacing electronics are fused with radiant light of trumpet melodies on the utterly compelling ‘Sixty’, an exploration into the heart of darkness. The dichotomy of light and dark is forever inherent across Walter’s shape-shifting works where the radiant light of hope glows like stars dotted across night skies. An inner dialogue is created between the electronic and organic components, forming a deeply-affecting experience in the process. Take for example, ‘It’s Not What You Think’. The striking intensity unleashed by hypnotic swells of synthesizers is contrasted with ethereal ambient soundscapes of faded dreams. Music, like the brush strokes of a painter, is constructed by masterful use of texture and colour. As the track builds, the frenetic energy of Colin Stetson and Ben Frost is emitted amidst a dark, repeating pattern.

The album’s penultimate track ‘Soft Illness’ bears the sound of a producer more so than anything else: swirls of noise crafts a captivating electronic sphere of sound. The length of the individual tracks in part B are significantly shortened, further adding to the nearness of the approaching horizon. ‘Following’ is a soul-stirring lament that feels like a lost synth pop gem from another space and time. ‘Red Cabin’ encapsulates the rich textures of dreams, in one aching gradual pulse.

‘Unseen Forces’ is out now on Kranky.

http://www.justinwalter.net/

http://www.kranky.net/

justin

 

Interview with Justin Walter.

Congratulations Justin on the stunningly beautiful new sophomore release ‘Unseen Forces’, a collection of music that truly transports the listener to another realm. I’d love for you to discuss the making of the new record and particularly how your approach may have developed or changed from that of the remarkable 2013 debut ‘Lullabies & Nightmares’?

Justin Walter: Well first off, thank you. The biggest factor that changed was time. With ‘Lullabies & Nightmares‘ I just went full in and recorded the album in a few months. The process was a continuous push from start to finish that took about 9 months. It should also be noted that I didn’t really have any set voice or aesthetic that I was attached to at that time. Almost all of the work I had been doing with the EVI and trumpet sat as one offs or groupings of songs that happened within a short period of time, sort of like free form journal entries. When ‘Dream Weaving‘ was recorded, which was fairly early on, I decided to try and stick with material that felt along those lines, but it was all still very new to me. I think that ‘Mind Shapes‘ was the last piece I put together and in that there was a strong intent to make something that spoke to the rest of the material on the album. With ‘Unseen Forces‘ though, I spent a lot more time considering the overall meaning of the record. The process for coming up with the material was very much the same, but I wanted to find a cohesive musical language that would be the same throughout, and a more focused emotional message. So it took a lot longer to put together. Mostly because I don’t actually write any of the music.

Please discuss the art of improvisation and the mindset and methodologies you have developed over the years when it comes to creating these otherworldly ambient explorations?

JW: I suppose improvisation isn’t what most people think it is. It’s more like talking. So you have this musical language which you spend years learning and refining, and within itself there can be dialog, but the overall message is just emotional. It happens in real time, and so it’s a journey from one statement to the next and so on and by travelling along you can tell a story of sorts. But if you were to just pull out one piece from the middle it would probably lose all of its meaning. So the language that I have is mostly based in jazz, but over time I’ve also been developing this other language which is based on texture and sequencing. It’s about feel and spacing more than it is about notes and harmony.

Creating these recordings has mostly been the same process over and over. It involves improvisation, but more importantly it requires a strong sense of emotion. And not like crying emotion or anything like that, but just the feeling of yourself in a total way. So it’s always key to be in touch and have an intense sense of yourself when you spend time doing these things. After all, the idea here is to convey through music this story of yourself. So that’s a part of the methodology. The music itself comes to light more like finding sea shells on the ocean floor with your eyes closed. I’m just trying to feel for the good ones and after I collect a bunch I bring them up and see if I actually got anything worth saving. So the feeling and collecting process is very important and after a while you get a little bit better at it, but you still can’t see what you’re doing.

The sonic palette utilized on ‘Unseen Forces’ is your trusted EVI, wind-controlled analog synthesizer combined with electronics and trumpet tapestries that coalesce together forming sprawling soundscapes of utterly transcendent moments. As this new record is even more of a solo effort than its predecessor (with added percussion/drums in places), I’d love for you to discuss the starting points or genesis of these new solo works? Did you have certain reference points in mind? Also, it feels as if there’s this chain reaction of inner dialogue (of the deepest kind) as one listens to the unfolding of the seamless array of patterns inherent in these compositions. Would these tracks be first takes, so to speak? 

JW: One of the shifts I’ve made over the last few years is to see myself as more of a producer, if that’s the right term. I produce myself. Which is weird. So I set out to create and collect all of these sounds, and then I bring them to myself, and I say this one stays and these go. And so for that part of myself that is deciding how to place these things, there was a process of growth and refinement that is still taking place. When A Winged Victory for the Sullen came out with ATOMOS I remember listening to that every day and thinking to myself holly shit. And I realize I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to contemporary music, so I’m not really hip to all that is out there, but I love that record. And so I sat with it for a long time. It was sort of a pointer for me. I’m not sure what process Adam and Dustin use to write music, but it’s spot on and I wanted to bring as much of that language into myself as possible. So that was one starting point in terms of spacing, texture and colour.

Another starting point was Tim Hecker, who creates music that just pisses me off in the best way. These are guys I had never heard of before L&N and they, along with a few others, helped shape my decision making process when it came to the production side of things. In terms of inner dialogue, yes. I spent a lot of time sitting with these songs as they developed and it was very important to me that they told a continuous story. These are first takes and layered first takes. I didn’t re-record anything for this album, it’s all just live recordings. It’s one of the reasons it took me so long to make this record – most of what I do doesn’t work out.

The album’s title-track is one of the pinnacles of this enriching journey. It’s the space and dimension a track such as this permeates and orbits, for me is the towering essence of this beautiful music. Can you recount your memories of creating ‘Unseen Forces’ and indeed how the piece evolved and bloomed into its final entity? The sonic canvas and various components of your sound are wonderfully utilized and expressed here, it’s such a captivating experience. The title too embodies the music so perfectly, is there a story or background to choosing of this particular (song/album) title?

JW: I had gone to Chicago to my friend Erik Hall’s place. He’s helped in recording and mixing this, and almost all of my records. He had just inherited his families Steinway grand piano and we were both fairly excited to be in the presence of such an incredible instrument. It seems ridiculous, but the title track was recorded in three passes, basically back to back with no planning what so ever. I played some open chords, which is what you hear at the beginning of the song. Then sampled and sequenced those chords in a way that was extremely random. We recorded a pass of that sequence and I decided to add a synth bass part with the EVI. That ended up being mostly in 4/4 time because, well that’s what I do. So after that I did a pass with the trumpet. That was it in terms of recording. Now there was a lot of time spent mixing and I did record the sequenced piano track through a tape delay a few months later to have that in the mix as well. I also spent a bit of time adding parts to it and then taking them away, and finally just decided that the best thing to do would be to just leave it as it is. I think that in recording the way we did, there just wasn’t time to think about what to do, and so even though it was three separate passes, it still had the spontaneity of a live performance. There’s playfulness in that that you just can’t write out.

You are part of the immense Sorrow Ensemble, Colin Stetson’s latest project. As you tour on this record and play with these musicians, I can only imagine how inspiring and fulfilling this experience must be? Can you shed some light on the dynamics of this group and what you feel you are learning from Colin Stetson, someone obviously who has served as a long-term inspirational figure?

JW: Well, being a part of this group has been a dream come true. Throughout the span of this project it has always been extremely clear that Colin has had a vision and sense of purpose in choosing to recreate this amazing piece of music. He’s lead the group like general on the battlefield. All of the members are amazing musicians in their own right and there was always an openness to the way we formed and contributed to the orchestration as it developed, but it’s really been a pleasure to work with someone who sees clearly what the final outcome should be. In working with large groups like this it can be easy to sway in the wind a bit in terms of direction, everyone having their own ideas about what should be what, and Stetson has managed this in amazing form and with the best leadership imaginable. It also helps that everyone chosen to be a part of this group has a huge sense of selflessness and are just interested in making great music. So we work together and listen to each other and make it happen.

In the nature of improvisation and the “first thought add ons” (you previously described to me) inherent in your trumpet-based works, I presume quite a significant of happy accidents occur as the album is being made/recorded? I would love to know more about your studio set-up and indeed the challenges you face when it comes to capturing these takes onto the final recordings? Is mixing a part of the process that takes you longer to complete?

JW: Yep. Fail, fail, and fail again. But actually one of the things I’ve come to accept is that I can’t do this every day. You really do need to be in the right space to sit down and get an amazing first take, or be able to see that what you have is something you want to keep working on. Mixing is something I’ve spent a ton of time on. I went from knowing how to record in garage band in 2011 to feeling like there wasn’t that much left for me to discover in protools in 2016. So there was a huge amount of learning that happened over these past few years. I do have a “studio” at home which serves my needs just fine. I have a walk up attic that is very dead in terms of sound bouncing around and so I use that space to mix in. It gets me to about 95%, and the rest I can do in a real studio. Mixing and also sequencing of material is time consuming, you’re making decisions and putting things together that can sometimes feel like you’re playing 6 games of Tetris at the same time. How the side chain compression is working, how the tracks are duplicated and spit up for eq, and how all of the layers are interacting with each other. It’s is a fun game.

The spirit of Arthur Russell and Boards of Canada beautifully drift by on the sublime ‘It’s Not What You Think’, a piece that epitomizes the adventurous spirit of the album but also the sense of new ground and departures from the debut. Please also discuss the sequencing of the record, it works very well how there are several much shorter pieces – or crystallized gems – interspersed with the sprawling ambient cuts. 

JW: I wanted the opening to set the mood for the whole record, to let the listener know that this would be a slower journey. ‘It’s Not What You Think‘ formed over the summer of 2016. It was the final piece of music I put together for this record and yes, BoC. Love those guys. I do love Arthur Russell but honestly it’s been a long time for me. I think I was mostly focused on having this dark and repetitive line that was strong and forceful. Again, when the bass line comes in on ATOMOS it’s like, hell yes. Love that. And so for me this was my reflection of that. It’s less frills and more meat. I also wanted to speak to the vinyl record format, and so bookended each side with two halves of the same piece. “End of Six” and “Red Cabin” originally were one continuous recording that took place at the very end of a 45 improvisation, the Sixth one of that day. The sequencing of songs took a while. There’s room to breathe after the intense cuts, but not in a way that kills the forward momentum. The overall shape of the record is from low to high and back in a gradual way that hopefully lets you listen to the album on repeat without getting burnt out. That was one of my goals.

What do you feel has been the most invaluable lesson you have learned or that previous experiences have taught you? Can you recall your memories of first being given the trumpet and how you feel you have developed your own distinct musical language with the EVI instrumentation that is integral to your solo works?

JW: Definitely that taking time is totally OK. I’ve never really made a living as a musician, I mean there have been stretches were I’m making great money and then it’s all over. So I’ve grown to be OK with that and actually cherish the fact that I don’t have to do this. In no way is it covering the cost of time put in, it’s just about the art. So if it takes forever, it’s worth it. In the end it’s about trying to make something that you yourself find value in, and hopefully other people will find value in it as well. So it’s super important to take as much time as you need. Once it’s out, it’s done forever.

Louis Smith gave me my first trumpet. I was 10. It was actually a cornet. I’ve always been involved in the jazz community as a trumpeter. Currently I play a few nights a week with different groups here in Ann Arbor, it’s great. Everything from new music, free jazz, Joe Henderson, Coltrane, all the way back to Bix and Morton. We cover the whole lineage. With that, I think I’ve settled down into feeling more secure with who I am and were I sit within the community. The music itself is always new and its very nature is exploratory, so there’s always anticipation for me. As far as this project goes, the trumpet has drifted between being something more akin to a layer of sound, and at times a melodic voice. I really don’t think about it too much, it’s just what comes to mind. It wouldn’t make any sense to just start playing bebop lines, I mean, maybe? Not what I’m hearing though. The EVI is a totally different beast and its language and the way I use it to create soundscapes is one that mostly exists here in my house. It seems that over time I’ve become less interested in what the EVI can do and more interested in how I can use what it does to convey emotion. It’s always fun to sit down and play the instrument, but I’ve been spending less and less time just messing around with it in a random way.

‘Unseen Forces’ is out now on Kranky.

http://www.justinwalter.net/

http://www.kranky.net/

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August 3, 2017 at 10:09 pm

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E07 | July mix

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fracturedair_july17

July saw the highly-anticipated return of world-renowned French composer Colleen (aka Cécile Schott) with her achingly beautiful new single “Separating”, taken from the forthcoming “A flame my love, a frequency” out October 20th via Thrill Jockey. On her new album, Schott’s viola da gamba – used on her last two records “Captain of None” and “The Weighing Of The Heart” – is replaced by solely electronic instrumentation: Moog pedals and Critter and Guitari synthesizers. The result is yet another otherworldly, far-reaching sonic odyssey from this visionary solo artist.

Following on from last year’s exceptional debut mini-album “Shady & Light”, Hamburg-born and Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Martyn Heyne has unveiled his stunning new single “Carry”, taken from the forthcoming solo debut album (coming out later this year on the neo-classical imprint 7K!). The divine guitar-based compositions crafted by Heyne carves out a ceaselessly rich listening experience for the here-and-now.

Elsewhere on July’s mix we have new releases from Montreal composer Kara-Lis Coverdale (Boomkat Editions), Four Tet’s new single “Two Thousand And Seventeen” (Text), Daphni’s new fabric live set, Los Angeles composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s lead single “An Intention” (taken from the forthcoming Western Vinyl release “The Kid”), Jane Weaver’s krautrock-flavoured latest opus (Fire Records), Snake Eyes (the current house band in the new Twin Peaks) and UK psychedelia courtesy of Ulrika Spacek.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E07 | July mix

 

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-x-blogothèque-s02e07-july-mix/

 

01. Gil Scott-Heron“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (BGP)
02. Shabazz Palaces“Welcome to Quazarz” (Sub Pop)
03. Danger Doom“Mad Nice” (feat. Black Thought & Vinny Price) (Lex)
04. Robert Wyatt“Shipbuilding” (Rough Trade)
05. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland “2” (Hyperdub)
06. Patricia“I Know The Face, But Not The Name” (Spectral Sound)
07. Barbara Morgenstern + Werkstatt“Grow” (Monika Enterprise)
08. Four Tet“Two Thousand and Seventeen” (Text)
09. Daphni “Poly” (Fabric)
10. Om Alec Khaoli“Enjoy It” (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
11. Marijata – “I Walk Alone” (excerpt) (Mr Bongo)
12. Visible Cloaks“Terrazzo” (feat. Motion Graphics) (RVNG Intl)
13. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith“An Intention” (Western Vinyl)
14. Avey Tare“Season High” (Domino)
15. Deru“1979” (Friends Of Friends)
16. Brumes“Backward Hands” (Dauw)
17. Ulrika Spacek“Mimi Pretend” (Tough Love)
18. Jane Weaver“Did You See Butterflies?” (Fire)
19. Trouble“Snake Eyes” (Sacred Bones)
20. Donnie & Joe Emerson“Baby” (LateNightTales)
21. Balmorhea“Clear Language” (Western Vinyl)
22. Mary Ocher“To the Light” (Piano Version) (Klangbad)
23. Marcus Fjellström “Aunchron” (Miasmah)
24. The Durutti Column“Sketch For Dawn (I)” (Factory)
25. Martyn Heyne“Carry” (7K!)
26. Kara-Lis Coverdale“Grafts” (excerpt) (Boomkat Editions)
27. Colleen“Separating” (Thrill Jockey)

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

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