FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Guest Mixtape: Paul de Jong

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We are thrilled to present to you a special guest mix compiled by Paul de Jong (The Books), entitled “A Pond That Knows When To Ripple”.

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Last month marked the eagerly awaited release of Dutch composer – and co-founder of the beloved collage pop duo The Books – Paul de Jong’s sophomore solo full-length “You Fucken Sucker” (via U.S. independent label Temporary Residence). As ever, a myriad of ideas, inventive pop structures, electronic instrumental excursions, and poetic prose are masterfully etched across a sprawling canvas of genre-bending sounds.

 

A mantra of “almost doomed” is repeated beneath a meditative acoustic guitar line on the short interlude of ‘Almost Doomed’, reflecting the darkness that envelops the sound world of the Dutch artist’s latest solo work. The deeply personal songs envelop the rawest of emotions. The soft guitar tapestries fade into ‘Doomed’, with echoes of guitar noise and a garage drumbeat before a hypnotic guitar line ascends beneath a poignant vocal refrain: “I can do anything I want/It’s up to me”. The song develops into frenzied rhythms amidst a fury of rage, highlighting the entire spectrum of moods that engulfs the music’s headspace. These songs become more like coping mechanisms – the source of survival and hope – as the outro of gospel-like voices rejoice “you can be anything you want to be”.

 

The frantic screams that ascend on album opener ‘Embowelment’ reflects the anger and confusion that permeates within “You Fucken Sucker”s rich tapestry. More lyric-based songs are masterfully created: the soul-stirring americana lament ‘Johnny No Cash’ sings of lonesome blues and the empowering psychedelic pop sphere of ‘Dimples’ is yet another crowning jewel. “I think that all you have to do is do whatever you can do” is spoken beneath a haze of psych pop harmonies and jazz piano inflections.

 

One of the album’s lead singles ‘It’s Only About Sex’ shares vintage Books-esque pop collage spheres as gorgeous pop motifs, electronica and celestial harmonies blend with divine spoken word passages. Timeless pop music for the 21st century. “You Fucken Sucker” is the latest master work from the peerless Dutch composer.

 

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Paul de Jong – “A Pond That Knows When To Ripple” (Fractured Air Guest Mix)

  1. Abdul Wadud – “Oasis” (By Myself)
  2. Aphex Twin – “Cliffs” (Selected Ambient Works Vol 2)
  3. The Soft Machine – “Carol Ann” (Seven)
  4. Butthole Surfers – “Kuntz” (Locust Abortion Technician)
  5. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – “The Subway Home” (Young Sheilds)
  6. Loren Connors – “Here, I’ll Whisper It To You” (Sails)
  7. Sun Ra Arkestra – “A House Of Beauty” (Heliocentric Worlds Vol 1 and 2)
  8. Es – “Surullisill, Onnettomille…” (Keikkeuden Kauneus Ja Käsittämättömyys)
  9. Flim – “Hell” (Given You Nothing)
  10. Otto Luening – “Low Speed” (OHM: The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music, Disc 1)
  11. Fred Frith – “Domaine De Planousset” (Speechless)
  12. Paul de Jong – “It’s Only About Sex” (You Fucken Sucker)
  13. Califone – “Sunday Noises” (Roots & Crowns)
  14. Moondog – “Fog On The Hudson (425 W 57th Street)” (The Viking Of Sixth Avenue)
  15. Paul de Jong – “Age Of The Sea” (IF)
  16. Paul Wirkus – “Déformation Professionelle” (Déformation Professionelle)
  17. Pierre Henry, Pierre Schaeffer – “Symphonie… – 4. Erotica” (Pierre Schaeffer, L’Œuvre musicale (Volume 2)
  18. Popol Vuh – “Aguirre I” (Perlenklänge – The Best Of)
  19. Paul de Jong – “You Fucken Sucker” (You Fucken Sucker)
  20. Little Willie John – “Fever” (All 15 Of His Chart Hits (1953-1962)
  21. Ry Cooder – “Paris-Texas” (Paris, Texas)
  22. Vladimir Ussachevsky – “Wireless Fantasy” (OHM: The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music, Disc 1)
  23. 23 Skidoo – “G-3 Insemination” (The Culling Is Coming)

‘You Fucken Sucker’ is out now on Temporary Residence.

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May 23, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Chosen One: Örvar Smárason

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A lot of it depends on letting myself get into the situation where I can let things happen on their own, if that makes any sense.”

Örvar Smárason

Words: Mark Carry

4.by Birgisdóttir Ingibjörg

Light Is Liquid’ is the gorgeous debut solo album from one of the key musical figures in Iceland’s music community over the past two decades (with his bands múm, FM Belfast among others).

The lead single ‘Photoelectric’ begins with irresistible electronic pop hooks before guest vocalist Sillus further heightens the transcendental pop dimension. “Tell me a story” are the first words uttered; Örvar Smárason’s debut solo album feels like eight scintillating folk pop songs for the modern world. The myriad of warm textures and luminous beats evokes a dichotomy of worlds wherein radiant light and shimmering darkness become effortlessly fused across the record’s sublime sonic tapestry. Later, hypnotic vocoder processing ascends onto the infectious chorus (with the gorgeous refrain of “I’m not in love”) that conjures up the timeless ambient pop creations of French duo Air in all its glory.

Tiny Moon’ serves part A’s defining moments with elements of Italo, 80’s synth pop and minimal wave to masterful effect. The luminous ballad – and duet with JFDR – seeps into your veins and very being. The meditative chorus refrain of “light is liquid/ when you are young” serves the record’s fitting prologue, in many ways,as the listener is transported to astral planes of new horizons.

The duo of ‘The Duality Paradox’ and ‘Flesh & Dreams’ offers ‘Light Is Liquid’s pulsing heart. A hypnotic vocoder line flows throughout the electronic pop flow of enchanting soundscapes; belonging to some otherworldly, mysterious android music. ‘Flesh & Dreams’ (featuring Sillus) is an utterly bewitching, precious pop gem, reminiscent of Smárason’s FM Belfast project and the leading lights of the Icelandic community as a whole. An achingly beautiful soulful dimension lies in the foundations of the synth pop lattice. Joyously uplifting.

The epic closer ‘Cthulhu Regio’ chronicles the exploration through the depths of darkness to find the eternal light of hope. The deeply affecting chorus refrain of “There will be light in the end” – which drifts majestically amidst the shimmering darkness of synthesizer oscillations and computerized vocals – enables oneself to find your way once more in this world.

‘Light Is Liquid’ is out on 18th May 2018 via Morr Music ( available to pre-order HERE).

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by Birgisdóttir Ingibjörg

Interview with Örvar Smárason.

 

If ever a title reflects the music captured on it, it is this one; this collection of beautiful electronic pop songs feel like shimmering rays of light: an array of particles that navigate the human heart and mind. Can you please take me back to the album’s inception and indeed the writing process of these songs? I wonder did you approach this record in a new light in the sense that it was to be your debut solo record?

Örvar Smárason: The title actually came before the album, I had been walking around with it for a while. I was originally going to use it for something else, but when I started gathering my ideas for this album I instantly felt that it fitted perfectly. I wrote and produced the album in a few intense bursts I guess, but I honestly can’t even remember anymore. I was working on a  lot of different projects at the same time, so I kind of had to keep this one on the sidelines for a bit.

In terms of the album production, these eight sonic creations float magnificently into your consciousness. The songs are at once timeless and almost belong to some future world, not quite yet arrived upon. I’d love to gain an insight into your processes and methodologies as a producer (and creating these contemporary pop spheres must almost be second nature to you at this point)?

OS: Like with the múm tracks, the process here isn’t very controlled or pre-planned. A lot of it depends on letting myself get into the situation where I can let things happen on their own, if that makes any sense. And after that it’s just about putting the work in.

Can you talk me through your studio set-up and the recording sessions themselves for ‘Light Is Liquid’? You have a stellar cast of close musical collaborators from the Iceland music community. Did you envision all these musical guests and voices would make such a vital part to these sound worlds? 

OS: I was actually in the middle of changing studios while I was making this record, but that’s actually fine with me because I think I work better when my set-up isn’t too rigid or nailed down. I use a a lot of smaller electronic instruments, samplers and synths on this record, so a lot of it was made by just playing around with them. And while making the record I didn’t really think about which singers I was going to collaborate with or if I was even going to have vocals on the album at all. And outside of the vocals and drums on one of the tracks, there aren’t really any collaborations on the album. It’s pretty much only electronic stuff I programmed myself. In fact, I think I have never worked on an album with so little collaboration with other musicians.

The magical centerpiece of the record I feel arrives with the formidable duo of ‘The Duality Paradox’ and ‘Flesh & Dreams’. The warped voice captured on ‘The Duality Paradox’ emits such a soulful, heartfelt and cathartic release; almost belonging to some Utopian world. Can you recount your memories of writing this and indeed how you must see a song such as this gradually form – with each carefully sculpted layer – before your eyes?

OS: The computerized vocals on these two tracks (as well as on ‘Photoelectric’), the ones that sound like a vocoder…. weren’t really planned. To begin with I was just trying to devise a way to write vocal melodies and lyrics in my songs without having to sing them in myself. I have a very difficult relationship with my voice and I have a difficulty listening to it too much, so I was just trying to find a way so I wouldn’t have to. But when I started hearing these songs again and again with these haunting computer vocals, I knew I couldn’t ever have these songs come out without them.

The dreamy female vocals of the irresistible pop gem ‘Flesh & Dreams’ is another defining moment. For the guest vocalists, how much of the songs were known to you prior to their arrival on the album? For instance, did you find that the guests brought their own ideas and helped shape the songs or did you have a certain vision for what you wanted to create?

OS: Sillus and JFDR kind of ended up on the album by chance, which is amazing. I had already pretty much finished all the tracks before we added any vocals on them, but they just added a whole new dimension to them. And then Sóley did some of the backing vocals and it’s amazing to have someone you can trust so well for something as delicate as singing. I’m not sure I would have trusted my own voice there without her backing vocals.

Sin Fang mixed the album. Can you describe in what way did the album change as a result of this mixing stage? Also, in terms of the various takes of songs (and studio sessions in general), do you find yourself continually revisiting songs where you end up with large library of tracks and moments to choose from, so to speak? 

OS: Me and Sindri have been friends and worked together for a long time, so it makes things very effortless and easy. And he really helped me through the difficult phases like the vocals. We were working on out Team Dreams project with Sóley at pretty much the same time so there was definitely a feeling of the projects spilling a bit into each other. But in the end there is not that much similar between the two albums. And mixing the album with him was great. Sindri is very methodical and focused on details in his work and hears stuff my mind doesn’t compute. So Light is Liquid would probably just be a bag of unfinished chaos if it wasn’t for him.

The album closer is another very powerful moment of ‘Light Is Liquid’, illustrating the more ambient and textured dimensions. I’d love for you to recount your memories of writing and composing ‘Cthulhu Regio’? Please shed some light on the song-title and lyrical content of the song. As a listener, it feels that hope and survival have been arrived upon at the end of this musical journey. How do you see the album’s gripping journey resolve itself?

OS: Cthulhu Regio is a dark area on the planet Pluto in a shape that looks something like a whale. It was first identified just a few years ago and having been very much into HP Lovecraft and his mythos as a teenager, the name really spoke to me. But since then they have actually changed the name to Cthulhu Macula. The song in itself is about working your way through some dark areas, but in a detached agnostic kind of a way. If that makes any sense.  It was an accumulation of a few different things I was going through.

As a writer and poet (alongside your musical creations), is there a particular technique to your writing that you feel is almost constant (or relatively similar) across your different bodies of written work? 

OS: Maybe. I think a lot of creative ideas come when I think I am completely switched off, either when I’m out running, cooking food or half-asleep. But actually sculpting something out of these ideas requires very conscious work. That might not be a technique, but it’s a way of living.

Lastly, looking back over the cherished discography of Múm, can you share with me some of your most cherished moments or memories that you feel very strongly?

OS: A few days ago I was thinking about the very first trip we went abroad playing as múm in ’97 or ´98 and we were playing in Cambridge of all places. There were only the two of us in the band back then and we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing. And neither did the promoters of the show, because when we came to the venue we saw they had written „drum & bass” under múm on all the flyers for the concert. We spent the next half hour crossing out all the d’s and b’s and thinking we were pretty funny.

‘Light Is Liquid’ is out on 18th May 2018 via Morr Music (available to pre-order HERE).

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Written by admin

May 15, 2018 at 7:01 pm

Chosen One: The Sea and Cake

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When you hear something come about like that they’re instantly recognized as potential as a song and it took like a few minutes.”

—Sam Prekop

Words: Mark Carry

sea and cake

This week marks the eagerly awaited new studio album from beloved Chicago indie pop luminaries The Sea and Cake. ‘Any  Day’ showcases a band at the peak of their powers, conjuring up an abstract canvas of bewitching and absorbing song cycles wrapped in sublime beauty and poetic expression.

Following on from 2012’s ‘Runner’ LP, The Sea and Cake continue to explore new sonic terrain with a renewed clarity and rejuvenated spirit. ‘Any  Day’ is the first album recorded as the trio of Sam Prekop, Archer Prewtitt and John McEntire; the result is a wonderful minimalism running throughout the ten compelling sonic creations, with a rich, organic feel emanating from the breathtaking musical landscape.

A charged immediacy is enveloped within the glorious album opener ‘Cover The  Mountain’, conveying a deep, near-telepathic connection between the poly-rhythms of McEntire and intricate guitar interplay between Prekop and Prewitt. Chris Abrahams (of Australian jazz trio The Necks) once said “there’s something balanced about a triangle” and this rings true for the Sea and Cake’s latest sonic venture: a state of equilibrium is forever attained as the dynamism and ripple flow of textures, nuances, timbres, colours ascend beautifully into the pools of your mind.

Prekop sings “I had to follow the moonlight, follow it against the ocean” on the song’s opening verse. Rich poetic prose is masterfully etched – like a painter’s deft touch of hand or a photographer’s innate vision – across the sprawling canvas of rhythmic pulses and gorgeous guitar textures. Equilibrium or furthermore, a kind of liminal state is somehow attained with no trace of effort or conscious thought.

The abstract, non-linear nature of Prekop’s songcraft is one of the great hallmarks of The Sea and Cake’s immaculate songbook – and ‘Any  Day’ conveys the Chicago songwriter’s finest lyrics to date. ‘Cover The Mountain’ invites the listener on a journey: to follow along the waves of the ocean. A heartfelt lament packed with an array of immense beauty at every turn, with Prekop’s moving vocals on the song’s moving rise: “Waiting here with nothing to say” with Prekop’s delicate vocal refrain before pristine synthesizer flickers like stars dotted across a night sky. “Crooked smiles are broken” resonates powerfully amidst the charged electric guitars and thundering polyrhythms of McEntire’s trusted brushwork.

The achingly beautiful melancholic lament ‘Any Day’ – the towering title-track – seeps through your every heart pore with its gorgeously floating spell and early 70’s kaleidoscopic pop splendor. The intricate arrangements is a joy to savor (each and every divine moment, from the captivating woodwind arrangements to the airy melodies and jazz inflections).

Occurs’ displays the masterful inner dialogue that ensues between Prekop and Prewitt’s soaring guitar lines. Prekop yearns to “hold on” on the song’s deeply affecting chorus. The phrasing is sublime, especially on the verses, with the syncopated rhythms forming the gripping foundations. “I’m beginning to trust in getting nowhere” is yet another immaculate turn of phrase. An extended jam – from African sunsets or the Brazilian tropicalia movement – serves the track’s fitting outro.

The rich aesthetic flow is integral to any record, and ‘Any Day’ epitomizes just how feel flows (to coin a Beach Boys creation) throughout. For instance, the soothing guitar instrumental ‘Paper Window’ invites deep reflection of the innermost kind with gorgeous, clean electric guitar tones interwoven with warm percussion. The synth effects and soaring melodies of the pulsating post-rock indie gem ‘Day  Moon’ with its infectious chorus refrain “Seal the night / Not just anyone”.

The tempo is slowed down on the heartfelt acoustic ballad ‘Into  Rain’ with masterful addition of layered organs on the song’s soul stirring rise. Perfect pop songs such as this make you think have you known these songs – at once beautifully familiar and mysteriously unknown – your entire life, like remnants of a faded dream.

These Falling Arms’ is one of the band’s strongest songs thus far (a songbook which spans over two decades and eleven vital albums). Prekop asks to “follow my thoughts” amidst the warmth of floating guitars and gentle beat. It is just how each of the music’s elements is melded together so effortlessly, from the beautiful Americana lead guitar lines to the deeply moving poetic prose of Prekop’s near mystical vision. ‘Any Day’ is another timeless odyssey of meticulously crafted, singular pop songs from one of independent music’s most beloved bands.

‘Any Day’ is out on Friday 11th May via Thrill Jockey Records.

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Interview with Sam Prekop.

 

Congratulations, Sam, on the latest Sea and Cake album; it’s another incredible release from a very special band. I’d love if you could go back to the making of the record and your memories of the particular recording sessions? It’s interesting how you found yourselves with a new challenge of the core group being a trio during this time?

Sam Prekop: Well, thanks I’m glad you like the record. It was quite a bit different making this record than earlier ones. I mean in a weird way it felt the same and completely different simultaneously. So, the big changes were John McEntire moved to California, which he’s been thinking about doing for quite a while and he finally did it but he did that [laughs] while making this record. We recorded the basic tracks all together in the studio and stuff but after that point I worked solo for a month on the vocals and stuff like that. And we actually mixed it over the internet as well which wasn’t the optimal situation but that’s how it came to be. We were really hoping to be able to get together but with John in California, the logistics didn’t quite work out. We were so late meeting the deadline anyway but I think it came out pretty well.

For the title-track – which was the first taster of the new album – the arrangement is wonderful and how intricate all the components are but it still very much has this minimal framework to it.

SP: Those are my favourite kind of songs. So I spend a lot of time just playing the guitar and coming up with ideas and they become pretty solid and have parts that changes and all this stuff. And for that song ‘Any Day’ Arch and I spent quite a bit of time just playing together and that is one of those songs that sort of happened while we were sitting around playing. When you hear something come about like that they’re instantly recognized as potential as a song and it took like a few minutes. All the work beforehand went into like to make an effortless, instant composition; I wish all of it was like that actually. But anyways the basis of that track is born out of improvising situations like on the side, here’s a handful of chords and rhythms that we like and we just made something out of it. But it’s just one of those that wrote itself and took on from there. And it is quite minimalist really, it’s really only two parts and it depends more on the feel than anything else (than any overriding structure). It felt like the right thing to do. And to have that gliding, floating arrangement keeps it wide open for me to try a bunch of different vocals: not just ballad singing but also nice rhythmic punctuation phrases. When a song like that is so open I’m able to take different tacts on different parts of the song so it’s a nice pay-off for the open type of arrangements.

I love how the album opens with ‘Cover The Mountain’with its immediacy and really feels like that perfect opening line.

SP: That song was probably the complete opposite from ‘Any Day’ in that it went through many iterations quite laboured over. My initial idea I threw out half of the song just because it wasn’t working, it was like two songs put together. So that was a pretty major transformation from an initial impulse. I will say I was quite happy with the vocal hooks and lines that I came up on that one. I think lyric-wise, it’s some of the more pointed, visual lyrics that I was able to conjure up; I like that song as well.

I’d love to gain an insight into your songwriting process and whether the process itself has changed in any way over the years? It’s this beautifully abstract nature of your lyrics and with the phrasing, how it melds with the different parts of the music.

SP: I think my technique and strategy I don’t think has really changed with how I get started going and approach it. But I feel like I’ve gotten more refined with it. It’s very particular and how I write it’s a very personal technique and strategy. I don’t think anyone else would come up with anything remotely like it [laughs]. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it’s worked for me. I’m not entrusted in narrative songwriting; that’s not my strong point . So I think I figured that out early on so I could find another way of writing interesting songs without having to convey a narrative or typical content. I don’t think the way I arrive on something has changed but it’s become more refined over the years.

I love the placing of the songs and the flow with how each one comes into the next. For instance, the placing of the instrumental ‘Paper Window’ in the middle of the record. You already touched on how some songs are formed without much effort; I can imagine how you and the other members have this really deep chemistry between you that things just naturally occur while you are in the room together.I wonder would you have many conversations in terms of direction and so on, or is it more just to leave the music do the talking?

SP: It’s a combo of both. So that instrumental is another one of those like automatic happened at rehearsal songs. So there’s three on the record: ‘Any Day’, ‘Paper Window’ and the last song as well was also another, ‘These Falling Arms’ was another written in the moment and it just stood out instantly. And it’s really simple and straight forward. Other songs, despite our long history and naturalness with just hanging out and working together, some songs posed different challenges. I would say ‘Occurs’ was definitely a hard one to pull off somehow and I’m not exactly sure why but I think it came out fine in the end. It was a struggle; mainly with the bass stuff and so not having a bass player posed some exciting possibilities but also some difficulties and that was an influence on that song I think. Whereas John was doing most of it but he’s not really a bass player; of course he’s a really fine musician but sometimes you need someone who has years of experience of playing bass to pull it off.

sam-prekop

With regards to your solo work, I love your synthesizer-based music you’ve been creating. I wonder was it a conscious decision you knew from early on that you would step away from adding synthesizer to the album (or a very minimal amount) because there is mainly organic elements to these latest songs?

SP: It was a bit. I mean I recognized that the record was going in that direction so I was following it as it was leaning more that way. I’m still really active and involved with making the synthesizer music with the modular and all that stuff. But I think I just felt like I should focus as much as possible on the singing rather than augmenting or decorating the music with added on stuff so I just felt  that if I could get it strong enough where I didn’t feel like I needed to do that kind of stuff, it would make for a better record. So when I started writing the record it wasn’t neccessarily the case, I just recognized that that was the direction it was taking during the process and I just stayed with that concept basically. Normally, I think if we had mixed it together that’s when we really like to come up with stuff in over-dub situations. So I think had we done that it’s possible that there may have been more organ and synthesizer types of things but since we weren’t able to do that it didn’t quite happen. I don’t feel like it’s missing anything though.

The Sea and Cake typify this, in the way there are so many wonderful off shoot projects and releases from each of the band members (in between the band albums). I wonder do you see things all in the one way or is each one a separate entity that you find is linked to each other?

SP: I guess a little bit. I work a lot on photography and the synthesizer music so I think it’s a case that all the different projects feed off each other and inform the other one and so on. So I feel like if I hadn’t made those solo synthesizer records, the latest Sea and Cake record would be different. I can’t help but believe that would be the case; that everything is a part of a big puzzle and it all adds up. So had I not been making these modular records, with the latest Sea and Cake record I probably would have tried to get [laughs] more of that into it (perhaps, I don’t know). I think it all feeds off each other, enhances and interplays between all of the disciplines.

The music community of Chicago is obviously synonymous with so many great bands and musicians and you’ve been involved in different collaborations with other musicians over the years. I’d love to gain an insight into the nature of the music community in Chicago and how it has thrived so much (and continues to do so)?

SP: I think being in Chicago is really important, more so when I was starting out. The community aspect of it and there were plenty of places to play and to build an audience; enough people to pay attention to what was happening (that was super important I think). I think that’s a benefit of the size of Chicago; it’s a big city and cheaper than New York or LA so that combination makes it a very good music town. But I’m from here so I didn’t come here from somewhere else. And I don’t know if that’s a benefit or not but Chicago is where I’ve always been so I don’t have any outsider looking in perspective. I mean it has worked out for me but I don’t know anything else [laughs]; I don’t know how bad it could be if you lived in St Louis or somewhere. But I will say now that I’ve been doing it for so long I’m less active on the scene than I used to be – not entirely but somewhat – I have two little kids  that I watch all of the time so becoming a father has changed my hanging out at rock bars and stuff like that. And another thing is I feel like I don’t collaborate with a huge variety of people as much as other people. I mean it seems like it but I feel like I’ve got a pretty solid close-knit stable of people I work with over the years. Other people are really good at collaborating on the spot with a wide range cast of characters and that’s never been quite my thing.

Going back to the formation of The Sea and Cake and the early days, looking back on things as a group, would you have had defining records or certain people who you felt were hugely influential and that led to your overall sound?

SP: When I was starting with my first band Shrimp Boat; big stuff from that time was like the Velvet Underground and Tom Waits was an early influence on that music which carried over into the Sea and Cake stuff as well. For The Sea and Cake, I think a big part of it was that I was always interested in a pretty wide variety of music, so I wasn’t exclusively only into rock bands. At that time I think it was somewhat perhaps unusual like I listened to a lot of improvised music, jazz and soul (of course this is completely commonplace now but back in the early 90’s things were more compartmented like if you were a rock band, you listened to other rock bands [laughs] and that’s what you did). So for Shrimp Boat and Sea and Cake that was not the case and we were a rock band basically and we attempted to play jazz or improvized music and we were also influenced by Brazilian stuff and electronic stuff. With the Sea and Cake, Stereolab was a big deal I think for me during that early time, it was quite influential along with a lot of Brazlian stuff (like Caetano Veloso) and even The Velvet Underground and all that kind of stuff. I’d say though in terms of influences it’s never a straight line. I get into some record and it would immediately inform my music, it’s more lke an osmosis process; it warms itself in without me knowing it.

Did you have any important musical discoveries or personal favourites that you always come back to in the past few months or so?

SP: What’s wierd is while I’m working on music I don’t listen to much other music, so the whole year has been quite bankrupt of new music [laughs]. I find that I listen to a lot of techno and electronic stuff (more so than singer-based stuff which people might find unusual). My tastes for listening are much more experiemental and electronica. I guess one recent band – well they are a duo – that I like quite a bit is Visible Cloaks and through them I got interested in a lot of this 80’s fourth world Japanese stuff. It’s not vocal-based, it’s instrumental; I guess ambient (for lack of a better word). But I go back to all kinds of stuff… I really got into that Popol Vuh re-issue from two years ago (on Soul Jazz Records). One thing that I’ve been into though – and I’ve always really liked her but never had been in constant rotation – has been certain Joni Mitchell tracks which I think is more than I’ve recognized before has been quite influential in what I try to do. I think her singing and phrasing is quite amazing; rhythmically along with melodically.

With the new album and the touring it must be exciting, again with a band armed with such a great back catalogue; and the chance to mix new songs with the older ones? Would this be an aspect that you would relish in the sense of how the new songs translate to the live setting and how they combine with the older songs?

SP: Yeah, so that’s what we’ve been working on lately is bringing together the new show. And I’m excited about playing most of the new record I think will be part of the set. So there’s a handful of older songs that we’ve played for years and years and we’re planning on changing that up a bit so that’s exciting to pull out some older songs from the catalogue. One that I’m working on now is ‘Four Corners’ from ‘One Bedroom’ and that’s always been one of my favourite songs from our back catalogue but we’ve never been able to really pull it off live for some reason – I mean I don’t think we tried much, maybe one or two times and I’m excited about getting that one up to speed. So there’ll be some different selections from the back catalogue like we always have to play ‘Jacking the Ball’and stuff from that record; so it’ll be like twenty years of songs I guess [laughs].

‘Any Day’ is out on Friday 11th May via Thrill Jockey Records.

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https://www.facebook.com/ThrillJockey/

 

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May 10, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Time Has Told Me: Mark Renner

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I think that as an overall survey, it’s always been more interesting to me to see an artist’s sketchbook than the actual finished work.”

—Mark Renner 

Words: Mark Carry

RERVNG11 - Mark Renner - Press Photo - Web - 05 - Photo Credit - Charles Freeman

Dream like ambient odysseys traverse the human space on the utterly compelling RVNG Intl compilation “Few Traces”, which effectively surveys a near decade of Maryland native Mark Renner’s solo material from 1982 to 1990. Delicate reverb, lo-fi warmth and immaculate instrumentation of synthesizer and electric guitar are beautifully captured to tape, feeling at once immediately familiar yet steeped in depths of the unknown. Several of the vocal-based recordings recall the timeless spirit of The Durutti Column, Felt and Cocteau Twins with Renner’s highly emotive vocal delivery and gorgeous haze of blissful guitar chords.

The poignant, melancholic pop gem ‘More Or Less’ begins with charged guitars and drum machine, which an array of the current Captured Tracks roster could be found floating in the song’s slipstream. “There’s too much to reveal this time” are the opening words, sung with pain and heartache; a torch-lit ballad you have known your entire life. The song’s glorious rise emits an undeniable catharsis as the seductive groove is a truly immense force.

Many guitar-based instrumentals are dotted throughout this captivating 21-track compilation. The lyrical quality of the reverb-laden guitar instrumental ‘Autumn Calls You By Name’ is a joy to behold, recalling early New Order and Felt’s pristine indie pop gems. The range of sounds is quite staggering. Album opener ‘Riverside’ is a scintillating ambient excursion with a sumptuous ebb and flow of soothing synthesizers. Glorious shades and textures are carved out on the deeply reflective ambient gem ‘Few Traces’ while the electronic wizardry of ‘The Dyer’s Hand’ orbits the sonic trajectory of Antena’s ‘Camino Del Sol’ or Carla Dal Forno’s compelling songbook.

Some of the vocal-based songs serve perhaps the record’s defining moments. The poetic expression of ‘Saints and Sages’ hits you deeply with its hypnotic undercurrent of guitar drone. ‘Half A Heart’ is a crystalline pop gem as Renner’s heartfelt lament transcends both space and time. The charged immediacy of these songs makes you fully realize the endless possibilities that the sacred art of music truly possesses.

The closing swathes of synthesizer captured on ‘Wounds’ reflects the otherworldly nature of the American musician’s solo works. The origins of these recordings may have come to the surface several decades ago but ‘Few Traces’ most certainly belongs to the here and now. Another essential document from the peerless Brooklyn-based imprint RVNG Intl.

‘Few Traces’ is out now on RVNG Intl.

https://www.markrenner.net/

https://igetrvng.com/

RERVNG11 - Mark Renner - Press Photo - Web - 07 - Photo Credit - William Flayhart

Interview with Mark Renner.

The recently released “Few Traces” compilation on RVNG was a wonderful discovery of your music for me. Can you take me back to the lovely process it must have been in going back through these recordings and deciding what tracks to compile and assembling it all together?

Mark Renner: Well, it’s been a great experience. I think that one of the things I like the best is that it’s a warts-and-all package; they didn’t just do this like a greatest hits record. They weren’t only interested in some of the newer material but some of the more skeletal structures of early songs, and one of the songs was actually done on a hand-held cassette recorder during practice in my apartment many years ago. I think that as an overall survey, it’s always been more interesting to me to see an artist’s sketchbook than the actual finished work. They were patient with me because it took a while to pull it together; it took a while to gather all these recordings from old cassette tapes and old masters and old tape reels. I’m sure you are familiar for the old tape, the reels needed to be baked before we extracted music from them. I think that it’s interesting in terms of just being a footprint from that era, and obviously there are things here that I didn’t hear for years and I hadn’t thought about for years and it’s nice having them contained in one package like that.

I love the aesthetic flow that effortlessly runs throughout ‘Few Traces’ and also the wonderful instrumental tracks that are dotted throughout.

MR: I think I may have once aspired to do film soundtracks and of course I started small but that was an aspiration that I think I may have had back then.  Some of those pieces might lend themselves to an atmospheric backing that may have been suitable for it. It was also – and probably to my advantage – an extremely impoverished situation so I don’t think I could have afforded to record a vocal song back then anyway, so a lot of the material was recorded on a home 4-track cassette player so the songs would invariably remain without words. Once I obtained a 4-track cassette player it became a musical sketchbook and some of those songs would be put together in sketch stages.  I think, by then I had a small sequencer and did the programming in step time, so I suppose there is a certain charm in the lo-fidelity quality of these recordings as well.

As a painter, you must find that painting and music almost goes hand in hand with each other because I saw your documentary and it showed a lot of your beautiful linocuts?

MR: Yes, I’ve had the chance over the years to integrate both in exhibitions and have always enjoy that opportunity. I think there are similarities to the approach to both of them. I can’t speak for others, but I sense that a lot of times approaching music in terms of sound and texture is comparable to developing a painting, where you bring out colours and shade and light and perhaps emotion  in the same way. At times it feels difficult to decide where I want to concentrate my energy, but I’m fortunate in this period of my life where I have the freedom to stop one and start on the other as I will. I have some deadlines at the moment: I’m finishing a recording that I’m hoping to have completed by April; it’s based almost entirely on vocal songs. Then early in the summer I have a visual exhibition. So I do have some time constraints, but by and large I currently have the freedom to stop one discipline and to put my energy and efforts into another.

RERVNG11 - Mark Renner - Press Photo - Web - 08 - Photo Credit - James Matis

I’d love for you to go back to when you were growing up and at what point in your life did you realize the importance of music and when you started playing music and the different bands and movements that were going on during that time (that made you want to pursue it yourself)?

MR: Well I think that the area where I was raised – in an isolated manner, although I had brothers and sisters,  I was left alone to myself and  lived many of those years from inside the imagination. I was very fortunate to have the room to roam. My father had a large farm and on the surrounding properties close to his were streams and hills and woods and hundreds and hundreds of acres to traverse and to explore and enjoy. I think that the isolation of the area contributed to, from the time I was old enough to remember, an inward desire to express myself in some manner. My mother had a guitar in the house and so I picked it up and put it down and picked it up again. I always enjoyed opportunities in Sunday school and Church where I could mess around on a piano. I did love music and I did love sounds in that sense. It’s hard to say how much of that was integral to the development of my history, but it certainly was inspirational. And I still to this day, feel that both my visual work and some of the musical work is nourished by the area where I grew up.

I’m working on a visual exhibition called ‘The Arcadians’; which is a small town in the middle of the sprawling area where my Dad’s farm remains, and the paintings have a lot to do with the characters of growing up in an arcadian world, there are the farmers and the people who I either worked for or knew as a kid. So it is a place that still affects much of what I do and I think that as far as my work and my initiation into the world of music and self-expression and imagination  that this  freedom that I enjoyed, and as I said, having the room to roam, contributed a great deal to expanding the mind and sensibilities .

And it’s this space that is in all these recordings and not just the instrumental work. I love the lyric-based songs too, I wonder for reference points or inspiration as a songwriter, do you have a certain technique when it comes to writing words and matching this to music?

MR: I think it’s always a difficult task to marry music and song: a lot of times you actually come up with an interesting tune and trying to adapt words to the meter and the rhythm of words which is challenging.  I’m in a dilemma on the album I’m working on right now in that I wrote the music first to one important piece and I’ve been trying to adapt some lyrics to it, but rhythmically, I’m almost at the point where I’m ready to abandon words and keep it as an instrumental. I’m not sure how many writers do this, I’ve often read  of those who keep notebooks, and I remember when I was younger I used to (before the proliferation of cellular phones and having it all at your fingertips)  call home and leave a melodic idea on my answering machine at home. If I was at out working and a melody came to mind or a musical or lyrical idea, the micro cassette players which were really small and portable, I used those for a while. I am a listener, I enjoy hearing bits of conversation without context and am fortunate enough to have frequent exposure to that. In the airport or in a bookstore or public places, it may just be a very simple phrase or depending on where you are, it might be the manner in which things are spoken, it might have some future relevance. I do collect a lot of phrases and more often than not I have an idea for a song and it may be useful for the one line that I need to articulate. I know there are people like Paddy McAloon  or Jimmy Webb that are essentially craftsmen with the big melody, the obscure chord structures  – I am unable to work that way. I think that the very unorthodox approach to music somehow works for some, and I sense that my current work will show growth, and I will be excited to finish the album that I’m working on. It may be the best work that I’ve done in terms of the lyrical songs on the record.

And this new album is out soon?

MR: Well, it must be completed first. I began last spring in Baltimore and then I moved on to Texas, where I’m currently living. Last summer I was recording a lot in a studio housed in a horse trailer out in a field with. And then I moved on to Glasgow in November working with Malcolm Lindsay, a film composer who has written for opera, classical, jazz and chamber works. He’s a gifted musician and I felt fortunate to have been able to work with him. I took him some material and he completely deconstructed my arrangements and put an entirely new spin on some pieces that had confounded me, truly a great experience.  He brought an orchestral approach to one of the songs that I had done and on another he played some piano and steel guitar, so it will be really exciting for others to hear this new material. I am finishing the final recording here in Texas at my home studio. I have two more pieces that I would like to include and then I’ll be finished and hopefully release it later in the year, or early 2019.

‘Few Traces’ is out now on RVNG Intl.

https://www.markrenner.net/

https://igetrvng.com/

 

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May 9, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Chosen One: Lucrecia Dalt

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I wanted to explore edges and boundaries in any form; abstract, fictional, material, and by doing so I started to find metaphors I could use from concepts coming from geology like the anticline or the antiform which are ultimately disrupted or distorted hierarchical bodies.”

—Lucrecia Dalt 

Words: Mark Carry

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On the striking, near-prophetic album opener ‘Edge’, Colombian-born artist Lucrecia Dalt asks “How long does a body last without organs to fill it?” Dalt’s hushed spoken word passages beautifully float beneath foreboding synthesizer patterns, which conjures up a world that is both alien and uncanny. Lyrically, ‘Edge’ is centered on an ominous Amazonian mythological creature (El Boraro) under the surface of the earth. The breath, shape, pressure and pulse of this utterly transcendent journey of the self encapsulates the utterly hypnotic and visionary sound world masterfully captured in Dalt’s vital sixth studio album ‘Anticlines’ (released on Brooklyn-based imprint RVNG Intl).

Pulsating bass lines interwoven with altering frequencies of ‘Altra’ emit an otherworldly, trance-like state whose origins could be traced from some distant planet shores. Transmissions from unknown horizons. The lead single ‘Tar’ represents one of ‘Anticlines’s defining moments which combines Dalt’s unique rhythmic structures and bewitching avant pop melodies. The intimate vocal phrasing is one of the alluring aspects of the latest record’s far-reaching quality. ‘Tar’ ponders human dependence  on earth at the boundary of the heliopause. The sonic backdrop of the Berlin-based artist’s newly acquired Clavia Nord Modular creates mesmerizing, shape shifting sound worlds that orbit around Dalt’s poetic prose. A futuristic vision steeped in uncertainty somehow flickers into focus as Dalt laments “we touched only as atmospheres touch.”

Anticlines’ marvels upon the electrifying intimacy that permeates throughout the compelling song cycles. The meditative ambient gem ‘Atmospheres Touch’ infiltrates the pores of the human heart with each luminous electronic pulse. Reference points could be the modular synthesizer pioneers like Laurie Spiegel or Suzanne Ciani (or indeed Colleen’s latest synthesizer-based opus ‘A Flame my love, a frequency’).

Dark, menacing tones amass on ‘Errors of Skin’, a foreboding tour-de-force which sees Dalt’s further investigation “to explore edges and boundaries in any form”. Various manipulations of the visionary composer’s vocals further heightens the sheer intensity and uncertainty of what is unfolding before our very eyes. Dalt asks towards the song’s close: “Is it edge? Is it consciousness? Is it matter?”

The placing of instrumental excursions between the lyrical pieces sees the Colombian artist’s innate ability to fuse poetic theory and sound. Enchanting dubstep sounds are dotted across ‘Indifferent Universe’ whilst the gradual bliss of ‘Concentric Nothings’ creates a magical, hypnotic spell as Dalt’s mantra-like lyrics return like that of a faded, half-forgotten dream.

Liminalidad’s contemporary pop sphere feels like a distant companion to Julia Holter’s cherished songbook, with exhilarating choral motifs layered beneath dazzling synthesizer components. Elsewhere, the vocoder-based electronic gem ‘Eclipsed Subject’ permeates the liminal space, floating amidst the point of not knowing. ‘Anticlines’ is an utterly gripping and fascinating sonic exploration into the heart of human existence and the boundaries that lie therein.

‘Anticlines’ is out now on RVNG Intl.

https://lucreciadalt.bandcamp.com/

https://igetrvng.com/

lu-2.jpeg

Interview with Lucrecia Dalt.

Congratulations Lucrecia on the incredible latest full-length ‘Anticlines’. Firstly, please take me back to the music-making process of ‘Anticlines’ and the recording sessions of this new collection of songs?

Lucrecia Dalt: For this album I worked rather differently than my previous ones. I started exploring a new synth, the Clavia Nord Modular. I designed and reworked patches for it, for processing and vocoding. While I was doing that, I was also making a document that I initially called “SUPER-EARTH” full of ideas, keywords, thoughts, pieces of text, images, transcripts from conferences. With that document I met my friend and collaborator Henry Andersen with whom I wrote the lyrics.  After having done that, I started to make the music with the previously made Clavia patches and the Moogerfooger. My first impulses or ideas are usually rhythmical ones, with very basic melodies, and having the lyrics I started to see how to incorporate them. Then, I arranged it all and mixed it.

In terms of the sonic palette utilized on ‘Anticlines’, the Clavia Nord Modular provided the perfect backdrop for these otherworldly, compelling electronic song cycles. Can you discuss this particular modular synthesizer and the new patches you created? What did your set-up consist of, in addition to the Clavia Nord?

LD: The set up now is a clavia Nord modular, my long-standing partner: the moogerfooger murf, an old siemens mic from 1930, computer, a revox tape recorder. There are different sound sources coming from the Clavia, the op-1 and my voice that feedback to other processes in the Clavia, the murf, the computer.  I wanted to work with effective gestures, one gestures is able to generate multiple sounds, rhythm and/or texture.


The poetic prose of the lyric-driven songs creates an utterly beguiling and shape-shifting sonic universe. I feel that your background as a geotechnical engineer has shaped much of this record. For instance, the absorbing lead single ‘Tar’ details human dependence on this planet and opener ‘Edge’ feels like a study of the self. Can you talk me through the writing process for you, and indeed the methodologies you have favoured when it comes to writing songs such as ‘Edge’ and ‘Tar’ (and vocal phrasing as a whole)?

LD: I went to visit Henry in Brussels, we spent a couple of days brainstorming ideas, sharing interests, playing adjective games, analyzing and destroying poems and lyrics by other artists, and then we started writing.

I wanted to explore edges and boundaries in any form; abstract, fictional, material, and by doing so I started to find metaphors I could use from concepts coming from geology like the anticline or the antiform which are ultimately disrupted or distorted hierarchal bodies. The piece “Edge,” explores skin as a possible trespassing medium of inter subjectivity; an obsessed lover wants to possess the view of the loved one, from within. In “Tar,” I was thinking about how far outward does our inner life could reach by bringing ideas directly associated to human existence to a place where they have no significance. Very similar to the rather pointless gesture of bringing the golden records outer space.

The intimacy of these sonic creations is immediately apparent and how intricately interwoven the electronic instrumental odysseys in counterpoint to the avant pop spheres. Can you discuss the sequencing of the record and indeed, the importance of atmosphere in your works? I have always felt this gripping tension and vital pulse of the human condition lies at the heart of some of your incredible records.

LD: Pulses, atmospheres, blurry boundaries were abstract ideas I wanted to explore sonically. Each piece explores something specific depending on what the composition asks for.  For example “Edge,” it started with a basic pulse, then the pulse suggested a confrontative monologue. Or “Atmospheres Touch,” I was trying to haunt the idea of an Italian song composed by someone like Alessandroni by using four vocoders or in “Concentric Nothings” I wanted to work with clusters of words that are sustained in the air that open to meaningful sentences depending on how you encounter them.

Were there certain reference points or particular sources of inspiration when it came to the inception of ‘Anticlines’? As a listener, it feels as if you are continually evolving and delving deeper into new terrain with each new release.

LD: The poetry of Alice Fulton in particular the poem “Shy one” which I discovered because of Karen Barad. I was also reading The thing by Dylan Trigg while making the album and that gave me a lot to think about, but specially lots to relate to as an engineer, or Hito Steyerl essays about the horizon.

Can you recount your earliest musical memories? At what point in your life did you realize the importance of music in your life, Lucrecia?

LD: Always, my mother was a record collector and was hiding speakers around the house, so we could hear music everywhere. I was growing up listening to Spanish ballads, boleros, folk music from Colombia, salsa. I was also very used to listening members of my family sing, play guitar, tiple, maracas.

Do you feel you have a guiding musical philosophy that lies at the heart of all the artistic works you create?

LD: I wouldn’t say so, as I’m very susceptible to changing ideas and positions and allowing for contradiction, I like to think of a bubble in which I throw ideas, possibilities, concepts that probably only make sense while they are inside of it. And I would try to work only with that encased material but bearing in mind that its material is skin-like, with pores, so still interconnected and somewhat open to the outside.

Lastly, what records have you been heavily immersed in of late?

LD: While thinking a moment about this, I just realized my listening habits have fractured since I’ve making my monthly radio show Pli, which is theme-based, so I’m searching, discovering and grouping music in this particular way… two records that I have been very much into lately are Laurent Fairon – Musique Isotype, Don the tiger – Matanzas (not out yet!), Franceso Cavaliere – Xylo-mania.

‘Anticlines’ is out now on RVNG Intl.

https://lucreciadalt.bandcamp.com/

https://igetrvng.com/

Written by admin

May 4, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Mixtape: Fractured Air – April 2018 Mix

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fracturedair_APRIL18

Our April mix contains brand new tracks from Rotterdam-based electronic artist Nadia Struiwigh (taken from her sublime Denovali full-length ‘WHRRu’; Grouper’s achingly beautiful and powerful studio album ‘Grid Of Points’; more new Kranky releases from the peerless Brussels-based ambient composer Christina Vantzou and California-based Dedekind Cut; the shape-shifting self-titled studio album from Bolivian American electronic composer Elysia Crampton; Inga Copeland’s latest musical venture under the alias of Lolina and Strut artist Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids.

Also featured is the renowned Brooklyn music institution RVNG Intl: London-based cellist and composer Oliver Coates’ brand new techno-fuelled single – and first for RVNG Intl – ‘Charlev’ with a full-length due out later this year. Another new RVNG release is renowned Colombian-born composer Lucrecia Dalt’s bewitching new record ‘Anticlines’, containing immaculate contemporary electronic compositions interwoven with cinematic spoken word passages (released this Friday, May 4th).

Irish artists include: Cork-based trio Crevice who creates hypnotic darkwave infused ambient song cycles and renowned Dublin-based composer Seán Mac Erlaine’s essential third solo full-length ‘Music for Empty Ears’ (recently released on the Ergodos label).

 

Fractured Air – April 2018 Mix

01. The Books“Group Autogenics 1” (Tomlab)
02. Japan Blues “The Sun Goddess Steps Out In Old Asasuka” (Japan Blues)
03. Nadia Struiwigh“Bldrnner” (Denovali)
04. Flame 1“Fog” (Pressure)
05. Solid Space“A Darkness In My Soul” (Dark Entries)
06. Dedekind Cut“De-Civilization” (Kranky)
07. Cindy Lee“Power And Possession” (W. 25TH)
08. Martyn Heyne“Patina” (7K!)
09. Broadcast“Come On Let’s Go” (Warp)
10. Yo La Tengo“You Are Here” (Matador)
11. The Ace Of Cups“Music” (Ace Records)
12. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids“Tinogue” (Strut)
13. Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari“Sam’s Intro” (Soul Jazz)
14. Gloria Ann Taylor“What’s Your World” (Luv N’ Haight)
15. Ms. Jade“She’s A Gangsta” (Beat Club Records)
16. Elysia Crampton“Nativity” (Break World Records)
17. Walter Verdin“A Million Miles” (Stroom)
18. Oliver Coates“Charlev” (RVNG Intl)
19. Matt Karmil“Sloshy” (Smalltown Supersound)
20. Lolina“Betrayal” (Bandcamp)
21. Christina Vantzou“Garden of Forking Paths” (Kranky)
22. Lucrecia Dalt“Tar” (RVNG Intl)
23. Harry Belafonte “Dark As A Dungeon” (RCA Victor)
24. Rauelsson & Erik K Skodvin“The Return” (Sonic Pieces)
25. Seán Mac Erlaine“The Melting Song” (Ergodos)
26. F Ingers“All Rolled Up” (Blackest Ever Black)
27. Crevice“Endless Bliss” (Fort Evil Fruit)
28. Sarah Davachi“At Hand” (Recital Program)
29. Grouper“Breathing” (Kranky)
30. Coil“Going Up” (Important Records)

 

Chosen One: Goldmund

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I want to find that midpoint between composition and experimental forms.”

—Keith Kenniff 

Words: Mark Carry

Goldmund-2018-1

This month saw the eagerly awaited new Goldmund opus, entitled ‘Occasus’ (released via the ever-dependable Western Vinyl imprint). Keith Kenniff’s sublime piano compositions continue to explore new sonic terrain as the sonic palette of ‘Occasus’ has expanded to contain synthesizer and analog bliss. Just like the Pennsylvanian native’s other musical projects (whether it’s under his Helios guise or as one half of Mint Julep), a timeless beauty is forever embedded inside the gifted composer’s sonic explorations.

The gorgeous album opener ‘Before’ begins with delicate piano tones, before an achingly beautiful swell of violin drones meld effortlessly, forming a captivating sound world. The resulting crescendo of these masterfully sculpted elements feels like a sea of age-old memories coming flooding to the surface. As the title suggests, the fragile piano lament belongs to some other time or place; perhaps adrift in the ether of faded dreams.

The hushed piano notes of ‘Above’ are a joy to savour. The stillness of night. Inner reflections. The repeating piano patterns gradually rise, as a swell of heavenly noise seeps into the slipstream. The lead single ‘Circle’ unfolds a divine modern classical oeuvre of enchanting sounds.

The slow, mournful piano lament ‘Radiant’ is another stunning and raw musical excursion. A hypnotic spell is unfolded before your very ears. The album’s centrepiece is the bewitching ‘Terrarium’ whose wall of analog bliss is interwoven with cinematic piano motifs, creating a striking catharsis with each intense ripple flow of sound. Similarly, the contrast of soaring drone soundscapes and sustained piano chords distilled in ‘Moderate’ unleashes a deeply affecting journey into lost horizons.

The works of Goldmund always captures something pure: it is as if all of life’s fleeting moments are committed to tape and effortlessly translated to sound. ‘Occasus’ is another vital chapter in Kenniff’s long storied career.

‘Occasus’ is out now on Western Vinyl.

https://www.facebook.com/goldmundmusic/

https://soundcloud.com/keithkenniff

Goldmund-2018-2

Interview with Keith Kenniff.

 

Congratulations on the latest divine Goldmund opus ‘Occasus’. Can you take me back to the recording sessions of this newest sonic exploration and your primary objectives and concerns with the musical trajectory you wanted to obtain? 

KK: Thank you! I purposely never have a specific thing in mind during recording an album, I feel as though if I think about it too hard I will over-intellectualize things and for me that produces stale output. I try to keep my mind clear of distraction, it’s like a meditation.

Thinking of some of the earlier Goldmund records like ‘Corduroy Road’ or ‘The Malady of Elegance’, your signature hand-print is forever forged in these sublime piano recordings but also feels like new sonic terrain is navigated here. For instance, the incorporation of synthesizers and analog treatments further heightens the listening experience. Can you talk me through these new elements and how you melded these worlds together?

KK: I feel like there are elements of that throughout most of the recordings, but specifically on ‘Sometimes’ (the previous album) and this one, it’s more about sonic texture and less about focusing on the piano itself. I just like things to sound beat-up, found. A lot of music I hear is super-polished these days, auto-tuned and mixed using the “best” gear finely tuned. There’s a place for that but I like when things are just left as-is or mangled sonically in a way that’s quick and intuitive, not planned out with presets and sample packs.

‘Moderate’ is one of the rapturous moments of ‘Occasus’, particularly the heavy drone washes beneath the achingly beautiful piano melody. Can you recount your memories of composing a piece such as this and indeed the layering of the various interwoven components?

KK: I record most of these pieces late at night, after everyone in the house is asleep, there’s this feeling of being exhausted but harnessing the last bit of yourself before bed that can be intriguing. For that one I just laid down a simple violin drone that I pitched down to sound more like a cello or viola, then put a bunch of distortion and hiss on it, and recording the piano chords over it, then putting various synths layered subtly over top. It sounds a bit like a sinking ship, wavering but thoughtful with the low piano chords giving it some harmonic foundation. At the end that ambience breaks through and takes over the piano and those textures are able to expand, but there’s no discernible build, or resolution, it just stops.

Looking back over your compelling Goldmund and Helios releases, how do you find your compositional approach has changed over the years (whether it’s between albums or between the different musical guises)? For instance, would these new fifteen Goldmund compositions have been circulating the ether for a considerable period of time (perhaps sketches or ideas from previous recordings) or would these have originated from new ideas of yours (from the last couple of years)? 

KK: These songs are all from the last couple of years. Typically I don’t let the Goldmund compositions sit too long, they either work or don’t work and if they don’t work I don’t come back to them or I like to take the first idea and just believe in it. Helios material is different, sometimes it takes a week, and sometimes I’ll work on a song for years to get it right. I think I purposely approach the projects differently, help to not get stuck in a rut and they feed each other.

I’d love for you to discuss your earliest musical memories, Keith. How soon did you realize the importance music would have on your own life? At what point did you begin to compose? 

KK: I started playing music at 9 (guitar and drums, I didn’t begin piano until I was about 19) and quickly realized it was not just a hobby but something I’d pursue as a life-goal. I trained as a percussionist, piano just sort of happened but I never studied formally. I started writing my own music when I was about 18. I actually started off as part of this website where people could submit unofficial Bjork remixes. This was pre-social media but it was kind of like a message board-based site where people could upload tracks, rate them, comment on them and share ideas. It was a really healthy atmosphere and I learned a lot about electronic music production that way.

Please describe for me your studio set up and how your piano is set up (and added analog equipment)? 

KK: My setup is simple, a midi keyboard, 3 guitars, upright piano and speakers. The only analog equipment I use is a small mini-cassette recorder I’ve been using on recordings since 2000-ish. I keep it simple so I don’t get distracted, I feel like having a variety of synths and knobs and buttons and “cool” gear would just take me out of creating, not inspire it to happen. I learned how to make music on a computer and it just feels right to keep most of what I do inside of one still.

I love the series of inner dialogue that is inherent in many of the pieces contained on ‘Occassus’; like the multi-layered tapestry that unfolds throughout ‘Bounded’ and ‘What Lasts’ carves out a richly poignant narrative. I get the impression there is a deeply intuitive nature to your exploratory compositions. 

KK: I try not to intellectualize this material too much, I do feel the compulsion to do it and I find the framework of the simplicity of this project compelling to my overall beliefs in aesthetic and outlook but it’s all done very quickly and once something is recorded I don’t go back and fine tune or give thought to what it means.

The gradual ambient bliss of ‘Terrarium’ epitomizes the far-reaching nature of ‘Occasus’s beguiling sound worlds. What do you feel is the precise narrative that ties these piano compositions together? I’d love to gain an insight into the album title and the central album theme that combines these sonic pieces together?

KK: I chose to name the album “Occasus”, which means “End, Ruin, Destruction” etc…as I feel like a lot of these pieces, when I listened to them as a whole, had a need to become unwound. Sounds would enter but then wouldn’t be treated carefully, I felt like they needed to fall apart or not to develop fully or not be polished or purposely recorded haphazardly. I want to find that midpoint between composition and experimental forms, where there’s no discernible beginning/middle/end but that it’s also not just an exercise or purely sonically-based, so I wanted to rail against my inclination toward one or the other and see if there was a new way to treat the piano in context of whatever that halfway point is.

Lastly, what albums have you been enjoying of late?

KK: Otto Totland’s “The Lost”, Novo Line’s “Movements”, Blouse’s self titled album, and “Scenes Surfaces and Threshold” by Cathaya & Grøn.

‘Occasus’ is out now on Western Vinyl.

https://www.facebook.com/goldmundmusic/

https://soundcloud.com/keithkenniff

Written by admin

April 26, 2018 at 6:49 pm