FRACTURED AIR

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Label Of Love: Erased Tapes

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2013 marked the fifth anniversary of the London-based record label Erased Tapes. For the last five years the label have introduced to the world some of the most innovative and original artists making music today. To mark their fifth anniversary, the label released a very special limited edition vinyl box-set last year – the ‘Erased Tapes V Collection’ – which includes previously unreleased recordings by it’s extensive roster of musicians.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
With contributions by: Ólafur Arnalds, Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm

olafur_foundsongs_craigcarry

Last year marked the fifth anniversary of the hugely influential record label Erased Tapes. It is amazing to think that in such a short space of time the label has released some of the most ground-breaking and vital music of recent times, with recordings by artists such as Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds and A Winged Victory For The Sullen, amongst many others. Fittingly, on their anniversary year, the label released ‘Corollaries’, the new album by legendary pianist Lubomyr Melnyk, whose pioneering Continuous Music has inspired a generation of musicians. In the same year, Frahm’s highly-anticipated live record ‘Spaces’ documents and effectively captures the pulsating energy of the Berlin composer’s utterly transcendent live shows. 2013 also saw the release of London-based singer-songwriter Douglas Dare’s debut E.P. ‘Seven Hours’ and Peter Broderick’s ‘Float 2013’, newly remastered by Nils Frahm. The box set features exclusive, previously unreleased recordings made by the label’s incredible roster of artists. What makes it all the more exclusive is the fact that the compilation wouldn’t be digitally available until the end of the year (24th December, 2013 to be precise). A must have for music-lovers everywhere. The lovingly assembled and designed box-set (designed by Torsten Posselt at FELD Berlin) is dedicated to its beloved audience – the early Erased Tapes music explorer. I look forward immensely to the next five years as the roster of gifted talents continue to journey into new and unknown horizons of possibilities and wonderment.

The first 7″ contains the electronic wizardry of Rival Consoles (‘Daddy’ feat. Peter Broderick) and Kiasmos’ euphoric minimal techno soundscapes (‘Driven’). Ryan Lee West AKA Rival Consoles creates beguiling electronic creations that encloses an organic sound within the artist’s minimal analogue framework. ‘Daddy’ is a haven of electronic bleeps and glitches that conjures up the sound of German electronic music and the indie-electronic sounds of B. Fleichsmann’s Morr Music output. The opening notes of lazer-guided synths drives the moonlight ballad into a late-night tale of inner-contemplation and reflection. The addition of Broderick’s vocals heightens the track’s exploratory dimension. The vocal shifts in register and loops in layers across West’s similarly evolving synth melodies. Towards the song’s close, Broderick’s fragile voice asks “Daddy, can I call myself a man now?” where the organic and synthetic are combined that traverses directly into the human space.

Kiasmos is the brainchild of Ólafur Arnalds and Bloodgroup mastermind Janus Rasmussen from the Faroe Islands. The starting point usually is an electronic beat supplied by Rasmussen, that would, in turn be dissected by Arnalds and before long, a timeless melody is constructed that perfectly compliments the electronic voyage. ‘Driven’ is a killer-track that loops forever and is allowed to live and breathe, as the layers float majestically into the atmosphere. Think Holden’s ‘The Inheritors’ record as a reference point. The latest release, ‘Thrown’ E.P. contains the two stunning tracks ‘Thrown’ and ‘Wrecked’ with exclusive remixes by FaltyDL and 65daysofstatic.

Berlin composer and cellist Anne Müller’s enchanting ‘Walzer für Robert’ opens up a whole new world of joyous sound that is nothing short of captivating. The intricate arrangements of cello strings is blended effortlessly with Frahm’s healing piano notes. The dancing melodies is reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Take This Waltz’ where the listener is taken to the streets of Vienna and left to “yield to the flood” of the composition’s beauty. This piece of music represents the first glimpses of sunlight as a new day slowly unfolds with the promises of hopes, dreams and happiness. An essential record to own (and one of Erased Tapes many hidden treasures) is ‘7 fingers’ – the collaboration between the like-minded souls of Nils Frahm and Anne Müller. Having seen both artists live in various incarnations – Müller’s central presence to singer-songwriter Agnes Obel’s deeply affecting songbook, and Frahm’s solo shows – I long to witness both artists on stage together. With a new record currently being worked on in the trusted surrounds of Frahm’s Durton Studios, a follow-up will soon see the light of day.

On the flip-side is new signing New World’s End Girlfriend. Hailing from Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan, the Japanese composer creates music that seems to contain all myriads of samples and fascinating sounds. The cut ‘Bohemian Purgatory Part 2’ (N.S.K.G. version) moves between house, techno and mish-mash of doo-wop/funk, breakbeat free-jazz and classical. It’s unlike anything you have heard ever before. The Erased Tapes album ‘Seven Idiots’ represents a new and unique voice in avant-garde/contemporary music that defies categorization. World’s End Girlfriend further highlights the label’s continual strive to push the sonic envelope and explore vast plains of sound.

The third 7″ represents the centerpiece to the Erased Tapes V collection. An exclusive new track by Portland-Oregon born artist, songwriter and composer, Peter Broderick is a joy to behold. ‘Give Me A Smile In 5’ offers a snapshot of Broderick’s beguiling songbook that has graced us with its presence these past several years. The opening lyrics evokes a foreboding mood, sung beneath swirling piano notes: “A fight was fought off the battlefield / Oh where is my brother, where is my brother?” The poignancy of Broderick’s songcraft and sheer emotional depth thus created leaves me endlessly dumbfounded. ‘Give Me A Smile In 5’ evolves into a dub-infused odyssey of vintage Burning Spear that adds a new dimension to the Mark Hollis-esque soundscapes (affecting harmonies, layered strings and subtle electronics) that creates an utterly timeless artistic creation. A profound sadness and openness of honesty permeates throughout the achingly beautiful lament.

“But when I face my loving mother
I feel ashamed, I feel the shame
I think about the end of thinking
With a smile, with a smile”

The gorgeous piano music of Nils Frahm is next. The previously unreleased ‘Little Boy In A Space Suit’ is delicately beautiful like a flower blooming in spring. Listen closely and you hear many found sounds hidden deep beneath. The soft touch of fallen leaves, sunlight pouring through a forest of trees. I’m transported to Virgina Astley’s first studio album ‘In The Gardens Where We Feel Secure’ such is the composition’s powerful magic to seep into the pools of one’s mind, and linger there, now and forever-more. One of my favourite Erased Tapes release comes from Oliveray – the collaboration between Nils and Peter – with the appropriately titled, ‘Wonder’. Released in 2011, the record has become a trusted companion and daily soundtrack for me. A wonderful sense of magic fills the space as the instrumentation of piano, violin, celeste, pump organ, guitar, voice and whistles unleashes heart-warming emotion into the surrounding stratosphere. I remember Nils one time telling me how his favourite thing in the world is the Bill Wells and Tape 12″ collaboration, entitled ‘Fugue’ (that I think was introduced to him by Peter!) It’s clearly evident upon listening to ‘Wonder’ that a similarly breathtaking sense of journey is attained here. A couple of glorious cover versions are dotted across the album; an acoustic guitar-based version of Efterklang’s ‘Harmonics’, and the Tiny Vipers song ‘Dreamer’ (written by Jesy Fortino). ‘Wonder’ is a sonic marvel that ceaselessly reveals hidden details of divine beauty.

The fourth 7″ comprises ‘Hanau Bridge’ by Codes In The Clouds and The British Expeditionary Force’s ‘End Of The New End’. Hailing from Dartford, England, Codes In The Cloud create enthralling guitar-based post-rock creations, reminiscent of Scotland’s Mogwai and Texans Explosions In The Sky. The intensity of the band’s guitar instrumentals stops you immediately in your tracks. On the flip-side, The British Expeditionary Force’s ‘End Of The New End’ is a piano-based heartfelt pop voyage that recalls the experimental pop of Why? and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. “I try to swim out the mess I’m in, I try to swim but I’m wading further in” is a lyric of the final verse that brings the indie-electronica infused ballad to a delicate close.

The closing 7″ is a timeless exploration into the heart of contemporary neoclassical music. Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds provides a formidable creation in the form of ‘Happiness Does Not Wait’. The piano-based melody forms the central theme that soon is joined by an uplifting string section that forms the ideal counterpoint. Having released a plethora of shape-shifting records on the London-based label (much like Peter Broderick), Arnalds represents one of the most compelling and distinctive voices in modern-classical music today. Arnalds’ debut album ‘Euology For Evolution’ was released back in 2007 and since then an array of indispensable efforts have seen the light of day, from ‘Found Songs’ and ‘Living Room Songs’ to 2010’s   ‘…And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness’ and ‘Another Happy Day’ O.S.T.

The enriching Erased Tapes V collection culminates in a live performance of ‘String Quartet No. 2: III’ by A Winged Victory For The Sullen Chamber Orchestra. The Michael Nyman piece (originally taken from his recordings with The Balanescu Quartet) is wonderfully interpreted here as a gorgeous haven of windswept strings float to the surface. This performance was taken from the band’s concert in Brussels’ Ancienne Belgique as part of the label’s anniversary tour. Certainly, a piece of music as moving as this is a joyous celebration of the Erased Tapes journey so far. A Winged Victory For The Sullen is the stunning collaborative project between Stars Of The Lid founder Adam Wiltzie and L.A. composer Dustin O’Halloran. The band’s current self-titled album is one of the label’s crowning jewels and later this year will see the long-awaited follow-up.

The closing note on the inner sleeve of the ‘Erased Tapes V Collection’ reads: “At the end of all music happiness will be erased.” Over these past five years, the listener and early Erased Tapes music explorer alike, are blessed to have come across such a gifted family of music-makers that have served a trusted companion to each of our endless numbered days.

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The limited edition box-set ‘Erased Tapes V Collection’ is available now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.erasedtapes.com

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peter_float_craigcarry

Quotations.

“I can still remember the first song I ever wrote. My fingers were so small I could only do one chord on the guitar and I had to lay it on the floor to be able to play it because I couldn’t reach around it. I made a song out of that one chord and played it for hours on end, driving my whole family crazy. I guess from that point on I just kept exploring.”

—Ólafur Arnalds (taken from our interview in April 2013)

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“In Continuous Music, the piano is your lover, the piano is your slave, the piano is your glorious friend, it is your angelic friend. The piano is sort of like your breathing and it is a beautiful thing. I want every pianist to know that every piano on the face of this earth is their friend, so they do not fear the piano, but come to it with joy and say: “My dear friend, let’s make this music.”

—Lubomyr Melnyk (taken from our interview in March 2013)

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“That’s all I want to do, it’s not really about the musical concept but what it does to the listener. So throughout the album, it’s mostly about that, it’s a little bit like translating music into psychology and the other way around and to see how to structure that where people feel they can’t escape the experience, they want to be part of it and really want to know what’s coming next. They feel like anything’s possible. I’m working on that basically.”

—Nils Frahm (taken from our interview in January 2014)

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“When me and Nils play music together something magical happens. There is this energy in the air … a kind of energy that makes you think that anything is possible.”

—Peter Broderick (taken from our interview in October 2012)

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Five Questions with Ólafur Arnalds.

(i) Favourite moment from the last 5 years?
OA: It’s hard to pick one. But I think premiering ‘For Now I am Winter’ for a sold out Barbican Hall earlier this year was pretty close to the top! Not just because how great the show was for me but also because my family traveled to London for the show and it was an emotional moment for us.

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(ii) Most proud work to date?
OA: Must not one always be proudest of his latest work? I am pretty proud of the new album anyway!

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(iii) A dream collaboration for you?
OA: Jon Hopkins, Imogen Heap.

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(iv) An ambition for next 5 years?
OA: Balance life and music. Or combine the two better in a way that can provide for a healthy lifestyle. And of course to make like 7 more albums and 10 more soundtracks!

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(v) Five words to describe Erased Tapes?
OA: Love, compassion, ambition, selection and friends!

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Five Questions with Peter Broderick.

(i) Favourite moment from the last 5 years?
PB: There are too many to pick one! My tour in europe with Nils Frahm in 2009 was a special one …

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(ii) Most proud work to date?
PB: An unreleased collection of songs based on some very vivid dreams I had in 2009-2010.

——

(iii) A dream collaboration for you?
PB: Scoring Miranda July’s next film.

——

(iv) An ambition for next 5 years?
PB: Spreading the love through music! Practicing my instruments, working hard to become a better musician and person.

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(v) Five words to describe Erased Tapes?
PB: dedicated, organized, visionary, passionate, loving.

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Five Questions with Nils Frahm.

(i) Favourite moment from the last 5 years?
NF: My first big tour with Peter Broderick in 2009.

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(ii) Most proud work to date?
NF: It is always an artists recent work, so: ‘Spaces’.

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(iii) A dream collaboration for you?
NF: Put me in a room with these ladies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ4LCejQg8o

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(iv) An ambition for next 5 years?
NF: I will work hard on keep surprising myself.

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(v) Five words to describe Erased Tapes?
NF: All tapes will be erased.

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The limited edition box-set ‘Erased Tapes V Collection’ is available now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.erasedtapes.com

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