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Chosen One: Ben Lukas Boysen

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…so in many ways Mirage is about seeing these roots from a distance, seeing how both my younger and older self tackle the same ideas with all these years in between.”

—Ben Lukas Boysen

Ben Lukas Boysen - press photo 01 by Patricia Haas_landscape_WEB

The prestigious German composer and producer Ben Lukas Boysen’s latest sonic marvel, ‘Mirage’ – released last week on the ever dependable Erased Tapes label – continues his impressive path to create shape-shifting sound worlds that masterfully inhabit modern-classical, ambient and electronic orbits, all at once. His innate ability to blur the boundaries of organic and synthetic elements remains a vital cornerstone of the artist’s compelling sonic oeuvre. In truth, the source of the sonic details may prove impossible to determine but therein reveals the infinite radiance of music’s power. As a listener, we (subconsciously at the very least) analyze and dissect each moment-within-moment that is magnificently captured in the ceaseless flow of consciousness (translated into sound).

Album opener ‘Empyrean’ begins with gradual pulses of reflective saxophone tones before warm electronic textures seeps into the mix. This glorious piece almost feels as if it converges on the axis between (label-mates) Nils Frahm’s ‘All Melody’ and Daniel Thorne’s ‘Lines Of Sight’ such is its immaculate brilliance and hypnotic quality.

Contrasts and counterpoints are beautifully placed on the record. ‘Kenotaph’s fragile beauty of sparse piano notes provides an absorbing, introspective moment. Later, drums and synthesizers coalesce together, forming post-rock bliss conjuring the sound of ‘TNT’ era Tortoise. The lyrical quality of Boysen’s solo work is always a pure joy to savor.

The intensity is increased on the magnificent tour-de-force ‘Medela’ with soaring electronic beats and ripples that ascend deeply into the slipstream. This morphs beautifully into the ambient bliss of ‘Venia’ (with distinctive saxophone flourishes of Daniel Thorne) which effectively marries acoustic and electronic spheres into one otherworldly dimension.

The penultimate track ‘Clarion’ serves the climax to ‘Mirage’s luminous journey. Live drums and Anne Muller’s radiant cello lines combine with the angelic tones of felt piano keys. The closing ‘Love’ transmits euphoric swirls of synth-laden tapestries infused with vocals that convey the boundless nature of ‘Mirage’s colossal musical expedition.

‘Mirage’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://benlukasboysen.bandcamp.com/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

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Interview with Ben Lukas Boysen.

 

Congratulations on your latest solo full length ‘Mirage’. I feel the spirit of adventure and fascination with sound can be felt throughout every moment of this special record. Can you please take me back to your starting point, if you will, and how you set about creating ‘Mirage’? In terms of having a back catalogue of work behind you, I can imagine you found a specific narrative for this newest venture quite quickly?

Ben Lukas Boysen: Thanks so much! It was actually a rather long process at first. I collected a lot of ideas after wrapping up a series and a film in 2018 and early 2019 and was struggling a bit with bringing these ideas to life. I was looking for ways to get to the next logical step after Spells a bit too hard at that time and ended up going in circles. Remembering my musical roots, which are clearly in electronic music and mutated forms of it, really helped spark the songs that ended up on the album. 10-15 years after making the first album(s) you are a different person and approach these questions differently, so in many ways Mirage is about seeing these roots from a distance, seeing how both my younger and older self tackle the same ideas with all these years in between.

While writing my earlier records, I had the great benefit of not knowing a lot about music production and how opinionated and political it can be. While many of these opinions and politics were extremely welcome and helpful here and there, back then it allowed me to be very free and not being afraid of doing anything wrong. Not being afraid of technical or stylistic trends or wisdoms but actually trying to do what I feel like doing, which was very liberating and sounds like common sense but it can be surprisingly difficult sometimes. In other words: I’m not totally sure there is a narrative, other than it being an attempt in reconnecting with my former or younger self and building a connection between these two different timelines.

As you have said previously, ‘Mirage’ is almost like ‘Spells’ in reverse; with your aim of trying to hide the human. Like all great composers, the ability to blur the boundaries wherein the exact origin of certain sonic ideas or motifs are unknown (or at least indistinguishable from its original form). This is utterly fascinating for the listener. Can you shed some light on the music-making process and which stage in the process do you find the most relishing?

BLB: Hiding at least some of the human element is a natural side effect of writing electronic music to me. Making it distant, otherworldly and somewhat intangible can give it a wonderfully different dimension and makes it perceivable in a different way.

As much as I enjoy the acoustic and vintage feel of many current recordings, I had the feeling that I don’t have a lot to contribute to this particular direction – at least not enough to fill a whole album with – and the idea of focusing more on the digital and architectural nature of the album became very appealing.

While the construction of the instrumental and human feel played a huge part on Gravity and Spells, the synthetic sounds are the high ranking authority on Mirage. Wherever they lent themselves to be used more ostensibly, I would let them and also feature them but i never wanted the album to feel ‘live’ in the true sense of the word, but much more ‘alive’. The tracks should seem somewhat distant and constructed, engineered even while at the same time give of a romantic and emotional feel. As if a heartfelt message is conveyed by messengers who are trying to make sense of what they are saying. The most relishing part was when i felt this tension was happening as most songs started off as either noisey patterns/drones or simple melodies and needed more composition to be interesting.

‘Empyrean’ is an interesting example as it show’s this process and described the image quite well. All elements are in and out of order at the same time for the first half of the piece. They are rhythmically pretty unsynced, and the chord changes are the only thing that aligns them. Just when things start to groove in, the original melody does not develop further and only towards the end, when the grooves start to pass, a melodic development comes back, introducing a variation of the original theme. It’s not perfectly clear which instruments/elements are in this piece, neither what exactly it is they do and what seems like a recipe for chaos actually still turns out to be a rather harmonious and emotional few minutes.

Some label-mates further heighten the sound worlds across ‘Mirage’, most notably the distinctive voices of Daniel Thorne and Anne Müller. I am curious to know at which point in these tracks did you arrive at before these musicians added their unique musicianship?

BLB: This depends strongly on the track and also has to do with me thinking of a track as a highly organic, shapeshifting thing where influences from every side will change its character dramatically. That’s something I welcome strongly and try to let happen as much as possible.

‘Medela’ sounded very different in the beginning, at the point that i sent it to Dan.

I had written a saxophone line, which he recorded and sent back, but i felt that the actual recordings – as opposed to the midi files i sent him – changed the track for the better. I noticed that the track had turned into something much more interesting than what i had in mind originally so i overhauled most of the idea to end up what is now the final track.

A wonderful first collaboration and surely not the last!

Anne and I have been working on quite a few things before, from commercials to live concerts and albums. Her feeling on how and when to chime in on the state of a piece is incredibly sensitive and on point and i always feel the music gained is a very special and irreplaceable touch. Sometimes it’s subtle additions, where the Cello becomes more of a textural element (like on ‘Clarion’ or ‘Venia’), sometimes it’s very obvious sections (like in ‘Medela’ or ‘Love’) but all of them come from a point of giving over a big portion of control to the musician (in both Anne’s and Dan’s case) to see how they shape this organism that is a piece of music.

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The opener ‘Empyrean’ is such a gorgeous and fitting opener. Daniel Thorne’s mesmerizing saxophone lines permeate the clouds before electronic manipulation and treatments creates an even deeper experience. Can you recount your memories of witnessing ‘Empyrean’s development and mutation, so to speak?

BLB: I had to think about this a little as Dan is not in this song but it probably means that the goal to confuse people about who worked on this record worked. It is however another, very dear collaborator of mine, Lisa Morgenstern. She provided a few recordings while I was trying to figure out the tone of the album.

There was a day when I loaded one of these recordings into a granular synth and started playing some simple chords. The result of this is actually what you hear in the first seconds of the track.

The wonderful unsynchronized triggering of the vocals inspired me to treat all other elements on there in a similar way. Mildly detuned or unsynced but all having a point of unison eventually.

It was the starting point for the album and set the concept for Mirage. The fact that it’s now the first song on the album is incidental because the tracklist was created much later but it’s a nice side note. The sound of ‘Empyrean’ encouraged me to step away from what i thought this album could be and focus on where I’d actually like to venture off to.

The middle section of the epic pairing of ‘Medela’ and ‘Venia’ is the album’s gripping centrepiece. The hypnotic electronic pulses of ‘Medela’ fades into the soulful bliss of ‘Venia’. I can imagine the sequencing of these tracks is something that takes quite some time to get right? As a whole, I get the impression that you visualize the music (contained on the final edit of an album) as one large seamless track with an array of moments? I’d love to gain an insight into your approach to getting all these details right?

BLB: On my previous albums (as HECQ) that’s exactly how it was – I wrote the pieces chronologically most of the time and when it hit the 50 or 60 minute mark I knew I had an album ready. I did not spend a lot of time thinking about sequencing albums – only on the later ones did this start to matter to me.

A certain aspect of this thinking is still influencing current albums including Mirage. To me an album is always a story, a snapshot of the time period I wrote it in. So it is a self-contained story or project but while earlier albums had a timeline, on Ben Lukas Boysen albums I can jump from chapter to chapter, look at individual events of that time and respectively can also listen to pieces on the album in random order and out of context. That’s why the exact sequencing of the tracks is not overly important to me as long as all tracks ended up being part of that story.

I think ‘Clarion’ really embodies the sublime aesthetics and intricate layers captured on the record. The addition of percussion and drums adds many new textures and love the gradual building of the piece. Were some parts recorded live? This certainly feels more like an ensemble playing here.

BLB: Yes the drums are live indeed. Achim Färber, who plays drums on all my albums, has the wonderful habit of playing or sending me random recordings or just starts improvising when we’re in the studio and that’s frankly where most of the album takes are coming from. Similar to Anne Müller, his contributions are the next natural evolution for most pieces. There are live drums, cellos and flügelhorn in ‘Clarion’ but all were recorded separately because the pieces are often not finished in my mind and recording one instrument leads to spark the idea of recording another. Not being a great instrumentalist, let alone session musician, I really prefer producing and arranging the pieces and then do the recordings, so realistically there’s never really a session where all musicians come together. I work with them separately and often remotely to get the work done.

Independent of its sound and intention, all my albums are ensemble projects though – every part, no matter if instrumental recordings by Achim (Drums), Stefan (Trumpet), Anne (Cell), Dan (saxophone) Maria (Harp) or on this special occasion also the great Neil Cowley, or the post mixing, done by Martyn Heyne at Lichtestudio or the mastering by Zino Mikorey, becomes part of the music. I do prefer to write and produce alone but it’s these people that breathe in that extra specialty and aspects that I could simply not bring to the table.

What particular albums and artists have you been heavily immersed in of late?

 BLB: All time faves i frequently rediscover:

– Nav Katze: Never Mind The Distortion

– Various Artists: 8, 8.5, 9 Remixes

– Olan Mill: Orient

– Billie Holiday: Lady In Satin

 

Current favorites:

– Daniel Ögren: Fastingen -92

– Christopher Bissonnette: The Wine Dark Sea

– Kit Sebastian: Mantra Moderne

– Bobby Krlic: Midsommar OST

‘Mirage’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://benlukasboysen.bandcamp.com/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

 

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May 5, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Chosen One: Daniel Thorne

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I’m fascinated by the way that certain ratios and sequences occur in nature, like fibonacci spirals and the golden ratio, and the idea of these things speaking to a kind of higher logic that, even if we’re not explicitly aware of, we recognize and feel on some level of our perception.”

—Daniel Thorne

 Words: Mark Carry

daniel thorne

Released last spring on the awe-inspiring Erased Tapes label, Liverpool-based composer and Immix Ensemble founder, Daniel Thorne’s exceptional debut solo album ‘Lines Of Sight’ is one of those rare jewels in the realm of contemporary music, which confounds, inspires and delights such is its remarkable sonic oeuvre. The album title perfectly embodies the music- the intricate layers of saxophones (and bass synth in places) unfold endless new pathways that beautifully meld, intersect, overlap and yields magic at every turn.

Let’s begin at the end. The album’s final piece, ‘Fear of Floating’ is built upon mesmerizing, pastoral saxophone tapestries, whose gentle patterns forge a staggering beauty like the endless ripples cast upon a stone on water. An intimacy is immediately created.  Some time later, warm textures of bass synth is masterfully added, in perfect unison with the vivid colours of the lead saxophone instrumentation – it’s like a synergy is thus created that brings forth the joyous, heart-rending climax of ‘Lines Of Sight’s deeply empowering musical exploration.

A synergy perhaps pinpoints the process itself – or more specifically, the reaction the listener feels in midst of these otherworldly compositions – where the close interaction of Thorne’s sonic components produces a combined effect greater than the sum of their parts. A joy to witness unfold (and subsequently) transform.

The record amasses one giant cohesive whole, of breath-taking magnitude and raw  emotion, wherein endless contrasts of dense, polyrhythmic, frenetic free jazz waves are masterfully juxtaposed with the intimate, sparse and dappled light of orchestral colours. The rawness and energy that emanates from the utterly transcendent opus ‘From Inside, Looking Out’ (recalling the kindred spirit of Colin Stetson) serves the fitting opening to Thorne’s scintillating solo music path. This cathartic flow leads into the unwavering beauty of the sparse lament ‘From the Other Side of the World’ (reminiscent of English composer Michael Nyman’s timeless works), a piece of music you feel you have known all your life. A closeness and delicate beauty permeates each and every heart pore.

Similarly, the hypnotic,pulsating and blissful ‘From the Heavens’ is laden with heavy synthesizer instrumentation before the introspective stillness of ‘Pyriscence’ beautifully fades in, akin to a labyrinth of faded dreams.

‘Lines Of Sight’ is a very special and transformative solo work from a visionary composer.

‘Lines Of Sight’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.danielthorne.net/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

daniel thorne 2

Interview with Daniel Thorne.

 

Congratulations on the sublime debut solo album ‘Lines Of Sight’. The album title perfectly embodies the music- the intricate layers of saxophones (and bass synth in places) unfold endless new pathways that beautifully meld, intersect, overlap and yields magic at every turn. Please take me back to the making of your debut solo album and the challenges/opportunities this writing/recording process offered up (in contrast to your role in Immix Ensemble)?

Daniel Thorne: Thank you for the kind words! This has been a very different project to what I’m used to – in the past most my writing projects have been geared towards live performance, usually with a fairly frantic rush towards a rehearsal, then a premiere, and then often that’s it and I move on to the next thing. Dealing with studio-based composition is definitely a different kettle of fish. I’d been dabbling with it for a little while but had never managed to create anything that I felt was meaningful. I found that the infinite possibilities afforded by that way of working were quite intimidating, and I lost a lot of time trying to decide what instruments to write for, how many tracks to use, etc, etc. I ended up getting around that by basically creating an ‘ensemble’ of four saxophone parts and four synth parts, which was the limitation that I needed in order to get over that.

The other road block for me was being so used to writing music with live performance and performers in mind, which kept colliding with this desire to use the studio to do things that were essentially impossible to perform should I go out and gig the music. In the end I decided to take any ideas of a live realization of the music out of the equation and focus on creating something that was intended to be experienced in recorded form, which was really liberating. The irony is that now I’m trying to work out how to put together a live set that relates to this music, but that’s a whole other thing…

The glorious and mind-blowing opening track ‘From Inside, Looking Out’ serves the perfect opening to this sonic journey. I’m very curious to learn to what extent is a piece such as this born from improvisation (or particularly solo live performance)? The sheer intensity and raw energy unleashed is quite something indeed. Also, the distinct movements that are contained within this composition showcases the masterful arrangements of this record.

DT: I definitely wanted it to have the energy and rawness that you’re talking about, however this piece actually started out as a fairly simple chord progression played on the piano. The majority of the overall structure of the piece was written at the piano, and it was only later, after I’d made those decisions I mentioned before about which instruments I was going to use, that I started to shape and sculpt things in a more focused way. I knew I wanted to start with a bang, and I was very much thinking of the masses of sound created by large free jazz ensembles rather than something more polished and orchestral.

As the titles of the first half of ‘Lines Of Sight’ suggest, there is very much a bird’s eye view of the world – it’s almost as if the creator is above the clouds, inhabiting some otherworldly realm. Can you discuss the themes and central narrative to ‘Lines Of Sight’ please? Was coming up with the album-title a certain gateway into the music, so to speak?

DT: Aerial images and the idea of a bird’s eye view were very much in my mind when composing these pieces. In particular I was interested in exploring the idea of perspective and how that is altered by distance – how something like a river or an ocean that can be incredibly complex and detailed when viewed up close is reduced to a simple line or shape when viewed from high above, how the natural and man-made start to become indistinguishable from one another – and playing with those dualities and contradictions. The first half of the album actually started out as a stand-alone suite in three movements which was titled Lines of Sight, but when I decided to do a full album I wanted to keep those ideas at the core of the additional tracks. I felt that it was a phrase that encapsulated the concepts really well, and that it made sense as the title for the whole album rather than just the first half of it.

‘From the Other Side of the World’ is such a breathtakingly beautiful and heartfelt lament that irresistibly floats in the ether. Can you take me back to composing and writing this particular piece? How long were these pieces simmering in your mind I wonder?

DT: This piece evolved in a very organic way, in contrast to some of the other tracks which came out of more rigid processes. It was literally just a case of improvising at the piano, and stumbling onto a chord progression that seemed to unlock everything else relatively quickly – I think I fleshed out the entire thing in about two days, which is fast for me. At the time I was feeling quite homesick and missing family and friends in Australia, so the piece began to take on this feeling of being a soundtrack to saying goodbye at the airport, taking off and arriving back in the UK.

In general, do you find these tracks were captured to tape after very few takes? The intimacy and immediacy of the music suggests they could be live takes in fact? Please describe your studio set-up and if you experimented with new processes on your solo outing?

DT: The way that I’d written things made it pretty difficult to do a full song in one take – dealing with multiple saxophone and synth parts that all had to be precisely synchronized meant that almost everything was fully scored out and had to be multi-tracked following a click track. The one exception to that was ‘Fear of Floating’, where I did one take of the main saxophone part (without a click) and then added everything else around it. I did generally try to limit myself to only doing a couple of takes for each part, mostly because otherwise I would have would up with a lot of material to sift through, but also because I wanted to embrace a certain amount of rawness and imperfection. I didn’t do any major editing other than a bit of comping here and there.

In terms of my studio setup, it’s pretty basic and low budget, just a laptop with a nice preamp and a microphone in the spare room at home, plus a synth and few effects pedals. The fact that I was multi-tracking everything and recording in a space that was fine but not particularly special in terms of its acoustics meant that the saxophone recordings were mic’d pretty close, which I think again helped to highlight smaller details and imperfections in each part, rather than creating a more homogenous, orchestral vibe.

The dichotomy of worlds and series of counterpoints and contrasting textures is something that occurs throughout ‘Lines Of Sight’. I love the more electronic/techno bliss of ‘From the Heavens’ and how this flows into the more fragile and organic sound world of ‘Pyriscence’. Was the sequencing of the record a significant challenge, to create that endless flow, as it were?

DT: That’s very flattering, but I actually think I just got lucky as in my mind there really only seemed to be one logical order for everything – as I mentioned, the first side was originally conceived as a suite and I didn’t want to break it up, while ‘Fear of Floating’ had always felt like an ending to me. Because the album began with quite a loud dramatic statement, I didn’t want to repeat that gesture to start the second half, which pretty much meant it had to be ‘Pyriscence’ – I really didn’t feel like there was any other way that made sense. I also really liked that that this meant that the two sides were sort of opposites of one another in terms of the balance between more- and less-dense pieces.

I would love to gain an insight into your compositional approach and the highly calculated nature of some aspects to your music-making process?

DT: Several of the pieces were developed out processes like isorhythm, long-range polyrhythm, and ratios. I’m fascinated by the way that certain ratios and sequences occur in nature, like fibonacci spirals and the golden ratio, and the idea of these things speaking to a kind of higher logic that, even if we’re not explicitly aware of, we recognize and feel on some level of our perception. I wanted to see how using similar kinds of devices and logics to inform the form and proportion of the pieces, without making them overly explicit, would influence the way the music was perceived by the listener. Probably the most strictly calculated in that regard is “Threnody for a Burning Building”, where all of the harmonic material comes from a very simple chord sequence moving at three different speeds simultaneously, while all the changes in the rhythmic texture are dictated by a series of polyrhythms and their interaction with one another. Having said that, that piece is definitely the most rigorous example, there are other tracks that grew in a much more organic way, while others contain a balance of both.

What’s next for you? Have you been enjoying any particular records of late?

DT: I’m doing my best to figure out my solo live set, and trying to find a way of creating a similar sonic environment to the album while also focusing on the kinds of things that I enjoy about live performance such as improvising, stretching material, etc. I’m also going to be working with Forest Swords to compose a piece for Immix that will be performed as part of the PRS New Music Biennial in London and Hull later this year. In terms of records, I love the new Szun Waves album, ‘New Hymn to Freedom” and I’m completely obsessed with David Lang’s ‘Mystery Sonatas’.

‘Lines Of Sight’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.danielthorne.net/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

Written by admin

July 10, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Chosen One: Deaf Center

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“Low Distance can be seen more of an epitome of the years of playing live together, experimenting and finding our way to a meeting point.”

—Erik K. Skodvin

 Words: Mark Carry

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As warm feedback tones drift beneath a seabed of mesmerising analogue soundscapes on the divine electro acoustic exploration ‘Gathering’, one feels the significance and enchantment of this eagerly-awaited return. The cherished Norwegian duo of Erik K Skodvin and Otto A Totland (under their trusted Deaf Center guise) have been responsible for some of the most captivating and vital ambient-infused-drone creations of the past fifteen years and last month‘s release of their third studio album ‘Low Distance’ – after an eight year hiatus – holds a significant presence in the atmosphere akin to the air molecules we breathe.

I feel the piece ‘Gathering’ embodies the sacred space that this gifted duo seem to innately inhabit – through the art of sound. A few minutes in, emotive piano tones meld effortlessly with the gentle hiss and warmth of analogue sounds: gradual music that ebbs and flows into the ether of some unknown dimension. In the final section, Totland’s piano instrumentation comes to the fore as a silence descends all around us: it is as though the minute details and sonic artifacts are embedded deep within the music’s tapestry.

The hypnotic bass groove (reminiscent of Colleen’s viola da gamba) serves the vital pulse of ‘Red Glow’ wherein sustained piano chords form the ideal counterpoint. Neo-classical splendor is etched across these two or so minutes. ‘Movements/The Ascent’ reveals the special fusion of modern-classical and electro acoustic realms as otherworldly, far-reaching moments-within-moments are captured in one fleeting swoop.

It is important to remember the many solo – and collaborative – works that the pair have released during the eight years of the last Deaf Center record. For example, the breath-taking solo piano albums of Otto A Totland can be found in the rich tapestry of ‘Low Distance’ – particularly on part B with the deeply affecting piano compositions ‘Far Between’ and ‘Yet to Come’ which closes this incredible musical journey. Also, Skodvin’s rich experimentation with sound on his Svarte Greiner project, in addition to score-work (last year’s poignant collaborative score ‘A Score For Darling‘ with Spanish artist Rauelsson) and several solo works; these many documents all filter into the sonic palette of 2019’s Deaf Center’s oeuvre.

The epic tour-de-force ‘Entity Voice’ is another triumph in minimalism and restraint – and with a maximum yield of raw emotion and cinematic atmosphere. The jazz noir piano tapestries swirl in the midnight air (echoing the spirit of legendary film composer David Shire’s 70’s works) alongside the utterly transcendent abstract canvas sculpted by Skodvin. The music becomes one sprawling, cohesive whole. The great hallmark of this special band – reflected on ‘Entity Voice’ – is the revelatory quality of the intricately layered sound collages that captures a singular beauty and unknowing mystery all at once.

‘Low Distance’ is out now on Sonic Pieces.

https://deafcenter.bandcamp.com/

http://sonicpieces.com/

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Interview with Erik K. Skodvin & Otto Totland.

 

Congratulations on the utterly enchanting latest full length ‘Low Distance’, it’s a real pleasure to discuss this incredible new music with you both. The minimal and quite sparse nature to quite a portion of these recordings unfolds a quiet magic and mysterious beauty all at once. Firstly, please take me back to your recording sessions together – which must have been several years since the last Deaf Center recording session? Talk me through what music was released during these sessions and the nature of these tracks – for instance I presume some of these piano compositions were freshly composed (by Otto)? How much of these tracks were born simply from improvisation – music created during that moment when you were in the same room together?

Erik K Skodvin & Otto A Totland: Thank you, Mark. It´s indeed been a while since our last encounter. We released the EP ”Recount” in 2014, though this was 2 older live recorded pieces without any studio or planning involved. Other than that, our last meeting in a recording studio was back in 2010. This time we met in Berlin in the summer of 2017 as we got the chance to use Nils Frahm’s Funkhaus studio for 3 days while he was going away. Looking back at it, it feels strange to say that since the new studio is now so hyped and seen all over the place. A lot have changed in just those 2 years. We´re still glad to have recorded there though, as it is a beautiful, great sounding place.

A major part of the finished record was made there and then, in intimate in-the-moment improvised sessions. Gathering f.ex is one of those magic moments where we synced up really well and something special was created. A minimum of editing has been done to the final piece you hear on the record. This also goes for several of the other tracks.

The lengthy pieces such as ‘Entity Voice’ and ‘Gathering’ serve the vital pulse to the record’s first half. The warm, vivid textures of piano, strings, drone, ambient noise that are masterfully interwoven on ‘Gathering’ unfolds akin to a faded dream and a piece that epitomizes the sheer beauty and wonder that fills this record. Can you talk me through these particular experiments and indeed this deeply innate ‘call and response’ inner dialogue you have as a musical pairing?

ES & OT: Both as individuals and our approach to making music; we are very different. So much so that it’s strange that our cooperation works, and works so well. When we play together and inspire each other – when we enter that “zone” – we both feel that special fusion that can only arise when we play together. Then it happens so effortlessly and spontaneous. It surprises us too. Luckily we have managed to capture many of these moments – the track “Gathering” is an example of this. The album version sounds almost exactly the same as recorded, with only minor alterations and edits. The track ‘Entity Voice’ is a collection/fusion from many different parts of our recording session that started with the piano & feedback tones you can hear in the first 2 minutes. The remaining sounds and development is all layered in detailed fine-editing.

When we started getting requests for live performances after Neon City & Pale Ravine was released, we transitioned more and more towards analogue equipment and instruments over the years. Less and less digital electronics and samples. Now we have a fully analogue sound with a similar expression. We feel a relief from removing ourselves from everything digital, especially when performing live. Low Distance can be seen more of an epitome of the years of playing live together, experimenting and finding our way to a meeting point.

Please describe your studio in Norway and the precise set-up please? I get the impression that the formidable solo works of yours (the many vital records you released as solo artists in the interim between the last Deaf Center record) must have tapped into the musical tapestry of Deaf Center? How do you see this duo evolving, so to speak?

ES & OT: I live in Berlin and to be honest, my studio situation is not what most might expect. I never really had a proper ”studio”. I have a room with a lot of stuff in it, which is in my apartment. I used to have outside spaces to work, but not since 5 years now. I have no clue about gear really. I have a bunch of instruments of rather sketchy quality. My main ”gear” is my effect-pedals that is use for my live setup as well as some sound making devices. The bunch of pedals i have i use in my own way, but i couldn’t tell you much about them. Having said that, my most important instrument the last 4 years is this custom built analogue electronic device built by a friend of mine called Derek Holzer. It was a commissioned job and he constructed a benjolin as a guitar effects pedal for me. I’ve been fighting with that thing live the last years, and i´m still surprised what i can do with it. It´s of constant revelation, both good and bad. You can hear this all over the record.

Otto lives in Norway and has no studio. It’s hard to say anything about our evolution from here on. The ongoing development of Otto as a pianist and improviser as well as my own urge to explore sounds and instruments is for sure the tapestry of Deaf Center at this moment. Especially since when we meet we tend to both think a little differently than when we go solo. Since our beginning it´s been no plan to do more records or continue DC. So far the ones who kept us alive is the people who book us to play live, as that´s mainly where new Deaf Center material has come out through the last 10 years. We also have to give credit to Nils Frahm for our continued presence, as we recorded both Owl Splinters and Low Distance in his spaces. Both of Otto´s solo piano albums was also recorded with him. So wherever you are these days Nils, thanks for that.

I love the contrast between the deeply layered explorations and the sparse, minimal works – one of the great hallmarks of ‘Low Distance’. Can you discuss the mixing process and the art of layering these soundscapes together? Is it a case of revisiting musical ideas that were captured in the studio and continually navigating inside these and further sculpting the layers together? I wonder what are the fears and challenges you faced during this period of time?

ES & OT: Mixing is something we probably see quite differently from most producers. I personally have my own way of taking a standpoint in the source material and making pieces from them. Although Low Distance has several minimal tracks that has little to almost no post-editing, there are several that are heavily “mixed”. I´d call it editing or collaging rather than mixing though. It´s all about working in details & layers. A lot of pitch-shifting, copying, stretching, reverbs, delay. Otto and me both have a similar idea about certain way of mixing when it comes to Deaf Center. It´s more of an unspoken rule which intertwine our sound. Owl Splinters has a bit more of a Nils Frahm touch, as he was a big part of the production. This time it´s more back to our original sound, but with source material recorded in a professional studio instead of the lo-fi sample based sound of Pale Ravine.

As we both live different places, and this can be a time taking job, i was mixing it myself over a longer period while keeping a dialogue with Otto through we-transfer and email. An invitation for a week´s residency at Stockholms EMS studio was also a key part of how the record came to be. The first major part of the mixing was done there, where i could also record some warm Buchla Synthesizer sounds and noises that ended up as a core interwoven part of the record. From there it was then to sew it together into a world of it´s own. With a beginning, middle and end. To create somewhere we´d like to be that both comfort and challenge us. Something that grows on repeated listens and makes you forget your surroundings and make up new ones.

Of course it´s a challenging task since we already have quite some to live up too. And with a 8 year gap between albums it can be scary. Will people still care what we have to put out in the world? Will they remember us? A lot have changed since the last album came out. Both in the world and for us.

The cinematic quality and otherworldly dimension of the piano-based compositions is a joy to savor. ‘Faded Earth’ feels just that: something lost beneath our very foundations. The penultimate track ‘Far Between’ is such a gorgeous neon lit lament. It must continue to surprise you to see and discover what music you are able to create together? The warm textures beneath ‘Far Between’ makes for such a heavenly sound.

ES & OT: Thank you. We are both very conscious about the dynamic of a composition. To let each other “swell” then pull back and give each other room. We both enjoy the unpredictable. Like a build-up ending in a silent relief rather than a climax. Adding subtly small details that can only be noticed with focused listening. Keeping random coincidences like background noises, crackling and clicks, welcoming them as part of the piece. As long as every sound feels good to the ear. We prefer to avoid uncomfortable frequencies.

Over how many years do you feel the music captured on ‘Low Distance’ stems from? I get the feeling there is always some happy accidents, so to speak that find their way into the sonic tapestry. Can you shed some light on these particular moments?

ES & OT: The record is a culmination of musical development and changes in our own lives through the last years. It wasn’t composed or thought through beforehand. Experiences both good and bad gets soaked into the music, impulsively. Also during our studio meeting, a lot of “mistakes”, sounds and objects found it´s way into the sound. After listening back to it we really found these accidents and sonic “mistakes” to be complimenting the music in a good way. Something to grow on, to find new details that you might not like the first time around. One really great mistake, if you can call it that, Is when we played “Gathering” and when Otto came in on the piano after about 2 minutes we both got really surprised. We had not tuned the guitar and piano, and what came out was this surreal half-detuned lamenting sound. We both kept playing on even if we could hear something was off. When we finished and listened back to it a few times, we felt it was something special and unique. So we left it like it was.

Lastly, please discuss your own musical upbringing and how soon did you realize music would become your destined path?

ES & OT: Neither of us have had any musically education or upbringing. We both have a natural pull to explore, play and create music since childhood. It’s the creative process itself and what arises that we both share a fascination of. We never feel in control. Erik is much more comfortable with that than Otto.

‘Low Distance’ is out now on Sonic Pieces.

https://deafcenter.bandcamp.com/

http://sonicpieces.com/

 

 

Written by admin

May 9, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Chosen One: Andrew Wasylyk

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Performing, writing and listening to music’s a deep, rewarding privilege. An ongoing revelation, really.

—Andrew Mitchell

 Words: Mark Carry

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My introduction to Scottish composer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Mitchell (under the guise of Andrew Wasylyk) was the captivating instrumental ‘Journey to Inchcape’, played on Oliver Coates’s essential monthly NTS show.The piece begins with a gradual drum machine beat before immaculate instrumentation of harpsichord and a divine blend of strings and woodwind gently coalesce together, akin to the ebb and flow of the ocean waves. The arrangements are stunning: the carefully sculpted sonic elements feel somehow out of time as the hypnotic swirls of tape delays overlap with the pastoral splendor of flute passages. Music to truly savor.

This formidable composition serves a poignant moment to the Scottish musician’s enchanting third solo studio album ‘The Paralian’ – placed between the harp-based celestial pop lament ‘Greendrive #2’ and the gorgeously introspective neo-classical gem ‘Welter in the Haar’. ‘The Paralian’ is a collection of immersive soundscapes that feel at once steeped in tradition and buried in the past: a timelessness abounds at every pulse and endearing moment.

The broad palette of instrumentation dotted across Mitchell’s meticulously crafted song cycles is another hallmark of this great record. Jazz inflections of double bass slowly fade into the reflective ‘Dreamt The Breakers Spill’, combined with shimmering bliss of brass and percussion. Cosmic energy permeates throughout the utterly seductive groove of ‘Flight of the Cormorant’, emitting a catharsis of infinite depth.

The record opens with the soft rumblings of footsteps and birdsong – an array of field recordings that perfectly embodies ‘The Paralian’s empowering journey. The listener is taken on a voyage, and in the process becomes one of self-exploration in the deepest sense. The echo and reverb of euphonium resonates as the opening piece swells into the ether. The addition of vocals on ‘Adrift Below a Constellation’ creates a soul-stirring moment of the record’s heartfelt penultimate track. Images of a mariner lost at sea. Adrift and yearning to be found.

‘The Paralian’ is out now on Athens Of The North.

https://andrewwasylyk.bandcamp.com/

https://aotns.bandcamp.com/

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Interview with Andrew Mitchell.

Congratulations on the utterly sublime latest full length album, ‘The Paralian’, a divine sonic journey across modern-classical and folk realms. Firstly, please take me back to the artist residency you were invited to in a historic house in Hospitalfield, Scotland. Can you trace the starting point or origins of what would become the inception of ‘The Paralian’? 

Andrew Mitchell: When I arrived for the extended residency in Arbroath it quickly became apparent that there would be no shortage of inspiration. The history of Hospitalfield House, its Scots Baronial architecture and Arts & Crafts interior all fed in to the approach. Encouraged by the surroundings, I slowly began to recognize my relationship with the east coast and the north sea, and the bones of the album were laid.

The inspiration you sought from your surroundings must have really tapped into the music. For instance, the looming North Sea horizon from your vantage point and the specific project to create new music for the restored 19th Century Erard Grecian harp. Would I be right to say these compositions all began with composing music for this harp instrument and for the remaining instrumentation to be added and interwoven later? Looking back on the residency, how do you feel the creative process developed (or evolved if want for a better word)? 

AM: Partially, some of the harp pieces I wrote with minimal intentions that could weave in and out of piano progressions. The aim was delicate and ornate, to echo the building’s interior. The coastal environment infiltrated that process; at times fueling temptation to let areas evolve using drums, bass, brass, strings and synthesizers. “Greendrive #2” is an example of that initial intimacy that broadens on the journey. Other routes would start with a field recording or perhaps a title. For me, it’s important to have different doors in to a song. “Adrift Below A Constellation” arrived before a note had been played.

The immaculate instrumentation – such a gorgeous range of sounds – is what one of the hallmarks of this great record. Please introduce to me your trusted ensemble and recount your memories of having these musicians together in a room (which I presume was the case?) and witnessing these pieces fully bloom into life?

AM: As a keen procrastinator, I’ll often chisel away at an idea until it gives way and trundles into life. The majority of the tracking was actually just myself in the studio on drums, percussion, bass, keyboards, piano, synthesizer, guitars and glockenspiel. However, I was lucky to work with a lot of talented, patient folk. The brilliant Sharron Griffiths played Concert and Grecian harp, Seth Bennett provided double bass, Rachel Simpson, Iain Robertson and Tony Sellars were the brass section, Paul Wright droned his tanpura, Carol O’Rourke was on oboe and Brighton’s Thomas White drummed on “Mariner’s Hymn”.

As I pulled the recordings together a few areas still felt a little light to me, in terms of depth and character. The wonderful arranger and cellist Pete Harvey kindly excepted an invite to write string arrangements for “Westway Nocturne”, “Mariner’s Hymn”, “Adrift Below A Constellation” and “Welter In The Haar”. I’m grateful he did, they may be my favourite tracks of the album. Violin, viola and cello were in the able hands of Simon Graham, Emma Connell-Smith and Harriet Davidson.

‘Journey to Inchcape’ is a stunning cinematic voyage; and how the intricate layers meld together so effortlessly is quite something to behold. Can you talk me through the various layers and the moments-within-moments that seem to just happen throughout this piece?

AM: That was developed after a boat trip out to Bellrock Lighthouse, eleven miles east of the Firth Of Tay. We arrived during a serene low tide to cormorants basking, and seals singing in crisp morning sunlight. There was some sort of brooding elegance I was reaching for, hence the brass and the pastoral-tinged Mellotron flute on the choruses. How well I achieved that is another matter. I was initially wary of the number counter melodies, to be honest. There’s a temptation to impose on an idea when there’s no vocal to curtail that fourth cascading harpsichord line, or that whim of triple-tracking the feedback delay. I’m often adding and subtracting in the effort to find the path.

‘Adrift Below a Constellation’ is the only vocal track, which fades in towards the album’s final section – the looming horizon, in a way. The addition of the vocal/lyrics further heightens the experience, evoking the timeless spirit of Robert Wyatt or Talk Talk….can you discuss the reasoning for having the one vocal track (I wonder did you have more to choose from?) and the song-writing process itself?

AM: Being very fond of Robert Wyatt and Mark Hollis, that’s humbling to hear. Thank you. This was initially meant to be a brass arrangement for just euphonium, trombone, trumpet and flugel. I had this recurring image of a mariner dreaming of dry land, alone at sea with no one to share the sunset with. It seemed only fair to try and give him or her a voice.

I absolutely love the psych/cosmic groove unleashed in the hypnotic ‘Flight of the Cormorant’, again revealing the endless and boundless nature of these sound worlds. This piece feels almost like a jam in the studio – was this the case? In this regard, I wonder were there many happy accidents, so to speak that happened during the making of ‘The Paralian’?

AM: There wasn’t the luxury, or time, for working a group up in the studio. While there were certainly things that fell in to place last-minute, this song was fairly established beforehand. I was striving for something hypnotic with its linear drone nature. If that alludes to spontaneity, then I suppose you might call that a ‘happy accident’.

‘Through The Field Beyond The Trees Lies The Ocean’ opens the album, but was one of the last things committed to tape. I was playing back some of the field recordings made during a study trip out to Seaton Cliffs and stumbled upon the motif while improvising on piano. It stuck, and struck me as an invite to ‘The Paralian’.

The meaning of ‘The Paralian’ is a dweller by the sea, and this resonates powerfully throughout the record: there is a solitude or quiet bliss deep within the space of these recordings. At what point did you come up with the album title itself and the particular narrative that unfolded? Please discuss the inspiration of your homeplace – and the Scottish countryside and nature – that clearly seeps into your consciousness?

AM: It came to me about a quarter of the way in to the project. At that stage, I held it as more of a working title, a temporary focal point to see me through. There were others in contention, however, when my friend Matthew Marra heard the album he told me “The Paralian” was the one. Rarely is Matthew wrong about that kind of thing.

Scotland has many magical landscapes and shorelines. I’m very fortunate to live on the east coast by such gateway to the North Sea. It’s offered me a number of things; a great deal to consider and plenty to write about. It can soothe and provoke you in equal measures. It’s a curious thing, and I’m not sure where I’d be without its presence.

Take me back to your earliest musical memories? Were there certain moments in time that were these eureka moments that you just knew that the musical path is destined to be the chosen one?

AM: When I was sixteen my uncle gave me an eighties Stratocaster. A kind gesture that would prove fairly pivotal in opening doors to the exotic world of music, books, film and art. I still use the guitar today. I don’t know if I’d subscribe to the idea of a single eureka moment. Performing, writing and listening to music’s a deep, rewarding privilege. An ongoing revelation, really. Naturally, there’s frustrations and disheartenment, but the decent days can be sublime. Providing it’ll have me, I’d like to traipse this path for longer and continue learning.

Lastly, what books, music, films have you enjoyed recently? What’s next for you?

AM: I was just gifted “Devotions”, the selected poems of Mary Oliver and have been listening to the eagerly awaited vinyl reissue of Paddy McAloon’s “I Trawl The Megahertz” a lot, along with Josephine Foster’s “Faithfull Fairy Harmony”. The last film I saw was Aleksei German’s deliriously brilliant “Khrustalyov, My Car!” a couple of weeks ago at Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre.

There’s various plans afoot. I’ve some writing to finish and other ideas that need started upon. I’m hoping to play some more shows this year, experimenting with the live set up and, if I can, go further afield than the UK. A duo I’m involved with, called Art Of The Memory Palace, are releasing a new record, “Dusk At Trellick Tower”, later this month too.

‘The Paralian’ is out now on Athens Of The North.

https://andrewwasylyk.bandcamp.com/

https://aotns.bandcamp.com/

Written by admin

March 20, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Chosen One: Penelope Trappes

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“… a lot of it is just piecing the puzzle together of these array of sounds that I can just create the emotion with.”

—Penelope Trappes

 Words: Mark Carry

Penelope-Trappes-credit-Agnes-Haus

London-based artist Penelope Trappes’ sophomore full-length ‘Penelope Two’ – and follow-up to her essential debut ‘Penelope One’ for Optimo Music – casts a hypnotic, luminous spell through its stunningly beautiful song cycles: drenched in reverb that somehow drift into the ether of our innermost fears. The stark intimacy of the Australian-born composer’s compositions is what strikes you immediately; evoking the timeless spirit of early 4AD artists (This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins) and kindred spirits of Grouper’s Liz Harris and Tropic Of Cancer.

On the album’s gripping centrepiece ‘Maeve’, the chorus refrain of “let go” is repeated beneath delicate piano chords and lucid guitar haze. I feel ‘Penelope Two’ becomes a process of letting go: to allow the waves of anguish and pain wash over you and, in  turn, to wrap your troubles up in dreams. The raw emotion distilled in Trappes’ soaring vocals casts infinite rays of solace and hope as light flickers from within the depths of darkness.

The way in which the drone infused ambient instrumentals (‘Silence’; ‘Kismet’; ‘Exodus’) are masterfully interwoven with the vocal-based song structures (‘Connector’; ‘Burn On’; ‘Maeve’) creates one cohesive whole of staggering beauty and emotional depth. The ethereal dream pop gem of ‘Connector’ possesses endurance to overcome the darkness. The immaculate production and divine soundscapes immerses the listener inside a wholly other realm. The chorus refrain “I am the connector” epitomizes the magical, far-reaching qualities of Trappes’ immense songwriting prowess.

‘Penelope Two’ is out now on Houndstooth.

https://penelopetrappes.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/penelopetrappes/

We are delighted to welcome Penelope Trappes for a Cork show on Saturday 27th April 2019. The Australian-born artist’s sublime sophomore full-length ‘Penelope Two’ charted #3 on our best albums of 2018 list, so we are beyond thrilled to invite her to play a special live headline show in Cork, Ireland. All details are below.

Fractured Air & Plugd present:

Penelope Trappes & special guests
Saturday 27th April
Roundy (Upstairs)
1 Castle Street,
Cork

TICKETS: https://uticket.ie/event/fractured-air-present-penelope-trappes-special-guests

 

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Interview with Penelope Trappes.

 

Please take me back to the making of ‘Penelope Two’ and if you had a starting point in mind and how the album came to be?

Penelope Trappes: The initial start was not that long after ‘Penelope One’. It was triggered by a dear friend of mine – who lives in Dublin actually – his wife had just passed away, who was a good friend of mine. And it was a very tumultuous, sad state of affairs because she had just given birth to a little kid – and I’ve mentioned it in my press release – it was really tragic and I strangely started feeling incredibly empathetic to his cause and I just sat down and I started to write this song called ‘Maeve’ (which was her name). So, I basically just picked up a guitar and played some chords and sang one take and recorded it: I don’t think I even sat down and wrote lyrics – it just came out of me. I had a few other songs that I may have been working on that were around but that was the one thing that triggered the whole album.

The soundscapes and pristine instrumentation that you use is really striking and also, the intimacy of these songs and the rawness that can be felt throughout the album.

PT:  It’s wonderful that it gets received that way. I suppose you have to dive into the intimacy when you listen to it and people feel that because I was writing stuff and then there was another dear friend of mine who again the same thing: she lost family members in a tragic accident. And it was weird because you don’t ever want to feel like you’re capitalizing in any way shape or form of other people’s grief but I think the intimacy and the addressing of such feelings is something that just started to infiltrate the whole album; that it was important to discuss – whether it be in just sound or with words, to open up: discussing things that may not necessarily be always the most comfortable things to talk about and bearing witness to certain things. And by working as a solo artist on this stuff I was able to be very much ‘in the zone’ and try to put those feelings into sound.

How long was the process itself from – as you say – writing the song ‘Maeve’ to finding that you had the album done because it almost feels as if the songs are flooding out of you (and becomes almost like one long piece of music)?

PT: Well, it didn’t happen rapidly. I reckon it was probably around eight months, from beginning to end of compiling it all. But I guess that eight months became for me a very transformative time since it was inceptions about how I felt about things too.

The production element as well is another wonderful hallmark of ‘Penelope Two’, I’d love to gain an insight into your studio set-up?

PT: It started with ‘Maeve’ on the guitar and then I’ve explored and had on my first album [‘Penelope One’] using traditional upright piano. My first album I had done in like a small piano studio and I really hadn’t gone too far out of that realm (with piano and voice). I’ve always added lots of field recordings and usually just from my I-phone (things where I’ve been in places where I’ve heard things that just stand out). Three tracks were written in New York at a friend’s house using his piano that correlate to my other friend’s moments. And then obviously I doused it in reverb – I love lots of reverb – and a lot of it is just piecing the puzzle together of these array of sounds that I can just create the emotion with. I’m working in Logic software but I try to keep the actual instrumentation for the most part – apart from things like field recordings – to hardware. I have a little analog synth that I like for droning sounds and things like that.

I love the series of photographs that comes with the narrative of the album itself. I wonder was that happening in tandem with the music?

PT: Well I work as part of a collective called Agnes Haus; these photos had been co-directed and shot over a period of time – not necessarily in correlation to when I was writing the songs. But again on ‘Penelope One’ I did a photobook for that as well so the visuals have always been part of the mood and general aesthetic of what I have been working on. I always knew I was going to do a photobook for this album because I had done it before. So they didn’t exactly line up in the calendar of the months  being written and produced.

I was introduced to your other projects – like the duo Golden Filter and your more electronic projects – after first discovering your solo album ‘Penelope One’. I suppose each one is independent of the other but would you find that it has its own set of challenges?

PT: Yeah I mean it’s interesting, The Golden Filter is vastly different to what I’m doing as solo. I tend to likening it to – like on an energy level – the Golden Filter stuff is very yang (it’s got very high energy and live it’s very intense) but this is the yin; both going solo and having my own time and being able to be introspective and more emotionally in touch with the yin side (which in Darwinism is more feminine and less energetic). It’s a tricky balance but I feel like that’s like life as you have low energy times and the high energy times and it’s all about for me to find the balance – I mean The Golden Filter still exists but not as busy; it’s out there and it’s doing its thing – between the two projects and it’s quite a nice way to be able to express all sides of yourself.

For the live setting, how do you find your solo songs translated into the live setting because as you say it’s deeply personal music? It must be an experience in itself to be able to perform these songs live?

PT: On the how to translate these deeply personal moments into the live thing, for example, I’ve been known to tear up a little when I do ‘Maeve’ but as far as the instrumentation of it all goes because there are these amorphous levels in the record (with all these sounds), I have to strip it back because it’s just me on stage. I mean in a perfect case – maybe in a year or so – I could have a few musicians onstage with me but I keep it pretty simple live. I have a keyboard, a sample – again it’s all hardware, I don’t bring a laptop up on stage with me – and then a loop pedal for vocals. I have done a couple of shows not with guitar but I’m thinking I’ll start bringing that along as well. So it’s more minimal but I feel like in that space I’m able to access the more emotional element because a lot of the whole project for me – being solo – is the minimal element so I suppose in the end my voice is the main instrument that is able to convey that. And then I have these spatial times in the set which is almost like meditation time [laughs] between these raw emotional moments.

As a listener I was immediately likening the music to Grouper whose like a kindred spirit in many ways.

PT: Grouper is wonderful, I suppose there are a lot of similarities there. In the beginning when I started the whole thing I was thinking a lot about early 4AD artists like This Mortal Coil and that sort of feel and acts like Grouper definitely feel like a kindred spirit. And then perhaps that’s just tying into what I was saying about the balance of energies in society – the very aggressive fast, full-on energy and the quiet, contemplative and more emotional stuff. And maybe it is just wonderful to know that there are other women – and men too, let’s not be sexist here [laughs] – there are people making this music you can have a very quiet contemplative and perhaps emotional reaction to. I saw her recently play in London and it was like being in church or something [laughs]: you could hear a pin drop; she didn’t say one word to anybody. She was even so humble when the people started arriving at the venue she was actually doing her own sound check still with people who were arriving and she was just sitting there and I mean she’s telling her story I guess – I think that’s what it’s about isn’t it; about finding a quiet place to be able to tell people a story.

Thinking back on growing up in Australia, would you have early musical memories, how soon did you realize how important music would be for you?

PT: I feel like music was always one of those things that was around my house growing up. I grew up in a rural town called Lismore, Australia – funnily enough it’s not far from you in County Waterford there’s a Lismore up there – which is near Byron Bay, it’s a very beautiful part of the world; I generally tell people Byron Bay because people when they travel to the Northern Rivers of Australia, they go there – they don’t go to the town where I grew up in [laughs] because it’s a boring town. And so I was quite isolated from the rest of the world, pre-Internet and Australia is always a bit behind the times due to location and definitely pre-Internet for sure. So I just used whatever I could get my hands on like whatever my parents had on around the house, so a bit of jazz and classical but not as much as I would have liked to have had (but I had to make do with what was around for listening). I studied piano between when I was seven and fourteen and then after that, by high school I was just trying to get my hands on as much music that I could. And then it continued after high school, I was actually studying folk and classical vocals and then I moved into opera for a bit – just to push my voice but I didn’t really resonate personally with the opera singing [laughs]; it wasn’t really my cup of tea, although I do like it now, more. So it started with piano and I taught myself how to play guitar and the vocals was always the thing but I guess as a child I always loved the concept of performing, in some way shape or form.

Would you have plans or future projects for the new year?

PT: I have already started formulating ideas for ‘Penelope Three’ like lyrical ideas, singing and things that I feel like are happening around me – I’ve already started documenting it and this time of the year is a great time with the close of the year and that time of the year where you get contemplative. I’m hoping that this winter – once I get through the madness of christmas – that January, February, March I’ll hole myself up and really start coming up with actually releasing these ideas into music. So that’s definitely going to be for the first half of the year and I’m not entirely sure where it will exist but hopefully I’ve got a few things up my sleeve where it will come out into the world.

‘Penelope Two’ is out now on Houndstooth.

https://penelopetrappes.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/penelopetrappes/

Fractured Air & Plugd present:

Penelope Trappes & special guests
Saturday 27th April
Roundy (Upstairs)
1 Castle Street,
Cork

TICKETS: https://uticket.ie/event/fractured-air-present-penelope-trappes-special-guests

Written by admin

March 12, 2019 at 4:49 pm