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Step Right Up: Nadia Reid

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

—Nadia Reid

Words: Mark Carry

Nadia Reid scribble Credit Meek Zuiderwyk

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

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

Nadia Reid sit Credit Meek Zuiderwyk WEB

Interview with Nadia Reid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Preservation’ is out now on Basin Rock.

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

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

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

https://www.nadiareid.com/

 

 

Written by admin

August 10, 2017 at 10:30 am

Step Right Up: Ekin Fil

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

—Ekin Fil

Words: Mark Carry

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PHOTOS BY ERİNÇ GÜZEL

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview with Ekin Fil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 9, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Step Right Up: Allred & Broderick

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Interview with David Allred & Peter Broderick.

 It feels good to simply play music with another person away from the cables.”

—David Allred

Words: Mark Carry

david allred

Earlier this year, the new duo collaborative project between American musicians Peter Broderick and David Allred (appropriately christened Allred & Broderick) was unveiled in the form of lead single ‘The Ways’: a beautiful acapella folk ballad about “the world in which we live” and how we as individuals will eventually find our way. The gorgeously constructed music video – with handmade signs created by Erased Tapes long time collaborator Peter Liversidge and directed by label founder Robert Raths – was (in many ways) a celebration of the prestigious Erased Tapes label’s 10th anniversary year. The exciting new debut project between these two special souls represents yet another milestone in the label’s far-reaching, genre-defying musical journey thus far.

The pair first collaborated together on Allred’s stunning solo full-length ‘Midstory’ (released on German imprint Oscarson). Full of layered voices and a wide range of pristine instrumentation, the masterful song cycles ranged from intimate acappella laments to compelling avant pop gems. Forward a few years and the collaborative project of Allred & Broderick have dropped their debut record ‘Find The Ways’. Recorded in Broderick’s home studio the Sparkle along the Oregon coast, the ten tracks emit a delicate beauty and honesty that orbits the sound world of folk traditions, jazz flourishes and the modern-classical sphere.

Armed with just their voices, violin (Peter) and upright bass (David), the gifted duo generate endless possibilities with the minimalist framework posed. Some of their finest songs can be found on part A with Broderick’s penned ‘The Wise One’ and Allred’s ‘Hey Stranger’ interspersed between the string duet ‘Two Otters’.  On ‘Finding The Ways’ the pair wanted (in the words of Broderick) “to make something raw which is an honest document of what we are capable of doing together at once, with just two acoustic instruments and our voice”. Allred & Broderick is a marvellous new chapter from two unique musical voices.

‘Find The Ways’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/erasedtapes/

peter b

Interview with David Allred & Peter Broderick.

 

Before we discuss the new record, I would love for you to recount your memories of first crossing paths with one another and how you feel your own musical paths cross over (and complement one another) so naturally?

David Allred: Peter and I had a few email exchanges before we met in person back in 2013. I initially emailed him with a sheet music transcription I made of his piano song called ‘Pulling The Rain’ and asked him if it looked accurate. Peter responded very well to my email which turned into more conversations. I always loved how well he responded to my questions, especially considering that I was a complete stranger to him at the time. There was another time I wrote him an email out of the blue (which was about a week before I was planning to move to Portland) and Peter ended his replied email by saying “best wishes from Portland” – I immediately wrote him back and told him that I was coincidentally about to move to Portland and wanted to know if he was living there or visiting (since he had been living in Berlin for years up to that time) and he replied confirming that he re-located to Portland and that we should meet up when I get there! We did in fact meet one day in 2013 and have been good friends/musical collaborators since.

Please take me back to the recording sessions in your home studio of The Sparkle. I am sure this was an extremely fun and liberating project to be involved in, particularly having just voices, violin and double bass? One of the great hallmarks of the record is just how much you achieve in terms of depth and emotion from a minimal framework. 

DA: Thank you! Yes, Peter and I set out to record this album live without any overdubs or edits aside from general mixing. It was a bit challenging to make a full length record with the limitations that we gave ourselves but in the end we were very happy with the results. It was very refreshing to make an album that was captured exactly the way play the music without needing to layer other instruments or effects. We also enjoy being able to re-create our album in our live performances.

I think that sense of adventure and spark of creativity is always present in both your own solo works and obviously this comes flooding into the recordings contained here on ‘Finding the Ways’. I wonder to what degree were these songs mapped out prior to the recording sessions? I can imagine some happy accidents and spontaneous moments found their way on the final tapes?

DA: I would say most of the record was planned out but there ended up being some spontaneous moments. Peter did the mixing and mastering on this release and we had a fair amount of funny moments when we were talking or reacting to the music and some of which ended up on the final version of the album.

‘The Wise One’ is one of the defining moments of part A. I would love to gain an insight into the background and inspiration behind this particular tour-de-force? (I presume this is Peter’s song?!) The way the double-bass arrives in later and how these intricate components coalesce so wonderfully makes for such a cinematic voyage.

Peter Broderick: Yep, this one is my song, and was the last song added to the collection for this record. In fact, to this day this remains the last song I’ve written with words! The lyrics are about diving within yourself in a meditative way, to consult yourself from deep within, with the objective of gaining guidance and/or insight. During the time that David and I were working on the music for this album, I was practicing this kind of meditation daily. I had such a powerful, profound experience, I felt the impulse to turn that experience into a song.

‘Hey Stranger’ is another deeply heartfelt and poignant moment (which I presume is a song by David?) I would love to gain an insight into the writing and formation of this particular song and your memories of seeing it come to full bloom? 

DA: ‘Hey Stranger’ was written about an old friend who mysteriously disappeared years ago. I have been referring to this individual in press as J, who was one of my closest friends from my childhood to early adulthood but I always felt that it was a bit difficult to connect with him as he was always confronting the intense topics of life that most people try to avoid in most social circumstances. I’ve always thought he was an incredibly good person deep down and perhaps that his ways of living and thinking were just either too far ahead of his time or just simply too much for others to digest. He has no online presence as far as I can tell or any clear indication that he is still out there in the world. I was recently getting the feeling like J might pop up on the street when I least expect it and I just couldn’t figure out why this was on my mind. I wrote this song in an attempt to make peace within myself since I felt the situation was too unresolved for me to move on from it.

As the record is completely performed live in single takes, please discuss the live set-up in the Sparkle and your conversations and concerns from the outset concerning the overall feel and sound you wanted to create? I presume the record ‘Midstory’ (David’s solo LP) provided a nice template and perspective when it came to returning together then as an official duo project (in this particular regard)?

PB: Believe or not, David and I actually recorded this whole album twice! Our original idea was to have someone else record it, with only one microphone. We went to Type Foundry studio in Portland, Oregon and recorded all 10 songs in a day . . . but we quickly realized we weren’t happy with the sound . . . partially due to the fact that we didn’t bother to listen back to the recording at all whilst working on it, and afterwards discovered that we weren’t happy with the volume balance between the two of us. So we resolved to re-record the whole thing out at my studio on the Oregon coast (The Sparkle). This time we set up two microphones, one for David’s voice and bass, one for my voice and violin. Again we recorded all 10 songs in a day, and then the next day mixed and mastered all the songs, all at The Sparkle. When mixing the album, we tried to keep it as dry and unaffected as possible, although both David and I have a soft spot for the Roland Chorus Echo out at The Sparkle, and couldn’t help ourselves from using this machine to add some subtle color to the sound. It’s true that David and I had already worked together on his album Midstory, so we were both quite comfortable working together in my studio . . . although the processes for these two records were vastly different.

DA: I started playing electric bass in middle school which eventually led to double bass when I was in high school/college. I am self-taught on the double bass so I definitely lack some proper techniques with the instrument but I still love to play it. The Allred & Broderick project was the first time I ever dedicated a whole project using the double bass, and it was also the first project that Peter fully dedicated himself to the violin, and we both very much enjoyed taking this approach. Capturing this music live with our voices and chosen string instruments was exceptionally enjoyable and refreshing especially after we both have been heavily invested in the technological side of music. It feels good to simply play music with another person away from the cables.

PB: Well, the violin was my first instrument. I started taking lessons at age seven I believe. But aside from a few pieces here and there over the years, the violin has never really been the central instrument to the music I’ve created. I always thought it would be great to one day work on a project in which the violin is the only instrument I use . . . so I was really happy to be able to do that with this project, especially having the low end of David’s bass to balance out the sound . . . not to mention his incredible musicality!

‘Find The Ways’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/erasedtapes/

 

Written by admin

July 4, 2017 at 8:36 pm

Step Right Up: High Plains

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The thin air, frigid temperatures and overwhelming feeling of remoteness definitely affect your mindset.”

High Plains

Words: Mark Carry

highplains

High Plains is the gifted duo of Loscil’s Scott Morgan and cellist Mark Bridges. Their debut album ‘Cinderland’ represents another jewel in the crown of the peerless Chicago independent label Kranky, following on from the techno bliss of Earthen Sea; Justin Walter’s innovative trumpet-based works and the soon-to-be-released scintillating debut from Sweden’s Demen.

The sublime title-track – and gorgeous album opener – ‘Cinderland’ ascends into divine neo-classical splendour as gentle ripples of piano is melded with achingly beautiful cello tapestries. Soon, delicate electronic textures permeate the headspace; drifting into the ether of shimmering seas. A prevailing darkness prevails on the ‘Blood That Ran the Rapids’ that creates a dense, cinematic atmosphere. The intricate layers of percussion, cello and enveloping frequencies of synthesizer drift far into the atmosphere. Space is the place. ‘The Dusk Pines’ – representing the beating heart of part A – recalls the likes of Iceland’s Hildur Guðnadóttir and the scorework of Nick Cave & Warren Ellis whereby instrumental music so lyrical, powerful and stunningly beautiful navigates the human heart. An achingly beautiful lament where fragile drone pulses are masterfully interwoven with the gradual bliss of strings.

A striking narrative – for which ties the empowering journey of ‘Cinderland’ together – continues on the dazzling ‘A White Truck’ (reminiscent of A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s ‘Iris’ score). The dynamic range and sheer intensity of this gripping odyssey brings forth a sense of wild desperation as white noise of synthesizers exudes the rawest of emotion. The rustic, pastoral tones of ‘Ten Sleep’ maps the vast, sprawling landscape of Wyoming – and beyond – with hypnotic rhythmic pulses and captivating piano patterns (fused together with Loscil’s distinctive drone flourishes). The rise on this piece could perhaps form the glorious epiphany of Cinderland’s resounding sonic exploration.

Sepia tinges of cello notes flicker onto the horizon of ‘Black Shimmer’ as the dusk light begins to fade upon us. The ethereal chime-like tones of Steinway piano on ‘Rushlight’ creates a dream-like voyage akin to vintage Boards of Canada. The closing ‘Song For A Last Night’ combines Loscil’s singular drone soundscapes together with Bridges’ deeply moving strings. Two musicians in deep dialogue with one another, who, in turn, create a vast sea of mesmeric soundscapes.

‘Cinderland’ is out now on Kranky.

https://www.facebook.com/highplainsss/

https://www.facebook.com/Kranky

hplains

Interview with High Plains (Scott Morgan and Mark Bridges).

 

Firstly, please take me back to how you first crossed paths with one another and your first musical collaboration, which would have been as part of the ADRIFT series? It’s obvious listening to ‘Cinderland’, just how suited your own individual musical language is to one another, and truly heightens every aspect when fused together.

High Plains: Thank you. We met in Banff while on individual residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts. We were randomly assigned as roommates and became friends which lead to working together on the loscil Adrift project. We later agreed to fully collaborate on a new project and ended up co-applying to the Brush Creek residency in Wyoming where Cinderland was created.

The recording sessions for ‘Cinderland’ feel as if they were soaked in inspiration: recording for two weeks in a remote spot in Wyoming. I’m sure the landscape and your physical surroundings during these 2 weeks must have found its way into the music? Can you recount your memories of these recording sessions? I wonder were these compositions mapped out in any way prior to the recording sessions?

HP: It was a very fluid and intuitive process. The physical place is quite sublime. It’s hard to not have it seep into your subconscious. The thin air, frigid temperatures and overwhelming feeling of remoteness definitely affect your mindset. The really rewarding thing about sinking yourself into a situation like this is there are very few distractions. Outside of exploring the natural landscape, there is very little to do. So working and creating became our focus. We didn’t map things out at all. We just started tinkering and sending ideas back and forth. We did some field recording, initial recordings of the cello and I slowly built up a palette of sounds. We fed each other harmonic ideas, built up some sound beds and then improvised a little to shape each piece.

It feels that so much ground is being covered – as these pieces unfold in such a bewitching way – that makes me feel (as a listener) that you were learning & discovering new perspectives and avenues when it came to the music-making process? For instance, the space that is created within the cello-based compositions by the ambient dimension the strings inhabit, creates this epic journey that is immediately striking and resonant.

HP: I think that’s quite accurate. There is definitely exploration taking place on Cinderland. In a certain sense, it’s a very experimental collection of music. Maybe not in the avant-garde sense, but in a personal way, trying to find our territory together, where our musical interests overlapped and where the boundaries were. I think once we found a boundary, we tried to push beyond it a bit and see where the music could go. Looking back, the points where things didn’t make a lot of sense actually became the most rewarding and expressive.

The title-track (and album opener) feels an integral part of the record. This neoclassical gem is such a deeply affecting and absorbing piece of music, with a cinematic quality shining throughout. I’d love for you to recount your memories of writing/recording this particular piece? Also, the beautiful piano part is magnificent. Was this a happy accident that you discovered a Steinway piano in the portable studio? 

HP: Cinderland was not the first piece we composed. If I remember correctly, The Dusk Pines was. In a way, The Dusk Pines better represents the genesis of the sound. Simple harmonic ideas that unfold very gently but contain a kind of shadowy edge to them. I think Cinderland probably was composed second or third after that and represents an attempt at improving the process a bit. The Steinway was indeed a happy accident. Such a beautiful piano and when it’s sitting there in the room it’s impossible to ignore. Neither of us are pianists per se but having access to a tuned concert piano in a schoolhouse in the middle of nowhere kind of calls out at you.

In terms of the portable studio set-up, I imagine this was quite a new situation you both found yourselves in? And in one way it may have felt you were in a residency there and seeing what music would be released when you were both staying there. In this way, did these tracks surprise you in any way? Also, please describe the landscape of Wyoming and how the landscape helped shape your sound? In this regard, I wonder how much of the album contains field recordings from the area?

Scott Morgan: The set up I brought is very close to my home studio set up. A computer, audio interface, monitors, microphones and MIDI controllers. It’s really all I’ve ever needed as loscil and I don’t have much of an extravagant set up to begin with. So I brought this and Mark brought some additional mic’s and his cello of course. He also brought an electric guitar and amp that we didn’t use on the recording. I brought my field recorder – just a little Sony hand-held. The most significant field recording that ended up on the record was the squeaking trees on Song for a Last Night. We were off on a walk in the woods on a rather blustery day and the tall trees (birch I think) were swaying in the wind and gently rubbing against each other creating this beautiful but creepy creaking sound. We mixed that into the final track.

‘Song For A Last Night’ is another divine composition and just love how one feels Loscil’s ambient bliss interwoven so delicately with Mark’s cello. One feels the stillness of night and the vast remote landscape of mountains (and love the water and field recordings embedded here…like a postcard to this town, if you will). Is there certain moments captured on the record you feel resonates most powerfully for you?

HP: When we approached the end of making this record, we would bounce the mixes down and put them on our phones and hike up to the nearby mountain peaks to listen. This was an unforgettable experience and listening to the album now transports us back to this moment. There was one particular day we were listening overlooking the valley below and a snowstorm broke out.  It was a striking moment.

I’m interested to learn how Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’ served significant inspiration for ‘Cinderland’. Please discuss the importance of this work and how you feel it found its way into the High Plains sonic sphere?

HP: We didn’t reference anything directly in terms of harmony or style but we were mutually drawn to the overt expression and underlying tragedy of Winterreise. There’s the narrative aspect of the song cycle that is both so extreme it’s almost comical but also just so devastating and heavy and lonely. The symbolism is overt yet strangely alluring. We were also attracted to the structure of the piece as a whole. In a way, a song cycle like Winterreise is a precursor to the “album”… i.e. a collection of works that is presented as a whole and represents some kind of story or journey. This is something we were both interested in – a collection of works presented as a whole that contain a loosely interwoven narrative.

Lastly, please discuss your current listening/reading (etc!) and what records you’re enjoying the most lately? 

SM: I’ve been reading Karl Ove Knausgård – Death in the Family.  Really incredible accounts of the author’s seemingly mundane life but put under a kind of microscope of honesty, rawness and detail. Highly recommended. A few albums I’ve enjoyed of late include Claire M Singer’s Solas, Anjou’s Epithymía, Lawrence English’s Cruel Optimism, Western Skies Motel Settlers & Sarah Davachi’s Dominions. 

‘Cinderland’ is out now on Kranky.

https://www.facebook.com/highplainsss/

https://www.facebook.com/Kranky

Written by admin

April 25, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Step Right Up: Botany

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We are delighted to premiere the beautiful new music video ‘Ory (Joyous Toil)’ by Austin’s Botany, taken from last year’s sublime ambient album ‘Deepak Verbera’ (released on the prestigious Western Vinyl imprint).

botany-1

 

Interview with Spencer Stephenson (Botany).

Deepak occupied a singular creative mental space for me that felt wholly different from anything I’d done before…”

Spencer Stephenson

 

Deepak Verbera’, the third LP by Austin’s Spencer Stephenson aka Botany, bends the beat-driven path carved by the composer’s first two records into free-form cosmic terrain, juxtaposing free jazz poly-rhythms, rich ambient textures and hypnotic psych-inflected harmonies. Following on from the more hip-hop oriented production of Botany’s first two records, ‘Deepak Verbera’ shows a master sound sculptor who ceaselessly blurs boundaries and pushes the sonic envelope.

 

 

 ‘Deepak Verbera’ is out now on Western Vinyl.

https://www.facebook.com/BotanyMusic/

https://botany.bandcamp.com/music

 

Interview with Spencer Stephenson (Botany).

 

Please talk me through the construction (or de-construction) of the utterly beguiling ambient exploration ‘Ory (Joyous Toil)’. For the recording itself, what was the equipment at your disposal?

Spencer Stephenson: A friend and former housemate of mine had come back from tour a few years ago with some cassette recordings of a harpist he had played a show with. He had asked her to play in some various keys and scales and recorded it through a handheld cassette player for the purpose of sampling, so I often pull from it to create beds of harp textures on my tracks. ‘Ory‘ begins with a sample of this tape being played on the piano roll in my DAW, jotted out in midi notes, kind of casio SK-1 style.

Everything else is laid out around that motif. It’s a very sonically full track but I don’t think there are more than a few layers, and the core structure consists only of those repeating chords created from the harp sample. Even with my vocal melody, I layered the same line over itself as opposed to creating a harmony. This song sounds maximal but is fairly minimal in its construction. It was one of the final tracks added to the album, and it felt like a breakthrough when I completed it. If the album is a face then this track is like the smile, or the human glint in its eyes. It makes the rest of the album connect with the listener, I feel.

I have some droning electric guitar that creates textural urgency and brings the song out of its softness, because I wanted most of this record to feel aggressively benevolent. The final element added was upright acoustic piano which I just plinked around on to create more texture billows, with the exception of the intro and outro chords. Despite how loose it seems to be, this track was the result of some level of deliberate sculpting to make everything feel both distinct and holistic at once. That’s why it has “Toil” in the title. The “Ory” part of it refers to Incredible String Band’s song Eyes of Fate which contains the line “echoes wholly only lonely, long before-y, ory, ory.” I mimick the final two words of that line softly in the background as a mantra.

One of the great hallmarks of your latest ‘Deepak Verbera’ LP is how the music is steeped in this cosmic sound world where an intense ambient dimension surrounds each creation. Can you discuss the making of ‘Deepak Verbera’ and the musical (or otherwise) influences you feel found its way into the overall sound?

SS: So on my album before ‘Deepak‘ I was juxtaposing straight ahead hip-hop production with heavy texturally-focused ambient exploration, really exploring how those two types of music could be made through the exact same means: samplers and record digging, DAWs, tape-recording, single-mic recording setups, etc. I turned in ‘Dimming Awe‘ and had this itch to keep going with the drum-less, spacey tendencies of it, so I hit the ground running and started working on ‘Deepak‘ before ‘Dimming Awe‘ was even mastered. ‘Deepak‘ occupied a singular creative mental space for me that felt wholly different from anything I’d done before and as a result it’s still my favorite in my discography. It felt like I had finally gained the confidence and palette to be able to put out something so freeform and uncensored, and I had been slowly stepping further out on that limb in the years before making this record.

I continue to be fervent about the idea that drone-y or contemplative music is not apolitical, and ‘Deepak Verbera‘ is an expression of that. In the American consciousness a lot of spiritually-leaning music, and contemplative spirituality in general, seems to have an association of passivity, or calmness, or something relegated to yoga studios and massage parlors. That, to me, shows a disappointing lack of imagination. In an era of sensory overload and cultural loudness, there’s nothing more anti-authority than turning down and coaxing the listener into introspection. There’s plenty of self-centeredness to go around, but self-awareness is overlooked. And I think that cosmic or spiritual perspectives can sometimes feel brutalizing, humbling, and scathing, and transcendent at the same time. So with ‘Deepak‘ I wanted to make a record that was at once both peaceful and turbulent. Elevating and unseating at the same time.

Some of the spiritual jazz that arose after John Coltrane’s death seemed to imply a similar motive, so people like Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane are obvious touchstones. The recent Ariel Kalma retrospective that RVNG put out also had a direct effect. I came of age during a time when hippie-ness was kind of re-appropriated and folded into freak folk and the New Weird America movement, and underground music became this weird Bush-era version of the late 60’s and early 70’s. There seemed to be an unapologetic leap into rambling freeform and improv within that paradigm that has been stitched permanently into my musical quilt.

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I’d love to gain an insight into your approach to making the more hip-hop oriented sound of your previous works under the alias of Botany? Can you talk me through the process by which you splice different segments and elements together and how you feel you have learned and developed as a producer in this regard?

SS: That style of production is my first love, musically. It’s my default mode in a lot of ways. I started out writing full arrangements on guitar as a kid, and making a song out of samples feels no different to me, in fact its more fulfilling. I choose which elements of what I’m sampling fit best into a song, the same way I’d select chords or tones as a guitarist, and rhythms as a drummer. I rarely feel that I’m sampling something that’s outside of my own capability to play on any instrument with the exception of horns or strings. To me, sampling is about a wider curation process than traditional musicianship can provide. The timbrel, textural, and tonal array of sampling opens itself up far beyond what anything that a single instrumentalist can do on his or her own in a bedroom. Hip-hop is the most forward thinking genre in that regard, especially 90’s hip-hop when the MPC was the be-all-end-all.

So when I sit down to make a track I usually operate through those methods, even though I’m doing it outside of an MPC. It begins a lot of times by programming drums or rhythms and then building around that. I have a huge archive of loops and samples that I’ve created, but I usually sample from something outside of my archive when I’m working on new stuff. It all comes from various sources– vinyl, cassette, personal recordings, film, whatever.

I also begin a lot of projects around some interesting loop I’ve found, which is probably true for a lot of producers. Lately I’ve been into the vibe of manipulating one tiny sound, or a congruent stack of sounds, and taking it out of context, bending and pitching it around and having that process be the core of the track itself without need of structure or meter.

Please recount your memories of growing up in Texas and your musical upbringing. Your curiosity with many facets of sound and using sources and playing varied instruments must have stemmed from your adolescence I presume?

SS: Yeah, so I grew up in an area that was pretty lush and undeveloped, and I realize as I grow older that that was hugely influential. My father is also a musician, and my mother had good taste in music and was a careful listener, I remember showing her Four Tet’s album Rounds and hearing her later refer to him as a genius, so that says something about her ear. That combination of environment and musical enthusiasm made me into a musician. I have a deeply imprinted memory of being at home one rainy Friday afternoon in sixth grade. My dad and brother shared this bass guitar and amplifier in a room in the back of our house that had a big wall-wide window on one side. After noodling around on the bass I laid it down on the floor and ran one finger over the open strings for about an hour. Just “G, D, E, A” repeatedly for about an hour while I looked out the window at foliage dripping in the rain. I think that’s the moment when I realized that music doesn’t have to be in song form, that it can be an investigation into sound itself.

I grew up in a small town outside of Fort Worth, Texas so the pool of musicians was fairly small. There was a period where I was participating in other bands, mostly playing metal and whatever they were into, but the whole time I had this vision for a really exploratory, rhythm-heavy sound that had nothing to do with any of that. I got old enough to have interest in my parents’ vinyl collection so I started listening to folks of their generation like Nick Drake, Billy Cobham, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix who had always been a part of my life but who I’d started to fully appreciate around then.

My older brother was also making Drum & Bass and I really took to LTJ Bukem and Roni Size.  It was all of this stuff together at a very formative age. That stuff demonstrated how electronic music was made. But through the older music I started to make the connection that this is what hip-hop was sampling, this was what hip-hop came out of in a sense. I was really honing in on Jay Dee’s production on Common’s “Like Water For Chocolate” of all things. That’s such a defining album for me because of its conceptual through-line and its interludes, hidden tracks, and jazz nods. It really played with and utilized the full-length format, weaving in and out of amazing singles with these really exploratory easter-eggs that rewarded patient listening.

A lot of my youth was spent being just that, a patient listener in an isolated headspace separated from the goings-on of my peers because of having a different musical vision than them. Almost no one else in my town really “got” the music I was interested in, so I ended up making it alone. I resented it at the time, but I appreciate my path now. I didn’t realize how much it forced me to follow my idea of what I thought music was supposed to be.

Lastly, please pick your most cherished psychedelic and jazz records from your collection. Would you have certain defining records that for you, you must always come back to?

SS: I definitely have some staples in my collection. The older I get the harder it is to fully cherish anything outside of those staples, there’s so much music being released, but I keep my ear open with some focused effort. On the psychedelic tip, which I consider to be very broad, I’ve been regularly listening to these records for years, most for about a decade:

Iasos – Inter-Dimensional Music

Colleen – Everyone Alive Wants Answers

NEU! – s/t

Broadcast & The Focus Group – Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age / HaHa Sound

JK & Company – Suddenly One Summer

Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter / The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion

Semya – Golden Days

Windy & Carl – Consciousness

Can – Tago Mago / Future Days

As far as jazz stuff goes, in no order or chronology:

Herbie Hancock – Mwandishi

Pharoah Sanders – Thembi

Don Cherry – Organic Music Society

Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil

David Axelrod – Song of Innocence (didn’t know whether to put this under psych or jazz)

Alice Coltrane – Huntington Ashram Monastery

John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

Weather Report – s/t (1971)

Art Ensemble of Chicago – People in Sorrow

 ‘Deepak Verbera’ is out now on Western Vinyl.

https://www.facebook.com/BotanyMusic/

https://botany.bandcamp.com/music

 

 

Written by admin

March 7, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Step Right Up: Matt Robertson

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Interview with Matt Robertson.

There’s just something about the way analogue sounds can develop over time that really fascinates me.”

—Matt Robertson.

Words: Mark Carry

matt-robertson-portrait

Matt Robertson is a composer, synthesist, and producer, working with a collection of vintage, modern and DIY synths, and combining electronic music production with classical composition and cinematic soundscapes.

My first introduction to Robertson’s synth-based explorations came in the form of Cillian Murphy’s guest mix, which featured the gradual bliss of synthesizers in the ambient tour-de-force ‘Urdu’ (appropriately) sandwiched between Brian Eno and Holly Herndon.

The studio album ‘In Echelon’ showcases a gifted producer at the peak of his powers, effortlessly encompassing techno, ambient and modern classical realms of sound (think Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins and Kiasmos). In addition to his body of solo work, the UK composer has been the Musical Director for Bjork, Cinematic Orchestra and Antony Hegarty as well as working with Lamb, Emiliana Torrini and Bat For Lashes.

‘In Echelon’ is out now on Tape Club Records.

https://mattrobertson.bandcamp.com/music

http://www.onesevenfive.com/

 

Interview with Matt Robertson.

Congratulations on the incredible solo record ‘In Echelon’. One of the great hallmarks of ‘In Echelon’ is the masterful fusion of organic and synthetic elements and what forms is this stunningly beautiful and expansive envelope of divine soundscapes. Please take me back to the making of your latest solo venture and the recording itself of these nine glorious compositions? I wonder did you have some primary aims or concerns from the outset as to what sonic terrain you wanted to venture down?

Matt Robertson: Thanks a lot for your kind words! From the outset, the idea was that this was a record that I could ‘perform’. What that actually means in terms of electronic music in 2016 is a bit of a grey area, but that was a general goal. The side effects of that meant that a lot of the ideas I was coming up with were things that could happen “real time” and not rely too much on playback systems when I did live shows. Ultimately, I ended up with a fusion of some things being triggered for playback on my live shows, but at least that was a creative direction when I started out!

I was also trying to have a constant sense of some kind of instability with the compositions, sometimes in terms of the individual sounds, but more so in the harmonic progressions. I have this goal of making things that could be totally happy or totally sad at the same time, depending on how the listener wants to frame it. I try and make the harmony a little ambiguous.

I am a fan of analogue synths, and some of the inherent instability of those instruments seems to lend itself well to the sounds I was trying to make. I was also really trying to focus of the theme of Surveillance. This idea that we are under scrutiny all of time, but somehow, we are either unaware of it, or apathetic to it. For me this creates a sense of ambiguity about everything. Who we should trust, what news sites we should read, what we choose to send in an email or not. That was the general theme of all of these tracks – that sense of uncertainty and ambiguity.

A dichotomy of mood, atmosphere and colour all flicker across the record. A dark undercurrent underpins ‘In Echelon’ yet a serene beauty beautifully hangs in the ether. Do you have particular processes or recording techniques when it comes to firstly creating the electronic components of the music and secondly, the organic and classical composition side to the musical oeuvre, so to speak? I’m intrigued to learn at what point do both these worlds collide and blend together? For these tracks, what would often form the starting point?

MR: For a track like ‘In Echelon’ I started with the piano elements and worked backwards. The slightly instable mood of the piano inspired a lot of the other sounds on that track, basically I mess with stuff until I come across a combination of parts that I hope always pushes the track in the direction it needs to go. The long drone note throughout the piece was a kind of accident, I think it was stuck notes on my Oberheim Xpander, but happily when I left it in there all the way through it ties together the first and second halves of the track.

Strangely, the whole intro section was also inspired by some visuals I was putting together for a show. A friend of mine found these great high speed images of colours dispersing in water, and the way he cut them together meant that I reworked the intro and made it much more sparse to make more sense with the visuals!

As the track develops it lands in its root key and just does a bit of a wig out to the end – which was an excuse to use a really old VCS3 that was lent to me for a short while. So, all in all, a combination of lots of approaches and ideas, lots of elements inspiring other elements. Definitely not a linear process!

The title-track feels like an integral part to the record, and I just love how the electronic layers continually build momentum and there are all these immaculate analogue synthesizer elements soaring across the atmosphere. Can you talk me through the construction of this particular track? Also, I assume the layering of tracks can also be big challenge whilst retaining to the vital components you need for a track to fully evolve, on its own terms? For instance, I feel there is a beautiful minimalism and sort of restraint at work throughout that creates such a compelling voyage.

MR: This track in particular came about from a perspective of live performance. I put it together on an Elektron Analog Keys synth, which has a 4-track sequencer. So, there are 4 main elements, and a lot of the time, they do the same thing over and over, but by constantly tweaking the elements of the sounds on those four tracks, you can get a good build happening. So, it’s not so much about layering more and more stuff, but more about leaving the parts the same and changing the sounds of those parts to get the build. The iPad app Animoog was key to this one as well, quite late in the day I was messing around on Animoog and came up with this air raid siren melody which became key to the whole track.

So, I can keep the bass line going with my left hand, play the iPad with my right hand, and bring in some other parts like the drums and apreggiators on the sequencer. 90% of the album version was taken from a live recording I did of this track, and then I tweaked the mix a little and made it a bit shorter! There’s also a little piano on this track. I have a really old piano that I love – it has this really mellow tone that gels really nicely with some of the analogue synths, and adds a more organic flavour I hope.

Can you discuss your love of analogue gear and the synthesizer(s) at your disposal for ‘In Echelon’? Please discuss your love and fascination with the older synths and the range of possibilities you see with analogue? I’m sure you have been slowly amassing quite a collection of gear and parts over time?

MR: Yeah for me, there’s a lot of magic in the old synths! Although I also have been getting really into the new side of analogue with the Eurorack modular explosion in the last 5 years or so. For me its two-fold. Firstly, there’s the sound. But secondly and for me I think more importantly, it’s how you make and perform with that sound. For the most part, there are no presets, so you are starting pretty much from scratch each time, and also the infinite control and tiny degrees of tweakability over the sounds means that for me analogue is still king! (having said that, the Elektron stuff does have presets, and that’s a huge bonus for live stuff).

I have always been able to lose hours of my life listening to two oscillators with varying detune amounts from unison. It’s a sad fact… but there it is. There’s just something about the way analogue sounds can develop over time that really fascinates me. I try to have elements of that in most of my tracks. The tiniest amount of pitch change of one element of a big patch can make a huge difference to the sound, and given the opportunity to listen, I think we are really sensitive to tiny changes in sound. There’s something intriguing about things changing really slowly.

‘Flight’ represents the beating heart of this mesmerising record (the closing orchestral section is perhaps the album’s gorgeous crescendo). The soft, angelic piano tones beautifully drift amidst the electronic bleeps and noise, conjuring up the timeless sound of Germany’s Nils Frahm and UK’s Chris Clark. Can you recount for me the writing of ‘Flight’? It feels like some considerable time must be poured into the creation of a compositions such as this. Furthermore, what is the writing process like for you and would your compositional approach vary depending on the context? 

MR: Yeah this was a journey! The orchestral element came from a love of string writing and also a desire to wrap that into a more electronic sound-world in a way that made sense to me. I wanted to create a feeling of escaping, or trying to escape, but never quite getting there. The Strings at the end try and resolve that idea, but again never quite get there, which I hope leaves a slightly unsettling feeling, even though there is some beauty as well (?)

The writing process for me is pretty slow. I have to leave something for a while and come back to it to try and have some sense of perspective. I don’t think you really can get any perspective unless you leave it for probably about a year and then come back, but then it would take a really long time to put a record out! I also wanted to create a bit of a journey with this one, so when you get to the end, you’re not quite sure how you got there from the beginning. Maybe….

Collaboration is another important part in your wonderful musical life, having worked in the role as Musical Director for luminaries such as Bjork, Anthony Hegarty and Cinematic Orchestra. Please discuss the art of collaboration and how you work on projects such as these? The sum of these experiences must provide such profound musical developments for you?

MR: Totally yes! I have been lucky and privileged to work with artists that I have admired and respected since I was a kid, and it’s difficult to over-estimate what an impact that has had (and still does have) on how I work on my own projects, and how I work with other people. The people you mention are so far ahead of me in terms of their approach to composition and general artistry. But it’s amazing how much you can learn from being fortunate enough to spend some time in these artist’s aura. One of the main things is how incredibly focused they all are on their own direction, their own statement. I find it so easy to get tied up with comparing my work to that of others – “is this progression as good as x’s” or “is this mix as good as y’s” – but somehow the really great artists I have worked for don’t put emphasis on that because the honesty and integrity of their own thing outweighs any of those concerns. Well – that’s my interpretation anyway!

Lastly, what have you been listening to the most of late? What are your plans for 2017?   

MR: Well – I’m writing more stuff – so lots of listening to detuned oscillators!

‘In Echelon’ is out now on Tape Club Records.

https://mattrobertson.bandcamp.com/music

http://www.onesevenfive.com/

Written by admin

January 24, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Step Right Up: Christopher Tignor

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Interview with Christopher Tignor.

“But there is another question to be asked for people who want to ask which is ‘What is in the music itself and what is it about how these notes go together that specifically creates this experience or feeling now that another piece of music changes or creates a different experience?

—Christopher Tignor.

Words: Mark Carry

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Christopher Tignor is a composer, violinist and software engineer. Last year saw the gifted musician’s utterly captivating full-length release ‘Along A Vanishing Plane’ gracefully emerge into the earth’s atmosphere, released on the ever-dependable U.S. label Western Vinyl. In a similarly hypnotic spell as Canadian violinist Sarah Neufeld’s 2016 opus ‘The Ridge’, Tignor’s shape-shifting compositions gradually unfold a rare beauty that is forever embedded deep within the string-based liturgies of deep meaning and truth.

The ambitious scope of Tignor’s latest musical musings represents one of the great hallmarks of ‘Along A Vanishing Plane’. As Tignor has previously explained: “The music is first and foremost about what can be done together, live in a room, to both transcend and reclaim ourselves from the noise of public living.” On the deep catharsis of ‘Shapeshifting’ (featuring tuning forks employed as musical instruments) or the mesmeric ebb and flow of ‘Artefacts of Longing’s three enthralling movements, one feels an awakening or moreover, an epiphany – an insight into the essential meaning of something previously unknown or buried beneath uncertainty – illuminate like burning embers of an everlasting flame. The ten compositions captured on ‘Along A Vanishing Plane’ inhabits a vast space that, in turn, enables the string-based odysseys to transcend the very space – and time – in which the sonic patterns ceaselessly orbit.

‘Along A Vanishing Plane’ is out now on Western Vinyl.

http://www.wiresundertension.com/

http://westernvinyl.com/

christopher-tignor

Interview with Christopher Tignor.

Firstly, I’d love for you to discuss the innovative software you have created for the new album ‘Along A Vanishing Plane’?

Christopher Tignor: I’m happy to talk about the software. For me, it’s an important thing to share with the world, just like the music. I give it away and I like other people to use it and it’s an important part of my creative output. So, the idea behind the software is that I need to always be playing instruments with my hands – including the drums and violin – I don’t have time to be touching the computer. The computer is on the floor, I never touch it during the performance during the songs at all and I need to able to control all the sounds and I want to be able to do everything gesturally so I don’t want any pre-recorded material. I want to be able to kick a drum or play the violin or do something physical and control the flow of time through the music by triggering other sounds by playing actual instruments.

So, that’s the underlying idea behind it and so there is several pieces of software that I use that all run inside Abelton, they’re devices that you can use for Abelton. And what they let you do is trigger other sounds, in my case I use a trigger on the kick drum and that allows me to play essentially other sounds when I’m playing the kick drum and I can also take my violin and the software lets me configure very specifically auto tune harmonizers that create harmonies that shift independently with my violin playing. So, it’s all made live out of my playing and the software lets you control very specifically how all your physical gestures translate into the rest of the music.

So, the kick drum acts as a cue for you to progress into the next stage of the music?

CT: That’s a good way to think of it. Essentially there is a score programmed in the computer so each time you kick the drum it’ll essentially play a sound which is taken from that score. So you can control the time and how fast you move and you can pause and wait and can be completely flexible with how you are moving through the score. It takes the ability to be able to create a score and to be able to score out your work to some extent.

I know you already touched on it but I love the extra instrumentation; those extra flourishes to the violin itself – those bells that feel like chimes for instance – are dotted beautifully around the album.

CT: Well those are very important for me because they are artefacts of this process that I think of as creating these different rituals. And the bell-like effects – and there’s lots of different bells that you’re hearing like triangles and metal percussion and a hi hat and a tambourine and I have a pastor bell – those really have a beautiful resonant quality which helps evoke this sort of ritual; it’s like the beginning of a ritual every time you sound them.

‘The Artefacts of Longing’ is a very important piece on the album and particularly love how there are three different parts. I wonder was this composition one long piece in your head first and then afterwards you realized it would be three distinct pieces?

CT: I think it was the former, I mean I had in my head that I wanted to do a long form multi-movement work as part of the album. I had started writing this body of music by creating the shorter works, the first work I wrote was ‘Arrow In The Dark’ and then I wrote ‘Shape Shifting’ for tuning fork and I knew I wanted to push myself making longer multi-movement work – something I’ve done on other albums in the past – but I’ve never tried to do anything like that solo and so I wanted to take on the challenge and to make a multi-movement work that was compelling across three parts but just one man playing it. I had some various ideas, bits of music I often shelve if they don’t fit into a piece that I’m working on – I’ll be writing a piece, some part or act of some melody or section will show up if it doesn’t work I will have to shelve it – and so I had some things on the shelf which I knew would work possibly well together.

And so the process for me began with looking at some of these parts like the very beginning of the third movement where I’m playing this counterpoint, essentially with no percussion that has a very Bachian or Baroque quality to it and I had already written this previously and I could never find a home for it, it’s truly one of my favourite things to play on the record and I knew I had to get it in somewhere. So, I had these departure points like that and then the question for me was how to navigate from one point to the other and that process was of course very challenging. The composition’s very much the art of can I get there from here. I knew I wanted to make a multi-movement work and I had these touchstones, I would say.

I feel there is a lovely parallel between your own work and Sarah Neufeld’s music and Colin Stetson too, there’s very much like a unique voice that speaks very strongly throughout.

CT: Well I mean they are some very strong and compelling artists and it’s nice to be in such great company in your mind, you know.

In a way, ‘Along A Vanishing Plane’ is very much a performance record like you mentioned already, there’s this need to play in real-time? I also loved the idea how you had the album available as a visual or film, which was a lovely idea and another perspective to see the music unfolding.

CT: I’m glad you enjoyed that. For us it became pretty clear early on when I was thinking even of how to make the music that it was going to have to be made all live, I wouldn’t be able to make overdubs for this music even if I wanted to because there is so much free time and space, it would be way too hard to try and catch it at the right time on the second time around, you know what I mean. It became clear even when recording the audio thing, it would have to be really a live performance and so we went as far as we could with that idea and said that if it was going to be more or less live, why not just record it on video and really show the process and really bring people in to that experience.

You have done so much in your own career being involved in so many different projects you’re involved in. In addition, you have a pHD in Composition, I’d be interested to learn what exactly this study involves?

CT: Technically my advisor hasn’t actually finished my dissertation so I actually don’t have my pHD in Composition yet but that’ll be happening very soon [laughs]. I can only speak for my experience at Princeton where I went but typically it involves really trying to understand the nuts and bolts of how music works and we all love to appreciate music and spend a lot of time listening to it and hopefully think deeply about how we feel and our own response to music. But there is another question to be asked for people who want to ask which is ‘What is in the music itself and what is it about how these notes go together that specifically creates this experience or feeling now that another piece of music changes or creates a different experience?’ So, really getting into the nuts and bolts of how music works is a fascinating thing for me, to really understand this and of course it’s valuable from a compositional perspective.

It’s also really fun and exciting to see that it’s not magic; they’re very nuanced and complicated and they’re very subtle and it’s a very beautiful combination of elements that create these feelings that we relish when we hear music. If you spend time looking at the scores of a lot of music and listening to a lot of music and playing to a lot of music and dissecting it like you would any scientific inquiry where you try to take a problem apart into smaller pieces and examine the components and how they work together, you can get a perspective on music which is very rewarding. I think the program as a whole is trying to give you that perspective; that’s a different perspective than the one you have when you just write music and play music. It’s a more analytical perspective, which is a different but beautiful and complimentary way to think about music.

You have done a considerable work with regard to live sound and I’m sure you must have very fond memories of doing live sound for so many great bands?

CT: For a lot of the same reasons that I love to play live and live performance has been so important to me in my work, doing live sound was always appealing to me from an early age. I was lucky enough to hustle my way into some really great situations in my early twenties and seeing really good rock bands and working with some really good sound engineers at CBGBs and places like that and literally understanding the art and craft of being a live sound engineer. The thing about the live sound engineer is there is no music until it passes through his hands, he’s the last one to touch it so it’s really a very useful and critical part of the live experience is this engineering part. I definitely try to remember that in my own work when I’m working with elements of mixing and in this modern world where electronic music is part almost of every music – it’s just another element in almost all forms of music now – I think those sorts of sensibilities are really, really important.

 In terms of the recording of the album, you had quite a simple set-up in the sense that there was quite a minimal framework you were working from?

CT: Yeah, it’s pretty old school. We just went into a room which we knew sounded really good, I played violin acoustically when we were checking it out and it sounded really good for the violin and it looked really good because we knew we wanted to film it. It was very old school, setting up mics in the room and putting them in the right spot and then getting three video cameras in there and letting that team do their thing. So, it was really fun because the recording studio process – the normal process – can be very antiseptic: close micing everything and doing one track at a time and collaging everything together and this was really like creating an installation and that process in my mind is much more rewarding than trying to go in and micro-manage all the individual little tracks. The thing about the live recording experience is that it really lives or dies in how prepared you are as a musician because you can’t be doing over-dubs or anything so you really have to do a lot of preparation in advance. I think that can come through the music though, the fact that you are so prepared that the music isn’t just pieced together from little parts, I think that can really come through the music if you let it.

Do you have plans for the live show and will you be trying out new approaches to some of these pieces?

CT: Well all the music came out of playing live, I played it live for quite some time before I went to the recording session in order to prepare for it. I worked on the pieces over a long time by playing them out and seeing what works and tweaking them in the studio and going back and forth. This music was certainly born live and existed live before we recorded for quite a while. I mean the live show sounds very close to the record, it sounds almost identical to what you would hear on the album. There are certainly times live when I make changes – relatively subtle changes – to the performance but they’re mostly in terms of the decay of the room, the reverb in the room, there’s a lot of times where I would play a phrase, like in ‘Arrow In The Dark’ where I would play a melody and let it decay in the room before I move on. Or even the first track ‘We Keep This Flame’, I’ll play this first phrase and I’ll let it linger in the room so the pacing and the flow of it is completely unique because it is live and I have that luxury to do that. But the compositions themselves as a whole are essentially finished as far as I am concerned and I’m really just pushing forward now with writing new music for this set so that may include other elements as well as I push into new compositional territory.

What have you been listening to lately?

CT: This is funny because it’s not too far from your part of the world but the thing I like to listen to often on weekends is Cork Sacred Harp Singers. So, there is a collection of shape-note singers from Cork called The Sacred Harp Singers and they have a youtube channel, which is absolutely brilliant and as far as I’m concerned, I could listen to this all-day long. I consider it as such an amazing way to make music not only is the music really moving and I think listening to a lot of that really seeped in to some of the more liturgical pieces on the record, some of the more choral pieces that I played. It’s just fantastic because it really is like a DIY and in my mind, a real punk way to make music because you’re not a trained singer; this is for people who aren’t trying to be professional virtuoso singers, it’s about music that is rooted in people’s lives and is a real active part of their life. Now I’m certainly not a religious person at all – I’m a staunch agnostic – I can completely identify and respect and relish the inclusion of music in people’s lives in a way where it’s really tied in with core values and you can see that in the way they make music if you look at the way the leader is conducting in tune with his hands, it’s really fantastic and the energy is palpable and it call comes from the unbelievably genuine communal place. It’s inspiring.

‘Along A Vanishing Plane’ is out now on Western Vinyl.

http://www.wiresundertension.com/

http://westernvinyl.com/

Written by admin

January 10, 2017 at 8:31 pm