FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E09 | September mix

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Australian-born composer and songwriter Carla dal Forno’s eagerly-anticipated new material comes in the form of “The Garden”, a 12” for UK’s Blackest Ever Black, due for release on October 6th and folow-up to her sublime debut full-length “You Know What It’s Like”. Dal Forno is also a member of the trio F ingers (alongside Samuel Karmel and Tarquin Manek) who release their second LP, “Awkwardly Blissing Out”, this month. Recorded in Melbourne and Berlin between 2015–17, the album is the follow-up to the trio’s 2015 debut album “Hide Before Dinner”. Dal Forno’s own mixes (originally made for Berlin Community Radio while residing in the German capital; she now compiles monthly hour-long shows for NTS Radio) are always an indispensable source for music (Circuit 7’s “Eastern Dreams” from our September mixtape is one such example).

The forever-inspiring Chicago-based artist Circuit des Yeux (Haley Fohr) releases her magnificent fifth studio album “Reaching For Indigo” on U.S. independent Drag City on 20th October. Unveiled so far is the mesmerising new single “Black Fly” which confirms Fohr as one of independent music’s most singular voices and fascinating contemporary music-makers.

Anthology Recordings – Mexican Summer’s reissue imprint – release the majestic compilation “Feel The Music Vol. 1” next month. Compiled by Paul Major – pioneering record dealer and frontman of the band Endless Boogie – this truly special record effortlessly spans sounds and styles (folk, psychedelia, blues, rock n roll) while unearthing a plethora of truly unique (and largely unknown to wider audiences) songwriters from a golden age of music.

September’s mix also features new releases from possibly the year’s most anticipated pair of albums which come courtesy of both Four Tet (“New Energy”, Text) and Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Constellation). Electronic maestro Four Tet and his monumental “New Energy” album (available via his Text imprint from 29th September); Montréal’s mythical Godspeed You! Black Emperor unleash their sublime seventh album “Luciferian Towers” via Constellation which confirm the band (as if confirmation was ever necessary) as one of the world’s most ceaselessly innovative and breathtaking bands.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E09 | September mix

 

To listen on La Blogothèque:

http://www.blogotheque.net/2017/09/29/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s02e09-september-mix/

 

01. Godspeed You! Black Emperor“Fam/Famine” (Constellation)
02. Dungen“Achmed Flyger” (Version 1) (Versions by Prins Thomas) (Smalltown Supersound)
03. James Holden & The Animal Spirits“Each Moment Like The First” (Border Community)
04. Circuit des Yeux“Black Fly” (Drag City)
05. Forest Swords“Raw Language” (Ninja Tune)
06. Yasuaki Shimizu“Seiko 1” (Crammed Discs)
07. Ariel Pink“Feels Like Heaven” (Mexican Summer)
08. The Smiths“The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” (Rough Trade)
09. Arthur Russell“Get Around To It” (Rough Trade, Audika)
10. Nausea“No Conversation” (Ecstatic)
11. Circuit 7“Eastern Dreams” (Minimal Wave)
12. Carla dal Forno“The Garden” (Blackest Ever Black)
13. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith“To Feel Your Best” (Western Vinyl)
14. Richard Horowitz“Eros Never Stops Dreaming” (RVNG Intl)
15. F Ingers“Your Confused” (Blackest Ever Black)
16. Geinoh Yamashirogumi“Kaneda” (Akira OST, Milan)
17. Sanza“Sounout” (Original Mix) (Music For Dreams)
18. Burial“Rodent” (Hyperdub)
19. Four Tet“Scientists” (Text)
20. Actress & London Contemporary Orchestra“Audio Track 5” (Ninja Tune)
21. Carmen Villain“Red Desert” (Smalltown Supersound)
22. Blue Iverson“Who Shot Lucious Lyon?” (Self-Released)
23. Darius“I Feel The Need To Carry On” (Anthology Recordings)
24. Bill Mackay & Ryley Walker“Dragonfly” (Drag City)
25. Ry Cooder“I Knew These People” (excerpt) (Paris Texas OST, Warner Bros.)
26. Sun Kil Moon“Si, Paloma” (Caldo Verde)

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

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

First Listen: “Black Fly” by Circuit des Yeux

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We are delighted to host the mesmerizing new single “Black Fly” by the singular Chicago-based artist Circuit des Yeux. This cathartic tour-de-force is taken from Haley Fohr’s eagerly awaited fifth studio album “Reaching For Indigo” available on 20th October 2017 via Drag City.

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On the meditative and mesmerizing new single ‘Black Fly’, Haley Fohr’s empowering voice unleashes a kind of catharsis like no other (a trusted constant which has only heightened with each of Fohr’s five spellbinding full-length albums under the Circuit des Yeux moniker). Beginning with angelic, hushed tones – soft strum of acoustic guitar and Fohr’s fragile, whisper-like voice – Fohr sings “Nobody said it was easy”.  The timeless spirit of Leonard Cohen radiates throughout these opening verses as intricate arrangements of immaculate instrumentation is gradually interwoven beneath Fohr’s singular voice. The song’s glorious rise – as Fohr’s achingly beautiful falsetto soars majestically beneath gorgeous strings – creates a purging of the rawest of human emotions as a catharsis is emitted like rays of shimmering light. “You’re not the dark star they want you to be/You’re just a black dot in the sky” Fohr cries over distorted noise and thundering drums signalling the dichotomy of worlds the listener becomes beautifully engulfed by; the radiant light of hope and depths of darkness.

 

 

 

Song from “Reaching for Indigo” LP/CD, available on October 20, 2017 from Drag City.

Imagery by Julia Dratel
Processing by Nick Ciontea

Pre-order “Reaching for Indigo”:
Drag City
http://www.dragcity.com/products/reaching-for-indigo
Apple iTunes
http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1264016548

“Reaching for Indigo” LP/CD, is available on October 20, 2017 from Drag City.

https://www.facebook.com/CircuitdesYeux/
https://www.facebook.com/dragcityrecords/

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September 18, 2017 at 3:29 pm

First Listen: ‘Crystal Palace’ by Fadi Tabbal

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We are delighted to premiere ‘Crystal Palace’ by renowned Lebanese artist Fadi Tabbal, taken from the forthcoming full-length release ‘Museum of Disappearing Buildings’ co-released by Portland’s Beacon Sound and Lebanese label Ruptured.

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The prestigious Portland-based label Beacon Sound are co-releasing an album by Beirut artist Fadi Tabbal on 6th October 2017 with Lebanese label Ruptured. The Lebanese musician, producer and sound engineer Fadi Tabbal’s work consists of guitar-based drone soundscapes fused with utterly transcendent ambient flourishes. ‘Crystal Palace’ is the sublime closing piece to Tabbal’s newest solo release (which is limited to 300 vinyl copies).

Fadi has been central to the Beirut music scene for the last decade, running Tunefork Studios and playing in multiple groups. Museum Of Disappearing Buildings is his second solo album and first release to appear on vinyl. It is an album of ambient guitar drones and grainy electronics that reflects the precarious political and social environment of Beirut while also being inspired by the impossible structures of Russian paper architects Brodsky and Utkin. He is featured in the book Local Music Scenes and Globalization: Transnational Platforms in Beirut by Thomas Burkhalter (Routledge; 2013), which advocates against Euro-American centrism in the realm of music in favor of a ‘multi-sited global avant garde’. This is the first collaboration between Beacon Sound (Portland) and Ruptured (Beirut).

 

Fadi will also perform live with fellow Beirut musician Munma in Berlin on November 4th 2017 at the 3rd iteration of A Happening, co-curated by Beacon Sound.

The Portland-based label have released a diverse range of internationally-renowned artists: Terry Riley, Colleen, Peter Broderick, Johann Johannsson, Lucrecia Dalt, Gareth Dickson and many more. Forthcoming releases include upcoming albums by Benoit Pioulard and Lau Nau, as well as a repress of minimalist-piano classic The Book Of Sounds by German composer Hans Otte.

‘Museum of Disappearing Buildings’ is out on 6th October 2017 via Beacon Sound and Ruptured (Pre-order HERE).

http://www.faditabbal.com/

http://www.wearebeaconsound.com/

http://www.rupturedonline.com

Written by admin

September 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E08 | August mix

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August’s mixtape features a pair of tracks from This Is How We Fly’s eagerly-anticipated second album “Foreign Fields”, due for release on 15th September 2017. The four-piece comprise the renowned musicians: Petter Berndalen (drums), Nic Gareiss (percussive dance), Seán Mac Erlaine (clarinets, electronics) and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (hardanger d’amore fiddles). Hailing from Ireland, Sweden and USA, the quartet draw upon a rich tapestry of sounds and traditions, drawing upon the raw energy and rich dynamism of jazz and its true spirit of improvisation, together with traditional music’s eternal affinity and appreciation for honing and perfecting one’s craft. “Foreign Fields” is a joy to behold, its soul-stirring music navigates new sonic terrain while continually pushing its four composers to reach for new heights, forever onwards and upwards for this most inventive and mythical of bands.

UK producer James Holden’s “The Inheritors” (Border Community, 2013) was one of this century’s finest records, an album for modern times created by one of the most consistently innovative and singular artists making music today. With the announcement that it’s long-awaited follow-up, “The Animal Spirits” (due for release on 3rd November once again via Holden’s own Border Community label), it is bound to rise to the surface on many an end-of-year lists come December. The album (described as “synth-led folk-trance standards”) features Holden’s newly assembled group of “fellow travellers”, James Holden & The Animal Spirits. The personnel comprises long-time collaborators Tom Page and Etienne Jaumet, as well as Marcus Hamblett, Liza Bec and Lascelle Gordon. The album’s lead single, “Pass Through The Fire” has so far been unveiled, the track having been inspired by his 2014 trip to Morocco to work with late Gnawa music legend Maalem Mahmoud Guinia. James Holden was also recently added to the special guest curatorial program at this November’s Le Guess Who? Festival at Utrecht, where he has invited such stellar musicians as Serbia’s Mario Batkovic and Canada’s Jerusalem In My Heart to his lineup.

August’s mix also features new releases from: Julie Byrne’s “Not Even Happiness” (Basin Rock); Four Tet’s latest essential single for his Text imprint, “Planet”; Grouper’s new track “Children” (taken from her “Ruins” album sessions); Rafael Anton Irisarri’s mesmerising “The Shameless Years” (Umor Rex) and Hype Williams“Rainbow Edition” (Big Dada Recordings).

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E08 | August mix

 

To listen on La Blogothèque:

http://www.blogotheque.net/2017/09/01/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s02e08-august-mix

 

01. Psychic TV“Just Drifting” (WEA, Some Bizzare)
02. Moor Mother“Valley of Dry Bones” (Don Giovanni)
03. Mica Levi & Oliver Coates“I’ll Keep Going” (Slip)
04. Hype Williams“#Blackcardsmatter” (Big Dada Recordings)
05. Lee Gamble“Istian” (Hyperdub)
06. Rhythm & Sound with Cornel Campbell“King In My Empire” (Soul Jazz)
07. Ken Parker“My Whole World Is Falling Down” (Heartbeat)
08. This Is How We Fly“Tí Mór” (Self-Released)
09. Laurel Halo“Who Won?” (Hyperdub)
10. James Holden & The Animal Spirits“Pass Through The Fire” (Border Community)
11. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith“To Follow And Lead” (Western Vinyl)
12. SAICOBAB“Bx Ax Bx” (Thrill Jockey)
13. Snapped Ankles“Hanging With The Moon” (The Leaf Label)
14. Ex Eye“Xenolith; the Anvil” (Relapse)
15. Suicide“Cheree” (Red Star)
16. Four Tet“Planet” (Text)
17. Washed Out“Down and Out” (Stones Throw)
18. Mariah“Shinzo No Tobira” (Palto Flats, Columbia)
19. LCD Soundsystem“tonite” (DFA, Columbia)
20. Severed Heads“Dead Eyes Opened” (Dark Entries)
21. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma“Echoing Green” (Mexican Summer)
22. Rafael Anton Irisarri“Sky Burial” (Umor Rex)
23. This Will Destroy You“The Puritan” (Julianna Barwick Remix) (Suicide Squeeze)
24. Grouper “Children” (Bandcamp)
25. Benoît Pioulard“Rook” (Beacon Sound)
26. Julie Byrne“Natural Blue” (Basin Rock, Ba Da Bing!)
27. This Is How We Fly“Fjellvant” (Self-Released)
28. Do Make Say Think“Shlomo’s Son” (Constellation)

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

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

Chosen One: Matthew Bourne

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

—Matthew Bourne

Words: Mark Carry

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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Interview with Matthew Bourne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 17, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Chosen One: Julie Byrne

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

—Julie Byrne

Words: Mark Carry

julie byrne i

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://juliemariebyrne.com/

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Interview with Julie Byrne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://juliemariebyrne.com/

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August 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Step Right Up: Nadia Reid

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

—Nadia Reid

Words: Mark Carry

Nadia Reid scribble Credit Meek Zuiderwyk

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

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

Nadia Reid sit Credit Meek Zuiderwyk WEB

Interview with Nadia Reid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Preservation’ is out now on Basin Rock.

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

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

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

https://www.nadiareid.com/

 

 

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August 10, 2017 at 10:30 am