FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘4AD

Mixtape: A Call For Distance

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A Call For Distance [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/a-call-for-distance-a-fractured-air-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Steve Reich ‘It’s Gonna Rain, Part I’ (excerpt) [Nonesuch]
02. Colin Stetson And Sarah Neufeld ‘Won’t be a thing to become’ [Constellation]
03. So Percussion ‘Music for Wood and Strings: Section 1’ [Brassland]
04. Nils Frahm ‘Wall’ [Erased Tapes]
05. Dawn of Midi ‘Nix’ [Erased Tapes]
06. Craig Leon ‘She Wears A Hemispherical Skullcap’ [RVNG Intl]
07. Holly Herndon ‘Morning Sun’ [4AD]
08. Severed Heads ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ [Dark Entries]
09. Lower Dens ‘Your Heart Still Beating’ [Ribbon Music]
10. Heather Woods Broderick ‘A Call For Distance’ [Western Vinyl]
11. Chris Isaac ‘Wicked Game’ [Reprise]
12. Julia Holter ‘My Love My Love’ [Tompkins Square]
13. John Bence ‘Disquiet, Pt. 1’ [Other People]
14. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis ‘Far from Men 2’ [Goliath Entertainment]
15. Edan ‘Beauty’ [Lewis Recordings]
16. Richard Strauss ‘Vier letzte Lieder: IV. Im Abendrot’ (excerpt) [CBS]
17. Tom Waits ‘You Can Never Hold Back Spring’ [Anti-]
18. The Beach Boys ‘Look (Stereo Mix Of Take 20)’ [Capitol]
19. The Books ‘“Ah…, I See”’ [Temporary Residence Limited]
20. Glen Campbell ‘Guess I’m Dumb’ [Ace]

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

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Mixtape: I Used To Dream [A Fractured Air Mix]

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I Used To Dream [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/i-used-to-dream-a-fractured-air-mix/

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Tracklisting:

01. Nicolas Jaar ‘Être’ [Circus Company]
02. Kiasmos ‘Looped’ [Erased Tapes]
03. Jon Hopkins ‘Abandon Window’ (Moderat Remix) [Domino]
04. Rival Consoles ‘Recovery’ [Erased Tapes]
05. Clark ‘There’s A Distance In You’ [Warp]
06. Junior Boys ‘You’ll Improve Me’ (Caribou Remix) [Domino]
07. Caribou ‘Mars’ [City Slang / Merge]
08. Sun Ra ‘Angels And Demons At Play’ [Strut]
09. Alfonso Lovo ‘Sinfonia Del Espacio De Do Menor’ [Numero Group]
10. Les Sins ‘Why’ (feat. Nate Salman) [Company]
11. Andy Stott ‘Faith In Strangers’ [Modern Love]
12. Glissandro 70 ‘Portugal Rua Rua’ [Constellation]
13. Ariel Pink ‘Dayzed Inn Daydreams’ [4AD]

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

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Facebook / Twitter

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Chosen One: Camera Obscura

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Interview with Tracyanne Campbell, Camera Obscura.

“I had a dream in my head and sort of the idea of the heart following the head and the head following the heart. Sometimes they’re like paths that don’t quite meet, where like being on one path instead of being on the other. And then I thought about that whole desire lines thing, you know, in public places where instead of going down the path that’s been laid out for them, they sort of wander off and they end up making a new path. And then people follow it and it becomes a proper path that people have followed. It’s quite difficult to explain but I was thinking just about the sort of idea of the choices you make, leading you somewhere and that kind of thing.”

Tracyanne Campbell

Words: Mark & Craig Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Camera Obscura’s sublime fifth album closes with the heavenly title-track ‘Desire Lines’, where its second verse includes the lyric “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter” – a nod to the novel of the same name by American writer Carson McCullers. These subtle in-song references feature across the album elsewhere (from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves Of Grass” to Billy Wilder’s “The Seven Year Itch”). The inclusion of McCullers’ debut novel (published in 1940 when McCullers was only twenty-three years old), though, is particularly evocative. “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter” is set in America’s South – taking place over fourteen months – and features thirteen year old Mick Kelly, a restless dreamer who falls in love with music in a profound way. As McCullers stated in her outline to the publishers: “To Mick music is the symbol of beauty and freedom.” What’s particularly memorable in the book are the passages describing Mick’s deep new-found love for music:

“Every afternoon she stayed after school for an hour to play. The gym was crowded and noisy because the girls’ team had basketball games. Twice today she was hit on the head with the ball. But getting a chance to sit at a piano was worth any trouble. She would arrange bunches of notes together until the sound came that she wanted. It was easier than she had thought. After the first two or three hours she figured out some sets of chords in the bass that would fit in with the main tune her right hand was playing. She could pick out almost any piece now. And she made up new music too. That was better than just copying tunes. When her hands hunted out these beautiful new sounds it was the best feeling she had ever known.” 

(—”The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”, Carson McCullers, 1940)

This magical beauty inherent in the making of music is forever to the foreground when listening to Glasgow’s Camera Obscura. They have firmly established themselves as one of those rare treasures in music today. Over the years, they have mastered the art of a perfect pop song, where each record has become a cornerstone to music lover’s record collections worldwide. What lies at the heart of their blend of precious pop music is the remarkable voice of Tracyanne Campbell. Like fellow-Glaswegians, Belle & Sebastian, Tracyanne Campbell and co. write irresistible songs about love. The stunning compositions over the years, ranging from heart-wrenched ballads (‘James’, ‘Desire Lines’, ‘Country Mile’) to Spector-esque pop symphonies (‘French Navy’, ‘This Is Love’, ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken’), have dealt with the universal theme of love, in all its strengths and flaws. As with all true artistic creations, an emotional depth exists at the core of Campbell’s penned songs, creating in turn, deeply affecting pop music. Pain, longing, hope, fear, loss and heartache are beautifully etched on the canvas of sound. A rare treasure indeed.

Nearly four years have passed since the release of the wonderful (and the band’s 4AD debut) ‘My Maudlin Career’. The long-awaited follow-up, ‘Desire Lines’ represents a career best for Glasgow’s finest, where a bold spirit and artistic brilliance radiates from the recordings. A new direction is ventured on ‘Desire Lines’. The finished songs are sparse and guitar-based, moving away from the lush string and brass arrangements of previous records. As ever, the beguiling vocals of Tracyanne Campbell provides the aching pulse to the sonic creations. Her voice has never sounded so immaculate, as the vocal melts over the delicate lap-steel on album title-track and album closer, ‘Desire Lines’. The country gem is steeped in unwavering beauty that centers on a road trip to California:

“I went to California
I needed sun, I warned you
When the green of your eyes met my blue by surprise
There was a storm yeah”

(‘Desire Lines’)

The lyric of ‘”The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”, I feel epitomizes the music contained on ‘Desire Lines’. In much the same way as the idea of desire lines, where the compass of your heart guides you to new pathways and possibilities, the sheer poetry of Campbell’s lyrics heightens all your surroundings. As Campbell sings “I’m going to love you as I know how” on the song’s chorus, a sun has risen on the skyline before my eyes. It’s music to truly savour and appreciate.

‘Desire Lines’ was recorded in Portland, Oregon by producer Tucker Martine (Laura Veirs, REM, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens), having first written and composed the songs in their native Glasgow. The timeless power of pop music graces these very songs with the endearing and everlasting appeal of all things rare and true. A formidable cast of musicians guest on the album, from the pedal-steel prowess of Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine among many others), Neko Case and Jim James on backing vocal duties. The ensemble musicianship of the group’s core five-piece lineup creates the perfect backdrop to Campbell’s songwriting. ‘New Year’s Resolution’ contains glorious touchstones of soul and pop that has a feeling of nostalgia permeating through Campbell’s masterful lyrics. The closing refrain of “Stay now / I wish you would stay now” brings the song to a fitting close.

‘Do It Again’ is an uptempo guitar-pop tour de force with an urgent beat and dazzling rhythm. ‘William’s Heart’ is another masterpiece, where Campbell croons “to die in the arms of a twenty year old”. An intimate feel radiates throughout. “William where have you gone? / Will you return to me?” are the closing lyrics. The song is a glistening pop gem that sparkles from the intro’s clean guitar tones to the closing crescendo of electric guitar notes. ‘Cri Du Couer’ contains a gorgeous 50’s feel a la Roy Orbison but with a very much contemporary twist. The opening lyrics are perhaps an insight into the creative process behind Tracyanne Campbell’s songwriting; observing the world that surrounds her:

“I like to think when I’m driving
I like to daydream a little
I like to think about the people
The faces of the young and the old
I want to watch the whole story unfold”

(‘Cri Du Couer’)

‘Fifth In Line To The Throne’ is one of the album’s centerpieces, alongside ‘Cri Du Couer’ and ‘Desire Lines’. For me, the ballads often are the songs that I hold most dear to me, from all of my most cherished records. The song has it all. The feel. The depth. Such power and beauty. I think there is a lovely parallel between ‘Fifth In Line To The Throne’ and the songbook of The Smiths. The distinctive blend of mesmerizing instrumentation of guitar bears the hallmarks of Johnny Marr. The voice of Campbell shares the glorious spark of Morrisey and particularly, the song’s phrasing. My favourite lyric on the album ‘Desire Lines’ is “I have seen your deepest flaws” on the opening line of the second verse. It’s beautiful how such few words can make such a profound impact. I am reminded of Morrisey’s songs such as ‘I Had No One Ever’ and ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ when listening to this tower of song. The purity of Campbell’s voice is simply breathtaking, where the heavenly instrumentation of guitars, drums, keys and backing harmonies, makes for a fulfilling journey.

The origins of Camera Obscura happened sometime back in 1996 in their Glasgow hometown, where founding members Tracyanne Campbell and Gavin Dunbar first began rehearsing together. Their career has spanned two decades, releasing several timeless records that has been championed by the late great John Peel, who welcomed the band to do five Peel sessions. A testament in itself. Debut album ‘Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi’ was released in 2001, with the follow-up ‘Underachievers Please Try Harder’ further developing their unique blend of intelligent pop music. On the next two records, Swedish producer Jari Haapalainen came aboard, whose acclaimed work included The Concretes and Peter, Bjorn & John. The albums ‘Let’s Get Out Of The Country’ (2006) and ‘My Maudlin Career’ (2009) are both milestones in the band’s universally acclaimed body of work. 2013 sees the band create yet another work of art in the form of ‘Desire Lines’, where the pathway continues to lead us to new horizons.

“New year’s resolution – to write something of value
New year’s resolution – to write something would be fine
All I ever wanted was someone to rely on
All I ever wanted was somewhere to call home”

(‘New Year’s Resolution’)

Listening to the sublime beauty of Camera Obscura’s consistently impressive songbook reminds me of legendary arranger and producer Jack Nitzsche. The linear notes to “Hearing Is Believing 1962-1979” (Ace Records, 2005) reveals a man forever obsessed with music and its endless discoveries. His pride and joy was his collection of 45s (kept in special books on a high shelf “so young hands could not touch”). What’s particularly moving is an essay from Nitzsche’s son – Jack Nitzsche Jr. – who eloquently recounts his lasting memory of his father:

“The image of my dad that will stick in my head for the rest of my life is the one I saw over and over again. He’s in the middle of the living room on his knees, gently rocking back and forth, humming and making little comments and sounds as he listens to an album alone. His head bent down, reading the linear notes.

Like his father, he loved records. He loved music. A fan to the very end…”

Of course, everybody has their own paths they undertake in their quest for building a record collection; bands, labels, producers, sleeves, genres, a particular timeframe or decade, rarity, value, recommendation etc. Whilst not forgetting the beauty of chance and serendipity, the process of finding one’s way through a universe of music – new and old – is endless. While I can only roughly estimate what my own record collection will comprise of when perhaps one day a new generation will curiously seek to unearth music from a bygone time, I know one thing for certain: while young ears will seek to hunt out new music, I will happily point in the direction of those records by Camera Obscura. “Who?” I imagine will come the response, when I will reply: “Camera Obscura, a band from Glasgow, who, at the start of the 21st century made some of the most beautiful records I’ve ever heard.” And with a satisfactory, silent nod, new, unfamiliar sounds will begin to fill the room. And what could possibly be a more beautiful pathway – and desire line – than that?

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“Desire Lines” is out now on 4AD.

http://www.camera-obscura.net
http://4ad.com

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Interview with Tracyanne Campbell, Camera Obscura.

(This interview took place on the eve of Camera Obscura’s U.S tour in support of new album ‘Desire Lines’).

Congratulations on the new album, ‘Desire Lines’. It’s really amazing, and I think it’s your best album so far.

That’s very nice for you to say so.

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I was interested to see you went to Portland, Oregon for the recording of this album. I’d love to know more about the songs themselves, whether you had them pretty much written before you headed out?

I think that’s always really the case when we’re making records, you know. If you don’t have a lot of ground-work done then you’re basically spending money in a very expensive studio to write songs, so that’s not a good way to spend your money, you know. They were mainly written – there may have been an odd thing here and there that wasn’t set in stone-the basic structure and basic chord progression and basic vocal melody and basic lyrics were there. There was the odd thing that finished off in the studio but we had them finished in Glasgow. Tucker Martine, the producer came over for a couple of days and we set the tempos and stuff like that and then we practiced on that and we went to Portland and recorded them. The only song that really changed structurally in the studio drastically was the first song ‘This Is Love’ ’cause that wasn’t really working out when we came to track it. We weren’t quite happy with it so I wrote a new chorus in the studio.

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My favourite song at the moment is ‘Cri Du Coeur’. It has a lovely feel of Roy Orbison.

Yeah, well I think we were going to this sort of classic 50’s American style but with something that was a little bit more contemporary at least, and less pastiche or retro than usual.

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Over the years too, I love the songs on your albums that are the slow ballads. On this album I feel the title-track is really strong with a deep impact. I love that feel to it.

I think that quite often for me on albums, my favourite songs end up being maybe the less obvious singles, you know. I think a lot of the time they are more interesting and have got hidden depth. I’m glad when people say they like those tracks, you know as someone would like songs like ‘Do It Again’ or ‘French Navy’ because they are the sort of tracks I look for in people’s records as well.

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Camera Obscura are so brilliant at creating pop songs, in the true sense. There’s always very much a real feel to them and real depth to all the songs. You must have specific albums or bands that you’re really inspired by?

It’s hard to pinpoint. I do have bands and albums that I love but it’s hard for me to draw a line directly on the records I listen to along the songs that I have written. I don’t think you set about going, I really like that song, I want to make a song like that. It doesn’t work like that, I think your influences are with you along the way, you keep them with you and you’re not always aware that you’re using them.

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In terms of the arrangements, you can never tire of the layers of sound embedded in the songs themselves. Is that I suppose more the final stages of the song?

I think strings and brass and things like that, for us have always been added last. Definitely the band record live and we’ll get a basic song and we’ll do our overdubs on our particular instrument. We never really put many strings on this album. We purposefully avoided that ’cause we didn’t really want to go down that road. And we’ve obviously used a lot in the past. They may have been written in mind during the recording but they’ve always been added later on.

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How has your touring been going? Primavera Sound must have been unbelievable, what a lineup.

It was a good lineup. It’s been a long time since we played Primavera. We played about twelve years ago. It’s one of our first proper gigs, actually, one of our first gigs outside of the country definitely. So it was nice to go back there, having progressed a little bit more, on the ball a little bit more. It was really great. It was lovely to play in Spain and we always get a really fantastic reception when we play in Spain probably due to previously being on Elefant records in Madrid.

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Did you get to see any band yourself while you were there?

I have to confess I did not see any other band. I was quite busy doing press before the gigs so yeah, I never really got a chance. I guess the main person I would have liked to have seen was Rodriguez but actually he cancelled. It’s nearly always the way with festivals, it’s very rare to see bands.

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The title of the album, ‘Desire Lines’, I’d love to gain an insight into the title? It’s a lovely title for the album.

Well, the song ‘Desire Lines’ was one of the first songs written for the record, if not the first because I wrote it when I was on tour in 2009. We just played Coachella. Again, I was being a bit of a bore and instead of staying and watching other bands, I decided to go on the bus back to the hotel. I sort of had a dream in my head and sort of the idea of the heart following the head and the head following the heart. Sometimes they’re like paths that don’t quite meet, where like being on one path instead of being on the other. And then I thought about that whole desire lines thing, you know, in public places where instead of going down the path that’s been laid out for them, they sort of wander off and they end up making a new path. And then people follow it and it becomes a proper path that people have followed. It’s quite difficult to explain but I was thinking just about the sort of idea of the choices you make, leading you somewhere and that kind of thing.

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I love the lyric “the heart is a lonely hunter”, you must be a big fan of Carson McCullers?

Yeah, I read a lot of Carson McCullers on the last American tour which was back in 2009. I loved that book, I was quite taken by it. And obviously that line is quite evocative and I guess the idea of tying it in with desire lines is the thought of the heart on this fruitless path to somewhere. So I guess that was the meaning; looking for something that was never going to bring them any joy or solve any problems. But I love Carson McCullers.

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You’re on your U.S. tour tomorrow, Tracyanne?

I just started to do the dreaded packing. So, we leave Glasgow at 9AM and to tour for two months. I’m looking forward to it. It should be good. It’s been a while.

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It must be lovely, with music to tour around the different parts.

I think we’re really lucky, you know. We feel very graced in that we get to travel. Obviously there are different aspects to that but actually, mainly it’s a great privilege to catch other people’s existence, basically. It’s really fascinating and I think for me personally, I’ve drawn great inspiration from the States especially because we have toured there so much. I think that a lot of the songs written on the past three albums have definitely drawn great inspiration from the States. I don’t think that half of those songs would have materialized without those trips. I have a great fondness for it, you know. It means a lot.

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I hope you’ll come over to play Europe afterwards.

Yeah, I think that will be later on next year. I’m actually five months pregnant, so I’m due to have a baby in September. Obviously, I need to take a bit of time off and get back into it. We really want to go all over. Sadly we only got to do one small section of the UK but hopefully next year we’ll be able to get a lot more done.

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That’s great. The last time I saw you was actually in Cork, alongside Midlake and Grizzly Bear.

That was a nice show. That was great actually, I like both those bands, especially Midlake. It was a real treat for me to actually play a gig and then watch a band I really love. It was lovely.

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“Desire Lines” is out now on 4AD.

http://www.camera-obscura.net
http://4ad.com

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Ten Mile Stereo

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Holden “The Inheritors” (Border Community)
James Holden’s incredible follow-up to his debut LP “The Idiots Are Winning” has been some seven years in the making. Heralded by both Four Tet’s Kieran Hebdon and Caribou/Daphni’s Dan Snaith of late, the album comprises a set of genre-defying tracks and is destined to remain at “classic” status for a long, long time to come.

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Jon Hopkins “Immunity” (Domino)
“Immunity” is the fourth solo album from Jon Hopkins and is destined to catapult the Eno collaborator to international recognition. The final epic title-track features King Creosote (who collaborated with Hopkins on the sublime “Diamond Mine”) and leaves the listener marvel at what Hopkins has created here.

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Lee Noble “Ruiner” (Bathetic)
My first time coming across the wonderful Bathetic label – based in Asheville, NC – was through Angel Olsen’s classic LP “Half Way Home”. Lee Noble’s “Ruiner” is another classic belonging to the label, comprising unique ambient/pop songs recalling Radiohead, Grouper’s Liz Harris and richly evocative ambient textures as found on pioneering labels such as Chicago’s Kranky label.

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Camera Obscura “Desire Lines” (4AD)
Glasgow’s beloved Camera Obscura released yet another classic indie-pop album this year – lead by the singularly beautiful voice of Tracyanne Campbell – ‘Desire Lines’ is the band’s eagerly awaited follow-up to gorgeous “My Maudlin Career” (also on 4AD). As always, Campbell’s songwriting is pitch-perfect, while the song arrangements are sumptuously layered echoing Spector’s wall of sound (pristine production by Tucker Martine). Features guests Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine) on pedal steel, Neko Case and Jim James on backing vocals.

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Denseland “Like Likes Like” (m=minimal)
Berlin-based electronic label m=minimal have been quietly releasing an intriguing string of albums over the past year. “Like Likes Like” by Denseland (featuring Hanno Leichtmann, Hannes Strobl and David Moss) is a strangely compelling array of darkly textured, minimal compositions featuring the singular vocals of David Moss.

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Califone “Stitches” (Dead Oceans)
Indie favourites Califone return with the hugely anticipated “Stitches” LP this Autumn on the Dead Oceans label. The title-track has so far been uploaded – a beautifully fragmented and fragile song – as always lead by Tim Rutili’s stunning voice and masterful lyrics. The album was written and recorded across Southern California, Arizona and Texas and is available on 3 September.

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Hiss Golden Messenger “Haw” (Paradise of Bachelors)
‘Haw’ is one of the year’s finest albums and another milestone release in Hiss Golden Messenger’s stellar discography to date. As always, the songwriting by M.C. Taylor (encompassing songs of both struggle and pain as well as songs of joy and hope) is to the forefront while songs effortlessly fuse traditions of folk, blues, soul and gospel. Follow-up to the equally sublime “Poor Moon”, “Haw” is HGM’s fourth album.

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Colin Stetson “New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light” (Constellation)
Part three in the “New History Warfare” series, gifted composer Colin Stetson is fast-becoming independent music’s crowning jewel. Long-known and admired for his astonishing array of collaborative work (Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, TV on the Radio to name only a few), Stetson’s reputation as a solo composer has quickly earned himself the reputation for one of contemporary music’s true leading artists.

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Laurie Spiegel “The Expanding Universe” (Unseen Worlds / Philo)
While we had the great honour of co-presenting Thrill Jockey’s Mountains for their concert in Cork, one of our highlights was listening to Koen Holtkamp talk so fondly about Spiegel’s seminal masterwork “The Expanding Universe”. It’s hard to imagine these recordings were made in 1980 as they sound as fresh and as innovative today. The lovingly expanded reissue from last year is a work of true beauty and confirms “The Expanding Universe” as one of the finest (and most influential) records ever made.

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Julianna Barwick “Nepenthe” (Dead Oceans)
The wait is finally nearly over for Julianna Barwick’s follow-up to her much-celebrated “The Magic Place”, released in 2011 on Asthmatic Kitty. So far, “Pacing” (released as a limited edition 7″) and “One Half” have been made available, whetting the appetite for what will surely be one of the year’s most defining albums. Whereas Barwick’s “The Magic Place” was recorded in her Brooklyn bedroom studio, “Nepenthe” was recorded in Iceland with Alex Somers (Sigur Rós, Jónsi). “One Half” is arguably Barwick’s most beautiful work yet. LP available 20 August.

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Chosen One: Efterklang

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Interview with Rasmus Stolberg, Efterklang.

Saturday 15th September 2012. Cork Opera House. The special premiere of Danish band Efterklang’s newest masterwork, ‘Piramida’. A night of true inspiration and divine art. A truly unique musical experience. The trio of Casper Clausen, Rasmus Stolberg and Mads Brauer were joined by the 23-piece orchestra, The Major Lift Orchestra which was conducted by Mathew Coorey. The familiar members of the Efterklang family tree were present, most notably Peter Broderick whose own solo work inhabits similar otherworldly dimensions. The new album ‘Piramida’ sounds familiar in its magnificent beauty yet mysteriously unknown, all at once. The live songs showcased the band’s continued evolving blend of dreamy orchestral pop music. Songs like ‘Black Summer’ was a crystallization of all things Efterklang; the heavenly realm of brass, woodwind and strings orchestrated beneath Casper Clausen’s unique voice and songcraft. A symphony of life long emotion distilled in six minutes. The musicianship on display was awe-inspiring. Back stage, stage left was my primary focus during the night. Peter Broderick, a musician lost in the music, who existed in a realm of his own. His majestic harmonies and passionate persona reflected the special air that permeated the sold-out venue. As the band walked off stage, rapturous applause and gratitude escalated to the rafters, whilst the orchestra remained onstage, dumbfounded. Moments later, the joyous musicians graced the stage. ‘The Ghost’ was performed for a second time.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Saturday 30th July 2011. Savoy Theatre, Cork. The Reich Effect Festival. A celebration of legendary composer Steve Reich for his 75th birthday. The bill: Efterklang And Daniel Bjarnason And Their Messing Orchestra. The seventeen-piece band effortlessly bridged the classical and contemporary worlds. Special guest (and collaborator) Heather Woods Broderick graced the stage with her transcendent folk music. The intimate songs from her ‘From The Ground’ album (‘Wounded Bird’ and ‘Turned’) created magic and stirred souls. The perfect sonic backdrop to Efterklang’s arrival. Current album ‘Magic Chairs’ made up the majority of the set, from the life affirming ‘Modern Drift’ to the atmospheric ‘Mirror Mirror’ (which is still one of my favourite Efterklang songs). The musicians, all seventeen of them, floated into the audience at the night’s end. A symphony of brass sounds and joyous harmonies journeyed around the venue. The band performing alongside the audience. The musicians and audience were one. Efterklang’s music transported us to new horizons as our hearts were filled with that rare inner fulfillingness.

24th September 2012. The release date of ‘Piramida’; Efterklang’s fourth full-length album. The distinctive artwork and design by long-term collaborators Hvass and Hannibal graces the album cover. The uniqueness in design is shared with other luminaries such as Vaughan Oliver (4AD) and Peter Saville (New Order), that is symbolic of the album’s pivotal importance. The core of Efterklang now consist of the trio of Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg. Most importantly, special guests and friends graced the ‘Piramida’ recording sessions; Nils Frahm (piano, wurlitzer), Peter Broderick (violin, piano, vocals), Agnes Obel (vocals), Earl Harvin (Tindersticks, drums) and the 60-piece South Denmark’s Girl’s Choir, among others.

August 2011 was when ‘Piramida’ was born. The band (Mads, Casper and Rasmus) travelled to Spitsbergen in the arctic, where the abandoned Russian settlement Piramida is located. It was left overnight in 1998 and today stands as a ghost town still full of relics from its past including the world’s northernmost grand piano. The band spent nine days in this ruin, just 1000km from the North Pole and collected over a thousand recordings which they used afterwards in different ways in the making of ‘Piramida’. The sounds and inspiration collected from this relic filled ghost town can be heard throughout ‘Piramida’. Lyrically (all songs are written by Caper Clausen), Casper has said the songs are inspired by the cycle of human creations-that being creations like an entire city left to decay in the Arctic or the cycles of our interpersonal relationships in life.

‘Hollow Mountain’ opens ‘Piramida’ and what an opener it is. The song’s initial tones are the sounds of protruding metal spikes of an oil tank which was found in Piramida. The song features Earl Harvin on drums, Nils Frahm on wurlitzer (his albums on the Erased Tapes label are all essential), Peter Broderick (strings) and the 60-piece South Denmark Girl’s Choir. The cinematic intro transports me back to Efterklang’s first full length ‘Springer’ released on the Leaf label, which is filled with sublime electronica and multi-layered ambient sounds. The refrain of “Do it, do it, do it, do operator” are the first words sung by Casper. Percussion and a heavenly symphony of sound builds very nicely, with Broderick’s strings providing the song’s shining spark.

‘Apples’ is polished pop of intense beauty. The song was one of the first songs written for the album after the band’s return from their trip to Piramida. As the band have described, ‘Apples’ is mainly a song about letting go of love in the attempt of finding it again. Every element of Efterklang’s musical palette is tapped into here. Harvin’s warm drums provides the song’s guiding beat. The visionary sound of french horn, trombone blends gorgeously with the compelling tones of programmed synthesizer. The intricate arrangements and superior musicianship of Efterklang’s larger ensemble flourishes on ‘Apples’. Casper sings “To runaway, runaway to this heart/you runaway runaway to the start/you are forgotten” wherein one feels the letting go of love occurring during the music’s ebb and flow. For me, ‘Apples’ represents the band’s natural progression on from ‘Magic Chairs’, where their orchestral pop oeuvre is continuing to evolve. Lyrics like “Another way, another way into your heart” and “All kinds of ways into your garden” beautifully evokes the human heart’s search for love.

Ascending harmonies and rising tones are the first notes on ‘Sedna’. The directness of this ballad for me is simply breathtaking. A beguiling atmospheric soundscape builds throughout. Rasmus’ bassline groove is one of ‘Piramida”s highlights. Peter Broderick’s piano and violin adds to the astral journey. “All living is taking me over/There is a truce in calling for the night”, Casper sings on the chorus that conjures decay and life’s unravelling. The falsetto vocal creates new depths to the new age ballad, recalling the sound of The Antlers. ‘The Ghost’ is the album’s anthem. Similar to ‘Modern Drift’ from ‘Magic Chairs’ or ‘Mirador’ from ‘Parades’, ‘The Ghost’ is laden with irresistible pop hooks and layers of intricate sound. Soul is washed over the sheen of orchestral pop. The chorus refrain of “the ghost the ghost that never was” stays with you long after ‘The Ghost’ comes to completion. Towards the final stages of the song, an eruption of glorious soul takes place. Casper’s falsetto and a combination of harmonies swirl together amidst the full swing of orchestra. ‘Piramida’ is in full fruition here, with shades of Curtis Mayfield such is its uplifting, life affirming soul. Timeless.

‘Black Summer’ is the album’s centrepiece. I think this is their finest creation thus far. The wide dynamic range, from hushed, cinematic tones of keys (what a groove!) to the crescendo of the 60-piece South Denmark Girl’s Choir transcends time. The power and glory of the band’s very essence of sound is to be celebrated on ‘Black Summer’. Brass, woodwind, strings and choir expels darkness. Agnes Obel’s backing vocals casts magic over the dark realm of sound. ‘Black Summer’ belongs to the works of Steve Reich, with its pulse and flow of life and emotion. A full-blown masterpiece. The initial piano notes of ‘Dreams Today’ echoes the otherworldly dimensions of Iceland’s Mum and Sigur Ros. Electronics, piano and xylophone provide the sound clouds for dreams. ‘Dreams Today’ is an electronica gem with masterful production. ‘Between The Walls’ contains uplifting trumpets and saxophone that lifts you in a profound way. The dreamy synth of ‘Monument’ provides a fitting close to ‘Piramida’. The woodwind of flute adds bright colours to the expansive canvas of sound. The spectrum of Brian Eno’s ambient works is explored here, where a 21st century lullaby drifts onto the horizon of the arctic and beyond.

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Interview with Rasmus Stolberg

The new film ‘The Ghost Of Piramida’ documents your visit to the former Russian mining town. Describe the influence the place of Piramida had on you please?

Rasmus: It is the kind of place where you can’t help thinking or wondering. You start thinking about mankind and time and nature in broad scales – and afterwards on your own little persona and what exactly you are and why.

It was a big inspiration and also a little sad – I have to admit it is not an uplifting place. You sort of get the feeling that humans are this parasite desperately trying to overtake a magic and dramatic place where we don’t belong -> this forces the question -> where do we belong?? I don’t know. But creating music and making this trip into something special felt good.

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The wonderful film ‘An Island’ by Vincent Moon is a beautiful insight into Efterklang and is filled with many inspiring scenes and moments. The last scene takes place at Sønderborg Gymnasium. 

The three of you-Rasmus, Casper and Mads; attended this high school in the late 90’s. This is the time and place where you all started playing music together. Can you please recount for me your memories of this special time, where you started playing music together.

Rasmus: I started my first band with Mads when we were in 6th grade. Later we were in different bands sort of competing a little.

Later I started in high school and at the opening party Casper and I decided we should start a band with a drummer, bass player, two guitarists and we felt it was very important to have an organ player as well. We never found the organ player, but we asked Mads to join the band shortly after.

It was a good time and our early adventures developed into the dream of moving to Copenhagen and so we did and this is where Efterklang took its start.

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Congratulations on your new album ‘Piramida’. The record is yet another masterpiece full of compelling sounds and intricate details. My personal favourite is ‘Black Summer’ and in fact, it could be my favourite Efterklang song. Can you please discuss the construction of this song and how it came together to become ‘Black Summer’?

Rasmus: It started with that marimbaish sound that sort of loops. Thats a sound we found in Pyramiden on Svalbard. A drumbeat and the piano chords were added and we all agreed there was some magic to this loop. It was about 1 minute long. we couldn’t figure out how to make it into a song however. It was one of the songs we spend the most time on. It almost didn’t make it to the album – today we are really happy that it did!

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I was very fortunate to see you perform ‘Piramida’ with the Major Lift Orchestra at the Opera House in Cork. I would love to gain an insight please into the band’s preparation process involved for playing these new songs live with an orchestra on this ‘Piramida’ tour?

Rasmus: It was a project almost as big as the making of the album.

we collaborated with the composers Missy Mazzoli and Karsten Fundal on the arrangements for the orchestra and spent many hours getting those scores to be perfect.
We also engaged Hvass&Hannibal and scenographer Nico de Rooij to create a special set design and visuals.
we were running out of time before the premiere in Sydney Opera House – the weeks leading up to that concert we practically spent every hour awake working on this / rehearsing, changing stuff, scores, visuals etc etc etc

When we finally got on stage in Sydney the work paid off – we were able to actually enjoy playing and we knew our parts even though every single one was completely new. It was such a relief. wow!

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‘Piramida’ is out now on 4AD

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Written by admin

December 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Something’s Going On: Efterklang

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 Illustration: Craig Carry

This week sees the highly anticipated return of Denmark’s Efterklang in support of their forthcoming album, ‘Piramida’. For their Irish dates in Cork and Dublin, the band will be joined by The Major Lift Orchestra. The audiences who witnessed Efterklang’s live appearance in Cork last year as part of The Reich Effect Festival, know what a special occasion awaits us.

‘Piramida’ will be released on September 24th on 4AD.

Efterklang will feature in our ‘Chosen One’ section very soon.

Efterklang play Meeting House Square, Dublin, Fri Sept 14th, as part of the Absolut Fringe Festival, and Opera House, Cork Sat Sept 15th, with The Major Lift Orchestra conducted by Matthew Coorey.

 

Written by admin

September 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm