FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Athens Of The North

Mixtape: Fractured Air – April 2019

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fracturedair_april19

April saw a host of essential new releases surface into the stratosphere. Fixity’s latest full-length ‘No Man Can Tell’ – and second for the ever-dependable Cork-based Penske Recordings imprint – is another stellar sonic journey showcasing deep musical telepathy at each and every turn from a cast of Irish and international musicians.

The eagerly awaited return of Leafcutter John’s new Border Community record ‘Yes! Come Parade With Us’, whose sumptuous sound worlds contains the UK composer’s trusted modular synth and a plethora of field recordings. In addition, guest drummers Tom Skinny (Sons Of Kemet) and John’s Polar Bear bandmate Seb Rochford.

Canadian cellist and composer Justin Wright’s debut album ‘Music for Staying Warm’ is an artistic creation of staggering beauty and wonder. Liquid Liquid luminary Dennis Young’s solo record ‘Primitive Substance’ is a vital document from the solo artist’s post-Liquid Liquid career.

 

 

Fractured Air – April 2019

01. Students of the Salonica Quaker Girl’s School“Dance of Jerissos (lerissos)” (Sublime Frequencies)
02. Ariwo“Ireme” (Manana Records)
03. The Comet Is Coming“Birth Of Creation” (Impulse!)
04. Kate Tempest“Tunnel Vision” (Lex Records)
05. Naive Ted“Blood & Guts” (Unscene Music)
06. Hype Williams“Hype Williams Meets Shangaan Electro” (Honest Jon’s)
07. Dean Blunt“And Ill Show U Heaven If U Let Me” (Hippos In Tanks)
08. The Rationals “Glowin’” (Night Time Stories Ltd)
09. Fixity“Woo” (Penske Recordings)
10. Crevice“In Heart” (Fort Evil Fruit)
11. Carla dal Forno“Fever Walk” (Kallista Records)
12. Josef K “It’s Kinda Funny” (LTM Recordings)
13. Leafcutter John“This Way Out” (Border Community)
14. MorMor“Outside” (Self-released)
15. This Mortal Coil“The Lacemaker” (4AD)
16. Tim Hecker“Step Away From Konoyo” (Kranky)
17. Heather Woods Broderick – “I Try” (Western Vinyl)
18. Justin Wright“Harmonic Loops – Playground Swings” (First Terrace Records)
19. Gigi Masin“The Word Love” (Music From Memory)
20. Anna Peaker“Helicidae” (Alter)
21. Maria Somerville“Dreaming” (Self-released)
22. Raymond Scott“Portofino 1” (Basta)
23. Ingus Bauskenieks“Lidojums Uz Sauli” (Stroom)
24. Prins Thomas“Feel The Love” (Smalltown Supersound)
25. Daedelus “It’s Madness” (Nosaj Thing Remix) (Magical Properties)
26. Four Tet“Teenage Birdsong” (Text Records)
27. Dennis Young“Forgiveness” (Athens Of The North)
28. Ishmael Ensemble“First Light” (Severn Songs)

Chosen One: Andrew Wasylyk

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

—Andrew Mitchell

 Words: Mark Carry

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

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

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

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

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

https://andrewwasylyk.bandcamp.com/

https://aotns.bandcamp.com/

andrew wasylyk i

Interview with Andrew Mitchell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://andrewwasylyk.bandcamp.com/

https://aotns.bandcamp.com/

Written by admin

March 20, 2019 at 2:58 pm