FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Thorne

Chosen One: Ben Lukas Boysen

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

—Ben Lukas Boysen

Ben Lukas Boysen - press photo 01 by Patricia Haas_landscape_WEB

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

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

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

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

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

‘Mirage’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://benlukasboysen.bandcamp.com/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

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Interview with Ben Lukas Boysen.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A wonderful first collaboration and surely not the last!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 BLB: All time faves i frequently rediscover:

– Nav Katze: Never Mind The Distortion

– Various Artists: 8, 8.5, 9 Remixes

– Olan Mill: Orient

– Billie Holiday: Lady In Satin

 

Current favorites:

– Daniel Ögren: Fastingen -92

– Christopher Bissonnette: The Wine Dark Sea

– Kit Sebastian: Mantra Moderne

– Bobby Krlic: Midsommar OST

‘Mirage’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://benlukasboysen.bandcamp.com/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

 

Written by admin

May 5, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Chosen One: Daniel Thorne

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

—Daniel Thorne

 Words: Mark Carry

daniel thorne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.danielthorne.net/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

daniel thorne 2

Interview with Daniel Thorne.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.danielthorne.net/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

Written by admin

July 10, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Mixtape: Fractured Air – March 2019

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fracturedair_march19

This month’s mix features new music from the magnificent Berlin-based, Cork-raised producer ELLLL with the arrival of her essential “Febreeze” 12” last month, carving out multi-layered, seductive techno cuts. Irish songwriter Maria Somerville’s exceptional debut full length “All My People” we continue to fall for, with the record’s divine song cycles rooted in beautiful 50’s/60’s pop songs that are encapsulated in wondrous post punk/indie spheres of today. A wholly unique labyrinth of astral song cycles.

New music also from the imitable London-based, Australian songwriter and producer Carla dal Forno (and excitingly the first release for her newly established label, Kallista Records); Immix Ensemble’s Daniel Thorne’s magnificent debut solo album on Erased Tapes; Norwegian duo Deaf Center’s highly anticipated return on Sonic Pieces; Forma’s John Also Bennett’s wondrous solo LP (under the JAB psuedonym) on Shelter Press and two formidable new releases on the ever dependable North American label Constellation. Grouper’s sublime new project Nivhek (self-released), Italian composer Caterina Barbieri’s forthcoming Editions Mego-debut and Craig Leon’s forthcoming release on Brooklyn institution RVNG Intl are other highlights.


Fractured Air – March 2019

01. William Basinski – “On Time Out Of Time 1.1” (Temporary Residence)
02. Nivhek“Cloudmouth” (Self-released)
03. ELLLL“Sunrise edit” (First Second Label)
04. Patricia“No One Needs Nothing” (Opal Tapes)
05. JAB“Jacob’s House” (Shelter Press)
06. Maria Somerville“This Way” (Self-released)
07. Houston & Dorsey“Ebb Tide” (Numero Group)
08. The Cryin’ Shames“Please Stay” (Decca)
09. Rupie Edwards“Buckshot Dub” (Spectrum Music)
10. Vivien Goldman“Launderette” (Window)
11. Carla dal Forno“So Much Better” (Kallista Records)
12. Oqbqbo “All This Waiting” (Posh Isolation)
13. Antena“Camino Del Sol” (Les Disques Du Crepuscule / Numero Group)
14. Khotin“Water Soaked In Forever” (Ghostly)
15. Daniel Thorne“From the Other Side of the World” (Erased Tapes)
16. June11“White Bird” (Stroom)
17. Craig Leon“Standing Crosswise In The Square” (RVNG Intl)
18. Don Cherry“Utopia and Visions” (Caprice Records)
19. Talk Talk“New Grass” (Verve Records)
20. Deaf Center“Far Between” (Sonic Pieces)
21. Poppy Ackroyd“The Dream” (Penelope Trappes Remix) (One Little Indian)
22. Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria“We Will” (Constellation)
23. Light Conductor“Chapel Of The Snows” (excerpt) (Constellation)
24. Carola Baer“Golden Boy” (Concentric Circles)
25. Aponogeton“Prologue” (Stroom)
26. Caterina Barbieri“Fantas” (excerpt) (Editions Mego)
27. Laraaji“I Can Only Bliss Out (F’Days)” (Numero Group)