FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘Denovali

Fractured Air 20: Contemporary Classical Composers (A Mixtape by Carlos Cipa)

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The Munich, Germany-based pianist and composer Carlos Cipa has released two records to date: the stunning debut solo full-length LP ‘The Monarch And The Viceroy’ (2012, Denovali Records) and ‘Relive’ (2014, Denovali Records), an EP recorded in collaboration with partner Sophia Jani. ‘Relive’ contain the side-length tracks ‘Anouk’s Dream’ and ‘Whatever A Sun Will Always Sing’; both written specially for the pair’s performance at the Denovali Swingfest 2013 in Essen. The resultant compositions were played exactly as in the live situation with no electronic manipulation. Both classical and modern artists provide inspiration for Cipa’s work as a composer: Cipa has cited the great composers such as Mozart, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky; while the works of modern bands such as The National, Mogwai, Sigur Rós and Nick Cave have also influenced Cipa’s outlook as an artist.

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“Contemporary Classical Composers”

To listen on Mixcloud:
http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-20-contemporary-classical-composers-a-mixtape-by-carlos-cipa/

“This is a compilation of some of my favourite pieces of 20th century classical composers. It’s always hard to fit classical music into a mixtape, especially to separate pieces/movements out of their context. I tried my best, but most of the pieces are part of a greater work, so I encourage you to listen to the complete opus and enjoy it as a whole.”

—Carlos Cipa

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Tracklisting:

01. Igor Stravinsky – Symphony in 3 Movements, I. Allegro (9:41)
02. Steve Reich – Double Sextet, III. Fast (6:43)
03. Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F Major, I. Moderato, très doux (7:38)
04. Charles Ives – The Unanswered Question (4:35)
05. Erkki-Sven Tüür – Insula Deserta (9:10)
06. Nico Muhly – Revd Mustard his Installation Prelude (3:35)
07. David Lang – The Little Match Girl Passion, I. Come, Daughter (3:41)
08. Olivier Messiaen – Oraison (7:45)
09. György Ligeti – Nonsense Madrigals, III. The Alphabet (3:33)
10. Krzysztof Penderecki – Chaconne (6:47)
11. Dmitri Shostakovich – String Quartet No. 8, II. Allegro Molto (2:38)
12. George Crumb – Black Angels, I. Departure (5:37)
13. Hans Otte – Das Buch der Klänge, Part X (5:57)
14. Thomas Adès – Arcadiana, op. 12, VI. O Albion (3:07)
15. John Adams – Hallelujah Junction, Part I (7:14)
16. Claude Vivier – Zipangu (14:06)
17. György Kurtag – Stele, op. 33, III. Molto sostenuto (05:55)

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Notes on selection by Carlos Cipa:

01. Igor Stravinsky – Symphony in 3 Movements, I. Allegro (9:41)
He is the master. The sense for rhythm and pulse is just incredible. He was one of the most innovative voices of all time. You can learn so much from Stravinsky, regardless what music you create.

02. Steve Reich – Double Sextet, III. Fast (6:43)
You don’t need to say something about Steve Reich. Definitely one of the most influential composers of the second part of the 20th century. This piece is a rather new one, that won him the Pulitzer prize. The whole piece is amazing!

03. Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F Major, I. Moderato, très doux (7:38)
One of the most beautiful pieces ever written. I deeply love string quartet as instrumentation, it will never sound antique, always timeless. And Ravel’s String Quartet is one of the best.

04. Charles Ives – The Unanswered Question (4:35)
A classic piece. But still, Ives is an underrated composer; what he thought of and did in his music was always much more experimental and much more modern than a lot of his contemporaries. This piece is from 1908!!! True beauty and innovation.

05. Erkki-Sven Tüür – Insula Deserta (9:10)
Written in 1989, this is one of the most interesting pieces of the last twenty-odd years. Tüür has an incredible unique voice, that always touches me deeply.

06. Nico Muhly – Revd Mustard his Installation Prelude (3:35)
Fantastically played on the album ‘Cycles’ by James McVinnie, this is an amazingly beautiful piece. And the sound and the colour of this instrument is incredible.

07. David Lang – The Little Match Girl Passion, I. Come, Daughter (3:41)
David Lang is a master in terms of voices and singing. It’s very encouraging to write for voice, when you listen to his beautiful music.

08. Olivier Messiaen – Oraison (7:45)
The beautiful sound of this instrument (Ondes Martenot), such a beautiful piece of music.

09. György Ligeti – Nonsense Madrigals, III. The Alphabet (3:33)
His output is so versatile, so colourful, and regardless what he touches, he creates something unique, something new, but always in the most musical sense. That’s a very rare gift in contemporary classical music.

10. Krzysztof Penderecki – Chaconne (6:47)
Last year he was in Munich for a concert with our chamber orchestra and they played this and a lot of other beautiful pieces he wrote in the last 15 years. Before the concert he was being interviewed by the conductor and just told funny stories about his work. Very inspiring and friendly person.

11. Dmitri Shostakovich – String Quartet No. 8, II. Allegro Molto (2:38)
Probably, his most famous piece, but the energy in this music is unmatched. This is only four instruments, but you feel a group of a hundred running over you. Very hard to get this movement out of it’s context, all the movements are fantastic.

12. George Crumb – Black Angels, I. Departure (5:37)
You have to look at his scores. Everything is written by hand, he was a master of calligraphy and to see the relation between notation and how it sounds is just amazing.

13. Hans Otte – Das Buch der Klänge, Part X (5:57)
Rather unknown German composer, one of the few who were inspired by american minimal composers and made a beautiful piano cycle called “Das Buch der Klänge”.

14. Thomas Adès – Arcadiana, op. 12, VI. O Albion (3:07)
And again a String Quartet, this is very unusual for Adès, but I believe it’s the most beautiful 3 minutes he ever wrote.

15. John Adams – Hallelujah Junction, Part I (7:14)
A minimal classic. I recently saw this piece performed live, and it was really an amazing experience.

16. Claude Vivier – Zipangu (14:06)
I had to include this piece, despite its length, it’s just too beautiful. String Orchestra is another beautiful instrumentation, and Vivier is an underrated master when it comes to it.

17. György Kurtag – Stele, op. 33, III. Molto sostenuto (05:55)
This might be the piece that impressed me the most lately. The use of the orchestra is incredible, (it has 12 double basses!!). Kurtag is a master in saying so much in such a short time. Impressive. It’s hard to separate the movements, go check out the whole piece, it’s incredible!

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‘The Monarch And The Viceroy’ LP and ‘Relive’ EP are available now on Denovali.

http://www.carloscipa.com/
http://denovali.com/

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Interview with Carlos Cipa HERE.
To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, & Twitter HERE.

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Written by admin

July 14, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Fractured Air 17: Mixtape For A Murky Summer (A Mixtape by Moon Zero)

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‘Mixtape For A Murky Summer’ is a mix compiled by London-based composer Tim Garratt. To date Garratt — via his Moon Zero guise — has released two stunning records via the ever-formidable Berlin-based Denovali record label: ‘TOMBS’ (comprising processed organ and laptop sounds) and ‘LOSS’ (comprising a wider range of instrumentation: drawbar organ, bass synth, vocals, fx processors and guitar pedals). Essential to Moon Zero’s musical output to date has been Garratt’s practice of both composing and recording in churches; a pervading sense of both monumental space and charged atmosphere is always present at the surface of Moon Zero’s truly captivating sonic creations. As Garratt has stated: “There is a sad solitude of being alone in a large room, and as an atheist I find no comfort in the doctrine that surrounds me.”

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Fractured Air 17: Mixtape For A Murky Summer (A Mixtape by Moon Zero)

To listen on Mixcloud:
http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-17-mixtape-for-a-murky-summer-a-mixtape-by-moon-zero/

“I wanted to create a soundscape that had a propulsion to it, a sense of rhythm but without drums. I like sounds which are dynamic in terms of both volume and frequency range, they need to have a life to them and breathe.”

—Tim Garratt, Moon Zero

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Tracklisting:

01. Sohrab ‘Hejrat’ [Touch]
02. Katie Gately ‘Stems’ [Public Information]
03. Georges Auric ‘O Willow Waly’ [Finders Keepers]
04. Cluster ‘Plas’ [Brain/Lilith]
05. David Bowie ‘Subterraneans’ [RCA]
06. My Bloody Valentine ‘Is This And Yes’ [MBV]
07. Zvuku ‘Hume’ [Heat Death]
08. Pierre Raph ‘Song For Francoise’ [Disposable Music]
09. Tim Hecker ‘Black Refraction’ [Kranky]
10. Jane Weaver ‘Cascade In Light’ [Disposable Music]
11. Nina Simone ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ [Musidisc]

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Notes on selection by Moon Zero:

01. Sohrab ‘Hejrat’ [Touch]
A stunning atmosphere in this track. The text on the cover says it all really; “Recorded with rage in the winter of 2011…Recorded lo-fi in the Eissenhutenstadt refugee camp, Germany”.

02. Katie Gately ‘Stems’ [Public Information]
From one of my favourite releases of last year. For me, Katie gets the balance of post production and musicality right on.

03. Georges Auric ‘O Willow Waly’ [Finders Keepers]
From the soundtrack for ‘The Innocents’ (1961). Mesmerising harmonies here from Isla Cameron & The Raymonde Singers.

04. Cluster ‘Plas’ [Brain/Lilith]
One of my all time favourites! A masterpiece of pulsing, dynamic ambient music.

05. David Bowie ‘Subterraneans’ [RCA]
The second half of Low is such a downer. This is the light at the end with the slightly OTT saxophone and vocals which always makes me smile.

06. My Bloody Valentine ‘Is This And Yes’ [MBV]
I love the sound of the recent MBV record. A long time in the waiting, but worth it I think. This is the subdued end of side A.

07. Zvuku ‘Hume’ [Heat Death]
Beautiful string drone from Ireland. Karl and I have done remixes for each other and I hope to collaborate some more in the future.

08. Pierre Raph ‘Song For Francoise’ [Disposable Music]
From the 1973 film ‘La Rose De Fer’. I love how the sound warps slightly at points. And so begins the piano led part of the mix…

09. Tim Hecker ‘Black Refraction’ [Kranky]
I thought this was the most striking off the new Tim Hecker record, minimal and very beautiful, it has those rough chops that I admire so.

10. Jane Weaver ‘Cascade In Light’ [Disposable Music]
This was a happy discovery on the other side of the Pierre Raph record. Originally scored for a short film called Intiaani Kesa, the whole record is spooky and delicate.

11. Nina Simone ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ [Musidisc]
A beautiful rendition of the Jacques Brel song recorded live in Paris. Breathtaking.

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‘Tombs’ and ‘Loss’ are available now on Denovali.

http://denovali.com
https://www.facebook.com/moonzero0

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To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, & Twitter HERE.

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Written by admin

June 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Posted in MIXTAPE

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Fractured Air 14: Time To Be Free (A Mixtape by Greg Haines)

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A special Dub Mix compiled by the UK-born and Berlin-based composer Greg Haines. This June, Greg Gives Peter Space, Haines’s brand new collaborative project with US songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick, release their debut album via Erased Tapes. Haines’s latest solo LP is the magnificent ‘Where We Were’, released last year on Denovali Records. As well as producing a string of impressive solo albums over the past decade, Haines also performs alongside both The Alvaret Ensemble and The Group. 

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Fractured Air 14: Time To Be Free (A Mixtape by Greg Haines)

To listen on Mixcloud:
http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-14-time-to-be-free-a-mixtape-by-greg-haines/

“You hear a lot of talk about “dub” music these days, and I myself find the word slipping from my lips on a daily or sometimes hourly basis. “Dub” is cool again, and I have to admit I find it a bit frustrating that the word “dubby” is thrown around in reviews of every album that has echoey vocals or a cowbell! The word “reggae” still seems like it hasn’t caught on, it’s as if its a dirty word. But dub without reggae is the equivalent of John Cage’s 4’33”: just an empty tape of silence. So here is a mix that is based around roots reggae tracks that I have been spinning recently — it sure is dubby, but you can’t forget your roots!”

—Greg Haines

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Tracklisting:

01. Cedric “Im” Brooks ‘Satta Massa Ganna’ [Water Lily]
02. Jackie Mittoo ‘Ayatollah’ [Nefertiti/Basic Replay]
03. Dadawah ‘Run Come Rally’ [Trojan]
04. Keith Hudson ‘Felt The Strain’ [Joint International]
05. Al Campbell / General Lee & Trinity ‘Jah Love / Jah A Me Right Hand Man’ [High Power Music]
06. Pad Anthony ‘Blackman’s World’ [Hit Bound]
07. Sista Beverley ‘Rasta Woman’ [Iroko]
08. Willie Williams ‘Come Make We Rally’ [Black Roots]
09. Dennis Bovell ‘Jughead’ (Dubplate Mix) [Kingston Connexion]
10. Ernest Wilson ‘I Know Myself’ [Hit Bound/Channel One]
11. The Mystic ‘Forward With Jah Orthodox’ [Black Art]
12. Freddie McKay ‘I Am A Freeman’ [Money Disc]
13. Noel Tempo ‘Time To Be Free’ [Iroko]

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Track-by-track description by Greg Haines:

01. Cedric “Im” Brooks ‘Satta Massa Ganna’ [Water Lily]
When asked to compile this mix, I immediately thought of this track to start it off. Originally written by The Abyssinians and covered endless times since, it has even turned into something of a hymn for the Rastafarian religion. This version brings a completely different flavour to it — something like a reggae big-band feel, which opens with such power and confidence that in a strange way it reminds me of the classic opening passage of Isaac Hayes’ “Hot Buttered Soul” album.

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02. Jackie Mittoo ‘Ayatollah’ [Nefertiti/Basic Replay]
A beautifully synth-y track, reissued by Basic Replay, this was another contender for the opening track of this mix. Its got a little bit of an Ethiopian feel to it, along with a lot of hazy sci-fi goodness, which always seems to work well in the context of dub. Amazing female backing vocals hidden in there too!

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03. Dadawah ‘Run Come Rally’ [Trojan]
This record is one of my favourite recent finds — it has a spaciousness and a sacredness to it that combine to create something really beautiful. Run Come Rally, a Niyabinghi chant from Jamaica, is another song that crops up very often in different versions, but after hearing this version, it will always belong to Dadawah to me. Ras Michael, the man behind the project, has released many records and so far I have loved everything I have heard. Always very loose and vibe-y, but made with intent.

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04. Keith Hudson ‘Felt The Strain’ [Joint International]
A less common cut to the famous track by the legend that is Keith Hudson. There is always something to his tracks which is unique — to me the only way I can explain it is a hot, swampy sound. Its like the music is dripping in sweat. It’s also got a strong psychedelic quality to it — the room must have always been smokey when Keith Hudson was recording! I could have easily have picked another track from him, especially something from the “Playing it Cool” album which I love, but I just picked this up a few weeks ago and its been on heavy rotation ever since.

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05. Al Campbell / General Lee & Trinity ‘Jah Love / Jah A Me Right Hand Man’ [High Power Music]
One of my favourite tracks to DJ with. The take over in the middle is insane and brings a huge smile to my face every time I hear it…“Jeeeessuus Christ! We’re Nice!”. The legendary Roots Radics playing the riddim, and Scientist behind the desk – which is always a winning combination. And lets not forget Al Campbell’s powerful vocals. Incredible track.

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06. Pad Anthony ‘Blackman’s World’ [Hit Bound]
The b-side to Sugar Minott’s “No Vacancy”. Minott’s work, particularly on the Wackies label, often blows me away, but as I recently made a mix of exclusively Wackies tracks, I thought I would try to stay away from it this time. Anyone who says that the lyrics of dub reggae are all nonsense should listen to this track — it’s heartbreaking; political yet personal, and pretty melancholy despite the upbeat riddim.

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07. Sista Beverley ‘Rasta Woman’ [Iroko]
More women singing reggae please! I love the sound of a woman’s voice over such a tough riddim — if someone out there has some more recommendations for me, please let me know! Reissued through Iroko — a constantly good label from France. Produced by Dennis Bovell — but more about him in a minute!

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08. Willie Williams ‘Come Make We Rally’ [Black Roots]
Not much to say about this one except that its a beautiful production — slinky! Fantastic horns. Produced by Sugar Minott, who I mentioned above. Mixed by scientist — the master!

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09. Dennis Bovell ‘Jughead’ (Dubplate Mix) [Kingston Connexion]
The second mention of Dennis Bovell, and this time its in the context of a record under his own name. This is the b-side to a 10”. The A-side is another mix of the same track, but there is something about this dubplate mix which is so biting and driving. I always have a soft spot for re-issue records that have been recorded from the dubplate — they certainly have a different sound, and although usually you loose a bit of the lows and a bit of the highs, the degradation of the audio can sometimes add something incredible. I love that about dub and reggae music — a lot of of the textures of sound you hear come from years experimenting the studio, but some of the things you learn to love about it come from the limitations of the moment or the medium…and these limitations can even be exploited for wonderful effect. Its man vs. machine!

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10. Ernest Wilson ‘I Know Myself’ [Hit Bound/Channel One]
One of my favourite tracks to come out on Channel One, and one of my favorite vocal tracks out there — can’t help but bring a smile to my face! And the best thing is that the 10” I have includes four versions of the same track. Perfect! The only thing thats better than listening to it once is listening to four different people’s take on it!

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11. The Mystic ‘Forward With Jah Orthodox’ [Black Art]
One name has been notably vacant from this list so far, and that is Lee “Scratch” Perry. It’s hard to underestimate his influence on all that came after him. This track by The Mystic, produced at Black Ark by Scratch, and is a perfect example of why he is so revered.

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12. Freddie McKay ‘I Am A Freeman’ [Money Disc]
Just a fantastic song. An alternative take to the original, from the album of the same name — the last he made before he died.

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13. Noel Tempo ‘Time To Be Free’ [Iroko]
This song just gets to me every time — its unusual, its extremely soulful, and it has a mixing style that shows that Jamaican mixing techniques are more than just delays and reverbs. Its a very “dry” track. What it lacks in FX, it makes up for in emotion, and channels a little bit of the classic Motown singers like Curtis Mayfield or Otis Redding along the way. This is a great track to play to people who think they don’t like reggae music. Its such a diverse world, and with this mix, I tried to show just a little bit of that. I hope it whet your appetite for me — but trust me, it won’t sound quite right unless it’s on vinyl!

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Greg Gives Peter Space, the new collaborative project featuring Greg Haines and Peter Broderick, will be released on vinyl and download via Erased Tapes on June 16th, 2014.

http://greghaines.co.uk
http://erasedtapes.com

Greg Haines’s latest solo album, ‘Where We Were’, is available now on Denovali.

http://denovali.com

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To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, or Twitter HERE.

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Written by admin

May 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

Step Right Up: Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani

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Interview with Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani.

“The classical background is definitely important for us, especially for the playing but also for writing the pieces. In the end it’s the love for popular/modern music, though, which brings us to make the kind of music we do.”

—Carlos Cipa

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Earlier this year marked the release of a special collaboration between the gifted young musical talents of Germany’s Carlos Cipa and Sophia Jani. The two-piece collaboration, entitled ‘Relive’, was released on the ever-dependable Denovali label, which contains two stunning neo-classical works: ‘Anouk’s Dream’ and ‘Whatever A Sun Will Always Sing’.

‘Relive’ is appropriately titled, especially when you consider the compositions themselves were played exactly as in the live situation (with no electronic manipulation), which became a very important theme throughout this collaboration. Both pieces were written for the pair’s performance at the Denovali Swingfest 2013 in Essen. The idea was to jointly compose two piano pieces for four hands, which do not only include playing the ordinary way, but also utilising rather unusual sounds from inside the piano. The result is nothing short of staggering that brings to mind luminaries such as Hauschka, Nils Frahm and Max Richter. The contemporary techniques included plucking and beating the strings with their fingers or different kinds of beaters, bowing them with nylon guitar strings, creating harmonics while pressing fingers down on the strings during playing, using the aeolian harp technique or creating beats on the cast iron frame. The endless array of sounds, timbres and textures that Cipa and Jani create from their beloved piano instrument is a joy to witness, as is the deep musical telepathy that flows throughout the utterly transcendent creations.

‘Relive’ is the follow-up to Cipa’s solo — and Denovali debut full-length  — entitled ‘The Monarch and the Viceroy’, released in the summer of 2012. At the tender age of 6 he began taking classical piano lessons with various renowned teachers. Ten years later after he started playing drums in different bands he became more and more interested in composition and improvisation. In the following years he made experiences in different music styles like jazz, hardcore/punk, indie rock and orchestral music. In recent years, Cipa has shared the stage with the leading lights of modern-classical music: Icelandic composers Ólafur Arnalds, Valgeir Sigurðsson; Germany’s Nils Frahm and the legendary duo A Winged Victory For The Sullen. Still in his early twenties — like Jani — a vast collection of artistic treasures will undoubtedly see the light of day, from this exceptionally talented pianist.

Sophia Jani discovered her fascination for piano at a similarly young age. She is classically trained on piano and violin and has deepened her skills at the conservatory of music in Munich before she began studying piano at the conservatory in Bordeaux, France. The young musician left Bordeaux after one year turning away from just interpreting classical pieces to concentrate on writing her own music. Recently, Jani has developed an interest in film-scoring as well as experimenting with vocals.

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‘Relive’ is available now on Denovali Records.

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Interview with Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani.

Congratulations Carlos and Sophia on your truly breathtaking work ‘Relive’. I have been obsessed with this record of late, and have fallen particularly for the ambient flow of sound you so effortlessly create. The two pieces ‘Anouk’s Dream’ and ‘Whatever A Sun Will Always Sing’ were written for your performance at the Denovali Swingfest 2013 in Essen. The root to this special collaboration is the live performance, and indeed your shared love for composition and improvisation. Please take me back to the concert in Essen, and the creative process involved with writing these two sublime piano-based compositions? I can imagine you had certain aims or guidelines in mind for this project?

Carlos: Thank you very much for your kind words! That’s rather appreciated. We’d love to tell you more about our work and the writing and recording of “Relive”.

We’ve been together for a very long time, but have never made any music together, so during summer holidays we decided it was about time to be creative. As we both play the piano as our main instrument, it came very naturally to focus on this instrument. As the problem with four-hands piano music on one piano is, that it can get very boring after a few minutes, we had to think about a solution for that problem. Since it was not very realistic to get two pianos on stage, we decided to experiment with the inside of the piano and searched for interesting sounds to combine with the four-hands playing. We used only a few utensils to help us creating the sounds (like guitar nylon strings or different kinds of beaters) but refused to use any kind of electronics, as we wanted to stay as natural as possible. As we also wanted to present our solo works on that particular concert, we decided to write two longer pieces which should frame the solo parts. That was also the birth of this collaboration EP called “Relive”.

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The plethora of sounds you generate from the piano instrument is really amazing. For example, ‘Anouk’s Dream’ contains distinct movements which ranges from the more traditional piano sounds to the more experimental. Can you please talk me through the various techniques you use throughout these particular pieces of music? For example, the “aeolian harp” technique that is utilized opens up a beautiful awakening of joyous sound. I also love the beating sound that conjures up the sound of Steve Reich’s rhythmic pulses.

Carlos: In “Anouk’s Dream” you can hear bowed strings at the beginning. Each one of us had a nylon guitar string with a lot of resin on it, and we combined finger picking and bowing to build up the first part of the piece. In the middle part you hear felt beaters hitting the cast iron frame (there are three main stress bars, which fortunately have different key notes) and the same beaters hitting the low a- and e- string. Another technique that was used in this piece is the “Aeolian harp”-technique, first used by Henry Cowell in 1923, where you press down keys silently and allow them to sound by sliding over the open strings. The last part of the piece is us picking the strings at different positions (in the middle of the string for a rich sound and near the pin blocks for a more restrained sound). The second piece “Whatever A Sun Will Always Sing” picks up the idea of beating the lower strings with the felt beater and also the beating of the cast iron frame. A new technique in this piece is the creation of harmonics, where one player presses down his fingers on the exact position for the flageolet on the strings and the other player presses the key.

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During the recording process, neither of the compositions had changed in any way from the initial live performance. Was it a challenge to capture the energy of the live performance in the studio environment? Where was ‘Relive’ recorded?

Carlos: The two pieces of “Relive” were recorded in our home studio in Munich. The recording really was a challenge! As there are so many different parts and different techniques, it was not able to record the pieces with the same position of microphones, for example the beating of the cast iron frame needs a really close position of the microphones to sound as rich as in a live performance. After all, we are really happy with the resulting recordings, but it surely was an intense weekend!

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‘Relive’ is a record that conveys the special musical telepathy that exists between two like-minded artists and composers. I would love for you to discuss how you first crossed paths with one another? How soon did you realize that a collaboration would blossom?

Carlos: Funnily, we’ve known each other since elementary school as we had the same piano teacher for nearly 7 years. After having changed to different teachers we met again and eventually fell in love with each other (we’ve been together for 6 years now). At this time I started to make my own music and Sophia left after a year of classical piano studies the musical paths for 4 years to study economic. She returned to music last summer to concentrate on writing her own stuff. At this moment it was obvious, that we would do something together, and finally last summer we could find the time to compose these two pieces.

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Please talk me through your musical backgrounds? I can imagine you both must have been immersed in music from a very young age?

Sophia: We both started taking piano lessons at the age of 6 and followed the classical path for nearly 12 years. After school, I couldn’t see myself as a classical pianist and left the musical path to study economics. During those studies I began to write own pieces on the piano and after finishing the studies this drew me back to music. Though, I still enjoy playing classical pieces, I can only see a way for me in writing my own music. I love to experiment, try new things, but in my own way.

Carlos: For me the turning point was when I started playing drums at the age of 16 and eventually played in a hardcore band with 3 of my best friends. From this moment on, I started to write my own music on the piano and saw a way in music for me. Right now I am studying classical composition.

The classical background is definitely important for us, especially for the playing but also for writing the pieces. In the end it’s the love for popular/modern music, though, which brings us to make the kind of music we do. We think it’s advantageous if you’re a part of both worlds, especially if you work mainly with instruments that have a classical connotation.

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It must be special to be on the Denovali roster. It’s a label that ceaselessly inspires and with each new release, a new discovery is made. The latest one for me is your ‘Relive’ record. It must be a wonderful time to be making music, particularly with the strength of modern-classical music that is out there, especially in the last few years. Can you discuss what music you are passionate about of late and what composers and records (old and new) have inspired you the most to make music?

Carlos: You’re right, it is really amazing to have the opportunity to release music on such a great label as Denovali. As you say the times now are really great to make music that definitely has roots in classical music but still has its place in popular music. As mentioned before, we think it is really important to know both worlds. That being said, inspiration comes in equal measure from the great composers (like Mozart, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, etc…), but also from modern bands like The National, Mogwai, Sigur Rós (and many many more). Right now, LPs who are rarely leaving our record player are the new Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (“Push the Sky Away”), the new David Lang pieces (“Death speaks”) and also Haim (“Days Are Gone”) and Daughter (“If you leave”).

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What’s next for both of you? Are there future projects on the horizon for you? I wish you all the best with the release of ‘Relive’ and congratulations once again on the remarkable record.

Carlos: Thank you once again for your words and wishes! Right now we’re working on new material.

Sophia: I am currently writing music for a short film, and preparing pieces for a debut album.

Carlos: Whereas I had a concert premiere of a string quartet piece last week and from now on I can find the time to get back to working on my second full-length solo-album.

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‘Relive’ is available now on Denovali Records. 

http://www.carloscipa.com
http://denovali.com

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Read our interviews with fellow Denovali labelmates Birds Of Passage (HERE), and Dale Cooper Quartet (HERE).

This year’s Denovali Swingfest — showcasing the best in experimental music — takes place in London (18th-19th April), Berlin (25th-26th April) and Essen (02-05th October), with guests including The Haxan Cloak (UK), Ulrich Schnauss (Ger) and Anna Von Hausswolff (Swe) [London]; Murcof (Mex), Oneohtrix Point Never (US) and John Lemke (UK) [Berlin].

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April 8, 2014 at 11:57 am

Fractured Air 11: Soft Intruders (A Mixtape by John Lemke)

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To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-11-soft-intruders-a-mixtape-by-john-lemke/

Tracklisting:

01. Pole – Modul
02. Nicolas Jaar – Too Many Kids In The Dust
03. Liars – No. 1 Against The Rush
04. Jan Jelinek – Music To Interrogate By
05. Amon Tobin – 4 Ton Mantis
06. Radiohead – Kinetic
07. Greg Haines – Something Happened
08. Hauschka – Ping
09. Piano Interrupted – Hobi
10. Grouper – Vital
11. Talk Talk – The Rainbow
12. PJ Harvey – England
13. Solarference – Cold Blows The Wind
14. Lali Puna – Come On Home
15. Gonjasufi – Kobwebz
16. Apaslar – Gil Gamis
17. Moondog – Moondog’s Symphony 1 (Timberwolf) & Karheinz Stockhausen – Gesang Der Jünglinge
18. Jonny Greenwood – Trench
19. Popol Vuh – Lacrime Di Re
20. Scott Walker – On Your Own Again
21. Can – Vitamin C
22. Bläck | Tract – Backed Into A Corner
23. Burial – Rival Dealer
24. Everyday Dust – Mantra

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John Lemke is a Glasgow-based composer who released his debut full-length ‘People Do’ last July on the Berlin-based independent label Denovali Records. Originally from Berlin, Lemke works across a range of media including collaborative works, live performance, film sound design and a documentary composer for the BBC and Channel 4. This April John Lemke will perform at this year’s Denovali Swingfest Experimental Music Festival in both London (18-19 April) and Berlin (26-26 April), full details of the Denovali Swingfest are HERE.  ‘Soft Intruders’ is a mixtape compiled by Lemke that “definitely reflects my current listening”.

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‘People Do’ is available now on Denovali Records.

http://www.lostinsounds.com
http://denovali.com

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Written by admin

February 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Chosen One: Birds Of Passage

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Interview with Alicia Merz, Birds Of Passage.

“Hmm, let’s see … You send the music deep enough into your heart so that it makes your body undergo a kind of a physical shift, and simultaneously the listener’s body also undergoes the same kind of physical shift. It’s giving birth to that kind of shared state.”

(taken from Haruki Murakami’s ‘After Dark’)

Words & Illustration: Craig Carry

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Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s dreamlike novel ‘After Dark’ tells the story of various characters whose lives intertwine on one night (between the hours of 11:56 P.M. and 6:52 A.M. to be precise). The central character to the plot is young student Mari Asai, who, in the opening scene (at a nondescript late-night Denny’s), has a chance meeting with Takahashi — an old school acquaintance of Mari’s older sister Eri — who is a passionate trombone player playing in a local jazz band. Takahashi later confides in Mari his frank admission that he is not talented enough for a career in music so he has regretfully decided to study to become a lawyer instead. It is the particular description that Takahashi uses to describe his feelings about what music can potentially do — for both musician and audience — which struck me most while reading Murakami’s nocturnal masterclass.

Both musicians and music audiences can of course appreciate these words. Music can indeed communicate powerfully and resonate indelibly with the lives of others. Forming a shared connection while providing a special bond or connection with a listener is a powerful, precious thing. What’s perhaps most special (and rare) of all is when music can genuinely move somebody. Time and again, this is the effect that the music of Birds Of Passage has for me. Birds Of Passage is the pseudonym for the New Zealand-based composer Alicia Merz, who — since her debut ‘Without The World’ in early 2011 — has been quietly making her own unique blend of wholly engaging and deeply moving music. There is a deep sense of intimacy shared between listener and composer as Merz “truly whispers” to each and every person who is fortunate enough to cross paths with her. Alicia Merz makes music like her life depends on it. In fact, I would imagine music is not simply an extension of her, it simply is her. Over the course of three LP’s (‘Without The World’, ‘Dear and Unfamiliar’ and ‘Winter Lady’) and several EP’s and collaborations, Birds Of Passage has been creating quietly breathtaking worlds for the listener to navigate and experience. In turn, while exploring the dense maze-like patterns of her music we identify our own deepest hopes, fears and dreams — and learn something about ourselves — in the process.

Like a force of nature, ‘Ashes To Ashes’ begins with a brooding, drone and ambient-swept passage, reverberating magnificently in all directions. The highly textured and mightily condensed sequence is perfectly offset by Alicia Merz’s soft whispered vocals. “Will you find me here?” asks Merz in a heavenly vocal — delivered in a similarly magical effect to the vocals of Liz Harris or Julianna Barwick — casting a spell on the listener immediately. Before we know it we are already deep inside the innermost caverns of ‘This Kindly Slumber’s mysterious and complex maze of real and imagined landscapes. Like Guilermo Del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ we have — like the film’s central character, Ofelia, on her journey through the trials of an old labyrinth garden — set afoot on a magical, danger-filled world steeped in both fantasy and reality. “Will you save me here?” calls the angelic voice across the hazy, minimalist backdrop.

“Moonlight come and find me / Hidden behind my closed eyes” sings Merz on ‘Belle de Jour’, where a beautiful (near-childlike) keyboard rhythm opens proceedings, as we dig deeper into slumber, uncovering innermost feelings and deeply personal secrets along our way. Later, a wonderfully pitched guitar line weaves its way through the arrangement (recalling ‘Lampyre Bonne Chère’, Alicia Merz’s majestic collaboration with fellow-label-mates Dale Cooper Quartet) adding a sense of foreboding to the innocent quality possessed by the keyboard and vocal arrangements. “I dreamt I stole your kisses / I stole them while you slumbered” sings Merz on the song’s verse. One of the album’s most precious moments arrives later as Merz sings: “This mask I wear is wounded like the soldier underneath / This heart I hide is delicate and worn”. Interestingly, the lyrics draw a line back to Birds Of Passage’s previous album, ‘Winter Lady’, and ‘Highwaymen in Midnight Masks’, in particular, where a similar aching sense of vulnerability is shared. Unsurprisingly, the night and darkness provides recurring imagery throughout ‘This Kindly Slumber’, as we surrender to the moon and stars above, helpless to the fate they hold in store for us. “My light is almost gone” concludes ‘Belle de Jour’, while any faded embers of light are by now well and truly extinguished.

My current personal favorite is the glorious ‘And All Of Your Dreams’, a dynamic and rhythmic delight. On first listen I was immediately drawn back to witnessing Colleen’s Cécile Schott performing ‘Once Upon a Time There Was a Pretty Fly (Lullaby)’ live in concert (a song she performed on numerous occasions last year). The song — taken from the score to the 1955 Charles Laughton film noir classic ‘The Night Of The Hunter’ — features the following lyrics: “Once upon a time / There was a pretty fly / He had a pretty wife / This pretty fly / But one day / She flew away / Flew away”, creating a beguiling spell upon the audience in the process. A similar timelessness is forever distilled in Jack Clayton’s 1961 gothic horror ‘The Innocents’, where the song ‘O Willow Waly’ (written specifically for the film and wondrously sung by Isla Cameron) serves a critical point to the plot’s arc and to the film’s eventual outcome. During the second verse of ‘And All Of Your Dreams’, Merz chooses to add an excerpt from the fairytale ‘Ladybird, Ladybird’ (sometimes referred to as ‘Ladybug Ladybug’), the english version of the tale dates back to the Eighteenth Century. The song’s chorus begins with the nursery rhyme extract: “Ladybird, ladybird / Fly away home / Your house is on fire / Your children are gone”, proceeded by Merz’s heartfelt lyric: “And all of your dreams, they came true / And all of your dreams / Died with you”, similarly embodying (in an instant) the sense of both hope and fear, light and dark; the contrast which forms the blood-flow throughout ‘This Kindly Slumber’.

The magical ‘Stranger’ stands at the centre of ‘This Kindly Slumber’s seven tracks, the guitar-picked and high-pitched vocal carves out a ray of light on proceedings as Merz’s delicate whisper is now more dominant in the mix, it is as if the album’s central character is now beginning to find her voice (and place) in the world of these dark plains. A sense of comfort and semblance of solace is sought — if not yet attained — as Merz sings “Bestowed your kindness on me” across the thinly veiled sonic layers of voice and guitar in the background as they ebb and flow at their own accord, recalling the ambient flourishes of such labels as Touch or Kranky (or composers such as Kyle Bobby Dunn or Loscil) in the process. There’s something deeply touching about the moment when Merz sings the solitary word “stranger”, it’s like the extent and scale of the darkness is only now being fully realized.

‘Take My Breath’ features a soothing, guitar-picked accompaniment where the repeated harp-like pattern and background harmony-like voices shroud Merz’s vocals in heightened mystery, blurring the lines of reality in the process. ‘Take My Breath’ is repeated like a mantra at the song’s close,  merging in a dreamlike fashion with the harmonic ambience in it’s midst. Like all Birds Of Passage’s material to date, the sequencing of any recorded material is painstakingly done like some time-honored craft. ‘Yesterday’s Stains’ begins with the forceful press of piano keys, before the album’s most intimate and vulnerable song begins to take shape. “Suicide child / With life in her veins / Blood for tomorrow / In yesterday’s stains” sings Merz in near-hypnotized fashion recalling the timeless, fear-filled and deeply moving songs of Mark Linkous’s Sparklehorse.

Album closer ‘Lonesome Tame’ opens with the combination of both ambient and field-recording textures, building in momentum while Merz asks: “Will they welcome you?”. It’s the kind of piece that could be augmented by a 12-piece orchestra or choral symphony, but, in doing so, would only lessen the impact made by the impeccable talents of the lone figure of Alicia Merz. The moment Merz sings “Will they welcome you? / mmm mmm mmm” — offset by a series of solitary piano notes in the background — serves to capture the heartbreaking quality of Daniel Johnston’s songbook while conveying the magical otherworldly quality found in music by Belgium’s Christina Vantzou or Iceland’s Jóhann Jóhannsson.

The album culminates in an extended passage of reverie and slumber as Merz’s deeply personal nocturnal voyage comes to a close. It’s a life-affirming journey which finds Merz navigating the darkest of nights while facing her gravest of fears. On the other side of this kindly slumber we realize that even the darkest of shadows lie closest to light: through the sacred and secret songs of Birds Of Passage we learn that in every moment of hopelessness exists hope. For that, we can be eternally grateful.

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‘This Kindly Slumber’ is available now on Denovali Records.

https://www.facebook.com/birdsofpassagemusic
http://denovali.com

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Interview with Alicia Merz, Birds Of Passage.

I love how the title ‘This Kindly Slumber’ works so beautifully for the album as a whole. There’s such real emotion and feeling within the album itself and yet these powerful and moving moments almost reveal themselves gradually over time to the listener. I suppose this is partly to do with the ambient and dreamlike textures that create such a heightened atmosphere in your songs. The listening experience is a deeply intimate and genuinely moving one. What does the title of the album mean for you, Alicia?

AM: That is something that I actually would rather not convey. Although there is a reason and meaning in my mind for the title, I really want to leave it up to the listeners to interpret it for themselves, how they want or need to. I would much rather that. 🙂

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How did the process for the making of ‘This Kindly Slumber’ differ from ‘Winter Lady’?

AM: I guess the main way it differed was in that I wrote and recorded the songs very spread out, in between a lot of things happening in my personal life. So I think everything was quite disjointed in that way. Not extremely so, just more so than with ‘Winter Lady’. I still always work on a song until it’s finished, and all it needs, in my mind at least, is little fixes which I can go back to later.

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I love the more abstract and ambient/drone textures which your songs gravitate towards at times during ‘This Kindly Slumber’ (‘Ashes to Ashes’ and ‘Lonesome Tame’, for example). They set that dreamlike and intimate tone for the album as a whole so wonderfully and recall people like Julianna Barwick’s recent ‘Nepenthe’ or Grouper’s material. In terms of building these songs, how was this process for the album itself? Would they have all been demoed in a similar way or did the process vary for different songs?

AM: If I’m answering your question correctly, I think all of my songs are what they are, first off. I don’t like to re-do things because I really think that the first takes are the most pure and hold the most feeling. I have actually sometimes tried to re-sing a vocal or something, for the release, and always gone back to the original, because it always held something that the “re-sings” didn’t have. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ was impromptu.

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I was really struck by the special connection that exists between the nursery rhyme ‘Ladybird, Ladybird’ — which is combined with ‘And All Of Your Dreams’ so powerfully — it adds a beautifully timeless and innocent quality to the song. When did you discover this nursery rhyme?

AM: When I was a child. That rhyme was running through my head for some time, and they just amalgamated themselves into my own lyrics. They worked perfectly with the subject of the song.

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Are there other nursery rhymes or children stories that impacted you growing up as a child?

AM: Actually, I just remembered that when I was about 10 I became crazily fascinated with the origins of nursery rhymes and their actual meanings, and I went to the library to get books out on it, and being from this tiny town, they only had 1 little child’s version of their history, but I managed to get hold of some better ones, and yes, I was really interested in that they had hidden meanings and a history attached to them, so I learned a lot about them then. They are really fascinating.

Stories and poems etc. that come to mind are ‘The Selfish Giant’, actually all of Oscar Wilde’s short stories, and ‘Le Petit Prince’, ‘The Lady of Shalott’ and ‘The Highwayman’.

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One of the most special moments on the album for me is the lyric: “this mask I wear is wounded like the soldier underneath”. The song is like a close relation to ‘Highwaymen in Midnight Masks’ from your last album ‘Winter Lady’, and is equally just as enriching and powerful for the listener. At what stage of the album was this song written?

AM: You’re very connected. 🙂 This song was actually the first song written, it was written a long time ago, not long after ‘Highwaymen’…I think I wrote it a couple of weeks after I got back from the tour through Europe.

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The use of your vocals are so striking across all seven pieces on ‘This Kindly Slumber’ — from the very softly spoken and hushed parts or near spoken-word parts (the verse for ‘Belle de Jour’, for example) to the use of double-tracking on ‘Yesterday’s Stains’ or the stunning rise in your vocals on ‘Stranger’ — your voice creates such a range of tones which elicit so many moods and emotions across the album. Recording your vocal takes must prove challenging at the recording stage of the album?

AM: Well, you may notice some stumbles in my vocals…which, as I mentioned before, I keep because they are the honest emotion, and I don’t want to take that away. Mostly my vocals are the first takes. Thank you so much for your compliments. 🙂

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With repeat listens, ‘This Kindly Slumber’ builds almost a labyrinth or maze whereby the listener navigates their own way out, there’s a darkness present – together with much vulnerability – but there’s ultimately light and hope present too. It’s very rare to experience such a personal journey on an album (for both listener and composer) which has the effect of creating such a moving experience.
I suppose ‘Yesterday’s Stains’ would be a darker part to the album, there’s such an openness and honesty here which is in itself so inspiring on so many different levels. I imagine it must be very difficult writing a piece such as ‘Yesterday’s Stains’?

AM: I think maybe writing a very personal song is the easy part, because it’s something that needs to be done. It’s there, and it needs to come out or something. It’s making it public that might be the difficult part, but that is softened by the hope that it will bring some people who will relate to it in some way, it may bring them some sort of kindred feeling, and some sort of hope.

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I love the cover artwork for ‘This Kindly Slumber’. Again, it reflects and embodies the album, it’s many moods and textures so wonderfully. Could you tell me how the sleeve came to fruition, Alicia?

AM: I had another idea for the cover and Bruno my brother, is an amazing artist, and he is so kind that he draws for me pretty much whatever I ask him. Well, this time, my idea didn’t quite work out, because there were too many bits in it and various other things. So he listened to the album, and he came up with the idea of the cover and explained it to me, and I thought it sounded absolutely perfect. So he went ahead with what he saw in his head, and I’m so happy it happened that way, because he totally got it right on. He created the perfect cover for ‘This Kindly Slumber’.

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What music and reading material did you surround yourself with on the making of ‘This Kindly Slumber’?

AM: If I am in a writing period, I really try to stay away from everything because I need to be in my own space. If I put something on, it’s usually unimposing things like Gregorian chants.

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Since the last time we spoke you also added vocals to The Dale Cooper Quartet & The Dictaphones song ‘Lampyre Bonne Chère’ (taken from their current Denovali LP ‘Quatorze Pièces de Menace’). It’s such a magnificent song and your vocals and Dale Cooper Quartet’s distinctive sound (electric guitars, percussion and strings) is a match made in heaven. What was this collaboration and the process like?

AM: Thank you so much. I loved singing on that song.

They sent me the song, asking if I’d like to sing on it, and I was blown away by its beauty when I heard it. I was really excited to be able to do something with it. So I came up with a melody and lyrics, and recorded it.

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For your recent mixtape you so kindly compiled for us, you chose two tracks by Molly Drake. Her music — as well as Nick Drake’s of course — is clearly very special for you. How would you describe the impact their music has had on you as a songwriter?

AM: I’d say Nick Drake has been very influential for me, in that he brings me to a place where I want to write. In a particularly hard time of my life, when I was younger, Nick Drake’s music was a huge part of my life and I kind of got through my sadness sharing it with the music. So now when I listen to it, it brings back all of those strong feelings and emotions, I suppose.

I just love the fact that Molly existed unknown for so long, and kept writing and recording her beautiful, sweet and sad songs with those insightful lyrics, without any sort of recognition. Obviously something she needed to do, it was her expression, no matter what anyone else thought, and I think that’s so beautiful. It’s also interesting to see a glimmer of how she must have influenced Nick Drake in his own songs.

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What plans do you have in store for 2014, Alicia?

AM: I’m hoping to tour Europe. but it depends on finances…so I don’t know if it will happen yet. And I actually haven’t planned much more, except a few collaborations. 🙂

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‘This Kindly Slumber’ is available now on Denovali Records.

https://www.facebook.com/birdsofpassagemusic
http://denovali.com

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January 27, 2014 at 9:56 am

Step Right Up: Dale Cooper Quartet

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Interview with Dale Cooper Quartet.

“I think — as every creation — your life, place you live, travel, meetings have an evident influence. Maybe it is the windy weather mixed with our landscapes we’re in that got an influence on it. But then, it is more a confluent meeting of three persons.”

—Christophe Mevel, Dale Cooper Quartet

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Named after a central character in David Lynch’s cult-classic ‘Twin Peaks’ TV series, Dale Cooper Quartet & The Dictaphones create a similarly beguiling atmosphere through their unique blend of dark drone, 50s jazz, soundtrack music and ambient flourishes (at times augmented by heavenly string arrangements). The latest album is the cult-French collective’s follow-up to the acclaimed 2011 album ‘Metamanoir’ (the second release for the German experimental label Denovali). The latest venture, entitled ‘Quatorze Pièces de Menace’, released last September on the ever-formidable Denovali label, was inspired by the live experience of the band and their everlasting love for the local landscapes. The eleven brooding and hypnotic sonic creations captured on ‘Quatorze Pièces de Menace’ reveals an intensity of emotion that uncovers new meaning upon further encounters.

A wonderful cast of musicians guest on ‘Quatorze Pièces de Menace’ that adds new dimensions to the ethereal soundscapes. New Zealand artist (and Denovali label-mate) Alicia Merz (whose Birds Of Passage moniker is responsible for creating utterly captivating worlds of song), adds vocals to the spellbinding album closer ‘Lampyre Bonne Chère’. One of the album’s defining moments is beautifully arrived upon as Merz, close to a whisper, sings “hold my hand again” amidst swirling strings, mournful piano and reverb-drenched guitar tones. The fragile words forms a new horizon of hope and solace, as a tragically beautiful ballad brings Dale Cooper Quartet’s enriching journey to a stunning close.

Elsewhere, guest vocalists include the gifted talents of Zalie Bellacicco (who appeared on the debut ‘Parole de Navarre’), Irish-born Ronan MacErlaine and Gaelle Kerrien (Yann Tiersen). The deep tones of MacErlaine’s voice on ‘Céladon Bafre’ is a joy to behold, as the songbook of Scott Walker comes into full focus. MacErlaine sings “Winter face” continuously over a gentle ripple of minor piano chords on the final verse that brings to mind Frank Sinatra’s ‘Sings For Only The Lonely’. A sense of melancholia permeates the atmosphere, as the piano chords drift by: “The clear hat is gone”. The introspective mood (dominating much of Side B) serves the perfect counterpoint to the opening flurry of experimental noise unleashed by ‘L’escolier Serpent Eolipile’. It is the dynamic range (and indeed, eclectic range of styles) that is most striking about Dale Cooper Quartet’s newest venture.

The dreamy tones of reverb-filled electric guitar serves the opening notes to ‘Ignescence Black-bass Recule’, before a hypnotic drumbeat leads you on a voyage into the heart of darkness. The menacing world of David Lynch is never far away. Later, a seductive double-bass groove creates the rhythmic pulse of the slow-burning, chaos-filled transmission. Moments later, audio recordings of Italian spoken word arrives that heightens the sense of impending doom. The inevitability of disaster, it seems, is a stone’s throw away. The epic album opener ‘Brosme en Dos-vert’ contains looped spoken word fragments, eerie strings and striking ambient pulses beneath a hiss and crackle of vinyl. The middle section evolves into drone of choral bliss as drums and percussion and noise conjures up the sound of The Haxan Cloak. A resolution is found, as the closing section of calming trumpet sounds (think ECM’s back-catalogue) ascends into the air. A vintage sound is masterfully formed.

The eerie piano notes and mesmerising strings of ‘Calbombe camoufle Fretin’ is effortlessly blended with the addition of female vocals. An organic, cohesive whole is this created that is steeped in a strange beauty. The lyric of “Slow is the maker” sung by MacErlaine on the brooding lament ‘Nourrain Quinquet’ resonates powerfully. Undoubtedly, ‘Quatorze Pièces De Menace’s suspense and beauty creates a deeply fascinating experience. From the wintry windswept shores of Brittany, France, Dale Cooper Quartet have created a tragically beautiful opus for each and every one of us to truly savor.

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‘Quatorze Pièces de Menace’ is available now on Denovali Records.

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Interview with Dale Cooper Quartet.

[The Dale Cooper Quartet are: Christophe Mevel, Gael Loison, Yannick Martin]

Congratulations on the stunning new record, ‘Quatorze Pièces De Menace’. The enthralling soundscapes explore a seamless array of genres – jazz, experimental noise, ambient, modern-classical – that captures a mood and atmosphere so vivid, and beguilingly beautiful. Please discuss for me your aims from the outset in recording the follow-up to 2011’s ‘Metamanoir’?

Christophe: Hello, thanks a lot Mark for the kind words. Well, I guess there were no aims but each of us had many ideas to follow. The record is a result as a collective act at a d-day. That’s maybe why we can hear some jazz, improvised, electronic, ambient, written music and many genres that we’re in actually. Metamanoir was very orchestrated and sophisticated sounds, we wanted something more rough in the musical approach maybe closer to the live acts…with the accidents, the length & general mood. We didn’t have any concept before starting the recordings.

Yannick: Thanks, Mark. Except from the first album which had a general aim (to make improvised music inspired by Twin Peaks soundtrack), we just record different parts at several moments (mostly night sessions) and mix the whole stuff. The tone and colour of the last album then appeared during the mixing session and we tried to get back to the simplicity of Parole de Navarre but also have more songs-like tracks.

Gael: We spent a lot of time recording to real instruments and voices to breathe life into sampling materials, making a huge catalog of sounds to choose from when we assemble tracks and songs.

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What I also love about the record are the guest vocalists that appear on ‘Quatorze Pièces De Menace’. The voices add new dimensions and textures to the deeply captivating sonic canvas of the album. Can you please recount for me your memories of first coming across these amazing talents – Alicia Merz, Zalie Ballacicco, Ronan Mac Erlaine and Gaelle Kerrien – and the resulting collaboration that ensued?

Christophe: Oh, each vocalist here have a different story. Concerning Alicia, it’s just a stunning discovery we did because she produces albums on the same stunning label (Denovali). And, she asked us to do a remix of one of her song (with Brother & Sister Moon project) two years ago. It was the first time for us, and a supa’ great surprise we heard her vocals on our universe while working on. We thought it could be a lovely guest on some songs. Particularly these ones. She’s got an incredible voice and way of recording, very rough.
Zalie, was the first vocalist we worked with, now ten years ago; she’s a friend and can work on all the textures she wants, technically a killer! She works regularly with Gael as well on vocals improvised experiences with electronic. Hope it will see the day one day.
Ronan is an Irish-born friend, non-singer until Gael discovered his voice that we really love. 😉 It sounds good with our universe. Gaelle is a very old friend, cos’ we used to start the music together in the early 90’s. Since these days, we’ve always had different projects and bands. For Dale Cooper it was the perfect universe to work together. So, this is it. And there’s always secret singers that we can hear as well. 😉

Yannick: Yes, the vocals are really inspiring to us. We use them as instruments, especially with the girls’ voices. Ronan has a dark tone that fits perfectly with our moody atmosphere too. The other day, we summed up people we would like to hear on our future releases. We’ll probably find other great vocalists as we are quite happy with the 60’s classic songs tracks on the last album. Maybe we would release 4-songs EP on 7″ vinyl record that has to be played on jukebox only. With the scratchy sound included.

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Album closer ‘Lampyre Bonne Chère’ is such a divine sonic creation. The instrumentation of strings, percussion, guitars swirl majestically beneath Alicia Merz’s achingly beautiful vocals. I would love to gain an insight into the construction (or de-construction) of this particular song and the arrangement of ‘Lampyre Bonne Chère’. It’s a fitting close to such a triumphant album.

Christophe: Yes, in this case it’s more a deconstruction. As a final track, we like the idea of a pop song (as on Metamanoir), this one with a classic three basic chords. Then, from this state, we try to make it sound in our universe, we try many possibilities and from all of these we keep the basics, with many silences. We had another a different guide vocal on this one that we did before sending the track to Alicia that she decided to sing it differently and it is just so great, fitting perfectly with these silences. She sent us the track when we were closing the mix of the album. It should have figured on the next album then but it was the track we needed!

Gael: Yes, it is like a final song in a motion picture soundtrack, and we had to mix it in one night.

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My current favourite is the brooding opus ‘Nourrain Quinquet’. The lyric “slow is the maker” resonates powerfully. The song feels it belongs somewhere between the worlds of Scott Walker and GodSpeed You Black Emperor. The saxophone releases a cathartic energy throughout. I would love to learn about the range of instrumentation utilized on the record and indeed, the recording process involved?

Yannick: We sent the mixed track to Ronan who wrote the lyrics. He recorded on his own in Paris and the result was brilliant. I guess the saxophone was the latest part recorded. Krystian flow is now a trademark to our sound and in a couple of takes, the track was completed.

Gael: Philippe’s trumpet plays a big role here too, the song has so many layers, keeping the night feel out of sampled vinyls and real instruments, bass was the last recorded instrument and gives the final structure of the song. We use some vintage microphones and mixers for the way they sound.

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Can you discuss for me the influence your native Brittany, France has had on your music, and how the local landscapes filter into your unique blend of sound?

Christophe: I think — as every creation — your life, place you live, travel, meetings have an evident influence. Maybe it is the windy weather mixed with our landscapes we’re in that got an influence on it. I think you know that in Ireland! But then, it is more a confluent meeting of three persons. Any of us could separately have this sound, ideas and songs.

Yannick: Don’t know if we live in Istanbul the music would be different. I guess Brittany is in us and in our music. But I do think that night and its mysteries run into our sound. And if it is breezy and rainy, maybe it drives our songs to that special atmosphere.

Gael: Rain, seashore, coffee: ideal mood!

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Can you reminisce and talk about watching ‘Twin Peaks’ for the first time. What were your immediate impressions? Do you have favourite episodes? For me, I still remember the profound effect (and shock/suspense!) of seeing Laura Palmer’s father transform into evil; in the living room while a vinyl is being played. I couldn’t think clearly for days afterwards.

Christophe: when I was 18 or something, Saturday night watching. I have an exciting souvenir from this series and period, it was so uncommon at this time, for me, and it stayed the same, I haven’t watched it since this time. So it’s quite a troubled vision, that’s how I want it to stay.

Yannick: Watching ‘Twin Peaks’ means such great memories to me: it was broadcasted on La Cinq (Channel 5), a new channel as there was only 4 TV channels in the 80s. It was really different from the other TV programs. It has nothing to deal with a detective soap with one case/one guilty man. All was mixed up, there were no real head character, no good/evil, just a bunch of weird people. I loved and still love Audrey Horn as she is beautiful, childish, somehow stupid but she seems to be the master of many scenes.

Gael: Yeah, I’ve seen the series back in the 90’s, loved the mood.

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Lastly, I read somewhere that Angelo Badalamenti described his own music as “tragically beautiful”. I think the same description can be used for the incredible works of yours. Are there certain records out there that has served major sources of inspiration for you?

Christophe: Personally, ‘Laughing Stock’ & ‘Spirit Of Eden’ Talk Talk records were a real shock, and stays after all these years. I can still listen to it after a thousand times, every listen is different, it is a majestic and powerful record that got a big influence. It is the reference point for me with the jazz and improvised music I’m working in. And then there could be other hundreds of records, films, people that got an influence…but taking time is the best influence. 😉

Yannick : I listen to a wide range of music. But I guess the records I listened to when we started the Quartet are still somewhere there: Bark Psychosis, Labradford and Flying Saucer Attack.

Gael: I always loved the way Brian Eno talks about music, especially ambient music.

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‘Quatorze Pièces de Menace’ is available now on Denovali Records.

https://www.facebook.com/dalecooperquartet
http://denovali.com

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