FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Ken Camden

Fractured Air 44: Benoît Pioulard “Kranky Mix”

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‘Sonnet’ is the fifth Kranky album by Thomas Meluch under his musical alias Benoît Pioulard, following the 2006 debut full-length ‘Précis’, ‘Temper’ (2008), ‘Lasted’ (2010) and 2013’s ‘Hymnal’. The American sound sculptor – in a similar fashion to his label-mates Loscil, Grouper and Pan American – has amassed a rich body of empowering work, seamlessly creating some of the most affecting and captivating ambient-based compositions of the past decade. This year has also marked the release of ‘Noyaux’, a four-track EP released on Morr Music and the collaborative project with longtime friend and colleague Kyle Bobby Dunn under the moniker of Perils (the debut self-titled LP was issued by Desire Path Recordings).
Kranky is an independent record label based in Chicago, Illinois. The prestigious label’s first release was Labradford’s debut album ‘Prazision’ in 1993. Some 22 years later, the label continues to release some of the most compelling and adventurous sounds from the likes of Loscil, Stars Of The Lid, Pan American, Grouper, Benoît Pioulard, Implodes and much more. 2015 has already seen latest releases from Benoît Pioulard, Disappears, Ken Camden, Valet, Helen and Christina Vantzou.

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Fractured Air 44: Benoît Pioulard “Kranky Mix”

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-44-kranky-mix-by-benoit-pioulard/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Low ‘Will the Night’ [Songs for a Dead Pilot, krank021]
02. Mirrorring ‘Silent From Above’ [Foreign Body, krank162]
03. Labradford ‘El Lago’ [A Stable Reference, krank006]
04. Loscil ‘Hastings Sunrise’ [Sketches from New Brighton, krank171]
05. Felix ‘Who Will Pity the Poor Fool’ [Oh Holy Molar, krank165]
06. Anjou ‘Adjustment’ [Anjou, krank185]
07. Ken Camden ‘Eta Carinae’ [Space Mirror, krank180]
08. Jonas Reinhardt ‘Modern By Nature’s Reward’ [Jonas Reinhardt, krank119]
09. Implodes ‘Wendy’ [Recurring Dream, krank174]
10. Tim Hecker ‘Black Refraction’ [Virgins, krank183]
11. Belong ‘Common Era’ [Common Era, krank155]
12. Stars of the Lid ‘Tippy’s Demise’ […and Their Refinement of the Decline, krank100]
13. Valet ‘Tame All The Lions’ [Blood Is Clean, krank105]
14. Grouper ‘Labyrinth’ [Ruins, krank189]
15. Windy & Carl ‘The Smell of Old Books’ [We Will Always Be, krank163]
16. The Dead Texan ‘The Struggle’ [The Dead Texan, krank072]

Compiled by Thomas Meluch (Benoît Pioulard). The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or Kranky. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

 


 

http://www.kranky.net/
http://pioulard.com/

 

Chosen One: Christina Vantzou

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Interview with Christina Vantzou.

This year marked the hugely anticipated release of Kansas-born composer Christina Vantzou’s breathtaking second album ‘N°2’, featuring, once again, Minna Choi of the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra and Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen). Since its February 2014 album release on the Chicago-based Kranky label, Vantzou has also filmed and directed a film for each of the eleven pieces from ‘N°2’, as well as inviting a host of artists to remix and re-interpret the material from ‘N°2’. We’re delighted to premiere the videos (directed by Christina Vantzou) for both ‘Anna Mae’ (opener to ‘N°2’) and Ken Camden’s exclusive remix for Christina Vantzou’s ‘The Magic of the Autodidact’. All films are made in 100% slow motion using a Phantom Miro 320S slow motion camera. ‘N°2’ is available on all formats via the Kranky label.

Words: Mark Carry

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The Kansas-born and Brussels-based composer, Christina Vantzou is one of those rare treasures in the 21st Century Neoclassical realm whose music has graced the world with her stunningly beautiful compositions. The latest album, ‘N°2’ is the appropriately titled follow-up to 2011’s utterly transcendent opus ‘N°1’ released on the formidable Chicago based label, Kranky. What remains vividly present on Vantzou’s newest masterwork is the infinite beauty and unlimited emotion that pours from the intricately layered compositions. Similar to its predecessor, ‘N°2’ bloomed into vital life over a long period of time (over a four-year period to be precise) and it is the composer’s meticulous detail and sheer musical capabilities that lies at the heart of these truly captivating artistic works.

‘N°2’ was composed using synthesizers and a wide array of unidentified samples that were manipulated beyond recognition. Although similar patterns can be traced on ‘N°2’s gradual ambient flourishes (akin to Vantzou’s beautifully constructed frame-by-frame animation work), compositionally, the record shows a more daring approach with added instrumentation and the presence of a 15-piece string section. New addition of bassoon and oboe adds gorgeous colour and texture to the densely layered strings that enriches and heightens the musical journey unearthed by the U.S. composer. A wider sonic palette is used throughout, from the gentle ripple-flow of piano notes on the album’s penultimate track, ‘Vostok’ and prominence of harp on the achingly beautiful ‘VHS’ to the rapturous crescendo of strings of ‘Going Backwards To Recover What Was Left Behind’ where an emotion-filled sadness engulfs your every pore. Elsewhere, slowly shifting layers of brass and woodwind drifts majestically in ‘Brain Fog’ before brooding strings come to the fore, resulting in a cathartic release of energy. Layers of angelic voices appear and disappear throughout, forming not only a monumental symphonic movement but also an other-worldly choral work. ‘Vancouver Island Quartet’ could be the record’s pinnacle as a seamless array of fragments (celestial voices, empowering strings, tranquil harp notes) coalesce together forming a deeply affecting and cohesive whole.

A collaboration between Vantzou and Minna Choi of the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra took place once again for ‘N°2’s recording sessions. Prior to recording at Tiny Telephone studios, Vantzou and Choi worked on the notation and arrangements. Later, the Brussels-based artist spent four months pre-mixing the album before close friend and colleague, Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen) engineered the final mixes, in addition to adding his signature sound texture at his studio in Brussels, Belgium. As Vantzou previously described of the mixing process in our interview from last year: “Adam Wiltzie is now doing the final mixes and it’s a mammoth effort. He’s peeling back layers and adding a few special touches. There are so many layers. I’m not exaggerating, it’s a bit of a monster.”

The results are nothing short of staggering where a ground-breaking work of immense power and cascading emotion heightens all that surrounds you. As the drone embellishes of ‘The Magic Of The Autodidact’ blurs in and out of focus, a magical spell is cast upon all those fortunate enough to witness such unfathomable beauty.

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‘N°2’ is available now on Kranky.

http://www.christinavantzou.com
http://www.kranky.net

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“Anna Mae”

From the album “Nº2” out now on all formats via Kranky.

Directed & Produced by Christina Vantzou
Cinematography: Léo Lefèvre
Assistant Camera: Elvis Fontaine-Garant

Featuring: Stefanie De Regel & Marcus Doverud
Gaffer: Denis Antheunissens
Key Grip: Artur Castro Freire
Assistant Director: Adrien Monfleur
Color Grade: Florian Berutti
Shot with a Phantom MIRO M320S

Special Thanks to: Perrine Wens and BFC, Julie Calbert, Eye Light & KGS

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Ken Camden Remix: “The Magic of the Autodidact”

Directed & Produced by Christina Vantzou
Cinematography: Léo Lefèvre
Assistant Camera: Elvis Fontaine-Garant

Actress: Stefanie De Regel
Gaffer: Denis Antheunissens
Key Grip: Artur Castro Freire
Assistant Director: Adrien Monfleur
Color Grade: Florian Berutti
Shot with a Phantom MIRO M320S

Special Thanks to: Perrine Wens and BFC, Marcus Doverud, Julie Calbert, Eye Light & KGS

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Interview with Christina Vantzou.

Congratulations Christina on your truly stunning ‘N°2’ album. You must feel deeply proud of this mesmerizing and beautiful work of art. It’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions about your latest masterpiece. Please discuss the four-year period where you worked on composing and recording ‘N°2’ please and the creative process that ensued?

Christina Vantzou: Thank you. It’s difficult to encapsulate a four-year period in a few words. I remember a lot of composing time and then long listening sessions. Sometimes I would listen to rough draft portions of the record while I cleaned my apartment. I had too much raw material at first, so the decision-making process, as far as what would go into the studio, was long and arduous. It’s both meditative and maddening.

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It is clear upon listening to ‘N°2’, your compositions are more adventurous than ever before, with use of added instrumentation and heightened layers of immaculate sounds. For example, I love the use of woodwind instruments and the prominence of solo instruments on particular pieces. Can you please discuss your main priorities from the outset, in what you wanted to achieve on ‘N°2’ and the direction you were moving towards from ‘N°1’?

CV: I was sure I wanted an oboe in the sound. Adding a bassoon was second priority together with a bassier string section. There was one track that was intended for woodwinds only – a woodwind quintet. I had put together 15 tracks for N°2’s recording session, and 11 tracks made it on the final album. I made sure to keep some room for experimentation and failure. Leaving room for failure was very important to the overall process of ‘N°2’.

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Since the last time we spoke, it feels that the process of making ‘N°2’ follows a similar pattern to that of its predecessor, ‘N°1’, in terms of collaborating with Minna Choi, Telephone Studios in Francisco and indeed, your trusted collaborator Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie. Can you please recount for me your memories of working again with these gifted people and the collaborative process between you and Mina and Adam?

CV: Yes, like ‘N°1’ ‘N°2’ involves close collaboration with Minna Choi in the early stages and Adam Wiltzie in the final stages. Minna and I have built an interesting working relationship together: I think the work we do is special because of her excellence and my naïveté.

For both ‘N°1’ and ‘N°2’, I composed some tracks that were more or less finished in their midi stage, without much transformation, but a lot of tracks were quite sketchy and some were just weird ideas, like a drone-y audio file with a list of instructions on paper and a few images for inspiration. Minna has a way of attacking everything, no matter what stage, leaving nothing untouched or unconsidered.

Although mixing took several months, there’s an efficiency to working with Adam because we have done so for a very long time. Both Adam and Minna were very generous towards ‘N°2’. When the record was passed to Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering service, I felt he took special care of the record too. Jay Pellicci at Tiny Telephone is very much a part of the sound as well. Everyone’s time and care had an influence.

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What stage of the process is the most challenging, Christina? I’m always amazed to think of the time, emotion, artistic input and energy that pours into a record such as ‘N°1’ or ‘N°2’ but one can feel that space and time embedded in your heavenly music. For example, working on the notation part of the music with Minna or finalizing arrangements, mixing stages towards the end, are just some of the stages of the creative pathway. What stage comprises the moments you cherish the most?

CV: Every stage has its challenges. Composing is challenging because it’s done in isolation. It takes a lot of time, and most of that time is in front of a computer. When I passed the record to Minna it felt like Christmas. She sent me mock ups for each track — samples transformed into midi arrangements that would then be turned into notation for the ensemble at Tiny Telephone. The recording session was like triple-Christmas, the pre-mixing phase was terrifying at first because the record was a monster. Some tracks consisted of more than 20 layers. The tracks were still forming in the pre-mixing. Hearing the final mixes was like Christmas again, and then I still had to see if anyone was interested in releasing it.

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I was intrigued to read about your work as a SAT university entrance exam mathematics tutor that entirely funded the making of your album. I must ask you please about this aspect of your work: is there a correlation between mathematics and music for you, as I imagine there must be some sort of parallel between both worlds?

CV: Math is in music, but in my case the two worlds have not quite unified. That might change…but to date I haven’t composed along to a click track, so the Math goes out the window right there.

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My favourite piece at the moment is the gorgeous sonic creation ‘Sister’. The moment the crescendo of strings arrive is one of the many defining moments of this captivating album. I love the layer of ethereal voices that flows beneath and also, the woodwind re-occurring motifs present. Can you please talk me through this piece of music, Christina?

CV: Sure. ‘Sister’ was one of those monster-tracks. The original composition was made in Reason, with a beginning and a middle like what you hear on the final version. Minna added a crazy ending with voices, piano, and winds. I ended up re-working her idea in post production and changing the part she intended as piano to pulsing strings. I also found an instrument line in her midi mock-up that was muted and discarded. I turned that melody into a harp part. All of these additions lead to more and more tracks and big mess in Pro Tools. I color coded the instrument sections to make it easier to navigate. But it was still ghastly. So ‘Sister’ is the only track that Adam did not mix. He refused on account of too many layers.

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In terms of samples, can you please shed some light on the various sources these audio recordings originate from? Similar to ‘N°1’, I love the plethora of voices that combines with the synthesizer lines, it works so beautifully.

CV: I used synth samples found on YouTube from early synthesizer instructional videos. I also used some Stravinsky samples (from The Nightingale), Snow White samples (from The Original Disney soundtrack), and there are some John Carpenter soundtrack samples…

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Listening to ‘N°2’ almost religiously these past few weeks, the works of Jóhann Jóhannsson (particularly, The Miner’s Hymns) comes to the forefront of my mind, such is the sheer beauty and spellbinding magic unleashed by your music. I can imagine he must serve an influence on your music, Christina? I would love to know what records, gigs, artists you have been most obsessed with of late?

CV: Jóhann is a big influence. As far as I’m concerned in new classical music there’s Jóhann Jóhannsson and then there’s everyone else.

I saw ‘The Miner’s Hymns’ performed in Kortrijk last Spring. My mom was there with me. I played the same festival. I remember it was a stressful week getting ready for the show, but the Johann concert just sucked all the anxiety out of me and put me in a good place for the rest of the evening.

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I am a huge fan of your video work that accompanies your own music and indeed the videos of Dead Texan’s music. I would love to learn more about this area of your artistic work and the processes and tools you utilize to create such human and affecting visuals? It’s clear that the frame-by-frame animations — a slow, gradual process — must act as a close companion to the gradual music of your own musical compositions?

CV: The slowness and gradualness of animation and maybe its simplicity as a medium / technology does relate well to the music. Making animations cultivates patience like nothing else. The slow pacing is a big factor in ‘Nº1’ and ‘Nº2’…I’ve tried to make faster music. I started a dance album two summers ago, but everything I make ends up slow and weird.

I’m pretty much attracted to anything slow and weird so for ‘Nº2’ I grew obsessed with a slow motion camera. It took over a year to figure out a way to work with the camera (I used a Phantom Miro 320S) and finally I decided to transfer my SAT teacher earnings into time with the camera. BFC, a rental house in Brussels, also decided to support the project so eventually I got 3 days to work with the camera. These experiments will become the videos for ‘Nº2’. 100% slow motion.

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It’s really cool to see both your album and A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s new record enter into the world during the same general time-frame. I love the cover artwork you did for their first record. Can you please discuss this aspect of your work and your drawings — something that has been a constant for you most of your life — and how this feeds into your music? Any other projects in the pipeline, Christina?

CV: I’ve been drawing all my life — my mom is an artist so art supplies filled the house and it was just a part of everyday life. I remember writing an essay to enter art school about drawing. I said it was the only thing I’d done my whole life that I’d never got bored of. My most recent drawings were of young girls and old people. I have years of drawings in my apartment in Brussels and in Kansas City. The drawings are kept inside boxes that are inside drawers, so not many people know about that work. Adam became a huge fan of my drawings and prints at one point so he chose that particular nude drawing for the Winged Victory album. I hear that a lot of people liked it as a record cover.

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no2_kranky_web

‘N°2’ is available now on Kranky.

http://www.christinavantzou.com
http://www.kranky.net

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