FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘Nils Frahm

Chosen One: Andrea Belfi

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“I think trying to find a unique sound was my first aim always and that’s what I’m still trying to do.”

 Andrea Belfi

Words: Mark Carry

 1- Andrea Belfi - (Credit - Steve Glashier)

Italy’s Andrea Belfi is a drummer, composer and electroacoustic musician whose unique music path has continually developed and evolved throughout the 2000’s with the release of several scintillating solo works and a plethora of collaborative works (many of which have been released on the prestigious Berlin label Miasmah). The gifted Berlin-based composer’s newest solo work ‘Ore’ is his most captivating and deeply affecting bodies of work thus far that marks new independent label Float’s debut release.

Deeply hypnotic soundscapes are unleashed throughout ‘Ore’, creating, in turn, a timeless exploration in the art of repetition and variation. The opening ‘Anticline’ is a sublime dub odyssey that somehow orbits the beautiful intersection between the dub techno of Germany’s Rhythm & Sound and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s dub marvels at the Black Ark. Space is the place. The hugely enveloping piece continually mutates and transforms into new versions of itself as an ethereal dimension is attained at each and every turn. The synth elements – and the intricate array of divine nuances and sonic details – forges new horizons where stunning, unnerving soundscapes evoke the classic ‘Under The Skin’ score by British composer Mica Levi.

Iso’ is filled with the colours and textures of 50’s jazz music. The majestic drums drift in the ether of unknown possibilities. Certainly, this formidable creation transports the listener to Belfi’s near-mythical live solo performances. In fact, the live feel permeates throughout the aching pulse of ‘Ore’, which represents one of the hallmarks of this truly great record. Rewind twelve months and memories of witnessing the Verona-born musician’s hugely inspiring solo live set (alongside Nonkeen) at Nils Frahm’s ‘Possibly Colliding’ festival at London’s Barbican: the raw energy and sheer power of his drum playing hypnotize and enrapture that pulls you in deep akin to the gravitational pull of the earth itself.

The immediacy and pulsating energy of ‘Lead’ unfolds a rich narrative wherein drums and electronics are masterfully woven together. A fragile beauty seeps into the human space. The spectrum of enchanting sounds reveals the composer’s uncanny ability to create vast, empowering sound collages with minimal framework of drums and synthesizers. It’s the rich organic quality that exudes throughout ‘Lead’ that forges a deeply personal and otherworldly experience.

Ore’s pinnacle arrives on the shape-shifting tour-de-force ‘Ton’ with its deep bass rhythm and spectral palette, which continually expands and evolves with masterful use of delays and reverb. The brooding, cinematic atmosphere could depict the neon-lit city skyline of a distant utopia. The tempo is marvelously slowed down on the drone-infused ambient cycle ‘Syncline’ with its gorgeous ebb and flow of divine textures and gradual, swirling rhythms. The horizon is upon us.

‘Ore’ is released on Friday, May 26th via Float.

http://www.andreabelfi.com/

http://www.andreabelfi.com/

 2- Andrea Belfi - (Credit - Steve Glashier)

Interview with Andrea Belfi.

 

Congratulations on your new solo release ‘Ore’, it’s really incredible. I’d love for you to discuss the making of the new music? As a listener, it’s lovely to hear a solo work of yours and just how much you achieve with your tools of drums and synthesizer.

Andrea Belfi: The process of creating this album lasted probably about nine months or so because basically I started recording in May. I started using a method that I developed last year, I started recording some electronic beats but just to use those beats as a metronome or a beat keeper but at the same time some sounds that could bring me to a different world while recording drum beats basically. The idea was to start composing those tracks from drum beats but using these electronic beats in order to get into the hypnotic mood. So I recorded twelve different beats – like electronic beats – that I would use as a metronome but with a sort of a mood already into it. And then I went to the recording studio and I recorded these drumbeats with Mathias Hahn who is Nils Frahm’s stage technician; he’s an incredible sound technician. While I was on tour with Nils with Nonkeen we got along pretty well together and he was saying ‘Nils is getting this new recording studio at the Funkhaus in Berlin and he’s away for a week’ [laughs] so he said ‘We should use it, you can rent it out and we can go there and record it together because I think it’s the right time to do it’. And in a way he was encouraging to do so but I was already thinking about recording a new solo album but at the same time things came together very naturally. So, I got in touch with Mathias and I had this methodology already in mind and it got together pretty naturally. So, after these drum recordings I started editing and composing but in fact the drum beats came first.

It sounds very interesting how there were many stages in order to complete the music-making process. And what makes the Funkhaus so special as a recording space?

AB: I mean somehow it’s a piece of art because it’s an art piece. I think it is one of these very well crafted, beautifully designed studios where you really feel comfortable while playing music. It’s very difficult to describe but it’s very inspiring; it’s a very inspiring sounding room and that’s what makes it so interesting and important somehow plus the decorations are also part of it. The sound there is truly amazing and it has a very nice and smooth reverb which is present but at the same time you feel it’s there but is a preponderant.

The tracks themselves, I love how the opener ‘Anticline’ it’s one of those pieces that’s quite long but it’s that space you are able to create within the piece but also the close dialogue that’s ongoing between the synthesizer parts and the drums and also how the drums keep coming back at various points.

AB: I like the fact that it’s a very minimal piece of music but there is a narrative at the same time so it’s hypnotic but it’s also dubby in a way. It’s dub music if you look at it from a dub perspective it makes sense I think because there is this hypnotic world where you flow in but at the same time there are minimal variations that keep you inside the track. I would say that the first track is probably one of the most song-oriented tracks that I have ever released as a solo artist.

Throughout the album the effect of each component whether it’s the synthesizer or drums is very powerful and feels very much like one cohesive whole.

AB: In fact when I compose my solo music I tend to think of every element as one so I’m more of a composer than a drummer. So I’m really focusing on the composition itself than just my being a drummer if you know what I mean. When I started composing the songs from the drums recordings, it’s a natural process; I create a mood and then I try to dig into that mood. And to develop the synth parts, first of all trying to be as minimal as I can and then to make sound textures – and treating them almost as a melodic element – it’s very simple because there is not many chord changes, it’s very much like drone music basically. So I tend to compose for drums and electronics in an organic way; the drums is as important as the electronic part.

Your special live performances – and one particularly was your performance with Nonkeen last year and your solo drum performances during the ‘Possibly Colliding’ festival – there’s something about the live performance that very much is captured on this album, which is obviously a great thing.

AB: You’re pointing out something very important which is the live feeling of this album and it makes a big difference from the previous production that I did before and that’s something that I really wanted to keep. In fact part of this record – track number 2 & 3 (‘Iso’ and ‘Lead’) – they were basically live compositions that I prepared these compositions for my live set. While recording the material I had two set-ups in the studio; one for the new recordings and one for the live recording so I developed a solo live set within the last two years that I’ve been playing for about two years and that’s also the solo live set that I’ve been playing for Nonkeen’s tour. So the live feeling or the person playing that was really important even when I was really producing the music and crafting the final master; that was really important to keep the live feeling of it. So you have the feeling there is one person playing in front of you even when it’s very produced music.

I’d love to know more about your current live set-up and whether your equipment has been the same over the past decade of making music?

AB: I produce all of my electronic sounds through this synthesizer called Nord Modular and it’s a Swedish synthesizer that was made in the mid-90’s through the mid-00’s; I’ve been working on it for about fifteen years now, maybe a bit more, so I developed my own sound palette. And I have controllers so I have a sampler pad which is filled with Nord Modular electronic sounds. It’s a digital modular synthesizer and for me it became like my electronic music tool basically; I have a strong relationship with it [laughs]. And of course while producing the music for the record I used also some delays and some other production tools.

Then regarding the drums, when I play live I have a simple drum kit; there is a bass drum and a snare drum, floor tom and I have one cymbal and I have some percussion that I use, it’s not a complete drum set but it’s a minimal drum set. So I’ve been using this particular brand of drums, Ludwig for about ten years now and it’s an old Ludwig Super Classic drum set from the 1960’s and that’s where I developed my own particular drum sound, I think you’ve seen it when I was playing the Barbican. So it’s a big and fat bass drum sound; it’s kind of jazzy but at the same time it can be very powerful and intense. And last year I got this deal with a new drum company called Sari – it’s a Finnish drum company – I was very interested in those drum sets because first of all they sound similar to that sound that I built through my Ludwig but at the same time they had a twist; they are very interesting drum kits because they’re very similar to early Jazz drum kit from the 1920’s for example because they’re very light and they have a very open sound and long sound and very rich with harmonics. Most of the recordings on the record are with both drum kits so it’s kind of a transition: using two different drum kits for two different kinds of feeling. For example ‘Ton’ – which is the fourth track – is made with the Sari kit. I also have a preference for old jazz cymbals which have the same kind of characteristic so not much attack, very smooth and arc; that’s what I like.

I imagine the extensive Nonkeen tour – and your solo sets opening for Nonkeen each night – must have provided a lot of inspiration for the material on ‘Ore’ in terms of ideas and material?

AB: Oh absolutely, it was very important actually. It gave me lots of ideas to work with it and it was a very inspiring tour. And it was also very hard because playing solo and Nonkeen set was pretty intense but at the same time I learned a lot from that tour especially playing my solo set on the bigger stage; that was very important because I’d been playing this solo set in smaller places where I can really control the dynamics very well and in certain places I really had to deal with dynamics in a very different way: different crowds, different dynamics basically. I mean I really want to communicate to translate my music on a different level but the most important thing is to translate my idea of music on different stages and that was a very challenging situation. Sometimes it was very challenging because maybe you’re in front of several hundred people and you got used to maybe maximum one hundred people in front of you and that makes a huge difference because you have to maybe play louder to get the attention of that amount of people and then maybe get quieter again and use the dramaturgy in a different way [laughs].

3 - Andrea Belfi - (Credit - Steve Glashier)

You have improvised a lot in your previous musical output and I loved your Miasmah-related projects you have been involved with, especially the B/B/S releases. I suppose that whole idea of having a certain chemistry with other members and musicians and improvising with your own instruments and music is something you have been developing over a long period of time?

AB: Yeah it’s been a long time since I started working with improvised music. I did my first improvised music show in 2001 actually, I remember I was playing in Verona – my hometown in Italy – I was playing this metal sculpture that a local artist made and that was my first attempt to create improvised music. And then within the last few years I’ve been playing with lots of different people and I’ve been travelling quite a lot and I’ve been playing with a lot of different improvisers; different kinds like electronic musicians. And with B/B/S it’s another improvised music project that I really like because even if we improvise, we have our own language so it’s one aspect of improvisation which is having a particular language and using it to improvise. And that’s what I do with my solo way of improvising but also I would bring this into different projects and contexts. In Nonkeen as well, I brought some of this especially while we were rehearsing actually. Before the tour started we rehearsed quite a lot in order to develop a coherent live set. I have the feeling that it helped somehow for the band to get into that territory. I mean Nonkeen used to be an improvised music band.

You feel that very much on the two Nonkeen studio records as well as much as when you see the live show. I remember you were saying before how you were inspired hugely by Ennio Morricone?

AB: It’s a huge influence. I mean everyone in Italy of my age – but not just my age – and watching Sergio Leone’s films as kids and we know these albums and tracks by heart but then I started discovering more and more of his music through the last fifteen years or so. He’s always pushing boundaries of film music into his own world, it’s really inspiring. He’s very influential on my more song-oriented music but the atmosphere he creates is just incredible and very influential on my music. There are certain albums that I love. My favourite Morricone album is Come Maddalena and there’s something on it which is so complex and so simple at the same time, it’s so beautiful; under the simplicity there is a huge complexity. I mean you can say this about a lot of music but I think that’s the thing I really like about Ennio Morricone. He has a unique sound; that’s what I really like, whenever you listen to some of Morricone’s music you say ‘Ah,that’s him!’ and that’s what I like about artists and musicians in general when you listen to something or when you see something and you recognize a trademark: something original and compelling and at the same time it’s personal and experimental.

I get the impression you probably started playing the drums at a very young age? I’d be curious to know how you started and developed when you were younger?

AB: I started at the age of fourteen playing drums. There was this band  – friends of mine – that I used to skateboard with so it was this young crew who wanted to start their own punk band and I really wanted to join that group so I started how to play drums, I had to be pretty fast [laughs]. In terms of the learning process and also rhythmical wise, it was pretty fast rhythms so I started to take drum lessons when I was fourteen and then I had my first show at fifteen in a local pub, it was really, really exciting. In fact that’s something that I hope I will never lose; this kind of excitement about playing gigs. I mean sometimes it is not so easy to have this feeling all of the time – I play a lot of shows – but in general that’s the spirit I try to bring always on stage basically.

Then I’d been studying for a few years but I started in punk bands from fourteen and then I moved on into different directions after that. First of all, all kinds of hardcore punk; I was into that scene in the mid-90’s when I was a teenager. It was life changing. Then I moved to different strands of music and then I discovered this band Gastr del Sol: for me it’s still one of my favourite bands and in a way I really think that their combination of straight forward rock music and electroacoustic music like the weirdest experimental music is somehow I feel that’s where my music comes from. I also got to play with David Grubbs (the founding member of Gastr del Sol) I started collaborating with him back in 2009, he was based in New York but sometimes we had the chance to play together.

At the same time by the end of the 90’s I got into electronic music a lot, so Warp Music Records basically [laughs] and lots of minimalist music like La Monte Young, Charlemagne Palestine: it was nothing really about drums – sometimes it was about drums – but it was more a different type of music that I really loved in general. And I got into radical improvised music so I started combining drums and electronics. I’ve always been trying to develop new ideas through exciting music that I have discovered through the years.

That’s the cool thing listening to your solo music it’s like blurring the boundaries where it’s hard to describe the music or pin point exactly what  it is.

AB: It’s not a great business tool [laughs] not knowing what kind of music this is but in a way that’s what I like. I was trying to in my own little world to push the boundaries of the music that I knew and to make it different all the time like using references – not really doing it literally but getting inspired by certain solutions like combining field recordings and drums or electronics and drums or certain atmosphere – I think trying to find a unique sound that was my first aim always and that’s what I’m still trying to do.

Are you listening to any particular favourite records at the moment?

AB: That’s a good question actually, I mean I listen to a lot of records at the moment. I really like this sound poetry electroacoustic music by an Italian musician called Francesco Cavaliere, he’s pretty cool in his way of using sounds and narrative, it’s beautiful. I really like Mark Ernestus’s (one of the two from Rhythm & Sound) new project called Ndagga Rhythm Force, he’s producing this Senegalese band; it’s mind-blowing, very unique music. There is a musical style in Senegal called Mbalax (or Mbalakh) so he produced it in a dub way so cutting out solos and dubbing voices, it’s pretty great actually and in fact they’re playing tonight in Berlin so I might go tonight and see them playing. I’m really into Ellen Arkbro’s last solo record, Giuseppe Ielasi’s record and I’m really into Raymond Scott.

I usually listen to a lot of African music in general, I really like Congolese music; Soukous music is the style of music that was developed in the Congo in the 60’s and the 70’s, that’s a style that I really love. I really loved ‘Under The Skin’ by Mica Levi, it’s an amazing record. I like Rashid Bakr’s last two albums he did, those are amazing records and Miasmah Records’s Svarte Greiner records are beautiful. I like Sun Araw’s music, I’ve seen him play two or three times, he’s really great.

There is this cassette that Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy made, it’s called ‘Bonnie Prince Billy II’ and there are some beautiful songs there. I’ve been listening a lot to Bill Callahan’s music. Mario Batkovic’s accordion music is really beautiful and a really inspiring record [self-titled record via Invada Records]. I listen to a lot of Sun Ra’s music. There’s a record that I really like called ‘The Union’ by Elton John and Leon Russell and was produced by T Bone Burnett’ it’s amazingly produced and there are two drummers that I really love who are on there: Jim Keltner and Jay Bellerose who are both crazy drummers. They have the same kind of feeling, in fact I really love those two drummers because they have this kind of blues feeling on drums with a rich full sound but very loose, it’s very musical so it’s not like straight and square, they sing in a way.

I’m also playing in July with Circuit Des Yeux, a singer-songwriter from the U.S. I’m playing drums for her and I’ve played with her for two shows before, one in Berlin and another in Utrecht at Le Guess Who? festival. She has an incredible voice and she is a great performer so I’m really excited to listen to her next solo album; she will send it to me pretty soon as we will play some of her new songs.

Another solo artist that I really like and I’m digging his music is called Seth Frightening. He’s from New Zealand and is very interesting music; he is a big talent I would say and he has a very good sensibility for songwriting.

‘Ore’ is released on Friday, May 26th via Float.

http://www.andreabelfi.com/

https://www.wearefloat.co.uk/

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May 25, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Chosen One: Candoco Dance Company

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Interview with Pedro Machado (Candoco’s Artistic Co-Director).

I think Dance has this ability, it breaks barriers when you do it, it allows you to tap into a different state of mind and body but it also creates intriguing and captivating ‘things’ to look at.”

—Pedro Machado (Candoco’s Artistic Co-Director).

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Candoco, the leading company of disabled and non-disabled dancers is celebrating its 25th anniversary in London with two special performances at Sadlers Wells (tonight and tomorrow).

Beheld features music by German composer Nils Frahm reworked by fellow musician Machinefabriek. Set and Reset/Reset features music by Amercian avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson.

Founded in 1991 by Celeste Dandeker-Arnold OBE and Adam Benjamin, Candoco quickly grew into the first professional dance company of disabled and non-disabled artists in the UK. The rich beginnings of Candoco happened out of workshops, where disabled and non-disabled people got together to dance, create and have fun.

Candoco’s current Artistic Co-Directors Stine Nilsen and Pedro Machado were appointed as Celeste’s successors in 2007 having danced with the company for seven and nine years respectively. They have taken Candoco from the Bird’s Nest in Beijing to the Olympic Stadium in London, performing at the handover ceremonies in 2008 and returning, alongside Coldplay, at the Paralympic Closing in 2012 and have commissioned works for the company from leading choreographers Emanuel Gat, Rachid Ouramdane, Wendy Houstoun and Javier de Frutos.

Candoco’s ‘Beheld’ & ‘Set and Reset/Reset’ take place London’s Sadlers Wells on 21-22 October (tonight and tomorrow), performance commences at 7:30PM. For ticket bookings visit HERE.

http://www.candoco.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/candoco/

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Interview with Pedro Machado (Candoco’s Artistic Co-Director).

 

Please discuss the relationship between music and dance, and where you feel both these worlds intersect?

Pedro Machado: They both make us aware of rhythm and form and can be evocative of imagination and emotion. They are also ephemeral, you can reproduce and record it but the experience or listening to music or seeing dance disappears the second it happens. I like that specially as society tend to put some much emphasis on consuming and owning.

The Candoco Dance Company celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year and the forthcoming London production is to reworks of music by Nils Frahm and Laurie Anderson. I would love to gain an insight into the music program itself and your approach (and preparations) to reworking the music of Nils and Laurie Anderson? Also, what are the qualities and particular aspects to the music of Nils Frahm and Laurie Anderson that makes for such a compelling dance performance?

PM: Nils Frahm’s work is atmospheric, cinematographic, evocative… with plenty of space for contemplation, it’s a great match for dance and it’s capable of subtle but powerful emotional responses.  Laurie Anderson score for Set and Reset is full of layers and surprises, with a quirky humour and an engaging beat. Just like the dance.

Please discuss the aura of live performance and the feelings involved when it comes to the dance performance, live onstage and witnessing the production bloom into life?

PM: I love the communion aspect of live work, the fact that is experienced by lots of people at the same time… In one way the music and sounds help us to connect. When we work in the studio the music is a driving force and also guides dancers but sometimes it can take over and we also rehearse without music a lot. One of our performances at Sadler’s has a special aura as it will be audio described on the spot, to support further access to blind people.

As an integral force behind this world-renowned dance company, can you talk me through the rise of dance (in general) and your artistic vision (from the outset) when it comes to the inception of a particular dance piece, and its evolution to the final, end result?

PM: Candoco is an international reference in the field of dance and disability and it’s one of Britain’s most eclectic repertory Company but 25 years ago we didn’t set off to become a company, that happened out of workshops, where disabled and non-disabled people got together to dance, create and have fun.

I think Dance has this ability, it breaks barriers when you do it, it allows you to tap into a different state of mind and body but it also creates intriguing and captivating ‘things’ to look at. It’s like seeing a sportsperson performance where you have to decide for yourself what are the rules… What audiences see on stage is just the tip of the iceberg of months of preparations and hard work, many many hours that culminate in a one-hour event.

Can you describe the dance choreography and sequencing to the ‘Beheld’ movement, which sees a visually striking dance piece performed to the backdrop of Nils Frahms’ score? Please discuss the symmetry between the dance movement itself and movement of Frahms’ music?

PM: Beheld is beautiful to look at but it’s much more than that. There are great odd harmonies and collective effort and exhilarating dance sequences. Nils’ music creates an intimate still epic atmosphere that supports and extrapolates the action on stage.

What other composers and musicians would you love to collaborate with in the future? What other projects do you have planned, Pedro?

PM: We are working with Yasmeen Godder next year, she is very cool and has great taste, in our early conversations names like PJ Jarvey and Radiohead came up but we are aware these are big artists so we are also looking for other artists who can be political and emotional without being preachy or sentimental.

Candoco’s ‘Beheld’ & ‘Set and Reset/Reset’ take place London’s Sadlers Wells on 21-22 October (tonight and tomorrow), performance commences at 7:30PM. For ticket bookings visit HERE.

http://www.candoco.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/candoco/

 

Written by admin

October 21, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E7 | July mix

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fracturedairmix_july16

July 2016 opened with world-renowned German composer Nils Frahm’s magnificent “Possibly Colliding” weekend of music at the Barbican Centre, London. Curated by Frahm, the special lineup featured live performance, conversation and film screenings where the headline act was Frahm’s monumental sold-out Barbican show, comprising his “most ambitious concert to date.”

Possibly Colliding felt not only like a celebration of the visionary artist’s cherished songbook (thus far) but rather a distillation of the most ground-breaking moments of today’s contemporary music scene. The angelic, hushed solo piano pieces were interwoven with the sprawling and sublime synthesizer-led pieces and many live collaborations – cellist Anne Müller, Nonkeen (with the addition of gifted drummer Andrea Belfi), London-based vocal ensemble Shards, and the André de Ridder-led stargaze ensemble – rendered new versions of Frahm’s towering body of work and offered new insights into the gifted composer’s sonic sphere.

During July we were delighted to be invited to participate in Irish actor Cillian Murphy’s curated IMMA Summer Party happening at the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. Murphy’s music lineup featured performances by celebrated German composer and pianist Hauschka, gifted Irish fiddle player and composer Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Irish-based indie band Meltybrains? Some selections from our DJ set appear in this month’s mixtape.

Limerick-born and London-based composer Áine O’Dwyer has long been one of our most cherished and favourite contemporary musicians. O’Dwyer has released records on such independent labels as: Mie Music, Second language and Fort Evil Fruit, while her versatile talents are evident in her rich and varied recorded output to date, which have featured: live recordings for pipe organ, music for harp and voice and music for solo piano.

This year’s Le Guess Who? festival features special guest curators – including the inimitable L.A. songwriter Julia Holter – who has invited Áine O’Dwyer to this year’s lineup in Utrecht which takes place on 10–13 November 2016.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E7 | July mix

To Read/listen on La Blogothèque:

http://www.blogotheque.net/2016/07/27/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s01e07-july-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Woodkid & Nils Frahm“Winter Morning II” (with Robert De Niro) (excerpt) (Ellis OST, Erased Tapes)
02. Peter Broderick“Carried” (Erased Tapes)
03. Nonkeen“Diving Platform” (R&S)
04. Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler“A Road” (Thrill Jockey)
05. Áine O’Dwyer “Falcon” (Second Language)
06. Jherek Bischoff“Headless” (The Leaf Label)
07. Agnes Obel“Familiar” (Play It Again Sam)
08. Jonny Greenwood (Copenhagen Phil, André de Ridder)“Future Markets” (There Will Be Blood OST, Deutsche Grammophon)
09. Radiohead“Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief” (XL Recordings)
10. Kedr Livanskiy“Razrushitelniy Krug (Destructive Cycle)” (2MR)
11. Lil Silva “Jimi” (Good Years)
12. DJ Shadow“The Sideshow” (feat. Ernie Fresh) (Mass Appeal)
13. Underworld“I Exhale” (Universal Music Group)
14. Floorplan“Music” (M-Plant)
15. Róisín Murphy“Simulation” (Permanent Vacation)
16. Hot Chip“Night and Day” (Daphni Mix) (Domino)
17. Junior Boys“Big Black Coat” (Robert Hood Remix) (Jiaolong / City Slang)
18. Peder Mannerfelt“Perspectives” (Peder Mannerfelt Produktion)
19. Aphex Twin“CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum]” (Warp)
20. Ólafur Arnalds“RGB” (LateNightTales)
21. Julianna Barwick“Someway” (Dead Oceans)
22. Julia Holter“Finale” (Leaving / Domino)

Compiled by Fractured Air, July 2016. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

Chosen One: Nonkeen

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Interview with Frederic Gmeiner & Sepp Singwald (Nonkeen).

“I think these are the moments which we are searching for where you dissolve in the music with the others.”

—Frederic Gmeiner

Words: Mark Carry

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In the liner notes of 2011’s ‘Felt’ full-length, Nils Frahm describes how “the music becomes a contingence, a chance, an accident within all this rustling.” It is precisely this important factor – the role of chance – that lies at the heart of the many monumental works of the Berlin-based composer, not least the latest awe-inspiring project, dubbed Nonkeen – unveiled at the beginning of 2016 – with his childhood friends, Frederic Gmeiner and Sepp Singwald.

The trio’s shared fascination with the powerful possibilities of sound would mean their childhood days were spent experimenting with tape machines, whose inception was the birth of a playground radio show in the suburbs of Hamburg. The utterly beguiling debut full length release, ‘The Gamble’ – released on the prestigious R&S label – unfolds a divine pathway to notions of space and the cosmos. The hypnotic lead single ’Chasing God Through Palmyra’’s looped electronic beat offered the first glimpses into the other-worldly sound world of Nonkeen. The dazzling cut could have been taken from Scottish duo Boards of Canada’s ‘Geogaddi’ LP such is its eternal magical bliss.

A parallel that bridges Nonkeen and the renowned electronic producers is their (shared) compulsion to “uncover the past inside the present”. An entire spectrum of sounds – jazz improvisation, pop hooks, electronic mastery, ambient flourishes and post-rock euphoria – awakens from the very compositions captured on ‘The Gamble’ and its eagerly awaited (and appropriately titled) follow-up, ‘The Oddments of the Gamble’.

The shimmering seas of summer are somehow transplanted across the sprawling canvas of ‘Diving Platform’, one of the band’s crowning jewels (taken from ‘The Oddments of the Gamble’). A gorgeous haze of reverb-soaked Rhodes and pristine electric guitar tones (supplied by special guest guitarist Martyn Heyne) dissolves into a myriad of fleeting moments as waves of transcendence washes over you. The pulsating ‘Glow’ contains a deep groove and shape-shifting rhythms that feel like remnants of a faded dream. Elsewhere on the record, trusted friends & collaborators, Andrea Belfi, Peter Broderick and Martyn Heyne each add their distinctive musical hand-print to the trio’s scintillating odysseys.

Nils Frahm’s sold-out Barbican show earlier this month – as part of the captivating ‘Possibly Colliding’ marathon weekend, curated by Frahm – felt not only like a celebration of the visionary artist’s cherished songbook (thus far) but rather a distillation of the most ground-breaking moments of today’s contemporary music scene. The angelic, hushed solo piano pieces were interwoven with the sprawling and sublime synthesizer-led pieces and many live collaborations – cellist Anne Müller, Nonkeen with the addition of gifted drummer Andrea Belfi, London-based vocal ensemble Shards, and the André de Ridder-led stargaze ensemble – rendered new versions of Frahm’s towering body of work and offered new insights into the gifted composer’s sonic sphere. Nonkeen is one vital part to this sphere wherein Frahm and his close friends continue to blur the boundaries of what is attainable. Perfecting sound forever.

 

‘The Oddments of the Gamble’ is out on 15th July 2016 via R&S Records.

http://www.nonkeen.com/
https://www.facebook.com/nonkeen/

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Interview with Frederic Gmeiner & Sepp Singwald (Nonkeen).

I’d love for you to discuss the wonderful story behind Nonkeen – and how you’re all childhood friends – and your experiments with sound using tape recorders and your shared fascination with sound?

Frederic Gmeiner: From the material on ‘Oddments of the Gamble’ and ‘The Gamble’, the oldest tape is maybe eight years old that we used for the albums now. But before we were also playing together but very loose – just in the rehearsal space when we had time to play together. So in the evening somebody would call, ‘do you have time tomorrow? So let’s meet. Is the room available? Yes, it is, so let’s go there and play’. So, over the years the rehearsal spaces changed because we had to leave one in a hurry because the owner wanted to do something in the building and stuff like that. So you might call it also accidents that happens which you have to deal with but we always kept on being inspired by this band. But we didn’t even call it a band because it wasn’t such a thing; we never organized a concert for example – friends were inviting us and I don’t know how old we were, we were very young – when we were playing together from time to time and people knew you were playing in a band so they asked ‘do you want to play here and there?’ and so it happened.

I could see also how when we were younger, we were maybe not fearless but we didn’t think much about it. We were playing the stuff that we were inspired by or listening to anyhow and since it was a Fender Rhodes, 70’s amp and electric bass and 90’s drums with the 70’s sound – drum set drums [laughs] – and we were playing music that when we were listening to it, you could pretty much tell what the influence was straight away like this sounds like Soft Cell for example. We found it like crazy music and automatically we were eager trying this out and topping each other you know and trying to show off in a way. But over time by listening to the stuff that we recorded – I mean at the beginning we never recorded rehearsals we were just recording when we were playing live – and then listening back to it, it was always nice but you could always tell like “oh, this sounds like this, for example” and so over the years we got more and more defined in finding your own sound.

We were curious about these moments that we kept on tape where we were saying like “I don’t remember us playing that actually” and “I don’t know, when was it? Five years ago?What instrument is it? Who’s playing that?” And also the music and these moments, somehow I can’t get it out of my head and you’re listening to it back and back. We never took it out with us home, we always just listening all three of us together when we were meeting. I mean sometimes there might have been a month in between when we were listening to the stuff but we were then picking again these passages up when we were all saying “From the last session I remember this” and “Yes me too, and it was somehow stuck in my head” so it all came together somehow.

It’s cool how it was almost like a listening exercise where you build a library and subconsciously in a way, you’re agreeing on a certain direction or type of sound. I can imagine that was either the most difficult part of perhaps most exciting? Also, I wonder would you be adding counterpoint sections present-day to recordings that you had made previously?

FG: It is hard in a way to come to a mutual agreement, it is true but we had time and there was no target; none of us were even thinking of making an album while doing that. It was just out of curiosity so that was easy in a way. But of course if you’re going to have a record contract back then which would say ‘next year you have to do an album’ that would be problematic of course. It would be much more like ‘OK guys, I know you don’t like this but let’s go for it, you know’ but it wasn’t like that.

Sepp Singwald: We didn’t analyse it so far that we’d have to find a counterpoint to this or to that. We always played what we wanted to play and in the very, very end after eight years we combined it.

‘Chasing God Through Palmyra’ is a very special recording of yours [from ‘The Gamble’]. Deconstructing it, is that a sample that is looped continually throughout?

FG: Yes, it’s all from the rehearsal space and from the tapes. We were playing around with the material in a way that we were more sequencing stuff. There was a drum machine running in the rehearsal space, it was just there and so we were plugging it in and trying it out.

SS: So we had a Gretsch and made it loud.

FG: Then putting it on a big tape machine to basically use it as just a compressor but we pitched it down so it became this wobbling, moogy, tribal-ish, techno-ish thing which we were inspired by. But all of these things coming together was a real coincidence and we could never re-do this. That’s also why on tour it was problematic to play this. For us we were really confronted with a decision, shall we play it or not.

SS: Should we try best to be as a computer?

FG: Exactly because without the drum track – without the electronic drums – it would lose its preciseness and none of us are playing like a machine so we had to compete with a machine basically. It was very frustrating for us to put on a beat and just play synthesizers so we said ‘we’re not playing it’. But we were thinking it’s a nice track, people know it so we should somehow play it. So then we came up with the idea to put it on a record onstage so in the middle of the set in the front of the stage there was a record player and we were setting up the record and serving drinks to the audience and making maybe a few foolish jokes but then we would continue to play the songs [afterwards]. I mean it’s unconventional – you might also say why are you doing this? – but it’s exactly the reason why we did it because we wanted to play it but we didn’t want to compete with a machine onstage and lose [laughs]. And being so over-concentrated on following it and being precise because it is the preciseness that makes electronic music is just one example.

It must have been a totally new perspective for you when it came to touring and playing live shows? And also how the trio was joined by Andrea Belfi on drums, it must have added new elements and perspectives when the group were now a four-piece?

FG: I mean for the first time in playing together, we were confronted with a situation that we had to practice, that we had to prepare something for playing and not just for a single evening but for twenty evenings in a row. So we couldn’t use our method that we used before saying like OK let’s maybe define a little bit and go onstage and play together because it would be way too intense to – and way too long also – to come up every night with this uncertainty and play with it. Maybe it’s also possible, I don’t know. On the other hand, if we were to completely streamline it and plan it until the last sound and note and moment, maybe it would become boring for us and also for the audience, it’s always like that.

So we were looking at it because we knew the songs also so well after working with them for such a long time – not playing them but just listening to them, editing them and making overdubs – they were inside us already, we could just make interpretations of them. That worked very well I think and it also helped us as a band to deal with more diverse situations because every night is different, every room is different, the spirit, the mood of the audience: are they sitting or are they standing, are they more reserved, it makes something with you. Also does it feel like in a rehearsal space on a small stage or is it a huge hall where you have big reverb and you don’t hear each other very well. Things like that and all these situations helped us a lot I think. Now I am very curious to go back to the rehearsal space after that experience and that learning process.

I love also with these two albums is the wide range of sounds and influences, there’s jazz, post-rock, electronic, ambient, krautrock that all really effortlessly ebbs and flows into one another. The sequencing of the albums was also an important factor I imagine?

FG: Also what I think developed from the live set was exactly these counterpoints and to sometimes let loose and have moments where you don’t know really yourself where you are and you just have to let yourself fall down and trust that all will turn out good in the end. And there are more parts that are more defined and precisely arranged. But I think it is right – I see it as well – I think a single track doesn’t make much sense but it’s always the combination of them and how you put them together which makes it interesting.

I love how the new album represents an entirely new chapter too. It doesn’t feel like a sister album but rather it feels like a new point in time. For example, the lead track ‘Diving Platform’ with the gorgeous guitar parts, it feels more direct and immediate.

FG: It’s more easy-going I would say. We always have this vision of a perfect summer day, driving a nice car or a bicycle in the countryside and the wind is coming and you just want to dive.

SS: It was with the first bass drum you see someone jumping from a diving platform into a lake.

FG: I think most of the sessions we had because when we went into the rehearsal space we didn’t know what would happen and often I mean you have other things in life and sometimes you have a good day and sometimes there are bad days, sometimes you are more energetic and sometimes you are a bit more tired, sometimes you’re patient to listen to something, sometimes you’re not. It was like a meditation thing and often sessions were sounding more like the music I think on ‘The Gamble’ but there were some sessions that were more like on ‘Diving Platform’ for example. This is like an excerpt; we were playing it for like thirty to forty minutes and there was this thing developing. And it always starts like that; someone is playing a beat or on the Rhodes or on the synthesizer or the bass and you all just start.

SS: It came up by fooling around and just make some fun but then OK we’re really playing this kind of track so let’s go for that and I had a big moustache in my mind and we are all smiling.

Do you think it was a difficult decision to release the second album so quickly after the first one and to decide on what goes onto it?

FG: As I said, we didn’t plan to release an album for such a long time – we didn’t even have a name – and then this all happened and we were all wowed by this warm reception and the feedback and now with this live tour that we thought let’s also share this other album basically and not to wait. And of course strategically or marketing-wise, I don’t know maybe you should wait or whatever and no one told us that so it was more like it’s great, I might like it even a bit more than ‘The Gamble’ [laughs] so let’s release it and so that’s basically how it was, nothing more or less. But I think that’s also good not having something in the drawer to hold back and you’re always waiting until this gets out. You put it out and then you have no cards left, you have to make new cards that you can play.

SS: And even to wait another seventeen days feels long. Actually because it is there, it’s got a cover, I want everybody to listen to it and get the feedback.

FG: It is strange because back then we didn’t have anything on vinyl or cd or to download or to sell, if someone was interested, we would just give them some music for friends, so now there’s a release date and it’s all interesting. But this is also new for us because it makes it more a band of course, this process like doing interviews and preparing for a tour, touring and doing band photos and stuff like that and thinking about music videos. It’s all great and fun but it’s not making music [laughs], it’s something else, you know. It’s new for us in that context, I mean everyone has their other projects. Seeing it also sometimes a bit sceptically, thinking will our innocence be gone afterwards? But I think going back to the rehearsal space and taking time because that is what it is; it’s a gift for all of us, we all have other things in life where we make a living out of it but Nonkeen is not about that. Luckily we have all the time in the world, if it takes ten years now for the next album and to go on the next tour but you don’t know, chance will tell.

I love how there is that DIY ethos at the heart of Nonkeen too where there is nothing pre-conceived or anything like that. And as you said, it’s completely music you’re just making for yourself without ever considering the audience?

FG: I mean it’s really like that. When we had the tracks and we were saying: “Oh this is finished and we don’t have anything to add” but really we had no idea if other people would like it or not. It’s different to say oh it’s OK to like something, it’s really interesting. It took so long like distilling alcohol again and again just to get the essence which was for us because it was so close to our heart always, we were taking our time and working on it as long as it needs without any rush. But you don’t know how others would perceive it and for us I think the most wonderful thing was and is, what people hear in it because I would always love to listen to that music without having heard it before. For the first time if someone played this to me and said, here have you heard this, listen to it but that’s not possible because you know that stuff but that must be great somehow.

SS: It’s like standing onstage and playing, I would often like to ‘snap’ and sit in the audience and see everything and listen.

FG: It’s really, really great and we’re really happy about it that there is so many people listening to it and also come up with so many references and often also very true. And often people say Boards of Canada, it’s a huge influence on us but it’s other instruments and stuff. Of course it’s maybe inherent in the music because we are so inspired by them but if someone had asked us ‘how does your music sound’, we would never say ‘yeah like Boards of Canada’, we would never think about this association. For me of course, it is so far away somehow but it is a great honour and it is what it is, we are all inspired by things.

There’s something special about a trio. I wonder would you ever individually come up with something like a sketch or idea and then come to the rehearsal space where the three-piece would flesh it out?

FG: I think that when we go to the rehearsal space – I mean except now preparing the tour but all the years before – it’s really interesting that we never really talked about music, I mean we didn’t talk about our music. It was never like ‘hey guys, I have this song, let’s play this’ or ‘I think we should sound more like this’. It never happened because I think we would have failed [laughs]. It’s more I think of finding a style in the way of making music together that we all feel comfortable with, technically and emotionally and seeing it as a whole thing basically. I think these are the moments which we are searching for where you dissolve in the music with the others. In that moment you don’t think anymore, it’s just this and you’re completely enjoying it. And then when you listen back to it a year later, you couldn’t even remember that moment where we’re like, is it us playing this?

It’s a very intimate thing but I think these moments you can’t plan, it’s as simple as that and I think we realized that from a very early stage. For all of us it is the most important thing that we will have is continuing these moments, no matter what. No matter if we release any albums or going on tour because this is the most important thing, to play together and Nils has so many other projects and you [Sepp] also, it’s not about not being able to play. But I think what we are always curious about is finding these moments where you dissolve and where it’s not about you, it all has to work as a whole thing, it becomes its own creature somehow.

And that’s the thing too where it’s not the first album in isolation. Suddenly you have a body of work now quite quickly, there’s a narrative now flowing and where you can see down the line nearly. I loved the 12″ vinyl release too where you can pick the desired speed to play the tracks on.

FG: I mean in the end again like with that decision why would you put both tracks on a single but it’s because of that; it happened by playing around with a tape machine and by pitching it and this is something you can also do with a turntable or record player, so why not using the medium and giving it out to everyone to try it out. It is really about always deciding on what makes sense. And now with these two albums we made a trajectory that we have to follow because that is a style that everyone is expecting. I don’t know but maybe the next album will be something completely different. Let’s see.

‘The Oddments of the Gamble’ is out on 15th July 2016 via R&S Records.

http://www.nonkeen.com/
https://www.facebook.com/nonkeen/

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July 14, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E6 | June mix

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We’re delighted to present two exclusive tracks by the world-renowned Berlin-based contemporary classical music collective stargaze. Founded by German conductor André de Ridder, stargaze comprise a network of classically trained European musicians who have performed and collaborated extensively in a wide variety of contexts to date.

The German-based collective have worked with some of the most acclaimed and forward-thinking contemporary music-makers, including: Julia Holter, Nils Frahm, Bryce Dessner, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Shara Worden, Owen Pallett, These New Puritans and many more; and have appeared at prestigious festivals and venues including: the Holland Festival, Barbican Centre London, Acht-Brücken-Festival at Cologne Philharmonie, Crossing Borders Festival, Wonderfeel Festival, Kaltern Pop Festival, Berlin Pop-Kultur, Rewire Festival (NL).

Another vital element of the stargaze repertoire in recent years has been amassing their considerable collection of instrumental works. These have included: Deerhof Chamber Variations by Greg Saunier; string quartets by Sufjan Stevens and Bryce Dessner as well as David Lang’s composition Death Speaks; Mica Levi’s Under The Skin and Richard Reed Parry’s Music for Heart and Breath.

Presented exclusively for June’s mixtape are stargaze’s analogue arrangements of Boards of Canada’s EP “Hi Scores”, performed live at Motel Mozaïque in Rotterdam during April 2016. Arrangements are by Aart Strootman.

Staying in Berlin, also included in June’s mixtape is the highly acclaimed Hamburg-born and Berlin-based guitarist and composer Martyn Heyne who released his gorgeous debut solo E.P. “Shady & Light” this year (available as a free download from http://martynheyne.com). Heyne has long been associated with countless musicians in the independent music scene as they have recorded at Lichte, Heyne’s Berlin-based home studio (Sarah Neufeld, Nils Frahm, Lubomyr Melnyk, Peter Broderick). Heyne was also a touring member with Danish group Efterklang during their 2013 “Piramida” tour.

Finally, June also saw the release of Irish songwriter Brigid Mae Power’s masterful self-titled album (her first for U.S. independent Tompkins Square). The album was recorded in 2015 with Peter Broderick at The Sparkle, his hometown studio in Portland, Oregon.

 

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E6 | June mix

To Read/listen on La Blogothèque:

http://www.blogotheque.net/2016/06/27/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s01e06-june-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Brigid Mae Power“Watching The Horses” (Tompkins Square)
02. Sarah Neufeld“Chase the Bright and Burning” (Paper Bag)
03. The Flaming Lips “The Observer” (Warner Bros.)
04. s t a r g a z e“Everything You Do Is A Balloon” (live at Motel Mozaïque, Rotterdam, 09/04/16)
05. Arthur Russell“Instrumentals – 1974 Volume 1” (Rough Trade, Audika)
06. Oliver Coates“Innocent Love” (PRAH Recordings)
07. Jessy Lanza“It Means I Love You” (Hyperdub)
08. Moderat “Finder” (Monkeytown)
09. Jamie xx & Four Tet“SeeSaw” (feat. Rome) [Club Version] (Young Turks)
10. Kiasmos “Swayed” (Erased Tapes)
11. Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm“23:52” (Erased Tapes)
12. Boards Of Canada“Sunshine Recorder” (Warp)
13. Radiohead“Full Stop” (XL Recordings)
14. Explosions In The Sky“The Ecstatics” (Bella Union)
15. MJ Guider“Lit Negative” (Kranky)
16. Julee Cruise“Mysteries Of Love” (Warner Bros.)
17. Angel Olsen“Intern” (Jagjaguwar)
18. Martyn Heyne“Brandung” (http://martynheyne.com)
19. Roslyn Steer“Of A Sunday” (Kantcope)
20. Bob Dylan“Final Theme” (Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid OST, Columbia)
21. s t a r g a z e“Nlogax / Turquoise Hexagon Sun” (live at Motel Mozaïque, Rotterdam, 09/04/16)
22. Bill Fay“The Sun Is Bored” (Deram, Decca)
23. Amiina“Kola” (Lighthouse Version) (Sound Of A Handshake)

Compiled by Fractured Air, June 2016. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

Step Right Up: Ben Lukas Boysen

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How can I make a programmed piano – or basically a piano that I never really touched, that I never saw or that I never recorded myself – how can I make that feel human and interesting?”

—Ben Lukas Boysen

Words: Mark Carry, Photography: Claudia Gödke

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The Berlin-based composer, producer and sound designer Ben Lukas Boysen represents the prestigious Erased Tapes label’s newest signing with the scintillating sophomore full-length release of ‘Spells’. The German studio composer masterfully crafts a deeply moving sound world of ambient, electronic and modern-classical textures as programmed piano pieces are fused with live instruments (drums, cello, harp and an intricate array of echoes, delays and compressors), merging sound design and music to become one beguiling stratosphere of mesmerizing sound.

On the sleeve notes of Laurie Spiegel’s seminal work ‘The Expanding Universe’, the American composer discusses the great advantage of computers: “Music consists of patterns of sound. One of the computer’s greatest strengths is the opportunity it presents to integrate direct interaction with an instrument and its sound with the ability to compose musical experiences much more complex and well designed than can be done than can be done live in one take.” Journeying through the infinite beauty and meticulously crafted sound collages captured on ‘Spells’, Boysen has composed complex musical experiences that combines the controllable digital world and the often unpredictable aspects of live improvisation. The remarkable achievement of ‘Spells’ is the hugely humanised sound – and rawest of human emotions – that is emitted from these programmed piano pieces that floats in the ether between the blurred lines of electronic and organic spheres. Undoubtedly, the source or origin of the German composer’s work is secondary to the sprawling emotion and deeply affecting nature of ‘Spells’’ highly innovative and compelling body of work.

One of the record’s most formidable moments arrives during ‘Golden Times 1’ – the album’s longest cut and perhaps centrepiece – which is built upon a delicate piano-led melody that echoes the solo piano works of Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick among others. Later, heart-wrenching strings are melded together before a euphoric cascade of energy and emotion is transmitted amidst electronic walls of sound that forms the towering counterpoint to the aching bliss of ambient pulses (think ‘Looped’ by Kiasmos inter-woven with Nils Frahm’s ‘Says’).

In the same way as two distinct movements are composed for ‘Golden Times’ (‘Golden Times 2’ is a slowed-down neo-classical-infused-electronic tour-de-force recalling the likes of Scottish duo Boards of Canada), ‘Nocturne 3’ and ‘Nocturne 4’ finds the rich narrative of Boysen’s previous LP, ‘Gravity’ developed further. The brooding strings of ‘Keep Watch’ shares gorgeous remnants of A Winged Victory For The Sullen such is the unfathomable beauty that permeates the ebb and flow of neon-lit skylines and the gradual motion of the sea waves encapsulated within the soaring music. Indeed, ‘Spells’ is laden with a beating heart that awaits your every lost thought and faded dream.

‘Spells’ is out this Friday, 10th June on Erased Tapes Records.

 

Interview with Ben Lukas Boysen.

 Congratulations on the sublime new record ‘Spells’. I’m sure it has taken considerable effort and time to program all the piano parts in particular?

Ben Lukas Boysen: Yes, a little, it actually doesn’t take as long as it would take me to play it [laughs], it takes a while but I can’t really play that well. So I needed to find a way to make that work otherwise and the programming is a very comfortable way of doing that. But it’s mostly the other musicians involved – they were a lot faster with everything because they are all very good instrumentalists. Most of the things were done pretty fast – it only took two years to get the piano stuff together and then the rest was faster.

Would the piano parts always come first and then the instrumentation of drums, harp and so on come after?

BLB: It depends actually. The way I record drums, I go into the studio with the drummer and I just hand him an idea and he starts jamming – I mean just like a track idea and he starts improvising. Most of the time (80% of the time), I remove my track afterwards and write something new for the drums and that’s how most of the tracks – with drums at least – come together. There was a certain idea at the beginning and it was all removed and something completely new was written underneath it. Hearing other musicians work normally inspires me a lot and gives me new ideas of what I want to do with it. So most of the time there is nothing really pre-written; it’s very subject to change there.

I must say ‘Golden Times 1’ – and I love also how there are two different movements with the second towards the end -it’s amazing how it morphs into the more electronic and as the piece extends, the piece builds continually. It really is wonderful how it develops.

BLB: Thank you so much. Right now as we speak I’m at a point where it’s very, very hard for me to judge the album. It’s very flattering and nice to hear that it seems to work because right now it’s this hunk of work that’s passed me. Musicians will tell you they need to get a distance from their work before they can actually enjoy it again.

Like ‘Golden Times’, I love how there are also two different movements of ‘Nocturne’ and it’s wonderful to see – and hear – the different variations between those pieces?

BLB: Indeed, that is a fun concept actually. It’s normally only heavy drums and a sad piano theme, like that’s the only restriction and everything else is fine. There’s the first two pieces [‘Nocturne 1’ and ‘Nocturne 2’] from my previous album ‘Gravity’ and it just developed, there was never really a plan. I liked how this worked so I do three more. There will probably be two more on the next one to close the trilogy or something [laughs].

You set up your own studio in Berlin around ten years ago. That sounds fascinating too because you’re obviously involved with so much projects from sound design where your own two studio albums are one part to the overall picture really.

BLB: That is true, the albums are personally at least, the most important one. The sound design and commission work is what pays the bills and what puts the food on the table. For the albums, you could never take that much time with a commercial project than you can with an album. You just sit down and take time and don’t do anything but that for a while. And in that time that it takes to make an album – the way I wanted it to be – I would be completely broke and on the street by the time it finished. I am very happy that I’m allowed to work in a craft that where music pays my bills; I feel incredibly privileged. The sound design was always part of it but I always try to make sound design musical and music more sound design: to find something within there. It’s hard to explain but they should become one eventually and this is very hard to hear on ‘Spells’ at least. But on the previous stuff – all the releases I did under HECQ – this approach is much more obvious there because it’s very electronic. But for my solo stuff it’s the same, ultimately I want to merge sound design and music into one.

I’d love for you to discuss your early memories of growing up with music? I presume you began playing the piano at a young age and progressed from there?

BLB: That is true although I was never really an instrumentalist in that way. I come from a musical family – my mother was an opera singer and vocal coach later on in her life and my father was an actor – so music was always very present and always a very important topic, and always being quite eclectic about it, my parents were and still are.

I started playing guitar and piano but I noticed this is not where I will be good at. It is more the abstract and programming part – the meta level of music – for example like ‘Spells’ and ‘Gravity’ are good examples: how can I make a programmed piano – or basically a piano that I never really touched, that I never saw or that I never recorded myself – how can I make that feel human and interesting? And how well that worked I guess is still to be seen when the album is out [laughs].

Well quite a few people – pianists actually – asked me how did I record the piano and I explained that I did not at all, it all comes from a machine. And their reactions were very interesting from amazed to almost disappointed and every reaction was in there; it was very funny really. There is a certain value system behind it like some people might value the result even less once they know that it’s not recorded as in no live piano. I thought that’s very interesting how you get this value system behind it or why is it that your perception tells you this is better because this is live or not live. That’s what I meant with meta level like it’s not only listening to a record, it’s also as a producer or as a musician questioning what is actually important for you during the production process and also when you listen to an album and why it might be more or less worth to you when it is done.

For example, I never sat down with the musicians in one studio at a time; they are all scattered either in Berlin or elsewhere in the world, and always recorded on their own almost. I mean I was in the studio with the drummer [Achim Farber] but the cellist [Anton Peisakhov] did his own thing and the harpist Lara [Somogyi] she is in LA so we were just bouncing off ideas really and then I merged them together here on my own. That’s also very interesting because there is a lot less life about this album than people might think [laughs] or at least how it sounds and that is done on purpose. It is probably without the listener knowing, a little challenge to question your perception.

As a listener listening to ‘Spells’ for example, overall there is a hugely humanised sound where you feel it’s very much an organic world that you wouldn’t think for a second was manipulated in any way.

BLB: Yeah that’s very interesting because that is how it should sound. It’s not an active act of deception or anything. I mean to make it sound human and very much alive was a goal but especially because everybody who starts to make computer music will have heard the phrase ‘oh so it’s not actual music’ when you work with a computer quite often and I’ve heard that many, many times. I mean computer musicians and electronic composers are absolutely established and are artists and a group of composers in their own right but still most of the people who are not actively involved in it they still have this preconception of this is not actual music and for some reason that I wanted to contribute a bit to that discussion saying that you can combine these things wonderfully. It’s quite tricky to sync a VST piano or any synths that are not improvised or played live to an actually live-played instrument because the moment you put a human being behind an instrument it will have its own very human factor and it will be quite faraway from any quantised digital world. This is very thrilling, I could do that for at least three more albums, it’s really fun.

There is a lot of chance and accidents in the sense that it is not set out too finely that goes inside the process too?

BLB: Indeed, it’s like recording mistakes, I would normally leave them in. I really like that, it’s not only to enhance the live feeling but I just normally really like what live mistakes and outtakes do to a piece of music like don’t over-polish it, that was my motto.

There is a lovely parallel between you and the other Erased Tapes artists like Nils Frahm and Kiasmos particularly where you’re certainly on a similar wavelength.

BLB: I hope so; I mean this is a big comparison so thanks a lot for thinking that way [laughs]. The mastering and mixing was Nils and he obviously added a lot of his input. It was very important for me that he is very free to do his thing and to work these little details and the extra twenty percent that this album would need – I mean twenty percent to say the least. When we were done after the two days, I really re-discovered the album and noticed things that I didn’t notice before and that’s why these sessions are always very helpful. He did that already on ‘Gravity’ and mostly because ‘Gravity’ didn’t sound like I wanted it to sound at all when I went into the mastering session and he really did something amazing there. ‘Spells’ was much closer to what I wanted it to be and he also adapted that fantastically so it’s an amazing job that he did. I mean he is adding a certain feel to it as well that makes it fit in with the rest of the bunch as well.

I wonder for the live performance it must be very exciting too because I presume the live set-up will transform the songs again even further?

BLB: Indeed, but that’s the trickiest part so far [laughs]. I’m really trying to figure out how to do that; well basically set up a band and come up with a concept. I actually never anticipated playing ‘Spells’ live. I mean I’m a studio composer and producer – not even a musician – so I have not much experience playing live other than a couple of DJ gigs back in the day and I’m working on something but it will take a while. It’s going to be a bit tricky – for me at least – I’m very critical with what I present to the outside world and so the live show needs to be very impressive, it needs to be something else. It’s not enough to go there and play on a stage with a laptop, there needs to be a concept behind it otherwise it’s not going to be the experience I want it to be. That’s why it might take a bit of time but you are absolutely right; listening to the layers of the tracks gives me a lot of ideas on how to solve that and how to go about the live idea – it’s very inspiring but it’s also very challenging, especially if you don’t really have a lot of experience in that area. It’s exciting times and I will spend a good portion of this year on figuring out how to do this.

I love how ‘Keep Watch’ is more rooted in the modern classical world but I love how the little layers of percussion are added throughout, especially during the later stages.

BLB: The cellist had to accompany himself. It’s a piece written for three cellos actually and he had to play all the three layers himself, the poor boy and he did an amazing job I think. He told me – and I wasn’t aware of – it’s very hard for a cellist to accompany himself and not in real-time; like you record one layer, then you record the second layer and then you record the third layer. And apparently it’s very hard to accompany yourself because of the re-intonation stuff like musician stuff that I wasn’t aware of [laughs]. He did an amazing job and for the live show it would have to be at least three cellos and this is one of the challenges.

Most of the live stuff is a logistic challenge because it’s easier for me to resolve that in a studio setting, you can basically come up with an entire string ensemble with just one musician in a studio but in a live scenario it has to be actually three musicians at least and so far, for only one track. So I would to need to write a bit more of that so it would make more sense to have three designated musicians there. I really enjoyed ‘Keep Watch’ because it is so focused on the strings and it’s quite a challenge to actually compose that way, it’s interesting.

You have a previous version of ‘Sleepers Beat Theme’ done already am I right to say?

BLB: Absolutely, it was the score for a short movie for at least half of it, the other half was done by Jon Hopkins. He heard the demo version of this track when the movie was done a couple of years ago almost and asked if he could use that for his Late Night Tales album, which was obviously a gigantic honour. It was a demo version because at that time I didn’t have all the tracks recorded and so it’s an alternative version but the album one is maybe my preferred version because it fits in better with the sound of the album. But the Late Night Tales version or the short movie version – I don’t want to say demo version –  I just like that on ‘Spells’ it blends in much better with the sound of the album. So that was done two years ago and it really never left me. I don’t remember exactly where the name comes from; it had something to do with the movie but since it’s a completely beat-less track, I’m not exactly sure where the name comes from anymore [laughs].

Would there be very important or defining albums for you, Ben?

BLB: There were a huge amount of wonderful albums absolutely that inspired me drastically through my youth and especially all the techno stuff and all the Boards of Canada stuff. I’m not sure who today in this kind of music did not listen to that or was not inspired by it, it’s really interesting. Over the last seven or eight years, I have noticed that if something has really inspired me it’s ancient: it could be Bach or a lot of blues and jazz records and also a lot of choral works; very basic, almost primitive choral works (it could be from Germany or from Bulgaria).

Here are five albums (in no specific order) I think are utterly important for me (and everyone ;))

01 Esbjörn Svensson Trio – Seven Days Of Falling

02 The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World

03 Max Loderbauer – Transparenz

04 Thomas Köner – Teimo

05 Deaf Center – Vintage Well 7″

‘Spells’ is out this Friday, 10th June on Erased Tapes Records.

 

Written by admin

June 7, 2016 at 10:58 am

Track Premiere: Martyn Heyne (Efterklang)

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In my mind a composition is never finished because nothing keeps me from playing it differently next time.

Martyn Heyne

 

 

Shady & Light’ is the debut solo release from renowned German musician Martyn Heyne. Born in Hamburg, the Berlin-based composer studied at Holland’s Conservatorium van Amsterdam. His home studio, Lichte – based next to Berlin’s Tempelhof (former) airport has been the chosen recording space for artists including The National, Nils Frahm, Lubomyr Melnyk, Peter Broderick and Efterklang. In addition, Heyne was a touring member with Danish group Efterklang during their 2013 ‘Piramida’ tour (and parts of their final album was worked on in Lichte).

The album opener ‘Telepath’ flickers with golden dawn’s glistening rays as soothing guitar tones meld effortlessly with luminous beats, conjuring up the timeless sound of Finnish duo The Gentleman Losers and Keith Kenniff’s Helios project. The master composer crafts such singular melodies with meticulous detail buried deep within the sonic terrain of ambient-infused-modern classical flourishes. The sparse lament of ‘Sparks’ proves another defining moment, in which radiant waves of nostalgia seeps into the forefront of the mix. ‘Sparks’ belongs in a stratosphere whose axis points between Keith Jarrett’s live solo recordings and the collaborative works of Tape & Bill Wells.

A glorious rise of ambient flourishes permeates the krautrock-tinged ‘Brandung’ with scintillating synthesizer passages and meditative electric guitar pulses. ‘The Gathering’ – despite its short length – exudes a wall of emotion that echoes the ambient works of Harold Budd with pristine reverberated guitar tones fading onto the sun-lit horizon. The album’s towering penultimate track ‘Monoment’ somehow transposes Nils Frahm’s piano to the guitar instrument: the transcendent sound world of synthesizers, drum machines and guitar fuse together, evoking the ‘Spaces’ live document of Heyne’s close colleague.

Shady & Light’ will be exclusively available from martynheyne.com from 27th May 2016.

Martyn Heyne 1

 

Interview with Martyn Heyne.

Congratulations on the truly gorgeous debut mini album, ‘Shady & Light’. I would love to gain an insight into your compositional approach when creating these intricately beautiful guitar-based pieces? 

Martyn Heyne: Thank you very much! As you say, each piece is centred around a single electric guitar performance – that’s my compositional frame work. From there I add all the other things because I love sounds and finding spaces for them! I tend to have the musical idea in the master take and then base the arrangement on sonics. The instrumentation is often part of the Mix too. For example, when high frequencies are lacking I might add a cymbal rather than use EQ.

Your sonic canvas of guitar, synthesizers and a drum machine is a joy to savour. In terms of the instrumentation, would many of these tracks originate from a guitar-based improvisation? As this is a debut solo EP –although of course you have a significant body of work behind you among the many wonderful and diverse collaborative projects in the past– do these musical compositions all originate from the same space in time?

MH: Yes, the compositions are usually distilled improvisations on guitar or piano. Even when I start on one instrument I will bounce over to the other for a moment just to see what that might say about the music. In my mind a composition is never finished because nothing keeps me from playing it differently next time. I try to listen to where it wants to go until I have a real favourite route through the music. So yes, the simmering nudges details into place. 

Can you please recount your memories of composing ‘Sparks’, Martyn? This is the piece we are honoured to premiere on our site. The delicacy of the piece immediately strikes you and indeed the gracefulness of this divine sonic canvas that gradually unfolds.

MH: Thank you very much! With this track I applied the approach of my classical studies to the electric guitar. I love how a more classical technique allows the guitar to be like a vibraphone or any keyboard instrument. Chord and melody, notes attacking at the same time (as opposed to strummed), countering bass lines – those are the gaps I’m forever trying to bridge. By the way, the original title of this one was the smell of campfire in our sweaters.

The Lichte studio is steeped in history with such an inspiring array of musicians and close collaborators of yours all recording here over the years. I would love for you to discuss this particular space, Martyn and explain the reasons as to why (or perhaps how!) the acoustics and sound world captured in these walls are so special? Please talk me through the studio techniques you have developed and processes you favour when it comes to making/recording music in the Lichte studio?

MH: One thing I can think of is that the studio is very informal, as it’s located in my flat, and maybe more neat and calm than studios generally are. Many of the common recording pressures don’t apply to a session here which can make all the difference. My main focus is always on performance and content because they translate most through all kinds of listening environments. I am surprised how often people sing into a 10k microphone with a crackling distorted Behringer headphone sound. It brings uneasiness to the performance. In my philosophy the monitoring situation is just as important as the recording chain because the take will shine through more than the mic.

My current favourite is the penultimate track, ‘Monoment’. As the sound world of synthesizers and guitar meld effortlessly together, I feel a perfect symmetry exists alongside the works of Nils Frahm, (more particularly your guitar becomes a mirror of Nils’s piano, creating such moving and enveloping sounds!) I also love the sequencing of ‘Shady & Light’, where the more synth/drum machines come to the fore during the final section after beginning with fragile and barer guitar instrumentation.

MH: Thank you so much! In ‘Monoment’ I operate the drum machine in between playing the guitar, which allows me to change the arrangement on the go in a live performance. On top of that I use automation software to create what I call Random Auto Dub (yes, that’s RAD) which sends the drum machine signal kind of randomly into a spring reverb, amp, or tape delays. That way it always does things I don’t expect and I have something to react to on stage which makes the whole thing way more exciting for me!

My friend Anne Braun shot a great video of a concert where you can see how that works (https://youtu.be/AIQ1K537enM). Incidentally, the title Monoment is based on the track being recorded, just like almost all of Shady & Light, in mono.

Your life is steeped in music. Please take me back to your earliest musical memories? What defining moments occurred during your musical upbringing that you feel helped carve out this particular musical path for you, Martyn? Also, please mention any records that provided huge inspiration for you, over the years?

MH: As a young child I just experimented on my mother’s piano using two chromatic modes, symmetrically based around the Ab or the D. When I eventually got lessons, C major came as a real surprise! 

I was lucky to be born in the time where people started buying CD’s, so vinyl and record players were up for grabs and became kids’ toys. I got to play the obsolete space wasters in my room while everyone was busy trying to get their cherished CD’s out of the plastic wrapper! That way I had a record collection all my life, and it still includes my parents’ original Beatles red and blue albums as well as Abbey Road which is possibly my most played record. Other favourites include:

Miles Davis and Portishead. Both masters at getting such direct beauty out of things that are pretty rough around the edges. Also both masters of the band concept and especially the drums in it! 

The Gentleman Losers, the first album. Their sonic vision makes me so happy! My favourite record for after sundown. 

Oasis, Definitely Maybe. The beginning of my lifelong obsession with tape delays, compression and distortion. Unfortunately, the sound of this record also probably started the loudness war because so many that came after didn’t understand that it only works the first time. 

Keith Jarrett, Vienna Concert. This, even more than other solo concerts of him, shows where you can go musically when you go alone. The mobility of it makes it so enticing to me!

Richard Wagner, all the overtures. I imagine, after Paul McCartney walks offstage another 80k capacity stadium, shakes the President’s hand and makes for his limo through a vast sea of picture taking admirers and he’s beginning to worry it might all go to his head a bit – then all it takes is for him to go home and quietly listen through the opening of Lohengrin to firmly place his feet back on the ground. 

Lastly, if you’re DJing at a party, forget all of what I just said and put on Solange’s True EP!

Shady & Light’ will be exclusively available from martynheyne.com from 27th May 2016.

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Written by admin

May 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm