FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘No Kings

Step Right Up: Ekin Fil

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What I mean is music was a part of my growing up as a person and i want it to be that way always.”

—Ekin Fil

Words: Mark Carry

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PHOTOS BY ERİNÇ GÜZEL

 

Turkish solo artist Ekin Fil has been carving out some of the most breath-taking and beguiling drone pop explorations these past few years, inhabiting the deep, ethereal dimension of Grouper’s Liz Harris and navigating the deepest depths of the human condition in the process. On the latest opus ‘Ghosts Inside’ – released earlier this summer on Los Angeles imprint Helen Scarsdale Agency – an undeniable catharsis permeates deep within these recordings: fragile vocals shimmer gently amidst spare elements of piano notes or reverb laden guitar swells, creating utterly hypnotic drone pulses and far-reaching shoegaze deconstructions.

The opening ripples of bass piano notes of ‘Let Go’ hang in the air- an ocean of sadness and despair pours through like pockets of light. Heavenly harmonies loop forever on the achingly beautiful lament ‘Like A Child’, belonging somewhere between the sonic sphere of Grouper’s ‘Ruins’ and Sarah Davachi’s ambient gem ‘All My Circles Run’. The introspective sound unfolds heartache and helplessness. Gorgeous swells of echo and delay drift majestically beneath Ekin’s soft-like whisper on ‘Episodes’ before the sparse piano ballad ‘Simple Past’ depicts decay and isolation. The radiant light of hope forever lies at the aching core of these deeply moving explorations, reminiscent of New Zealand’s Birds of Passage or Sweden’s Demen, for example, where the beating human heart serves the undying blood-flow.

The album’s centrepiece ‘Before A Full Moon’ echoes the timeless spirit of This Mortal Coil and the singular 4AD sound. ‘Ghosts Inside’ is a gripping journey through the pores of the human heart.

‘Ghosts Inside’ is out now on The Helen Scarsdale Agency.

https://www.facebook.com/Ekin-Fil

https://www.facebook.com/helenscarsdale/

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Interview with Ekin Fil.

Congratulations on the stunningly beautiful new full-length ‘Ghosts Inside’, a deeply affecting batch of beguiling songs. Please discuss the making and recording of the latest record and the space and time in which these recordings bloomed from? I particularly love the addition of piano to the sonic canvas, which further heightens this ethereal, far-reaching dimension.

Ekin Fil: First of all I would love to thank you so much. Though I would have some predictions, I’m not a person that knows how the album will turn out before starting to work on it. That period was terribly monotonous and static and I think it shows on the short and repetitive melodies in the album.

There is an undeniable catharsis permeating deep within these new songs where ‘Ghosts Inside’ contains pockets of glimmering hope amidst the shimmering darkness of decay and isolation. An immersive quality is forever inherent in your music that emits a healing nature to the recordings. I’d love to gain an insight into your studio set-up and the instrumentation used?

EF: Ghosts Inside consists of keyboard based tracks mostly whereas my previous releases were dominated by guitar. The emotional affect caused by this difference apparently is more direct with the listeners or may be more sincere? The instruments were basically a keyboard and a guitar with reverb and delay pedals for my vocals.

I feel the duo of ‘Before A Full Moon’ and ‘Fin’ forms the vital pulse and gripping heart to the new record. The way in which your voice blends so magically with the drone soundscapes of guitar (former) and keys (latter) creates such a hypnotic, timeless voyage into the pores of the human heart. Can you discuss the writing and construction of these particular songs?

EF: I think the songs you mentioned are the songs that most resemble my previous album because the new album contains fewer guitar based songs. Nevertheless although they differ structurally, they may not sound very different within the whole atmosphere.

Making music feels like such a natural process for you. I would love for you to discuss the inspirational figures and musical voices (from growing up in Istanbul to present-day making music as Ekin Fil) and how soon did you realize the importance of music in your life?

EF: May sound a bit cliché but music has been a part of my life from very early on. But when I think about it now I see that I may have wanted things to be under my control with my relation to music. I want to play and sing as long as I want, whether i become a ‘musician’ or not. Maybe I could not find any other way that i’m comfortable with within certain conditions.

I did not grow up in İstanbul, it was more like an urban town in the borders. Somewhere you can call more conservative. It was really difficult to reach and find the music, the books, things we were curious about there. I think all of these difficulties kept me from romanticizing stuff and kept my ego from getting bigger. What I mean is music was a part of my growing up as a person and i want it to be that way always.

The addition of piano instrumentation on penultimate track ‘Final Cut’ or album opener ‘Let Go’ forges a striking immediacy and beguiling atmosphere to the sonic sphere, reminiscent of Grouper’s ‘Ruins’ LP for instance (a lovely parallel exists between both albums). Were the piano-based songs written (& recorded) at the same time frame as the more guitar-based songs?

EF: Keyboard has been a contributing element in my previous guitar based tracks too. This time I just switched the balances leaving the keys alone and sometimes just letting guitars company them in a subtle way. All the songs in the album belong to a same period in my life. Actually I can’t say I can play one certain instrument better than others, I just use the one I feel I need and be content with it.

You have quickly amassed quite a wonderful discography and have developed your own rich musical identity across the years. Where do you feel you will explore next and what plans and collaborations do you feel you’d like to visit next?

EF: I hope and plan to play at other European cities after my show at Le Guess Who festival in November. We also plan to release a tape if we can around those dates too. Then new tracks and records and may be a split album.

Lastly, what records are you heavily immersed in of late?

Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN”, Joanna  Brouk’s “The Space Between”, Abul Mogard’s “Works”, All Washington Phillips, Kate Carr’s “the Story Surrounds Us”  are the records I have been listening to a lot lately.

‘Ghosts Inside’ is out now on The Helen Scarsdale Agency.

https://www.facebook.com/Ekin-Fil

https://www.facebook.com/helenscarsdale/

Written by admin

August 9, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Chosen One: Lee Noble

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Interview with Lee Noble.

“I record in my room in Los Angeles on a digital 8-track mixer. The way I tend to work is by first making small improvised recordings on battery-powered tape recorders with acoustic instruments like banjo, guitar, mbira, or on my casio sk-1 or another small keyboard. Then after a while I have a little collection of tapes to build from. This is the first album where I’ve also done a lot of editing and collage after most recording is done. I don’t mind leaving in all the audio artifacts of this process. So often you’ll hear the sound of tape recorders being turned on, or the record buttons being pressed on the 8-track, chairs moving around, background noises. I’m not interested in cleanliness of sound.”

—Lee Noble

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Lee Noble is an L.A based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Earlier this year saw the release of his new album, ‘Ruiner’ on the ever-dependable Bathetic Records and is undeniably one of the hidden gems of 2013. The eerie atmosphere of the lo-fi folk haze of ambient swirls and Noble’s drifting vocals immerses the listener into an otherworldly dimension. The mood that is captured is what is most striking about ‘Ruiner’, where I feel a desolate landscape dotted across the sonic terrain. Beneath the depth of darkness, lies an illumination of hope and solace, such is the magic of Noble’s sonic explorations. The songs serve as one organic whole, where a gorgeous ebb and flow of enchanting sounds beautifully heightens all that surrounds you.

The instrumentation of guitar, banjo, church organ, vocals and samples are masterfully employed by Noble throughout the album’s soundscapes. The songs themselves – some worked on as far back as 2011 – originated from Noble’s L.A bedroom, equipped with the musician’s sacred digital 8-track mixer. An infinite array of possibilities are attained. I feel there is a remarkable closeness to Noble’s experimentation with sound as artists such as Benoît Pioulard and Grouper. A similar ethereal dimension is formed by the fusion of the organic and synthetic, creating in turn, a beguiling sonic tapestry that unleashes fragile emotion.

‘Ruiner’ comprises of gradual music, in all its power and beauty. One moment, vintage analog drones serves a pulse to the song’s bloodflow, while the next, a meditative swell of harmonium seeps into the slipstream. Deeply affecting music is created. A passage from the essay “Music As A Gradual process” by Steve Reich, I feel captures the essence of ‘Ruiner’:

“While performing and listening to gradual musical processes one can participate in a particular liberating and impersonal kind of ritual. Focusing in on the musical process makes possible that shift of attention away from he and she and you and me outwards towards it.”

Album opener ‘Covers’ begins with cleansing mbira notes, before dream-like organ synthesizer fades into the foreground. A delicate lullaby, which serves the ideal prologue for the sonic voyage ‘Ruiner’ takes you on. Noble’s heartfelt vocals coalesce with the music, forming a beautiful sea of cinematic wonder. The outro of church organ notes effortlessly flows into ‘December’. This ambient gem is drenched in gorgeous reverb and swells of organ, amidst the electric guitar strum of minor chords and a drum machine’s winter beats. The brooding vocals are reminiscent of Thom Yorke that resonates into the captivating atmosphere.

‘Demon Pond’ is all about building on layers of sound. A sweeping harmonium provides a haunting backdrop to the song’s opening sections. I feel the sonic artifacts come to light from the recorded improvisations. The song cycle encompasses all stratosphere of sound from ambient, drone to folk music. The vocals and banjo accompaniment that unfolds six minutes in, is perhaps ‘Ruiner”s defining moment. Heavenly harmonies and stirring tones of field recordings and background noise, creates a wholly fulfilling experience. Noble’s voice is like a prayer for forgiveness from the depths of despair. ‘Rewilding’ closes Side A, with an uptempo organ-led instrumental and drum machine. A bright sun rises on the horizon, as the irresistible pop hooks form a compelling groove. ‘Remind Me’ is a slowed down re-working of ‘Rewilding’ that perfectly flows into one another. ‘Remind Me’ is another gem that finds Noble at the interface of the organic and synthetic.

‘Disintegrate Ideas’ is a swirling organ-based instrumental, that creates a wonderful sense of space to the music. The acoustic-based ‘Wring The Rag’ is a sparse lament of tortured souls. The intimacy is immediately evident. The organ/synthesizer is at the heart of album closer, ‘I Don’t Blame You, We’re Having The Same Dream’ that brings Lee Noble’s latest sonic exploration to a fitting close.

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Interview with Lee Noble.

Congratulations on the latest opus, ‘Ruiner’. The album is an utterly transcendent tour de force. I love how your songs possess that magical spark, forever inhabiting a cosmic space. Please discuss the recording of this album and the inception of the songs that make up this incredible record?

Thanks very much! That is very kind. I started working on pieces that appear on the album as far back as 2011. I record in my room in Los Angeles on a digital 8-track mixer. The way I tend to work is by first making small improvised recordings on battery-powered tape recorders with acoustic instruments like banjo, guitar, mbira, or on my casio sk-1 or another small keyboard. Then after a while I have a little collection of tapes to build from. This is the first album where I’ve also done a lot of editing and collage after most recording is done. I don’t mind leaving in all the audio artifacts of this process. So often you’ll hear the sound of tape recorders being turned on, or the record buttons being pressed on the 8-track, chairs moving around, background noises. I’m not interested in cleanliness of sound.

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The instrumentation of guitar, banjo, church organ, vocals and samples blend so effortlessly together that creates one large cohesive and organic sound. The songs are reminiscent of other luminaries such as Grouper and Benoît Pioulard. I would love to gain an insight into the process of assembling the various layers to your sound and the creative process at the heart of your unique sonic creations?

Not too long ago I got this great organ synth, a Yamaha sk10, and it has a beautiful warble that seems to go along well with everything, from synthesizer to banjo. I can’t seem to specialize or focus on one instrument, so I end up with many. My skills are half realized with all of them. I see some correlation between folk music and older synthesizer music, the edge where those two things touch is a great place to explore. There’s a way to manipulate an organ or guitar or synth tone so that at the end you can’t tell what you’re listening to – it’s just this warm sound. I supposed if I was technically better at mixing there might be more separation, but it’s not something I aspire to at the moment.

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My favourite song is the epic ‘Demon Pond’. A song cycle that seems to flow through all stratospheres from ambient, drone to lo-fi folk. The moment the banjo comes into the mix is one of the defining moments on ‘Ruiner’. I would love to hear how this song was born and the various stages in which the song bloomed into its final entity?

I wrote the banjo piece at the end first, and recorded it. Then later thought it needed a lead-up, so I added the harmonium. I had these other pieces laying around from other recording experiments and I just ended up throwing them all together, taking the pieces that stood out. They were all much longer pieces initially, mostly made with a pedal that does long looped delays. But they are more efficient together.

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As a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, I would love to gain an insight into your fascination with sound? What are your memories of first experimenting with sound?

My dad is a musician, a guitar player, so there were lots of them lying around the house growing up. I wanted to play piano when I was a kid, and started taking lessons, but I hated learning songs so I quit. Just wanted to make stuff up and not study. Just wanted to bang on everything.

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The songs on ‘Ruiner’ feel an amalgam of many discrete ideas that forms one cohesive whole. I’d like to think the songs are akin to a gorgeous abstract painting that reveals more hidden truths the more you immerse yourself into the artist’s world. What are the guiding influences behind your work and that has shaped ‘Ruiner’?

I don’t know what I’m doing. It seems like I worked on the songs on the album for so long, I’m not sure what they are. Just what I’ve worked on. Mixing field recordings with songs. Soundtracks. Textures. Anything with analog push-button drum machines.

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Please discuss the vintage analog drones that you have collected over the years? What is your most preferred instrument at the moment?

I have a Moog synth called The Source, and a Korg MS10. Lots of little battery keyboards like Casio sk-1, sk-5. And a couple of these organ synths. Trying to find the perfect instrument. I have been playing nylon-string guitar more. It’s really hard to string up, and I broke the high E string, so it only has 5. I’ve been playing it like that, tuned to B F# B E B. I also got a really tiny euro-rack modular set-up I’m trying to learn.

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What records are you listening to lately?

This Japanese band Mariah made an album called Utakata no Hibi in 1983 that I’ve been really into lately.
Check this song out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67c_PyzUXUk

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Do you plan to tour Europe? I sincerely hope so.

I did a tour in March but didn’t go to the UK. I was in Germany / Austria / Czech / France / Italy / Switzerland. I want to go everywhere. I just need to figure out a new set. And of course save up for the trip.

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“Ruiner” is out now on Bathetic Records. 

http://leenoble.bandcamp.com
http://batheticrecords.com
http://nokingsrecord.co

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Written by admin

July 19, 2013 at 10:51 am