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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

Central and Remote: Brigid Mae Power

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Interview with Brigid Mae Power.

What generally happens with me is that I seem to live life, soak everything in like a sponge and then after a few months everything comes pouring out.”

—Brigid Mae Power

Words: Mark Carry, Photographs: Peter Broderick

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In the liner notes of Sibylle Baier’s treasured folk opus, ‘Colour Green’, the German songwriter’s son Robby Baier writes: “My mother’s music is simply amazing in its intimacy and closeness.” I feel these precise words perfectly describe the similarly magical and empowering music of Irish singer-songwriter, Brigid Mae Power and particularly reflected on Power’s (self-titled) masterpiece recently released on the prestigious U.S. label Tompkins Square.

A quality always vividly present in Power’s songbook has been how her personality shines through in the music whereby an honesty and purity simmers beautifully in her fragile folk explorations. In much the same way as Sibyl Baier’s ‘Colour Green’ LP, Power’s deeply moving body of work portray intimate portraits of life’s sad and fragile beauty.

Brigid Mae Power’s stunningly beautiful new solo full-length – and Tompkins Square debut – is an album drenched in reverb-soaked emotion and lament. Enchantingly performed and produced, the record showcases a songwriter of immense talent in a soundscape that naturally merges itself to Brigid Power’s engulfing sound. The magic lies in the songwriter’s expression of raw emotion, in all its delicate beauty. Themes include transformation, change, motherhood, acceptance, strength, courage and trust. In the words of Power, the album is about “trusting if you lose yourself or your way — you can come back.”

The seeds were sewn for the album after playing a string of UK & Irish shows with esteemed American songwriter and musician Peter Broderick during May 2015. Peter invited Brigid to record a batch of new songs in his Portland home studio, The Sparkle, along the Oregon coast. The Irish musician finished writing this collection of songs in June ’15 just before the recording sessions would take place in the early summer. The new record boasts an impeccable sound quality in which Power’s mesmerizing voice lies in the forefront of the mix. “I craved having my voice sound larger but more intimate,” Brigid explains. It is abundantly clear upon encountering Power’s newest work that there is a newfound confidence permeating throughout the songs, augmented by Broderick’s intuitive musical direction, which in turn helped the songs evolve. All songs were written by Brigid Mae Power, performed by Brigid and Peter Broderick and recorded, mixed and mastered by Peter Broderick at the Sparkle.

The album’s epic opener ‘It’s Clearing Now’ serves the ideal prologue to the record’s intensely powerful and moving journey. Initially recorded live with Brigid on guitar and Peter Broderick on drums, new layers of violin and meticulously crafted sonic elements were added by the American producer. Some of the songs such as ‘Is It My Low or Yours’, ‘Let Me Hold You Through This’ and ‘How You Feel’ were written very quickly, during the month before Brigid embarked on the transatlantic trip to The Sparkle. The others, mostly the deeply-affecting piano-based ballads (‘Sometimes’, ‘Lookin At You In A Photo’, ‘Watching The Horses’) – are comprised of old melodies the Irish musician had been playing for years but had never put lyrics to.

A wave of inspiration abounds the sprawling canvas of sound, mapping the rawest of emotion and deepest of fears. A mystical spell is cast by the meeting of these two kindred spirits: Brigid Mae Power’s songwriting prowess and Peter Broderick’s deep musical understanding. Asked about the creative process, Brigid explains, “It’s a mystical thing for me, I don’t usually remember when or where I write something or when I finish a song. It just appears.”

If ever the spirit of a record is distilled in one single song it is ‘Watching the Horses’, the album’s scintillating penultimate track. As Power’s achingly beautiful vocal refrain of “I am free” ascends into one’s heart and mind, the Irish songwriter’s masterwork chronicles brave new beginnings amidst a rejuvenated spirit. The changing of your whole outlook on life. Transformation.

As reflected in the lyrics of closing heartfelt lament of ‘How You Feel’, this deeply personal and intimate set of songs become a place of hope and solace where the path laid out in front you is filled with the light of day and sea of love.

‘Brigid Mae Power’ is out now on Tompkins Square.

 

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Interview with Brigid Mae Power.

Please discuss these batch of new & delicately beautiful new songs, Brigid and indeed the space and time in which these songs blossomed from? Also, I wonder were the majority of the songs initial sketches prior to the Sparkle sessions or was it a mix where some were very much fully formed whereas others took on this life of their own upon the recording sessions?

Brigid Mae Power: I finished writing these songs in June ’15, just before I was to fly out to Portland, Oregon to go and record with Peter. Some of them, such as ‘Is it my low or yours’, ‘let me hold you through this’, and ‘how you feel’, were written very quickly and in the month before I went out. The others, mostly the piano ones, were old melodies I had been playing for years but had never put lyrics to them. I had been procrastinating for years with them and then in May I really buckled down and forced myself to finish writing them so that I would have them ready to record out at The Sparkle. So I had them all ready and written before I went out.

Writing at the moment, but maybe that might change, is quite a private process for me, so I wanted to have them ready to record for when I was out there. So yes they were all fully formed, lyrics and melodies etc. But Peter added a lot to them after I had left and helped them evolve.

What is the common theme or narrative that you feel bridges all these songs together on this record?

BMP: Hmm a theme or narrative. I guess I will just throw some words out here – Transformation. Change. Acceptance. Transcending. Healing. Healing from trauma. Not letting past incidences and feelings/ideas/judgements others and yourself have about you define you.  Moving on. Strength. Courage. Trust. Moving past negativity and hard times. Trusting if you lose yourself or your way you can come back. Sensitivity. Getting rid of guilt. Being a single mother. Clearing out old things/habits/patterns before you start a new with someone else. Feeling connection with life. Appreciating being alive.

Following on from ‘I Told You the Truth’ ep, it’s abundantly clear the new music comes from a different place: new perspectives and a different outlook on all matter of life’s happenings seem to flicker across the horizon as a confidence and striking immediacy comes very much to the fore. What were your main concerns for this new record in terms of the sound and feel you wanted to create?

BMP: I guess my first and foremost intention was to have a good sound quality. I used to just record myself with a handheld recorder in a reverberant room. Which I do like the sound of but I craved having my voice sound larger but more intimate. My ears are sensitive to how I like a recording to sound, and sometimes I preferred it almost to sound of lesser quality than too squeaky clean. But when I heard Peter’s voice on his recordings I knew that he would instinctively know what sounded good for me and how to have my voice sound. I didn’t need to explain at all to him, he just knew, but even when I was trying to explain to him, sometimes through just a feeling, he knew what I meant, it was like he spoke my language. It’s hard for me to describe things in words a lot of the time, but especially creatively so I was really lucky to have Peter speak my language!

The epic opener is the ideal prologue to the album’s intensely powerful and moving journey. I recall Peter describing the many listens/playbacks of this track in order to get the layering right. Discuss the construction and gradual formation of this stunning torch-lit ballad?

BMP: Well, I can’t remember exactly when I finished that song but I remember I wrote it when I was sitting in my car staring at the sea and just had a strong feeling of leaving behind a feeling of being stuck. I had gone on tour with Peter in May and came back, and I felt hugely inspired from meeting him. It opened my mind to possibility, so much, and I saw how I had been limiting myself previously in my thinking.

When we recorded it, we just recorded it live me on guitar and Peter on drums. It felt really special when we were playing that song. But what he did after to it was just so incredible and how I had envisioned it to sound without expressing it to him at all. He worked on it when I had gone home. So I don’t know the in’s and out’s of what he added, but I think a lot of violins and a lot of tiny sounds that you wouldn’t notice but have a big impact.

The sparse piano ballads are some of the most poignant moments. ‘Sometimes’ is vintage Joni Mitchell or Marissa Nadler for example. The piano is an instrument I always wanted to hear more in your recordings so it was such a delight to witness the beauty unfold as the delicate piano notes meld with your voice. What are your feelings on these piano laments Brigid? Were there challenges as to how you wanted each song to sound e.g. the arrangements and how full or conversely how bare a recording should be?

BMP: These songs are the first I have written for piano and voice, I love playing it and singing. I guess I gravitated towards writing with guitar for a long time because it’s easier to play live!

I had those songs ready when I went out there… we recorded them in a guy named Corey’s studio in Portland. I made the guys stand out of the room because those songs were very intense for me to sing! I just wanted them to sound how they did live really; I didn’t necessarily want anything added but I was open to suggestion. Peter added a lot to ‘Watching the Horses’ after.

How bare a recording should be – I’m generally a less is more kinda person, and I prefer the feeling that is captured. But there is a place for everything and I like a balance of having some things bare, some things not so bare, some things with a minimal thing added. In ‘Sometimes’ Peter adds the tiniest sound in it that gives the song so much! So much that when I play it on my own now I’m missing that tiny little beepy sound whatever it is…

Can you recount for me the experience of working closely with Peter and the daily routines at the Sparkle & Portland itself? What are the memories you cherish and the proudest aspect to this stunning body of work you feel personally?

BMP: Well working closely with Peter never felt like work. It just felt very natural and easy. We actually got so much recording, we couldn’t believe how much we had gotten done as the whole time we were there we kept lazing around. So we only recorded a few hours a day for maybe 2 or 3 days. The whole time was such a special time for me for so many reasons. I kept kind of pinching myself to see if it all was real, I just loved Portland. I’ve always felt very at home in the states musically and just generally anyway. There’s this kind of openness that I love. And I hadn’t been back there since I had my son, so I was just soaking so much in.

The Sparkle was near the ocean and near forest. There were deer and racoons. Me and Peter sat out on the porch and a raccoon came right up near us. We drank a lot of coffee. Sat in parks. Swam in the river. It was really a pivotal moment for me. The last six years or so for me had been so hard and I felt just like all my trust and hoping that things would change had paid off and I was enjoying this great opportunity.

I’m most proud of just doing it. I think if it had been the year previous and that opportunity to go out and record there had come up that I probably wouldn’t have taken it up. I was way too shy and anxious.

Can you shed some light on the song-writing process? I get the impression that patience and allowing a song to slowly bloom is important to the process itself? Would you have any trusted techniques or rituals you feel important to the creative process?

BMP: For me yes it really is to do with patience. What generally happens with me is that I seem to live life, soak everything in like a sponge and then after a few months everything comes pouring out. I never try to create. And when I do its usually bad news. It’s the same with painting for me, I have to come across things accidently, if I am asked to draw something in particular I really struggle to do it because there is an idea about it. I see artists that can really work like that with ideas first and make really amazing work, but for me it’s like the opposite way or something. It’s also a mystical thing for me, I don’t usually remember when or where I write something or when I finish a song. It’s like that exact when I finish something doesn’t really exist. It just appears.

Discuss the singers and musicians that lie rooted in your own sonic canvas and musical landscape? I fondly recall you singing (acappela) several Irish traditional standards back in Galway and Cork in the past, which leaves such a hypnotic spell on the audience. Discuss (if you can!) the techniques and voicings you have developed when it comes to delivering this sort of cathartic vocal performance?

BMP: I think that I heard a lot of different types of music growing up and I sponged it up. So I heard a lot of Planxty, Dolores Keane, De Dannan as far as traditional music is concerned. And also in my family gatherings singing was a big thing. Then in my own development with singing – I always got a lot of inspiration from certain singers that went that extra bit further, and to be honest I don’t think it was the technique that grabbed me, it was the depth they went. So I drew a lot of inspiration from singers like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and of course Tim Buckley. But also I always found John Fahey’s guitar playing a vocal inspiration too because I felt like he played the guitar like someone singing. But basically I don’t think I developed much technically or in a “learning how to do something way” it was more like I allowed myself to touch on something that feels quite outside of myself and maybe ancient sometimes.

Lastly, the cover painting (of your own creation) that adorns the record’s sleeve evokes the delicacy of this remarkable album and batch of songs. There is a nice backstory to this particular artwork I recall you telling me previously?

BMP: Ah yes, my friend the artist Vicky Langan has this really sweet daughter called Sionnach which as you know is “fox” in Irish. I think she was four or five at the time and she made such an impression on me, she was so imaginative and funny. So then a few weeks later I found myself subconsciously drawing a fox so I named it “A Fox for Sionnach” and gave it to her!

‘Brigid Mae Power’ is out now on Tompkins Square.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by admin

June 14, 2016 at 6:35 pm

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.

https://www.facebook.com/everynoteisapillow/

Written by admin

May 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E4 | April mix

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fracturedairmix_april16

 

We’re delighted to present an exclusive unreleased track by U.S. composer and songwriter Peter Broderick (Bella Union, Erased Tapes) in April’s mixtape. For well over a decade now, the world-renowned Portland Oregon-born artist has been to the forefront of the thriving independent music scene, amassing a considerable body of work across a multitude of labels and platforms in the process. While originally a member of both Efterklang and Horse Feathers, Broderick’s reputation as a gifted solo composer would be heralded by the release of both folk-based “Home” (Bella Union) and the piano-based “Float” (Type) in 2008. Since then, Broderick has released a plethora of records for labels such as Erased Tapes and Bella Union, highlights including: 2009’s “Music For Falling From Trees”, 2011’s “Music For Confluence”, 2012’s “These Walls Of Mine” and 2015’s “Colours Of The Night” albums. Collaboration has also been of vital importance to Broderick’s artistic output to date. Duos have been formed with U.K.’S Greg Haines (Greg Gives Peter Space) and France’s Félicia Atkinson (La Nuit) while other collaborations have featured: Nils Frahm, Machinefabriek, Gabriel Solomon, Heather Woods Broderick and The Beacon Sound Choir. In recent years, Broderick has produced, recorded, and guested on many musicians’ works from his home-based studio, “The Sparkle” (Corrina Repp, Brumes, David Allred).
Here is how Peter describes his track, “Boom”:

“It’s a thing I call Boom, and it’s basically just some effected casio loops with live drums over the top… I’ve enjoyed listening to it several times and don’t really have any plans to do anything with it.”

Also appearing on April’s mixtape is Irish composer and pianist Conor Walsh. Born in County Mayo, Conor Walsh released his debut E.P. (“The Front”, via Ensemble Music) last year to widespread critical acclaim. Despite it being Walsh’s debut recorded release, Walsh was a firmly established artist who had toured regularly across Ireland and additionally composed for both film and television to date. It was with such great sadness to learn of Conor’s sudden and untimely death in March. We’d both like to take this opportunity to dedicate this month’s mixtape to the memory of Conor Walsh, such an inspiring and beautiful composer and person who has touched many people’s lives with his music.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E4 | April mix

To Read/listen on La Blogothèque:

http://en.blogotheque.net/2016/04/26/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s01e04-april-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Days Of Heaven“You’d give him a flower…” (Paramount Pictures)
02. HKE“Awake” (Olde English Spelling Bee)
03. Nico Muhly/Sam Amidon“The Only Tune: I. the Two Sisters” (Bedroom Community)
04. Nonkeen“The Invention Mother” (R&S)
05. Peter Broderick“Boom” (Unreleased)
06. Micachu & The Shapes“Oh Baby” (Rough Trade)
07. Babyfather“God Hour” (feat. Micachu) (Hyperdub)
08. Samiyam“Animals Have Feelings” (Stones Throw)
09. Mo Kolours“A Soul’s Journey” (One-Handed Music)
10. John Forbes, Teach, Earth, Roots & Water“Awakening” (Summer)
11. Van Dyke Parks“Occapella” (Warner Bros.)
12. Tindersticks“How He Entered” (City Slang/Lucky Dog)
13. Ravel“Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte” (Decca)
14. Pantha du Prince“The Winter Hymn” (feat. Queens) (Rough Trade)
15. Solar Bears“Wild Flowers” (Sunday Best Recordings)
16. The Field“Pink Sun” (Kompakt)
17. DJ Koze“Marilyn Whirlwind” (Victoria OST, Erased Tapes)
18. Grizzly Bear“A Simple Answer” (Liars Remix) (Warp)
19. Lindstrøm“Closing Shot” (Feedelity/Smalltown Supersound)
20. Tropic of Cancer “Stop Suffering” (Blackest Ever Black)
21. Linda Buckley“Haunt” (The Wake OST, Soundcloud)
22. Bonnie “Prince” Billy“When Thy Song Flows Through Me” (Drag City/Domino)
23. Colin Stetson, Megan Stetson & The Sorrow Ensemble“Sorrow – A Reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony: II” (extract) (52Hz)
24. Conor Walsh“K Theory” (Ensemble Music)
25. Hauschka“Stromness” (Eluvium Remix) (City Slang)
26. Peter Broderick “And Its Alright” (Nils Frahm RMX) (LateNightTales)
27. Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto“The Revenant Theme” (Alva Noto Remodel) (The Revenant OST, Milan)
28. Nils Frahm“Our Own Roof” (Victoria OST, Erased Tapes)

Compiled by Fractured Air, April 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/

 

Mixtape: When Time Flies [A Fractured Air Mix]

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When Time Flies [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/when-time-flies-a-fractured-air-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. David Allred ‘When Time Flies’ [Oscarson]
02. Beach House ‘Levitation’ [Bella Union/Sub Pop]
03. Air ‘Empty House’ [‘The Virgin Suicides’ OST / Virgin]
04. Laurel Halo ‘Focus I’ [Honest Jon’s]
05. Arthur Russell ‘This Is How We Walk On The Moon’ [Audika]
06. Dawn of Midi ‘Algol’ [Erased Tapes]
07. The Bad Plus ‘Never Stop’ [EmArcy]
08. Sun Ra ‘Plutonian Nights’ [Strut]
09. Cheech & Chong ‘Basketball Jones’ [‘Being There’ OST]
10. Peter Broderick + Gabriel Saloman ‘Lament For Philip Seymour Hoffman’ [Beacon Sound]
11. Guillaume Roussel ‘Meurtre du fou’ [‘La Connection’ OST / Gaumont, Légende Films]
12. Symmetry ‘Streets Of Fire’ [Italians Do It Better]
13. Max Richter ‘Lullaby’ (feat. Robert Wyatt) [130701]
14. Julia Kent ‘Heavy Eyes’ [The Leaf Label]
15. Julia Holter ‘Have You In My Wilderness’ [Domino]
16. Harold Budd & John Foxx ‘Adult’ [All Saints]
17. The Band ‘I Shall Be Released’ [Capitol]
18. Georges Delerue ‘Camille’ [‘Le Mépris’ OST / EmArcy]

This mixtape will be our final post on Fractured Air. We’d both like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who has helped or supported us in one way or another over the last 3½ years. It has been a real pleasure for us to have found ourselves in a position to be able to do our small part in helping promote the true wonder that is independent music. Most of all, we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of our readers who helped us keep going as long as we did. Thank you.

 

https://fracturedair.com/

 

 

Step Right Up: Brumes

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Interview with Brumes.

“I only recently began to write music with more intention – before I had little control or awareness of what was spilling out of me, my hands would physically ache to play music.

— Desireé Rousseau

Words: Mark Carry

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If ever a single piece of music serves to embody an album’s enriching journey it is the achingly beautiful instrumental ‘The Color of Light and Shadow’ wherein a gorgeous tapestry of harp notes and cosmic violin melodies grace the atmosphere. The album in question is ‘Soundings in Fathoms’ by Portland Oregon-based three piece Brumes. A soft whisper uttering “Wow!” can be heard on tape as the divine music gradually fades into oblivion; somehow reflecting the transcendent nature of this remarkable record. A deeply personal creation, the seven sublime tracks contained on ‘Soundings in Fathoms’ infinitely heightens with the passing of time.

Brumes comprises of Desireé Rousseau, Dalton Long and Nico Bartulski. The band’s album was recorded by renowned producer (musician/composer) Peter Broderick at his home studio The Sparkle along the Oregon coast. The immaculate instrumentation of voice, harp, keys, guitar, drums and percussion evokes timeless sounds of ambient-infused-drone soundscapes, ethereal folk laments, neo-classical explorations and cinematic dream-wave creations. Rousseau’s delicate dream-like folk gems navigates the heart’s depths that draws striking parallels with Grouper’s Liz Harris such is the unfathomable beauty created.

The slow-burning ambient folk lament ‘Stay Low’ comprises Rousseau’s fragile voice melded with warm percussion, keys and brooding, hyopnotic guitar lines. The gorgeous ambient pulses of ‘I Heard You’ captures a myriad of feelings: yearning, fear, anguish, hope and dreams are all dotted across the canvas of sacred sounds. The sparse folk ballad ‘Snow’ drifts majestically in the ether that invites you to wrap your troubles up in dreams. The refrain of “Let’s Go Home” is sung over uplifting instrumentation of synths, guitar and drums that masterfully emits a radiance and light of hope. The windswept beauty of Rousseau’s vocal delivery on ‘I Unfold’ is one of the record’s defining moments, particularly as the crescendo of guitars and drums comes crashing in like ocean waves.

The intimacy and immediacy of Rousseau’s penned songs is one of the striking aspects of Brumes’s magical spell, forever traversing light and dark, akin to a lunar eclipse as the earth’s shadow blocks the sun (as depicted on the album cover). ‘Oh, Zia’ is one of those songs that reduces you to tears in mere moments with each aching harp note and poetic prose uttered by Rousseau’s achingly beautiful voice. This resolutely unique and deeply contemplative album invites the listener “to dream alone” and as the cosmic whirlwind of the stunning closer ‘Whirlpooling’ fades into the night, I feel music’s undeniable power to transcend and illuminate wash over the moonlit skies.

‘Soundings in Fathoms’ is available now on limited edition cassette and download:

http://brumes.bandcamp.com/

Interview with Desireé Rousseau, Dalton Long & Nico Bartulski (Brumes) and Peter Broderick.

Congratulations on the stunning new album, ‘Soundings In Fathoms’. The many intricate layers of strings, voice, keys, drums, percussion and guitar renders a captivating sound and ethereal atmosphere. Please take me back to the recording sessions at The Sparkle with Peter Broderick and talk me through this particular space in time when ‘Soundings In Fathoms’ was created? 

Dalton Long: The Sparkle was a wonderful surprise. Peter invited us through a mutual friend, Mariano, so we had no idea what to expect from the weekend. Desireé had been disappointed by previous recording sessions with others, but I believe the opportunity for an escape to the coast gave her hope. We drove through thick rain and dark forests to meet Peter for the first time at The Sparkle. It’s hard to describe how we felt getting to know Peter and spending more time with Mariano.

Desireé Rousseau: It felt so familiar, like remembering something long forgotten.

DL: The next day, after a cosy breakfast, we quickly recorded a few tracks and took a break to enjoy the beach and roast some mallows. Upon returning, we all decided to play with some of Peter’s beautiful instruments, which led to “Whirlpooling.” The rest of the weekend was spent over good food and loud card games. It felt like a weekend with old friends, and for me the recordings seem like a side note to the whole experience. I think the whole weekend can be heard in those recordings.

I love the ambient/drone dimension these stunningly beautiful songs effortlessly reside in. For example, the ambient pulses of ‘I Heard You’ is one of the record’s (many) defining moments. Please discuss this ambient world you clearly gravitate towards and the techniques/instrumentation utilized to create such beguiling soundscapes? Luminaries such as Julianna Barwick, Grouper et al come into sharp focus such is the windswept beauty of Brumes’ music.

DR: A difficult time in my early 20’s inspired this entire project, soft swelling and distant impressions of sounds were my only refuge and the outlet for all of my confused energy. I only recently began to write music with more intention – before I had little control or awareness of what was spilling out of me, my hands would physically ache to play music. All of my original songs were improvised and recorded on the spot and therefore ended up with an organic and honest quality to them. Now when I feel a song growing I usually loop different textured bases of keys, harp, vocals, and guitar; and then sort it out from there.

Brumes, in recent times have evolved into a core trio. I would love for you to discuss how you all first met and crossed paths with one another? Please discuss the influence of Portland and the music community there has had on the development of your music? I can imagine being at the coast, especially along the Oregon coast would somehow help shape the music in some way?

DR: Brumes has been a solo project of mine with contributing members for years now.  Most recently though, I have felt very ready to move on and create something bigger. Dalton (drums) moved into the house I was living in 2 years ago and Nico (keys) was a friend of his – and now we are all currently living together. Neither of them had much of a musical background but our simple compatibility and their aptitude made teaching them from scratch fairly easy and completely worth it.

Brumes began solely as a recording project and I never intended on playing shows but once I began to share my recordings I was asked to share my music in a live setting. Eventually I was adopted by the ambient-noise scene here in Portland. Our sound is growing more rhythmic and orchestrated (less ambient and improvised) and I have felt nervous that our fan base is from a different genre background. It feels like I’m leaving the nest into uncharted territory now that our sound is evolving.

DL: When I moved to Portland from the east coast a couple of years ago I ended up subletting a space in Desireé’s house. I remember the first week I was there Desireé invited me to a Brumes show. It was in an old candlelit church with only a handful of people, it was there that I immediately fell in love with Brumes. Desireé ended up becoming my closest friend and a little bit of a music mentor as I started playing keyboard for the first time. It was around this time that I became close friends with Nico and we ended up introducing one another to some good music. I knew Nico shared a similar longing to create music, so once I started playing drums I knew they would be willing to take over my parts on keyboard.

Brumes is Desireé’s baby and I was pretty nervous to contribute to a project that I thought was great as a solo project. But Desireé is the type of person that knows what she wants and I think after we started adding drums and writing for a three-piece we were excited with what was happening.

Nico Bartulski: I met Desireé a couple of times in her home – the one that Dalton initially moved into. She was a mystery and appropriately intimidating. Dalton had been inviting me to Desireé’s shows for a month or so and I was finally able to make it out to one. That night when Desireé played she weaved the audience gently into each of her songs as she was called into her own sound. Months later Dalton approached me with an invitation to join what had by then become a duo – I was surprised and instantly said yes. Desireé’s music and what is slowly becoming our music resonates with me. I so often get lost in its dreaminess and catch myself in the way it balances light and dark.

The album artwork is beautiful as is the wonderful photo booklet, both serve to further heighten the accompanying music. Please talk me through these special photograph series and indeed the cover artwork? The album title, ‘Soundings In Fathoms’ also fits the music so perfectly. I wonder at which point in the music-making process was this title conceived?

DR: I wanted to include as many aspects of personal creation in this whole release and it became a culmination of mediums that I take part in; music, writing and photography. The booklet is a stand in for a CD (it comes with a mp3 code) and I like that it’s two art forms in one package. The photographs are mostly 35mm, a few medium format, taken with a camera I found in a free pile the summer before I first left for what would become a six month tour of Europe. I left the descriptions for the photographs as minimal as possible so the viewer wouldn’t be distracted and could create their own narrative. Each photograph has its own story which I am happy to tell anyone who is interested.

The very moment I found Soundings and Fathoms” was on an old map in a church, on an island off the coast of Washington. I knew it to be a measurement but it felt like more than that to me; contemplative, representing fluidity and the Pacific Northwest where I was raised. The tendrils of this album had begun to grow already; this was a year or two before I met Dalton and Nico.

DL: The cover art was actually our second choice, but I’m glad we went with the image we did. The cover is a re-creation of an old print we came across that illustrates a lunar eclipse. I am a huge fan of space and I like how this print reinforces the theme of distance while conflicting with the idea of sound and measurement in space. Also, a key part of our release was the individuality of each tape. We hand printed each cover with a stamp I made, so each cover is a little different. I think there’s something to be said for taking the time to package every tape one by one and retaining some of that DIY ethos.

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The dialogue between harp and violin on ‘The Colour of Light and Shadow’ represents the album’s towering centrepiece. Can you recount your memories of writing this breathtaking instrumental? 

DR: This song has long been a favourite of mine and I wanted to create an updated version of it for the new record since contributing members had shifted.

Peter Broderick: The original version of this piece was comprised of harp and voice, as opposed to harp and violin. I remember vividly the first time I heard the original version, and being so stunned by the simple vocal melody and how it weaved around the harp. I was thrilled when Desireé proposed that we try and record a version with the violin. I think we both had the feeling that it would work quite effortlessly, and indeed it did. The version that’s on the album is only the second time we ever played the piece together . . . and actually we would have used the first take but I made a mistake while trying to record it and didn’t realize until after we finished that it hadn’t been recording. I actually started tearing up while making the mix down of this track. Something about it just really, really gets me.

The placing of dreamwave, ethereal pop gems such as ‘Stay Low’, ‘I Unfold’ and ‘Snow’ alongside more lengthy drone pieces creates such a spellbinding force and other-worldly atmosphere. Did it prove challenging to come up with the final track-list for the record? 

PB: From what I recall the track order came very easily. I knew the long piece (‘Whirlpooling’) should go at the end, and I wanted to space out the more band oriented tracks (‘Stay Low’, ‘Snow’ and ‘I Unfold’) . . . Plus, since the album was being created to go on cassette tape, we wanted to have the two sides as even in length as possible, as not to have too much blank space at the end of either side. I felt a tiny triumph in being able to make each side exactly 17.5 minutes!

Please take me back to your earliest musical memories and the beginnings with your fascination with sound? At which point did the narrative of Brumes begin?

DR: My earliest inclinations toward music aren’t my own memories but my Grandmothers. For my first birthday I received Fantasia which I was apparently captivated by and have watched consistently my entire life. My Grandmothers partner was a drummer and she told me that I used to sneak into the practice space as a toddler, go crazy playing the drums and carefully put the drum sticks right where I found them so no one would know. My first memory of being moved by sound is a little embarrassing but so clear: when I saw Titanic in second grade I became obsessed with Celine Dion’s “My heart will go on”. I taught it to myself on the piano and the recorder and would record myself singing into our outgoing message on the answering machine. I received a small organ when I was 9 and played violin as a child as well. As a teenager I wasn’t as interested in music and didn’t play from age 15-19. “Stay low” is actually my oldest song and one of the first that I wrote when I began to play music again.

DL: My family was never musically involved, so I don’t think my fascination with sound, or at least music, arrived until I was 11 or 12. For me these formative years were spent in the outskirts of a hardcore scene. Who knows how or why the harsh sounds and intense energy resonated with me but I loved the music. For some reason I never really made friends with the kids who called that scene their own. I think because I ended up being so solitary that I avoided playing music for a long time while all my friends fell into bands with other people.

NB: I have always been intimidated by musical instruments and swore off learning any after I quit my piano lessons when I was eight years old. But my older siblings were always musically talented whether it was playing the piano or clarinet on my sister’s end or my older brother using digital composition programs to make his own music. My music taste is far and wide venturing to more ambient projects to oldies like Sam Cooke.

The album closer ‘Whirlpooling’ feels like a cosmic journey into the labyrinth of time. I feel like this was borne from improvisation. Would this be the case? The many nuances and textures to this slowly-building piece is a joy to behold. Please talk me through this particular track. 

DL: I believe this track encapsulates our weekend at The Sparkle with Peter. After coming back from the beach and wrapping up a few loose ends, we all sat down to tinker with a few of Peter’s beautiful instruments. I went for a slide organ that I believe Peter had used on some metal tracks he had just recorded. Desireé set up behind a mic, a celeste, and a keyboard. Our friend Mariano sat down at the drumset and Peter grabbed his violin. Then we just started playing and from there it was incredibly natural, everyone playing separately until the next thing I know we were all in sync. We just went with it and “Whirlpooling” fell out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt after we all stopped playing that night. It was beautiful. I believe the raw recording even featured some giggles and a “Wow” right as it all came to an end. That was the last thing we recorded that weekend, and I love that we were able to include it on “Soundings in Fathoms”.

What are the records you have been obsessed with most of late? Please include any films/books too.

DR: Our musical roots are bound to pop-punk which was a bonding point for us as friends. That being said I can’t stop listening to the new Title Fight album “Hyperview”. One albums  always revisit is Evan Abeele – A Choir of Empty Rooms.

DL: Diet Cig’s EP “Over Easy” has been great to yell out loud all summer. Bell Witch’s “Longing” has been on repeat since it came out in 2012. I’m also very excited for the new Deafheaven release. Outside of music I try to stay on top of a few different comic book titles too, Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s “Nameless” is quickly becoming a top choice.

NB: I have been listening to Girlpool’s self-titled album and “Before the World Was Big“, “Strange Cacti” by Angel Olsen, “Bury Me At Make Out Creek” by Mitski, and shamelessly One Direction.

I read a lot of comics and obsess over a lot of illustrators. I’m forever following the work of Yumi Sakugawa, Lindsay Watson, and Hellen Jo.

 


 

soundings

‘Soundings in Fathoms’ is available now on limited edition cassette and download:

http://brumes.bandcamp.com/

 

Written by markcarry

October 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Step Right Up: La Nuit

with one comment

Interview with Félicia Atkinson & Peter Broderick (La Nuit).

“The words appeared to me like this, I don’t know, I like to improvise lyrics, it’s like day dreaming, you dig in your own soul and see what you can fish there.”

Félicia Atkinson

Words: Mark Carry, Photographs: Félicia Atkinson 

fa pb

The music of Félicia Atkinson and Peter Broderick both surfaced to my attention around the same space in time, during 2008. John Xela’s Type imprint served the most trusted sources for independent music discoveries and two composers from the label’s roster particularly forged an indelible imprint, namely Peter Broderick and Sylvain Chauveau. ‘Float’s utterly captivating neo-classical-based compositions served a gateway into Broderick’s soaring songbook – that soon would follow with the gifted Portland musician’s ‘Home’ and ‘4-Track Songs’ full-lengths – and across the years, any project conceived by Broderick (or shares his involvement in any way) has become a trusted musical companion; one which only heightens with the passing of time.

Similarly, the works of French composer Sylvain Chauveau casts a magical spell upon the listener. The sublime cinematic works of ‘Nuage’ (a glorious collection of film soundtrack work) and ‘The Black Book of Capitalism’ (a remastered reissue of Chauveau’s incredible debut) were huge musical discoveries and it was through Chauveau’s work that French artist Félicia Atkinson’s unique voice would come into full-focus. ‘Roman Anglais’ was a collaborative album crafted by Atkinson and Chauveau in which Atkinson’s mesmerising spoken word passages melded effortlessly with Chauveau’s beautiful instrumental backdrop. A track like ‘Aberdeen’ I found myself happily immersed in for hours on end. Forward to 2015 and the collaborative project of Peter Broderick and Félicia Atkinson, appropriately titled La Nuit feels a lovely parallel to those special works unleashed in 2008.

Desert Television’s divine sound world of drone-infused ambient soundscapes, dub echoes, mesmeric spoken word passages, and compelling instrumentation (rhodes, violin, voice, found sounds, percussion) unfolds a beguiling atmosphere and ethereal dimension from the opening ambient pulses of ‘Feu Pale’ to the gorgeous string arrangements of epic closing track, ‘The Sun Is Folded in Eight’. ‘Feu Pale’s drifting tones of rhodes, guitar, harmonies and soft percussion meld wonderfully with the captivating spoken word passages of Atkinson evoking a seascape of forgotten dreams.

The utterly transcendent ‘Road Snakes’ contains a Lynchian utopia (‘Lost Highway’ comes to mind) and sense of euphoria and nostalgia. Certain words and phrases uttered by Atkinson are embellished within the neon-lit musical backdrop of synths and luminescent beats. Atkinson asks “What’s the weather today?/What’s the time?/Where are we going?” on a later verse that feels like a stream of consciousness, somewhere between Kerouac’s beat poetry and Kafka’s visionary novels. This tour-de-force feels as if Serge Gainsbourg is transplanted onto a sprawling canvas of contemporary electronic sounds (a la Nils Frahm, Greg Gives Peter Space and Rival Consoles). A timeless feel permeates every inch of ‘Road Snake’s towering road-trip, comprising “one road and many cars”.

The celestial harmonies and blissful ambient pulses of ‘Blind Sights Of The Diamond’ conjures up the timeless sound of Efterklang circa ‘Parades’. Psychedelic flourishes ascend into the forefront of the mix as the song’s elements become more pronounced as the sonic creation lengthens and expands. The album’s penultimate track, ‘The Blue Path’ sees Broderick’s backdrop of strings coalesce with Atkinson’s spoken word (taken from her book of poetry ‘The Twenties Are Gone’). ‘The Sun Is Folded In Eight’ is ‘Desert Television’s epic (over thirteen minutes in duration) drone-infused psych folk lament of stunning beauty and eerie, searching moods. La Nuit represents a deeply meaningful and utterly enthralling musical voyage from two unique and formidable artists.

 

the sparkle

‘Desert Television’ (edition of 300 on red vinyl) is now on Beacon Sound.

http://www.wearebeaconsound.com/shop/la-nuit-desert-television-lp
http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://feliciaatkinson.tumblr.com/

 

Interview with Félicia Atkinson & Peter Broderick (La Nuit).

 

Congratulations on the stunning collaborative project, La Nuit and the enthralling sonic voyage of ‘Desert Television’. Firstly before discussing the record, please recount for me your memories of first crossing paths with one another and indeed first discovering each other’s marvellous artistic works?

Félicia Atkinson: I discovered Peter’s music through is record ‘Home’ that was released on the label Type at that time, and remember that I found it really inspiring and moving.
Then I guess we met in Montreuil at Instant Chavires: he was playing there, touring with Nils Frahm and I was playing with a band I was involved in at the time (2008? 2009?) called Louisville. Then we became penpals and friends.

Peter Broderick: I first learned about Félicia through her collaborative album with Sylvain Chauveau in 2008 or so. I was already a big fan of Sylvain’s work, and on this album he made the music and Félicia spoke over the top. I fell in love with the album and not too long after that Félicia began to release a steady stream of solo material, which I followed very closely. We met in 2009 when we played a concert together in Paris. She was performing with a band she played in at the time called Louisville (I recently learned this was the only show that band ever played!), and I have vivid memories of her sitting on the floor of the stage with pages of writing scattered around her, speaking into the microphone while a band of guys played music around her. I loved it. Félicia was very warm and open towards me from the moment we met, and this only enhanced my love for her work.

Please take me back to the recording sessions at The Sparkle for the La Nuit project? What sort of routine or work practices did the pair of you utilize during this period of time? I love the fact that some of the lyrics come from Felicia’s book of poetry, ‘Twenties Are Gone’ so in this regard, there is this gorgeous spark of spontaneity radiating from the beguiling soundscapes and musical backdrop.

FA: Well, this record was I must say completely improvised from the beginning until the end, which is often the way I am used to work. Improvising is my thing! I just finished touring in Canada with Sun Araw and me and my boyfriend (Bartolomé, whith whom I run Shelter Press) decided to relax for a couple of weeks in Portland, Oregon. We had a wonderful time with Peter and Andy in Portland and other friends (Andy who runs Beacon Sound) and Peter invited us to visit him at Woods, near Pacific City in the Oregon Coast.

The place is great, has a wonderful energy. One day Peter asked me if we could record something and we recorded the DESERT TELEVISION in a day! I guess I was filled with the energy of the tour in Canada, the music I heard, the people I’ve met, the roads, the landscapes I’ve seen from the Lake Louise along the Oregon Coast, and the studio session was the just the best way to share all this energy.

Twenties are Gone’ is a book I wrote when Bartolomé and I were doing an artist residency in Finland, in the middle of the woods in 2012. During that time a lot of memories from Oregon appeared melt with Finnish forest and lands. So somehow it made sense to bring back the reading of the book to Oregon!

PB: We only spent one day in the studio together, and it was quite possibly the most fun and freedom I’ve ever felt in the studio. We didn’t ever really pause to think about what to do next . . . We just kept playing and creating sounds in a very intuitive way. Actually, only the short piece “The Blue Path” uses text from Twenties Are Gone . . . All the other songs are just Félicia freestyling into the microphone, completely unedited, and always in just one take.

The cinematic opener ‘Feu Pale’ serves the fitting introductory hymn to ‘Desert Television’s sprawling canvas and striking narrative. An ethereal dimension is effortlessly tapped into here and the drifting tones of rhodes, guitar and harmonies meld wonderfully with the captivating spoken word passages. Please talk me through this particular song and your memories of the song blossoming into glittering life? It feels this served the gateway into the rest of the record.

FA: Well, I love the Rhodes keyboard, it always have been one of my favourite instrument. I used it already for another record I recorded in one day, O-RE-GON (Home Normal) in Portland in 2010 at Type Foundry’s studio after actually Peter’s advice. So when I saw Peter has a Rhodes in his lovely studio, The Sparkle, I knew right away I wanted to improvise with it. Also, the place felt magical at first sight. I wanted to play music there with Peter!

The words appeared to me like this, I don’t know, I like to improvise lyrics, it’s like day dreaming, you dig in your own soul and see what you can fish there. I pictured the desert (for example a trip in Joshua Tree I did the winter before) and the mental landscape helped me to build my parts.
Peter understood right away the spirit of the song so we build the song like we were painting a kind of desert wall painting or something.

PB: This was the first song we recorded. The song has a fade-in, and that’s because Félicia was already playing when I hit record. I’m not even sure she was aware that I started recording. So the first track on the album literally begins at the first moment I pressed record when we were in the studio. Félicia was playing the fender rhodes, and I was running it through a tape delay, effecting the sound as she played, and also singing along and playing percussion from the other side of the room. You can hear me singing quietly in the background and playing percussion, and this was just me playing along far away from the microphone.

sparkle

The monumental tour-de-force of ‘Road Snakes’ contains this Lynchian utopia and sense of euphoria and nostalgia. I just love how certain words and phrases are embellished within the neon-lit musical backdrop and take on a life of their own. (For example, “Where do we go?”) A road trip. A travelogue. Did the music come after the spoken word passages or was it created at the same moment in time?

FA: I think Peter did the keyboard while I was doing the voice and then we added layers of instruments. We wanted to something a bit dubby, and the image of the car race in the Sahara appeared to me. I just finished that recent book also, ‘The Flame Throwers’ by Rachel Kushner about a young artist who is also a biker in the 60-70’s in Italy and the USA and I thought about her while improvising the words, as well as the film ‘Two Lane Black Top’ (1971) by Monte Hellman.

For the voice I thought also about Serge Gainsbourg, and his way of pronouncing the “T“ in ‘Melody Nelson’ for example. That was what I had in mind at this time. It just popped up like this while I was improvising. I love the keyboard dryness Peter uses for this song, it gives an 80’s feeling that is very special I think.

PB: For this song (and for most of them actually), we created the music first and then added Félicia’s voice at the very end. And once again, Félicia just freestyled the vocals in one take. Upon listening back later, it really sounds to me like she’s kind of rapping! I love it so much. And as she was recording the vocals, I was effecting them live through tape delays. In this way, there was very little sitting around and waiting from either of us. If one person was recording an instrument, the other was always free to play along or add effects. Also, I’d like to add that the synthesizer stab sound in “Road Snakes” comes from a little toy casio keyboard! I love how huge and almost aggressive it sounds for being a toy.

The eclectic sound and dynamic range contained on ‘Desert Television’ is another aspect particularly significant to La Nuit’s compelling journey. I think this echoes in each of your own solo (and collaborative) work over the years so this really comes as no surprise. After the recording was complete, I wonder was there a challenge to retain (or embellish) these special moments that were captured during the recording sessions? I would love to know the processes utilized during the production and mixing stages?

FA: Well, we didn’t changed that much. Peter did the mixing and the mastering and I feel like the record sounds incredible. Peter added also those beautiful strings for ‘The Blue Path’. The post production didn’t radically change the record, we wanted to keep it fresh. It was more like making some parts a bit more glossy, or dense, or eerie or with more perspective in it.

PB: For the most part, the core of all the songs was completed in that one day. I did add some other instrumentation and mixing effects after Félicia left, but I was only embellishing what was already there, rather than trying to add new elements. I used a lot of tape delays in a ‘dub’ style, adding echoes and tape saturation to the recordings.

sparkle portland

The epic closer ‘The Sun Is Folded in Eight’ unfolds a cosmic and magical odyssey that feels like a gradual sunrise or sunset across the desert floor’s vast plains. Was this melody written from a different space in time or was it formed from a spontaneous reaction to Felicia’s words? I just love this symbiosis that exists between words and music, the poetic prose and accompanying canvas of colour and textures. It must have felt very special to witness this chemistry become translated into the music?

FA: Again, it was completely improvised. Peter was playing the guitar and I just said the words that came to my mind. I was thinking of Areski’s voice in the early Brigitte Fontaine and Areski’s records, Peter’s voice reminded me a bit of this.

PB: My nylon string guitar and vocal were the first seed of this song, and after composing a small theme with Félicia sitting write there, I recorded a long stretched out take, improvising upon the small idea I had, with Félicia sitting silently just a few feet away from me. This was the last piece we recorded, and we knew we wanted to make something longer and more patient. Félicia then added her voice with a single improvised take, and after she left, I added strings and synthesizers, but only doubling melodies that were already within my guitar and vocal parts.

Lastly, please shed some light on your forthcoming plans and projects?

FA: Well, we are very happy to release DESERT TELEVISION on August 28th on Beacon Sound!

Also, I am taking part to the Copenhagen Art Festival by the end of August, showing an installation in the Overgarden Museum. I’ll be Playing in Prague at the Film Centre with wonderful films by Man Ray in October. I have a collaboration with Jefre Cantu coming up for 2016 and as well as my new solo album for the end of 2016 on Shelter Press. And of course, with Shelter Press, my music label and publishing house, we are having new exciting releases on their way for September and after!

PB: Lately I’ve been keeping most busy recorded lots of different artists at The Sparkle. There are a lot of records by other musicians which I’ve been recording lately, and I’m looking forward to share a lot more info about all of this very soon! I’ve also been organizing a choir in Portland, and I hope to make an album with them at some point.

 


 

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‘Desert Television’ (edition of 300 on red vinyl) is out now on Beacon Sound.

http://www.wearebeaconsound.com/shop/la-nuit-desert-television-lp
http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://feliciaatkinson.tumblr.com/

 

 

Written by markcarry

August 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm