Archive | May 2015

(New Album Review) Deison & Uggeri- In the Other House

In the Other House is the product of a collaboration that began two years ago between Cristiano Deison and Matteo Uggeri, two wildly prolific noise artists who have been active since the 90’s. The album is intended to be a auditory portrait of an imaginary house and the presences within it, room by room.  This strangely beautiful work is easily one of my favorite dark-ambient themed releases of the year. What is truly remarkable is that the pair never actually physically met in the process of recording the album. In the Other House was published through Old Bicycle Records, which will begin shipping out a limited run of an LP June 1st — an offering made all the more attractive considering Francesca Mele’s bewitching album photography.

Deison and Uggeri have stumbled upon a style similar to the “acoustic doom” of Erik Skodvin’s Svarte Greiner, an approach to creating dark ambient sounds that organically stirs powerful emotions in the listener precisely because it is not static or weighed-down– rather, it is defined by the frenetic passage of acoustic details over a steadily ebbing electronic drone. Consquently, on this release, we intuit the spatial characteristics of these rooms in the whine of yielding floorboards and hinges and the  presences within them in the superimposed textures from synths. As with much electro-acoustic music, the superrealist sonic clash at the heart of the work carries us deep into the realm of the psychological. Whichever room’s buried secrets recall the imagery of your dreams, In the Other House comes highly recommended to those on the lookout for highly imaginative and organically beautiful dark ambient.

 

If you are intrigued by this release, I recommend looking into Uggeri’s Sparkle in Grey, who recently put out a split album with Controlled Bleeding called Perversions of the Aging Savant or better yet, Deison’s dark ambient project with Gianfranco Santoro, Cinise.

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(New Album Review) How to Cure Our Soul- Saigon

The Italian duo How to Cure Our Soul (Marco Marzuoli and Alessandro Sergente) dive deep into the monochrome sanctuary of pure drone on Saigon, released May 20 on David Newman’s Audiobulb label. This beguiling release of extremely minimal ambient music comes highly recommended to fans of Eleh, Janek Schaefer, and, of course, influential composers like Eliane Radigue and Arvo Pärt. Saigon is divided into two long-form pieces: “Aurea” and “Opium”.

Though Marzuoli and Sergente use digital instruments in tandem with analog instruments, one can see that they favor the almost meditative approach taken by Radigue– monolithic drones as a spiritual space. It is true that this style lends itself naturally to analog synths, but that is not necessarily the gear with which they’re working– working with both digital and analog means, they have created rich textures that invite the listener to engage with all levels of the two soundscapes.  In these grey-blue vistas, the juxtapositions in tone become apparent only when one takes the plunge into the induced trance. The numbing, but not solemn, ebb of “Opium” is particularly absorbing, a noise-soaked lullaby broadcast from within the subconscious. Immerse yourself.

(New Album Review) Bird People & Waterflower [Split EP]

The fine English label Liminal Noise Tapes  will be putting out their much-anticipated tenth release, a split between Bird People (free-improvisation musician Ulrich Rois) and Waterflower (Latvian experimental musician and vocalist Sabine Moore)  late this June. This split comes highly recommended as it showcases two widely different approaches to sonic experimentation that, in my mind, both have equal potential to be successful and provocative, as is the case here.

Ulrich Rois’s Bird People is a loose collective that almost exclusively utilizes acoustic instrumentation to create psychedelic ritual drones. For this new split Rois and collaborators Lucas Henao Serna, Roy Culbertson III, and Re Sukre worked in a live, improvised atmosphere to create the two captivating pieces present on Side A– there were no overdubs on the final mix and they barely used any effects! The result has the same sense of ritualistic mystery and tension as Organum’s Ikon or any one of Jim O’Rourke’s free-improvisation-themed releases. Fans of dark ambient sounds and free-improvisation electro-acoustic music will find much to admire here. A release like this really stands to remind us that one does not need a lot of gear-wizardry to create truly mind-manifesting sounds.

 

Sabine Moore is a multidisciplinary artist based in Riga, Latvia who makes a ghostly music all her own by compiling sounds from sources as disparate as from battery-powered toys to glass beads to piano melodies. Waterflower reminds one of Julianna Barwick freefalling in the midst of a hazy sidereal nightmare– Moore’s lovely, haunting voice is like an apparition trapped in the prisms of slowly decaying reverberating noise. She has certainly found a unique medium with which to transmit her interest in the folk-song tradition of Latvia.

 

Highly original and highly recommended. Congratulations are due to Liminal Noise for their tenth release!

(New Album Review) ieva- Lueurs

On his new release from the consistently great Eilean Records, Lueurs, ieva (Kyoto-dwelling French sound artist and founder/curator of Pollen Recordings Samuel André) shows how he has progressed by leaps and bounds from the absorbing, but scattered textures of his beginnings as a recording artist to deliver a dizzyingly epic vision. The last we heard from him in the way of a musical release was the gentle  A New Morning, a collaboration with Hakobune. On that album one could see the beginning of what has culminated in Lueurs, a dream-travelogue worthy of the finest moments from Hakobune, Celer, and Chubby Wolf. Perhaps the collaborations ieva has made with Hakobune and Nobuto Suda over the past few years gave him the confidence to attempt at this warm, grand style of ambient music.

ieva’s style on Lueurs makes heavy use of field recordings of nature– the murmur of slow-moving water through a forest scene is the steadily ebbing undercurrent of ieva’s new perspective on crafting sound art. The textures of this album are varied, though. On “Forêt Vierge” and “Eclipse”, cloudy, grainy drones set the backdrop for the melancholy fornent tones– this is deep listening material. Elsewhere, on “Vers Le Soleil”, ieva unveils an emotionally overwhelming synth wash reminiscent of Chronovalve. ieva is as adventurous in evoking a varied palette of moods as he is experimenting on the textural level– a particularly memorable detail is the suffused hiss of a match being struck towards the end of “Poussière”, in the midst of a Buddhist ceremony. An ambient album of admirable scope, and certainly one of the best of the year. Highly recommended.

(New Album Review) Patkus- Nigel’s Brie

Philadelphia composer and multi-instrumentalist Patkus is a self-confessed disciple of John Fahey who also has a strong fondness for post-rock and modern classical. On his new album Nigel’s Brie, he offers a compelling mixture of Americana, ambient atmospherics, and minimalist approaches to composition.

Though his main suit as an artist is that of one continuing the American fingerpicking tradition, Patkus is an emotionally sophisticated composer and technically sophisticated producer– the soft bass tones of his acoustic guitar are not just framed by but also mesh with looped electric sounds and percussion. Think one of Daniel Lanois’s instrumental productions immersed in but not overwhelmed by the pall of winter.

It’s an incredibly gentle but also incredibly absorbing album. A piece like “Joy, For The One Who Matters Most”  has a lilt from the real folk-blues and a mysterious sense of eternity and ellipsis from Steve Reich. I still can’t get “Ackley Kid” out of my head…and not just because that’s a reference to what’s unashamedly one of my favorite books of all time. As with much great minimal music, Nigel’s Brie constructs something emotionally complex out of a seemingly simple palette. Highly recommended to fans of post-rock, ambient music and sound art, modern composition, and American primitivism.