Nästesjö Extreme Orchestra sú džezový kvartet zo švédskeho mesta Malmö. Jej členovia sa spoznali vďaka tamojšej hudobnej univerzite, na ktorej študovali a dali dohromady (na džezové pomery) netradičnú štvoricu nástrojov: dvojitú basu, husle, saxofón a bicie. Spočiatku hrávali psychedelickejší džez, označovaný aj ako fusion, na svojom debutovom albume však prezentujú oveľa uhladenejšiu a elegantnejšiu tvár. Neplánovane a prirodzene tak nasledujú tradíciu škandinávskej džezovej scény, ktorej tvorba sa vyznačuje rozvážnosťou, jednoduchosťou, pokojom a dokonalým technickým prepracovaním. Vrhnite sa do improvizácií, melodramatických sól a voľných, žartovných rytmov spolu s NEO-m; neoľutujete.
Simon Scott will be probably forever introduced as the former drummer of shoegaze gods Slowdive and the person, who left the band after ground-breaking album Souvlaki. But it would be unjust and ignorant to regard his presence in Slowdive as the peak of his musical career. Last year he released impressive debut album Navigare via Miasmah, experimental label focused on high quality music and run by Erik K Skodvin, this blog’s favourite artist. Subduing drone and terrifying complexity of Navigare was followed by this year’s Traba which captures Scott’s dreamier and more subtle nature. Eeriness and grimness of Navigare vanished, just the sleepy hallucinations and abstract layers of dreams stayed. Beautifully foggy affair.
Dreams and sleep are associated with a small label Slaapwel, founded by Belgian artist Wim Maesschalck, also known as Wixel. Slaapwel imprint releases music with aim to fall asleep while listening to these dreamy drones. Until now were released were sleepy compositions by Peter Broderick, Greg Haines, or Machinefabriek, who naturally incline to this type of music. What is more, Broderick also played two shows, where the audience lied on their beds and were lead by live music to fall asleep at the concert. The newest contribution to this impressive bunch of artists is Silenne, 33 minutes long composition by Simon Scott, mastered by 12k Records founder Taylor Deupree. (listen to the stream of entire composition below)
Silenne starts with a simple guitar loop that is accompanied by tender hisses of tape. Soon, soft bass come into play, to create basic harmony. Layers of various tones that complement the basic motive are emerging and the density of themes and sounds gradually increases. Few of the layers also contain Scott’s manipulated vocals and unidentifiable rustlings. Its loose atmosphere is aptly expressed by the picture on the cover with its washed out colours, approaching sunset and overall sleepy calm. This is also the way Silenne was composed; Scott likes falling asleep outside in the sunshine with music in his earphones. The main guitar motive abates and vanishes very slowly and at the same time the former harmonies intensify and rise. Some whirs and noises appear just once and disappear forever, other pulsate and come back again frequently. Repetition is the modus operandi here and works as a reminiscence of mellow memories mixed with day-dreams.
As the main motif melts into the mass of harmonies and tranquil noises, Silenne passes to its second part, that resembles works of Kyle Bobby Dunn. It’s subtle, hypnotic and bit confusing. So many layers and tones are present, that there are infinite combinatorial possibilities. It seems as if the echoes were born in other echoes and Silenne was a never-ending memento of its own basic motives. Its repetition and pulsating nature remains airy and light and thus retains the main aim of the composition: to loose yourself, forget everything and fall asleep. Silenne is wonderful piece of ambient work; warm, pleasurable and delightful. And additionally, it comes in hand-made card-box with amazing pictures inside and unspoken guarantee, that you will surely fall asleep.
Atlas Sound: Unbelievable. Second bedroom-recorded album for free
Less than 24 hours from announcing his Bedroom Databank Vol. 1 and offering it for free download, Bradford Cox, the man behind Deerhunter and Atlas Sound releases its sequel called, logically, Vol. 2. Grab it for free from his official site.
Bradford Cox is like a stream of creativity. As if he was still thinking just about music in many layers; his often cryptic lyrics read like a poetry, his instrumentals are accomplished and nuanced and on the top of it, he’s a good at playing various instruments at the same time as singing his dolorous melodic lines. His stream-of-consciousness approach seems limitless as well as his mashing of memories, day dreaming, paranoia and implicit depression. And now, while listeners and fans are still stunned by Deerhunter's third album Halcyon Digest, Cox comes with new material under his Atlas Sound moniker.
Bedroom Databank Vol. 1 is undeniably a bedroom affair. Lo-fi and homemade style are the most apparent thing about it. Cox decided to release it for free and clearly, it was a good decision. Its 11 tracks sound like B-sides, left-overs and unfinished demos. His love for 50’s/60’s low-key pop omnipresent as well as mouth organ, moody guitar and layered, undecipherable vocals. Half of it are instrumental songs that are the lighter and sunnier part of Bedroom. For example, Freak Train isn’t as freak as suggested - it’s more a joyous trip on synths and layers of acoustic guitars. On the other side are vocal-lead songs that feature Cox’ typical sadness as a self-document of his illness and problems. These Were My Walls is the most obvious pick that deals with death and the mortal-life of others after that. Most of the lyrics on Bedroom Databank Vol. 1 are impressions, colours, imaginations that bring some cute onomatopoeic figures; like “slow like snow" in New Romantic. Not just because of the overall mood and words sung, this is an autumnal record. Calm, short and bit gray.
Ralf Hildenbeutel: Excursion through classical wonderland
It may be tempting to think of Ralf Hildenbeutel's new album as “another” contribution to the already rich contemporary classical scene. During past few years, classically trained musicians have been increasingly gaining both attention and appreciation. With renowned labels such as Bedroom Community, Erased Tapes or more eclectic Type Rec. and Touch, neo-classical music has been exposed to wider audience of independent musical world. Take Max Richter and Hauschka, who release their records at indie-pop FatCat. Or Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who is signed to 4AD, alternative rock label. In general, this is a picture of 2010’s classical music, that is (bit schizophrenically) spread between the worlds of simpler indie rock and more elite and posh classical circles.
Of course, listening to music isn’t about defining genres or generation movements, but it somehow hints, what are the basic trends of these days. Similarly to Richter, Broderick or Jóhannsson, this Frankfurt based musician is classically trained pianist, who has solid background in the classical composition and knowledge of classical methods and traditions. But unlike his contemporaries, who are increasingly embracing the world of rock and electronics, Ralf Hildenbeutel travels in an opposite direction. In contrast to many of them, 90’s German techno scene raised his name into prominence and especially production for Sven Väth, legendary DJ. Hildenbeutel’s signature is most obvious Väth’s more ambient and minimalist tracks that are built around strange, synthetic darkness, where acoustic instruments (flute, harpsichord among others) appear from stratospheric void.
For a long time now it has seemed that the contemporary classical scene has been barricaded to female solo pianists. Though the past decade has seen artists composing for classical instruments unexpectedly in the ascendant, most of them are pianists who build their arrangements around their majestic keyboard-led instrument; and most of them are men. Think Max Richter, Peter Broderick, Philip Glass and latest wonder-boys Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. Their common (but not bonding) feature is minimalism inspired by Steven Reich, legend of twentieth century classicism, and emboldened usage of electronics that helped them to express ever more sonic nuances. Whereas the solo cello scene is ‘led’ by the likes of Hildur Guðdnadóttir, Zoë Keating and Julia Kent, contemporary piano field is almost utterly male. About the only female exception from this classical brotherhood is Rachel Grimes, part of post-rock/classical outfit Rachel’s, though even she has never received the same kind of acclaim given to her male peers. Fresh hope for redressing the gender imbalance is arguably personified in Australian pianist and composer Sophie Hutchings.
Read the whole review at Wears The Trousers: here.
Mogwai: Catchy-to-death new single, Rano Pano, for free
Mogwai are probably the most impressive band of last decade that came from Scotland. Although they released music that defined not only their career, but also a part of post-rock genre in late ’90s, they have never lost natural vigour or originality. Their latest effort, The Hawk Is Howling didn’t get typical acclaim (in contrast, my Slovak-written review was much more optimistic about the album and declared satisfaction with Mogwai’s direction, their powerful approach and increasing usage of melody), but still, in the terms of general music, it was a decent piece; Mogwai just experienced what does it feel to be on the top with similarly top expectations.
Rano Pano is completely fresh & new song that is taken as the first single from their seventh studio album (free download under this feature). Its introductory tones are surprisingly exact as if mathematically constructed (similarly to the exact rhyme in its name which is almost dada-istically absurd). What one may call bit pretentious, Rano Pano’s beginning reminds me numerous Johann Sebastian Bach's preludes and fugues. No big rises in melody, no shocking changes in harmony, just a perfect motive that is the base for more than five minutes of the song. Despite this (possible) inspiration in baroque precision and punctuality, the rest are typically epic and emotionally-brutal Mogwai. Distorted guitars, reverberated basses, urging drums that preserve this well-calculated rigour. Although I can imagine the song to be longer and quite bigger, Rano Pano gives a good impression that 2011 will be also a year of Mogwai. Because, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will!
Asobi Seksu: Download new song, Trails, from upcoming album
Asobi Seksu are coming back. Today, their label, Polyvinyl Records, announced new album called Fluorescence (out in February 2011, news via Pitchfork) with a tempting possibility to download one song of it. Fortunately for us, Trails documents Asobi Seksu’s new acquired vigour and braveness as they are riding on some kind of sinusoid. After thick, shoegaze album Citrus, these New York shoegazers fell into calmer and more dreamy waters on aptly named successor Hush.
Trails, their new song, begins with a dissonant drone followed by refreshingly upbeat drums and a wall of tender noise. Vocals of Yuki Chikudate are once again a win. Power and resolution in her voice are obvious and her soprano coo-s are wonderfully ethereal. Although the words from climax, “There’s no reason to look at me so sadly, when I cry for you" sound so seriously and sadly, Yuki’s strength is wonderfully assuring and the musical background doesn’t fall into calm safety of Hush. Although the song’s structure is very simple and straightforward, Trails sounds as if open to everyone. It cascades up and down, flows through the basic melody and never allows itself to ease or loosen its tight rhythmic grip. If Fluorescence contains more songs like Trails, it’s gonna be a wonderful experience. Head here to download your Trails.
For the first time from the utter beginning of iamamiwhoami project, we - the watchers, listeners, followers and believers - are being served with some kind of background action. Re-born Jonna goes down the stairs, reads a (real) letter and makes a (real) call to (real) person. The lucky one is youtube fan, ShootUpTheStation who is becoming a part of this mental journey. For those, who are excited about new video, there is almost no new music; 20101109 is mainly a presentation of what is happening while all of us are waiting for the (earlier announced) concert. It connects, where the previous 20101104 ended and also ends with another cliffhanger. So, cheer up and let’s wait (again) for the most mysterious artistic event of this year.
When naming an album as grandiosely and specifically as Silje Nes has with Opticks, you might expect her to have some opulent concept to prop it up, drawing on stories of light and its diffraction. Also, given that Sir Isaac Newton based his work of the same name on his many experiments with mirrors and light, you might legitimately assume that Nes might be as fearless. If so, then prepare to be a little disappointed. As it turns out, the Newtonian spirit of tempting fortune and playing around was better represented by Nes’s 2007 debut, Âmes Room, a collection of songs primarily concerned with creating tones and melodies with the help of any tool at her disposal. Raw, droning electronics were altered with tender melodies, or little snatches of inconsistent pieces of (possibly) unfinished ideas. Âmes Room was a debut in all the meanings of the word: undeniably experimental, slightly naïve, and beautifully pure in its uncompromising attitude towards unchained songwriting.
Emika: Intimate dubstep takes a bow to trip-hop and techno
Emika's name has been circling around for almost a year, but during that time she released just two official singles and realized two collaborations. Praises from Zane Lowe or Mary-Anne Hobbs and the fact of being signed to Ninja Tunes speak volumes that her slower tempo of producing is more about her perfectionism than lack of ideas. Her songs are post-modern collage of many influences what makes her both exciting and hard to categorize. Her sharp beats and sub-basses remind sound of cold, minimal techno, but the unhurried, dazed tempo shifts her into dubstep arena. Her vocals bear pop and R&B sensibilities, but her loose phrasing and lack of mannerism moves her into more alternative area.
What’s striking as well is the presence of real, unprocessed piano that leads her songs through all the thematic cascades. Emika definitely posses a sense for catchy melody that combines dramatic emotions with melancholic shifts and simplicity. Drop The Other, released earlier this year and Double Edge too hold her hallmark of straightforward motive with untamed, cutting gloomy techno evolution. (listen to both songs below) All this melodrama is laid on icy piano and her whispery, undecipherable vocals connecting worlds of romance with everyday dark reality. Just as a cream on the cake, she recorded her vocals in West Berlin’s Die Taufelsberg, abandoned listening station. Shadowy echoes unearth the deepest emotions, presenting the inner darkness of human soul.
Emika’s musical approach seems a little bit as a natural evolution of 90’s trip-hop, based on her dubby perception of the harmonic and melodic world around. Also, her songs are good indicators what would it sound, if Burial collaborated with Fever Ray (with exception for her peculiar voice). Dark, isolated soundtrack for a lonesome life in a cold world that is too intimate for a dancefloor and too slow for a dance. It’s an inward looking dubstep beauty with right poppy ambitions.
When reviewing Dunn’s most expansive work called A Young Person’s Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn, I wrote that it’s “constructed from fragmented harmonies with soul built of solid and smartly simple motives flowing through the breathy and pulsing musical mass.” This collection of Dunn’s compositions mapping approximately five years of his artistic life is a deep and intelligent promenade of Kyle’s sleepy and thoughtful mind. More active than ambient, softer than drone, too sparse to be contemporary classical. In one word: unique.
With Rural Route No. 2, Kyle participates on the series of 3” vinyls of the same name started by Standard Form, the record label. One side of his contribution is called Dissonant Distances. Its introduction is a frenetic and at the same time consonant cacophony, in contrast to its name. It pulsates forward, actively re-invents itself with the reverbs of under-toned guitar, resolute bass and then heads towards creepy ambiance. Goosebumps come when the echoes of some old, hissing tape or a radio transmission with some vocal-lead blues make its way through the layers of washed sound (possibly) as a symbol of lodged memories that unexpectedly resurfaced from the deep wells of mind. Harmony that started the composition is utterly destroyed in the halfway and the rest is multi-layered, echoing drone. These waves of rasp and noise are both scary and oddly comforting, cutting their way into subconsciousness.
Senium III, the second composition on Rural Route No. 2, is different. Its tender vibrations of clear harmonies and vanishing tones of strings, winds and organ soothe the listener’s ear. They are reminiscent of above-mentioned A Young Person’s Guide as we fall into the stream of dreams and reminiscences on the surface of eleven and half minutes. Harmonies come and go, appear and leave, their intensity rises and then falls back into silence to open the space for another one. Dunn explores vast landscapes of repetitive strings and subduing echoes, all multiplied with the hermetic isolation from the real world that makes his music so otherworldly pure and noble. Senium III is very organic and natural piece, living in its own world of mysteriously calm bliss. And similarly, Rural Route No. 2 is an eulogy to the freedom of subconscious dreams and mirages.
The xx have always been inclined to electronic beats and R&B, so this cover (listen below) by electronic duo Various (aka Various Production) doesn’t come as any great shock. But while the innocence of the song’s global emotion is gingerly preserved, its sincere tenderness is disturbingly replaced by plasticky vocals and a stilted chill.
iamamiwhoami is undeniably the most unique audiovisual project of 2010. Whether you like its synth-pop music or often-psychotic visuals, it’s strikingly complex and amazingly deep. As today, it has been running exactly 11 months and still, the mystery is like a jigsaw that gains new dimension with every new video. And what is most amusing, you never know, when the next video is coming and how will it link to others. Jonna & Claes did a good job.
With 20101104, the antic tragedy that closed the BOUNTY cycle uncovers real world in which the strange mandragora’s wandering was metaphorically happening. Well, real world according to iamamiwhoami’s conditions. The man is hung, the woman is drowned, but a new life is emerging from a pot that bears the ambiguous title “To whom it may concern.” We are introduced to a modern flat, all white, cold and oddly polished making a contrast to warm, natural environments to the hut in ‘B.’ 20101104 is mostly teaser for their mysterious concert planned for a midnight of 16. November. So hold your breath and sing with naked and confused Jonna: “We run, we run terrified / What have we done? / This is how it goes.”