Erik K Skodvin's performance in Cambridge is a excellent document of how his music evolves in time and space (listen & download below). Firstly, he starts with repetitive drones and glissandos of (probably) under-toned acoustic guitar, then he adds wonderfully deep and emotive piano that adds a new dimension to his performance, once oddly homogeneous and solid. It takes almost 15 minutes, till Skodvin makes the piano his main instrument as his tragic impromptu comes in. His expression reminds Russian school of dramatic and ultimate pianists: from Rachmaninoff to Scriabin, but obviously, Skodvin’s piano is simpler and composed for the purposes of the eerie atmosphere. Still, don’t underrate his abilities: this piano’s fantasy is a surprising and beautifully nuanced piece of art.
There are more surprises prepared for you, if you make it to the end of the performance. On the top of it, the Unitarian Church guarantees wonderful acoustics that echoes all the implicit reverberations and thus strengthen the dizziness and uneasiness of Skodvin’s performance. It gets creepy, it softens, it gets dramatic, it calms down - process of dark and thoughtful music. Sonic Pieces' label night must have been totally amazing. Plus, you can fully enjoy his debut album, Flare, on Sonic Pieces’ official profile and besides that, read my review.
Ben Frost, the master of terrifying drone, composed music in eight movements for a movie. Who’s expecting flushes of scaring noise and eerie industrial electronics, will be surprised by the subtle nature of The Invisibles (hear the whole album below) soundtrack to the same-named documentary. Ben Frost adjusted his artistic expression to the very sensitive topic of refugees in Central & South America who search for a better life by traveling north. This short movie, supported by Amnesty International captures their problems, abuses and terrible treatment.
The Invisibles as a soundtrack underlines the scenes with tenderness and delicacy. No majestic and opulent harmonies are evolved to emphasize drastic or breathtaking scenes; Frost counted on slow and sober hush that better express the impossibility of balance between death and a vision of a better future. His music is similarly split between silence and calm nervousness that dwells in vibrating, restless strings (in song called Extortion), or a jerky piano used as a percussion (Ransom). The biggest excitement comes with The Gravity of Numbers where the subduing work of icy cello reminds his older works and mild electronics come as well to multiply the eeriness and claustrophobia. Very similar trick is used in closing Invisibles, which mixes the uneasiness of harp with the same melody played by piano with additional percussion and distorted cello that evolves its horror-like nature. This sound of terrifying fragality with contrasting electronic brutality (here just a bit of it) is Ben Frost’s blueprint which can’t be done better by no one.
Although The Invisibles reminds By the Throat (the 9th best album of 2009) with all its noise and heavy distortion missing, it’s rather a fragmental work based on short impressions and small topics being picked up, played and forgotten. Here, Frost shows his more vulnerable and classical face that finely complements his masterful avant-garde musical base. But, all my words are almost useless as Frost expresses his work best: “If there is one thing I want more than anything for you to walk away with from this music, it was and is the overwhelming sense of quiet strength, and of hope.”
Owen Pallett prepared us a beautiful Christmas present: new, free EP that compiles his demos, covers and instrumentals. They come from the recording sessions of Heartland, the best album of this year. Export EP, as this freebie is called, documents few of the songs in their bare state; such as Export 2 (Midnight Directives), that surprisingly emphasizes the piano and strings. Balladic version of The Great Elsewhere features wonderfully emotive vocal of Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), who adds some necessary drama and female point of view. Soon, it changes into some kind of bossa nova, what changes the song utterly and perfectly. I’m not gonna reveal all the surprises, (much discussed grandiose b-side Owen’s Voice is here!) so listen to Export EP and enjoy Pallett’s musical gift. (Also, thanks to disco naïveté for tip.)
Marta Mist belong to this year musicAddicted's favourite classical ambient newbies. Their approach to dark minimalism is uplifting and their balance between classical music, sleepy ambient and frightening drone is amazing. Atmospheres range from melancholic mourning to terrifying darkness, all underlined by field recordings of rain and wind. Surprisingly, Marta Mist compiled their (possibly) first mixtape for inspiring mag Fluid Audio, aptly named Personalities & Relationships. What is more striking is the eclecticism of their muses: from dubstep/IDM of Mount Kimbie to pop diva Kate Bush to more expected Tchaikovsky or Max Richter. Above all, this mixtape just emphasizes their wide spectrum of influences that transform into Marta Mist’s imaginative and highly varied music. Enjoy.
Wintercoats chose for release of his new single, Spend This Time, appropriate time. Glockenspiel opens the song with a simple melody of flowing, cascading piano. Soon the marching drums come, as if taken from end-titles of some highly melancholic Christmas movie. James Wallace, the man behind Wintercoats, is mainly known for his wonderful play on violin and multi-layered vocals. Both are present in Spend This Time. His voice is somewhat more earthy and real, but Wallace still preserves the dreamy mood that is typical for his compositions. Soon the songs expands and the listener is overwhelmed by so many layers of blueish, ecstatic calm. musicAddicted noticed Wintercoats few month ago when his first EP, Cathedral floated into blogosphere and his new material confirms that we can expect something spectacular from this Melbourne born composer.
Kings of Convenience perform even more acoustic session
It’s hard to imagine Kings of Convenience playing even more acoustic session than on their albums, but after Last.fm unarchived live recordings it’s not impossible. Last year, the Norwegian duo played three songs taken from their latest album, ‘Declaration of Dependence' that was just about to be released that time and Last.fm unwrapped it as one of their Christmas musical presents. Just their two guitars and intertwining vocal parts are highly tender and sound overly natural and joyously. Besides playing 24-25, Me In You, Renegade, there are also some snippets of interview, where Eirik also reveals that his first record bought were compatriots a-ha at gas station. Calm down and enjoy Scandinavian acoustic relax.
Berlin-based and freshly Ninja Tune-signed Emika glued together a mixtape for Electronic Explorations, music site dedicated to mixtapes made by top-quality artists coming from the area of experimental electronic scene. Emika compiled tracks she likes and influence her and so she makes a trip around her muses and moods that help in creating her dark, catchy dubstep songs. The journey goes from funky track of deep houser Omar-S to German minimal techno gods Marcel Dettman and Ben Clock. Surprising is the selection of warmer raggae/jungle Danites and DJ Rashad’s hard mish-mash of everything is positively unexpected too. Emika’s own amazing songs Double Edge and Cooling Room are featured in goose-bumps catalyzing, utterly dark remixed versions. Electronic Explorations founder, Rob Booth, mixes some hot tracks as well; expect this blog’s favourite Raime and dubstep master Martyn among the best pieces. Turn off your light and prepare yourself for a 92 minutes of cold, dark mixture of minimalism, techno and dubstep.
Lamb are back preparing new album. Lou Rhodes found her way back to Andy Barlow and after six years of silence they found no reason not to join their creativity together. One of the most influential electronic duos of 90’s, who once discovered equilibrium between cold drum & bass, paranoid trip-hop and fragile folk, are back in studio working on their fifth album. Similarly to another 90’s English trip-hop pioneers, Portishead, Lamb named their new material simply ‘5.’ Listen to their rough mix of a new song, Strong The Root and if you’re excited about ‘5,’ Lamb will be surely thankful for your help. The scheme of album’s pre-order funding and more information can be found on their official page.
It seems as if The Golden Filter were always destined to make a Christmas song. The ingredients that defined their debut album Völuspà– Penelope’s crystalline, high and whispery vocals, the tribal drums, the polished, icy synths and subduing rhythms – remain an essential part of this new recording, a cover of Psychic TV’s ‘White Nights’, with an added veneer of festivity and Christmas kitsch. Sleigh bells are everywhere and staccato synths drop like a frosty icicles; it feels so aptly joyful and contrasts starkly with the grey indie-rock original. Singing about Santa checking his list, Penelope is tender and playful, and sounds otherworldly.