Filed under: This Month's Favs | Tags: Brixton Session, ishq, James Murray, Jasper tx, Juxta Phona, Marconi Union, Offthesky, Pan Electric, Ravid, Snakestyle, Sonver, The Album Leaf, Top 10 albums for january
James Murray – Where Edges Meet
“One of the most highly anticipated albums of the year…
Where Edges Meet is a truly pioneering composition that raises the standards of electroacoustic production and sees James Murray leading the way in futuristic sounds”. 10/10
James Murray is a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who layers organic and electronic elements to achieve uniquely emotive productions. His passion is for subtlety, ambiguity and that blurry interface between the ‘natural’ and the ’synthesised’.
Debut album “Where Edges Meet” subtly evokes the rumble and clatter of London’s industrial wastelands, leading us to its secret gardens and wide parks with crystalline, haunting melodies.
As a gifted multi-instrumentalist James has intelligently merged the organic and synthetic realms into delicate and daring soundscapes – all vividly evocative of sense and space.
Where Edges Meet is an intimate and ambiguous album, a wistful playground for broken breakbeats, jazz inflections, sideways dub and avant-garde electronica.
9 colourful tracks to delight your ears and challenge your mind.
The Album Leaf – Into The Blue Again
In the wake of a solid 18 months spent touring in support of 2004’s In a Safe Place, The Album Leaf’s Jimmy LaValle sequestered himself for six months in his San Diego house solely to write for his next record. For LaValle—whose wildly varied experience includes stints with instrumental artisans Tristeza, post-hardcore spastics the Locust, contorted punk-funk ritualists GoGoGo Airheart, shadowy conjurers The Black Heart Procession and Iceland’s celestial menagerie Sigur Ros—such a surfeit of time was an unprecedented luxury. The upshot of this well-earned downtime is his fourth full-length, Into the Blue Again. Recorded in December 2005 at Bear Creek Studio, a converted turn-of-the-century barn outside of Seattle, Into the Blue Again sees a return to The Album Leaf’s conception with LaValle handling the bulk of the vocal and instrumental duties. After tracking at Bear Creek, LaValle then took the concentric billows of feathered keyboards, filmy strings and chiseled drums to Iceland for three weeks of mixing to tape to maintain Brian Eno-informed translucence. Having shared so much time and space with others on the road, LaValle proves with the personally charged Into the Blue Again that The Album Leaf resonates most profoundly when he goes it alone.
Sonver – Luz del Abyss
SonVer formed in November 2003, when Joanna Quail [cello] and Ben McLees [guitar] wrote and recorded ‘Until The Stones Melt’, a 9-minute track which would form the template for SonVer’s cinematic. post-rock soundscapes.
The duo recorded SonVer’s eponymous debut during the first half of 2005, which would be released on Disconnected Music in the November of that year.
SonVer’s live shows at the time incorporated visuals by Simon Bryant, the largely monochrome, slow-motion films perfectly complementing SonVer’s evocative music.
During 2006, SonVer’s presence on the live scene grew. In addition to several shows at London’s legendary The Spitz venue, the duo also performed at WGT Festival in Germany, Ashton Court Festival in Bristol and a year-ending headline set at Teviot Underground in Edinburgh.
2007 began with the release of the 4-track ‘Vigil’ EP, which showcased the elegaic side of SonVer alongside an incendary live version of ‘Khat Show Host’, still a live favourite to this day.
During the summer of 2007. SonVer expanded to a 4-piece, with the additions of guitarist/bassist Ruban Byrne and drummer Alistair Richardson.
Following the live debut of the new line-up at The Luminaire, SonVer closed 2007 with a memorable show at The Union Chapel in London.
2008 began with a gig in Lisbon [Portugal], co-inciding with the release of the limited edition ‘Music Box’ EP [also featuring Rose McDowall and Naevus], which included two otherwise-unavailable SonVer tracks.
May 2008 saw the release of a new SonVer EP. Entitled ’3 Songs’, the new release came in the form of a collaboration with Belgian group Elephant Leaf. Named ‘single of the week’ by influencial music magazine Organ, the EP was launched at a second show at The Union Chapel, which saw Elephant Leaf vocalist Lucie Dehli join SonVer for a finale of ‘Safety In Numbness’, the closing track on ’3 Songs’.
During the summer, SonVer teamed up with Ed Simpson of Lautrec to perform an AV/live soundtrack set during the festival season. Entitled ’2001: A Space Dub Odyssey’, the set was performed to packed film/cinema tents at both Latitude and Green Man Festivals in the UK.
In November 2008, SonVer release their second album ‘Luz del Abyss’, supported by a live show in Leige [Belgium] and a third appearance at The Union Chapel in London.
Jasper tx – A Darkness
“Coming only moments after the lovely (and now long gone) EP ‘D+A’, this is the second full-length album from Sweden’s Dag Rosenqvist aka Jasper TX. Following-up the hugely acclaimed ‘I’ll Be Long Gone When my Light Reaches You’ was never going to be easy, but somehow Dag has rustled together the perfect sequel, continuing themes he only began to explore, throwing new ideas into the mix and showing serious development as an artist. I think the secret to Dag’s sound is his honesty – everything you hear is ‘as it is’, he avoids overdone computer effects in favour of crumbling tape recordings and the buzzing of badly wired circuit boards and everything is recorded on his trusty 8-track machine. It’s this ‘as it is’ sentiment that separates for me his work and the work of so many attempting a similar sound – we’ve no shortage of lonely guitarists making music for barely-seen horizons and gauzy sunsets, but where Dag differs is that the music sounds somehow as old as time. His recording style, as dirty and as ‘lo-fi’ as it might be, sounds as if the tracks have been dubbed to a wax plate and buried under the sea for an eternity before being discovered by visiting explorers. It’s as if you’re listening to transmissions from times past or listening to the audio equivalent of damaged black and white photos falling out of a browned photo-book. The record begins with ‘Better Days to Come’, a song as hopeful as the title, one which begins with the dust and flicker of ancient tape recordings before building into something altogether more life-affirming with organ, guitar and glockenspiel. Elsewhere Dag follows this theme of distance and memory with the echoing field recordings in ‘Destroy Detroit’ and the endangered clattering dronescape of ‘Nightbirds’ (probably the albums most haunting moment, listen for the phonecall moment.), but the record truly comes into it’s own with it’s final piece, the 20 minute ‘Some Things Broken, Some Things Lost’. With this track Dag does what many artists try a lifetime to achieve, he comes up with a piece of music that totally defines him as an artist – this is Jasper TX in one, simple moment. With guitar, touching field recordings and glorious, triumphant drones Dag creates a segment of pure musical perfection – something like Windy and Carl, Stars of the Lid, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Machinefabriek and Cliff Martinez all rolled into one and in that it manages to be a totally singular experience. Here is an artist unafraid to express himself, unafraid to take risks and able to rise to the challenges of making music in a post millennial slump – it’s music that makes us glad we’re here. Absolutely stunning stuff, and totally unmissable!”
Review by Boomkat
Ravid – Ravid Hang
Brought up on a kibbutz, Ravid first heard the Hang at a festival and was immediately inspired to play it. He bought his first drum and went to live in the Negev desert, where the stillness and silence provided the perfect environment to master the instrument. Later he traveled to Switzerland where he stayed with the inventors of Hang and evolved his technique and unique way of playing.
Whilst playing on a frozen river in Quebec he started to play with gloves and discovered this gave a whole new level of sound quality to his performance. Ravid currently lives in Barcelona but plans to move to the UK in 2008. He has played in numerous concerts and festivals across Europe and has appeared on stage with the leading lights of Spanish rock.
Snakestyle – Turning Point
This album really is a turning point for snakestyle, not only because it features more organic sounds and more sophisticated synths and equipment, but also because of the impressive array of collaborations.
Ranking Roger (www.myspace.com/rankingroger1) from legendary chart topping ska band ‘the beat’ appears on two tracks giving his trademark toasting vibes over some electro dubby beats, the people he’s worked with are too many to list here, but include the likes of The Clash, Sting, Jimmy Nail, Pato Banton, Big Audio Dynamite, Pop Will Eat Itself, etc. He’s been supported on tour by REM, and U2. These vocals were recorded at Meeme Studio in Hackney, thanks to the sound engineering efforts of Meeme aka Umut Gunduz (www.myspace.com/jomeeme)
Also recorded at Meeme Studio were the vocals for ‘A Rainy Night In London’ featuring the delectable vocal talents of Minnie Rogers (www.myspace.com/minnierogersvocals), a talented and versatile vocalist with a broad range of sounds, watch out for more from Minnie Rogers in the future.
Mike Embleton (www.myspace.com/type2design) also appears again on guitar for version 2 of ‘Neutral Buoyancy’ (which originally appeared on the Interchill compilation ‘Future Memories’ back in February) and on the new track ‘Space Lounge’, as the title suggests, a spaced out futuristic ambient lounge offering. He also put together the album cover using 3D Graphic Design software.
DJ Sweetleaf (www.myspace.com/djsweetleaftunes) makes a co-production appearance on ‘Counter-Rotation’ and ‘Out of Bounds Part 1’ of which there are original live recordings from these two made on 4 track tape machines dating back as early as 1993, here given the full studio treatment for the first time some 15 years later.
Also making an appearance is Daniel Waples from the outfit ‘Hang Playing Hedge Monkeys’ (www.myspace.com/hangplayinghedgemonkeys) who provides loops and samples of his ‘hang’ steel drum playing over ambient soundscape ‘Waterfront Perimeter’, you can almost feel the breeze on your face, and hear the sound of water lapping in the foreground.
Last but by no means least is Osamu Yano (www.myspace.com/osamuguitar) a gifted and talented classically trained guitarist who appears on ‘Last Light’ with an amazing lyrical sound which washes over hypnotic rhythms from shakers, congas, and synth melodies.
Each track is a fusion of different styles across the snakestyle spectrum, which is continually evolving and expanding in different directions, so come along for the ride.
Brixton Session – Compiled by Matt B and Nova
“Brixton Session brings futuristic beats to a new level within the creative process of rhythmical styles. Showcasing some of the most talented artists of the moment, this release experiments, tantalises and flows in a way we haven’t heard in a long time! Truly original in every sense of the word, be prepared for a musical journey that radiates, taking the listener into uncharted territory, 10/10.”
- Fluid Radio
Brixton is a place in South London characterised by its vibrant multiethnic artistic and musical identities. It’s in Brixton where Matt B and Nova first met, at the beginning of the century, a friendship marked by mutual artistic respect and countless gigs played together, often in legendary events and festivals.
With Brixton Session Matt B and Nova solidify their reputation as taste makers in downtempo electronic music putting together a stunning compilation at the very limit of the cutting-edge, a lounge-compatible urban affair with some dance floor sensibilities.
Ten brand new tunes representing the cream of the crop of today’s underground from a variety of styles fusing ambient, electronica, dub, stepper, bass ‘n’ breaks and glitch-hop.
A groundbreaking anthology featuring some of the globe’s most talented new and established artists: RND vs Nova, Mungo’s Hi Fi, Bass Science, Sync24, Dr Cat Experience, Rico Casazza, Disrupt, Biodub, Deluge, Vakuum Sounds.
Brixton Session is Matt B and Nova’s shared vision for low-end frequencies!
Marconi Union – A Lost Connection
Marconi Union’s unique fusion of electronica, guitars and strings first came to people’s attention with the release of their highly acclaimed second album Distance (released on Brian Eno’s All saints Records) This album was a hailed in some quarters as “groundbreaking” and “an ambient classic” with it receiving a particularly strong reaction in the US where many of the tracks appeared on the soundtracks to various TV shows.
Following a series of lengthy contractual complications and having amicably parted ways with their previous record company, they decided to pursue a more independent path and are now releasing their third album A Lost Connection as a digital release on their own website http://www.marconiunion.com initial press reactions have been very exciting and it looks set to repeat the success of Distance.
The tracks on A Lost Connection like previous MU releases blend melody and atmosphere to create a haunting and evocative soundtrack to daily life. A number are likely to be appearing on various compilations in the near future and MU have already received some approaches for soundtrack work.
Recently Marconi Union created music for an installation at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in L.A. and are currently remixing a number of name artists.
Despite the low key nature of it’s release, it looks fairly certain that A Lost Connection is set to follow it’s predecessor as a landmark release.
Ishq, Pan Electric – About Time
Electronic soundscapes with programmed beats. About Time presents a series of rather subtle electronic compositions that rely less on melody than ambient structures and interesting effects. The music has retro synthesiser music feel in many places especially in the rhythmic content, but there are some psychedelic sixties references too with mellotrons and even some strongly effected vocals. Other tracks have a more contemporary air, repeating motifs rolling across faint drones and twinkling synth forms, evolving patterns ebbing and flowing whilst bubbling details ascend in curls. Spoken voice samples muse on the nature of time, attractive electric guitar lines glisten whilst the pace takes on a slightly jazzy nature. Beats range from quite strident electro beats urged on by rubbery bass lines to restful dreamy affairs with muted tones and echoing hits – many tracks have extended introductions where beatless space allows concentration on the less obvious aspects of the music.
This CD comes in a jewel case with a two panel insert. The front cover is a semi-abstracted landscape of ashen horizons before a luminous sky. An uncertain form lies in the lower left corner that eventually resolves into a hazy clock face. The lines and tones of the front cover image run across onto the second panel of the insert once opened out – no text here, just the Absolute Ambient ‘a’ logo. The rear cover holds the timed tracklist with minimal credits and website details. The insert unfolds revealing a double page montage image with a Dali-esque rippled clock atop a statue plinth. The skyline behind includes Big Ben – two clock faces visible at this diagonal angle. No words here – simply visuals.
Ambient Nun DJ otherwise known as Matt Coldrick comes together as Pan Electric with Ishq’s Matt Hillier to deliver this collaborative album. The disc comes via Absolute Ambient and holds seven medium length tracks between three and a half minutes up to almost fourteen and a half. The duo cite such influences as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, Floyd, Eno and Orbit as fuel for the project. As to the collaborative input – promotional material explains “Ishq raids his sonic lab for the best in contemporary electronic sound design and Pan Electric provide the lush instrumental arrangements creating an ambient hybrid with variety, depth and soul.”
Review by Morpheus Music
Juxta Phona & Offthesky – Escape Kit
Transmitting from an alternate universe where david lynch is supreme diety, the orb’s pomme fritz is the national anthem, and flanger and pole are the world’s most venerated heroes, juxta phona & offthesky set forth a treatise of intelligent and challenging electronic music.
Sliding through a series of surrealist landscapes , this album embeds texture and feeling into your subconscious through dense and smoky occult electro-jazz rites.
Capturing a prismatic work reflecting both organic and digital faces, Somnia is proud to release this unique and highly visual experience.
Limited to 777 copies worldwide, soy inks on recycled paper, sewn and sealed in wax with incredible cover art by Ray Massini.
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