Interesting Releases

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Here’s a list of cool releases doing the rounds on the Fluid playlist at the moment…

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Once again unveiling hidden treasures from his archive of tape loops, William Basinski releases three pieces made at his Brooklyn apartment during one night in 1982, adding a fourth composition (based on the same source material) made earlier this year. You can’t help but wonder why this music, recorded so long ago, is only just surfacing. Was the world not ready for WIlliam Basinski in 1982, or was WIlliam Basinski simply not ready to hand himself over to an audience at that point? Whatever the reasoning, we’re certainly reaping the benefits of the influential ambient composer’s stockpile, and 92982 proves to be a real highlight in his output of recent years. Despite the minimalist essence of Basinski’s oeuvre there’s a pronounced sense of variety, diversity and depth at work in these four tracks, with each taking on its own specific persona. ‘92982.1’ is outstanding, featuring lilting, gritty strings through the left of the stereo field while crumbling piano sonorities rule to the right. Far from exhibiting any signs of automation or impersonal repetition you can always hear a human hand shaping the music. The faded, rattling chord movements of ‘92982.2’ take on an altogether more ghostly, dissolved quality, with echo-flecked machine jolts peppering the mixdown, underlining how fragile this whole process is. The third track, meanwhile, is an extended version of a piano-based piece that appeared in its original incarnation on the Variations: A Movement In Chrome Primitive album (surely one of the standout albums in Basinski’s entire catalogue), here stretched and developed over the course of twenty minutes. It’s a beautiful study in the interplay between an instrumental performance and the medium onto which it’s recorded, full of ruptures and low frequency rumble as the tape itself interferes with the flow and consistency of the music. Finally, Basinski takes a fresh angle on his source loops with a composition recorded in February of this year. There’s a markedly different character to this final entry; an unexpected cleanliness that somehow feels just right as a coda to the archival dust and dereliction of all that’s come before. Its tacit stateliness serves as confirmation that all these years on, Basinski has lost none of his form, and that despite the richness of his work in the early eighties he’s still a very active, utterly compelling creative force. – Boomkat
www.mmlxii.com

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At last, the wait is over. Christian Fennesz’s follow up to 2004’s Venice is upon us, and it’s truly one of the most breathtaking albums you’ll hear this year. The ten-minute title track gets the album underway, opening tentatively with flickers of noise and digital debris crackling like fireworks in the distance. Soon a flood of symphonic guitar and electronics overwhelms the mix and we’re reintroduced to the signature sound world that’s unique to this man’s music – he’s one of the most imitated electronic artists out there, and yet you can always pick out the real thing from a line-up of clones. Not resting on his laurels, before ‘Black Sea’ is even three minutes in, the magnitude shrinks down to a simple duet between oscillating tones and brittle acoustic guitar plucks. It’s from here that the piece begins to swell up with majestic, incredibly warm sustains and scratchy textural details – the whole composition feels like a reintroduction to the various facets of the Fennesz sound. Next comes the first of two collaborative pieces (although it should be pointed out that this one isn’t available on the vinyl edition – and while we’re on the subject, nor is the ambient miniature ‘Vacuum’ encountered towards the end of the CD and digital tracklists): ‘The Colour Of Three’ features Anthony Pateras (a veteran of Editions Mego and Sirr), who supplies some nicely clanking prepared piano tones, placing emphasis on the instrument as a percussive device rather than a string instrument. Despite this augmented instrumental range we’re still in familiar territory thanks to Fennesz’s transcendent digital eruptions and gloriously rich sound designs. ‘Perfume For Winter’ is a more restrained affair, filled with contemplative acoustic figures and abrupt organ-driven chord changes. We get our first real taste of explicit melody here, reminiscent of Endless Summer’s most approachable tracks. Importantly though, there are no overt attempts to retrace footsteps back to that classic album, and Black Sea sounds vehemently like a step forwards for Fennesz. This sense of progression is underlined by the spine-tinglingly wonderful ‘Glide’, a duet with Rosy Parlane which takes Fennesz’s wall of sound into the stratosphere, sounding like an unearthly orchestra. The music itself matches the increased magnitude: if Endless Summer was a digitisation and abstraction of The Beach Boys, ‘Glide’ could be said to apply the same transformative techniques to more classically-geared sounds – there’s an undercurrent of elegiac romanticism that might reasonably be compared to fellow notable Austrian, Gustav Mahler, specifically the well-known fourth movement of his 5th Symphony (once famously plundered by Robert Lippok for his Open/Close/Open release on Raster Noton). After the quietly glistening, chime-like tones of ‘Glass Ceiling’ comes previous single and album finale ‘Saffron Revolution’, which is a suitably grand closing gesture, stretching out a single, euphoric multi-layered chord across much of its duration before dissipating away into a pattern of delayed string plucks. Black Sea is far and away one of the year’s most beautiful records, both in terms of the music itself and the sheer iridescence of the electronic sound harnessed within. Very highly recommended indeed. – Boomkat
www.fennesz.com

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There’s been a huge buzz doing the rounds about this release over the last few weeks, and judging by the volume of queries we’ve had about it we can only assume that you lot are already aware of the sheer brilliance of the latest and most anticipated album from Andreas Tilliander yet. ‘Persona’ is an intense and multi-layered exploration of reduced dub, drone and hauntological elements realised on a truly epic scale, referencing everyone from William Basinski to Thomas Koner, Mika Vainio, Vladislav Delay, Tim Hecker, even Akira Rabelais along the way. Opening track “About last step and scale” edges into existence with an almost frayed tape loop that slowly gathers weight and momentum, turning into a colossal reverberation edging into drone with the kind of ghostly, submerged existence that’s as unnerving as it is blissful. At the other end of the album “invitation to love” proceeds along a similar trajectory but is much more decimated, deploying a kind of haunted ballroom effect that brings to mind James Kirby’s awesome Caretaker albums, with a degraded tape sound followers of William Basinski will immediately recognise. The middle section of the album is more distilled – “When The Sun Hits” and “the House Hit’ introducing percussive elements and, briefly, a squashed square bassline that’s so unexpected it almost yanks you out of the dense fog of sounds in which you’ve been engulfed with very little warning. It’s a jarring but deeply compelling diversion point that adds dimension and space to what can only be described as the best realised album in Tilliander’s already impressive catalogue. – Boomkat
www.typerecords.com

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This current wave of 12k releases arrives with an Antipodean theme – in addition to Lawrence English’s A Colour For Autumn disc, this week also sees the sophomore 12k album from Seaworthy, a group who stood out from the label’s roster first time around for having embraced organic, guitar-generated tones. This second full-length goes down a similar route, for the most part presenting Cameron Webb’s guitar in all its natural glory during ‘Ammunition 2’ and the epic ‘Ammunition 3’. One of the biggest contributing elements to the album is the veil of natural reverberation cast over the instrumentation; instead of relying on electronic treatments many of the compositions here are coloured by the recording location itself, a decommissioned ammunition bunker in Newington, Australia. The guitar pieces seem to share a firm grasp on melancholy, and each recording might be comparable to a less bluesy Loren Connors. When electronic sounds do arrive they take the form of lulling electroacoustics like ‘Ammunition 6’ which combines an endlessly sustaining tone with a whole soundscape of natural world activity, complete with birdsong, flowing water and other such tried and tested components of acousmatic microsound. While the Seaworthy sound doesn’t stray too far out of the ordinary, it does come with its own distinct sonic signature, boasting a very organic, tangible sense of location and an approach to recording the electric guitar that’s far ‘truer’ than the more customary cold, digital inertness you might hear from less discerning artists in the field. – Boomkat
www.12k.com

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Not so much a remix album as a remake of Dakota Suite’s The End Of Trying long-player, reconstructed according to the original record’s tracklisting with the help of a list of artists who might be said to represent a kind of Boomkat in-house favourites list: Peter Broderick, Machinefabriek, Arve Henriksen, Deaf Center, The Boats – not to mention just about everyone on the Miasmah label’s roster. The assembled contributors make up a truly starry line-up. Significantly, there’s a very natural sense of harmoniousness and correlation between Dakota Suite’s gloomy neo-classical originals and the remixed end products on offer here, and while Machinefabriek’s keen to make a careful digital dissection of ‘One Day Without Harming You’, the spirit of the source material is very much preserved. Peter Broderick’s overhaul of ‘This Failing Sea’ barely grazes the Satie-esque piano phrasings, instead opting for a lightness of touch with field recordings scattered in the background. Hauschka brings some sparkle to ‘A Quietly Gathering Tragedy’, tinkering away with electronics and music box mechanics, the result of which is an album standout. It’s a relatively rare moment of implicitly upbeat dynamics, something shattered by Elegi’s comprehensively and brilliantly dour contribution. Following on in a not dissimilar fashion is a Deaf Center remix that clashes string harmonies together with a discordant violence, revisiting the kind of subtle cinematic constructions heard on their Pale Ravine album. Hannu lightens the tone momentarily, managing to make ‘The End Of Trying Part III’ sound firmly like one of his own tracks, full of wintry xylophone and warm filtrations before Tape bring a krautrock-influenced organ drone into play and Swod (with another album highlight) add rich vinyl crackle and field recorded textures to the melancholy string swirls of ‘Een Langzaam Lekkende Wond’. As remix collections go, The Night Just Keeps Coming In is an outstanding album, sure to please fans of the original material as well as followers of the various esteemed artist’s who’ve taken part in the project.
Not so much a remix album as a remake of Dakota Suite’s The End Of Trying long-player, reconstructed according to the original record’s tracklisting with the help of a list of artists who might be said to represent a kind of Boomkat in-house favourites list: Peter Broderick, Machinefabriek, Arve Henriksen, Deaf Center, The Boats – not to mention just about everyone on the Miasmah label’s roster. The assembled contributors make up a truly starry line-up. Significantly, there’s a very natural sense of harmoniousness and correlation between Dakota Suite’s gloomy neo-classical originals and the remixed end products on offer here, and while Machinefabriek’s keen to make a careful digital dissection of ‘One Day Without Harming You’, the spirit of the source material is very much preserved. Peter Broderick’s overhaul of ‘This Failing Sea’ barely grazes the Satie-esque piano phrasings, instead opting for a lightness of touch with field recordings scattered in the background. Hauschka brings some sparkle to ‘A Quietly Gathering Tragedy’, tinkering away with electronics and music box mechanics, the result of which is an album standout. It’s a relatively rare moment of implicitly upbeat dynamics, something shattered by Elegi’s comprehensively and brilliantly dour contribution. Following on in a not dissimilar fashion is a Deaf Center remix that clashes string harmonies together with a discordant violence, revisiting the kind of subtle cinematic constructions heard on their Pale Ravine album. Hannu lightens the tone momentarily, managing to make ‘The End Of Trying Part III’ sound firmly like one of his own tracks, full of wintry xylophone and warm filtrations before Tape bring a krautrock-influenced organ drone into play and Swod (with another album highlight) add rich vinyl crackle and field recorded textures to the melancholy string swirls of ‘Een Langzaam Lekkende Wond’. As remix collections go, The Night Just Keeps Coming In is an outstanding album, sure to please fans of the original material as well as followers of the various esteemed artist’s who’ve taken part in the project. – Boomkat
www.dakotasuite.com

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Hildur Gudnadottir is a gifted cellist with an impressive history of collaborations that includes work with Pan Sonic, Throbbing Gristle, Johann Johannsson, Skúli Sverrisson and Ben Frost among many others, as well as being a member of Iceland’s notable Kitchen Motors collective. She first came to our attention on Pan Sonic’s epic ‘Katodivaihe’ album from a couple of years back, her intense, blackened cello adding another dimension to Vainio and Väisänen’s icy tundras. “Without Sinking” (her second solo album and first for the Touch label) is, however, by far the most cohesive and engrossing release of her career to date. It’s not often that sales notes offer much by way of an insight into the real thought process or inspiration behind an album, but Gudnadottir’s description of many hours spent on flights around the world looking at clouds really does encapsulate the atmosphere and semi-opaque wonder of these recordings. “I wanted to have open space for single notes and let them breath, like single clouds in a clear sky. As a contrast I also wanted create denser and heavier compositions which were more thundercloud like. I like the way clouds form, how many tiny droplets can form such dense forms and then slowly evaporate into thin string-like forms.” The sound Gudnadottir’s cello makes paints these mysterious landscapes with an almost mystical purity, opening track “Elevation”, for example, manages to outline an increasingly intense, almost mournful picture with seemingly simple layering techniques and barely perceptible processes submerged by the pregnant sound of Gudnadottir’s hugely evocative instrument. But the album also includes contributions from a number of guests – most notably Johann Johannsson, Skúli Sverrisson and even Hildur’s father Guðni Franzson, with tracks like “Aether” introducing Harp and wind instruments with a gentle economy that’s so fragile and simple it’s just nothing short of heart-stopping. The album closes with the dense “Unveiled”, an ominous drone undulation steered by those cautious, towering strings and barely perceptible found sounds. It’s the space between the notes, the restraint and expectation, that packs the biggest emotional punch on this incredibly moving recording, never allowing those ‘cinematic’ qualities to get in the way of the genuine dread and catharsis resting at the core of this utterly magnificent album. Amazing music. – Boomkat
www.touchmusic.org.uk

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