Tuesday, July 26, 2011

10 experiments you can try at home

The Alps - Easy Action
Some of you might remember the San Francisco group Tarentel?  They sprang up in the first wave of post-rock that followed Godspeed, Mogwai and Sigur Ros, and played music that was like a slightly colder and more minimalist Explosions in the Sky.  Jefre Cantu-Ledesma from that group has been active in several concurrent projects and The Alps is one of the more accomplished of these.  Another instrumental trio, they take their cues primarily from 70s Italian western and horror soundtracks with a blend of atmosphere and aggression that's sure to catch your ear.  This particular (vinyl) version is in a specially sleeve that folds out into a pyramid.  How cool is that? Sample track click here.

Black Swan - The Quiet Divide
Boomkat review:  'The Quiet Divide' condenses intimately precious space/time over two sides of uniquely textured ambient drone, recalling the works of The Caretaker, Philip Jeck or Svarte Greiner to a large degree, yet with a misanthropy and mid-winter bleakness unique to its formless silhouette."  Sample track click here.

The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
Most recent alias for Jim Kirby whose previously best know project was V/VM.  As The Caretaker he digs through the dusty pre-WWII sounds of the UK from 78s of time-worn ballroom music and other similar sources.  Rendered even more ghostly, the music he creates engages with the spaces where memory, nostalgia and history overlap and often decay.  Sample track click here.

Emanuele Errante - Time Elapsing Handheld
This Italian artist is one of a growing wave of composers who've been bridging gaps between ambient electronic and classical music.  On his third effort the balance is just about right as the organic themes of piano and strings overlay a wash of sound that effectively helps describe the joys and sadnesses that sometimes chords can't quite touch. Review and sample track click here.

Rene Hell - The Terminal Symphony
Jeff Witscher aka Rene Hell is more restless and complex in his approach to composition, often looking back to cut and paste strategies such as Faust's 70s work combined with hints of Japanese noise and more conservative classical practices.  This second "official" release illustrates what is possible when times collide.  Streaming tracks click here.

Johann Johannsson - Virdulegu Forsetar
This Icelandic composer recently released The Miners' Hymn, a soundtrack for an experimental film by Bill Morrison.  The irony is that these recent compositions are the least "soundtracky" of his output, and his best since Virdulegu Forsetar first was released by Touch in 2004.  This 2011 reissue reminds us of the power of minimalism... simple fanfares that echo and stretch and linger at reappear at irregular intervals to create anticipation and tension.  More info + samples click here.

Marsen Jules - Yara Remastered
More electronic play with acoustic samples.  Martin Juhls (the artist's real name) creates themes that are all about the fluid swell and flow of chamber music as overheard around corners and across distances, or from the dip and rise of a lazy river's surface.  Warm and languid and utterly charming. Streaming tracks click here.

Minamo - Duree
Led by Fourcolor (artist Keiichi Sugimoto), this Japanese quartet is an improvising unit that then brings their recorded guitars, drums, bells, etc. into the studio for polishing and editing.  The results are a deliberate, minimalist text that nonetheless retains the spontaneity and liveliness of the group's interaction.  For those who like their computer music to start somewhere other than the computer.  More info + samples click here.

Pan.American - S/T
Taking a break from Labradford, Mark Nelson began the Pan.American project as a solo exercise in stark keyboard, guitar and drum machine minimalism.  Like a Tangerine Dream born of the dark American night, Nelson's music is a blend of quiet contemplation, somnambulism, and vague wariness of what might be approaching.  Info plus samples click here.

Scott Tuma - Dandelion
A member of the Boxhead Ensemble, Tuma takes a few steps away from that group's home classical leanings and explores the guitar from a very John Fahey vantage point.  Not so much early blues folk Fahey as the latter City of Refuge with its blend of deconstructed acoustic themes and incidental/industrial sounds that creep into the mix.  Like the titular flower it is a sound that blooms brightly then quickly disappears into ghostly propagation. Info plus samples click here.

Available instore:

Alps - Easy Action  vinyl  $25.98 + hst
Black Swan - The Quiet Divide  vinyl  $20.98 + hst
The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World  CD  $16.98 + hst
Emanuele Errante - Time Elapsing Handheld  vinyl  $22.98 + hst
Rene Hell - The Terminal Symphony  CD   $16.98 + hst
Johann Johannsson - Virdelegu Forsetar  vinyl  $25.98 + hst
Marsen Jules - Yara Remastered  CD $17.98 + hst
Minamo - Duree  CD  $16.98 + hst
Pan.American - S/T  vinyl  $16.98 + hst
Scott Tuma - Dandelion  CD  $19.98 + hst

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