Saturday, September 13, 2014
It's been a hard week ... but I'm getting back into things again. I'm seeing the light again in all these unexpected places.
One such place is in the music of Chris Corrado aka The Atlas Amp ... he gave me his latest EP - "Oscillator" - recently and I've found tremendous solace in it. I am very impressed with it and found it both vibrant and engaging. It reminds me of all the reasons I fell in love with the post-rock genre ... and why I love artists like Lowercase Noises, Orbit Over Luna, and The Echelon Effect. Corrado is up there with these tremendous musicians ... and I would highly recommend you check it out.
Anyway ... I asked Corrado to complete my wee blog interview. I'm glad he agreed ... this is what he had to say:
1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Chris Corrado and I´m a guitarist, composer and producer. My main instrument is the guitar but i also try to explore the spirit of every other instruments that crosses my way. My main project is the Ambient / Post-Rock project The Atlas Amp. From time to time i write songs and am on the road with 2 other indie-rock bands. Further I love taking pictures with old analog cameras and I also love to do field-recordings, which i often use in my songs.
2) What are you working on at the moment?
i am writing new songs for a (full length) record which i will release next year in spring. another bigger project is to build up my new homestudio. i have moved to another city 2 months ago and it takes some time to get all the stuff sorted… further i have plans to record new ambient-guitar live videos for my youtube channel.
3) Who inspires you?
Name an artist who has inspired you:
...the norwegian band Motorpsycho is still one of my biggest influences. it´s not only the music but also the „band of friends“ thing and their strong and passionated believe in music. really friendly and humble guys. to me they are the epitome of the today overused term „independent“.
another musician who inspires me ever since is Vangelis. I love his ability to create huge compositions around simple melodies.
...and some bands and musicians who inspired me lately: Bibio, Do Make Say Think, Jon Hopkins, This Will Destroy You, Instrument, Neu!, Boards of Canada, the early The Appleseed Cast … i could name more here but that would go beyond the scope of this format. but i can say for sure it´s always the same thing for me: if an artist has depth and a vision, he immediately got my attention.
Name a place that has inspired you:
Always the coast… but in particular: The south of England and the Algarve. i love the mind-clearing atmosphere of wind, rocks & waves and the clear horizon line.
but also studios and rehearsal rooms inspire me to get creative. i love the feeling to be surrounded by instruments.
Name some "thing" that has inspired you:
going to live concerts!!!
4) What drives you to do what you do?
There are many moments in life that automatically create melodies or sonic atmospheres in my head. especially when i´m in nature and my mind calms down from the distortion of the everyday life. it was like that ever since i can think. to me music is somehow aligned to pictures and emotions. my aim is to transform these emotions into music, to tell a story. in the past i often did this with lyrics in the songs, today i do it more the instrumental / ambient / post-rock kind of way… i want the listeners to get lost in my music.
5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
it´s hard to bring my music in association with values when i think about it. sometimes it´s just fun to i.e. test a new instrument or a new technique that leads to a new song idea. most of the time i don´t put a specific value into the songs. each song lives it´s own live… but if i should name a value that let´s me do what i do i´d say: passion.
6) What role does community play in what you do?
no community, no interchange… i love how todays communication platforms have radically changed the way i can stay in touch with all the people. as i started The Atlas Amp i immediately had an audience. with my other band projects in the past the radius of communication was fairly small… email here, telephone there from time to time... i love how the community feeling „exploded“ with twitter and other communication platforms. "we can learn to grow together“, thats it for me!
7) What is next for what you do?
in some days I´m going to Corsica for one month. just nature and the coast. After that i´ll start recording the first songs for the new record.
As I said above, I found Corrado's EP to be both vibrant and engaging ... it helped me forget myself for a while and gave me an escape from my day-to-day. From the opening ambience of "Sonora" to the closing bars of "Time & Time" it is deeply immersive with a wide variety of sounds and samples creating the most delightful of soundscapes.
For me the highlight of the EP was the track - "Readyready Irdial" - with the number stations sample and delightfully melodic guitar work. It really grows in intensity ... I found it uplifting, especially when the bass and drums come in to complement the guitar. It is a thing of utter, unashamed beauty.
But then the rest of the EP is too:
"Sonora" with its delightful melody and moments of sparse acoustic guitar ... or "Vega" with the field recordings of flowing water underpinned by acoustic guitar, irregular piano and distant percussion; that grows into a powerful wall-of-sound that delights the heart.
"Dandelion" with more field recordings, a delightful wall of ambience and a slow, melodic guitar that simply melts the heart ... before the tracks broadens out with bass, drums & some shoegaze guitars ... or the final track - "Time & Time" - that opens with the sound of a lonesome ambient guitar and then is quickly accompanied with an acoustic guitar. The layers of sound on this track is amazing ... there is a real sense of warmth and craft about it.
All in, I would highly recommend this EP. Take a listen below to hear why:
Sunday, September 07, 2014
Pippin, my loving Cairn Terrier, died on the morning of Wednesday, 5th September; she was only 10. She died in Olly's arms after midnight as we tried in vain to get her to the emergency Vet in Charing Cross, Glasgow; She was diabetic and we believe she died as a result of her long-term illness, an illness we were regimented against and did everything in our power to fight. As such, her passing came as a great shock and has hit our family hard.
One thing we've been able to take comfort in (other than our friends as the REM song goes) is the photos we have of her. I want to share some photos of her, including the last photo of her to be published (directly below).
Cherish your loved ones. We really don't know how long we have with them. Make sure they know they are loved and don't take them for granted. And take lots of photos ... lots and lots and lots!
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
In addition to consuming copious amounts of second-hand vinyl, I have started buying new vinyl ... spurred on by my recent 'significant' birthday.
I'll openly admit to being a bit of a Blade Runner nut. I have a particular fondness for Vangelis' soundtrack and now own the OST on vinyl ... RED vinyl!
I have this album on 2 different CDs (single CD and as part of the 3xCD 25th Anniversary box set) and have 2 bootlegs that contain further music and ambience (The Esper Edition is well worth seeking out) ... the vinyl is a worthy addition to the set. It is a beautiful artefact that sounds gorgeous when played.
Insofar that I am a Blade Runner nut, I am also a 'Pet Sounds' nut. I love this album.
I love it so much that I *literally* got the tee-shirt!
I can't get sick of this album and have it on 2 CDs (original and remastered) as well as The Pet Sounds Sessions on mp3. I am even reading about it ...
I picked up "I just wasn't made for these times" by Charles L. Granata for 1p on Amazon ... and it was in my bag on Saturday past when the vinyl was delivered.
"Pet Sounds" is an amazing album that sounds fantastic whether on vinyl, CD or mp3. Brian Wilson really made something magic, an album that has lasted 40 years.
I was given "Ghost Stories" by my sister Jane and Ross for my birthday. I had the album on mp3 ... I got it on the day it was released after being taken with the singles (well the first two ... "A sky full of stars" has grown on me).
A lot of people hate on Coldplay and I cannot, with all seriousness, see why. I view their music as being vibrant, interesting and, dare I say, progressive. Yes, they are 'popular' but that shouldn't be a bad thing. They are anything but the insipid and bland band folks like to call them.
Part of my love for this album is that my whole family love it ... which is a rare occurrence these days. We played it extensively when we were down in Manchester (along with The Carpenters - don't ask) and it holds fond memories. Owning it on vinyl adds to the richness of the album.
I was given the Soul Jazz compilation "Tropicália - a Brazilian revolution in sound" a few months back for Father's Day. I love vibrant music and it really doesn't get much more vibrant than this ... these songs have heart AND soul.
The wiki page on the movement defines Tropicália, also known as Tropicalismo, as:
"... a Brazilian artistic movement that arose in the late 1960s. It encompassed art forms such as theatre, poetry, and music. The movement was characterized by a combination of the popular and the avant-garde, as well as a fusion of traditional Brazilian culture with foreign influences. /
A dominant principle of Tropicália was antropofagia, a type of cultural cannibalism that encouraged the conflation of disparate influences, out of which could be created something unique. /"This compilation showcases some wonderfully unique and visionary songs ... and I am glad I have it in my collection.
I am also glad to finally have "In Rainbows" by Radiohead on vinyl. I downloaded it on the day it was released (when they tried out the 'pay what you want' idea) and have it on CD ... but wanted it on vinyl to have and to hold. The cover really is a work of art and the music doesn't get old. This is my fave Radiohead album and a worthy addition to my collection.
Pick a Piper is the debut full-length from the Caribou drummer, Brad Weber. I reviewed it for echoesanddust.com where I said:
"I've had Pick A Piper on my iPhone for a wee while now and cherish it's warmth and inclusive nature. I love the way the music presented gently overwhelms me when I put it on, it provides an alternate reality to the grey of a mild and wet winter in the central belt of Scotland, an alternative psychedelic otherworldliness that I heartily welcome."It really is fab ... and to find it for £8 in Fopp was a real bonus. It is warm, inviting and otherworldly ... and highly recommended.
Another album that I reviewed for echoesanddust.com was Steve Strong's "Three Hands Tall" ... an album that had me thinking:
"Was it instrumental math rock? Yes, but then there are vocals. Was it progressive in The Mars Volta school of progressive? Yes, but then there are moments of downtempo elegance and refinement. It challenged me ... it wasn't my usual thing and didn't initially grab me ... but I kept on at it, believing it was music that was worth the effort. I am glad I did."I picked the album up in Manchester's Vinyl Exchange for £5 and am glad I did ... it has become my 'play it loud' album for when I need to busy myself about the house (silly, I know).
That's me for now ... Tx
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
September's calendar / wallpaper features a rainbow-coloured kite that Olly and I spotted while out for a stroll in Gourock. Battery Park is a fantastic space, right on the waterfront, and well worth a visit.
Usual flavours are available below.
iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar
| David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars |
I'm still working my way through the pile of records Cousin Silas gave me ... and thought I'd show off some of the albums I've been listening to (following on from this post).
| Miles Davis - The Birth of Cool |
| Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation |
| Leonard Cohen - Songs of Love and Hate |
| Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon |
| Jean Michel Jarre - Magnetic Fields |
| Miles Davis - "Electric" from The CBS Years 1955 - 1985 |
I am very grateful to Cousin Silas for his gift ... a gift that keeps on giving.
Monday, September 01, 2014
The top three are all soundtracks - "Guardians of the Galaxy", "The Lord of the Rings (complete)", and "Blade Runner".
From there we have "O" ... an amazing album I am reviewing for This Is Not A Scene ... and Adrian Lane's latest on Twice Removed. I am loving the new album from polymath Tommy Guerrero and the East German 'Krautrock' of Kosmicher Läufer too.
The only thing that surprises me is why Cousin Silas has only 3 plays ... I have been playing the tracks from his upcoming CD on my netlabel - The Sound of Silas - like crazy. I guess those tracks didn't get scrobbled.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The latest instalment of circumambient is up on Mixcloud ... it features a mix curated by Brian Housman, the man behind Stationary Travels.
Have a listen here ...
... then head over to circumambient.co.uk to grab the download or follow the link to iTunes.
Monday, August 25, 2014
I have become very fond of the minimal musical expressionism of Richard Ginns through his album - "Fall, Rise" - released through the fantastic Twice Removed Records microlabel.
On the face of it, "Fall, Rise" isn't that interesting a proposition: extensive field recordings used underpin gentle meandering neoclassical music ... but then when you get beyond the surface, when you dive deep & let Ginns’ work it's magic then his proposition not only makes sense but becomes remarkably compelling.
This is a true minimalist expression, a less-is-more approach that utilises all available elements: subtle synths, strings, guitar and glockenspiel provide layers of sound that interplay with the field recordings and glitchy surface ambience to create a marvellous wall-of-sound.
I know field recordings aren't for everyone but here Ginns has used them superbly well, creating soundscapes that work. He weaves his sound effortlessly with these found sounds and, in doing so, really highlights the poetry of sound that encompasses us in our day-to-day lives. In fact, if you reduce the volume of the album during playback, you can incorporate the sounds that surround you ... it adds an extra dimension to the music presented.
According to the notes on the Bandcamp page, "Fall, Rise" is inspired by a snowstorm/whiteout that Ginns experienced while on a winter trip to the Alps in France:
Ginns was caught alone by a snowstorm ... it completely took over and reduced his visibility to next to zero. He was far from home, cold, tired and in fear of his surroundings, the reality of where he was really hit him. A voice in the distance, to which direction it was coming from Ginns couldn't tell, helped him, however ... he followed the sound and began to trek back knowing his ears would guide him ... the voice brought him back home and to safety.
I'm glad Ginns was able to turn this lemon of an experience to the lemonade of "Fall, Rise". I, for one, am glad for this 'lemonade' ... I found this release utterly compelling and would recommend it to folks who like minimal ambient soundscapes.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
While not to come over as pretentious ... I do love my vinyl and this short video explains why it makes me happy.
Apart from "meeting someone cute" ... I met someone cute 22 years ago and am still with her, even if she's not a crate-digger.
Friday, August 22, 2014
I use the term ’progressive’ broadly when it comes to music ... I use it to define sounds that develop, that try new things, that surprise me with their twists and turns.
For me, progressive is an ideal word to describe "Tales from Urban" by Zenjungle & Tunedin52, an album filled with delightfully experimental ambient soundscapes that underpin Zenjungle's beloved saxaphonics (yes, I just made up a word).
The combination of Zenjungle & Tunedin52 suggests something rich, vibrant, varied, challenging ... something interesting & engaging ... I was not disappointed, "Tales from Urban" is all that and more.
According to the notes on Bandcamp ... John Daly aka Tunedin52 plays the baritone and acoustic guitar, ebow, and percussion ... whilst providing noises, glitches, loops, and field recordings too. Where as Phil Gardelis aka Zenjungle plays his distinctive tenor and soprano saxophones ... and also brings loops, noises, synths, voice, and field recordings to the table ... he also mixed and mastered the album too.
It is food for the brain, great late at night or when you need to let your subconscious off the lead for a wee while. It is a wonderfully immersive album, a warm duvet of sound in which I could fully relax.
I won't lie to you, however ... this isn't exactly easy listening ... especially for the uninitiated. I was already familiar with Zenjungle through his fab release on Twice Removed. I knew what to expect. I was, however, blown away with the progressive soundscapes the partnership have created together.
Some tracks are more instantly gratifying, such as "Pavement Play" with it's electroacoustic free jazz being more of a soundtrack that simply a soundscape. The saxophonics on this track are phenomenal - think late night jazz but with an ambient twist, and an intoxicating bass.
Whereas other tracks, such as "We'll return to another place" with it's ominous, heavy tone and slow moving presentation ... or "Timetouch" with it's multi-layered jazz fusion expression and field recordings may take a wee while longer to get.
I, for one, am glad I held out ... "Tales from Urban" by Zenjungle & Tunedin52 really does tick my boxes. They are doing something new and seeking to move ambient music forward. I welcome that as I welcome their efforts on this release. I have thoroughly enjoyed it & would highly recommend their particular form of progressive music.