Friday, July 25, 2014

Some LPs from Cousin Silas' personal collection no1



Last weekend I spent an overnight at Cousin Silas' house for our now annual waageekfest. It was a pleasure to see him and Kevin Lyons, Tim Jones, Colin Blake and 'Bing Satellites' aka Brin Coleman. It was a wonderful period of time, one that flew in way too fast.

An added bonus of making the trip was to pick up a 'few' LPs from Cousin Silas. He couldn't pass on his records to his family and didn't want to skip them ... at least until I had a look to see what I wanted.

I came away with approximately 200 LPs and a few singles too ... music from The Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Miles Davis, and Pink Floyd ... to name but a few.

Over the next wee while I'm going to work my way through the pile and post a pic of each album. Here's what I've enjoyed so far:



Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here" ... in original packaging.



Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - 'Trout Mask Replica" ...



David Bowie - "Heroes" ... and ... "Lodger"



Pink Floyd - "Meddle" ...



Kraftwerk - "Autobahn" ...



Tangerine Dream - "70 - 80" ... a 4 LP monster of a box set.



I'll post more as I work my way through the piles ... Tx

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seven questions with ... Tess Said So.



One of the many highlights on the recent compilation from Preserved Sound - "The Blinding White Heat of Summer Days" - is the opening track by Tess Said So, entitled "Intervention". Its a belter of a track and a fitting opener for what is an excellent showcase of the Preserved Sound label.

Recently Hayden from Preserved Sound caught up with Will Larsen and Rasa Daukus aka Tess Said So ... and asked them my wee blog interview. This is what they had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
Will: We’re a piano and percussion duo.  Rasa and I met when we were both still studying music at university.  We did a few projects together playing works by composers we both liked and just got on really well.

Rasa: We write and perform all our own material.  I guess it’s classical but we certainly apply a pop sensibility to it.  So the pieces we write are four to five minutes long and there will be all kinds of influences in there - pop, jazz, classical, electronica.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
Rasa: We’ve just finished recording our first album (“I Did That Tomorrow”).  I would start writing some of the pieces and hand them over to Will to add percussion.  Other pieces Will would start and leave me to finish.  It was all recorded in Will’s studio, Recliner Studios.

Will: I have just one more track to mix and master and then it’s done!


3) Who inspires you?
Will: That’s a really tricky one, particularly if you’re talking Tess Said So.  There’s a melting pot of ideas in there that’s not really a conscious effort to mimic anyone.  If anything, there’s a similarity to early 20th Century French music - Milhaud / Poulenc / Honegger.

Rasa: But then if you scratch just a little deeper, you’ll find Thelonius Monk and Dave Brubeck in there.  There’s also David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Massive Attack.

Will: The title track off the album is kind of a fractured, demented Argentinian tango, so you could argue there’s a bit of Astor Piazzolla in there too.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Rasa: George Crumb, Toru Takemitsu, Ravi Shankar ...

Will: Manu Katché, Wong Kar-wai, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

- Name a place that has inspired you.
Rasa: Hong Kong.

Will: ... and Singapore!

Rasa: We’re both obsessed with food.  Both those cities have the most amazing food everywhere you look.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Will:  Food.  Travel.  And Food.  I just have to say “laksa” and Rasa will ask, “When are we leaving?” (laughs).


4) What drives you to do what you do?
Rasa:  We’ve been talking about working on something together for a long, long time and for various reasons until now, one or the other of us has been busy with other projects.

Will:  I like the combination of piano and percussion and the way the two interact.  The harmonics and overtones generated are amazing.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Will: Tough question!  I guess, without wanting to sound too trite, music is best when it’s a shared experience.  I can write and sequence music on my laptop, but it’s not much fun if no one listens to it.  Better yet, writing and collaborating with Rasa is a much more exciting proposition, particularly when she takes an idea of mine and takes it somewhere I didn’t expect and I would never have thought on my own.  Better still, is then to perform that collaboration live in front of an audience and to share it with them.  Sharing that experience is what it’s all about.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
Rasa: We’re keen to collaborate with other artists, particularly from other disciplines.  We’d love to work with dance companies, creating both music and choreography from scratch.  We’d love to work with street artists in unconventional venues, or new media artists such as computer animators.  Something unconventional would be amazing!


7) What is next for what you do?
Will: We’ll do an album launch and then get out there to promote the album

Rasa: And tour!

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I can't wait to hear Tess Said So's debut album ... if it is anything like "Intervention" then it will be a real belter.

Have a wee listen to "The Blinding White Heat of Summer Days" and hear what I mean:



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cousin Silas' Dronescape series now 20 strong



Over the weekend, I was proud to release the twentieth Dronescape from Cousin Silas.

In the liner notes I waxed lyrical about what this longform drone reminded me of ...
This Dronescape reminds me of the first H.P. Lovecraft story that I read: "The Nameless City". I read it because it was the first story in an anthology that I had purchased for pennies for my Kindle. I remember vividly being hooked with the sense of mounting terror that Lovecraft conveys. My mind was brought back to this story when I heard this Dronescape and, in particular, a point where the terror had taken hold and the protagonist recalled the following: 
"I repeated queer extracts, and muttered of Afrasiab and the daemons that floated with him down the Oxus; later chanting over and over again a phrase from one of Lord Dunsany's tales - 'The unreverberate blackness of the abyss.'
The twentieth Dronescape is an excellent form of ambient impressionism, portraying, as it does so well, this quote from Dunsany - 'the unreverberate blackness of the abyss'. It is what came to mind when I listened to Silas' latest offering, for both the quote and the drone complement each other so completely.
For more go to weareallghosts.co.uk ... or have a wee listen below:


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Moby's Creative Mornings talk ... Creativity and the Freedom to Fail



Here's an interesting video from one of my fave musicians, Moby. In the video he speaks of moving to LA from NYC, creativity, inspiration, and the freedom to fail.

Enjoy.

Tx




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Loving ... "Alterations" by Earlyguard



I've been a very vocal supporter of Earlyguard’s longform ambient soundscapes for some years now. I really like the way he can take an idea and run with it over an extended period of time.  "Alterations" is more of the same in this regard: an intriguing idea effectively executed in a longform capacity. However, there is something more to his sound on this recording that is most welcome, something more that takes Earlyguard’s longform soundscapes to the next level.

First off this isn't simply a drone. It is a soundscape that is, in parts, more in keeping with minimal or modern classical expression, such as Gorecki's Third, than solely Earlyguard's earlier drone work ... it is more complex ... more nuanced ... a soundscape that begins with a series of deep string-like chords that interplay with each other and a melodic glockenspiel-type sound to create something truly wonderful.

There is a cinematic ebb and flow that is intoxicating. "Alterations" has the air of the soundtrack to a dark, offbeat, Noir-ish film. This air continues throughout the piece.

The track does evolve as it progresses, however ...

At the 15min mark, for example, the strings change to a more harmonic synth sound, a very eery synth that interplays with raindrop-like bells.

Whereas at the 30min mark, the soundscape broadens out with a drone that feels very wind-like, blowing the bells about like wind chimes.

It does return the more film-noirish sound near the end of the track, bring resolution to the piece.

All these elements combine to create some tremendous sonic impressionism. "Alterations" by Earlyguard is a fantastic longform soundscape which is more in keeping with a soundtrack than a longform drone. He has certainly upped the bar for the other longformers out there ... and made what could possibly be his best recording yet.

Have a listen below and, if you like what you hear, please support Earlyguard by buying his music.

Tx


Friday, July 11, 2014

Seven questions with … musician Simon Allum aka Ancient Colours



As part of my focus on the label Preserved Sound, I'm pleased to feature an interview with Simon Allum aka Ancient Colours ... an artist whose work I really am looking forward to checking out.

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
Simon Allum aka Ancient Colours


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on the second Ancient Colours album for Preserved Sound. Recording will begin on Orkney in July, which I’m very excited about. Hopefully it’ll be ready for an autumn release. Working titles include Pixie of Metro-Land & Owlswick on my mind.


3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
The answer to this could run to several pages and I still wouldn’t be happy with it so I’ve tried to whittle it down to a vital list. You may or may not be able to detect these influences in Ancient Colours records, but these people, in particular, have inspired me to create music:

  • Felt, 
  • John Cowper Powys, 
  • Nick Drake, 
  • Eric Ravilious, 
  • Bert Jansch, 
  • Aubrey Burl, 
  • The Telescopes, 
  • Kate Bush, 
  • Neil M Gunn, 
  • Echo & The Bunnymen, 
  • British Sea Power, 
  • WH Auden, 
  • Led Zeppelin, 
  • Arto Paasilinna, 
  • The Jesus Lizard, 
  • Paul Klee, 
  • The House of Love, 
  • Aphex Twin, 
  • James Blackshaw, 
  • Derek Jarman, 
  • Black Sabbath, and 
  • John Ormond.

In terms of guitarists, my favourites are Maurice Deebank, Bert Jansch & Jimmy Page.

- Name a place that has inspired you.
Again this list could be huge, but the places that have generated the most inspiration in writing music for Ancient Colours are:

  • Avebury & The Marlborough Downs, Wiltshire.
  • Wester Ross, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe & Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
  • Brussels & Bruges, Belgium.
  • The Moon (Haven’t been)
  • Eythrope & The Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire


- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
The human condition, the elements, the esoteric, the night sky, the early hours of the morning, travel, various prehistoric monuments and landscapes and the thoughts and feelings I have whilst amongst them, maps, unusual tunings, the countryside and finding a really good jumper.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
I think it’s essentially a desire to communicate, but if so I’m unsure what it is I’m trying to say. If there is meaning behind any of the music I create, its really about everything and nothing at the same time. Imagery, feeling, and mood are important.

I often feel that there is a magical element, for want of a better word, to some of the music that I love. It’s often vague and fleeting, but some pieces of music seem to contain something extra special. I suppose my hope is to generate some of whatever that is in the music I create too. I like the thought of something otherworldy & timeless, music that creates a world of its own.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I’m not sure about values, but to complement or encourage certain moods/states of mind. I’d like to think it could make somebody in a bad situation feel better, comforted, perhaps less alone in whatever they might be going through. Also, maybe an aid to thought, or a soundtrack for a journey, of any kind. I tend to think of Ancient Colours as music to be played at night, or in the early morning.


6) What role does community play in what you do? 
Very little. Or, more accurately, none whatsoever. I’ve never been or wanted to be part of any sort of musical community or scene. The music is for individuals, not groups or types of people.


7) What is next for what you do?
Completing the 2nd album and playing the first Ancient Colours live shows. I’ve hesitated to play live so far with this project, as I’d like the gigs to be special, perhaps in unusual or interesting locations. Other than that, more writing and the continuing quest to track down the perfect jumper.

----------

I really do hope you find that perfect jumper, Simon! I thought I had ... a lovely secondhand, grey Merino wool sweater ... until my wife spotted a wee hole.

I have embedded "Relent" below for your listening pleasure ... as before, I would ask that if it is your thing that you buy it and support both Simon and Preserved Sound.




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Loving ... ’Building Nothing, Laying Bricks’ by Evolv



’Building Nothing, Laying Bricks’ by Evolv has been a very pleasurable audio companion of late and for fans of innovative music, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

It transcends genres, shifting as it does between ambient and post-rock with ease. It also features a rapper laying down some spoken word over a delightful post-rock soundscape which must be a first, at least a first for me.

There is something wonderfully languid about this album ... it doesn't challenge but instead soothes the weary listener. The sampled references to ’love’ in the opening track - "ishfious" - really  do set the album off on the right track.

The album really flows and packs a considerable amount into its 10 tracks over 34 minutes. It also has a decided euphoric edge with the fifth track - "colours" - really standing out as a real builder.

All in, I thoroughly enjoyed this album ... even, you'll be surprised to hear, the track with rapper Ackurate’s spoken word expression - "indistinct memories".

I would highly recommend it and would point to the closing track - "oscillate" - with it's delightful field recordings juxtaposed with a quirky sample of a theologian waxing lyrical about evil in the good ol’ US of A. Trust me, it's a great track.

Have a wee listen below and, if you can, support Evolv by buying the album.

Tx



Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Seven questions with … Adrian Lane



When Hayden from Preserved Sound sent me a couple of his recent releases I was instantly drawn to the new album by Adrian Lane.

Entitled "The Answering Smile", it is utterly fascinating. Lane has used the following instruments – alto bowed psaltery, baritone bowed psaltery, violin, acoustic guitar (bowed and plucked), mandolin, zither, percussion and laptop - to create something otherworldly and cinematic that is very Mica Levi in expression.

Hayden from Preserved Sound recently caught up with Lane and asked him my Seven Questions ... this is what he had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am a musician and visual artist; which one I am most depends on my mood, time of year and ideas at any one time. I don't tend to make much distinction between the two and my working processes are quite similar; I tend to work in layers and build up by reacting to the previous layer whether that happens to be a musical phrase or a brush mark.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
My previous two albums for Preserved Sound were very much solo affairs; I am interested in getting other people to contribute to the next one. I have a friend who did a masters degree in percussion in Bali and he has agreed to contribute, although it is at the very early stages at the moment. My first two albums have very little percussion so I am thinking that some acoustic percussion would add a different texture to the pieces.

I have also been working on some collaborative pieces with Japanese musician, Ikutaro Ishida, and Italian musician LoaLue where files have been sent back and forth. This has been exciting as to a certain extent I have relinquished creative control, I send the files (usually myself playing phrases on acoustic instruments) and then see what happens with them.


3) Who inspires you?
Many people have inspired me and I will answer this question now but I am sure that when I think about it again I'll come up with someone else.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
There are many, many musicians/composers who have inspired me but if I was to list some defining influences who have stayed with me since I was young I would list David Sylvian and Philip Glass. I was into David Sylvian in the early 1980s (giving away my age here) and have liked most of the things he has done since particularly his (more difficult) work from the last 10 years or so. David Sylvian also led me to the next question, in that his music made me investigate music from other cultures particularly East Asia; listening to his music meant that I became interested in his collaborators (Jon Hassell, Holgar Czukay, Kenny Wheeler, Danny Thompson) and opened up music outside of the mainstream.

I am not sure how I got into Philip Glass but I remember seeing a performance of Music in 12 Parts when I was about 19 years old and I had never heard anything like it. I have seen it performed again in recent years and it was still just as mesmerizing.

- Name place that has inspired you.
Lots of places but most profoundly Japan (where I have visited on numerous occasions) and in more recent years South Korea. The culture; music, art, food and the people have all been great inspiration to me.

- Name some “thing” that has inspired you.
Not sure of any one thing but I do enjoy getting new instruments; I have quite a range of acoustic instruments and picking up something new that I am not familiar or confident playing forces me to try new things.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
I suppose there is always a drive to express yourself in some way. I am not a great talker, although do enjoy being with other people, and I guess I need to find ways to express myself outside of words.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I'd like to think there is an expression of calm and a sense that people should be seen as individuals not nations. I am quite happy being English but I wouldn't say that is better than being from anywhere else and I’d like to think that what I produce is affected by where I am from but is not totally defined by it and expresses something common to particular personality types from all over the world.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
Community in the sense of my specific locality is not so important to what I do; I am quite happy where I live but feel the music I produce is for audiences that include people much further afield.
In the sense of the online community, the digital revolution has meant I am able to get my music heard by people with similar interests and tastes from all over the world. The kind of music I produce could be described as being for a niche market, but when looked at with a global view that becomes much more significant. In a sense it becomes a global community of like-minded music fans.
The online community and social networks have meant I am able to do things very differently to how I was 10 or 15 years ago. The collaborations mentioned earlier came about this way.


7) What is next for what you do?
I think that is answered in question 2, ultimately I’d just like the opportunity to get my music heard by a few people who appreciate it, if the number of those people grow then all the better.

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Thank you Adrian.

Have a wee"The Answering Smile" below and, if you like what you hear, please do your bit to support both Adrian Lane and Preserved Sound.



Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Loving ... "ClarOscuro" by Bruno Sanfilippo



Bruno Sanfilippo creates my kind of modern neoclassical soundscapes and he has really nailed it with his latest album, from the opening bars of the title track - "ClarOscuro" - I knew I was in for a treat.

And what a treat "ClarOscuro" is ... it is a powerfully cinematic expression ... a graceful, elegant, refined expression that doesn't demand your attention but, most definitely, warrants it.

Sanfilippo is a fine pianist. On the tracks where he plays solo piano - such as "absenta" - you are given a master class in expressive dynamics, in mood & temperament. This isn't just minimalism, it is the less-is-more of an elegant actress who doesn't need the ’bling’ to show of her beauty. I find Sanfilippo's solo expression utterly captivating, I am entranced like the moviegoer watching this beautiful actress, I follow Sanfilippo’s music wherever it goes.

"ClarOscuro" isn't just the solo piano of Bruno Sanfilippo, however. Dotted throughout the album are tracks that combine his exemplary playing with the most luscious strings, tracks like the opener (and title track) "ClarOscuro", "A constant passion" with it's deep cello or "It happens on the ship" with it's swirling, hypnotic strings.

"ClarOscuro" by Bruno Sanfilippo is an exceptional album and a real highlight of 2014. If modern neo-classical soundscapes are your thing, in particular the piano-orientated and cinematic, then you will thoroughly enjoy this album as I have.

Recommended.

Tx

Have a listen below and, if you like what you hear, please support Sanfilippo by purchasing his work:



Why Vinyl? A short documentary from Natalie Green



Here's something to watch ... a short documentary, from Natalie Green, that asks a very simple question - Why Vinyl?

Enjoy.

Tx

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