Monday, March 02, 2015

Loving ... “Different Streams” by EUS, Postdrome, and Saåad



“Different Streams” by EUS, Postdrome, and Saåad is a very interesting proposition: three unique talents in collaboration, developing and then presenting something rather wonderful for wider consumption.

To my absolute delight I can confirm that the creative synergy displayed on this SOFT Recordings release is one so tight, so together that it is impossible to know where one artist starts and the other stops. There are no seams on show, no means of differentiating between the artists, just exquisite experimental soundscapes.

What is presented on this album is an utter delight to me - music of such depth and emotion that it was hard not to be moved when immersed within the tracks. This is music of cinematic proportions: the rasping synths that give a vastness of scale to the track “wait”, for example ... or multiple layers of sound on “the only path” ... could easily provide backing to a cult celluloid masterpiece. I found myself delightfully lost in the various soundscapes on more than one occasion.

There is a real risk with this kind of ambient expression that ideas can be overplayed to the point of monotony. Repetition is a useful technique but it can be overused but by adding additional layers of sound, the artist can keep the overall sound fresh and ensure the continued attention of the listener. “Different Streams” is set apart because, quite simply - EUS, Postdrome & Saåad know this, they get it and they do it ... they keep their music alive and fresh using elements like birdsong and other found-sounds, or percussive elements such as the skittering sound in “Snowfall”. These additions keep the wolves of monotony from their door and, as such, I consider “Different Streams” to be an exemplary album, a 52 minute masterclass in ambient sound-sculpture, one that I would highly recommend.

As for the highlights, other than those mentioned above, “Deaf Implodes” is haunting in a John Carpenter kind of way, disconcerting yet highly addictive ... and the penultimate track “Fractus” is an utterly compelling soundscape with rain pattering down, waves of sound crashing and an unshakable feeling of Blade Runner. In fact, Roy Batty’s monologue at the end of the film would not be out of place layered into this track.

From beginning to end, “Different Streams” by EUS, Postdrome, and Saåad is a belter of a release. It is next level innovative and a real joy to consume. If you like atmospheric sound-sculptures, this is a “must have” release.

Tx



Sunday, March 01, 2015

What I listened to in February, 2015 ...



I heard some great sounds last month. My review of “Different Streams” by EUS, Postdrome, and Saåad will drop tomorrow ... needless to say, it's a cracker!

Other music of note that I haven't covered includes Danny Clay's latest release for the awesome Hibernate Records ... I'm currently formulating some thoughts on it ... and K. Novotny's latest.

Lastly, David Lawrie's debut album is amazing ... I supported his bid to get his album self-released on vinyl and can't wait to get the LP. It sounds great on mp3, so I can't wait to hear in on vinyl.

Tx

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Loving ... "A Changing Light" by Valiska and Zenjungle



I’ll openly admit to being a fan of Zenjungle’s music: I love the way he creates beautiful ambient soundscapes and then layers his trademark saxophone into the mix to create something truly next-level. His music gets me each and every time ... specifically his saxophone. No other instrument can convey such such emotion and express such feeling, except perhaps for the electric guitar, as the saxophone. It does, however, get dismissed too easily as the instrument of “love” when it can be used for so much more. Zenjungle understands this and uses his chosen instrument in wholly new ways, creating ambience and furthering his ambient expression.

For “A Changing Light”, Zenjungle has collaborated with Valiska to create some truly extraordinary soundscapes and chosen to explore the more experiment side of his expression. Yes, the saxophone is present but it is more understated, not really arriving properly until the third track - Nightwinds”. However, when it does arrive it is more than welcome.

Prior to Nightwinds” we have two gloriously layered ambient tracks - “Derive” and “Seawards” - that are filled with heartfelt expression. These tracks, filled with their sweeping sonics and glitchy sounds, are delightfully engaging: they are tracks in which I found it easy to get lost in.

These tracks build nicely towards the third track - ”Nightwinds” - which is the highlight for me, mainly because of Zenjungle’s saxophone and the accompanying piano. I cannot adequately express my delight when I heard this piece: it is sheer unadulterated bliss! It is more “neo-classical” than the sounds that prepare the way for it and this makes it all the more delicious. It seems both slightly incongruous and perfectly “right” within the sequencing of the EP: as the track progresses it becomes more in keeping with the earlier tracks before passing the baton to the final track, a delightful ambient excursion that completes the EP.

“Passage” is the longest track on the EP and is a slow burning affair that really does provide closure and resolution with some exemplary ambient guitar taking prominence. The way it builds is an utter delight, giving way to an almost shoegazy sonic environment where waves of sound overwhelm the listener.

And then, 26 minutes after pressing play, the listener is left with a deafening silence and the only real choice available to them: to press play and listen again.

I really enjoyed “A Changing Light” by Valiska and Zenjungle, and look forward to more from them both, collectively and individually, in the future.

Have a listen below and if you like what you hear, please do what you can to support these talented musicians.

Tx


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Loving ... "Lost Themes" by John Carpenter



I don’t normally write about "major" releases anymore, I figure they get enough coverage in the bigger outlets. However, when it comes to John Carpenter's new album "Lost Themes", I am prepared to bend this rule.

I was given "Lost Themes" as a gift from Wolfgang Merx, a synthesiser obsessive and a talented artist on my wee netlabel’s roster. I was grateful but unsure as to what to expect. I love Carpenter’s soundtracks: I am a big fan of the music of both "the Fog" and "Assault on Precinct 13". I love them as films too but their music is extra special to me because they were an early introduction to non-guitar orientated music and sit in my mind alongside Kraftwerk, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream as truly influential.

That said, I’m not sure his earlier themes have aged particularly well. There is a sparseness to the soundscapes that betrays, in my opinion, the time they were created.

That said, this is a minor criticism that is outweighed by the sheer familiarity & recognisable iconic nature of Carpenter’s music. It was, however, an underlying worry that I had when coming to "Lost Themes".

I cannot express how wrong I was! "Lost Themes" is utterly brilliant. Take Carpenter’s iconic expression, add depth and multiple layers of sound, and a predominately uptempo beat ... and you have possibly one of the best albums on 2015. This is Ghostly International-level awesome, in my humble opinion. I could have been easily persuaded that Tycho had had a hand in the development.

The 9 tracks presented are wonderfully varied with real depth, vibrance & feeling in each one. I felt a tangible level of excitement when listening for the first time: I wondered what would come next, what sounds would be used, where would the track go? Carpenter never let me down. Not once.

Yes, some of the synth sounds used sound a bit "dated" but that’s part of the overall charm. This isn’t an album from the awesome RETRO PROMENADE that pays homage to a time gone by ... no way! Carpenter has taken his familiar sounds and updated them for a 2015 audience: this is the retro-futurism of now & my goodness it works for me. Carpenter has over-delivered on my expectations. So much so, I will be grabbing this album on vinyl at the first available opportunity.

If you like synth music or indeed varied, vibrant sounds then please check out "Lost Themes" by the master John Carpenter. You won’t be disappointed. Have a wee listen to the the tracks below to see what I mean.

Tx

http://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/collections/releases/products/sbr123-john-carpenter-lost-themes





Friday, February 06, 2015

Loving ... "Your empire, in decline" by Hessien



"Your empire, in decline" by Hessien is the first release on Gavin Catling’s imprint - the long story recording company - and it is a belter. So good, in fact, that I called it in my Top 50-ish albums of 2014 ... even though it was released on the 1st January, 2015;

"Your empire, in decline" is wonderfully immersive, not in a haunting or overly eery manner, but in a layered wall-of-sound kind of way. It envelopes you in multiple layers of sound, sounds that create a warm, wide foundation for the sparse melodies that are expertly built on and in this foundation.

Hessien aka the duo of Tim Martin (Maps and Diagrams, Black Elk, Atlantis) and Charles Sage (y0t0, The Rothko Chapel) have created ideal headphone music that blocks out the world around the listener and replaces it with soundscapes that are delightfully engaging, imaginative & expressive. I often speak of music to get lost in, this is one such album.

What sets this album apart is their exemplary use of melodic repetition to juxtapose the wide, sprawling layers of ambient sound. These sparse melodies, played on guitar, give the listener something to hold on to, something to focus on, something they’ll remember and even whistle later in the day. These melodies provide depth in contrast to the wide openness of the backing sounds ... kind of like when a guitar riff overcomes the wall of noise in a shoegaze track to stand out ... and through this use of contrast, this depth, Hessien escape the confines of their drones to create something more, something rather special indeed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album and look forward to more from both Hessien and the Long Story Recording Company.


Seven questions with ... Nguyễn Hồng Nhung aka Sound Awakener



On Wednesday evening I posted some thought's on Nguyễn Hồng Nhung / Sound Awakener's new album - "September Traveler" ... it's an album that intrigued me. As is my want, I asked if she would complete my wee blog interview. I'm delighted to say she did ... here's what she had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nguyễn Hồng Nhung (Vietnamese name order, to avoid confusion, let’s call me as Nhung Nguyen and it’s a female name).  I was born and now living in Hanoi, Vietnam. I play with sounds and listen to them most of the time.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working with a lot of ideas at the moment and everything is getting really, really exciting. I am also preparing for my upcoming release, titled September Traveler. The album is a collection of my early works in 2011 and 2012 (except "The call is fading"). It is also the soundtrack for Irene Cruz’s exhibition What dreams are made of, which will take place in Berlin from 6th to 18th February, 2015 (https://soundawakener.bandcamp.com/album/september-traveler).


3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
I’d  go with a Vietnamese composer this time – Mr. Ngọc Đại 

In case you don’t know him, here is a trailer of a documentary about his former project:



I know Mr. Đại personally and he understands my music with great depth. He encourages me, a lot.

- Name place that has inspired you.
It is obviously Hanoi, where I’m living. One more I’d like to add is Hội An ancient town – I composed a lot of music there during my holiday in 2012 and 2014.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Piano, books and handmade things.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
It is my need to express that drives me to compose, record and mix my own tracks. It is also the extremely strong connection between me and nature, me and freedom that keeps the music flow.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I wish to express my awareness and freedom in the music. That’s all.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
The community, especially the music community here has helped me adapt and exchange my ideas with others. Collaboration is always a great chance to learn and I’m happy to be surrounded by like – minded people.


7) What is next for what you do?
More recording, more mixing, more collaboration and maybe live performances.

---

Thanks Nhung for your time and for your music. "September Traveler" is release today - 6th February, 2015.


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Loving ... "September Traveler" by Sound Awakener



The music of Sound Awakener aka Nguyễn Hồng Nhung is new to me. Other than her brief appearance on my netlabel’s end of year compilation, I wasn’t overly familiar with her particular form of ambience. We are friends on Facebook - we share a number of mutual musician friends and frequent the same forums - and, when given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance of listen to her latest piece: "September Traveler", a collection of her early work from 2011 and 2012 (except "The call is fading").

In addition to being an excellent entry point to Nhung's music, "September Traveler" provides the soundtrack for Irene Cruz’s exhibition "What dreams are made of?", which takes place in Berlin from 6th to 18th February, 2015; an exhibit I will unfortunately miss.

Nhung’s music is an electroacoustic delight: dense walls of ambient sound that genuinely intrigued me as a listener. I was and am fascinated by the opaqueness of her music - I hear something new with each and every listen. There is a dark, claustrophobic element to her sound: an oppressive density as if you, the listener, are walking through the Mirkwood Forest alone at night. And yet for all this darkness there are glimpses of light: "Pale Morning" with it’s pitter-patter of toy piano helps to lighten the mood & provide some welcome respite.

The main piece - "The Shade you've become" - sits at just under 17 minutes in length. It is more than half the album and is a dark yet evocative soundscape, one that a listener can easily get lost in. Overwhelming rather than immersive, this is a piece that rewards patience with it's Lovecraftian expression & haunting, processed piano.

This isn’t particularly easy listening. Nhung’s music requires time & patience, and it helps to be in the right frame of mind for such aural adventures. But when you are, when everything aligns nicely, "September Traveler" makes for a compelling listen. One I would readily recommend, especially to fans of electroacoustic ambience.

I look forward to more from her.

Tx



Sunday, February 01, 2015

What I listened to in January, 2015 ...



January was an interesting month for music: I got my hands on "Hotel: Ambient" by Moby ... and Björk released a cracker of an album. I was also album to listen to unreleased work by Venona Pers, Cousin Silas, and Symatic Star ... all destined for my wee netlabel: weareallghosts.

Tx

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Seven questions with ... guitarist Bob Guido


Kasia Dunn

Life has been pretty busy of late. Between a full time job that I love, full time life with my wife and kids, weareallghosts.co.uk and circumambient.co.uk ... there hasn't been a much time for the ol' nanolog. I'm glad there are folks like guitarist Bob Guido that still believe in this little blog and pour their heart into the seven questions. Have a read below and you'll see what I mean:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?


Since I was four years old, people taller than me have been calling me Bobby Guido and insisting I play music.  Music has been wonderful to me so far.  I craft my own kind of music here in Canada, the old fasioned way, by hand.  I come from a smaller community of very talented local musicians where if you sound like someone else, it's going to be obvious that you're a copy.  That forces a certain level of honesty and pushes people to work on their own thing that comes from the soul.  It's been really good for me - not competing with anyone else but making original music instead.



My home and native land is a strikingly beautiful country that gives me strong feelings of freedom and escape, though at the moment, I am trapped inside.  The cold and dark winters here give us lots of inside time.  The imagination runs wild while we look out through our frosted windows at the very stark winter landscapes.  I grew up down the road from this magical music circus too and that made an impression on me.  The recording studio where ambient music was invented in the late 1970's by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Harold Budd and a tremendous group of pioneers in music is still here.  It's the birthplace of ambient music and part of the story of Canadian music.




2) What are you working on at the moment?


I think that I've reached a new level of emotional vulnerability in a way that sets what I'm working on far apart from my previous work.  I've been on a hiatus from music and during this time, some profound things happened to me and I had a wake up call.  I have learned from the darkness that pulls at one's soul.  Life's direction inspired me to write “My Last Love“ which implies finality but is truly about a journey that never really ends.





3) Who inspires you? 


- Name an artist who has inspired you ...
People who's hearts resonate with my heart and elevate my spirit are the kind of people who have always been an inspiration.  I've been extremely lucky to have had some incredible mentors along the way who's words have continued to echo in the back of my mind.  Words that guide me every day.  They inspire.  



Bill Dillon.  He has this sound with his guitar and guitorgan that is like an entire orchestra from another planet.  It's this emotionally charged sound that kind of kreeps up on you and I discovered this on some of my favorite records growing up - Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanois, Sarah McLachlan, Robbie Robertson, Counting Crows.  It was the kind of thing that turned me into a musical forensic investigator, trying to unlock the secret sounds that he made to understand how  magic like that happens.   Bill travelled to my studio to play on my latest and he shared some truths with me that were like a map to navigating this life as an artist.  His heart is pure and full of passion which is so good.  He's a musical hero of mine.



Anna Donahoo.  She's a talented songrwiter from Texas.  A soft spoken but passionate musician who awakened something fierce inside of me about 10 months ago.  I flew down south to Texas and we met and it was life changing.  We started to write music together, her on guitar and me at the piano and then the both of us at the piano and it was a miracle.  I think we both knew in that moment that we could create something greater together.  Something unique and exciting and inspirational.


- Name a place that has inspired you ...
I used to walk around a lot, clapping my hands and listening to the reverb when I went different places.



I like to work in spaces that have a story and a remarkable sound.  Places with incredible sonics and reverb.  Reverb.  Lots of interesting reverb.  Places like that inpsire me.  Cathedrals, huge empty parking lots surrounded by the high walls of buildings, parking garages, subway tunnels, old schoolhouses and silos.  If anyone reading this knows of a really amazing sounding place, especially in Ontario Canada, please contact me here:  info@bobguido.com




Canada's natural landscape, I feel is a great part of who I am.  I love being outside in nature and I soak up so much of the beauty I experience there and I think it finds it's way into the art.  Iceland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.  It's a place that has greatly inspired me and continues to give me a sense of wonder and fills me with excitement and warmth!



- Name some "thing" that has inspired you ...
The search for truth




Kasia Dunn

4) What drives you to do what you do?


Something greater than myself.  Music is my little boat that I travel in search of a greater purpose with.  A purpose that will, I hope help inspire others to reach their own greater purpose.
 




5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?


respect > honor > love > equality > unity




6) What role does community play in what you do?


Community plays a supporting role and I've tried to help others along the way as much as I can.  It's an honor for me to share my knowlege and experience with artists and recording enginners who are doing great things and they all return the help with gratitude.  It's important to share whenever you can because you need a strong foundation of musical family when you dedicate your life to music.  It's not an easy road to take but it is a complete and fulfilling one.  Not everyone has direct support for a music life so it's important to support each other.  

Support is why community exists isn't it?  

The greatest supporters are those who help make specific connections for people who need to find one another to help fullfill or complete each other's destiny.

 Internet community allows for a very specific alignment of people looking to connect with others artistically.  It's a blessing that way.




7) What is next for what you do?


I'm at the beginning of a new chapter, dedicated to being a part of a musical team with my musical compadre, Anna Donahoo from Texas.  There is a mutual feeling of a greater purpose for us and our music.   To live our way into that is more exciting than anything before.  We can't wait!

---

I can't wait either, Bob! Thanks for taking the time to complete the seven questions so thoroughly.

Bob can be found at the following locations ...

https://bobguido.bandcamp.com/ + http://bobguido.com/

I have embedded his most recent track - "My Last Love" - below ... have a wee listen and if you like what you hear, please do what you can to support Bob's music.



Please Note: Photographs by Kasia Dunn

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Seven questions with ... Ricky Fabulous, the man behind Keenya



I wrote some thoughts on Keenya's new album last week:
"Drones, samples and found-sounds find purpose as they form the melodic underscore for disjointed and glitchy polyrhythmic loops. Together these disparate elements work to create wonderfully engaging, multi-layered aural tapestries that I cannot help being drawn to. This is music to get lost in, music that envelopes me, as the listener, in a new and decidedly hypnotic world."
Link

I'm delighted to say that Ricky Fabulous (love that name), the man behind Keenya, has answered the ol' nanolog's seven questions. I, for one, really wanted to know a wee bit more about the man behind the music ... I'm glad I can:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Ricky aka Ricky Fabulous aka Keenya. I'm a guy who makes day dream music.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I'm just working on new songs at the moment. I'm in quite a good place to work at the moment which is cool.


3) Who inspires you?

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
I'm really inspired by Theolonius Monk. From the first time I heard him I was really blown away with how he immediately sounds like him. All his rhythm and harmony sound a bit like a kid playing the piano and it's really fun to listen to.


- Name place that has inspired you.
Weirdly I find Dubai really inspiring. I've been there a couple of times to play gigs and find it a really fascinating place. I really like man made stuff and you don't get much more man made than Dubai. Almost feels like you're another planet which has been made to look and feel like a city on Earth.


- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Being alone in places I've never been before. I quite like feeling lost inside somewhere and just observing things which are going on. Kind of using a place as a back drop to my own thoughts


4) What drives you to do what you do?
I think the music I make is the way I hear things. Sometimes you hear music being played but everything else around plays a weird percussion to the music you're hearing. But I think it's also the kind of music I want to hear and be alone with. I guess making music which becomes a backdrop to me thinking about things, but also helps me think about different things


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I'd not really thought about my music having values before, but I guess I'd say that I want people to feel ok to be alone and listen to it. I find my music quite meditative and it would be nice if people found the same peace with it.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
The music I make is pretty introverted. I'd like to think it gave people an outlet for being introverted. I like it when people 'get it' and I suppose in that way there's a communal feeling to feeling and thinking a certain way.


7) What is next for what you do?
Reckon I'm going to keep writing a whole lot of tunes and then start putting another album together!

-----

Thanks Ricky! I really enjoyed "Gone Home" and would agree with the meditative quality of it ... it is rather beautiful in that regard.

If you haven't had a chance to listen to it ... please take the time to do so, you will not regret it.

Tx


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