Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Loving... the music of Twice Removed (1 of 2)

Prior to going on holiday... I was approached by Gavin Catling, the chap behind the fab Australian micro-label Twice Removed Records, to see if I would be interested in reviewing their back-catalogue. I jumped at the chance because I’ve wanted to explore their music for a while but never had the money to invest... always finding other places to put my meagre resources. Gavin was gracious enough to give me MP3 copies of all his content and I was, quite understandably, like a fat kid in a sweetie shop.

While I was off... I scheduled features on each of the albums with their Bandcamp players. Not sure if anyone took the time to listen to them... but if you did you’ll have tapped into a vein of rich, succulent talent. I appreciate you may not have had the context I provide to the music... so via this and a subsequent post I intend to provide that context to you.

The first album I jumped at was “I have become overcome with thoughts of you” by Tim Bass which is 32 minutes of the most delightful ambience. Words like subtle, sparing, elegant, and gracious come to mind when I try to describe this album... it is something to be savoured while it is consumed like a delicate tea. Nothing is overdone or out-of-place on this release. It just is... and I absolutely love that about it.

Like all great ambient soundscapes, Tim Bass’ release provides moments of calm and gives me the opportunity to zone out... to find space in the busy-ness of life for contemplation and deeper thought. I am grateful for this and would highly recommend this release... it is a work of greatness!

Another wonderfully deep ambient soundscape released on the label is the dark and atmospheric “Roeblin” by Bengalfuel (a name I was familiar with through the Sequence4 compilation) a release that comprises 11 tracks that are relatively short for an ambient release (each comes in at less than 7 minutes with the majority coming in at less than 5 minutes) but in no way less powerful or evocative.

I love the space great ambient music affords me and this release continues this trend... granting the space I feel is necessary to escape the busy-ness of my world. That is, in no way, an insult to the music... but a compliment because it has been created in such a manner as to be something beautiful to focus on and cherish... or something that aids dreaming.

The only track that, in some small way, deviates from this path is the closing track “cells” which complements truly gorgeous drones with some seriously lovely percussive rhythms. It is a delightful combination that reminds me of Boards of Canada in approach and craft.
“Roeblin” by Bengalfuel is a delight... especially for grey days... the kind of days that need time out in.

The third release that jumped out at me was “Otherworld” by a young chap from Perth (Aus) called K.Wilson. It is a three track 25 minute EP that presents some truly engaging guitar-orientated ambient drones: ambient expressions that are gently interspersed with percussive elements and found-sounds.

When I listen to this EP I get caught... transfixed... in the swirl of movement and the natural ebb and flow of the rhythm presented. It is in this natural earthiness that I find my joy... enamoured as I am by the hypnotic power of K.Wilson’s guitar playing and attention to detail.

Lastly... for this post... is “the cartography of shifting planes” by piano & laptop duo Cycle~ 440... a 5 song, 41 minute piano-orientated release that is a wonderful visual collection of ambient sound. The tracks are sparse and yet paradoxically dense... such as the opening track: “rumination” where manipulated found-sounds provide the percussive backing for a haunting, minimal melody... played sparingly on the piano. This idea continues throughout the release albeit the manipulation becomes more noisy and glitchy... to my delight but this may not be to everyone's taste.

As is the wonderfully creative yet a bit annoying vocal samples on the third, and longest track, on the release: “aida”. I think at 12 minutes long they do push things with their use of the repetitive vocal samples on this track but I do recognise creative expression when I see/hear it and this track is wonderfully progressive in this regard.

That said... don't let the third track put you off... because the final two tracks are belters. Similarly sparse piano works... with subtle electronically-manipulated backgrounds. Truly exquisite.

I have another four releases to discuss... but I'll leave that to another day.

The Twice Removed microlabel is an excellent demonstration of what can be done within the realms of ambient and post-rock... and I would heartily recommend you check them out.


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