October’s Top 10
Posted In: Andrea Ferraris and Matteo Uggeri - Autumn is Coming We’re All in Slow Motion, Andrew Hargreaves - Defragment, Barn Owl - Ancestral Star, Brave Timbers - For Everyday You Lost, Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect, Hessien - Obelisk|Stelea, October's Top 10, Padang Food Tigers - Born Music, The Ghost Of 29 Megacycles - The Hummingbird Dream, Upward Arrows - Upward Arrows, Winter’s Day - Winter’s Day 7"
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Many apologies for the lateness of this months Top 10 selection. I would love to sit here and make up some bizarre excuse but the simple truth is we forgot! Anyway I hope you will agree that October’s edition was worth the wait and includes another strong line up from the likes of Barn Owl, Padang Food Tigers, Winter’s Day and Upward Arrows…
Padang Food Tigers – Born Music
Padang Food Tigers, better known as Spencer Grady and Steven Lewis from Rameses III, follow up their EP from this year, Go Down, Moses…
Born Music is a somber and meditative collection of enigmatic field recordings, mixed with sparse and elegant instrumentation. It’s themed well, with the tones of the recordings consistent throughout. The guitar and banjo have a great thump to them, and on the whole feels considered and assured.
Born Music is certainly a more expansive effort than their previous release, which was enjoyable but brief (under ten minutes in length). It sees Grady and Lewis expanding further on the Food Tigers’ sound, and can widely be considered a success on most fronts. Their use of found sounds, or field recording layers, is both skillful and restrained, and balances the minimalist instrumentation out well. Recommended. Full info
Winter’s Day – Winter’s Day 7″
This new ep from Winter’s Day introduces us to the exciting, if somewhat unlikely pairing, of Aaron Martin and Dawn Smithson…
At just two tracks long and available on only 250 7” pressings, a succinct pair of tracks leaves the listener intrigued by what may follow from this talented duet.
When Dawn Smithson burst on to the scene five years ago with her Kranky debut ‘Safer Here’ listeners were provided with a heart wrenching selection of love songs which married her distinctive voice with acoustic guitar. Last year this was followed up by ‘Earth Machine’ an album I struggled to track down. By contrast Aaron Martin’s output has been prolific with multiple LPs and collaborations in his armoury.
The two tracks on Winter’s Day see Smithson’s minimal acoustic guitar combine with Martin’s expansive strings which entangle themselves with her ghostly vocals. Both tracks display the more sombre and melancholic qualities of these musicians, however there is a definite beauty within this sadness both conveyed in the lyricism and instrumentation. Full info
Brave Timbers – For Everyday You Lost
Change is upon us. Those long, drawn out, dusty summer days are slowly being replaced by a lower sun, a cooling air and a transfer in mood. As we prepare to migrate to this seasonal shift that promises new colours, smells and thoughts, a piece of music announces itself and effortlessly captures this sense of reformation. The album ‘For Everyday You Lost’ by Brave Timbers is quite simply a remarkable work of heartfelt, intimate encouragement that will no doubt be remembered as one of the most honest and beautiful creations of the year.
Brave Timbers is the performing and recording alias of multi-instrumentalist Sarah Kemp. Having already worked with the likes of The Declining Winter and Fieldhead, this solo debut from Sarah sees her combine violin, tenor guitar and piano to create 11 contemporary classical compositions which in their entirety will also hold their own amongst the canons of great acoustic folk recordings.
From the album’s opening track ‘More Like Oak Than The Willow’ the elegance of this music is immediately apparent. The delicate plucking of guitar feels like an early dawn and the sounds that follow, including some of the warmest and most comforting string play thanks to Sarah’s violin, create a sense of the day coming to life. Indeed, the homely nature of this creation evokes images of farmyards and wildlife growing within a time lapse frame. In short, the opening track is the album’s genesis, and the proceeding tracks continue on this theme of nature, rural life and a general feel for a quintessentially British landscape. Full info
Upward Arrows – Upward Arrows
For Upward Arrows, John McCaffrey moves away from his work as Part-Timer to design a clearing, flooded throughout with an omnipotence of sound. Created as an outlet to move into sparser, drone territory, where folk tendencies intermingle with modern classical motifs, Upward Arrows deftly constructs gentle arrangements that live and exist in thin air…
To carry on the theme included in the description of the album, the church spires, that give the label its namesake, point heavenward, the music follows suit, leaving the listener consumed with feelings of transcendence. Practically devoid of all the familiar qualities of Part-Timer (electronic leanings, crystalline production), McCaffrey concocts a mixture of organic sounds and assorted field recordings to augment the unique orchestral flourishes, which rise up and fade quite effortlessly. The tracks titles are cleverly designed to reflect the idea of “upward arrows” as they are just a series of circumflexes, or, as I’ve come to discover, clarets (^). For instance, the rickety plucks of guitar that swirl and beckon the arrival of a distant wane of strings, opens the album and is designated by one “upward arrow.” The far-away drone that acts as an undercurrent allows the focus and clarity of the seesawing strings to glisten and shine through and weave in and out, making “^^” a highlight for sure. Full info
Hessien – Obelisk/Stelea
Under the lamplight, which is a small, insignificant light, yet enough to light the whole room, the distant sound of a guitar rumbles throughout, shaking the core, reaching the bone. Hessien are providing the impetus to remove oneself with their new release “Obelisk/Stelea”; an album that engulfs the listener in blinding rays of light that peek through a perceived pallor and solemnity. As Hessien, Charles Sage & Tim Diagram deliver obtuse soundscapes, augmented by hazy textures, and an ever-evolving penchant for disorientation and serene exploration.
Positing the listener in a tranquil stasis, the opener “Gazed and Pale Reflections” reveals a darkness permeated by shiny consonance, guitars ring out over and beneath one another, the listener drifts off, leaving the lamplight behind. As the title suggests, we revert to a pensive mood, pleasing thoughts replace the guttural voices and images weighing heavily on our mind. As the first of four original pieces on this release – the four remaining works are reimaginings by Solo Andata, Jasper TX, Zelienople, and Konntinent – “Gazed and Pale Reflections” sets the tone for this remarkable work. Leading into “A Letter from Engels”, a simple recurring sound, with a somewhat jarring effect, marks the arrival of a captivating mixture of sounds that slowly build walls around the listener to touch and feel, sending shivers down the spine. Full info
Barn Owl – Ancestral Star
Evan Caminiti (guitars, vocals) and Jon Porras (guitars, vocals, drums, harmonium) met in San Francisco in 2006 and immediately started playing music together. Over the next four years, the two gradually sculpted a vast collection of hazy desert sky meditations – ominous, barren expanses of music for desert walks at dusk, and dark, pastoral passages embellished with
psychedelic and atmospheric wash. A mixture between devotional ragas and dusty stomp with atmosphere and production that references shoegaze and black metal influences.
Ancestral Star, their third LP, marks the evolution of the Barn Owl sound into a territory where it has become wholly its own, transcending the sum of its influences and taking on a life of its own. At the same time, it is a more realized extension of that sound. Caminiti and Porras paid close attention to the composition of each track and its flow within the album as a whole.
Engaging throughout, every moment contributes to an overall feeling of mysterious desert expanse and a sonic narrative that unfurls like a cinematic metaphysical western. – Full review/Interview coming in the next few days
The Ghost Of 29 Megacycles – The Hummingbird Dream
‘The Hummingbird Dream’, is an epic and tender two track EP that is a rival to any drone release for the year – dense, moving and cavernous. Protagonist Greg Taw constructs the two tracks, with assistance from Jessyca Hutchins, Rupert Thomas and Rebecca Orchard on the second. The tracks are described as having been “born from sleepless nights, morning silence and sadness”, and the vast 24-minute opener ‘Part 1’ certainly reminds of the both the panic and calm of insomnia. It also hints the possibility of a positive outcome, with the bird-sound that ends the track, and fades into the second.
‘Part 2’ is likely the day following in slow motion, spent in an exhausted and subliminal state. The vocals of Orchard, Taw and Hutchins fade in and out of the speakers, guided ably by the mixing of both Crispin Wellington & Matt Rosner and the mastering of Taylor Deupree.
It is both surprising and impressive – going into it with no preconceptions left me pleasantly stunned. So, when the opportunity came up to discuss the release in detail with Greg Taw, I jumped at the chance. Full info
Brian McBride – The Effective Disconnect
From Brian McBride: When George and Myriam approached me to compose for their film they suggested I concentrate on four different themes: the gloriousness of the bees, the endurance and hardships of traditional beekeepers, pesticides and the holistic nature of non-industrial agriculture. I was especially intrigued with the idea of combining some of their mournful aspirations with something more serene.
Composing began in May of 2009. I had decided to start fresh not using anything that I had already recorded. Preparing the music for the film, I knew that I needed to provide more built-in changes in the structure of the pieces to give George and Myriam more flexibility. As I worked, I purposely distanced myself from the more continuous architecture employed in my previous recordings in favor of several mini-suites. In the thinking about the music, I hoped that the pieces would do justice to the “gloriousness of the bees” theme, striving for a more overt hopeful quality. But old traditions die-hard and the hopeful side of the music was eventually more subsumed by the lamentable. – Full review coming this weekend
Andrea Ferraris and Matteo Uggeri – Autumn is Coming We’re All in Slow Motion
Experimental music, by its very nature, is often unconcerned with melody; other qualities of sound and music are explored, taken apart and reconstructed with the intent of presenting the listener with surprising new ways to engage with the listening experience. Many commendable aural experiences have been produced by mere tweaking of single variables within sound; much of the ambient canon relies on a relatively minimal bag of tricks. It is, however, clear from the outset that “Autumn is Coming…” is a very different beast indeed.
Andrea Ferraris and Matteo Uggeri have crafted an album that is as much concerned with homespun melody as it is with inspired experimentation. The tension between these opposing forces has been perfectly calibrated to provide a delightfully balanced and engaging collection of tracks.
Ferraris and Uggeri push field recordings to the fore and every track is concerned with the interplay between the sounds of the world around us and acoustic instrumentation. The true magic of this album is the way that both of these elements are integrated through finely judged electronic manipulation. Field recordings subtly morph to reflect musical patterns, loop to develop rhythmic accompaniment or wax and wane to provide moments of introspective focus on the melodic elements. Likewise, the guitar, piano, cello and voices that make up the bulk of the melodic components are subjected to an array of manipulative tricks that allow them to dance, stutter, dissolve and expand within the frame provided by the field recordings. There is not a note or sound out of place across any of the tracks which range from mournful cello-led laments, through expansive vocal ambience, to intimate plucked guitar pieces. This collection of approaches prevents the album from becoming bogged down in any one style, yet there is an unmistakeable unity to the pieces here – a real coherence amongst the variety on display. Full info
Andrew Hargreaves – Defragment
Fragility is a beautiful thing. Like the delicate nature of a spiders web, built so immaculately, or the innocence of a child yet to experience the world. Things that can so easily be taken away or destroyed; things that have an inevitable tragedy are seductive and heart breaking. “Defragment” by Andrew Hargreaves is exactly this; seductive and heart breaking. It’s achingly beautiful and impossibly charming, yet sounds so fragile and ready to break and fall to pieces at any given moment. It’s like a snowflake gracefully floating downwards, settling and then slowly evaporating into the ground; both joyous and sad all at once.
For those who don’t know (such as me), Andrew Hargreaves is one half of The Boats. The Boats has been one of those names I’ve seen everywhere, followed by high praises, but I’ve never actually listened to them. If this solo album from Andrew is anything to go by, I will surely be delving into their catalogue as soon as I can.
“Defragment” sees Andrew merging solo piano playing with sharp electronic flutters and stutters and occasional dub influenced beats and bass lines. The piano playing is stark and lo fi. Each note and motif is played out with a sense of purpose and is given just the right amount of space to breathe and play out so that the listener is fully submerged and engrossed in what is being played. On a handful of tracks Andrews piano playing and electronics are joined by the cello of Danny Norbury; most notably on the track entitled “Confusion in Consequence”, where it adds graceful warmth to contrast the otherwise cold music on this album. Full info