Friday, September 25, 2009

P Jørgensen - To - Low Point CD

Crumbs, it’s a new Low Point release! And what a cracker it is as well. Having only heard a couple of samples thus far and being impressed with those, I’m stoked to be enjoying the whole album now.

It’s a piece of work that is instantly striking due to some awesome sound design and sublime textures which continue throughout the CD. Consisting of short-ish, focused tracks, the way these snapshots of sound are put together is an object lesson in fluidity and atmosphere. Ranging from the powerful to the minimal, the relaxed to the intense and pretty much every flavour in between, I’d really hesitate to call this a drone album per se, but there are undeniable elements of drone throughout – it’s just that it’s so expansive and deep and the transitions between the work so seamless that it feels like more than that; an ever-changing single work, of you like.

Punctuated quite brilliantly around half way through by a delightful field recording piece with twittering birds and natural sounds, it then glides gracefully into the final stages with a resonant bell style texture that grows in intensity towards the penultimate track before quietening down and drifting away in a haze of true beauty. I’m absolutely smitten with this work I have to say that for fans of acts like Celer or the naturalistic works of Andrew Deutsch this really is something to savour.

A huge recommendation on this one. Wonderful.

Check it out here...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chihei Hatakeyama - The River - Hibernate CD

Ah yes, Chihei Hatakeyama; a purveyor of quality electronic and organic music if ever I heard one. It gives me great pleasure to bring you this lovely release on the young, but already incredibly mature Hibernate label.

From the off you know exactly what this is going to be about – and it really doesn’t disappoint. Chihei has provided another delicious cocktail of gentle processing and guitar based works that have a lovely soft and warm feel to accompany you on these increasingly autumnal evenings. Serene and pastoral passages of sumptuous sound form a robust backbone for Chihei to work with as he softly plays with resonances, textures and instruments to give everything a magical feel. The slightly raw feeling of the recordings plays to the strengths of this type of ambient music by giving you an earthy layer of sound that acts like a cushion for the gorgeous melodies whilst framing the tracks at the same time.

One of my favourite aspects of this album, apart from the music of course, is the titles of the tracks themselves. They have simple quality to them that amply reflects the sounds and there’s a quiet poetry to both that’s immensely appealing.

As you probably already know I’m a fan of Chihei’s work and I’m an equally big fan of this super label that’s being curated with love and attention to detail. Do yourself a favour and enjoy some luscious and thoughtful music from this brilliant artist. Superb from beginning to end.

Check it out here...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coldstream - Alarums - Under The Spire 3" CDr

Another new Under The Spire release this week and this time we find ourselves face to face with two utterly exquisite tracks on a 3” CDr from Coldstream. Seriously, if you’re into the deeper, slightly darker side of drone / organic soundscapes, this is an absolute must I would say.

Kicking off with the wonderful seven minute title track you’ll find yourself treated to a low-key, impeccably designed and fluid work that gently ebbs and flows throughout with a deliciously hypnotic two chord progression (my favourite type, if I’m honest). I love the way the chords always resolve into each other as they have that timeless minor 7th feel that makes them instantly moody and full of emotion. They roll on and on, yet it never feels relentless – indeed, when the track finishes you almost feel as if it could have gone on for way, way longer without ever losing their focus.

The second track is a super eleven minute track that’s built in a different way, yet retains a thematic similarity to the first piece. That is to say it’s deep, earthy and beautiful. Gliding gracefully into the territory of beatless shoegaze you can really hear elements that recall a band such as, for example, Slowdive, yet it has a more stripped back, contemporary feel to the simple, effective composition. It’s beautifully put together and has, once again, a totally natural flow that builds up to the middle of the piece and then ever-so-slowly fades away again.

Compelling and delightful, this is a splendid release indeed. Limited to 100 copies – so don’t delay! Superb.

Check it out here...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yui Onodera - Entropy - Trumn CD

Originally released in scant quantities in 2005, this stunning work from the wonderful Yui Onodera gets a timely re-issue here on the newly formed Trumn imprint out of Tokyo. What this proves (as if it needed proving) is that Onodera has been ploughing his own furrow in a low-key way and, in a lot of respects, is only receiving the plaudits he deserves. I know that I feel like I came to the party a little late. But, I’m here now and ‘Entropy’ is exactly the kind of album that I love to sit back and collapse to, or work to, or just sit and daydream to.

It has an ethereal, drifting quality and the variety of the pieces is lovely. Once again, it’s the sort of album that you could call drone, and indeed there are plenty of subaquatic textures and muted chords here, but there’s more in the shape of more experimental sounds and recordings that punctuate those more ambient moments. That’s the beauty of this – one moment you’re submerged in a filtered down, bubbling sound and the next there’s an uplifting, sublime chord awaiting you before adding in a gentle guitar and then something a little more abstract. Predominantly, though, Onodera is all about the feeling and mood and the one thing that’s common throughout every track on this album is the fact that there’s always a delicate and fragile beauty residing within each piece.

The combination of music and absolutely wonderful oversized packaging with beautiful printing mean this is an item you’ll be enjoying for years to come. A big warm welcome to Trumn here at Smallfish – and what a way to kick things off. Highly recommended for fans of the deep side.

Check it out here...

Pillowdiver - Tony On A Bike - Under The Spire 3" CDr

Following on from Pillowdiver’s excellent recent album for 12k comes this lovely little 3” CDr from the rapidly expanding Under The Spire imprint. If you heard ‘Sleeping Pills’ you’ll be thrilled to find out that this gorgeous four-track EP is very much along the same lines – and it’s a real treat for the ears.

Using guitars as the main instrumentation, Pillowdiver constructs deep, evocative soundscapes that sit somewhere between the sculpted sound of 12k and a slightly more shoegaze kind of feel (think Lightsway, Dawn Chorus Ignites or some of the older Televise material). These pieces have an easy flow and a cunning way of introducing melodies into the bountiful chords whilst using background processing and effects to keep everything in exactly the kind of ball park I love. The title track itself, along with the last track, ‘Black Metal Dream’ are super examples of that blend and while the guitars strum out the tunes the lightly droned-out accompaniment really combines with them to give it an earthy and organic feel. In fact the last track even has an incredibly subtle, pulsating 4/4 kick underneath everything to give it even more movement. The third track, ‘Nine’, is a rapturous noise of effected, gained up guitars and even drums that collide to make a slow, driving and quintessentially beautiful shoegazer of a track – really awesome stuff.

All round it’s another brilliant release for this label and something to really enjoy from this talented producer. Limited to a paltry 150 copies and on the strength of how quickly the 12k album flew out, definitely one to snag while you can. First class.

Check it out here...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Segue - Grey - Tokyo Droning CDr

I’m very pleased to bring you the second release from Home Normal sister label Tokyo Droning and this time we find ourselves in the very pleasing company of Jordan Sauer, aka Segue.

I really like his work for the numerous labels he’s produced for and I think that this set of tracks is absolutely natural for TD in every possible way. From the pastoral guitar-led opening track through a series of gentle, meditative and always melodic pieces this is a finely focused and very friendly album indeed.

It’s an interesting to contrast to Offthesky’s release as that was all about the flow of melodic and dissonant drone whereas this is much more of an ‘album’ if you know what I mean? Each track has its own character and they really do take in a wide range of styles yet with a common theme of the organic running through them. There are subtle drones, lovely warm textures, exquisite guitar licks and melodies, the occasional foray into a slightly more traditional electronic sound and even some naturalistic field recording based works – and at this point I have to give a special mention to ‘Futures’ which is, if I was absolutely pushed into choosing one, probably my favourite track. It features some gorgeous ethnic style background recordings along with a slowly growing texture and even a hint of what sounds like cello or violin - lovely. There’s plenty going on but in a low-key and beautifully realised way that actually, I have to say, gets better and better each time I hear it (and that’s quite a few times I can tell you!)

Quite apart from the fact that this is limited, once again, to 100 copies and TD is an ace label, this truly is an album to savour from a very talented artist. Really, a wonderful piece of work.

Check it out here...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Autistici - Complex Tone Test - Kesh CD

Audiobulb head honcho David Newman provides us with another very compelling full length album, this time on Simon Scott’s superb Kesh imprint. It’s no secret that I loved his previous CD on 12k and it’s therefore fairly unsurprising I’m sure to discover that this is also a beautifully realised set of tracks as well.

What I really like about Autistici is the variety that he manages to cram into not just the album as a whole, but even the tracks themselves. Combining electronics, found sounds, field recordings, organic instruments and some utterly awesome 3D stereo effects, you’ll discover an entire world of music here. From the gentle flute-led intro track and into the syncopated, almost techno-sounding ‘Meticule’ right through the evocative ‘Resonating Wire’ and beyond, there’s a fascinating sense of exploration and discovery at each and every turn.

This isn’t just a lovely album with a seemingly innate sense of melody that shines through, oh no, this is an experimental work of huge substance that constantly finds the comfortable and homely in some unlikely places. There are times where the sounds almost overwhelm, and yet it always holds back a little, allowing you some room to breathe and get accustomed to the atmospheres that evolve.

From just plain gorgeous through to hallucinatory and tense, this really is a journey into sound that’s as exciting as it is relaxing. A paradox, then, in some ways, but considering the pedigree of the artist and label it should come as no surprise that this is an utterly exceptional album. A real experience and something that I’d urge you to check out and enjoy. Pure quality.

Check it out here...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aaron Martin - Grass Wounds - Under The Spire 3" CDr

I do like a spot of Aaron Martin you know. Last thing was the Mobeer release and that was marvellous so it’s rather nice to have this absolutely exquisite little 3” CDr from Under The Spire landing on my doorstep today. I feel like classifying it as electronic / organic / classical, but to be honest I don’t really want to make up yet another category on the site so this will have to do.

It really is a blend of beautiful classical influences though and has a thoroughly modern feel to it with gorgeous arrangements and beautifully atmospheric string playing. The cello, as you’d expect, plays a large role in creating the deep sound that runs throughout the five pieces and whether it’s a straight-up piece of melodic beauty or more of a cinematic soundscape or experimental work there’s a really tangible sense of the sound always being anchored to the cello.

Tense, at times dramatic and at others just really sublime, this is music to savour from a consistently brilliant artist. If you know his work you’ll want to be all over this gem and if you don’t know him I would urge you to check this out immediately. As ever this is a limited run so they won’t be hanging around for too long I suspect. Really quite superb.

Check it out here...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mountain Ocean Sun - Peace Conference - Home Normal CD

Mountain Ocean Sun. A dreamlike combination of music and nature that’s as beautiful as it is serene, as charming as it is earthy and as bounteous as you could hope for.

Repeated listens of this stunning hour-long album brings you a new tone, texture or incidental background noise each time and as you soak up the radiant atmosphere it leaves you with a harmonious sense of inner peace. Recorded in various locations at various times by various people, this work takes on a shimmering life of its own with bells, bowed strings, harmonium and Indian shruti boxes all playing their own endearing and crucial part to setting the scene. It’s a meditative mixture of drone and uplifting, almost spiritual sound that quite honestly transcends being pigeonholed into any obvious genre here at Smallfish.

Sitting back and allowing it to wash over me was an incredibly evocative experience and having lived in Japan I can attest to the fact that there really is a certain oriental feel to this that will conjure up deeply vivid images of forests and shrines and sunlight dappling across mountain streams. If that sounds overly poetic then, well, maybe it is… but music is a tangible living force that surrounds us even when it’s not overtly ‘music’ and this paints more than just a simple aural picture. The tranquillity and beauty that Mountain Ocean Sun have captured here has an elemental sound that’s so wonderfully hypnotic and marvellously organic.

This is another exceptional album from the superb Home Normal label. But then, what else did you expect? Highly recommended.

Check it out here...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pub - Cassette Three - Ampoule 3" CDr

A really nice little treat here in the ongoing Cassette series from, I believe, Pub. Following what I consider to be two epic 3”s with the kind of divine electronica that keeps me coming back for more comes this third instalment and it’s just what the doctor ordered; two tracks of pure, deep, melodic, funky and outright class slices of magic.

‘Lady Legs Of Swords’ opens things with a skipped-out and rolling rhythm that’s downbeat but lively. Add some almost flavours to the melodies and some straight-up lovely chords and you’ve got a track that’s fluid, yet head nodding, deep and spacious, yet tightly focused. ‘I’m Sick Of Your Kicks’ follows and travels down a more classically electronic kind of avenue. It’s no less rhythmic, mind you, but it has that lightly clicky sort of groove that you’ll find very pleasing if you’re a fan of Arovane and, of course, some of Pub’s older material. Low-key, delightfully put together and oozing a genuine beauty that you rarely hear these days.

In some respects this really does have a similar touch to some of the Lucky & Easy releases and it definitely harks back to a time when electronica was a lot more innocent. In my opinion that’s definitely a Very Good Thing and this release comes as highly recommended as anything I’ve ever recommended by Pub before… and that’s virtually everything I suppose as I’m a bit of a fanboy!

Limited as usual but, just to let you know, I do have a couple of spare copies of the first two releases just in case you missed them. Wonderful stuff.

Check it out here...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ekca Liena - Drones Between Homes -Under The Spire CDr

After a run of releases on the excellent Dead Pilot label, Ekca Liena now delivers a superb two track drone-based work for the homegrown Under The Spire imprint.

This is a CD that demands to be listened to from beginning to end as it layers up and processes all manner of textures into a seamless and very beautiful whole. There’s an organic feel to the sounds which gives them a natural warmth – always a good thing in my humble opinion – and allows you to sink right in and enjoy the flow. The structure is canny with a gentle build in the first track, ‘The More I Cut From One’, which grows into a tense finale before drifting into the second track. ‘The More I Add To Another’ follows suit but somehow feels darker and more melancholy.

The initial segment almost comes across like the ambient elements from an Echospace release which gives it a really nice feel. From there the chords and layers take on a more muted and aquatic tone with an almost choral / church style flavour to them. Again, it drifts gently into a superb finale with epic sounds before ebbing away into more ethereal territory and then fading out.

I have to say this is absolutely brilliant and really perked up my day. You’d be advised that if you’re a lover of atmospheric or drone music that this is a strictly limited edition of 100 copies and it looks suspiciously like there aren’t any left. Another really top class release from Under The Spire.

Check it out here...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

cv313 - Sailingstars - Echospace 12"

Two years after cv313’s debut release (on Smallfish, no less!) and following on from a few 12”s and the, sadly only available in Japan, Live CD comes this cracking new slab of wax.

A three-tracker, it features, for starters, the title track ‘Sailingstars’ which blends to wonderful effect the dubwise undertones of Echospace and Intrusion along with Steve’s trademark Soultek vibe on the rhythms. It’s a groover and no mistake with a 100% hypnotic 4/4 vibe and super-nice chords and sounds that roll beautifully along in conjunction with the lowdown bassline.

Flip over to find two very pleasing versions of ‘Subtraktive’, both from Intrusion. The ‘Twilight Dub’ takes it into stronger rhythmic territory whilst remaining totally true to the original vibe of the track. Heavily sub-bass laden and with those signature chords drifting along over the solid 4/4 it’s exactly the kind of mix a lot of people have wanted. Next up is the Intrusion ‘Reform’ which I really thought was going to be an ambient edit, but after some swirlingly lush pads at the beginning is actually joined by an even more robust kick drum than the previous track. Short, sweet and full of Echospace vibes through and through.

This, as they say, is a winner. Marvellous stuff – and funky looking marbled vinyl too!

Check it out here...

Various - Lo-Fi Soundsystem - Intrusion 12"

Another excursion into the dubbier side of techno here from Echospace sister label Intrusion with a compilation 12” that’s rocking it. Two tracks from Intrusion and one each from Lo-Fi Soundsystem and Mildiou (neither of which I’m familiar with I’m ashamed to admit, although I believe there may be a Jamaican connection with LFSS – I’m sure I’ll be corrected on that though!)

Anyway, Intrusion is up first with a romper of a track that has an almost Soultek vibe to it (like the cv313 actually). A grooving 4/4, distant echoes, funky basslines and the kind of production that’s aching to be heard on the dancefloor. Lo-Fi Soundsystem deliver ‘De Lion’s Den’ which really is a superlative slice of pure dub underpinned by a solid, effective kick and snare. Purist sounds no doubt.

Flip for Midiou which, I have to say, is my personal highlight of the EP. Uber-deep and subterranean to the max, this is a track that got right into my head as soon as I heard it and kept me coming back. Classic dub techno in some ways, yet it has enough personality of its own to shine through. And, ultimately, it’s just a very, very track and that’s the most important thing. Intrusion finishes up with ‘OceanView’ which has more of a downbeat flavour but sticks resolutely to the dubwise feel. In fact at one point I thought I could hear a melodica fading into the mix, but I think it was a combination of harmonics on the chords. Slow, low, reverb-drenched and pure, this is a slice of gold.

So, in summary, it’s a wicked EP and I believe that once again we’re on fairly limited copies of these. Be assured you can buy this with confidence if you’re a fan of the label in any way, shape or form. Pure class.

Check it out here...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Solo Andata - Look For Me Here - 12k CD

This really is a superb companion to the full album release from Solo Andata.

Coming on a beautiful looking clear plastic edged 3” disc (I’m sure there’s a name for them, isn’t there?) it features remixes by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Giuseppe Ielasi (who, incidentally, mastered the album I believe).

As you’d expect, there’s a whole world of beauty going on here with Sakamoto delivering an incredible version based around gentle guitar strumming and pure atmospheric ambient sounds. It’s an exquisitely beautiful sound and works perfectly as an interpretation of Solo Andata’s original.

Not to be outdone, Giuseppe Ielasi delivers an equally luscious mix that once again concentrates on the key elements of the original and turns them into a spacious and haunting sound work that hits all the right spots. A gently growing background chord layer which adds in some light graininess, a wonderfully atmospheric guitar passage midway through, then adding in those processed layers once again before fading away into the ether.

It’s beautifully produced, serene, calming and full of charm. Realistically, if you’re getting the album you’ll want to snap up a copy of this as well because they work so well together. Essential stuff once more from this might label. Truly gorgeous.

Check it out here...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Solo Andata - Solo Andata - 12k CD

It’s fair to say that I’ve been eagerly awaiting this album in a pretty large way. Although I haven’t heard a lot of Solo Andata’s music the track that appeared on the ‘Live In Melbourne’ 12k release was fantastic and I hoped I’d hear more. Well, here’s the full length release from this duo and I have to say it’s astonishingly beautiful in every way.

From the cello laced opening track with it’s incredibly detailed, yet completely flowing sound right through some of the most downright gorgeous textured works and on into some absolutely charming guitar-led moments this is an album that screams quality and depth at every turn. There’s a gently introspective feel that pervades this work – it’s sad and melancholy but has twists and turns that take it into more robust territory every now and again with tense guitar drones and fuzzed out layers, but they manage to feel restrained and never overwhelm you. Sound design is frankly stunning and there are some wonderfully dislocatory elements that work in the background in a seemingly huge stereo field.

Ultimately this is an album that I don’t want to break down too much as it’s the combination of everything coming together into a musical journey that makes it so very special. I could talk about each individual track but I strongly believe that it would do it an injustice. What you need to know is that altogether it’s melodic, dense, refined, beautiful, powerful, organic… really, everything I could want and hope for from a contemporary electronic work.

It’s stunning from beginning to end and yet another massive recommendation. Don’t miss out on this one.

Check it out here...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Ian Hawgood - Snow Roads - Dragon's Eye Recordings CDr

Okay, let’s talk about Snow Roads. You’ll forgive me if I seem a little over-familiar with the artist but he’s a good friend and I know exactly how much has gone into this release – both in time and work. The accumulation of 18 months of production, Snow Roads is a clear labour of love and it only takes a very small glance at the credits to see why 1) you should paying very close attention to this release, and 2) why it’s so damned good.

Collaboratively speaking there are a number of artists that have been involved along the way including Celer, The Remote Viewer, Le Mepris, El Fog, Katherine Morrice, Ben Jones and Wataru Osaka as well as Taylor Deupree on mastering duties. These elements are brought together by Hawgood’s guiding hand into an album of such depth and beauty that you’ll find it simply doesn’t quite hit you the first time you listen to it. I’ve heard it too many times to keep track of and each and every time it gives me something entirely new.

Maybe the first time you’ll feel the space and minimalism that begins the work with bowed instruments layering together to create an almost classical sound. Then you’ll start to really pick out the tangible journey that the music takes you on as the addition of field recordings and bell sounds give it an earthy, naturalistic quality that’s really quite divine. It’s probable that you’ll be so entranced by this time that you’ll begin to notice the delicate background noises and samples that form a dusty layer which allows the delightfully melancholy instrumentation to shine through in all of its glory. By the end you’ll have been taken in by violin pieces, guitars, processed found sounds, deep, ambient soundscapes and textures as well as a real sense of movement and variety that hangs together exactly as it all should.

Pardon the gushing commentary, but this is simply a delicious work of musical art that should be considered a real opus for Ian Hawgood. In some ways it’s completely different to ‘Wolfskin’ and ‘We Are Better…’ but you can hear his sound in there at all times and that’s what gives it such personality. Putting something like this together and being able to call on such talent to provide additional elements is really a wonderful position to be in and he’s done it so, so well.

Another utterly essential release for the artist and another string to the bow of the marvellous Dragon’s Eye imprint. Quite simply brilliant and another highlight of the year for me.

Check it out here...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Variant - The Setting Sun - Echospace CD

It’s been a heck of year for the kind of music I love and two of the highlights so far have come on CD from the Echospace stable. Following Brock Van Wey’s stunning album comes this new project from label main man Steve Hitchell. Having been responsible for so many awesome tracks over the years, collaboratively or in a solo capacity, it’s really refreshing to find Steve coming to the fore with this style of deeply atmospheric music.

You could, in some ways, call it ambient I suppose, but it has way too many hints of his rhythmic background to be 100% beatless. On the contrary he uses percussive elements in such a keen way that they serve to accentuate what we all know he’s so good at: those chords and melodies. Another big feature of this album is the inclusion of a wealth of field recordings made whilst experiencing a late night storm in Berlin and a train journey in Japan. These recordings perfectly fit the ambience of Steve’s work, particularly the train journey elements. There’s something about his tracks that gives you a sense of movement – I can vouch for the fact that this album sounds utterly amazing whilst gazing out of the window sitting on a train.

There’s a captivating spaciousness and mood that instantly clicks with the melancholy side of me and I’m still not 100% sure what it is. The layers, pads and chords are probably mostly responsible, but it’s also the little touches of melody that fade in and out, never overwhelming, just complementing the sound. The other big key is the pure emotion that drips from every moment of every track - you can feel the love that has gone into this, even when it sits on the darker side. The care and attention that pervades the production and structures of the tracks is gorgeous and the title track itself is nothing short of divine, clocking in at a healthy 23 minutes which really allows the artist to give you an intimate and personal sense of how he’s feeling.

Ranging, as it does, from pure ambient / drone through to organically inclined guitar moments (yes, that’s right, guitar) via some uber-chilled out dub-inflected moments you’ll discover that this is a listening album of absolutely the highest calibre. I’m glad the label has this avenue of music to explore and I can’t think of many other people that I’d enjoy hearing do it quite so much.

This is a must for fans of not just Echospace, but beautiful, deep electronic music in general. Pure gold and something you’d be well advised to grab as soon as possible.

Check it out here...