130701 Catalogue

Emil_Friis__Patricio_Fraile_The-Expected-Sounds-Of-Minor-Music

THE EXPECTED SOUNDS OF MINOR MUSIC
Emil Friis & Patricio Fraile

Read about The Expected Sounds Of Minor Music...
 
LP13-54 / DA13-54
08th December 2023
 
Tracklist :
01 – Prelude
02 – A Moment In Time
03 – The Endless Number
04 – Copenhagen
05 – Interlude
06 – Morning
07 – Lullaby For Sleepy Child
08 – Homeless Note For A Homeless Bow
09 – Somewhere
10 – Minor Music
11 – Last City

Danish composers Emil Friis and Patricio Fraile, both known for their illustrious careers in the world of film scoring, have joined forces to create an extraordinary contemporary classical album titled The Expected Sounds Of Minor Music. This innovative collaboration showcases their remarkable talent for crafting evocative, layered compositions that resonate with both simplicity and complexity.

Emil Friis and Patricio Fraile have individually contributed to the world of film music with their unique styles, working on documentaries, feature films, and commissions for Denmark's national broadcasting company, DR. Drawing inspiration from diverse musical backgrounds, their joint project presents a captivating departure from their scoring work, inviting listeners into a world of ethereal melodies and intricate harmonies.

Emil Friis's early exposure to music through his father's extensive vinyl collection, featuring artists like Bob Dylan and Elvis, instilled in him a deep appreciation for narrative-driven music. Today, he finds inspiration in the groundbreaking minimalist work of Gavin Bryars, particularly in ‘The Sinking Of The Titanic’, which he describes as monumentally simple.

Patricio Fraile's musical journey began with a rich foundation of devotional music, thanks to his father's role as a church organist. He transitioned from the violin to the viola at a young age, later exploring compositions by Italian movie music maestros Nito Rota and Giovanni Fusco. His exposure to Spanish and flamenco fusionists like Ketama and pop star Ana Belen during long drives to Spain further shaped his eclectic musical palette.

Together, Emil Friis and Patricio Fraile have meticulously crafted The Expected Sounds Of Minor Music for renowned FatCat imprint, 130701. The album, conceived during the winter and spring of 2022 in Copenhagen, deviates from the duo’s scoring work, emphasizing piano and paper for composition over samples. The collection features a string quartet recorded in southern Sweden and solo cello parts performed by English cellist Joe Zeitlin in London. Field recordings and ambient layers complete the album, created in their shared studio.

The album's title, The Expected Sounds Of Minor Music, invites listeners to explore the unexpected within the anticipated. Each piece is designed to evoke different emotions and imagery, ranging from the movements of a dancer (The Endless Number), the long Copenhagen winter (Copenhagen, February), a flock of birds (Interlude), to a lonesome violinist, lost from his orchestra, forever doomed to wander an Orson Wells like cityscape in black and white, in search of his peers (Homeless Note for a Homeless Bow). The compositions reflect the duality of life, encompassing both the major and minor moments.
Emil Friis and Patricio Fraile's The Expected Sounds Of Minor Music is a testament to their commitment to musical exploration and experimentation. The album's layered and intimate sound, along with its ability to encourage contemplation, sets it apart as a unique and captivating musical experience.

Shida Shahabi_living-circle

LIVING CIRCLE
Shida Shahabi

Read about Living Circle...
 
LP1-52 / CD13-52 / DA13-52
23rd June 2023
 
Tracklist :
01 – Kinsei
02 – Deep Violet Of Gold
03 – Living Circle
04 – Aestus
05 – Tecum
06 – Remain
07 – Tree Mountain

Stockholm-based composer Shida Shahabi returns with her sophomore album, ‘Living Circle’ – a wonderfully rich and accomplished new work that resonates with a powerful depth and viscerality. Where the warm, homespun piano of her 2018 debut, ‘Homes’, drew widespread praise and announced her arrival as a bold new voice, ‘Living Circle’ sees the artist pushing forward into deeper, more expansive sonic realms. With tracks stretching longer and slower, and her piano lines less ornate and dominant, ‘Living Circle’ is a heavyweight album and a must-hear for fans of Stars Of The Lid, Sarah Davachi, Max Richter, Labradford, etc. Released via FatCat’s 130701 imprint on June 23rd on vinyl, CD and digital formats, it is preceded by a live show supporting A Winged Victory For The Sullen at London’s Barbican Centre on May 13th.
 
Patience is a virtue, and in Shahabi’s world things generally move at a gentle pace. You’ll hear this in her music, in which delicate piano and cello lines trace spellbinding melodies amid the cavernous depths of vast, richly textured drone waves, and you’ll see it in her lifestyle, an unhurried, considered existence to which nurturing is central, whether of her family, herself, her work, or the plants she grows. Good things, as they say, come to those who wait, and Shahabi clearly understands the axiom’s truth. Hers is lusciously sensitive music. Using a piano prepared with felt (to create a damped sense of closeness) and intimately captured via clever microphone placement and a subtle prism of tape delay treatments, the simple, gentle beauty of her compositions is striking. Uncluttered and unhurried, a deep warmth seeps through her music’s every note.
 
Born in the Swedish capital in 1989 to Iranian parents, Shahabi grew up in a home filled with the sounds of both ‘70s Persian pop and classical works, and would pick up pieces on the family piano by ear without having the patience to learn from sheet notation. As her tastes developed, an early ear for punk and grunge shifted towards more esoteric, experimental flavours – among them The Cure, Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. From age eleven, Shida began experimenting with her own simple compositions, noting how “it was like doodling, but became a way to spend time when I was bored, and I did it for long periods, provoked by pure pleasure.” Following four years studying fine art at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art, she began freelancing as a musician with numerous local artists and bands and found herself composing music for dance, cinema, theatre and fine art contexts, as well as taking her first steps as a solo artist. Discovered by Stockholm label Sing A Song Fighter, her album recordings were sent to 130701 who, blown away by their quality, co-released her ‘Homes’ debut in October 2018.
 
‘Homes’ was championed by BBC Radio’s Mary Anne Hobbs and Gilles Peterson, whilst MOJO marvelled at Shida’s “summoning music from the very bowels of the piano, the out-of-focus opacity, like her simple, affecting melodic figures, suggesting a half-submerged music that rewards the attentive ear”. Elsewhere, Future Music called the album “a masterclass in simplicity… allowing each note the space and time to become truly affecting… a confident debut of a new artist with their own vision”. Released without huge fanfare or big marketing machinery, the LP nevertheless found a strong, organic connection with an audience, being picked up and shared across social media and via word of mouth, and viewed by many as one of the year’s finest piano albums.
 
Despite taking almost five years between albums, Shahabi has hardly been resting on her laurels. There have been tracks on an EP split with 130701 labelmates Resina and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch alongside a joint UK tour, as well as ‘Shifts’, her own five-track EP in 2019, not to mention the release of film scores and other commissions – including a reworking of Beethoven’s ‘Piano Sonata No. 26’ in 2021 for Deezer’s ‘Beethoven Recomposed’ project – and carefully selected live performances, from Max Richter’s Reflektor Festival at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie to Film Four’s Summer Screen season at London’s Somerset House. Having scored several short films, Shida recently graduated to work on full features – for Charlotte Le Bon’s award-winning ‘Falcon Lake’ and the SpectreVision production ‘Lovely, Dark and Deep’. She also scored a prestigious new contemporary dance production, ‘Sylph’, choreographed by Halla Ólafsdóttir for Sweden’s Cullberg company, which premieres in May.
 
Following a string of rare but brilliant live performances and with her music having racked up millions of digital streams, ‘Living Circle’ finally arrives to answer the building anticipation. Recorded and produced by Shida and Hampus Norén, it was pieced together between 2021–22, with recordings made in several Stockholm spaces – at both Shida’s home apartment and studio space; in the octahedral Skeppsholmskyrkan church; and finally at Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg, before being expertly mixed and mastered by Francesco Donadello (Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran, Hildur Guðnadóttir) at Berlin’s renowned Voxton Studios.
 
Whilst previous releases were created via minimal approaches and clear conceptual framing, ‘Living Circle’ arose out of a more gradual and intuitive, organic process. “I wanted a vaguer framework,” says Shida, “not always knowing what the next step would be, and seeking a wider and longer format. It arose partly from improvisation and partly from sessions spent working and talking through what sounds felt interesting and what the core of the material wanted to say. I don’t think the tracks would sound the way they do, if it wasn’t for me giving the process time and letting things rest, without being quickly packaged or defined too much. Working ‘in the dark’ like that puts you in a more vulnerable situation. But that complexity and vulnerability also created other outputs and made the process strangely more fun.”

Without radical reinvention, ‘Living Circle’ sees Shida continue to pull her music forward. From the sparser unadorned piano of ‘Homes’, through ‘Shifts’ which first featured cellist Linnea Olsson – a wonderful foil and now a fixture in Shida’s live show – and into her piano-free soundtrack work on ‘Lake On Fire’ and ‘Alvaret’, there’s been a consistent sense of expansion and refinement of her craft – exploring different instrumental sources; dialling deeper into subtle atmospheric detail and spatiality; learning how to say more with less. On ‘Living Circle’ that journey, and the time she has allowed it, has led to a hugely impressive work that feels both vast and nuanced, radiating a masterful sense of confidence and control.
 
With an increased focus on ambient texture, drone and extended duration, four of the seven tracks stretch beyond seven minutes in length. ‘Kinsei’ might open the album on a decaying piano note, yet it’s almost fifteen minutes before the instrument audibly enters as the title track powers slowly and assuredly forward, feeling like a pitched-down take on Radiohead’s ‘Pyramid Song’ whilst recalling ‘Futo’ from her ‘Shifts’ EP, in its powerful and emotive interlocking of piano and cello. Where it does appear, Shida’s piano playing is pared back and more repetitive/ less ornate than before. In another shift, she incorporates choral elements for the first time, with ‘Deep Violet of Gold’ and ‘Aestus’ featuring the voices of Julia Ringdahl, Nina Kinert and Sara Parkman alongside her own. Double bassist Gus Loxbo also plays on six of the album’s seven tracks, whilst Olsson’s cello is increasingly foregrounded. Across the LP, there’s a deeper layering and weathering of sounds, with distorted surfaces blistering and peeling away on ‘Deep Violet Of Gold’ and the more synthetic, Blade Runner-esque ‘Tecum’; the former at times nudging closer to the saturated/ overdriven tape of Ian William Craig’s reel to reel processing and delight in gritty materiality.
 
As Shahabi points out, silence also plays a vital role in the album. Suffused with an elegant melancholy, it allows notes to linger and melodies to unfurl at a speed that reflects the record’s making. Eerie but uplifting, imposing yet redemptive, it succeeds in being as expansive as it is intimate, as still as it is fluid, haunting those who hear it long after the music’s quietly faded. Glacially paced and powerfully resonant, ‘Living Circle’ is an important reminder of the joys in taking a measured, patient approach to the art of creation. There is, let’s not forget, nothing like being in the right place at the right time, especially if ultimately the goal is to achieve something timeless.
Set Fire To Flames_Sings_Reign_Rebuilder

SINGS REIGN REBUILDER (20th Anniversary Edition)
Set Fire To Flames

Read about Sings Reign Rebuilder...
 
LP13XX-01
14th October 2022
 
Tracklist :
01 – 'I Will Be True...' (From Lips Of Lying Dying Wonder Body #1) / Reign Rebuilder [Head]
02 – Vienna Arcweld / Fucked Gamelan / Rigid Tracking
03 – Steal Compass / Drive North / Disappear
04 – Wild Dogs Of The Thunderbolt / 'They Cannot Lock Me Up... I Am Eternally Free...' (From Lips Of Lying Dying Wonder Body #2)
05 – Omaha
06 – There is No Dance In Frequency And Balance
07 – Cote D'abrahams Roomtone/'What's Going On?...' (From Lips Of Lying Dying Wonder Body #3)
08 – Love Song For 15 Ontario (W/ Singing Police Car)
09 – Injur: Gutted Two-Track
10 – When I First Get To Phoenix
11 – Shit-Heap-Gloria Of The New Town Planning
12 – Jesus / Pop
13 – Esquimalt Harbour
14 – Two Tears In A Bucket
15 – Fading Lights Are Fading / Reign Rebuilder [Tail Out]Liking
 
Almost twenty-one years to the day since its original appearance, 130701 proudly released the long-awaited reissue of Set Fire To Flames’ debut ‘Sings Reign Rebuilder’ – a classic album that sold out of its original vinyl pressing within weeks of its release on 15th October 2001 and has remained unavailable since. Remastered with a new cut at Dubplates & Mastering and reissued in a heavyweight black vinyl double-LP edition of 1,500 copies, the record arrives in full original packaging that includes a gatefold heavy card sleeve, 20th anniversary-branded OBI strip and a 24-page 7”x7” booklet with full-color print and 8 tracing-paper pages, plus a full download coupon.
 
**As an exclusive to D2C orders purchased via Bandcamp and the FatCat webstore, the album will come with a free set of 4 colour postcards (while stocks last) featuring unused images created by the band. The postcards are printed on 350gm uncoated card stock and housed in a black envelope in a hand-stamped + numbered edition of just 150 copies. ++ These have now all gone
 
Originally released on a trio of labels – Alien 8 in North America, P-Vine in Japan and FatCat’s 130701 imprint in UK/Europe – ‘Sings Reign Rebuilder’ was the first ever release on 130701 and the sole reason that the label was founded, years before it discovered its particular niche pioneering the post-classical genre.
 
Set Fire To Flames were founded in the highly fertile music-making community that sprang up in Montreal around the turn of the century. A sprawling, adventurous 14-piece collective, its core was drawn from members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor alongside others from bands including A Silver Mt Zion, Exhaust, Fly Pan Am and Hangedup.  During an all-too-brief existence that was hindered by both their requirements as members of frequently busy other bands and the draining intensity and logistical effort of the collective’s recording process, the outfit released just two double albums and played only two live shows. Yet the traces they left feel like high water marks and have continued to resonate through time. Whenever we have posted about this album on social media, the response has been off the scale.

Whilst very much forged from the heat of group-mind improvisation, SFTF sprang from the vision of godspeed guitarist David Bryant, who came up with the name and the artwork, helped establish the membership and oversaw the recording and the painstaking process of editing together the album from countless hours of material.
 
It was recorded over a 5-day period in a rickety old house in Montreal through a communal atmosphere of long-duration improvised creative activity, with performers operating in sleep-deprived and confined / intoxicated states. The dozens of hours worth of recorded material was then pored over and brilliantly edited in a sharp, collage-like aesthetic that mixed plaintive guitar-scapes; extended passages of scratchy, freeform improv and concrete mechanical clatterings; atmospheric location recordings; stirring, chamber string arrangements; rich and deep drone works; and Kraut-like, heavily rhythmic workouts. In our view, the most dynamic and adventurous record to come out of the early ‘00s Montreal scene, there are quite simply few records that match the album’s depth and striking dynamic range. A veritable masterpiece of the period, it remains a brilliant listen from start to finish.
 
‘Sings Reign Rebuilder’ was described on its original release by TimeOut as “one of the most broodingly beautiful, dramatically emotional, hauntingly evocative albums likely to ever scrape at your soul… This record will kill you”; and by Pitchfork as “a gripping testament to the power of emotional expression in music… a marvelously inventive and powerful album.”
 
Originally intended to be reissued in October 2021 on its 20th anniversary, the record was held up in a post-Covid manufacturing queue and further delayed following several sets of failed test pressings, two re-cuts and the crazy spike in vinyl costs and turnaround times. Re-released almost twenty-one years to the day since its first appearance, we were so pleased to finally reissue this beast of an album in its full original glory.
 
The following people played on the record :
Aidan Girt – drums (gy!be / 1-speed bike / exhaust)
Rebecca Foon – cello (a silver mt. Zion / esmerine)
Bruce Cawdron – drums/percussion  (gy!be / esmerine)
Christof Migone – electrical motors/contact mics/banjo (squintfucker press / avatar / undo / solo)
David Bryant – guitar (gy!be / hiss tracts)
Geneviève Heistek – viola (hanged up / sackville)
Gordon Krieger – bass clarinet (exhaust)
Jean-Sébastien Truchy – bass (fly pan am)
Mike Moya – guitar (gy!be  / HRSTA / molasses)
Roger Tellier-Craig – guitar (fly pan am / gy!be)
Speedy Weaver – guitar
Sophie Trudeau – violin (gy!be / a silver mt. zion)
Thea Pratt – french horn
Ian Ilavsky – guitar (sofa / a silver mt. zion)
Clarice_Jensen_Esthesis.jpg

ESTHESIS
Clarice Jensen

Read about Esthesis...
 
LP13-51 / CD13-51 / DA13-51
21st October 2022
 
Tracklist :
01 – Liking
02 – Sadness
03 – Anger
04 – Disliking
05 – Joy
06 – Fear
07 – Love
 
Cellist/composer Clarice Jensen returns with her third album, ‘Esthesis’, a deep and gorgeous new work conceptually structured around the emotional and harmonic spectrum and the phenomenon of chromesthesia – a condition whereby sound involuntarily evokes an experience of colour, shape and movement. Following up her critically-acclaimed 2020 LP ‘The Experience of Repetition as Death’ (a record almost presciently timed to arrive as Covid first hit), ‘Esthesis’ sees Jensen expanding her oeuvre, introducing a wider instrumental range, and reflecting on the effects of isolation. Recorded by Jensen in upstate NY and expertly mixed by Francesco Donadello, the record was mastered by Matthew Agoglia and is released on October 21st, ahead of a UK/EU tour supporting 130701 alumni Dustin O’Halloran. 
From its opening piano notes, ‘Esthesis’ gently upends expectations built up over previous albums. Shifting and extending Jensen’s sound in line with the adventurousness of the ‘Drone Studies’ and ‘Platonic Solids’ EPs, the album is less reliant on her trademark razor-sharp, processed cello drone. Performed heavily on synth, as well as her more usual cello and electronics, it also features the piano playing of Timo Andres (tracks 1, 4 and 5) and the voices of Laura Lutzke, Francesca Federico and Emma Broughton (on tracks 3 and 6). Whilst the drone is never far away, there’s a sense of more light and space across the album. 
 
‘Esthesis’ was originally conceived in pre-pandemic times as a concert experience, structured to comprise a series of long drones, each centred on a single key/pitch and cycling sequentially through the circle of fifths from C to F. These drones would be punctuated by shorter “songs”, each depicting one of the seven principal emotions defined in the Chinese Book of Rites. As an audio-visual experience, Jensen imagined the audience bathed in coloured lights that corresponded to each drone, with those colours combined or oscillating during the songs in an effort to mimic or induce chromesthesia: a (gentle, not jarring) trip through the complete spectrum of colour, (Western) pitch and emotion. 
 
With the pandemic dashing these plans and ushering in a period where it was even difficult to imagine live performance anymore, Jensen instead set out to realise the concept as an album palpably created in enforced solitude and isolation. “I expanded my usual palette of layered and treated cellos without the effect of a more grandiose or large-scale feeling of timbre; I wished to employ additional media in an effort to further portray the idea of isolation and containment.” Foregoing the longer drone structures she’d planned in favour of a more succinct whole, each track on ‘Esthesis’ evokes a different principal emotion using seemingly one-dimensional titles, with Jensen’s intention being to juxtapose the depths of these emotions with the reality-overlay of solitude. “It also calls to question how sensation can be rudimentary. Imposed isolation and the fear of viral exposure led many to seek sensation by streaming television, circulating memes, and sharing delayed laughs with loved ones across computer screens – all of this done alone and somewhat removed through various media, and set against a backdrop of very real fear.” While the “removed” nature of each track/emotion remains deliberate, so also exists the very realness of the emotion itself. “’Joy’ evokes vernal lightness and promise, and came to me as I was falling asleep and realised I was still smiling thinking about someone I love. ‘Sadness’ is a setting of Purcell’s ‘Dido’s Lament’. ‘Liking’ begins with tentative hope and then blossoms, using an additive compositional process, whereas ‘Disliking’ is subtractive. ‘Anger’ uses text taken from Simone de Beauvoir’s letters to Nelson Algren (the entirety is pasted below). ‘Fear’ attempts to simply portray breathing and absence. The organs used on ‘Love’ suggest hallowed spaces, employing only a short progression that always returns to the same but becomes layered, out-of-sync and lost, but simplest at its end.” 
 
Across the album’s seven pieces, Jensen shows great restraint and incredible compositional talent in spinning a series of beautiful, complex interweavings of texture, tone, rhythm and melody. There is a serious depth in her sensibility, that rewards repeated listening. 
ian-william-craig_Music For Magnesium_173

MUSIC FOR MAGNESIUM_173
Ian William Craig

Read about Music For Magnesium_173...
 
LP13-46 / DA13-46
23rd September 2022
 
Tracklist :
01 – Blue Suit Glitch
02 – A Given Stack
03 – Viridian
04 – It’s a Sound, Not an Ocean
05 – A Crack and a Shadow
06 – Zero Crossing
07 – Sprite Percent World Record
08 – Sentimental Drift
09 – Prisms
10 – Attention For It Radiates
11 – Infinite Consent
12 – Someone Else
 
Prolific Vancouver-based singer/composer Ian William Craig returns with a gorgeous new LP of material commissioned to soundtrack the computer game Magnesium 173. Whilst functioning as a score, ‘Music for Magnesium_173’ is far from being a set of short cues or lesser material. Released on double vinyl and digital formats, the record comprises a set of twelve bold and immersive pieces – the majority clocking in between 5-10 minutes in length and totalling 80 minutes of new music. These are anything but passive or reserved background sound-beds though; possessing a genuine weight and power, ‘Music for Magnesium_173’ offers another tour de force display of Craig’s peerless power as an improvising composer able to summon and shape the sublime via an arsenal of modified tape machinery, electronics and his own gorgeous voice, with the results forging a unique kind of choral-based, heavily-abrasive take on ambient composition.   
 
Created by Graham Johnson, Magnesium_173 launched in August 2021 via the gaming platform Steam and is described as “an elegant puzzle game inspired by quantum mechanics”, which encourages players “to discard their conventional understanding of time and explore what it takes to make a meaningful choice.” Using a branching series of puzzles, it explores a set of rules, with new ideas constantly introduced, examined and twisted. With the game developed with the composer firmly in mind, Ian’s music is likewise rippling with possibility and continually in flux. With delays in the game’s development, his original attempts at a score ended up being released back in 2018 as the ‘Thresholder’ EP. A new set of material was composed but then lost when a computer containing the mixes was stolen. Ian was then forced to try and recreate that music from the stems and some old Logic file versions, resulting in this released version – its form only fixed down as one of the numerous possible outcomes with the accidents of the partly-controlled, part-random collaboration of his machines playing their part.  
 
Largely wordless yet rooted as ever in the power and beauty of Craig’s voice run through a variety of customised analogue tape machines, the album is a bold and singular work that sees Ian introducing elements of modular synthesis for the first time. Wide in dynamics and rich in textural detail, the music surges and shimmers, moving from the airily ethereal ‘Zero Crossing’ and ‘Sentimental Drift’ to the warm, bass-heavy drones Of ‘Sprite Percent World Record’ or ‘Prisms’. There’s a strong sense of movement throughout. The vocal accumulations of opener ‘Blue Suit Glitch’ end up receding beneath globs of blooping modular synth. ‘It’s a Sound, Not an Ocean’ sees gentle vocal tendrils scoured beneath layers of fuzz, grit and a blast of bass-y distortion, re-emerging as breathing surges of overlaid vocal loops, and ending in a web of dancing synth notes. Elsewhere, ‘Zero Crossing’ wades through slashing swathes of blanket fuzz; ‘Prisms’ and ‘Infinite Consent’ are scoured by fizzing distortion; ‘A Crack and a Shadow’ – perhaps the most delicate track here – sees a duet between a looped intermittent crackling of electrical noise and a sparse vocal repeating. The album winds down beautifully in the brief, spiralling arc of ‘Someone Else’.  

Slow, expansive and continually shifting, tracks envelop the listener, using looping and repetition in a way that feels organic and amorphous, never locked or rigid. Waves roll. Elements taper in and out of existence. Tracks build in density through gradual accumulation. Certainly, Ian’s voice might act as a soothing balm for the listener, but far removed from any cosy new age ambient sensibility, it is persistently tempered by weight and grit that accentuates and elevates it well beyond simple prettiness. Clearly, he delights in conjuring and making a virtue out of the visceral, utilising the sonic artefacts of mechanical processing – fizz, crackle, hiss, slurred tape, the clunk of pressed buttons – and sending the whole cycling around itself like a series of Machine lullabies. There are parts that recall Aphex Twin’s ‘Ambient Works Vol. 2’, but overall the feel is less analogue bubble bath, and more akin to the corrosive fizz of the acid bath eating away at etching plates of Ian’s day job as a printmaking technician. 
 
Sound artist, award-winning printmaker, classically-trained vocalist, writer, photographer, composer and performer, Ian William Craig has been heralded by MOJO as “a trained opera singer manipulating analogue recordings of his own voice to conjure up bewitching traceries of phantom arias…  a singer destroying his own work, yet creating something more elegiac and profound in the process.” The Guardian described him as “sounding like a collaboration between Bon Iver and William Basinski”; and Pitchfork as “like Tim Hecker producing the outré Jónsi Birgisson album many expected but never got as Sigur Rós’ star rose.” Ian’s work has found fans in the likes of Max Richter, Thom Yorke and Sigur Rós. He might find peers in the likes of Julianna Barwick or William Basinski and appeal to fans of artists like Abul Mogard, Ben Frost, Tim Hecker or Fennesz, but really – like all of his output – this music sits out on its own.
Emilie_Levienaise-Farrouch_ravage-1

RAVAGE
Emilie Levienaise–Ferrouch

Read about Ravage...
 
LP13-47 / DA13-47
27th May 2022
 
Tracklist :
01 – Unsaid
02 – Ravage
03 – Fata Morgana
04 – An Easy Passage
05 – Katabasis
06 – The Universe Within You
07 – Tendrils
08 – Ephemeris
09 – Epilogue
10 – Parting Gift
11 – Ravage (solo piano edit)
12 – Katabasis (solo piano edit)
 
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch returns with a brilliant third album. Ravage is the London-based French pianist/composer’s first standalone album since 2018’s Époques, following which she has been busy building a name for herself by scoring an increasingly high-profile series of films. A powerful, deeply personal album that charts the process of grieving for a parent, Emilie describes Ravage as “the most intimate and personal project I’ve created”.
 
Recorded largely at home in London over the lockdown in the winter of 2020/21, the piano parts were recorded at Love Electric in April 2021 on a Bosendorfer Imperial. It was mixed at Spitfire Studios and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri. Unlike her previous albums, both of which featured string parts performed by soloists from the London Contemporary Orchestra, the entirety of the music this time around is Emilie’s work alone. “In part due to the subject of the album, I decided to play everything on this record myself”, she notes. “Being produced during the lockdown, it made sense to be as independent and nimble as possible.”
 
The composition process began in 2018 with the album’s title track, which Emilie felt compelled to write during a period of intense grief after losing her father. “It was a way for me to express and process the emotions I was going through, especially as I found it impossible to verbalise, or even tell people. It felt a rather solitary experience because we rarely talk about the loss of a parent with whom one had a fraught relationship, and those extremely layered and complex feelings toward that parent can be hard to explain.”
 
That slippery emotional complexity is rendered palpable across an album that side-steps the traps of cliché to deliver a roller coaster set where feelings appear in a state of flux. “I wasn’t looking for a universal pattern or ‘5 stages of grief’, but at how loss is experienced on an individual level”, Emilie explains. “It’s looking at an event that is so banal and yet cataclysmic, at how thoroughly unprepared we are for something almost all of us will experience, but also at how the loss of someone might help us understand them, remove any tension or resentment, and help us see their fragility.”
 
Reading numerous literary accounts of grieving, Emilie was inspired by artist Taryn Simon’s piece An Occupation of Loss, which featured professional mourners from around the world and the public performance of grief. This informed the way she used her voice to help create the album’s drones and textures. “I see Ravage as a mourning diary – it’s intimate, ritualistic in the sense that some of the methods used are sometimes more to do with their symbolic meaning than with the resulting sound.” Her voice was recorded via contact microphones applied directly onto her throat or chest to try and capture an interiority in the sound, the personal experience of a mourning sound rather than its public expression. Another touchstone was Latvian parapsychologist Konstantins Raudive’s mid-’60s study of Electronic Voice Phenomenon – finding spirit voices embedded in electronic recordings. On ‘Fata Morgana’ a short passage from her father’s correspondence was weaved into the track, manipulated and filtered to the limit of legibility, “making you feel you could almost grasp its meaning without ever being fully able to.”
 
From start to finish, Ravage has a strong, considered narrative flow that bears witness to Emilie’s skill sets as both a pianist and sculptor of sound. Ditching strings for synths and far more drone-heavy than before, it sees a bold coalescence of acoustic and digital sources, of the arranged/processed and the performed. With much movement both across the album and within the tracks themselves, richly textured and layered sound pieces are interspersed between, and seep within, Emilie’s forceful yet fluid, emotive piano playing.
 
A resonant, powerful excavation of the grieving process that sidesteps clichéd tropes to probe the full depths and complex spectrum of human emotion, Ravage is surely Emilie’s most ambitious and fully realised album to date. Set apart from the swathes of contemporary classical pianists by the boldness and bite of her sound design, whilst adding an intricate, emotive instrumental performance missing from much sound art, she is steadily carving out a niche for herself as a composer with a singular sound and vision. Following in the footsteps of recent adventurous composers like Johann Johannsson, Mica Levi and Hildur Gudnadottir, Emilie looks set to break through as another hugely talented artist combining roles as a composer for both film and her own wonderful music.
Shida Shahabi_alvaret-original-soundtrack

ALVARET (Original Soundtrack)
Shida Shahabi

Read about Alvaret...
 
DA13-50
26th November 2021
 
Tracklist :
01 – Dog Walk
02 – The Place
03 – To Town
04 – Low Land
05 – Alice
 
Stockholm-based pianist/composer Shida Shahabi follows up last year’s ‘Lake On Fire’ OST with the release of another short film score, this time for Swedish director Maria Eriksson-Hecht’s ‘Alvaret’. Stepping away from her piano entirely, the EP’s five tracks are performed by Shida on electric bass and synth, alongside the cello of regular collaborator Linnea Olsson. It was mixed by Hampus Norén and mastered by Francesco Donadello and will be released as a digital EP via FatCat’s 130701 imprint on November 26th. A beautifully rich and atmospheric soundtrack, ‘Alvaret’ posts further confirmation of Shida’s special talent and growing reputation as a composer of the highest order.   
 
Produced by Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa company, Eriksson-Hecht’s ‘Alvaret’ is a powerful, stunningly shot 20-minute study on the aftermath of tragedy and a young girl’s resilience and determination to hold her remaining family together. The film runs short on dialogue but deep in emotional honesty and integrity as it probes the depths of care and despair. Perfectly in step with the director’s vision, Shida’s score avoids tugging at heartstrings via the obvious tropes of sentimentality, instead pulling back to a cooler, more measured and complex emotional distance, and an intimation of the barren, low-lying island landscape in which the film is set. 
 
Wonderfully warm and rich, it’s a brilliant score that is lucid and precise whilst luxuriating in a tonal/timbral depth and a deep sense of space. The musical contents of Shida’s five short cues are immaculately focussed, each note given ample space in which to hang and evolve, their details slowly unfurling like the clouds in the hot summer skies of the film. 
 
Discussing its creation, Shida notes that “I’ve worked from home just like everybody else during the pandemic, so my studio set up was quite minimal with a couple of analogue synths, an electric bass and several FaceTime recording sessions with Linnea Olsson on cello. I knew that the soundtrack needed an earthy yet big feeling and that it was important to create a sound that also described care, and grief but also an emotional complexity of the relationship between the daughter Alice who takes care of her father.” 
 
Having recently signed to Redbird management (Jóhann Jóhannsson, Stars Of The Lid, Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka, Colin Stetson), Shahabi’s star is clearly on the rise. Her debut album ‘Homes’ came out in 2018 to widespread acclaim, with a MOJO review marvelling over her “summoning music from the very bowels of the piano… a half-submerged music that rewards the attentive ear”; whilst Future Music wrote how “assured harmonies, deep melodies and an impeccable sense of timing drives the album”, calling it “a masterclass in simplicity… a confident debut of a new artist with their own vision”. November 2019 saw the release of the EP ‘Shifts’, followed by Shida’s score to Jennifer Rainsford’s ‘Lake On Fire’. Most recently, Shida released ‘Cloud No.26’, a reworking of Beethoven’s ‘Piano Sonata No. 26 in E Flat major, Op. 81a’, following Deezer’s invitation to contribute to their ‘Beethoven Recomposed’ project, celebrating the composer’s 250th Birthday.  In October Shida performed at Max Richter and Yulia Mahr’s Reflektor Festival at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. She is currently working on her sophomore album as well as her first feature-length score.
Clarice_Jensen_identifying-features

IDENTIFYING FEATURES
Clarice Jensen

Read about Identifying Features...
 
DA13-49
29th October 2021
 
Tracklist :
01 – Back To Mexico
02 – Back To Miguel
03 – The Devil
04 – The End
 
Following up on January 2021’s digital release of her debut film score ‘Ainu Mosir’, New York-based cellist/composer Clarice Jensen returns with another remarkable score that should help cement her rising status as a soundtrack composer of the highest order. Composed for the Mexican independent feature film ‘Identifying Features’, the EP comprises four tracks with a total running time of nineteen minutes. Recorded at Jensen’s home in Brooklyn using cello and electronics, it’s a bold and powerful work that is as good as any drone-based material you will hear this year, and hints back at times to her critically-acclaimed 2020 album ‘The Experience of Repetition As Death’. Mixed by Rafael Anton Irisarri and mastered by Matthew Agoglia, ‘Identifying Features’ is released as a digital EP via FatCat’s 130701 imprint.
 
 A versatile collaborator, Jensen has recorded and performed with a host of stellar artists including Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Björk, Stars of the Lid, Dustin O’Halloran, Nico Muhly, Taylor Swift, Michael Stipe, the National and many others. In her role as the artistic director of ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), she has helped bring to life some of the most revered works of modern classical music, including pieces by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Gavin Bryars and more. 
 
Written and directed by Fernanda Valadez, ‘Identifying Features’ is a harrowing film that tackles the subject of immigration across the Mexican/U.S. border and the many hundreds of immigrants who go missing or die on their journeys. Most of the film’s main characters are mothers desperately trying to track down their lost children. Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) is one such mother, having lost contact with her teenage son Jesús (Juan Jesús Varela), who months earlier had set out on foot with a friend from their rural town in Guanajuato. Determined to unravel his fate, Magdalena finds herself entangled in a crime syndicate and a labyrinth of disorienting lies on an increasingly surreal journey to uncover the truth. The film unravels as a slow-burning descent into desperation, which is brilliantly conveyed via Jensen’s score. A 4-star Guardian review picked up on the film’s “undertow of spiritual horror”, interpreting it as “a cry of rage or a cry for help, on behalf of people in Mexico who have been abandoned to lawlessness, corruption and the vast market forces created by its northern neighbour.” An impressive directorial debut, Valadez’s film won the Audience and Jury Awards at the Sundance Film Festival. 
 
Perfectly fitting its subject, Jensen’s four drone-heavy tracks are laced with a visceral, heavily psychedelic sense of darkness. Moving with the slow relentlessness of the sun’s tracking across the sky, and shorn entirely of either melodic sentimentality or overt drama, her radiating blocks of sound summon up the vast sense of space of the eerie, indifferent and dangerous desert(ed) landscape across which the film’s protagonists are forced to struggle. ‘Back To Mexico’ is a pulsing, pumping multi-layered drone-work that simmers with a sense of foreboding. The Briefest of the four pieces, ‘Back To Miguel’ is a glistening, glacial arc. ‘The Devil’ shimmers and hangs, sending out a series of waves of processed cello that ripple like heat-haze; whilst ‘The End’ opens low before a series of slow-moving drone blocks of different weights and intensities slide in and out of focus. It’s all hugely impressive material – immaculately forged with a wonderful sonic richness and depth. 
 
Following on from ‘Ainu Mosir’, ‘Identifying Features’ is a quite brilliant addition to Jensen’s catalogue – a captivating, powerful and coherent work in its own right that offers further evidence of her undoubted skill and suitability as a composer for moving image. 
Resina_speechless

SPEECHLESS
Resina

Read about Speechless...
 
LP13-48
19th November 2021
 
Tracklist :
01 – Mercury Immersion
02 – Horse Tail
03 – Failed Myth Simulation
04 – Darwin's Finches
05 – Unveiling
06 – Manic
07 – Hajstra
08 – A Crooked God
09 – Recall
 
Warsaw-based cellist/composer Resina (Karolina Rec) returns with a first standalone album in three years, taking a big step forward on a bold and brilliantly expansive record that explores ideas about language, the voice and the unpredictability of nature. Recorded by Resina and Michał Kupicz, with striking additional mixing & production work by Daniel Rejmer (Ben Frost, Björk, Foals, Girls Names), ‘Speechless’ is fluid and muscular, with wide dynamics and a dark and powerful dramatic weight. Across nine tracks, Resina’s cello, voice and electronics are set alongside drummer Mateusz Rychlicki, the 23-piece 441 Hz choir, with Magdalena Gajdzica playing flute (track 1) and Michał Fojcik adding field recording & sound design (track 4).
 
Removed from their regular, more refined classical contexts, cello and choir are subjected to electronic processing, expanded and deployed in a swirling, visceral soundscape, sometimes pushed into distortion and anchored alongside Rychlicki’s driving drumming. An amalgamation of noise, rock, ambient, choral and classical elements, ‘Speechless’ shifts from gossamer beauty to glowering threat; from pulsing minimalism to full-bore propulsive blow-outs. As well as moments of great beauty, it is shot through with shrieks and howls, cavernous bass drops, sirens and sudden pitch shifts. A mysterious and deeply uncertain space is opened. Even within individual tracks, the atmosphere seems slippery, poised precariously between light and dark.
 
‘Mercury Immersion’ opens the album in a deep fog that tips towards hinted menace; ‘Horse Tail’ ramps up from cello and choral minimalism to be sucked into a pummelling void of drums and cello strikes; ‘Failed Myth Simulation’s gorgeous choral airiness is pulled forward by pattering drums; ‘Darwin’s Finches’ brings to mind Johann Johannsson’s score for ‘Arival’ or Mica Levi’s for ‘Monos’; whilst the sawing cello of ‘Unveiling’s recalls Ernst Reijseger’s ‘Colla Parte’. Elsewhere, ‘Hajstra’ gets deep and gritty with Karolina’s cello creaking, scraping and squealing; and ‘A Crooked’ God’ brings in an Eastern folk tonality. ‘Recall’ closes the album in a beautiful, cavernous choral cloud before collapsing into a witchy, wind-whipped darkness.
 
Finding peers in the likes of Hildur Gudnadottir, Gyda Valtyrsdottir, Oliver Coates or Lucy Railton, Resina’s work is marked by an adventurous, personal language of improvisation and composition. Releasing her self-titled debut LP in 2016 after signing to FatCat’s 130701 imprint, a sophomore LP, ‘Traces’, arrived in July 2018, followed by an EP of remixes from Ben Frost, Abul Mogard, Lotic and Ian William Craig. 2020 saw Resina expand her oeuvre, soundtracking the cult RPG video game, ‘Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows Of New York’, which was compiled as an LP on Gdansk-based label Coastline Northern Cuts.
 
The past couple of years have seen her performing at the Unsound festival; supporting Godspeed you black emperor!; and collaborating both live and in the studio with Christina Vantzou and 130701 labelmate Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch. A full album recording project with Emilie was postponed due to Covid. Forced to fall back on working alone, after many months Karolina finally found a source of communal joy in working with Gdańsk -based 441Hz Choir – an internationally-acclaimed “untempered” choir conducted by Anna Wilczewska and known for its experimental openness. Between two lockdowns they managed to rehearse and record choral parts for five tracks in Gdańsk‘s Old Town Hall.
 
Instrumental parts were recorded at renowned Polish Radio Studio S2 in Warsaw, whilst some of Karolina’s solo vocal parts were improvised and recorded at home. “Singing has always felt very natural for me”, she notes, “At one time I even left cello to sing in a professional choir. Whilst discovering that wasn’t what I really wanted to do, performing and recording pieces by Penderecki and other modern Polish composers changed my view of choral music and reassured me that the voice is perhaps the most surprising, flexible, inspiring and powerful instrument.”
 
Composed at the time of the Women Strike protests in Poland, ‘Speechless’ began evolving around the idea of “seeking more experimental, primitive ways of making sound with a voice”; thinking about those who are denied a voice; and exploring a tension between the physicality/animalistic aspects of instrumental performance versus electronic and amplified music. ‘Animal-like’ sounding voices and instruments were set against classical techniques. Karolina attempted “to treat the human voice primarily as an instrument while testing what the word ‘human’ actually means in a music deliberately created without the use of words.” Such explorations stemmed from an interest in the work of primatologists like Frans de Waal. “I often get the strange feeling that monkeys can see right through me”, wrote De Waal. “Perhaps it is because they are not distracted by language.”
 
Having recorded and rough-mixed the album, Karolina approached Daniel Rejmer, having followed his impressive work for Ben Frost. “I felt as if something was pulsating underneath these pieces but didn’t know how to get it out. I felt there was potential to make this album more unpredictable, raw, dangerous and somehow more natural, primal.” Rejmer dove deep into the work, pulling out extra weight and width and sharpening its teeth. Overjoyed with the results, Karolina remarked how “with a choir on the album you might expect it to sound like some kind of more polished, classical music, but our aim was rather the opposite. I wanted to scrape away those layers of sound synonymous with refined modern-classical music, which I feel sometimes only serve to maintain a safe aesthetic.” She describes the finished album as “a dance on the mud floor, a search for vitality and an admiration of the unpredictability of nature, which we still have a chance to watch for a while before it decides to get rid of us.”
Shida Shahabi_cloud-no-26-piano-sonata-no-26-les-adieux-andante-beethoven-recomposed

CLOUD No. 26 (Beethoven Recomposed)
Shida Shahabi

Read about Cloud No.29...
 
ST13-50
6 August 2021
 
Tracklist :
01 – Cloud No. 26 (Piano Sonata No 26, Les Adieux, Andante) - Beethoven Recomposed

Shida's ‘Cloud No.26’, is a reworking of Beethoven’s ‘Piano Sonata No. 26 in E Flat major, Op. 81a’ (known as 'Les Adieux'). It was made following Deezer’s invitation to contribute to their ‘Beethoven Recomposed’ project, celebrating the composer’s 250th Birthday – a release which saw reworks from a dozen artists including Sofiane Pamart, Chilly Gonzales, Chloe Flower, RIOPY, Roger Eno, Julia Gjertsen, Belle Chen, Balmorhea, Carlos Cipa, Florian Christl & Lisa de la Salle.
Clarice_Jensen_ainu-mosir-1

AINU MOSIR
Clarice Jensen

Read about Ainu Mosir...
 
DA13-45
29th January 2021
 
Tracklist :
01 – Fishing
02 – Summer
03 – Winter
04 – Sacrifice
05 – Sleep
 
Following last year’s critically-acclaimed ‘The Experience of Repetition as Death’ album and recent tracks released on Longform Editions and Geographic North (as well as performing on new releases from both Michael Stipe and Taylor Swift), cellist/composer Clarice Jensen returns on FatCat’s 130701 imprint with a brand new digital EP of material from her debut film score.
 
The fifteen-minute long 5-track EP was recorded at Jensen’s home in Brooklyn. It was performed on cello and electronics and also sees Clarice expanding her oeuvre into works for piano. The material comprises her first feature film commission, since which Clarice has worked on three more, and so marks the beginning of working in a medium in which she is hoping to grow.
 
Directed by Takeshi Fukunaga, ‘Ainu Mosir’ is a coming-of-age tale set in an indigenous village in Northern Japan, where a community‘s livelihood depends on preserving and performing ancient traditions for visiting tourists. Torn between maintaining the tradition of his ancestors and being lured by the mysteries of adulthood, 14-year-old Kanto is on a journey to find a sense of self. With his teenage peers restless and tired of their parents forcing them to participate in cultural rituals in a language they don’t even speak themselves, Kanto is taken under the wing of a family friend, who introduces him to the secrets and wisdom of their ancestors. Without his recently deceased father’s guidance to help shape his sense of right and wrong, Kanto must decide whether he stays on the side of tradition or if he will stand up for his own values. The film was awarded the Special Jury Mention award at the Tribeca Film Festival where it premiered, and Best Film at the Guanajuato Fim Festival in Mexico.
 
Jensen’s score superbly communicates the emotional complexity and depth of this wonderful film. Throughout, her material is concise and beautifully handled. The EP highlights a set of liminal, subtle and suggestively deep pieces that flicker and play around the edges of obvious meaning rather than resorting to the blatant emotional cajoling of so much mainstream film music.
 
The opening track ‘Fishing’ starts out with Clarice performing on piano – the beautiful sparse melody eventually joined by minimal electronics and cello building drone-swells around it. ‘Summer’ sees her cello utilised for percussive effect, building a brief rhythm out of bow-hits against the strings before another rich drone and more percussion enter alongside a modular-sounding loop that recalls Laurie Spiegel or Caterina Barbieri. Both ‘Winter’ and ‘Sacrifice’ are founded in electronic manipulations of the cello, building rise-and-fall tone-arcs that simmer and flower. Closing the EP, ‘Sleep’ sees the cello processed again as percussive/textural material, moving into a warm wave of sound and then resolving calmly with a web of piano notes echoing out.
 
A versatile collaborator, Jensen has recorded and performed with a host of stellar artists including Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Björk, Stars of the Lid, Dustin O’Halloran, Joanna Newsom, Nico Muhly, Owen Pallett, Arcade Fire, Jónsi, Tyondai Braxton, Dirty Projectors, Blonde Redhead, Frightened Rabbit, Beirut, and Nick Cave. In her role as the artistic director of ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), she has helped bring to life some of the most revered works of modern classical music, including pieces by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Gavin Bryars and more.
 
A deep and accomplished first entry into film scoring, ‘Ainu Mosir’ puts down a marker and suggests a fruitful future career in the medium for its author.
 
‘Ainu Mosir’ was released on DSPs on January 29th 2021. The film has been distributed in North America and aired on Netflix.
Rutger_Hoedemaekers_the-age-of-oddities

THE AGE OF ODDITIES
Rutger Hoedemaekers

Read about The Age Of Oddities...
 
LP13-44 / DA13-44
5th March 2021
 
Tracklist :
01 – An Explanation For Its Own Sake
02 – Write Them A Creature
03 – There's No Going Back, For Any Of Us
04 – C.A.L.M.
05 – The Invention Of The Moon
06 – Ring Out The Darkness
07 – Not For That Hour, Nor For That Place
08 – We Will Clamber Through The Clouds And Exist
09 – Goodbye, Donald
10 – Think Us Better Than We Are
 
Dutch composer Rutger Hoedemaekers makes his debut solo release with a stunning album that marks the culmination of a decade spent in the hyper-creative studio environment he co-founded in Berlin, including four years working closely alongside Jóhann Jóhannsson. Sonically rich, emotionally deep, and immaculately handled, ‘The Age Of Oddities’ showcases a brilliant new talent, its cinematic eloquence bearing witness to Rutger’s experiences composing for film alongside Oscar-winner Hildur Guðnadóttir and Jóhannsson, for whom the album is partly a eulogy.    
 
Born in Nijmegen and recently moved to Brussels after thirteen years in Berlin, Rutger first started making music in his teens, composing on early consumer computers before producing ambient and techno in the emerging electronic scene. Releasing varied solo work under several aliases, he studied composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and gained experience in writing and producing, before moving to Berlin with plans to found a studio. Together with two friends, in 2010 Hoedemaekers converted a 3,500 sq ft factory floor in Kreuzberg into a modular studio with nine rooms. The unnamed studio quickly became a thriving creative hub for a community of outstanding composers and musicians, its occupants including Jóhannsson, Guðnadóttir, Dustin O’Halloran, Kira Kira, and later on Gunnar Örn Tynes from Múm and Yair Elazar Glotman. Whilst many of its members found individual success through solo projects and film work over the decade, it also became a hotbed of collaboration. Having begun composing for film and TV, in 2015 Rutger was asked by Jóhannsson to co-compose (alongside Hildur Guðnadóttir) the score for the acclaimed Icelandic crime series ‘Trapped’, which won an Edda Award for Best Music. Following this success, Rutger worked with Jóhann again on the scores for Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’ (2017) and James Marsh’s ‘The Mercy’ (2018), for which he also composed additional music. Following these, Hoedemaekers scored his first feature as a solo composer, for German production ‘The Last Berliner’ (2018), and most recently scored the Hulu / Arte France production ‘No Man’s Land’ (2020).
 
During a time of global turbulence and polarisation (the refugee crisis, #metoo, Black Lives Matter, climate change and the rise of populism), the studio’s vibrant period of creative productivity reached a turning point with Jóhann’s sudden, untimely death in February 2018, aged just 48. After the funeral in Iceland, Rutger decided to return to the album he’d begun years before, feeling compelled to complete it. With both the world and his own life now in turmoil, the music would grow infused with a desire for change. Making the decision to leave Berlin, finishing the album would become a long goodbye to this decade-long chapter in his life.
 
That October, a memorial concert for Jóhann was held in Reykjavik for which Rutger re-wrote one of the album’s earliest pieces, ‘The Invention Of The Moon’, scoring it for string quartet, a single horn and voice and performing it onstage with Kira Kira, Ólafur Björn Ólafsson and Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, three old friends and collaborators of Jóhann’s. The following day, Rutger recorded Kira Kira’s vocals at Ólafur’s studio and Una’s violin at Dustin’s new studio in Reykjavik. Two months further on, he travelled to Hungary to record the Budapest Art Orchestra, finally capturing horns and trombone on his return. With the score finalised and performances all recorded, Rutger finished the album with an overnight re-amping session in the large common area of the studio to capture the sound of the building. Replaying many of the album recordings blasting out through guitar amps, he re-recorded them all alone through the early hours – a solemn moment and the end of a journey.   
 
Whilst paying homage to Jóhannsson, ‘The Age Of Oddities’ sees Hoedemaekers forging his own sound and vision. It’s a bold and forward-thinking record, with a rich, hybrid sound seeing vocals processed and blurred alongside brass parts and a wall of strings shadowed by Rutger’s understated, textural electronics. Beautifully scored, immaculately performed and recorded, the album utilises the power of Budapest Art Orchestra’s 23-piece string ensemble conducted and co-orchestrated by Viktor Orri Árnason, alongside vocals (Kira Kira, Theatre of Voices’ Else Torp and Laura Jansen), horn (Morris Kliphuis), trombone (Hilary Jeffery) and violin (Una Sveinbjarnardóttir and Viktor Orri Árnason), with Hoedemaekers contributing trumpet, piano, keyboard and electronics.
 
Despite the large musical cast, there’s a clarity of focus and a great sense of space on the album and wide, cinematic dynamics. From the murky atmospherics and processed vocals that open the record to its beautifully poignant ending on Hoedemaekers’ piano and an airy sense of having moved elsewhere, ‘The Age Of Oddities’ reveals a deep understanding of film music’s nuanced narrative language and ability to convey emotional complexity. It moves from bleak, mournful hollows to slow, rousing builds where light floods in, and passages of calm, invariably tinged with notes of sadness. Undoubtedly, the album has something of the feel of a score.
 
Though not finished until late 2019, Rutger actually began work on the album back in 2016, intuitively starting with the recording and treatment of the voices, mostly female, that run throughout the album. Processed to the point of unrecognizability using guitar amps, quarter-inch tape, recording rooms and computers, these voices have been stripped of their original human sound, and function more as another instrumental colour than a conduit for meaning. Numerous tracks open with a lone, unaccompanied voice, before electronic and orchestral parts gradually take over the arrangement. Often a single horn will mimic the vocal melody, obscuring the human element even more.
 
It was only as the record became more complete that Rutger began to be able to rationalise it and interpret the meanings it held for him. Its title derives from a quote from Lord Byron’s epic poem ‘Don Juan’: “This is the age of oddities let loose” – taken to reference not only Rutger’s tumultuous last years in Berlin, but also the ongoing political, social and cultural upheaval of our times, and Rutger notes how these voices-as-instruments “became a personal reflection on the initial sense of powerlessness in the wake of global issues that feel too big to fathom by themselves, let alone as a whole, and for which a clear, much-needed voice seemed missing at times. The masking of the vocals became a depiction of reality before the revolution to me, the moment the problem exists but hasn’t yet become visible to the larger public. The voices exist but aren’t yet heard by all.”
 
Born out of a shared creative environment during a time of personal as well as social change, ‘The Age Of Oddities’ is a powerful and emotive work that closes a deeply productive yet also dark and heavy period for its creator.  It sees Hoedemaekers finally stepping out into the spotlight after many years working behind the scenes, revealing a hugely talented new composer who is surely one to watch in the coming years. As one age ends, so another begins.
Shida Shahabi__lake-on-fire

LAKE ON FIRE
Shida Shahabi

Read about Lake On Fire...
 
DA13-43
16th October 2020
 
Tracklist :
01 – Prolog
02 – Interlude + Main Theme
03 – Epilog
04 – Main Theme (Piano Version)
 
The score to Jennifer Rainsford’s short film of the same name, ‘Lake On Fire’ sees Stockholm-based pianist/ composer Shida Shahabi following up last year’s ‘Shifts’ EP and her 2018 debut ‘Homes’ with a new release that expands her repertoire via a move away from the piano, with three of its four tracks being played on organ and analogue synth. 
 
Despite its brevity (clocking in at just under 15 minutes), ‘Lake On Fire' is a gorgeous, atmospheric gem. It was written and recorded in her Stockholm studio in the Spring of 2020, having been commissioned by Shida’s friend and fellow Stockholm-based artist Jennifer Rainsford (who had previously directed a quartet of short, nature-based videos for Shida’s debut album). Described by the director as “a subtle science fiction short film about regret and an A.I. only interested in humans for giving love advice”, the fifteen-minute long film tells a story from a distant future of two former lovers who are reunited in a virtual forest. Within this AI-created landscape, “flowers talk, the forest is animated by subtly, yet continually shifting colours while fighting virtual wars and the former couple come to realise they can’t change the past”. Shida’s score perfectly mirrors the film’s slow, strange unfolding as well as its sense of dislocation and unease. As with Shida’s previous releases, the music here is deeply immersive, its engaging impact as much about the decay of each sound and the shapes hanging between the notes.
 
The EP starts out on the beautifully airy, spaced-out organ notes of ‘Prolog’ – a slow, subtly building piece that immerses in the life it breathes around itself. ‘Interlude And Main Theme’ continues in this languorous, airy mode, but with a long, rising tone rapidly tightening the tension before falling away to leave the main theme – an almost liturgical organ passage, whose walking notes hang in the swirl of dusty air. Following on, ‘Epilog’s organ notes are again well spaced, but this time more stridently attacked, lending a slightly menacing air. The EP’s final track (and the only piece that doesn’t appear in the film) sees Shida replicate the main theme, this time performing it on her beautifully close-mic’ed J.G. Malmsjö Piano. With its sound damped with felt pads, the audible mechanics of pedal and key lend the gorgeous warmth and homespun charm that have been a hallmark of her work. Once again, her recordings were impeccably mastered by Francesco Donadello at Calyx in Berlin. 
 
 Of her scoring process, Shida notes “We started talking about different sorts of music for organ, we also talked about fugues early in the process…  I was excited about establishing a relationship with a new instrument and finding qualities in the organ that were sonically appealing to me. In some of the themes, I arranged the organ recordings along with analogue synthesisers when I felt that another tone and quality was needed. I love Jennifer’s artistic practice and her way of working with moving imagery, and it’s been a pure pleasure working with her since she gave me the trust and space to experiment on my own.” 
 
‘Lake On Fire’ is released as a digital EP only. In Scandinavia, it is released via the Sing A Song Fighter label.
Olivier-Alary_&_Johannes_Malfatti_u-i

U,I
Olivier Alary & Johannes Malfatti

Read about U,I...
 
LP13-42 / DA13-42
25th September 2020
 
Tracklist :
01 – Somewhere
02 – I Can't Even See Myself
03 – Alone, Singing
04 – Drifting (** digital album only)
05 – My Night, My Day
06 – Interlaced
07 – Allo Adad
08 – Elsewhere
09 – 사랑 해
10 – Are you awake?
 
Olivier Alary and Berlin-based composer Johannes Malfatti join forces on their collaborative album ‘u,i’ which marks Alary´s sophomore album for 130701, following his ‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ debut of 2017. ‘U,I ’ is a brilliant exploration of mediated modern communication. Following prescient recent 130701 albums from Ian William Craig and Clarice Jensen, it’s another timely release that strikes a powerful resonance with our recently heightened experiences of connection and isolation under pandemic conditions. ‘U,I’ was recorded over VOIP (voice over internet protocol), using the technology as both a creative tool and conceptual frame. Its lower-case, two-letter title nods toward the ultra-reductive modern slang of SMS and a paring down of subjectivity to basics: you and I; the self and the other – with the comma asserting the gap in a kind of remote intimacy.
 
Recorded in Berlin and Montreal and the strange virtual space in between, ‘U,I’ was pieced together between 2017-2019, though its genesis dates back fifteen years, to when Olivier and Johannes began dreaming of a network-based studio that could bridge the 6,000 km geographical distance between them. When early public forms of VOIP such as Skype appeared in the early ‘00s, the pair quickly took to the platform to talk and exchange ideas. Whilst it enabled the building of both friendship and musical collaboration, they quickly noticed its limitations. Poking fun at its often distorted and unintelligible transmission quality, they began accumulating recordings of its strange sonic by-products. As the pair increasingly used VOIP through the years, the musical potential of these recordings and the concept behind ‘U,I’ began to emerge. Spending more time together online than in the same physical space, they noticed their personal experience was widely shared. With contemporary lives increasingly atomised, social interaction is becoming more and more mediated. Meanwhile, an explosion of personal video feeds has given us access to millions of intimate lives online, a raw and fragile glimpse on human existence. This new paradigm gave Olivier and Johannes the idea that it might be possible to build the narrative of a whole life via disconnected fragments posted online.
 
Making the platform itself a generative element in the recording process, they experimented with sending both pre-recorded and live performances of acoustic and electronic instruments from one studio to another over the internet using different VOIP software, re-recording these whilst playing with bandwidth reduction to generate accidents.  “The first recordings we made were so unrecognizable from the original sources that they seemed to spontaneously emerge from the void. Even instantly recognizable sounds such as piano, voice or organ had lost all original characteristics,” notes Olivier. “We were using the VOIP applications like a plug-in, altering the sound by transmitting it across continents, through countless servers and undersea cables.” A feedback delay system was created that sent audio back and forth between Montreal and Berlin. Fixing the delay time according to the server's speed of transmission, they then re-amplified and mic´ed the signals, effectively creating a digital/analogue effects rig that spanned half the globe. To control the degradation artefacts of these transmissions, they found ways of controlling internet bandwidth with funnel-like virtual tools. Discovering that the unique algorithms of each major VOIP application (Skype, Hangouts, Messenger, Facetime) would generate different kinds of sonic flaws, they picked between applications to colour the sound differently.
 
Besides Johannes and Olivier, the album features contributions from Kristina Koropecki (Cello), John Corban (Violin), Erik Hove (Flute, Clarinet), Daniel Beilschmidt (Organ), Hyunjung Ko (Voice) and Julián Alary García (Voice). It also includes anonymous voices extracted from personal video feeds they found on social media. “We were looking for people being honest and vulnerable in intimate settings in front of their camera.” These include the voices of a child learning to speak, a mother singing a lullaby to her baby, lost teenagers, lonely adults and a 100-year-old grandmother remembering the songs she used to sing when she was young.
 
Johannes and Olivier have been collaborating for the past twenty years, working on numerous film projects together. Originally from Toulouse and now based in Montreal, Olivier previously worked under the Ensemble alias, in which Johannes participated as mixer, arranger and co-writer. Ensemble’s 2000 debut (on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex label) led to Björk drafting Olivier to co-write the track ‘Desired Constellation’ and remix several others. Releasing two further Ensemble albums on FatCat, since 2010 Olivier has focused increasingly on composing for film and exhibitions. In June 2016 he signed to 130701, with his debut arriving in March 2017.
 
Berlin-based Johannes Malfatti graduated from Germany’s Film and Television School HFF Konrad Wolf. His work for film, television, theatre and music projects has ranged in style from electronic music to orchestral composition. With two recent albums under his own name, Johannes’ solo work focuses on contemporary and experimental techniques, often combining acoustic and electronic elements to create rich and slowly moving sonic environments. The first collaborative release under their own names, ‘U,I’ continues the pair’s long-standing research and explores the grey areas between noise and musicality; acoustic and electronic.
 
Whilst connecting with the fringes of the post-classical scene, ‘u,i ’ might be closer framed alongside glitchy, process-based peers like Oval, Fennesz, William Basinski and 130701 labelmate Ian William Craig; or the Hauntological music of The Caretaker, Grouper and Akira Rabelais. Fascinated by the way technology materializes memory, and by “the sound of its failure, pushed to its limits and breaking apart”, they suggest that their sound here “might be described as ‘Hauntological music 2.0’, as it has a certain ghostly melancholia and foregrounds an awareness of the medium transforming what you hear.”
 
From the first listen, that sense of longing and media awareness becomes rapidly obvious. The album opens on ‘Somewhere’s simple, 6-note piano melody, the phrase repeated over a grainy mist of digital artefacts, overlaid and gradually building in density. ‘I Can’t Even See Myself’ begins with an intimate acapella soliloquy, which over the ensuing 8 minutes is repurposed and gorgeously shaped around a plaintive cello arrangement. Across the album, these simple, yearning melodic figures (for piano, cello, violin, clarinet, flute and pipe organ) are set alongside sumptuous ambient atmospheres and dislocated clips of intimate human communication, the whole mediated through a patina of digital fog and distortion. The sound throughout is wonderfully handled – dredging and accumulating these normally unwanted distortions and refractions and positively re-purposing the signal ‘noise’ in a drenched aesthetics that is shimmering, grainy, and enveloping. On tracks like ‘Drifting’ and ‘I Can’t See Myself’ snippets of singing extricated from these personal feeds is re-composed into rich new arrangements. Elsewhere, speaking voices poke out through a kind of ghostly, untethered amorphous swirl like ghosts in the machine.
 
‘U,I’  is a beautiful, fascinating work in which form and content interlock to forge a rich, deep and powerfully cohesive whole. A reflection on human existence glimpsed through the prism of VOIP, it encapsulates our vaporized social existence via a multitude of disconnected ghostly fragments and offers a bittersweet celebration of our interconnection – simultaneously close and detached. Ultimately, the album itself is a dichotomy – it mourns this gap whilst at the same time recognising it as the sole reason for its existence.
 
** The vinyl version is limited to 300 copies.
** The vinyl version has a different tracklist than the digital version, which includes an extra track.
Dmitry-Evgrafov_surrender-1

SURRENDER
Dmitry Evgrafov

Read about Surrender...
 
LP13-41 / DA13-41
31st July 2020
 
Tracklist :
01 – Splinter
02 – Sparkle
03 – Whirl
04 – Context
05 – Anthropocene
06 – Stymie
07 – Humble In Heart
08 – A Rural Song
09 – N.510
10 – Endless
11 – Serene Air
12 – Far And Close
 
Dmitry Evgrafov returns with his fourth career album and third for FatCat’s 130701 imprint. His most accomplished work to date, ‘Surrender’ is a broad and dramatic record that expands the Moscow-based artist’s palette and reaches beyond the usual post-classical range. Revealing an ambitious scope across the twelve-track span, it is bold in conception and beautifully recorded. With Dmitry playing piano, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, bass guitar and synths and including sessions with an eight-piece string orchestra, a drummer and contributions from several instrumentalist peers, ‘Surrender’ was mixed and mastered by Martyn Heyne at Lichte Studio in Berlin. 
 
A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Dmitry released his debut album, ‘Pereehali’ (2013), at nineteen. Shortly after, he performed onstage for the first time, when pulled out of the crowd to collaborate with Nils Frahm; and signed to 130701 in 2015, releasing the albums ‘Collage’ (2015) and ‘Comprehension of Light’ (2017), plus the EPs ‘The Quiet Observation’ (2016) and ‘Return’ (2018). With a degree in sound design, Dmitry has composed for numerous films, videos, commercials and audiovisual installations. He is co-founder and composer/head of sound design at Endel, a mobile app company making personalised ambient soundscapes that generate responsive music in real-time, which last year signed a 20 album deal with Warner Music, widely reported as “the first algorithm to sign a deal with a major”. Now 27, and with four albums to his name, Dmitry has also logged 100 million streams of his music to date. Whilst the beautifully close-mic’d piano parts of his music sit well in that playlist world alongside contemporaries such as Frahm, Arnalds or Goldmund, it is far from the full picture.  
‘Surrender’ encompasses a continually changing musical and emotional spectrum, sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic, taking the listener on a journey through intimate piano, string arrangements, fractured electronica, electro-acoustic ambience, and complex, rhythmically driven constructions. On these, Dmitry forges a kind of hybrid sound where post-rock meets classical composition, at times closer in spirit to Efterklang or Mice Parade in its sense of adventure. Even the sparser, downtempo piano pieces are offset by electronics and a subtle, masterful use of FX that hints towards material like The Caretaker or the bleeding edges of ambient IDM.  
 
In previous works, Dmitry assumed total control, only inviting in musicians when he felt it absolutely necessary, but ‘Surrender’ arose from a much more collaborative effort, with more than twenty people in total involved in its recording. Written and recorded between September and December 2019,  Dmitry is joined on the album by Ruslan Gadzhimuradov (drums/percussion), Memotone (guzheng on ‘Stymie’), Aukai (ronroco on ‘Endless’) and Heinali (piano on ‘Anthropocene’). Elsewhere, Ben Lukas Boysen advised and Miroslav Chernousov helped arrange. Several tracks utilise the richness of an eight-piece string section (four violins, two violas and two cellos) from Moscow’s Opensound Orchestra, who were recorded by Mikhail Ogonkov at Bashnya Studio in St. Petersburg, with drums recorded by Anton Malinen at Moscow’s Cinelab. Almost all of the other material was recorded at home, and the album was co-produced by Dmitry’s wife Vika Bogorodskaya.   
 
Having deliberately chosen to not play or compose new music between completing ‘Comprehension of Light’ and beginning work on ‘Surrender’, Dmitry sought to approach the compositional process from a fresh start, an opportunity to ‘reset’ from old playing habits, insecurities, and expectations. It was a chance to expand and experiment, to push his boundaries and explore new sounds and techniques. These include algorithmic, generative self-playing patches (‘Endless’), voices created by neural network (‘Stymie’), hardcore glitches (‘Context’), worn-out tapes (‘Whirl’), improvised soft piano (‘Far and Close’) and the use of exotic acoustic instruments like the ronroco (an Andean mandolin heard on ‘Endless’) and guzheng (a Chinese zither used on ‘Stymie’).  
 
Where ‘Comprehension of Light’s strong narrative arc depicted Dmitry’s internal struggles ending in metanoia, he describes ‘Surrender’ as being “more externally oriented… a reflection on topics like human culture, environment, global ecosystems dying at an unimaginable pace, technological progress, inequality and suffering.” The triptych of tracks ‘Context’ / ‘Anthropocene’ / ‘Stymie’ is “a musical vision of the realization that, perhaps, human development has come too far and lost itself”, asking “Have we reached the point where we don’t know anymore what do with the momentum and all the tools and instruments that human brain created?” ‘Stymie’ features the sounds of a neural network gradually learning to speak, with a computer going through phases resembling a child’s speech development: sounds, letters, words, and sentences. This uncanny image is contrasted by the sounds of a guzheng, one of the world’s oldest instruments. Elsewhere, tracks bear out Dmitry’s attempts to nurture an inner balance, and his belief that “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”. ‘A Rural Song’ sounds like an academically arranged version of an ancient folk song. ‘Humble in Heart’, ‘Serene Air’ and ‘Endless’ are “hymns to the art of Surrendering – straight and simple, yet giving a sense of depth.” ‘Endless’ is based upon a procedurally-generated soundscape, continuously self-playing and powered by computer algorithms, yet sounding beautiful and in sync with the acoustic instruments.    
 
Rather than indicating a giving up, Dmitry interprets the album’s title instead as an opening and accepting: “I surrendered to letting people into the sacred space of my musical processes; I surrendered to allowing them to help me; I surrendered to the fact that musically I cannot bite off more than I can chew, and that instead of trying to wrench the masterpiece out of me, it is better to just let the music flow through me and accept that it’s okay if it’s not as perfect as I wanted it to be. I surrendered to new approaches and ways of music creation.”  
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson_emanate

EMANATE
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson

Read about Emanate...
 
LP13-40
15th May 2020
 
Tracklist :
01 – From Light to Refraction
02 – Interlude I
03 – From Refraction to Procession
04 – Interlude II
05 – Procession
06 – Interlude III
07 – From Procession to Refraction
08 – Interlude IV
09 – From Refraction to Light
 
Both prolific composers in their own right working within the field of modern composition/ new electronic music, Berlin-based Yair Elazar Glotman and Stockholm-based Mats Erlandsson have been collaborating since 2015. ‘Negative Chambers’, their first joint album together was released on Miasmah Recordings in 2017 and saw them exploring new approaches to the use of traditional acoustic instruments. Having recently signed to FatCat’s 130701 imprint, and following closely on from Deutsche Gramophon’s release of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s ‘Last and First Men’ project which Yair co-composed, the pair’s sophomore album ‘Emanate’ is a powerful and stunningly executed extended duration work that utilises a fantastic ensemble cast and continues to explore their ideas of a ‘displaced sound’ – combining electronic and acoustic sound sources through both analogue and digital means to create an ambiguous composite work, music that sounds neither clearly electronic or acoustic, existing instead in some in-between space. 
 
In our oversaturated digital age where omnipresent media connectivity enables instant gratification and a continuous flood of competing interests, we’re frequently led to make snap judgements as we multitask through a mass of incoming information – continually scanning and skipping over surfaces. Technological advances were supposed to free up creative thinking, but this flood has instead led to an erosion of our creativity and attention. In many ways, the idea of long-form music is unsuited to and out of phase with these times. And yet, there is recent evidence of a reaction against this – witness the rise of the practice of mindfulness and the cultural elements of a ‘slow living’ movement; the huge success of Max Richter’s marathon ‘Sleep’ project; and the emergence of an expansive musical niche that draws from drone, electroacoustic and classical traditions and prioritises a more immersive, durational sound worlds – see artists like Kali Malone, Ellen Arkbro, Clarice Jensen, Abul Mogard, William Basinski, Claire M Singer, and labels like Longform Editions and XKatedral. The music here is intended to function not as an ambient backdrop to other activities but as a deep listening, intensive immersion.
 
Aligned with these approaches, as opposed to New Age ambience or the endless soporific, ‘chilled’ music playlists, Glotman & Erlandsson’s work is suffused with a chromatic density and a tendency towards edgy darkness that puts it closer to Hildur Guðnadóttir’s ‘Chernobyl’ score or Jóhannsson’s ‘The Miner’s Hymns’. It shares that same brassy, bass-heavy weight and glowering, simmering sense of tension as well as a similar, sliding feeling of instability – a regular sense that it’s slipping inexorably elsewhere. Its authors cite the influence of  Renaissance vocal polyphony; Giacinto Scelsi’s ‘Pranam II’; György Ligeti’s 1967 piece ‘Lontano’ (heard on the soundtrack to Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ and Scorcese’s ‘Shutter Island’); as well as American composer Ingram Marshall, and Iceland’s Valgier Sigurdsson. Gorgeously recorded, beautifully focused and measured throughout, ‘Emanate’ is a texturally rich, deep spectrum exploration that flows and unfolds almost seamlessly throughout its fifty-minute span to create an energy field that feels simultaneously static and yet continually shifting.   
 
Although divided into nine parts, ‘Emanate’ was envisaged and recorded as one long, single composition – an attempt to create an ensemble piece, closer in length and formal approach to classical music compositions than the ever-shorter spans of so much music now tailored for consumption via digital streaming. With time and space allocated for each of the instruments to respond to and expand upon the composition, its extended duration arises from an ongoing exchange between the instrumental ensemble, the electronic elements and the structure of the piece, and invites the listener to follow along an elongated dramatic arch. ‘Emanate’ was written and recorded in a gradual process, structured around the strict formal design of a three-part palindrome, following the pattern A1-B1-C-B2-A2. Each of these 5 parts is bridged by interludes (titled I-IV) which follow their own logic, working with the degradation and variable density of a separate, percussion-based material. Each part on the first side of the palindrome focuses on a specific approach to tonal harmony – chordal or intervallic, contrapuntal/canonic and melodic. As the piece progresses through its second half, these borders become blurred with material and approaches from the different parts bleeding into one another. As a consequence, the piece has two parallel formal arches: one linear progression through the whole duration and one mirrored.
 
Begun as an electronic piece, ‘Emanate’ was composed, performed and recorded from a basic framework of material during a week of intense work at Yair’s Berlin studio, starting out with recordings of zithers and bowed strings processed through extensive electronic treatments – both digital and analogue. The electronic parts were written with a heavy focus on performance – playing parts using manual tools such as reel-to-reel machines rather than merely working within the confines of the computer. The second part of the process involved transcribing parts of these electronic pieces for a score for a small chamber ensemble consisting of violin, cello, viola da gamba, trombone and double bass. Using this electronic structure to trace out new parts to be played by the ensemble, the score ended up being in time-based notation with all pitches fixed and added another layer of complexity by allowing performers enough freedom to make their own musical decisions when reacting to the electronics and to other players. The resulting instrumental parts weave in and out of the electronics, sometimes blending in with them entirely and sometimes acting individually.
 
The recording took place at Bonello studios in Berlin on February 2nd 2019, with an ensemble consisting of Hilary Jeffery (trombone), Lucy Railton (cello), Liam Byrne (Viola da gamba) and Simon Goff (violin). Yair played the double bass and the piece was performed in its entirety twice, with the second take being selected as best. This swift recording method was only possible due to the exceptionally professional and talented ensemble and the fact that the work had been performed at the CTM festival two days before, providing enough rehearsal time. Additional overdubs were then recorded at Yair’s studio in Berlin and in Stockholm at EMS and the Royal College of Music. On these, Viktor Orri Arnarson played the viola, Sara Fors provided vocals and Maria W Horn added organ.
 
With individual track titles referring back to the form of the piece, the album’s title is suggestive of the work’s aesthetic resonance. As Mats explains, “it has to do with the textural qualities of the music itself. How it feels or behaves – its inherent seeping or slowly unfolding tendencies as if it is a gas or liquid emanating from somewhere. It also relates to the transfer of ideas and intentions happening through the making and publishing of a musical work, where the album acts as a sort of container.”  
 
Stunningly conceived and realised, ‘Emanate’ is a bold and gorgeously rich work that dilates time and exists in a blurred interzone between emotional states; between classical, and experimental electronic music worlds.  Step back a moment from the modern media coalface, allow yourself the time and space to be immersed in its currents and depths and ‘Emanate’ will amply reward your attention. 

Clarice_Jensen_the-experience-of-repetition-as-death

THE EXPERIENCE OF REPETITION AS DEATH
Clarice Jensen

Read about The Experience Of Repetition As Death...
 
LP13-39 / CD13-39 / DA13-39
3rd April 2020
 
Tracklist :
01 – Daily
02 – Day tonight
03 – Metastable
04 – Holy Mother
05 – Final
 
Brooklyn-based cellist Clarice Jensen’s gorgeous sophomore album and first for FatCat’s pioneering 130701 imprint, ‘The experience of repetition as death’, was recorded and mixed by Francesco Donadello at Vox-Ton studios in Berlin in late 2018 and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri. Following up her hugely impressive 2018 debut, ‘For This From That Will Be Filled’ , which included collaborations with Jóhann Jóhannsson and Michael Harrison, all of the material on this new album was written and performed by Clarice alone and all of the sounds on it were created with a cello through a variety of effects and effects pedals. 
 
An outstanding musician, Clarice has recorded and performed for a host of stellar artists including Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Björk, Arcade Fire, Nick Cave, Jónsi, Stars of the Lid, Dustin O’Halloran, Joanna Newsom, Nico Muhly, Dirty Projectors, Frightened Rabbit and Beirut. As the artistic director of ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), she’s helped bring to life some of the most revered works of modern classical music, and as a solo artist has developed a distinctive compositional approach – improvising and layering her instrument through loops and a chain of electronic effects to open out a series of rich, drone-based sound fields. Forging a very elegant and precise vision, her music has been described by Self-Titled as “incredibly powerful neo-classical pieces that seem to come straight from another astral plane” and by Boomkat as “languorously void-touching ideas, scaling and sustaining a sublime tension”. Her debut album was released in 2018 on Miasmah and followed in September 2019 by the ‘Drone Studies’ cassette EP on Geographic North. Receiving glowing critical acclaim, both releases made it into Pitchfork’s end-of-year charts. 
 
Expanding her sound again, ‘The Experience of Repetition as Death’ is a warm, deep and cyclical album that explores notions of repetition in both its conceptual underpinning and musical structure. Unlike the easily readable step builds and grid-locked looping of so many artists using the looper as a compositional tool, Clarice’s loops slide across one another in organically morphing structures; align and intersect at different moments, yielding a kind of aleatoric yet minimal counterpoint, with joins overlaid in ways that appear seamless and sophisticated. Where her live performance relies heavily upon the use of loop pedals, in the studio she and Donadello recorded much of the material onto tape to create a series of physical loops. There’s something oceanic in the immensity of the resulting work – in the ebb and flow of her sound and the way it builds and dissipates through swelling and wave reflection. 
 
Whilst in previous releases Jensen’s cello has largely been abstracted via effects to sound somewhat other than itself, ‘The experience of Repetition…’ opens with an undisguised passage that is clearly wood and string – a clarity retained throughout much of the album. Across its span, Clarice balances her material between darkness and light and the shades in between. Rigorously structured yet fluidly slipping between states, the album shifts from a glowering sense of dread/malevolence to warm, euphoric washes; from an elegaic or graceful sense of suspension to curious, clipped interstitial loops that recall the segues in My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ or the minimalist pulsing and phase-shifting of Steve Reich. Throughout, the album reveals a viscerality and attention to textural accretion that’s reminiscent of more electronic artists like Actress or Gas; whilst the glacially moving, hypnotic build recalls prime Stars Of The Lid. Other reference points might look back to Minimalism, to the deep listening immersion of Pauline Oliveros, Eliane Radigue, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, and the long-string drone work of Ellen Fullman. Or forwards to the rising current wave of drone-spinners like Kali Malone, Ellen Arkbro, Caterina Barbieri and Sarah Davachi, and adventurous cellist peers like Hildur Gudnadottir or Resina. 
 
Conceptually, the album is based upon the theme of repetition and informed by some of Freud’s key principles of psychoanalysis (namely the “compulsion to repeat” self-destructive behaviors or re-live traumatic events explored in his writings about the Death Drive in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’); by notions of the primarily repetitive nature of our existence and attempts to break beyond this: “I hope this album, in its repetition, might provide the listener with a respite from – or a reflection upon – the malaise and/or comfort of life’s repetition,” she writes. The album’s title is taken from a line in a 1971 poem by the influential American radical feminist poet Adrienne Rich called ‘A Valediction Forbidding Mourning’ – a response to a John Donne poem of the same title from 1611. Jensen expresses great admiration for Rich both as a writer and feminist icon, citing her as “an inspiration to create work in a field that is still largely male-dominated,” and noting how “her poem to me is a reflection on the idea that dying and death are ordinary. Any meaningfulness we create comes from within and is deeply personal but entirely our own construct.” 
 
With death as a clear subtext, Jensen describes how the music was written or conceptualized in a period towards the end of her mother’s fight with leukemia and shortly after she passed away. “My sister and I were taking care of her. So I’m also referencing the repetitiveness of all the mundane things we still did with her in the face of her terminal illness – preparing meals, doing the shopping, paying bills – as well as the repetition of all of visits to the doctor and hospital.” Third track ‘Metastable’ was inspired by the chorus of repetitive beeping heard in hospitals – a sound that can be both fascinating and beautiful as well as overwhelming or irritating. The beeps here integrate themselves into a single loop, creating a fixed counterpoint around a deep, foreboding bass loop and slowly building, Reich-ian structure. “This idea of  the ‘metastable’ became very pronounced to me”, notes Clarice. “Her continually evolving treatments kept her in temporary states of stability that would eventually become unstable, which would then require some different treatment.”  
 
Perhaps the most dramatic of the five pieces here, ‘Holy Mother’ is a towering piece that moves through all twelve chromatic pitches. The title refers to the Tibetan name for Mount Everest (Qomolangma) and through this piece Clarice has attempted to evoke a sense of that place and the obsession with its conquest – an extreme example of the feats people attempt in an effort to break from the monotonous repetition of everyday life – as well as contemplating the bodies of those climbers who didn’t make it, left frozen and permanently entombed there. 
 
Musically, in addition to the looping on every track, the concept of repetition is also expressed on a larger scale, with the album’s central melodic theme repeated in different ways across its length. On the opening track ‘Daily’ the theme appears in the track’s second half, fragmented into three different tape loops and never expressed fully in order; in ‘Day tonight’, it’s played in full but in an unfamiliar key and rhythmically augmented; whilst mirroring track one, closing track ‘Final’ employs the same tape loops as the opener, but this time with the tape having been subjected to methods of degradation in order to erode the sound – crumpled up, creased and stepped on, and run (silently) for long periods of time to deteriorate the quality of the tape and the sounds recorded on it. As the piece draws to an end, the album’s theme is finally presented in full in its original key and fully harmonized, performed by a quartet of cellos without effects and emerging whole at the end of the process in a beautiful resolution. 
 
Structurally smart, texturally rich and deeply immersive, ‘The Experience of Repetition as Death’ is a powerful new album by a hugely talented young artist, whose star is clearly on the ascendant.

ian-william-craig_red-sun-through-smoke-1

RED SUN THROUGH SMOKE
Ian William Craig

Read about Red Sun Through Smoke...
 
LP3-38 / CD13-38 / DA13-38
20th March 2020
 
Tracklist :
01 – Random
02 – The Smokefallen
03 – Weight
04 – Comma
05 – Condx QRN
06 – Mountains Astray
07 – Take
08 – Last of the Lantern Oil
09 – Supper
10 – Far and then Farther
11 – Open Like a Loss
12 – Stories
 
Eighteen months on from his last solo release, Vancouver-based singer/composer Ian William Craig returns with a brilliant and powerfully emotive new album. His first for a long while to be centred around the piano – and also one of his most pared back – the record was made through an intense period of personal loss and environmental catastrophe.
 
‘Red Sun Through Smoke’ was recorded over two cataclysmic weeks in August 2018 in Kelowna, whilst the city was encircled by the forest fires which, under a warming climate, now regularly rage through British Columbia in the summertime. With smoke engulfing the landscape, Ian describes how “the houses across the road couldn’t be seen save for a brief white-on-white outline. The sun was dull red on grey. The air was becoming steadily dangerous. There was nowhere to go that was not this way; all the space filled up with worry.” Having committed to recording that August, Ian sought a supposedly calmer retreat in which to work. Carrying his gear across the province to set up a temporary studio space, the album was recorded from start to finish in the living room of a small house owned by his grandfather who was now residing in a care facility across the street, having been afflicted with dementia for the past decade. The morning after Ian arrived, his parents unexpectedly phoned to say that they would be flying in too, as Grampa had been moved into palliative care, his lungs filled with fluid as a result of the smoke. Despite this shocking turn of events, Ian’s parents convinced him to keep recording, with the process ultimately becoming a document of the difficult place in which they found themselves. One week later, midway through Ian’s recording, his Grampa passed away.
 
Events were unfolding with an absurd momentum. That same day at least two others in his care home also died from respiratory failure. Ian and his parents sought shared solace in a pub thereafter only to witness a young man collapse from cardiac arrest. No fewer than eight paramedics attended, and after a long, tense time in heavy silence, finally managed to revive him via a cacophony of wires, devices and emergency medical procedures. Minutes after being carried away on a stretcher, the Saturday night karaoke act arrived unaware of the drama and started his routine as though nothing had happened.
 
These strange two weeks also coincided with Ian falling in love, although even that positive was suitably complicated. Having recently met someone special, Ian only discovered his feelings were mutual a day before she was due to move away to Paris for four months. Separated by 5,000 miles, they began a long email/phone correspondence, not knowing anything about what being together was like. All of this built-up unknown also leaked into the record. As Ian notes, “having a honeymoon period when the person wasn’t actually physically there was altogether uncanny, especially with everything else going on. So, in amongst everything else, there are some unknowing love songs on here for her as well.”
 
One benefit of recording at his grandad’s lay in gaining access to his piano, which became the record’s anchoring point. Beyond this, the only other instrumentation consisted of Ian’s voice, a shortwave radio set, several modified tape decks and a bunch of tape loops. Ian notes how events helped force the shape of the record and a tendency toward a less layered, more spartan expression. “Everything felt raw, I didn’t want there to be anywhere to hide in this record. My parents and I were cramped together in a small house while my grandfather slowly died across the street in a world filled with smoke, after all. So, in this record, more than most, there exist a great many things straight to tape without any effects because there really was no space.”
 
One mechanical aid whose use he fell back on was an old four-track cassette recorder, repurposed into an impromptu studio looper – a handy device on which to quickly generate and reshape ideas. If a take didn’t work out, Ian could layer something else on top of it, feed it back into itself, or use the deck’s circuitry to introduce eerie distortions. Eventually a melody or set of sounds would emerge around which a song could be fashioned. The lyrics were forged in a similarly piecemeal process. “I would put my diary in front of me,” Ian notes, “turn to a random page and just sing whatever words I found over the top. I didn’t know what else to do really.” That might imply some half-baked or arbitrary outcome, but Ian is a wonderful wordsmith and in truth, his writing here is as powerful as ever – a beautiful, impressionistic series of musings on love, loss and the random nature of life; that attempt to sift meaning and find a way of being in/moving through this temporary existence.
 
Ian’s interest in themes of decay and forgetting is long-standing and frequently noted in discussions of his music. However, the shortcomings of exploring this artistically were brought into sharp relief when confronted with the direct reality of his grandfather’s dementia. “Every poem pales in comparison to life”, he notes. “It felt somewhat artificial making disintegrating vocal loops while my grandfather lost more and more of himself, as he had been doing for years. There is no decaying tape loop in the world that can adequately describe it, because how can we know? Confronted with it, it is actually a brutal and cruel thing to slowly lose like that.” Yet there is also some solace to be found in the memories and the attempts at preservation. Ian recalls how his Grampa had been an avid ham radio operator and how as a child he would let him sit in his den as he manned the radio set and send his voice careening out into the ether. For a kid, in a time before the internet or instant messaging, this felt truly magical and played a seminal role in Ian’s musical development. “All of the sounds inherent to that process, from the crackling static to the disembodied voices breaking up to the glissando of the frequency dial searching for connection, have directly informed what it is that I do. Perhaps all of the meaning inherent in my work can be distilled into simply loving the aesthetic beauty of that experience. His radio and all that came out of it become almost my entire metaphor.” Some of this old radio equipment remained stowed away in the house, and its swirling noise can be heard on ‘Last Of The Lantern Oil’.
 
Ian extends the radio metaphor to cover his state of mind during the creative process: “This whole record existed without thinking. Between hospital visits and the smoke and emotional support, there wasn’t time for it. I threw away pretty much all expectation and tried to turn myself into something like Grampa’s radio receivers, just there to channel what was going on while the operator was away. Very little time was spent in reflection. I would get some ideas out, iterate on them, shape them, mostly without editing or revising. I made a lot of garbage in those two weeks, which I then sifted through to find what was useful. My process was much more of an archaeological one than one of building things from nothing. Besides which, on a record dealing with themes of loss, I thought it was fitting to distil ideas down from the whole and forget the rest.”
 
Musically, ‘Red Sun Through Smoke’ moves from the sparse vocal take of opener ‘Random’; to the shifting, semi-occluded piano/ choral layering of ‘The Smokefallen’ or ‘Comma’; and the beauty of simple piano songs like ‘Supper’ or ‘Stories’. It’s not until ‘Condx QRN’ that the noise enters fully-fledged and excoriating, but a patina of dust and decay is prevalent throughout. The use of smudged drones, occasional incursions of static, distortion and other noises eating away at the material’s edges offers a neat audio corollary to the smoke-filled environment or the progression of mental/physical deterioration. The drifting, untethered sections of overlaid piano/choral parts suggest some spectral unravelling or spiritual departure, whilst the naked simplicity of the piano and voice songs attest to a purity and directness of feeling. Indeed, despite the gathering detritus, ‘Red Sun…’ is perhaps the most stripped down, concise and direct that we’ve heard Ian. The LP ends as it starts, unadorned, “with a different reflection on coming to grips with the random nature of life and distilling everything down into only that which is necessary, without any of the raiment we usually cloak ourselves in.” Welling with emotion, ‘Stories’ is a stunning song and a heartbreaking final note.
 
Opening track ‘Random’ was the last piece submitted to tape, recorded after Ian had packed up all of his tape decks away and emptied out the house: “I was alone with my thoughts for the first time since beginning to record and I just needed to sing at full tilt for a while… the time spent recording was such a cosmically thick layering of events one on top of each other that the only thing to be done was to give over to the randomness of it all. Singing out at the end, without any tape decks or toys to hide behind, I realised that there wasn’t going to be any meaning or moral gleaned from those events, but that the random and the grief and the love and the sorrow experienced over that time were all tied together. The chance nature of things is what gives them their life. We can’t know or predict, but we can sing and watch the moon set over whatever valley we find ourselves in.”
 
Forged in trauma and an intense, bewildering slew of mixed emotions, Ian William Craig has created an album of incredible beauty, sadness and depth. ‘Red Sun Through Smoke’ is a profoundly moving album, a standout record in a prolific body of work that shows no sign of faltering.

Sylvain Chauveau_Simple

SIMPLE
Sylvain Chauveau

Read about Simple...
 
LP13-18 / CD13-18 / DA13-18
17th January 2020
 
Tracklist :
01 – Noir
02 – Des Plumes Dans La Tête
03 – Au Nombre Des Choses
04 – Within The Orderly Life
05 – Le Brasier De Tristesse
06 – Anthracite
07 – Pour Les Oiseaux
08 – The Plot
09 – Blanche Comme L'infini
10 – Everything Will Be Fine
11 – Notre Etrangère
12 – Beast
13 – Strangers Forever
14 – Murmure
15 – Situation Finale
16 – Blanc
17 – For C.
 
There was a time not so long ago when the idea of a vibrant scene of artists making adventurous new piano / orchestral-based music – let alone there being an audience for it – was almost unthinkable. Up until the middle of the ‘00s there had been just a handful of isolated individuals working away on the margins, their music largely falling through the cracks without finding a connection. There was no section in the record stores to rack their releases and virtually no one at press and radio to cover it.
 
Today of course such music seems to surround us. Post- / indie- / modern classical – call it what you will, the genre has become one of the music industry’s real boom areas over the past 10 years – appearing as an increasingly pervasive background in film, television and radio; in vast numbers of Spotify playlists purposed for coffee bar ambience and relaxation listening; via dozens of blog sites and record label outlets; and experienced live through worldwide touring, often taking in churches and big cultural institutions. All this has seen a flood of emerging artists rushing into the breach, viewing the form as an increasingly acceptable and potentially successful career path.
 
Active since the late ‘90s, Brussels-based Frenchman Sylvain Chauveau is an unsung pioneer of this now burgeoning scene. Sylvain was making elegant post-classical compositions years ahead of the pack, getting there before much-heralded current peers like Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds, Dustin O’Halloran, or Goldmund. His third album, the gorgeously minimal ‘Un Autre Décembre’ (recorded in 2001) was the second release on FatCat’s 130701 imprint and, arriving a year ahead of Max Richter’s ‘Blue Notebooks’, and played a huge role in helping define the label’s identity. Ten years later (2012), we released ‘Simple’, a CD selection of Sylvain Chauveau’s works for cinema, composed between 1998-2010 – a diverse, yet fully cohesive collection of out-of-print, rare, and unreleased tracks. Now reissued in a remastered, first-ever vinyl edition, Chauveau’s work here sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did back then and we believe that its author is long overdue some recognition and a reappraisal of his role in helping prepare the ground for today’s scene.
 
The album spans stark/minimal electronic drones, processed guitar explorations, variously-sized Chamber pieces, spare solo piano, and two 40-piece string orchestra recordings. Recorded for various projects, with different ensembles in various studios, what unifies the collection is an overarching sensibility of slightly melancholic, simple elegance and Sylvain’s signature sense of restraint. A measured use of space and silence augments the focused simplicity of these brief yet beautiful, lyrical works. With the majority of tracks clocking in at under or around the 2-minute mark, they coalesce into a series of vignettes – condensed, self-contained explorations of atmosphere/emotion. “It also shows the two sides of my music during all this time”, expands Sylvain. “The obsession with sweetness and melody, but also the experimental electronic side. The melodic and experimental duality has always been there for me. My decision from the beginning was not to choose between the two but to keep both.”
 
Almost all the material here is taken from Sylvain’s film scores, expanded with one piece written for a dance performance (‘Au Nombre des chose’s by Compagnie Mi-Octobre / Serge Ricci), and one (track 4), which is a remix (of Pulse programming). Seven of the tracks are from a 2003 soundtrack Chauveau created for Thomas de Thier’s feature film, ‘Des Plumes Dans La Tête’, originally released on the DSA label, now long out of print. Two short guitar pieces (tracks 11 and 14) were made for Sarah Bouyain’s feature ‘Notre Etrangère’ in 2009. Two tracks (12, 13) are from Danish director HR Boe’s film, ‘Beast’ (2010), and four tracks (8, 10, 17, 18) are from the same director’s ‘Alting Bliver Godt Igen’ (2009), performed by a 40-piece string orchestra. Sylvain describes these final two tracks on the album as his favourites, with “surely the best melodies I’ve ever composed”.
 
Most of the material was recorded at CDM studio in Toulouse, with local classical musicians and a contemporary jazz clarinet player. Two tracks were made in Sylvain’s Paris apartment. The soundtrack for ‘Notre Etrangère’ was composed, recorded and mixed at Sumo studios in Brussels. And the orchestral pieces were recorded with the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra in Skopje (F.A.M.E.’S studio).

Besides its clear connection with the current post-classical scene, ‘Simple’ links out to a wider frame of reference. At varying points recalling Erik Satie, Arvo Pärt, Labradford, and Mogwai, Sylvain also traces the roots of his music back to Kentucky chamber outfit Rachel’s and an earlier grounding in rock bands. He began composing his take on chamber music in the late ‘nineties, escaping the weight and compromises of the rock band format. “I see it more as post-rock: either an evolution of my rock music without guitars, drums and vocals, or a way to say goodbye to this genre.” Whilst the post-classical scene is now well established when Sylvain’s debut came out in 2000, he recalls the feeling of isolation: “We were then very few playing this kind of chamber music in the rock scene. Rachel’s were the model, in my opinion. Nyman, Mertens and Bryars had built bridges between the genres before, but they remained associated with the ‘contemporary’ field. Rachel’s really brought it to the indie-rock crowd. In a sense, they gave permission to us, rock and young electronic musicians, to explore this direction.”
 
Having now released fourteen albums on labels such as Type, Les Disques du Soleil et de l’Acier, Noise Museum and most recently Sub Rosa, as well as working in numerous other groupings like ensemble 0, Arca, Micro:mega, and On and in collaborations with the much-loved Felicia Atkinson, Chauveau continues to tour and record, and to grow as an artist. His music has been praised by numerous peers – Ryuichi Sakamoto listed ‘Nocturne Impalpable’ as one of his top 5 records in a 2002 feature; Hauschka and Peter Broderick have admitted his influence, whilst Jóhann Jóhannsson, Adam Wiltzie (A Winged Victory / Stars Of The Lid) and Fennesz have all expressed their enjoyment of his work. With the music he made in these years, Sylvain has gained more than 25 million Spotify streams since 2015 – becoming his main income and allowing him to self-produce recent albums exactly as he wanted. Yet it’s rare that you see his name cited. That he has remained largely overlooked in the shadows for so long remains something of a mystery to us, but we remain hopeful that the artist and this beautiful record will resonate with a wider audience and spark some kind of reappraisal.

Emilie_Levienaise-Farrouch_only-you-2

ONLY YOU
Emilie Levienaise–Ferrouch

Read about Only You...
 
DA13-37 / 26th
July 2019
 
Tracklist :
01 – Separation
02 – Where We Are
03 – Sorry I Missed Your Call
04 – End Scene
 
A four-track digital EP, ‘Only You’ spotlights French pianist/ composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch’s score to the film of the same name, which opens in UK cinemas on 12th July 2019, starring Laia Costa and Josh O’Connor and directed by newcomer Harry Wootliff. Having received its world premiere as an Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival in 2018, the film explores a passionate, romantic, and contemporary love story, about the struggle to remain in love when life doesn’t give you everything you want it to.
 
This selection of four cues from the original score sees its composer dialling into the intimacy of the narrative. Just like the film itself, the instrumentation for the original score of ‘Only You’ is intimate, focusing on two elements only – cello and piano, often layered and with subtle electronic manipulations. These four longest cues from the film express what the two lead characters, Elena (Costa) and Jake (O’Connor), can’t or won’t say out loud, with the music and melodies becoming the voices of their emotions.
 
‘Separation’ opens proceedings with a gentle piano score performed beautifully by Christina McMaster. ‘Where We Are’ and ‘Sorry I Missed Your Call’ are composed for solo cello and performed by Gregor Riddell. The former with its use of delay and sense of space recalls the late great Arthur Russell; whilst the latter overlays the staccato processing with a beautiful bowed melody. Closing out the EP, ‘End Scene’ marries the two cello modes with the piano, this time played by Emilie herself. All four brief tracks were recorded by Sean Woodlock at Goldsmiths Music Studio and were mastered by Martyn Heyne at Lichte Studio.
 
The ‘Only You EP’ is a wonderfully intimate, tender and evocative complement to the film. Her first score for a widely distributed film, it highlights Emilie’s delicacy and purity of touch as a composer and points towards a bright future working in the medium.
Shida Shahabi_shifts

SHIFTS
Shida Shahabi

Read about Shifts...
 
LP13-36 / DA13-36
8th November 2019
 
Tracklist :
01 – Futō
02 – All In Circles
03 – Sea Ear
04 – Janvie
05 – Keiki
 
A wonderfully immersive suite of five stunning new tracks, ‘Shifts’ expands upon pianist/composer Shida Shahabi’s debut album and confirms her as a genuine new force in contemporary piano music.
 
Stockholm-based Shida’s ‘Homes’ LP was released on FatCat’s pioneering 130701 imprint in October 2018, with its gentle yet deeply immersive, homespun piano drawing comparisons to the likes of Goldmund and Nils Frahm. It was championed by BBC’s Mary Anne Hobbs and Gilles Peterson, whilst MOJO marvelled at her “summoning music from the very bowels of the piano, the out-of-focus opacity; like her simple, affecting melodic figures, suggesting… a half-submerged music that rewards the attentive ear”. Elsewhere, Future Music called the album “a masterclass in simplicity… allowing each note the space and time to become truly affecting… a confident debut of a new artist with their own vision”. Released without huge fanfare or big industry/marketing machinery, ‘Homes’ nevertheless found a strong, organic connection with an audience, being picked up and shared across social media and through word of mouth, and viewed by many as one of last year’s finest piano albums.
 
Following the rise of pianist/composers like Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Dustin O’Halloran and Olafur Arnalds from the late ‘00s onwards, contemporary piano-based music has seen a huge surge in popularity. It has become an increasingly flooded field, and one largely dominated by white male artists drawing upon a fairly narrow spectrum of influence. What sets Shida apart from so many peers is both the genuine depth of detail and feeling as well as the greater breadth of influence she draws on. Hers is visceral, lusciously sensitive music. Prepared with felt (to create a damped sense of closeness) and intimately captured via clever microphone placement and a subtle prism of tape delay treatments, the simple, gentle beauty of her compositions is striking. Uncluttered and unhurried, a deep sense of integrity and humble warmth seeps through every note.
 
A year on from her debut, ‘Shifts’ sees Shida continue to mine her beloved old JG Malmsjö upright piano as a source of warmth and character. She describes the new material as being “very much about continuing on exploring and pushing things to a direction sound-wise that makes me excited – trying out new things, learning and reflecting upon that.” Without radically departing from the ‘Homes’ blueprint, this time around her palette is expanded, with the opening three tracks seeing the prominent addition of cello, intertwining with piano to provide a powerfully emotive sweep and drone. These parts were provided by Linnea Olsson, who Shida calls “an old musician friend of mine and without a doubt the best cellist I know in Sweden.” Having known each other since she invited Shida to play organ for her at a show at London’s Union Chapel in 2013, Olsson has some pedigree as a performer, playing with artists like Peter Gabriel, Sting and Ane Brun, as well as releasing a number of her own solo albums. Though engaged in more pop-oriented material in recent years, Shida refers to her “genius sensitivity as a musician for a wide range of sounds.” Indeed, the timbre and tone of Olsson’s cello perfectly complements and adds emotional resonance to Shida’s own playing, with the two interlocking beautifully.
 
From the opening bars of the first track ‘Futō’, the mechanics of the piano are again clearly audible, with a wonderfully visceral recording revealing intimate acoustic details and imperfections – the hiss/fuzz of tape machinery, the creaking and clanking of the piano’s pedals, hammers and keys. Everything was recorded by Shida and Elias Krantz in various Stockholm locations – at Shida’s former studio, and at both her own and Olsson’s homes. Pulled together slowly and sporadically over the past year, Shida describes its recording as being “like a parallel process that I had between maternity leave, tours and other work. Some tracks were made in a single day and other material took weeks. The only thing I brought with me in the writing process was that I didn’t want the writing and sound to be as focused on the piano as it was on the album. It feels like that was a good frame to have, even though some tracks still ended up having a piano focus. I wanted also to work with longer lines and more abstract/ minimal arrangements on this one.”
 
The record was mixed by Hampus Norén and mastered at Calyx by Francesco Donadello (Jóhann Jóhannsson, Modeselektor & Thom Yorke, A winged Victory for the Sullen, Dustin O’Halloran, Lubomyr Melnyk, Hauschka, etc).

Resina-Traces-Remixes

TRACES (Remixes)
Resina

Read about Traces (Remixes)...
 
LP13-35 / DA13-35
31st May 2019
 
Tracklist :
01 – Trigger
02 – In In - Ben Frost remix
03 – In - Ian William Craig remix
04 – In In - Lotic remix
05 – Trigger - Abul Mogard remix
 
Warsaw-based cellist Resina follows up last year’s brilliant ‘Traces’ album with a new EP featuring one of its standout tracks, ‘Trigger’, plus a set of remixes from four of her favourite artists: Ben Frost, Lotic, Abul Mogard and 130701 label-mate, Ian William Craig. Released both digitally and as a limited edition, full artwork vinyl EP, ‘Traces – Remixes’ reprises the album and throws further light on the circles within which the Polish artist’s work might be framed. Across its 30-minute duration, it opens out a broad and immersive spectrum – from visceral, live instrumental looping to deep, drone-based immersion and sharp, rhythmic deconstruction.
 
Recorded in Warsaw’s Wola district, an area devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising, ‘Traces’ drew upon certain dark and timely themes and finds grounding in the worryingly unstable era in which we find ourselves today. Alongside fears of the belief that we are too rational to repeat the past, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured. This remix EP now fittingly sees her own album subject to similar processes of decay and deformation.
 
Opening the EP, ‘Trigger’ – a standout track from live shows – offers a strong taster of the album it comes from. A forceful, full-blooded track it builds a tense urgency through layering loops of bow-hits and dive-bombing string slurs, before resolving with a synth melody and staccato string stabs locked in progression.
 
Ben Frost (whose score for Amazon TV series ‘Fortitude’ Karolina played on) turns in a powerful reworking of ‘In In’. Isolating snatches of drumming from the original track, Frost redeploys them in a nagging, stop-start structure that shifts continually, flushed through with washes of processed vocal, chimes and synth texture.
 
Vancouver-based label-mate Ian William Craig jettisons the beat entirely and teases out the emotion in a sumptuous reworking of album opener ‘In’, his customized reel-to-reel tape machines accreting layers of looped cello and his own vocal melodies. Swelling and decaying with the introduction of manual tape artefacts (slurred pitch, the clunk of pressed buttons), the track ends in a spiralling tremolo shimmer. Changing gear, Berlin-based Lotic’s remix of ‘In In’ serves up a stunning 4-minute hit of offset rhythmic tracery, warped vocal smearing and moody synth undertow. As good as anything on last year’s acclaimed ‘Power’ album, it’s a classy, if somewhat wonky dose of sampladelic deconstruction.
 
In stark contrast, Serbian ambient master Abul Mogard neatly winds down the record on his 11-minute long remix of ‘Trigger’, a long, slow but tightly focused build of glowering, shimmering ambient tension that eventually breaks in a series of euphoric waves.

The EP’s cover features another of Karolina’s photographs of often decayed / vandalized religious iconography. The female hand clutching broken arrows is a detail from an 18th-century statue in one of Warsaw’s Old Town churches. Titled ‘Our Lady Called Gracious Breaking The Thunderbolts of God’s Wrath’, the statue miraculously survived the Second World War and nicely reflects the idea that there is something stronger than wrath, that can stop it, and that it’s feminine. Karolina notes how “unexpectedly it became a symbol of resistance for me.”

‘Traces – Remixes’ is a hugely impressive, diverse and high-quality set. Offering some insights into the cellist’s own sensibility and pointing back to last year’s ‘Traces’ album, the EP also serves as a wonderful standalone release.

THE SEA AT THE END OF HER STRING

THE SEA AT THE END OF HER STRING
Various Artists / 130701 Compilation

Read about The Sea At The End Of Her String...

LP13-34 / DA13-34
28th September 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – Resina - Round
02 – Shida Shahabi - Chloris
03 – Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch - What Remains
04 – Shida Shahabi - Flora
05 – Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch - Layers Of Sentiments
06 – Resina - Aguirre 
07 – DH – Piano Graveyard, Severn Beach
 
‘The Sea at The End of Her String’ is a seven-track EP that highlights three adventurous, hugely talented female artists from the current roster of FatCat’s pioneering 130701 imprint. Featuring seven exclusive new tracks, featuring the same three artists – French pianist/composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Polish cellist Resina and Swedish-Iranian pianist Shida Shahabi, the EP is available both digitally and in a limited edition, one-time-only vinyl pressing of 300 copies.
 
Founded way back in 2001, 130701 was set up (long before it became popular or even recognised as a genre) as an outlet for music based around artists using classical instrumentation in expansive, non-traditional ways, and became a home to some of the most recognisable names in the now broad-reaching post-classical field, introducing the likes of Max Richter and Hauschka, as well as releases from pianist/composers Dustin O’Halloran and Johann Johannsson. In the last few years, the imprint has renewed itself and expanded its scope, signing a number of new artists and becoming a full-time concern. In a territory that remains predominantly male, we’re proud to have a roster with such strong female representation. The first four albums this year have all been female-led projects. All three on this EP take very different approaches to their art, yet all share a common high quality and a fluid, expansive sensibility.
 
Resina is the alias of Karolina Rec, a Warsaw-based cellist and composer and a compelling live artist whose music is characterized by a personal language of improvisation and an alternative approach to melody, using non-obvious characteristics of the instrument alongside electronics and her stunning voice.  Looped, processed and layered, her cello moves from discrete chamber intimacy to shimmering ambient miasmas and more urgent, full-blooded tracks that reach out and grab the listener. She has played throughout Europe, developing into an increasingly powerful performer supporting the likes of Sarah Neufeld, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Owen Pallett, Hauschka and labelmate Ian William Craig. Resina’s music has been described as “haunting” by The Guardian and “ineffably beautiful” by Tiny Mix Tapes, whilst Self-Titled recently described her as offering a “mesmerizing take on post-classical music… that’ll leave the hairs on your neck standing straight up.”
 
An award-winning French pianist/ composer currently based in London, Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch‘s musical practice also spans film score and sound design. Her work is connected both by its high quality and its evocative, meticulous craft – a common sensibility of elegant, instinctual composition. Having studied a Masters degree in composition at Goldsmiths whilst working for three years at the online electronic store Bleep, these experiences show through in Emilie’s music, described by Tiny Mix Tapes as  “stunning…. rich in reverb and resonance, sublime in the language its piano articulates, limned beautifully by orchestral and electronic ambience… melodic, graceful, eloquent, compelling.” Exclaim! Described Emilie as “quickly establishing herself as an important new voice in contemporary music. Her compositions for piano, viola, cello and electronics combine tender solo performances with rousing arrangements… Her exacting style produces a fully formed, gorgeously crafted result.”
 
Based in Stockholm, Shida Shahabi is a Swedish-Iranian pianist/composer, whose debut album is set for release this October. Shida studied piano from the age of 9 and began writing melodies on the instrument as soon as she could compose with two hands.  Since finishing her studies at The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in 2013, Shida has made site-specific sound installations, played in numerous different bands/ constellations and written music both solo and for dance, film, theatre and fine art contexts. She signed to 130701 earlier this year, having blown the label away with the dreamy, homespun charm of her album. Revealing a wonderfully fluid sense of touch and melody, her recordings make audible intimate acoustic details and imperfections – creaking and hissing; tiny distortions; the pressure exerted by fingers and feet against the piano’s pedals and keys. Fans of the likes of Nils Frahm, Goldmund, Dustin O’Halloran and Erik Satie should find something to fall for.
 
The EP’s title is taken from a line in Sylvia Plath’s poem, ‘Three Women’ and, whilst taken somewhat out of context, is used here to indicate both the instrumental rooting of the three artists’ music (bound to the resonating strings of the piano or cello) and to offer some suggestion of the fluidity and vastness it either draws from or expresses. Each of the three artists contributes two new tracks, and all tracks are exclusive to this EP. The tracklist is completed with a field recording collage from 130701's Dave Howell. Captured on wasteland at Severn Beach on the estuary of the River Severn, onto which a number of pianos were fly-tipped amongst other junk, it reveals a very different end of the string.
Dmitry-Evgrafov_return-1

RETURN
Dmitry Evgrafov

Read about Return...

DA13-33
14th September 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – Falter
02 – Bygones
03 – The Waves
04 – Unity
05 – Consolation
06 – Znanie (Alternative Version)
 
Following up last October’s critically acclaimed ‘Comprehension Of Light’ album, pianist/composer Dmitry Evgrafov resurfaces with this brief but beautiful EP featuring six new tracks from the Moscow-based artist. Simply and self-evidently entitled ‘Return’, the digital-only release puts the focus firmly back on Dmitry’s wonderfully fluent piano playing whilst two tracks dating from the ‘Comprehension Of Light’ recordings link back to the previous album.
 
Reinforcing a sense of the steady growth of the young composer, ‘Comprehension Of Light’ was a dramatic, densely orchestrated and at times very dark record, which saw its author shift away from the centrality of the piano to explore drone, percussion and string composition (stunningly rendered by the London-based ISKRA String Quartet). Just a single track on the album featured solo piano, whilst the record prioritised the strong conceptual narrative of a long and difficult personal journey from darkness to light. In contrast, ‘Return’ sees Dmitry move back towards the more lyrical and intimate piano impressionism of his earlier work – a style which saw him gain considerable interest with huge streaming on online platforms (consistently clocking up a million monthly Spotify listens) as well as finding fans including the likes of Nils Frahm and Mary Anne Hobbs. Each of ‘Return’s four piano pieces was entirely improvised and captured live during a single session at Knobworld, a small Los Angeles studio, in April 2018. Whilst the two tracks dating from the album recordings – ‘Unity’ and Dmitry’s original take of ‘Znanie’ (the album version being heavily reworked by Serbian ambient genius, Abul Mogard) discard piano in favour of synths and strings.
 
‘Return’ feels a very concise and cohesive release, with its opening trio of piano tracks flowing seamlessly from one into the next. Utilising some subtle FX and (on ‘Consolation’) a little processed guitar, these tracks sit neatly beside the slightly older, synth-based pieces, and throughout its 24-minute span, the release has a lovely, warm, restrained energy. Whilst being far less dramatic and dark than the bleaker opening half of ‘Comprehension…’, the material also feels like a natural continuation of how that album concluded. Sounding perhaps slightly subdued and sombre in tone, it maintains a calmness and even grounding. Perhaps gently mournful or nostalgic in places, there is a nice controlled dynamism and sense of movement within tracks. Revealing a maturity beyond its author’s years, it feels warm and well-lived, bathed in a glow of reflection that accepts past losses. Bearing a sense of contented wisdom and without feeling the need to be showy or overly dramatic, it is music at peace with itself.
ian-william-craig_thresholder-1

THRESHOLDER
Ian William Craig

Read about Thresholder...
 
 
LP13-32 / DA13-32
2nd November 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – Elided
02 – Some Absolute Means
03 – TC-377 Poem
04 – Mass Noun
05 – Idea for Contradiction 1
06 – And Therefore the Moonlight
07 – The Last Wesbrook Lament
08 – Discovered in Flat
09 – Sfumato
10 – Idea for Contradiction 2
11 – More Words for Mistake
 
Eighteen months on from his last new release, Vancouver-based singer/composer Ian William Craig returns with an album-length release that collects together eleven previously unreleased tracks. Whilst not actually his new album proper (a fully conceived new album will be released next Autumn), this collection still fits together brilliantly, sounding just as cohesive, accomplished and inspiring as anything else in Ian’s highly-praised catalogue. Entitled ‘Thresholder’, the record sees Craig return towards the smudged and scoured beauty of his 2016 opus, ‘Centres’, a record which was universally acclaimed, making many end-of-year lists – including the likes of Rolling Stone, Uncut, The Wire, The Quietus, The 405 and Drowned In Sound. ‘Thresholder’ is released on vinyl and digital formats, with the former packaged in gorgeous inner/outer sleeve artwork from Ian.
 
Recorded, produced and mastered by Ian William Craig himself, the origins of these tracks span a period from ‘A Turn of Breath’ to ‘Centres’. Some were recorded at Ian’s old studio on Vancouver’s UBC campus, some at home, and one even recorded on tour in a giant secret underground cistern in Sweden. The original impetus for the record came out of sessions for some commission work which was based on concepts of quantum physics, black holes and space. As Ian explains, “This was the lens through which the tracks were assembled: a great boundlessness of space, the sound of the big bang, the spookiness of the quantum world, vacillations of different kinds of conflicting time. I started by making a 20-minute piece that was just stitching together the sound of the decks and the equipment as they went about their business, almost like one was wandering through the different parts of a spacecraft. I then used this piece to coax together the rest of the tracks, envisioning the whole thing as a single 40-minute space that would become the soundtrack of being held in place by a great unknowable force while still being able to meander through the chaos and beauty of that expanded instant.”
 
Of its compilation, Ian notes that “I thought this was an appropriate place to bring all of these disparate but full moments together… like memories from different times and places flashing fuzzily before one’s eyes, the lonely explorer meeting their end in grand fashion.” His beautiful cover artwork featuring a seemingly random selection of found objects is an appropriate reflection of this accumulating: “all of the objects were collected during significant times over the years, and are talismans of the places from which they came. Little Proustian expansion devices – all arranged in the blackness of space. I think mostly all of the music I make is to contemplate the beautiful doom, forces beyond us, celebrations of our inevitable deterioration.”
 
‘Thresholder’ utilises Ian’s beautiful, classically-trained voice alongside an electronic armoury that includes numerous customised tape decks (Fostex X18, Fostex A4, Sony TC-377, TEAC 3440) as well as a Boss Loop Station, a Prophet ’08 synth and acoustic guitar. Less a transmitter of lyrical meaning here, Ian’s voice becomes another instrument, a largely wordless textural layer that carries emotion and meaning through melody and contextual position. Separate vocal layers spool through looped tape and entwine. On ‘TC-377 Poem’ the physical friction of recording is audible, the voice track dragging against the tape head; whilst on ‘And Therefore the Moonlight’ / ‘Some Absolute Means’, the emotional core is also carried via keyboard chords.
 
Full of subtleties and tiny detail, ‘Thresholder’ is a deeply immersive and wonderfully textural record. Unlike Craig’s last release ‘Slow Vessels’ which stripped away the loaded layers to reveal the incredible beauty and strength of his songwriting, on ‘Thresholder’ we are plunged from the opening into a dense and unstable sound-world that hangs between a kind of gaseous, ethereal shimmer and waft, and a much harsher, visceral feeling of analogue abrasion. Structurally, it shifts from a wraith-like amorphousness that seems in continual threat of collapse and a powerful – if often brief – aligning into more anchored or cohesive entities, with uplifting chords building in arcs out of the entropy.
 
Swathed in blankets of fuzz, static and crack, passing up through veiled, shifting, cloud-like atmospheres ‘Thresholder’ conjures a sense of something that might be found in the darkly Romantic, deeply atmospheric landscape painting of Caspar David Freidrich’s ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ (1818). It’s hard not to feel a similar sense of confrontation with the sublime. Of revelation. Elevation. Momentary glimpses above the clouds and emergence into spaces where the air is thinner and purer. Moments like the end of ‘Discovered in Flat’ where the fog briefly lifts to reveal a clear, pure vocal hanging alone in the ether. Or the Cavernous choral purity of ‘Idea For Contradiction 1′, which was recorded in a secret cistern underneath Gothenburg, Sweden, and has an almost Gregorian choral purity – the voice exploring the space and the surface of stone.
 
Besides as the often-quoted William Basinski reference point, the music here recalls the visceral media decay of early ‘00s operators like Fennesz, Belong, Desormais, Philip Jeck or Pimmon. ‘Idea for Contradiction 2′ ss like a massively overdriven or sandpaper-scoured version of Brian Eno’s ‘An Ending’ or some shredded Colin Stetson stem. The ending of ‘And Therefore the Moonlight’ – is reminiscent of Sigur Rós (who are fans and recently invited Ian to play their Norður og Niður festival in Reykjavik); whilst ‘Sfumato’ exists in the same dimension as The Caretaker’s haunted ballroom with its reverb-drenched and occluded distant vocal. Elsewhere ‘The Last Wesbrook Lament’ might recall Animal Collective’s ‘Loch Raven’ with the percussion erased. Craig signs the record off on ‘More Words for Mistake’, a track that seems to define itself through absence, with the spirit of old machinery rattling away as we emerge from the record’s 38-minutes scoured and anointed.

Shida Shahabi__homes

HOMES
Shida Shahabi

Read about Homes...
 
 
LP13-31 / CD13-31 / DA13-3 /
19th October 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – Abisme
02 – Smygkatt
03 – Petula
04 – Pretty In Plums
05 – Dawning and Wind
06 – Vassen
07 – Epilog
08 – Afterword 
 
Shida Shahabi is a Swedish-Iranian pianist/composer, currently based in Stockholm. The beautiful, intimate and homespun piano of ‘Homes’ marks Shida’s debut release and the fourth in a row of new albums by female-fronted artists released on 130701 this year. 

Born in the Swedish capital in 1989 to parents who had recently fled the Iran-Iraq war, Shida began studying piano from the age of nine, writing melodies on the instrument as soon as she could compose with both hands. She grew up listening to a broad range of music: surrounded by ’70s Persian pop at home whilst watching countless hours of MTV, her parents also had a classical CD collection and as a child Shida would listen to Mozart or Tchaikovsky, picking up pieces on piano by ear without having the patience to learn from sheet notation. Discovering punk and grunge at 11 years old, she began levitating towards adventurous indie bands in her teens, before discovering post-rock, ambient, krautrock and more experimental material. Studying fine art at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art in 2009, Shida began playing keyboards for a number of different local artists/bands and worked purely with sound-related art during her studies. Since finishing college in 2013, Shida has been working with varied forms of music and sound art and continuing to play in different bands/constellations, whilst writing music both solo and for dance, film, theatre and fine art contexts. This album marks her first recorded solo venture.
 
Shida began recording ‘Homes’ back in 2016, setting out with the idea that its making would be a very simple and organic process and not one that was heavily produced or densely layered. She started out writing and recording at home in her living room in Stockholm, and explains how “it was really just about creating a learning process for myself by working as simply as possible both during the writing process and also in the recording sessions.”  Intentionally limiting the tools and recording possibilities, each of the album’s eight pieces were played on her J.G. Malmsjö piano – “a very heavy and good quality Swedish upright from the turn of the 1900s, that had spent the majority of its life stationed in a church in central Stockholm, and was in fantastic shape for its age.” This piano features throughout the album as almost the sole instrument, with just one or two other elements added very sparingly. A Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo added a layer of tape delay, whilst synth lines from a Juno 60 appear briefly on ‘Absime’ and ‘Pretty In Plums’. Elsewhere, the double bass was played by Joe Williamson on ‘Petula’ and by Joel Danell on ‘Pretty In Plums’. Shida experimented with the piano sound, preparing it with different types of fabric tape as well as a thicker felt to achieve a soft percussive sound.
 
The entirety of the album was recorded at various home locations. During the writing process, Shida was renting a one-bedroom apartment which she used as a studio space, before moving to a new house in the midst of the recording. So the music was actually written in one home studio and recorded in two different living rooms, hence the title, ‘Homes’. A sense of this homeliness and unpressured ease is clearly audible across the album – something utterly natural and unforced. There are no whistles and bells attached here, no big-name guest performers or hired studio hands. Absolutely beautifully played and composed, it is a deeply charming record that exudes a confident warmth and an emotional depth and honesty in every note. Its production eschews the prioritising of cleanliness, with a warm, fuzzy noise floor audible from the very first track immediately immersing the listener into this sublime yet imperfect reality – as though the whole existed beneath a layer of dust. It posits comfort over obsessive cleanliness. Living comfortably with traces of wear and decay, the recording makes audible intimate acoustic details and imperfections – creaking and hissing; tiny distortions; the pressure exerted by fingers and feet against the piano’s pedals and keys. 
 
Expanding on the intentions behind the album, Shida writes “I’ve spent so many years exploring and working with concepts and ambitious, technical methods in arts before I began writing these pieces. I got fed up with technology and advanced concepts and just wanted to do something simpler that was more harmonic and emotionally orientated. Another reason why I started writing these pieces was because I’d been afraid of writing music that just is what it is, and my relationship to playing the piano has for long periods been complicated. So these little pieces are really just about playing the way you play things and letting them sound the way they sound – accepting limitations and just allowing yourself to create the musical states and ideas that you have without over-thinking, commenting and criticizing too much. More like music making as an old-school craftsmanship.
 
In terms of influences, Shida cites the lyricism and rich harmonies of 19th Century Romantic composers like Chopin, Schumann and Debussy. “I’m weak for fluffy and soft sounds and romantic harmonies, which is what brings some of these composers together”, she writes, whilst also noting others like Georges Delerue, Raymond Scott, and ‘Prelude A L’archet’ by Francoise Rabbath. Other ballpark reference points might include Erik Satie, Goldmund, Nils Frahm,  Dustin O’Halloran, Aphex Twin’s ‘Druqks’ album, and Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegue Maryam Guebrou. 
 
Shida signed to 130701 in February, after the label was floored by the beauty of her album recordings. In the wake of the success of the likes of Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Hauschka, Johann Johansson, etc there has been an absolute glut of pianists emerging over the past five to ten years. Having played no little part in helping bring that about, at 130701 we’ve been receiving a flood of piano demos in recent times. The great majority of these are, if not overtly imitative, bound within a very narrow frame of influence. When our friends at the Swedish label Sing A Song Fighter sent us Shida’s album demos to check out, their sense of purpose and luminous lyrical quality immediately shone out as something genuinely special.
 
There’s nothing radical or revolutionary in what Shida is doing, but there is a palpable depth and integrity in her work. It is not showy or smart, articulates no grand concept, but flows from its creator freely and true. From start to finish, there’s a sense of honesty and humble warmth seeping through every note. Revealing a wonderfully fluid sense of touch and melody, it is simply beautiful, warm, homely music with a big heart. ‘Homes’ creates a welcoming space, a place you’ll want to spend time exploring and will want to return to. 

Maarja-Nuut-Ruum_muunduja

MUUNDUJA
Maarja Nuut & Ruum

Read about Muunduja...
 
 
LP13-30 / CD13-30 / D13-30
5th October 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – Haned kadunud
02 – Käed-mäed
03 – Muutuja
04 – Mahe
05 – Takisan
06 – Kuud kuulama
07 – Kurb laulik
08 – Miniature C
09 – Une meeles
 
In episode six in the third series of Heimat, Edgar Reitz’s epic chronicle of German twentieth-century history, Hermann Simon – a famous musician returning to his family home in the village of Schabbach – takes a nap under a tree before completing his journey. Somehow his sleep triggers a state akin to being in a waking dream. Finding himself entering the village, he is greeted by its inhabitants, many of whom he knows have long since passed away. Elsewhere, Hermann Simon sees what appears to be a Roman centurion, galloping across the Hunsrück landscape; another shift in time it seems, even though this ghostly figure turns out to be nothing more mysterious than someone taking part in a local historical reenactment. What is the reality being experienced here? Reitz – directing with broad sweeps of the baton – is aware that suggestion, half-real states and metaphor are often the most effective weapons in connecting us with both the core of a story and our inner selves.
 
This is the presiding spirit of ‘Muunduja’ (Shifter); a state of being between states, the warping of time’s arrow using sound. Maarja Nuut & Ruum’s music often lures us into unimagined conversations with elements of our psychic selves that we may have otherwise forgotten. Whether the listener reacts through out-of-body experiences, glitches in cerebral programming, or old-fashioned magic is immaterial. We experience the phenomena presented to us, and we take new insights from them.
 
Essentially the recording of two musicians’ inner travels, ‘Muunduja’ is a release that relies heavily on gesture and spirit. A strong feeling of total autonomy also guides the tiller. As such it’s a remarkable, often stimulating listen. The opener ‘Haned Kadunud’ sets the scene; restless, impatient with its sonic skin and eminently dissatisfied with the role of being the first salvo in a strange, brilliant work. This, and other tracks like ‘Kuud Kuulama’ and ‘Une Meeles’ act like willo-the-wisps, longing to skip alongside us for just a little while longer.
This is a recording with a considerable sonic punch. Rich, rounded and expertly arranged, the music is also presented as a series of contrasts, heavy on shifts of tone, texture and mood. At times, reconciling the tracks with each other seems nigh on impossible. Strange bedfellows abound; whether the elfish, “Kosmische” flourish of ‘Takisan’ or the mists that swirl around ‘Mahe’ and ‘Kurb Laulik’. Then there is ‘Miniature C’; the name given to a thumping slab of electronic noise that resembles nothing more than a factory press (surely the sound of the ghosts still at work in Tallinn’s old Telliskivi power plant). Maybe ‘Muunduja’ recognises, and points to the rapid socio-cultural changes underway in Tallinn and Estonia in general; whilst creating a new Zone to explore, free of all the cares of the modern world. As such, the record can draw a strong parallel with Martin Hannett’s ability to make Joy Division’s music both reflect the fractious, rapidly changing post-industrial landscape of North West England in the late 1970s, whilst becoming a mythical form of music that belonged in all time and no time.
‘Muunduja’ is much much more than an attempt to do something different, or a logical career step, or a creative gamble, even. An excavation of rare sonic ore, ‘Muunduja’ demands we capture and investigate the elusive “something else” we prefer to keep at arm’s length. Maybe it’s a mirror into our ever-changing lives, dominated by hidden impulses and fears not so very different to those who looked away from the campfire into the shadows.
 
‘Muunduja’ was recorded in July 2017 at Peeter Salmela’s studio in Kalamaja, Tallinn. The duo was joined there by producer Howie B, who inspired the artists to use more than their standard repertoire of instruments. Maarja Nuut sings, and plays violin and different keyboards. Ruum plays different analogue and digital synthesizers; various field recordings and “found sounds” were employed where appropriate. All sources and instruments were subject to lengthy processing done in the main by Evar Anvelt.
 
Maarja Nuut is a singer and violinist. An utterly compelling, often hypnotic performer, she was born in Rakvere, in northern Estonia. Maarja has studied classical and folk music extensively. The modal sound of the pre-Soviet, Estonian “village style” – and her constant experiments with live looping – are central to her music. Her debut was the self-released ‘Soolo’ (Solo) in 2013. In 2016, following acclaimed performances at Womex and Womad (and whilst winning the Artists Prize at Tallinn Music Week), Maarja self-released a second album, ‘Une Meeles’ (In the Hold of a Dream), which gained international critical acclaim. Since then Maarja has toured as a solo performer throughout Europe and North America.
 
Born in Tartu, Estonia, Hendrik Kaljujärv (aka Ruum) started making electronic music at the age of 15. Although drawn to analogue instruments, he also utilises digital synths and environmental recordings, both as inspiration and source material. Kaljujärv has no academic training. His expertise in creating soundscapes was forged in Tallinn’s avant-garde theatre NO99; where he worked as a sound engineer and designer. Besides his own solo work, Hendrik has written music for theatre and for numerous musical collaborations, most notably the mysterious Cubus Larvik, with whom he released three albums between 2012 and 2018.
 
 
“Where are we going?
We are going towards the night.
Towards the night, towards the day,
Towards the deepest darkness.”
– Maarja Nuut & Ruum – Kuud Kuulama / To Listen To The Moon

Emilie_Levienaise-Farrouch_Epoques

ÉPOQUES
Emilie Levienaise–Ferrouch

Read about Époques...
 
 
 
LP13-29 / CD13-29 / DA13-29
13th July 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – Martello
02 – The Only Water
03 – Redux
04 – Overflow
05 – Fracture Points
06 – Bleuets
07 – Ultramarine
08 – Époques
09 – A Trace Of Salt
10 – Morphee
 
Following a break of almost three years since the release of her debut album, ‘Like Water Through The Sand’, French pianist/composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch returns with the stunning ‘Époques’, her sophomore album for FatCat’s pioneering 130701 imprint. Witnessing an increased assurance and dynamism in both Emilie’s playing and composing, ‘Époques’ marks a big step forward for the London-based artist. A bold and adventurous album that alternates between passages of emotive, sinuous solo piano; stirring compositions for viola and cello and some beautifully sprawling electronics, it has been masterfully pieced together to further reveal a unique and intelligent sense of artistry, and a composer who really does deserve your full attention.
 
Losing some of the chill of Emilie’s previous album, ‘Époques’ sound is both warmer and more honestly, emotively grounded. With a more coherent narrative drive, it retains the former’s gentility and intricacy, whilst at times unraveling or teetering towards a palpably edgy, aggressive point of collapse. Over the course of its 44 minutes, the record modulates in intensity and moves between passages of sublime beauty to menace and despair. The tone for the album is outlined within the first two tracks. Opening with the sparse piano of ‘Martello’, which flowers into life and draws itself around you with sinuous vines and rising clusters of piano, it then falls into ‘The Only Water’, a rich yet murky, subterranean dreamscape of electronics and strings that hover and saw like Richard Skelton before evolving into some dark chamber duet, whilst slowly everything peels away into layers of delay. ‘Redux’ is another solo piano track, a meandering drift that winds its own sweet way before falling off into the glowering electronics and spaced cello figures of ‘Overflow’ and the dark, consumed-by-delay piano of ‘Fracture Points’. The brooding ‘Ultramarine’ opens a sound-field that lies closer to film score – edging perhaps towards the sensibility of former labelmate Jóhann’s Jóhannsson’s brilliantly unsettling ‘Sicario’ soundtrack.
 
The writing process for ‘Époques’ began back in early spring 2017, when Emilie was invited by The Britten-Pears Foundation to spend two weeks alone at a composer’s retreat in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. Staying at the modernist bungalow formerly home to Imogen Holst (Benjamin Britten’s assistant and Gustave Holst’s daughter), these two weeks of exile from London (her home for a decade) entailed an almost complete absence of human interaction; long walks in the Suffolk coastal landscape; and long hours playing through the night on Holst’s little upright piano. It was an awakening opportunity to refresh the type of sounds she had been hearing for an extensive length of time. Away from the noise and rhythms of the city, paying attention to a landscape of reeds, marshes and waves, to slower, more tidal patterns, the experience fostered a more naturalistic approach, which can be felt in the record. The sound of the Church Walk piano itself is audible in abstracted form across the album, in tracks such as ‘Fracture Points’ and ‘Morphee’, as Emilie recorded every individual note of the little upright, at various velocities, and then turned those recordings into a virtual instrument using Logic Pro’s ESX24 sample mapping facility, enabling her to virtually “play” the Holst piano at any time, using a midi keyboard and laptop. Most of the solo piano pieces were initially developed in this way, before later being replayed and recorded live on a real piano at Goldsmiths Studio. The prevailing tone of the album emerged during these two weeks of isolation and grew over the following nine months.
 
Eventually mastered by Martyn Heyne, the album was recorded in London, in the winter of 2017-18, with sessions taking place both in Emilie’s home studio as well as at the Goldsmiths Music Studio with engineer Sean Woodlock, who also worked on her debut. Many elements were recorded at home, with Emilie also sampling certain other acoustic instruments – from clarinet to bass guitar – creating a set of basic sounds that she could then manipulate electronically. The vast majority of these sounds were born from acoustic sources, the sole exception being a MicroKorg synth. For the studio sessions, Emilie brought in violist Rob Ames and cellist Brian O’Kane, both soloists in the London Contemporary Orchestra, who each brought a particular sound and precise, incredible musicality to their parts.
 
Compared to Emilie’s 2015 debut, ‘Like Water Through The Sand’, the feel of the new album appears generally darker and grittier, though in an organic way. It’s more grounded and less cold, with the piano recorded using warmer microphones and preamps. The string writing uses more extended playing techniques, such as bow overpressure on viola and cello, and multiphonics on bass guitar. Emilie also explains that “although the piano has always been a way of expressing how I feel and I wanted to create pieces that featured melodies, I wanted to use the fact the piano is a percussive instrument that can handle strength, rhythm and force just as well as gentle, intimate playing.” This powerful, emotive physicality is clearly audible on tracks like ‘Redux’, ‘Fracture Points’ and ‘Époques’. There are other pulsating/ rhythmical elements running through the record – from chopped-up field recordings of waves (‘The Only Water’) to looped bowed bass guitar in ‘Ultramarine’, and the effects applied to the piano throughout ‘Morphee’.
 
Thematically, the album’s title refers to “the constant, deeper changes that we go through as human beings, on a societal, natural and personal level, which even though they can be devastatingly painful, we need to accept and embrace.” The term ‘Anthropocene’ (denoting the current geological age – a period in which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and environment) was discussed a lot when Emilie began thinking about making this album: “Even though this is in not the subject of the record, it pushed me to think about our relationship with nature. The ambivalence and tension between nature’s threat and beauty, strength and fragility, are all things I wanted to reflect, hence the contrast between solo piano or string duet and much thicker, electronic-heavy tracks, between organic and technological elements. I was listening to works that deeply mix electronics and purely classical influences, such as Michael Gordon’s ‘Industry’ for cello and electronics or extended techniques, like overpressure, that make an acoustic instrument sound like it has been affected by an electronic element. To me this reflects the constant tension between a traditional and modern human approach to nature.” What Emilie aspired to make was “a music that is not always comfortable to listen to, that has some sounds that feel foreboding, like they could belong in a horror film soundtrack, compared to most of the ‘modern-classical’ music that has emerged over the past few years.”
 
Certainly, there is a very powerful visceral and emotional edge to the album, some quest to reach deeper beyond the expected. ‘Époques’ is a deep, forceful, at times difficult, listen – a true shifting through the various registers of emotion, from dark to light. Whilst fans of artists like Max Richter, Dustin O’Halloran and Jóhann’s Jóhannsson ought to surely find much to love in this album, and parallels may be found to a progressive new breed of female peers like Claire M Singer, Lucy Railton and labelmate Resina, it is a record that genuinely sees its maker finding her own space, fully formed and conclusively set aside from peers and influences. No mere background listen, ‘Époques’ is a proper journey of an album – a record to immerse yourself into; that stands up to and rewards repeat listening, revealing itself more and more over time.

Resina_traces

TRACES
Resina

Read about Traces...

LP13-28 / CD13-28 / DA13-28
6th July 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – In
02 – Procession
03 – Resin
04 – Surface
05 – Glimmer
06 – In In
07 – Trigger
08 – Leftover
09 – Lethe
 
Two years on from her critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, Polish cellist Resina (aka Karolina Rec) returns with her sophomore album for FatCat’s influential 130701 imprint. A less fragile, far more immediate album, ‘Traces’ sees the Warsaw-based artist working a sound that moves closer towards the listener, with increased viscerality and weight. It’s a bold, dynamic and assured step forward and an album fully deserving of your attention.
 
Whilst much of the material on ‘Traces’ was again captured via her favoured method of fully live recording (the debut comprised almost entirely of single live takes), this time Karolina’s primary focus lay in achieving specific states and emotions, in working on the precision and detail of composition, rather than insisting on the purity of live recording. Certain parts were recorded and built-in separate takes with a degree of post-editing. Finding her own way to use the looper, Karolina’s tracks are forged entirely from acoustic sources. She begins by finding a set of interesting sound structures – sometimes built from twenty or more layers of cello – as building blocks for each composition. Looped, processed and layered with increased dynamism, on ‘Traces’, the cello moves from discrete chamber intimacy to shimmering ambient miasmas and more urgent, full-blooded tracks that reach out and grab you. There are points of delicate beauty and moments where everything seems about to melt into chaos. Whilst Karolina’s voice appeared only briefly (to stunning effect) on her debut’s final track, this time around it assumes much greater prominence, featuring on almost half the album’s tracks. Non-verbal, her vocals function as a beautiful, haunting textural layer, conjuring a sense of near sacred purity and longing. Besides the looped and layered sounds/ rhythms coaxed from cello and voice, ‘Traces’ expands her palette with contributions from drummer/percussionist Mateusz Rychlicki adding body and drive on a number of tracks.
 
‘Traces’ was recorded in December 2017 at renowned Polish producer/ musician Maciej Cieślak’s studio in the Wola district of Warsaw. One of the city’s uglier areas, Wola was massively devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising. During the album’s production, the pair often discussed palpably feeling some heavy, dark energy of the place, something of which has doubtless leaked into the album. Drawing upon some dark and timely themes and finding grounding in the worrying/unstable era in which we find ourselves, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured.
 
The album’s cover features one of Karolina’s photographs, and was directly inspired by the work of Polish photographer Stanislaw Kolowca’s pictures of a 15th-century altarpiece in St. Mary’s Basilica, Kraków – the world’s largest Gothic altarpiece and a Polish national treasure. Kolowca photographed the altar during its renovation, both before and after the Second World War. In a secondhand bookstore, Karolina discovered a rare album of these works and immediately felt the resonance of the pictures as something special and close to the atmosphere of the album. The use of the image also stems from Karolina’s obsession with decayed or vandalised religious iconography. “For some time, I’d been finding and photographing ‘mutilated’ sacred sculptures and other damaged religious artifacts”, she notes. “At first, this happened accidentally and unconsciously, then I began to intentionally seek out such places and objects: like the statue in the National Museum in Gdańsk of St. George without hands killing a headless dragon; or Win Sein Taw Ya, the world’s largest reclining Buddha statue which remains unfinished in Myanmar. I had the impression that all of these – sometimes spectacular and absurd – defects violently revealed a kind of ambiguity which in other conditions would not be noticeable.”
 
Originally thinking her obsession with damaged sacral objects was just an internal reflection on politically-exploited, ‘irrational’ religions, whose real transcendent character had been lost, Karolina recognised that “it was simply related to feelings of anger about spirituality being stolen by ideologies.” But ultimately, it led her to some unexpected reflections: “Whether we regard it a remnant of evolution or not, many of us still retain so-called ‘spiritual’ needs. I feel confused watching certain modern forms of realising such needs or searching for alternative types of religion – like pop-shamanism. Do we merely need to change costume, find a modern name for old philosophies, wisdom or ways of experiencing ecstasy, because we want to distance ourselves from our irrational ancestors?” For Karolina, the most interesting trail led to her confronting the works of various far-flung mystics (often from distant ages), whose common conclusions have become a subject of research in cognitive psychology and found unexpectedly universal modern use: like ‘mindfulness’ (which is rooted in Buddhist tradition). “From this point of view, it would be difficult to deny – despite the bad press/ aftertaste of New-Age language, or the vulgarisation of the term ‘spirituality’ – that for me creating music is also a form of realising spiritual needs.”
 
Another thread, which appeared intensively whilst working on the album, relates to the perception of history and feeling a total lack of control over human aggression. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that we normally live and function under the ‘protective’ impression that we are the authors of all our own action and opinions, and that we are able to manage our own aggression. But there are scientific/ psychological indications suggesting that everything is a result of many different (and other than we generally suppose) forces. Thinking about ourselves as conscious and infallible beings we tread on very thin ice, and it’s enough for one small event to effectively shatter this rational surface for a long time – this thought has come back to me lately, but I feel it’s strangely easy to forget. I remember experiencing an almost clinical panic attack after watching Elem Klimov’s war film ‘Come and See’ and then comparing it with current political moods”, Karolina notes. “At the same time, I realised how keenly I feel the lack of war-witnesses in my own family [both Karolina’s grandfathers’ fought in World War II but died before her birth]. I feel I’m an heir of their warnings yet I cannot confront or discuss these emotions with them, the actual witnesses of these events. So, my greatest fear is that the traces of their experiences will be forgotten or misrepresented, and history will someday return to another brutal point. This album may be my own, very personal way to maintain a kind of important watchfulness.” Dominated by the fear of erasing and forgetting traces of difficult and traumatic events, she refers to it as “a spell to protect this knowledge from forgetfulness, to avoid making the same mistakes again and again. It can also be read as a certain journey – from carelessness and unconsciousness to aggression, and the discovery of an unpleasant but essential truth and the fear of losing this knowledge.
 
For Resina, this growing fear of forgetfulness finds expression in a sound that often starts out classically but ends in deconstruction (‘Surface’) or disappearance (‘Lethe’). She talks of “taking a physical pleasure in the spoilage of beauty – as if portraying this fear was some kind of soothing sublimation”, noting that her favourite parts were those “where I could start to damage my own previously prepared loops to the point of total chaos or unexpected changes.”

Dmitry-Evgrafov_comprehension-of-light-1

COMPREHENSION OF LIGHT
Dmitry Evgrafov

Read about Comprehension Of Light...

LP13-27 / DA13-27
6th October 2017
 
Tracklist :
01 – A Gleam
02 – Tamas
03 – Ungrounded
04 – Wandering
05 – Rajas
06 – Through The Gloom (* dig. only)
07 – A Chance To Change
08 – First Crop
09 – Kintsukuroi (feat. Benoît Pioulard) (*dig. only)
10 – Znanie (feat. Abul Mogard)
11 – Rootedness
12 – Sattva
 
Hugely talented and entirely self-taught, Moscow-based Dmitry Evgrafov began self-releasing his music at the age of seventeen. In 2015, the young pianist/composer signed to FatCat’s 130701 imprint, releasing the album ‘Collage’, followed by a seven-track EP, ‘The Quiet Observation’, a year later. A further year on, the stunning ‘Comprehension Of Light’ album marks a sizeable step forward for Dmitry, witnessing an increased maturity in his writing alongside an expanded breadth of palette. A must-hear for fans of fellow 130701 alumni Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, ‘Comprehension…’ marks Dmitry’s first ever vinyl release and offers a genuinely rich, deep and rewarding listening experience. It is a wonderfully conceived and realised work, it's narrative conceptually clear and moving with the emotional power and precise logic of a great film score.
 
Forged in a very focused period of composition from late 2016 until early 2017, the writing process of ‘Comprehension of Light’ differed markedly from Dmitry’s previous releases. These had each consisted primarily of compilations of unconnected pieces – partly commercial (works for adverts/ film/ etc.), partly sketches (hence the previous album’s ‘Collage’ title), with almost nothing written specifically for each album. This time around, a firm concept and sense of intention lie at the album’s root. Dmitry explains how “everything is connected and tells a part of a whole story, a story of a long and difficult personal journey from darkness to light.” Expanding on this conceptual underpinning, he writes of “some dark events and changes that happened a few years ago made me rethink everything I was careless or blind to. Gradually, year after year a big hole started to grow inside me. My faith and values got lost, my inner core blurred, all my moral intentions disappeared”. This album thus tells a story of recovery, mapping “a road from ignorance, vanity and darkness towards a more wholesome approach to life.”
 
‘Comprehension…’ opens – and continues throughout its first half – as a predominantly bleak sound-world. Eschewing the lyrical, piano-based impressionism that was becoming his hallmark, it instead unveils a constellation of heavy drones; low register brass and string swells; percussive rumbling/clacking; and sparse string composition. In places, it recalls the subterranean weight of Jóhannsson’s ‘Miners Hymns’, in others the work of Leyland Kirby / The Caretaker, or Eduard Artemiev’s disquieting score for Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’.
 
Opening track ‘A Gleam’ offers a glimpse of a distant pure light, a promise of something beautiful and whole, which swells throughout the track until suddenly the door slams shut and we find ourselves (‘Tamas’, ‘Ungrounded’) lost in the midst of ugliness and chaos. Immaculately paced and scored, ‘Wandering’ sees a string quartet ramble through all 12 tonalities, one by one, occasionally lingering in some, yet never finding the rest in any. It isn’t until the fifth track (‘Rajas’) that the piano enters the frame. Starting gently, it leads through a shifting series of uneasy, descending chords, and instead of the anticipated explosion of melody, harmony and balance, the piano freaks before falling silent, and we plunge back into the murk in ‘Through The Gloom’.
 
From this midway point, the album pivots and begins to open out, reaching toward the light and flowering into a thing of hope and beauty. In the sprawling, rousing ‘A Chance To Change’, a vivid and active metamorphosis occurs. We start to feel the ground, are at the edge of something new and fresh and light. In ‘First Crop’, we finally hear the album’s first true major chords. ‘Kintsukuroi’ (titled after the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold lacquer, thus understanding it's being more beautiful for having been broken) and ‘Znanie’ (which translates from Russian as “knowledge”) give the feeling of a fresh breeze, with more rooted and straightforward tonalities, and a warm, heartfelt sensation of finally returning to a familiar, more benign place. ‘Rootedness’ is a celebration of wholeness and light, with ‘Sattva’ an aftermath – its ethereal waves swaying around and offering final relief to the listener. It completes a powerful narrative arc, a convincing transformation.
 
Alongside this new conceptual primacy, an acoustic shift is also apparent from the outset of ‘Comprehension…’. Where ‘Collage’ was a bold, densely layered and heavily augmented work with expansive use of electronics and a mass of virtual instrumentation, this new album sees Dmitry upgrading to real strings and orchestral instrumentation alongside a more limited continued use of software instruments. “I tried to broaden my musical vocabulary and get out of my comfort zone”, he explains. “Being completely self-taught I tried my best to properly score and compose string arrangements and even string-led compositions that would sound convincing and full. Moreover, you’ll hear only one solo piano composition on the whole album.”
 
Breaking with previous self-reliance, the album also sees him open his work up to contributions from others, with more than a dozen musicians participating in the production process in one way or another. Iskra String Quartet, who have worked with The XX, Radiohead, Jóhann Jóhannsson and others, contributed strings on four tracks. William ‘Memotone’ Yates played cello and clarinet on several compositions, helping to catch the feel of grittiness, despair and uneasiness across the album’s early tracks. Elsewhere, significant contributions from the semi-mythical Abul Mogard and ambient genius Benoit Pîoulard add increased richness to the album – their lush and soothing waves of tone and harmony gracing its closing compositions.
 
After completing the recording, the album’s more complex tracks were mixed in Reykjavik by Addi 800, who has worked extensively with Ólafur Arnalds. Finally, the record was mastered to tape by Martyn Heyne (Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick, The National and others).
 
A stunningly conceived and executed album, ‘Comprehension Of Light’ traces a redemptive narrative arc and bears witness to a rising young talent in the field of modern composition. It feels like a major step forward. We believe that fans of the likes of Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Ólafur Arnalds and Hauschka ought to love this album and we are proud to release it as a vital addition to 130701’s prestigious catalogue.
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SLOW VESSELS
Ian William Craig

Read about Slow Vessels...
 
LP13-26 / DA13-26
5th May 2017
 
Tracklist :
01 – Arrive, Arrive
02 – The Nearness
03 – A Single Hope
04 – Purpose (Is No Country)
05 – Contain
06 – Set To Lapse
 
Following the widespread critical acclaim of his recent ‘Centres’ album (July 2016), Vancouver-based vocalist/composer Ian William Craig returns with ‘Slow Vessels’, an album-length EP release that both extends and radically reprises that album, rendering six of its tracks in a stunning new light. If not quite an ‘unplugged’ versioning, it is nevertheless stripped back, raw and predominantly acoustic, the songs returned to their point of origin.
 
‘Slow Vessels’ sees Ian paring back the dense, billowing layers and heavily distressed textures of the album and re-playing these tracks on a borrowed acoustic guitar and piano. Whilst four of the tracks also feature some more minimal tape manipulation, it’s a move that foregrounds the strength of the songs, imbuing them with a heightened sense of nearness and intimacy and briefly reframing their author in the more traditional mantle of singer-songwriter. Deeply affecting and almost devotional in character, this utterly gorgeous re-setting of the songs sees them bathed in a warm, golden glow and throws a brilliant new slant on Ian’s prodigious creativity.
 
The entire record was recorded in a rented holiday flat in Gothenburg, which just happened to have a guitar and piano, during a short stopover on Ian’s debut European tour in August of 2016. The tracks were each captured in a single take with a small amount of noise/manipulation provided by the modified cassette decks he’d brought with him for performing. Once recorded, each track was then mixed on a laptop between shows throughout Northern Europe – whilst travelling onboard a ferry, a train, an aeroplane, or waiting at airports, hotel rooms and a Latvian taxidermy museum. As Ian says, “I’m glad I did it while I was on tour because there’s a certain travelley heaviness to it, as well as a very short amount of time to do it in by design so I couldn’t think about the thing too much.” Finally, it was polished up a little once home in Vancouver with a Fostex E-16, a Reverbulator spring reverb and a SupaPuss Delay.
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REMIXES
Ian William Craig / Olivier Alary

Read about Remixes...
 
LP13-32 / DA13-32
2nd November 2018
 
Tracklist :
01 – Ian William Craig - A Single Hope (Olivier Alary remix)
02 – Olivier Alary - Nollywood (IWC remix)
 
Following the widespread critical acclaim of his brilliant ‘Centres’ album (July 2016), which made it into numerous end-of-year ‘best of’ lists (including Uncut, Drowned In Sound, The Quietus, The 405, Popmatters and Metacritic), Vancouver-based vocalist/composer Ian William Craig takes on ‘Nollywood’ from Olivier’s forthcoming debut album, ‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’, which is due out in February next year. Running the stems of the track through his studio and a circuit-bent Audiotronics 147 and an Ekdahl Moisturizer, Ian reinvents Olivier’s lusciously swooning ‘Nollywood’, adding his own voice as source matter, and scuffing and morphing the track through a patina of tape distortion, overlaying a web of glistening texture and looping rhythm to repurpose it in a stunning, sprawling new work.
 
By way of return, Montreal-based Frenchman Olivier takes on Ian’s album gem ‘A Single Hope’, extracting the pop song hiding behind Ian’s billowing textures in order to render it in a bright new light. Before starting the remix, Olivier decided to restrict electronic elements to a minimum, so what you hear here are purely acoustic instruments. As Olivier explains, “Some of them are processed, but I tried to keep the integrity of their sonic nature. From the original piece, only the vocals were kept. Then I recorded a clarinet choir to replace the original organ. Some flutes and naturally detuned accordion were added to add an eerie quality to the chords.” Olivier added new drums made out of found objects (an accordion case for a bass drum, a broken cymbal, some sheets of paper hit by brushes, a shaker and a spring reverb gently hit by a stick). To add a ‘stuttery’ quality to the piece, he then recorded some acoustic guitar, played at double speed. To add more rhythmical elements, some fast, arpeggiated saxophone and slow melody lines were also added with the aim of creating a remix that could simultaneously be perceived as both slow and languid as well as fast and jittery.

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FICTION / NON–FICTION
Olivier Alary

Read about Fiction / Non–Fiction...
 
LP13-24 / CD13-24 / DA13-24
17th March 2017
 
Tracklist :
01 – Xi
02 – Defeat
03 – Pulses (for Percussion)
04 – Nollywood
05 – Yu Shui
06 – Khaltoum
07 – Arrivée (*CD / dig only)
08 – Autodrome
09 – Canon
10 – Juanicas (*CD / dig only)
11 – Dancing Bottle
12 – Flooding
13 – Qin (*CD / dig only)
14 – Pulses (for winds)
15 – Forêt
16 – Dreaming
17 – Epilogue (*CD / dig only)
 
Montreal-based Frenchman Olivier Alary is a highly talented composer, who has previously collaborated with Bjork. Having released albums on FatCat and Aphex Twin’s Rephlex label under the lushly-orchestrated, experimental pop guise of Ensemble, over the past five or six years Olivier has moved away from that song-based project to focus on composing material for a stream of films and artistic collaborations. In June 2016 Olivier signed to 130701, and this album – a compilation of film soundtrack work – marks his debut under his own name.
 
Olivier completed a degree in architecture in the late ’90s, then moved from his native Toulouse to London to study electro-acoustic composition at Middlesex University (specialising in algorithmic composition and programming) and begin a musical career. Initially working under the name Hearing Is Our Concern, he was one of the first people FatCat ever received a demo from. We talked for a while about a release, but in the end, nothing happened. In ’98, the name was changed to Ensemble and the first album, ‘Sketch Proposals’, was released on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex label in 2000. The record gained a small, dedicated audience, including Björk, who was impressed enough to draft Olivier in to work with her. In 2002, Ensemble’s remixes of Bjork’s ‘Sun In My Mouth’ and ‘Cocoon’ were released as b-sides. Olivier then co-wrote ‘Desired Constellation’ on Björk’s 2004 album ‘Medulla’, and more remixes on her ‘Triumph of a Heart’ single. In 2006, an eponymous follow-up to ‘Sketch Proposals’ was released on FatCat, featuring vocals by Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr.), with arrangements by Johannes Malfatti – who also contributes on this record – performed by the Babelsberg Film Orchestra. In 2007, Olivier contributed a remix of The Twilight Sad’s ‘And She Would Darken The Memory’, and in 2010, a final Ensemble album ‘Excerpts’ was released, again on FatCat.
 
In 2007, Olivier’s director friend Yung Chang asked him to score his feature-length debut, ‘Up the Yangtze’ which premiered at Sundance. The film was critically acclaimed and became a reference in the field, opening up a natural transition into film music for Olivier. Soon afterwards, a number of other directors and producers began contacting him to work on projects, and since then he has soundtracked more than twenty feature-length fiction films and documentaries, several of which have received prestigious awards and screenings worldwide (Cannes, Berlinale, Sundance, TIFF, Locarno). As the album title alludes, ‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ is a compilation of this film music, dating from the past five years, none of which has been previously released. Carefully compiled by 130701’s Dave Howell, the record is far more than the sum of its parts and flows gorgeously from start to finish.
 
Olivier’s material here might sit somewhere among the likes of Jóhann Jóhannsson, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Stars Of The Lid, and Set Fire To Flames, whilst having the same masterly ear for sonic detail as Oneohtrix Point Never or Tim Hecker, but throughout the tracks are imprinted with Olivier’s own, signature sound. This might be defined in the composer’s obsessive exploration of the “grey areas” between noise and musicality and in blurring the boundaries between what is acoustic and what is generated electronically. “I am equally influenced by traditional music (from both Asia and Europe), acousmatic music (from composers of the GRM) and post-tonal composers (like Julia Wolfe, and Julius Eastman)”, he says, citing his music as a fusion of elements from these genres of music. “For me, the texture of sound is as evocative as a strong melody or harmonic progression. I also love to blur the boundaries between the geography of instruments and music genre.” In parallel with his film work, Olivier has continued to study music and theory with various professors, in order to expand his skills and composing range. In 2008, he started taking private lessons and attending classes at Montreal’s McGill Conservatory and also followed Michel Gonneville’s analysis class at the Montreal Conservatory.
 
Largely self-produced, the material on the album was recorded at a variety of dates and locations and utilises a range of instrumental set-ups. It features performances from the Babelsberg Filmorchestra, The Wroclaw Score Orchestra, Saint Stanislas de Kostka Choir, members of the Warhol Dervish String Quartet, as well as pianist/arranger Johannes Malfatti, saxophonist Erik Hove and many other musicians from the hyper-dynamic Montreal music scene. With a broad palette of sounds including accordion, saxophone, slide guitar, vibraphone, marimba, gongs, guitar, electronics, double bass, choir, flute, and clarinet, it moves from the sparse solo piano of ‘Qin’ or ‘Dancing Bottle’ to drone pieces like ‘Khaltoum’ and ‘Autodrome; denser, string-based arrangements like ‘Canon’ or ‘Yu Shui’; and a pair of separated minimalist twins.
 
‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ opens with two tracks lifted from the soundtrack of Yung’s Chang ‘China Heavyweight’, a documentary about boxing, which won the prestigious Golden Horse Award (the Chinese equivalent of an Oscar) in 2012. Both tracks were recorded by David Bryant (of Godspeed you black emperor! and fellow 130701 act, Set Fire to Flames) at The Pines, Montreal. Maintaining the Godspeed connection, ‘Flooding’ , ‘Canon’ and ‘Yu Shui’ was recorded by Howard Bilerman at Godspeed’s Hotel 2 Tango studio in Montreal. These three tracks come from ‘Up the Yangtze’, Chang’s documentary debut. This award-winning film follows a family as their home is destroyed by the rising waters of China’s Yangtze River – a consequence of the Three Gorges Project, the largest hydroelectric dam in history. Elsewhere, ‘Dancing Bottle’ and ‘Autodrome’ come from the film ‘Jo pour Jonathan’, which was directed by Maxime Giroux and represented Canada at the 2015 Oscars. Whilst ‘Epilogue’ and ‘Forêt’ are taken from Mathieu Denis’ ‘Corbo’ which, based on a true story, follows the last months in the life of 16-year-old Jean Corbo, the privileged but socially alienated son of a wealthy Italian-Canadian businessman, who became radicalized after a chance meeting with two young activists and died in a 1966 Quebec Liberation Front bombing.
 
The two minimalist ‘Pulses’ tracks are the most recent and the only material recorded specifically for this album and unlinked to any film. ‘Pulses (For Percussion)’ is a percussive study where a gorgeous polyrhythmic palindrome is transformed throughout the piece. The opening motifs played on gongs create a harmonic blur that becomes increasingly precise and resolved by the addition of Marimba and Vibraphone until a lyrical crescendo. ‘Pulses (For Winds)’ is like its ghostly mirror – a study for woodwinds using non-percussive instruments in order to emphasize the fragility of the patterns and their mutation from formless washes of tonal white noise to clear pulses.
 
With a beautifully broad range across the whole, these 17 tracks shimmer and hang like a shifting series of little dreamscapes. Each track witnesses Olivier’s precision and attention to harmonic and textural detail, confirming his sheer talent at layering / arranging sound. From the rich, smoky, deeply atmospheric saxophone-led tracks like ‘Yu Shui’ and ‘Flooding’ to the lusciously-textured ascension of ‘Nollywood’ (the closest-sounding thing here to Ensemble), they showcase the emergence of a composer of considerable talent.

Dmitry-Evgrafov_the-quiet-observation-1

THE QUIET OBSERVATION
Dmitry Evgrafov

Read about The Quiet Observation...
 
DA13-25
14th October 2016
 
Tracklist :
01 – Shelter
02 – Ptichka
03 – The Painting
04 – Lovebirds
05 – The Lofty Sky
06 – Unasked Question
07 – Lev
A hugely talented young Russian pianist/composer whose music blends intimate piano with rich strings and electronics, Dmitry Evgrafov began self-releasing his music at the age of seventeen, and signed to 130701 in 2015, releasing his label debut,‘Collage’ that October. A beautifully focused and concise seven-track EP, ‘The Quiet Observation’ follows up that release and precedes a new album due next year.

Where ‘Collage’ was a bold, heavily layered and augmented work making expansive use of electronics and a mass of virtual instrumentation, ‘The Quiet Observation’ returns to a far more pared back, much less digital realm. A delicate, luminous work, it is heavily centred around Dmitry’s beautiful piano playing, with only minimal use of other instrumentation: glockenspiel, strings, and two tracks played on a virtual church organ.
 
The main theme written for a feature film of the same name, ‘Ptichka’ was the second score Dmitry made for Russian director Vladimir Back and the product of a very intuitive collaboration. A dramatic piece appearing at the culmination of the movie, ‘Ptichka’ was recorded at Mosfilm, one of Russia’s most famous studios, where countless film scores and performances have been recorded. Both ‘Shelter’ and ‘The Lofty Sky’ also belong to the same soundtrack. Played on an organ emulation, both have a more ethereal quality and were inspired by Hans Zimmer’s brilliant ‘Interstellar’ score. As Dmitry relates: “I had never been in the position to play a church organ, so it was a revelation to actually hear such powerful and timeless sounds right under my fingers and to have the ability to control and sculpt such power in the way I want.”
 
‘Lovebirds’ is a sketch dating back to 2011, a time before any of Dmitry’s music had been released. “I wrote it one day with my wife Vika, just for fun. I sketched out a chord sequence on a virtual piano, and she added a melody. I picked up a violin (which I couldn’t play because I’d never learned to) and recorded the arrangement, and Vika added a cute glockenspiel. It was completed in an hour or so. During the next years, I returned to this recording a number of times, and despite its very rough quality, there was always something very special in its naive, simple approach and perfect pacing. And I could never play violin that well again!”
 
“‘Lev’ is a composition that was born whilst I was reading ‘War & Peace’ by Leo (Lev) Tolstoy. The composition is formed of very conservative moves, but because of the fact that I never follow tempo or time signatures in my music it resulted in a very personal feel without that pretentious academic gloss that no one really loves.”
 
‘Unasked Question’ is actually a leftover from Dmitry’s 2012 album ‘Pereehali’. I had recorded eleven tracks for the album but only seven could find their place on the final release, it was a hard choice for me to leave this track out, but luckily I have now found a home for it on ‘The Quiet Observation’.”
 
Compiling these seven tracks together into a whole that sounds strikingly coherent, Dmitry remarks how “the magic of the music and arts, in general, is that it is free for reinterpretation. When I first put these isolated compositions together they were immediately freed of their old associations and started to tell a very different story. Now I see this EP as an experience of quiet observation: you stand in a room and some shadows change each other on the wall in front of you. First, you see the shadows of someone running, maybe dancing, and then you see something tragic happening, you don’t know what exactly. Then it suddenly dissolves and calming waves of warm light appear. Then some blurred memories from two hundred years ago slowly emerge before it changes for the last time and all you can see in this room is a star-covered sky. You are not a participant. You can’t change anything. You are here just to observe.”

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RESINA
Resina

Read about Resina...

LP13-23 / CD13-23 / DA13-23
30th September 2016
 
Tracklist :
01 – Tatry I
02 – Flock
03 – Tatry II
04 – Nightjar
05 – Dark Sky White Water
06 – Afterimage
07 – Not Here
 
Resina is the alias of Karolina Rec, a cellist/ composer based in Warsaw, who signed to 130701 having sent in this album as a hugely impressive demo late last year. A very accomplished performer with a background in Polish underground music, this eponymous album is her solo debut and sees a rich, atmospheric re-imagining of Polish music rooted in a feeling for indigenous nature/landscape and realised via an intuitive, experimental approach to playing.
 
Born in 1982, Karolina graduated from Music Academy in Gdansk, and was active in Poland’s independent music scene since the late ’00s, co-founding and collaborating with some of Poland’s most influential alternative bands. She featured on many albums and soundtracks (including the Oscar-nominated ‘Rabbit a la Berlin’), and wrote music for numerous theatre productions. With her style primarily characterized by a personal language of improvisation and an alternative approach to melody, Resina is a compelling live artist, as witnessed in a fantastic Boiler Room session in February, and at 130701’s fifteenth-anniversary showcase at The Brighton Festival in May, where she stole the show, mesmerizing a sold-out audience with a dramatic and brilliantly crafted performance (described by a local reviewer as “astounding… unique… an utterly absorbing performance”).
 
Karolina first began to conceive making the album following a move from the quiet, coastal city of Gdynia to the bustling capital of Warsaw in 2012. “For the first time in my life I felt strongly connected to one place and to nature and then I had to move again.” Playing solo for the first time and finding new purpose through a musical exploration of this left-behind landscape, her playing appears to mimic or suggest certain natural processes/locations/elements –the flocking of birds; the movement of water, clouds, light, wind; the gradual stirring of life in the forest. Track titles reiterate these themes as does the very name ‘Resina’: the Latin form of resin, “the blood of the tree”. The cello’s sound itself depends in part upon the quality of the wood. “It’s a simply, primary association,” she notes, it refers to the wooden nature of this instrument and its natural possibilities which I wanted to follow.” Karolina talks about the ambivalence in our experience of nature: a simultaneous feeling of beauty and anxiety (at nature’s power and unpredictability). Without an awareness of the specifics, it’s easy to lose yourself in imagining landscapes, to bring your own memories to the album. “I try to take people to some places – but where particularly depends on them, their needs and experiences.”
 
At times recalling the landscape-rooted drone of English composer Richard Skelton, Resina’s pieces feel similarly organic and evocative of nature. Their sprawling growth is awash with tonal/timbral intricacies. Imbued with a rich friction-based viscerality, her tracks shimmer and hang around the listener; slowly shift, unfurl and awaken; become increasingly active. The beautifully considered flow of the album moves from the very spare, subtle bowed shiver and drone of ‘Tatry II’ to more rhythmic pieces like ‘Flock’, and the plucked strings and surprise of Karolina’s single, beautiful vocal contribution on the albums final track, ‘Not Here’.
 
Another reference point might be found in Werner Herzog’s musician of choice, Ernst Reijseger, whose powerful cello playing is grounded in a jazz-wise investigation of non-traditional/ non-academic techniques. Likewise, ‘Resina’ is a result of experiments with cello and simple electronic tools – sometimes verging close to the form of song; sometimes based more on powerful, intuitive impressions, but always marked by the desire to explore non-obvious characteristics of the instrument. “From a technical point of view, I wanted to keep the feeling of the creative process each time I played the piece”, she explains. “The looper was a perfect tool for that. I made some sketches based on unchangeable points and was improvising a lot around them, trying to watch where they would lead me. It’s a very intuitive way of working – I always try to feel first, after that I can try and analyse why something does or doesn’t work for me.” She describes this instinctive methodology as ‘primitive’: “Playing live I try to stick to the most important parts of composition but also to improvise every single time I play it. Every time I try to learn a little bit more about the pieces: check what makes them better, moves them further; try to move the border and squeeze out more, to make some kind of ritual of it. Hopefully, that helps me keep the intensity.”
 
The album was rooted in the clear compositional idea of crossing beyond comfort zones, breaking free from academic instruction and challenging herself to find other ways of expression in the instrument. “When I left all thinking about classical playing then I finally felt free and really close to the instrument’s fuller possibilities and its wooden, organic nature.”
 
Like Ian William Craig’s recent offering on 130701, Resina expands the scope of the label to spaces beyond the congested post-classical sweet spot. “I’ve never thought about my music as post-classical” she agrees, “My musical background was strongly influenced by certain Polish modern composers” (for two years she played in a Polish Chamber Choir, learning the choral repertoire of Krzysztof Penderecki, a lot of Górecki and Lutosławski). She also cites experimental rock bands, electronic music and “a lack of true Polish folk music (which was killed and replaced by a soothed folklore promoted by the Soviet regime after World War II). “I’ve tried to build my own musical identity on a premonition how music from this piece of the world could sound – but not by using folk music literally.”
 
The album was produced by Maciej Cieslak, a legendary, uncompromising Polish musician and producer who played in Kings Of Caramel, the first band Karolina was involved with back in 2007, and who she cooperated with on numerous projects (Cieslak composed the music on the Oscar-nominated Polish documentary ”Rabbit a la Berlin”, on which she played). Recorded in the last week of October 2014 at Cieslak’s Warsaw studio, the album was recorded almost entirely live, with only very minimal post-production (tape delay, reverb plate). Karolina had been working on the album irregularly for a couple of years, with no strong motivation and with many long breaks, until an accident helped force the issue. “I had been writing and playing live music for a theatre performance in Warsaw. During the premiere one of the actors who was carrying my cello onstage fell, breaking its bridge. It was Saturday night, so no luthier was available and the next morning we were due to play another performance. Everyone tried to help me find a cello to borrow. We almost gave up, when somehow we found a woman who wanted to sell her instrument and let me borrow it. Eventually finding the money to buy this higher-quality cello, it became a huge inspiration to finish the record. “Some things that I couldn’t find playing my previous cello came very intuitively with this new one. The difference in sound and possibilities was the biggest inspiration. Three months later the album was finished and recorded.”
 
A fantastic debut release, ‘Resina’ is an immersive and deeply enchanting album, which unveils a unique and striking new talent.
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NEW BLOOD (Eleven TO Fifteen Bonus Disc)
Various Artists / 130701 Compilation

Read about New Blood...
 
CD13-17B / DA13-17B
15th July 2016
 
Tracklist :
01 – Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch - Scale of Volitility Piano Solo
02 - Dmitry Evgrafov - Ptichka
03 - Olivier Alary - Attente
04 - Ian William Craig - The Printmaking Song
05- Resina - Tatry I

This 5 track EP of unreleased material was issued as a bonus disc alongside the 130701 compilation album ‘Eleven Into Fifteen’. It was limited to 200 physical copies on CD and was available exclusively with purchases of the compilation through the FatCat webstore and UK indie stores.
ELEVEN TO FIFTEEN

ELEVEN TO FIFTEEN
Various Artists / 130701 Compilation

Read about Eleven To Fifteen...
 
LP13-17 / CD13-17 / DA13-17 /
15th July 2016
 
Tracklist :
01 – Olivier Alary – Yangtze
02 – Dustin O’Halloran – Constreaux No.2
03 – Dmitry Evgrafov – Anthem
04 – Set Fire To Flames – barn levitate
05 – Resina – June
06 – Hauschka – Quiet
07 – Sylvain Chauveau – N B
08 – Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch – Aletheia
09 – Max Richter – Bach Study
10 – Ian William Craig – Tender Fire
11 – Jóhann Jóhannsson – They Being Dead Yet Speaketh (live at World Financial Center Winter Garden, New York)
 
130701 has played a pioneering role in the development of today’s vibrant post-classical scene. It has introduced the likes of Max Richter, Hauschka, and Set Fire To Flames, and has been home to Sylvain Chauveau, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and Dustin O’Halloran. With its fifteenth anniversary due on 13th July 2016, 130701 is celebrating with the release of a compilation featuring eleven exclusive tracks – one from each of the artists to have graced the roster over the past fifteen years, plus three new signings – Ian William Craig, Olivier Alary and Resina – whose first 130701 albums are each set to appear this year. Curated and compiled by 130701’s David Howell, none of these tracks has previously seen a physical release.
 
Opening with the sumptuous textural shimmer of Olivier Alary’s ‘Yangtze’, the album moves through the poignant, prepared-piano and string sweep of Dustin O’Halloran’s ‘Constreaux No. 2’ and the wobbly solo piano lyricism of Dmitry Evgrafov’s ‘Anthem’ before taking a somewhat darker, more intense turn on Set Fire To Flames epic ‘Barn Levitate’. A ten-minute track featuring members of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Fly Pan Am, and others from the hyper-creative Montreal community of the early ‘00s, it is the first new SFTF material to appear since their sophomore album ‘Telegraphs In Negative’ came out way back in 2003. Another new signing, Polish cellist/ composer Resina’s track ‘June’ follows organically on from here, her solo cello swelling and slowly flowering through the frost.
 
Hauschka’s ‘Quiet’ dates from the 'Ferndorf’ album period (2008) and sees the German artist paring down to just his trademark prepared piano on this beautifully lyrical little track. French artists Sylvain Chauveau and Emile Levienaise-Farrouch are paired beside one another – the former’s ‘NB’ follows on in a shimmer of suspended guitar delay before Levienaise-Farrouch’s ‘Alethia’ dances through an echoing web of piano.
 
Max Richter, who released five albums with 130701 between 2004 and 2012, contributes the wonderfully unravelling ‘Bach Study’, whose decay-shroud is echoed in Canadian Ian William Craig’s too-brief gem, ‘Tender Fire’ – Craig’s classically trained vocal layered and processed through his customized tape to tape decks. The album ends on a stellar live recording of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s ‘They Being Dead Yet Speaketh’ (from ‘The Miners’ Hymns’ project), recorded with the Wordless Music Orchestra, conducted by Gudni Franzson for New York Public Radio at the World Financial Center Wintergarden, NYC, 31st January 2012. A glowering, stunningly executed 12-minute piece, it feels like a suitably epic way to bring down the curtain on a compilation celebrating a wonderful first 15 years for the label.
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CENTRES
Ian William Craig

Read about Centres...

LP13-22 / CD13-22 / DA13-22
8th July 2016
 
Tracklist :
01 – Contain (Astoria Version)
02 – A Single Hope
03 – Drifting to Void on All Sides
04 – The Nearness
05 – Set to Lapse
06 – Power Colour Spirit Animal
07 – Arrive, Arrive
08 – A Circle Without Having to Curve
09 – An Ocean Only You Could See
10 – Purpose (Is No Country)
11 – It Need Not be Hopeless
12 – Innermost
13 – Contain (Cedar Version)
 
‘Centres’ is the stunning new album from Vancouver-based vocalist/composer Ian William Craig, and his first release for FatCat’s pioneering 130701 imprint (Max Richter, Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, Jóhann Jóhannsson, etc). Arriving on CD, digital and gatefold double vinyl editions, ‘Centres’ is actually Ian’s ninth full-length album, the majority of which were self-released digitally or in limited cassette editions. His last two full-lengths (‘A Turn of Breath’, 2014; and ‘Cradle for the Wanting’, 2015) were issued physically on the excellent Californian label, Recital Program and received glowing press and placements in numerous critics’ end-of-year lists (including Mojo / NY Times / Rolling Stone). The Guardian marvelled how “to be both wildly experimental and fantastically listenable is a skill that precious few people possess, but Craig has it … truly brilliant,” whilst Mojo remarked on “a blissfully disquieting choral suite, moving from the corroded cries of counter-tenor ghosts to a kind of abstract Buckleyesque heartbreak as if some lovelorn romantic troubadour had been summoned forth from the recording of séances on old shellac 78s.”
 
The signing of Craig marks something of a departure for 130701, as the label looks to adventurously expand its repertoire beyond the established post-classical palette of piano/strings/brass. Whilst elements recall the visceral, home-baked immersion of fellow Canadian outfit Set Fire To Flames (who kick-started the imprint 15 years ago), the hands-on customisation of Hauschka’s prepared piano or the tape-grain bleed of Max Richter, this is the first album we have ever released to substantially feature the voice and the song at its centre.

Ian William Craig is a trained operatic vocalist who combines his voice with analogue synthesizers, reel-to-reel machines, and faulty tape decks to create sublime cascades of unpredictable decay and beauty. His music engages with the operatic and orchestral, submerging them under a shifting palette of vocal improvisations, analogue tape hiss and billowing clouds of erasure. As well as a talented musician, Craig is an award-winning printmaker. Originally from Edmonton, he began playing live under his own name in 2010 in Vancouver, where he currently works at the University of British Columbia running the printmaking studio for the fine arts department. Though classically trained and grounded in the choral tradition, Craig’s early albums were concentrated predominantly around the piano, with his voice merely a marginal presence. In recent years, however, his practice has come to focus increasingly on his powerful voice, as can again be witnessed on ‘Centres’.
 
Fundamentally distressed yet texturally lush, ‘Centres’ is an immensely deep, rich and rewarding listen. It was recorded in an assortment of studio and other locations across his Vancouver hometown – in concert halls and classrooms, train yards and live rooms, as well as Craig’s own home – and created using a mixture of sources: synthesizer, Hammond organ, guitar, accordion, wire recorder, loop station, Craig’s array of re-purposed vintage reel-to-reels and an 18 deck “cassette choir”.
 
“Everything was manipulated through my customised tape decks,” explains Ian. “The most common hack is putting attenuators on the heads to keep them from functioning properly, and then running a loop of tape through so the sound builds and builds and spills over. Sometimes the same tape loop goes through two or three decks at once to create strange deteriorating delays with different colours. I also circuit-bend the bias to create odd kinds of distortion or bend the sound back into itself so it feeds back in unpredictable ways. Most of the rhythmic elements on the album were created with this feedback loop technique.”
 
For Craig, this use of reel-to-reels has become both a way of decaying sentimentality and a recurring metaphor. Drawing out analogies between his dual practices of music and print-making, Ian’s work is deeply informed by a narrative of impermanence, of “notions of life as an act of becoming, and beauty within degradation and deterioration.” He became fascinated with the notion of what the process of memory might physically sound like, placing his own body at the centre of this exploration to create sonic spaces that cast physical deterioration as the source of the sublime. “Tape affectation has been a really generative thing for me, and I really value not just the aesthetic texture that the tape decks impart, but the creative gesture they allow as well. They interject a certain randomness, a certain loss of control … It is my hope that through such performances, the sound of this forgetting can be momentarily manifested.”
 
Continually honing and pushing this process, the album shows a thoroughly brilliant attention to textural detail. Morphing, swirling, scouring, shimmering, it continually expands and contracts around you. Forging a harmonically gorgeous and utterly immersive listening experience, it pulls you from the rousing, slow-build of the opening ‘Contain (Astoria Version)’ through the standout ‘A Single Hope’ with its huge bass and Hammond organ swells, into shifting cloud-zones of ‘Drifting to Void on All Sides’ or ‘Power Colour Spirit Animal’, around the Nico-esque accordion opening of ‘The Nearness’, and back to the cyclical ending of ‘Contain (Cedar Version)’, one of the cleanest and sparest tracks here – pared back to the purity of a single voice and guitar.
 
Craig explains that “Centres is hard to describe because I rather wanted it to do everything. It sounds to me like all of the ideas I’ve ever had up to this point musically… it started life four years ago, as what I thought at the time were three separate albums but turned out to be a bunch of different things revolving around a strange core. It’s been erased and recombined and erased again so many times I’ve lost count! It’s a bit of a snowball running down the temporal mountain of the past few years, gathering things and losing others as it’s lumbered along. I called it ‘Centres’ because it seems like a pretty deep dive into a lot of my core inspirations, and the album is really just a set of whatever collected around them. More of an asteroid belt than a planet, but one that’s more about trying to tell what’s pulling it all together than about the stuff itself. A record of absence with gravity.”
 
“This album definitely started with songs in mind that were then destroyed and forgotten and recombined, as opposed to some of my more recent work, which has let the decks dictate the composition a bit more. The music here attempted to get back to its original state after passing through my tape deck gauntlet, sometimes several times. A transforming marathon! The first song and last songs are reflections of each other in this way, to amplify how much has changed but also stayed the same. Contrast. Forgetting.”
 
A stunning album that stands with a similarly unique sense of vision and integrity as the likes of William Basinski or Colin Stetson, ‘Centres’ available on CD, digital and in a deluxe gatefold double vinyl edition.
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ROOM TO EXPAND (Expanded)
Hauschka

Read about Room To Expand (Expanded)...

LP13-06X / DA13-06X
16th April 2016
 
Tracklist :
01 – La Dilettante
02 – Paddington
03 – One Wish
04 – Chicago Morning
05 – Kleine Dinge
06 – Belgrade
07 – Sweet Spring Come
08 – Femmeassise
09 – Watercolour Milk
10 – Zahnluecke
11 – Fjorde
12 – Old Man Playing Boules
13 – Zooviertel
14 – Slow Motion
15 – Run Run
16 – Fragments
17 – Sitze
18 – Vakuum One
 
As we approached the fifteenth anniversary of FatCat’s pioneering imprint, we proudly announced – as a Record Store Day 2016 exclusive – the significantly expanded double-vinyl reissue of Hauschka’s debut album for 130701, ‘Room To Expand’. Originally released in February 2007 as a twelve-track CD-only album, the album was repackaged and extended with the addition of six previously unreleased exclusive tracks and has been made available on vinyl for the first time ever – arriving with new artwork, liner notes and gatefold packaging. A digital version of the album will be released on July 8th.
 
Upon its original release nine years ago, Hauschka was the little-known alias of Dusseldorf–based pianist/composer Volker Bertelmann, who had previously released two albums on the Berlin-based Karaoke Kalk label – ‘Substantial’ (2004) and ‘The Prepared Piano’ (2005). At that stage, and indeed around the original release of ‘Room To Expand’, Volker had received little press attention and we initially struggled to find traction until eventually finding engaged agents and opportunities to get Volker in front of live audiences. In contrast to the past few years, which have seen a rapid expansion in the audience for post-classical adventuring and piano-based composition, at the time there was no real cohesive scene or sizeable audience for such music. Yet despite making only modest early gains on it, ‘Room To Expand’ was the album that in many ways laid the groundwork for Hauschka’s future success. Its very title suggested a frankly articulated portent of future growth for the artist – both creatively, technically and in popularity.
 
130701 would go on to release four further albums with Hauschka and saw his profile expand exponentially, due in no small part to Volker’s highly impressive and engaging live show, which was frequently the place where for many people, the penny (alongside many jaws) fully dropped. Whilst his future oeuvre would be expanded via electronic and orchestral expansions, at the time of ‘Room To Expand’ Hauschka’s work was focused heavily upon an exploration of the possibilities of the ‘prepared’ piano – a playfully disruptive intervention into the preconceived idea of the piano as a pure-toned, perfected instrument waiting for a gifted virtuoso to play on it. Instead, Volker explores and influences the outcome of his playing by getting right down inside the instrument – clamping wedges of leather, felt or rubber between the strings; preparing the hammers with aluminium paper or rough films; placing crown corks on the strings, weaving guitar strings around the piano’s guts, or pasting them down with gaffer tape. These little modifications throw up an array of rustling, drumming, shivering, scraping, and resonating sounds which either provide the focus / drive for a piece or hook the ear into an intriguing, slightly unusual frame. As ‘Room To Expand’ shows, his resulting tracks are composed both originally and charmingly, forming vivid, unconventional pieces made through what Volker termed a playful ‘research-enthusiasm’.
 
Always assured and adventurous, the album flows beautifully, from the spritely, layered sprawl of the string-backed ‘La Dilettante’ to the ever-evolving growth of ‘One Wish’; the minimalist repetition and percussive noise of ‘Sweet Spring Come’ and the sparse, delicate beauty of ‘Kleine Dinge’ or ‘Old Man Playing Boules’. There’s a lovely sense of depth and balance to the album – skipping through a range of moods, each piece is animated with its own particular character, its own weight and feel. Across the album’s 18 tracks, Volker is able to deploy both a forcefulness and a delicacy of touch; varies tempos; integrates other instruments when necessary; uses space and silence as well as bolder, more ecstatic outbursts. This is a beautiful, involving and evolving album, whose bold, accessible melodies, rhythms and structures immediately act as hooks, whilst a wealth of micro-detail rewards close listening.
 
Compiled by 130701’s Dave Howell over several months during the winter 0f 2005/06, the original album was drawn together from several CDs worth of material, half of which was left off of the final cut. Whilst some of this material was repurposed for future releases, this is the first time that these six additional tracks have been collected in one place and seen a physical release.
 
Gathered to fit a single, final vinyl side, the six new tracks were all recorded contemporaneously with the original album and breathed new life into it. They offer a wider lens onto this period Hauschka’s creativity, perfectly complementing and extending the original set – continuing its sprawling, adventurous momentum. Aside from the heavily delay-processing ‘Vakuum One’, all six tracks are solo-prepared piano works, moving from the playful ‘Zooviertel’ to the more strident, pounding, swelling ‘Run Run’ and the fidgety, skittling ‘Fragments’ and ending on the impressionistic, rippling, fizzy-textured ‘Vakuum One’.
Dmitry-Evgrafov_collage-1

COLLAGE
Dmitry Evgrafov

Read about Collage...

CD13-21 / DA13-21
16th Oct 2015
 
Tracklist :
01 – Embrace
02 – Sway
03 – Invitation
04 – Cries And Whispers
05 – Like Foam
06 – Fracture
07 – Reel
08 – Warm Up
09 – Garage
10 – Regret
11 – Nothing To Say
12 – Golden Light
 
Following nearly three years of silence, FatCat’s 130701 imprint was reactivated in the Autumn of 2015, with this new album from the first of several new signings. Dmitry Evgrafov is a hugely talented young Moscow-based pianist/ composer/ multi-instrumentalist. Entirely self-taught, he began playing music at the age of fourteen. Between 2011–13 he (self-) released two EP's and an album (available as a name-your-price release on Bandcamp), the first arriving aged just seventeen. Having been impressed enough to help out in the compiling of his debut album ‘Pereehali’ back in 2013, 130701 remained in touch and in early 2015 signed the composer to the imprint.
 
The first fruit of this new relationship, ‘Collage’ sees a clear shift from Dmitry’s previous releases, each of which was marked by self-imposed restrictions. His first EP, ‘Lying On Your Shoulder’, adhered to an extremely minimalistic approach, using just string trio and piano; ‘Preliminary Script’, was “nothing but an anthem to sadness, melancholy and defeatism”; whilst on ‘Pereehali’, Dmitry confined himself to a single instrument, a Petrof upright piano, and a specific recording location. Feeling somewhat unsatisfied with the three records, Dmitry decided to take a break in order to rethink his approach to composing. He began a job as a sound designer, writing bespoke music for videos, commercials, audiovisual installations and scores. Working to set briefs under stricter conditions and with less time for introspection, the experience turned out to be liberating. “I realized that being bold, experimental and versatile and using the briefs as a playground could make the sound more solid and complete, that I can make much more convincing music when I set no personal restrictions.” As a result, Dmitry’s music grew rapidly bolder, more dynamic and more expansive.
 
Besides this burgeoning new-found confidence and an instrumental and technical diversity that differs drastically from the evenly weighted solo piano of ‘Pereehali’, Dmitry also began to explore the slippery boundaries between reality and artifice. “Since there is never enough time or budget to record live piano or strings for the commercial applications I was working on, I had to find substitutes, and eventually I came across some beautiful orchestral instruments I had wanted to use in my music since I started. I switched to an advanced set of virtual instruments, which make up about 90% of the sounds on the album. How well these worked was a surprise to me since I’ve always been a stickler for real piano, strings or drums and hated cheap, plastic-sounding VST. At the same time, I still find genuine tape delay effects and vintage synths from the 1980s absolutely irreplaceable, so there is a cool mix of digital and analogue sounds on the album.”

This dilemma of computer emulation of real instruments is evident from the album’s opening track. ‘Embrace’ was completed in three hours and composed entirely from virtual instrumentation, including harp, heavenly string tremolo and woodwind. Dmitry refers to this as “music that can cheat the human ear in terms of how realistic the instrumental simulation has become – almost everyone who heard it asked if it was recorded live. And the answer frightens me more than everyone else.”
 
As its title suggests, ‘Collage’ is a collection of material drawn from disparate origins, times and locations – all carefully pieced together to form a cohesive whole. With over half of the tracks never intended for release, its constituent parts were transplanted variously from the soundtrack for a feature film (‘Beck’); a late-night improvisation from 2011 (‘Invitation’); an interactive audio installation (‘Regret’); an iOS app commercial (‘Reel’); and ‘musical valentine’s cards’ to his wife (‘Embrace’ and ‘Sway’).
 
Retaining much of the feeling of ‘Pereehalli’, the first third of ‘Collage’ is piano-based – from the gently romantic ‘Sway’ to the more strident, minimalist ‘Cries and Whispers’, which recalls Hauschka with its foregrounding of creaking foot-pedals and punched keys dampened through a layer of felt. Following this opening section, the album pivots on a trio of tracks (‘Like Foam’ / ‘Fracture’ / ‘Reel’) that form the core around which everything else was built. Designed to flow seamlessly together, this sprawling section marks the emotional peak of the album and a transition to its more electronically-based second half, comprising darker, more atmospheric tracks like ‘Warm Up’, ‘Garage’ (“an ode to a Juno 106 and a Roland Space Echo”), and the sparkling suspension of ‘Regret’.
 
The rousing ‘Like Foam’ was the first piece intentionally written for the album and the first to lead Dmitry away from the more intimate, solo piano phase he felt stuck in. “I was searching for something new and was commissioned to write a piece for a slightly pompous video. So I decided to free myself from any musical restrictions and just use all the instruments and tricks that I loved. I’d always been slightly afraid of making loud music, and writing this was a perfect way to scatter those doubts.”
 
Reducing down the album’s essence to “always restless, always searching”, for Dmitry the process of creating ‘Collage’ charts a newfound inner freedom, an awakening of a joyful adventurousness and expanded possibilities. Delivered courtesy of Swedish pop artist Henrik José, the album’s single vocal line on ‘Nothing To Say’ (Dmitry’s first and to date only composition to feature vocals) seems both a provocation and affirmation of the potential for reinvention.
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LIKE WATER THROUGH THE SAND
Emilie Levienaise–Ferrouch

Read about Like Water Through The Sand...
 
CD13-20 / DA13-20
13th November 2015
 
Tracklist :
01 – Minnesang
02 – The Sum Of Our Flaws
03 – Tulsi
04 – Cotidal Lines
05 – Hands Closed Together
06 – Vestiges
07 – Persephone
08 – Scale Of Volatility
09 – Six Of Swords
10 – Sublimation
11 – Strelka
 
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch is an award-winning French pianist/ composer currently living in London. Spanning film score, bespoke composition and sound design, her work is connected by both its high quality and evocative, meticulous craft – a common sensibility of elegant, instinctual composition. Signed by FatCat’s post-classical imprint 130701 following receipt of a stunning demo in 2014, Levienaise-Farrouch’s first album, ‘Like Water Through the Sand’ was released in November 2015  – alongside Dmitry Evgrafov’s debut for the imprint – marking an invigorating injection of fresh blood for 130701, introducing a striking new voice to the genre.
 
A collection of new compositions written primarily for piano, string quartet and electronics, ‘Like Water Through the Sand’ is equal parts graceful as it is dark; and powerful as it is subtle. A wide-ranging yet cohesive collection, there’s an immediately evident sense of class in the quality of the instrumental playing and the beautifully nuanced sound design, marshalled masterfully throughout by its creator.
 
Born in Paris, Emilie grew up in Bordeaux, studying classical piano throughout her childhood. Recognizing a strong early interest in “making up music rather than just fixating over perfectly playing other people’s,” her first experiments in recording began as a teen. Convinced of her vocation, in 2006 Emilie moved to London to embark first on a BA course in music at Westminster University, then a Masters degree in composition at Goldsmiths, studying new complexity and spectral composition. Alongside these studies, Emilie worked for three years at the online electronic store Bleep, gaining enlightening exposure to a vast range of weird and wonderful new music. New influences like Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto, Richard Skelton, Andy Stott, and LFO were added to existing ones in Bach, Sufjan Stevens, and soundtracks by Clint Mansell and Carter Burwell.
 
That confluence of academic classicism and the more populist, streetwise electronic experimentalism is clearly evident on the album. Shifting fluidly from solo piano pieces (the churning ‘The Sum Of Our Flaws’ and ‘Six Of Swords’; the poignant delicacy of ‘Hands Closed Together’ or ‘Strelka’) to stirring chamber pieces (the formal elegance of Cotidal Lines; the expansive ‘Minnesang’; the stirring sweep of ‘Sublimation’) and foregrounding explorative electronic enhancements (the delay-aggregation of ‘Tulsi’, the pulse-driven ‘Persephone’ and ‘Scale Of Volatility’), the album is broad-ranged and playful yet cohesive and fully formed. The sound design is by turns subtle, dynamic, adventurous and precise. There is a lovely sense of movement within tracks – merging the repetition of electronics and melodic figures with very dynamic and mature string arranging and narrative development.
 
The album was recorded over the autumn and winter of 2014-15. The strings and some piano tracking were done at Goldsmiths’ new music studio; the solo piano pieces were recorded in Dalston on the Vortex Jazz Club’s Steinway; Emilie’s beautiful string arrangements were immaculately played by soloists from the adventurous London Contemporary Orchestra (one of the UK’s most innovative and respected ensembles, who have collaborated with the likes of Johnny Greenwood, Arcade Fire, Jimmy Page and Foals); whilst all programming and electronics were done at Emilie’s own studio/music space in Hackney Wick. The mix was completed over the first ten days of January this year at The Cabin in King’s Cross.
 
The album’s title is a translation of a sentence from ‘L’Amant’, a 1984 novel by cult French writer Marguerite Duras. In the paragraph the fragment is taken from, the author wonders whether she might have been unable to truly perceive a specific feeling whilst it was being felt, due to all the events happening around it, and that she could only properly sense it retrospectively. The autobiographical book covers events that had been irregularly narrated by Duras in previous books, always eliciting a strong emotional reaction from both the author and the reader. “It started to make me think about how we (and myself especially) construct our episodic memories, how they evolve, how set and true they are, and how our perception and judgment of a situation changes with time,” Emilie notes. “There are themes and motives that run through the album, which are like little souvenirs, that continuously shift, change and evolve, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes euphoric.” Clearly, it’s a record that has been painstakingly considered and constructed and one that encourages and rewards deeper immersion.
 
A gorgeously detailed and hugely impressive debut, ‘Like Water Through The Sand’ manages to sound at once fresh and familiar. It nestles comfortably within the contemporary cannon of post-classical