Motte (Christchurch violinist, composer and sound explorer A. Clark) has released a fine and other-wordly album of ambient experimental improvised violin, voice and synth called “Strange Dreams”. Here’s the opening track “Thin Air” which is as good a place as any to start your experience in this strange and beautiful soundscape.
It’s an album that defies conventions as much as classification. Depending where you venture you’ll find satisfyingly rich and layered ambient experimentation to rival the classics of Brian Eno and Laraaji – particularly where loops and reverb are used on the violin to create layers of subtle melodic and rhythmic textures.
There’s also adventurous modern classical music (eg: “Bathhouse”) that at times fleetingly evokes the spirit of Ralph Vaughan William’s “The Lark Ascending” although addition of unusual impressionistic synth tones and percussion textures keeps it well towards the experimental end of the classical spectrum without sacrificing any of its luminous musical qualities.
There’s a kind of modernist experimental take on folk and pop music too in the songs with conventional vocals, like the sublime smokey mystery of the title track and “Give it to Me”.
It truly is an album of strange dreams and one that will reward repeated listening.
“Strange Dreams” is out on LP from new label CocoMuse and available here.
“Warmth” is the opening track from a new (released today) EP collection of ambient piano pieces title “Nostalgia” from Hanoi, Vietnam based sound-artist Nhung Nguyen.
This opening track is the straightest piece on the EP, just a slightly wonky piano recorded in a space full of reverberation.
Nhung Nguyen explains ““Nostalgia” is my an ambient piano EP. All tracks are based on two long piano improvisations, which were recorded in 2015 and 2016.
“Nostalgia” takes inspiration from my personal memories about childhood and the melancholy coming from thoughts and emotions at the end of the year. Yearning for the lost time of the youth and the warmth from moments are also main themes of the release.”
It certainly evokes the “Nostalgia” of the album title. Don’t know what it is about the sound of a slightly out of tune piano in a big echoing space, but it brings all sorts of memories and feelings back. Some relate to family gatherings, some to out-of-it jams, some to film music, some to the early piano-based ambient soundscapes of Eno.
Most of all, though, this track evokes a spooky kind of nostalgia for the peculiar feeling created by the world of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” assisted by some of the incidental music created by Angelo Badalamenti.
The rest of the album is the piano looped and treated with reverb and delay, getting progressively more abstract with each track, as overlapping loops smudge and blur individual notes into a vast drone which slowly morphs over the course of the track.
The fourth track “Grace” at nearly 8 minutes is another highlight of the EP. The sound here is the most luxurious and distant from the sound of the piano introduced on that opening track “Warmth”.
More bloody Australian guitar-pop brilliance I’m afraid. As if my record collection isn’t already bursting with enough recent albums from across the ditch, here’s another trio – Loose Tooth – with an upcoming 8 track mini-album working it’s way onto my can’t-live-without-this list.
This is probably the least Australian-sounding Australian thing I’ve heard recently. That ‘slacker’ style people assume is the 2010s “Australian Sound” is a terrible cliche anyway, but Loose Tooth just don’t fit it or anything else you’d think of as quintessentially Australian right now.
The shouty-in-a-good-way vocals displayed in the two pre-release songs streaming here and stratospheric backing vocals just ooze too much in-your-face garage-rock punk attitude and ensure these songs don’t form a background noise but take on more of a rallying call.
If I’d heard this without knowing it’s origins I’d assume it originated somewhere in the UK, probably Scotland. But Loose Tooth are from Melbourne and this is being released on the fab independent Milk! Records. Loose Tooth are childhood friends Etta Curry on drums/vocals and Nellie Jackson on guitar/vocals along with Luc Dawson on bass/ vocals.
Sure there’s a familiar kind of Velvet Underground via The Clean fuzzy chug going on here with an echo of The Shop Assistants and also the reverb-slicked ramalama of Thee Oh Sees. But the bass and vocals also give it a strong post-punk flavour. Or even the kind of art-school pre-post-punk Eno pioneered circa “Here Come the Warm Jets” maybe.
“Everything Changes” is brilliant, quite perfect, and although the component parts contain familiar elements, they are assembled in fresh, exciting and sometimes spectacular ways – like the over-the-top chorus backing vocals which are just crazy wonderful.
Give “Everything Changes” and the equally glorious “Will You” a listen and pre-order a download. Or, if you can bear the cost of the international postage, pre-order yourself one of the 200 copies of the 8-track mini-album “Saturn Returns.” Very tempting indeed.
Playing David Bowie’s “Low” last week I got lost again in that second side of sweeping cinematic instrumentals. Those paths lead me back to Brian Eno’s “Music For Films” and the Fripp & Eno album “Evening Star” – but also started me off exploring forward to an ever-expanding universe of imaginary worlds created by new generations of musicians working with ambient music, combining instrument sounds, field recordings and textures. Here’s one stellar recent example of that universe from Hanoi, Vietnam musician/ sound artist Nhung Nguyen.
It is almost impossible to pick just one track, but “Evergreen” – hinting as much of early Tangerine Dream as much as ambient Eno – is as good an entry point as any.
Continue on to listen to the whole collection, particularly “For June (Forever Summer)” with its glorious combination of field recordings of birdsong mingling with other-worldly hypnotic chiming.
Her latest release “Music For Quiet Souls” is different again, taking a minimal piano composition approach, like an experimental Erik Satie ‘Gymnopedies’ collection, but mixing field recordings with the delay-effect piano.
So impressed by these works I’ve just bought the full digital discography.
Day 12 of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month is “There Are Two” from Christchurch musician Indi.
“There Are Two” is the second of two singles released so far this year by Indira Force – keyboard/ synth-player and vocalist with Christchurch ‘trip-hop’ band Doprah – under the name Indi.
As with the earlier single “Stay” this is gloriously subdued dreamy pop, heavy on the woozy atmospherics of swirling Fender Rhodes sound electric piano, swirling synths, then clicking, pulsing percussion. Close your eyes and those first 25 seconds would not sound out of place on Eno’s “Music For Films” album.
But at the heart of the song though it is Indi’s voice which engages attention; light, spectral and then spinning off in ghostly clone echoes of itself. Music + Voice = Sublime.
At only 2 minutes 31 seconds “There Are Two” is way too short. There’s no other option but to play it on repeat. Preferably after you’ve downloaded the name your price song having paid a suitable amount to encourage more from Indi.
Day 14 of the NZ Music Month daily NZ music madness is ‘Wellsford Video’ from the dark imagination of Auckland sound-charmer MOPPY.
This from Muzai Records Bandcamp page: “Moppy (a.k.a Thom Burton) produces wonders of glitch and IDM that take their cues from the ambient works of Chris Morris and the soundtrack to television classic Jaaaaam. Cultivated through a period of fasting in a tin-foil hat, with a brief period of time working with Cute Banana (who appeared on the single “Big Bad Wolf” from his first album, Mokai), Seconds is more than mere electronic music and EDM.”
No idea what any of that actually means sorry but I do like this Moppy album. ‘Seconds’ reminds me in places of early Eno (eg: Music for Films) and Boards of Canada and in other places of the experimental side of Broadcast. But there’s also a lot of musique-concrete & avant-garde sound manipulation going on here too which means it is hard to pin it down to being any one thing.
It’s all very exotic yet accessible while also being fresh & a little challenging. Which pretty much sums up the modus operandi of Muzai Records really.
Here’s my New Zealand Music month Bandcamp purchase for 6 May. Something a bit different to the music I usually champion.
Christopher El’ Truento is a producer and beatmaker for the likes of @peace and Home Brew. But the music he releases under his own name tends more towards drifting and abstract ever-morphing space-jazz constructions like these two songs released as a 7″ on Japanese label Wonderful Noise.
El’ Truento cites the quieter sounds of jazz icons like Alice Coltrane as an influence on his solo work. But I also hear something in these miniature soundscapes that reminds me of the muted exotic sounds and percussion loops on ‘Possible Worlds’ by Brian Eno/ Jon Hassell