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.
Taking a somewhat opposite but apposite direction to the futuristic re-mix by Horse Doctor of Death And The Maiden, here’s a brand new song called “Sprain” from Death And The Maiden and Bad Sav shredder Hope Robertson under the guise of her other alter-ego as “bird racer” at Birdation.
Birdation is Hope’s solo lof-fi experimental noise ensemble of one. I say ensemble even though it’s only one person because there’s usually a pile of equipment – ancient and modern – on stage with Hope when Birdation plays live. Not all of it is always under control which adds to the tension and uniqueness of each Birdation performance.
In place of the futuristic glitchy Acid Pro looped-up madness of Horse Doctor, Birdation uses a more old-fashioned recording tool to distort, muddy and saturate the sound into disorienting textures – a 4 track ‘Portastudio’ type cassette recorder.
Birdation songs always come with an adventurous sense of downbeat euphoria and agreeable melodicism.
Louder vocals would be great but the submerged nature the vocals – sounding like they’ve been phoned in from space and recorded in a galvanised metal bucket – is all part of the subterfuge. Deliberately or not, it has the effect of forcing you right IN to the song as you try to work it all out.
There’s some very nice post-rock delay guitar work buried within the tape-sludge and a magnificently apocalyptic ending rounds it all off perfectly too.
One of the first PopLib posts, over 2 years ago, was about Seattle musician Jesy Fortino, who releases music and performs under the name Tiny Vipers.
“Another Day’s Sun” is a one-off track from the Tiny Vipers Bandcamp, released December 2013, which I only discovered today. It’s a wonderful piece of near-ambient droning song-craft.
Now there’s a brand new Tiny Vipers release out called “Ambience3”. My copy arrived today in physical format from UK label Box Bedroom Rebel. I wanted to feature that but it doesn’t appear in Box Bedroom Rebels Bandcamp. So “Another Day’s Sun” is the Trojan Horse song to introduce this more recent release.
“Another Day’s Sun” above, with it’s minimal guitar, evocative voices and wash of electronic noises, hints at the direction to be taken two years later by Tiny Vipers on “Ambience3”.
“Ambience3” is, as the title might suggest, is ambient drone. There’s no vocals, other than the ghostly backwards smudge of voice on “TAPE III” on the 7″ (which plays at 33 rpm), but there’s a lot of wondrous ambient soundscape to get lost in on the 70-minute CD which comes with the 7″ single in a nicely packaged release from UK label Box Bedroom Rebels.
“Ambience3” ranges from beautiful echoey spaces, reminiscent of Eno’s ambient series of recordings, through to some more industrial sounds (in a very musical, extra-terrestrial industrial way). There’s also some remixes. The most intriguing of these is “Tape II remixed by Xela”, which takes a tape delay drone loop and works it up into 9 minutes of brilliant techno-trance industrial dance music.
The well-presented 7″ single and CD package is very affordable, so why not take a chance?
Day 22 of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month comes from Dunedin’s experimental electronic underground and a track called “Altnow” from the brilliant Govermint album “Pipe DRM”
PopLib discovered the Pipe DRM album a few months ago and also managed to snare one of the 12 copies of the album cut direct to vinyl. It is an absolute treasure.
There may be no more vinyl version around, but it is still worth your time and dollars for a download. It is one of my favourite albums of 2015.
Strange Harvest – photo by Phoebe MacKenzie & Emily Berryman
Day 10 of the May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month is a track from “Pattern Recognition” – the brand new third album from Dunedin duo Strange Harvest.
“Expression #14” is one of the more atmospheric songs on the album. Just synth, delay guitar and voice. And all the better to showcase the words.
Those words are one of the big standouts on “Pattern Recognition”. The lyrics (or sometimes spoken word pictures) are mysterious and evocative short stories about places and feelings that are from some parallel world. The lines “Come quickly/ you mustn’t miss the dawn/ it will never be quite like this again” have stuck in my mind ever since I first heard this song last year. They capture the fleeting impermanence of human experience perfectly.
Most other tracks are propelled along on beats programmed by keyboard player & vocalist Skye Strange. Some of them enter the territory of dance music. Death Disco dance music perhaps, but some of those slinky/ crunching beats are at BPMs that will get limbs twitching.
There’s a graininess about “Pattern Recognition” which gives it a sinister claustrophobic feeling at times. It’s not lo-fi but it’s less glossy than “Inside A Replica City” (2013). It does feel like it was recorded in an “Abandoned Airport” building.
In fact it was recorded in a decaying inner city Victorian era building in Dunedin. I’m sure in some of the quiet passages you can hear plaster from the ceiling falling into the inflatable paddling pool used to collect leaking rainwater in the recording room.
According to this Radio NZ interview “Pattern Recognition” was meant to be about some kind of dystopian future, but they say it turned out all that stuff happened last year anyway.
In case you haven’t noticed already Strange Harvest do the best band interviews ever.
Here’s “We Are All The Same” from Exgynoid. Listen in and then read on…
As explained on Shunkan’s Facebook page, Shunkan started out as Marina Sakimoto, became a band and, along the way, left a musical crumb trail of lo-fi shoe-gaze dream-pop, electronic pop, and experimental ambient-electronica soundscapes, before becoming the crunching power-pop band of “Our Names” from the forthcoming debut album “The Pink Noise”.
Potentially confusing? There’s nothing wrong with sonic diversity and keeping people guessing about identity and genre. However, Marina decided to create a separate identity – Exgynoid – for her solo, electronic based music. The three-song “CULTUS” is our introduction.
“Character Customization” is a brief instrumental introduction before the two main courses – both of which demonstrate a mastery of pop song-craft in quite different and unusual/ adventurous ways.
“Candy” is sweet pop, with a kind of faux mandolin, and recognisably Shunkan/ Marina Sakimoto (that distinctive voice & command of melodic songwriting), but the two different instrumental bridges/ drops are thrilling & fun.
“We Are All The Same” is another beautifully crafted pop song, vocal gymnastics bouncing on top of a minimalist electronic echo-pulse. Perfect. Just like the name Exgynoid. Machine synthesis (re)taking humanoid form. Welcome.
If you enjoyed the music on the recent PopLib post on that wonderful GOVRMINT album here’s another slice of audio oddness for you from Teresa Winter.
The album “Oh Tina, No Tina” is all kinds of hard-to-explain joy. There’s a playful way with sound and songs here as it mixes up a kind of Casiotone-ambient budget-chillwave with mashed up toy percussion, samples of dialog & whatnot and wonderfully melodic grainy vocal loops.
Everything’s a bit wrong on the album. It’s like rave music created by someone who has only ever heard rave and post-rave come-down music on a shortwave radio with a poor signal in a thunderstorm in a South American jungle and is trying to create the feel from memory on equipment not quite suited to the task. Or, as Teresa explains much more succinctly: “These are devotional VHS post rave meltdowns of the highest quality.”
There’s a previous cassette album on the CACAO label from Teresa called “Seven Sisters” which you can download for free (but please buy the $10 cassette as well). It’s also great and mixes lo-fi glitchy noise with playful beats, some delightful found-sound collage and a high quotient of fuzzy aural wooze. If you are one of those people who likes the idea of Boards of Canada but finds them a bit too coffee-shop-experimental then you’ll love to explore the world of Teresa Winter.
And, while we are here, the CACAO website is one of those rare aesthetically pleasing online spaces that is minimalist, intriguing and extremely functional all at once.