Monday, 19 October 2020

STH — FINISH CROSSING

⌾ LISTEN TO STH, FINISH CROSSING ⌾

It's on a backdrop of skittering Geiger ambience, the fuzz and dust of the years made sound and launched burrowing into the air, swarms of Big Bang television static, that Russian producer sth (short for "synthetic sequencing") overlays an otherwise calm, relaxing atmosphere.

There is a panicked feel in 'Finish Crossing' — noticeable in the bio-mechanical micropercussion shredding the air like paper rain, and the gurgling gΓΌiro-esque calling out like unknown nocturnal insects, the arrhythmic deep bass thuds — but there is laid-back lounge cool that exists here, too.

Electric piano chords spread muted gleaming softness into the proceedings, with later melodies inching in from far-off corners, and the clonk and woozy resonance of a vibraphone providing horizontal jazz. sth summons wordless vocals from the noise, adds a few drops of elastic synth and punches in dynamic punctuation (an abrupt one second of quiet at 3:16) to complete this comprehensive study in atmospheric sample-made music.


  • πŸ”” 'Finish Crossing' is one of the tracks taken from sth's album 35mm, the musicmaker's latest release for Russian label Radiant Sound. Recorded between 2018 and 2020, it's dedicated to analogue people living in the digital world. You can download it or stream 35mm on the label's Bandcamp if you like.

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Friday, 16 October 2020

CUUSHE — MAGIC


Cuushe is back. Recently she announced her upcoming album WAKEN via the fresh vitality of its first single, 'Hold Half'. This time around, it's 'Magic' that faces up to the grey piercing light of morning.

A slow steamroller of a beat thuds as the propulsion to 'Magic', rusted metallic percussion ticking faintly at its mechanical heart. A set of heavy-hearted piano chords plays a downcast reverb-laden refrain; "I just wanna die.." Cuushe's voice whispers from this fog of sound. Craggy synths crack in mournful reply, a glistening gloomy call-and-response.

Starting quietly, almost from another perspective, later in the track her vocals rise up, outraged: "Magic... Why are you so silent?" A question perhaps posed to the once-dreaming individual now scrutinised by reality. Lightness eclipsed. This refrain cuts through a wash of intense sounds, synths glittering and roaring together with the clatter of a bright guitar riff — a combination of playful concreteness and fantasy synthetic noise that runs through 'Magic'.

It's all been brought to life with a video by director Tao Tajima. On a backdrop of footage filmed in the wilds of Tibet, it's a tale of ghostly girls tied with string to insistent flapping birds, drawn in their phantomic pastels by sometime Cuushe collaborator Yoko Kuno. The music — mysterious yet methodical in its makeup — matches the stark marching mountains and vast empty tundra.


  • πŸ”” 'Hold Half' is taken from Cuushe's forthcoming new album Waken, set for release 20th November on her label home flau. Pre-order it over on the flau bandcamp.

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TAY NOEL — LAST TIME

⌾ LISTEN TO TAY NOEL, LAST TIME ⌾

With its beat echoing in a collage of ticks and booms as if caught in a looping memory, 'Last Time' is a vessel of tender emotion tumbled along by the multifaceted rhythm of time. Sultry chords paint a soundscape with muted synth glow, a picked melody adding a gentle delicacy to the scene.

All the while, percussion rattles, cymbals whisper metallics into the air, a lone, full-bodied snare explodes in the near-distance laden with reverb. Created by Virginia producer Tay NoeL, 'Last Time' is a gleaming marvel of measured, minimal production.

"This song came from a personal experience," the producer tells yes/no via email. "It was inspired from a mutual breakup between me and a girl before I shipped off to the Navy."

A hollow synth melody that calls out every now and then, a hollow, flute-esque R&B-flavoured beacon that stretches out slowly above it all. It's a sound that summons the spiritual aesthetic of old-school lovesongs, but in its descending notes, its hint of a mournful tone, it becomes emotive.

"When I create I need to have an emotion in my mind, either from personal or what I believe the song is trying to show me," he adds.

"In better words, I speak my mind and emotions through my music."

The unpretentious simplicity of 'Last Time' — and indeed many of the instrumental soundtracks to emotion and experience to be found on Tay NoeL's album The Vibez: Chill Instrumentals — calls to mind the vaporwave sensitivity to scenes, times, places, fantasy visions, nostalgia. But there's one presiding difference: this music remains gloriously rooted in and inspired by reality.


  • πŸ”” You can stream and/or download The Vibez: Chill Instrumentals, Tay NoeL's collection of instrumentals, over on Bandcamp.

πŸ“ 
Tay NoeL Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 15 October 2020

PAUL COUSINS — THOUGHTS IN THE ETHER

⌾ LISTEN TO PAUL COUSINS, THOUGHTS IN THE ETHER ⌾

Written "as a soundtrack to daydreaming," London-based producer Paul Cousins track 'Thoughts in the Ether' is all-encompassing. It toes a balance between warm pianos and gossamer threads of synth that tick with icy intent. It evolves organically, like the moment of pouring a drop of milk into the darkly glimmering black-gold depths of tea, or how smoke curls through the air.

"The scene changes reflect the different thoughts we have as we let our mind wander," Cousins says via email.

The gentle touches of piano, its chords and descending notes, serves as a heartfelt metronome to the shifting sounds. It may be intended as the soundtrack to daydreaming, but the slow piano melody seems to step into a fog of melancholy, a gentle realisation of deeper feelings when the mind steadies itself. The rhythm of the natural world floats past us, insubstantial; conversations, cars, convenience stores drift by; and inside, the slow tick of ourselves.


  • πŸ”” Purchase, stream or otherwise admire 'Thoughts in the Ether' in hypertext stasis over on Bandcamp.
  • πŸ”” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfDABxWSF0Y There's a film to accompany 'Thoughts in the Ether'. Created by director Edward Harber, it's "an aerial study of the North Sea from Happisburgh in Norfolk, documenting a week in the evolving appearance of the water."

    Cousins adds: "I wanted the video to take place from a floating viewpoint, and to be similar to the phosphenes we might see when closing our eyes for a few minutes."

  • πŸ”” Inspired by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, the track artwork — following the form of videos on Cousins' Instagram account — was created in collaboration with London-based graphic artist Signalstarr.

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Monday, 12 October 2020

FRANKIE REYES — ALMA DE LA PALMA

⌾ LISTEN TO FRANKIE REYES, ALMA DE LA PALMA ⌾

Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker — perhaps beter known for his label Gifted & Blessed and making house music as GB — has a string of musicmaking aliases. One of these is Frankie Reyes, the name behind the wonderful 'Alma De La Palma' — a fuzzed-out dappling of emotive notes 'n' chords for a sort of supercharged classical-minimalist lounge music.

With its soft and muted textures, the bold stretches of delay further heightening its languorous glimmering feel, the scattering of sweeping notes, 'Alma De La Palma' feels as though you're looking down and something through water. The rippling surface skews the scene; a hint of warped beachside heat, too hot to move, sparkles around the edges.

The notes themselves, a distant disoriented tumble of longing, pull classical music through the portal of time, leaving the wooden depth and angularity of the piano behind and exchanging it for the magic of circuitry. And in the minor chords and descending notes of Frankie Reyes piece, there is something reminiscent of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 aka 'Moonlight Sonata'; a sense of being tethered to something vital that, once close at hand, has moved on and away.

Here we have a sort of contemporary vision of the Beethoven standard. It was called "a nocturnal scene, in which a mournful ghostly voice sounds from the distance" by the composer's student (and composer in his own right) Carl Czerny. While Frankie Reyes' piece may not be "mournful", there is a lamenting feel that shapes it as similar in tone.

Less highly regarded, but no less atmospheric, the Castle Theme from 1990 SNES game Super Mario World — complete with the soft somersaulting of synthesised keys — is something else that 'Alma De La Palma' is aesthetically akin to. The Frankie Reyes track bubbles with this same, now retro, subdued and synthetic sound, and twinned with its classical, if not romantic flair, this is a song that captivates not just with its intoxicated effects, but also with its heartfelt composition.


  • πŸ”” 'Alma De La Palma' is taken from Frankie Reyes' forthcoming album Originalitos, set for release via Stones Throw Records on 23rd October. You can pre-order the album and listen to 'Alma De La Palma' over and over again on Reyes' Bandcamp.

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URTE — PERMAFROST

⌾ LISTEN TO URTE, PERMAFROST ⌾

Fraught with bristling space, 'Permafrost' by URTEis an intergalactic voyage of sound. At its centre, the drifting vessel: rocketship arpeggios, scuttling messages of ping-pong ball synth, resonant feedback emanating in a void of rattling 808 percussion. Either side of this upbeat tumble of angularity and plasma aesthetics, space weighs hefty in 'Permafrost'.

It's reminiscent of the Planet Zebes theme from SNES classic Super Metroid, the sense of a cold abandoned place leaking through its crackles and sparse instrumental elements.

Similarly in URTE's track, tension fizzles as bells glitter, mechanical chords press into earshot, an infinity of grainy sparks and decay, nervous percussion skitters amidst the ominous stomp of a kickdrum, and a sludgy bass bulges against the surface, poised with intent — dramatic sonic parentheses that further draws attention to the colour and kineticism at its core.


  • πŸ”” 'Permafrost' is the title track taken from URTE's Permafrost EP (obviously), arriving via London label Coyote Records. It's available to stream and/or download from Bandcamp.

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Thursday, 1 October 2020

LIGETI QUARTET — S'ISCRAVAMENTU (COMPOSED BY CHRISTIAN MASON)

⌾ LISTEN TO LIGETI QUARTET, S'ISCRAVAMENTU (COMPOSED BY CHRISTIAN MASON) ⌾

The gales of sound in 'S'iscravamentu', conjured up by UK's very own Ligeti Quartet, are deep glowing squalls that dive into the dramatic scenery of Sardinia, its jutting outcrops, jagged coastline, carpets of macchia, ultramarine seas.

Concocted by English composer Christian Mason, the piece recreates the sea shanty-esque registers of Sardinia's own tenores — polyphonic folk singing that, uniquely for Europe, is actually a form of overtone (throat) singing. As such, Ligeti Quartet's treatment of Mason's reworking of this UNESCO-recognised folk music is necessarily rich and variegated.

Thick harmonies hang heavy in the air, and the scratch and staccato of the strings is resolutely tangible, but quieter moments see the instruments become thin, veils of sound lost in their own rapture of unnerving silent howls. The physicality of the instruments — their wood, the strings, the hands that play them — is such that you could imagine literally picking up and handling this music. It's that spirit of solidity that really reflects the resonant, guttural songs at the root of this composition.


  • πŸ”” 'S'Iscravamentu' is taken from Ligeti Quartet's debut album Songbooks, Vol. 1, marking their 10th year of playing as a quartet. It contains two vocal-inspired projects — one following the Sardinian cantu a tenΓ²re tradition, the other Tuvan throat singing — composed for strings by Christian Mason. It also features one song originally by Nunavut singer and composer, Tanya Tagaq.

    Scheduled for release on 9th October via UK label nonclassical, you can pre-order Songbooks, Vol. 1 from Bandcamp now, or peruse the album tracklist below at your leisure.

    Ligeti Quartet — Songbooks, Vol. 1 tracklist
    1. Sai Ma (Racing Horses)
    Tuvan Songbook
    2. Dyngylday (Good-for-nothing)
    3. Eki Attar (The Best Steeds)
    4. Kuda Yry (Wedding Song)
    5. Ezir-Kara (‘Black Eagle’)
    Sardinian Songbook
    6. S'iscravamentu (Deposition of Christ)
    7. Ballate a Ballu Tundu (Dance a Circle Dance)
    8. Satiras (Satire)
    9. Muttos (Motets)
    10. Sivunittinni (The Future Ones) by Tanya Tagaq


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