Wednesday, February 23, 2011

20 Overlooked Albums of 2009

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Below is Headphone Commute's selection of 20 Overlooked Albums of 2009.
Check out Headphone Commute's Best of 2010!!!

(entries are listed in alphabetical order by artist. links point to album reviews on headphone commute)

Arc of Doves - Impressions (Quietus)
Asher - Miniatures (Sourdine) [ REVIEW ]
Cell - Hanging Masses (Ultimae) [ REVIEW ]
Christopher Hipgrave - Day (Home Normal)
Frank Riggio - Anamorphose (Spectraliquid) [ REVIEW ]
The Gaslamp Killer - My Troubled Mind (Brainfeeder)
Ian Hawgood - Snow Roads (Dragon's Eye)
Jamie Drouin - A Three Month Warm Up (Dragon's Eye)
Kelpe - Cambio Wechsel (D.C. Recordings) [ REVIEW ]
Max Richter - Henry May Long (OST) (Mute)

Onra - 1.0.8 (Favorite)
Paul Fiocco - Torsions And Drifts (Meupe)
Ruxpin - Where Do We Float From Here? (n5MD) [ REVIEW ]
The Seasons - Undone (City Centre Offices)
Sleeping Me - Lamenter (Phantom Channel) [ REVIEW ]
Svarte Greiner - Kappe (Type)
The Village Orchestra - I Can Hear The Sirens Singing Again (Highpoint Lowlife)
Wes Willenbring - Close, But Not Too Close (Hidden Shoal)
William Basinski - Vivian & Ondine (2062)
World's End Girlfriend - 空気人形 [Air Doll OST] (Human Highway)

Pleq – My Life Begins Today (U-Cover CDr Limited)

Dedicated to all the people who are suffering from multiple sclerosis, Warsaw (Poland) based electronic music producer, Bartosz Dziadosz, releases his new album, My Life Begins Today as Pleq. The album hits my rotations out of nowhere, as it slowly lands on my desk, gracefully falling like the last leaf from the music tree of the year. Completely unexpected, and regretfully previously unknown to me, Dziadosz delivers twelve intricately produced tracks, painted with longing and nostalgia. Released on the Belgian electronic label U-Cover CDr Limited (a sub-label of U-Cover), Pleq blends elements of glitch, IDM, and experimental electronica with a touch of modern classical and atmospheric ambiance to create a well balanced and gentle album. With a helpful hand from his friends, Aki Tomita, Eleni Adamopoulou and Jordan Sauer, the album ties a few sad and melancholic moments, with those of celebration of new beginnings, as the title, My Life Begins Today, suggests. Lo-fi piano chords, clicking edits and cut-ups, hissing string pads, and glitchy IDM percussion tell a story of long past relationships, longing for a structured life, and a feeling of being lost in this confusing world. The theme of multiple sclerosis suffering is further established with the titles, such as "The Journey To Pessimism", "My Little Story About My Love", "The Story About Melancholy Man", and my favorite title, "You Were Wearing Blue While Running Away From Your Life". And the music reflects the same... Pleq's previous releases include a handful of albums and digital EPs, scattered across a variety of labels, like Basses Frequences (France), Impulsive Art (Greece) mAtter (Japan), Envizagae (Germany), Databloem (The Netherlands), and others. Although he can't seem to settle on a specific collective, his music has been noticed and remixed by personal favorites in the scene, offthesky, Tapage and Nebulo. Seems to me like the next obvious place for Pleq is Tympanik Audio. Meanwhile, if you're not familiar with U-Cover, be sure to check out the label's past releases from Quench, Lusine ICL, Tim Koch, Kettel, and Lackluster. There's also Ontayso's box set, Project 24 Hours - 24 CDs of field recordings, recorded in one day at Geel in Belgium. Talk about one long Sound Postcard! Visit Pleq's Myspace to hear many of his free releases and get a taste of his sound...

See also Two and a Half Questions with Pleq |

Two and a Half Questions with Pleq

Where does your alias, "Pleq" come from, and what does it mean?
“Pleq” means nothing in particular. In fact, it is just a collection of letters submitted and matched entirely by accident. Secondly, I didn't want to duplicate existing names. So the creative process took me almost a week, then I started looking on the Internet to see if something like that exists. I found different words with unknown meaning for me, and the only thing that stuck in my head was the name of bulbs (hehe).

Please talk a little about your latest record, My Life Begins Today, and specifically its dedication to people suffering from multiple sclerosis.
This is one of the most important records in my life. For me, it is a continuation of the previous one, issued a year ago, also by U-Cover - "The Metamorphosis”. You can recognize the same melancholic-glitch like atmosphere. I came up with the idea to dedicate my album to people suffering from multiple sclerosis, and it was just after the fashion show at which I was invited to make music. Ewa Amroziak's Fashion Show "SOS communication" was combined with the charity auction; then I learned a lot about multiple sclerosis, I thought that I could actually help by making music. Some of these records will be put up for charity auction, which is being prepared for 2011.

Your work has been released by a handful of labels. Is there one specific label that you wish it to be signed to?
Yes, it is true. I try not to be limited to any specific label that is why I don't establish permanent contracts. You know, it's quite a difficult question. I don't want to jinx it as I carry on preliminary talks with some labels. Once I dreamed about labels, now I hold discussions with them about releasing albums in 2011.

It seems to me that your work would be a perfect fit for Mille Plateaux's "Clicks & Cuts" series. Who are some of your current musical influences?
Yes, one of my tracks was on the Click & Cuts 5.1 Paradigm Shift (The Bonus Package). I am very pleased by that, but on the other hand, it is just the bonus package. There are no particular artists after which I pattern myself. I listen to all kinds of music, not only electronic music. Recently, I’ve been delving into drone.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

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See also Headphone Commute's review of My Life Begins Today

Podcast : Clem Leek - Cold Air

Well, it's that time of the year... The crowds gather in shopping malls across the globe to drop some cash on their beloved. The cold air strips the branches off their dead leaves. The minds reflect on all of their accomplishments through the year. And the snow slowly falls... To help you gather your being into contemplative state of mind, we present you with our last Podcast of 2010 from Clem Leek. On this exclusive mix for Headphone Commute, Clem selects his favorite ambient and modern classical pieces from some of our all time favorite artists. We really enjoyed this one, and we hope you do as well!

See full track listing, plus stream or download the mix on Headphone Commute

Be sure to check out our Two and a Half Questions with Clem Leek.
Read also Headphone Commute review of Holly Lane.
Also, check out Clem Leek’s Sound Postcard!

Two and a Half Questions with riverrun

Interview with Daniel Land of riverrun, Engineers and Daniel Land & The Modern Painters

Can you provide us with some background on the locations referenced in song titles?
A lot of the track titles are names of places in the South West of England that I associate with my childhood or adolescence. I grew up on the edge of Exmoor national park, which is a really beautiful part of the country; very empty, and quite bleak and melancholy. That landscape really haunted me as a child, and had a profound effect on my imagination, I think. Some of the other tracks are named after nearby places in North Somerset where my mother’s family had a seaside holiday home – those are the "Doniford Beach" and "West Quantoxhead" pieces. I lived alone for a whole summer on Doniford Beach, and without sounding too corny, that time had a very strong affect on me in terms of my personal development, my ability to appreciate solitude, and to feel connected to the landscape and area. A good deal of the mood of that time went into this record, I think. I was really on a kind of nostalgia trip with this record, and so some of the tracks, like "Where We Walked" for example, are named after some pretty personal things; when I was making that track I was thinking back to a time when I was 17 years old, and a long morning walk I took on Doniford beach with a guy who shortly afterwards became my first boyfriend. That was pretty crucial day for us, but while we were walking, I remember him randomly suggesting that "Where We Walked" would be a good track title for my kind of music. For some reason that stuck in my head, and seeing as the memory of that walk was in my head when making the piece, it seemed right to finally use it as a track title.

Please describe your production workflow. What software and hardware did you use?
I hardly used any software or hardware, actually. It was mainly made on tape. The album was made out of a series of ambient recordings I’ve been making on tapes for many years now, nearly fifteen years actually, going right back to my school days. The compositional process mainly consisted of collaging these various sketches, layering them on top of each other, and finding out which ones fit together. To do that I had to transfer the original recordings from my old four track tapes into a digital format, but aside from converting them and importing them into Adobe Audition, I didn’t tamper with the tracks very much at all. The original recordings had a lovely lo-fi, tape-y quality that I wanted to retain, and there was very little processing involved other than what went down onto the tape at the time of recording.

What instruments were employed to create riverrun's dense atmosphere?
I normally just worked with my guitars and some really cruddy, broken down keyboards! Quite often they were detuned or transposed to extremes so that I could get some really interesting, bass-heavy sounds, and I re-pitched and slowed down a lot of things digitally. I used various old percussion instruments, like an old rainmaker and some bells, and I had some field recordings that I threw into the mix. But there weren't any really unusual instruments being used; it was mainly a case of using conventional instruments more as noise-generators than in their usual capacity. One of the things I’m most happy with was being able to use my voice in a really interesting and subtle way; there are some vocals on the record, but you’d never notice them as such, because they’ve been bent out of shape by various effects and treatments. In fact, some of the things which sound like animal noises are actually me, just slowed down or processed beyond recognition! I really enjoyed using my voice that way.

Can you tell us the meaning behind Pentimento? It seems to perfectly describe the music.
It's an art term and what it means, basically, is an artist painting on top of a previous painting. With some paintings it’s quite apparent that the artist has changed their mind halfway through the process, maybe because they changed the structure of the composition, or just because they thought the first version stank and needed to be painted over! Hahaha. I thought that the process of making this album was kinda similar to that, because I made the album like it was one big canvas, as one continuous audio file. Each time I added a new musical element, I did a complete mixdown of the whole thing, and deleted the component files... this meant that once I had added something, I was unable to remove it or change it, a bit like in painting where your only real choice is to paint over the things you don’t like. Now, I think most musicians would say that this is an absolutely suicidal way of working, and I’d certainly agree with that! But what was interesting for me was that it really, really worked for this style of music. I liked putting myself in the position of being unable to retract mistakes and of being unable to go back into the mix to "fix things up". I became very skilled at painting-over things - as it were - and if I did something I was not entirely happy with, I would just add more stuff on top of it, to ensure that the part I wasn't so happy with was pushed further back in the mix. What this means is that the whole history of the work is present at all times, even the mistakes - and "behind" the record is a whole level of subliminal detail, right at the fringes of perception, of stuff I wasn't so happy with. I really like that, actually. It gives the record depth. It’s a bit like that Brian Eno trick of mixing something almost "out of earshot"; I’ve totally stolen that idea from him.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

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Interview by Elizabeth Klisiewicz exclusively for Headphone Commute.

See also review of Pentimento in our Sound Bytes feature. |

Sound Postcard : Rafael Anton Irisarri - Jerusalem

No no... our Sound Postcard series is not over yet! Far from it - we have many interesting submissions to share with you from all of your favorite artists!!! Today we have an entry from one of our all time favorites - Rafael Anton Irisarri. From his amazing debut, Daydreaming (Miasmah, 2007), to the latest releases, The North Bend (Room40, 2010) and Reverie (Immune, 2010), RAI continues to warm our hearts with his breathtaking modern classical compositions. And as if that wasn't enough, his side project, The Sight Below, also manages to clock in on our favorite rotations with his releases on Ghostly International - Glider (2008), No Place For Us (2008), and It All Falls Apart (2010)...

Listen to this Sound Postcard on Headphone Commute |

The Green Kingdom - Prismatic (Home Assembly Music)

Michael Cottone has been quietly making music under The Green Kingdom moniker since 2006, and with each release he further refines his brand of introspective ambient bliss. His latest album, Prismatic, was released in September by Home Assembly Music and was mastered by Taylor Deupree. Cottone skillfully uses digitally enhanced acoustic guitar, strings, bells, and a myriad of samples and field recordings to create his compositions. Within his arrangements, melody and space work in tandem in an attempt to manifest what Cottone has called an “optimistic nostalgia” for the listener – an aural experience that can provide a momentary reprieve from the frenetic, fast-paced world that surrounds us. And indeed his music is perfect for contemplative mornings and quiet evenings, where the vibe is to “slow down” and to “reflect”, and while listening this comes about quite naturally, as the familiarity of his work launches you back into memories of warm summer evenings past and gone, while at the same time, makes your heart beat ever faster for the future. There's a strong sense of optimism in Cottone's music that is useless to attempt to describe in words, the expressive rhythms and melodies he creates speak for themselves. With tracks like “Wetlands” and “The Largest Creature That Has Ever Existed”, Cottone works with guitar, piano, and bells and establishes incredible mood and subjective wonder, while with “Radiance Reflected” and “Bonfire (tec)”, he adds a subtle 4/4 beat underneath it all, simulating your heart beating buoyantly for the future you envision for yourself. There is also a strong underlying sense of being connected to nature – to the woods that border our cities and towns, to the birds that fly unseen above our heads, and to the sun-drenched afternoons we take for granted until the bleak days of winter have surrounded us. Prismatic is one of the finest ambient albums of 2010, and a prime example of electronic and organic sounds working together so effortlessly. Fans of Helios, Nest, The Boats, Kiln, and Susumu Yokota should check out The Green Kingdom immediately. The album also comes with a bonus disc of remixes from the likes of Insecto, Fieldhead, The Declining Winter, The Boats, and bvdub, and is an excellent addendum to the subtle beauty of Prismatic. Check it.

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Review prepared by Matt Leslie (Inaudible) for Headphone Commute.

See also Two and a Half Questions with The Green Kingdom |

Two and a Half Questions with The Green Kingdom

Prismatic and last year’s Twig and Twine both offer the listener warm, meditative soundscapes that seem to attempt to tap into the simplicity and wonder of nature. Your music seems to typify a night spent lying on the beach gazing up at the stars, or a quiet afternoon hike in the woods. Where exactly do you draw your influences from when composing your music?
I think you have a sense for what I’m trying to evoke. We do have a couple parks close by and even a small wetlands area in our neighborhood which I enjoy visiting - though not as often as I would like to. More than anything, I would just like my music to be an escape for the listener as much as it is for me—that feeling of having a little sound world to mentally explore. I also constantly listen to a lot of different types music, so the way those influences combine, filtered through my own musical “voice” also subliminally affects what I do somehow.

You live in the Motor City, and what I find interesting is that your music stands in stark contrast to many contemporary Detroit techno and electronic musicians. Some of the artists on Ghostly (like Kiln, Twine, The Sight Below) are working in a somewhat similar vein, and obviously there's always been an element of ambiance that's part and parcel of Detroit techno (the work of Neil Ollivierra's Detroit Escalator Company being some of my all time fave), yet you have stripped away most of the traditionally 'electronic' sounds from your own music for a much more natural and organic feel. So I guess what I'm wondering is how does the history and city of Detroit fit into your musical aesthetic?
I would like to balance and also blur the lines between the two ideally (electronic vs. organic influences). The past couple years, I’ve really been delving into Theo Parrish’s catalog. I really like the way he combines found sounds, samples and traditional instruments with a more organic feel. Moodymann as well. I don’t live downtown, but the city itself can definitely be an influence if you’ve spent some time there—there is beauty, decay, soul and history that people not from the area might not understand. I guess the aural equivalent might be the juxtaposition of random/noisy textures and more structured melodic content in some of my music. I like all of the more  contemporary artists you mentioned a lot as well – particularly Kiln. The way they combine texture, melody and rhythm in their work is really amazing. I feel like they are really underrated to be honest. I correspond with Kirk from Kiln via email occasionally, I was quite blown away to find that he had been listening to my stuff—very humbling.

Besides recording music as The Green Kingdom you also do work as a graphic designer and sound artist. How do these varied artistic disciplines feed off each other?
I find that a lot of visual artists often also have some type of musical outlet as well. I think there are a lot of parallels—they both involve combining various elements into one cohesive whole: layering, positive vs. negative space, colors vs. tones or instruments, etc. I think I’m more of a minimalist when it comes to graphic design though. It always takes a little more effort for me to strip things back to the essential elements in the audio realm.

There seems to be an innate spirituality in your music. The closing track on Prismatic is called "A Prayer" and many of your tracks seem to be solemn and subtle invocations towards something more or something 'beyond' (for lack of a better term). Am I reading too much into it or is this something you are consciously trying to evoke?
No, you are spot on with that as well. I am a practicing Catholic which is maybe not as common in the experimental music world? I don’t know… I think there is a somewhat spiritual or reflective vibe present in my stuff, but I don‘t really think about anything too much while making it. The beauty of instrumental or abstract music is that it is open for interpretation, the listener can create their own meaning and associations.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

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Interview by Matt Leslie (Inaudible) for Headphone Commute.

See also review of Prismatic |

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Event : In Between Time : Hecker, Frost and Ekoplekz

The tenth iteration of Bristol's In Between Time Festival of "Live Art and Intrigue" has just wrapped up. This year they made the very respectable programming decision to show international sonic heavyweights Ben Frost and Tim Hecker with native Bristolian, Ekoplekz (recently signed to Peverelist's Punch Drunk label.) The Arnolfini Auditorium was an ideal venue, neither too cozy nor too cavernous. The audience gathered around a satisfyingly bare-bones stage and the space filled up nicely without getting overly crowded.

Ekoplekz was a solid opener. His sound navigated a space between the mechanical and the organic, taking hulking, driving percussion reminiscent of heavy machinery and punctuating it with random quirky chirps and warbles that were just echo-y enough to stay on the artificial side of life. He flirted with rhythm without ever falling completely into it. He also incorporated very classic synth frequencies, particularly via voice modulation, which were fun but, for the most part, a bit heavy-handed - they didn't integrate particularly well with the rest of the sound and as a result were somewhat distracting. Some light, fluttlery snare textures here and there, on the other hand, were a really enjoyable nod to Peverelist. Overall, it was an engaging, well-executed sci-fi-esque performance, and it didn't hurt that you could tell he's completely in love with sounds and was generally having a blast.

Hecker used absolutely minimal lighting - only what he needed to see what he was doing - which made it that much easier to pick up on the delicate micro-textures of his opening moments. He built up layers thick and fast, though, and quickly had us suspended in a dense, deeply spatial environment. Some endlessly stretched organ couldn't help but lend a degree of spirituality, a reference to something eternal, but there was definitely tension and evolution throughout. He played with the liminal a bit, pushing some of the frequencies beyond what the speakers could handle (or using frequencies reminiscent of this), evoking palpable opposition between the restrictions of the hardware and the unrealized potential of the sound. At other times everything was incredibly compact, a tight sonic canvas onto which he threw various intriguing elements. Periodically, the pressure of all those layers was completely released into airy, shimmering tones, with the contrast lifting us into a kind of sonic weightlessness. This was really the underlying structure of the performance - a rich and impossibly slow, irregular pulsation between heavy and light.

Ben Frost, as has been noted, throws you out into the wilderness. True to form, he tapped into a somewhat sadomasochistic dynamic in which he used sound, particularly percussive elements, almost as a kind of violence - and the audience loved it. (If the calls of 'louder' and 'more' were anything to go by. Hurt me, hurt me do it again?) The reason it was good pain is he didn't rely on brute force. His menacing landscape was complex, built in part out of howling, mutated electric guitar, and he moved us through it with an astute sense of timing that lent itself well to live performance. There was, overall, more of a theatric element to what Frost presented. He made use of intense lighting and he certainly had stage presence. He improvised a lot, which meant not everything came together all the time, but when it did, it was a very ecstatic darkness. Simple, repetitive piano loops appeared from time to time, almost as a refrain. They offered a stability, a gentleness and, eventually, a familiarity that made you feel as if you might have found your way home from the wild. But this sense of relief was always fleeting. The notes were inevitably consumed by yet another wave of dissonant chaos against which they proved themselves to be a totally ineffective shelter. So no happy endings, but a thoroughly enjoyable story nonetheless.

Hecker and Frost were in good form with performances that, as would be expected, were not for the faint of heart nor delicate of ear. Neither went easy on the Arnolfini, which was great because the sheer physicality - the vibrational pressure and potential for actual pain - is something that simply can't be experienced outside their live shows (unless you've got far more cash than most of us to spend on your personal sound system.) There were moments when the two artists worked with a very similar dynamic. Namely, when earbone-crushing low frequencies were laced with ethereal, hauntingly lovely fragments and there was an intense merging of pleasure and discomfort. As far as where they differed, it's probably fair to say that Hecker presented a more abstract, timeless quality while Frost's work was slightly more narrative.

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Text and photography by Kyra Kordoski for Headphone Commute.

Two and a Half Questions with Ben Frost
Two and a Half Questions with Tim Hecker

Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect (Kranky)

In a strange turn of events I came face to face with a bee today. It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and a bee slowly landed on my mouse right when I was reaching out for it. It looked weak and wasn’t at all spooked by my sudden movement. The coincidence is that I was meaning to review Brian McBride’s new album the Effective Disconnect all week, but never got to it. This album is the official soundtrack for the movie The Vanishing of the Bees, a documentary investigating Colony Collapse Disorder, a condition that is currently threatening the bees and the welfare of the people around them. I feel as if this bee was suffering the consequences of this now widespread disease. For many people Brian McBride does not need an introduction. As one half of the duo Stars of the Lid, famous for their cinematic drones, he has been around in the minimalist ambient scene for almost two decades. Together, they literally have been setting the tone for contemporary musicians working in genres ranging from modern classical to drone. But even after hearing many artists working within a similar genre, there is no beating the real thing. And so after releasing his widely praised first solo effort When the Detail lost It’s Freedom (Kranky, 2005) in 2005 he now presents us the Effective Disconnect. Although on first listen this record does not seem to stray far from the sound STOL got famous for, this cd does convey a very specific change in style. The on and off swelling layers of sound are still there, but there is a decreased emphasis on repetition. Instead, Brian introduces many different themes that seeminglessly flow over into each other. And even though the slow movements and stretched-outness of themes used to be one of the fortes of STOL, a increased emphasis on melody treats the listener to a very rustic yet emotional listening experience. While striving to present the listener with a a piece that justifies the gloriousness of the bees through hopeful themes, the mood of the music quickly turns into a heavy and emotional account. I feel that “With Several Tries (in an Unelevated Style)” really conveys the gloomy tenor of the documentary. And the following track “Supposed Essay on the Piano (B major piano Adagietto) ” builds on this with a French horn melody that is supported by a sustained string section in the background. For me the pivotal piece is “Beekeepers vs. Warfare Chemicals”. The track starts with a high pitched chime-melody and goes on with a build up of strings that finally culminates into an almost aching piano piece. After this, we are introduced to the protagonists of the documentary through isolated bee wisps that fill the silent elements of “I Know That You Don’t Like the Future Like I Do”. The slow purring sound the bee makes, feels as if this bee is also contemplating landing on someone’s computer mouse. I read in several reviews of this cd that the change to more rapidly changing melodies is a bad thing. They were longing for the stretched horns and guitar-based drones that SOTL once brought to us. But Brian McBride has been moving away from this form of composing in favor of a multitude of motives and this was already noticeable in When the Detail Lost It’s Freedom (Kranky, 2005). I feel that this new direction is proving fruitful and as I get more familiar with the sounds, their influence over my mood increases. It’s an excellent record and a welcome addition to the record collection of anyone that likes Tim Hecker, Brian Eno, and Stars of the Lid.

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Review prepared by Caspar Menkman for Headphone Commute.

Read our Two and a Half Questions with Brian McBride | |

Two and a Half Questions with Brian McBride

How did you come in contact with the makers of the Vanishing of the Bees (George Langworthy and Maryam Henein)?
Maryam Henein & George Langworthy asked me to. George and I had crossed paths before in Austin during the early 90s. We both worked at the same radio station.

How do you feel your music fits in with the tone of the movie?
While writing and recording, I tried to adhere to two guiding principles: I knew that I wanted the music to convey a sense of fragility given the subject matter. And I also purposely tried to not overwhelm the film, wanting to provide them something that emphasized their ideas more so than creating some type of music video. George and Maryam asked me to concentrate on four different themes. Some themes I was better at than others. The ‘gloriousness of the bees’ was a tough one for me. Communicating beauty can’t really be forced. You don’t want it to become merely ornamental or trite. But the main concern was for the music to serve as a reminder as to how fragile this ecosystem is. We all need reminders how fragile the world is around us from time to time.

On this album you appear to work with themes that follow each other up a bit quicker. Talk a little about this shift in style and the transitions.
The main difference between this record and my previous work revolves around the tension between making a record and making music for a film. The two are not the same thing. Non-soundtrack work for me takes each side of a record as it’s own larger piece of music. There may be multiple pieces on each side of a record but inevitably, the roughly twenty minutes you have to work with often ends up informing the structure and flow of the music. Scoring a film is about conveying an idea within say three to five minutes or quite often, even less. It’s more about providing a change to facilitate transitions or mark moments with some significance. After scoring is done, turning it into a record feels a little bit like forcing your work into some sort of artificial collage. So when I listen to this record it seems way busier than what I’m used to primarily because of the demands of the film. Moods have a tendency to fluctuate a bit more than they would on a Lid record or even my previous record.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

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Interview by Caspar Menkman for Headphone Commute.

Read Headphone Commute's review of The Effective Disconnect |

Two and a Half Questions with Mike Cadoo (Bitcrush / Dryft)

If Epilogue was not the end of Bitcrush, then what was it saying goodbye to?
Maybe I should explain just a bit as Epilogue In Waves was truly intended to be my last album. I simply didn't think I was going to be able to be a full-time father plus run n5MD and mailorder while also making the music I wanted to. I will not do something if I feel that I won't have the time to do it properly and I of course thought that my time was better spent being the best father I could be as well as running the business the best I could.

There are also other factors why I thought it to be the last release. I wondered if I had anything more to say as Bitcrush. So I did have second thoughts about it being the last one a few months into it being out. The two reasons being that I did have more to say, I actually have lots more, and also that I thought that my son would never really know me as “me” if I quit making music. Anyone who knows me or has known me on more than a surface level knows that I would not be who I am without creating music. I really do need to make it.

After all that said... there still is a theme within that album. For most of the songs on it and In Distance I used the ocean as the backdrop. It was time to get the protagonist I hide behind “out of the water”...few people know this but the album could actually have 2 endings... the song “to drown” or “to the beach” (the later is available free via the bitcrush website so anyone can choose their favorite ending). I chose to have the protagonist drown. So to get back to your original question... we are saying goodbye to “him”.

So is there another beginning with Of Embers?
I guess it could be seen as that. Yes.

What is the theme within Of Embers, and how personal is this album to you?
All Bitcrush releases have been very personal. This is one of the main differences between say a Dryft album and a Bitcrush one. Yes Dryft is strictly electronic and is emotional but Bitcrush is however i'm feeling at that very moment recorded into the computer. Lyrically Of Embers is about looking inward and finding who you really are. It is also about how you may have grown into a completely different person than you ever would have thought (for better or worse). Some of us never change, but I think I have changed a great deal, and while writing Of Embers I was thinking about that transition a lot.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

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Check out yet another interview with Mike Cadoo, this time profiling his label, in our n5MD Label Profile. Headphone Commute also featured a two part Sound Bytes n5MD Special, where we review the new album by Bitcrush and Dryft. Read them here: [part one] [part two] |

Clem Leek - Holly Lane (Hibernate)

Looking back at the last few years of evolution in ambient and modern classical compositions, a few artists stand out. Besides the obvious masters of the genre, like Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Murcof, Hauschka and Valgeir Sigurðsson (and many others), we've seen a few new names reach the heights of our rotations. In 2007 we were smitten with Rafael Anton Irisarri and Ólafur Arnalds. In 2008, we added Peter Broderick, Jacaszek and Nils Frahm to our lists. Last year, Danny Norbury and Hildur Guðnadóttir stepped into the limelight. As this year winds down to an end, and without further ado, I'd like to publicly proclaim that Clem Leek is the next big name to watch out for... Gorgeous sonic soundscapes swell to unreachable heights and completely absorb every frequency within the dead space of the atmosphere. Echoes of familiar daily noises leak through the headphones, either on their way out, or on their way in, mixing with field recordings and dense atmospheres of the record. Piano chords and stringed instruments cut through the textures to implant their melancholia deep in your mind. Holly Lane is a brooding and mysterious listen from start to finish, showing this talented young artist's wide production palette. It is awash with mysterious drone passages, echoes of ghostly instrument accents, glimpses of forgotten radio broadcasts, quiet, unobtrusive percussive sounds all underpinned by a subtle cavernous celestial chorus which really cements this all around solid album debut. Clem Leek is a British composer from Kent in Southern England. He is also the man behind the newly formed Schedios label, that has graced us with releases from above mentioned Peter Broderick, as well as Anna Rose Carter, and hopefully many more to come. His past catalog includes a self-released Snow Tales (read our review) [this EP is also available as a free download via Experimedia], Through The Annular (Schedios, 2010), and a collaboration with Jannick Schou on Pimlico (Dead Pilot, 2010). Holly Lane is Clem Leek's debut full length album, released on hibernate, a West Yorkshire label that is quickly establishing itself within the circle of ambient and electroacoustic connoisseurs. Kicking off its birth with Ian Hawgood's Wolfskin (2009), hibernate began releasing limited edition CD-Rs, drawing from a pool of such talented musicians as Chihei Hatakeyama, Haruki, Ryonkt, Field Rotation and many others. I highly recommend you pick up this album, as it will surely end up on many Best Of lists in just a few weeks from now! You'll get tremendous replay value, and even more - a score to inner peace.

Make sure to read our Two and a Half Questions with Clem Leek.

Also, check out Clem Leek's Sound Postcard! |

Two and a Half Questions with Clem Leek

What is the central theme behind the album, and where does the name Holly Lane come from?
You may notice that the tracks names from Holly Lane are all places in Enid Blyton books. Enid Blyton was an english children's writer and I remember reading her stories when I was younger. The names of the places seemed to match the instrumental themes I was using in the album. As the album developed, so did the soundscapes, and the places in the book seemed to fit in perfectly with the tracks.

What are some of the field recordings on the album, and how did you go about capturing them?
I live in a very rural location. This is great for inspiration and field recordings. I found a lot of sounds in the woods, bird noises, wind, trees etc.. I also used a windscreen wiper recording I had made, radio recordings and also recording around the house, taps dripping and other sounds. When putting them in the track I try not to make them the to far forward in the mix, I try to make them an accompaniment to the instrumental work.

What instruments do you play on the album?
I use a number of instruments on the album. Piano, Violin, Guitar, Voice, Bass Guitar and various other small instruments (Organ, Childrens Piano etc...). I have had reviews saying that they think that i have used electronics & string pads and I have had many people ask me how I get my "synth to sound like that". The truth is that the whole album uses acoustic instruments, anything you may think is electronic will be an acoustic instrument, and I have processed the recordings to sound like that. To be honest, when people ask me I don't know whether to take it as a musical compliment or not.

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Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

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See also Headphone Commute's review of Holly Lane

Also, check out Clem Leek's Sound Postcard! |