Voilà, it’s time to take a look at the third part of our end-of-the-year best of list including recent works of Vessel, Opitope, Vladislav Delay, Andy Stott, Oren Ambarchi etc. If you missed the first parts, make sure you check them out here:
SEX, SEX, SEX.
From Bristol with love. Not safe for work and not suitable for children.
Icelandic dub techno with Japanese vocals – how more exotic could you get? Profound, ample and dubbed out enough to satisfy every need.
“I wanted to create an album that’s atmospheric, repetitive, and easy to listen to over and over again. Something that works well in the background (e.g. when concentrating on work), as well as up close in a big sound system. I also wanted to learn how to make my music sound better than before, since I’m a huge sound-nerd, so that was a part of the goal for me personally.”
The album is a fine fusion of tropes from Yagya’s earlier albums, features jazz instrumentalists that improvise beautiful melodies over monotonic, almost drone-like, techno beats and also uses live recordings of Japanese vocals, saxophone and guitar to counter the repetitiveness of the rhythms. (Delsin)
“This is a product of pure happenstance. Earlier this year, Vladislav Delay was denied entry to the United States and was forced to cancel an entire tour. Suddenly left with unhindered time and a surplus of creative energy, he was able to give birth to the album in a span of only two weeks. He describes this time as a moment in which “a valve broke open… and I collected what came out the pipes.”
This is Delay’s first foray into ambient music in over ten years, yet it is not simply passive background music. Rather it is an active entity, a soundscape built from textured layers of evocative industrial noises and dream-like melodic loops. Clocking in at just under an hour and made almost entirely with analog hardware, the album was designed to be listened to at high volume and in full detail. Beatless and void of percussion, Visa’s five cuts challenge the listener to participate in this journey through time and musical machinery.” (Ripatti)
Andy Stott has slowed down a bit and it fits him swell.
“Making use of on an array of instruments, field recordings, found sounds and vocal treatments, it’s a largely analogue variant of hi-tech production styles arcing from the dissonant to the sublime […] The most memorable and oddly cohesive of Stott’s career to date, built and rendered in the spirit of those rare albums that straddle innovation and tradition through darkness and light.” (Modern Love)
The fruit of a very long writing process and a project which Ben Lukas Boysen had been wanting to bring for completion for years, ‘Conversions’ is a homage to his peers, influences and friends. From Bersarin Quartet to Lusine ICL, from Svarte Greiner to The Outside Agency, Hecq chose for this album eleven tracks which mean a lot to him, and delivers here his own versions and remixes. A highly personal and uncommonly varied album which Hecq has been creating with care and carrying close to his heart.
An original concept and a very diverse output, all the while under the banner of Hecq’s masterful production and highly evocative creations, it’s is a deeply personal addition to the discography of an important figure of today’s electronic music world.
“To combine tracks that have been around my personal and musical environment for years it felt great to salute these artists – it‘s a ‘thank you’ more than anything else really.” Well, thank YOU, Ben!
“It let them float and drift, break apart and converge. Where they broke away, cracks, rifts, trenches remain; where they collided, ranges of folded mountains appear.” (Hans Cloos)
‘Continental Drift’ came about from an idea inspired by Alfred Wegener’s book ‘The Origin of Continents and Oceans’. Fuzz Lee is a believer in the romantic notion that a person is truly shaped by the landscape and environment the person is in. A person’s personality and character in daily life, because of the environment that he or she is in, will also be expressed naturally in musical form. With that in mind, what would the results be when three individuals from three different continents with their own unique approach and style to music making are made to work together?
René Margraff (Pillowdiver) from Germany and Samuel Landry (Le Berger) from Canada were specifically invited by Fuzz to join him in this musical experiment. The tracks are made in a 3-way ‘triangular’ process. Each musician has to come up with two tracks or samples, pass it on to the second musician from the next continent to work on and once that musician is done, he will then pass the tracks on to the third and final musician from another continent who will do the same. The tracks can only be worked on once for each musician.
If you replace ‘continents’ with ‘sound’ in structural geologist Hans Cloos’ quote about the continental drift theory, the creation, mixing, layering and other working processes of the samples and tracks are not too dissimilar, “It let them float and drift, break apart and converge. Where they broke away, cracks, rifts, trenches remain; where they collided, ranges of folded mountains appear”. These 6 tracks are the ‘trenches’, the ‘cracks’, ‘folded mountains’ and ‘rifts’ in musical form. (Home Normal)
Kassel Jaeger is a Swiss-French artist based in Paris, France. ‘Toxic Cosmopolitanism’ explores and questions the very nature of the material experiments contained within. Each side consists of two clearly defined sections based on the same material.
‘Toxic Cosmopolitanism’ is a large scale work based on distinct sounds of different cultures, instruments such as the balafon, tremolo, gnbri, gee, tibetan gongs, pan flutes and the like are all deployed but rendered of the sonic properties identifying them to a specific region. The question that lies at the heart of this experiment: is such a swirl a creative process or a destructive one? This is the ambiguity of toxic cosmopolitanism.
The results are an honest exploration of both culture and form. At once cerebral, enlightening and immensely rich in scope and sonic vision. (Editions Mego)
Opitope is a duo by Japanese ambient master Chihei Hatakeyama and Tomoyoshi Date. The concept of their project is to produce tracks with imaginative stories. ‘Physis’ was entitled with the meaning of invisible generating power within the nature, and they have created four long stories with poetic names. However, you’ve only got the titles, the rest of the story is up to your imagination to perceive and construct your own story.
This album was mainly produced after the terrible earthquake that happened in Tōhoku, Northeast Japan in 2011, and tells the story of the destructed place with just ruins and no signs of human beings, gradually recovering from its soil into the usual green paradise. Opitope are the sound of hope and the light at the end of a neverending tunnel.
“Tara Jane O’Neil’s music is integrated and contextual, idiosyncratic and deeply psychedelic, akin to a lucid dream journal caught on magnetic tape. She appears to be interested in all sounds equally. In her tireless search for a music that mirrors and reflects her alchemical, deeply syncretic approach to sound, color, language, surface and texture, she has found herself in a somewhat singular category.
Choral voicings spread out across the stereo field like muted cloud formations split by sudden outbursts of vibrant color, verdant mosses on ancient stones, opal sized windows of clear blue set against a vast horizon. Pump organ drones swell and respirate, patient and slow, with softly resonant gongs from the roof of the world. This is music about healing, about listening, about surviving and transmuting the strange inheritance of language. Moving towards a direct perception of apparent reality through collaboration, breath, sound and song.
Listen to this new album with open ears, forgetting any previous incarnation, or perception of what you believe this mercurial artist to be or to have been. Using some very basic recording equipment and her vivid musical imagination, she has achieved a rare essentialism wherein all unnecessary elements have been stripped away leaving only the most indispensable sounds. Concise, but expansive, stripped of unnecessary gestures; guitars resonate, amps hum, and an exquisite, languid melancholia appears out of the haze.” (Kranky)
“Anyone who follows Ambarchi’s work knows that it has many facets: explorations of the outer limits of rock with Keiji Haino, psychoacoustic interference and sizzling harmonics in his solo performances, delicate improvisations with Keith Rowe or John Tilbury. To all these projects, Ambarchi brings his particular sensibility, patiently allowing sounds to develop on their own terms without forsaking their intrinsic physical and emotional power. Similarly, although Quixotism is shaped by its many contributors, the resulting sound world is unmistakably Ambarchi’s own. His most substantial solo release since Audience of One (Touch, 2012), Quixotism represents the summation of Ambarchi’s work over the last few years while also pointing to the future.
Recorded with a multitude of collaborators in Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA, ‘Quixotism’ presents the fruit of two years of work in the form of a single, LP-length piece in five parts. Ambarchi’s work in recent years has evinced an increasing fascination with the possibilities of combining abstract sonic textures with rhythm and pulse, and ‘Quixotism’ takes this aspect of his recent work to the next level: the entirety of this long-form work is built on a foundation of pulsing double-time electronic percussion provided by Thomas Brinkmann. Beginning as almost subliminal propulsion behind cavernous orchestral textures and John Tilbury’s delicate piano interjections, the percussive elements slowly inch into the foreground of the piece before suddenly breaking out into a polyrhythmic shuffle around the halfway mark, being joined by master Japanese tabla player U-zhaan for the piece’s final, beautiful passages.“ (Editions Mego)