Best of 2014: Part #4 (20-11)

December 18, 2014

We are slowly heading towards the end… Every day, in every way, getting better and better. In the fourth part you will find some gorgeous  records by Richard Chartier’s Pinkcourtesyphone, Yair Elazar Glotman’s KETEV, Jenny Hval & Susanna, Ueno Masaaki, Saåad, Dalhous, Mica Levi’s brilliant ‘Under The Skin’ soundtrack, and one of the most impressive debutants this year, Siavash Amini. 

If you missed the first parts, make sure you check them out here:

 

20.

Pinkcourtesyphone: A Ravishment of Mirror

[Dragon’s Eye Recordings]

Pinkcourtesyphone – A Ravishment of Mirror

Pinkcourtesyphone is dark but not arch, with a slight hint of humor. Pinkcourtesyphone is amorphous, changing, and slipping in and out of consciousness. Pinkcourtesyphone operates like a syrup-y dream. Pinkcourtesyphone strives to be both elegant and detached. Pinkcourtesyphone remained dormant for a long time. Pinkcourtesyphone is actually Richard Chartier, some sound and installation artist, considered one of the key figures in the current of reductionist electronic sound art which has been termed both “microsound” …

The third full length album of Pinkcourtesyphone… Los Angeles, a city of mirrors, twinkling lights, noir history, and deep secrets is the new home for Pinkcourtesyphone. This third full album explores Hollywood dreams and deception… meant to be slowly sipped. We all pretend but in Hollywood pretending is its dark sustenance… a plastic organic unity ready to enfold and repackage you. (Pinkcourtesyphone)

 

19.

Bing & Ruth: Tomorrow Was The Golden Age

[Rvng Intl.]

Bing & Ruth – Tomorrow Was The Golden Age

Written and conducted by pianist David Moore, ‘Tomorrow Was the Golden Age’ is a halcyonic journey to a neverending place, where music waxes, wanes and drifts imperceptibly from silence to grand, glowing sound. Formed in the mid-aughts among music student friends at New York City’s New School, Bing & Ruth’s lineup has shifted with the scope of each recording. For ‘Tomorrow Was the Golden Age’, the group whittled down from the eleven players on their first album, ‘City Lake’, to seven: two upright bassists, two clarinetists, a cellist and a tape delay tech, all supporting David Moore’s sublime yet resonant piano scores.

With untethered textures inspired by the indeterminate music of Morton Feldman and later torch bearer Gavin Bryars, ‘Tomorrow Was the Golden Age’ achieves canon-level quality for instrumental music. Within the piece’s extended passages, Bing & Ruth wander through gradient fields of color, illuminated by a delicate architecture of slowly developing microtonal harmonies, Steve Reich-ian piano lines and the same analog tape delay that launched both Brian Eno‘s Apollo and the greatest dub reggae engineers into the unknown. (Rvng Intl.)

 

18.

Jenny Hval & Susanna: Meshes of Voice

[SusannaSonata]

Jenny Hval & Susanna - Meshes of Voice

“Mythical animals were a big inspiration,” says composer and songwriter Jenny Hval about ‘Meshes Of Voice’, a new collaboration between her and Susanna. “We looked at Medusa, Athena and Harpy (a combination of woman and bird) – as examples of depictions of woman – the ugly, the goddess-like, the gruesome,” agrees Susanna. This collaboration – featuring the two strongest Nordic voices around today – started back in 2009 as an exchange of letters, then developed into two live performances, one at Oslo Jazz Festival, the other at the Henie Onstad Art Centre, where this album was recorded. Mixed and mastered by Helge Sten (Deathprod, Supersilent), ‘Meshes Of Voice’ presents a stunning vocal universe of confessions, whispers and seductions.

A key inspiration was film maker Maya Deren’s surrealist, cyclical ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’, a milestone of visionary film from 1943. Deren’s famous image of a cloaked figure with a reflective face recurs on “A Mirror In My Mouth”, creating a complex world of musical fictions akin to those of Julia Holter and Joanna Newsom. (SusannaSonata)

 

17.

Mica Levi: Under The Skin (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

[Milan, Rough Trade]

Mica Levi – Under The Skin

“It was a very immersive experience, and I got obsessed with it. It took about nine months of working pretty constantly. I’ve made my own instruments in the past but for this I mainly used viola to write and record, although we brought in other players to back up my rusty playing and thicken things up.

For ‘Under The Skin’, we were looking at the natural sound of an instrument to try and find something identifiably human in it, then slowing things down or changing the pitch of it to make it feel uncomfortable. There was a lot of talk of perverting material. It does sound creepy, but we were going for sexy.

I didn’t listen to a lot of other soundtracks while I was writing; I was worried about being porous. A lot of the influences either came from quite visual directions or 20th-century music I’d cut my teeth on at Guildhall: Giacinto Scelsi, Iannis Xenakis and John Cage… these big, music-changing composers. But I also took a lot of inspiration from strip-club music and euphoric dance as well.” (The Guardian)

 

16.

Ueno Masaaki: Vortices

[raster-noton]

Ueno Masaaki – Vortices

Ueno Masaaki takes his musical cue from natural phenomenon and laws of nature by trying to reconstruct, not simulating them. The results are mainly rhythmical patterns that set off a chain reaction, expanding and contracting and creating new formations all the time.

The four tracks he presents on ‘Vortices’ are characterized by solid sound structures that appear to be very harsh and straight, sometimes even brutal, whereas the high pace even intensifies this impression. Apparently repetitive at first sight, the tracks are in fact highly complex and intelligently arranged, presenting unforeseen breaks and shifts in direction. (raster-noton)

 

15.

Deru: 1979

[Friends Of Friends]

Deru – 1979

What is 1979?

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that memory is our greatest gift. Our memories give us access to time, to identity, to dreams. I have long explored memories through stories and songs, documenting them in order to share them further. But as the speed of documentation began overtaking the time I used to fill with remembering, I knew I needed to take a step back. 1979 is a celebration of memory in its essential, shared nature. Guided by the wisdom of Jackson Sonnanfeld-Arden, discoverer of the Nine Pure Tones, we constructed 1979 as a concept album through which we could share not only his brilliant theory, but also our true love of memory.” (Deru)

 

14.

Dalhous: Will To Be Well

[Blackest Ever Black]

Dalhous - Will To Be Well

“Distress is a condition not of the body or the brain, but of the mind or self or soul – the thinking and feeling essence of the human being. But we have been tending to deny the existence of this ‘self’ as an independent, decision-making entity with a nature of its own. We have been denying our own humanity, and identifying ourselves merely with body and brain as rather clever but essentially reactive machines.”

‘Will To Be Well’ reflects writer-producer Marc Dall’s continued interest in the life and arcana of R.D. Laing, but also alludes to more universal and enduring mysteries: the relationships between body and mind, illness and wellness, the physical and the metaphysical.

The fifteen tracks assembled here also showcase the maturation of a uniquely gifted and expressive composer: Dall’s stirring, efflorescent melodies and stately harmonic architectures, with their grievously honed simplicity, are a delight: lucid, lyrical, immediate. For all the modernity of Dalhous’s approach, the album recalls a bygone era in synthesized and sample-based music, a time when its practitioners were not just set-designers but storytellers too. (Blackest Ever Black)

 

13.

KETEV: Ketev

[Opal Tapes]

KETEV – Ketev

Ketev is a project by Yair Elazar Glotman, a musician and sound artist focusing on experimental electroacoustic composition, sound installations, and sculptures.

A post techno project made by phasing patterns from reel-to-reel tape loops that are manipulated by 4-track cassette decks, Ketev creates roaring textures above slowly shifting rhythmic mantras. ‘Ketev’ was described as “picking up where the darkest records by Andy Stott and Sam Kerridge left off” (Boomkat).

Instantly noticeable in Ketev’s music is his willingness to dig into slower tempos and murkier territory than many of his post-techno contemporaries, a deliberate heaviness that through lengthy, patiently built tracks becomes totally immersive. “…the music of ‘Ketev’ stands out thanks to the artist’s use of dense yet delicate textures among the glacial rhythms, jet black atmosphere and haunting traces of melody. The accomplished result is something as meditative as it is challenging.” (Juno Plus)

 

12.

Saåad: Deep/Float

[Hands In The Dark]

Saaad – Deep-Float

‘Deep/Float’ is arguably Saåad’s most crafted and coherent work to date. The record is broadly inspired by their week-long auditory experiments at the Faï farm in 2013 where, in a valley at the foot of the Alps, they improvised music in a completely natural atmosphere using three giant horns reverberating against a cliffside to amplify their sounds. Over the following six months, the duo decided to carry on reinventing their writing. They have stripped their rig right down to its bare skin, exploring the essence of their work and coming up with an extremely minimal, almost carnal approach to their music.

The final outcome is a luminous album, a 40 minutes musical healing cure made up of a complex mix of field recordings, ambient improvisation and abstract drone. 

Read Sounds Of A Tired City’s interview with Saåad.

 

11.

Siavash Amini: What Wind Whispered To The Trees

[Futuresequence]

Siavash Amini – What Wind Whispered To The Trees

Iranian artist Siavash Amini just released his first full length album on Futuresequence entitled ‘What Wind Whispered to the Trees’, a modern classical drone masterpiece a few months ago.

In ‘What Wind Whispered to the Trees’ Amini references characters from Dostoevsky’s ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ and ‘The Devils’. Conveying a sense of loss and of longing from opening track, the album unravels chapter by chapter holding the listener in a dark, dense and poetic tale, as if translating Dostoevsky into musical form. The raw string melodies, fine tonal auroras and contrasting heavy drones are expanded and deepened by stunning mastering from Lawrence English.

Keep an ear (or two) on this young man. If there won’t be a new Stars Of The Lid album anytime soon, he will all do it by himself before we know it.

 

(To be continued…)


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