microphones in the trees: March 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

meta mora

La música de Meta Mora es misteriosamente descriptiva. Es como pintura paisajística plasmando escenas que su autor hubiera visto en ese estado de asombro que a uno le asalta a veces cuando descubre ante sí una belleza que le deja sin palabras. Los trazos de sonidos analógicos, cálidos y densos con que pinta sus visiones me transmiten precisamente esa impresión de asombro ante imágenes idílicas. A veces de una forma casi espiritual, como en las dos partes de la maravillosa "Eye of the Eagle" de su disco Prismatic. El año pasado sacó dos cintas imponentes, Temperate Worlds en Rainbow Pyramid y Moon Hymns en Twin Springs, que reservo en un espacio íntimo y lunar del micromundo de maravillas musicales que estamos viviendo. Ocean Terminal me suena más luminoso, precisamente como la portada, azul claro transparente, acuático y tropical, y no sólo por los field recordings; esos sintetizadores están totalmente alineados con el olor a playa, el agua fresca, la sensación de relajación y placer al flotar o bucear. Todo dice agua en esta cinta, y eso es una nueva muestra de la destreza para traducir paisajes a música que tiene este artista, y nosotros nos quedamos con ganas de más.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

channelers / softest / braeyden jae

«Essex is the 2nd album by Channelers (Ashan, gkfoes vjgoaf, etc). Expansive minimalism. Bridging the synthetic and organic. The repetitive fissle of a stream, the fluidity of its motion, and the clarity of its composition. The collection utilizes a diverse palette, devoting a unique ensemble to each piece. As a whole, it promotes a neutral space in favor of nurturing one’s physicality. Channelers is Sean Conrad, based in Oakland, California». inner islands

When it comes to Inner Islands, I never have doubts about the quality of music presented. Well-established provider of lovely ambient tunes and blissful new age meditations, Sean Conrad – is the man behind the Islands and also behind the Channelers alias. Being a huge fan of everything Sean does I fell in love with "Essex" from the very first minutes. Opening with 11-minute "Rest" composition, it immediately sets the mood to relaxed, so it's not really possible to do something else than nap while it unfolds with beautifully crafted loops. Gentle instrumentations reminds Ashan a lot (another Conrad's project), but stays wordless and beatless most of the time. I always wondered how he manages to create these endless, so nicely selected loops, because they aren't annoying even after very long period of time, they just give you space – to dream, to feel, to stay in peace with yourself and the environment. I'd call it meditation, but this music is not just a tool for certain purpose, there is always something more, about the life itself, about every single day and simple activities like cooking, drinking tea or maybe just looking out the window... When you wake up and see bright sunny morning outside after few weeks of cloudy greyness, this tape will be a perfect start to the day!

«six wishes is the 2nd full-length release from softest (braeyden jae, WYLD WYZRDZ, etc). The sounds from this project are invariably in sympathy with the name of their maker. Gentle rain on a dark green landscape. A warmth to gather yourself around. The pieces, instrumentally, are comprised of guitar, synths, keyboards, discreet sampling, and field recordings. softest is Braden McKenna, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.”». inner islands

It was a bit surprising to see Braden returning to his softest alias after immense number of releases as Braeyden Jae, but listening to the tape you'll immediately understand the decision. Softest side of Braden's guitar rumble brings here same kind of magic heard on "Essex" tape – slowly unfolding spirals of guitar bliss mixed with pleasant synth pads and field recordings, and once again Inner Islands release makes this world little happier. Usually Braden's ability to hypnotise comes from the same source as Sean's – nicely selected loops and almost invisible change of their flow during the composition. But this time something else comes into play – carefully picked echo intertwined with thorough layering creates another level of perception. And at certain moment it gains more effect in the mix with field recording natural noises. Beauty of the melodic lines drowns in reverberation and tape hiss – just to be born again, to change its state but to remain itself, like rain over the landscape, exactly. Isn't it what we all want?

«On Fog Mirror, SLC based musician Braden McKenna, has crafted a weighted, textural album of architectural drone punctuated with stirring washes of crackling static and arcing tones that gather like visible precipitation on an early morning windshield. Fog Mirror is braeyden jae's most deliberately paced, emotionally resonant record to date; the aural equivalent of watching a thick gray blanket envelop some distant, cliffed coastline». whited sepulchre

You may know Ryan Hall, who started Whited Sepulchre as founder of the fellow blog Tome to the Weather Machine, charity netlabel Heligator Records and co-founder of Denver-based Goldrush Music Festival. First two releases at his new label Whited Sepulchre are Fog Mirror vinyl and Braden's cassette split with Ant'lrd. Fog Mirror starts at the territory where softest ends – lush of pink noise covers every melody and every riff produced by Braden's guitar and melts all magic loops into thawing crunch of late spring snow. Overall composition here acts like variable high-level wind, changing directions and power, but always staying way too high to notice any small detail. Everything drowns in everything. Forests, lakes, mountains... Reverb takes part in it too, gaining subtle melodies to the level of this wind, giving them almost astronomical scale, wrapping whole planet into cocoon of dense magnetic fields, cosmic rays, gliding at the atmosphere, meteor showers... At the same time someone standing at the bus stop far away from city, hears thunder, sees lightning and thinks of the endlessness of time, of connection between people, of home... Breathing clean air charged with electricity. Someone small in the endless corridor of the two mirrors facing each other: mirrors of perception and thoughts about it, surfaces of feelings and contemplation on them. Music permeates these surfaces, but can we do the same? Or it will another reflection, or reflection of the reflection, finally faded in the fog? Infinite is not something big, it's here, right now – in every gaze, in every touch, in every tiny drop of fog... Music knows it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

chihei hatakeyama / thousand foot whale claw / havenaire

«Hatakeyama's music is characteristically very slow, composed by repeatedly processing guitars, pianos, and vibraphones on a laptop. The result is a mix of droning chords and sparse single instruments rising above the mix. His music may be classified as either post-ambient experimental music or new-age music». ctatsu

What is definitely true from that press-release is the fact that Chihei's compositions are very slow. Yes, there are few quite experimental albums in his portfolio which may be called "post-ambient", but what Mr. Hatakeyama released in recent years is one hundred percent drone ambient, pure, innocent and absolutely blissful. His recent collaboration with Dirk Serries made me faint in admiration and now this tape – maybe a bit simpler and minimalistic, but at the same time reaching total stillness and serenity in its vibe. Someone may call such music emotionless or even aloof, but it's only a surface look. Unfocused, expectation-free listening to it may reveal huge dimension which are not that really hidden. It's like paying attention to your own breathing – can be useless in a daily routine, but definitely worth trying if you want to feel yourself (and the world around) much deeper and interconnected... Music created by Chihei Hatakeyama is just a glimpse on that topic, yet so captivating and so fleeting that you would be obliged to press repeat button. 

«Thousand Foot Whale Claw, an Austin 4 piece, have masterfully wrangled their mountain of synths and guitars on stage for a couple of years now. With a lineup including members of Pure X and Troller, TFWC have cut their own path, playing diverse sets of delicate minimalism to krauty trance to full-spectrum drone. They have recently released a cassette, Lost in Those Dunes, on their own Holodeck Records imprint. Upcoming release Cosmic Winds on Constellation Tatsu takes space rock to the next level». ctatsu

Have you ever felt that cassette drone scene suffered sensible damage when Emeralds went off the stage? Okay, there are Bitchin Bajas, High Wolf, Cliffsides, Mind Over Mirrors and guys like Enumclaw, but still... Thousand Foot Whale Claw's album for Constellation Tatsu is something so exciting that it's hard to put in words all pleasure I had listening to it. Here you can find everything one might expect from strong psychedelic drone stuff: huge walls of synth sound, layered guitars and bass and overwhelming spirals of composition. I wonder how it all may sound on the stage! At the beginning of '90s such music might easily fit into freshly invented "post-rock" category, because what they do is much more timbre and texture oriented than melodic/riff attitude of psychedelic or space rock. But today, when everything is blended with something (completely) different, such music may remain in underground for a long time without having recognition as something really special. And maybe that's even better, because I can't imagine stadium crowd tripping in those vibes. Good, I can, but this will cause such huge amount of "matrix disconnections" that FBI would eventually take over the whole city... Then friendly UFO's are coming to rescue ones enlightened by music and here space journey begins, taking place among colourful nebulae and galaxies full of glowing stardust. At the end of this story we see another planet with huge stadiums built for Thousand Foot Whale Claw gigs filled with billions of aliens tripping in the kilowatts of sound... Okay, think you got the idea!

«Tremolo is the debut release from Havenaire, the Stockholm based musician John Roger Olsson. With his new alias, he is working with slow moving atmospheric melodies and shoegazing sonics. The most vital component to the layered sound of Tremolo is the classic vintage synth Roland Juno-106 which is also the primary source of sound. Mixed with Moog SubPhatty, effect drenched upright piano and white noise». ctatsu

After few very successful albums of noisy ambient like Tim Hecker's "Harmony in Ultraviolet" many artists started to experiment with distortion. Sure, there were examples of such formula before, but at the end of '00s there were so many distorted synth projects that I even had separate folder for them. But with the course of time it became so common to include such element even in quite traditional ambient structures that moment of unexpectedness was lost. Such albums, like "Wilderness of Mirrors" by Lawrence English is a great example, when you quickly adapt to the harshness of sound and start floating in it as freely as you may do it with any traditional ambient work. Same goes to Havenaire debut, which is quite strong and very well composed, filled with noise as much as with music in its conditional meaning. At certain point it reminds some tape from Sundrips huge discography, but then shifts from pure drone to more composed stuff and you can actually feel a lot of emotional movement behind the scenes, which is constantly decayed, dissociated and deconstructed. My suggestion is that this music have such good therapeutic effect on its author that it may be transferred further – to the listener, because you never know the source of those emotions, there are no story told behind, just pure essence of the feelings. It's quite powerful and universal, which makes this tape worthwhile of attentive listening at huge volume more than just few times.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

a.shark / you c + foresteppe

«This album was born to show main direction of O Minor's musical mood, to demonstrate what are spiritual music for us» o minor

Today's post is about two new born Russian labels, which music I'd like to share with Microphones community. They both share similar aesthetics in sound – using tape loops, acoustic instruments, synths and field recording to achieve peaceful aural landscape where one can travel endlessly. First one is A.Shark (Alexander Akulenko) with 90 minutes of warm summer field recordings combined with subtle instrumentations, which brings to mind many childhood memories, reminiscences of happy moments we all have during the lifetime. Music floats between simple impressionism and playful naivety, but always brings a bit of psychedelic atmosphere in its flow – fast bicycle ride through the park, heady dances of the sunlight between the leaves and branches, kaleidoscope of emotions experienced without reflection, just as they are, pure and innocent. Regarding this I must say that listening to such kind of music always takes much more than just entertainment, it definitely has certain therapeutic effect, like being transcended through your memory, experiencing "then" and "now" in one single moment, a superposition of everything that happened and will happen... Inspiring and simply beautiful music which brings sunlight even to cloudy winter days.

you c + foresteppe ~ seven sleepers (шалаш, 2016)

«Inspired by a story about a group of Christian youths who hid inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus around 250 AD, to escape persecution. There they fell into a miraculous sleep for almost two hundred years» шалаш

Bela Uncle Cat (you c) and Egor Klochikhin (Foresteppe) had many releases and art projects before and you may already know well-praised Foresteppe album Diafilms as well as Bela's animations and collages she made to complete her own music creations. Now it's time for collaboration which combines love to collage music and visual art with tape looping approach and folk instrumentation. Being a first release of new born Egor's label ШАЛАШ, this album is presented in cassette tape and reel-to-reel editions, both housed in lovely handmade packaging. Once again we hear a blissful lullaby of floating sounds, starting from accordion and ukulele and ending its spectrum in subtle field recordings and recycled tape hiss. Music unfolds very slowly, gently pulling one thread after another, keeping things down and sleepy all the time. Many artists started to explore "sleep music" genre recently and usually it is some kinds of drone/ambient sounds, but this tape brings different view. Why should we record 8-hour long album if we can do just one very good 23-minute loop? And "seven sleepers" does it very well. Side B repeats the side A and if you push repeat button on your deck this tape would play forever. Or, at least, for two hundred years. I warned!