Elsewhereness revisited #6 here come the warm jest

Elsewhereness revisited is an occasional feature documenting the drift at the margins: ambient gasbagging, tube-d, cloud-ed, and camp-ed up, complete with companion mix, Elsewhereness revisited #6

Serving suggestions for lovers of electronic pioneers, or in this case those carrying on the torch, and for hand-finish fanciers: Agri Montana (Café Kaput) is inspired by Alpine landscapes, and, you’d’ve thought, vintage electronics, what with Jon Brooks, quondam Ghost Box-er, variously The Advisory Circle, The Pattern Forms, Hintermass, Clesse, behind it. Anorak-y notes: performed entirely on Buchla Music Easel and ARP Odyssey with visuals by Moon Wiring Clubber, Ian Hodgson. Not far outside the (Ghost) Box is Maps & Diagrams‘ Mosaic (handstitched*), with original artwork, hand-painted in acrylics and watercolour paint, in collage-y cut out print: buzzy post-digital ambient, heavy on synthesis, light on glitch, with occasional foundsound infusions, viz. the distant, reverberant vox blending into the bloops on “Weltanschauung” seguing into the Radiophonic pulse’n’atmo of “Curve-3.8.” Laser-guided missives of synth whistle and hum Cluster-like across the eternal electronic theatre.

Designer ambient-drone and pukka post-classical purveyor, eilean records, hosts ReframingFrancesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci melding ambient tones and field captures in a psycho-active stream, meshed in an architecture of tone color and imagery. The two curate an audio document of ambiguous narrative tenor, with classical elements colluding in spacious terrain on “Encoding” and Hecker hints emerging on the drone v. glitch ambience of “Storage.” The washed-out aerated sprawl of “Retrieval” and the glimmering harmonic tactility of “Iconic” lead to high closure in “Echoic” with celestial chorals permeating waves of static. Dronarivm it was that brought their Agoraphonia, and also put on your scriptor’s radar one Chris Wigman aka Blake Casimir aka Leniad, whose Cavade Morlem (Leniad Remodel) remakes Olan Mill‘s Cavade Morlem anew. Whiffs of GAS, glimpses of The Sight Below, as 4/4 kicks roam under fuzzed up renderings of Alex Smalley’s gossamer textures.

Something else from Chicago ambient drone crone, Velleitie, with visuals (Julian Dalrymple) projected onto a screen for a live audience. The audio here is pre-recorded for the purposes of sharing the video, not entirely a reflection of the live audio, but most can be found on Scheming the Afterimage with God Herself on Vesten. Sean Kase, computer techie and maker behind Velleitie [vuh-lee-ih-tee], explains the derivation, and its variety of uses in domains from economics to philosophy to art—defined as ‘the lowest degree of volition’ or a ‘slight wish or tendency,’ constructing it as the desire to do with a lack of will to actually act upon it, signifier of a somewhat diffident artistic habitus. Musically, a sense of kindred spirit, albeit more amped up, leads us to Omaha producer, Erinome, Aaron Hansen to his Mum, last glimpsed in ER#2 (see It is the Shelter of Each Other that We Live), has a new album, Echo Hearts, on Sweden’s Kaip Music, and it’s full of vast heaving textural drama, all a-quiver and shiver in a notional space where Tim Hecker-esque ambient meets whisper-to-scream post-rock (hold the rock). At once epic and intimate.

More from prolific Shimmering Moods: with NZ sonician James Osland proxy for our own personal journeys, we’re travelling without moving, as Departures seeks to ‘explore our relationship with sound, memory and place’ via drone-infused sounds of nature, dialogues and environments recorded in areas of Europe, SE Asia and Australasia; Beirut-based Maiya Hershey’s Tides deploys organic loops enhanced by nature tones, extended sound waves and piano manipulated  to create atmospheric fluidity and otherness—dreamworlds with a visuality designed to draw you into ‘A fictional story that encompasses a new way of life manifesting in a creature that inherited all of human consciousness and memory’ (here). Next is Bionulor with the third—after Erik (2012) and Vexations (2014)—in a series dedicated to Erik Satie, Furniture Music, inspired by his concept of musique d’ameublement; immersive listening is allowed, but Sebastian Banaszczyk’s ‘100% sound recycling, source material ”Gymnopédies” July 2011 – June 2016’ is advised as accompaniment to cleaning, washing up, reading, napping, even sunbathing. Oddest of all is Giuseppe Falivene’s Fragments EP (igloo-’view), conceived as ‘a Drone\Ambient reinterpretation of 90’s feelings.’ If that means nothing to you, ‘it’s like an unrestrainable flow of memories where the emotions re-emerging.’ And if you’re still struggling: ‘To make the idea of low, all the tracks starts and ends with a tape\vinyl noise, to make sure that the mix is continuous and endless like the flowing time.’ For a teaser, “Untitled 13” is the one.

Melancholika Vol. 2 ‘stands for longing, for wanting to go home, yet not knowing how to get there. Not knowing where “home” is.’ For Lithuanian Audrius Vaitiekūnas aka IJO, it closes a circle, mirroring his first Melancholika, in familiar atmospheric soundscape territory after 14 years of diverse explorations. ‘Tasteful, eclectic and irregular’ London label, ACR, has more to offer, one being Fairfax, an intriguing curio from WA-based Nate Scheible, wherein an unknown woman pours out her everything to a distant lover (voice-over appropriation from a cassette picked up in a N. Virginia thriftstore), drawing us into its poignant micro-drama. Another ACR-tisan is Slovakia’s Mt Accord, whose A Day is a set of ‘homely, nocturnal, hazy and meditative compositions with a distinct tape feel, all recorded in one evening,’ which, like his In Reverie (Colour8), hymns the idea of ‘home’ (‘while bidding the latest one goodbye, once again’). Most rewarding is Japan-based Canadian bio-ethics researcher, producing under the alias Endurance, whose Molecular Shrine is a warm vibrant set of minimal flutings and flutterings, subtle melodics and field recordings blended into rich particulate textures layered into shimmering colorfields. A musing on ‘the bridging of the micro and macro, from the fine details to the whole, from the pin drop to the colossus roar,’ incorporating stylistic strands from electroacoustic to drone to post-classical, buried melodies emerging, imbued with affect.

John Daniel knows a thing or two about sustaining, tonally and quality controllingly, notwithstanding a 30-release output in 5 years and a label to mind (Sequel). Chicago ambient-droner, Forest Management, had The Elevated Quiet hosted by Constellation Tatsu, Reset by Lillerne Tapes (‘spacious, ear-engulfing pieces of ambience that are as captivating as they are patient and reserved. With a sharp focus on dynamics and subtle shifts in melody and attack’) and self-released Flashpoint. While bearing its own affective freight, his music manages to worm its way into your headspace with layers of sonic grit and hovering, blurred and phase-shifting timbres. There’s also a 3-part digital series based on string loops ‘inspired by mid-summer introspection’: pt. 1, Confiding Complacency, comes in bitter-sweet swells of nagging recursion, while 2, Channels of Obscurity, splits its 20 mins of po-mo neo-romantic loopism in two, “Breaking Through The Ceiling” and “Virginia’s Vantage,” each vying to outdo the other in doleful elegiacs. While we’re at it, a good mate of FM’s is Nu-gaze-y ambient bliss-outsider, Dominic Coppola, and he has Golden Blonde Air—a good bad-punning title perhaps emblematically modelling locks of guitar tumbling over two tracks on his Ann Arbor-based Boudoir; “Synchronized Swimming Through Splendor” and “Knowing How To Take A Dive” come in just under 10 min each, nowhere near the length of potential welcome extended, if pushed. DC joins FM (hello again) on NM-based Atrium’s closedown-commemorating Farewell, their “Opulent Persistence” and ” Open Ended Towards North” virtually the only redeeming tracks, alas.

Ametsub follows the ground-breaking, and establishing, The Nothings of The North and All is Silence,with a new EP, Mbira Lights 1, on Nothings66, his most conceptual release yet, centred as it is on the Array Mbira, a hand-crafted instrument with a striking harp-like chiming timbre; an on-the-fly sound distinguished from standard overdub-based composition—dynamic bass and intricate beats, complete with a raft of FX, notably well-drenched in state-of-the-art reverb. Mysterious the mbira may be, but Akihito Saitoh resists lapsing into faux-Exoticism, melting it instead into otherworldly ambience peppered with intricate beats, the deal clinched with nifty remixes from ’90s revenants, Seefeel, and experimental house guest, Austin Cesear.

The Shameless Years (Umor Rex) comes with a heavy freight of reference to the prevailing socio-political climate, with Rafael Anton Irisarri firing up some old software beside his trusty guitar, pedals, amps and analog processing, fuelling a sense of thematic gravity for what becomes a reflection on our current troubled times. Seen through a gauze darkly, emblematically masked by caustic harmonized noise gruzzy melodies unearthing themselves from banking walls of shoegaze distortion on “Indefinite Fields” and over the funereal march/dirge of “RH Negative.” The expansively desolate “Bastion” perhaps mounts a defence against a rising tide of dystopia only to submit to a tonal incursion wreathed in greyscale noise on “Sky Burial,” a meditation on his own mortality. Irisarri’s closure is high, colluding with Iran’s Siavash Amini (a subversive gesture towards the travel ban?) to realise a twin-tower finale—the sulky glowering of chiming harmonics and low-end thrum of “Karma Krama” seguing to a passage from doom jazz to synth-phonic majesty and back again on “The Faithless.” Swathes of turmoil seethe in intersecting space suggestive of a triangulation of Tim Hecker, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Lawrence English sound worlds.

Valencian DJ/producer Agustín Mena aka Warmth is ‘always in the search of warm sounds between lush ambient scapes and dub infused chords and mainly focused on downtempo and techno,’ which he’s certainly found judging by the first vinyl (double) on his Archives label, Home, a set of original tracks, each of which is revisited—by Hotel Neon, SineRider, Leandro Fresco, Purl, SVLBRD, Chris Weeks, Tone Color and Robert Farrugia. Felicitous linkages with Archives: first, a track on Soundscapes Vol. 1 proving to be a first point of contact with CA Chris Wortmann’s The Aurora Principle, just on our radar from early this year with Things Unseen (Kage)—a somber but compelling set of warm crackling drones and neo-classical inflections; second, Spain being home to Lee Yi, who sculpts up raw-and-cooked tape-saturated guitar on Motet, originally a ltd ed C20 tape, now on his bc, as is Temporary Angles, a self-release compiling “Covered with white mantle” & “Aquatic Beings / Seagulls,” from the Fluido Rosa radio show, “Antarctic Circle” from Norway’s Petroglyph label’s (507) Christmas 2016 comp, and “Blurred Landscape” from Burrocracia II (BRR#22) on Colombia’s The Burros Discos.

Fieldhead returns to Yorkshire’s Home Assembly with We’ve All Been Swimming bringing a pulsating electronic variant of shifting arpeggios and minimal beats—a machine-like kinetic core to which Elaine Reynolds’ violin brings human warmth and narrative thrust. While previous releases took a detached view from the hillsides of Yorkshire (and Canada), Paul Elam’s approach to his material seems more immediate here, seeking to reduce things to basics, with nostalgic colorings from crayons shared by BoC and Clark. Tapping into similarly spangled stripes of ambient electronica, but with a sort of loopy pianism a la Susumu Yokota (RIP), wrapped up inside ambient, drone, modern classical and dream pop, is Hannu Karjalainen with A Handful Of Dust Is A Desert (Karaoke Kalk). A long hiatus since the Finn’s Worms In My Piano (Osaka, 2007) and Hintergarten (Kesh, 2009), but AHODIAD is all the fresher for it. The crossover between his musical and visual art sensibility is clear and present, as he makes effective use of a diverse range of  iridescent synthetics and glistening glock’n’vibra tones to soundtrack a sort of future-basing magic realism.

Whitelabrecs brings The 4th from Steve Pacheco, whose Constellate (Dauw) appeared in ER#5. This unlikely La La-lander starts with a simple guitar, piano, xylophone melody or loop, processed into a texture or drone, then archived; these are then assembled, their different frequencies ready-made for potential forging in an often extended process; rather than set out to create something specific, provision is made for self revelation, a process as much about chance and persistence as anything else. The 4th (the heart in the Chakra system) is themed round cherished memories, loss and letting go, each track linked to memories of Elsewhereness (he’s playing our song!), the first three set in Santa Fe, the final related to return to LA. The personal experiential content matters less than the analogous memories and feelings its warm enveloping textures potentially tap into. Lab-lovers might be further seduced, with many sold out or OOP, by Whitelabrecs CDr Box Set 1-20, which assembles its first 20 releases; for the light traveller there’s bite-size digital  ‘sampler,’ Whitelabsounds, 20 tracks—one from each—curated by Harry Towell aka Spheruleus.

Russia next, with Ilya Glebov aka Murkok‘s Coast, previously seen on ER#4, and Stas Shevchenko aka S.V.Sh‘s Alternation on Fern Leaf, of which is writ: ‘All that remains from the minor memories is vague shadows, undefined outlines and a barely perceptible touch of homeless cold. Infinite mist, drops of moisture and gray dusk early in the morning. However, the past does not exist. It is an unrealizable dream. It becomes more unrealizable, the more time passes – these alternations.’ Too right, mate. Oh, and did you see Alexander Ananev aka Sleepy Town Manufacture sneak out Ambient Forms‘a mesmerising tapestry of ethereal synths, nature, environmental tones’ via …txt back in January? ‘Subtle sonic interferences beautifully utilising anything from urban vibrations to distant machinery to captured woodland life.’ Oh, those Russians!

Next, another sulky lo-fi arty Belgian ambient/industrial tape label, Autumn Archive, with an M.O., ‘concerning sound without regulation. Using original photography within artwork,’ recalling the usual suspects—Weight of Ages, Caprice & NecessityAudio.Visuals.Atmosphere.—is platform for some doomed neoromantic posing such as that enacted by C.L. Lobbestael on Cherry, who maneuvres nicely between disorientating and deceptively soothing ‘scapes. C.L. is aka Veldt, whose Skin Solutions is an intense collection of fierce, straight to the point rhythms and dark toned ambient with a sharp edge, and also has a pair on the Scourge in the Spring comp for hermetic DIY Canadians, Male Activity (also feat. Dominic Coppola).

James Murray’s musical lineage goes right back to em:t 0004 (2004) under the alias Sub. Nomenclature now self-authenticating, congruent with a more personal sound within the ambient-drone-postclassical genre, he’s ramped up activity with 3 releases in 2016, and Floods Returned is already a third of 2017. Revisiting tracks from Floods, The Land Bridge and Mount View, a ‘biographical trilogy’ released 2012-2014, ‘simply to recombine a few elements on many of these productions is to invite another composition to spontaneously unfurl, often equally faithful to the spirit of my intent as the original,’ he says. Indeed tracks go beyond mere remaster to completely rework, as Murray ‘is circling his private collection of hopes, fears, dreams and disappointments, looking at this strange assemblage from every angle, pushing and pulling to see what falls out.’ Parenthetical re-titlings embedded in the originals indicate a new career in a new album town. ‘Slow unfolding ambience that has the etherial uplifting qualities of Brian Eno’s Apollo’ says Norman–big map to aspire to, but pinpoints the territory.

Glitter in my tears marks the 20th year and 30th album of Janek Schaefer’s recording career. His music may be seen through the lens of his time as an architect—how that potentially ‘forged his innate sense for constructing tactile atmospheres that navigate through unknown structures and forgotten spaces, creating profound new places,’ a focus on relations between body, medium, and sound, making for a body of work defying easy definition. An adept of foundsoundscapes, for Schaefer medium plays over message, exposing the marks and memories of a variety of media, present in the 26 tracks on this eclectic album for Room40‘Composed over the last decade, in moments when most people are asleep in the dark, while the lucky ones are still dancing in the lights,’ each piece a microcosm of haunted memory combining to create a set of melancholic vignettes. Multiple interludes lace into one another, their relation temporal, shaped by context of encounter in ‘an unfolding compendium of motifs and repetitive fragments, fading from the memories of our emotions.’

Our last ER introduced Poemme with Arboretum (Stereoscenic), a lush sylvan outing of pacific drones teeming with flora and fauna—and Angela Klimek has us dally in similar to sun-struck spaces for Blooming Spring. Then, reissued in a nicely packaged CD ed. courtesy of Toronto’s Polar Seas, fitting host for these bleached out tone poems, is Soft Ice, a billowing immersion zone self-released early this year ‘composed specifically for sleep and reflects my memories of winters growing up in Cleveland. The endless gray skies, the magic of a fresh blanket of snow, and more wonder still once Lake Erie transforms into a vast, frozen desert,’ which ‘takes place at my favorite lakeside park, with a pale sky above and waves of solid ice below. All is silent but for a flock of geese in the distance, making its way to warmer land.’ Polar Seas also has Italy’s Triac follow up Here (Line, 2016) (‘viewed in ER#3 last year) with a half-hour vaporous smear entitled Across.

Deep listening experimental ambient/electroacoustic soundscapes since 1989, ‘researcher of imperceptible tinklings of the memory, in forests without trees and in oceans with orphaned fishes,’ ‘Marvelously floating and hauntingly expressive… like a liturgical poem within an archaic mausoleum distorted by time,’ (hereAlio Die is still at it in a fourth decade of musical endeavor. For Opera Magnetica Stefano Musso again communes with Gino Fioravanti (‘therapist, writer, painter and musician whose touch with electronic music makes it human and cosmic/amniotic at the same time. [ …] in different spheres like alchemy, mythology, and ortho-bionomy’), himself with 25 albums in a 15-year span as Aglaia, last igloo-‘viewed with Private History Of The Clouds); together they dissolve space and time in ‘a synthesis of their best intuitions, chiseled songs from acoustic finishes, underground sounds that emerge only when they can conjure up visions’ (here). Aglaia is also hosted solo by Musso’s Hic Sunt Leones, notably for our ambit Otherworldliness (2012), but more recently Water Inside the Light, of which we hear: ‘Each track is an environment, a procession of color schemes. […] Each piece has been written and proposed for the listener to forget the known time for a rather unusual, unmarked but perceived time’ (here) and Thumbnails In The Setting Sun, while Alio Die is tutto solo for They Grow Layers Of Life Within.

Previous Elsewhereness-monger, Sangam, has been cooking up something with kindred spirit VVV, out of Austin TX, now released in Wanderers Lane, for Minneapolis’s Aurawire. A slow release of emo-bient electronica under heavy vaporwave influence comes as these two moody synth sensei trade chilly drones and hypnagogue loops, coming on like a dreampunk refit of 2 8 1 4 (his Dream Catalogue hosted Sangam’s You Forget This) rinsed in some of Burial’s urban twilight. Sangam also has a track on Summer Home Volume III : Hacienda, a comp on Antwerp’s Summer Karma, a label peddling ‘[melanchronic audio output]’ (sic) complete with Rebel-rousing Camus quote (‘Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été,’); little but this and a couple of ambient-drone tracks by ZiD and Autumna to commend it, but it’s a nyp so nothing to lose.

Finally, if all these sounds have you tired, you could drift off to a second somnific episode in How To Disappear Completely’s experimental sleep music project, Mer de Revs II (I having shown up in ER#5); the Polish collective offers 75 minutes of ‘deliberately soothing textures designed to give the listener space to find stillness and collapse into rest – late night lullabies,’ in sonically thrifty mode—recorded live to 2” tape, made with Yamaha DX7, tape loops, (re-)processed guitars, voice and loads of old VHS tapes.

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