Sarah Davachi has collected five CDs as a box set of recent interrelated works that engage with various organs in the context of other instruments, notably synthesizers. A key track is “Accord of Voice I,” off the album Laurus, released last December. It is a procession of held notes, their rich tonalities layering deeply, the result being beautifully impure harmonies, dense slow motion cacophonies that achieve something almost celestial. The collection is titled Cantus Figures Laurus and it includes two previous double-CD sets, Cantus, Descant and Figures in Open Air, as well as Laurus and what Davachi describes as “an extended EP of early sketches for the music fully realised on Cantus, Descant.”
Another beautiful album by Jeannine Schulz, Wanderer in the Colorful Fields is six tracks of music that feels a split second shy of being entirely on pause. Quite frequently the emphasis is on slight sounds played in reverse, time slipping backward, in which case it’s still a split second shy of pause, just from the other side of the divide. It’s hard to say if the sounds — which seem to include electric guitar and bells, but could be other things entirely — are treated here like objects under glass, carefully presented, or like natural occurences, chance moments happened upon. Either way, the results are delicate, elegant, and richly reflective.
More from Schulz, who is based in Hamburg, Germany, at instagram.com/jeannine_schulz_art.
There is so much going on in this track, a British field recording presumably recorded recently. Something about the suggestion of that time sync makes it feel physically proximate, too, even if it’s far away from wherever the listener might be. And even if nothing in it is, technically, “alive,” in the sense that an animal might be alive, it is nonetheless very much alive. This is “Underwater Stream” by Landsounds, the name under which London-based John Hooper captures audio of the everyday and, as happens here, reveals the complexity inherent in it. In these mere two and a half minutes, there is gurgling, certainly, and droning, yes, and a hum that makes the the droning seem like its trebly by comparison, and other sounds (rope against wood?) that creak like dolphins speak. None is isolated from the others. They are in sync in their own manner. And then there’s that slow heartbeat of a pulse at the start and just before the end. It’s enough to make you think it’s been a bit of ambient techno all along.
A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.
▰ On the double album If Not Now, released at the very end of 2020, Meredith Bates sends her violin and viola through a range of processing, yielding echoes and textures, layers and atmospheres, stutters and breakage. It somehow manages to be both intimate and orchestral at the same time. Bates is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
▰ Three field recordings of what’s going on under the ice, captured by Ivo Vicic of Rijeka, Croatia, on Under the Ice – Secret Sounds of Nature. As Vicic describes it, what we’re hearing is a water stream, amomg other activity, recorded at a lake that has frozen over during the winter. Released earlier this month. (Thanks for the recommendation, Patricia Wolf!)
▰ In a 10-minute live video, Poland-baed Grzegorz Bojanek makes rough-hewn ambient music in realtime with a handful of Buddha Machines and effects pedals. Even if you’re entirely familiar with the source audio, you’ll be enchanted by the new territories Bojanek explores.
▰ The cacophonous fragility of Marcus Fischer’s mid-February “Thawing” is a field recording made during the Portland, Oregon, winter. Writes Fischer of the brief track: “Thawing ice releasing itself and falling from a large oak tree onto the snow-covered street below.”
The Deutsche Grammophon label, its bright yellow logo long associated with the warhorses of the repertoire, has been exercising its experimental impulses in various ways, like the excellent “Recomposed” reworkings of Bach and Vivaldi by, respectively Peter Gregson and Max Richter, and more recently the Project XII series. Project XII introduces a newly commissioned composition each month for the year, and then collects them into an album at year’s end. It’s run twice thus far, in 2019 (which included a piece by Rachel Grimes, a pivotal early figure in the overlap of indie rock and classical) and 2020 (which included a piece by Christina Vantzou), and we’re now three months into 2021, a highlight of which is “Timelines” by Dobrawa Czocher, the Polish cellist. It’s a gorgeous, sweeping work, slowly flowing layers of cello wafting over each other in a state of classic minimalism repose.
Video originally posted at YouTube.