Current Favorites: Icelandic Viola, Processed Piano

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

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. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

Sola is Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti performing a three-part piece by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir. If hyper-attenuated, ghostly strings are your thing (they are mine), this is ideal listening. As a bonus (and a model for other labels), the three tracks are followed by seven containing a conversation between composer and performer. Releaed on the New Focus Recordings label.

▰ Solo live performance by Raffael Seyfried for piano, complemented and transformed by synthesizer. The track is titled “Haptic,” and it is recommended you watch as he touches the equipment throughout.

▰ A fine synthesizer piece, titled “Frozenfir.” A lot of current synth material can over rely on plucked and warped sounds, but this performance by Ambalek, who has quickly become a personal favorite, strikes a smart balance.

▰ Due out in mid-March, the upcoming Devin Sarno album, Evocation, offers welters of noise and a brief expanse of ether in its two preview tracks.

▰ Also spending a lot of time with two pieces I wrote about in a bit more detail this past week, both solo live synthesizer performances, one by Orbital Patterns and the other by Electric Kitchen.

Current Favorites: Police Scanners + Waterphone + Saxophone

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

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. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

▰ Gorgeous live performance of saxophone being reworked in real time (layered, pitch-shifted, looped) from Kin Sventa, who is based in San Francisco, California.

▰ Beautiful three-track set of gently glitching, quavering tracks from Brian Biggs, the accomplished children’s book illustrator (and an old friend). The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, police hover just below the surface on occasion, in the form of just-shy-of-intelligible scanner recordings.

▰ Three tracks are up currently from Waterphone II, an album of eerie music made with the title instrument. The musician is Toshiyuki Hiraoka, a prolific film composer (Naked Cannibal Campers, Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance). The full release is on January 26, 2020.

▰ Also spending a lot of time with Fall by Tulpa Dusha as well as with a live organ performance by Claire M Singer.

Current Favorites: From Rhode Island, Oregon, and the Netherlands

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

Last Sunday, on the verge of the new year, I listed my favorite recordings of 2020. This week it’s back to regularly scheduled programming, 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. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

▰ Tomorrow, January 4, is a lot of people’s first day back at work (remote or essential) of 2021, and “Ethereal Pathway” is the sort of music to help guide the return to salary mode. The glacial chords ease back and forth, drifting into and out of sync with each other, which is almost a metaphor. For some reason I can’t embed it here, but it’s at soundcloud.com/roofhare. The track is by the Rhode Island-based musician Roofhare, aka Kees de Groot.

Slow Sketch, Vol. 2: Reflections of the Ambient Community is a 36-track compilation from the Madrid-based EL Muelle Records label, with contributions from Taylor Deupree, r beny, Patricia Wolf, the duo of Stephen Vitiello and Ted Laderas, Corey Fuller, Yann Novak, Benoît Pioulard, and other favorites, many based in Portland, Oregon. (Proceeds benefit Fundación Aladina, which helps pediatric cancer patients.)

▰ Released at the tail end of 2020, Oh Ho! is an exploration of alternately spectral beauty and something akin to conversational interplay by Mary Oliver (viola, violin) and Rozemarie Heggen (double bass). (Thanks, Mark Morse of Subterranean Distribution, for the recommendation.) It was put out by ICP Orchestra, based in Amsterdam.

Current Favorites: Aphex on Guitar, Advent Sounds

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

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. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

TA2MI’s Kanchi | Complete Cure explores downtempo, instrumental hip-hop with a freshness that will not just appeal to but even push the comfort level of DJ Krush fans, the samples all the noisier, the beats all the more broken. TA2MI is Tatsumi Akinobu, based in Yatsushiro, Japan.

Simon Farintosh adapts various works for classical guitar, including music by Aphex Twin. Here’s a gorgeous, romantic take on “Flim,” off the latter’s Come to Daddy. Farintosh, who was born the year after the release of Selected Ambient Works Volume II, lives in British Columbia.

Hilary Robinson continued her winter-solstice advent calendar of sound sketches today with a track of melodica and train noise. There may be one more track in the series coming, since tomorrow is the 21st, though Stonehenge celebrated the solstice Sunday evening. She is based in London, England.

Current Favorites: Maraš, Buckley, Ristić, Hoedemaekers

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

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. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

Svetlana Maraš’ Ear I Am is an ever-shifting survey of antic sounds, industrial mechanics, and playful noises, all with a sense of rhythmic flow, even if that rhythm is, on occasion, purposefully quite subtle. The six-track album is a live recording, taped back in 2017 on the first of February at the Ear We Are Festival in Biel, Switzerland. She is based in Belgrade, Serbia.

Linda Buckley’s “Loom” is a ferocious heave of mechanical trance state, until it isn’t, until the gear gnashing briefly disappears and all that’s left is the trance itself. And then the burners power up, and the machines go at it again. Thrilling. She is based in Dublin, Ireland.

The 17th album in the great 20×20 series is another set of 20 tracks, each 20 seconds long. This latest, Do Not Go Gentle by Manja Ristić, alternates between degraded recordings of Dylan Thomas poems with snatches of string instruments, rattly percission, and field recordings. She is based in Belgrade, Serbia.

Rutger Hoedemaekers’ music for the TV series No Man’s Land is a beautiful expanse of tension-laden stillness. He’s probably best known for his work, with Hildur Guðnadóttir and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, on Trapped. I can’t find much of this excellent score in embeddable form on non-commercial streaming services, but it’s at music.youtube.com and spotify.com. (If those links fail, please let me know.) Also recommended is his The Last Berliner score, which I’ve had on repeat the past few months. Hoedemaekers, originally from the Netherlands, is based in Brussels, Belgium.