April 11, 2012 at 1:28pm
Wil Bolton - ‘Kollane’
The difficulty in composing a piece of music that is inspired by, or directly about a specific location, is that when the composition is perceived outside of its geographical context, it can often lose it’s emotional significance. Compositions that use field recordings as a major part of their sound palate often suffer from this problem. Field recordings contain specific auditory reference points to their place of origin and source, if the listener has to work to unravel these connections their emotional engagement with the composition can suffer.
Wil Bolton’s new release ‘Kollane’, made during a residency at the Estonian Artists’ Association in Tallinn, does not suffer from this problem.
As with the majority of Bolton’s output under his own name, field recordings are an integral part of the sound palette. What makes them work in this context is the restraint he shows in their use. He does not attempt to document the city in its auditory entirety, but instead uses field recordings to give voice to his place within the city’s ecosystem, presenting an intimate snapshot of his own experiences.
The precise control on display in this piece is remarkable; Bolton fragments and submerges melody among beds of droning ambient textures provoking a nebula of emotions, unidentified, buried, hidden. This gives the piece a melancholic familiarity, as if the narrative is responding to the listener’s own memories and experiences.
Coming to an end at the 47-minute mark, ‘Kollane’ is also long. It needs to be. This paean to Tallinn sees Bolton in duet with the city, responding to its transients with minute adjustments of timbre, density, and volume. Intricacies are revealed in slow tidal movements that provoke submission to the sound, whilst field recordings provide regular points of departure that strengthen the narrative and stop the piece from becoming too static.
‘Kollane’ is a fascinating account of Wil Bolton’s residency in Tallinn. It is an oneiric journey through the fabric of a city where the exploration of the areas sonic topography blurs the boundaries between the personal and the universal and sits comfortably in a discography that gets more impressive with each release.
‘Kollane’ is released on Time Released Sound and is available here.
March 30, 2012 at 12:00am
Bvdub - ‘The First Day’
Occasionally there is a musical event that reminds you of the first time a song transcended its environment to become an embodiment, an extension of your own emotions. In these moments you are completely alone in a deeply personal reverie where the music speaks to and from your own heart.
Bvdub’s work has this power.
His long-form compositions have never shied away from the darker, more complicated side of the emotional spectrum and it is with great skill that Brock Van Wey imparts these introspective, isolated compositions, with such blissful melancholic reverie. This skill has come to the fore in ‘The First Day’, an album that serves as both a concise elegy to the human condition and an ode to the inexorable beauty of spring.
The sound palette is immediately recognisable; minimal techno inspired rhythms, reverb drenched pads, shimmering vocal samples and piano. These sounds are so familiar in the vocabulary of western musicology that they help to contextualise the record. The cultural idioms inherent within these sounds draw upon a shared history of collective understanding to invoke a deeper emotional response, which promotes and augments submission to the narrative of the compositions.
In a transient culture where music is downloaded, listened to and discarded all in less time than the shortest Bdvub composition, the length of Brock’s compositions helps give continuity and a sense of belonging to the listener; duration allows his records to breath. ‘The First Day’ is a further realisation of this methodology, contradicting the goal orientated, climatic nature of traditional western composition to provide liberation from everyday reality and give the listener time to revel in the beauty of hoping for something better. As Brock himself says;
“It [is] just about wanting there to be a place where we can all escape and celebrate together, where we can feel the power and beauty of music, and appreciate its message”
Participation, immersion and acoustics; Bvdub’s compositions, embodying and manifesting universal principles of sound and vibration, belong to everybody and nobody, and consequently promote this sense of participation and collective experience.
‘The First Day’ coalesces a sublime dichotomy of joy and despair, compelling the listener to journey with the artist through the end of a bleak winter, into flourishing spring. Through the continuation of sound in suspended time change is perceived in macro-formal space, creating a trance in which fleeting memories stir and dart through your consciousness, only to sink once more into obscurity. It is a heady, nostalgic and completely compelling record from an artist at the height of his powers.
‘The First Day’ is released on Home Normal
March 13, 2012 at 12:00am
Pascal Savy - ‘Receding’
Ambient music is a balancing act. Each composition has to reveal the sensibilities of the artist that went into its creation, but also leave enough emotional ambiguity to allow the listener to interact with the work on a personal level. ‘Receding’, London based musician Pascal Savy’s follow up to last years excellent ‘Fragments’ EP, manages this dichotomy with ease, creating a sound world that is at once deeply personal and tantalisingly out of reach.
Continuing where ‘Fragments’ left off, Pascal strips back the original source of these recordings (a piano in an disused windmill in Norfolk) until fragments of that sound remain. This sampled piano is then processed, deconstructed and partially removed, revealing dense, multi-layered compositions, alive with shimmering high frequency pulses, deep, reverberant low end and wonderfully melodic guitar lines which, with the help of some tactile field recordings, weave the compositions together in a beautifully organic matter.
Informed by environmental processes such as rhizome, it is perhaps no surprise that the record abounds with life. Imagine an aural equivalent to watching the formation of an entire hedgerow in time lapsed overdrive and you’re not far off, but it is the relinquishing of control which is most striking. Each minute overture is allowed to strike out independently and to conclusion, allowing highly personal interpretation at each twist and turn.
If this all sounds a little densely populated, it is. But it works. Pascal’s skilful production along with the sensitive mastering treatment from Taylor Deupree, allow individual frequencies to shoot out from the thicket of sound, forming their own counter narratives that resonate and then decay back down to nothing. This process is further strengthened by cross-pollination from one track to the other, which gives new points of departure to each track and continuity to the EP as a whole.
There is a desolate, nostalgic sensibility to these recordings, created by more than just an awareness of their source location. By removing the principle source from its original environment, and carefully reconstructing the sonic traces that remained, Pascal has managed to reinforce a far greater sense of place than the original recordings could ever have managed; a personal, tangible place.
This EP is at once desolate yet comforting, unnerving yet beautiful and from first frequency to final coda, utterly intriguing.
‘Receding’ is available as a limited edition of 100 3” CDr + Postcard from Twisted Tree Line.