Posts Tagged ‘Classical’

Laraaji

This one’s been easing me in and out of the days in perfect meditation and I’d have to say it’s highly recommended you do the same. New Age legend Laraaji has had quite a moment of late, moving away from his self-released tape niche in the past few years to be heralded by experimental outposts (Leaving Records, W. 25th) and archival houses (Numero) alike. On his latest for perpetual harbor All Saints, he leaves the drones and quavering harmonics of the zither behind to focus on rippling piano movements that wash the soul in the golden light of a half mast sun. While he grew up on the piano, the artist hasn’t really returned to it during his recording tenure. Instead he’s become known for the kind of body buzz harmonics and a New Age thrum that emanates from his echo-swathed instrument of choice. The lack of effects offers a marked difference here. With the help of Jeff Ziegler (The War on Drugs, Mary Lattimore) he captures the piano in a Brooklyn church, letting it feel out the space around it with a natural harmony.

The pieces are simple, but far from minimal. Approaching the instrument with the same bubbling glee, tinged with a slight whiff of sadness that has come through in his zither work over the years, Sun Piano is as centered as any of his works. Cascades of notes sluice through the spirit of the listener, unlocking lost memories, deep tensions, and well-up worries and dispersing them with a sonic acupressure. The joy that Laraaji brings to music is imbued in every fluttering note, and its clear that in his second stage the piano might begin to play an important part in his output. If this is only the beginning of that shift, I’m her for what’s to come. If this is all we get, then I’ll just have to cherish the shining embers of Sun Piano as often as possible.




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Alder & Ash

Cellist Adrian Copeland follows up his equally harrowing album, Psalms For The Sunder with a new small press for Lost Tribe Sound. Clutched In The Maw continues his bleak, Cormac McCarthy world-building through classical composition. Though rooted in the cello like his previous venture, this album delves into processed sound on a much deeper level. However, while the processing adds to his landscape of decay and solemn isolation, it’s Copeland’s playing that’s at the core of the album’s stunning set.

He runs the full range of the instrument in a way that only those who are deeply classically trained can muster, but with the freedom of one who is not beholden to any notion of acceptable norms within the classical or neo-classical context. Copeland’s compositions scrape and gnaw, gasp and moan through the body of an instrument that shouldn’t seem like it has this much anguish inside of it. Each crushing drop of bile, blood and tears comes seeping through the speakers. There are those that choose to use their gifts to lift the listener up to see the sun through the fog. Copleand chooses to send us deeper into a hopelessness that’s flirting with the essence of Doom.

He digs us out of the hole by the end, though, proving he’s not as scarred by the darkness as the first half would lead a listener to believe. There’s an elegance and relief to “The Merciful Dawn” (as one might expect) and by the closer “The Glisten, The Glow” we’re back in some sort of daybreak, albeit one that’s streaked with greys. The album is a visceral run at anguish and acceptance, and ultimately a joy to behold.




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Ben Chatwin

Chatwin’s last album was full of murky textures, noise beds and ambient float that felt like it was deteriorating as the album progressed. His follow-up keeps the textural fortitude but moves into an area of tension between the natural world and processed sound. At the heart of Heat & Entropy is Chatwin’s reliance on strings off all types, from piano to guitar to dulcitone. He set out to only use forms of stringed instruments but began to process the sounds and fold his love of texture into the mix. As a result he’s found a headspace that falls down the line between Hauschka’s prepared piano eminence and Evan Caminiti’s dust cloud psych. There’s a dark glow about the album, murky and fitting of the album’s reliance on seascapes in artwork and video treatments. Its balancing a feeling of weightless float and the crush of 60,000 gallons from the listener to the surface.

The further on the album progresses the further away that last breath feels, but the surroundings grow more foreign and beautiful. Centerpiece, “The Kraken,” finds the breaking point, emerging from a clouded gust on the preceding track and opening up a beacon-steady beat with siren-like vocals ducking and weaving the repetitive phrases. “Euclidiean Plane” is a whalesong trapped in amber and there’s no easy feeling about ending on a note called “Corpseways.” Chatwin has elevated his ambitions, stepping further from the Talvihorros work he’d done previously to create an album that’s both decidedly post-classical in its execution and experimental in its impact. This is a claustrophobic, anxious and ultimately also serene album in its own right; as contradictory as that may be. It feels like knowing the end is coming and having the strength to let go.


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Ben Chatwin – “Euclidean Plane”

Another piece of the puzzle on Chatwin’s debut for Ba Da Bing, the gorgeous piece “Euclidean Plane” wavers between chamber pop bliss and the subtle underwater psychedelics of Sven Libaek. Aptly, like Libaek, the video for “Euclidean Plane’ takes to the seas, pairing the soft movement of an octopus with the burbling build of tension from Chatwin’s score. Though, unlike Libaek, Chatwin’s outlook is much darker. The edge of wonder is constantly in danger of being taken over by dread. The last dip into Heat & Entropy saw Chatwin move the dial a bit further from the clouded mist he’s been working in but this one fully emerges in bold and brilliant colors, albeit colors that are circling the reef and rippling with the light dancing on the surface of the water. Its a beautiful piece that bodes well for a full album that brings Chatwin the wider praise that he deserves.



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Ben Chatwin – “Inflexion”

Ben Chatwin’s last record, The Sleeper Awakes was a grey-skied masterstroke of noise-flecked neo-classical. His solo works find the deep ravine of sadness and rub cold dirt into the wounds, feeling somehow achingly painful and coolly soothing at the same time. The first bit of his new record for Ba Da Bing is just a quick flicker of the match but it hints at another album of cloistered and creaky compositions. Sounding every bit like the slow creep up the stairs to a dark childhood secret, the track pads in on soft dulcitone feet and that creeping music box feel runs up the listener’s spine with icy expectation. It appears most of the album centers around Chatwin’s use of pianos and, like the dulcitone, piano-like hybrids. This is just a tiny morsel of the album, but few bites have ever left me so hungry for more.



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Jozef Van Wissem

For a lutenist, Van Wissem has made a pretty sizeable dent into experimental and indie circles. Maybe its because he pals around with Jim Jarmusch and Zola Jesus. The former he’s collaborated with plenty in the past, even winning a Cannes film award for his work on the score to Only Lovers Left Alive. The latter appears here, fleshing out his sparse compositions with her own spectral haunt. But maybe its because Van Wissem’s work holds a lonesome power that draws collaborators like these in. His past works have painted with solemn, yet slightly intricate strokes, classical in feeling but not stuffy. He’s felt like the art history buff trying to open up his classmates to the wonders of 15th century without getting overly condescending about it.

On When Shall This Bright Day Begin he definitely clips a few notes from his work with Jarmusch. The pair’s collaborative albums draw in a lot of noise elements and drink from a well of experimentation. For this outing thoug, Van Wissem keeps the noise at bay but dips into some borrowed cinematic scope; Zola Jesus opening the album with a disembodied, ambient float over his plucks, vocal samples crackling against sepia toned stringwork and his own vocal arrangements pounding like mantras. Its when he lets the lute sing alone though that the album’s at its strongest. The recording is unencumbered, each note smacking into that pang of regret in your stomach like a steadied blow. Though to be fair, the second collaboration here with Zola Jesus is as hair raising as anything either have done, finding both parties reaching towards their inner goth hearts to make a track that’s infinitely absorbing. This album sounds like Van Wissem has finally found his stride and is so comfortable with his instrument that he makes his pangs our pangs and its easy to thank him for it.





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