Friday 22 September 2023

NORVMBEGA — MOONLAND

⌾ LISTEN TO MOONLAND BY NORVMBEGA ⌾


'Moonland' is a moment to stop, daydream, recollect. Remember the wave-splashed path winding above the rocks and the sparkling sea. A glance out to a pre-dusk sky, trees coated in an orange glow from the dipping sun. Or, as Norvmbega probably intended it, an imagined moonscape. Terraformed domes bristle with bright green plants, houses huddled together, the bustle of unnamed plazas, restaurants with viewing decks of inky space, and in the distance the blue-green marble of Earth.

Comprising the duo of Jono Hill and Jon Hansen, Norvmbega create ambient music using a collage of physical instrumentation and synthetic sounds. A bow scrapes softly against the strings of a violin, creating organic tracts of breathy bundles; pops of pizzicato like droplets pace with purpose throughout the meandering sheen. Just enough harshness tugs at the edges, just enough imperfection and uneasy atonality, balancing 'Moonland' between a semblance of reality and a far-flung fever dream.



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Friday 8 September 2023

THE PINK FROSTS — A SMILE AWAY

⌾ LISTEN TO A SMILE AWAY BY THE PINK FROSTS ⌾


Gripping. Captivating. This gorgeous number will grab you, albeit gently, and whirl you around in a jolly dance, various aspects of your life whizzing in watercolour, leaving you in soft focus with a handful of flowers and a heaful of fondness. That is at least the general vibe emanating from 'A Smile Away', an affirmation of a song by Wellington-based New Zealanders, The Pink Frosts.

Optimism brims from the beginning, a propulsive and purposeful stride on the drums (Peter Molteno), the bass (Neale Willis) stepping carefully, softly upwards, the backdrop to a simple sun-glint of a guitar melody (Oliver Gaskell) and dreamy synth (Hedley Dew), married in musical harmony like a dawn chorus played out in post-punk. Things get distinctly more noisy with crashing cymbals and tumbling snares and swooshing guitar distortion, a welcome dynamic, joy bursting in sonic form.

It's on this alternating backdrop that Dew pours out his earnest baritone vocals, a kind of cross between Ian Curtis and Jack Steadman (Bombay Bicycle Club), conjuring tableaux so bundled with emotion yet honest and low-key they bring pre-tears heat to the eyes. I mean, "Wake up one morning with a smile on / You slept well and you don't feel worn / Breakfast of choice and the coffee's warm / The high couldn't be more lovely"? This song couldn't be more lovely.


  • 🔔 This wonderful piece of new music from The Pink Forsts is the first single taken from their upcoming Unremarkable Product EP. The self-released set trio of songs is scheduled to be available from 29th September.

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Thursday 7 September 2023

MARY LATTIMORE — HORSES, GLOSSY ON THE HILL

⌾ LISTEN TO HORSES, GHOSTLY ON THE HILL BY MARY LATTIMORE ⌾


What a piece of scene-setting, no, scene-conjuring music. Ostensibly and most lazily labelled "harp music", this new song from LA-based harpist Mary Lattimore takes the harp to dizzying new heights, escaping the confines of earthly planes to float and jostle among unnameable ethers in fury of string bending and hefty effects experimentation.

With its emotive title, 'Horses, Glossy on the Hill' stamps into being an equine freedom, acheiving this majesty with shining strings, a procession of tumbling percussive sounds like so many disembodied hooves. Wild flutters of the harp jump and play, buck and canter; even a slice of chiptune finds its way in there, glowing with retro warmth, an animal cosiness emanating from it.

Its final third is characterised by such heavenly sweeps of the harp, mingling with those same sounds but in reverse like otherworldly birds. It's a soundscape like no other, speckled and beglittered with pinprick minutiae on the highest registers of the harp, with dark rumbles of synth eliciting mystery behind the playfulness as the scene fades. The horses, galloping off, disappear from view.


  • 🔔 'Horses, Glossy on the Hill' is taken from the new Mary Lattimore album, Goodbye, Hotel Arkada. It's releasing 6th October via Ghostly; pre-order it on Bandcamp, if you like.

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STATIKA — SILENTLY RUNNING

⌾ LISTEN TO SILENTLY RUNNING BY STATIKA ⌾

This track, says its creator (the Sweden-based producer, statika), was inspired by late night walks. You can tell. There's the sense that the world is both ending and full of potential all at once in 'silently running', a stretched-out looming feel that has you caught in the air, outside looking in, the cool night wrapped around you. The textures throughout, gleaming as they are gritty, call to mind glowing streetlights and the distant weighted gravel hum of sporadic city traffic.

"I used to make ambient pieces by slowing down tapes with cassette records, but I no longer have them with me," says statika, "so I attempted to replicate the process with a computer." The result sounds analogue enough, right down to the white noise that bookends track's distorted plumes of sound. We have a piece of ambient music here that brims with as much nocturnal atmosphere as it does summon the nostalgia-tinged sonic aesthetics of vaporwave, encapsulating a stopped-in-time emotion of an early-hours walk.


  • 🔔 Listen to more moody ambient music from statika over on their SoundCloud.

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Tuesday 5 September 2023

FOREST SWORDS — THE LOW

⌾ LISTEN TO THE LOW BY FOREST SWORDS ⌾


'The Low' cuts a mysterious figure. From the outset it's a cavalcade of metallophonic glonking, bone-rattling clacks, rusted but razor sharp hi-hat sheafings and thumping distorted tambor booms to keep time. A druidic ritual crossed with a downtempo warehouse number, this altered beast of trip hop crouches loaded with potential to pounce at any moment.

Vocals rise up, plucked from the air and woven throughout the bristling beats like a sea breeze blowing through craggy sea stacks and yawning arches. But in a triumph of dynamism, rather than trail off like a will-o'-the-wisp the phantom noise is cut short, suddenly revealing once more the silence and scratch of the song. (In fact, the whole thing is truncated, snipped at the end into a full-stop).

Add to this a skirling, distorted call of distorted brass proportions — how you might imagine a carnyx to sound — and there is urgency here, but a fogged ancient urgency, like a message from the actual earth, but summoned in a Liverpool warehouse by Forest Swords.


  • 🔔 It's official: there's a new Forest Swords album coming out. It's called Bolted and it's arriving 20th October via Ninja Tune; you can pre-order it on Bandcamp now digitally, on vinyl, CD and cassette. 'The Low' follows previous single 'Butterfly Effect', also taken from the upcoming album.

    Forest Swords (aka Matthew Barnes) explains that it's "based on a beat I’d originally intended for Yoko Ono." It's an important track, too, and "features elements I made both at the start and end of the album," he says, "so ties together a lot of the sounds and emotions I was exploring during the writing process."


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LOUISE SHRØDER — UNG KVINDE

⌾ LISTEN TO UNG KVINDE BY LOUISE SHRØDER ⌾


The repeating rhythmic sway of the piano in 'Ung Kvinde' (Danish for "young woman") is one thing, but after a few turns of this arpeggio comes one crashing chord, ushering us into the world of Louise Shrøder. Charged with this swaying motif throughout, like cyclical thoughts unravelling, the to-and-fro of daily tasks, morning feelings, nightly reflections, 'Ung Kvinde' contrastingly flutters with a sense of freedom. But freedom in itself, its achievement and maintainence, is a flighty burden.

Written by the Danish composer to reflect "the development from a young girl to a young woman", the song feels close, intimate, with samples and ambient fragments making up the soundscape alongside the strains of cello, which ebb and flow like waves of vague memory. By the song's close, all that's left are picked pizzicato strings, playfully extolling the lightness of life. Joyous but anchored in reality, 'Ung Kvinde' is a song that soars up to see how far you've come since yesterday.


  • 🔔 'Ung Kvinde' is part of Louise Shrøder's Flyv EP (her second), set for release in the near future via Copenhagen-based neoclassical record label, ExoPAC.

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Monday 4 September 2023

JONSJOOEL — PIANO

⌾ LISTEN TO PIANO BY JONSJOEEL ⌾


Warped by dust and wrapped in nostalgia, 'Piano' by Berlin-based Finnish artist Jonsjoeel is not exactly a lullaby. The titular piano may be playing something resembling a lullaby, like something you'd hear plink and plonk its way out of an antique music box, but it is inextricably sad. And, like a music box melody, the mechanism slows and the playing gradually peters out.

Alongside the cold, almost harsh piano, strains of vocal leap out of the spirit-tinged keyboard, a muted skirling like the croon of one both in pain and self-soothing all at once. It crackles, it fuzzes, it crunches and crawls itself on the air, bearing the hallmarks of heartfelt lo-fi music with cold experimentalism crashing within. Ultimately 'Piano' is emotive and intellectual, soulful and mechanical, a tone poem that charts what it might feel like for a skeptic to see a ghost.


  • 🔔 'Piano' is taken from Jonsjooel's upcoming new album Lullabies for Younger Self, scheduled for release 22nd September via Kieku Records.

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OLIVIA BELLI — VALADIER


⌾ LISTEN TO VALADIER BY OLIVIA BELLI ⌾


Speaking about her new track 'Valadier', composer and pianist Olivia Belli states that she was "inspired by the homonymous temple in Genga: a place of pilgrimage where many seek silence, introspection and spiritual growth." That's the town Genga, in Marche, Italy, not the Pokemon Gengar. That said, it seems there's a spiritual, ghost-adjacent energy to Genga: "It is the place where I go to train myself to see what is real but invisible," Belli adds.

Hailing from Mantova, aka Mantua, home of ancient Roman poet Virgil (if you know, you know, right?), Belli has moved from the ambient intricacies of her earlier releases (2018's Other Lines EP, for example). The Belli of today looks back, waving, atop her most recent masterful work. It arrives accompanied by a video of Belli herself wandering the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Infra Saxa, hidden in a karst cave system since 1029 (the octagonal temple, crafted from travertine, was finished in 1827).

In 'Valadier' her piano brims with kinetic potential, as if the galloping flurry of notes could send it to the skies at any moment. Rhythm and melody intertwine throuhgout, the one being the other and vice versa, allowing for this sense of movement in the mind, a wondering at history and primordial rocks and the centuries of people who have come before. Warm yet razor sharp, with strings providing additional colour and texture, 'Valadier' is a dynamic and powerful illustration of introspection.


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  • 🔔 'Valadier' is the first single taken from Olivia Belli's forthcoming album, Intermundia, scheduled for release 23rd February, 2024, via XXIM Records.
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Friday 1 September 2023

RUUD VOESTEN — THE CRYPTO SHUFFLE

⌾ LISTEN TO THE CRYPTO SHUFFLE BY RUUD VOESTEN ⌾


The meandering noir jazz morsel that is 'The Crypto Shuffle' toes a balance between groove and chaos, organised structures and freeform forays into the abyss. Though it's kind of the saxophones that steal the show here, fluttering and squealing and smooth caramel all at once, the track comes from the the mind of drummer amd band leader Ruud Voesten, who says it's "about the capital sin of greed".

Ultimately it follows a concept of setting Dante's Inferno to music, this being the portion occupied by greedy people "who constantly bicker" with each other, as exemplified by rapid-fire frustrated feeling in the duelling saxophones, played by Mo van der Does (alto) and Wietse Voermans (tenor).

To lead his third single through this capitalistic subject matter, Voesten channels his stream of percussion, a successive fluid parade of ghostly liquid knocks and taps that tumble alongside a satisfying buzz and twang of bass. Ultimately, like I said, saxophone rules 'The Crypto Shuffle', being given ample space to wander, but perhaps that's a reflection of the "greed" that inspired the track - more, more, more - and it's a banger beacuse of it.


  • 🔔 'The Crypto Shuffle' is taken from a forthcoming Dante-inspired album. It's set for release later this month on Nethelands indie jazz label ZenneZ Records.

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