Records Archive

TaughtMe – “Am I Old?”

TaughtMe’s new album, “Am I Old?”, has been carefully crafted for 5 years by Blake Henderson, a San Francisco-based singer-songwriter and producer, and turns out as his most introspective to date.

TaughtMe had already released 3 full-length albums over the past decade, as well as a split EP with Uzi & Ari. His work is characterized by a raw human-ness and dramatic urgency. Henderson is also a producer, working out of his studio in the Bay area, California.

The new album “Am I Old?” is TaughtMe’s first since 2008’s “Lady” on Own Records, which received laudatory comparisons to Talk Talk, David Sylvian, Will Oldham, Björk, or Sigur Rós in Les Inrockuptibles, Trebleine, Textura, Neon Vegan, Autres Directions“Am I Old?” is self-released and available on all digital platforms (Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer…) since August 31.

Recommended if you like: Low, Antony & the Johnsons, Mount Eerie

Stream the whole album on Bandcamp:

“I didn’t intend to build a collection of brooding monologues. I had even planned to avoid first-person pronouns altogether, imagining instead sonorous landscapes that flirt mindlessly beyond the ego. So I was quite troubled when “Am I Old?” and “The Kids” arrived: clearly human, undeniably egocentric. But they felt right! Gradually, as other tunes surfaced, I accepted that I was composing soliloquies and chose to own the fact rather than temper it. I then named the collection “Am I Old?” and decided to decorate the album with a single person toppling over. “Am I Old?” is my rawest album and my best try so far to get real deep.” – Blake Henderson

We hope you’ll enjoy the inner voyage!

TaughtMe / Facebook / Twitter

A couple highlights from the album:

Into The Thicket by TaughtMe

The Truth (Really?) Every Time by TaughtMe

VIDEOS:

TaughtMe – “Well Maybe“ music video http://youtu.be/bmgln-Rm9h0 or http://vimeo.com/72627073

TaughtMe – “Really That Cute“ live at the record release party on a mountain over the Pacific Ocean http://youtu.be/8LU1iowOAJk

“Am I Old?” has been featured around the web on:

A L’Ecoute (FR)

The Bay Bridged (USA)

Cast The Dice (UK)

East Bay Express (USA)

Et Ca Critique ! (FR)

I Am Not A Musician (USA)

Das Klienicum (DE)

Leonard’s Lair (UK)

Music Won’t Save You (IT)

La Musique à Papa (FR)

Punkryden (FR)

Side One Track One (USA)

Son of Marketing (IT): Album review and September mixtape

Vacarm (FR)

Your Own Radio (FR)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FEATURE OR BROADCAST THIS ALBUM, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH: CAPTN(AT)GOODMORNINCAPTN.COM

Will Stratton cover album & NYC benefit show

Will StrattonAs you may know, American folk singer-songwriter Will Stratton is recovering from a battle against stage III cancer, which was diagnosed last September at just 25. As he willfully arranges the songs of his 5th album in the Seattle area, his friends of Beat Radio have put together a benefit album available since June 11 on Bandcamp. All proceeds go directly to Will to help him cover his medical bills, hoping he will soon be fit enough to hit American and European roads again.
If You Wait Long Enough: Songs Of Will Stratton” offers new interpretations of Will’s beautiful songs by various American artists (and one by French artist Thibault Rivrain), as well as a live version by Will himself of his own “For Franny Glass” (from his second album “No Wonder“).

Buy the compilation now at http://willstrattonbenefit.bandcamp.com

1. Matthew Carefully & the Memorial Concern – “Who Will” (No Wonder)
2. Wilder Maker – “The War is Over” (New Vanguard Blues)
3. Beat Radio – “You Divers” (Post-Empire)
4. Kid in the Attic – “Do You Remember the Morning” (New Vanguard Blues)
5. NY Lights – “If You Wait Long Enough” (Post-Empire)
6. Sam Moss & The Ineligible Bachelors – “The Relatively Fair” (Post-Empire)
7. Zachary Cale – “Bluebells” (New Vanguard Blues)
8. David Garland – “Vile Bodies” (Vile Bodies EP)
9. Alexandra Drewchin and Aaron Roche – “Post Empire” (Post-Empire)
10. Trevor Wilson – “Colt New Marine” (Post-Empire)
11. Jesse Rifkin – “Katydid” (What The Night Said)
12. Thibault Rivrain – “Honey Diamond” (Post-Empire)
13. Will Stratton – “For Franny Glass” (live on WNYC’s Spinning on Air) (No Wonder)

A benefit show also takes place in SPIN New York on August 23, with a few bands who have contributed to the album: Beat Radio, Kid In The Attic, Aaron Roche, Jesse Rifkin, Trevor Wilson, and a very special guest: Will Stratton! Check the Facebook event, and buy advance tickets. 100% of ticket sales go to help fund Will’s treatment.

Read a great feature on The Bluegrass Situation: Will Stratton vs. Cancer: How the Guitarist Won His Battle With Death, and Turned Toward Positivity.

If You Wailt Long Enough – Songs Of Will Stratton has been featured around the web on:

A Lécoute (FR)

All Around Sound (US)

Bolachas (PT)

Choir Croak Out Them Goodies (US)

Cover Lay Down (US)

Dans le Mur du Son (FR)

Das Klienicum (DE)

Dying For Bad Music (DE)

Et ça critique! (FR)

Folk Radio (UK)

Fractale Blog (FR)

Hi-Five For Lo-Fi (UK)

Impose (US)

In Your Speakers (US)

Indie For Bunnies (IT)

Infectious (US)

Liability Webzine (FR)

Pinkushion (FR)

Pop News (FR)

Slowcoustic (CA)

The Monument (US)

Those Who Dig (US)

Wake The Deaf (UK)

Radio Airplay:

WEXT Exit 97.7 (NY, USA)

WNYC Spinning On Air (NY, USA) in the June 23 playlist.

WFMU’s Irene Trudel (NJ, USA) : “Who Will” covered by Matthew Carefully & the Memorial Concern in the June 10 playlist, and “Do You Remember The Morning?” covered by Kids In The Attic in the July 1st playlist.

WFMU’s Shrunken Planet with Jeffrey Davison (NJ, USA) : “Bluebells” covered by Zachary Cale in the July 27 playlist, and “The Relatively Fair” covered by Sam Moss & The Ineligible Bachelors in the August 3rd playlist.

Aligre FM, Planet Claire (Paris, FR): “Vile Bodies” covered by David Garland and “Honey Diamond” covered by Thibault Rivrain in the June 26 playlist.

We strongly recommend you to dig into Will Stratton’s discography on Bandcamp. His 2012 album “Post-Empire” is available through Talitres for mainland Europe (CD/LP/digital), and digitally from Big Oil for Scandinavia and UK.

FOR ANY ADDITIONAL INFO ON THE COMPILATION, OR IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FEATURE OR BROADCAST IT, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH: CAPTN(AT)GOODMORNINCAPTN.COM

Allysen Callery – Mumblin’ Sue

American folk singer-songwriter Allysen Callery is unveiling a new music video for Lily Of The Valley, as the first extract from her fifth release, Mumblin’ Sue.

Counting Marissa Nadler among her greatest admirers, Allysen Callery is regularly featured on Fluid Radio, Folk Radio UK and WFMU’s Shrunken Planet. Callery is a self-taught acoustic folk artist from Rhode Island, USA. Growing up in New England, she was heavily influenced by her parents’ collection of British folk revival records of the late 60′s early 70′s. With her finger-picked steel-stringed guitar, she is a keen storyteller, her intimate and stripped-down yet haunting songs placing her as a gem in the new folk scene. A gem which one would like to keep for oneself, but which should hopefully not remain hidden for long!

Mumbin Sue is out since June 15 on 75 or Less Records (CD), and allysencallery.bandcamp.com (digital).
It will be released on vinyl on September 9 on German label Jellyfant.

WATCH ALLYSEN CALLERY’S LILY OF THE VALLEY
Directed by Brett Davey, with Ava Callery, Christian Haler, Timothy Davey & Sakari.
Lily of the Valley tells of the courage and self determination sometimes required to walk away from a relationship. It questions the value of materialism against the love of nature and human interactions.

Lily of the Valley music video from brett davey on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/68974089

LISTEN TO ALLYSEN CALLERY’S MUMBLIN’ SUE

Recommended if you like: Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Meg Baird, Josephine Foster, Kristen Hersh, Marissa Nadler, Jessica Pratt

http://allysencallery.bandcamp.com/album/mumblin-sue

Allysen Calery Mumblin’ Sue cover art by William Schaff (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Okkervil River, Songs: Ohia)

LINKS
Allysen Callery
Allysen Callery’s Facebook
Allysen Callery’s Bandcamp
Allysen Callery’s Twitter

PRESS CLIPS
Allysen Callery’s Mumblin’ Sue and Lily of the Valley have been featured on:

AltCountry Forum (NL)

Beats Per Minute (USA)

Das Klienicum (DE)

Folk Radio UK: video and album review (UK)

Folkadelphia on WXPN (USA): session and playlist

For Folk’s Sake (UK)

Gaesteliste (DE)

GoLocalProv (US)

The Man of Rennes (FR)

Music Won’t Save You (IT)

No Depression (USA)

NPR Music’s All Songs Considered (USA)

Ondarock (IT)

Paste Magazine (USA)

The Providence Phoenix (USA)

Red Line Roots (USA)

Rockerilla (IT)

Rolling Stone (DE)

Rootstime (BE)

Shrunken Planet with Jeffrey Davison on WFMU (USA): playlist and session

Sideways Through Sound (AUS)

Son Of Marketing (IT)

Terrascope (UK)

TwentyFourBit (USA)

The Washington Post (USA)

With Music In My Mind (FR)

Thus:Owls – The Queen Of Fragile Hearts

Thus:Owls - Cardiac MalformationsFirst drama-loaded album from Swedish quintet Thus:Owls, Cardiac Malformations is a masterly directed, dark and poignant, sad yet heart-warming pop record.

The velvet curtain slowly unfolds. Still in a vast desertic plain stands the dark tent of a macabre circus. Swedish ringmistress Erika Alexandersson has convoked her gifted troupe, while the demons of Danny Elfman and Sufjan Stevens glide and twirl in the distance. The bluesy guitar of Erika’s sweetheart Simon Angell (from Patrick Watson’s excellent Wooden Arms) fades in winds and woods. Grief is heavily palpable, though we ignore whom or what is mourned. “I’m so very far from home”. Where’s home anyway? Montreal? Stockholm? Asgard? Dragging drum rolls, choral laments. Even when colors get brighter, the tone remains grave. Hearts burn with love.

Listen to “Climbing The Fjelds Of Norway“:

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Sometimes” hands clap, moods swing. Erika ushers, playfully squeaks, heartily screams. She’s a child again. “Sometimes I find myself shrunk half my size, screaming things I never meant to.” As she grows up again, she kindly proposes: “leave your head in my knee, leave your thoughts in my knee, and let your shoulders rest from the weight.” Isn’t she lovely? Sweet lullaby. Gling Gló?

Halfway through the experience, a strong, straightforward piece: “When She Arrived”. Who’s “she” anyway? Woman, child, seducing, caring, feeling, acting and telling stories, sneaking away just when you think you could catch her. While it’s more than easy to be charmed by the frontwoman’s great vocals, Thus:Owls really is all about the symbiosis of its 5 accomplished musicians. Erika’s choirs are just one of the fine ingredients at play, just as is the pulsing double bass of Martin Höper or the piano of Cecilia Persson. Backed by the low percussions of Ola Hultgren, the whole slowly build up to a brass momentum.

While electricity has been unleashed on “Let Your Blood Run”, tormented spirits are eventually eased by a gentle xylophone that nicely weaves an enthralling pattern with the bass drums and a bowed double bass. “A Volcano In My Chest” (Cardiac Malformation?)– Where the worlds of Sidsel Endresen, Björk and Heliogabale collide. Beware of the ashes! Thus:Owls obviously have a stunning ability to swing from sweet jazz ballads to pinches of harsh noise to cabaret in no time. And to elevate themselves again into pathos-loaded fields again. “Once you left this land, you arose to the gods.” Final scene – The wind loudly whispers, caresses the waves and vanishes in “The Atlantic”. The curtain slowly falls, exorcised demons have gone back to Muspelheim, you can lay your head back on my knees and rest in peace.

Buy Cardiac Malformations from Almost Music (Digital) or from your usual record store.

Woman On Fire: “The Calcination Of Scout Niblett”

After almost ten years of career and four full-length albums, British-born singer-songwriter Emma Louise Niblett paired up with Steve Albini once again to record some of her darkest and most straightforward tracks, thus radically parting with the folk tag that caracterized her early works.

The Calcination Of Scout NiblettWith Scout Niblett’s newest album, pressing play feels much like stumbling upon PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me and 4-Tracks Demos some 16 years ago. “Just Do It” slithers in like a slow and heavy wave of raw energy. Unrefined arrangements, unpolished voice, and heavily saturated guitar. No drums, like on most of the album, but hell this is rock’n'roll. The title track continues in the same direction. Greasy and rusty, bowels and lead, dust and saliva, this is the lady’s “self-made sweat box / This is where (she) takes it all off”. “Cherry Cheek Bomb”’s Hallelujah will make your hair stand on your head before providing the opus’ most advanced drum part. Grunge roots obviously, but a distinctive attitude, a grain that cannot be heard or felt anywhere else.

Listen to “The Calcination Of Scout Niblett”

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From “Kings”‘ throbbing rhythm to “Lucy Lucifer”’s mind-numbing linearity, from the disenchanted lyrics of “Ripe With Life”, to the deafening immensity of “Strip Pluto”, each track will cut you a little more from your civilized self and lay another layer of plastic wrap between your fishy eyes and the rest of the world. With its lo-blues feel and roaring guitar riffs, finale “Meet and Greet” is as heady and intoxicating as a dark nightly road movie. Think Lost Highway. Uncertain, deconstructed, and oppressive. “When you gonna learn to play that thing?” The answer is a shapeless guitar solo that ranges from soft indigo vibratos to flashes of purple sustained chaos. And then silence.

Introspective without being hermetic, direct without being exhibitionist, The Calcination Of Scout Niblett is as obsessive and addictive as it is disarmingly unelaborated. Nothing is forced out and nothing is changed, even though her previous releases may have sounded lighter, if not naiver. Howling and strumming with the heated and apathetic sweet-fuck-it-allness and looks of a rebel teen, Niblett simply delivers her strongest album so far.

Buy The Calcination Of Scout Niblett from Drag City.

Scout around for Scout on tour through Europe:

May 9, 2010 in Brussels (Botanique)
May 10, 2010 in Amsterdam (Bitterzote)
May 11, 2010 in Schorndorf (Manufaktur)
May 12, 2010 in Gent (Vooruit)
May 14, 2010 in Frankfurt (Yellowstage)
May 15, 2010 in Bremen (Spedition)
May 16, 2010 in Aachen (AZ)
May 17, 2010 in Cologne (Subway)
May 19, 2010 in Oslo (Cafe Mono)
May 20, 2010 in Stockholm (Hornstrull Strand)
May 21, 2010 in Malmo (Debaser)
May 22, 2010 in Berlin (Hebbel Am Ufer)
May 23, 2010 in Munich (59t01)
May 24, 2010 in Vienna (Arena)
May 26, 2010 in Lucerne (Suedpol)
May 28, 2010 in Barcelona (Primavera Sound Festival)
May 29, 2010 in Averio (Teatro Aveirense)
May 31, 2010 in London (Borderline)
Jun 1, 2010 in Glasgow (Stereo)
Jun 2, 2010 in Manchester (Ruby Lounge)
Jun 3, 2010 in Nottingham (Spanky Van Dykes)
Jun 4, 2010 in Bristol (The Fleece)
Jun 5, 2010 in Brighton (The Freebutt)
Jun 7, 2010 in Paris (Point Ephémère)
Jun 8, 2010 in Dijon (La Nef, cour intérieure)

Dec 3, 2010 at the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas curated by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR (feat. Neurosis, the Ex, Tim Hecker, Marissa Nadler…)

Picastro’s Well Kept Secrets

With the release of Become Secret on Canadian label Polyvinyl (Monotreme in Europe), Toronto-originated band Picastro deliver their fourth album of avant-folk. Drawing inspiration from Cormac McCarthy The Road, they manage to turn the throbbing, obsessive cry of memory into a strikingly lively gallery of unravelled secrets.

picastro-become-secret-300pxA few notes on an ill-tuned piano, distant and bleak like a ghost, leads you into Picastro’s secrecy. “Twilight Parting”, a phrase repeated over and over still conveys an impression of instability: a chain whose link are constantly about to break. Liz Hysen’s voice may at first sound blank, atonal, colorless. Yet, with tracks like “Split Heads”, it soon declines every possible shades of whites, with glints of icy blues, faded yellows, and opalescent flesh, reminding at times of early Chan Marshall or Lisa Germano. A vivid humanity immersed in a world of decaying memories. The voice maintains a dialogue of Glissandos and approximate tones with Nick Storring’s cello, often reaching the frontier of sinister. Dusty strings and keyboards circle into a macabre waltz with “A Dune A Doom”.

The specter of Eastern European folk music is a relevant influence in the light of their discography. On the other hand, drawing inspiration from Cormac McCarthy’s bestseller The Road may seem an opportunist choice for an indie band. But with little technique, a taste for minimalist arrangements and arpeggios played on a loop, Picastro illustrate their gift for creating intricate atmospheres. They translate the despairing, almost stifling feeling of loneliness of the novel, accurately – though not literally – depicting the overwhelming mist of smoke and ash that cover, isolate, and humiliate all.

Centered around singer and multi-instrumentalist Hysen, the Toronto band was founded 13 years ago and started recording in 2002. Although they have encountered definite critical success, collaborated with various artists, including Owen Pallett, and toured alongside Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Cat Power, or Elliott Smith since then, their fourth album still finds them almost unknown, even to the indie-aficionados.

Listen to “Twilight Parting”

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Indeed it is not the most welcoming music. It verges on gothic folk with tracks like “I Know My Time”, while Storring’s untidy bows come out with palpable textures: rosin powder floating in the half-light and wood, lots of wood. Oil varnished wood, creaking wood floor and doors, patinated banister. A whole house – not so distant neighbor to Black Forest/Black Sea’s or Elfin Saddle’s – made out of the woods of cellos, violins, guitars and piano, assembled with the rusty strings and metal parts of a scarce electric guitar. A labyrinth clutter. A story is told in every room: that of a haunting past, that of renunciation with the lo-fi incantations of “Suttee”, stories of witchcraft with the vocal chaos of “A Neck In The Desert”. Cello and binary guitar pattern back up Liz’s voice on “The Stiff”. According to Hysen, this last track synchs up seamlessly with the final scene of Antonioni’s The Passenger. Let us know if you try, but regardless of the anecdote, there is in “The Stiff” a sense of timelessness, of fulfillment and soothing melancholy that clearly surpasses its stark instrumentation, and that is enough to make you press play again as soon as the 29 minutes – only?! – LP is over.

Behind the mist of smoke and ashes, each song in Become Secret brings their ghosts back to the flesh, and the forlorn rooms eventually perspire with intimacy. A vivid humanity that makes every painful note worth lending an ear.

Buy become secret on Bommkat

GoodMorninCaptn parlour gig: Thomas Mery passe au salon

CLOSING THE WINTER ON A HIGH NOTE, GOODMORNINCAPTN HOSTED A GIG “AU SALON” LAST SUNDAY. FOR OUR FIRST EVER LIVING-ROOM SESSION, WE HAD THE GREAT PLEASURE AND HONOR TO INVITE THOMAS MERY IN AN OLD MONTMARTRE BOUTIQUE TURNED INTO AN APARTMENT, AND – ON THIS SPECIAL OCCASION – TURNED INTO AN INTIMATE CONCERT VENUE. THIS IS NO SECRET THAT WE HAVE BEEN STRONG SUPPORTERS OF THOMAS FOR YEARS, FROM BOTH HIS ALBUMS WITH PURR TO HIS LATEST SOLO MUSICAL WANDERINGS (SEE OUR 2005 INTERVIEW HERE), AND MR MERY REWARDED US WITH A DELIGHTFUL OVERVIEW OF HIS SOLO WORK FROM A SHIP, LIKE A GHOST, LIKE A CELL TO HIS LATEST EP DES LARMES MÉLANGÉES DE POUSSIÈRE, AS WELL AS COVERS AND A COUPLE OF UNRELEASED SONGS.

ThomasMeryPasseAuSalon

Paris, Sunday March 14 – A quiet cul-de-sac on the south side of Montmartre staged the first GoodMorninCaptn parlour session, simply entitled « Au Salon ». Behind the blurred window glass of a reconverted boutique, furniture was moved and a buffet table set. The happy few guests were welcomed into the cozy apartment with their contributions of cakes and drinks, and soon ushered onto sofas and cushions for the first set.

Mr Mery and his faithful Guild guitar quietly seated on a white wooden chair, set against a bare background of beige and off-white. But within a few guitar chords, his palette filled the room, and with his first words, the audience was mesmerized.

Starting with songs from his 2006 solo debut, A Ship, Like A Ghost, Like A Cell, he let the sense of intimacy underlying his work fully bloom into the ears of the selected group. Yet he interpreted tracks such as “Real Shift” or “The Red of The Shoes” with unsettling propriety, uncomfortably twisting his legs and modestly bending over his guitar.

Newer tracks from his EP Des Larmes Mélangées De Poussière included “Aux Fenêtres Immenses”, in which Thomas allows himself more freedom than ever, trying out more melodious lines, shifting languages and directions through more than 11 epic, magnificent minutes.

Thomas Mery Passe Au Salon – “Aux Fenêtres Immenses”

ThomasMery-DesLarmesMelangeesDePoussiere

The three tracks on the EP, fully illustrate his progress in the past few years. Technically to begin with. Thomas is turning to French again on two of them and handles his mother tongue with impressionist skills that are quite unique on the scene. Evocative and mysterious, literate yet unpretentious, his lyrics still vehicle the same melancholy, the same sadness. Nevertheless, the almost stifling emergency that sometimes characterized his past work is slowly giving way to maturity. Where you could hear “live and ache” you may now understand “live and learn”. His guitar playing seems to have followed quite the same direction. Still deeply rooted into folk, and yet of unquestionable modernity. Patiently destructured and reconstructed, his guitar lines fade and morph unpredictably and seamlessly. Instrumental storytelling. Patterns overlay like veils, and echo each other like the surfaces of some imaginary landscape. Shades of nude with sparks of ice-blue fading into the deep greens of the undergrowth contrasted with the red of blood.

Two yet untitled tracks following the same path should be released later this year. Fully written in French, they convey the same cinematic elegance, the same know-how in song-writing. The same but different: the richness of nuances, the colors, the sceneries. Different. Need we say we are looking forward to the next full length?

Thomas Mery Passe Au Salon – De l’amour, de la colère

While many singers feel the need to go lower down the scale as they advance in their career, Thomas is finding more comfort for his voice in pushing his guitar capo to the higher frets.  His brilliant interpretation of Costello’s “Shipbuilding” best demonstrated his mastery of the heights. His vocals fluently curved around the living room and entangled with his traditional folk arrangements. Other covers included his disarming rendering of Paulinho Da Viola’s, fetured on Des Larmes Mélangées De Poussières, and his now classic “Running Up That Hill”, which retains all the tension and high energy of Miss Kate Bush’s original, while remarkably stripping it down to minimalism.

As the concert ended, records were frantically purchased, and wine, beer, and vegan canapés (and cigarettes) were cheerfully shared. The opportunity for initiates and newcomers alike to approach his work from another angle, and discover that the shy, talented – and often sad – man on stage is also a kind and funny man on the sofa. Quite expectedly, Miao Miao the house cat stole Mr Mery’s thunder for the rest of the evening. The story does not say if she was hired to play for the next parlour gig, and if she would be able to hypnotize her audience for more than an hour like Thomas did, so… stay tuned.

Read more about Thomas Mery.

Purchase Des Larmes Mélangées De Poussière here.

Read our 2005 interview here.

The Story Of Nest Shall be Told On A Loop

Nest - Retold (Serein)With Retold, British-Norwegian duo Huw Roberts and Otto Totland become experts in monochrome impressionism and gift 2010 and the Serein label with a solid debut.

Minimalism is the first word to come. From the faded bluish seashore cover picture of the white digipack to the singsong piano lines of introduction title “Lodge”, layered with digital pads and sampled breath, the impression is almost that of coldness and sadness. “Four notes into Kyoto”, and the richness in arrangements and crystal clear mixes bloom in all directions through the stark instrumentation. Plucked strings, a few electro treats, and field recordings shape out an intricate three-dimensional web. Or rather a lace, infinitely delicate and fragile. Piano again on “Marefjellet”, bass notes pounding like a clock, waves of white noise washing in and out. There is know-how in evoking a fully structured yet entirely fantastic soundscape. “Charlotte” fuzzy intro sets the bed for a haunting melody. A couple of notes only, skilfully enveloped, surrounded, underlied, take on the breathtaking radiance of a cloudless midsummer day.

Listen to Charlotte”

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It is not accidental if one is reminded of the sound of Miasmah Records here. Otto Totland and Huw Roberts both earned their stripes working there. Totland even partnered with present head of the imprint, Erik Skodvin, as duo Deaf Center (Type records). Roberts, on the other hand, is also founder of Serein records. Formerly devoted to free dowloads, Serein was rebuilt and revamped in 2009, turning to commercial CD releases, primarily to distribute Nest. A risky choice maybe. But a blessing for our ears and CD collections.

The duo’s unquestionable expertise in neo classical and dark ambient becomes more obvious with the fifth track. “Gad Goddeu” offers a more conventional atmosphere for the genre, but also introduces a broader, deeper sound. With a strictly specialised palette ranging from sound effects similar to Elegi’s Tommy Jansen on “Trans Siberian”, to the almost romantic, Max-Richter like piano phrase on “The Helwick”, the inherent variety never jeopardises the whole’s integrity and consistency. There is beauty, if not majesty, in “Far From Land” and “The Twelve”. Bowed strings, pads and sweeps build giant, monstrous, but quiet waves, only to be found in the high sea. Eroded mountains of water, rolling out to horizons, one after the other, endlessly, moving glints on the surface, fugitive shadows disappearing into the vertiginous depth.

Listen to “The Twelve”

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Eventually, the drones of “Amroth” will bring the listener back to the shore, slightly dazed, as if awakening from hypnosis. Indeed, very few records are able to depict such complex sceneries with that little colours. Every nuance in the spectrum is suddenly conveying a unique significance and the world could be painted in all possible shades of blue with as much richness as if resorting to the full colour range, but with another perspective.

Far from discrediting the label, the fact that its founder is involved in this first gem is making us look forward to the next one, and to the unravelling of the Serein vision.

Buy Retold on CD or Digital release on Serein Records

Ben Frost Grabs You “By The Throat”

Ben Frost By The ThroatAn Australian-born producer and founding member of the Icelandic label Bedroom Community along with Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurðsson, Ben Frost releases his 4th full length, “By The Throat”.

The follower to 2007’s “Theory of Machines” features performances by musicians as diverse as Amiina, The Arcade Fire’s drummer Jeremy Gara, Swedish grindcore band Crowpath, and label mate and hip composer Nico Muhly, losely disseminated through its 11 pieces. And the result is at least as surprising as those contributors themselves. With ambiences ranging from the abstract beats of Ryoji Ikeda to a gothic version of Murcof’s “Versailles Sessions”, the freezing soundscapes of Set Fire To Flames or a much richer, more cerebral turn on Fuck Buttons‘ noisy electronic drones, “By The Throat” synthetizes many seemingly incompatible genres in a dark modern chamber music, which stands on its own and is both challenging and emotionally powerful.

Ben Frost explores people’s deepest fears with this score to a heavily twisted mind. “By The Throat” is loaded with murderers (”Killshot”), wolves and vampires (”The Carpathians”), implores help of superior forces (”O God Protect Me”), but only receives intervention from Ghostbusters’ Peter Venkman (”Peter Venkman Pt. 1 & 2″, though the tracks themselves recel less humor than their title).

Choirs, concrete samples, bowed and scratched strings, piano, brass and hints of heavy guitars layer into this nightmarish soundtrack, as the danger comes closer, sneaking into your home (”Through The Glass Of The Roof”), into your own body (”Through The Roof Of Your Mouth”), perverting your view of the world (”Through The Mouth Of Your Eye”). As a matter of fact, you eventually cannot but surrender to Ben’s innovative music when it grabs you by the throat, surrounding you in an explosion of sound fractals, of which one can barely tell if they come from your own mind or from a frightening yet mesmerizing environment.

Bedroom Community’s WHALE WATCHING TOUR will feature the label’s complete band roster (Sam Amidon, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly, and Valgeir Sigurðsson); a great opportunity to catch those outstanding artists live if you’re close to one of the below European cities this November.

November 3, 2009: Centre Escorxador, Elche (Alicante), Spain, 9:30 PM, €5.
November 4, 2009: Museo MARCO de Vigo, Spain, 8:30 PM, €10.
November 5, 2009: Teatro Maria Matos, Lisbon, Portugal, 9:45 PM, €12.
November 6, 2009: La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain, 8 PM, €3.
November 8, 2009: AB, Brussels, Belgium, 4 PM, €12.
November 9, 2009: Effenaar, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 7:30 PM, €15.
November 10, 2009: UT Connewitz, Leipzig, Germany, 8 PM.
November 11, 2009: Stadtgarten Concerthall, Köln, Germany, 8 PM, €12-15.
November 12, 2009: Huset i Magstraede, Copenhagen, Denmark, 8 PM.

Fugues’ Unreleased Tracks 2009: A Skillfully Orchestrated Escape

A new compilation of Unreleased Tracks from Paris-based collective Fugues is out this Fall: a narrow-escape for these thirteen tracks.

fugues - unreleased tracks 2009

The third of a series of compilations, and available only by mail order from French label debruit&desilence, Fugues’ Unreleased Tracks 2009 will not go unnoticed among the Parisian and foreigner circles of indie ambient and post-rock, not only thanks the remarkable set of newly confirmed and emerging artists involved in this and the previous issues, but also because of founder Jerome Olivier past and present implications in the independent music scene. Whether many of his past and present acquaintances will take the step from simple recognition to actual mail order is a different matter… Such a release is unfortunately very likely to be overlooked by most of the participating artists’ audience. Yet, as its title indicates, this humble and discrete CD-R contains something that might be very dear to fans: unreleased tracks.

Life Without Dreams sets the exposition with “White Light”. For those who have already taken a peep – or immersed themselves – into Fugues’ aesthetic, the vivid opening guitar arpeggio pattern surprises with its almost Caribbean feel. But then comes the counterpoints, and the Singaporeans glossy pads and scarce floating vocal seamlessly layer into a more atmospheric direction. Though the most accessible and conventional track of the records, it does eventually unravel with the enthusiast tension of a movie’s opening theme, with the promising and overwhelming vastness of an unknown landscape.

The journey begins, and The Toy Library’s “Once the Dust Settles” resounds with a still and contemplative sadness, while Simon Scott’s drone developments offer a moment of rare and almost palpable darkness. We are undoubtedly being taken where we were expecting: away. Rothko, Rafael Anton Irisarri, and Lightsway sweep by in a dreamily succession of textures, though the latter’s usual naïve accents do not convince as much as the two formers’ mastery.

Millimetrik’s “Méduse” may quite sound like a U.F.O amongst such a collection – if not a faux pas. Nonetheless, and surprisingly enough, this middle entry of electro beat does not disrupt but actually achieves a surprisingly convincing articulation to Message to Bears’ almost romantic episode. Silencio’s “Again, Again” brings us back to darker shores with the haunting rhythm of a ticking clock and soon fades out to give way to two tracks of delicate and poignant beauty.

Peter Broderick & Nils Frahm and Goldmund’s cinematic pianos and strings alter and invigorate the scenes with every note. Painful and serene, heartbreaking and soothing, they skilfully bring color and tangibility to the old roll of film.

But it is almost the end, and July Skies’ guitar responds to that of Life Without Dreams, with the same self-contained density. Closing theme. The screen turns black and Last Days’ “Light” 3-notes pattern echoes in you for while. Has it really been an hour?

From the first hearing it is obvious that Unreleased Track 2009 is more than just a compilation. And it does not seem to serve the purpose of showcasing a “vision”. It is the work of a true passionate, a hermit in the city of light. Carefully and patiently collected and put together with commendable coherence, these 13 rarities take on the glimmers of gems. Extracted from the mundane contingences of the musical scene, illustrated by the unsettling words of the man himself, and by the enigmatic picture of photographer Julie Calbert, these orphaned tracks find space to bloom and grow on their audience.

A lucky audience, with only a 100 copies… And if the minimalist home-made packaging lets you think this is all not so serious, playing it through will convince you that Fugues’ vault may be as precious as its content.

Visit Fugues’ Myspace

Order Unreleased Tracks 2009 from debruit&desilence