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Tag: STAR’S END

Ombient: The Wings of Halphas

The Wings of Halphas

The Wings of Halphas

Ombient: The Wings of Halphas
Released: 19 September
www.ombient.com

Ombient has heard night eating the world, and converted this energy into sound. Taking the listener into null space the extraordinary Electronic Musician Mike Hunter observes an odd parade of angels and demons that check in and out of his nightmarish sonic space. Adding to a restless and vast body of work now comes The Wings of Halphas (59″00′). It will do us no good to leave a light on while this piece plays, because if timbre is thought of as the color of sound, then this album is black enough to absorb the light of any respectable listening area. Here the idiosyncrasies of Hunter’s gear are cleverly enlisted, so you are advised to ready your sub-woofers for the ensuing sound system workout. With crackling circuitry searing electronics, the conventional access points of rhythm, melody and harmony are closed off – as The Wings of Halphas presents an experience of sounds, tones and organization that will be completely unfamiliar to any audience. In Ombient’s uncontained void, distortion is a welcome character. With its ripping texture, and red zone saturation, it bestows a sense of surpassing limits – in service to this composition’s ever-present feeling of lost abandon. The fire of a rumbling furnace draws air in hissing discontent, to issue the leaden fumes of this grinding industry. Raw chords inhabit the cellar, cowering before the grinding oscillators and crumbling modulations occupying the upper air. Something more than drones and tones inhabit this seemingly unending track. Probing, bitter, sharp, emotionally charged, yet burning cool The Wings of Halphas expresses more than the surface reality of sound. It digs down below – because from out of the subterranean realm does come the inspiration for this kind of music. In Ombient’s demanding world dense auricular forms do frustrate our dreams of escape – so conjured by a particular, inquisitive mind. Like waking from darkness, into a dark time, we wonder if we will ever find our way out? But for all its devils and darkness, this realization came into being out of the simple pleasure of making music, of following where the creative process leads – in hopes of working the minds of both the player and the listener.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 September 2018

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Max Richter: The Blue Notebooks (2018)

The Blue Notebooks (2018)

The Blue Notebooks (2018)

Max Richter: The Blue Notebooks (2018)
Released: 11 May 2018
www.deutschegrammophon.com
www.maxrichtermusic.com

Max Richter‘s second album The Blue Notebooks (40’36”) was first heard on broadcasts of STAR’S END shortly after it was released in 2004. From the first listen it was felt that here was a work with enough cinematic scale to warrant a film of its own. Almost 15 years onward we find that music from this album has indeed been used to great effect in a number of television and movie releases. The composition On the Nature of Daylight may be found as part of soundtracks for Arrival, The Innocents, The Face of an Angel and Shutter Island. No less than four versions of this piece may be found on the Deutsche Grammophon two CD re-issue of The Blue Notebooks: the album version, an orchestral version, a slightly more textural entropy mix, and finally a version which ingeniously integrates Dinah Washington’s moving vocal from her 1959 song This Bitter Earth (which closes out the seven tracks found on this edition’s 30+ minute bonus disc). The Blue Notebooks also presents readings from Franz Kafka and Czeslaw Milosz by actor Tilda Swinton – interspersed amongst movements of delicate piano, booming pipe organ and weeping string ensemble, and often embedded within the sounds of a typewriter in use and environmental recordings. Visceral and dreamlike in its sonic power Richter’s work embodies a bold assertion of humanity, in a desolate, empty land that seeks forever to blot it out. In his enthusiasm for the forces that bind us together we hear an open heart. Effortlessly elegant, with a raw vulnerability The Blue Notebooks makes us believe in things we have long forgotten. We must hope to be worthy of the grace the composer of this work has received.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END13 September 2018

Steve Jansen: The Extinct Suite

The Extinct Suite

The Extinct Suite

Steve Jansen: The Extinct Suite
Released: 6 March 2017
www.stevejansen.com

We are attracted to people who will share something of themselves with us. Steve Jansen does so extraordinarily throughout The Extinct Suite (55’46”). Letting go of his need for fixed answers, Jansen seems to be living his way into this work – to become new to himself in ways that matter. His continuous, extensive, wordless structures are so beautifully rendered that Jansen easily pulls us over to his side. At times moving at a muted, measured pace, tones fight gravity – as music enters from a strange wayward place. Searching through the rubble of memory, a series of unresolved chords further advances a disconcerting state. As Jansen’s internal guidance directs this music through its moods and atmospheres, ensemble instruments sustain alongside synthesizers and samplers. Noticing a digital debris vignetting the drama of piano notes and building cinema strings, we find a bewitching quality of sonic stillness. Quiet sections settle as does the dust that hides the glow of a rose, while further in the bending of starlight holds ethereal voices in an upper realm. Smoky textures fill a formerly vacant spot, with an unbothered keyboard driving scales of notes above. Silvery flute lines breathe along a dulcet arc, countered later by metallic drones and a listless ambiance. As each theme, form and motif emerges, sustains and resolves, it should be understood that no matter how puzzling or diffuse, the only way for the audience to get through this realization is to give our selves over to it. Expertly rendered in a most fragile theater of time The Extinct Suite helps us become vulnerable to the beauty of existence. Jansen manages to bring the listener into his world – which is often a gorgeous realm. In a kind of cursive grace he travels down a number of mental musical corridors, never leaving anyone behind. Sound has always been a secondary consideration in music, yet throughout The Extinct Suite it is of primary concern. Lacking limits, this album is a continuous delight to the ear, and to the mind.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 6 September 2018

Alluste: Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds

Alluste: Alien Worlds
Released: 24 May 2018
alluste.bandcamp.com

Piero Monachello is a propulsive musicmaker, and knows well how to keep the listener engaged. As Alluste his sequencers fire like the neurological mechanisms behind the mind’s functioning, and help better align thought and mood toward a more positive current. His Alien Worlds (61’18”) may be based on the 1970s Berlin-School, but it narrates from the present. Each work emerges and develops as in a slow gathering of hot blood. Still marveling at the beauty of synthetic sounds, the veteran Monachello sparks reactions and arouses emotions across eight tracks of brain beat Spacemusic. One does not listen to this music so much as drift into it. In a swirl of throwback synthesizers a tumbling latticework of echoing arpeggio notes dance along scales of nocturnal minor key chords. Lush harmonies sigh and whisper their celestial concord, as piano keys play out dramatically under digital reverberation. Full string sections may add warmth and fullness to one composition, as quickly as an ethereal vocal will leave us in a trackless void on another. Animated by the power of melody to convey emotions Alien Worlds stands strong against the harshness and cynicism that tears at the fabric of our world – and reminds us that we all still have our own feelings, questions and fears. While being all instrumental, Alien Worlds somehow manages to speak in a human vocabulary – requiring us to be beholden to something other than our own opinion. If you play this album, then you are agreeing to listen to Monachello’s story. There is a spirit that this music catches you up in, yet it is meant only to serve us – and that which stirs in our deepest of hearts.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END30 August 2018

Tony Masiello: Euphonic Interference

Euphonic Interference

Euphonic Interference

Tony Masiello: Euphonic Interference
Released: 20 July 2018
tonymasiello.bandcamp.com

The problem of Electronic Music has been left unsolved by the mainstream, and so – since it was never commercialized or domesticated – Electronic Music has followed its own path. Taking risks less adventurous others would not, Tony Masiello makes music so as to experience the shear pleasure of creation. His release Euphonic Interference (71’50”) favors the topical over the universal, with the main point of this invention being the method by which it was made. Fans of modular synthesizers and the skillful coaxing of these music systems will find much to savor throughout this album. Euphonic Interference is not a song you listen to, but rather a network you enter. Sounds invade the listener’s space in a line of continuing well ordered events. Masiello’s deliberate pacing establishes this work as more of a cold intellectual puzzle than a poem made of sound. Pulling us along with him on the studio performance odyssey, he wanders, looking for routes. This music is not about epiphanies; it is about discovery and potential. In a full examination of minute changes in timbre over time, we humans may hear the soul of a machine – in the care of a promising artist. Well into this long form piece of process dissolves into environment – an electrical formation of freestanding reality. At every moment popular music is explaining itself, while most of EM exists for the purpose of pure discovery. Is Masiello creating music? or just minding/overseeing an array of equipment? Euphonic Interference will never explain itself, unless the listener has the intellect of a technician, and the mental apparatus to interpret what is being heard. The rest of us will feel its volumes, vectors and densities – and austere lucidity.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END   23 August 2018

K Leimer: Threnody

Threnody

Threnody

K Leimer: Threnody
Released: 20 July 2018
www.palaceoflights.com

When K Leimer is unable to find refuge in his own long thoughts, he makes music. Of continuous interest to the ear is Threnody (71’14”), which presents nine innovative works for everywhere and everything that lies ahead. At times psychologically loaded, the people-less, imaginary worlds Leimer creates have an entrancing effect. From the nakedly vacant, to passages of off-kilter rhythms and rhymes, this release moves through the smoky and textured to regal conclusions. Slowly bowing thick strings and spare open piano notes hover above the comings and goings of a crawling bass. Faint sounds surface into a distant mist of gentle distortion, while ensemble chords hang and sweeten the air around us. From out of another mental corridor, a gritty, scratchy clicking, followed by random rumbles, which seem to imitate the workings of a singular mind. Each piece on Threnody provides a gradual mental groove – the ideal basis for our technologically assisted dreams. When the tolling of soft struck metal sounds cold through reverberant space – it is as an announcement of the history of one track entering into the next. As humans we find it impossible to escape the past, yet with Threnody we are guided to look to the future. Resisting the intrusion of interpretation, taken as a whole this album is an enchanted excess of smart atmospheres and ambient production. Threnody places the burden of meaning on the listener. Any intelligent person will understand these compositions, but find them impossible to explain to another in a meaningful way. K Leimer makes this achievement seem effortless, as if the undercurrent of each song is a whispered confidence shared with a friend. He approaches his work with a point of view all his own. Whenever he does everything right, controls the chaos of electricity, moves sound in the right direction and place, Leimer can make something perfect. Just as fate whispers to the warrior, creativity will speak to those who pay attention.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END16 August 2018

Jeff Greinke: Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

Jeff Greinke: Before Sunrise
Released: 6 April 2018
www.spottedpeccary.com
www.jeffgreinke.com

An artist cannot really be represented by a single release, but rather is suggested through an accumulation of work. Throughout his lengthy and varied career Jeff Greinke has gone through an evolution – or maybe, because of its length and so many interesting twists and turns, this aspect of his life may be better described as a convolution. While his earlier albums searched through the rubble of the unconscious, Before Sunrise (57’20”) switches from the cerebral to the specific. With the rigorous organization of the interplay of texture, melody and harmony, and stemming from a developed instinct, he organizes Ambient forms to give his creativity a lucid expression. As usual, Greinke approached the task of producing Before Sunrise with a point of view all his own. Due to the presence of cello, clarinet, piano, vibraphone, flute, French horn, violin and viola this release may be thought to fall in the category of Ambient Chamber Music – and certainly, if you like this sort of thing, then you will not be disappointed. But Greinke has always been a musical outsider – not even faintly trying to get inside – and so these eight tracks do retain that feel and integrity to one degree or another. Some sections of Before Sunrise flow like a spiritual quest for life’s meaning, while others celebrate the outlaw life this remote genre of music may support. As the unwinding ribbon of notes from a violin bend plaintively, droning strings support a melodious narration. Further in a wooded wild place materializes, where we wait, under stars, in the cool of night, well in advance of the first sign of dawn. Thickening under a solemn atmosphere, we may feel a nocturnal presence – like something impending. Possessing the capacity to inspire contradictory responses, it is often very gorgeous – this strange and beautiful wayward place of sound. After all these years, decades of making records, Greinke still asks for nothing more than our quiet attention. There is something radical about that, and about such stubborn faith in one’s work – and in us.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END9 August 2018