Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today.
There are a few things here in a modern classical vein. A few things that I covered recently but didn’t get a chance to put into “context”- plus music that came out in the school holidays and I couldn’t stretch to at the time. A few things that have just been, or are about to just be released. Then, a couple of teasers for albums I`ll write more about next month.
The stuff about to be released comes from Japan – further explosions of the on-going Nippon Ongaku “boom”.
There’s a track from Alixkun`s Kumo No Muko Volume 2. Here I’ve gone for Ayuo Takahashi`s Mizu Iro No Kagami (Water Colored Mirror?). Its violin refrain recalling Alfredo Pedernera`s bandoneon on Seigen Ono`s Julia. Lifted by Alixkun from Takahashi`s 1895 LP Memory Theatre – which incidentally Light In The Attic also plundered for their heavyweight Kankyo Ongaku comp.
Room40 have a new album from Chihei Hatakeyama. An incredibly prolific Japanese ambient artist whose Forgotten Hill will be his 67th release (in just over a decade), and his fifth for Room40. Music generated with laptop processing guitar, piano and vibraphone, and inspired by a journey through to Asuka – the site of Japan’s former imperial capital. Between the 6th and 8th centuries it was a place of palaces. Now its rural, and secluded. With what is rumored to be Japan’s oldest buddha, now housed in the grounds of a ruined temple, surrounded by rice fields. The region attracting tourists only for its ancient burial mounds. Stone tombs known as Kofun. On Forgotten Hill Chihei translates the alien feelings he experienced upon entering the kofun, and while riding his bicycle through “a land that time forgot”. Creating a blur of chimes and drones. A summer swoon. One long subliminal drift, new age salt-water tank float. Reverential and hymn-like. Monastic voices somewhere deep down in the mix. Melody turning like an old gramophone being hand cranked. Slowly. Tape hum and hiss giving some of it the intimacy of Ian William Craig`s hotel room recordings.
Staying in Japan, Music From Memory’s Toshifumi Hinata retrospective, Broken Belief, should as of this Monday, be in your local store. I could have chosen any of the tracks from the compilation, but the rolling and crashing keys of Pavement felt like the best fit here.
With Japan still as a tenuous link, Ekster have pressed Jatinder Singh Durhailay & David Edren`s Tea Notes onto vinyl. A collaboration between London-based multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Singh Durhailay and Belgian kosmische modular synthesist Erden – that was originally released on cassette last year by Poetic Pastel Press. Mixing Singh Durhailay`s classical Indian strings – the taus, sitar, and dilruba – with Erden`s new age electronics. Each track taking its title from a particular beverage – Ceylon, Kava, Oolong, Pu-Ehr, and Tsuli. I say a tenuous link `cos tea really comes from China – where it was cultivated during the Shang Dynasty (1766 to 1122 BC) – but Jatinder and David do dedicate a track to Shincha – the highly prized first young leaves of the season – unique to Southern Japan.
Of the summer holiday stuff that slipped through my hands, Japan – yep – is in there. Columbia / Better Days issued two lovingly remastered, repressed and repackaged vinyl collections of Seigen Ono`s work. One cherry-picking from Ono`s volumes of music composed for Comme Des Garçons back in 88 / 89 – and featuring the essential – aforementioned Julia. The other, CDG Fragmentation, I think consisting largely of recent ensemble pieces (I can`t be sure as my Japanese still ain`t so hot – and the sleeve notes present a bit of a challenge). There is one archival track included – White Tango – lifted from 1997`s La Movida. It`s a tune that I hadn’t heard before, which dances dramatically somewhere between Julia, and Nino Rota`s score for The Godfather.
Something else that I should have posted about – but was too busy running a 24 / 7 cafe for my kids – was Jefre Cantu-Ledsuma`s Tracing Back The Radiance, on Mexican Summer. Where Jefre constructs a gradually evolving electro-acoustic organic whole – employing contributions from a further ten players – on flute, organ, pedal steel, piano, synths, vibraphone, and voice. The sparse manipulations / improvisations – fragments of traditional melody drifting in and out – rhythmically driven by shakes and rattles. The press notes cite Italian minimalists Lino Capra Vaccina and Francesco Messina, but the most striking reference point I heard – especially on the 21-22 minute Palace Of Time— is Miles Davis` And He Loved Him Madly.
Chris Coco took the most chilled track from his latest album Indigo, and bundled it with tunes from Lol Hammond and Tony Bigote as a short, but sweet, download – under the title Music From Relaxation. All are cool, 3 to 4 minute swells of sustained piano chords. Minimalist clouds of sparse chimes and echoed drones stretching out as far as the ear can hear. Lol`s Leave No Trace features cello. Tony’s Formentera beach-inspired Mitjorn, guitar. While Chris` You Are Exactly Where You Need To Be has a church organ somewhere in its distance.
All of this – hopefully – allows me to put into context music from Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch`s soundtrack for Harry Wootliff`s Only You (on 130701) and Albrecht La`Brooy`s Healsville (on Apollo). Levienaise-Farrouch`s pieces for piano and Arthur Russell-esque cello. Albrecht La`Brooy charting an ambient space where Virginia Astley shares a retreat with The Orb / KLF.
Releases that are confined to teasers for now, and embargoed until October, come from Danish duo Bremer / McCoy and Nils Frahm. Nils Frahm`s All Encores, on Erased Tapes, collects music from his two Encores E.P.s and joins them with a third of previously unreleased material. Compositions constructed from piano, harmonium, and electronics – ambient and kind of organic techno – and honed in performance. In October Erased Tapes will also have the choral experiments of Shards, and the new one from Penguin Cafe….. The jazz of bass, keys, and tape delay that is Bremer / McCoy`s Utopia is due on David Byrne`s Luaka Bop.
Not embargoed – but definitely due for a bigger piece from me ASAP – I’ve also squeezed in a track from Down On The Road By The Beach – the sole release from British photographer Steve Hiett – who sadly passed away on August 28th. It`s a set of melodic six-string gymnastics originally issued only in Japan, in 1983. Be With Records and Efficient Space have joined forces to make it available again, along with an album of archival material titled, Girls In The Grass.
Emilie Levienaise Farrouch – Separation – 130701
Chihei Hatakeyama – Forgotten Hill – Room40
Bremer / McCoy – Hojder – Luaka Bop
Toshifumi Hinata – Pavement – Music From Memory
Jatinder Singh Durhailay & David Edren – Ceylon – Ekster
Steve Hiett – In The Shade – Be With / Efficient Space
Chris Coco – You Are Exactly Where You Need To Be
Seigen Ono – White Tango – Columbia / Better Days
Ayuo Takahashi – Mizu Iro No Kagami – Jazzy Couscous
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Joy – Mexican Summer
Albrecht La`Brooy – Healsville – Apollo
Chihei Hatakeyama – Fugitive From Wisteria Field
Nils Frahm – A Walking Embrace – Erased Tapes