Tag Archives: Ambient

Record of the week: Richard Youngs – Arrow Ltd Preserved Sound LP/CD

 

This only arrived this morning but I have lived with it on constant rotation all day whilst sorting out the large delivery of noodles* that were also delivered at the same time, as well as a few hundred dreary 7″s that I have been putting off sorting for weeks. When you read the description of the album:

Recorded especially for Preserved Sound in Hebden​ Bridge, ​Arrow is sound of Richard Youngs alone at the piano, embellished with sparse drums and an old organ. This collection of solo improvisations is all about capturing the moment – that piano and that afternoon in Hebden Bridge.
“I sat down at the piano and just played,” says Richard. “No preconceptions, nothing worked out. I wasn’t trying to achieve anything other than to enjoy playing the piano.” “There was also an organ in the room, so there are touches of that. I then took these back to Glasgow and knocked it into shape – a few overdubs, nothing drastic.”

you could be forgiven for feeling that the album is as much a noodle-fest as my kitchen but, in reality, it is far away from that (thankfully!).  There are  layer upon layer of sounds, instruments and harmonies on top of the piano improvisations and it is these other elements that keep the level of interest high – and the level of enjoyment even higher. It occasionally sounds thrown together haphazardly, but this is no bad thing – as it keeps you guessing as to what exactly is gonna happen next and rarely follows a linear pattern that one would normally expect from similarly ‘improvised’ piano based albums.

 

It also sounds like he was having a lot of fun making it.

This is yet another fantastic release from Preserved Sound and follows their normal high degree of artistic quality control of both the music and the hand assembled packaging. Limited to 300 numbered copies on both Vinyl & CD, this one promises to disappear pretty rapidly as it’s such a magnificent piece of work.

At times (especially during side 2) it sounds like 2 Steve Reich albums are playing at the same time whilst somebody sits in the corner gently wrestling with a piano – and you can’t get a much higher recommendation than that can you?

 

 

 

*Re: Noodles:    i’m not running a chinese takeaway or anything – I just eat a lot of noodles and stumbled upon a fantastic website catering to all my noodle-based needs and ended up buying 70+ packets from them. Go here if you’re interested:

https://www.orientalmart.co.uk

Record of the week EXTRA: Jonas Reinhardt ‎– Conclave Surge ltd edition LP

I listen to a LOT of meditative minimalist electronic music – which is a good thing, as I’d be a bloody nightmare to be around if I spent my life surrounded by bouncy happy groovy music. This helps keep me relatively grounded, relatively chilled and relatively sane but sometimes I need an extra layer of frisson on top of my ice cream cone of minimalism – a great big chocolate flake of extra sounds to bounce me out of my daily trance.

I honestly don’t know where the fuck I was going with that metaphor but I’d like to think this fantastic Jonas Reinhardt album is a veritable 99 of ice creamy musical excitement (oh shit, I’m going off on that tangent again…). It has the beautiful electronic droney minimalism as its bedrock but chucks slabs of noise, loops and rhythms on top/underneath/by the side.

I love the fact that it continuously surprises me with the musical twists and turns, even though I’ve played it about 40 times and it seems to change as it moves along – like it’s evolving by the day. It is released on the always fantastic Deep Distance label, the older Brother to the equally great Polytechnic Youth label – and i’d recommend the shit out of pretty much EVERYTHING on those labels.

And now I want an ice cream. A Hockings ice cream in fact (local Devon ice cream), with a flake and a big dollop of clotted cream on top. More so than I want to write about music, that’s for sure – so I’m off now…

 

Record of the Week: Bark Psychosis: Black Meat Orig UK 2005 Ltd NEAR MINT 10″

Ah, Bark Psychosis – the band for which the term ‘Post Rock’ was invented and the band who introduced me to the art of silence in music.

I first discovered the majestic music on the B side of a Spacemen 3 flexi in the late ‘80s and, to be honest, I thought they were a bit shit – noise for noise sake and, as a huge fan of Swans, they sounded like pretenders to the noise throne.

It was the 4th single that blew my tiny mind though. ‘Scum’ was a 21-minute-long track where very little happens for a very long time, and where the acoustics of the crypt (where it was recorded) are as important as the sparse instrumentation. It remains, to this day, one of my all-time favourite pieces of music.

I saw them live only once, just after their sublime debut album (‘Hex’) and it was on the sad day that Labour’s John Smith died (I remember distinctly that that they introduced ‘Blue’ as ‘Blues for John Smith’). They played by the light of a Super-8 projector and made a huge noise that sounded nothing like the LP they were promoting. They were outstanding.

This record was released 11 years after the aforementioned gig, when the band were mostly a solo project of Graham Sutton, but still displays how utterly inventive they/he was – trumpets and jazz drumming and half-heard vocals. Limited to 500 copies, and I’ve got 3 of ‘em…

 

Record of the week: Visionary Hours – Beyond the White LP

My New Years Resolution for this year was to promote labels that I believed in – we purposely don’t sell many new records and CDs on the site as we couldn’t possibly hope to compete with the South American rivers of the selling World and because, quite frankly, it would bore the shit out of us.

Funnily enough – this was the first New Years Resolution that i’ve ever managed to keep…

The labels that I want to promote are labels that follow a few rules set down by me as Dictator of the mono-stereo World: the music must be both interesting, there must be an overall aesthetic or tactile quality to the releases and they must be run by people who give a shit about what they do.

The first of these ‘Labels of Love’ is Preserved Sound – a label run by Hayden Berry from the artistic centre that is Hebden Bridge and personifies my golden set of rules. Releasing most things on limited hand numbered CD, with an occasional vinyl release, everything has an immediate feel of artisanal quality and attention to detail. The sleeves are always handmade and the music is always hand picked with love.

Visionary Hours is Hayden Berry himself, along with a large list of collaborators (including Bruno Sanfilippo, Richard Youngs, Western Skies Motel, Adrian Lane, Trigg & Gusset, Isnaj Dui and 3+ among others), with the pieces constructed around elegant guitar pieces and the other musicians freely adding their own contributions. Berry chose which piece of music to send which artist (sometimes more than one artist and so, in a sense, some artists were unwittingly collaborating with other artists) and then edited the contributions to create the final pieces.

The resulting album is simply beautiful, with the guitar interweaving amongst clarinet, piano, cello, zither, organ, flute, violin, fender Rhodes and saxophone. The different instruments and sounds are always complimentary to the guitar picking, and even letting space between the sounds resonate more so than the actual instruments in some cases.

This feeling of space gives the album an overall feeling of lightness and relaxed ambience, with the moments of silence being equally as important as the moments of sound. This impression of the air hanging around the music brings to mind the last two Talk Talk albums with their equally beautiful production, editing and attention to detail.

I have played this album more than any other in the last month and yet it still offers up new experiences with every play – such is the depth of beauty and the way everything hangs together whilst still retaining an air of minimalism.

Available on LP (99 copies only)
and
CD (150 copies only)